Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zoo Fun

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

When my children were younger, (by younger I mean young enough that they still appreciated their father and hadn't learned how to talk back yet) we would take weekly road trips. I had a job where I worked long hours and didn't see the family much during the week, but I always had weekends off and we liked to spend it on the road. Every Saturday, we would load up the car, head to Huck's to grab some gas station road trip food (mini tacos, egg rolls, sodas, etc.) and hit the road.

Some days, we ended up in a state park. A few times we stumbled onto a small town festival. Other times, we would drive into a big city. Often, we didn't even have a destination in mind when we left the house. We would just pick a direction and start driving. I loved these trips.

One particular Saturday, we decided to head to the zoo. When it comes to zoo trips, we were really lucky. We lived in southern Illinois at the time and the St. Louis Zoo was less than 90 minutes away. This is the zoo I grew up going to and it spoiled me for other zoos. It is ranked as one of the best zoos in the entire country, so I always end up disappointed when I am visiting someone in another part of the country and we end up at a lesser zoo. Our zoo was awesome. Suck it, Cleveland.

I was particularly excited for this trip because my kids were at that magical age. Kirsten was two and Christian was six. They would think the animals were the coolest things in the world to get to see. Plus, it was spring time and we had been looking forward to getting out of the house after the long winter.

Once we got there, we headed to the exhibit I always insist that we visit first. THE PENGUINS! I love penguins. I always have. This practice of seeing the penguins as soon as we get there first started when I was a child and I still do it when I go back to visit. After I see the penguins, I don't care where we go. I am happy.

I couldn't wait to share these magnificent birds with the kids and hurried them into the penguin house. As soon as we got inside, I unstrapped Kirsten from her stroller, put her up on my shoulders and turned around to see this:

"OK, let's see what's happening on the other side of the enclosure."

We moved further down to get away from the happy couple and were met with another public penguin porn performance. However, this time it was more like a penguin orgy. There were at least half a dozen penguin couples getting an early jump on the day…and each other. As much as I love penguins, I decided that maybe we should come back later. I don't allow guests in my bedroom to watch without paying admission and since the St. Louis Zoo is free, this just didn't feel right. Plus, I had my kids with me.

We worked our way up the hill to Big Cat Country to take in the jungle cats. My kids lost interest in the leopard pretty quickly because it just sat there.  The panther couldn't be seen, but the tigers were much more playful.

In the very next enclosure, the lions were up to the same thing. My wife commented that the animals seem to be enjoying the spring time weather as much as we were.

About 20 minutes later, we learned that the monkey house was not the place to be right now either. I will spare you the pictures. They are much more graphic.

We left the zoo after being there less than two hours, but in that time we got to see elephants, buffalo, three different species of bear, antelopes and even snakes getting it on. We decided that in future years, we would wait until later in the season to visit the zoo.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yoga

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

I don't do yoga. My wife does yoga. She does all the yoga. The doggy style pose, the missionary position, the sexy lotus. I don't really know the names very well, but she did talk me into doing yoga with her once. It didn't go well. I got bored pretty quickly and the instructor kept expecting me to move (like, over and over again). Not really my thing.

However, I am very happy that she does yoga. She really seems to enjoy it, which makes her happy and I like her to be happy. Plus, she wears tiny outfits to do it and she isn't self-conscious knowing that I am watching. This makes me happy. It's good for all the people involved. I just don't want to actually participate.

Here's a list of other activities I do NOT partake in:
  • Aerobics
  • Zumba
  • Speed walking
  • Resistance training 
  • Tae-Bo
  • P90X
  • Spin classes 
  • Any sports
  • Free weights 
  • Failing to SuperSize it
  • Crossfit
  • Adult coloring books
  • Jogging
  • Anything requiring a FitBit 
  • Sweat to the Oldies 
  • Logging out of Twitter
  • Eat things not covered in cheese
Now, I don't want to give the impression that I avoid all physical activity. I do get physical when the need arises. Here are some examples:
  • Answering the door when the pizza arrives
  • Searching for the TV remote
  • Charging my phone
  • Active listening when my wife speaks
  • Covering food in cheese
  • Digging to the back of the fridge 
  • Numerous daily instances of exaggerated eye rolls
Despite all this activity, I have been experiencing some recent health issues. I even have a doctor's appointment (first one in eight years) later today. It's the same doctor my wife sees and he told her to increase her cardio activity. I already hate him.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for Xenodochial

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

I had a difficult time coming up with a word for X, but a quick Google search found a suitable word for me. Xenodochial describes me pretty well. It means 'friendly to strangers'.

I love meeting new people. I can make a temporary friend anywhere. I talk to people while standing in line, sitting in a restaurant, walking down the sidewalk, stuck on a carnival ride, or being anywhere that other people are around. Not standing at a urinal, though. That is an understood No Talking Zone.

I have even been known to walk up to a person eating alone in a restaurant to ask if I can join them. I've met some very interesting people that way. I was even offered a job during one of these encounters. It's almost always worth it.

Very rarely do I make a permanent connection with these people. It is just for conversation and entertainment in the moment. I'm not trying to start a new friendship or actually get involved in someone's life. I know there are benefits to having more friends, but that is just not my interest. I enjoy being friendly to strangers and the more actual friends I make, the less strangers there are to choose from.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Writer

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

Someone once told me that bloggers aren't writers. I'm not sure that that's true. You really can't blog without writing, therefore someone who blogs is a writer. However, any idiot can start a blog and I have seen a few that are barely decipherable. Going outside to play basketball does not necessarily make you a basketball player. Maybe it comes down to whether you get paid for it or not. I really don't know and I'm not going to put that much thought into it, but I do know that I have been writing for a long time and want to be considered to be a writer.

