Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year 2016

We were planning on having a couple people over tonight to ring in the new year but I had to cancel this morning because my wife is not feeling well.  I'm okay with that, I stayed up until the early hours last night watching Wisconsin win the Holiday Bowl over USC.  I'm glad I stayed up, it was a good game that came down right to the end, but I have been pretty tired all day today.  Thankfully it was very slow at work and no one really cared how much got done.  I may still get a second wind tonight and stay awake until midnight, there are still football bowl games on television.  But maybe not and I'm okay with that.

I wrote this last year and can't think of a better way to say it:
Happy New Year to you all.  The ones I read, the ones I love, all my friends and all of you who take the time to read me.  Whether you comment or not, I can see you're there.  Thank you.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Xmas 2015

We enjoyed a holiday evening with my wife's family yesterday.  It was a good holiday gathering, no huge dramas to speak of.  Family photos were taken that I hope turn out real nice.  Brother-in-law is becoming a professional photographer so he had all the equipment - the huge backdrop and the umbrella lights of a pro photo shoot, and he made it work pretty well for the small space it had to happen in.

The food was also pretty good.  Way too much, but par for the course.  They all want to please, and everyone did seem pleased and had their fill of the feast.  Mother-in-law forgot to get the jello dish out for dinner again - which is becoming a family tradition.  I feel like the same thing happened at the last holiday gathering.  I also felt a little bad for my host sister-in-law as she spent all her time cleaning up dishes alone afterwards while we all talked around the table.  I considered helping, but helpers may just have been in her way, anyway.
We are not traveling anywhere else this weekend.  I plan on resting, mostly.  Although I am mostly over the bronchitis I got about 2 weeks ago I still have the headache.  It is better at times and worse at other times, but it has been there for a full fortnight now and I'm, well, sick of it.

The weather is as unseasonably warm as I ever remember for Christmas.   It looks more like late fall right now than winter.  The grass has never been greener at this time of year.  Still, I can't help but think we'll be paying for this milder weather down the road, in one way or another.

Whatever you are doing for the holiday I hope it is what you want to be doing.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How To Comment

I am writing this to clarify how to leave a comment for those that may not know.  Basically there are three main ways to view my posts; desktop, mobile and via email.  You may comment directly from the desktop or mobile site but not the email.  So here is how to leave a comment for me, and registering with Blogger or Google to leave a comment is not required.

From Desktop:
If you are on a desktop when visiting then thank you, you are seeing the post as I meant it to be seen.  Just click on 'comments' at the end of the post.  Sign in if you have an account or, more likely, just choose the Name/URL option, then you can just enter your name and your comment easily.  Anonymous works too, but be sure to leave your name in the comment so I know who it is.

From Mobile:
If you see the mobile site on your device then you must first click on the post you wish to comment on, then click on 'Post a comment' at the end of the post.  Sign in if you have an account or, more likely, just choose the Name/URL option, then you can just enter your name and your comment easily.  Anonymous works too, but be sure to leave your name in the comment so I know who it is.

Email Readers:
If you wish to comment on a post you received via email then you must click the 'Scoakat's Blog' link at the bottom of the email to go to either the desktop or mobile sites, then it is the same as above.

If you don't know what I'm referring to when I say 'email readers,' I have a widget in the right column where you can enter your email address, then confirm in an email that is sent to you and you will get an email every time I post a new article to my website.  No spam, no bullspit.  Emails are sent out by Google two to twenty hours after I post.  I have no control over that.  And if you ever reply to those emails they do not come to me.  Also, keep in mind that you will not see videos in emails, you must visit the site.

So you see, it is not too difficult to respond to me but I realize the choices may be confusing.  Hopefully this helps and we can have a little more interaction here.  Tell me what you think, do you agree or disagree with what I write?  Have anything to add or anything you want to say?  I'm only spelling it out here because I'd love to hear from each and every one of you.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

December This-And-Thats

I never really feel like doing one of these posts other than feeling that I should do one of these posts.  That's not really a bad thing because I'm never disappointed with the result.  There's a reason I say that it's time to start typing and see what comes out, that's just what I do on these This-And-Thats posts!
  • I've been sick and it sucks.  I woke up last Wednesday with that feeling that I may be coming down with something, and by 10 that morning there was no doubt.  I went to work on Thursday and somehow made it all day, but had to call in sick on Friday.  Today, I'm feeling a bit better than the last couple days, but if today was Monday I would have called in again.  I think I should be able to go tomorrow but I don't know how my voice will hold up.  Enough of my whining, on to the next.
  • The weather this December has been very, very mild.  We had one or two snows, but much more rain with temperatures above freezing but for some stretches overnight.  As I write this it is about 60º outside!  I'll take it, but it may be hard on the plants.  Speaking of--
  • The mild weather allowed a December post over at the Garden Blog.  It's just a picture of the garden as it is now.  Probably confused by the weather.
  • It is past time to start looking for gifts for the nieces and nephews.  I try very hard to get things they will really like.  This year I may scale it back a little, though.  We will not be traveling after the fiasco at my Dad's last month.  I've never liked traveling for holiday gatherings much and now I think I'm old enough to not have to do it anymore.  Catholic guilt (from my upbringing - not my beliefs now) has made me do it enough.  Now, I've had enough.
  • The new refrigerator has been absolutely wonderful!  I no longer have to make ice every other day by hand, and Kate has noticed how very much longer fruits and vegetables stay good.  That old fridge may have been older than we originally thought.  Now, with the new fridge upstairs and the new chest freezer downstairs we have enough food storage as we should ever need.
  • I wrote a while back about our frustrations with our bank.  Since then there has been another issue, and now my wife has been without a debit card for maybe a month because of it.  Seems they still had her address as where we lived about 15 years ago, too.  So, after I've been with this bank for, let's see, about 28 years or so we are in the process of transitioning to a new bank.  Of course the old bank doesn't make it as easy as simply being able to transfer the money, but we shall have the movement of our funds wrapped up soon enough.
That's enough for now.  Coming soon I want to write about commenting.  I'd like it if more readers commented, but many of you subscribe by email so may not know how.  Basically you have to go to the actual post on the website and click on comments.  And no, you do not need to register, comment as a guest then you can type in your name and comment.  That's the quick version, but I want to spell it out for website and mobile for everyone yet.  My traffic to comment ratio sucks, people.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Nine Fingered Scoakat

This just made me actually laugh out loud, and why I am posting and writing about it now.  I do feel a new This-And-Thats post coming, but until then...     Thanks Jonco over at B&P!

I've known several 'digitally impaired' people, especially from when I was younger and worked in various construction jobs, and then eventually a truss plant slash lumber yard.  I saw the older guys that were missing partial and even whole fingers.  You couldn't miss it.  Sometimes they had good stories and good humor about it, sometimes not.  I started out in the truss plant as a grunt that worked on a press, swinging a hammer for a living.  And over the next almost decade I learned almost every press, every forklift and every sawyer job that was to be done.  Alas, back injuries and pride did me in at that job.  Pain can provide a very motivating, yet cloudy view.  Regretful, but physically it was a relief and in my best long term interests.  Mentally, I loved that job and I wish I could have done it forever.

