Sunday, May 31, 2009

Impatient fag (unedited)

Today I was told I am an "impatient fag."

I set out to bike, on a sunny, breezy Sunday afternoon. I was using my typical bike trails, and plenty of other people were, too. I expected that.

I was in perhaps my third mile when the trail I was using winds through a park. There are plenty of people using the park, and I expect it to be a bit slow going through this area at times.

I came behind a couple of people riding single file. We were about to go slightly downhill. This duo, presumably husband and wife, were probably in the upper 50s or lower 60s. I was going to pass them as we were going to go down the hill, so I announced "on the left" as I was getting ready to pass. That's a common thing you do when biking, sometimes out of courtesy, sometimes out of necessity. Sometimes I don't announce my pass, and sometimes I just say left.

I announced a pass, but realized that it would be a bit tight, as others were coming from the opposite way, so I sat behind the dude immediately ahead of me, slowed down a bit and waited patiently, I thought, for a clear opportunity to pull around.

I heard the woman ahead of him asking a question. I didn't hear the question, but he said something along the lines of, "You're fine, it's just an impatient fag behind me."

So when I had a chance to finally pass clearly a few seconds later, I said something like, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you."

He quickly responded with his fag comment again. I quickly responded with a "thanks homo" type response.

I swear his response was, "You want to stop right now and find out?"

Find out what? If I'm gay? What was he going to do, pull his pants down and see how I responded?

I think the guy was trying to suggest he wanted to fight. This fat tub of goo was like the belligerent drunk. He was angry at the world and wanted to fight anybody, over anything. And why was he pissed at me? Because I announced I was going to pass, but didn't because of oncoming bikers.

I should have stopped at the cross street. There was a softball game going and tons of people. I'd love to see what he would have done. And I'd love to hear his explanation for why I was a impatient fag.

I felt bad for the woman ahead of him. She tried to say something to me along the lines of "please just keep going and ignore him." I felt bad for her. I've been in that spot. I've been with somebody who wants to shoot his/her mouth off, seemingly unprovoked. You just want the other person to ignore the stupidity and move on. If she's married to this jackass, I can't imagine how she can tolerate him if he's prone to such ridiculousness, for no reason whatsoever.

As I was passing her by, I said something about how I thought my life was miserable, but he takes the case. He continued to rant about stopping or something like that and I heard her telling him something along the lines of having had enough of him and wanting to end the bike ride.

I just don't get it.

As I crossed the road and continued down the trail, the ridiculousness of his comments cracked me up. It was just so damn stupid. I started laughing, and laughing, and laughing. I was laughing rather loudly as I slowly biked along the trail. It was that stupid. As I slowly rolled down, I looked back down the trail, and there he was, slowly plodding along. I could see him gesturing somehow. I'm not sure if he was trying to waive me back, so he could find out if I was a fag, was waving his fist at me or was waving his middle finger. I carried on, rather amused by the episode.

If my life ever gets that miserable, seriously, I promise I'll commit suicide.

Monday, May 25, 2009

You're not that important (unedited)

It's a sad world we live in.

I get it, when you get a new toy, you want to play with it. As mobile phone proliferated, people were anxious to play with their new toy.

And as technology improved, people began using phones as cameras, Internet browsers and e-mail devices, via the popular, highly pointless text messaging service.

Sadly our dependence upon mobile phones has gone from novelty to necessity. It wasn't that many years ago that we lived without constant contact/updates from anyone and everyone, but we're a society of self-importance now. If we don't have people texting us every five minutes, our lives aren't that important. Now people can mass text their friends and random fans via Twitter. There's a time and place for texting and Twitter. Sadly too many people create times and places because they lack legitimate ones.

We've all seen millions of examples of the ridiculousness created by mobile phones. And it's probably too late to turn back. We've become a society of self-important nobodies. It really shouldn't be surprising. It's just another turn in the evolution of this toilet earth.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

36. 36 posts in 40 nights (unedited)

I made 90 percent of the goal, and that ain't bad when it comes to blogging.

I struggled for ideas at times, I failed to write about the one topic I had been avoiding when I started 40 nights ago and my final week wound up chronicling the aftermath of a disappointing week that wasn't my fault.

