Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012!

A bit early but we have a busy day ahead of us.  We are having a party here for our friends tonight and possibly later, weather and drunkenness permitting, moving it over to one of the local establishments to ring in the official New Year!  In the meantime there is food prep, shopping and cleaning for us to get done.  However you ring in the new year, be safe, happy and, well, Cheers!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Memories Thought Out Loud

My early Christmas memories seem, looking back, pretty wholesome and festive with family, family, family.  When I was young, oh, say single digits up to age 10, it was always a long drive and an overnight stay.  The drive was about 200 miles, filled with car games, fighting with my younger brother and carsickness from my dad's smoking.  (Ironically I would grow up to be quite proficient in the smoking arts.)  I have plenty of memories of having to listen to crappy music and my father's arm flailing wildly into the back seat while he swears and threatens to pull over while my mom wails and cries, trying to stop it all before we have an accident.  After I was 11 we had moved much closer to the relatives-ground-zero, within around 45 miles, so the car trips weren't so bad, relatively speaking.  By then there were 3 of us kids in the back seat, my little sister usually got the 'hump', the middle back seat separating me and my brother and besides, we had seniority for the windows!  I remember always picking the seat behind the driver - see the aforementioned arm flailing wildly, I was more out of reach.

There was always two stops, both my grandparent's houses.  Both lived in the same town, basically my parents' hometown, and near where most of both of the rather large extended families lived.  My mom's side was always a bit more religious.  A bit meaning borderline fanatical.  When we stayed there at times other than Christmas (unless we stayed late enough) we always had to recite the whole damn rosary after dinner.  I do have fond memories of - because we were made to kneel somewhere - kneeling on the staircase with my uncle Art, a young teenager at the time, our fronts out of view while we stealthily read Richie Rich comic books and tried to set speed records of saying a whole 'Hail Mary' ten times when it was our turn.  There was always a large turnout that packed that small house for the Christmas celebration, but it always seemed to run smooth.  Dinner, check, cleanup, check, presents, check, cleanup, check, football, check, and maybe some euchre and seeing who naps first, check and check.  On this side of the family I was the second oldest grandkid and my youngest aunt was less than a year older than I, so you can see the age range and catholic influence there.  Speaking of catholic influence, I do remember having to go to Christmas services and when we were there for overnights when I was younger I believe we went to their church, either on Christmas day or the night before.  When I was a bit older and it was a shorter drive we went to our own church before a day trip to the relatives' town for the holiday.

My other grandparents' house, my dad's side, was a bit smaller, well, if not smaller it seemed like a bigger house.  On this side I was the oldest grandkid.  I had two aunts who were teenagers and they had a pool table downstairs - guess where I liked to be!  Everything ran pretty much as it did at my other grandparents' house, like clockwork, year after year.  All the traditional roles were reinforced, women did the food and dishes and men drank beer, watched football, scratched and napped, year after year.   Looking back from then and up to now, I am glad I have those memories.  I know that I don't see many of my aunts or uncles at all anymore, but with the families I'm from I know I could get the benefit of the doubt from them if ever I needed it.  That's just from the way it was back then.  These days, although both my grandmothers are luckily still around, those big family gatherings have splintered into each family's own gathering with their own kids and grandkids.  And that is as it should be.

When I think back now as I write this, I remember mostly all the good.  All the presents I received, good and bad (read: toys or clothes), and I could start to tell who really gave a shit as I got a bit older.  But I can't ignore the bad memories, either.  The hell car rides, endless waiting, tired crankiness and the yelling and tension that always seemed to  accompany these things, usually on the ride to and from.  I'm not sure if any of this has anything to do with me being agnostic (practically full atheist now) or my disdain for religious, commercial holiday gatherings that seemed to start with my adulthood or not.  I do try to remember the good times more than the obvious bad stuff, but that is selective memory for me.  I'm not sure where I was going with this.  I was inspired into thought by a Diamond Geezer post and I just thought writing it out might help somehow.  Now it's time for bed.  I hope it's not a tough read, I'm not actually a real writer.  Happy Holidays, all.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Have A Holly Jolly One...

...if that's what you like.  I'm enjoying the days off.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Peanuts And A Rare Packer Loss

A couple weeks ago a good friend of mine, Jerome, came over to watch a football game on TV, and he came bearing gifts!  These 4 Peanuts characters played Christmas tunes together wirelessly, two songs each for a total of eight.  The wireless part has each of them joining in with the others' songs, like a little band.  We've had a lot of fun with these since then (Thank you, Jerome!), putting different ones in different rooms and randomly starting them several times a day.  I liked how my mom's husband Dan was as enamored with them as I yesterday during their visit, so after the game today (next paragraph) I looked to see if I could find them online as a last minute gift for them.  Well, they are still available.  But at about 30 bucks each or a set of the four for around a hundred dollars, well, maybe they'll be cheaper next year.   I hope Jerome got them at regular retail early in the season because 30 bucks a pop is outrageous.  Here's what I'm talking about:

(Oh, the Packer Gnome in the middle was also a present from Jerome while I was still laid up last year - he's very good with presents!)