Now, I used to know how to use a lot of saws when that was then.  The biggest saws I've run were six bladed beasts over forty feet long and could cut up to three angles on each end of a twenty foot 2 by 10, maybe more, if need be.  Thankfully we never much needed - or wanted - to test it's extremes.  Most cuts were easier and on 2 to 20 foot 2 by 4's, sometimes 2 by 6's.  And there was yet an even a bigger, more advanced saw there that I never did get to run.  I never came close to losing a finger, but I've known a couple people that it has happened to, or had known, one I never saw him again - he never came back to work.  But he had no business running that saw, we all knew he was scared of it.

These days I have what I need for home projects:  a table saw, a circular saw, a jig saw, a hand saw, a pruning saw, all I need is a chain saw - and don't laugh, it would have it's uses for me!  I still have all my fingers.  Maybe my odds would go up because of all the saws I use and have used, but I would like to think experience makes that less likely.

Now watch, I just jinxed myself.


P.S.  My newest toy is a 2 gallon 125 psi air compressor.  I'm not sure how that may help me lose a finger but, hell, watch me be the one to find out!

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Brett Favre is getting his number retired at halftime of the Packers-Bears game at Lambeau Field tonight.  (Hurry up and retire it before he changes his mind again!)  Congratulations and thank you, Brett!  Photo courtesy of ESPN.

Oh, happy Thanksgiving, too.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Latest Listening Pleasure 22 - Arcade

Once again I have reached into the vaults of my memories for my Latest Listening Pleasure.  I wasn't going to write about Arcade as an LLP post, but I have been listening to them often enough lately and enjoying it so much that I even sought out more and have been enjoying that, too, so here they are.

Arcade is a band that was started by Stephen Pearcy from Ratt and Fred Coury from Cinderella back in the early nineties.  I have their debut release on cassette tape in a box somewhere, I'm sure, but even without hearing it since forever I remembered that I really liked that tape and had nothing else new keeping my attention at the moment so I ordered the 1993 self-titled CD off the internet to have it digitally.  It was every bit as enjoyable as I remembered and I listened to it for weeks on end.  Then I started looking for more, and I had already known they had a second album called A/2 released in 1994.  Those songs were on Youtube but the quality wasn't very good.  I didn't want to listen to all the songs like that if I was going to buy it eventually anyway, so I broke down and just bought the CD, used, from Amazon.  The sound quality is not very good on A/2, and I'm guessing they didn't have the same budget as the year before, but the songs are right in the same vein as the first album.  I had read reviews that said it was heavier, they must have meant that there was more bass on the second recording.  It almost sounds like they just made the demos the actual album.  Listen to the link at the end and you will know what I mean.

Below is what is probably the only official video from the band, from 1993 for the song Cry No More.  At least the only official video that I can find.  There are other good songs on that album, though.  Most notably Dancing With The Angels, and Messed Up World.

They even put out a third album, A/3 - Live and Unreleased.  While I am curious - and you know how I love the live stuff - I am hesitant to get this.  All the songs seem to come off the first album, none from the second, but there is a bonus keyboard solo (snore).  I have a feeling it was a last gasp effort to make money off the band before, or right after, they dissolved.

Here is the only complete live song I can find on Youtube, Cry No More, 1993, Osaka, Japan.

So, if you'd like a throwback to the Eighties, from a band that was together over 20 years ago in the Nineties, check them out!  I just like what I like, so Get Off My Back!

Previous LLP Posts...
LLP 1 - Pain
LLP 2 - Nightwish
LLP 3 - Die Antwoord
LLP 4 - Pain part 2
LLP 5 - Andrew Bird
LLP 6 - Nightwish part 2
LLP 7 - Paramore
LLP 8 - Newsted
LLP 9 - U.D.O.
LLP 10 - Nightwish Imaginaerum Movie
LLP 11 - Kiss
LLP 12 - Rick Springfield
LLP 13 - Hyrax
LLP 14 - In This Moment
LLP 15 - Faster Pussycat
LLP 16 - Sebastian Bach
LLP 17 - Cradle Of Thorns
LLP 18 - Amaranthe
LLP 19 - Lindemann
LLP 20 - Halestorm
LLP 21 - Garbage
LLP 22 - Arcade

Friday, November 20, 2015

First Snow of the Season 2015

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Predictions tend toward a mild winter for us here in Wisconsin, but who knows what will happen.  Same as every year, you deal with the hand you're given.  Our first snow of season is here, this picture is from about seven o'clock tonight, give or take.

It could possibly last into the afternoon tomorrow and accumulate multiple inches, a few to a foot, depending on the pattern.  I will update tomorrow if it is a dramatic enough difference.

 I'm starting to feel the annual sense of impending doom - doom meaning winter.  Otherwise, I still hope to mow once more and have a few other plants to compost. And I still haven't cleaned the gutters.  Actually, without our tree anymore and with all the huge winds we've had off and on for weeks, I'm not sure there's even much to clear out.  It all gets done eventually, right?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bataclan Hall and EODM

We all know about the tragic terrorist attacks in France recently.  The biggest attack was at Bataclan Hall, at metal show featuring a band called the Eagles Of Death Metal.  Here is a video of the band onstage and in the middle of a song as the gunshots begin.  The video is not graphic, you can find those on the internet elsewhere if you wish.  But you can see the drummer duck down and a guitarist running off the stage.  Knowing that this is the very beginning seconds of what happened at that concert hall is what makes this video disturbing.  Be warned of that.

The band issued a statement today, I found it here at Blabbermouth.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Early 'Thanksmas'*

My Dad and his wife Pat had a gathering yesterday that they were calling Thanksmas.  They will be leaving for Florida at the end of the month and wanted to share the holidays with their families.  For some reason I felt we should go, my first mistake.  I don't like the holidays.  I don't like to travel.  Hell, I don't even really like my Dad, and I'm more like him than I want to admit.  But I felt we should go because he has had heart trouble this year and he'll be the first to remind you that he's not getting any younger.  Oh, and their Thanksmas celebration was happening during a Packers game, just to add to my personal anxieties.  I call them 'anxieties,' they have also been referred to as 'selfishness.'  Either way I'm not proud of my actions sometimes.

So, fine then, a couple weeks ago I resolved to myself that we would go and agreed to be there.  My plan was to show up shortly before the game, watch the game and socialize with them, and leave immediately following the game.  Over an hour travel each way, but we should get home just before dark.  Perfect, in my mind.  Plenty of time to relax at home on a Sunday night before facing another work week.  Besides, how christmas-y can you get in the middle of November unless you are a retail store?  I was about to find out.  Oh, I stuck to my plan, but, of course, it did not turn out well.

Most of their combined kids and their families were there.  I didn't know all the names, and I didn't really care.  The 'step' siblings became such long after I was an adult out on my own and I have really only met them a handful of times.  My niece was cute, she made it more fun for me by making me play bean bag toss with her before the game then trying to figure out the password and play the games on my phone.  It was a beautiful sunny day, this Ides of November, with temperatures getting up to 60º.  And I was sitting near a christmas tree watching the Packers lose two weeks before Thanksgiving.  I was feeling out of my element, but there was the finish line - the end of the game, which was drawn-out, of course.

When the game ended I said thanks and gotta go but it was not that easy.  I had explained earlier that we had things to do and I wanted to be home by dark, back to my plan.  So after the game I got up to go.  My wife became hugely embarrassed with Pat protesting and me saying hey, that was my plan all along.  We had to stand there awkwardly in front of everyone as she fumbled looking for christmas presents to give us before we left.  At that point I don't look good leaving or agreeing to stay for their games and gift openings.  My intention was not to get gifts in the middle of November or upset my Dad's wife, just leave.  But then I just wanted to disappear myself, I can't blame my wife for being upset with me, my time here was done and I wanted to go.

