Monday, August 10, 2009

bratwurst faux paw

Hmmm...what were you thinking??? 8)

Last night, I went to a cookout to celebrate a visit from a friend of mine who moved away about six months ago. It was requested that we bring meat to grill and either a side or a drink, so I grabbed a pack of bratwursts and some caffeine free coke...we need to protect our good night sleeps, yes?

Anyway, we all hung out and had a good time. By the time I'd gotten there, most had already eaten, so I ate two of the brats and had four left. One of our hosts was kind enough to wrap up the remainder for me to take home and eat later. I had to drop somebody off on the way home, and seeing as I've only got two seats in my pick up truck, I threw the grocery bag in the flatbead...something I do quite frequently.

As you can imagine (it wouldn't be a story otherwise), I got home and went to bed, having completely forgotten the food in the flatbed of my truck. Oops.

Not long after I awoke this morning, I realized what I'd done and eventually went out to retrieve the vittles. Truth be told, YES, I was going to grab them and throw them in my fridge.

Now before you go judging me, do you know what's in a Bratwurst? Could a night in a baggie in the flatbead of my truck REALLY make it any less healthy? Besides, a lot of you've been in college, or at least have shared in college-style dining. Just because you leave a pizza on the counter for a couple days (err...a week) doesn't make it bad. As long as there aren't bugs or something, and the crust isn't stale enough to chip a tooth, it's fair game. Yeah - Judgment vetoed!

As I was saying, I went out to retrieve the vittles and what did I find? A torn up baggie and a few scraps of what once were my leftover brats. No, I didn't eat them or try to save them for later...jerks. I took them straight to the trash like a good boy and concluded that one of our umpteen neighborhood felines ate well last night. That cat ate a lot more bratwurst than I did last night though...probably made for a rough night/morning. Serves 'em right.

Wait...remember the time Lucius Malfoy accidentally gave Dobby the house-elf a sock, and in doing so, lost his servant?

I hope I didn't just accidentally feed a cat at my house, and unintentionally acquire a new pet...

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I'm a big believer in heuristics. This life is very complex, and we have such a short time to experience as much of it as possible. What we can't afford is to go back and double-check things that we have already proven to be true or false.

A simple heuristic example: At one point, I touched a hot stove. I now know that I don't ever have another reason to touch a hot stove. There is quite simply nothing to be gained from that experience.

A more complex example: If I am drilling through a tough piece of wood, when I pull the drill out, the bit is going to be hot. After some premature grabs, I now know that it takes about 30-60 seconds for the bit to cool off. I know to either play hot potato if I'm in a hurry or to use the next minute on another piece of the project till the bit is cooled off.

Makes sense, right?

All that to say that I'm a creature of habit in a lot of areas so that I'm free to be spontaneous in others.

I've developed a rather predictable schedule on Wednesday nights.

I run with the East Nasties at 6, and when we get done, we go down to the Three Crow Bar to enjoy a beer or two and have conversation that isn't perforated by heavy breathing and/or covered in sweat. (for those of you thinking about beer after running with incredulity, it's actually quite nice, and it's a good proven way to replenish nutrients after a hard run.)

The bartender girls there are so used to me ordering the same old Yuengling Lager every week that they're often handing me my beer before I've had a chance to ask for it. Even if I wanted something different, I'd gladly take the Yuengling because: A) it's awesome, and B) because being recognized by name and face as a regular is an honor that should put a smile on anybody's face.

Anyway, after I make my rounds and talk to all my running buddies, it's time for dinner. Dinner at 10pm is tough unless you live in Spain where that's the norm. I've heard it recommended that one shouldn't eat after 8pm, and I usually try to stick to that. That being said, if one must eat at 10pm, it probably shouldn't be anything heavy, which rules out about 95% of the restaurants open at that point, even in a good-sized city like Nashville.

Solution: The authentic (Nolensville Rd.) taco stand. You Nashvillians know of what I speak. Three tacos with a small side of veggies for $3!!! And man are they ever good.

Anyway, this is a new Wednesday night tradition for me, but seeing as I'm about a head or more taller than the majority of Latinos and dressed in my running clothes, I stick out a bit at the Taco stand. My favorite one is at the corner of Harrison and Nolensville at the Citgo Station. The food is great, and the people are very nice.

As usual, I ordered my three chicken tacos and then got into a conversation with one of the guys there. We shot the breeze mostly in Spanish, and then this transpired:
"Have you ever tried any of the other meats here?"
"No, what type would you recommend?"
Accompanied by a silly, but certainly not malicious grin, he said, "TONGUE!"
To myself, "How did I know he was going to say that???"
(Exit 'Regularly-Scheduled-Programming,' enter 'Spontaneity.')
Well, I explained to him that most Americans find that particular meat to be a bit gross, but I let him talk me into sampling all the meats in the stand. Truth be told, they were all really good. The scariest ones were obviously tongue, and the other was cheek...scary, but still good.

Anyway, just nice to see one of my life theories in action working in my favor. Regimen in conjunction with Spontaneity.

I concluded the evening by eating my awesome tacos, taking a shower and going to bed. All in all, another great Wednesday night.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Food Vortex

Ahh, a fine Monday morning to chase down a great weekend.

I had a pretty great weekend full of quality time with good friends, some nice quiet time for myself, time to sleep when I was tired, etc. Let me tell you about the high point, though...

Yesterday, we did a pretty hilly 12-mile run in some pretty stout humidity. Fortunately the sun was hidden behind the clouds and we were all in good company.

I noticed around mile 10 that I was starting to get pretty hungry. Those of you who know me know that I tend to eat a lot, and that I also LOVE food. I make the distinction between those two because they're NOT synonymous and don't always go hand-in-hand. I've got a pretty good metabolism and burn a lot of calories in my day to day activities, not to mention all the running I do on top of that.

Every once in a while, however, The Good Lord smiles on me, and somewhere in my stomach, a gateway opens to a parallel universe I like to call "The Food Vortex." In the presence of The Food Vortex, I can eat all the food I can get my hands on and never seem to get full.

Some of the guys decided to go to the Noshville Deli after our run yesterday. As much as I like hanging with the guys after these runs, I wasn't stoked about having to drive 20 minutes, then have to wait longer for my food to come out. I mean, what if the gateway to the food vortex closed?!? Plus, I was craving Burger King something FIERCE!

Fortunately, the guys got to Noshville well before I did only to find the line too long and I talked my buddy Hunter into meeting me at Burger King. Victory!

When we got there, I asked the cashier if they still had "that big breakfast sandwich," and she eventually found it...apparently not a popular item (I ordered it once before and couldn't finish it). I ordered that in the large combo meal and could barely stand still as anticipation mounted. I winced as she spilled a few of the hash browns and had to throw them out. I think she noticed, and seeing as they were done serving breakfast, she gave me a small box of french toast sticks as well. I had to choke back tears of joy.

About 15-20 minutes later, I'd finished the sandwich, the king-sized hash browns and also the french toast sticks. I did my normal post-meal sigh of satisfaction, but spliced in with the peaceful exhalation was yet another cry of hunger from the insatiable food vortex. I looked at my empty tray, then at Hunter, then at the (now lunch) menu, then back at Hunter who gave me the "Why Not?!?" look.

I returned to the counter to order a Whopper Jr. and some french fries from another cashier. My original cashier returned to the counter a moment later, saw me standing there, and asked me if I needed something. I thanked her and explained that I'd simply placed another order for more food. She gave me a brief glance of incredulity, then turned, chuckled and went about her business.

Finally the vortex echoed my sigh of satisfaction. I can think of few things that please me more than being able to enjoy that much food in one sitting. According to the BK website, my total calorie intake for that meal came out to about 2110 calories - breakfast accounted for about 1400 of that.

Like I said, I do normally eat a lot, but that's a pretty good amount of food even for me. Anyway, I guess its back to the normal eating habits, until the next time the food vortex graces me with its presence or lack thereof.

Simply beautiful, Simply beautiful.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oh Starbucks...

Today is free pastry day at Starbucks.

I've been doing track workouts with a group on Tuesday mornings to improve my speed for my newly-found love of running. Last week we had our second, one-mile time trial. Because I improved since the last one, my training paces have quickened, making my workouts feel a lot tougher than they did a couple of weeks ago. That being said, I opted to treat myself to a post-run trip to Starbucks for "free pastry day" after a new running acquaintance named Christine (sp?) kindly shared an extra coupon with me.

Truth be told, I'm not really a Starbucks fan. I'd rather spend three hours in Wal-Mart any day over ten minutes in Starbucks.

Why don't I like Starbucks? (forgive me, some of these answers are singularly cliche).
  • I hate having to feel cool or successful just to buy a dang cup of coffee. Now that I'm not in the music business anymore, I feel like an outsider if for some reason I go to Starbucks.
  • The hype is ridiculous. Good coffee and coffee drinks are an art, not a science or chemical equation.
  • Now, I'm no connoisseur...I'm just a handyman, but their coffee just doesn't taste very good...isn't it kind of bitter?
My main reason, however can be summed up in three words:

Tall, Grande & Venti. (of course, you knew I couldn't just LEAVE it at three words)

Let's ponder this for a moment. I'm going to look at it from a perspective of a person like myself and others who aren't particularly "Coffee Shop Savvy," as it were. I'll come back around with the original intent of the Starbucks sizing structure.
  • Tall: This is not really a size adjective. It's more of an appearance description, but for benefit-of-the-doubt's sake, let's treat it as a size adjective. Generally speaking, is a tall person not usually considered bigger than a short person? So, it may be safe to assume that "Tall" would be the Large, but in Starbucks vernacular, it actually means Small. If I order something Tall, I sort of expect to be drinking out of a test tube or chemical vial.
  • Grande: "Grande" is Italian for Large. Plain and simple but for the fact that this is actually the Medium size at Starbucks.
  • Venti: This is the most creative one of all. "Venti" is Italian for...dun dun dun...Twenty. Why? Because because it comes in a 20 oz. cup. It's actually 20.5 according to the bottom of the cup, but perhaps "Venti E Mezzo" was less catchy. I guess, however, seeing as Italy uses the metric system, perhaps it should be "Seicento E Sei" (Six Hundred and Six Milliliters).
These sizes aren't even all in the same language. So, for the sake of juxtaposition, let's put them all in English and get this straight (I'm leaving out the "short" size because you have to specifically ask for it to get it):
  • "Tall" = small
  • "Large" = medium
  • "Twenty" = Large
A height description meaning the opposite of it's definition, an actual size description meaning something other than its definition, and a number. So, not only do these all mean either the same thing or nothing at all, but they're relatively irrelevant to each other.

