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Friday, June 28, 2013

An Open Letter to the Person Texting Behind the Wheel Yesterday

An Open Letter to the Person Texting Behind the Wheel.

I noticed you.  I realized you slowed down suddenly, and weaved ever so slightly.  We all know now what that means.  Sure enough, as I pulled next to you, you were texting.  I watched you, and stayed next to you.  For 10 seconds.  The entire way down that hill, you had your face lowered, eyes off the road, counting on your peripheral vision and youthful confidence that you would be OK.

I honked my horn, and you looked up, startled.  I shook my head at you in reproach, and you looked at me like I was an absolute asshole. 

No, young man, I just wanted to remind you of something.  The road is more important than whatever is happening on that phone, unless your significant other just gave birth…and then I still want you to cheer but lay your fucking phone down and wait to text her back until you can pull over.  Safely.

I wanted you to stop at the gas station, or at the supermarket, so I could tell you something.  You didn’t, so here is what I wanted to say.

You don’t know me, but I’m going to tell you something important, something lifechanging, because if you were my son, I’d want someone to do this for me.  Look, I know I’m a stranger, but I’m going to start with this sentence:  “I love you.”

Now don't go all weird, there’s more than one reason for me to say that.  First, you’re a person, like me, and I honor your place in this world and the potential you bear for awesomeness.  Second, I’m saying it for your parents, siblings, significant other, and future children.  They love you, or did, or will.  I’m old enough to be your father, so please, let me give you a wee bit of fatherly advice.

It takes just one moment of inattention to die. 

All it takes is someone running a light, swerving to avoid a deer, slamming the brakes because a wine bottle exploded, having a blowout, crossing the median toward you, or any of a million other crazy things that require us to keep our eyes on the road at 50mph.  At 50, if you hit a stationary object, you could fucking die.  Like that semi truck 3 cars ahead?  In 10 seconds, if he’d come to a dead stop…you would have too.

I don’t care if you’re Mario Andretti…what do you mean "who is that"?  Never mind, I get that I’m old to you.  OK, I don’t care if you’re Danica Patrick, a race car driver is good because they pay attention.  They're engaged in the act of driving.    

But whatever was on that phone was more important to you than your safety, and the safety of everyone around you.  Look, son, driving is a privilege, and a contract among all of us that we will watch out for each other.  A lot of people break that contract, and we call them assholes.  Please, son, don’t be an asshole.   

You might accept the responsibility for your own life and death, and even for the hole your loss would leave in the rest of us.  That’s brave of you.  But let me ask you this:  if a pedestrian had started across the road in front of you, perhaps paying more attention to their phone, would you have seen them?  Or would you have just become an accidental killer?  That’s a pain you don’t want, and one that takes only an instant to arrive.  You are young, and likely have great reflexes…but those reflexes require you to look out the windshield, not at your smartphone screen. 

And did I mention that it’s illegal here?  If I’d been a cop, you’d have been saving up the dollar bills for your court costs, my boy. 

Please, son, put the goddamn thing down.  Leave it there.  If you absolutely must look at it, please…wait for the red light.  You were 26 or so seconds away from a minute wait at that light.  Kid, I hate that light.  Were those 10 seconds of distraction so important that they couldn’t wait that long?  No, son, of course they weren’t. 


I’ve gotten angry plenty of times at people texting on the road.  Today, my boy, you didn’t piss me off.  You scared the everloving shit out of me.  We could have lost you today.  I can’t tell you how happy I am we didn’t.  Now please, please, don’t text behind the wheel.  It’s truly every bit as dangerous as Russian Roulette. 

Remember, young man, that we love you.  Oh, and clean your room, OK?  It builds character. 


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Five Things I Think, June 27

Let’s put on our thinking caps again, shall we?  It’s been a good week…

1) I think I regret accidentally shooting my wife in the back of the head.  And now that the FBI is reading the blog, allow me to explain.

            We were on the road, heading to The Lake.  The Vibe had been packed with clothes and Little Danger’s life jacket and tasty treats aplenty, including a wine bag.  In that bag was a bottle of Moscato, a lovely, but somewhat fizzy, wine that Wifefish adores.

            The road got a bit rough, and the bottles slid from vertical to slightly horizontal.  Pro tip:  one should not store fizzy wines horizontally.

            Suddenly, a scream issued from the rear seat and wine splattered throughout the car.  Now, when I say throughout, I mean that it was like the blood spatters in a Quentin Tarantino flick.  There was Moscato on the windshield.  Think Pulp Fiction.

            The pressure in the bottle had built to the point where it had fired the cork at point-blank range into the back of Wifefish’s cranium, further ricocheting somewhere in the car to some nook or cranny that will render it an archeological artifact. 

