The mostly humorous ramblings of my day to day existence.







Friday, August 17, 2012

A note to all of my idealist friends:



If you want the world to be the perfect place that you have in your mind then follow these steps to get there from here:
  1. Take a realistic look at the world for what it really is.
  2. Listen to information from sources that you don’t normally get it from.
  3. Stop demonizing people who have different views than your own.
  4. Have pleasant conversations with people who have different views, and try and understand where they are coming from.
  5. Start questioning your beliefs, and check to see if they are factually accurate. The truth can’t hurt you.
  6. The world is the way it is today because of things that happened yesterday. Pay attention to history.
  7. Problems in the world have a root cause, and those causes usually aren’t what you think. For example if a person is sick with cancer you may think that cancer is the root cause, but why the person got cancer in the first place is the real root cause.
Why did I write this? Because I think the world would be a better place if people started thinking about what they say and do, and stopped relying on others to think for them. If everyone started doing this then the world would become closer to the perfect place I would want it to be. But I’m not an idealist so I won’t hold my breath.   

Friday, May 25, 2012

What's with that Daryl Chronicles thing?

Writing covers a huge gambit of expression and functional need. Everyone knows that there is a big difference between reading a medical journal, Dr. Seuss, The Wall Street Journal, and a paperback novel. I think writing can be one of two things. Functional like a news story, commentary, of how to do something. Or creative, as in Poetry, or story telling. I'm probably over simplifying but you can beat me up later if you really feel the need to.

The Daryl Chronicles is a way for me to write with my imagination and to tell an off the wall story. Simply put it's fun to do. Am I trying to please anyone? No, I'm not. If someone like it then great! It's always nice to have someone like something you have done. But I'm really trying to just write the story that is stuck in my head, and to put it out in a way that I myself like. Does that mean I won't listen to what anyone has to say about it? Nope. I view it as a journey where as you get better as you go along, input helps you look at it in a different way.

Right now I have been posting my episodes on Expats Post but I do have plans for the story and have been thinking about grouping episodes together then putting them on Scribd and other places so people can read them on their e-readers and computers, and more focusing what I'm writing to niche audiences.

I'm going to start using this blog for more that just my articles going forward please feel free to drop me a note.
Dan

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ive started a new series called The Chronicles of Daryl that I'm initially posting on Expats Post come follow the story of Daryl and see what he's really up to.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Weekends Are A Blast!



The weekend started with a blast! My neighbor Daryl blasting 70s music from his car radio that is, and no Daryl to be found. I didn’t see his rusty step van / shuttle craft sitting around, and being from outside of this world Daryl probably got an urgent call from the mother ship. My other theory was that there was a beer festival, or a weirdo convention someplace that he had to rush to. I think I’ll go with the mother ship explanation.

The rest of Saturday was a rollercoaster ride of grocery shopping, the library, little league, and ending with me bringing my boys to sing at a gala charity event. I felt a little under dressed as I watched them perform in my shorts, and sweaty T-shirt but we barely had time to get the boys changed after a baseball game, and unfortunately I was still in my baseball watching duds. They enjoyed singing to the –half paying attention- group of wine sippers, and I’m glad the crowd was drinking it up because their money was going to support autistic kids. I think my boys enjoyed being at the ritzy affair even for a short while, but as we were walking back to the car they inexplicably started bugging me about buying them cake. Fortunately for me in my rush to get them to the event I left my wallet sitting on my desk at home, so no cake today! All I wanted to do is go home and sit down; sometimes kids have to give dad a break.

Sunday started off with the usual Sunday newspaper comics, and a cup-O-Joe. I then move on to other news, like the story about the 40 pound cat. At first I shook my head and then I remembered I had a cat named Bear, he was a mild mannered black cat that was great with kids but had an eating disorder. Other cats would stop eating when they were full but not Bear, that cat could really put away the kibble. One day I actually saw him get stuck in the cat door while he was trying to chase some feline interloper, he made it through the door but it wasn’t pretty. Bear was a hearty cat, and one day I accidentally backed over him with my car! He survived, and I rushed him to the cat emergency room, and after several hundred dollars in X-rays they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. He was a bit crooked for a while but he was OK. I just loved that cat.

“He took your stuff, he took your stuff!” is the sound of Sunday morning in my house. Sundays is when my 12 year old talks to his friend -who is in Sweden- on Skype while they work together in an online game called Minecraft. His 8 year old brother is his cheerleader as he makes his way through the imaginary world they are playing in.

“How much pork do you have? And how many arrows?” he shouts. I take two ibuprofen tablets and decide to do some writing. The sound of a blender mixing waffle batter also enters into the noise.

The words “I’ve got a set of gills too, and guys we are going to have to stay together” echoes in my brain.
“Can you refill my coffee cup?” I ask my lovely spouse as she takes her turn working in the kitchen. I did the dish cleanup to get everything ready for her waffle making.

“No I’m not shooting at you I’m trying to hit the spiders! Oops, sorry I think I hit you with an arrow senior” hit’s my brain.