See, I've always been more comfortable at home.  And similar things have happened to me before.  I explained it to my sister once as having an elastic band attaching me to home.  The farther away and longer I'm gone the more uncomfortable I am.  Especially when it is for - and it usually is - for a holiday gathering.  I stopped liking holidays after, and in some ways because of, my childhood.  We always had to travel then, too.  I guess it all eventually goes back to childhood, right?  I'm the first to admit that I still hold deep resentment from back then that I am trying to ignore now.  I think I've done well with that lately but it is still there and always will be.  Life goes on.

So, am I selfish?  Do I have OCD with anxieties?  A form of agoraphobia?  Or am I just an ass?

Don't answer, I don't want to hear it.  But it's probably some form of all of them to one degree or another.

The agoraphobia thing, suggested by my wife that night, actually hits pretty close to home.  That would also explain why I get so buggy at huge events with thousands of people, too.  I know I've talked about that here before.  Still, I do not have panic attacks, though I do have plenty of anxieties.  So maybe I'm just a nut who needs to be on medication to take the ab from my normal.  I think I should probably look into this more.  But from right here, thank you.

*Updated next day:
One thing I feel was lost in my writing - and editing - is that I do need to offer my apologies to all involved who took offense.  Reading sentences 3 to 7 of the first paragraph and looking back, I feel like I set myself up to fail.  I'm also sorry for that and I'm sorry it happened.  
Okay, enough dirty laundry!  But writing it out did help me consider things more.  Many things.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Hamish and Basil, Leaves

Our two cats enjoying their limited time on the porch before the door stays closed for winter.  Yes, their personalities are scarily reflected in their facial expressions here.  You see our trouble...

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I know I have not written much lately, sorry but not a whole lot has been happening that can be written about here.  The weather has turned, leaves are almost all fallen and we have a lot less that I expected.  Last weekend I mowed, mostly to mulch all the black walnut leaves from neighbor Dave's trees.  They tend to lose their leaves earliest thankfully, so I can usually use the leaves that fall later for mulch.  There was never a shortage before but now, without our big tree in back, we have fewer than I expected from other neighboring trees.  Now I hope to get enough from the front yard for mulching our flowerbeds.  I do not want to use hay, hay does not disappear as easily the next season.

Kinda funny, actually - I'm worried about having too few leaves to rake and mulch this year.  Who'd a thunk it?  Garden post with lots of pics coming soon at the Garden Blog!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Hickory Head Horror Story*

The Hickory Head Hermit a.k.a. Mike Firesmith is a blogger that I like and follow.  A writer who blogs may be a more apt description.  This week he has been posting his annual Hickory Head Horror Story Serialization called Christa and I've been thoroughly enjoying it. I know the finale will be posted tomorrow, but if you have some time it is a fun read, it has drawn me in well!  The whole thing is at his site here, or, for convenience,  I've listed and linked them in order below!

10/24 Christa:  The Beginning
10/25 Christa:  The Trap
10/26 Christa:  To Hide A Murder
10/27 Christa:  In Time
10/28 Christa:  Found
10/29 Christa:  Before The Storm
10/30 Christa:  Blood And Sand
10/31 Christa:  The Dam Breaks

11/2 Christa:  Epilogue


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Latest LIVE Listening Pleasure 21 - Garbage

Garbage had a homecoming of sorts at the Orpheum Theater here in downtown Madison on Sunday night and my wife and I were there to see it.
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The band Garbage gets back to Madison every few years, last time was in 2012.  I did not see them then, the only other time I went to see them they played at the Memorial Coliseum here in Madison.  Thinking back, that must have been in the early 00's.  Of course, they recorded all their early stuff here in Madison at the now defunct Smart Studios (- think Nirvana's 1991 breakthrough album 'Nevermind' - it was recorded there with Butch Vig, Garbage's drummer and overseer, producing).

20151018 013bThe band is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album, Garbage.  It has been recently remastered and released along with many of the b-sides from that era.  I almost ordered it but there wasn't anything new on it, just remastered, and that wasn't enough for me.  I do like Garbage, especially because they are from Madison here, but I'm not fanatical about them and they are not what I normally listen to and these days I pick and choose who I spend my money on.  We paid for two tickets to the show, there's our support.

We arrived about a half hour before showtime to a mostly packed house.  We knew the show had sold out in advance, general admission mostly, and even a few more tickets were sold on the day of show.  Many of the only seats that were left available were behind the sound and light boards.  I figured that we would ride out the first band in the seats then move to the floor for Garbage.  (The first band was not worth remembering, at least for us.)  Well, by the time the first band was done the place had completely filled up so we decided to stay in our seats.  When standing, a camera only slightly obstructed our view.  If we were on the floor it would have been the backs of peoples heads obstructing our view, especially for my shorter wife.  On the plus side, my wife did sometimes watch the video that was being taken of the show on the little screen in front of us by the light board, see picture on the right.  Maybe it was being recorded for DVD release.  Now, that I would buy.

I experimented a little bit at this show.  First, I took more pictures and video at this show than I ever normally would.  I did not know how the video was going to turn out so I wanted at least a few good pictures.  Also, at prior shows that I have recorded songs I was much closer to the stage, within feet of the performance usually.  Up close works great for my little digital camera that I like to use for video, but it doesn't zoom in.  I did figure out that night - and for the first time ever even though I've had this camera for many years - that it will zoom for video but you must first zoom before recording and cannot change the zoom until it is in standby mode again.  Still, knowing that probably won't change my recording habits that much.  When I zoom in the quality and pixels goes down.  I also want to point out that this was probably the brightest show I've seen.  There seemed to be lots more lights on stage pointing out than the other way around.  At times I had to just look away and wait for it to dim.  Really.  Due to that, some scenes the camera just could not capture but for a glare of light.

This first video is for the song 'Kick My Ass.'

I also tried to take a video with my phone, first time trying to take a concert video on my phone and it turned out pretty good!  The zoom sharpness is surprisingly better than my old digital camera, more than I expected.  I still like the camera for when I can get closer, but I'm glad I gave the phone camera a try.  I did miss the end of the song, however.  I've had space issues on my phone lately so I simply ran out of space to record.

Here's the video taken with my phone, 'Only Happy When It Rains.'

It was a good night out and we had each taken Monday off after the show.  It is probably a good thing that we got the tickets months ago because otherwise it would have been tough to just get up off the couch and go.  This concert was only 10 minutes from home in downtown Madison.  In February we have tickets to a Nightwish concert in Milwaukee.  I hate to travel, and I wouldn't for just any band, but it may be my only chance to see this Finnish band live, so I must go.  I must also get a hotel yet!

*Reminder to my email readers, you must visit the site to view videos.  There is a link at the bottom of the email.

**One last update before I post this, apparently the video was broadcast out to Yahoo LiveNation.  You can watch the whole concert in professional multi camera video with quality sound at this link!

Previous LLP Posts...
LLP 1 - Pain
LLP 2 - Nightwish
LLP 3 - Die Antwoord
LLP 4 - Pain part 2
LLP 5 - Andrew Bird
LLP 6 - Nightwish part 2
LLP 7 - Paramore
LLP 8 - Newsted
LLP 9 - U.D.O.
LLP 10 - Nightwish Imaginaerum Movie
LLP 11 - Kiss
LLP 12 - Rick Springfield
LLP 13 - Hyrax
LLP 14 - In This Moment
LLP 15 - Faster Pussycat
LLP 16 - Sebastian Bach
LLP 17 - Cradle Of Thorns
LLP 18 - Amaranthe
LLP 19 - Lindemann
LLP 20 - Halestorm
LLP 21 - Garbage

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

New Fridge!

