Archive for the ‘fun’ Tag

Odds & Ends

Whelp…looks like I missed on the post-a-week target again. Ugh. 

Here are some random thoughts from my work-stressed and scattered brain:

  • May the Fourth Be With You – a silly, silly play on words that never fails to make me giggle. I am, of course, wearing my R2D2 bow tie and “May the Force Be With You” spinner ring for the occasion. 
  • I am now convinced that my work computer has become sentient and developed a sick affinity for making me lose my mind. It only has to implement mandatory updates when I’m on a deadline. It only experiences slow-downs or crashes when I have unsaved work on my screen. And it loses network connectivity only when it is critical that I remain connected to access resources necessary for my deadline-driven, unsaved-progress-generating projects. This vindictive nascent AI is winning in its game of chicken with my last nerve. 😦
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is opening this week!!!! Can’t wait. This movie kicks off the summer blockbuster season and I’m so excited! I hope I get to see them all!
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is becoming an obsession. It was a belated birthday gift to myself and I love it. I’m absurdity proud when I beat a boss or solve a puzzle without resorting to a guide or walk-through. I’ve been a Zelda fan for forever. I’m old-school in that I am convinced beyond persuasion that Ocarina of Time is the best Zelda game of all time. But this one is in a league of its own. Such a rich, open world to explore! The 15 minutes to an hour of play I get on a good day during the week only makes my obsession spiral. It’s a great game, try it if you can!
  • It’s the little joys in life that make it special. I hope you find a pun or a movie or a game or some other little nugget of fun to bring some light and happiness to your day. 😎🙏✌️👊
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I’m baaaaaack!

So…hi. It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. Life has a way of running inexorably on and suddenly it’s been 3 months and only feels like a couple weeks. Sheesh. 

Anyway, I’ve been trying to write and failing epically. I’m my own worst critic, true, but I think the issue is more basic:  I feel that I have to have something deep and meaningful, or worldly wise, or Earth-shakingly original to post in order to be worthy of publishing here. I’m completely baffled how that idea got into my head, but it’s been a barrier for a while. 

Yet, this is my blog and I started it for me. I made this a place for my own thoughts and expressing them in my own voice. I’m honored that my writing has attracted readers. But that was never the primary purpose. I need to get back to that original goal. 

So I’m giving myself permission to just post anything I feel like sharing. It may be a rant on something irritating, a list of positive things, something that makes me think, or smile, or just some random oddity that I find interesting. I’ve seen a few of my favorite bloggers do this periodically and it seems to work for them. So I’m giving it a go. 

I hope you enjoy the nearly uncensored view into my brain that this is likely to turn into. I also hope that I can keep up a somewhat regular posting pace. Because I like this blogging thing and the feeling of connecting that I get from sharing something from my brain to the internets. 😜
So, for today, three good things:

  1. I’m posting to my blog, which WordPress tells me just turned 4 years old. My ambition is to post at least one thing a week for the rest of the year. 
  2. Spring is here in the Midwest US. Green things are starting to grow. My SIL’s tulips have already pushed 3 inches of leaves out of the soil. So happy to see life return. I’m including a picture of the sunrise from the first day of Spring that I took on my drive to work. It was a good way to start the day. 
  3. I went to see Beauty and the Beast with a friend last Friday night and absolutely LOVED it! Say what you will, but a good ol’ Disney story always leaves me smiling. I still find myself singing “Be Our Guest” in my head. That was pure escapist fun and I’m glad I went. 

I hope you all find more than a few good things to smile about today. 

April Means Spring 

Well, I pretty much neglected this blog in March. Kind of a shame, following such a good effort in February. But, it’s April now, springtime on the American prairie. Since spring means renewal and fresh starts, I’m treating April as another fresh start to blogging. I’m setting a loose goal of weekly posts. We’ll see how that goes. 

Today started of epically Monday-ish, with a full iPhone reset/restore and non-functioning badge readers at work. But things picked up and it turned into a productive day that I’m proud of. 

One good thing about today (and many days over the last few weeks) has been the steady stream of compliments I’ve received since my video segment aired at the all-employee meeting on St. Patric’s day. I was quite nervous when HR and the film crew showed up in my office unexpectedly to film a short employee engagement video to be shown to the entire company. But it turned out to be really fun and they edited it so well that it wasn’t totally cringe-inducing to see myself on the screen. 