The timer is set for one more hour and I kick them off of the computer so they can enjoy the beautiful warm spring day, being a cave trolls at the keyboard is not an option. To drown out all of this noise, I have my ear buds in listening to the old 70s group “Heart.” My wife is in Graduate school and has me proofreading her papers, ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz. “Coffee, fill er up stat!” I say as I try and keep my brain from daydreaming about fun things like sandy beaches and drinks with little umbrellas in them while I'm proof reading.

I received a political advertisement for Matthew Robinson on Saturday, and was looking at it Sunday morning. I had compared Matthew to Opie Taylor in “Opie for Congress! And Other Batshit Crazy News!” and was wondering when I would see some of his Koch brothers funded advertisements. When it arrived Saturday I immediately scanned it and sent the picture of Opie –Matthew- to a gentleman named Bob who is making a film. He was searching for a larger picture and this was serendipity. I’m helping to spread the word about the Robinson -whack job- duo and their quest to feed me radiation. The funny thing is that I actually agree with one of his talking points in the flyer. Apparently he believes in only using our military to protect our country in case it’s attacked; which I basically agree with. But, he and papa Robinson also want to balance the budget by cutting out school funding, and putting senior citizens in poverty. I think they have been sampling way too much radioactive waste over at the Robinson household.

Sundays have always been my favorite day of the week, Saturdays are busy but Sundays always seem more peaceful especially when you get to sit outside and read under a big umbrella in the sunshine. In the evening the doors were still open, and a chorus of a thousand and one frogs could be heard emanating from the yard down below. I saw two garter snakes today, and our little dog visited my neighbor next door, not Daryl but Daryl’s buddy, you know the one who threw fish on my roof. She barked at him for a while before crawling under the fence when I called her to come back home. She gave him a good talking to; it’s funny how people seem to get what you deserve sometimes.

The weekend is now over and the kids are in school. Spring has sprung, so I don my tool belt and start swinging my hammer. I have a room to finish, half a house to paint, and endless other things to do. If I see Daryl I’ll let you know, and for some reason I have a feeling he’s up to no good.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In Case You Haven't Heard, Mondays Suck!



Garfield the cat has always warned us about Mondays, but has anyone listened? Nope, I don't think so. But it's the truth, they suck, and they especially suck when you get two in a row. How can you get two Mondays in a row? Monday is a sneaky bastard, when it's a holiday, or even an extra day off from school. Tuesday then fills in for Monday. So sometimes you get two, count' em two, Mondays in one week.
Monday was a real bastard this week. Monday was the last day of Spring break for the rest of the family. Preparations had to be made for Tuesday, the first day back from a week off. This in turn made Tuesday a Monday. But Monday is a hog and couldn't just let it go this week, as it had to have both days. So while I was out getting ready for Tuesday, (the real Monday), Monday reared it's ugly head to show everyone who's boss. After the boys urged me to wash my Chevy Blazer because it sat under a tree for a week that made it dirty, I caved in and went to the car wash. Monday wasn't happy with me cleaning my rig Monday needed to take down a Toyota Prius.
Now you may have heard me call the drivers of the Hybrid gas and electric cars “Pious Prius drivers,” but I'm going to have to take it back this time. With my Blazer still dripping from it's car wash I decided to try to make a left turn onto one of the south bound lanes of a busy 4 lane road that had a turning lane in the middle. Monday decided that it would complicate things, and as I pulled out to turn all Hell broke loose. Monday made a driver decide to turn into the lane I was to go through, Monday turned the driver behind him into a speeding maniac, and made a south bound Prius appear from nowhere all at the same time. With very little time to react I hit the Prius with the corner of my right bumper.
The driver of the other car made it to the curb, and I followed and parked behind him. I screwed up, mainly because I shouldn't have tried to go left at that spot in the first place. He was simply traveling down the road, and I hit his car. I waited for traffic to clear and opened my door. I noticed that I had a dent in my bumper and that was about it. Not a big deal at all, but his car was a mess. His front end was messed up, and his driver's door was crunched.
The other driver got out of his car. He was a gentleman that looked to be in his 60s, and he headed to the sidewalk where I was standing. I started apologizing profusely. Everyone was OK, the man was smiling and told me “don't beat yourself up it was just an accident.” But I kept thinking I shouldn't have made a left in that spot and should have gone right and figured out how to turn around someplace. We exchanged information, and even had a witness show up. My kids couldn't help themselves and had to get out onto the sidewalk and see what happened. They were fine, everyone was fine, and Monday had it's big laugh.
I mentioned that my insurance agent was just down the street, and I suggested that we head there and just take care of everything at once. The driver of the Prius agreed, and we paid a visit to my insurance agent of many years. She was on the phone when we arrived but was off shortly afterwards and I explained to her what had happened. She was fantastic, she gave us accident forms to fill out that she would mail to the DMV for us, and started taking care of my victim. She even recommended a body shop for him to visit. If I had to run into someone this was the guy I wanted to run into. I apologized some more, we shook hands, and he headed to his car. I chatted with my insurance agent a bit about my overall coverage then headed home.
After using a couple tie straps on the plastic of my bumper I finished my errands with the boys. We headed to Wendy's hamburgers for lunch, and I broke my no beef eating diet just this once. The rest of the day was fine, but Monday was waiting for me again on Tuesday.
No, I didn't crash into anything Tuesday morning, but 6:30 a.m. felt like it crashed into my head. I was used to getting up late for the week of Spring break, and now here I was having some coffee and making breakfast for everyone, lunches for the three that had to go to school, and starting off my week in a daze. This morning actually felt more like Monday, and I have way too many things to do. If only I could deal with it like Garfield and put a blanket over my head and sleep through it. It was a frantic morning but then with everyone gone I had my serenity.
I took time to relish the one triumph that I had on Monday. I found the right mixture of boric acid, sugar, and water to wipe out my ant problem. I placed the mixture right on their trail in a small dish, then the pesky little buggers drank it down like tainted Kool-aid. They took doggy bags back to their queen, then died later from lack of insect Pepto-Bismol. BWAHAHA, I am an Ant Bully! It serves them right crawling into my box of granola, and just for your information ants taste like crap.
“Die you little bastards die! BWAHAHAHA!”
As a Chihuahua uses me as a ladder to get down from the back of the sofa I am thankful. Instead of telling Monday to stick it, I'm going to use this hour to write before I start working on my daily drudgery and I'll ask Monday to be kind to me. I'll buy it a doughnut if it's good. I'll write praise for Monday and stop condemning it.
Nah! Monday can stick it where the sun doesn't shine! Up yours Monday! Pfffffffft!
I'm a dead man.


