Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Them Avatarians is Tall!

Well, the verdict is in. “Avatar” is a good movie. It appeals to everyone. I’ve listened to people talk about it for the last few days. Some people will say they did not like it. They will be lying. The smartest person I know loved it. The dumbest person I know loved it. Below are their reviews. I’m not saying who’s who, though.

Review #1:
Damn, I went to see that Avatar movie. That was a good movie. It was about these aliens on their home planet of Avatar. The Avatar alien race is killing the humans who’ve come from Earth to mine some valuable rocks. Then this crippled Marine “Semper Fi!” gets hired to infiltrate the Avatars via a virtual reality machine. And it’s cool because he can’t walk in the real world, but in the make-believe world of Avatar, he can! So needless to say, he likes being a big, blue Avatarian. Then he ends up falling in love with this girl Avatar so he switches sides, fighting for the aliens on their home planet. They’re called “Avatars” because they have to tame and fly around on pterodactyls. Like how some people call pilots, Avatars. Man that was a good movie.

Review #2
The movie 'Avatar' takes place almost entirely on Pandora, a moon of Polyphemus, in the Alpha Centauri A system. I think the naturally occurring floral neural network of the moon must have somehow influenced the evolution of the moon's fauna so that the physical, biological communication links of each of its species were compatible with one another and the network itself. Interesting ...

So there it is. The dumbest person I know and the smartest person I know both missed the point of the movie. Oddly, the dumb guy was closer than the smart guy. The movie's point is that we no longer need Kevin Costner to make a good 3 hour movie.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm just going to ease back into this blogging thing.

First of all, I just wanted to post some photos of my old bike. A 2001 LeMond Zurich. For a long time, I had some dura-ace open pros on it, but now I've got them on the Cannondale, and so the original wheels are on the old bike. I like to call my bike "Ol' Yeller and Blue". It has been consigned to the trainer for the last 3 years and has become corroded by sweat. It's been nearly impossible to shift to the big ring because of the old rusty cables responsible for that duty. Tuesday morning, the cable finally snapped. I decided to run the bike over to Olympia for a Makeover (and new cables).

It ended up being quite a job because some parts had rusted to the frame. But in less than 24 hours, They returned it to me like this!!!




Wow, I might just start riding again. Olympia is my favorite shop. It helps that it's in the 'hood.

Well anyway, here's a preview of what you'll be looking at most of next Spring/Summer:



If you like the way it looks, thank the guys at Olympia.

I'm just kidding. I'll be golfing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The day my little puppy died.


For my 8th birthday, my parents bought me a little puppy. He was the runt. Though he was small in stature, he had the heart of a lion. So we named him Leo. This was the first time I had responsibility for another living thing. What I didn't understand was that even though little doggies love the taste of anti-freeze ...

Ok, I'm just kidding. I never had a dog. Well, I did but I don't remember it. It was when I was one years old or something. So long little Leo. We miss you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Departure



My oldest daughter turned 19 today. On my way to work I was thinking about that. The first thing that came to my mind was how she was when she was little. One particularly bittersweet event popped into my memory. Actually, there is a photograph of it. I first thought of the photo, then the event. I don’t know who took the photo. It might have been Jolene’s mother.

In the photograph, Jolene is somewhere around 3 years old and our backs are to the camera. We are flying a kite out at either Lake 11 or Lake 16. I don’t know which. Why did this memory come to me? Well That’s what I was wondering.

From the time she could sit up and play, each night we’d go into her room and play some game. Usually, it had to do with me trying to stack blocks as quickly as she knocked them down. Or we’d wrestle, or I’d tell her stories.

Every night I would drag my feet to play with Jolene the requisite 20 minutes or so. I didn’t want to play with her. I just wanted to sit and relax.

Every night I would enjoy myself so much playing with her that the session typically went for an hour or more.

She was smart and funny. She had a wonderful sense of humor. I was very proud.

Every night I would put her to bed. We would play a game, saying goodnight to all sorts of animals, warning them to quiet down because it was bed time and if they weren’t quiet, we promised the animals we’d make a sandwich out of them and say they taste like chicken.

At that time in my life, I was working 2 or 3 part time jobs. I was a sophomore at UNO taking 12 hours. My ex-wife did not work. I was exhausted. Jolene was the only part of my day I enjoyed. It was a rather dark time.

Eventually, my ex-wife had had enough of my screwing around at work and school all of the time and threw me out of the house (this is very close to the truth). I had wanted Jolene to have a normal life from the time she was born. The burdens she had were not fair in my mind. I left the house because the family was broken. She was a baby in a house where the parents were always yelling. I thought (perhaps incorrectly) that it was better to spend a couple of great weekends with her a month, than 7 days a week of fighting with her mother.

In my most painful memory, I tried to explain to my daughter that I was leaving while she (I’m crying right now) was standing in her crib bawling. Why was I leaving her? She thought I loved her. She was a baby girl losing her daddy. Her best friend. Her superhero. My ex wanted me to lie to her and tell her I’d be back soon. Maybe she was right. Maybe I should have lied. I did not believe it at the time.

Leaving my wife was easy. People did not understand that. They thought I was miserable because I was no longer with my wife. At that time I was only allowed to be with my daughter for very short periods of time. The courts had not decided anything yet and My ex claimed she did not trust me alone with my daughter. She’d let me visit for an hour or 2 here and there. The only visitation I had was with Jolene’s mother present, making it difficult to be myself around my daughter.



One time however, when she was 3 years old, I was allowed to take Jolene unsupervised to the lake where we flew a kite. The ex met us out there and took Jolene back home. I think that’s where the picture came from.

Before Ex got there, I got to watch my daughter as herself with me as myself. Her daddy showing her how to fly a kite (today she’d say she taught me, but she’s a liar).

As I stood behind her, watching her looking up to the sky, carefully holding the string the way I’d instructed, I had the strong revelation of the pain awaiting me in the coming years. I loved being with her so much. I wanted to have her knock the blocks down every day. But it would only be a couple of times a month for the rest of her childhood.



I believed that one day she’d want to come and live with me. She was smart and funny. Her personality was similar enough to mine. I reasoned that her mother would eventually have the same effect on her as she did on me.

Finally about the time she was 16 or so, she moved in with us. I was so happy for her. I had always wanted something for Jolene that I could never give her until this point. A home life she deserved. It was not fair that she should be in a crazy house where the parent heaped too much responsibility on her. She should be allowed to live her high school years unencumbered by her parents’ problems. We tried to do that as much as possible.

She’s in college now. She earned a full ride. I’m so proud of her I can’t express it. I only write about this because I’m hoping it will be suitable in lieu of me spending money on some gift.

That last line is for Jolene. Did I mention she has a great sense of humor?

Happy birthday Jolene.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Real Wesley J


The truth is stranger than fiction. At least that’s the old cliché. I’ve always believed that to be only partially true. I guess it depends on what truth and what fiction you’re talking about.

The other day when someone calling himself “Wesley J” commented on my blog, my first reaction was to take it at face value. I was confused by the vile, crude, illiterate nature of the comments. Knowing the real Wesley, I had not expected that type of response. On the other hand, I had never seen any of Wesley’s writing so even though he has always seemed intelligent, maybe it just didn’t translate to the written page. There are many extremely intelligent people who are simply cursed when it comes to reading and writing. Unable to convey the witty thoughts “forming in their brain”, they are limited to the basest form of human communication. Threatened by their clearly inadequate literary skills, they must resort to homophobic derision and name calling.

Of course, when the real Wesley stepped forward and explained that I had been duped, the fake comments made sense. Wesley’s explanation was articulate, like I would have expected.

However, the fact that the prank was engineered in the way it was shows the perpetrator is an intelligent person, which I can verify now that I have finally figured out who it is. Although there will never be the remotest hint of it in his writing, this is one of the smartest people I've ever encountered. I’d venture this is one of the few true geniuses I know. To hide behind my psyche undetected like that. Whew. Wait until I tell you who it is!

Before I continue I must warn you. “Wesley J” is tricky. This story has a few parts that I’ll unveil over the next few days. In between, there may be comments from “Wesley J”. They may persuade you that my conclusion is false. But I make this promise. After I’ve shown you who he is, there will be no doubt.

I’ve known the person now calling himself “Wesley J” since I was 14 years old. I met him the year I despised myself more than any other. When I turned 15, I said to myself,
“That was the worst year of my life. I doubt there will be any that bad again ever.”



So far, it’s true. After a bitter painful divorce when I was in my early 30's, and the ensuing extreme poverty, I can honestly say the joyless 14th year of my life was the worst ever. I was unhappy all year. Some call it growing pains or puberty. All I know is I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to be me. It was during that summer that I met “Wesley J” and we immediately became best friends.

But to talk about that, I have to talk about the comment of “Wesley J’s” that gave it away. Like I said, I know the guy. Even though we are now sworn enemies, he was most likely bored with my sorely inadequate guesses as to his true identity, so he threw me a bone when he lied and said he was in New Mexico. Only "Wesley J" and I will ever know what that truly means. But I'll let you in on as much as I dare.


Eleven months out of the year, my dad worked hard. He’d scrimp and save to put away enough cash for a big annual family vacation. These were great. Usually something big like Disney World!

