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The gravity of gravity

October 17th, 2012 No comments

A little over a month ago I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing the plain truths of Newtonian Physics. I had a whole bucket of Second Law followed by a quick realization of the Third Law. The ensuing aftermath involved me rolling on the wet ground in traffic in the middle of the intersection of Skillman and Eastridge, my scooter desperately to visit the abandoned convenience store located on that corner by itself, and, through the magic of even more physics that was applied a couple of hours later, a broken left clavicle.

That’s a whole can of suck realized in just seconds on a semi-rainy Friday evening. Now I have a busted wing, a scooter that will probably get the nickname “two-face,” and I’m pretty much grounded to traveling by four or more wheels during prime scooting weather.

I am, however, pretty damn grateful to be alive.

The human brain is a funny thing. For about the first week after my experiment with a frictionless environment, I was just pissed off at myself for “letting the accident happen.” The universe took a big ol’ dump on me right before me and the mrs. were headed off for a week of fun and frivolity with Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter and I was stuck in a sling; hopped up on pain pills.

A little more than a week in it dawned on me that I could have fucking died in that crash.

My friends and I (us of the various Scooter “organizations” here in Dallas: a.k.a. the Sunday Dubliner drinkers) are pretty damn militant about helmet wear, so I always ride with a bucket, but I tend to get lax about most other recommended safety gear. Fortunately, when I needed it most, I had on a good thick jacket, jeans and gloves. It’s for this reason that all I ended up with was a broken clavicle, a sore tailbone and an iPhone shaped bruise on my right thigh rather than a chance for instant tattoo removal.

Since i received my motorcycle license, I’ve been pretty realistic about the risks. I realize that, by making the decision to ride a motorized two-wheeled vehicle, it is just a matter of when I’ll lay the bike down, not if. That’s a pretty stressful realization, but realistic.

Many people have asked me if I’m ready to sell off my scoots and give it all up. Hell no. Every morning I walk by my Lambretta (thankfully the bike I didn’t crash) and I can’t wait to get it back out on the streets. I’m sure the first couple of rides will be hella stressful, but this, too, shall pass. I don’t even think I’m going to have the cosmetic work done on the Vespa I crashed: it’ll give me a great opportunity to remind people to wear their helmets when they ask me what happened to it.

Healing, unfortunately, is slow going (38 year old bones definitely heal slower than 20 year old bones), but I will emerge from this a more experienced person and, hopefully, an even safer rider.

Categories: monkey, Ravings

Our [insert name] is an awesome [insert name]

January 16th, 2012 No comments

Last week when I was heading out from the house, I drove past a rather thought-provoking sign in front of a church (I know “thought-provoking” along with “clever but wholesome” pretty much encompasses all of what most church signs try and pull off, but go with me here) that said “New Year, Same God.”

That really got me thinking. Sure, it wasn’t in the manner that this establishment of the divine long-distance relationship wanted, but I was thinking nonetheless. What if the accepted model for churches was to pick a new deity each year?

I just imagine the church newsletters towards the end of the year:

Greetings parishioners!
Once again it’s getting to be that time of year we all celebrate: the grand selection!

Unlike previous years, Pastor Bob will be taking nominations via email. Additionally, while last year’s “cow pie bingo” made for a fun afternoon, the ultimate selection of Prithvi, in retrospect, should have been an foregone conclusion from the effort. In order to level the playing field a tad this year, and to raise some funds for the new altar, we will be having a bake sale and pie-eating contest. Come join us the second Sunday of December when our new deity is chosen in a swirl of banana bread and blueberry pies.

Honestly, I think is a model that could really work for the typical American. Protestants are inherently afraid of deific pluralities (aside from that whole Daddy, Junior, Spook thing that really just seems to be three sides of one thing), so this is a great way to expand cultural diversity and education while not having to tackle the entire gang-bang of a given Pantheon.

Sure, you may be shaking your head at this point thinking that I’ve finally gone way off the deep end, but I did not originate this idea. Way back in the 16th century, the Hopi did just about the same thing for practical matters their cosmology could not address or weren’t working out for them so well.

I think the main thing holding most Christians back is that whole fear thing. Those of us raised with Christian backgrounds have had the whole “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” thing pounded into us from an early age. Sure, given the old guy’s track record for smiting and pestilence-ing places into nothingness, I can see He’s got some separation anxiety.

But, seeing as we having had a good smiting or literal fire and brimstone falling from the sky (sorry televangelists), I think it’s time to put another Baal into play.

With deference to Saint Eddie of Izzard, I believe I am going to lobby for Jeff, god of biscuits or Simon, god of hairdos for 2012. Both of those chaps seem to really be speaking my spiritual language these days.