This week I am starting on my first book. I have spent the last couple of months going over the story, jotting down major plot points, coming up with characters, and even talking to a few published authors for some pointers. I believe I am ready to start the writing and am excited to get going.

My writing style has generally been humorous and that is the direction I plan to go with this book. It will be a horror-humor conglomeration that, hopefully, will not have words like conglomeration in it. That's such an ugly sounding word. Don't say it out loud. Trust me.

As I progress I may write some about the process, but haven't decided yet. I might just want to unleash the finished product on the world. We'll see. Wish me luck and feel free to start pre-ordering.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Virility

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

Last night, after work, I was plopped in front of my television, enjoying some Hot Pockets and sweet tea, but was mostly focused on my Kindle. Despite my attention to the various games I had to choose from, something said on the television caught my ear.

Please keep in mind, this will only be a loose paraphrase of what was said, since I wasn't really paying attention. It was just the last line that made me say, "WHAT?!?"

A commercial was playing for a men's sexual health clinic in St. Louis. The ad focused primarily on erectile dysfunction. It stated all the usual things these commercials always claim.

"There's nothing to be embarrassed about."

"It happens to every man at one point or another."

"It doesn't mean you aren't a man."

I didn't catch it all, but near the end it said something to the effect of this, "Maybe you have tried Viagra or Cialis and they weren't effective. Therefore, you may be skeptical about what we can do for you. To address your concerns, you can try our system in our office before paying a penny to see if it works."

This is the part where I looked up and said, "WHAT?!?"

Try it out in the office? What exactly does that mean? Had I been paying attention, I would have called their number just to get the answer to this question. I can see so many possible scenarios.

What exactly is the nature of their treatment and what does it mean to "try it out in the office"? If it involves another person to really try it out, do they provide the person or do you have to bring one from home?

Do they provide a private room after giving you the treatment or must the results be observed by a trained medical professional?

Do they lay you naked on a table, give you the treatment, and the medical staff stands around you with measuring tape to monitor and record the results?

Or is it more discreet? Maybe they give you a pill and stand you in a corner, so you can give a thumbs up to indicate when you are up.

I have so many questions. One day, I may be in need of these services and I just want to be prepared.

I also want to know if Obamacare will cover this.

U is for Unfashionable

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

I have absolutely ZERO fashion sense. I don't know what goes with what, what colors are to be worn during which seasons, what 'business casual' means, or why there are rules about when you can and cannot wear white. I just wear what I want to wear when I want to wear it and don't really care what anyone else thinks about it.

If you haven't already guessed, this trait (or non-trait) doesn't bother me in the least. I have been given a hard time about my clothing choices my entire life and they haven't really changed any. However, I do want to make clear that I am not a slob. I just don't have any desire to dress up or have any 'flair'. I am a jeans and a t-shirt kind of guy. I've not been able to test this theory, but I am of the belief that if I ever become rich I will still be a jeans and t-shirt guy. I'll just have a thicker wallet.

A few years ago, I was told by a co-worker that I would probably get more interest from the ladies if I dressed better. I scoffed and explained to him that any woman who would not want to date me based on my clothing choices is not a woman I would want to date. He then said I would never get a quality woman. However, I believe we had very different definitions of what 'quality woman' meant. I base this observation mainly on the 'quality' of his last two women. No thank you.

My wardrobe is a reflection of who I am. I'm laid-back, easy-going, and low-stress. I take care of myself, but don't go out of my way to put on appearances. I'm not trying to impress anyone. A woman who recognized that and would be happy with it is the type of woman I wanted. Clothing should not be part of the consideration.

Eventually, I met her and two years later we were married.

In jeans and a t-shirt, even on my wedding day,
but it was a nice t-shirt.
The light sabers were for a totally different reason.

Now, she is a quality woman.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

T is for Traveling Entertainment

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

Before moving to Indianapolis, I had a job as a courier (which is just a fancy word for deliveryman). I mostly delivered office supplies, but I had a few contracts that involved me delivering blood for the Red Cross and the occasional biopsy sample for a medical firm. The office supplies were always delivered around town, but when I had medical deliveries, I was on the road for a while.

He quit talking to me for some reason.
I usually had to deliver to St. Louis (90 miles from my house), but I didn't always make the pick-up in my hometown. Sometimes, I had to drive for a few hours to even get the product. These trips varied from 180 to 450 miles round trip. In addition to these trips being long, they were always done in the evenings after I had already gotten off my regular route. For this reason, I was usually tired before I even started the trip and often needed help staying awake. And as much as I love caffeine and its glorious side effects, there is only so much coffee and Mt Dew a person can drink before it begins to revolt against your system.

Apparently, it is illegal to talk on the phone while driving and my Candy Crush scores tend to suffer when I can't give the game my full attention, so I am always looking for ways to pass the time. On road trips, this is not an issue because I can pull over at any time to look at anything that catches my eye. When making deliveries, I was on a schedule. It didn't take me long to learn that texting passed the time fairly quickly.

NOTE: My phone is voice activated and the texts are read to me over my stereo system. So, I am not looking at my phone. My eyes are on the road. Sometimes I drive with my feet to entertain myself, but I am always looking at the road.

Recently, while going through my phone, I found one of those texting conversations. It was getting late and I needed someone to talk to. So, I shot a text to my brother Kyle. It turned out he was on the road also and even had other people in the vehicle with him, but I was not deterred. Despite the fact that he didn't stay in the conversation for very long, I tried to keep it going since I had an audience.

That conversation is included on the right.
I didn't feel bad about it. Kyle has a long history of trying to tie up people's time on the phone. Back in the 80's when answering machines still used miniature cassette tapes, Kyle would talk long enough to use up the entire tape. If the machine had a 30-second cutoff, he would just keep calling back until it was used up. He still does this today, but in today's digital world, there is an almost unlimited amount of time. I have received many voice mail messages from him that lasted longer than the Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended versions).