They could have gone with: Short, Medium and Tall, or Short, Tall and Shaquille O'neal (NBA Sponsorship, yes?)
The could have gone with: Small, Medium and Large
The could have gone with: Otto (8) Dodici (12), Sedici (16) and Venti (20)

My understanding is that Starbucks originally had two sizes that were "Short" and "Tall." Because we Americans like such mass quantities (I'm a huge fan of Sonic's Route 44 drinks), they had to adapt. I know I appreciate the adaptation, but could you guys not have made it a bit more user-friendly to first-timers, or at least more cohesive by using one type of measuring system?

I'm sorry Starbucks...I'm being kind of hard on you. Surely, I'll be buying your coffee again, but I'll do as I always do: Order a "Big Ol' Coffee" with the fullest southern drawl that I'm capable of, and wait to be corrected by some annoyed hipster behind the counter when he/she rolls his/her eyes and says, "Oh, you mean a 'Venti,'" like I was speaking some language other than English.

In the meantime, if I can help it, I'll spend my coffee budget at Créma, where Rachel, Lacey, Libby, Logan and Mark let me order a "Large Coffee," without batting an eye.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moaning Myrtle

It's been a rough couple of months as far as death is concerned...the world has lost a quite a few heavily, visually influential people. Today for some reason, I've really been thinking about it a lot.
"I was just sitting in the U-bend, thinking about death..."
-Moaning Myrtle
I was at a restaurant for my friend Maggie's birthday last night and for some reason, "The Dark Knight" was on the TV. I say, "for some reason," because it seems an odd choice for over-dinner viewing. I stole many glances at the TV during dinner to admire what a find job Heath Ledger did portraying The Joker. It got me to thinking that there were so many blank pages in his book yet to be filled that are now destined to remain blank.

I think about Bernie Mac and that he'll never again be a part of Danny Ocean's team.

I think of Richard Harris and how much more I preferred him as Professor Dumbledore rather than Michael Gambon.

Being a guitar player and an appreciator of those who play it well, I sometimes wonder about Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan and what they would have become had it not been for their youthful deaths.

In the last couple of months, we've lost Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, Steve McNair, and just recently, Walter Cronkite. All of these people had very visible impacts on America/The World.

People die everyday and have been doing so since the advent of man, but we never really get used to it, do we? Even those of us who are confident of an afterlife struggle with death. It's so hard when we miss a person, or we can see what a strong impact their life made on others. We want to mourn them, but we are torn between mourning and continuing to make the most of our short time here on Earth.
"Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead."
-Jesus Christ
How precious is life? Considering the human reproductive process, the probability of any one of us being born is MILLIONS to one. Somehow, when we were born, we won the race to the egg. Let alone the probability of a single planet in a vast galaxy that has the capacity to sustain life. And yet humanity can be so cavalier in creating new life. So many unadopted children, so many single parents, so many irresponsible parents, so many abandoned children left to ponder their existence on their own.

How fragile is life? One squeezed-trigger/One bullet, one careless second behind the wheel, one blood clot, one moment of giving-up, In the same cavalier manner that humanity now creates life, it also destroys it. Gangs kill people to sustain their own egos according to their meaningless/arbitrary systems of pride, people knowingly drive drunk, people abuse drugs and miss out on precious seconds/minutes/hours/days/weeks/years that we don't get back.

How precious is our time? Can we really afford to waste precious minutes dwelling on unchangeable details, festering in drug-induced stupors, taking for granted the extreme improbability of our mere existence, harboring anger, holding grudges. Isn't life difficult enough w/out these complications?

Friends - Today, if we enjoy a beverage in company, let us offer a toast to life, and mean it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Almost Cut My Hair...

Happened just the other day.
It was gettin' kinda long."

Can anybody (besides my mom) tell me who sang the song I just referenced?!? (without looking it up too...)

Well, I didn't actually cut my hair, but I did cut some hair. For the last few months I've been sporting a beard. I haven't actually been able to grow a beard before, so it was with a fair amount of grieving that I said goodbye to it. You may remember a similar blog by the name of Fu-Graham-Chu.

I've never been a big fan of Nashville summers, especially compared to the Pennsylvania summers I knew growing up. It gets so hot and humid during July and August that it's actually difficult to breathe, and you don't even think about a second layer of clothing.

Being a handyman, I do spend a fair amount of time working outside, not to mention trying to do my running workouts outside, so I decided to say goodbye to the beard:

I immediately had these three thoughts:

  1. Wow - look how little my chin is.
  2. eyes ARE green, aren't they?
  3. Crap...I've gotta grow it back.
My friends have been supportive, but I still feel kind of naked without it.

On the bright side, four hours after I doused the beard, I crawled up into an attic to rewire some lights. It was noon, and I spent the next hour and a half up in that attic where I'd guess the temperature was about 120 degrees. I was sweating so much I actually thought it might start dripping through the drywall in the ceiling below me. So, that made me feel a little better about my decision.

I can safely say, however, that as soon as summer starts making its way out of Nashville, I'm growing the beard back in full force.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Day Off

Today I took a much-needed day off. One tough thing about running your own business is that you're never actually done with work...or at least that's on of my difficulties. When I worked for "The Man" in Corporate America, I had clean-cut hours. When five o'clock rolled around I was out of there and didn't plan on thinking about work again until eight the next morning.

My Day off in a nutshell:
  • slept in till 7:30
  • enjoyed breakfast while watching the CBS Early Show (love those guys)
  • finished "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls - I HIGHLY recommend it.
  • Bank, Grocery store, Lunch
  • Went to see the Pixar movie "Up" - It was pretty good...not my favorite Pixar flick.
  • Shopped quickly for some running shorts with no avail.
After taking in The Early Show, "The Glass Castle," and "Up," I felt like I needed to give back a little, so here I am blogging.

It's certainly one of the most boring blogs I've ever written. Admittedly, I've got far deeper issues on my brain right now, which have also been contributing heavily to my great need for a day off. I just don't really feel like putting them on screen yet...maybe in the near future...maybe not.

Tonight I'll run as usual with the East Nasties, we'll grab a few beers afterward for our recovery drinks, and then, if it doesn't rain, perhaps I'll attend Movies in the Park at Centennial Park here in Nashville. We'll see. I'm actually itching to start another book.

Well, sorry for a lame post. I'll do better next time.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Trampoline dreams & the weekend update.

Last night I had a dream that I was jumping on a trampoline the size of a basketball court. It was magnificient. I had the freedom to jump anywhere and try any move I wanted because there was no danger of me falling off the side. I've always loved jumping in general, but jumping on trampolines is a really great feeling...sort of like you can temporarily ignore gravity.

Jumping on a trampoline alone is very different than jumping on it with other people. Please allow me to elaborate a little deeper on the pros & cons of both.

Jumping alone:
You have the entire trampoline to yourself. You're free to flail about as you please and also try any ninja or gymnastic move you can think of without worrying about accidentally kicking somebody else in the teeth. I'm sort of partial to the back flip and the side flip...front flip's kind of overdone. Jumping by yourself can be slightly less interesting than jumping with others because...

Jumping with others: You have slightly less room and less freedom to try ninja moves, but you exchange it for something very exciting...the partner bounce. Those of you who've spent LOTS of hours on trampolines like myself know what I'm talking about. The partner bounce can be your best friend or a worst enemy depending on how you time it. Timed properly, the partner bounce can give you a much higher bounce than you could ever achieve on your own. Timed improperly, it can totally sweep your legs out from under you.

This is the foundation of one of the greatest games ever... "Knock Everybody Else Down" (I don't know if that's the official name.) Put three people on a trampoline at the same time and I GUARANTEE this game will end up getting played. The best part is that it's really hard to get hurt doing it. Ahh, I do love trampolines.

Notables from this weekend:

1. Starting Friday morning and ending Saturday evening, my brother-in-law and I spent 16 hours assembling a new playhouse for my nieces & nephews. It was painstaking, but was awesome when we were done. We got rained on, experienced 30 mph winds, heard tornado sirens, and even got hailed on...a true HandyGraham adventure.
2. I ran about 9 miles on Saturday morning (betwixt my playhouse adventuring) and about 11 miles on Sunday. Tired.
3. I used a 40% off coupon @ Borders to purchase my second graphic novel. A month ago, I purchased "The Watchmen" to read before the movie came out and on Saturday, I bought "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1." There were four people camped out reading in that section...I felt like they could see through I wasn't "graphic novel" enough to be there. Am I a "graphic novel" guy now? Must I start dressing differently?
4. I had an AMAZING All Star Breakfast at Waffle House after Sunday's run.