            I added insult to injury when we pulled off the interstate, as I brought us to a stop somewhat quickly…and the still-sideways bottle sloshed from o’er Wifefish’s shoulder and all over her dress.  This led to a massive cleanup effort and parking lot wardrobe change for her, as we tried to keep her modesty intact.  It also led to a single, solitary tear rolling down my cheek as I dropped the near-empty bottle into the trash can.  Like the Indian in the litter commercial, I was moved by the loss of something beautiful…a bottle of Moscato.

We spent the rest of the road trip making absolutely sure we didn’t get pulled over, lest an officer think we were a rolling wino tour de force.   

2)  I think whoever created the “Relaxation Station” knew exactly what they were doing. We tied up the houseboat in a cove, and then most of us jumped in the raft to chill out.  Granted, for Little Danger, the thing serves as a giant trampoline jumping pool thing, as he launches himself from the seats into the netting in the middle like a crazed lemming in a temporal moebius loop. 

Note to designers:  design flaw exists.  Cupholders will not hold a wine bottle. 
Note to self:  you could have had the Moscato in this thing, you moron.
Note to Wifefish:  I’m really sorry about the Moscato.

3)  I think Little Danger has become obsessed.  Wifefish has revealed unto him that his upcoming 3rd birthday will be celebrated with a Star Wars bedroom, complete with custom built AT-AT bed and wall murals, and a handmade R2-D2 trash can.
            Not a day goes by that he doesn’t ask “Where my Shtarwarsbed?”  Obsession, thy name is toddler.
             Needless to say, this very blog will feature a pic-heavy post with a preponderance of images when the project is perfected.  I may be every bit as excited as he is. 

4)  I think I’m glad I got to run a game this calendar year.  I’m trying to get another one in quickly, though.  A 4 hour Deathwatch session just wasn’t enough to do more than whet my appetite for some good RPG sittin’ around the table with junk food and beer and good friends fun.  I feel the need for a breakfast-lunch-dinner gameathon comin’ on. 

5) I think it was an exciting 48 hours on the political front.  Between an amazing filibuster in Texas (google that shit) and a sweet SCOTUS decision, it seems there’s still some life left in liberty after all.  And forgive me if I seem overly victory dance on this, but of late our dear government machine had started looking less like the Great American Melting Pot and more like Mordor meets eleventy billion levels of bureaucracy.
I’m happy that DOMA was struck down.  It was, at its core, a law designed to deny rights to a group of Americans.  In that sense, it had to go, as it was in fact unconstitutional.  That’s going to be logically true no matter which side of the “gay issues” you stand on, dear reader, so if you wish to rebut, make certain you have some ironclad logic or I will gleefully make a fool of you in my comments section.

 I’m also happy because I think it’s OK to be Takei, and if somewhere down the line Little Danger decided (or discovered) he was into boys instead of girls, I want him to be able to live that life with as much normalcy as it deserves, instead of all the hoopla that currently surrounds it.  I have gay friends that are married already, just not in the eyes of the state.  It’s time for that to change.  (The eyes, not the married.) 

As for the Texas filibuster, I just couldn’t help but get involved.  I may have called a Texas Senator “nimblenuts” directly.  Look, I’m sick to death of wild hyperbole in politics.  Here’s his incredibly stupid, irresponsible, and completely false tweet, and my reply.  

Really?  TERRORIST?  So what you’re saying is that in addition to standing and talking, Wendy Davis threatened to poison the water supply unless you dropped it?  No?
Then surely she said she would detonate a bomb if the bill passed.  No?
Then perhaps she intimated that an Emu Death Squad would systematically raid the family homesteads of each Senator in opposition?  What, NO?  
All she did was speak?  Then that doesn’t equal a terrorist, you dimwitted shitsack.  Handy rule of thumb:  if Batman wouldn’t punch the person out, they’re not engaged in terrorist activity.  With the noted exception of Robin, of course.  Sometimes you just have to knock a ward around.  

So, gang…what do you think?  Tell me right here in the comments!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Beer, Beer, Beer, vol 2

Greetings, gang!  It’s time for me once again to amuse my taste buds and share the experience with you.  Since the inaugural beer review was Fascist Pig, I thought I’d continue with two offerings from the same brewer, Finch’s Beer Co, hailing from Chicago. 

Chicago and booze have a rich history, a special relationship from the Prohibition days.  Al Capone is immortalized in our collective conscious, the most visible symbol of days gone wrong which brought us the mega-brewers and squashed many a great beer.  Chicago, quite rightly, now boasts more than one beer producer laying down some tasty treats.

Enough with the history lesson, let’s talk beer.  I found myself on the way to the lake, as I often do, and stopped at a great liquor store on the way that has a wall of coolers as wide as a politician’s lying streak.  Having enjoyed the Pig, I decided to give Finch’s another try, and picked up their CutThroat American Pale Ale. 

One of the store employees noticed my choice, and recommended, nearly demanded, that I also grab their Threadless if ever I liked an IPA.  Given that I do, in fact, enjoy a hop assault on my tastebuds, I complied with minimal resistance.  Given also that I had already filled my cart, my wallet may have whimpered for a moment, but otherwise there was no objection.  I drove on to the lake and boarded the houseboat, ready to take the pontoon boat out the next day for pleasant relaxation at what some lovingly call the Redneck Day Spa. 