I found inspiration in unlikely places, chronicled silly moments in my life that may otherwise never have found themselves in print and wrote too many personal reflections. Such is life.

Thursday night I'm going to be busy preparing for my Friday morning's the 20th annual spring camping extravaganza. Unless I witness something amazing, tomorrow is the first of at least three nights off.

I'm not sure to make a habit of forcibly writing blogs one night after another, but there was some value to doing so, and perhaps I will try this experiment again. Just not any time soon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

35. Turn down the heat (unedited)

The Twin Cities shattered its record high temperature today. Last I heard, the high temperature was expected to be in the low 80s Tuesday.

The record high was something like 89 degrees. Today it hit 97. It was the first time it has been this hot since July 2007. And it's not even June.

Weather extremes are funny things. It's so rare to get this hot, then it happens on a date when the Twin Cities have never hit 90 degrees. I was in the office all afternoon, so I had no idea how hot it was. When somebody mentioned it early this evening, I didn't believe it.

Stranger yet, it hit 100 degrees in southern Minnesota this afternoon. At the same time, it was more than 60 degrees cooler in northern Minnesota. It's not unusual to see wide variances in the weather from north to south. And sometimes it's the opposite of what you'd expect. It's not that ridiculous for it to be warmer at the Canadian border than it is at the Iowa border. But typically that's not the case, and I don't think a variance of more than 60 degrees happens very often. Today was doubly odd in Minnesota.

Well, at least it wasn't humid. I went for my beginning-of-season bike ride about an hour before sunset. It was warm, but not typical of hot days in Minnesota. There's rarely dry heat in this state. When it gets hot, it gets humid. Today was the exception to that rule.

Too bad it was so damn windy. And of course the wind had to be blowing against me during the final miles of my daily loop, not during the opening miles. Such is life.

I may not remember the details distinctly, but Tuesday was one of those highly atypical days I won't forget any time soon. And I'd appreciate not repeating it any time soon. Although compared to an average day four months ago, I have no business complaining.

Monday, May 18, 2009

34. Lucky (unedited)

As I have said, I consider myself lucky.

I lost over $100 in cash, which will irritate me this fall when I go on vacation somewhere. Stealing my coins didn't hurt me in the pocketbook, but I'll be reminded of the burglary as I'm assembling my cash for vacation. Those coins were a little bonus for my next vacation.

And I probably won't have a new digital camera. Mine wasn't high-tech, wasn't the greatest camera out there, but it worked well for me. That makes me as sad as the cash, even though I could replace the camera for less than the cash I lost. Maybe I'll get lucky and find the exact camera cheap enough that I can replace it.

As for the stolen rum, I'm glad the moron took that rather than something more valuable, like my GPS receiver sitting near my computer.

But I'm lucky. I know several people who have lost far more than me.

Off the top of my head:

February 2008, a former co-worker had his car broken into. I seem to recall the window was smashed. Even if he lost nothing, the cost of getting the window fixed was likely more than the total value of what I lost. And it's not as if you can go without fixing the window for a while. I've seen people try, but in winter it's even more ridiculous.

Another former co-worker, Kim, has been through it twice. Her more recent episode was in the house she bought a few years ago. Like me, somebody decided the workday was the best time to break in undetected. The perp busted in through her back door, carrying out a TV, DVD player and a few other things to a vehicle parked behind her house. I think she lost jewelry, too. While it wasn't high-buck bling, some of it was sentimental, of course.

Kim's first episode was in an apartment she shared. I don't know the how and when of it, but it was before Christmas. I think both roommates lost Christmas presents they had purchased for others. I don't recall what all was lost, but Kim lost some jewelry, and clothes. She thinks that a woman went through her stuff, picking out jewelry she liked rather than just taking everything, which is odd, and taking select clothes as well. The perp(s) made quite a mess of the apartment in their search, evidently. Jennifer told me that it was quite the unsettling experience for Kim. I can understand that.

A college friend and her roommate were hit a year or two after we had graduated college. They lost electronics and a lot of other stuff.