Dan's A#1 sugar ant killing sauce:
Make a mixture of:
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons boric acid
Mix and serve. It takes a couple of days for them to fill up and croak.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Opie for Congress! And Other Batshit Crazy News!

You may remember Art Robinson from my travel guide to Lane County Oregon. Well he's at it again! Art, also known as Old Fart Robinson, ran for congress as a Republican a couple of years back. Art, a self proclaimed expert on nuclear waste, had stated that “a little nuclear radiation is good for you.” He lost to the incumbent Pete DeFazio. It's election time again and the “Old Fart” will be running again but this time he has a devilish plan. Art's plan involves his son Matthew Robinson, (with a striking resemblance to Opie Taylor) who will be running against DeFazio in the Democratic primary. Art's plan for Republicans involves them changing party affiliation to Democratic to vote for his son. If Matthew won, then Art could run against his son instead of DeFazio. Call me nutty, but I would think any self respecting Republican would have enough integrity not to go along with such an overtly dirty plan. I can only conclude that Art thinks people are stupid. The Koch brothers, who are hell bent on having the world run by crazy people, are financing both “Old Fart's” and “Opie's” campaigns, so we should be seeing many, many, many, bulletin boards, Facebook ads, and magnetic signs on car doors representing these two yahoos. I'm turning green just thinking about it.

Speaking of green, I'm writing this on Saint Patrick's day and there's nothing more appropriate than a good beer, and a shot of Jameson. Well, many of our local drivers have been warming up for Saint Patty's day by drinking a few too many pints of Guinness and crashing their cars into stationary objects. On March 5th a car slams into a house, and on March 7th a car runs into a tree, but last Thursday a drunk smashed into the Serenity Lane substance abuse treatment center. There were a couple more drivers that ran into trees and traffic poles, but running into Serenity Lane has got to take the cake. I'm guessing the driver had blurred vision and saw “Abusive Substances are a Treat,” and was just stopping in for free samples. I'm sure all of these drivers are feeling pretty miserable right about now, and are probably out tyeing one on to drown out their misery. Telephone poles should be very afraid about now.

In other Old Fart news, do you remember Harold Camping, the California preacher that hustled money from people to put up billboards all over the country proclaiming the end of the world? He predicted Christ would come and get him and other followers on May 21st of 2011. Well, the world didn't end, and it didn't end on his revised date either. It didn't end on any of his revised dates. Anyway, the 90 year old preacher is giving it up and asking God for forgiveness for the sin of trying to predict Judgment day. I wonder why he bothers, as very soon he should be able to tell God personally.

Ah, here is a nice piece of news. Marilyn Hagerty of North Dakota is an Internet sensation after writing a glowing review of The Olive Garden in the Grand Forks Herald. She normally reviews such fine establishments as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Subway Sandwich shops, but this time she was going for a classier establishment. She was surprised when her review went viral and stated “I don't get it, I mean, I'm sitting here minding my own business yesterday morning, trying to get my Friday column finished off so I could play bridge. And all of the sudden, all Hell breaks loose.” I envy Marilyn, and maybe I should start reviewing big chain restaurants. I'm heading over to McDonald's later for a McSalad. Do you think if I gave a glowing review of that dressing squeezed out of the packet my review would go viral? I can only hope.