Beware of who you ask for

November 15th, 2011 No comments

My name is Justin. Sure, it’s not the most common name (though I have, for some reason, been friends with many a Justin over my years), but it’s what my folks deemed to label me with.

It’s not even a particularly hard name to pronounce. It’s spelled relatively normal with a good ratio of consonants to vowels and it doesn’t even have any pesky silent letters.

Why, then, have people insisted on calling me “Jason” for years and years?

For a long while I just ignored the “mispronunciation.” After that I made corrections; often leading with the ever-popular “I’ll answer to any ‘J’ name.” (My father’s name is Jeff, so I’ve been called “Jeff” a lot as well.)

Now, however, I’m just going to roll with it. I’m going to respond to Jason and be Jason.

Here’s the big “problem,” though, Jason is a complete jerk.

Someone asks Jason to pass the mashed potatoes? He might just throw them on the floor. Need Jason to forward that important email to your Brother-in-Law? Whoops, Jason signed you and him up for a whole passel of listservs on growing beets in Kentucky. Need Jason to defuse that bomb that’s in the room we are locked in? Well, Jason is going to go ahead and defuse that bomb because he’s not a suicidal idiot, but he’ll pelt you with nasty jeers while he does it.

I’ve thought this through a lot and it’s the perfect consequence-less crime. If the person I am snubbing gets bent out of shape, they are going to expend a whole bunch of energy bitching and moaning about the wrong person. If confronted, I can always resort to, “Yeah, Jason did that. Isn’t he a complete prick?”

In the most perfect of worlds, the “perpetrator” will apologize to me for getting my name wrong and tell me it won’t happen again (yeah, like I haven’t heard that before.) Worst case scenario, I get in a bit of trouble and play the martyr card: “It’s like I’m not even a human being to you people.”

Oh, and by the way, it will always be Jason who took the last beer and/or slice of pizza. I’m also pretty sure it was him who farted in the elevator last week.

Categories: monkey, Ravings, Stupidity

RIP: Monte

October 18th, 2011 No comments

Boy, it seems like I was just doing this not too long ago for big-H. Today, almost six months to the day after his big brother and ultimate hero passed:  Monte, my little Berger, moved on to be with his brothers Higgins and Augie.

I can just about remember the day back in 1998 when we went to pick him up. It was one of his litter-mates we had designs on rather than Monte, but when this little white fur-ball launched himself with wild abandon out of the kitty carrier he was in at our shoulders and heads, it was pretty much cinched that the high-spirited little bastard was coming home with us rather than his brother.

Monte was never not purring. In fact, he often threw a little extra on top of his purr that made it sound like he was constantly beeping. At the same time, Monte perfected the silent meow. His little face would make the meowing motion, but nary a sound would come out. Pretty standard behavior for the kitty with the question-mark tail.

Basically put, Monte was very much the attention-loving little kitty whore. While he was afraid of his own shadow (the first time Monte hissed, he had no idea that the noise had issued from within himself and, thusly, fell right over in fright), Monte would go out of his way to bound over to people who had not had the privilege to pet him yet and attempt to perch on their shoulders. He would also usually take this opportunity to stick his nose in his “victim’s” ear and beep a couple of times.

Monte was a damn good cat. He always managed to find that elusive crumb of some bit of food that you had dropped and he was more than happy to remind you that you hadn’t quite pet him enough. His tiny frame contained a mighty yowl of a meow that just about bordered on high-pitched annoyance and he knew it.

When it came down to it, Monte just really couldn’t live without his constant companion. It really didn’t surprise me, but I’m a selfish bastard and wanted it otherwise. Our fuzzy little thin white duke has left the building and will be sorely missed by all he impacted.

See ya, buddy, we sure love you.

Categories: cats, monkey, Ravings

A Century of What?!?!?

July 11th, 2011 No comments

So, yeah, this is NWTF number 100. I look back on the year and a half of my life that is documented in these posts and think: “Boy, I sure like to ramble.”

It’s true. I’ll be the last person to deny it.

What putting this blog together has proven to me is that it really is feasible for me to organize my thoughts and produce a knot of words that might even be mistaken for sentences if taken in the right context. Looking back at the general content of what I’ve written shows that I jump around a lot and have a few “impassioned” things to say about all manner of topics that I probably have no business spouting off about.

I’ve been sitting on writing this 100th posting for a couple of weeks. I definitely wanted to mark the occasion, but honestly had no clue what to address or write about other than, “Hey I write a bunch of stupid shit. Congratulate me for making it publicly consumable.”