20151010 019It's almost the middle of October and I haven't posted much of anything lately.  Well, I could do a This-And-Thats post but it would probably be rather short.  I could rant about the Wisconsin Badgers pathetic offense or rave about the undefeated Green Bay Packers, but I'm not a sports writer.  So about all that's left that has happened lately is getting a new refrigerator.  So be it!

We've had the fridge ordered for about a month now, waiting for it to be in stock and delivered.  The old fridge was, well, old and was starting to have some issues.  We could have called a repair man and possibly have gotten it fixed, but ultimately decided now was the time to upgrade.  We got exactly what my wife wanted; a black french door fridge with the freezer drawer on the bottom - and an ice maker for me!  We had the plumber out last week to install a water line for the ice maker since the old one didn't have that luxury.

We had delivery scheduled for Saturday and got the call on Friday evening that the refrigerator would be delivered between 4 and 6 pm.  The next day we were at the Harmony Bar and Grill for a late lunch and when we were finished, around 1:30 we got the call that they would be there in about 20 minutes.  I know they are always early, but they made some good time that day (and he told me later we were their last delivery).  We scurried home quickly and what happens first thing but the spring on the garage door breaks!  Spend some money and then have to spend more money, my luck!  Anyway, we got the fridge emptied into coolers before they arrived.  They had the old one out and the new one in and set up and were gone by the time the football game started at 2:30.  Perfect!

Cosmetically, the new LG fridge matches the Kenmore dishwasher very well, about exact.  But now, well, I saw my wife standing in the kitchen the other night and so I asked her casually if she was looking at the new refrigerator.  No, she said, she was looking at the old stove.  Gasp!  Not yet, not yet!  This fridge was not cheap, replacing the stove can wait for a while, quite a while, we have other big things like a new roof to think about next year.

20151012 004And tomorrow the garage door guy will be out to fix the spring so I can use the big door again.  I do know it is something I could most likely do myself, but I never have and when you get that spring wound it's got lots of scary power.  Yeah, I'll just let the pro do it.

A side by side comparison of the old and new fridge is after the break, if you're interested.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Garden Blog Updates

I realized that I have not posted here in a bit, but things have been busy at work and nothing exceptional has happened otherwise.  I did post a pictorial tour of the plants in our yard over at the garden blog yesterday.  And my lovely wife posted over there today.

My wife has a different view than I and has been adding bits of what she has prepared with the small harvest we get from our garden.  You should head on over there and read her posts, leave her an encouraging comment, too!

Our garden blog is linked in the right column, or click here!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Craft Brew Dinner #5

It has been a busy week, but finally I can write about this past Monday night when we attended another Heritage Series Craft Brew Dinner at Dexter's Pub.  We have grown from just my wife and I, to us plus my friend Ted, to us and Ted plus his friend, to us and Ted and SteveBob and another couple, Josh and Casey.  We got our half a dozen seats about a month ago, maybe 2 days after seats became available, and from what I understand it sold out all 20 available seats just a day or so later - quicker than usual, word must be getting out.

20150921_195646I don't want to spend a whole lot of time on it, but it was not the best dinner in this series that we've attended.  The rep for Deschutes Brewery was a likable guy who had the knowledge of the brewery but had bad timing for his between course talks.  Normally the waitresses have a routine; serve the featured beer, serve the course, remove plates and glasses as finished, and repeat for all 5 or 6 courses.  The rep has everyone's attention when the featured beer is being served, not when everybody gets the paired course of food.  There was some good swag included - pint glass, can/bottle coolie, sticker and what is a wide rubber band with their name printed on it that I think they want to be a wristband - I didn't say it was all good swag.

Their beers were kind of a letdown for me, though.  They didn't suck, but nothing stood out.  Many ales, one bitter, at least none of my least favorite, the perfumey-tasting IPAs.

In keeping up with what I started doing at dinner #1, there is a staged photo of beer, dessert and menu here.  The menu was bigger this time so you can't read it all, but you get the gist.

To cut to the chase, the biggest disappointment of the night came when half of our party, my wife and I included, got the last three of the second course served from the kitchen.  It was a "Volcano" pork sandwich.  While all others got the heat, it was just a pork sandwich for us three.  They must have run out of the jalapeno jelly for the last three sandwiches.  We had absolutely no spice.  The pork tasted good but for us there was nothing "Volcano" about it.  Plus, one had no little crispy onions and there were complaints of fattiness in some sandwiches.  They sold only 20 seats yet seem to have run out of some things when serving.  Makes me wonder if that happened to others that happened to get the last dishes out of the kitchen for a course.

For now, the next scheduled dinner is with Rogue Brewing Company, and we have not heard good things about their beers from our friends that know more about that kind of thing.  And the menu is, well, meh.  We've attended four in a row and after this one I think we will be skipping the next but we will surely keep an eye on future dinners, still.  Thanks, Nick!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Firepit And Basement Stands

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We had a firepit on Saturday night, our first one of the year.  We had planned a firepit party twice in the last couple of months but both times turned out to be among the hottest days of the year.  We still had the party but we never lit a fire,  we just stayed inside in the air conditioning.  Now that Fall is here - or will be in a day or two - we should have better weather for it.

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With friends over I had the help I needed to get the washer and dryer into place on the new stand. The freezer is already on it's little stand, left.  If you take a look you can see how I also have the metal shelves up on wood and the bottom shelves painted with the same mold and mildew proof paint.  We've not had any water in the basement in quite some time now, and when we do it just trickles to the drain, but it has been damp enough down there for me to raise, replace and paint the bottom shelves after mold had grown on the bottom side a couple years ago.

20150922 005The washer/dryer stand is pretty cool.  It's only 12 inches high but makes a world of difference getting laundry in and out - or will.  I've been busy (okay - lazy on Sunday, but that's what Sundays are for!) since then so I finally got them balanced and hooked up again tonight.  Essentially, the stand doubles the height of the opening from when they were on the floor.  And that means a lot when you have a back like mine, but I still keep an old office chair down there so I don't bend so much.

