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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Five Things I Think, Nov. 30

With only a tiny preamble, let's think.

1) I think that I hate being sick.  This is a no-brainer, really, but true nonetheless.  I am the stereotypical wimpstick male when ill.  I lament the weakness of my virus-violated frame while staring at a water glass not 7 inches out of my reach for minutes on end before finally breaking the magnified inertia to reach out, via Herculean effort, and grasp the object of my desire to slake a building fever thirst.
I fell ill on Sunday, and it is this weird cold that started about dead center of the bronchitis spots, where usually colds have to migrate to over a couple of painful weeks.  A fever arrived in short order after, and it was a will-sapping shiver fest of a fever indeed.  Until I looked at my thermometer and realized it only read 100.8.  Betrayed by reality.
To be fair, this one was (and lingers a bit for an is today) kind of brutal to me.  I broke out in a sweat I haven't encountered since the last time I tried to lie to my Mom so many years ago.  Under a pile of blankets, feeling so cold it was as if the emptiness of the void were calling through my extremities, I woke from a fitful sleep to find...well, I thought I'd pissed the bed, actually.  Fortunately for my dignity and the laundry I hadn't; I was merely experiencing the joy of quite literally dripping with sweat.
This is not the way to find the wet spot.  Nor to make one.  Fever is done, but man it would be nice to feel like I'd slept this week.  On the plus side, I finished Punisher on Netflix at about 4am a couple days back.

2) I think I've been a ball of stress lately, which may have helped #1 up there happen.  Selling an old house is a pain in the armpit. 
The previous house was built in 1920, and as such, has a few dated features.  We are on buyer #2, as the previous attempt fell apart like an overstuffed burrito supreme on the first bite, and was just as sloppy.  They had a friend of the family do their home inspection, and their first time realtor just gave us the whole list of things that weren't just totally perfect and said "fix this stuff."  That's...that's not how this works, gang.
Current buyer is asking for modernization updates out the wazoo, and waiting on estimates is only slightly less stressful than being tied to a bamboo cage while a live weasel slowly chews off an ear.  I would love to not lose money selling a perfectly wonderful domicile to someone who wants to buy it. I would also not like to tote mortgage and utilities on a house I don't live in over the winter. 
Still, I am glad we moved before marketing it.  Beats the heck out of living in a hotel between closings like the bro and sis in law had to.  They are made of sterner stuff perhaps than I. 

3) I think the holidays approach, like the Death Star to Yavin 4.  It seems that gift shopping has snuck up on me again, and it's time to find a day to get out there and launch torpedoes at the exhaust port of Christmas yet to come.  I might also be ready for a certain movie release coming up.  Maybe.

4) I think I enjoy a good movie.  I've seen two very different films recently: the new Thor movie and Murder on the Orient Express.  I enjoyed both for very different reasons.  I have heard people poopoo and boohoo them, and that's fine for them.  I liked 'em.  So there. 
It was, however, hard to get Little Danger to go to bed after Ragnarok, as he was running around the house with his foam Mjolnir blasting bad guys like crazy.  I may have smiled.  I may have thought about grabbing my Tony Stark shirt and blasting with him, but I was le tired. 

5) I think my wallet is in trouble.  Games Workshop has come back around to Necromunda, releasing new figures and weapons and an updated version of the game and...damn them.  Damn them all. 
So, Little Danger and I will spend some time I am sure going over the new stuff and playing games and I have to paint more and...well, I don't know if this is good or bad or both yet. 

Time will tell if there are more adventures in the Underhive of Hive Primus for LD and I and friends...and if his dice still love him so very, very much.  (He routinely slaughters my gangs despite my experience and his...interesting tactical choices.)

Well, there's my thinkin', amongst my coughin' and wheezin'.  What do you think?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Asking Why

The most important lesson Dad ever taught me was this: “Always ask why.”
Of course, I wasn't supposed to ask Mom that question when she told me to sit the hell down for dinner, but it was intellectual armor. Pardon me while I strap on a good ol'-fashioned Dangerboy Rant.

In today's 24 hour news cycle of being bombarded by everything from everywhere, the question of Why has protected me from a great deal of the ills commensurate with such a barrage of bullshit. Why do they want me to be afraid of so much stuff? So I will watch their show breathlessly, read their words, and support them through supporting their advertisers.

This is, of course, only my opinion. It is the answer I have deduced from the input. It is a way of understanding why friends who are otherwise intelligent human beings seem reduced to expletive spitting troglodytes when a hot button issue comes up.

It's an opinion that bears thought. If you are informed politely, you'll watch the thing, note the thing, and move on. But if you are inflamed and provoked by buzzwords darting about like goddamn hatedarts of doom, then you will watch the thing, talk about the thing, share the thing, watch more about the thing, and start ignoring the competing thing. It's human nature. It's the way our animal brain evolved for survival, and it's sketchy at best in the modern world.

Needless to say, I am passing the lesson of Why on to Little Danger. I am adding another layer, however. “Always challenge your own opinion.” Just because I think I am right, even if I am thoroughly convinced, doesn't mean that I am right (and certainly not righteous), and my opinion could use a hearty work out.

It is a lost skill to be able to hold both sides of a debate (or, heaven forfend, the myriad shades of nuance available to a complex issue) in one's brainpan without blowing grey matter right out one's earholes. Social media, I find, makes this worse. The algorithms of what you like may well create an echo chamber from which one can't escape. Couple that with clickbait farmers that write articles screeching from both ends of the spectrum and then publish opposing views meant to be spread virally, spewing crap like a diarrhea laden goose held up to wind generator, and you have a perfect recipe for programming human minds to conflate “commonly seen but bullshit” with “truth.”

