Being the Ongoing Chronicle of the Anticks, Misadventures, and Odd Deeds of an Overalls-clad Wanderer.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

Wow, did I ever get voted down last week! Who knew I was keeping online company with so many big fans of sentence-diagramming? Oh well...I stand by my view that it sucked and I hated it with a passion and it wasn't all that useful anyway. So there. Harumph!

On to the new thing, though: toilet paper! Or, rather, the dispensing of the stuff. It may just be luck-of-the-draw, but in every place we've lived, the toilet paper hanger has never once been located in the logical spot, meaning, to the right or left of the throne, in easy reach. The last apartment had it on the opposite wall, and every other place -- including this quite wonderful house -- put it on the wall behind the throne, so you have to do this really awkward reaching thing to get at it. Is this normal, or have we just managed to always be in a place where the toilet paper thing was oddly placed? This is why we so often end up just sitting the roll out on the counter. Where is your TP hung?

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Marvel Heroes By Height

I saw this on Tumblr. According to this, Spider Man and I are also "height buddies"! (I doubt Mystique would give me the time of day.)


Where do you fall?

Monday, September 01, 2014

T-minus one month....

...until I start revealing stuff!


That's the proof copy of Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title). On October 1, I will be launching my Official Author Site, and the prime piece of content to kick it off will be the Official Trailer For The Book, at the end of which will be revealed The Actual Title. Later on in October I will unveil the book's cover art, and I will post two sample chapters. Then, in November...it's showtime.

It's coming, folks! It's really coming! Onward and upward! Zap! Pow!!

Football's Return, and why it's OK to be a bandwagon fan

This week marks the return of the NFL to regular season action. For those of us here in Buffalo, that most likely means another snore-fest of a season. The sense here is that the roster has some talent, but everything now hinges on whether or not second-year quarterback EJ Manuel can actually develop into a quality starter. Who knows? For me, I'm just going with past results. Each of the last three seasons, and four of the last five, have seen the Bills finish 6-10. The one "oddball" year in that stretch? They were 3-13. Before that? They were 7-9 three years in a row.

It's been a long time since the Bills were, in any real sense of the word, fun to watch. Sure, they have a few games each season where they put up an encouraging fight, but they also have more games where it's just a snoozefest, so a couple of years ago I made a new rule for myself: I won't bother watching any Bills football until they are a winning team, with "winning" for these purposes defined as "four games over five hundred".

Some folks laugh at this notion, acting as though I'm somehow missing something essential along the way; others question my "fanhood", calling me a "bandwagon" or a "fair weather" fan. I'm fine with that, actually. The Buffalo Bills aren't friends of mine; I have no personal connection with them at all, and therefore, I see no reason to assume that they deserve a greater commitment of time or emotional energy from me than I'm willing to give them. The idea that I must devote three hours a week to watching a bunch of guys who aren't very good at their jobs, or I'm not a "fan", strikes me as deeply bizarre. I can be a "fan" of a restaurant, but if they start serving consistently bad food, I'm not going to keep eating there because that's what a good fan does. That just doesn't make sense. Being a "fairweather friend", only there to support and help a friend in good times, is a bad thing to be. But fandom isn't friendship. Never has been, never will be.

Believe me, it can be a real downer to hang around with football fans the Monday after a representative Bills game of late, which is another reason I stopped watching. Why would I want to feel like that, when I can do something else instead? One fan friend of mine questioned this once, saying "Well, it's not like I'm doing something great and important with those three hours," to which I replied, "Nobody said you had to cure cancer in that time, but maybe doing something else means you're not spending the rest of Sunday and Monday morning in a funk over a football game." Seems to me that, all things being equal, subtracting things from life that regularly make us angry is a good thing.

So go ahead, Bills fans, or fans of any crappy team out there! Turn them off! Watch something else! Do something else! And if your "fandom" gets questioned, so what? If and when your team wins the Ultimate Championship, there will be no Fan Police in the streets to stop you from dancing because you didn't watch each and every crappy game they lost six or seven years earlier. When you die, there will be no Sports Fan Valhalla into whose golden halls you will be denied entry because you chose not to witness every down of their fifteenth consecutive losing season.