Last night we went to another Heritage Series Craft Brew Dinner at Dexter's Pub.  This time we had 6 in our group.  It was fun but I do have my complaints.  I'll write about it later, I've got stuff to do tonight other than more writing so that will probably be my next post.  See ya then!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Birthday This-And-Thats

Yes, today is my birthday.  I will forever get to hear 9/11 tributes and remembrances for the rest of my life on my birthday, Patriot Day.  This date has become defined by the events of 14 years ago.  It is one of those dates when you ask people where they were they can tell you exactly how that day was for them.  I may have told my story here, I'd have to check.  If not then I'll tell it on this day some year in the future, I'm sure.  I've been otherwise busy lately, so I probably have other stuff to say today.  Time to start typing and find out what it is!
  • I've not heard anything back from the bank on my request for compensation for what we went through the other day.  I'm sure I won't.  I'm glad they are trying to look out for us, but why were we not notified immediately when they put a hold on our account?  That is the big question.  Turns out, essentially they are always suspicious about purchases from this large retail giant's website.  The bigger the money the bigger the flag.  No matter how much fraud happens on that retail outlet's web store, why were we not notified right away when they put a hold on our account?  My wife had to go without lunch that day and day one of my vacation was delayed by almost 3 frustrating hours because their system was down, lucky us.  What if I had already gone out to lunch and tried to run errands before my wife texted me that her card was denied?  It is always embarrassing if that happens - and rarely is it ever justified for anyone you see it happen to.  If you didn't have the money you'd know it, or most would, I would hope.
  • The basement stands that I built earlier this week have been painted, two coats of mold and mildew proof paint, and are down in the basement.  The freezer stand was (relatively) easier for me to get in place under the freezer but the washer/dryer stand will have to wait for help.  I'll try to get a few friends over soon to help get the washer and dryer on top of the stand, then I will share pics.  It's gonna be pretty neat.
  • I've also managed to get several more projects crossed off my list the past couple days.  Most notably, I got all the edging done along the front sidewalk, all that I will do this season - I don't want to put any more of that sod in the compost bin this year (I don't think the walks have been edged in 30 years!).  I've started cutting back, and in a few cases removing, some plants for fall.  I also built and installed a new gate for the garden out of leftover lumber to replace the old gate that was sticking and getting hard to open.  Check, check, and check.  And there's still plenty more on my to-do list for later.  There always is, right?
  • I must admit that lately I have peeked at "Sammi's" farcebook page once or twice since I posted about her.  And I am feeling a lot better about the situation now.  She mostly re-posts the usual drivel that comes from there, but she has also made it a point to complain recently about having a toothache but no insurance and how she had to call the police on her roommate for stealing her laptop.  This woman is older than me yet she seems to have regressed since I have known her.  Not really the type of friend I want to have now, anyway.  Bullet dodged.  Now I worry because I gave her my phone number and this blog address.
Well, it has been a restful yet productive week off for me.  This weekend brings football with the Badgers at 11 on Saturday and the Packers at noon on Sunday.  Yes, that means Summer is almost over so we must enjoy what is left of it .  The rest of this weekend is mostly my own.  We do look forward to seeing some friends tomorrow night for an evening out, and I hope for something nice with my wife and I, but come Monday it is a new week with a new mindset for me.  Back to the grind, so they say...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Basement Stands and Poor Banking

20150907 022I enjoy those days spent working on a project in the garage for hours at a time.  Playing music and making sawdust are always fun, but the accomplishment of creation is nice, too.  I had one of those days yesterday, creating a stand for the washer and dryer and also a small platform for the freezer.  We have not had water in the basement for quite some time, and when we have had water it just runs toward the drain so this may not be necessary for flooding, but why take a chance?  And the washer/dryer stand will also lessen the bending.

20150907 020The washer/dryer stand assembled almost exactly as I had figured in my head and crude drawings.  Once I figure out the dimensions the length of the pieces falls right into place.  I started by cutting the 4x4 legs to an approximate length then pulled out the table saw to help get flat ends.  Well, I got the table saw out but the blade would not raise.  I tried taking it apart but could not find the problem to fix.  This is probably one of the cheapest table saws available, I got good use out of it over the past few years.  I saved the blade but the rest is now junk.  I made a quick dash to my favorite local DIY center but I did not want the same cheap one, the next step up only the floor model was to be had, then they just got pricier.  After considering how little I would need it for this project, I left without a purchase and made do with the circular saw and a steady hand - very well, too.  Still, with my wife's permission I just may get another table saw by the end of the week.

Next up is painting.  I had hoped to get started on it today, but two things are holding me back.  The terrible humidity and our bank.  We bought a refrigerator online a few days ago and our bank's security has flagged it and put a hold on our accounts.  My wife texted me from work today that her card was denied so I called.  They told me that the bank's security computers are down at the moment so they can't help me.  My wife can't get lunch at work and I can't go out for errands and lunch after fasting since last night so I could have blood tests today.  I am very hungry and quite annoyed right now.

Since writing the above it has now been resolved and I did go out and get a bite to eat.  I am still upset with our bank, however.  I am now off to start painting what you see in the pictures.

More pictures after the break!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Local Road Paint*

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*Updated 9/7, click 'Read More' at the end!

While we approve of and support most all local community and neighborhood projects we are not usually directly involved.  But we do appreciate our neighbors' efforts in bringing the community spirit to our neighborhood.  I noted long ago how our neighborhood seemed like one in transition from older, long-time residents to younger couples with growing families.  It has become quite like that but they are also very active with the community and each other to improve the place we all share.  How can we not like that?  My wife and I do not have kids and are otherwise pretty private so while we do support neighborhood and community projects and charities it is mostly with moral and sometimes financial support.  That being said, our neighborhood created a beautiful thing yesterday while I was trimming trees - as told in the last post.

20150905 021The road was closed in front of our house yesterday as many members of the greater neighborhood got together and painted the street.  It even made the local news and papers today because painting a street is actually very unusual.  This has been a couple years in the making, from individuals getting the idea in their heads and sharing with others, then getting our alderman to introduce a law to allow streets to be painted, to getting a design approved - it is abstract as no symbols or words are allowed - and actually receiving a city grant to help facilitate it happening.  I think we have some active and motivated younger families in this neighborhood and we are very happy and appreciative to benefit from them and their work.

20150905 024I talked to a few of the neighbors as we were in and out that morning, and waved as I carried loads of branches to the curb.  I actually would not have minded helping with the painting yesterday afternoon but for my normal physical deficiencies that acted up after the tree stuff.  I don't feel too bad, all those young dads on the street are younger and more fit than me!  When I was finished with all my trimming, neighbor Dave and I did stroll down to the corner to view their progress and visit for a bit.  They were down there until almost dark last night painting, eating, socializing and cleaning up.  Today, with the road still closed off, they have been having fun with a kiddie pool and squirt guns and kids all over the road.

Seems like a nice bit of fun and I'm happy we live here and now.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Even MORE Free Firewood

I had noticed that the neighbor across the back fence has been neglecting his trees.  Normally I wouldn't care, but it had started to affect our yard.  Yes, the crab apples falling every year are a big pain - I probably put close to 3 gallons of them in the compost bin so far this year - but now vines have been spreading through the branches and into our bushes.  I had been looking for this neighbor to be outside for a while now so I could discuss his trees with him, but I could not wait any longer and had to hack away.  And hack away I did.  If it crossed the fence I was looking to cut it down.

20150905 012bIn the southeast corner, left, there is a small tree across the fence and behind the neighbor's garage that has been growing wildly, and vines have been reaching out and getting into our lilacs.  I trimmed that rather easily but did not go over the fence line.  Our lilac is close so I will have to keep an eye on it.  There's a couple feet now between them so hopefully no vines shall cross but I know they will try.

20150905 014The southwest corner above the compost bin was a different story.  I've watched that crab apple tree grow up into the phone lines and now get covered in vines.  The vines are actually killing the half of the tree on his side yet nothing has been done to stop it.  Compounding the issue is another behind-the-owner's-garage tree that is growing out of control kitty corner behind the compost bin.  Between them they created a vine highway into our burning bush that I have been trying to get back into shape since being allowed to overgrow before we bought the house and since it almost completely died in the drought of 2012.  I must have pulled a couple hundred feet of vines down and you can still see them hanging from the trees.  As a nice side effect, the area is much more open back there, no longer under an unwanted canopy.