Now that I don't have that job anymore, I have to find new ways to be annoying. 

Kyle's actually pretty good
at being annoying himself.

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Snoopy

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

We had lots of pets growing up, but the one that has always stood out above the others was a beagle-rat terrier mix named Snoopy. Snoopy was the runt of the litter from one of our neighbors' dogs. He never had any special training, but was the best dog we ever had.

Every young boy wants a dog that will play fetch. Snoopy played half a game of fetch. If one of us threw a stick, he would run after it and bring it back to set right at our feet. That's where the proper game of fetch ended. As soon as we would reach for it, he would grab it again and move it a few feet away, setting it down once again, just daring us to try for it. He would never let us have the stick again. The game continued until we got tired of chasing him.

During the winter months, he was allowed to stay in the house. However, like many animals, he wanted to eat food that was not for him. Cats will not gorge themselves the way that a dog will and often left food in their bowl. Obviously, Snoopy would get in trouble if he ate the cat's food, but it didn't keep him from trying.

Because the cat's food was on the hard floor of the kitchen, we could hear the dog when he walked across the floor. His nails would click on the linoleum. The living room was right next to the kitchen, so we would look in the kitchen when we heard his nails and would catch him headed toward their food. Soon, he figured out that it was the noise giving him away.

My mother walked into the kitchen once and caught Snoopy slowly walking across the floor, lifting each foot slowly and gently putting it back down. He lifted each foot extra high. It was the canine version of tip-toeing. We had to start putting the cat food up high enough that they could jump to it, but Snoopy could not reach it.

R is for Remembering

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

I got a little behind this week and could write today's post ahead of time like I have all the other posts. Therefore, I have the opportunity to change what I was going to write about. R is now for remembering.

Prince died today.

I walked into the break room at work to this on the tv screen. At first glance, I thought it said the Prince of Death had come to Minnesota. That would be scary, but then I saw that they were talking about the death of Prince.

Now, I am not one of those people who gets all teary-eyed over the death of a celebrity. I never knew him. I wouldn't even say I was a big fan, but I did like his music and it was all over the place in my teenage years. I found his songs bouncing around in my head for the rest of the work day.

I guess I am feeling a bit nostalgic. I wish the best for his family in this time of mourning and I think I'm going to go watch Purple Rain.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Quilt

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

For a good portion of my life, my grandmother lived right in our backyard. Not literally in the back yard. I mean, she had a house back there. My mother's mother (Mary Jane) lived behind us when I was very young until I was about 8 or 9.

In my teen years, my father's mother (Margaret) lived behind us. I have many memories of being able to walk out of the house and be in one of their homes within seconds. It's great to have grandparents so close.

Grandma Margaret was a quilter. Most of the time, when you walked into her house, she would be working on a quilt. I have no idea how many she made, but those quilts are everywhere. Every family member has several of her quilts. Looking around, I have four in this room right now.

Quilting is not something I have ever particularly cared about, but I was always very interested in Grandma's quilts. I can remember many times upon walking into her house, she would want to show me her latest pattern. She would be trying something new and wanted to show it off. The only pattern name I can remember today is the log cabin pattern, but I used to know several more.

She's been gone four or five years now, but I always think of her every time I see one of her quilts. I have several, so I see them often. Hopefully, they will last forever.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Prankster

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

As someone who loves a good prank, I enjoy April Fool's Day. I should have written about April Fool's Day on April 1 for A, but didn't think of it in time. April Fool's is my favorite day of the year and it time to pull out all the stops on my creativity. I have pulled my share of pranks over the years, both on this glorious day and throughout the rest of the year.

  • Several years ago, a few of us went out the night before the first day of college classes to prank several of our professors. Using a car jack and some bricks, we raised their car axles just high enough that the tires were not touching the ground. The car appeared normal, but did not move when they stepped on the gas. Five professors were late to school the next morning.
  • A college friend, Jayson Ferguson, later that year discovered a professor working late in his office one night. Upon leaving the building, he found a pile of cinder blocks to be used for a construction project starting the next day. A few quick phone calls provided the number of people necessary to haul the bricks into the building and block the prof in his office. Since his door opened inward, when he opened it to leave, he was met with a brick wall.
  •  When my son Christian was eight years old, he wanted to go TP-ing for Halloween. We lived about 20 miles from town, which was too far to go buy any, and did not have toilet paper to spare. He and I walked to a neighbor's house, broke in, stole their toilet paper and then TP-ed their house with it.
  • As a teenager, I had a friend that lived in a trailer with a flat roof. While he was at work, a few of us broke into his house and arranged the contents of his home onto his roof exactly as it was when it was inside the house. This included big items like the couch, entertainment center, beds, and dresser drawers. We even set the table for dinner.
  • When my nephew was younger, he was fascinated with chickens. For his eighth birthday, when he opened his gift from me, a live chicken jumped out and started running around the room. It was a huge hit with the kids. The adults were not as amused.
  • In college, when a neighbor went on vacation with his family one summer, a group of us broke into their house (yes, breaking and entering again), dug out their Christmas decorations and decorated their house. We put the lights up outside and erected the tree fully decorated. We used every item we found and turned the lights on. Their house was lit up for a week before they came home. It was July.
  •  I had a job as a dishwasher at Bonanza when I was sixteen. One night while training a new employee, I warned him about the dangers of getting dish lung. I told him that the industrial strength dishwasher put so much water vapor in the air that breathing it for hours a day would cause a build up of water in your lungs making you drown when you laid down for bed. I explained that standing on his head at the end of each shift would drain his lungs and prevent a possible death. I demonstrated and dribbled water out of my mouth. As I explained, a co-worker in on the joke started coughing and spit up a bunch of water he had discreetly put in his mouth. The trainee quit that night.
  •  In high school, our principal drove a tiny Mazda Fiat convertible. At lunchtime one day, when a guy making fun of the size of the car lifted the rear wheels off the ground, we decided to see if we could lift it completely off the ground. Discovering that we could, we placed it sideways in a nearby alley. The walls were less than six inches from the bumpers on each side.