It's OK to jump off the bandwagon, and get back on it. The team won't notice you're there. You don't owe them shit. You have zero moral obligation to watch any more or less of a team's games than you want to, and nobody gets the right to judge your "fandom" on the basis of their personal yardstick for voluntary suffering. For those calling me out for not watching this team, I hope you'll remember this next time you're sitting inside on a stunning fall afternoon watching your team lose 38-10 in the fourth quarter, or in December when you're insisting on watching every minute of a 42-3 laugher as the Bills fall to the Broncos.

(Ideas in this post were previously expressed here.)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Answers the Fifth and Final!

And on the last day of the month, we wrap up with Ask Me Anything! August 2014. Fun round, as always; and equally "as always", I hope to get more nifty questions next time out!

Quince asks: How do you feel about the series Dr. Who?

I haven't really seen enough of the newer version to have a solid opinion, but what I have seen is fun, and sometimes spooky, and sometimes downright creepy, and often funny, and sometimes deeply emotional. The Daughter is quite the fan, although her enthusiasm seems to have waned a bit because she loved David Tennant and didn't care much for Matt Smith. The new guy? Jury's out, I suppose.

My main familiarity with the Doctor comes from when I watched the show on PBS, way back in the 1980s. Doctor Who is kind of like James Bond, in that the first one you see tends to be your favorite, or at least heavily shapes your expectations for the rest. My first Doctor was Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor. Loved that guy. I also liked Tom Baker a lot, but Davison was first -- I liked his blend of Doctorish alien weirdness and human compassion.

Of the current crop, I suppose Tennant's my favorite, because I like the balancing act he does in portraying the fact that even for a being like The Doctor, who has seen just about everything, there's still a lot of very strange stuff that can make him cock his head a bit and say, "What?!" in that wonderful Brit way of his.

Doctor Who is generally best approached as a show about normal people being taken on a guided tour of the weirdest parts of the Universe. At least, that's my take on it.

The rest are from Roger:

Hey, new homeowner: what's the best thing about owning your own place? The worst? Any buyers' remorse yet?

Buyer's remorse? No. None. After living in apartments for 17 years, we're still basking in the glory. The worst thing is simply the fact that we can't just pick up the phone and call the rental office when there's an issue of some sort -- we have to think it all through ourselves. But that's fine. Having space to live and breathe, privacy, and a room for the books? That outweighs everything. I also think it's good for us as a family, since we're now no longer forced to spend all our leisure time together in the same room.

What thing do you do that you KNOW drives The Wife and/or The Daughter crazy, but find that you do it anyway?

Knuckle-cracking. I like to think that I'm not a terribly anal person, but there are things I get anal about, and I can really fly off the handle sometimes if I'm not paying attention. My tendency to underestimate the time it takes me to cook some meals by significant amounts. And my very weak sense of smell makes me a bit more tolerant, shall we say, of less-than-acceptable conditions regarding the cat box.

Do you think of yourself as sensitive? What meaning of sensitive do you think of when hearing the word?

I try to be. To me, "sensitive" means "takes consideration of the feelings of others before acting". I really try to do this. I don't want to be the person people dread having to deal with. Sometimes I fall short, but when I do, I almost always try to atone later.

Bats, the mammal variety: have you had them at the abode or at The Store? If so, how do you deal with them?

We haven't had bats yet, that I can recall! The boring answer is that we have a pest control service with whom we are contracted. If we observe unwelcome beasties, we call the pest control folks and they show up and do their thing. Luckily, our pest control problems are very sporadic, and always of the "How did that thing get in here?!" variety.

Are you going to register your books with the Copyright Office? Why or why not?

Ummm...am I supposed to? Seriously, I need to research this. Do I need to register them? Anybody know?

When you read something, or listen to something, how often does it bring you to some totally unrelated song, or story?

Quite often. My brain is always making connections between things I'm doing now and stuff I've read or seen or heard someplace else. This doesn't bother me. I like being able to make connections like that. It helps me find meanings in things, and I think it gives me a better background from which I can say things of my own. I make connections between unrelated things all the time. It's how I'm wired.

OK, I think that does it for this round of Ask Me Anything! Thanks for all the questions, and start drafting some for February 2015! (And really, you don't even have to wait, if you don't want. Questions are always welcome.)

Sunday Burst

Just a couple of things this week:

:: A fascinating GIF breaks down how we've been paying for music over the last 30 years. You can see formats rise and fall, and in the case of the CD, the fall is pretty spectacular. I was a long digital media holdout myself, and yet, I haven't bought a CD in at least four years.