That’s utter crap, so I’m going to experiment with some stream of consciousness drivel.

The index finger on my right hand hurts a lot in the joints today. This got me thinking about how many mouse-clicks I’ve made over the past twenty years and then how inconvenient it would be to not have index fingers.

The Fox and the Hound is thirty years old. Unawares to me, this film represents the transition from Disney’s original “nine old men” to a younger generation of animators. It was this movie that caused Don Bluth to quit Disney and go off and form his own studio that put out such gems as “The Secret of NIMH,” “Space Ace,” and the animated chunks of “Xanadu.”

Bamboo Paper for the iPad has been a serious lifesaver. Scraps of paper with random notes scribbled on them have been my method of thought/process organization for the past fifteen years. Being able to “write” notes out on the iPad in a simple way is the second reason I wanted an iPad (the first being an easier way to read comic books).

I recently read that the mere act of recalling a memory alters it. For some reason, this scares the ever-loving crap out of me.

While I have really enjoyed his writing in the past, Chuck Klosterman writing for Grantland makes me want to pluck my eyes out. It’s enough to make me read Douglas Coupland. As a good friend of min succinctly put it, “I don’t have the energy or patience to read a 4000 word essay on why Klosterman’s favorite sports experience was some junior college basketball game 25 years ago.” I would have to agree.

I recently decided that french fries, by and large, are a waste of time. That’s probably a pretty un-American thing for me to say, but there are a hell of a lot more potato delivery systems that I prefer. Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple of places that I think do the fry up pretty damn well, but I would love to have a “salty starch sticks” stamp to “correct” most of the places I’ve had “fries” in over the past couple of years.

OK, that’s probably enough of that. I often have random disjointed thoughts that don’t warrant a full blog post, so now I have to decide if I should just “micro blog” (a term I utterly despise) and have a couple of lines of consumable text, or just save them all up for another post like this one. I’ll probably end up going with the former since my memory (or lack thereof) will keep me from compiling things easily.

Onward and upward!

Yoga: The Return

June 20th, 2011 No comments

Friday, after a “light” break of 95 days, I returned to Sunstone Yoga to kick my practice back into gear.

I honestly never intended to let my practice drop by the wayside, but sometime things just happen. It really started for me back in February when I got just about the worst ear infection I think I’ve ever had. The mere thought of going into a hot and humid room with the pain and pressure going on in that ear just makes me shudder. Coupled with a new relationship and a new job and yoga was just an afterthought.

Sooo, here I am three months later and my body was just screaming at me to get back into the routine. When I first took a break of a couple of weeks, going back was really hard. I got really really frustrated with the fact that my body had changed so drastically in such a short time. My flexibility was gone and my stamina was totally shot.

Now, however, I knew that I was going to be starting from square one. I knew that Triangle Pose was going to kick my ass and that I would probably have to entertain the possibility that I might just puke during Camel Pose. Sure enough, Triangle Pose was freakishly hard and if I hadn’t gotten into Child’s Pose, there might have been a bit of a mess on the floor during Camel Pose.

All-in-all, it was a pretty good return. My poor body probably could have done without spending the next day pulling up carpet, but the soreness was a welcome old friend.

Today (Monday), I went and did it again and it was even better. I went into the class with one of those anticipatory feelings that I just wanted the whole thing over with ASAP. It’s not that I didn’t want to be there, it’s just that I let the hectic aspects of my life get in the way of what I “needed” to do. I liken the feeling to wanting the opening band at a show to hurry up and finish so the headliner can go on. Even if that opening band is damn amazing and you really enjoy their set, there is just a little part of you that wants them to hurry up and finish so you can watch the headliner. That’s the way I felt about class going into it.

Five minutes in, I knew I was in the right place doing the right thing. Yeah, it’s corny and very “one-with-the-earthy,” but it all just felt right. I know that my practice is nowhere near what it was when I bailed on it, but I, once again, can see that it can get back there.

It’s all very exciting; like rediscovering how to ride a bike again (note to self, look into getting a bike).

Hell, if I can do it, anyone can.

Categories: monkey, Yoga

Ahh Portlandia

June 17th, 2011 No comments

Because it is one of the most touted places in the United States for somone of my proclivities, I was elated when faced with the opportunity to flee the Texas heat last week and nestle into the cool green lushness of the Pacific Northwest.

What I knew about Portland was what I’d seen on television and heard from friends who absolutely swore by it: a hipster mecca full of vintage clothing stores, pinball machines, record stores and coffee shops. When Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s show Portlandia came along, my view was cemented.

Here’s the thing, though: Portlandia’s cliches and generalizations aren’t that far off base.