Ok, I must end today's Morning Math and go do a lot of things...not the least of which is find a new table saw to replace mine that broke last week - sort of annoying, but sort of exciting too. I mean, It's TOOL SHOPPING.

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 27, 2009

oh c'mon - I've got time...(Morning Math)

The title of this blog is a derivative of a quote from one of the most prolific philosophers of our time - Bob Parr (aka Mr. Incredible...shhhh...don't tell anybody).

I just finished my normal breakfast of Kroger brand Raisin Bran cereal and soy milk (my stomach doesn't seem too keen on dairy products right now). I spent this typical breakfast catching up on my good friend Annie Parsons' blog, which is always a pleasure. Two things that always happen when I indulge "said" blog are: 1. I feel guilty about being so remiss in my new blogging endeavor/commitment. 2. I get the urge to throw caution to the wind and log another entry no matter how late it makes me for whatever I'm to do next. This is a nice segue into this morning's pontification...

"Morning Math"

My dad is particularly bad about estimating how long something will take, or how long it'll be till he's home and dinner can start. Apparently genetics thought this was a good legacy to carry on and tried to pass it on to me...right now, genetics is winning.

"Morning Math" occurs during the time when your alarm clock first wakes you up to the time when you arrive at your first morning destination.

This term is a cousin of the term "Texas Math," which I learned from a road rep at a sales conference a few years back. Nobody in the room had a calculator, so he just quickly added up the numbers in his head and blurted out a number. Impressed, we all just stared at him in awe of his genius to which he responded, "It's just Texas Math," with the verbal swagger only a Texan can muster. Ten minutes and two subjects later, one of the other road reps who had taken the time to add the numbers on his phone pointed out that the Texas Math was rather "not even close." It was kind of a "you had to be there" moment, but the tension was amazing. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned...except maybe a Texan whose home state has been insulted. Another topic for another time...I digress...

Anyway, Morning Math - It's "Morning Math" that causes me to push that snooze button for a whole hour because it makes perfect logical sense that, in less than 15 minutes, I can do my whole morning regiment (hygiene, breakfast, reading Annie's blog, etc.) AND get to the other side of town during the morning rush hour.

Ironically, it's during this time of day that I also become oh-so-inspired. "Not only do I have the time for the routine, I've also got time to talk to my neighbor, BLOG, continue the search for the end of the Internet, watch the news, knock out a chapter of the book I'm reading, sit on the couch and ponder the area rug..." You get the point.

It's doesn't matter at all how early I get up. Somehow, I will still be 15 minutes late. Alas...any suggestions???

I do love the mornings though. I know I'll spend the rest of the day running around like a chicken with no head...why not just take a few extra minutes and enjoy the quiet peace of the morning? After all, what's the fun in being self-employed if you don't enjoy a somewhat loose schedule now and then?

I think I need a secretary...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Point of No Return

Busted - or not...
OK, honestly...did you just find yourself singing the Kansas song "Point of No Return" when you read that?!? Maybe I'm the only one who remembers that song. Whatever.

The 1/2 Marathon

Well, I've done it. I've officially signed up for my first 1/2 marathon, The "Tom King Classic," which I will be running this Saturday. The money is non-refundable, and I don't waste money, so I'm doing it!

I'm pretty excited and just a little nervous as you might imagine. I've actually been training for the Country Music 1/2 Marathon, which isn't for another month and a half or so, but for some reason, I felt like I wanted to run this one too, and here are some reasons why:
  • more casual...less pressure.
  • an opportunity to feel out a 1/2 marathon before I run the one "that counts" next month.
  • It was only like $45
  • You get a medal
  • You get to finish on the Jumbo-tron in the TN Titans stadium
  • You get a nice technical/running shirt...I've recently fallen in love w/ these shirts...OK, this is actually reason number 1. I'm fickle, I know.
My Feelings
I'm probably not as nervous as I'm sure a lot of first-timers are. I've already run this distance many times, over much worse terrain, and running it with a group of racers will make it easier. I was a pretty high-stakes hurdler in high school, so I'm familiar w/ racing tension...albeit I'm a bit rusty. Plus, I'm not trying to max out. I just want to finish respectably (and collect that sweet tech shirt...yessssss).

I am a little nervous about going out too quickly and wearing the appropriate clothing so I'm not too hot/cold...It's supposed to be around 50 with showers on Saturday. I'm still trying to get over a cold. My knees are also somewhat unreliable, so I'm hoping they behave themselves...especially in light of the less-than-helpful, projected barometric pressure.

In other news:
My washing machine crapped out yesterday. Seeing as I got it for free and will need a front load washer if I buy this other house, I figured I'd just bite the bullet and get a new washer. I got a pretty good deal on a nice Whirlpool front loader which was still far more than I'd hoped to spend this week...but it's so cool. It's energy efficient, it actually looks nice, and you can watch the wash cycle...I'd have spent the evening doing that had I not had company. Maybe tonight...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Gunshots or not? Pointless ponderings of Monday Morning

I didn't get much sleep this weekend. I missed enough sleep, in fact, that springing forward one hour was laughable in juxtaposition. The only real difference now is that I'd just gotten my body to start waking up at 6 w/out an alarm clock, and now it's waking up at 7. Crap.

Naturally, after such an exhausting weekend - on top of lack of sleep, I've also got a cold and still ran about 14 miles between Saturday & Sunday - I justified a bit of sleeping in this morning. By about 7:30 I wasn't really falling back to sleep, but I didn't really feel like getting out of bed, either. So I laid there enjoying the sunlight streaming in through the window that I was able to leave open all night and also listening to the peaceful sounds of the morning.

After about 20 minutes of this, the morning peace was disturbed by something that sounded like a single gunshot from very close proximity. Not one who's easily shaken (especially when I'm in the comfort of my bed), I didn't actually move. Rather I stayed right where I was and pondered the absurdity of hearing a single gunshot in the broad daylight of 7:30 AM:
  • Typically gunshots are heard in a series, no? Not just one at a time. If only one shot were fired, it would certainly be followed by some sort of screaming/shouting and/or at least tires squealing, which wasn't the case.
  • Shootings usually take place at night, and if they take place in broad daylight, they don't usually take place at 7:30 AM. Nightlife is over by 5 AM and any respectable criminal would surely be asleep by 7:30 AM.
After I ruled out the probability of the disturbance actually being a gunshot, I moved on to thinking of what it actually could have been. This is where the story gets a little less interesting. My mind automatically went to that sound being an electric transformer blowing on the telephone pole behind my house. I automatically looked at my clock to see if my power was off and lo & behold, it was.

I must offer props to NES (Nashville Electric Service) for having my power up and running in less than an hour. I even got to stand at the back door and watch them do the repair, which was fun for a nerdy little handyman like myself.

You know what's interesting about this? My mind drew the above conclusions and landed on a solution in less than about 5 seconds. What an amazing creation, the human brain. We definitely take for granted the powers of deduction and problem-solving that are ingrained in each of our God-given minds.

You know what's funny about this? My brain expended its efforts on this deductive feat this morning, but to what end? What was I going to do about any of that? Now if only I could somehow channel my brain into thinking about things like work...hmmm...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lent & New Years Resolutions...

I know I'm a bit behind the ball on some of these things, but I guess you've got to trust that these things come to you when they're meant to.

For the first time that I can remember, I was actually encouraged by a pastor to give something up for Lent. I'm pretty busy with life right now, so the idea of trying to either manage cravings or even remember what it was I gave up is a bit cumbersome, but I figured I'd give it a shot anyway. I didn't realize that in some Lent tradition, the Sabbath day of rest actually extends to what you gave up for Lent as well. That made it seem less like martyring myself (which means nothing to God) and more like restricting myself throughout the week so I can actually use the Sabbath day to appreciate what the "Lord hath made."

So I gave up caffeine and carbonated beverages and sort of alcohol.

I wouldn't say I'm addicted to caffeine, but I can be dependent on it at times. I did cheat and drink a cup of coffee on Thursday/Friday of our PA adventure since I was driving and I was carrying precious cargo. Nope, I don't feel bad about it. I assume there's caffeine in the fruit tea @ Baja Burrito & Chile Burrito, but it's just to offset the food coma that comes with Fish Taco Tuesday. Plus, fruit tea is all part of the experience and I'm not drinking carbonated beverages either, which eliminates the majority of the other choices at these fine establishments.

This stuff is bad for you anyway. I figure if I won't take care of my body for myself, I may as well do it for God. Something tells me I won't miss it too badly.

Alcohol (sort of):
Caffeine is the big dog. Unfortunately, carbonation encompasses beer as well; a fact I neglected in my original Lent selections. As this wasn't my original intention, I don't feel obligated to abstain from beer as well. However, seeing as I do enjoy my beer, I'm going to limit myself on that as well so I may value again what the "Lord hath made." March is my birthday month, the keeper of St. Patricks day, and also the month of my annual college buddy lake trip. These are times of celebration. 8)

New Years Resolutions
Something about this Lent season seems to have inspired me, or maybe it's just the onset of the lovely Spring weather. So I've finally come up with some New Years Resolutions.

I'm in the process of preparing my year-end income taxes, which is no easy task for a small business owner. I'm entering hundreds of receipts into excel spreadsheets, tallying up mileage, adding up money earned, finding all those 1099 forms. I've realized that I could have been doing this gradually throughout the year and it wouldn't be a nuissance now. So, I'm not stopping at December. I'll keep going right on up to present day and will have to change my habits to keep it all updated.