20150905 03120150905 025So after about a gallon of sweat on this hot and humid day what is left is a big pile of neatly stacked branches out front and even more free firewood for me.  In the picture the two on the right are from my neighbor's branches that fell a week or two ago, the rest are from today.  Not a lot of big stuff but the smaller stuff burns, too.  Probably at least 40 bucks of wood there if you bought it at a store, chopped and cut.  Oh, and many thanks to neighbor Dave who let me borrow his pole saw today.

20150905 003bI also finished painting the last bit of the foundation this morning.  We had been working on it on and off all Summer now, around the weekends and the weather.  The new paint is only in the lower right of this picture, for a before and after.  The missing paint came off when I power washed it.  Now, black as Swedish Death Metal, it matches the garage trim and window trim much better.

Boy, it feels good to finally get a couple of big things crossed off my lengthy to-do list.  This next week may as well be called 'Project Week' for me.  I have lots planned on my last full week off of the year.  I'm sure I'll be posting about much of it here.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

More Free Firewood

This is the carnage we woke up to this morning.  Sometime during the night a branch fell, making a small mess and a hole in the lawn.
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Although we had our big old silver maple removed this past Spring, there are still lots of big trees nearby.  It's nice to live in an old neighborhood with large trees and tree-lined streets.  But trees grow up and gravity pulls down.  My neighbor lost a bigger branch last week.  The larger trunks of it are still out by his shed.  I've got a feeling he's going to ask me if I'd like it for firewood, and if so I will take it.  You wouldn't believe the price of a small bundle of wood at the stores around here, that's why I save all this free wood.  I just hope I'm never pulling some out of my roof.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I Dare You...

I Dare You To Watch This Entire Video

Haha, reminded me of this site:  Do Nothing For 2 Minutes

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Latest Listening Pleasure 20 - Halestorm

I used to brush off Halestorm and Lzzy Hale as radio rock, not to be taken seriously.  I didn't like the look - I felt she was trying too hard to be girly, and I didn't care much for the sound - it seemed too run of the mill, poppy rock to appeal to me.  Until I finally got a copy of their latest album, Into the Wild Life.  They've had, I believe, 5 'hit' singles, many off this album.  The latest, Amen, was what got me to finally listen to the full record.

Yes, I posted the official video above, but I've been more a fan of watching their live stuff on Youtube, as I always am.  She belts it out with the best of singers.  You can hear it on the album but it impressed me more seeing it in live videos.  That is what drew me to them most, her voice on these recent songs.  Of course I have gone back to their earlier stuff to see if I had been missing anything, but no, I had not really missed anything.  Like I mentioned, I did not like the look or sound of Halestorm before this album (okay, except for maybe one or two songs).  And actually, the old man in me doesn't care for the 'Lzzy' without an 'i.' But I do like that she has a more natural look now and the band seems to have a lot of fun on stage.  They have talked about how recording this album was different and heavier than their earlier stuff, and I would have to agree.  I have the album version with 16 songs and most of the songs are very strong, indeed.  I would not be surprised if they get a few more singles off this album.  Of course, that could lead to overexposure and burnout.  But I don't listen to radio often - what do I know?

I didn't plan on Halestorm as my newest LLP post, but that is how it goes.  I can't really plan on the next thing that hits my ears sideways like this did, but I will roll with it and enjoy the ride until the next Latest Listening Pleasure comes along.  This next song, I Like It Heavy, may be my favorite off the latest album.  Here they are doing that song live in London earlier this month:

And I know you may not even play the singles I posted so I will just link to this; a full Halestorm concert from Atlanta earlier this year.  If you like them as I have recently then you will enjoy this show.

*I've had more email readers recently.  This is to remind them that videos do not show in the email, you must click the link at the bottom of the email to go to the actual site to see the videos.

Previous LLP Posts...
LLP 1 - Pain
LLP 2 - Nightwish
LLP 3 - Die Antwoord
LLP 4 - Pain part 2
LLP 5 - Andrew Bird
LLP 6 - Nightwish part 2
LLP 7 - Paramore
LLP 8 - Newsted
LLP 9 - U.D.O.
LLP 10 - Nightwish Imaginaerum Movie
LLP 11 - Kiss
LLP 12 - Rick Springfield
LLP 13 - Hyrax
LLP 14 - In This Moment
LLP 15 - Faster Pussycat
LLP 16 - Sebastian Bach
LLP 17 - Cradle Of Thorns
LLP 18 - Amaranthe
LLP 19 - Lindemann
LLP 20 - Halestorm

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Friend Then, NOT Friend Now

So far this month my posts have been about looking back into the past, seeing old friends and the class reunion.  Turns out that I'm not done yet, I have one more tale to write of someone I used to know.  For the sake of this writing, her name is Sammi.

Sammi and I became friends around 1991 or 1992.  We had known each other a bit from mutual friends and from hanging out at the metal bar in town.  I had recently broken up with my girlfriend, a hairstylist, and needed someone to do my hair.  Sammi was a hairstylist.  I got an appointment and had my hair trimmed with her.  Turned out it was her last of the day so we wound up going to get food or a drink or something.  From then on we just became great friends, best friends.  We started doing everything together.  No hanky-panky at all, just friendship.  We each had short term partners come and go but we always remained friends.  We even had to start telling people we were brother and sister so they would get it - that nothing was going on between us.

bobbi blackedoutI can't recall the exact timeline of things back then, Sammi and I drank a lot.  But she wound up getting married around the same time I started dating my wife now.  My wife was my date for the wedding.  Around that time or shortly before is when we started being not so close as before.  And it was perfectly understandable.  We were both growing older and involved with other people.  We remained in touch, then she got a divorce after about a year or two.  We had been in touch less and less and then one day my number for her didn't work anymore.  Suddenly I had no way to reach my best friend of the early and mid nineties.  And it remained that way for somewhere around 16 or 18 years.  Until 3 weeks ago.

See, Sammi also attended my other friends' wedding that I referred to a couple posts ago as another friend's date.  When I was going through those pictures I was again reminded of her and mentioned her to my wife.  So my wife looked for her on farcebook - and found her!

I have looked for Sammi on and off over the years with no success, and now there she was on my wife's phone.  My wife sent her a message that day.  We waited a week with no response so I wrote up a short note with my contact information and had my wife paste it in a message to Sammi.  Again, we waited a week with no response.  So yesterday I again composed a short note, expressing my confusion and hurt but I would respect her wishes.  And again I had my wife send it to Sammi.  So that's where it stands.
BFB Capture
Or actually, that is where it stood.  I just took the liberty of glancing at farcebook under my wife's account on the off chance Sammi replied.  There was no reply so I glanced at Sammi's page and saw this, the screenshot on the right, posted a few hours after I had my wife send my last note.  Nice big 'YUP' right there.  I don't know why she feels that way.  I didn't think we were ever on bad terms.  I'm just, at a loss for words, so there will be no more words.  I hope we never meet face to face again, now.  Wouldn't that be awkward?

A long time ago I lost touch with a friend, but now I have truly lost that friend.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

HS Reunion Recap

Yes, well, good thing I went in with low expectations.  Actually that is incorrect, I went in with no expectations.  Either way, I was not disappointed.

