It’s not just two days after Christmas and five days to New Years…

It’s also Oregon Sunshine’s BIRTHDAY!!!

Happy Birthday, and may all your pony/goat/chicken dreams come true this year! If I can keep from blowing away, your fence will be up/moved/”fixed” and your electrical run by the end of the day tomorrow.

Now sit back and enjoy your day!

[EDIT: This was scheduled to go up at midnight, but auto-post failed me horribly. Sorry, it was supposed to be more timely.]

What happened to that “Bad Pants” guy?

A part of me feels bad that I went to the effort of revamping the site only to post one book review (albeit a review of the best book I’ve read in a long LONG time) and then disappear again. I actually do have more to write; I have much more I want to say, and get out, and write through…but I’ve been a bit busy. I know, I know, we all say “I’ve been busy” and it is a kind of lame excuse, and I recognize that it is just an excuse, but as these things go I do have something to back up my continuing tardiness:

New Home

We’re right in the middle of moving seventy-five miles out to Monroe Georgia…but it’s worth it. This is the last move I’ll ever make. I’ve spent the last week working my ass off and NOT getting the packing done. This weekend, the office, the storage room, the kitchen and the dining room will be packed. OS has busted out our bedroom and the kids rooms already, and she’s well on her way to having the tack consolidated and the living room ready.

If I can get my stuff “done” then I get to sit on my vacationing ass and write and play Skyrim. There’s a LOT of incentive to get done before the Moving truck gets here Wednesday morning.

If I don’t post again before the big move (and let’s be honest, I won’t), then I’ll just say “Happy Thanksgiving” and “see you all online from Monroe!”

True Names Have Power – Being a Review of the Fairyland Stories (so far) by Catherynne M. Valente

When I was a child, I was often called “a serious boy” by those who sat on taller seats and more important chairs, with the air of authority puffing them up and giving them the ability to pronounce a simple judgement about the complex workings of my dreams and desires. Yet words have power, and I began to be serious even when my dreams were filled with magic swords and mermaids and castles at the hearts of treacherous mazes. I read books about history and mythology and great literature to trick the big people with their serious expectations into believing that I was as serious as they thought I should be. In reality, I just loved the stories.

After coming home and leaving my serious books and my serious expectations on the dining-room table, I would gather up my true favorites, my secret loves, and hide beneath the bottom shelf in my walk-in closet. I would take with me the tales of Arthur and his knights, the different passages to Narnia, and most belovedly the wondrous tales of Oz. There are children who read because they have to, and ones who read because it’s expected of them, and a few – a very lucky few – who do not read at all but rather swim and dive and drown in reading. To become something and someone else for untold whiles in the thick weight and light breath of true wonder.

I have always tried to keep my secret-self; to remember the paths and byways of fairylands and fantastic places. As the years have grown up around me, I have traded old friends for new ones and discovered others that touch me as deeply as any I’d met before. I also hid my secret well, I have books and tomes and volume after volume about serious things on serious shelves that you would never suspect were filled with sideways paths and slanting doorways to the magic places where my true heart lives.

A review of the best stories I have ever read…

A Refresh and a Return

If you’re reading this, there’s about a 75% chance you’ve never been here before; at least, that’s what my stats tell me. For those of you stopping by for the first time and actually seeing the home page instead of just hitting my post about Australian Rules Football or Chicken Enchilada Pasta (my two primary sources of traffic via google keywords), please be aware that things around here are about to pick up again.

I’ve been preoccupied for the summer, and for that I am not even the tiniest bit apologetic. But, that time is coming to an end. Once I dig my way back out of the upcoming minor depression, I plan to go back to writing with at least my past intermittent bursts of output.

The other thing that new visitors won’t recognize is the significant revamp I’ve put into the site’s design and look-and-feel. I would gladly take any feedback and suggestions anyone has about any aspect of the new paint and trim. Hate the font? let me know. Think the background and link color is more “Pottery Barn” than “masculine moss?” Let me know. Find the comment balloons irritating and unsightly? Too bad.

If there’s something about the site after the change that “just works” or “just doesn’t” please drop a comment and let me know.

Things I Like: Australian Rules Football

So, in switching from Satellite to internet television, I’ve found myself getting all of my non-baseball sports via ESPN3 on my Xbox360. ESPN3 is funny because the sports on offer are somewhat…eclectic. You’ve got your occasional baseball, basketball, etc…but it’s the other stuff that’s really intriguing. Or in one case, addictive.

I have discovered a new passion, and that passion is a combination of soccer, rugby, a few dashes of American style football (the one not generally played, you know, with the foot), a few more dashes of American style basketball (no, I’m not kidding), and several very liberal doses of a game we played in high school called “smear the queer” (apologies for the politically incorrect name). I remember a few years ago there was a sports commercial that implied that US Football players were the roughest-toughest-most manly athletes in the whole world. That, was a LIE.