And lo! it came to pass that I loaded several cans into the cooler, and set forth to tie up in a favorite cove to swim, skip rocks with Little Danger, and taste beers with his Pop Pop. 
After kicking the day off with a Pig, I pulled out the red can of the Threadless IPA.

Upon the first sip, I felt immediately grateful for the arm-twisting beernut in the boozehaus.  He’d not led me astray.  The aroma is quite nice, fruity and hoppy, and the flavor is right there as well, with a fruity sweetness to start and a bitter hoppiness on the backside.  As the sun came from behind the clouds to warm us, this beer cooled my tongue with delight.  You’ll find over at Beer Advocate that they score this one at an 81, a good solid percentage, and one I agree with. 

The next beer on deck was the Cut Throat (named for the finch, not the piratical activity) American Pale Ale.  This one is similar to its brother, but more mellow.  It’s a middle-of-the-road Pale, something that refreshes but still has flavors to savor.  It’s more pine and citrus in the palate, and less bitter in the finish.  The current Advocate score is 79, bringing it in just about in line with the Threadless. 

Finch’s has two more offerings I haven’t tasted yet, but I assure you I will before the summer is through.  There are more lake trips in my future, which means more opportunity to relax and indulge in taste bud hedonism. 

Threadless and Cut Throat, from Finch’s…give ‘em a try, and Bottoms Up! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Five Things I Think, June 7

1) I think that Lake Therapy is addicting.  I do in fact have a bit of a sunburn right now, as I remembered to slather sunscreen liberally upon the little Ginger I bear responsibility for, but forgot to do so for myself.  Instead, I slathered my insides with beer while hanging out in a cove, a progression of Fascist Pig, Threadless IPA, Cut Throat Pale Ale (all 3 from Finch’s), then moving along to a Hobgoblin and finishing with a Strongbow cider.  It was a good afternoon. 
There’s something strange about my metabolism at the lake, an odd sort of semi-immunity to beer that only occurs there.  Whereas I may stop at two on any given other day, on a lake day it’s long into the sixth before I start hearing my internal monologue introducing itself to the twelve steppers. 
It may be the sun, it may be the water, it may even be the complete relaxation that wraps around me like a mother’s hug when I’m on the water.  But one thing is certain:  for a man who enjoys good beers and good boozes, it’s a pleasant circumstance.

 Our post-storm sunset

2) I think a line of thunderstorms can create excitement under the best of circumstances; when on a boat it’s truly an interesting time.  We were hit Saturday evening by a squall line that was blowing steady 30 mph for a few minutes, which meant your very own Dangerboy tossed his shirt off and ran to the upper deck to secure chairs before they went over the side.  The rain was biblical, and also chilly.  I enjoyed a very good dinner in damp shorts, as we watched someone’s inflatable killer whale sail across the marina. 
Fortunately, Little Danger was unperturbed.  We’ve spent some fun thunderstorms together on the porch, his first when he was only 4 days old.  I’d like to get it into his head early, and I think I’ve succeeded, that storms are nothing to fear, just a reason for caution.

3) I think it’s a little disgusting the amount of civil liberties I’ve watched erode away over the past 8 years.  The TSA, DOJ, NSA, and several other alphabet soup agencies really need pulled in.  And gang, it’s only going to get worse.  The information collected about each of us leads to a dystopia once imagined, now experienced.  We’re headed toward the world of Shadowrun, just lacking elves and orcs. 
Still, it could be worse.  Watching the events unfolding in Turkey makes me truly happy that our police still, for the most part, toe the line of “good guy”.  Yet I also see a possible future there for Little Danger, as the soldierizing of our police force continues.  It’s concerning, to say the least, as probable cause is less and less necessary for search, seizure, and incarceration.  We increasingly approach the Panopticon, and I think it’s a horrible way to design a society.

4) I think it’s been too long since I’ve sat down at the gaming table.  I just realized I haven’t run or played an RPG since the calendar rolled over to 2013, and that’s just damned unacceptable.  This shall be rectified with great prejudice.  Now I just have to figure out what group to get together, and which game to run…hmmm. 

5) I think I’m happy to be typing these words again.  At the risk of covering ground we’ve already walked together, it’s important that I dig out from this self-imposed mountain of solitude and get social again.  For a guy whose gift is getting along with people, I’ve been seeing way too much of my own four walls. 
The resurgence of this place, my own little corner of the government-surveilled series of tubes, has helped me to come back to a sense of normalcy and productivity.  Since success often breeds more success, I can’t imagine this as anything other than a good thing. 

So…what do YOU think today?

Bonus thought:  Did I just get through a whole blog post with "damn" as the strongest word?  What the heck is wrong with me????

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