Of what I'm guessing was 120-130 graduates, there were around 20 in attendance:

The core group should not have come as a surprise if I would have really considered.  It was the jocks and the cheerleaders, of course.  They did all seem nice enough - and I recognized many, but not most.  And that was the same for me, few recognized me, most not.  But everyone was very cordial to me and my wife.  It did kind of seem like many of these people were still friends and had seen each other at least somewhat recently.  Well, we had made the trip so I felt I should also make the effort, but, um, do you know that feeling when your talking to someone who is just... elsewhere?  Someone who is trying to be nice but is just not interested?  I got that a few times.  And I can't say I blame them because I may have been that way, too.  At least everyone's cordiality recognized the effort made by the other.  But when it comes down to it, I had barely talked to most of these attendees in high school, we don't have much to discuss now.  At least at not this time and place.  Never rule out paths crossing.

The co-valedictorian (the other co- is deceased, I believe) and the salutatorian were there.  The former and spouse also were the most likely to tell you every detail about who they've worked for and where they've lived and every intimate detail you never asked about.  I had to extricate myself from her and her spouse's one-sided conversations first, then once somewhat established elsewhere go back in and rescue my wife from their never ending conversation-about-themselves tag team.  My wife was a sport about it.  The latter was rather nicer, and easier to deal with, but he still had his agenda.  He had to let me know things I didn't ask, dropping company names and cities.  But I was actually more comfortable with him than others there.

And then there were a few guys that seemed like regular dudes.  Given time and a different atmosphere we would probably get on well and do what guys do.  That would also have to include my friend Gary, that I enjoyed seeing last week.  It was nice to see him once more while he was here in Wisconsin.

The girl who organized the event is a grade younger.  Her sister is in my class, though.  She knew my Mom and praised her for something or other (I was still trying to figure out who the hell she was!).  Gary did tell me some about it earlier in the week, and showed me pics from farcebook, but I still had a hard time wrapping my brain around the long forgotten names and the faces that went with them. The organizer also knew a good friend of my Mom's who, I guess, just happened to be dining at the restaurant.  She told me to say 'hi' to my Mom but I forgot her name.  One of your Rah-Rah Sisters, Mom, and she was tiny.  There you go.

So that was that and off we went early, I think the first to leave.  (When we left the DJ was playing to an empty private room, poor guy.  Still gets paid though.  After eating we had all moved out to the bar area.)  We never intended to stay too late in the evening, I always like to get home sooner than later.  Though I'm sure others who had rooms may have had fun for a few more hours.  That could have been interesting, staying late and watching all loosen up with the refreshments!  On the other hand, I was glad to get home and stay removed from that part of my life.

On a final note - Yes, it has been pointed out to me how my hair looks much the same in the then and now pictures in the last post.   I even thought it kinda odd/funny.  But since then I have cut it all off - twice - and had other, if transitional, looks.  Everything comes full circle, and I do like my hair long.

So, that's that, then.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Friend Then, Friend Now

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Although it did not work out last Saturday, my friend Gary was able to come up on Wednesday evening for a visit.  It was great to see him, it had been a long time!  Probably more than 10 years.  It was kind of last minute, yet expected.  I called him from work that morning and he stopped by shortly after I got home from work.  I introduced him to sour beer, we went up to the MaltHouse for another, came back and ordered food,  and just visited.  He's had a hell of time this past year and more - I had mentioned that he lost his lovely wife - but he seems like he is doing well.  We didn't run out of things to talk about but I did notice us get quiet once when the TV was on so we moved to the computer and played with music files.  He stayed the night so we had filled the old air mattress for him, and he left the next morning when I had to go to work.  It seemed to go by so fast, but I will see him again tonight at the class reunion before he goes back to Texas on Monday.

Mike, Me and Gary
Since Wednesday I've dug out some old pictures, trying to find old pictures of me and him, and I also dug out my old yearbooks to remind myself who the heck was in my class.  I went through the yearbook for a while this morning.  Wow.  Before looking I may have been able to bring about a third of the classmates to mind even if I couldn't remember the name.  Looking at the yearbook reminded me of people that I have not ever thought about in 30 years.  I guess I'll find out how many will be there tonight.  I foresee many, many re-introductions.

1993, Gary's Wedding.  His brother Greg on right.
In the old pictures here (and I can't believe I'm actually posting them) there is a third, our good friend Mike.  Mike is in Michigan now.  The three of us did lots together, especially the last year of high school, and kept in touch for a long time after high school.  For the most part we have always been in touch, but it has been tough the last 10 years.  They've been married, raising kids, and making a living and our paths have led in different directions a bit.  We're still in touch now, that's what matters.

Very early 90's at the Black Bear Lounge.  Figured out who the ham was yet?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Old Friends And Classmates

This has been one of those Summer weekends that I'll wish I had back come October or November.  It is hot and sunny and I have been pretty lazy yesterday and today.  I did get a couple small projects done, then headed straight back in to the air conditioning.  When I'm running out of time outside before the snowfall this Winter I'll wish I had this time back, but rest and relaxation is important, too!

An old high school friend, Gary, came back to the area from several states away this week.  He has a family reunion, some business and personal matters to attend to and then our class reunion is next weekend.  We originally planned for him to come by yesterday afternoon and spend the night last night but plans changed, and understandably so.  I've seen him only a couple times in the last 20 years and am looking forward to seeing him again.  Unfortunately, he lost his lovely wife of over 20 years late last year so he has some things to take care of while he's in Wisconsin.   I know I will see him at the reunion but hopefully we can get together some evening this week. I think it would be nice to spend some personal time together catching up before dealing with old high school classmates.

We also have a classmate/old friend, Lane, that lives right here in Madison that I am not normally in touch with.  Actually, we may have bumped into each other once or twice but other than that he's never returned my calls or emails whenever I happened  to reach out to him.  I called him from work one day last week to once again let him know that Gary would be in town and to try to get the three of us together.  Gary was better friends with him than I in high school and was hoping to see him, too, so I had been trying to facilitate and had called and emailed Lane with no response.  When I left a message this time I ended by saying that "you never respond when I try to contact you so I'm not calling again."  Then I deleted his number and email from my phone.  Guess who called later that night?  Oh, it was good to talk to him finally, and I will try to get us all together this week, but I'm pretty much done with him for good after this.  No response - especially repeatedly - is disrespect, in my book.

So next weekend is the 30th class reunion.  As I've mentioned, I have never been to a reunion of my class.  Most all of those I graduated with I have not seen since - and haven't missed.  So, why am I going?  Well, I already paid the fifty bucks.  And it has been 30 years now.  I did not grow up with these people, having moved to town for the seventh grade, and I've always felt like an outsider with them.  I expect I will feel much the same at the reunion, but I don't have anything more than that 50 bucks and my time next weekend invested in this.  I will go, smile a lot (hopefully genuinely), shake a lot of hands and make it back home long before I turn into a pumpkin.  So, besides wanting to see Gary, I guess I am going for the novelty of the occasion.  My expectations are purposely low so I shall not be disappointed.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

AtwoodFest 2015!


20150725 00420150725 001My wife and I made the 15 minute walk down to AtwoodFest this afternoon for some food, music and festivities.  We didn't stay as long as we did last year, but it was a nice walk on a hot Summer day to a festive atmosphere.  Sure, our feet hurt when we got back, so of course we resolved to walk more, especially to this neighborhood of quality local businesses.  There are several nice restaurants, bar and grills, chocolate shops, art galleries and other eclectic offerings in this area.  Oh, and can't forget the ice cream shop!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Craft Brew Dinner #4

Last night was Dexter's Pub's Heritage Series Craft Brew Dinner number 6, #2 was canceled and #3 we skipped.  This month's craft brewery was the local Capital Brewery, from nearby Middleton, Wisconsin.  Six courses of good beer and food!  Surprisingly, less seats were sold for this dinner - sixteen - than the usual 20 spots available.  That may be because the brewery was very local and people are already familiar, or just because it is Summer and there are other things to do.  No matter, we had a good time.  Once again we were joined by my friend Ted, a craft beer connoisseur - especially compared to me.