I learned this behavior from my father. One year after a fishing trip, after cleaning and gutting all the fish, he went to a friend's house and put the guts in the garden just outside their windows. He covered them with dirt just enough that they could not be seen. In a few days, their entire house stunk.

He terrorized his high school by burying a road-killed skunk in the window flower box of the English room. The stench got so bad the teacher opened the window to air out the room. Of course, this made it worse since it was just outside.

He also taped the hammers together inside the piano right before his graduation ceremony. When the class musician went to play, all the hammers struck at once. After a confused look, he tried again with the same result.

As you can see, I inherited this behavior. It is not my fault. It's just part of my genes. There's nothing I can do about it. Not that I want to.

Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Obnoxious

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

I am not really sure that I am obnoxious. I am definitely the loudest. I have something rattling around in my brain that tells me if I am in the room, I must be completely sure that everyone else in the room is aware that I am there. It can't be helped. I must be noticed. I enjoy it, but it's not always a good thing.

This trait is at its worst on the occasions that I am in the same room as my brothers Kyle and Trevor. Solely because they have the same affliction trait. If we are in the same room, it unconsciously becomes a competition to see who is being given the most attention. Sometimes one of them wins and sometimes I do, but I try not to let it be them very often.

Winning the attention of the room is done using several strategies. Sometimes, it just involves the lazy tactic of being extremely loud. This is found to be annoying by the other people in the room very quickly. The next tactic is to be the strangest in the room or the person who says the most ridiculous things. This is typically found to be more entertaining for a while.

PERSON TRYING TO CONVERSE: Beautiful day, isn't it?

ME: It is. It's said that the sky looked exactly like this on the day of the Pearl Harbor attack. If you believe that actually happened.

Kyle tends to be more physical and will climb up in the rafters to look at a spider while I try to dazzle the crowd with wit. Trevor regales the crowd with amazing stories. We are all masters at sarcasm.

Another tactic is to just be shocking. Running naked into a room to tackle someone deeply immersed into a serious conversation will guarantee that you will be remembered long after the party has come to a close.

We are available for parties.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for Nonchalant

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

This just may be one of my favorite traits about myself. I love it and because of it, I just may be the least stressed person you've ever come across. It goes by many names: apathy, ennui, lethargy, detachment, unconcern, passivity, stoicism, lassitude, insouciance, or indifference. You can call it whatever you want. I really don't care.

When I say I don't care, I really mean that I don't care. It also means that I don't care if you believe me. It has no effect on me either way, therefore, it is not something to get worked up about. More people should think this way.

Every time someone asks me why I'm not more upset about a particular situation, I explain to them my life philosophy. It goes like this.

Eh. Who cares?

And here's the best part of this philosophy. It's almost always true. And not just because I say so. In my experience, most of the things people get upset about is something they don't actually have any control over or isn't really of any consequence anyway.

You're stuck in traffic?    Eh. What can you do about it?
Your computer crashed?    Oh well.
Your boss is yelling again?    Honestly, he'll probably do it again tomorrow.

These things happen and can be frustrating, but if you learn to let it go and move on life becomes much easier. In whatever bad situation that occurs, you will eventually have to deal with it. Is it of any help to raise your blood pressure, ruin your evening or lash out at those around you? Not at all. Plus, after you've had your little fit (even if it was just in your head), you still have to deal with the problem.

Other times, there isn't even a problem to deal with. Maybe something just didn't go the way you wanted it or expected it to. Once again, no big deal. Roll with it. You're going to have to anyway. How about we just save ourselves the ulcer and move right to the solution. If there is even anything for you to solve.

I've seen people have meltdowns over issues that really don't even affect them. It is amazing how often the things that upset people are issues that really don't affect them in any way. Learning to recognize those circumstances will add years to your life.

This doesn't mean I never get upset. Somethings are worth getting upset over, but it helps to be able to recognize when those moments are. Plus, a person who is flexible and able to adapt to changing situations is much more pleasant to be around than the hothead or complainer.

I always told my students, "If you don't like being upset, don't do it. You have more control than you realize."

Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for Movies

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

I have loved movies for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching the Jerry Lewis/Abbot & Costello/ Bob Hope & Bing Crosby movies on Saturday afternoons. I was in high school in the 80's, so John Hughes teenager movies were in the theaters. It was a great time to be in high school.
  • Sixteen Candles - "Can I borrow your underpants for 10 minutes?"
  • The Breakfast Club - "Yo, wastoid, you're not gonna blaze up in here."
  • Pretty in Pink - "We don't have none of this stuff in the boy's room! Wait a minute! We don't got none of this... we don't got doors on the stalls in the boy's room, we don't have, what is this? What's this? We don't have a candy machine in the boy's room"
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off - "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
  • Weird Science - "So, what would you little maniacs like to do first"
  • National Lampoon's Vacation - "She breathed on me! A dead person breathed on me"
  • Home Alone  - "Keep the change, ya filthy animal"

When VCRs first hit the market, they were too expensive (about $800) for the typical family to purchase one. However, a local electronics store would rent them along with movie rentals. This was before video rental stores. Every Friday night, we'd rent a VCR and six movies to watch over the weekend and return when we came back into town for church on Sunday. Having the option to watch something whenever we felt like was so high-tech. We loved it.

This opened us up to all different types of movies. We were no longer restricted to whatever channel 11 wanted to show on the weekends. We could rent comedies, action, westerns, or my favorite horror movies. I loved a good scary movie.

