Welcome to the new site

 

welcome-mat1

 

 

As you might have noticed there’s been no Beastly posts for a while and I’ll tell you why.

 

I’m an expressive guy and I was bored to tears with the format of my original site. Plus it was a little cramped and the layout sucked. I needed more room to roam. After poking around here and there I got my own domain, found a layout I almost, but didn’t fully like. Polished up my html and css skills and made it more to my liking. Ya see the kind of trouble I get myself into when I get bored?

There’s still some stuff I want to do so you’ may see small things change over time.

PollsRounded

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My aim is to let everyone, that’s you by the way, interact more. Comment, vote on polls, email me, and like that.

 

Why would you want to do any of that? That’s another reason I’m doing this. I’ve been writing a blog, geeez I hate  that word, off and on for a few years. One of the hardest things about doing that is writing about something people would find interesting to read. Okay honestly, how many of us have lives that are so interesting that we can write about it every day, or week, or even sometimes a month?

I’m expanding the range of this site beyond my goings on and giving you, dearest and most loyal reader, an open door to partake likewise.

So, welcome in! Click here to go to the main page. Enjoy the new digs.

Why it never seems to get old

iphone 4I’m a kid at heart. I’m also a zen warrior, a master spy, and the guy that taught Indiana Jones everything he knows… in my own mind. In reality… well, we’ll just leave that sleeping dog lay.

So, back to being

a kid at heart. What I mean by this is that I don’t let maturity dial down the enjoyment I feel over something. You know what I mean. Maturity can be like a scratchy, thick blanket that muffles everything. You smile instead of laugh, or nod instead of high fiving. I think maturity is about gaining and using wisdom in life, and not about being stoic. But I’m getting off topic.

Yes, I’m writing about my iPhone. I can hear some of you wincing, but stick with me and you’ll find this isn’t some starry eyed slobber-fest. Now, I know there are those out there who hate the iPhone. They groan or roll their eyes at the mention. When someone pulls one out the haters tick off a grocery list of all the things wrong with the phone, the person, their dog, and the pitiful existence their kids must live.

I don’t get it. But, rather than trying to figure it out I’ll tell you why, even after years of having my iPhone, I still brings a smile to me.

Go to any fan site, review, or what have you and you’ll read about the design. You’ll find the same words over and over; it’s sleek, sexy, lines this, texture that. Some may have done a little homework about the designer Jonathan Ive. The man who, I believe, made Apple practically addictive. You’ll read about all of that, and yes, it’s true.

But what holds a certain pleasure for me is that this small, shiny, flat waffer can pack so much in it. Make a call, sure. Take a picture, sure. But it goes so far past that. It’s like a Swiss Army knife that you can attach as many tools as you want, swap them out, or just remove them, on a whim.

I can find not only where I am using Google Earth, I can find where I want to go. It will chart me a route, show me the traffic conditions and if I feel like catching a movie along the way it’ll show me where the theaters are and the show times. If I’m in Little Tokyo and see a sign in Japanese I can take a picture of it and have it translated for me. If I’m out and see something I’d like to buy I can scan it’s bar code and find out who else sells it, what price they sell it for, and get reviews of the product. I can point my iPhone at the sky and it’ll show me what star or planet I’m looking at. It’ll track the satellite I see moving across the night sky. If I forget to set my DVR for a show I can tell it to record. I can scan a printed page and convert it into a PDF which I can save, or email. And the list goes on… and on.

At last count there were over three hundred thousand different apps for the iphone. That’s staggering. Now, some of you may be thinking that you’d never have a use for most or all of the apps I mentioned. Some are smiling dreamily of their own iPhone and others are wondering about getting one. The thing is that it’s only true necessity it has is as a phone. Yeah, that’s it. But, as you begin to use the other functions you realize that, although they aren’t ‘can’t live without’, they very clearly make your daily life better.

reception problem

Don’t scoff. The same can be said for shoes, houses, pillows, aspirin, or, dare I say it… coffee. That’s right. I went there. We can survive without any of those things, right?

But why should we? And that same question can be pointed right at the iPhone. What’s bad about a device that is this useful, entertaining, and handy?

The novelty of my iPhone wore off long ago, but my marvel at how useful it is continues years after opening the box and holding it for the first time with a grin on my face and a twinkle in my eye. Okay, that was slightly slobbering.

37 inches to go

If you’ve seen The Great Race you know this by heart as Professor Fate and The Great Leslie discuss their predicament on a slowly melting iceberg.