:: A couple falls in love and marries, sixty years after they met one summer as teenagers.

More next week!

Instaweeks!

Time for another photographic grab-bag from the last few weeks!





It's always sad when you reach the bottom of the coffee cup.


Fortune cookies tell all, don't they?




Yeah, that was a fun Monday:


I continue to recharge by frequently rewatching Neil Gaiman's commencement speech from a year ago:


When the storms come in:


It's mint harvest time! (For making mojitos.)



Leaving work under a sky like this is always nice.


Our attempts to teach Lester how to use a leash are not going well.


Single malt to celebrate the completion of major book edits!


Our "sensitive plant" develops these little flowers:


Once in a while at work I have to hang a neon beer sign.



Recent dinners include banana peppers which I stuffed with sausage and cheese and then roasted:


There's always pizza at some point or other:


Smores. I can generally eat about two of these before I get that "OMG I just ate an entire hippopotamus" feeling.



Cranberry kisses are delicious!



(It's a drink with spiced rum, Collins mix, and cranberry juice.)

Along Erie County's back roads:



Cat-related stuff happens a lot.





In that last one, Lester is on my lap, watching Cosmos with me. Note his eyes reflected in my laptop screen, via the flash! I don't think he understood the show's scientific content, though. Oh well, even Carl Sagan can't reach everyone.

Sometimes I offer great wisdom at rock-bottom prices.


Book production continues.



And here, from the comic strip Blondie, is my new favorite sentence:


And finally, for all who had good wishes and kind words on Little Quinn's tenth birthday, thank you!


More to come in a couple weeks!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why I Am Terrible Today


My careful monitoring of essential fluid levels in the home had a misfire this morning. Luckily it's Grocery Day!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Buckets, the Bills, Stadiums, Pies, Sharkheaded girls: Some random opinions on some random stuff

Just a grab-bag of some thoughts on stuff going on....

:: I posted the following on a Facebook exchange debating the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This wasn't really in response to anything anyone specifically said, but more in response to some more general negativity I've seen about it. (As such, it was probably out-of-place on that particular friend's feed, for which I feel a tad guilty.)

Here's my thing: fundraising of every kind, everywhere, is more successful when there's something "fun" involved. It's why charities have big galas and parties. It's why churches and small town organization have chicken barbecues. It's they the Jerry Lewis Telethon isn't twelve hours of scrolling text with telephone numbers. It's why people trying to raise money to help individuals with massive medical bills have events with basket raffles and Chinese auctions. It's why PBS stations air their really popular shows and specials at pledge time. I can't remember where I read it, but the other day I read an article where some charity in some city had an annual gala which was their BIG fundraising event each year, but one year they decided to not hold it and simply ask for the donations anyway, and their fundraising fell through the floor. We may not necessarily LIKE this aspect of things, but it's simply the way things are. All the ALS people did was figure out a way to tap into one of the newer avenues people are having fun with, and frankly, if it hadn't been this, it would have been something else.

That said, I cannot for the life of me have any problem with this whole endeavor. It's a horrible disease (my wife's grandfather died of it, just a few weeks after we started dating), but really -- they ALL are. If we approach fundraising with the solemnity of the disease itself, nothing would ever get funded much at all.

I stand by all that, even if my posting was rather badly misplaced.

:: As I write this I'm basking in the afterglow of my first-ever Buffalo Bills preseason game. Oh wait, did I say "basking in the afterglow"? I meant to say, "waiting for the stench cloud to dissipate". I know, it's just preseason and it's the last preseason game, so it's not like either team was really trying all that hard, but boy howdy, the Bills just looked fundamentally awful. They attempted no long pass plays, they were bumbling and mistake-prone, the backup quarterback hit exactly one guy on the numbers, and I saw four punts in the single half of football we bothered watching. (The tickets were free; no way do we pay to get in there.)

That said, I am obviously no expert, but I still do not see why it's taken for absolute faith around here that Ralph Wilson Stadium is an awful place that needs to be retired in favor of a spectacular new facility that's "easier to get to". RWS is plenty easy to get to, and I found it perfectly nice and structurally fine. Maybe some significant work to the exterior, like they did in Green Bay with Lambeau? Anyway, for my money, RWS is fine, and anyway, I'm loath to spend upwards of a billion bucks of public money on a facility just to help a collection of billionaires rake in even more cash. As for the current renovations to the Ralph, I like the place, although there could be some more signage directing where to go in the area between the ticketed entry queue and the actual concourses.

