Skip to content

Some Things Happening in the News that I Found Interesting


I decided that I would break with my normal routine today and write a non-sequential blog about some things that are happening around the world that I think are interesting and noteworthy that all loosely deal with space. Don’t worry, I’ll still finish up my Thanksgiving series before Christmas- probably.

  1. The United States is precipitously close to an all-out war with North Korea because two megalomaniacs have decided to have a pissing contest. Some experts theorize that North Korea has missiles that could possibly hit Hawaii in 20 minutes or even possibly strike the U.S. mainland itself. We should be a lot more concerned about this political situation than we are.
  2. Some dude is attempting to launch himself 1800 feet into the sky on a homemade steam-powered rocket that he built out of spare parts to prove that the Earth is actually flat. I love the description of one of the photos that states Mike Hughes is a “daredevil and limousine driver“. Just imagine the conversations that you could have with that guy as he’s driving you around downtown in a fancy limo. And you thought Uber drivers were interesting people to talk to.
  3. A startup company in Japan is trying to create artificial meteors- mostly for entertainment. The basic premise is to launch a satellite into orbit that will be able to launch pellets made of different metals into the lower atmosphere where they will burn up from fiction and create dazzling artificial multicolored shooting stars. Sure, there are some drawbacks, like it has the potential to cause a chain-reaction of collisions in space which could probably wipe out GPS and communication satellites, but you would have one hell of a party to remember.
  4. Lastly, we are in the midst of some unique lunar events. Namely, starting today, we have the opportunity to witness a “supermoon trilogy” over the next couple of months. Basically the full moons for the next three months will look slightly bigger and be slightly brighter. Not like huge and super bright, but a little bit of a difference “that is barely perceptible to the human eye.” So news flash: It doesn’t really look that different. But take some time over the next couple of months and check out the moon anyways. It’s still kind of cool- even if it is over-hyped.
Advertisements

Some Thoughts on Thanksgiving: Part 1


So another Thanksgiving Day is over. All your relatives and friends from out of town are safely on their way to their respective homes and the last of the leftovers are almost gone. Now it’s time to relax for one more day or maybe gear yourself up for another week of work. Oh well. The time off from work was nice while it lasted and I hope that your Thanksgiving Day was as good as mine. This post will be the first of a three-part series.

My dad has a saying that life’s all about the 3 F’s: “faith, family, and friends” so I thought what better way than to organize these posts into those 3 categories?

Faith

I’ll just come right out and say that I think I’m agnostic. While I was raised as a devout Baptist, recently I have been having some pretty serious doubts that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired “Word of God”.

For example, all those stories of Moses and the Israelites trekking through the wilderness led by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night just seem made-up.¬†If the stories aren’t made-up, God would be still doing all that magical stuff to convince people that he actually exists today.

I mean if those tricks worked before to convince a whole people group to follow him, I would think that in our day if some supernatural skywriting that said “God Exists” inexplicably appeared in the sky every day for a year in different colors, God could gain a lot more converts than his current method of recruitment.

All that to say, I’m coming into a transitional phase in my life where I have to really start questioning if religion is going to be a large component of my life or not. So far I’ve worked out an agreement with my wife that I’ll go every other week to church and I mostly honor my side of the bargain, but around the holidays it feels especially amazing to be able to just sleep in on a Sunday and not have to worry about setting an alarm to wake you up.

What does this have to do with Thanksgiving you ask? Well for one, it’s awkward when every year you are volunteered to pray for the meal. What should I say- “I’m actually in between religious schools of thought at the moment, is there anyone else that would like to say the blessing?”

What makes it weirder is that my dad always loudly declares that I should say the blessing because I’m the “most holy.” I’m pretty sure that is his way of making sure that he doesn’t get chosen to say it. My alternative theory is that my dad just wants to get his money’s worth after paying for me to go to 4 years of college to only end-up with a bible degree.