A few years later, my dad splurged for a satellite dish. Not the little ones we have today, but the huge monstrosities of the 80's. They were well over 10 feet tall and over 8 feet wide. When positioned, they could only pick up 24 channels at a time (most of which were crap) and it had to be turned to point at other satellites to pick up other channels. It is so much easier today.

This gave us even more access to movies and we watched everything. My dad and I even competed to see who could find the worst movies. As bad as they were, we loved watching them and this love for movies has never left me.

In 2001, I became a Netflix customer so movies could just be mailed to my house. Today, I also have their streaming service along with Hulu and Amazon Prime. I even pay Amazon a little extra for Shudder to access their extensive horror movie collection. I love it.

As much as I love movies, you will rarely catch me in a theater. The theater experience is lost on me. People are rude and it's just not worth the extra expense. I just want the movie and am willing to wait for it to come out on video. Just let me see it.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

L is for Loophole

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

It's been observed by some that I rarely let the the rules get in the way of what I want to do. Once I get an idea of something that might be fun, I want to do it. Who wouldn't want to? However, every now and then, I hit some sort of policy or legal obstacle. And we have been taught since childhood that obstacles are merely an opportunity to develop character and our advanced problem-solving skills.

I don't typically go out of my way to break the rules. I just don't pay much attention to them when they get in my way. Here are some rules I consider optional:
  • Jaywalking laws - I'm a grown man and can cross a street without endangering myself.
  • No Photography - If you don't want a picture taken of something, keep it hidden.
  • No Trespassing - Sometimes the thing I want to see is behind a fence. Or a locked door. Or in a safe.
  • Law of Gravity - Situations occur sometimes that require finding out how high the bike/car/baby can get.
  • Do Not Enter - This is one that is just begging for trouble. I have to know what is so secretive and will find out.
  • Public Decency laws - It's a big thrill to be naked in places where you are not supposed to be.
I don't seek out these rules just so I can break them, but sometimes the very existence of a rule makes me curious and I just have to see it played out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K is for Kale

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

Kale is disgusting!

I know that most of you probably agree with me. For those of you who don't, there's no need to jump into my comment section to tell me how if I just fixed it right, I would like it better. Any food that requires lots of work or special preparation to remove the taste of burnt crap should just get used to the fact that I will choose something else. It's just not worth it. When I buy a pizza, it's ready to go. Cook it and eat it. Put extra cheese on it if you want, but you don't have to. Cheese does nothing to improve kale.

Now, I am not against healthy food. I don't turn my nose up at vegetables. I'm happy to eat fish to get my Omega fatty acids. I can eat chicken, fruit, nuts, vegetables, grains, breads and legumes. I'm more than happy to eat any of this even though it would probably not be my first choice. I do tend to gravitate more toward nachos, pizza, bacon cheeseburgers and loaded waffles. However, there is healthy food and then there's health food.

Healthy food involves making smarter food choices. Choosing leaner meats over fattier meats. Being sure to eat green vegetables to get your iron and vitamins. Plenty of fruit for even more vitamins. Oily fish is great for getting those healthy fats. We also cannot overlook the importance of grains and a healthy amount of certain dairy. I very rarely don't always do as well as I should, but I can get behind this.

However, health food people too often go to extremes. Kale is an example of an unnecessary sacrifice to the enjoyment of food. Hopefully, the kale fad (and it is a fad) will die off soon and we won't have to keep hearing about it. When I was in high school, oat bran was all the rage. There was oat bran everything and it all tasted like week-old cardboard. It even crept into our breakfast cereal. About 10 years ago, everyone was eating kelp. KELP! Kelp is basically seaweed and while it may have some nutritional value, there are dozens of other foods that have the same nutrition that are significantly cheaper and (here's the best part) taste much better! And no one has to risk drowning in order to harvest it.

I'm not saying any of these foods should not be eaten. More power to the people who want to try to choke this stuff down. I just don't want the practitioners of these "miracle" foods to force them on me. I've had enough of the kale, kelp, flax seed, oat bran, quinoa, chia seed, apple cider vinegar, bean sprout, tofu, cannabis oil, alfalfa, wheat grass, spirulina and chlorella advocates who keep telling me that I'm killing myself if I eat a white potato.

"You know that just turns to sugar in your stomach"


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J is for Joints

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

People always make jokes about the aches and pains of getting older. The increasing frequency of how often we walk into a room and forget why we went in there. The frequent urination. Sleepless nights. The incredible difficulty of getting our bodies to start cooperating in the morning. The frustrating forgetfulness. I understand all of it and have experienced them all as well, but I have one particular one that I need to take some action for.

I have incredible joint pain.

Actually, I hate to use the word incredible because I associate that word with great things and what I experience is not great. It's quite the opposite of that. It's pretty ungreat (Not to be confused with ingrate. That is something else entirely) and I really don't enjoy it.

I have written many times in the past about my recurring shoulder pains. When they are at their worst, I can't even let my arm hang by my side without horrible pain. I have to support the weight. It took a while, but we finally found the issue and it means surgery. However, the doctors say that I must wait as long as possible for the surgery because it will only last 10 to 15 years and cannot be done again. In the meantime, I've been taught some stretches that seem to alleviate the pain somewhat, but it still gets quite painful at times.

For the last year, my shoulders haven't been my biggest concern. Something is going on with my hands. My fingers will swell up and I have trouble making a fist. I can't hold anything when this happens and it lasts for a few days. They are very tender during this time and I lose all dexterity. I can't open jars. I have trouble lifting the tea pitcher to get myself a drink and taking care of my bathroom needs becomes rather challenging.

These pains are spreading. It occurs in my feet, wrists, ankles, knees, hip and other places. One morning my alarm went off and I discovered that I couldn't walk. I had to crawl to the clock. I have no problem with not walking as long as I have access to a remote and a good wifi signal, but I was supposed to go to work. It didn't happen that day. My foot was swelled so big, I couldn't get my shoe on anyway.