On this particular year we were going to go to Florida for some fun and sun. At least that was the plan. However, my grandma had a dying brother who lived far, far away. My grandma never drove a car. At this time, she was about 65 years old. She was resigned to never seeing her brother alive again. My dad decided it would be nice if we modified our vacation plans so Grandma could see her brother. As it turned out, this change resulted in one of the most memorable vacations we ever had. At the time, there were 5 in our family. We had a 1972 Chevy Nova with no Air conditioning. We were going to be taking Grandma with us. We were also going to take my aunt (mom’s sister-german [ sic ]) with us because she would like to see some of her uncles/cousins-german [ sic ] as well (look it up. I just learned it today and wanted to use it). So with seven people, the Nova wasn’t going to cut it.

So my dad bought a big huge Ford Custom 500. It was the first car I ever saw that ran on “unleaded fuel”. It was roomy enough for all seven of us to ride in comfort to our ultimate vacation destination. The place relevant to the tale of "Wesley J". Because you see, my grandma’s brother, Marion, was dying of emphysema. On the suggestion of his doctor, he had moved himself and his family to the dry climate of Farmington, New Mexico. The hint “Wesley J” left for me in his last comment. Oh, he doesn’t live there anymore. He tends bar at an island resort. But he used to live there. Oh did I mention my great uncle’s last name? It was … Keeler!

(To be continued. Or not)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thanks Wes, someday I will repay your great kindness

source

There lived a huge and fierce lion in a forest. Once, weary after a long day of hunting, the lion returned to his cave and soon fell asleep.

Not long after, a little mouse chanced upon the lion’s cave. Thinking that there might be food inside the cave, and not realizing that it was a lion’s lair, the mouse decided to explore the cave.


As it was dim inside the cave, the mouse could not see clearly. Suddenly, the mouse hit against something very big, and it felt warm to the touch.

"This must be my day!" the mouse thought. "This could be a big meal!"

The mouse walked around the thing that he had hit to find out what it was. As he looked, and his eyes became more adjusted to the dimness, the mouse had the greatest shock in his life. There, right in front of him, lay a sleeping lion!

The little mouse was terrified. Without wasting a second, he made his escape. But in his haste to run away, the mouse tripped over the lion’s nose! This woke the lion up. He was very angry.

The little mouse trembled in great fright. He immediately picked himself up and tried to dash away. But the lion’s paw clapped down upon him and held him tightly to the ground.

Just as the lion was about to kill him, the mouse quickly spoke, "Please, Mr Lion, do not kill me! I’m so tiny and won’t make a good meal for you. Spare me now and some day I will repay your great kindness!"

When the lion heard that, he was amused. "How could a tiny creature like this repay me?" he thought.

But the lion was full after his hunting that day. So he released his paw and let the mouse go.

Many days later, while the lion was hunting for food, he ran into a hunter’s trap and was caught in a big net. The lion struggled to free himself but the net was too big. Unable to free himself at last, the lion filled the forest with his angry roars.

When the little mouse heard the roaring, he realized that it was the lion that had spared his life. The mouse knew immediately that the lion was in some kind of trouble. He ran as fast as he could to where the lion was.

When the mouse saw that the lion was caught in a net, he quickly gnawed at the net until it parted. The lion was freed. And he was glad that he had spared the little mouse’s life.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

If Wes had a Facebook page ...

I'd SO request his friendship. But I think he might be a little too cool for that.

Uh hey, wesley.


I already have a yellow bike.

Sorry about the last one, Wes.

My bike snobbery leaked a little on that one. Bad judgment. I know you and that you are too fine a person to hold it against me, a sinner. But for my peace of mind, could you please confirm your forgiveness in the form of a couple of reassuring comments? I mean, come on, it's the least you can do, loser. Oh crap, there I go again. Now I really do need 2 comments to confirm that we're cool. At your earliest convenience, of course.

What's better than a comfort bike with Aerobars?

Nothing.

The finest person ever?



Perhaps.

Go Hawkeyes!

Wow, those Iowa football players sure are a handsome bunch! I bet Iowa has a good coach, who's nice and things. Probably not as nice as Wesley, though.

If I paint my bike yellow

Will you comment on my blog, Wesley? Twice if it's not too much trouble. No reason. Just wondering. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I drank what?

So this morning, I got up early and went for a nice brisk morning jog/walk/limp/crawl. Sort of. I didn't go outside. I gave our 5 year old Treadmill its 3rd workout. It was a good time.

Important: If you read this blog, you already know that every once or twice a season, I decide to start working out. This is one of those posts. I will shortly complain about being out of shape, but that is actually not the reason for this post. So if you're patient, the stuff at the end will be new stuff, straight from today's news! To help, I'll put a big 'LINE 3000' in the spot where I'm done whining about my fitness level and start talking about the boy genius in England I saw on the news while jog/limping. So if you just want to skip ahead, goto LINE 3000.

LINE 2000
Since I'm out of shape, I decided to listen to some old Matchbox 20. This turned out to be an excellent strategy. As I've mentioned before, I like getting into shape better than being in shape. When you're getting into shape, it is important that you don't overdo it. One way to make sure that you don't push yourself too hard is to listen to something like "Matchbox 20". I suppose "Maroon 5" Would work just as well, but I don't have any and I dislike "Matchbox 20" less.

The choice of workout music can make or break the session. Once, Shim suggested something like Social D as good workout music, but I'm pretty sure it would kill me if I tried to keep up right now. Matchbox 20 is calm enough, with just enough rebellion for the occasional "run-ups" that the mechanics of a treadmill can provide with the prolonged push of a finger.

So with the ipod set on "somber", the television set on CC and mute, I began my morning jog ...

LINE 3000

While reading the news on the television today, I noticed I had a bit of an "I want to push you around" sort of an attitude. I can't explain it. I was feeling pretty calm, but slightly rebellious. There was a story about a 2 year old in England that has the same I.Q. as Einstein (presumably Albert, before he died). He (the Brit) is the youngest child ever admitted to Mensa.

Now I realize that there must be more to the story than what they talked about, but I was unimpressed with the evidence of the little boy's genius. They specifically mentioned 2 things.
1) He can name all 9 planets.
Ok, first of all, Einstein -- if you're going to go around belonging to Mensa and everything - you might want to stop at Neptune. Remember wonderboy, Pluto is not a planet. In fact, The last time Pluto was a planet, you weren't even born yet. And so what if he can name them? Does he know where they are? What they're made of? No. So the 2 year old remembered 9 names. Spectacular. I have a son (Jack) who was singing the alphabet at 2 years old. And you know what? He was stopping at 'Z'. He wasn't adding some arbitrary letters to the end like this little dumbass from England does with our solar system. So obviously Jack is smarter than this boy. But do I say "Oh Jack's a genius!" No, of course not. I just say the kid in England is a moron. Simple.

2) He speaks in complex sentences.

Not being a genius, I didn't know what they meant by this so I had to research the story. I will say that my son Abe (who's 4) has been speaking in complex sentences for as long as I can remember him talking. To this day, he engineers some of the most confusing sentences I've ever heard. I usually have no idea what he's trying to say. Because he's a genius. But back to Limey the brain. I looked for news about him and found out one of these complex sentences.

He said "I say, Mum, when I eat sausage, it's like a party in my mouth."

Really. That's what got him into Mensa. The only thing I can think is that if you say it with a British accent, it does sound a little smarter. I mean, maybe it's because Abe speaks American that when he says "Dad, cam I have dat fing wif de wady in purple frozen underwear?" that I'm not immediately on the phone with WOWT.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A new post, but first - Brady and Mom are right.

From: msnbc

Poll finds most annoying word — ‘whatever’
Easily beats out strong contenders such as ‘you know’ and ‘anyway’

So, you know, it is what it is, but Americans are totally annoyed by the use of "whatever" in conversations.

The popular slacker term of indifference was found "most annoying in conversation" by 47 percent of Americans surveyed in a Marist College poll released Wednesday.

"Whatever" easily beat out "you know," which especially grated a quarter of respondents. The other annoying contenders were "anyway" (at 7 percent), "it is what it is" (11 percent) and "at the end of the day" (2 percent).

"Whatever" — pronounced "WHAT'-ehv-errr" when exasperated — is an expression with staying power. Immortalized in song by Nirvana ("oh well, whatever, nevermind") in 1991, popularized by the Valley girls in "Clueless" later that decade, it is still commonly used, often by younger people.

It can be an all-purpose argument-ender or a signal of apathy. And it can really be annoying. The poll found "whatever" to be consistently disliked by Americans regardless of their race, gender, age, income or where they live.

'A special class'
"It doesn't surprise me because 'whatever' is in a special class, probably," said Michael Adams, author of "Slang: The People's Poetry" and an associate professor of English at Indiana University. "It's a word that — and it depends how a speaker uses it — can suggest dismissiveness."

Adams, who was not involved in the poll and is not annoyed by "whatever," points out that its use is not always negative. It also can be used in place of other, neutral phrases that have fallen out of favor, like "six of one, half dozen of the other," he said.

But the negative connotation might explain why "whatever" was judged more annoying than the ever-popular "you know," which was recently given a public workout by Caroline Kennedy during her flirtation with the New York U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton. "You know," Adams notes, is a way for speakers to seek assent from others.

