Professional Sports

As you might know from reading my blog, I’m not much into sports.  I never learned the rules of football or had any interest in playing it, and you can tell by my blog’s “Categories” list that there’s nothing “sports” anywhere in it.  But I used to be a big baseball (Cubs) fan when I was a kid.  My mom was a huge Cubs fan and we’d often watched their games together.

Since my mom passed away, I hadn’t given the Cubs a second glance, but Sandy and her family got me a little interested in football though–particularly the Packers.  Her brother Dennis (aka “Bear”) was a huge Bears fan along with her brother Mike, which she, her dad, and her brother Rick are all Packers fans, so there’s some healthy football team rivalry right there within the family.  After watching a few games and learning some of the tech involved, I found it someone more interesting than I remember it being.

These days they project the yellow first-down line onto the field… On TV it looks like a painted line on the field, but the players can’t see it in real life.  With moving and switching cameras, this still works so great, it amazes me.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg though.  There’s a lot of new gear used all over the field, but you have to look closely and catch those moments to get a glimpse at it.  The on-screen details are another huge piece of tech, showing all the details of the game and/or play in progress, player stats, and just about anything else you’d want to know.

I now wear a Packers jersey on their game days, kind of a ritual thing… If I don’t wear it, they’ll probably lose their game and I’ll feel guilty for not supporting them, and Sandy will blame me.  It’s all in fun, but sometimes I just have to wonder, just a little…

This season, with the Cubs in the Word Series, I’ve been watching those games as well, and I’m finding the same fascinating tech improvements throughout, just like pro football.  You can see the speed of every pitch in the game on-screen as well as the status of men on base (or not), the balls and strikes on the current batter, etc., etc., etc.  I even learned that some players are playing with a “new style” of uniform.  I remember all of the players having their pants tucked into their socks and all having long socks almost to their knees.  The “new style”, however, seems goofy.  They wear their pants long, not tucked in at all, and even past their heels!  As they play, some of them are walking on the bottoms of their pants!  To me (and to one announcer who pointed it out) it seems like that could cause a problem with gameplay, but there it is, even in the World Series, and everyone treats it like anything else.

So far in the series, the Indians and Cubs are 1-1, both having won one game.  We’ll see what happens Friday night in game 3.  I’ll be watching.

Write every day

I’ve been a Stephen King fan since my mother turned me onto him when I was in high school.  The first book I read of his was The Stand, back in 1979 or 1980.  It was HUGE, lasted a looooong time, and I enjoyed every slow page of it.  I’ve been a big fan of his ever since, and my mom and I shared our King books over the years.

I’ve been reading (listening to) The Stephen King Companion this week.  It’s a huge book containing everything you would probably ever want to know about Stephen King, and then some, written by George Beahm.  Every published book and story, everything he’s written everywhere else, his personal life, and tons more.  It’s just a fascinating read, and has caused me to add several more books to my audiobook collection, including “On Writing”, a book Stephen King wrote about writing itself–from the very basics to how to become a good writer.  Sort of an instruction manual on how to become a writer, and I’m very interested.   I’m still reading The SK Companion though, with about 1/3 of it left to go.

There are plenty of Stephen King books I have yet to read, and this darned book makes me want to read them more now than ever before…and even makes me want to read a bunch of them over again!  Most of them are already in my Audible library, purchased with the 2 book credits I get per month with the membership I’ve had for years.  In fact, I’ve pretty much given up on “old school” real-paper books these days, now favoring audiobooks over them.  It does take longer to listen to an entire audiobook, but I find that I get much more out of them by listening to them being read to me than I do when I read them myself, for some reason.  Plus, I can’t read a REAL book while driving to and from work, so audiobooks give me some extra “reading” time.

Maybe I can use this blog to help me stick to one of King’s tips on becoming a great writer: Write. every. day.

Changes are afoot!

I decided to change things up here and hopefully talk more.  A couple people actually read this thing!  Others probably got bored and left long ago because I very rarely posted.  I can understand that.  Especially when I promised so many times in the past to work on that and post more.  Then I just went back to my old ways again, after posting a little more frequently for a short time.  If you’re still here reading this, you’ve seen the pattern and are probably saying to yourself “yeah, yeah, heard it all before, blah blah blah…” So no promises this time.

It’s hard to know exactly what’s ok to publish and what’s not for any given topic, issue, etc.. It’d be much easier (and safer) to just post fictional content instead of my real life stuff.  There’s a thought.  I certainly don’t mind the simplified layout – just a flat-out barely-formatted website with no ads or images (unless I add them to a post).  Not sure about you, but I like it.  It might not be all shiny and flashy to attract more readers, but I don’t care.

