Someone hacked my life tonight

30 August 2011

(With apologies to Elton John … like he’d care …)

So I was on my perambulations around the Information Super-suburb earlier today, and decided to check my Twitter page.  I’m not a big Twitter user — WordPress automatically posts a link there whenever I do a new blog entry, plus I’ll toss in something else once in a while (though I’m more likely to use Facebook for that – they give you 420 characters of space instead of 140).  Mostly, I use it to keep up on the latest quips from a few humorists — ESPN’s Bill Simmons, Conan O’Brien, Rita Rudner, and whoever does the XIANITY tweets.  That’s about it.

Well, Rita and XIANITY didn’t have anything new up today.  But I did.  The only problem was, I didn’t write it.

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False gumbo, or, the joy of leftovers

26 August 2011

At my daughter Charlotte’s request, last night I made up a big pot of my “false gumbo.”

I call it that because I’ve had real, honest-to-goodness, Cajun-style Louisiana gumbo — and mine isn’t.  My family won’t eat really spicy food, and I’m not that fond of it either except once in a while.  Which means no andouille sausage, no Cayenne pepper, no okra.  Also no crawdads, since in northern California they’re not real easy to find.  Instead, I go with ingredients more friendly to a fragile palate.

So it isn’t real gumbo, it’s false gumbo.  But it’s mighty tasty.  It’s not just my family that thinks so — my wife Nina (the Supermodel) was volunteering at our son Sean’s school yesterday and told his teacher what I was making.  He expressed interest, so this morning I brought him a small Rubbermaid container of it to sample.  He loved it.  So there you have it — rave reviews!

I’ll tack on a rough recipe (rough because I don’t measure out ingredients precisely — consider all amounts approximate) at the end of this post, in case you want to try it for yourself.  But as I was in the process of making it, it got me to thinking …

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Cleaning out the closet — and long overdue!

23 August 2011

Some random bits and pieces from the pages of my mind — none of them enough for a full blog post, but still worth passing on:

* Regular readers of this space know that I’m a big fan of Bill Simmons,’s “Sports Guy” since 2001.  Well, Bill has gone and done something new, starting his own website called Grantland.  Named after 1920s sportswriter Grantland Rice, it’s sort of a clearinghouse for feature and opinion pieces on sports, popular culture and the intersection of the two.  Besides Simmons, the featured writers include Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell, Katie Baker, This Recording’s Molly Lambert and ESPN’s Jonah Keri, plus a half-dozen others that you may not have heard of but will become a fan of before long.  The level of authorship ranges from pretty good to excellent, they put up about a dozen pieces a day, and I probably spend more time reading it Monday-Friday than I can really afford.  But I never seem to regret it.

I just added a link to Grantland to my list o’ links on the right — or you can click here to check it out.  Try it, you might like it.

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Eye surgery, and the difference it didn’t make

18 August 2011

I mentioned awhile back that one of the things that kept me from blogging through this last spring was that I’d had surgery on both eyes in June.  It wasn’t really an elective surgery, either — I had cataracts in both eyes.

It was an interesting moment in my life — for one, it was the first time I’d had surgery of any kind since I was six.  At the other end of the spectrum, though, I’m only 41, and cataracts tend to be a problem for people much older than I.  So I was revisiting memories from my childhood while at the same time being forced to greet the specter of old age as he stopped by for a brief visit.  Kind of surreal.

Given all that baggage, having the surgery (well, surgeries) must have been an important if not cataclysmic experience for me, right?

Eh, not as much as you might think.

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Thinking inside the box(es): the blessing of a schedule

16 August 2011

I’m coming up on three years of being unemployed now.

Now, I will admit there are a couple of asterisks attached to that statement.  I did a three-week temp job riding public transportation for a consulting firm.  I’ve also done a little freelance wordsmithing (business letters and the like) for a couple of friends who needed such things done.  And from August 2009 until last month, I was spending several hours a day caring for a severely disabled child.  But still, I haven’t had semi-permanent, full-time employment since just after Lehman Brothers went splat.  (Probably not coincidental.)

All that time NOT spent on a 9-5 or similar schedule has been rough on me.  I’m someone that needs to be busy — even if I’m doing nothing much, it needs to be a “doing nothing much” that keeps me focused and occupied.  (Prayer isn’t a problem; that’s “doing something,” and I have to be focused so I don’t miss what God might say.  But no silent meditation for me, thanks.)  Which means that I end up finding things to fill the time, but without the requirements of a job, filling the time can end up meaning looking at funny captions on pictures of cats for two hours at a clip.  And that sort of thing was beginning to happen more and more.

Clearly, I needed to get myself on a schedule.

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An outsider’s look at the 2012 election – August 2011

13 August 2011

If you’re an American, you’d better start getting ready for the 2012 presidential election — after all, it’s only 450-some days away!

The last few days marked the real ramp-up to next year’s race.  Not that things haven’t been happening all along; the campaigning for 2012 started before the 2008 election happened.  But the televised debate among Republican candidates in Ames, Iowa on Thursday, followed by the all-not-that-important Ames straw poll today, is being treated as the “ladies and gentlemen, start your engines” moment of next year’s big race.

I’ve been following the whole megillah a little (as I figure to do through election night and beyond – I minored in poli. sci. in college, and never quite got over it), and I have a few observations on the recent events, such as they are:

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Whatever became of conviction?

9 August 2011

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.  (Proverbs 3:11-12)

Please forgive me if this turns into a sermonette, but it’s something I’ve had on my mind.

A long time back, before my accidental spring/summer break from this blog, I wrote about being convicted by a couple of songs I’d heard consecutively on my MP3 player.  In combination, God used the two tunes to show me that I wasn’t living my life quite as well as He desired me to, mostly because I was often being selfish and doing what I wanted instead of what He wanted.  It’s a moment I think about still, and it causes me to re-examine my actions periodically.

But something happened after I wrote that — I got responses about it (not replies here, but elsewhere) from people I knew.  And the gist of most of them was, “don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re not supposed to be perfect, just relax in God’s love.”

Which isn’t bad advice, per se.  But to me, it did seem to miss a key point.

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