Pollsters at the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., college surveyed 938 U.S. adults by telephone Aug. 3-Aug 6. The margin of error is 3.2 percentage points. The five choices included were chosen by people at the poll discussing what popular words and phrases might be considered especially annoying, said spokeswoman Mary Azzoli.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another fun look at slang!





I’ve spoken in the past of “I know, right”. A relative newcomer that showed great promise early on. I’m glad too. I think it’s cute. I like hearing it, right? So anyways, now that we have this great new thing to say to people after every statement uttered in any conversation, there are a few I’d like to see move on. Some phrases are a lot like Brett Favre. They end up signing with the Vikings. I mean, they just don't know when to quit. Hey! Maybe that could be a new slang phrase. Example:

"Did you see that Shim is racing again this year!"
"Yeah, what a Vikings signer!"

Below are my suggestion for phrases ready to be removed from our lexicon. My criteria is simple. I'm sick of them:

The first one that really really really bugs me is the sarcastic form of “Really”
As in the Saturday Night Live News thing:
Really. Blagojevich? Your head of hair is really prominent and you try to sell Obama’s seat? Really.
Or whatever. It’s done. Let it go. Please. I would have no objections to letting “let it go” go, either.

The second one is “It’s all good.” Thankfully, as soon as people got tired of Paul Hogan and well, Australians in general we stopped saying “No worries” . Why not come up with another clever way to say “I forgive you?” How about “The recent events have in no way altered the current situation which remains indistinguishable from what will certainly be commonplace behind heaven’s pearly gates.” I mean, that’s just off the top of my head. I’ll have to concise it up a little, but you get the idea.

And the third one I’m really sick of: “Crazy”, meaning “very”. Munson uses or used this one a lot. Now Denis Leary is using it in a Ford Truck commercial. A sure sign that if it was ever cool, it is not now. I think Mr. Leary is talking about the Ford Truck engineers as being “Crazy Smart”. “Crazy” is the bastard stepdaughter of the eighties gem, “Way”. I actually think Munson used to say this, too. It lasted longer because it made more sense. I never liked it though. I always thought of it as a California thing because that’s where I was when I first heard it. In fact, I moved back to Nebraska solely because I was afraid that if I stayed in California I’d have to walk around appraising everything as “Way cool.” My fear was that some day it would be the way I really talked. I’d rather shovel snow than talk like that. And it gets Crazy cold in the winter around here.

An interesting question is that if “very” was replaced by “way” which was replaced by “crazy”, what’s next? I’ll tell you, because I already know. My kids say it all the time and kids are our future. The word is “Poop”. My kids love this word. So if you don’t want to get left in the dust, start saying it immediately. Example: Dude, Where’d you get those poop cool pants? I’m poop envious of you.

Strangely, there are some tired old phrases that I’m not sick of yet. “It’s all good” has a cute little brother called “That’s what I’m talking about”. I don’t know why, but I find this way less annoying than “It’s all good”. It might be that it is actually a somewhat complete sentence. Although, if we wanted to obfuscate that puppy up, we could. “That’s my topic” would be nice. Upon seeing your favorite athlete accomplish something spectacular, “That’s my topic!” Then offer a high five to any takers.
Or simply “My Top” It would be every bit as nonsensical as “My Bad” used to be, but way more current since I just made it up just now.

Speaking of which, “My Bad” has been gone for a long time, but few realize it. How do I know? Gee, let me tell you a story …

One beautiful Saturday Morning, I took the boys (ages 4 and 6) to Panera. It’s one place we can all agree on. Usually we get into the car, and I say, where do you boys want to eat. Jack (6) says, that place that Grandma likes. He means Panera. We saw her there once.

Abe always gets a big cinnamon roll. Jack gets a breakfast sandwich. While we’re in line, Abe enjoys running into people, smearing his grimy hands on things, and breaking stuff. Good boy. On this particular morning, he accidentally rammed into the little old lady in front of us. She turned to him, glaring with an evil eye. She did not look at me. She wanted to hit him. She wanted me to correct or scold Abe in some way. Normally, I would if the victim seemed cool. But she was a grumpy old bitch in line at Panera. Fuck her. Ooh. I’m getting fired up talking about people giving my kids a dirty look even though they totally deserve it.

So where was I? Oh yeah. “My Bad” is long gone. So shawl wearing old crab lady is ordering and there is some sort of mix up. The cashier is a fine young customer service representative for the Panera Franchise, so she patiently explains the issue to the little old lady, who upon realizing her error, says “My Bad.”

Now my first thought is, “Gee that seems out of place for this old woman to say that.” Ohhh, I get it. The girl behind the counter is black. It all makes sense now. You said “My bad” to enhance your “street cred”. You think that’s what black people say. While I’m enjoying this deepening dislike for the old lady, the cashier says, “Wow, I haven’t heard that phrase in a long time.”

Oh my god. That was awesome. She said it in a way that was missed by the old woman.

I don’t feel comfortable with affectations. So, even though the cashier was an African American, I was able order normally, in God’s English with no mishaps. The transcript of this process follows. I call it “How to order at Panera and not make a complete fool out of yourself, version 1”:

Yo, yo, yo It is vitally important for me to get some breakfus up in here. Check it. My man Abe will bust a grub on that cin-o-min roll. And little J to the A.C.K. will enjoy a delicious breakfast sandwich with the bacon option. That’s my topic!

Me? I’ll jus pop a 40 of coffee and lemme grab a shim of that Bagel. That would be extraordinarily fly.

How much!?! Damn girl! You take debit cards? Oh shit, I forgot my Personal Identification Nizzle. You take checks? Dyn-o-mite!

Now how hard is that?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The First Husker Game



The date was September 29, 1973. It was at the stadium in Lincoln. The opponent was a worthy Wisconsin team. The Coach was the highly despised Tom Osborne. I liked Tom Osborne because he was young and good looking. Devaney, The King of Kings, looked old and short to me. I didn’t care for him. It was a day of many firsts for me, I was 8 or 9. Depending on whether I wanted to do something or whether I was crying about not being able to do it. It went like this:

“Dad, can [sic] I go to the whatever and do whatever?”

“What? Freddie, you’re 8 years old. Far too young for that sort of thing. Oh what? Now you’re going to cry about it? I don’t believe this. You’re 9 years old. Far too old to cry about stuff you’re too young to do.” No wonder Dad thought I was a mathematical genius.

But you know what I wasn’t too old or young for? A husker football game! Yeah!

I’m not sure why my dad decided to take me to a football game. I don’t think he ever really went that much. But it was an adventure that I still think about from time to time. I didn’t really follow football. I listened to the Nebraska games and cried if they lost. I was not assessed an age tax for that, though. It was the one acceptable reason for crying in our house. Oh yeah and saying “sucks”, as in “Tom Osborne sucks.” But I never said that because I liked Tom Osborne.

Pre-Game Preparation

The first thing we all did was drove to some bar. Two or three of my dad’s uncles/friends were there. There was also a pinball machine. I loved pinball. It was pretty much the coolest thing I had ever seen. I asked my dad if I could play it while he and his uncles discussed the upcoming challenge against the Badgers. I totally expected him to call me some kind of 8 year old, but nope. This was a special day. It was kind of like my dad was the Godfather, and his daughter was getting married today or something (Incidentally, my sister’s first child was a masculine one).

My dad’s uncle Bob was a stinking drunk. Literally. He really smelled awful and he was always drunk. He constantly picked his big, huge nose. He had the loudest voice of anyone I know. It was a great voice. I always thought he could have been a successful radio announcer. He wouldn’t even need a microphone. He was easily my favorite of my dad’s uncles. Mostly because all of those guys (including my dad) used to frequently brag about the fights they had and the many asses they had kicked. Not Bob. He bragged about always getting his ass kicked. Good stuff. On this day – my special day, Bob handed me a stack of quarters so I could go play the pinball machine. Neat. I stuck the quarters in my pocket and went over and started playing. Man, it was fun. Here I am in a bar playing pinball. Drunk people love kids in the bar. Especially drunk Husker fans. Everyone was donating quarters. I felt like some kind of celebrity or something. Yippee.

Then, some guy (probably a Wisconsin fan) who was obviously too shy to directly hand the quarters to me, subtly placed a stack of 4 on the edge of the machine. I looked up to thank him, but he was gone. This is great! I’ll be here for a long, long time. Then I get to go watch the Huskers and that hack Tom Osborne play against Wisconsin (whoever that is).

So, after draining my last ball, I grabbed one of the quarters off the edge of the machine and started my next game. This innocent little action set in motion a brand new “Ass kicking story”!

About 2 minutes later, I was putting another quarter into the machine …

“Hey!”

“Yes?”

“What are you doing? Those are my quarters!”

“Uh … oh, I, sorry, I thought …”

“Get outta here. It’s my turn you little punk,” apparently thinking I was a very short adult.

Well that was that. I was not sure what had happened. I did not know that the way to get in line for a pinball game was to place money on the edge of the machine. I was putting it together, but I was too scared and confused to make any sense of it, so I just went back to where my dad and his uncles were and sat down.

Dad: Is your game over already?

Me: That guy put his money up there and told me it was his turn … Where are you going, pops?

Dad walks over to the guy playing pinball. They're out of hearing range so I can only see what's going on. After some other gesturing, dad points to the front door. Pinball guy immediately leaves, without finishing his game or picking up his quarters.