Fewer trips to the truck:
In my line of business, it's difficult to know what you're going to need for your work day. Because I drive a smaller (more fuel-efficient) truck, I don't have a huge toolbox and am limited to my skeletal tool selection. Some of the tools have to stay at my work shop during the day. I've also found myself making way too many trips back out to my truck once I start on something. This is mostly because I'm not thinking far enough ahead to anticipate what I should ALSO bring in from the truck on that trip. I've got to work smarter where I can.

Setting goals:
It's this simple. If I don't have any goals to shoot at, I can't fail, but I also never actually succeed. I'm going to start small, but it's time to get this thang in action.

I'm sure I'll think of others, but I'll mention them later.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Twin Kegs: The Diamond in the Rough

Many of you know that I've begun (and am now merely a part of it) a group called South Nashville Progressive. The idea of this group is to call all the 20, 30, and not-so-grown-up 40-somethings out of the woodwork to show that we are actually here in South Nashville. Though we're still in the early stages of this group, we've all committed (more or less) to one ideal thus far - AIM WITHIN THE SOUTH NASHVILLE COMMUNITY MAP

That means we try to:
  • shop within "the map"
  • hang out within "the map"
  • hang out with other people who live within "the map"
  • go out to eat within "the map"
  • bring people from outside "the map" to do these things within "the map"
You get the point. We're not nazis about it...South Nashville is still "Progressing" as it were, and we just don't have certain resources that other Nashville communities have...sometimes you have to get "off the map." We're just trying to take pride in our community.

Last night, we had our second official meeting, and in the interest of keeping to the "code," after the meeting we decided go to a bar/restaurant called "The Internationally Famous Twin Kegs." It's totally a divey little place at first glance, but I think I've found my new favorite hang-out. Awesome stuff about the IFTK:
  • Burgers - voted Best Burger in Nashville in the 2008 Tennessean Readers' Poll. I tried the "Big Bad Burger," a beautiful 3/4 lbs. burger...and I'm a bit of a burger connoisseur, if I do say so myself.
  • They've got a shuffleboard table. What a great bar game.
  • They've also got a pool table.
  • They've got karaoke 3 nights a week, trivia on Wednesdays, Poker night. I had NO IDEA!
  • They've got a pretty decent bottled beer selection, including Yuengling & Blue Moon...oddly enough, nothing on tap, despite the name: "Twin Kegs" 8)
I LOVE that place, and I'm pretty sure I'll be back again this week. If anybody'd like to join in, just let me know.

Twin Kegs....freakin' awesome...

Monday, March 2, 2009

No, I'm not dead...

Hey everybody,

Just wanted to let you all know that I'm not dead, I'm just quite busy. I'm not washed-up in the blog world yet, I promise...I just need to streamline my schedule a little bit.

Why am I so busy?
  • I'm trying to be a good Handyman for a know, actually working and stuff.
  • Apparently the first date I botched up so badly wasn't quite bad enough to scare her off. 8)
  • I'm dabbling in community organizing now with "South Nashville Progressive." (come find us on facebook)
  • I'm going to try & buy the house next to mine so I can own my first rental property.
  • I just returned from a whirlwind weekend roadtrip to Pennsylvania and back with Annie Parsons & Paul Zimmerman-Clayton.
  • I'm still training for the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon.
  • I just joined a new church
  • etc.
Anyway, these are all great things, so I'm certainly not complaining...just hope you'll forgive me for my recent silence. This is still one of my new years resolutions, so I'm not giving up so easily.

PA trip:
I'm still in a little "recovery" stage right now from my crazy weekend w/ Paul & Annie. I actually didn't even tell my parents that I was coming home for the weekend, so it was a lot of fun to see their surprise at my arrival. Apparently, I owe my little sister "big-time" now for covering for me though...I told her to put it on my tab.

I've gotta say, my favorite part of any road trip is usually the part when we're actually on the road. Yes, it was great to be home, but I've been home before, and I've been in Nashville before. I've even driven that exact (736-mile) route MANY times before. I've never, however, driven it w/ Paul and Annie. It was a much faster trip with good friends around - I hope next time I go up there, I'll be bringing friends again. Ahh, good times. Stay tuned - Annie documented a good portion of it on her trusty little camera and I'm sure the video will make its debut very soon.

Anyway - more to come. South Nashville Progressive is having our second meeting tonight - we ain't no joke! Now, if you'll please excuse me, I've got to go save the world one drywall patch at a time. 8)

thankful for you guys,


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Eff-SD" (no, not South Dakota)

Seasonal Depression:
I'd say that I suffer from mild seasonal depression during the months of January, February, and sometimes even a little bit into March. It seems as if life has left the area with the fallen leaves, it's cold, and it NEVER actually snows in this blasted city. It certainly doesn't stop schools from having snow days though. I could go throw a handful of powdered sugar at the local TV-News station and immediately schools would close, interstates would jam up with accidents, and people would run to the store for bread and milk. I'm not joking.

I went to visit my mom's brother (Uncle Ed) and his family near Boulder, CO last year at this time. I left my snowboard out there as collateral so that I'll actually pull the trigger and move out there myself. After returning to Nashville, I realized that I probably wouldn't miss it that much. I've used it one time here in the last 10 years.

Southern Snowboard Silliness
Some college friends and I went to Winterplace in West Virginia on MLK day weekend during our sophomore year to go skiing/snowboarding. Being with friends was a blast, but the "snow" experience was laughable. As it was MLK day weekend, every yahoo with a pair of a sticks within in a 300 mile radius was there. The slope was so short and the lift lines were so long, I literally could have walked to the top before the lift would have gotten me there. So ended my attempts at "southern snowboarding."

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, seasonal depression. After Christmas is over, all the things that make winter worth it's while are absent. There's basically a 2-2.5 month lull till Spring swoops in gently to rescue us from the drear of winter. She does it so subtly that it's like she's trying to make us forget about Winter without insulting Winter himself. Very kind of her. Besides, without Winter, the world doesn't work right, and Spring doesn't feel anywhere near as good when she arrives.

Man, am I ever on the slippery slope of digression this morning...

The Point
In the past, during these first few months of the year, I feel like myself and all the people with whom I'm connected just seem to mope around. It's this constant, "What do you wanna do?" - "I dunno what do you wanna do?" thing. And when that magical first day of Spring rolls around, we are all of a sudden able to make decisions again.

Most of you know my buddy, Andy. He, a fellow sufferer of seasonal depression (SD...tired of typing that), and I spoke at length about SD during one of our Tuesday night brain-puke sessions. I decided that it'd be best to create a social calendar for myself and others to keep people moving and integrated within their society of friends during this volatile time. It seems to be the best medicine.

I started the year out strong, but don't remember making any more conscious effort to adhere to my master "Eff-SD" plan. I jokingly told a few people about my cure, but never really pushed it on anybody. Oddly enough, this year I've managed to book up almost every waking minute of my life between work and social events, and it seems as though I'm not the only one. I think all of my friends are just as busy, and you know what? I think my master plan is working. Although I can't really take any credit for people voluntarily filling up their schedules during these months, it seems they're all generally happier than those who haven't. To attribute to one of my recurring themes...just goes to show you how important it is to have your friends around. Example 1, Example 2

Anyway - "Second Star on the Right & Straight on till Morning!"

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dia del cajero

I had the most fantastic Wal-Mart experience this afternoon.

So, I'd already spent more of this day driving around & doing errands, than I'd actually been able to spend working. It was a beautiful day - the windows were down, and the music was loud enough that I'd already missed 3 phone calls, so I'm not complaining. Driving around town, however, does make me more tired than actually working does though.

All that to say that around 2 or so this afternoon, I needed a pick-me-up, so I swung by my local neighborhood Wal-Mart for a twix bar & a Bolthouse fruit smoothie. At the check-out, my whole day changed.

I was standing in line behind somebody when I realized that check-out #2 was open, so I headed that way. This is when I encountered "James," with the flames on his lanyard. He was looking down when I arrived at his post, and I thought he was looking for something. Upon realizing that I was there, he straightened up and smiled at me. He wasn't looking for anything at all - he was actually amusing himself with some sort of cashier acrobatics and was not the least bit ashamed that I saw him doing it. I liked this guy already.

He began to ring up my Bolthouse Smoothie, my Twix bar, and a little Cherry Snack Pie I found on sale. (Don't judge me - I'm 6'3" & weigh 200 lbs...I need fuel). When I told him he could skip on the bag, he proceeded to make a little tower out of my items on the plastic bag lazy susan. After carefully topping the tower with the Cherry Pie, he exclaimed a quick "Woo Hoo," and went on to complete the transaction.

I was actually starting to chuckle to myself at this point, which is sort of uncommon. We got to that awkward part where I'd done my part, he'd done his part and we were waiting for the register to finish. He looked over and read the Cherry Pie package aloud, "No Sugar Added," to which he added, "Yeah Right! That's when they add ALL the sugar!" He looked at me and smiled, then looked with satisfaction back at his register knowing that he'd done his conspiracy-revealing duty for the day. I was at a loss for words, but mostly I was really starting to have to stifle my laughter. That statement and the manner in which it was presented was one of the funniest things I'd heard in years.

Finally the receipt printed and as he handed it to me he said, "I can stand a penny on top of a nickel. You know - on it's end."

Grinning ear-to-ear, I told him that I would definitely come back just to see that.

When I got to my car, I lost it. I could not stop laughing. I don't remember the last time I was by myself and had to try so hard to keep from laughing out loud. My favorite part is that I'm pretty sure James would have behaved exactly the same no matter who was at his register, or if there was no one there at all. So today, I salute you, "James S" at cashier station #2, for your overwhelmingly good spirit and sense of humor - and for sharing it with others.