My wife is grateful that I just made a doctor's appointment last week. It's a general practitioner, but it's a step in the direction of getting some of this looked into. I don't know why men don't like to go to the doctor, but I am guilty. I have just put up with this forever, but it's reached the point that it can't be ignored any longer.

I just hope he doesn't try to make me change my diet. I'll go without movement to be able to stick my face in a plate of steak fajita nachos.

Monday, April 11, 2016

I is for Insomniac

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

Recent studies have proven that people who don't get enough sleep are typically more tired than their well-rested counterparts. Let that sink in for a moment.

People need their sleep.

Despite many rumors to the contrary, I do fall into the category of people…and like other people, I need my sleep as well. However, as many of us have learned over the course of our sleep-deprived lives, we don't always get what we need.

It started several years ago and used to come in waves. I didn't really have a sleeping problem and then suddenly one night, I couldn't sleep. Not a big deal, but this trend lasted for several months. I wasn't even tired. I was wide awake and sleep just wouldn't come. So, I watched television, read, surfed the web and did laundry. Once, I tried to mow the lawn, but the neighbors were pretty vocal about that one.

Then, months later, my insomnia just went away. Much like a protestor at a Trump rally, it just disappeared. I slept like a baby every night with no issues. It didn't take long for me to completely forget about it.

However, about a year later, it returned. It lasted for a few months and then went away. Since then, it has come and gone many times, but it lasts longer and there is less time between spurts of sleeplessness. In fact, in the last year, I have only gotten about 96 minutes of uninterrupted sleep.

When you remove sleep from your schedule, you find yourself with an extra 8 hours in your day. Actually, it's even more than 8 hours because you don't have to get ready for bed and there is not the morning routine of getting up from your sleep to get moving again. With all that extra time, I have gotten a lot done.

I have:
  • Read the entirety of the Internet
  • Written and sent individualized letters to every state representative detailing my zombie apocalypse plan of action
  • Perfected my crock-pot buffalo chicken recipe
  • Proposed a legislative solution to be border dispute of Fergana Valley, specifically the Kyrgyz village of Barak, the Tajik exclave villages of Sarvan, Vorukh and Kairagach, and the Uzbek exclave towns of Sokh and Shakhimardan as well as the tiny territories of Chong-Kara and Dzhangail.
  • Wrote three volumes of Dr. Who/Orange is the New Black cross-over fan ficion
  • Caused canine chaos every 2 a.m. by blowing my dog whistle in the apartment stairwell
  • Convinced Stephen King to write a book about demon-possessed mascara
  • Received an Order of Protection from Tom Brady due to cyber-bullying
  • Invented a new type of syphilis (this was accidental)
So, until I can find out what keeps me from sleeping through the night, rest assured that I have things under control. With enough time, I'll get this world fixed.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

H is for Husband

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

My first blog post was on October 11, 2010. About 16 months later (February 2012), I got my first comment from a particular blogger. Since I always try to visit the blogs of the people who comment on mine, I read a few of her posts and left some comments over there. We were regular readers of each others' blogs until she wrote a particular post which really spoke to me. So, I proposed to her in her comment section.

This proposal was meant to be a joke and was taken as such, but we ran with it for a while. We lived over 900 miles apart and would never meet each other, but were happy to claim each other as our internet fiance. Since this was all online and not in person, I was able to hide behind relative anonymity and flirt shamelessly. Since we would never meet, what was the harm?

A few months later, due to some family concerns, she ends up moving from the East Coast to the Midwest. She was then less than 200 miles from where I lived. With this new development, I mustered up all my courage and suggested we meet in person. After attempting to prove that I was not a psycho and calling in literally dozens of character witnesses, she was convinced. We met halfway and had a very good day. I even suckered a kiss out of her.

After several more months of dating, I eventually moved to Indianapolis to be closer and complete my graduate degree. Then, in May 2014, we were married. It's been an awesome two years since then.

I started this blog because my daughter boyfriend at the time talked me into doing it. I just enjoyed expressing myself. I didn't expect to find a bride, but I'm glad I did. Thank you, Alex.

Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for Gamer

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.


Love them. I love them. They're so much fun. I love the racing games. I love the shooting games. I love the puzzle games. I love the fighting games. I love the mystery games. I love the trivia games. I love the skill games. I love the strategy games. I love the music games. I love the sports games. I love the horror games. I love killing zombies, aliens, witches, monsters, bugs, enemy soldiers, mutants, hookers, drug dealers, cab drivers, pedestrians, hairdressers, school teachers, babysitters and meter maids. (In some games, you can just kill everybody.)

These are just my discs. I have about 80 more on my XBOX hard drive.

A video game has a way of sucking you into its world even more than a good movie.  A game that's made well isn't an adventure that you watch on the screen You are part of it. When playing a scary game, it is so much more scary to have to be the person who opens the door than just watching the protagonist open it. When you have to solve the mystery yourself, it is so much more satisfying than just watching it play out on the screen. I love these games and have spent hundreds of hours guiding Lara Croft through endless crypts over the years. And watching her butt as she does it.

As much as I love these games, we don't really spend much time together. I played a game two days ago for about an hour and it was the first game I had played in over two months. I just don't have the time any more and any time I do consider playing, I can always think of something else I should probably be doing instead. Adult responsibility sucks.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

F is for Food

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.


I cannot stress enough how much I love today's topic. I love food. Probably too much. No…I take that back. I know it's too much. I spend an awful lot of time thinking about food and the new things I want to try.

Obviously, there are foods that I love and I have found some that I don't care for, but I will eagerly try anything. ANYTHING! Well…anything that is considered food. You just never know where your next favorite taste is going to come from. I've never understood the concept of being afraid to try certain foods. If you don't like something, you don't like it. What's the big deal?