“Ok, Freddie, that guy had to leave. He said he’d be honored if you’d play the rest of his game and use those silly old quarters still sitting there for any subsequent games you might wish to play.”*

Then really loud to nobody in particular, Dad said, “I’m sure nobody else in here likes pinball anyway, so you can play until we leave if you want.”

Tremendous!


So after I got done playing pinball, it was time to head to the sporting event. Once we were seated, my dad asked me if I’d ever seen so many people in one place before. I was pretty sure I hadn’t, so I said “No.”

Next thing I noticed was how small the field looked. It seemed so much bigger on the radio. I now know it’s really just a pitching wedge from one end to the other, so …

What was cool about it though was my dad’s response to my observation, “They say people who think the field looks smaller in real life are paranoid.” I have never understood that comment. I don’t know if he was joking or basing it off of something he learned in psychology.† But I’ve always wondered if it was true. I have never heard anything about it, but it could just be part of a bigger conspiracy.

So then the game happened. It was a great time. All the way through. I remember the score: Nebraska 20, Wisconsin 16. Until today, I wasn’t sure about the team or the date. But I remembered the score. That’s how I found out the other two when I was researching this story.

I said to my dad, “I bet those guys who came here from Wisconsin feel pretty bad.” I didn’t realize it, but a Wisconsin fan heard my comment. My dad said, looking at the Wisconsin fan, “It was a good game. Both teams played well. I doubt they feel too bad.” Then the Wisconsin fan and my dad nodded to each other, kind of smiling about my comment. Wow. Dad just illustrated good sportsmanship in front of me at a Nebraska game. A few hours earlier, he booted a guy from his own pinball game and took his quarters as a fine for not giving them to me. Now he’s showing humility in victory.

So it made me think. A lot of times, Husker fans are called the greatest fans in the world. It’s something we learn very early on, if even from a group of drinking, brawling truck drivers. That’s pretty cool. That’s also why people now love Osborne so much. Even though he had huge shoes (figuratively) to fill when Devaney gave up the reins, in the long run, his example of sportsmanship eventually won over Husker Nation.

I’m just kidding. It was the National Championships. Nothing else matters around here.

* My dad has never used the word ‘subsequent’.
† My dad never took psychology.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm back!!

From my bike ride. Not back to cycling. No, I'm still a golfer who occasionally rides his bike. Which reminds me, "The Hurt Locker" is an excellent movie. Go see it.



"Hey ladies, just thought you might like to see what a real golfer's body looks like."


That's me in the center, in the slimming black "Twin Six" kit. Brian on the left (my right) and Wesley on the right (my left). Photo by Pat Cash. I would say "courtesy of Pat Cash", but I didn't ask him. I'm sure he'd be cool with it, because he's courteous, but you never know. I really do hope it's ok, though, because otherwise all I've got is this artist's rendering ...




Even though I've abandoned riding for the more noble endeavor of golfing, Sunday came with the realization that I'm always going to be a cyclist. Riding is a blast. There's no way around it. And not just riding. Riding hard. I can't help myself. I went as hard as I possibly could for much of the ride. There's nothing like the feeling of putting the hammer down, exiting the workshop and going for a hard ride. My accelerations were ungodly. My form unmatched. Bystanders were vigorously barking on me.

This was all fun and games until the road went up. Even the slightest hint of an incline put me instantly in "The Hurt Locker". It's been years since anyone on anything other than a road bike has passed me on the way up a hill. Unless you count Sunday. Oh yeah, I remember. Here come the 12 year old girls. Hi girls. Nice streamers. Ok, you go on ahead, I have to check on some things while I climb this hill. Oh man, I am SO going to coast past them after I crest this thing. Whoosh!

So I got into Ft Calhoun after roughly an hour. Not Bad, considering.

I saw several old friends. Named things like:
Munson, Randell (with hair on his legs), Redemske, Keffer, Bazant, Armstrong, Ed Brown, Wesley, Gordon, Ellis, Savoie, Brian C. Just kidding about Armstrong. He's not a friend of mine.

But most importantly, I seen Shim. He made some gesture toward me that I can only assume meant "Way to go, sport!" He grabbed his right cheek (of his face) and rapidly slapped it repeatedly against his gums, making, well a loud cheek-gum-slapping noise. I responded with a subtle and confused wave.


By the end of the ride, I had nothing left - other than the uphill ride home. Oops.

I have a strict policy of never getting off the bike and walking due to lack of fitness, so I was concerned about getting home. I did something I've never done before. I took a longer, flatter route to get home. I don't think I'd have made it otherwise. "A man's got to know his limitations," as Clint Eastwood said in a movie that is not called "The Hurt Locker".

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fredcube, where were you? Quarry Oaks or something?

We were worried sick?

Well I'm glad you asked. As a matter of fact I was at quarry oaks, see?

Here's a shot of me sending a ball to its final resting place somewhere far, far to the right of the fairway. I'll miss that ball. It was so cute and round. Maybe (definitely) I should get up on my right toe better. Oh well, it's a work in progress. Notice, I also broke the tee which is on it's way back to earth in the photo. So yeah. New ball and tee from one swing. Damn.



Here's another lovely view beside the Platte river. This is from the tee box on 13 or 14 (I think 13). My drive went roughly (literally) to the right of about where that cart is leaving me with 207 yard uphill to reach the green in regulation.



From this lie ...


Well, I don't normally hit the 3 hybrid 207 yards level on a good lie, but it was a good swing. I ended up left of the green, but the distance was correct. I most likely got some cart path to lend a hand, but I don't know cause I couldn't see the green from there. Nonetheless, I was very proud of my big boy shot, as can be seen here:


Yeah, that's the mighty Platte River behind me. I went on to bogey the hole (which is what I like to call fredpar).

The course is beautifuller than any I've seen (I've not seen many, but it's still awesome). We were playing from the white tees (1 in from the tips). Until we got to this hole ...




From the white tees, there was no danger. Just nice green fairway all the way to the green. So we decided to play from the black (where I took this photo from) which meant carrying this 180 yards of cavernous weed valley cliff thing. Awesome. By some miracle I took a 3 wood and gently swung it, thinking "just get it halfway there". Cha-ching. Yeah, that was a par (or fredpar, I can't be certain). Anyways, I landed and stopped on the green. Pretty impressive for me - and actually anyone in the world. I'm just saying.

Next highlight. The signature hole at Quarry oaks. Number 17. 394 yard par 4 from the tips (which we played because it was the signature hole). As you can see It is a dogleg left, and really really cool. This was also my best drive of the day. I sent it 250 (way down hill) to about where the guys are standing on the right side of this photo. FORE!!! No, I waited til they cleared out.



I actually did par this one - not just some weird fredpar.


Damage: I don't know, 10 balls lost or so. Which means 10 penalty strokes. I'll have to clean that up a bit.
front 9: 54
back 9: 49
So um: 103

Then we went to Miracle Hill where the warm up at Quarry did me some good. 45 and 44 for a personal best 89 on the course. Sweet.

And yeah, it turned out better than work as I had predicted.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hey, you gonna eat the rest of that?

Again, I was very very busy today at the company. During my coffee break, I found a newspaper in the breakroom and started reading. I didn’t expect to find anything of interest, but I was bored. Imagine my surprise when I read that Squirrel season starts in Nebraska this Saturday! You need a license, though. You can’t just go around killing squirrels without a license. What if everyone just went around killing squirrels? I know, right? Well to make sure that doesn’t happen, there’s a hefty 14 dollar price tag on the license. What I thought was interesting is that you are allowed to “bag” up to 7 a day, but may not have more than 28 on you. Interesting, because to exceed the legal number of dead squirrels in your pocket, you’ve got to have some squirrels you (or someone you know) killed at least 4 days ago. Mmmm. I suppose that number (28) includes all the squirrels in your freezer. Next to the Ben and Jerry’s. And again, I say, mmm.

Ok, so I don’t hunt. Mostly because it doesn’t seem like any fun to me. That and they don’t generally let you hunt the stuff that tastes good. I know, I know, venison is so delicious when prepared just right… spare me. Please. Deer meat is nowhere near as good as just about any part of a cow. I love beef in its many tasty forms. Deer meat? Not so much. Chicken? Extremely versatile and yummy. But when does chicken or cow season open up in Nebraska?

Pork. Perhaps the best meat on the planet. Pig season, anyone? Nope. Not gonna happen.

Even if you could just drive out to some farm somewhere and start plugging away at cattle, it would still be simpler and probably cheaper to just go to the Bag-N-Save and grab you some steaks.

But Fred, deer jerky is awesome! No it’s not. It’s just tastier than straight deer meat because it’s got so much salt in it that some of the rancid deer flavor gets masked. By the way, beef Jerky sucks too. We have freezers now. There’s no need for “Jerky”.

To learn more about this wondrous hunting season stuff, I visited the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission website to see what other things I might be able to hunt. I mean, if they have a squirrel season, who knows. Maybe they have a Red-Breasted Robin season, too.

Sadly, no. However, I did see something that I found even more amazing than the fact that people pay 14 dollars to hunt squirrels.

They have this thing called "Fur bearer Running Season". It's for foxes, raccoons, etc. But you don't kill them. You just chase them. From the site:

During the running season, bobcat, raccoon, red fox and Virginia opossum may be pursued or chased with hounds, but not killed.