20150720_200201The first beer I was very familiar with because it was the quarter barrel we got for our party a month or two ago, Capital Amber.  Ambers are good for a middle-of-the-road type beer.  There was also an IPA for one course.  I've said it before but I just don't like the perfume-y smell and taste of IPAs and unfortunately they are the popular thing now, I blame the hipsters.  At least the hipsters that have graduated from - gag - Pabst Blue Ribbon.  Pabst was a cheap beer that my dad drank when I was a kid, and it's still cheap but somehow super popular again.  And then there was also what seems to be a mandatory coffee flavored beer.  Again, I'm not a fan, but I was in the minority.  I've never been a coffee drinker because I hate the taste and putting it in beer does not change that for me.  There were no sour beers presented last night, I don't think Capital even makes one.  My wife and I have been paying attention and seeking them out recently.  Who knew we'd like the sour beers, but we do.  No, whiskey, I have not forgotten about you...

The food was a good six courses, four of which I could have considered a dessert.  First the popcorn with infused garlic scape butter was the welcome course.  The next course was a spinach salad with feta, candied pecans, strawberries and a sweet lemon cilantro vinaigrette made with the accompanying beer, a golden lager.  This salad was maybe my favorite part of the meal, I wish they would have it on the regular menu.  The fourth course was a chilled cherry soup with creme fraiche and slivered almonds.  Again, very sweet, almost too much so for a 'soup.'  And finally the actual dessert, raspberry cream puffs.  So four of the six courses appealed to my sweet tooth nicely.  The other courses, pepperjack cheese curds and the main course were very good, too.  The main course was bourbon and bbq glazed slow-roasted ribs with Wisconsin street corn and corn muffins with honey butter.  It makes me hungry again just thinking about the meal!

All in all, we had a very good time.  The representative for Capital Brewery was actually one of the local female brewmasters that had been featured last month during Madison's Craft Beer Week.  She discussed some history of the brewery as well as it's expansion, ideas for new beers and how she came up with some of the names. We'd probably rank it as the second best of the four we attended.  We still like the first time best, but maybe because it was the first time - and my wife's birthday.  Again it was a lot of food and we were stuffed when we left.  Not a complaint, mind you.  In fact, there's still some leftover ribs and a corn muffin in the refrigerator that will not see tomorrow!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

What's Your Total?

What's your total of this, well, what looks like a stupid-decision-of-your-youth and other random question poll.  It made me laugh as I found my total over at Bits & Pieces, thanks Jonco!

Here's my answers:
1.)  10
2.)  10
3.)  0, but I'd like half points.
4.)  10
5.)  20
6.)  20
7.)  0
8.)  20
9.)  10 - Ring doorbell and run, I had to look it up!
10.)  10
11.)  30
12.)  0
13.)  0
14.)  10
15.)  20
16.)  0
17.)  0
18.)  0
19.)  10
20.)  30

I scored 210/350, no real meaning in that, though.  Still, it's late and this has entertained me enough to type all this out.  So?  What's your number?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

July This and Thats

Happy July!  I hope everyone enjoyed their 3 day weekend, here in the states anyway.  I've been feeling like I should post lately but there is nothing big to write about.  So this is another one of those start-typing-and-see-what-comes-out posts.
  • We had no plans for this holiday weekend other that some projects around the house.  Things did come up, like my sister in law wanting to see her dad so she calls my wife to fetch him for her for a visit.  We see him a lot, if she wants to see him she should go get him herself, I think.  Also, Kate helped her friend, Terry, clean up her boat - not go out on the lake, just clean it up while it is docked at the marina.  It has got to be a sin to own a nice pontoon boat, pay to store it on the water, and rarely, if ever, use it.  Sigh.
  • My plans for this holiday weekend were to cross things off my list, and I did pretty good.  I got the garage power-washed, also cleaned some foundation which we got painted yesterday morning.  It looks a whole lot better and the fresh black matches the windows better.  Now only 3 more sides of the house to go!  I also got some sidewalk edging done, put gutter covers on the porch (free after rebate!), mowed, removed more irises, and later today I want to fertilize the lawn since rain is expected tomorrow evening.  Aside from fertilizing, I am now done for the weekend.  My feet hurt.  A lot.
  • I've talked about getting bicycles, but we have not yet.  I still want to because I feel we would use them more often to get out to local places that we like to visit.  But in actuality that would probably be once a week in the summer time.  It would be nice but not the highest priority when we think about it.  Meanwhile, I have started getting on the exercise bike downstairs 3 times a week to start trying to get into better shape.  There's a great ice cream shop that opened last year that is less than a ten minute bike ride away, only 15-20 minutes away walking but we just never seem to do.
  • Not just bikes, everything costs money and it seems like we have been hemorrhaging money lately.  Not even counting having the tree removed and buying a new vehicle.  Just purchases for house projects, cds and dvds, concert tickets, and the like.  On the bright side my wife received a long overdue promotion at work that will help.  Congrats, Kate, you've deserved this for a long time!
  • Speaking of concert tickets, we recently got tickets for Garbage's upcoming tour.  It is the 20th anniversary of their debut, self-titled album and they will be playing it in its entirety on this tour.  Garbage started here in Madison and we do like to claim them as our own, though none live here anymore.  Also, Nightwish has announced their 2016 American tour and it includes a stop at the Rave in Milwaukee.  I may never get the chance again, I have to go.  The Garbage show is not until October and the Nightwish show is not until next year February.  They are both quite a ways off but I didn't care, I will be there and wanted my tickets now.  
  • I broke one of my commenting rules recently when I commented on Delcatto's blog about his weather.  My personal rule is that if I only discuss me in my comment not to post it, but I did.  He wrote about the heat there and my comment was how we had not turned on the air conditioning here yet despite it being July already.  It has been very nice to have the windows open for this long.  We've been tempted to run the A/C a few times, but have not.  I was even tempted earlier today, but if I look at the next few days it cools off and we would want the windows open again.  I will not start it for one hot day, but if I see a stretch coming I won't hesitate.
  • The 30th reunion of the people I went to high school with happens this year, and soon.  I have to decide in the next, like, day if we will be going.  I have not been to any of my previous class reunions.  I did not grow up with them, moving to town for 7th grade.  I had few friends and got picked on a lot.  I was the first in my class to get my ear pierced, I got picked on a lot for that my junior year.  When I came back for my senior year most of those that picked on me had their own ear pierced.  I hated them for that.  I know I was an awkward, stupid teenager and so were they as the jocks, cheerleaders, and geeks that they were.  There are exactly 2 friends that I would absolutely love to see, out of about 100-150 classmates (I forget).  I am certain there would be some others I would enjoy seeing, as well as others that I wouldn't.  But it's been 30 years now.  Do I care?  Do I go?
That's enough for now, more than I thought I had to say so I'm glad I did another This And Thats post.  There's something to be said for just sitting and typing and seeing what happens.  I'm not even a writer, I just pretend to be one on the internet.  PTFO