And today the Green Bay Packers lost for the first time in their last 20 games to the Chiefs, 14-19, first loss since December 19, 2010. I'm actually not very upset about it, because at least it should get rid of the extra pressure of being undefeated and we should still get home field advantage for the playoffs handily. Being undefeated is not a goal, being the champion at the end is, and always will be, the goal. An undefeated year is, and should be, mostly a by-product of the original goal of all teams - winning the Superbowl. Hopefully they will learn from this game and start a 5 game winning streak next week, winning a second consecutive Superbowl in Indianapolis.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The First Snow Of The Season

...Arrived in the wee hours of the morning today, much to the dismay of all the weather forecasters in the area.  Just enough to coat everything in about an inch or more of the damn stuff.  I don't particularly enjoy snow.  I don't participate in many outdoor winter activities (if I can help it), I just have to move a lot of it around for the next several months - off the car, off the roof, off the steps and walks and off the driveway.  Grumble, grumble, grumble...

On a brighter note, my mom and her husband Dan came up for lunch today, bearing gifts and buying lunch.  I didn't put up much of a fight for the check making me think later how we expect our parents to take care of certain things from a young age until, well, forever, seemingly.  At least that's how it happened when I grew up.  Hell, they still have more money than me!  Anyway, it was a very nice lunch and visit today and I hope they had a good time as well.

Tomorrow the Packers travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs.  If the Packers win they officially secure the top seed in the division and will play all their playoff games at home (last year all were on the road).  Go Pack Go!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pic Dump 36

Once more, all the pics I deemed worthy to save for a second look dumped here for everyone's viewing pleasure.  Same as always, some may be NSFW, click the pic for original size if different, much more after the break and just... Enjoy!

I thought I could goad a comment from my brother by posting him in his halloween costume on the front of my last Pic Dump.  Maybe he'll have something funny to say now if I remind him of it!  Hey, Kevin - "OH, YEEAAHHH!"   ...and what do your kids want for christmas?

Update:  Well, he did get back to me - just not here. Presents are ordered and on their way. Oh, for some reason he liked the t-shirt above better than his own halloween costume. Hmm, I wOOnder why?

As always many thanks to the fine sites on 'My Favorite Sites' list in the right column!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We're Smelling Roses 2012

Here's an updated version of last year's song celebrating Wisconsin going to the Rose Bowl for the second year in a row.  You can see the original here.   Now we just have to win this time...
On Wisconsin!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dear Santa,

While things are going well enough for us, especially in these times,  and we can afford the things we need, luxuries often elude us.  My beloved Green Bay Packers are having another stock offering.  Though it is just an expensive piece of paper, it is one I would be honored to own for many reasons.  Unfortunately I just don't have that kind of expendable cash.  Please, Santa,  if only I could have this one thing...

Monday, December 5, 2011

United States Of Prison

I've been subscribed to The Amazing Athiest's video page for a while now. I rather enjoy his rants and find myself mostly agreeing with him. I realize it may be the same thing as those outrageous Fox News shows - just the other side of the coin, my side, but I enjoy watching him and I will add him to a list on the right soon. This video caught my attention with the relation of the (failed) war on drugs and the profitability of private company prisons. (See my Drug War Clock in the lower right column.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shopping, Roses and Football

December is here and the shopping season has begun! Although I don't plan to travel this Christmas we still plan on getting gifts for all the nieces and nephews. Hey bro and sis, ideas on what the kids like would be most welcome! Most of my shopping will be on Amazon this year, as it was last year. Who has the patience for all the traffic and crowds at the shops? Not I.

It's the middle of a big football weekend for us here in Wisconsin.  The Badgers won the inaugural Big Ten Championship game last night and will be headed to the Rose Bowl for the second year in a row (video highlights below).  My friend Jerome came over for the game, a very good gut-wrenching game that thankfully they pulled out at the end.  And today the Green Bay Packers travel to New York to face the Giants in bid to extend their record to 12-0 and clinch their division.  It's a nice time to be a sports fan in Wisconsin....

Update: The Packers have now improved to 12-0, 18 straight wins dating to last year including playoffs! Highlights here!