So what prompted the changes THIS time?  Money.  My annual bill came for my hosting services, and if I’m going to keep the site up, I need to try again to get back into it and do something.

What bugs me the most about the site, however, is the inability to allow users to freely post comments.  As soon as I allow public comment posting (well not “as soon as”, but days or weeks after) my site comes under attack by all the malicious bots in cyberspace and it quickly becomes riddled with fake comments including viagra ads and links all over the place.  So I have to keep it locked down to registered-user commenting only.  And even with that, they still get in, registering fake user accounts, logging in and leaving the same stupid comment messages.

Never Forget

A couple years ago, around 9/11, I was reading various posts all over the Internet about memories of that day – like where they were, what they saw, people’s reactions, etc., and one post from Quora stood out, so I saved it to my Evernote. (Unfortunately I didn’t grab any credits at the time, so I have no idea who actually posted it.) I thought I’d post that here, for my annual 9/11 post, just to remind everyone, once again, to never forget. If you’re easily disturbed, you might want to skip reading on. It’s short, but can be a bit disturbing. My apologies in advance. Here goes:

Did people jump from the WTC towers on 9/11 because their rooms were on fire and they were about to be burned alive?

It was too hot.

If you had been listening to the harrowing telephone messages left by the people who were trapped, with no way out, who made one last phone call to say goodbye — and no one answered — you would have heard them explain what they were about to do.

Some held hands with colleagues. Some wrapped their arms around people they worked with, and they stepped together into the empty air. Some went alone. No one understood the fire. No one understood why no one had come to save them.

Their last words were unforgettable. Their voices. Their deep regret. How calm some almost seemed. One young guy left a message for his brother: I’m sorry we fought; I love you.

One left a message for his mother. I love you, mom. I’m sorry.

I don’t think anyone understood what was happening — a plane, an explosion, why they were left there, and could not be saved.

Then for weeks, the recordings were played on the radio during New York City’s news coverage.

I had a friend who thought this public use of intimate, personal farewell messages was obscene. I disagreed. The tragedy of losing thousands of people so quickly in a single morning could be impersonally arms length, but for those voices.

If desk phones weren’t working, they used cellphones. The towers were built originally with helicopter landings. Many had expected, of course, to be lifted off the roof. There was no other way to get out. Slowly, they began to realize it would soon be over. They started to jump. “I have to go,” said one, and hung up.

The towers hadn’t fallen yet. No one knew that was going to happen. This is why so many people died.

At the base, office workers from buildings on Broadway and Liberty and Chase Manhattan Plaza walked over and stood at the bottom and watched as people dropped in front of them.

911_jumperI had a colleague named Tom whose young cousin worked in one tower. He prayed she would appear, safe. He walked over and stood next to a man who counted out loud each body as it hit the pavement. 26. 27. 28. “It was so weird.” She was never found.

For months, photos of the “Missing” were taped to walls by the people who loved them, all around Penn Station, on telephone poles, on the sides of buildings, lamp posts, pillars. Every surface of New York was covered with these color xeroxes. No one took them down.

Why did they jump?

There, on the roof, they waited as long as they could, until it was unbearably hot, and they simply could not stay there anymore. They apologized for dying, said goodbye, and went.


Mr. Mercedes

Mr Mercedes book cover

I just finished reading the Stephen King audiobook, Mr. Mercedes. It was awesome! Definitely a great audiobook that kept me in the car longer, Ingressing a lot more as a result, as I listened to it over the past couple weeks.  During this time I found out that the anonymous chat site used extensively in the book by Mr Mercedes and Bill Hodges is actually a real site!  Instead of writing my own description of what the book is about, I stole this from Google, who knows all:

In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

American Horror Story

Sandy and I just started watching Season 1 of American Horror Story.  We like it!  It’s weird, but interesting and very well done.  It’s the kind of show with the odd video effects mixed with horror to scare the crap out of you while it plays out.  It does a lot of flashing back to different time periods, but it’s necessary to fill in the story.  At least for season 1.  This is a series that “resets” every season, with a different story and cast each time.  I heard about it by reading a small article in Happenings that said Michael Chiklis (from The Commish and The Shield) was going to star in Season 4, currently in production.  Season 4 is subtitled “Freak Show”, and is supposed to involve the weirdest freak show ever.  Season 1 is about a single haunted house and it’s very bizarre history.  I’m not sure what the subject is for seasons 2 and 3 yet, but it should be interesting!


Doggie_DenturesI had some dental work done this week, and I remembered Socks losing a tooth not too long ago, so I looked for the post. Sure enough, I found this.  After re-reading it, I just had to add a photo to accompany it.  I get a kick out of those weird facial-feature animal-swap photos all over the web. That makes his smile look much better than mine is now, that’s for sure!