In the category of “Can you be a bigger Dumb Ass than this” news, bigamy and Facebook don't mix. The headline read “Facebook “friend” offer reveals that man has more than one wife.” Facebook, in it's effort to connect users through “friends” they may know, lead two Washington women to finding out that they were married to the same man. This lead to Alan L. O'Neill, a corrections officer, being slapped with bigamy charges. Wife #1 went to wife #2's Facebook page and saw her husband with another woman and a wedding cake. BUSTED!

That's all the news I have for now. Have a great day.

Friday, March 16, 2012

BBQ Tofu, Onion, and Pepper Burritos

I've been changing my diet more toward being almost completely vegetarian and I  thought I would share with you a burrito I invented that is pretty yummy.

Ingredients:

2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
Soy Sauce (I use low sodium)
1 Red Pepper
1 cup of water
Burrito size tortillas
1 container of firm Tofu
BBQ sauce

I takes a day to prepare the Tofu so I will go over that first. Drain all of the water out of the container of Tofu. Place the Tofu brick between layers of paper towels, then place a heavy weight on top. Here are instructions for doing it. I use a frying pan with a tea kettle full of water. It's important to do this so the Tufu will soak up the liquid from the marinade.

While the Tufu is being drained of water finely chop onion and mince the garlic and add it to about 1/4 cup of soy sauce to make the marinade.

When the Tufu is ready slice it into about 1/4 inch slices. Place the slices into a bowl or plastic bag with the marinade and let it soak overnight.

Warm your oven to 280 degrees Fahrenheit, spray an oven pan lightly with oil then place Tufu strips into the oven flipping them when they are brown. It should take about an hour to dry out the moisture from the Tofu. Cut the Tofu into the desired size and had a coating of BBQ sauce, mix then it's ready.

Dice the remaining onion and green pepper and place into a pot with the one cup of water. Boil the onion and peppers until they are tender.

Place the pepper and onions onto tortillas with the BBQed Tofu and roll into a burrito.

Enjoy!

Batshit Crazy! And Firkroy News

have said it before and I'll say it again, my neighbor Daryl is a batshit crazy nut job.

Now before you jump all over me for being unfair, I will say this. I've seen Daryl come to the rescue of a spider walking on the back of his sofa, and one year he actually gave away the same kind of squash he has rotting on the berm in front of his house. But when was it that I decided that Daryl indeed was a crazy SOB? Was it when he cut all of the limbs halfway up his trees, and then spent months running three wood chippers in his front yard? No, that wasn't it. Was it the solar panel that's attached to a car battery that runs his boom box in his front yard? No that wasn't it either. “So when the hell was it Dan, AKA Firkroy!?” You may be asking yourself right now. Well let me tell you, it was when the glowing grid of lights that crisscross his so called front yard illuminated for the first time. Of course the Christmas lights running back and forth on the cargo rack of his Toyota minivan did add to my opinion, and the glowing orb on his flag pole, and the other glowing orbs on the roof of his house. I'm still waiting to see the minivan lights glow, but I'm sure I will see them glow soon. What the hell are you waiting for Daryl? Make em glow baby!

OK, so now your asking yourself “Didn't you say Daryl was a space alien Firkroy!?” Yes I did make that statement, I truly did, and I stand by it. Daryl is a batshit crazy alien dropped off on our planet because he annoyed his neighbors in the Alpha Centauri star system. The glowing grid of lights in his front yard are a pitiful attempt at trying to get his fellow ETs to pick him back up. Of course they simply say “pffft, Fat chance!” but he still feels he has to try.

What I'm still trying to figure out is if his wife is an alien agent put here on earth to make sure he doesn't get out of hand, or just a codependent earthling who hasn't gotten enough therapy to allow herself to leave yet. Well if she's an alien agent put here to keep him in line then she's failing miserably. So she must be a codependent batshit crazy human! Batshit crazy or not I wish that she would put a leash on her man. In reality other than her inability to control her crazy alien mate, she does seem to be the sane one in the house.

OK, on to other batshit crazy stuff. Today's The Register Guard had a story entitled “Free-spirited mayor shakes up small Washington town.” And below the title it read: “The pony-tailed, pot-smoking leader is feeling some resistance.” Mayor Eric Strawn of Tenino Washington wears Bob Marley T-shirts, streams reggae music from his laptop, and has a medical marijuana card. He gets paid $600 per month as mayor and works at a beef-slaughtering plant. When asked about his work at the plant he said “People ask me. 'Oh, you kill cows?' I say 'I just cut their heads off.' It's a job that has to be done.” Strawn wrote a proclamation honoring military veterans from Tenino but Dawna Kelly-Donohue a city counselor of 14 years let loose with an email about his grammar stating it was full of grammatical and contextual errors. Strawn fired back at her email message by stating that she had written “a metaphorically troglodytic message to the new Mayor.” I guess he's adding a new bike/skateboard/basketball area to the city park, cool. I love small town politics.

In Deer Park Texas a sting operation on the police department break room netted one of their own. Officer Keven Yang was caught on tape stealing his fellow officers food and drinks from the break room refrigerator. Yang was suspended for 30 days without pay for the thefts. When questioned Yang said he was merely taking it upon himself to clean out the old items from the fridge. Maybe he shouldn't have used his mouth as a garbage disposal.