The men who play Australian Rules Football are, without a doubt, the most bad-ass mofos on planet earth. We’re talking the Seal Team VI of professional athletes. These guys play a more-than-full contact sport wearing only short-shorts, a tight tee-shirt, compression shorts (optional), rubber turf cleats, and a mouthguard (also, strangely optional). No body armor, no thigh pads, no shin guards, and for the love of all that is holy, NO HELMETS! I honestly expect at some point for the testosterone levels to get so high, the players will just strip down greco-roman style and paint their bodies in different colors of woad. Believe me, the current kit doesn’t offer any superior protection over the “warrior aura” of the gladiators and combatants of ancient times.

I’ll give the AFL (that’s the Australian Football League) one thing, they’ve got a very approachable sport. I’m pretty sure I’ve basically worked out the rules after watching less than a half-dozen games; and honestly, who can say that about the US counterpart? I’ll try to describe the general gist of an AFL match from an untrained american perspective, and if any real-life footy fans happen by and want to correct anything here, please drop a comment. I’ll correct as necessary.

A semi-serious explanation of Aussie Rules Footy…

Decide. Commit. Succeed.

In the early summer of 2004 more than a decade of poor health choices caught up with me. It’s was hard to think of it as a decade of poor health choices, and if you’d have asked me about my health up to that point I’d have described it as “fair.” Which would have been grossly inaccurate.

When I was in high school, I remember how frustrated I was that I could never gain weight. Perhaps that doesn’t make sense from a mid-thirties perspective, but when you’re seventeen and weigh a-buck-forty at five-eleven (and one-forty was probably after a heavy meal and wearing a winter jacket soaked in water…or concrete), all you want is to “bulk up.”

I ran everyday, I had “a runner’s body,” and I hated it. My best friend had a naturally broad build with a thick chest and strong shoulders. He looked like the cover model from romance novels…and it drove me crazy. My jealousy was both good-natured and palpable.

I ate everything. And a lot of it. When I was actively running regularly and working manual labor jobs for six hours a day, I estimate I was consuming somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000-8000 calories a day. And I didn’t gain a pound. Not one.

Some of the most embarrassing photos of my life…

Apple and Netflix killed the Cable Company

For two weeks now, we have been experimenting with “the future” and I think we’ve now signed on for the long haul. In the future, entertainment will have nothing to do with single source programming providers (i.e. Cable or Satellite companies) that charge a TON for a ton of stuff nobody watches. A la carte consumption models will rule the day. Cable companies toy with this via “On Demand” but there’s no universal on demand model today that doesn’t come saddled with the traditional model and it’s traditional costs.

“That paragraph was ridiculously geek-filled and made no sense” you say? Let me break it down.

Ridiculous costs and elegant solutions…

The Dulcet Tone of My Voice

Last night, as I began my experiment in recording myself reading my posts, I discovered a few things:

  1. The last time I recorded my voice on purpose, Bill Clinton was president.
  2. At that time I had a professional studio at my command.
  3. The mic in my laptop sitting at my desk in a large room DOES NOT sound like a studio.
  4. The breath-guard on pro mics is distinctly useful.
  5. Without practice on a bad mic, my voice is monotonous and could put even hyperactive ADD kids on crack to sleep.

That being said, I did get the first one posted, and (as suggested) included a link to download the file offline for those that prefer to listen via a specific app instead of inline in the blog post. I used my “1827 Days” post as my guinea pig, I’ll continue to record and insert more over the next few days as I attempt to improve my process/technique/set-up.

I don’t think I’ll ever sound like Ira Glass or Frank Deford, but hopefully it will get a bit better than that first attempt. Nothing is ever perfect the first time you try it, and I’m ok with that.

The Sense of Beauty

I have a good friend that I talk with regularly, but whom I haven’t spoken with in many years. Her name is Lacy. Her (now) husband Scott and I played Soccer together at Portland State, and I got to know her when we would both walk down from Goose Hollow to our respective jobs in Pioneer Place Mall (hers answering phones and providing customer service at Saks Fifth AvenueNordstrom, mine working as a stock manager at Victoria’s Secret).

Lacy didn’t need me to walk her the ten city blocks, which she made expressly clear the first time I accompanied her, but I was welcome as long as I stayed out of her way. This might sound a bit harsh, but there’s another detail, Lacy was born without functioning optical nerves. She is utterly and completely blind.

A few years after we all left college, Lacy was fortunate enough to be selected for partnership with a seeing-eye-dog named Justice, but at the time she was making her way confidently down Salmon Ave to the rhythmic tapping of her cane, counting off the streets, and listening for the crossing signal at every intersection. It was a point of pride that she didn’t NEED anyone to get where she was going.

Some old stories, a TED talk, and a new feature…

1827 days

Download MP3

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

In a few hours I will have completed thirty-five trips around the sun. This isn’t a tremendous accomplishment, for the most part I was just along for the ride and hanging on for dear life; and based on the average maximum age of the men on both sides of my family, I’ve got about ninety years in me, so I’m still a decade away from half way there.

Still, a friend of mine pointed out a few days ago that thirty-five is “the age when even the elderly don’t think you’re young anymore.” That kind of hit me.

Birthdays Past and a list for the future…