The Great Leslie: [measuring the iceberg] Thirty seven inches to go.
Professor Fate: Oh, 37 inches to go. Huzzah! At the rate we’ve been melting, that’s good for about one more week!
The Great Leslie: You’d better keep it to yourself.
Professor Fate: Oh, of course I’ll keep it to myself. Until the water reaches my lower lip, and then I’m gonna mention it to SOMEBODY!

At 3:30 Sunday afternoon it reached my lower lip.

It had been raining, hard, since the middle of the night and was going non-stop. It was like the rain was on a mission. I hadn’t seen it like this since sometime in the late 80’s, near as I can remember it.

We’d just gotten back from running some errands and I was settling in, listening to the rain, feeling warm and content, and thinking about how nice a nap would be… Just then Karen announced we had a lake in the side yard. The words of ‘drama queen’ were halfway out of my mouth when I poked my head out of the back door and HOLY CRAP!!!

We had a fricken lake in our side yard.

Years ago I had a huge problem. When it would rain the water seeped into the house and the carpet turned into a giant soggy sponge. I had that fixed by removing about a foot of soil from the side yard. Short story; soil’s higher than the foundation, soil gets wet, stucco on outside of house gets wet, stucco sucks water into wall, wall into house, house into carpet.

I never thought I’d have to worry about that again, until I was looking at a mini lake next to the house. Karen voiced my own thought that the ground was hard and not absorbing the water. I threw on my boots, jacket, and hat to fend off the rain. Soon I was digging a few holes to break up the ground. Now I had the same amount of water but now it was muddy with holes that I’d later be stepping into up to my knee.

The ground wasn’t hard. It was saturated and wasn’t taking any more. Okay, next plan. Grabbing a ten gallon bucket I started bailing. I’d only get it filled about a third but I was chucking a lot of water out of there and it didn’t make a single dent. About that time my hardy REI jacket had decided it didn’t want to be water resistant anymore. My boots had reenacted the sinking of the Titanic and were submersed beyond hope. As I’m standing there, now completely soaked from head to foot, catching my breath the rain started coming down even harder. I just stood there watching the water rise in less time that it took me to bail it out.

How could this be??? Then I noticed that the water pouring off the neighbors roof was pouring onto their paved side yard and created small waterfalls under the fence into my yard.

The bucket wasn’t working. Time for plan C. I got the bright idea to siphon out the water using the water hose. It didn’t work and I swear I can still taste muddy water.

Plan D. We need a pump. Yeah, it was that bad. As I step into the kitchen water trickles out of my boot like I’m walking around in giant, soaked sponges. Leaving a track of mud and water through the living room to the computer and do a quick search of my local hardware store where I discover a bewildering selection of pumps. I was a bit overwhelmed, but thankfully Karen steps in and says, ‘Lets just go there and work it out with someone who knows.’

In fact that’s what a lot of people did because when we walked in we asked the greeter where the pumps were and they laughed saying they should just mark a path because everyone was coming in for a pump. We were very lucky because they were down to their last eight pumps and there were two people there getting one.

Back home with our trusty sump pump the instructions say it requires it be deep enough in the water for the little float to activate the pump. It’s pouring down and where I’m not soaking wet I’m covered in mud AND soaking wet and digging a hole that I can put my whole arm in. After a few tries I get the pump in place and it kicks on.

I can’t begin to tell you the child like joy of seeing water gushing from the pumps hose. By now the sun is starting to go down. Karen and I had been at this since four and it’s nearing seven. I can see my breath fogging in the air and the cold is working it’s way to my bones, but my heart is warmed by the murmur of that little pump working away.

Through all of this Karen had jumped in from the very start. She got just as soaked and cold and never complained or given in and gone inside. When I snapped she never snapped back but took it all in stride. You’d have to be there to really appreciate just how miserable the conditions were, but I could not be more proud to have her as my wife.

Finally confident we’d gotten the worst of it under control we threw warming coffee down our throats, had hot showers which stung and left us reddened and headed over to Marks place. It was like entering a Hobbit hole. It was warm and merry. There was a giant hobbit there to feed us hot soup and we devoured a couple of bowls each while enjoying Marks company and watched Family Guy Star Wars on his awesome new TV.

What a day it had been. The new reported that we got six inches of rain. I beg to differ. I was in it and it was WAY more than six bloody inches. As a side note, I never thought the day would come when I’d say I love a sump pump, but I do.

Now that’s how it’s done

After a week of eye straining, brain numbing, frustrating stress I was ready to see the back of this week and wasted no time it starting it right.
I finally tweaked the last bit of my website to my liking. Had one of Karens delicious dinners. Watched Men Who Stare At Goats with the family. Then sat out in the chilly yard with a fine cup of coffee and a good cigar talking with Karen about … just stuff.
Then we crawled into bed with iPads in hand and tried to stay awake reading.
I was really pleased when i woke up and saw it was 8:30 in the morning.