I don’t want to make a big deal about saying the prayer though or cause a scene so I dutifully have everyone gather around the table and then have them hold hands while we bow our heads. Then I rattle off a perfunctory prayer that goes like this:

“Dear Heavenly Father. I thank you for this food and the hands that prepared it. I thank you that we can spend time together with family and friends. I thank you for your son Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Most people seem genuinely relieved when I’m done that I haven’t recited a decidedly long prayer or gotten super spiritual either. Although next year if I’m picked again, I might just start messing with people by praying for an excessively long time complete with long silent pauses or include as many big fancy ridiculous words as I can. Either that, or maybe see how many times I can work “meow” into the blessing like in Super Troopers.

I don’t want you to leave you with the impression that I am some type of anti-religious zealot now or that I’m ungrateful though. On the contrary, I have a great life and truly can’t number the amount things that I am thankful for.

But here’s a few: I have a beautiful wife that loves me unconditionally. I have a decent job that lets me pay our bills and own a house that I can be proud of. I never have to worry about where my next meal is going to come from. I am surrounded by friends and family that care deeply about me.

So overall, as much as I may not like it, I guess I’ll continue to make an exception once or twice a year to give the traditional holiday blessings. In my mind, I’ll just take those few moments to stop and think about how truly great and blessed my life really is.

Some Reasons I Hate (Or Sometimes Secretly Admire) Millennials


So I begin by saying that I myself am right at the cusp of being a Millennial. And actually depending upon which source you reference, I might be a Millennial. What I can say definitively is that there are certain characteristics of this Millennial generation that I hate. So at the risk of jumping on my soapbox, here are some of the reasons that I hate (or secretly envy) Millennials.

  1. They seem so fucking cool. Whether it’s the newest local pizza place or the coolest style of shoes, they intuitively know what is the hippest, trendiest “thing” and live for the moments when they can showcase this knowledge to those around them by casually introducing whatever the newest thing is into conversation. “You mean you haven’t heard of eel skin wallets? They are way more durable than leather and feel so much smoother.”
  2. They understand credit card reward points and know how to use them. “You should really get the Bank of America Sapphire Preferred Platinum Freedom Unlimited Card” they say as they take the card out of their wallets to pay for their meal. “You get triple points if you use it at the race track or Target AND you can redeem your points for travel and free lap dances” they continue as they tap their metal credit card on the table for extra emphasis.
  3. Millennials have a strange compulsion to give everyone nicknames- often nicknames that have only the faintest trail of logic. “Frank” becomes “Hotdog” which then becomes “Weiner” which in turn is changed into “Weines” which evolves into simply “W” which is then finally shortened into “Dubs.”
  4. They live and breathe memes. Not a day goes by that they don’t try to introduce you to the hottest meme or internet video. Whether the meme has anything to do with the current conversation or you protest that you’re really not interested in seeing a cute kitten with a sock stuck on its head doesn’t matter. You will still be subjected to it anyways.
  5. They claim they want to be fiscally independent but are all still on their parents’ cell phone plans. If you question why this is the case, they will inevitably tell you that it’s “more of a trade” since they pay for the family’s Netflix account.
  6. Millennials as a rule are some of the most politically correct people that I meet- except when they’re making a joke to troll each other. Then all bets are off and some of the most sexist, racist and stereotypical comments can all be made as long as you say it ironically.
  7. They are comfortable with paying an outrageous amount of rent for apartments in the hippest neighborhoods. Sure, you pay an extra $250 for parking a month and your friends have to pay to park in a garage when they visit, but at least there are 12 different bars in walking distance.
  8. Conversely, when buying a house, Millennials love to refer to it as an investment property and spend months searching for a house “where the numbers work.” Sure the neighborhood might look like urban Detroit, but they are positive that the neighborhood is on the rise and that their return on investment is guaranteed.
  9. Millennials are surprising cavalier about their romantic relationships. Whether they are dating for a few weeks or a few years, the relationship can always be broken off with minimal fuss and someone new can be found through Tinder or some other dating app.
  10. And finally- and perhaps most annoying of all, Millennials are so damn optimistic. No matter what situation they are currently in, they earnestly believe that it will get better. They will get the promotion. They will achieve their dreams. They all believe that the world is their proverbial oyster. Ah, the uncrushable and enviable spirit of the young.