Since the meeting and after the video was uploaded to my company’s intranet, I’ve received dozens of enthusiastic compliments from folks near and far in my company, saying how much they enjoyed it and how much they admire my bow ties. 😎 How cool is that!? 

Folks appreciate that an executive can be fun and funny for the employees and is relatable through something as quirky as a fun bow tie. That’s a very good thing! 

29 Days: Lazy Saturday 

Well, I didn’t spend the whole day in my pjs. 

Had a slow start, spent some time watching tv, and then dressed & went to the shop for a few minutes before going with my brother and sister in law to our monthly supper club. We have a group of art friends that we get together with once a month. We rotate picking the restaurant.  It’s usually really fun and the food is usually an adventure. 

Tonight was fun. The conversation was interesting and non-controversial. That’s good, especially since there are elections coming up and a few of our number are vocal, nay, rabid when discussing politics. We had a nice meal, good visit and enjoyed each other’s company. A fine Saturday all around–one very good thing. 

29 Days: Movie Star

So this just happened:  Came back to my office to find HR and a camera crew waiting for me. Before I could panic, the HR rep smiled and said they were shooting clips for an employee engagement video for our upcoming all-employee meeting and they wanted to include me. Scary, yet oddly flattering. 

Everyone set up, hooked me up with a mic and started with some mild silliness. Rapid fire questions and no small amount of giggling by both me and HR’s “secret agent” ensued. I got to talk about my job, yes, but also about movies, my BB8 droid on my desk, and bow ties! Awesome!

I was nervous at first, but everyone was nice, patient, and funny. The whole thing turned out fun. I hope it is still fun after it’s seen by the whole company next month and not a total cringe-fest. Yikes! 😳

The Runner

Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

Today’s Prompt: Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post. If you’d rather not write a new post, revisit and edit a previous one: excise your adverbs and replace them with strong, precise verbs.

— — — — —

I’m beginning to believe what my grandmother once said to me in fit of pique when I was 8 years old, that I’m just a “contrarian”. At least as it relates to strict rules of writing and grammar. Like this exercise, removing adverbs, showing not telling. How incredibly irritating. (Yes, that’s telling, not showing. I know. I get it. I don’t care.) Rules that seem to have no purpose other than to be a rule and have the effect of making my written voice stilted, embroidered with unnecessary detail and old-fashioned make me want to stab something.

I’ve worked rather hard to keep my written voice in line with my spoken voice. I want my writing to speak in ink or pixels as my lips and vocal chords do. That means that some of the rigid grammar rules get roughed up on occasion in my writing. But at least no one can reasonably draw the conclusion from my written word that I speak like a Victorian dictionary.

And, yes, I know the maxim that you must learn and master the rules before you have license to break them. B. S.

There is a place for formal, rule-following in writing. I’m careful to do so in my professional communications and reports, analyses and opinions. But when writing of life, especially my life, I don’t want people to focus on my grammar proficiency. I want folks to get my drift right away and come with me on the journey. For me, colloquial phrases, easy (if imperfect) grammar are the essential tools.

With that little temper tantrum over, however, I’ll give it a shot. I may not succeed in excising all adverbs, but I’ll try to show you something, rather than tell you about it.

— — — — —

I have to stop myself from chortling out loud every time I see him. But I can’t keep from silent giggles when no one can see. I don’t know him, don’t even know his name. But I watch for him every day, smiling every time he comes into view.

Face alight with energy and concentration, he runs as if stung by angry bees from his car to the front door of the office building every day. Yet his elated jounces shout to the world: “I’m not late, just happy!” A wild shock of sandy hair flips hither and yon on his forehead with every step. Briefcase and coffee mug held out from his body to avoid bumps and spills, he gambols, seemingly care-free, despite his speed. This awkward gait doesn’t make him clumsy. Indeed, I’ve often admired his balance over icy pavement, marveled at his arrival without a single drop spilled. Loose-jointed, rolling slightly from side to side, yet steady, he pelts across the parking lot as if treasure awaits him at his desk.

Those thirty seconds of observation every mid-morning bring me a tiny moment of levity and mystery. Why does he run? What is he thinking about with such energy? Would he mind that I think he’s hilarious in his morning commute?

A few minutes investigation would likely reveal his name, department and boss. I could find him and ask him. But that would spoil the mystery, steal the tiny moment of anonymous fun from my day. Instead, I’ll just keep wondering, filling in the blanks with my own wild speculation and enjoy the fun.