Now, that’s how to start a weekend.

Please stop talking

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been part of, or witnessed, an accident. If you’re not hurt your first reaction, mostly likely, would be to rush to help. We may not even think about what we’re doing but the drive to help others in a disaster motivates us to do something, anything. And sometimes we’re in motion before our brain has caught up to us.

On March 12th Obama went on international television and told the world that the United States rushed coolant to the Japanese nuclear power plant.

blink…

blink…

Um… that nuclear power plant is water cooled.

Even if we accepted the premise that Obama was in the heat of the moment to give Japan aid you’d think that between the time that he called a press conference, the reporters were notified and traveled to the press room, the cameramen were assembled, the make up artist did their work, and so on… you’d think that someone in the Presidents cabinet would have had a few seconds time to advise Obama that the plant used water.

But it didn’t happen. Why? I don’t think it was from a shortage of time. I suspect it’s because the people that Obama has hand picked to advise him didn’t have a clue. Why wouldn’t they?

This is where Obamas lack of experience shines through. The people of the United States did not elect a President. They elected a community organizer.

“I can bring this country together. I have a track record, starting from the days I moved to Chicago as a community organizer.” Barack Obama – February 2007.  If you read about his time in that role you’ll discover he ranged from ineffective to complete failure. Just as he failed to be informed about Japans nuclear power plants.

I wish the embarrassment he caused had ended with his ‘coolant’ statement, but it didn’t. He then went on to say he had asked his Energy Secretary Steve Chu to be in close contact with the Japanese side to provide any assistance necessary, “but also to make sure that if, in fact, there have been breaches in the safety system on these nuclear plants that they’re dealt with right away.”

Dealt with… right away. Wow. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard. Did he think people would drag their feet in handling a nuclear reactor breach? I suppose he must have otherwise he wouldn’t have felt the need to give instructions on what to do.

Every time Obama opens his mouth I find myself wincing because I dread what new ways he’ll embarrass us to the rest of the world.  I wish he would just stop talking.

Really.

We don’t need a hyphen

Theodore Roosevelt in speaking to the largely Irish Catholic Knights of Columbus at Carnegie Hall on Columbus Day 1915, asserted that,[3]
“There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not  refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all… The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic… There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.”
These strong words were spoken by a strong man in a time when people were honest and frank. People didn’t hide their position on a subject. If you were to tell them to get in touch with their feminine side they’d have laughed you out of the room. And hand wringers of political correctness weren’t dictating what your vocabulary.

There’s a lot of things where a blurred line is a good thing. Few things in life are or should be absolutes, but in this case I agree with Roosevelt. You’re either an American or you’re not. We pledge our allegiance to one flag. The American flag.

I believe one of the problems we face, as a country, is that our sense of belonging, our perspective of all of us being a part of something great and meaningful is eroded by the  hyphen. I know. It sounds silly when I say it like that, but think about this for a moment. Why is it that when someone tells you they’re a Mexican-American, or African-American, or Canadian-American, that being American comes last? People that are third, fourth, even fifth generation Americans, people who have never set foot on foreign soil will tell you they’re this or that-American.

When it comes time to protect this country, fight for it, step up and be counted as an American where do hyphenated people stand? Do they care? Do they feel that this is their country, or just some place they’re living?

I understand about heritage. People are proud of their roots. Sure, I get that, but I can’t help  feel that they are ignoring all the reasons they should be proud to be called an American. This country set the standard for democracy. What other country created a Bill of Rights?
The very first words of our American Constitution begins with “We the People…” Not we the government, or King, or ruler.
While other countries were content to enslave other races, this country went to war against itself to stop it; to make all people free. When other countries faltered from political and natural disaster their people came here… and they did not return. They stayed here for a reason.

I know some of you have been reading this while mentally writing up a list of Americas flaws. I’m not blind to our history and it’s not without some shameful moments, but save your criticism. We all know America has it’s flaws, but I have found that the people who look for opportunities to tear holes in this country never have an answer for why they don’t go somewhere else?
Celebrities are in a position to get the most attention and they’re great for threating to leave. Eddie Vedder, Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, Barbara Streisand, Robert Altman are just some of the few that have beaten their chest and proclaimed they’d leave America. Want to guess where they are now? Yup, right here. America. Why? Where else could they live with the same freedoms, rights, and liberties? Nowhere. Nowhere in the entire world is there a country like America.