My buddy Scott and his wife were hit a year ago or so. They live in a small town an hour outside of Minneapolis, and somebody hit their house during the work day, taking video game systems and games, not to mention some of his wife's jewelry. Again, the jewelry had far more sentimental value than anything else.

My aunt and uncle in Brooklyn Park got hit pretty hard a year or so ago. Lots of stuff taken, again during the workday.

Another aunt and uncle got hit a few years ago. I think they caught the perp(s) in that one. My uncle has a lot of valuable golf equipment, and much of that was taken. Some of it was recovered at either a secondhand sporting goods store or a pawn shop. The shop offered the perp(s) pennies on the dollar for his valuable equipment. Somehow the connection was made between the clubs and my uncle.

There may be something I don't realize is missing, but the purpose of my burglary was a quick cash grab. It was successful, but it could have easily been worse. I'm glad the jackass didn't have the time, or balls, to scour my place carefully. I am very lucky.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

33. His colors don't run (unedited)

Upon arriving home to my apartment on Wednesday I quickly made my way in to see if there was a mess, or anything was missing.

It was clear my apartment had been searched, and knowing I had $125 worth of coins in my bedroom, I noticed immediately they were missing. I hadn't grabbed my phone when I jumped out of my car, so I had to go back to the car to grab it. I called 911 immediately and began giving my report while standing in the courtyard of the two 12-unit buildings of my development.

The new guy upstairs heard me, and after I went to the opposite building to post an advisory sign of a burglary, I crossed paths with him. He's a retired guy, some sort of military veteran, and your classic racist.

He told me he was certain it was somebody in one of the two buildings who could easily watch who comes and goes, and when. There are minority residents in our building...heck, my city is like a mini United Nations, so there's no such thing as a "white" building. There are some nicer buildings with higher rents, I am sure, but this suburb ain't white bread suburbia. There are a variety of nationalities represented in our buildings.

And it has been a relatively quiet building for the year I have lived in it. There are a few families in the buildings, and kids irritate me when they're running around outside, trying to entertain themselves right outside my windows, in a courtyard that lacks any playground amenities. Unfortunately there's no semblance of a park nearby. Such is life.

I wouldn't rule out an "inside" job, but I could just as easily see somebody taking advantage of my buildings on a weekday because it's relatively easy. There are few cars in our parking lot during the weekday. Heck, I've come by on a weekday afternoon and there's not a car to be seen in our lot. That doesn't mean our buildings are empty, as some people park on the street, but I bet they're pretty close to empty some days.

Our building doesn't have secure outer doors. So you can come right in, walk down half a flight of stairs and give the door a good kick. If anybody in the building hears it, he or she doesn't immediately assume burglary, since we haven't had any problems that I know of in our buildings in the past year.

If it wasn't an inside job, I'd bet it's somebody who lives in the vicinity, has some knowledge of my building, has perhaps scouted it a bit to get an idea of what the likelihood is that anybody is around and then went to work. Unless somebody has been watching me, then if the dude was smart he knocked on the door first, as if he was looking for somebody, then kicked it in upon determining nobody was home.

Why me? Quick in and quick out from the door. Who's going to go up to third floor to randomly pick an apartment? And there's no way anyone could have known what I did or didn't have of value in here, so it was very random. The blinds are never open for long periods of time, and are only open occasionally when I'm here. And it's very rare that I bother to open them. I could have a nice TV, or no TV, and there would be little chance for anyone to make that determination.

It was random. But the racist doesn't think so. He even suggested it was probably a minority, and made some comment about wanting to kill him/them. He made this comment deliberately as a minority family walked past us into our building. He's a racist, and he's not afraid to show it.

He also mentioned he owns a gun, and wouldn't hesitate to use it. Anybody know the recipe for disaster? I think racist is going to stew a pot of it, if he doesn't get booted from the apartment first.

If there's any doubt, this is the same guy who passed out with his tub filling at midnight on Thursday night.

I like my Asian neighbor better.

And just today I noticed a little message penned onto the note I taped on the wall by the mailboxes. My note advises people to be alert and cautious as they could be next. Somebody wrote something about hoping the thief doesn't pick "us," as he/they have a .44 Magnum and would love to kill the culprit.