Some of my favorite foods are things I would have never expected to like. Raw eel is absolutely amazing. I only tried it because I saw it on the menu in a sushi restaurant once and thought, "I've never had eel", so I ordered some. It's now my favorite sushi. I've even eaten octopus while it was still alive. I wonder what it would be like to eat an electric eel. I'm going to have to find out.

Of course, having this obsession with food has its drawbacks. The most obvious is my ever-expanding waistline. Luckily, I have good genes or a high metabolism or something that stops me from being as big as I probably should be considering how much I rake into my mouth. I have also spent considerable money trying out every ethnic restaurant I ever come across. And now that I live in a big city, instead of a small town, there is no end to the options.

To save some money, I've started trying my hand at cooking and I've learned that I'm actually pretty good at it. I love digging through Pinterest and finding foods I want to try. I've built up a pretty decent collection.

My favorite way to cook is with my crock-pot. Cooking with a crock-pot is like cooking for people who don't really know how to cook. It is so easy. Toss a couple of ingredients into the pot, turn it on and come back 6 to 8 hours later to a fantastic meal. Since I really don't like to do any more than I have to ever, this is the way to cook for me.

I really don't expect that my love affair with food will end any time soon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E is for Emergency

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

I am not what you would call handy. Other than very basic maintenance, tools are useless in my hands. This is odd since my brothers and father can completely break down a vehicle into its individual pieces and put it back together without so much as a Lego instruction manual. I can change the oil (until I get a new car) and change a tire. That's about the limit of my mechanical skills.

I can operate a hammer and screwdriver, but would need someone right next to me to tell me what we are doing to keep me properly on task. I can help if it's simple, but keep an eye on me. Otherwise, I just get in the way and end up causing damage that then has to be fixed. It's usually better if I'm not there.

But this doesn't mean that I am totally useless. I am great to have around in a crisis.

When all hell breaks lose and a situation occurs that causes many to go into panic mode, that doesn't happen to me. I don't know why, but I have the ability to stay calm and start handling the situation. On over a dozen occasions, I have either been involved in or came upon a crisis and took charge to make sure things were handled.

At 17 years old, when a youth group boating accident removed the calf muscle of one of my friends, the adult in the boat lost his mind. It was my brothers and myself who placed the muscle back in position, wrapped it in a wet towel and instructed the adult to take us back to shore. We even took our friend to the hospital, because we didn't want to waste any time waiting for "the one responsible" to get his head together.

This trait was especially useful when I was a 911 dispatcher. My most important job in this role is to find out the situation so I could get help to them as soon as possible. Projecting a calming presence was often all that was needed to get the person on the other end of the phone to calm down enough to give me the information I needed. I even got a Certificate of Commendation once for keeping my cool and doing what needed to be done during a particularly stressful hostage situation.

I may not always know exactly what needs to be done (due to my lack of common skills) to fix an emergency situation, but I can keep my head about me to start the process of getting help and protecting others from further injury or panic.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D is for Dreamer

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

I have this problem inside my head. I don't know if other people have the same issue because I've only ever been inside my own head, but I know it causes problems for me. My have great difficulty keeping my mind on task. It's not that I'm easily distracted. It's that my mind tends to wander. And it wanders far. Like "goes on epic quests" far. It's all over the place in my head.

I don't know how many times I will be telling my wife about how I plan to tackle a possible future scenario that will probably never happen. I know that I have something coming up in the future and have already considered all the possible outcomes and how I will approach them. I have also dreamed about all the reactions I may get from other people and how I will specifically address those concerns. She lets me talk for a long time without pointing out that I have stepped very far from reality.

It's like I checked out
Luckily, I have a job where my mind can go on autopilot. Soon after I start my task, my brain takes me for a ride. I remember old conversations and play them over and over in my head. I replay them with me responding in different ways to give it a better outcome. I think about movies I've seen and imagine how I would have responded if in that situation.

It just doesn't stop
When in school (elementary, high and college), something said by the instructor would send my mind on an adventure. I might be fighting pirates, killing zombies, delivering the perfect pick-up line to the cute girl in front of me, riding a polar bear or playing an awesome guitar solo in the gymnasium.

I also have a tendency to start to think about something in the future and my mind gets so far away from me that I start making plans as though this has actually happened. For example, winning the lottery, book getting published, my car being vandalized, etc. I have to snap back to reality and remember that I just took a trip for a few minutes. Stop and look around at what's real.

Lately, since I am working on a book, my mind tends to drift straight to it as soon as it has a chance. When I'm at work, I come up with scores of possible scenarios and have the time to figure out how to work them into my story and how to solve the problems of my protagonist. I'm starting to think having this wild imagination may finally be starting to work in my favor. I just have to keep it focused.

Monday, April 4, 2016

C is for Completionist

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

I have a sickness. It's something that developed in my pre-teens and I've never been able to get past it. I'm a collector. Specifically, a set collector.

This means that if I have more than one of something, I have to have the entire set. Something is missing from my life if I don't have every one of them. My earliest memories of this involved McDonald's Happy Meals. The Happy Meals always include a toy. It was usually come cheap little trinket, but whatever you got was usually one of four possible toys. It wasn't enough for me to have the toy I had, I "needed" to have the others as well. This wasn't about greed. I just had to complete the set.

A small portion of my collection.
I still have these today.
Years later when I started buying things for myself, I got caught up in buying music. Like many people, if I heard a song or group that I liked, I bought the album (I never bought singles). But having that music that I liked wasn't enough. I had to own every single album they ever recorded. I didn't discover Van Halen until they released 1984. I loved that album until I discovered they had been around since 1978 and released four albums before that one. I had to have them to stop the pain in my soul.

I've since learned that the correct term for this is being a completist.