Just for the record, I wasn't laughing AT James. I have an odd ability to adapt to the senses of humor of those who I'm around. It's great because I like to laugh...another reason my parents called me "Miller Time" when I was younger. What James was saying was only a little funny to him...just playful banter. If I'd have laughed out loud as hard as I was laughing on the inside, he might have thought that I was mocking him. It would be a terrible way to repay the guy who just made my day, to leave him with the thought that I might have been laughing AT him.

If you're ever at the Wal-Mart on the corner of Nolensville Rd. & Harding Pl. in Nashville, try to check out at the register of "James S." You won't regret it. I'm going to make sure I've got a nickel & a penny with me on my next trip.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Mattress research

Well, let me start off by saying this isn't as scandalous as it sounds. I'm actually in the market for a new mattress. Here's the situation:

My junior year of college, my mom and I got me a queen-sized mattress. I was stoked because it was the first time in years I had a bed that actually fit me properly - I outgrew twin-size beds in about 9th grade. Well, it wasn't a very nice mattress to begin with, and after about eight years, it's much worse. I feel like it's time for me to get a big boy bed now...apparently, it's not normal to wake up an roll around 15 times a night.

Like with most big purchases, beginning the research process is a bit daunting. I keep having visions of those infomercials I used to see as a kid w/ the old people on the contorting bed-sets (& people think my Fu Manchu is creepy), or a glass of wine not spilling as somebody drops a bowling ball on the mattress next to it. I know it's hard to believe, but neither of those are huge enticements for me to purchase one of those particular mattresses.

The good thing about this situation is that I can't really lose by getting another mattress. The one I sleep on now reminds me of a big piece of stale, burnt toast wrapped in multiple layers of cardboard. It actually feels like you're sleeping in a bowl, or a hard hammock. I certainly doubt any new mattress could be worse. If by some crazy stroke of Providence, I end up married in the next few years, I'm sure the (lucky?) lady will already have a better bed than myself. I could just keep whatever I end up getting for a guest room - a.k.a. sleepy time-out for disobedient husbands.

So, here are the questions that seem most relevant to me:
  1. Memory foam or "spring-loaded?"
  2. Cushion or pillow-top mattresses - worth it or not?
  3. Are there any beds that are actually proven to be more healthy for your body?
  4. What sort of budget am I looking at for a decent (middle-of-the-road) bed?
Does anybody have any suggestions?

It would be fun to get a huge group of people together and go mattress-shopping. Partially because I wouldn't feel so silly testing mattresses out in a public store with other friends doing the same, but more so because knowing my friends, this would turn into some big ridiculous fiasco that would definitely end up being video-blog material. Oh man...gears are turning now...

Fu-Graham-Chu & "El Bigote"

Once again, I have been remiss in my blogging responsibilities. Believe it or not, I've actually been so busy working lately that I haven't had a lot of time.

I'm watching my Saturday morning cartoons right now and getting ready to go to running club. Today, I'm actually going to run TO running club. It feels much more exciting to actually run TO a place rather than just running from a place only to return to it.

El Bigote

(FYI: "El Bigote" means "the mustache" in Spanish. It's what we refer to as a "false-cognate." It looks like the word "bigot" but means something beautiful as opposed to something terrible. This is MY blog - don't argue.)

I finally decided this week that it was time to shave the beard that I've been growing for a few months now. I've had a few ladies recently express their slight envy at the idea of guys being able to shave their faces and change their looks so severely. It's also low-risk in that if it isn't a nice change of pace, you can just shave it all off and start over again. Yep - it's awesome - no doubt about it.

That being said, it felt awfully wasteful to shave EVERYthing off all at once, so I did this:

As you may have guessed, I think it's TOTALLY AMAZING! Naturally, I immediately changed my profile picture on facebook to see what my friends thought, which incurred more responses than when I was voted Nashville's #1 Handyman in the Nashville Scene Readers' Poll.

The jury is still out and the polls seem to be split down the middle. There doesn't appear to be any middle ground at all. Everything looks either like this:
"That stash is frightening...."
or this:
"Amazing facial hair! Four thumbs up!"
For the record, the only negative responses I've gotten are from females. Why so negative ladies?

So, what's the verdict peoples?!? Shave or Save?!?!?

Just for giggles - my dad's old album cover. He's actually about my age in this picture.

It needs to be explained that the Stoner mustache is a rite of passage. Grampy Stoner, my dad's brothers, and my own dad all rock some version of a mustache, and they do it oh-so-well. So, it only took me 27+ years to reach manhood...I wonder what's in store next.

Monday, January 26, 2009

24 stuffs.

Wowsers, it's been a while...sorry peoples - it seems I've been remiss in my "blogging responsibilities!" Sorry, I just needed to get all that punctuation out of my system. 8)

Succinct updates & thoughts:
  1. I helped a guy break into his car took me less than 2 minutes this time. Is that bad?
  2. The HandyGraham officially sucks at first dates.
  3. "Bangkok Dangerous" is the second worst movie I've ever seen.
  4. "Wild Wild West" starring Will Smith is the worst.
  5. I busted up an old commode today w/ a was awesome.
  6. I ran 11.23 miles on Sunday.
  7. I ran in Chattanooga w/ the "running club" this weekend.
  8. Josh's mom taught us a recipe to make an omelet in a baggie...awesome too.
  9. Family Wash makes GREAT shepherds pies...too bad they don't have Yuengling on tap.
  10. Today I was in Michaels arts & crafts store & heard a Spice Girls song.
  11. Sadly, I knew it was a Spice Girls song.
  12. I used to drive a beat up old red work van in high school & listened to Spice Girls really loud to annoy all the ghetto kid wannabes.
  13. No, I was not buying knitting supplies at Michaels.
  14. I was talking to my friend Christina about an amazing Marvin Gaye song last night called "Got to Give it up."
  15. I heard that song @ Home Depot this afternoon, and it made me smile.
  16. Sometimes I want to just disappear and move to another country w/out telling anybody.
  17. I started reading "The Glass Castle" today, and I'm already afraid to read the end.
  18. I miss my dog.
  19. Hip Hop music feels like the rain sometimes.
  20. It can also feel like electricity.
  21. For the first time in years, I actually needed some "alone time" this weekend.
  22. I'm thankful for my buddy Paul Zimmerman-Clayton.
  23. I'm making a roast in the oven right now...I think I might have screwed it up.
  24. Nope - it turned out ok.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Guitar Lessons w/ the HandyGraham

On Friday, I had the opportunity to participate in something absolutely amazing.

For quite a few months now, I've been working on switching out all the doors in one of my favorite clients' houses. One of the reasons that I enjoy handyman work is the reason that, most of the time, it offers a lot of variety in problem-solving, which thankfully keeps my brain occupied. As I near the end of my task, I'd be lying if I said that the monotony isn't getting to me just a little bit. (On Friday, I replaced doors 17, 18, & 19 out of 21.) If I weren't such a big fan of this client, I may even have tapped out already.

I was already having a less-than-joyous day as my truck is not running at 100% right now. It's just not a pleasant way to start your mornings. I spent the rest of the day working on these doors and was able to remain rather positive for most of it. My client's kids were home from school and their grandfather was there as well to keep an eye on them. My client's ten-year-old daughter had a friend over and they spent the day playing with the computer, making music videos and other fun activities. It reminded me of when my sister and I used to get to stay home from school at that age...we usually just fought over the Nintendo.

The day passed by a bit slowly...not as slowly as my sales-repping days @ the record company, mind you...that job almost did me in. I was finally onto my last adjustment for the day for which I had to interrupt one of the girls' music videos. I smiled when I saw that they were not dancing to the radio this time, but actually working around a guitar that one of them had gotten for Christmas. They both gave me a quick embarrassed smile, which passed almost immediately, and they wasted no time moving on to tell me they were putting together a band, but neither of them knew how to sing, play, or even tune the guitar. I told them I could at least tune the guitar for them, if not teach them a chord or two when I finished up the door and was encouraged by their immediate excitement.

They agreed to go grab some water while I made my final adjustments on the door, and while I did so, I took in the beauty of their excitement, their invincible hope, and maybe envied the learning potential they have as they're so young. It wasn't long before they returned - ready to rock. So, I tuned the guitar and played a riff or two to get their attention (a little trick I learned working with elementary school kids in college). I gave the guitar back and moved right into teaching them both the D chord. I only wish you all could have seen their face as they both individually cracked the code and the guitar made music in their hands for them the first time.

On the way to work that day, I was listening to NPR and heard an interesting story about Barack Obama's two years at Occidental College in Los Angeles. When one of President-elect Obama's former professors, Roger Boesche, was asked if he saw this kind of potential in Barack Obama, to which he replied:
"I cannot say that I looked across my class and said, 'Now that guy will even be in the Senate, much less the president,'" says Boesche. "But he stood out. He was very articulate."
This quote came back to me as I saw the look of joy on these girls' faces, and it made me think about the first chord I learned on the guitar. It was like I'd finally been able to harness the magic of something I'd only ever been able to watch and listen to in the past. Who knows the implications of the insignificant little nugget of information I shared with those girls.

If these young ladies get to enjoy music half as much as I do at some point in their life, it'll make me smile.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Music & Love: Create? Manipulate? Participate?

Oh Brother Andy, what have you done? I told everybody I wouldn’t make a habit of talking about this stuff, but it seems the floodgates are open now.

What is the origin of Love?

Music Explains Love (I think)

My senior year in college, I decided to take “Introduction to Music” as an elective. Now those of you who know my background and how much I love music might find that odd…it was supposed to be a cakewalk class. Much to the contrary, I found myself digging into many deeper meanings of music and life because of this class. The most difficult internal debate I engaged was this: What is the origin of Music?