The reason for my trip was two-fold: attend the girlfriend’s mom’s wedding (that’s a mouthful) and to visit and spend some quality time with the girlfriend’s sister who is a bike messenger and musician in Portland (how awesome is that?).

After flying into the Portland airport (an interesting descent if you’ve never seen massive mountains) we met up with said sister, grabbed our rental car and started out on the highway to the Oregon coastal town of Manzanita where the wedding and activities were to take place.

Manzanita and surrounding townships were amazing. The locals were incredibly nice and the locally-sourced food was amazing. Love you some Tilamook cheese? We freakin’ drove through Tilamook! At an amazing dinner at the Rising Star Cafe in Wheeler, our newly befriended innkeeper told us where most of the veggies in our salads came from. I don’t mean “That arugula was probably grown near Nehalem,” but freakin’ “Those cucumbers were probably grown by Bob at the top of this hill.” Wow. Just wow.

On the coast we did touristy things. We drove into Seaside and played video games, pinball and skee ball at the giant arcade there, we drove past the incredible rocks off of Cannon Beach which are quite memorable from the movie Goonies and we made fires on the beach (in a roast marshmallows way, not a ‘set fire to everything’ way). Coastal Oregon was quaint and awesome. While everyone back in Dallas was melting into the pavement, I was wandering around in jeans and a sweatshirt.

After a few days on the coast we made our way back into the Rose City for some “real” Portland time.

My first impression? Portland drivers are freakin’ insane. It really didn’t help that I was given a Chevy tank as a rental car when I’m used to driving a Prius, but many of these folks are downright insane. My second impression was sheer awe at the sight of actual bike lanes on the streets. For someone who has been living in the car-centric state of Texas for the past twenty years, it almost brought a tear to my eye.

Now down to the good stuff.

Indeed, Portland is a mecca of everything I mentioned before. We wandered around the downtown area for a day and a half building up our record collection with some of the most amazing finds ever. Shopping for records in Portland is religion and we had descended into one of the lower levels of the temple. Albums that were on the “I would like to own this record, but will probably never even see a copy” list were knocked out left and right, and almost all for prices that really made me feel like I was stealing from the shop owner. When all was said and done, we had about 45 pounds of vinyl and sleeves packed into my amazing Timbuk2 messenger bag and strapped to my back. That was a fun one to explain to airport security when we were leaving.

I loved Portland. Hell, I can’t wait to get back. Despite the assault to my allergies and the fact that the sun is only a sometimes visitor, it’s a pretty cool damn town to hang out in. And, contrary to the generalization, most people have jobs. My one big regret was not hitting up Voodoo Doughnuts. Sure, we walked by the original location several times, but it was closed for remodelling/exorcism.

I guess I’ve got yet another thing to look forward to on my next trip…

In case of Rapture, I’ll be right here

May 20th, 2011 No comments

Well, the Rapture is upon us (again). Harold Camping of Family Radio has freakin’ “guaranteed” that the Bible says we’ve got until around 5PM EDT on Saturday, May 21, 2011 and then that’s it for all the “chosen.”

Part of me really hopes Mr. Camping is right. Aside from his predictions about massive earthquakes and the world splitting and all sorts of unpleasantness, I really can’t wait for a little more elbow room. I, being the terrible heathen I am, will be right here like I always am. If I were a smarter man, I would have gone door to door offering to take care of people’s pets for a nominal fee (paid up front, of course).

As is, I’ll just have to make do with some of the post-Rapture looting. According to the event on Facebook, I’ll be among the almost 500,000 folks who clicked the “attending” button on this Facebook event. Come on along, it’ll be fun!

Here’s the thing, though. Harold Camping made the same prediction in 1994. Hell, lots of people have predicted the end of the world over the past bunch of years. When the time for all Hell to break loose comes and goes, we typically get the “We calculated wrong.” or “God, in his infinite mercy, has chosen to spare us” answer. I am very curious to see what Harold Camping will have to say around 9PM EDT when we are all still sitting here twiddling our thumbs.

This is, however, a great time to screw with people. Here’s an easy one: lay out a full set of clothes (including shoes) on the sidewalk outside your house. Another good one is to write your kids a note to the effect of “Been raptured, food is in the fridge,” hide somewhere in the house, and watch the hilarity ensue when they find the note.

Needless to say, I have a strong feeling that Mr. Camping is going to have to eat a whole lot of crow tomorrow afternoon. In the way way way off-hand chance he is correct, however, you will be pleased to know that this blog will continue (sporadically) as it always has. That’s just my dedication to you, the reader.

Jesus is coming. Look busy.