I've heard in the past that hunting seasons are structured to help wildlife as much as possible. Thin the herd to prevent disease and starvation and things. I'm guessing the idea behind running season is to help the foxes and Virginia opossums stay in good shape. Otherwise, they'd probably just lay around all day getting fat and lazy, taking insulin shots, blaming their metabolism or glands, etc.

But anyway, back to squirrels ...

So ok, let’s say I get squirrel terminator license. Hey listen, it’s better to have one and not need it than need one and not have it. I suppose if I find myself in a situation where I have to kill a squirrel (or 7), I could always claim self-defense. But it would just be easier to fork over the 14 bucks and be good for the season.

I think it might be fun to kill a squirrel just for the immediate and drastic emotional charge it would surely evoke. I don’t love or hate squirrels, but I do think they’re kind of cute (mostly because one has never gotten into my house, ruining all the furniture). I can imagine walking along with Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder, when I spot it. The enemy. The brown furry little guy, up in the tree, hunched over furiously chewing away at whatever, turning it over in it’s cute little enemy paws. Mr. Bluebird instinctively slows his chirping. I edge within range, slowly bringing my trusty .22 long rifle up to my shoulder while Mr Bluebird cautiously flies over to the other side. As I deftly take the instrument off “safe”, the squirrel suddenly stops chewing. Suspicious but frozen. It is too late for you my friend. Pop. Yes! Right though the heart! Woohoo! As I watch the critter fall lifeless to the ground in a series of impossible contortions, I think “what the hell?” I just killed this creature. I don’t want to eat any squirrel. Guilt briefly threatens to sour my day until I remember my sidearm. My 1911 .45 ACP. I’ve always wondered what it would do to a small furry cute little animal. I grab the handgun and approach my fallen foe. I see it still twitching a little and actually not completely dead, yet. With the blast of the .45 at roughly point blank range, no more sign of any squirrel. 1 down, 6 to go. Zippity do dah …

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Slow Day

I’ve been very busy at “The Company” lately. It’s a good thing. Doing really cool coding and things. But unfortunately my blog publishing has suffered. Well I thought I’d take a break and relive something. But I haven’t thought of what I want to reminisce about yet. (currently tapping fingers lightly on keyboard, staring at monitor, waiting for a thought about something to blog about from my past).

It’s my brother’s fault I’m not the master of whatever it is that I should be the master of. One time, when I was about 8 or 9, I had an inspiration. I figured out a way to draw realistic looking stain glass windows. I worked on my drawing for days. Non-stop. I poured my heart into it. The shading. The balance of light. I made the colors dance together with grace and beauty. Framing each window of my inner-church-scape was deep mahogany, rich with ornate detail as if routered by the smooth hand of God Herself, bitches!

Once finished and signed, completely ready for its inevitable showing upon the refrigerator, I collapsed in a heap amongst the crayon paper littering the floor. The Crayola brand sharpener dulled from hours of abuse. No matter. The work was complete. My finest work to date. Well, as far as drawing went. My proudest artistic achievement was not in the realm of drawing at all. It was writing. In the second or third grade we had to write a story about monsters for Halloween. Mine was excellent, to understate it a tad. The quality of this work, a story about a baby Frankenstein monster, has never been questioned by any sane person. A literary triumph, frequently inspiring its readers to abandon mediocrity and strive for a greatness seldom believed possible. It spent an unbelievable 6 weeks on the refrigerator. A feat I believed not to be matched in my lifetime. That is until I finished the Stained glass piece. As I drifted off to sleep, I imagined the possibility of coming in from the summer’s heat each day, several times a day for the next 2 months, to get a drink from the cold water bottle. As I was physically refreshed, I would also be spiritually energized by the sight of my opus. The Stained Glass Collection, Numbers 1-9. Oh yes. I envisioned a series. Sweet dreams, little prince. Life takes a tragic turn upon your revival.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my brother is a fine person. A much better person than I will ever hope to be. He cares about people who are not him. A foreign concept to me. Not that I think of foreigners as exceptionally empathetic (except Mexicans), because that would be racist. What I mean is that I am unfamiliar with this whole compassion thing. I tend to see people skin deep. I have a difficult time understanding that there is a conscious being in there with feelings, dreams, and whatever other bullshit goes on in their pathetic little minds. This is probably why I saw my brother as this evil person that was always messing my stuff up. The truth is I was messy too. But I tended to blame my brother for everything. Until he came along, blah blah blah.

So anyway, about an hour after passing out, I awoke. Why am I on the floor? Why are there crayon wrappers everywhere? Oh yeah! The drawing! It’s finished and now I’ve gotten the required amount of rest to officially unveil it to my mother. Dad would not have appreciated the drawing. Most likely, he would have suggested that I was judging him, like he didn’t know what the inside of a church looked like. And also, he would have intimated that any heterosexual boy would be outside playing. Something like, “So the little faggot was drawing all day. Go figure.”

Ok, so where is the drawing? I know I left it right here. It looked like a big version of all these little pieces of crumpled up, stained glass window … Uh oh.

So yeah, my brother had torn up the drawing. He had no idea why. When asked, he told mother “I felt like destroying something beautiful.”

I was hurt. But honestly, somehow I knew I’d get more mileage out of the destruction of the work. Every time I felt like drawing, I’d blame my brother and not draw. He ruined me, was my excuse. Even years later, when my brother proved to be the true talent, faithfully reproducing most of the artwork of genius and Conan illustrator, Frank Frazetta, I hung on to the excuse.

“Isn’t Steve a gifted artist?” grandma would ask.
“You should have seen the stained glass window,” I’d whisper.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Oh it's on



Among the many perks I've received as part of my compensation from my current employer "The Company", I have just had the prestigious title of "Corporate Cycling Challenge Team Leader" bestowed upon me. It is indeed a great day.

P.S. Hey Shim, click on the picture to enlarge it. That's what she said.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It’s like riding a bike, only slower

I like getting back into shape much more than being in shape. Once you’re in shape, the gains are minimal. You’re building over months or years at a time. When you’re out of shape, particularly if you have been in shape before, the overnight improvement is amazing. I’ve been out 3 times this year. 17 days ago, last Sunday, and last night. The first ride did not feel bad, per se. I could not press down on the pedals, but I could spin pretty comfortably for a while. About 20 miles into a 25 mile ride, my legs were fatigued. Last Sunday was an easy spin for a while. Even though I had not ridden for 2 weeks, it was better than the first ride. The best way to describe last night’s ride is after about 10 miles or so, my legs “woke up”. I could suddenly push down hard on the pedals without that weird shaky pain feeling.

After they woke up, my legs immediately hit the snooze to rest for another 9 minutes. Then, they did it again. Wow. This is fun.

Then the best thing ever happened. I looked behind me and saw another "Keystone Hammer" about a quarter mile away. Hmm. I didn’t pass that guy. I’m in no kind of shape, but I’ll give it a go. I’ll see if I can hold him off until I turn off the trail at Aksarben.

Well almost. He finally caught me at College of Saint Mary’s where He told me he’d been chasing me for a few miles and I told him that I knew and I was glad we could motivate each other on today’s ride. Then we gave each other the secret Hammershake, and parted ways.

Good times.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Time I thought I saw God

It was roughly 40 years ago. I didn’t have any idea what God looked like back then. All I knew was that people go to church to see god. I had always been instructed to recite a clever little poem to God each night before I went to bed:

“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake. I pray the lord, vengeance on my murderers to take”

or some such nonsense. Anyways … I don’t know if I ever went to church before I was about 3 or 4 years old because I don’t remember. My dad and mom were not churchgoers. My Grandpa (dad’s dad) and Grandma (Grandpa’s wife) were. They would like to take me to church with them on the major god related holidays (Christmas, Easter, Super Sunday).

Mom: Freddie, you’re going to go to church with grandma and grandpa, tonight.
Me: What’s church?
Mom: A big place where old people go before they die.
Me: Why?
Mom: Because that’s where God lives.
Me: Really!!
Mom: Yep.
Me: Sign me up, boy! I want to meet this God I’ve been talking to.
Mom (to herself): heh heh heh. I told him God lives there.

So I’m pretty sure it was Christmas time because I remember being quite disappointed by the church’s idea of treats. I had recently learned about treats from Halloween and was eager to see what The Almighty had in store in the treat department. I mean, if the weird old guy across the street can give out tootsie rolls, God’s treats will be really swell! But no. They gave all the good little boys and girls brown paper bags filled with apples and oranges. Uh.

I remember taking out one apple and one orange. I then tried in vain to get some sort of meaningful comparison of the 2. You can’t do it, I tell you.

One thing I also noticed at church. People sway back and forth when they stand. I thought they were doing it on purpose. But no. It’s like a constant catching of balance. I was looking up at my grandma and my aunt. They were standing there listening to some prayer or something. Moving slightly forward, than catching themselves and jerking slightly back. Only to move forward again. I think I had never noticed it because I had never been so bored in all my life (3 or 4 years). Also, I didn’t realize it was involuntary. I thought that’s what you were supposed to do in church. So I started doing it. But I’m pretty sure it was not as subtle as grandma and Aunt Debbie, because Grandpa gently squeezed my clavicle (I found out years later what it was called) to encourage me to stop it.