I’ve been making music since when my mom caught me whistling Axel F on the toilet when I was three. I’m a classically trained upright bassist, play guitar, a few other instruments and sing as well. I played in orchestra, band, jazz band, wind ensemble, marching band and a few of my own bands. Forgive what seems like boasting. I only put these cards on the table to illustrate how odd it is that I’d never thought to inquire as to the origins of something that has been such a huge part of my life and still is. To confuse this even more, I had also just begun to write my own music.

Can I actually “create” Music?
Can I actually “manipulate” Music? Or,
Do I merely get to “participate” in Music?

I’ll spare you the ping pong deliberations of my brain, and the semantics I fought through with a machete. Suffice it to say it wasn’t exactly cut & dry, but I’ll just skip to the point.

I concluded that we merely get to participate in Music. All the songs I’ve written just sort of came out. I often listen to the melodies that I’ve “composed” and wonder where they possibly could have come from.

I liken music-writing to this: The mood strikes me, and all of a sudden I’m walking into a melody store, the front of which looks a lot like the record store from “High Fidelity.” It looks tiny from the outside, but is vast, perhaps endless on the inside. Somehow, my feet know exactly where to go…a section meant just for me. I spend some time checking out different melodies until I come across one that actually makes my soul sing back. (It’s kind of like when you find the pitch that resonates perfectly in a big, tiled bathroom). My soul makes the decision for me and I take it to the cashier who’s an amiable guy w/ dreadlocks & a soul patch. He just smiles at me and says, “It’s on the house as usual, brother – see you next time!”

I’ve compared this to the involuntary vomiting of a song…though you may also remember that I don’t really believe in involuntary vomiting. 8)

What I have then is a musical representation (like a musical photograph) of just a little piece of my soul…what a precious gift. How could I ever take credit for that?

Back to Love

Is Love not the same way?

Participate: Love is a gift beyond logical explanation. It’s a supernatural phenomenon that’s out there for us to discover, experience, and ultimately enjoy – a precious gift that FAR exceeds even our wildest imagination.

Create: As the Bonnie Raitt song says, “I can’t make you love me, if you don’t.” (written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin). We can’t create love. We can come up with any recipe that we want, but it’ll never be able to take the place of the perfection that is love. Why on earth would we turn our noses at a free and perfect gift in search of manufacturing it on our own “filthy rag” version? We are silly, stubborn creatures, aren’t we?

Manipulate: I’ve alluded to the dangers of manipulation before. Manipulate Love? Talk about trying to harness the power of the Sun with your bare hands…its simply asinine. You can, however, manipulate people. I must say I feel badly for those whose relationships are built on some sort of manipulation. Both sides end up drowning in insecurity wondering all the while what is true and what isn’t.

Playing With Fire

Manipulating a person actually twists them into somebody they’re not. When you manipulate someone, it’s like taking Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” removing the texture and making it into a black and white postcard. They become like the animals in Narnia who can’t talk anymore. You’ve taken a flute and made it sound like banging a spoon on a table. They’ve been assimilated to your myopic imagination and confined to a cage. Gosh, it’s beginning to look like slavery. Congratulations, you are now dating, or worse, married to the walking dead…and YOU killed them. What an atrocity. I’m thinking bad words about you in my head right now, malicious manipulator. I wish I could say my hands were clean of this. They’re not. If I’d had any idea of what I was really doing at the time…quite sadly our stepping-stones come at others’ expense sometimes…it’s part of what makes us NEVER want to screw it up again.

Isn’t it so much better to let the other’s light shine? Let them be who they are. Let their song ring loud & true. The worst that can happen is that their song doesn’t prove harmonious with yours. I imagine when it actually does, the whole orchestra and chorus joins in behind you.

Those who find Love on Love’s schedule don’t have to rely on disillusionment. Experiencing Love on Loves terms is an exciting adventure through uncharted territories. There is so much amazing and colorful scenery along the way that you can’t ever fully take it in. Manufacturing “love” and manipulating it is just another trip through the quagmires, trapped in the confines of our own mind. As with all things, life is too short to spend it bound by our own skepticism and our limited capacities. I’d much rather be surprised by the endless possibilities God’s world has in store for us.

I think I might dig into why we attempt to manipulate tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The "Perfect Seven" (significant others)

Coffee with the Maverick
I had my weekly coffee tonight with my good buddy Andy Merrick at Fido here in Nashville. I would have made him meet me @ Créma, but they're not open that late yet. It's come to my attention that many of you have probably been reading Andy's series called "Why Guys Aren't Asking You Out."

I don't really do a lot of blog reading...mostly because I don't spend my days bored out of my skull in front of my computer anymore, looking for anything to keep me awake for when my supervisor actually looks at me. I'm usually too tired to enjoy blogs at the end of the day, and I rather prefer talking to people over reading. Andy's blog is one I actually try to follow, but I don't always read it for two reasons:
  1. Andy handles more in most blogs than my attention span will usually allow me to ingest.
  2. I spend Tuesday nights mentally sparring with this good fellow...which is WAY better than actually having to read something. 8)

That being said, I simply had to hear what all the hubbub was about, so I just finished reading the first four parts of Andy's series in one shot. I am now quite tired and am desperately longing for simplicity.

I haven't been on a date in well over a year, and I haven't been "dating somebody" in over two, and this is probably why. Seriously, how much harder could we POSSIBLY make this? Andy's working on at least a 5, maybe 7, maybe more, -part series on this with the thoroughness that only a computer programmer w/ creative tendencies could maintain. But, I guarantee you he won't cover it all.

I very much would like to get back on the dating horse, but if I try & concern myself with all that stuff, there is NO WAY I'll ever get back on. So rather, here's what I'm going to try & focus on (the sequence is intentional):

  1. How would you like to go out some time?
  2. I like you. Do you like me?
  3. Analysis: Do we think this is working?
  4. Conclusion:
  • If yes: Good let's keep this up and get married someday.
  • If no: Well, I'm really glad we tried. I guess this means there's a smarter match for both of us out there.

Should it not be so simple?!?

The Perfect Seven
I mentioned the other day that I try to see the beauty in everybody. I don't know if this is right, but this is the habit my brain is in right now: I see us all as "Perfect Seven's." Yes, you heard me right. Like in any judgment, we are scored in different categories. In this particular trial, the average of our score leaves us ALL with a "Perfect Seven." For example:
  • Outward Appearance - 6
  • Sense of Humor - 8
  • Bo Staff Skills - 7
  • etc...
Nobody is actually higher on the scale than anybody else, we all have our own "Criteria DNA" that when averaged out has the exact same value as that of everyone else. Andy might need to find a girl who is more intelligent than funny, whereas the opposite might work better for myself. Granted, all of my examples are GROSS oversimplifications, but do you see my point? (Besides, I can't complain about complexity and conjure a complicated conclusion).

This is what it means when we say, "I don't need to find the 'perfect boy/girl.' I need to find the 'perfect boy/girl' for me." The former simply does not exist, but I'm pretty sure sure the latter exists for the majority of us.

A key has teeth. A lock has a series of pins that rise & fall when a key is inserted. When the teeth properly match the formation of the pins inside the lock, something amazing happens. The key can turn and the lock opens. This analogy actually plays into my "reciprocation" role that I mentioned the other day...look to see more about that later.

Selling Love?!?
I was a sales rep for almost 3 years of my life and sold a variety of music to retail stores. I was pretty good at that job, but one thing I was never able to do was sell a Rap album by treating it as a Southern Gospel album. If we're a Rap album (& I'm pretty sure I am), why would we try & market ourselves for a tour with Bill & Gloria Gaither & Friends?

Like selling anything, we find our niche, and we ALL have at least one, and we work to exploit the niche. We can't all be the prettiest girl, or the hottest dude. It may be the quickest way to get immediate attention, but the lasting attention we're looking for comes from being confident in knowing who you are, and knowing who you are not. (please forgive my adaptive plagiarism)

"To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge."

We short-change ourselves by trusting so much on outward appearance. It can so easily hide more subtle and far more substantive things like: a good sense of humor, a kind heart, impressive dreams, witty banter, etc. THESE ARE ATTRACTIVE QUALITIES!!! And they're good, safe places to invest your confidence.

I'm sure I'll have some comments on Andy's blog if he can ever find a stopping point. That's certainly not a cut on's a cut on our dating culture - and knowing just how thorough Andy thinks, I hope he doesn't drive himself batty trying to figure it all out. Ladies - you owe him one. Generally speaking (which is Andy's approach if I'm not mistaken) he's just about spot on. I love that guy...and I think I'm going to start Sub-titling like he does. Thanks buddy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

minus 20 questions...

I'm rather bad at asking questions...or it should definitely seem so if we've ever had a conversation face-to-face. This is certainly something of which I'm hardly proud. I worry that it's indicative that I have poor listening skills.

However, I recently came to the conclusion that this may not be entirely true after I spent some time speculating on just why I don't ask a lot of questions. I happened upon 2 reasons I'd not previously realized, the first of which is rather complicated and the second of which is really quite simple.

Reason 1 goes a little something like this: I've spent a great deal of my life learning things by observation rather than asking questions - like gathering the meaning of a word I don't know from the context of a conversation. Much can be learned about any situation or person by simply watching/observing. I think I may have originally started doing this out of pride so I wouldn't look silly for asking simple questions, but it turns out it's a very useful skill.