I don't know who wrote it, but I have a hunch.

32. Swing and a miss (unedited)

I thought about writing my blog last night, then I got distracted and never got around to doing it. Oh well, it's not as if anybody is keeping score.

So on Thursday night, after I wrote about my famous last words, I was getting ready to call it a night. I was still sitting at my computer when I heard a bizarre sound. It sounded like dripping in the bathroom. That made no sense, of course, because I hadn't been in the bathroom for over an hour.

Yes, there was dripping. There's a steam vent above my shower, and water was dripping out of it, into my shower. Not a good sign, I figured.

Not knowing what to make of it, I took a leak. The toilet was right there, after all, and I was due.

After washing my hands, I felt drips of water hit me on the head as I was drying my hands. Sure enough, water was now starting to drip out of the heat vent in the ceiling, too.

Within minutes I had a stream pouring out of the heat vent. I don't remember the sequence of events, but I managed to put a big plastic tub and my cooler on the floor of my bathroom to catch most of the water streaming down. I also called our emergency maintenance number and awoke one of the maintenance dudes, who probably wasn't happy to have to come to my building. I told him it seemed as if a pipe had burst. After calling it I figured it was more likely that something was overflowing in an apartment above me.

About 35 or 40 minutes later the dude arrived, took a look at what was going on and was a bit stunned by what he saw. I had already dumped the 30-gallon tub into my tub, as it was three-fourths full and I doubted I could have lifted it if I waited until it was completely full. Doing this meant that I had to get rained upon by the dirty water from the ceiling.

Within minutes maintenance guy returned from his investigation from the apartments above me. The person immediately above me had been asleep the entire time, and had no idea that water was pouring through the ceiling of her and/or his apartment. I was told the ceiling was in bad shape from all the water that had accumulated above it.

That's because the new guy, the retired racist who had just moved in at the beginning of the month, decided somewhere around midnight that a bath was a great idea. From maintenance guy's report, the racist had been in a fight and his face wasn't too pretty. He reeked of alcohol, too.

So it seems that he was rather drunk, wrote a check his ass couldn't cash and decided to take a bath at midnight. Yeah, when I'm drunk, a bath is the first thing I think of.

The only problem with his logic was that he hadn't banked upon passing out while his tub was filling. And there's the source of my precipitation.

I did some brief cleaning/drying/decontamination on Friday morning before taking a shower. Maintenance guy told me they'd be working on my bathroom, and the wet carpet outside it on Friday. Now I have holes in my ceiling, bits of plaster on the tank of my toilet and a musty smell in my apartment.

As maintenance guy pointed out at 1:45 a.m., it was a good thing I was still awake, otherwise it could have been a lot worse. He's probably right.

He also pointed out that the fiasco in my bathroom, a day after my apartment was burglarized, made for a pretty lousy week for me.

He was definitely right.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

31. Famous last words (unedited)

They weren't last words, and they aren't famous, but I said a couple of things that have come back to haunt me. Let's start with last night:

Instead I have a lot of thoughts to express during the next few nights, although it cost me about $140 in rum and coins. At least I hope that's all it cost me.

Turns out that it did cost me more. I'm 99.44 percent sure that my digital camera was swiped as well as my coins and rum. I can't find it, and it was likely sitting in its little black case on my kitchen counter amongst a ton of stuff. It likely stuck out as being a digital camera, and it was small, so it was easily swiped.

It was an older camera, the kind with the smaller view screen on the back. It was probably three or four years old. It was a Christmas gift from Monica on Christmas 2007, however, so it burns me as much as the $100+ in coins. I hadn't used it tons over the past 18 months, but it was the first digital camera I had ever owned. She bought it used, because she couldn't afford to buy me a brand new digital camera, but she bought if from her then-boyfriend's family, and it was in excellent shape. I didn't care that it was a year outdated or used, it was my first digital camera, and it was a highly thoughtful gift. That's what made it special, even if I wasn't taking tons of pictures every week.