In Hendersonville North Carolina a man had his entire $49,000 venomous snake and lizard collection confiscated. The authorities found out about the reptiles when Walter Kid was hospitalized after being bitten by one of them. When the police inspected his house they found the reptiles stored in unmarked Tupperware containers. Kidd's attorney stated that they weren't a danger because he kept them at his home. But I would have to agree with the authorities that mixing up a container that contained a Cobra with yesterday's meatloaf could be a problem.
In other North Carolina news, I want to send my condolences to the family of Gary Banning of Havelock who accidentally drank gasoline from a jar sitting by his kitchen sink. After taking a gulp he spit out what was left in his mouth and got gasoline on his clothing. This was upsetting for Mr. Banning so he went outside to have a smoke... he will be missed.

That's all of the batshit crazy stuff I have for now, have a great day.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

EXTREME FIRKROY! TO THE MAAAaaax...

Make sure to say “TO THE MAAAaaax” in a very low voice.

While visiting Scott's Bikes & Boards last week I was reminded of 1975 and summer days in Portland. My cousin Casey and I were skateboard enthusiasts and spent much of our summer careening down Mt. Tabor on our boards. Many times we did it the scary way by laying on our backs like present day street luge riders. I remember thinking to myself at the time that I was only 2 inches from the pavement, and it would hurt if I lost it, but I just concentrated harder on staying on. We also had races down the volcanic cinder cone that is Tabor in a catamaran style. We did this by sitting on our boards and then placing our feet on our partner's. We raced as teams to see who could make it to the bottom first. The closed off reservoir road that we used ended at a road that cars traveled on. We would all stick out our thumbs and catch rides in the backs of passing pickup trucks that were going up. We didn't wear helmets, and I ripped more than one pair of blue Levi's cords in pursuit of my thrills.
I was also a bicycle fanatic and loved taking my bike everywhere. I had a series of banana seat clad Schwinns and Huffys when I was a kid, and I've kept bicycles in my life to this day, but my love for two wheels branched off when I decided I wanted to ride motorcycles. When I was 16 the only thing I could convince my dad into letting me have was a Honda trail 70 with folding handlebars. I took it into the woods and did some serious exploring with it. My neighbor Jeff also had one and many times we would ride together. I remember having my cousin Casey on the back one day when a coyote jumped out from the brush and started running beside us. I didn't think we looked like a road runner, but I suppose coyotes only chase road runners in cartoons.
When I left home all bets were off and I started buying and riding anything I wanted. I owned dirt bikes, and street bikes, I wanted to experience it all. One winter I decided to purchase a Honda 350 from a friend in Phoenix Arizona. I flew out and spent a few days in Phoenix, then rode the Honda 700 miles back to Sacramento California. I was freezing my butt off going over the Grape Vine on Interstate 5 just north of the Las Angeles sprawl. In the years to come I didn't let bad weather slow my motorcycling down, and I remember commuting on Interstate 880 in the bay area of California in the middle of winter riding my 85 Kawasaki ZL 600 Eliminator. I would wear a bright yellow rain suit and put a gallon of Rain-X water repellent on the inside of the windshield of my helmet. I remember cutting through cars one day when traffic was stalled (legal in California) and having a guy in a pickup truck roll down his window and spit on me as I went buy; good thing it was raining. I rode the ZL 600 on that same road coming home at 110 miles per hour one day, the cars that I passed seemed to be sitting still, but the bike was running smooth with only a slight long wobble caused by the windshield. I suppose I could have gone even faster but I didn't want to push it.
About 10 years ago I owned my last motorized two wheeled vehicle, it was a Yamaha 250 scooter like Tom Hanks rode in the movie Larry Crowne. My wife wouldn't let me get anything larger, but if it made her happy I was happy too. I rode that scooter every day to work rain or shine, except when it was icy, I finally gave it up but it was a lot of fun. Now that I'm at that age where I need to exercise or rot, so I've been concentrating on my first love, my bicycle.
Looking for a bottle of chain oil for my Fuji Hybrid was the reason for going into Scott's Bikes & Boards the other day. I had a great conversation with the tattoo clad skater that was managing the store at the time. They had some beautiful long boards and I found myself longing to get on and cruise down Mt. Tabor. We had a nice conversation about each other's knee surgeries and I decided that careening down Mt. Tabor at this point in my life wasn't a good idea. The chain oil he sold me rocked! Well as much as chain oil can rock, but it does repel water and grime like a champ. I purchased a yellow rain jacket over at Bi-Mart to round out my foul weather riding attire. I'm not going to let a little rain stop me from getting the anti-rotting exercise that I need.
I would like to get a couple more bikes at some point. I need a mountain bike to ride with my older son on the dirt trails, and a tandem to use with my younger son, and my wife. I think my legs falling off would be the only thing that would ever stop me from riding bicycles. My motorcycle days may well be over but I've been fascinated by 3 wheeled Piaggio scooters as of late, but I don't think one is in the cards anytime soon. Having some maturity is one of the good things about having your first kid at 40, and not being bug squash is important these days; my boys deserve to grow up with a dad.
Miraculously, my boys didn't inherit my thrill seeking genes, it's one less thing I have to worry about as they grow up. Instead I have to worry about the little pack of girls that seems to be following my 12 year old around. My wife has been giving him the low down on wild adolescent girls, and I've been doing my part in filling him on what his life would look like being a dad at 14. Hopefully he's been inoculated against stupidity. But the thing about stupidity is that resistance requires frequent booster shots.
Lucky for me, I survived my bouts of 110 Mph stupidity.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