The next thing I remember about church was the singing. Not all of it. Just one song in particular. And only one part of the song in particular. It was “Silent Night”. And the part of the song I’m talking about sent me into uncontrollable giggling. “Sleep in heavenly pe-EACE!” It was so loud and so high pitched, that if anyone had been sleeping in heaven or earth, they were surely awake by now. That was fun! I gotta get in on this! Oh yeah! They’re singing it again! I’m definitely joining in this time! I’m going to contribute to the loudest thing I’ve ever heard! Here goes!
Congregation and me: Sleep in heavenly …
Congregation: (nearly whispering): peace
Me: (Ted Nugent would be proud): PE-EACE!!!!

Woah, they kind of changed that up on me. Bunch of swaying apple pushers! Now they’re laughing at the cute little boy who fucked up. Screw you guys. I’m going to go tell God if I can find him. He’s gotta be around here somewhere. Mom says he lives here.

That’s when I saw him. He’s tall. Well groomed. Dark hair. Good looking. About 30. Wearing a navy blue suit. Coming out of the basement of the church. I actually remember what that man looked like to this day because – well – I really did think it was god. I also thought that he was coming up the stairs because he had just come back from hell to tell the Devil he was in big trouble or something. It was very exciting. Although some of this post is fictional, most of it is true. And the truest part is that I was so excited to be seeing God that I could feel my heart pounding.

But I asked my grandpa if the man was God, He said no so quickly that I wondered how he knew. I mean he barely looked at the guy. It was at that moment I figured that the only way he could know without looking was that God wasn’t there. Grandpa explained that God was there. God was everywhere, he told me – but you can’t actually see him. What a jip. I kept the next question about “why’d we have to come down here, then” to myself.

So that was it. Not only is God invisible and everywhere. If you go down to the church, you’ll get a bag of fruit that you are required to be thankful for, even though it’s going to rot in the paper bag and be tossed in the trash before Super Sunday. Which nobody cared much about back then. It was like “Oh I guess the Packers won again” or something.