— — — — —

So, I was right. It’s full of adverbs. I think that’s what description is for me. I may never succeed at the type of fictional prose advocated by this rule of style. But I don’t think I’ll mourn that loss to deeply.

Phaser or Lightsaber?

Day Seven: Give and Take

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

So, I thought I’d do something a little more lighthearted for today’s Writing 101 post. Compare and contrast essays have always seemed, to me, a little pointless and more difficult than strictly necessary. But I’ll give it a go.

I’m a big sci-fi geek and one of the oddballs that have a love and appreciation for both Star Wars and Star Trek. I see them as entirely separate and not really apples-to-apples material. But there are aspects of the two universes that have parallels, sufficient similarities, that might lend themselves to such an analysis. They both have aliens, space ships, technology and weapons, all of which might be compared and contrasted endlessly. In fact, that has happened many times over in books, magazines and in countless online forums and blogs and communities.

For lots of reasons, I think most of these are too hard for a short, light, musing post. Suffice to say that there’s too much danger of getting lost in the sands of Tatooine or in Vulcan’s desert Forge to try to compare the two universes and their major attributes.

Instead, I’m going to pick something relatively easy: handheld weapons. Specifically, let’s look at Phasers (Star Trek) and Lightsabers (Star Wars).

First, as a jumping off point, let’s assume that both weapons can exist, can function as expected and can be obtained in our physical universe. That’ll let us all enter into the exploration without fear of the sand-bag argument that “it can’t exist in our reality ” or that “the laws of physics won’t allow it to work that way”. Both arguments may be true (dammit Jim, I’m a lawyer, not a physicist), but we’re going to suspend that particular disbelief for the moment in favor of the assumed reality of these weapons.

Second, this isn’t a treatise or academic paper, so I’m not going to cite reference materials exactly or provide a bibliography or other listing of source materials. This is supposed to be fun, not work. If you want to dig through the Internet for the precise canon references, I’ll gladly read what you have to say in the comments. The most I’m going promise is that I’ll try to point you in the general direction of where you might find more information on a particular point, if you’re curious or think I’m off my rocker.

Finally, I’m going to assume that if you’ve read this far, you have at least a basic understanding of each of these fictional universes and know enough about each franchise to follow my references. So I’m not going to spend a lot of time explaining who/what I’m talking about.

So, now that the preliminaries are out of the way and you’re free to choose, what’s it gonna be, Phaser or Lightsaber? Let’s take a closer look at them, shall we?

Phaser. From all observations in the TV and movie canon, Federation Phasers come in a variety of models, from pistol to rifle, even ship-mounted, but all have some basic characteristics in common. For one, they are referred to (at least in later movies, if not the TV series) as particle weapons, sometimes multi-phasic particle weapons, but appear to use coherent light energy. Perhaps the particles are photons, I don’t know, but in any event all Federation Phasers appear to deliver the weapon’s blow by means of a beam of light fired at the target, like a bullet.

Lightsaber. Light is also the means of delivery for the Lightsaber. Indeed, light is central to both its name and its function. However, rather than a projectile of light, the Lightsaber relies on a coherent beam of light generated from and affixed to a sword handle and wielded just like a traditional sword blade. All of the Star Wars movies and many of the vast number of Star Wars universe novels allude to the Lightsaber’s ability to cauterize the wound inflicted by the weapon, suggesting the blade of light also employs heat (or maybe that’s a waste product of the light). This attribute may make the Lightsaber a cleaner weapon in that respect than the Phaser, as I have no recollection of canonical reference to a Phaser cauterizing at kill setting. However, the Phaser’s stun setting doesn’t appear in TV or movie canon to leave a wound, so it may be a draw on the ‘clean’ factor.

Phaser. Speaking of settings, Federation Phasers appear in both the movies and TV shows to have adjustable energy outputs, giving them the ability to pack lethal and non-lethal potential in a single weapon. Also, the frequency and phase in which the weapon operates to deliver a blast are also adjustable, which comes in handy when your enemy has the ability to adapt to the energy of your weapon (*cough* Borg *cough*).

Lightsaber. The blade of light, however, does not appear to have that facility. Like table saws, Lightsabers are on or off, and when on they work as advertised. So those who wield them must have a great deal of respect for their power. However, since those who wield them, in the canon universe at least, also make them as a test of their knowledge and skill in the Force, it would stand to reason that any given Lightsaber’s maker would know better than most the potential lethality of the weapon.