Please Leave Us Alone


Some colleagues from work and I recently went out for a few drinks last Friday at a local bar close to our office. We ordered a couple of beers and picked a table close to the door. After knocking back a beer or two we decided to sit outside on the patio to enjoy the summer weather. Conversation was bouncing back and forth between numerous topics when we were suddenly interrupted.

A man wearing a Marine Corp hat sitting by himself at an adjacent table leaned over and stated that he too liked “intelligence conversation” and pulled his chair up to our table. At first I didn’t know what to make of Adam as he introduced himself. I typically have a lot of respect for veterans and would probably have bought him a beer if things had gone differently.

There were several signs though that quickly made me realize that he was either completely drunk or “touched in the head.” After asking him if he served in the Marines, his answers were evasive at worst and nonsensical at best. I didn’t want to belabor the point, but he talked mostly about how he had hurt his hip falling down a fire escape and couldn’t give a clear answer as to where he had served or any other specifics about his time in the Marines.

Okay- I was willing to cut him some slack. Maybe he had been injured by an IED or had some other type of injury that he didn’t want to talk about. But there is a natural flow to conversation and certain rules that generally are followed when discussing topics or meeting strangers for the first time. Adam followed none of these.

First he would tell us some fact about himself like that he lived very close to the bar and that he walked over but it was difficult because of his hip injury. Then he would ask us if we knew where his apartment complex was. I actually used to live in the same complex years ago and told him that yes, in fact, I did know exactly where the apartments were.

Then he quickly segued into how he got arrested because he apparently had climbed the fence surrounding the apartment complex pool after hours and was caught by the police for trespassing. So there was that. What were we supposed to say? “Yeah, that was probably a bad idea?”

Then he started talking about another bar that was close to the apartment complex that he worked at. By this time, I began to realize that he was not even close to going back to his table. His words were slurred and he would go on long monologues about topics that my coworkers and I may or may not have been discussing. Mention any topic and he would begin talking and just not stop.

It was at this point, that I tried to extricate our little group.”Man, it’s pretty hot out here, you guys want to go inside?” I quickly indicated to my friends that I was going to head back into the bar. They followed my lead but so did our new “friend” as well. This was not going according to plan.

Don’t get me wrong. I am generally a pretty amiable guy but this was getting a little bit much. Adam followed me up to the bar as I ordered another round and then proceeded to sit down with us at our original table. I could tell that my coworkers were just as annoyed with Adam as I was but I couldn’t really think of a way to politely tell him to fuck off. The only respite from his constant talking was when I went to the bathroom and I am reasonably sure that given enough time, he would have followed me in there as well.

I imagine that this is probably a scenario that every female on the face of the planet deals with but I was at a loss as to how to proceed. I didn’t want to hear anymore about how he cheated at video games with mods or how he was underpaid at the bar he worked at and how he stole beers because they weren’t paying him enough.

Quickly after this, some of my coworkers started to leave. I took the cue and soon followed suit. Last I checked, Adam was out on the patio and had just pulled his chair up to a solitary woman smoking out on the patio. She rolled her eyes at us as we were leaving. I guess Adam was making another new friend.

After discussing the evening with my coworkers a few days later, none of us could really pinpoint what we could have done differently to rid ourselves of this hanger-on. And now I am pretty open to suggestions. How do you handle situations such as these when all you want to do is drink with your friends? I didn’t want to be a jerk and he wasn’t aggressive or anything, just extremely annoying.

So far the best suggestion I’ve heard is to just take turns buying him shots until he passes out. I guess that will be my game plan going forward. It might be expensive but it just might be worth it- to enjoy a drink or two with some friends in relative peace and have some actual “intelligence conversations.”

A Prince Albert Retrospective…


I used to have a Prince Albert piercing. (Warning: there is a dick pic on this Wikipedia article.) I say “used to” because I no longer wear jewelry in the piercing although the hole is still there- even after years of not having a barbell in it.

