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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5 simple rules for forwarding e-mails — and not ticking your friends off!

6 August 2011

You know how it is.  You open your Internet browser, and where it says “Mail” there’s a blinking light or some kind of notation that indicates something new has arrived.  You click on over, hoping that it’s a response to the resumé you sent out, or news from your kids or grandkids, or even responses to the dating profile you just set up …

… and instead it’s the umpteenth piece of “inspirational” slop from that person at church you barely know, or a dumb joke you first heard back in 1989 — or worse, an URGENT missive about:

  • 9/11 being an inside job that the U.S. government is desperate to cover up.
  • U.S. servicemen being shunned at a restaurant/stop ‘n rob/casino/head shop, that you should therefore boycott.
  • a petition trying to gain 1,000 signatures to let President Obama know that we want Washington to stop ____________ (fill in the blank).
  • this INCREDIBLE picture of some natural disaster that isn’t Photoshopped to a fare-thee-well, really, honest.
  • what Bill Cosby/George Carlin/Andy Rooney had to say about the good old days/patriotism/child rearing/whatever.

And you delete it and wonder why your so-called friends thought cluttering up your inbox with this crap was a good idea.

Well, gather ’round, folks, because you are not alone — I know just how you feel.  I too have had to go to the basement and haul up the shovel to empty out the refuse well-meaning people decided to dump in my inbox.  I’ve even had to set up “bozo filters” to keep some of it away — there are a couple of friends who, if they send me anything with “Fwd:” in the subject line, it goes automatically to Trash.  It hurts, but hey, I didn’t create this situation, I just have to live with it.

But rejoice!  If you know what I’m talking about, rest assured that Dr. Anselmo*  has the solution for you!  I have here in my hot little brain five simple rules that you can pass on to Miss Greta Glurge or Mr. Conrad Conspiracy that will, if followed, nip their penchant for sowing junk e-mail to the four winds in  the bud!  The bud, I tell ya!  Lend me your ears, and I’ll give you the wisdom of the ages, World Wide Web version …

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Periodic Pingback: The love stories of Toy Story

26 January 2011

Once again, time for Periodic Pingback — me passing on to you delectable little hors-d’oeuvre-sized bits of the Internet for your edification and enjoyment.  (My, what big words you use, Ray …)  Believe it or not, this latest morsel ties together the subjects of my last two blog entries: commitment in marriage, and the Academy Awards nominations.

One of the ten nominees for the Best Picture Oscar this year (and a shoo-in to win Best Animated Feature) is Toy Story 3, the conclusion of Pixar’s trilogy starring Woody, Buzz and their clan of loved-on playthings.  If you saw it, you know what a masterwork it was, and how many emotional buttons it pushed.  (Yeah, I got teary-eyed at the end, I admit it.)  But what, you might ask, does it have to do with marriage?

More than you might think.  I don’t know who the new blogger who calls himself “Some Guy on the Net” is in real life, but he posted a piece called “The Love Stories of Toy Story” that is so well-written and insightful that it was actually picked as one of last week’s daily links at, the premier website for film fans.  In it he hits a lot of the notes that I was attempting to hit in my post “The anniversary that wasn’t” … only he did it better than me, and used a much more entertaining jumping-off point.  Check out the full text here, and then maybe go and give your significant other a big hug.  Along with a chorus of Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” …

Periodic Pingback: Louis C.K. on how thankful we SHOULD be

26 November 2010

(Blogger’s note: from time to time, I run into something on the Interwebtenternet that’s too good to not share — but I don’t want to clutter up my freinds’ e-mail inboxes with more forwards.  So I put it here.  I call it Periodic Pingback, and I hope you enjoy it.)

Let’s face it — we are very fortunate to live in the time and place that we do.  Life in the developed world in the early 21st century is filled with so many blessings that our minds can get too boggled to be appropriately thankful.

Well, I know mine can.  In fact, so often the sheer tonnage of goodies can so blind me that I start griping when everything isn’t absolutely perfect.  Which is incredibly ridiculous, if you think about it.  F’rinstance, I have a pipeline into my house that brings me news, live sports, weather reports, full-length movies, games, and a library larger than any in existence a hundred years ago, all at the push of a few buttons.  (You’re reading this on it right now; it’s called the Internet.)  I’ve said to my wife, “how did we ever get anything done without the ‘Net?” at least three times in the last week.  And yet if my DSL modem is disrupted for a minute or two, I go out of my gourd.  How’s that for gratitude?

So to bring the perspective on just how good we have it these days, I invite you to watch this clip of comedian Louis C.K. from an old episode of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” where he goes into several examples of how much better things are now than they used to be.  We may not live in a perfect world (far from it), but I’d tend to say this is the best era to live in that’s existed since Eden.  At least until the next one.  Thank you, God.

Periodic Pingback: Bill James brings the perspective

13 September 2010

(Blogger’s note: Sometimes … aw, you probably know what Periodic Pingback is about by now.  If you don’t, it’s links to other stuff on the Internet, not created by me but that I thought too good to NOT share.  Okay, let’s get on with this bad boy!)

If I had to list my five favorite writers, fiction or non-fiction, I guarantee one of the slots would go to Bill James.  Bill mostly writes about baseball — in fact, he was not only a pioneer in the field of sabermetrics (the statistical analysis of baseball games and players), he coined the term “sabermetrics”!  He’s an incredibly intelligent, erudite, witty author, whose background in sociology gives him an insight into how the sport (and culture in general) works that you could never get from, say, Tim McCarver.  He can be laugh-out-loud funny at times, and can also turn dead serious when the need arises.

And when it comes to the continuing arguments over the legal pursuit of onetime steroid users in baseball (real or imagined), the need has apparently arisen.

I was over at today and ran into Bill’s latest, a careful defense of rule-breaking.  Yes, you read that right.  Bill’s argument is that we need rule-breakers to some extent if a society is to grow, evolve or innovate, and that we imperil the culture if we try to tighten things up too much.  He also points out the need for balance, that we cannot afford to be too lenient any more than we can to be too strict, and that we should weigh how breaking a rule affects society as a whole.  (The example of Martha Stewart going to jail while the guys who brought down Lehman Brothers go free is, to quote Ferris Bueller, “so choice.”)

Anyway, you can read the entire article here.  It won’t make you laugh, or help you with your fantasy team, but it should definitely make you think.

(Also, apropos of very little, I finished chapter 4 of my Iron Man fanfic, Hearts and Souls, this afternoon.  You can read the entire saga so far here.  Didn’t want you to think I wasn’t doing any writing of my own …)

Took a couple days off

1 September 2010

(… with apologies to Huey Lewis & the News …)

Yeah, I been blog-gone since last Friday — for what I think are very good reasons:

  1. I was tired.
  2. I needed to rest.

Both of which will not exactly be news to the regular readers of this space — or to anyone who knows me.  What with all the stressors of the last year-plus, “being tired/needing to rest/not really knowing how to rest” has become a regular theme of my life and writing.  That’s been compounded in the last couple of weeks, as my wife Nina has gone back to work as a Special Education assistant (more on that later this week), and I’ve had to pick up sole care during the days for Sean again.  So my energy level, not high in the first place, took another dive.

Thus, I’m taking another run at learning how to rest.  And, with God’s help, I’m trying a new tack.

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