This is definitely me. I have to try every flavor of Mt Dew even if I only like the original. I need entire movie collections, even if the third one sucked (Beverly Hills Cop). If I find an author I like, I have to read everything they ever wrote before I can move onto another one. If I only own two properties of a color in Monopoly, I will let you do unspeakable things to me in order to acquire that third property. It's a sickness. I have to have it to make the shouting in my head quiet down.

Sometimes, it takes the fun out of what is supposed to be a enjoyable activity. Take video games, for example.

I have done this exact thing! It takes me forever to beat a video game because I don't feel like I am getting the entire experience if I don't complete everything. I have found every single flag in Assassin's Creed and those things are not easy to find. I spent literally hundreds of hours just meticulously canvasing the entire map to ensure that none were left behind. Until my stats can show that I have a 100% completion on a game, it has not been beaten. For the Grand Theft Auto franchise, this takes years.

Although, this trait isn't all drawbacks. It does have its advantages. My wife is grateful for my completionist attitude when it comes to foreplay. I make sure to cover everything.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

B is for Boredom

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

People don't usually believe me when I say this, but I do not get bored. EVER. It just doesn't happen. I am always able to entertain myself, even when I can't actually do anything due to surrounding circumstances. Boredom is just not an option and I have trouble understanding how it happens to people.

There is a reason for this. Boredom was not permitted in our house growing up. My father wouldn't allow for it. He had a very good argument. My brothers and I had a lot of toys. Our shelves were filled with books (there was even a Playboy in our closet, but they didn't know about that). There was a television. We had video games (pre-Nintendo years, but we had some). AND we lived out in the country where there were literally thousands of things that can be done outside. Add to all of this the fact that there were three of us, it should not have been difficult for us to keep ourselves and each other entertained.

I don't quite remember how he said it, but my dad took it a little further. It wasn't just that there was plenty to do. He also suggested that someone who was not capable of entertaining himself or herself had something wrong with him. A busy mind is not a mind that gets bored. Even if you can't do what you want, your mind can still occupy itself. If you were incapable of avoiding boredom, it meant that you were maybe not very intelligent.

This was his version of motivation.

Living where we did, there was plenty of work to be done at any time. If someone suggested boredom, Dad would give him something to do to occupy his time and there was no shortage of chores.
My little brother Trevor
working the fields
  • Mow the lawn
  • Shovel manure out of the barn
  • Pick some tomatoes or go snap green beans
  • Rake leaves or grass 
  • Wash and wax the car
  • Feed the horses, chickens, dogs, goats
  • Weed the garden
  • Water mom's plants
  • Find your missing brother 
  • Vacuum the floors
  • Pick up pears or apples that had fallen from tree
  • Go paint the whatever (something always needed painting)
We learned at a very young age that we weren't to ever suggest that we were bored or we would end up doing something we would rather not be doing. However, it was much more than learning not to say it. We learned to entertain ourselves and often we were made to entertain ourselves in ways that we hadn't chosen. We had a television and video games, but weren't permitted to use them all the time. For a large part of our childhood, we were allowed one hour of television per day. There was a variety of reasons for this, but it meant we had to find ways to entertain ourselves rather than just sitting back and being entertained. Because our option to be bored was taken away from us, we adapted to the point that it honestly ceased to exist. Boredom is no longer an option for me because I don't know how to do it.

So much entertainment is handed to people today, many find it difficult to engage with actual life when that device is removed. Whether it be a computer, television, tablet or cellphone, it is still possible for a person's mind to function and interact with their surroundings. However, this is a learned trait. I love my electronics, but am so grateful to my parents for teaching me to never be bored and always be entertained by the world around me.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A is for Action

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.

I feel like I've led a pretty full life. I really don't have any complaints. There are still many things that I would like to do (see Mila Kunis naked, in person) before my time here is over, but it's been a great ride so far. Some of my greatest memories involve how hungry my brothers and I were for excitement in our younger years. It seems that every time we left our house, we were in for an adventure and the possibility of stitches or an emergency room were no deterrent.

I have written in past posts about how we all wanted to be stuntmen when we grew up. Despite none of us actually pursuing that career in our adult lives, we believed it wholeheartedly well into our teenage years and practiced rigorously. We jumped out of moving vehicles to dive into snow banks. We intentionally rolled vehicles. We practiced getting hit by cars. We lit ourselves on fire. We jumped from vehicle to vehicle on the highway. We threw ourselves off roofs, barns, and anything else we could find. We were the ones who climbed the water tower, jumped on passing trains, crashed trucks through barn walls, and tried out the bike ramps that others thought looked too scary. We saw our share of emergency rooms, but the adrenaline rush was well worth it.

Today, I still have that yearning for adventure, but it is much tamer. Seeing some action now usually involves what happens in my bedroom after dark. Sometimes, before it's dark…and it's not always in the bedroom.

Action for me now also involves seeing new places and having new experiences. I would like to walk on the Great Wall of China someday, but doubt I'll have a yearning to jump off it or ramp a motorcycle over it. All those trips to the emergency room have wreaked havoc on my body and I've been known to take my time just stepping off a sidewalk curb. I don't want to jar my back or twist an ankle.

My wife and I have found a new to have some adventure in a way that is significantly low-impact. It involves a little daring and sometimes quick reflexes, but there is little  concern for injury. All we need is ourselves, a camera and the right location.

Dead Horse Point State Park
Utah - October 2014
I know this isn't for everyone, but we have a great time doing it. We find a beautiful place. Locate a secluded spot and then get naked to snap a few pictures. This has become our new favorite vacation activity and it provides the adrenaline rush I have missed from my younger years without putting myself in grave danger.

Only three of these pictures have ever been seen by others and never really show anything.  It's just fun to be known as the crazy couple and our growing collection of canvas prints is getting rather impressive.