It occurred to me the other day that it might be useful for people to know some of my experiences with this particulary piercing so they can make informed decisions about it. So in no particular order, here are some questions and answers that I thought may be useful for educational purposes.

What inspired you to get your junk pierced?

Truth be told, I didn’t have any standout experience that precipitated me getting my penis pierced. Basically, I was young, already had my eyebrow pierced and thought it would be neat.

Did the piercing process hurt?

Not really. I am a redhead so apparently while my pain tolerance is more sensitive than most of the population, it wasn’t terribly painful. I was more intrigued by the person doing the piercing than the actual pain itself. More on this later.

How did the actual piercing process go down?

I imagine that it was pretty standard practice for penis piercings. The piercing artist has a sterilized curved needle that they basically push into the urethra and then push through the bottom of the head of the penis. Then they inserted a barbell through the new hole and whoola, a Prince Albert piercing.

Was the piercer a professional?

Yes. Although I did have a few shots of liquid courage before the actual process, I made sure that I went to a reputable tattoo and piercing salon before giving the okay to have a man drive a needle through my penis. His appearance was pretty interesting though as he wore a kilt and had beads surgically implanted under his scalp which kind of made him look like a lumpy lizard.

Any complications with the process?

Yes. After getting the piercing done, I went out for a night of drinking with my friends. After using the urinal and pissing a little bit of blood, I realized that I couldn’t find the barbell that had been inserted hours before. I called the piercing salon and apparently the issue was that they had used a gauge that was too small so basically the barbell had slipped into my urethra and was hidden inside.

So what did you do at this point?

I went back the next day and had to have the piercing guy repierce me with a bigger gauge needle and then insert a bigger barbell. This one didn’t get lost as easily.

Was sex better after getting the piercing?

Yes and no. Basically after I had healed up, I did notice that my dick was more sensitive to things. Now everytime I readjusted myself or walked or whatever, I could feel the barbell rubbing up against my boxers or jeans or what have you. This did make for some awkward times when I was trying to be serious and accidentally had a massive erection. I also learned that I had to be more careful in general though, like making sure that partners didn’t get too rough with my penis as it sometimes hurt a little if it was tugged too enthusiastically.

Any regrets?

I wish someone had told me that the piercing never actually closes up after you remove the jewelry. Now when taking a piss, I have to consciously remember to “plug the hole” if I don’t want to dribble on my boxers or dress pants. I imagine it’s a bit like playing the flute.

Embarrasing moments?

Oh yeah. The barbell ends had a tendency to come unscrewed while I was walking. This led to more than one occasion where I would be walking with friends only to have a ball drop off the barbell and roll down my pantleg and onto the floor. The most embarrasing thing was that I would have to chase it down because the jewelry was expensive and I didn’t want to keep having to replace loose balls all the time.

Future Plans?

For now I am content to just have the hole there. I can imagine at some point though that I will probably will start wearing jewelry on my penis again. If nothing else, the idea of some cute nurse trying to insert a catheter into my junk when I’m old and decrepit and being completely surprised by my cock bling may be worth it.

When “CASH” Doesn’t Mean Cash


My wife and I traveled out of state a few months ago. Our visit with family went well and we enjoyed our trip until we reached a toll road in Pennsylvania. This is when things began to unravel.

As we approached the toll both there were two lanes clearly marked “CASH” as opposed to other lanes labeled “E-ZPASS.” Since we don’t have E-ZPASS, I navigated the car to one of the cash lanes on the left. After waiting in line for a few cars to pass through, it was finally our turn to pay the toll and continue on our way home.

It was at this moment that I quickly realized a few things. First of all there was no tollbooth worker in the booth. Secondly there was no way to insert dollar bills into the toll machine. On top of that a car had just pulled up behind us blocking us in the lane. And lastly we had no change.

Awesome. Normally this wouldn’t have been an issue as I believe the toll was only 95 cents or thereabouts and we could normally scrounge around the car for some loose change but we had just cleaned out the car before setting out on our mini-vacation and this included cleaning out the loose change from the consoles that we normally acquire over the course of our daily driving lives.We did have plenty of cash on us, just no change.