All of My Groupies



You would think with a title like that I would be talking about my panty throwing fans, and I suppose if I had any panty throwing fans then even I would be a little surprised. But panty throwers isn't what I want to talk about.
After sitting here at midnight watching two snails crawl around a lettuce leaf placed in our fish tank, my thoughts turn to all of the different groups of people I connected with today. My interactions varied, and my head had to switch gears with every group. It was like riding a bicycle in the Tour de Pants of the brain, but without having to wear tight pants.
I spent time today with a group of people who I've never met in person, but I've know some of these people for over 15 years. I started playing the multi-player game called Subspace on my brand new Windows 95 running computer in 1997. “Meet people from around the world... then kill them” has been their motto forever. But if you think I'm talking about a game where gibs. (short for giblets) are splatting on the computer screen then you would be wrong, this game involves little space ships like the early video game Asteroids. You team up with players and shoot the little ships of the opposing teams with your little ship, and when you blow up, you get a fresh little ship. The game is very social with people talking to each other constantly, and about any subject. There is a lot of smack talk, but you also get to meet and talk to people from everywhere. Players have names like “Axe Demento,” “The Prince of Pain,” and “Mr. Bhole.” I'm known as “A Boomstick!” in the game, and am known for my witty retorts to noodle brains that don't know how to use the English language. Noodle brains like to communicate using text messaging shorthand words like STFU noob, lmfao, and OMG. I actually changed my name in the game from “Firkroy” to “A Boomstick!” sometime back because of the online column that I created and subsequent blog. I didn't want stupid people following me around the Internet, and I think a few of them have a grudge. Which brings me to my next group, The Expats.
The Expats is my writing group that ultimately came together after we simultaneously had a Popeye the Sailor moment and declared “That's all I can stands, cuz I can't stands n'more!” with an online website where we originally met. We ate our spinach, and then like washed ashore shipwreck survivors we had a gathering on Facebook. It was amazing how much we all clicked together. Our love for writing, and more importantly, writing with integrity created a stronger bond than I think anyone could have imagined. I couldn't have asked for a greater community of writers to hang out with. They give me inspiration every day to be more creative, and the confidence I need to move forward. I just love this eclectic group!
Another group that I just recently started working with is Oregon Veterans' Heart. Formerly the Eugene chapter of Veterans for Peace, this group of veterans is committed to making a real difference in our community for veterans. They are involved in the Egan warming center that provides shelter for the homeless when it gets cold , and with the Truth in Recruiting program through the Community Alliance of Lane County. The goal is to counter the misinformation that military recruiters share with students, and to promote alternatives to military service. Veterans' Heart is one part of my lifetime journey of self understanding and healing after my 15 year involvement with the U.S. Military. I volunteered to create a website that is still in the works, and to help with other activities. It gives me great comfort being around people who understand how I feel, and who care so much about others. There is a communal knowledge that runs through us, and an understanding about what each of us has gone through. Sometimes it just feels nice to be around people who understand.
Another journey in my life started when I found out I was a parent of a child with autism. Membership in this group was free, and doing everything in my power for my child was the only option. We have networked with many parents who also have children with similar challenges, and have embarked on a lifetime of learning about the unique person who is my son. We support great programs like Bridgeway House in Eugene Oregon that serves the needs of children with autism and related developmental disabilities while educating and supporting their families. They put on a play once a year, that is not a fund raiser, but rather a showcase of what these kids can do. So much effort is put into helping these kids sometimes we can loose track of how amazing they are. My wife has embarked on a Master degree in Special Education with an emphases on autism as a result of our son's needs; she's an amazing woman with a fortitude that I didn't know existed when I married her. The military instilled a “failure is not an option” attitude toward life in me that has helped me push forward through tough times. That kind of tenacity came to my wife naturally.
Which brings me to my favorite group of all, my family, without them I'm really nothing. My spouse has saved me from myself more times than she realizes, and my kids are my world of joy. Yes, they can be challenging, but would I have ever grown up at all without them? I doubt it. They keep me on my toes and teach me what it is to be human. I watch my children with amazement when they accomplish things I never imagined they could, and I can see my influences on them every day. If it weren't for my family I would have never known the joys and challenges that parents experience. Being a parent is the toughest job I have ever had, but it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done.
Groups are always in flux, and don't stay the same throughout life. New groups will find me, and old groups will have new members. I haven't seen The Prince of Pain in some time, and I just got to know Axe Demento who is working on writing a novel. I think Mr. Bhole will probably always live up to his name, but he provides me with cheap entertainment.
My family will always be the most important group in my life, real friends will always be there for me, and I for them. Because your groups and the people in them are really what life is all about.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Save Me From My Neighbors!