(relevant sidebar) We are all judgmental to some's in our DNA. We discern things, and then we make judgments based upon our discernment. I don't really like the idea of "judging" people per se, but if we're ever to make any sort of progress in our lives, we have to make judgments. For example - Is this guy trustworthy? Is she lying to me? What do they really mean by that? I'm sure I do a poor job of it, but I try to judge as little as I must, and also try to keep my judgments to a horizontal scale rather than a vertical one. I think I naturally put myself at the top of the vertical one, and that's definitely not where I belong - whereas on a horizontal scale, the playing field is level. Judgement becomes a matter of "different" rather than "better vs. worse."(end sidebar)

When I encounter people, I immediately begin compiling data with regards to that person's character as there are no better criteria by which to make judgment. Over the years I've developed a pretty good "character barometer" and can usually tell within a matter of minutes of observing someone whether they'll become an acquaintance, a friend, or even a nemesis. (I don't really have any's just fun to say). We transmit a great many signals by our actions, body language, demeanor, verbage, etc.

Now before you get all uncomfortable when you meet me, just know that this kind of thinking comes with a price. I can't help but assume that others hold me under the exact same scrutiny, so I'm probably a great deal more uncomfortable than you, whether I show it or not.

So, long story short, I substitute observing for question-asking. My biggest regret about this is that people might get the impression that I'm not actually invested/interested in them, but the truth is that I've already unintentionally invested in them by observing them. It plays into another trait of mine I call "reciprocation," which is another blog for another time.

Reason 2 weighs far less guiltily on my heart and goes like this: I spend much of my time alone. I live alone and work alone. Seeing as I've, most often, already silently learned much about my company by observation, I often know what I want to know about them and don't have further questions. So rather than them questions, I blabber excitedly. Why? Because I'm literally just so excited to be in their presence that I get wound up. I know that sounds dumb, but it's really true. Sometimes, if I'm with a particularly close friend, I just won't say anything because their presence calms me and I'm so comfortable I needn't say a thing.

So if you've ever been offended by my constant jabbering and pontificating, or my enigmatic silence, will you please forgive me? Apparently I actually am quite concerned with you and have a poor way of showing it. I'm not one for composure, and I'm afraid you probably won't catch me asking questions of someone just to make them feel invested in. That seems patronizing if you ask me.

So, my new quest is this. Come up with questions whose answers I actually desire to know. Start asking them of people and get better at SHOWING the fact that I'm interested in them.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cheers & Brownies!!!

During my end of day evaluation last night, I realized that I had a really good day yesterday, and I simply must share.

I grew up as a pretty big fish in a small pond. I hope none of you at home are offended by that...actually a LOT of us were big fish in that little pond. One of my favorite things about that was the fact that everybody knew my name for reasons like my high school sports career, or maybe because they caught me throwing rocks in their pool when I was ten. Either way, I can rarely go anywhere back home without seeing a face I know...literally a place where "everybody knows your name."

My home town of Palmyra, PA has a population of 7,000 people. Nashville, TN (where I live now) is about one Palmyra, PA short of 600,000 people. That makes Nashville just over 85 times the size of Palmyra, which, in comparison, makes Nashville a "big pond." Quite often, I find myself really missing that small town vibe.

I realized something yesterday though:
-My first stop of the morning was to the best coffee shop in Nashville: Créma (It IS the best - argument is futile). The first thing that happened was Rachel, Créma's co-owner w/ her husband, greeted me by my name. This isn't abnormal - I'd consider she & Ben friends of mine.
-My second stop of the morning was my favorite bank in all Nashville...the USBank on Fessler's Lane...home of the sweetest bank teller women/ladies/girls you'll ever meet. It happened again. I was greeted by my first name. I still didn't think much of it, but it made me smile just the same.
-My third stop of the morning was Kroger, and wouldn't you know, it happened a third time at the self-checkout of all places. I do frequent Kroger, and almost always go through self-checkout, so I've had quite a few conversations with the woman there as well.
-Later in the day, I went to take care of a few things for a church in Green Hills, and was kindly and personally welcomed by the church staff as I always am...once again by my name.

Dale Carnegie, author of "How to Win Friends & Influence People" once said this:
"If you want to win friends, make it a point to remember them. If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance."

So simple and true, and so easily forgotten. (This is a fantastic book if you ever get the chance to read it. I read it in 8th grade and it changed the way I think about relationships entirely).

After work yesterday, I found a package on my back porch - I never get packages unless I order them from Amazon. I was excited to see that it came from my cousins the Kimberlys who live close to Cleveland, OH. My cousin Mary attended Vanderbilt University here in Nashville last year, and it afforded me an opportunity to spend some (non family reunion) time with these only-slightly-less-immediate family members - an opportunity for which I'm quite thankful.

Naturally, like any grown-up, I dropped everything and tore into the box only to find another package wrapped in Christmas paper with a note from my cousin Hannah, the "baby" of the Kimberly family. Now Hannah & I have had a special relationship since the beginning. I distinctly remember being her own personal jungle gym at a family reunion maybe 8-10 years ago...I'm a little over 12 years older than she is. After not having seen her for some time, I was shocked to see her this summer, a blossoming teen with every ounce of sassy sarcasm that goes with teen-hood. Well, don't get to be her jungle gym anymore, but now she makes me laugh with the wit that only high schoolers are capable of.

After I read the note a few times, I carefully took the paper off and found a whole box full of brownies. And they weren't just brownies, but FUDGY chocolate brownies with powdered sugar on top. Oh man...those won't last a minute in this house. Isn't it funny how something so simple as brownies, if sent to the right person, can mean so VERY much?

Anyway, after a great run with my Wednesday night running group and some dinner w/ good friends at Calypso Cafe, I headed home and found the day's retrospect an absolute joy.

Nightmare about Mary Tyler Moore?!?

I have a very vivid imagination. Last night I had a nightmare. The two for me are not a good combination. My nightmares always involve something supernaturally evil. Bad dreams without that particular element are basically just “bad,” or rather “negative” dreams. I think it’s similar to the way I view life. For example:

In my dreams, I’m not really afraid of mortal enemies with guns, swords or any other weapons. I merely play my part whether that’s soldier, citizen, general, protector or hero – win or lose. I usually only ever fear for the lives of others and it’s not so much that I have disregard for mine, but maybe I feel invincible?

When it comes to supernatural evil, on the other hand, the mood is different and I’m terrified. It’s totally the same in real life. If I were at gunpoint, I’m pretty sure I’d constantly be thinking of a way to disarm my assailant. Were I to come in contact with a ghost, I think I’d have to search DEEP to find courage.

It seems I have a fear of things I can’t go toe-to-toe with and have a fair fight.

What I remember of my dream last night was this: I was in a facility like a nursing home, and though others were present, the only other characters I can remember were Mary Tyler Moore (MTM) who was oldish and cenile, and a vampire/werewolf hybrid of sorts…all black and young. MTM was a fox when she had her own TV show back in the 70’s, but she was no such thing in my dream. The vampire seemed to be young and on the brink of death. Deep down, I knew I needed to kill it, and MTM was trying to convince me that she agreed. I was about to strike the deathblow when MTM came at me with a letter opener and the last thing I remember was fighting with the crazed MTM and trying to wrest the letter opener from her grip. She reminded me a little of Renfield from the book “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. (sidebar: "Dracula" is simply it if you can). It was then that I awoke.

I woke in a sweat, and of course, I felt the need to use the bathroom. I was groggy, still a bit out of sorts from MTM trying to kill me with a letter opener, not to mention worried that I might run into that vampire creature, so I was in no hurry to leave the safety of my covers. Totally ridiculous, and had the lights been on, it would have been a different story.

When I find myself in fear my mind goes right to the character Iorek Byrnison (the beloved Polar bear) from the book/movie the Golden Compass. In one instance, the main character, Lyra, asks him if he’s afraid, to which he replies, “No, and when I am, I will master my fear.”

In the second instance, he is on his way to rescue Lyra from a situation where he’s outnumbered 100’s to one by enemies who loathe him. His friend Lee Scoresby is trying to talk him out of it by trying to convince him that this is a silly suicide mission to which Iorek replies, “I know that I would be ashamed to show less courage than that child.”

What a great hero – seriously. He's hardcore to the bone...gotta love it. The Golden Compass is totally worth seeing if for nothing other than the bear fight. Upon hearing those words in my head, I stepped out of bed to face my foolish fears, and quickly proved that they were indeed foolish.

I don’t know why I fear the supernatural so. Ghost stories/movies literally freak me out enough that I can’t sleep. Never once in my lifetime have I ever seen a ghost or any sort of reasonable facsimile - I really have no reason to even believe they exist.

Perhaps I’ll dig more on that later…for now, I’m tired. Off to bed.

p.s. this post is actually from 1/7/09, but I couldn't get online to post it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Blah - that is my word for today. I couldn't seem to find any cohesive sort of focus today, so I don't see why I need to try and find one right comes a disjointed entry.

Tack 1: This morning I had to stop by Home Depot to grab some shims so I could level a toilet. Upon entering, I saw that my friend/acquaintance, Blair, was working in the paint department. I was about to say hello when this happened:

A guy was about 15 feet in front of me and detoured into the paint section towards Blair. It looked like he was going to ask for some assistance, so I decided not to say hello just yet and started moving towards Roger & Steven in the "millwork" department to get my shims. Before passing out of view, for some reason, I decided to watch this guy...maybe I had an idea of what he was going to do. Instead of talking to Blair, he walked right behind her, "checked her out," and walked out of the section. I chuckled to myself a little bit as I went to find my shims. I mean, Blair's a pretty girl, and members of the opposite sex are supposed to be attracted to each's in our nature. This dude was just so crassly uncouth it was totally amusing.