“This is fucking ridiculous! Why in the world would it say ‘CASH’ if it doesn’t take dollar bills?” I exclaimed as I turned on my hazard lights. Soon afterwards I see the gentleman behind me exiting his vehicle. “Oh great.” I thought to myself.

“So what seems to be the problem?” he asks through my open window as he casually leans an arm on my car.

“Well although the sign said ‘CASH’, apparently it means that you have to have change in order to get through.”

“Don’t you have any change?”

“Not really.” I said. What I was thinking however was more like “Yes sir, we do have the change, but I just decided to see how long I could hold up a line of traffic on a major thoroughfare.”

“Hey wifey, can you double check all the compartments and your purse again and see if we have any change whatsoever?”

“Sure.” she replies as she starts looking one more time in all the consoles and compartments up to and including the crevices of the seats. After searching them all and emptying out the entire contents of her purse, we came up with exactly 55 cents- still 40 cents short of the toll.

“I mean, do you have any change we could buy from you?” I ask the stranger standing at my window. “We have plenty of $20’s.”

“You don’t have any smaller bills?” he asks.

“No, unfortunately not.”

“Let me see what I can do.” he replies and then turns and heads back to his car. I can see him in my rear view mirror saying something to what I assume was his significant other. Then I see her take out some change from her own purse.

After a few seconds, the stranger returned to our window and gave us 50 cents in quarters. “You sure you don’t want any money?”

“No. Thanks though. Just throw your money in the basket and then we can both be on our way.”

So I did. I threw the money in the basket and the barricade went up and we were on our way. In retrospect, I don’t know if the stranger was simply being kind in helping us out or if he really just wanted to get through the tollbooth himself and didn’t want to be stuck behind some stupid Ohioans on their way back home. Probably his motivations were a little bit of both. Either way, I am grateful he took pity on us and helped us out.

I am not grateful to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Take it from a frustrated driver, when you label an entire lane “CASH” you should expect people will assume that means you can pay with CASH. Over and out.

Tollboth

Yay? It’s Skyline Time…


Every Thursday, a group of my current and former coworkers go to Skyline for lunch. I am still trying to understand exactly why. I guess there is a certain familiarity with frequenting the same restaurant week after week but I am not sure that this is really the reason. Sure, by now the waitresses know our orders by heart, but other than that I don’t really know what exactly draws my coworkers every Thursday to the same restaurant, sitting at the same table, ordering the same food.

In my opinion, the food itself can’t really be the reason. I mean the food is good for what it is, if you like meat chili ladled over hotdogs, spaghetti, or perhaps a potato- with cheese piled on top. But it is in no way superior to other fast food restaurants. I would equally be as happy to eat at White Castle or Panera or Jersey Mike’s or pretty much any other restaurant on Thursdays. So what is the draw then?

As I alluded to above, I really think that the allure is the feeling of familiarity- of knowing exactly what you are going to order and what to expect. There is also a strong sense of camaraderie as you get to know the same people just a little bit better every week. It’s a time to catch up with old coworkers and make new friends as well.

There is the curmudgeonly middle-age manager, the millennial hotshot, the hoary sage, and a whole host of other characters that stand at the ready with a word of advice, the occasional¬† joke, or simply to share their life experiences as you eat your fourth or fifth coney dog. I know, it sounds a lot like an episode of Cheers doesn’t it? But truly that is maybe the strongest appeal of the weekly Skyline lunch. It’s a place where everybody really does know your name- or at least your friends do.

And a note to the Skyline manager that always comes by to ask how the food is, let me tell you something- no one is ever going to say that the food was bad even if you ask. It’s Skyline for god’s sake, not a 5 star restaurant. As long as we don’t find a hair in our food or see a waiter or waitress drop our food on the floor and then try to serve it, the food will always be fine. Not “great” I remind you, but good enough to provide some type of nourishment and a place to connect with each other- even if it is to just share a mutual love of chili among friends.