One final note. The Church is not there anymore. It was a little Lutheran Church down on about 20th and Cuming. The land is now used for Creighton Parking. I’m not saying it had anything to do with the apples and oranges, but I’m not saying it didn’t either.
~~~~~~~
Note: I was just doing the math and realized that when this happened, my grandpa was younger than I am now. Since My dad was 19 when I was born, and my grandpa was 18 when dad was born, and I was like 4 or 5, he would have been about 42 or 43 at the most.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

25 down. 5000 to go.

I figure, I need about 5025 miles on the bike to get in shape. It's been a long time. So this morning, I mowed the lawn, pulled one of my bikes out of the garage, hosed it down real good, pumped up the tyres (tires) to about 9 bars (130 psi), stretched the twin 6 clothing to its absolute limit and went for a ride.

At first it was like riding a bike. I felt like I remembered how to do it. I coasted down the driveway, down the street, down through memorial park, up through UNO. Uh oh. Up seemed a little too hard. Oh well. Through elmwood. "FORE!!" And up onto the trail, going south. At this point, I realized I had a pretty good tail wind, since I was going 23 without much effort and haven't been on a bike for several months. I felt good. Except for my hands. And my legs. And my bottom (I say shyly while covering my mouth to suppress a giggle). I settled in at around 25 miles an hour and cruised to the place where I turn around (12.5 miles). Then I spun into the headwind at 12 or 13. nice. My legs now felt really sore. My hands couldn't get comfortable. My golf clubs were in the trunk of my car all lonely. After much effort, I made it home, barely surviving up the hills.

So, I'm not quite ready to hang with the skinnys. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, May 29, 2009

This morning reminded me of a Rolling Stones concert I never went to

So I'm driving to work this morning, minding my own business, listening to Mike and Mike talk about which of them should throw out the first pitch next time they're invited and if only one is allowed. My thoughts are wandering the way they always do when your driving 30 minutes and there's nothin' much to do. I'm thinking about how much fun it is to swing a golf club. The bills I need to pay. The fact that I should get my tags for my license plates since they'll be expired by Monday.

Anyway, the stretch of road I was on had a posted speed limit of 40 MPH. I basically never speed, unless I'm on the interstate. I'll go with the obligitory 5-10 over. So I'm cruising along at 40. Mike and Mike agree that Golick should be the one to throw the pitch. Just then, I hear the rumbling of a motorcycle. It comes whizzing past, weaving in and out through the traffic. It was loud. It was moving at least 60 mph. It was probably a Harley. I didn't really see. What I did see was the jacket the rider had on. It said "Hells Angels Ne***" or something. The location was obscured by the back of the bike seat. I was surprised. I didn't know they still had "Hells Angels".

I was kind of entertained by that. I hadn't thought about this group of misfits since I saw the "Starsky and Hutch" movie. There weren't Hells angels in it, but there was some sort of Bike Club that was supposed to be for toughs.

There was also this Charlie Sheen movie where he was a cop who was deep undercover in some outlaw bike gang.

Recap of my wandering thoughts this morning:
"I think I should throw the first pitch, because people would be more enter..."
"Let's see, Pay the daycare, U.P. tuition, get new car registra - What the - Hells Angels, Ne***? Wow. I didn't know they still had those. Maybe it's his dad's jacket. No. No one would wear one of those unless they "earned" it."

I wondered how you get in. Who do you contact? Do they have a web site? If I was to guess based on what I remember from Starsky and Hutch and that one Charlie Sheen movie. I'd say first of all, you have to ride your motorcycle to some shady saloon on the outskirts of town. It is very important that the saloon be made of wood. It must have a lot of worn out paint advertising on the building. Of course there must be several Harley Davidson motorcycles lined up out front. I don't think you'd be doing yourself any favors if you were recently bathed either. It might not be the case anymore, but I believe a couple of decades ago, it wouldn't hurt to have a red bandanna tied around one of your boots.

Once you enter the bar, the worst thing you can do is anything other than walk solemnly to the bar and order a beer. This is one thing you cannot get wrong. Do not order a Budweiser, a Miller, or any other specific brand. You order a beer and take the 8 ounce draw you're given. If there are no women in the bar you might be in trouble. You will probably have to finish your beer and get out of there before someone starts talking to you. But don't worry, there's always a woman in the bar. She's currently being harassed by the biggest guy in there. The leader of the gang. Now all you have to do is pick a fight with him. This is not optional. The Hells Angels are currently looking for troublemakers. They don't care if they kick the shit out of you or vice versa, but somebody's getting a whoopin'.

The best way to pick a fight with the leader of the Hells Angels is to simply notice that he's being kind of rough with "The Lady". A subtle turn in the direction of the disturbance and then a quick glance back down at your beer should be enough.

"Something on your mind, mister?" and congratulations, your application is currently being processed! It's all down hill from here. Just mop up the floor with the guy and bingo, not only are you in the club, you're their new leader.

And that woman you protected? She'll welcome you aboard with a nice slap in the face. Even though it will sting tremendously, it is very important at this point that you don't cry. A wry smile and a turn to finish the last gulp of your beer is the next step to full-fledged Hell's Angelhood. So finish that beer in one gulp, and head for the door.

"Say hold up mister,"

Stop. Turn slowly to face whoever.

"I ain't never seen anybody put a whoopin on ol' Dean like 'at. Who the hell are you?"

"Just passin through. Stopped in to get a drink. That's all"

"We could use a guy like you. No shit. Why don't you ride with us."

"Not much of a joiner"

"Hell, none of us are. That's what this is. A club of loners."

"What would Dean say about it?"

"Dean ain't gonna say shit, is you Dean?"

"uhg"

"Suppose I was to ride with you all on say a probationary basis. What do you guys do?"

"Hunt vampires, mostly"

"I'm in"

(to be continued. or not)

Friday, May 22, 2009

The New Star Trek Movie Beams Up Some Serious Walking Around Cash

Spoiler Alert: If you have seen the movie, you may not want to read this review. I haven’t seen the movie but I’ve heard it’s really really good.

At last. The new star trek movie has arrived. I have been eagerly anticipating this event for months. It has been all I could think about day and night. I haven’t groomed. I haven’t bathed. The idea of seeing the crew of star trek one last time before the next sequel has got me all giddy.

I know very little about it other than my brother said it was really good. He’s usually pretty good about that. I still don’t get “Unbreakable”, but otherwise we like pretty much the same movies. “Ooh, I’m made of glass and you’re afraid of water! Ooh.” Whatever. Stupid movie (Unbreakable).

I’ve seen some commercials for it (Star Trek: Back to the First Generation). It kind of looks like “Starship Troopers” or something. I hope it’s as good as that movie! I think Leonard Nimoy is in the new movie. Wow. That doesn’t seem pathetic at all. Maybe he’s in it kind of like the way Paul “Michael” Glazer and David Soul were in the “Starsky and Hutch” movie. I bet William Shatner is in it too. Probably, the new Kirk wrecks the enterprise chasing down a bad alien or something and the new Spock buys the original Enterprise from the old Kirk - reluctant to give up the keys.

Yeah, that’s probably what happens. Then Probably Old Kirk and New Kirk sit out on the balcony, smoking Cigars, bragging about conquests or asking each other’s permission to bang some chick or something.

Warning: The following is what I know about the plot from the commercials and the way I remember stuff people said about it. And probably some stand up comedy routines from decades ago.

So the story begins introducing us to an ornery little Jimmy Kirk in the sleepy little town of Ottumwa, Iowa. It is clear early on that he’s got a taste for adventure. Constantly getting into Mr. Wilson’s flower bed and tracking mud on his mother’s nice clean kitchen floor. He’s incorrigible!

We also get to see Spocky. A four year old half/Vulcan child. He struggles internally with being different than the others. Oh big shock there. I struggle internally with thinking that humans and Vulcans have compatible DNA. There’s probably some explanation in some book somewhere, but it’s not all that interesting to me.

It is in high school at a Halloween party, that we find out Captain (Of the football team) James T. Kirk has a thing for green chicks. He meets a hot green chick (thinking she’s dressed up for Halloween). Next, we see classic Jim, strapping his boots back on. That’s when he realizes this girl really is green and boom, off come the boots!

The movie is well written. The characters are directed to be a sort of tribute to the originals. And that guy from "Shaun of the Dead" plays Scotty. Well that’s about all I know about it. That makes me want to go see it. Or at least wait for Blu-Ray (which was my nickname in college).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mmm … Marketing

Tuesday afternoon I decided to eat lunch in the cafeteria at work. Each day, a different vendor sets up shop and doles out somewhat warm food from the menu. There is no allowance in the cafeteria for hot plates or ovens or anything, so the vendor must either prepare everything beforehand or cook it in the parking lot and bring it in to the “kitchen”.

Tuesday, the vendor was DJ’s Dugout. They’re not any better or worse than any of the other vendors. I was in a training class and did not want to go out to lunch so I just needed to grab something. I decided on a burrito. DJ’s is not a Mexican place or anything, but they had burritos. Well, I thought they did. I saw somebody in front of me paying for what I mistook to be a burrito. So that’s what I tried to order.
“You?” said the DJ’s Customer service representative, pointing at me indicating it was my turn to order.

“I would like a burrito, please” confidence spilling into my tone. See, I rarely eat at the cafeteria, so I don’t have the routine down. I feel foolish, because some of those people in line seem to not only know how it works, but they actually are on a first name basis with several of the crew. One thing I don’t want to do is slow down the line. My fellow cafeteria brethren are hungry. They don’t need me getting in the way. I am desperately trying to make this all go as smooth as possible.

“Huh?” questioned my salesperson.
Uh oh. I did something wrong. I hear whispering behind me. Tongue clicking. I sense eye-rolling.
Um, “A beef burrito?” all confidence gone. Maybe “Huh” meant I had to specify whether I wanted chicken or beef. Didn’t I just see a burrito leaving the cashier area? I’m certain of it. Actually, I watched them make it.

Quickly I look to the wall on the left where the menu is kept. A quick scan reveals no burrito. What did I do wrong? I’m sweating now. Just about to panic and order a cheeseburger when I see it. There’s an item listed on their menu as “Taco Salad Wrap”.
Of course. How could I have been so foolish? I know if I worked at DJ’s and we had “Taco Salad Wraps” and somebody ordered a burrito, I’d be like, “Huh?”

Taco Salads were a great invention. The exact same ingredients as a taco, but with proportionally more lettuce and a big greasy fried bowl. Yum. The problem with Tacos is that they are not considered healthy. Even though a taco salad is roughly 1000 more calories than a taco, it has salad in its name, so it’s guilt-free eating.
But what’s healthier than a burrito, besides just about anything? A wrap, of course. Wraps are healthier than bread, so wraps are healthy. Looking back on it, I should thank DJ’s for their health consciousness. Had they just given me a burrito, the self-loathing would have lasted until dinner time. But no. Not only did I have just a salad for lunch, I had it in the form of a heart friendly wrap.
How to make a healthy alternative to burritos that’ll keep them coming back (Taco Salad Wrap):

One 12” Tortilla (call it a wrap to live longer)
½ pound ground beef with taco seasoning in it.
½ cup diced tomatoes
2 cups Cheddar cheese
¾ cup lettuce (shredded, like your abs will soon be)
Some sliced olives (optional)
A crap load of sour cream.

Carefully shove all ingredients onto a tortilla and roll that sucker* up. Then enjoy while contemplating getting into that old bathing suit.

* I'm thinking "Bad boy" might have been a better word choice here than "sucker". Oh well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Clever Trick by Chick publications

Christian: Do you know where you’ll be after you die?

Filthy Sinner: Well, I’m not sure it matters, since, by definition, I’ll be dead.
But presumably, very close to wherever I was just before I died.

Christian: Oh, it matters brother.

Filthy Sinner: Wait. Are you talking all that Bible Junk? Well, that’s ok, I
don’t really believe in all that stuff.

Christian: Oh man, you’ve fallen for Satan’s cleverest little trick.

Filthy Sinner: Huh?

Christian: It’s true. Satan knows that if he can get you to not even believe
in his existence, he wins.

Filthy Sinner: Really? Tell me more.

Christian: Oh yeah, see the “Bible Junk” you mention tells us that if you come
to Jesus, he will in no wise cast you out.

Filthy Sinner: What does “in no wise” mean?

Christian: Not.

Filthy Sinner: Oh. Why don’t they just say “not”. Or why don’t they just
say “Thou shalt in no wise commit adultery.” See, there are too
many inconsistencies in the Bible.

Christian: Well, first of all, brother, that’s from the “old testament”. And
second of all, I find it interesting that you go straight to the
adultery one.

Filthy Sinner: Well, I’m in no wise going to covet my neighbor’s ass. I got that one all under control.

Christian: Pride cometh before a fall.

Filthy Sinner: You talk funny. What’s that mean.

Christian: I don’t know. We just say it a lot at church. Sounds pretty cool, huh?

Filthy Sinner: Yea, it sounds all royal and stuff. So what’s this clever Satan thing again?