Categories: monkey, Ravings, Religion, Stupidity

Habitual Creature

May 5th, 2011 No comments

“Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up I noticed I was late”
–The Beatles (A Day in the Life)

A routine, I haz it.

As much as I would like to believe that I have spontinatiy coursing through my entire existence, I have recently realized that much of my “get up and go” time is incredibly regimented. Unfortunately I think it has to be so I don’t end up “eaten by a grue” every morning (read: snoring loudly while the sun tracks across the sky).

It’s pretty simple (to me, at least). At 6AM (really it’s 5:51AM because I keep my clock nine minutes ahead) the alarm goes off. I don’t mess around with playing “snooze-tag” because that’s a likely way to be eaten by a grue. I pop up, turn on the shower and brush my teeth. Shower, shower, shower until the clock across the room (also wrong as can be) is around the 5:20 or 6:20 range (depending on Daylight Savings: I don’t believe in changing that clock), and then get slapped together so I’m decent for public consumption.

From there I plop myself down in front of my computer for a quick glance at email and weather. The weather check became necessary after I realized that I don’t actually see the great outdoors until I’m pulling out of the garage. This way I can grab the appropriate outer covering for the current climate.

Then it’s out the door and off to the office. Because I love me some god-awful earliness, I’m typically the first person in the office. I turn off the alarm, pull out the laptop and fire it up. While the gods of Windows go through their stretching routine known as “booting up,” I unlock the two back doors. I then come back to the laptop, log in and go to the kitchen to make the first pot of office coffee. Then the day can officially begin.

Deviation from this routine always throws me for a loop. I’ve gotten very used to the 45 to 50 minutes it takes me to get from slumberland to fully functional developer. On very rare occasions I run into snags such as fashion crises, falling asleep in the shower (more common than I’d like to admit) or dreaded Windows Updates that put small kinks in my kickoff, but, because those are few and far between, I can generally just roll with them.

What I find utterly facinating is that I am far from the only person locked into my morning track. I can always tell those individuals on my drive down the highway to work who have fouled their routine in some manner. You know the type: 85 miles per hour, weaving in and out of lanes while either stuffing their face with what passes for breakfast or gesticulating wildly at fellow drivers who don’t have the “courtesy” to accommodate their fellow commuter who is obviously late for something or the other. These people stick out like a sore thumb.

As for me, tomorrow my alarm will go off at 6AM (5:51) and I’ll start it all over again. Like the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace or the noon lunch whistle, it happens just because it does.

Categories: Deep Thinking, monkey, Ravings

RIP: Higgins

April 22nd, 2011 No comments

When I first met Higgins he was a spry little kitten who managed to get himself into all manners of trouble due to the pure nature of his obstinate will and curiousness. Being a Cornish Rex, Higgins had a built-in nature to climb and explore and generally cause all sorts of mayhem.

I’ve gotta say, Higgins and I have not had the best relationship over his fifteen years on this planet.

During a particular period in my life between school and career, Higgins and I were left to our own devices during work hours and it was more of a circus than a manageable coexistence. Often, he would make the extreme effort to hustle his furry black butt across the room just to bite me on the shin and chase would ensue. I can honestly say that I didn’t appreciate that mirth for a very long time. In talking about him, more often than not I’d bring the word “spite” into the conversation. Hell, I even did it this week.

Today, after a wonderful life of fifteen years and loving experiences with three other wonderful brothers, one of whom was taken far too soon, Higgins had to move on to his next adventure.

It’s never easy to lose a pet: especially one who has been there for all the pivotal points in one’s adult life, but with the good things in life must also come the bad.

I’m sad for the fact that I’m not going to hear Higgins’ “complaining” yowl every day, and I’m sad for his two brothers who love him very much and took wonderful care of him during the period in his life where his health started to fail. At the same time, I’m happy for all the things he helped me get through and the companionship he provided when he knew better than I that I needed him.

Higgins was always very proper and very accommodating. When his mom and I thought it would be a hoot to dress him up in a little devil costume and humiliate him with pictures, he tolerated our giggles and calmly waited for the “horrible” experience to be over. When we brought home other cats to join our little family, Higgins stepped up and acted in just the way an older brother should. When family life turned upside down, Higgins stayed his stoic self. If that’s not a fucking rock, I’m not sure what is.

For some ungodly reason, whenever I have ever heard the Bouncing Souls’ song “Undeniable,” I have always imagined that Higgins sings it. I see him stretched up a mic stand with his furry little walnut paws wrapped around the microphone crooning about his “red shoes.” It’s bizarre, but always brings a smile to my face.

Rest in peace, little furry bastard.  Know that we are thinking about you always.

Categories: cats, monkey, Ravings