Frankly, it drives me fucking crazy.

Common does not equal true. Commonly spoken of does not equal common in occurrence. Outrageous is an outlier that triggers outrage.

I am beyond happy to live out in the country now. The level of bullshit has dropped, despite the level of bulls being more abundant out in farmland. I do not, in fact, need to feel outrage all the time, no matter what shrill bloggers and pundits would have us believe.

At home, the most violent thing we've been exposed to is the abduction of a mole by a hawk. I understand there is bad shit happening in the world, but I vehemently disagree that I have to be outraged to change it. I happen to think that reasonable thought, understanding why, and challenging my beliefs to make sure I can think reasonably about how things really are will take me much, much farther than blindly following the leader of the outrage lemmings.

I cordially invite you to join my revolution. For one week, hell even one day, think about every article before you click “share” and ask WHY. Check to see if there is a VERY similarly worded article in direct opposition will have avoided being that sucker born every minute. Fact check. Hell, go full bore like I have, and start hiding every one of the articles with a picture of a political face, and start liking every status on social media that is actually written by a friend of yours, telling their friends what they are up to in their life. You know, be social, and ignore the shrill “news”.

What you may find is that by doing so, your stress level starts to drop.  You may find you don't miss the outrage at all.  Of course, I'm just one dude on the internet, sharing his frustration.  That's my Why.  

Friday, November 10, 2017

Five Things I Think, Nov 10

Needless to say, it's been something akin to the life span of a tortoise since I've written here. It may be that parts of my brain have been working at that tortoise's pace, and it may be that I have perceived myself to be busy. It may also be that I choked on too much to say, and misplaced the eloquence with which to say it. I hit a few personal bumps and decided privacy was temporarily important to my process.

Well, at least temporarily, I'm back. So let's think.

  1. I think I had fun being a sportsball Dad this football season. Little Danger spent his first season playing mostly defensive end, with a bit of offensive line thrown in as well. He did well. He didn't score a ton of tackles, but he caused quite a few. He's in their backfield constantly, but he needs to work on hitting lower and wrapping up. A few times a game he would bounce off somebody's pads like a deranged bumper car. It's to be forgiven, though, because we all have to learn basics of whatever it is we do. It doesn't come overnight. 

    I ask him, “Where's your office?” He replies “In the backfield.” He was back there disrupting plays, pressuring the QB like a loan shark asking for the vig, which is what he should be doing in that position. I'm proud of him. I'm even more proud that he learned basics and teamwork. DE is not a star player position, and he understood that he was working for and with the team. That's all a parent can ask for in a season.

  2. I think I am going to seriously enjoy living in the country. It's been just over a month, and whereas this joint is a bit of work to keep up with, there are some things missing. I haven't heard sirens in a month. There have been zero Jerry Springer episodes on the front lawn. There has been no trash thrown into my yard by passers-by. I have not had to yell at the neighbor's shitbrick kids, because the current neighbors seem to have much better behaved young 'uns. No bumpin' subs. No cops called on the neighbors, in fact one of our neighbors is in law enforcement. 

    There is a sound of dogs barking, but those are German Shepherds at a breeder, not pit bulls scattered about the 'hood. There are about a gazillion tree frogs peeping, some bats squeaking, and birds with their various calls. There is deer shit in my meadow. It's a very, very different way of life. It appears I am in love with it. 

  3. I think that this year is about transition. Between dealing with the loss of my father in law, learning aspects of the business he was unable to teach me before that happened, moving to a new house, friends having kids, and just normal life changes, the year feels like a slow-turning maelstrom. For the most part this has brought peace. In some areas, it has brought fear, if I'm being honest. I hadn't actually quantified it as such until now, but the word is accurate.
    Fear is natural, (and let's not forget it is the fucking mindkiller) but this is an odd fear born of circumstance, one that I am striving to overcome both logically and through action. It is the fear of not being good enough, of not being adequate. A fear of making mistakes, though I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I must make them and learn from them. This is the price of transition, a series of new learning curves. I think this bears more thinking, and then a bit of doing.

  4. I think I'm about to get more carpentry experience in the next couple of months than I've had in my lifetime. Building Pyrate Pub 3.0 is going to be a task, gang. I am not sure how many times I will flatten a thumb or screw up a piece of lumber, but I am certain it is a non-zero integer. I intend to build in stages, getting basic structure up and then moving into embellishments as time and materials permit. Eventually, I plan on going full Disney on this sumbitch, complete with theatre style lighting and such.
    But I'm going to start small, with a simple bar and back bar, though they will be Man 'O War in proportion. This will be fun. (Except, of course, for the frustration and knuckle busting and bleeding and cursing and...well, at least it's a pirate pub, salty language will be perfectly in theme.)

  5. I think I might get a salt lick, or some cracked corn. We have deer track, and deer poop, in the back fields. Since we have no crops to be molested by deer, we may well put out the invitation for them to start hanging out on our land a bit.
    It's all about the nature out in the sticks. I've handled some salamanders, rescued a few errant tree frogs from the pool skimmer, and enjoyed the birds and yes, even the bees. We have bats in the barn. We also have a 5 and a half foot long black rat snake that I have facetiously named Barncat, as he or she (I haven't Steve Irwin'd it) is surely putting a dent in the potential mouse population. It's a plethora of critters, and I love it.
    We will see if I still love it in the spring when the wasps start nesting, and those little hate missiles are buzzing about in the barn. (Spoiler alert: I have cans with pictures of their dead bodies on it.)

Well, that's what I think gang. What do you think?
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