Europe has a wild hair up their rears about America. I’m not being paranoid. Just google ‘Why Europe hates America’ and you’ll find hours of reading material. We’re at the butt of many jokes if not out right insults. I can be watching a foreign movie, news show, talk show, or sports show and out of the blue someone makes a jab at America and everyone laughs. What have we done to earn this? Didn’t we send our men and women directly in harms way to aid our European allies in two world wars? Even now we have our military men and women stationed in Germany, Greece, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal, Netherlands, Greenland, France, Poland, Turkey, and Kosovo.  We are there to aid in the protection of our allies. Everyone of us are paying with our taxes to provide that protection and the gratitude we receive in return are mocking jokes and criticisms.

After the war while America was melting down it’s own spoons and forks because we didn’t have enough metal to make planes, ships, and cars; food was scarce and gas was as rare as gold, we gave billions of dollars in aid to Europe in The Marshall Plan. It was America that brought Europe up from the post war ashes and today those same countries put us down.

I have wondered over this at times and think I might have come up with part of the answer. While the countries of Europe conform to each others judgement America stands apart. We abstain when other countries tell us we should be like them; conform to their idea of what America should be, what we should do, and they don’t like that. They don’t like that America doesn’t fall in line. But that is the core of our history. America was founded by those who would not fall in line, and would not accept the mandates of foreign countries. Every war we’ve fought has been to protect not only our rights and freedoms, but the rights and freedoms we believe all people should have.

If you are a legal citizen of this country you are an American. You are part of a country that, in spite of it’s mistakes, strives for freedom for it’s people, protects your right to speak your mind, guards your choice to worship as you decide, safe keeps your right to live anywhere you want, have what ever job you pick, get an education, raise your children in the religion of your choice, and more.

This is not a country divided by a hyphen. It’s one country and it should be made up of one people. Americans and nothing more.

I feel like I just dodged a bullet.

My history of car ownership has been a long line of used cars. This last go-round I decided I was done with the drama of dealing with the endless parade of things breaking on a used car and got myself bright, shinny new car.

For the past five years I’ve enjoyed trouble free, worry free driving. All of that came to an end on Saturday.

So, while my car was in the shop, yesterday, I was chewing my nails wondering how badly I was going to get screwed, how much was wrong with the car, etc.

With me, putting the car in the shop is like going to the doctors. They never find just one thing wrong. It’s this and that and that over there and this thing here and then they give you the cost of fixing it which is usually so high it gives you a nose bleed.

Doctor, ‘So, can I put you down for that brain tumor removal and heart bypass?’

Me, ‘Ummm… and you’re saying there may be a risk that if I don’t do this I could get sick?’

Doctor, ‘Sir, it’s not that you may be a risk. You could die in the next ten minutes or 10 weeks.’

Me, ‘Hmmmm… sooo it’s a pretty small risk and I’ll be fine if I get more sleep. Got it.’

Doctor, ‘You’re leaving? But, surely you can’t put a price on your own life!’

Me, ‘I wouldn’t have thought so either, but here we are.’

The garage would call me to tell me what they did and were about to do. Each time it would be that they hadn’t found anything wrong, and it would cost this much to take the next step. Each call was costing me more and more. It was a lot like getting called by a phone sex hotline. I was getting screwed, but it wasn’t nearly as fun.

Finally they thought they knew what it was and would call me as soon as they had determined the fix. They didn’t call. Two hours later and they continued to not call. After four hours of nothing it was time to leave the office and drive by the garage to see what was going on.

When I got there I saw my keys on the front desk and spotted my car in the back. Doors closed, hood down, and tellingly, not in a work-bay. The guy, Mike, who was working on it was out but expected back “soon”. He’d call me and tell me what the status was. I was hoping to have more than that by the time I left the garage, and it would be almost two hours before I got the ‘Mike’ call.

Being a guy I automatically know about cars, so when a garage knows they’re dealing with a guy they can’t give you some bogus excuse about what’s wrong with the car. Not like what they do with women. From what he explained to me, and I’ll try to keep the confusing technical details to a minimum, it appears that one of the gnomes that turns a crank and makes the roundy-turny thing work had died and they had to replace it. And it was my lucky day because they, just so happened to have a spare gnome.

There’s a lot more but it’d only bore you, being that it’s, you know, guy stuff. The upshot is that it didn’t cost nearly as much as I had feared, but it was an unexpected expense that I hadn’t budgeted for, so, as much as it pains me I’m taking your Christmas gift back for a refund and using the money to pay for the repairs. I knew you’d understand.

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That was close!