Phaser. But lethality isn’t the only measure of a weapon’s utility. Defense, obviously, is also important. Versatility in its usefulness to both attack and defend are the Phaser’s hallmarks. Allowing close quarters and long-range precision gives the shooter many more options for dispute resolution and escape. However, beyond conventional defense and attack, movie and TV canon shows that the Phaser has an additional dimension of versatility. Phasers have been used to weld, drill, and, in a pinch, act as improvised explosives. These functions make it a feasible tool for peace-time as well as military operations.

Lightsaber. Let’s be honest, the Lightsaber is a niche weapon. Though non-Force-users may be able to use the weapon at a gross level (see Han Solo and the Tauntaun on Hoth, which was gross), to use a Lightsaber at its full potential, you have to have some Force proficiency. Given that ability, though, the Lightsaber’s utility as both offensive and defensive weapon is unmatched. A proficient swordsman can weave a cage of light around himself and another person to deflect all manner of incoming danger, or use it to precisely excise an offender’s weapon hand. But, because of the length of the blade and its lack of adjustable output, it is ill suited for the type of unconventional peace-time utility that the Phaser displays. Lightsabers are nevertheless useful for non-traditional defensive tasks, such as melting the blast doors on a Trade Union ship in which the Viceroy is attempting to kill you by poison gas, to provide a means of egress. Still, you aren’t likely to choose a Lightsaber first when looking for an energy-based addition to a toolkit for non-combat purposes.

Phaser. And what about the esoteric qualities of these weapons? The aesthetic appeal of the Phaser isn’t anything to write home about, in my opinion. It’s rather utilitarian in design and fairly uniform and mass-produced in appearance. Phasers do make a distinctive sound when fired and have the added benefit of being fairly easy to conceal, at least in the handheld variety. But, honestly, beyond the fact that’s it’s a “ray gun”, a Phaser just doesn’t have all that high of a “cool” factor.

Lightsaber. Not so the Jedi laser sword. It has cool in its DNA. From its iconic, inimitable sound, both upon ignition and in use, to its hand-made, one of a kind design, the Lightsaber is the ultimate in weapon chic. Whatever it may lack in the way of non-weapon utility, it more than makes up for in mystique and street cred.

From my point of view, it’s not a contest. If I had the choice to own a Phaser or Lightsaber of my very own, it’s got to be Lightsaber every time.

Spring is in the air

Today was a great day. I woke late, having slept deeply. I got a minute with my Lulu before she went to sleep. After a lazy morning vegging in front of the TV, I had a lovely drive downtown in the sunshine. Took in an art show and saw my brother and sister-in-law in their booth at that show. Another sunny drive around town and I’m resting some more in my easy chair.

Lazy, fun Sunday. I hope you’re having a great Sunday, too.

Took these pics of the first evidence of Spring. Can’t wait for my pear trees to blossom!

C’mon SPRING!!

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This is it…

…the last Friday I have to spend separated from my beloved (at least for a few weeks).

…the last week I have to live with an essential part of my life hidden.

…the end of a critical and painful division of my in-real-life world: the world centered on her and the world that only acknowledges her in passing as an abstract idea.

This time next week those worlds will be united when my Faraway Love is here, live and in person, living in my home for a few precious weeks. The family with whom I spend my day-to-day time will finally meet my love, the part of my family with whom I spend countless hours on Skype and who occupies my every thought and dream.

I have no words to adequately describe how exciting! thrilling! breathtaking! this is. Every particle of me is leaning forward, reaching, longing for that moment when the people I love most in the world are finally all a part of the same world, in the same space.

No, I haven’t come out to my family yet. (I would’ve told you all!) Instead, Lulu and I have agreed that she will come here as my friend (absolute truth, since she’s my best friend) and let my family get to know her as a person first, without the complexities of labels like “gay girlfriend”. We agreed that this measured approach provides the best chance for a smooth transition, once we’re both ready to take the next step.

That’s all a very clinical and polite way to say that Lulu is incredibly patient and understanding and is giving me a pass for my irrational fear in order for us to get a chance to enjoy our visit together without my having to come out first.

My gratitude for her loving patience is inexpressible. I have an enormous amount of respect for her kindness and understanding. Thankful is too small a word for how I feel toward her for that. I’m one lucky butch, that’s certain.