After my trip to millwork for my shims, I swung back by the paint department to recount the story to Blair, and we had a laugh over it. I realized after the fact (as my less-than-quick wit usually does) that it would have been pretty funny to shout "Hey Blair!" just as that dude was checking her out, but that's the kind of thing that bar fights are started over.

Tack 2: Today, 2 things happened/are happening in my kitchen that have NEVER happened in this kitchen in the 80-90 years my house has been standing. I used my new garbage disposal and am washing dishes in a dishwasher for the first time in Castle Stoner history.

I installed both of these on New Years Eve before I went out to ring in the new year with my friends. I actually didn't finish until about 10 pm on NYE, but it was totally worth the wait. Despite my catch-all kitchen table that is covered with items that only barely made into the house via the back door, my laundry hanging from curtain rods and other various make-shift "hooks", and my shop-vac which is currently the kitchen centerpiece, it's starting to feel like a functional kitchen. Exciting!

Tack 3: I wear flip-flops a lot. I've had my current pair for a few years now. They're the kind w/ the foam bottom and the rubber thong. I've worn these on the beach, around the house, to play frisbee, to church, to the grocery store, in Scotland, to soccer and flag football games...really, to most of the places I've been in the last few years. On Sunday, however, tragedy struck. The right thong on my right flip-flop, which has been clinging by a thread for at least a year now, finally broke.

My dilemma is this - it's very difficult to find a new pair of flip-flops in January, so I've been limping around in this pair for the last few days. I say limping because unless I drag my foot, the flip-flip will just start turning clockwise anywhere from 90-180 degrees. As you can imagine, this makes walking slightly cumbersome. Never fear good buddy Hunter who works in a fantastic store called REI (you might have heard of it) tells me they've got some flip flops for sale. At least I know where to go when I finally get frustrated enough with these that I recognize my need for a new pair.

Phew - I hope my thought process is a little more controlled tomorrow.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rain Rain, it's OK. We can work some other day.

The day has finally arrived. The holidays have officially passed and we have run out of excuses to put off getting back to work. was kind of rainy today. 8)

I really love rain. Sadly, my least favorite kind of rain is Winter rain - simply enough because during the Winter, rain should always be snow. Summer rain brings a nice reprieve from the heat, but ultimately leaves things muggy. Fall rain is frustrating because I'm usually trying to get as many motorcycle rides in as I can before it gets so cold that motorcycling becomes more pragmatic than enjoyable.

As you may have guessed, Spring rain is my favorite. Spring rain's main job is to breathe new life into the Earth, who has been starved for life since the last of Fall's beauty handed the baton off to Winter's icy grip. You can walk in the rain anytime, but it feels best in Spring. In Pennsylvania, where I grew up, Spring rain also washes away the dregs of the dirty and unsightly snow that somehow missed the memo about Winter being over.

I think I started appreciating the rain in high school when I came to this realization. Rain affects us one is invulnerable. I may have first noticed this during track season. My competition all seemed to lose confidence as soon as the rain hit and this did naught but bolster mine. I won some great races by some pretty large margins thanks to the effects of the rain.

I'm not really involved in a lot of competition anymore - I mostly compete against myself - so the rain seems to have taken on a new role in my life. I'm not sure I can articulate this, but the rain has become a source of comfort now. It has a way of numbing the pain of loneliness. It has a way of saying, "take it easy, man - it'll be all right." It has a way of making a run feel less like obligated training and more like an adventure. I especially love how it has a way of washing away distorted expectations (both good & bad) that we have of all things, so that for just a moment we have an uninhibited glimpse of reality...I could go on.

I have an aluminum roof over the patio right outside my bedroom window. There are few things as soothing as falling asleep to the peaceful sound of a steady, gentle rain falling right outside your window. It sort of makes me feel like I can just keep exhaling all night without ever having to suffer even the slight inconvenience of inhaling.

And isn't there something about the rain that makes it seem like none of us should actually be at work, but rather at home, in our sweats, on the couch, with a significant other (or even just the dog or cat), maybe a candle or two burning, watching as many hours of our favorite DVD's as will fit before we drift off into that peaceful slumber only the rain can induce?

Perhaps you've taken a trip somewhere on a plane and left on a rainy day. You take off in an atmosphere of gloom. After a steep ascent of a few thousand feet, all of a sudden visibility from your window dwindles so much you can't even see the wing anymore, but maybe the intermittent blink of one of the lights on it. But then, just as you're about to lose interest in looking out the window because you can't actually see anything, something glorious happens. In the blink of an eye, the plane bursts through the cloud cover and you see the sun smiling down on its friends the rain clouds. We get myopic so quickly during bouts of rain that we forget the rain is good, and the sun is right behind the clouds perfectly content with sharing the sky's center stage.

*sigh* (one of relaxation...not frustration) No point to this I guess, or moral to the story. Maybe you've found that we have something in common, or maybe better yet, you get to see the brighter side of the rain.

Now, back to work for REAL...although, they're calling for more rain tomorrow. 8)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The HandyGraham vs. Charlie Brown

Well well well, it's been some time now...between the hubbub of the hectic holidays and a concise season of sinister stomach sickness, I'm officially back in the game here.

After being sick for the majority of what many who aren't self-employed so affectionately call winter break, I daresay, I wasn't thrilled per se about working on Friday. But, a combination of not having been able to work for some time, and the fact that I am fond of my clientele convinced me otherwise. It quickly turned into one of those days, however, when the weather is beautiful everywhere except the 5-foot diameter circle that surrounds you, in which it does nothing but rain all day. I've heard from a quite a few people lately that Charlie Brown is a very depressing guy...the reason is that he always has days like the one I'm about to describe.

The issue was this: from the electric breaker box, there were two electrical circuit runs that were not run with heavy enough wire to meet code standards.

One run had an easy solution which involved no more than switching out a 20amp breaker for a 15amp breaker to allow less current through the circuit - a 10 minute operation at most.

The second run was not so simple. It was actually a short run in the same room, but I'd already ruled out the possibility of going through the attic. Upon assessing the crawl space, the clouds darkened slightly as I realized that even a mouse would have trouble getting into the space where I needed to go. I was left with no other option but cutting into drywall - STRIKE 1

So I picked up supplies at Home Depot, then got to work. Everything was going great...drywall came out in one piece, I found a clear path from the breaker box to the outlet, etc. After drilling holes through the studs I found that the friction from my drill had pushed through the wire insulation and exposed copper on a BIG wire - NOT GOOD. Sadly, even the most careful of us even make embarrassing...not to mention I'm lucky I didn't fry myself.

I called Dad to brainstorm and we ruled out all the simple solutions leaving me with no other option than to replace the damaged section with more THICK wire. After waiting in a completely non-moving line for far too long at Burger King, and reading the disgruntled faces of those waiting in line in front of me, I decided to skip lunch (which is heart-breaking if you know how much I like to eat). In lunch's stead, I decided to go to Home Depot to get replacement pieces I'd need to repair my blunder - and they weren't cheap.

I headed back to start my 2.5 hour unpaid, and far more frustrating detour to fix what didn't originally need fixing in the first place. After fighting tooth and nail (quite literally) with those belligerently non-pliable wires, I was finally able to get back to my original project around about 4 in the afternoon. STRIKE 2 (& 3 if you count missing lunch...I know I do).

Finally back on track, I had no more difficult hurdles to clear - I was back on the clock and running like clockwork. I finished up, put the wall back together, and tested all the wiring which responded with perfect results. After cleaning up my tools, my client was kind enough to let me borrow his shop-vac (as I'd brilliantly left mine at home). I bent over and vacuumed up all the mess I'd made, but was much dismayed when I turned around. Apparently something was not secured properly on the vacuum and I'd just filled the back half of the house with a cloud of drywall dust. STEEEE-RIIIIKE 3 (or 4)!!! You're outta there. I'd quite literally inflicted others with the same dark cloud I'd been in all day.


To put the icing on the cake, the day was January 2 and it was like 65 outside and sunny. Perfect motorcycle weather and I missed all of it.

Well, I apologized profusely, and my clients were more than gracious. I'm so thankful that they'd already seen my normal, non-rain cloud work and knew this isn't the norm. I still left feeling totally defeated though.

I was hesitant to blog about this, and if my daily protocol were typically riddled with such disaster, I don't think I would have. But this is me - what you see is what you get. If you're perfect, by all means, feel free to throw stones.

So what's to be learned from all of this?

-No matter how hard we try, we all still make mistakes. A true test of a man is how he handles his mistakes. I've learned to own my mistakes and am constantly learning to handle them with integrity and dignity. It's also important to learn not to make the mistake again.

-Hurdles look like hurdles at first glance, but upon closer analysis, we find they're actually character-building stepping stones. When I'm working, and nobody can see me, I like to pretend I'm being video-taped to remind me to work hard and behave respectably no matter who's watching. That means keeping a cool head when things go wrong.

-Accursed days like this one should remind us to stop and appreciate the good days. How many good days have I had where everything goes as it should? How many times do I ever stop to be thankful for those?

-Drill chucks are more abrasive than you might think...keep them away from wires.

-Some days just suck, but EVERYBODY has those days...not just me.

-We can ALWAYS be learning. ALWAYS.

I'm glad to say that the day had a happy ending. I had the pleasure of grilling out in the company of good friends and was blessed with a great many reasons to smile despite my preceding disaster of a day. The power of positive thinking cannot rest on one's shoulders good company, it manifests and sustains itself.

I just wish I could share my friends with Charlie Brown for a couple days, or maybe donate one of my many good days to him. Lord knows he could use it.