Today was a beautiful winter's day, a little chilly but nice enough to enjoy the out of doors. The only problem was that my neighbor Daryl was enjoying it too. Is there any way to escape your messed up neighbors?
Today I come driving home from the library with my two boys in tow and what do I hear blaring out of Daryl's work van parked in front of his house, The Little River band at 125 decibels! And just so you know, 125db is when pain begins, and my head was throbbing. He's made sure that we can all enjoy his FM radio station complete with commercials. Every door of this van is wide open, and he has the volume turned all the way up. I guess the boombox that is connected to a car battery, that's connected to the solar panel in his front yard must be out of order, so he had to improvise. He's walking around moving lumber from here to there and doing all sorts of other crap.
As I walk into the front door of my house I notice that my wife has the windows open to let in some fresh air as she works at her computer, and she looks perturbed. She informs me that she's been looking for a boombox to blare classical music out of our front door to drown out Daryl's noise, but she couldn't find one. I think for a moment and come up with a solution. I attach my iPod to a set of amplified speakers and we are in business. I hang the speakers out the front door and start broadcasting Mozart as loud as I can get it.
It was rather pleasant in our house for about an hour with Mozart tickling our ears, most of the music was going outside so it wasn't overly loud in the living room. Outside was very different story, Mozart from my iPod was competing with Classic Rock from “BOB FM.” It didn't take long for Daryl to give in and turn off his tunes. He closed the doors of the van, then rumbled down the road in ole Rust Bucket. I'm still convinced Daryl's not from this planet and his rusty van is an alien space craft that makes frequent trips into outer space. But what was really puzzling me was why did Daryl spend days sanding the rust spots on his van? He even had his buddy -who threw fish on my roof years back- out there sanding with him. What do you think he did after he was done sanding away all of that rust? Absolutely nothing, no primer from a rattle can, no Scooby Doo paint job, nothing, not a damn thing. His van is now half painted, and half bare rusting metal. Maybe he needs rusting bare metal spots to be able to make contact with the mother ship, I don't think I'll ever know.
So for the moment I had relief from Daryl's noise pollution, so I called my sister in Florida on Skype. She had recently moved there from Oregon and her and her family are now enjoying the nice weather. While we are talking she stops and yells to her husband “He's at it again!” I ask her what's going on, and she tells me that their hillbilly neighbor is shooting off his guns. That's the trade off you get when you move to the country. You may be away from cities and the annoying neighbors named Daryl, but you trade Daryl for a neighbor named Floyd who likes to shoot at critters in his yard when he's not doing cookies with his ATV. It's America and our hillbillies have got to have their guns and motor sports damn it!
I've decided what I want is land out in the country, with no hillbillies, no vegetation to have to constantly whack, and no chickens! But I don't know if that's even possible. I suppose you could do chicken farming in a way where the chickens eat and peck the vegetation down, then it might be a possibility. And I suppose if you do your homework you could limit your exposure to hillbillies. I would think if a sign in front of the house next to the one you're looking to buy reads “No Trespassen, Git!” would be a good indicator as to why the house you are looking at is such a fantastic buy. Also look for the presence of teeth in the local inhabitants, or lack there of. Missing teeth is always a good indication that you may be in the middle of a hillbilly infestation. I will admit that the prospect of cheap moonshine produced by the locals has it's appeal, but I would rather buy my booze from the store.
Not all of my neighbors are crazy nut jobs. We have always had a great relationship with our neighbor Bill next door to our right. We watch their miniature horse when they go on trips, and their daughter and her boyfriend house sat for us while we took a trip to southern California. They did a fine job and the dog and the two cats were only slightly traumatized from the experience. I thought our little dog was going to need CPR when we arrived down the street. He was out being walked, and if he had been wearing doggy pants he would have crapped them when my son called out his name as we drove by.
I don't think you can truly get away from having neighbors unless you are in the 1% and can buy enough land to be out of hearing range of hillbillies shooting at varmints. Personally I'm hoping for an island with a mountain tall enough to avoid Tsunamis. That's were my house will be, right on top of that mountain. I could go down from time to time and collect coconuts, bananas, and go fishing like Gilligan. Maybe I would make my own rum so I would have something to sip as I lay underneath my big umbrella at my mountain retreat. Well hell if I could afford an island, then I guess I would have my rum delivered by porpoise. I would probably get very bored living on the island because I wouldn't have any nut jobs to write about, but I suppose I could hope for some castaways from a ship wreck, or maybe a pirate invasion.
Ok scratch the island idea, the thought of having to dig tiger pits to protect myself from pirates sounds like too much work. For the moment I'll just put up with Daryl.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Just Another Rainy Day


This morning when I dunked a bag of Irish Breakfast tea, together with a bag of Pomegranate Green into the same cup, I wondered to myself “do you think this combo might make my cup explode?” Then I pushed the thought out of my head. It's a dreary rainy day that would make even the Walmart happy face cry. The tea packed a nice punch, but needed some honey.