At the same time, though, I struggle with a deep sense of failure at my inability to overcome this fear-induced paralysis. Lulu and I have talked about it and I know, intellectually, what the problem and the solution is. But those facts, divorced from emotional context and viewed from arm’s length, mask a more complex human story inside of which I live every day.

Of course, it is no different from the fear and pain and struggle that everyone who has had to come out to a potentially hostile family has had to endure. Likely, my little story is far less traumatic and dramatic than many others’ stories, especially those who live in places where it is unlawful to exist as nature made me: butch…gay…queer…different.

But all comparisons aside, my story is real, it’s mine, I live it, and my fear persists. So my story has hit an infinite loop of pressure to be authentic followed by fear of rejection and abuse followed by avoidance. Rinse and repeat.

But this repeating cycle is about to encounter a new variable, approaching at high velocity, and collision is imminent. My hidden reality is about to meet my acknowledged reality and I have no idea what outcome to expect.

I have zero desire to avoid this meeting of worlds, though. It is necessary. And it is welcome, even if it is fraught with emotion. It is my best opportunity to breach this wall of fear and emerge on the other side into a single, united world where there is no division between the identity I know inside and the identity I live on the outside.

So, here I go: hurtling into the unknown, excited and terrified at once, and thrilled to get started. The next four weeks are packed to overflowing with exciting things. In the next month, I will:

– welcome my girlfriend to the US and into my home to stay with me and my family
– introduce my Faraway Love to my friends and work colleagues
– show my day to day world to the one person who matters most to me
– travel with my beloved to NYC to meet Twitter friends in person, witness the wedding of two of them, and see a Broadway show featuring k.d. Lang
– celebrate my first Valentine’s Day with a girlfriend
– celebrate both Lulu’s and my birthdays, as well as our 11th month together as a couple
– travel with Lulu to California to meet more Twitter friends in person, some for the first time; and
– reluctantly say goodbye-for-now to my beloved as she wings her way back to Australia

It’s gonna be a wild ride. Come along for the giggles!

Thankful for…tradition

Today, Thanksgiving Day in the US, is a day of traditions. Throughout the US, family’s of all shapes and sizes will engage in a lot of holiday-esque activities, eating, making merry, giving thanks in myriad ways, and keeping a dizzying array of traditions alive.

This day is a big day of small traditions for my family. My family is small and we’ve always been more focused on Christmas and New Year’s Day, over Thanksgiving. But we do still have a few traditions that we try to keep alive.

My favorite is the actual giving of thanks. We have a practice of starting the Thanksgiving meal with a prayer of gratitude, followed by a recitation of the one thing each person gathered there is most thankful for. Holding the hand of the person next to you during prayer connects us all together. Focusing, at least for that few minutes of solemn gratitude, on the gifts in our lives is a powerful means of bringing perspective to lives that sometimes get so routine that the blessings get lost in the stress. And letting each person speak uninterrupted, listening to each person’s confession of blessedness, is often quite moving.

Another tradition my family kept all through my childhood is the delivery of meals to the less fortunate in our church and neighborhood. Often, we found ourselves at a nursing home or hospital, shaking hands, giving meals and singing to those who had no family to bring them holiday cheer. I’ve let that slip away in recent years, I’m ashamed to say. I need to get back into that habit. That tradition has a purpose beyond the giver’s blessing and it’s a great boon to those who receive.

The holiday meal itself, is a tradition. The turkey or ham, potatoes or stuffing, green bean casserole or salad, and pies or cakes…all of it has a special significance for each family. Growing up, my family rarely had turkey on Thanksgiving. Instead we either had a ham and all the side dishes, if my mom prepared the meal, or a steak and potato meal from my dad. Today, we’re having a turkey cooked in a rotisserie, stuffing and gravy, and cranberry sauce–very American traditional.

Then there’s the entertainment. Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, playing cards and board games and, most important, the football! Friendly (or not so friendly?) competition between siblings and cousins in the silliest imaginable games has always been a part of my family’s holiday tradition. The flag football, an American staple, isn’t such a big deal for my clan. But cribbage? That’s a hotly contested event for us. And watch out for sneak canasta tournament take-overs!!

All in, this holiday has always been about family. These traditions get perpetuated and expanded or contracted, depending on the year’s attendance. But always, there is a familiar atmosphere of festivity, excitement and gratefulness to be together.

I’m thankful today for all the countless blessings in my life, including the tradition of giving thanks, recounting blessedness, and gathering with loved ones.

May your Thanksgiving Day bring you blessings.

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