Sopranos beginning-to-end

SopranosShortly after I found out that James Gandolfini had passed away, which was at the beginning of July, I started watching the entire series from episode 1 to episode 86. Unfortunately I somehow missed this tragic event in the news when it actually happened on June 19th, 2013, but as I discussed TV shows with a co-worker in early July, Tony Soprano came up and he enlightened me. I was totally shocked.

I had already had every episode of every season on my Plex server, and had watched a few episodes in the past–including a few at Hans’ house in Mequon, “back in the day,” so I was all set to dig in and commit. I watched two or three episodes a day, sometimes, and had a great time. There were a few “issues” along the way–like trying to keep Kevin out of the living room whenever a “Bada Bing” scene came on (which never failed to show full frontal nudity) or when the language got extremely “French”… or should I say “Italian?”

But I made it through them all, and came away with a few things. For one, this recipe for Lincoln Log Sandwiches.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I will, very soon.

Another thing I learned is that the episode titles seem to always be just a random phrase or a few words mentioned in that episode, but that seems to work nicely. I can pretty much remember what was in many episodes just by reading those titles. Like “Irregular Around The Margins”– this was when Tony found out he had skin cancer on his head–he explained to Adriana that the spot on his head looked irregular around the margins. And more observations: A “gumar” is Italian for “mistress”, “Gobagoo” is Italian-American for “copacola”, which is a type of ham cold-cut used for sandwiches, “Va fungool!” means “go f*** yourself”, and “gavone” means “idiot”.  Lastly, Tony’s boat was called “The Stugots”, which means “this dick” in Italian.  After that sank, he got another one and named it “Stugots II”.  And see the gun in The Sopranos logo?  HBO put that in there so viewers wouldn’t think it was a show about musicians.

So I learned a lot. Including the fact that some people can become WAY too obsessed with analyzing each and every detail of every single episode of a TV series! I don’t think I did, but I’m referring to the likes of the people on these sites:

Master of Sopranos – Definitive Explanation of “The End”
Eureka!  Solving the Sopranos

The explanation of “The End” gets into just the last scene of the last episode way deeper than I could ever even imagine going! But, after reading that and the “Eureka” article from the Washington Post–which each explain completely different aspects of the exact same episode–I’m fascinated enough to want to go back and watch the entire six seasons again, at a later date… which is one reason I’m posting it here… I’m sure, with my “CRS”, I’ll forget most of the show soon enough, so this post will help me quickly remember what I need to, in order to prepare me for another marathon.

So that’s it. All in all, I enjoyed the series immensely, but I must admit I was pretty disappointed (and a bit confused at first–as it seems most of the rest of the viewers were as well) with the final ending, but after further research (primarily in the links posted above) I now understand what it means and why it was done the way it was done, and it was done perfectly.

So sad to lose such a great actor though.

Tonight is also the series finale of Breaking Bad, another awesome series that I really hate to see go. But, as they say, “All good things…”

Oh, and if you look at the photo more closely (click on it) and you might notice a pinball logo.  I will find this machine and I will play it.

Happy Holidaze

The season is getting pretty busy.  Yesterday we finished up cleaning and emptying the final bit of stuff left at the old house, and we’re finally fully out of it.  The bank is finally making some headway, and we’re moving forward.  Today Sandy and I did some shopping during the Packers/Bears game.  It was the perfect time for it, since all of the area’s football fans were busy watching the game.  No lines, no waiting.  Afterward, Kevin, Socks and I took a walk with a twist: Matt recommended an app called “Zombies, Run!“, so we tried it out.  You play it like an audiobook while you walk and/or run, and the story unfolds as you progress.  You also collect items during your walk, and when you get back home, in the game you “return to base” and apply the items to your compound and level up the various sections of it, like the hospital, your housing, and the armory.

It’s a neat game, and encourages you to walk more.  In fact, I think today’s walk was one of my longest in  awhile at just over 1.5 miles.  At one point, walking on the sidewalk next to Towerline Park, Kevin picked up 4 different items together, all at once.  I didn’t get them, so I stopped and went back to where he said he picked them up… Sure enough, I also picked up the 4 extra items!  That doesn’t seem to work all of the time, but did work once, so there might just be something to it.  We’ll see as we move forward in the game.  The object is to build up your base to defend against the zombie hordes  I think.  As you walk, a story unfolds as you try to reach different destinations, like a hospital for supplies, etc., and hordes of zombies chase you at various times.  You can hear them coming as they approach, and as you walk for run from them, their distance increases until you lose them again.  It keeps you occupied, like reading a good audiobook.  We’ll see how it works out.

Just one week till Christmas–wow, that’s soon.  I hope everyone has a great holiday season!  Thanks for visiting!