I spent the morning getting the kids off to school, running to the grocery store, then made nachos for lunch with the wife. We enjoyed them while watching an episode of Scrubs on Netflix. I'm sure I spotted a periscope in the lake in my driveway, I would have suspected the Russians but the Cold War has been over for years. I think the squirrels have gone high tech and are simply going after the nuts that are buried somewhere under the water.
In my local newspaper (The Register Guard) there is an article about two young activists who are suing the governor of Oregon for “violating his duty to uphold the public trust and protect the state from impacts of climate change.” Yes, I too wish the governor would get on that big bubble dome he promised for the state. It would protect us from climate change, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and speeches spewing from the mouth of Newt Gingrich. While our two young friends are at it could they also sue Newt for making millions of people vomit. It's just a thought.
In other news an 82 year old bush pilot from Willow Alaska was being chased by an agitated moose when he was saved by his 85 year old wife who hit the beast in the head with a shovel a few times. Grandmas are tough as nails in Willow. I wonder if they make moose strength Tylenol?
Another granny in Connellsville Pennsylvania said a bearded stranger in a pointy hat gave her the seeds to the four-foot tall Marijuana plants growing next to her tomatoes in her back yard. She just wanted something pretty to accent them. Sheesh, let the old lady have her pot plants for gods sake. And speaking of pot, The New York times reported that the reason that Australians are so laid back is because they consume more marijuana than anywhere else on the planet. Intoxicants -the article states- are at the center of most social life in Australia. I guess down under really means down under the table.
To tell you quite honestly this is the news that I enjoy reading in my local newspaper. The rest of the news is just too grim. The news is full of megalomaniacs trying to further themselves in the public eye, and the side affects of their destructive sociopathic ways. The people in charge of us -for the most part- want to have it all, and spend most of their time working to convince the rest of us how they deserve to have it all. Most of us want to live our lives in some sort of peaceful manor while being able to feed and cloth ourselves; but for a few, that's simply not good enough. They call their troop to war! “Our enemies are your enemies” they say. “If you're not with us then you're against us” they proclaim. “Greed is good” is printed on their flag.
I tire of those greedy bastards, and it's a rainy day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

An Inspirational Moment


Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
I'm not a religious person, and you won't hear me saying “It's God's will” or anything resembling it, but when deaths and layoffs happened at the same time I was in for a ride with the aftermath. It was like getting my slate wiped clean to start over again. I decided to embrace the changes, listen to my inner voice, and then unexpected things started to happen.
I've come to the conclusion that for the most part I don't have control over my life. I may think that I do sometimes, but for the most part, life seems to be driving me. But before you say to yourself “Dan you're so full of crap” let me tell you this, if someone would have told me that a series of events would result in me staying at home running the household while my wife goes back to school a couple of years ago I wouldn't have believed it. But one thing lead to another and life guided me down the path that I'm now traveling. I suppose I could have fought the changes and tried to force some other kind of outcome, but I don't think it would have lead to a better outcome. Staying at home washing kids cloths is a drag, but I also am able to do things that let me be creative, and to help others.
So how does railing about how politicians that are really Coneheads fit into the “help others” category? Sometime pointing out the lunacy of a situation makes people think about it. When we take a step back and think, then magic starts to happens. Sometimes the “Oh shit!” moment happens, and a realization that the world is a more messed up place than anyone could have ever imagine. At this point, we can either become alcoholics and drown out the world, or decide on how we can all by ourselves make some sort of positive difference. The way I started doing this was by doing a self assessment.
I took a good look at myself and wrote down what I really love to do, my passions, my strengths, and the things I'm obsessive about. Being obsessive about something is important to me because if I don't have a drive to do something, then I'll stop doing it. If something is too painful to do then I won't do it well. If only I could use that excuse to get out of washing dishes, or changing the Guinea Pig cage. I'll never admit to doing a good job of cleaning animal cages.
One day many years ago something clicked in my head and I decided I wanted to be a writer. I had atrocious spelling, and had to re-teach myself most of what I blew off in school. Years ago when I was in the military I took a couple of composition courses through University of Maryland that helped me get back on track, and then I started self-teaching myself how to write. Now I compulsively tap away at my computer to give myself personal enjoyment, and hopefully some of what I write may actually help someone. I put my passion for technology to work in other ways, by helping friends with their problems, and helping my veterans group by building them a web site. I've just started working on it, and will turn it loose on the world in the near future. Most of the members of this veterans group are technologically challenged, so by doing something that I enjoy and is relatively easy for me to do, I get to help this group reach out to help many more people. It's not that hard to make a difference in our messed up world if you are doing something you love to do.
Going with the flow, not fighting things that I can't control, and putting my heart and soul into the directions that seem natural are bringing me down the ever changing path in a way that I feel good about. I'm not sure about what's around the corner, but I'm sure it will be an adventure. Hopefully there is a dish washing, cage cleaning robot in it, I can only hope.