Christian: Satan tries to convince you that he doesn’t exist. If he can do that, he might be able to convince you that there is no god. Then you won’t be born again. Then you’ll burn in hell for all of eternity for believing the lie of Satan.


[ image: Ghandi, Hitler, Mohamed, Tevye very sorry and in great misery for their transgression of not being Christians – or not very good ones, in the case of Hitler ]

Filthy Sinner: Woah there, Moses. Slow down a bit. Boop Boop Boop. What do you mean Satan tries to convince me? How? Do I talk to him and stuff? I don’t think so. And seriously dude, Ghandi?

Christian: You know how like, a lot of times, you sit around thinking about stuff that isn’t in line with the word of god?

Filthy Sinner: No.

Christian: Well, that’s actually Satan’s voice.

Filthy Sinner: No it isn’t. Like I sit around thinking to myself in some gravelly, deep Heavy Metal voice.

Christian: If it’s not from God, It’s from Satan.

Filthy Sinner: I thought God created everything. And by the way, that Satan trick thing isn’t really all that clever.

Christian: Oh Yeah. Never mind. I was just messing with you.

Filthy Sinner: Maybe that’s your clever little trick.

Christian: Remember. The wages (wage) of sin is “death”. But after taxes it comes out to about “Don’t feel well. Better lie down.”

Filthy Sinner: So are you saying that whenever I get sick, it’s because of payment for some sin after taxes?

Christian: More or less.

Filthy Sinner: So where does the tax go to? Roads? Health care? It doesn’t make any sense.

Christian: The lord moves in mysterious ways.

Filthy Sinner: Yeah, ok. That clears it up. Where do I sign?

Christian: Sarcasm is the natural language of the devil.

Filthy Sinner: Where do you get this stuff?

Christain &
Filthy Sinner: Ooh! Look! A vampire! Aaaah! Run!
[ Crunch, rip, snap, slurp ]

Monday, May 18, 2009

OH MY GOSH!!! ARE YOU F'ING KIDDING ME!!!


Source: Reuters
RPT-TREASURIES-Debt prices trim losses after housing data
Mon May 18, 2009 2:04pm EDT
* Builder sentiment in line with estimates

* Sharp rally in stocks cuts safe-haven bid for Treasuries!

* May NAHB index reads 16, as expected, up from April (Refiles to additional subscribers) (Updates prices, comment)

By Ellen Freilich!

NEW YORK, May 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury debt prices trimmed sharp losses on Monday after an index showed an improved mood among U.S. home builders, right in line with expectations.

Any ray of hope that the housing slump might be coming to an end would tend to be negative for Treasuries prices. But prices were already down sharply on the day as a strong stock rally cut the safe-haven big for government debt and some traders may have hoped for a more robust reading on home builders' sentiment than the small improvement actually recorded.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index showed U.S. homebuilder sentiment rose to 16 in May from 14 in April.

The big jump in equities prices was partly driven by stronger results from home improvement retailer Lowe's (LOW.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which fueled hopes the economic slump was easing and spending was stabilizing. Those gains, reflecting a revived appetite for risk, kept bonds in negative territory.

"The market definitely has been on a downtrend from (strength in) equities and corporate deal flows. The NAHB data came in pretty much within expectations," said Ralph Manigat, senior bond strategist with 4Cast Ltd. in New York.

Benchmark 10-year notes were down 16/32, their yields rising to 3.19 percent, up seven basis points on the day. They were down 19/32 before the NAHB report.

The 30-year bond was down more than a full point, its yield rising to 4.15 percent from 4.08 percent late on Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average was 2.03 percent higher at 8,436.30.

"It's really just a reallocation trade," said Calvin Sullivan, trader at Morgan Keegan.

Earlier, the Fed bought Treasuries maturing in August 2019 and February 2023.

Bond yields have been creeping steadily higher for two months on evidence that the pace of economic decline was slowing. But doubts about a second-half recovery have helped the market recover some ground. Benchmark 10-year rates have fallen about 0.25 percentage point in just over a week. (Editing by Leslie Adler)

Boredom

A few blog posts recently (2 of Brady’s one of mine) have been accurately appraised as being painfully boring to read. It got me thinking. I know that some posts are entertaining, and others make no sense or are just completely a waste of time. The confusing ones are a function of a computer guy trying to get ideas from his head into someone else’s. Good writers routinely achieve this. Computer guys don’t.

So, what’s boring? Watching golf is boring. Watching the PGA tour on television while waiting for the Preakness to start is excruciating. Especially since there was a rain delay, so it was just the announcers talking about how the “action” might continue in 30-45 minutes. The beautiful Big-screen images of the course with nobody on it for an hour or so really topped off that broadcast. But with the 5.1 Dolby Surround, I could hear the rain all around me. I invented “soakaround” technology. I grabbed a water bottle from the laundry room and asked Jack (age 6) to occasionally come by and spray it on my umbrella. It was just like being there. Boring.

But then thankfully, the television broadcast of the 134th Preakness Stakes began at 3:30. The race itself was not until about 5:20 or so but all the really boring crap leading up to it was way better than looking at a rainy day at a golf course on television. The actual race was very exciting. It was another one of those deals where I bet on one horse, but was actually rooting for another. Rachel Alexandra just hung on to beat The Kentucky Derby/ Probable Belmont winner by a length. Whew. My heart was beating hard watching, thinking she wouldn’t be able to hang on. But she did. And she didn’t break any legs either, so.

A lot of people think baseball is fun to watch. Nope. It’s boring. Baseball might be the only sport that is actually better on the radio than on television. I think it’s because you can visualize a much more interesting contest than what is actually happening. You hear the bat hit the ball, the roar of the crowd, the excited announcers yelling about whatever. Sounds very interesting.

Many people pretend they like to watch cycling. Mostly boring. The sprint finishes or the tremendous attacks on mountains are really cool – but honestly – only if you know what kind of effort that stuff takes. For the most part, the TDF is a bunch of guys riding on relatively flat roads together for hours at a time, creeping toward the breakaway group that they’ll catch and then there will be a sprint finish (which will be cool – but it took hours to get to that 2 minutes of action). Then all the time gaps of the GC contenders will be the same as the day before. Yawn. But just wait! In a couple of weeks, we hit the mountains! Yeah, whatever.

This blog. About once every 3 or 4 months, I write down some incoherent, irrelevant, self-indulgent dribble and present it to no one in particular (Brady and Shim).

But here’s the crazy part. How bored do you have to be to read it? I think it has to do with expectations. I hope it is not the case that a reader (Brady, Shim or Mary) would be like, “Man, I’m pretty entertained right now. I guess I’ll go check out fredcube.” I hope none of these people are like, “Wow, this skydiving is everything I thought it would be, but before I pull the ripcord, I just want to check something on my Blackberry…”

“Hardy Har har – tipping at Scooter’s! Oh, that fredcube. What a card.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Workin’ Hard? - or Hardly workin’? Hardy har har

I really dislike being put into situations with strangers where they are trying to break the ice with some corny comment.

One of my most favorite things in the world is the lame attempt at humor via tired old phrases.

I especially like when I hear a new one - well it could be old, but it’s new to me - that is every bit as lame as lame phrases from old.

Yesterday, at the Scooter’s drive thru, I purchased a large cup of dark roast coffee. I prefer scooter’s to Starbuck’s because I can usually get some coffee by ordering entirely in English. I know you’re thinking, “Yeah, Ok, whatever Rush Limbaugh!” Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of these people that thinks English is the only patriotic language. I don’t think that the language you speak makes you any more or less a great lady golfer. I just prefer to order coffee in English. Mostly because that’s the language I’m most comfortable with (with which I’m most comfortable, I mean).

So anyway, the total of the “large” “coffee” with tax was $1.95. Sweet! I’ve got 2 dollars.

Another thing that I’d like to mention at this point is one of age and culture. My grandparents were raised in a time that good restaurant service was rewarded with a 10% tip. For my parents, it was 15%. Now, 20% is the tip for ok service. Lousy service still gets 15%

I think tipping is appropriate in places like: Restaurants, Full service Gas stations (R.I.P.), Beauty Salons, Tailors and Strip Clubs. Places where there was some actual service being provided by an expert.

You never tipped at self service places where the main qualification is that you’ve decided college isn’t for you: Fast food restaurants, grocery stores, self serve gas stations (all gas stations) and uh drive thru coffee shops.

Smart server people know that when you set the money on the table to pay the bill, they should always ask if you need change back: Example:

“I’ll be your cashier when you are ready!”
So you throw down a twenty for a nine dollar tab.
“Do you need any change back?” (a good wait person will laugh and laugh at whatever you say, once you point out that yeah – you are not tipping 120% today).
A good wait person will also hand you 1 five and 6 ones, so you can conveniently tip more than a dollar, but less than 10.

But I’m not talking about good waiters. I’m talking about people who dump whipped milk in coffee, charge 5 bucks and want a tip for that. Or am I talking about sandwiches? I was recently at a Schlotzsky’s where not only was there a tip jar, but also the cashier gave me an abundance of ones. I probably should have said “Hey – I’m not going to tip you, so could I just get a 5? But anyways …

Of course there’s a tip jar there at the drive thru window of Scooter’s. Recall, I’m talking about Scooter’s. Someone has written “College Fund” on the jar (presumably, the excuse this pierce-faced winner is not in school). I guess I’m supposed to pay for your college. But I’m not going to, because you’ll just blow the money down at Exotica, buying crap to stick through your face. Had they written something like “Kolleej Phundde”, I’d be shoving money in there. Because that’s funny. But no.

So I hand over the 2 bucks, get my piping hot coffee, and
“Here’s your nickel. Now you can give someone a penny for their thoughts with interest!”
It was at this point that she stopped talking, but only in reality. In my mind she would not shut up about me not giving her a tip for filling the cup with delicious coffee and putting a lid on it – ensuring only my thumb would be scalded in the event of a spill.
In my mind she said, “ … for their thoughts with interest you cheap bastard. You come in here and pay 2 bucks for some brown water we ran over some crushed beans and you can’t even throw a buck our way. Well you can shove that nickel up your ass! With interest! Prick."

Does that even make any sense? "Penny for your thoughts, plus interest." Does it mean I struck some deal with someone? I offered them a penny for their thoughts but didn't actually have it on me? So I promised to make it right at a later date, when I could scrape up the cash? Then before the disclosure of thought commenced, we drew up a rough contract, agreeing on the conditions of payment. The interest rate was extremely steep, but the cost for the thoughts was so low I just couldn't pass it up.

Actually, that is kind of funny. Never mind I have to go put a tip in the scooter's college fund jar.

I love coffee.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ok, I think I'll start riding again

Brady has been sending the occasional email to me about the U.P. Lunch rides. In a recent one, he mentions dropping someone repeatedly. Man, that sounds like fun. Problem is, I haven't been on the bike in several months. So I won't be able to just jump right in. A few things must happen first ...

First, I need to remove the thick layer of dust from one of my bikes (they all have it, but I'll only ride one at first).

Then I need to squeeze into my XXXL Twin 6 T-shirt that says "Bike Path Warrior" or something.

Then I have to find my white tube socks and tennis shoes.

Then I need to sacrifice a pair of blue-jeans and make myself a nice pair of biking shorts.

Then I need to buy a bottle of Aquafina that is a little smaller than the water bottle cage. It is very important to stay hydrated.

Then I need to adjust the chest strap on my heart rate monitor so my ribs aren't crushed when I put it on.

Then I need to head south on the trail for about 8 miles or so and promptly call my wife to come and pick me up.

I'll be dropping the Wednesday night crew in no time!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Well that took a while


Last October, we bought a used house. It was across the street from the old house. Since then, The Mrs has completely remodeled it. It looks great. It is almost finished. It was not almost finished when we moved in which was April 1. For about 3 weeks we slept on the floor (mattress, we're not barbarians) amidst the drywall dust and paint fumes. It sucked. But the worst part was that the television I bought in December was still in it's huge box.

Not anymore. It is now attached to the wall as if by magic or some sort of "wall mounting hardware" (nickname in college). There are surround sound speakers flush mounted to the wall and ceiling in various places. A big effing sub-woofer over on the floor. a PS3 (i don't even play games, but I went a little crazy) - all controlled by the MCP - this Harman Kardon receiver dealy. Yeah - it's got AM/FM just in case I ever just want to listen to music on my big-huge screen TV. Mostly I just watch Iron Man and Planet Earth on Blu-Ray.

And you know what else? I'll tell you. PS3 (besides being a blu-ray player) has a web browser. So if for some reason I want to watch something on say HULU or something. Boom, there it is on the big screen in surround sound. A little jerky (internet thing) but still pretty cool.