Oh, my prediction for the Bills this season? Well, they've gone 6-10 in four of the last five seasons, so why stop now? 6-10, it is!

:: Nobody ever gets to bitch about Presidents and their vacations again. I'm done listening to that shit. It's just plain dumb, seeing as how in this day and age, with the technology we have, a President could run things from the Unabomber's shack if he or she wanted to. Enough.

::  Speaking of vacations and such: it's Labor Day Weekend, which reminds me of something I read once: three day weekends are better when the extra day off is on Friday, rather than Monday, because that way it feels like two Saturdays followed by a Sunday, as opposed to a Saturday followed by two Sundays. I kind of agree with that -- July 4 weekend this year broke that way, simply because the 4th was on Friday -- but I also rather like having the long weekend and then a shortened work week on the other side. Short weeks are nice, which is why I always try to schedule my vacations to straddle two different work weeks, essentially taking a six- or seven-day weekend, bracketed by two two or three-day work weeks.

:: The other day, Buffalo's new-and-improving waterfront area became home to a sculpture originally from Cincinnati, called "Shark Girl". It's a little girl with the head of a shark. I am not making this up. Behold:



As art, I kinda like it. It's not really my cup of tea, but it is a whimsical thing and definitely unusual enough that it will have people going to see it and talking about it and so on. My only complaint, such as it is, was that such a high-profile art installation here wasn't seen as an opportunity to feature a local artist. However, I'm told that this is only the beginning, and that local artists will be featured at Canalside. Good.

Head of a shark. What will they think of next.

:: I'm not sure who I want to win MasterChef this year. I'm leaning toward Leslie, because he's really gonzo, but he's also best taken, I think, in small doses. Who I do not want to see win is Courtney, who has the single most annoying "Fake perfect Good Housekeeping wife" thing going on, along with incredibly annoying arrogance regarding her own kitchen skills. True, she has yet to screw up in any way at all, but land sakes alive, is she annoying.

:: A new law: If you have any kind of special request as regards bagging your groceries at all, then I don't care if you're only buying five things, go through the other line. Your "I want this item in double paper, double plastic and then roll it up and put it in a third bag" bullshit forfeits your right to use the express lane.

:: Finally, on a topic near and dear to my heart, I posted the following on Tumblr earlier:

Squirty whipped cream on a paper plate ain't gonna cut it, folks.

So I’m seeing that on the heels of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, some folks are trying to make pie-in-the-face challenges the next thing. As you might expect I am TOTALLY on board with this, but I fear the well may be somewhat tapped, and folks are trying to do this in “honor” of several different diseases, such as depression and Huntington’s Disease. Again, this is great, but I suspect this might have the effect of diluting things.

More to the point, though, is that the “pie” is often a bit of whipped cream from a spray can on a paper plate. This is well below the standards we should be willing to accept as Americans, folks! If you’re going to experience the joy that is a pie in the face, make it happen with a REAL pie and not just a dollop of canned stuff! A thing worth doing is a thing worth doing RIGHT. Come on, America! We invented the pie-in-the-face routine! Let’s show the world how it’s done!

[Insert picture of Sam the Eagle here. Or something suitably pompous.]

Remember, folks, don't do this:



Do this instead:



Or follow the instructions in the "A Pie in the Face is a Wonderful Thing" page to do this:



That's all that's running through my head right now, folks. Have a great Labor Day weekend! (I'm not taking off from posting, though.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Something for Thursday

I'm feeling slightly piratical today, so here's some appropriate music for it: the closing scene and end credits suite from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

A friend of mine posted this article about diagramming sentences to Facebook the other day, so here's the simple question: did any of you enjoy diagramming sentences or think it a worthwhile thing to learn? For my part, I hated it with an utter passion. I thought it a complete waste of time that didn't do a single thing to teach what good writing is. I am, however, also prepared to grant that my loathing of diagramming may be influenced by the fact that the teacher I had in seventh grade, who did the most with diagramming in my school career, happened to be one of my least-favorite teachers of my entire grade-school career. It's interesting to me how perceptions of entire subjects can be shaped by our reaction to the teachers who taught them. Sentence diagramming? Bleecccch. And trigonomery -- now there's a teacher I couldn't abide!

So, did any of you enjoy diagramming sentences?