The sad part is that not only did it have sentimental value to me, it is of no value to the jackass who took it. (I still think it was just one person, but obviously I can't know for sure.) It's old, so it has no value to anyone. And it has one of those goofy battery packs that needs a special charger. So to recharge the battery, the moron will have to buy a new charger for it, and of course you can't buy one at Target like you could buy AA batteries. Chances are that outdated camera is going to end up in a trash can. I guess it's better that the moron took that instead of the credit card sitting in a stack of cards on my counter, but it still stings.

Trust me, this plan is brilliant, just don't break into my apartment, there's likely to be $300 in cash in my dresser drawer.

I wrote that last summer, after being frustrated by ATM machines. I sat in line for several minutes behind a car where four people had to get cash out of the machine. In the meantime people who arrived after me were already out of the neighboring line. I was the only car in either line when I left, and I was pissed, as a couple of cars that arrived after me were already gone before I ever pulled up to the machine.

That's when I vowed to start taking out $300 at a time from savings and keeping it in my apartment. Each time I needed cash I would take $40 or $100 and then go online in the next day or so and transfer cash from checking to savings, so when it was all over, I had $300 in savings to withdraw. I've done that successfully several times no, with no regrets.

And true to my word, I've kept that cash in the top dresser drawer. I keep it in a bank envelope and take what I need when I need it. A week ago I took a larger than normal amount and emptied the envelope, in part because I knew I was going shopping for several things and decided I'd pay cash rather than have five separate debit card charges to deduct in my checkbook. (Because I'm old fashioned and still keep a checkbook ledger.)

As it turns out, the idiot never checked that drawer, and even had he done so, he wouldn't have found $20 bills, just $68 in small miscellaneous bills, (I counted before I moved them to a far less obvious location,) and two Minnesota Twins tickets. So even if I had been unlucky when it came to that drawer, I would have been spared a $300 loss.

Obviously the thief didn't read my blog before hitting up my apartment, not that he could have linked the blog to me anyway.

Despite the depressing realization this morning that the camera was gone, too, I still consider myself very lucky, given the situation. Details to follow in the next day or two.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

30. Welcome back to reality (unedited)

I have been living a low-key life, getting by, not worrying about too much, despite not accomplishing nearly enough to make my life better. I can't complain, and I won't. Many people would appreciate my situation.

Life is full of bumps in the road, and today I hit one.

Last night I couldn't fathom what to write about. I typically title a blog before I write it, which is ironic because for most news stories I write I save the headline until the end. So when I started the blog, I had no title, and didn't want to use something generic such as "the river has run dry." I ended up recounting how I made a Parkinson's disease joke to a guy with Parkinson's disease.

Today I got one of those periodic slaps in the face the we all experience at numerous points in life.

I received a cell phone call shortly before 5 p.m., but didn't hear it ring because I turn the ringer down to one beep at work, and had headphones on at the time of the call. I took them off just in time to hear a beep that I had a new voice mail message and checked the number of the missed call. It was local, and looked vaguely familiar, but I didn't recognize it. I didn't worry about checking the message, as I was getting ready to leave. I figured I'd check the message in my car, on my way home. It was movie night tonight, and I was going home to change clothes, set the VCR to record "Lost" and head to the theater.

That message was from the apartment management, and it was a call about a noise report. I tend to have my radio on sports radio late at night when I'm sitting up, and I thought perhaps somebody had called to complain the radio was too loud.

No, the noise that was reported was determined to be the door of my apartment being kicked in, evidently. It's unclear who called to report a noise, when they heard it, when they reported it or who determined my door had indeed been kicked in. But sometime between 10:15 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. my door was kicked in. Yep, I was burglarized. I didn't know that until I got home, but I was certain my door wasn't accidentally busted open by building maintenance workers.

The message said maintenance would be coming to work on my door so that I wasn't left with an unlocked unit. A maintenance guy came shortly after I got home and called police. The building manager mentioned in his message that he could assist me on Thursday morning in filing a police report if something was missing. He had no evidence that I hadn't kicked in my own door, but it would seem that upon confirming the door had been broken he should have called the police immediately.

While driving home I pondered what could be missing. Would my bulky outdated computer, large worthless television or 6-year-old bicycle, highly valuable to me only, be missing? Nope all was there.

But it was clear the closets had been opened, looking for anything of value. Golf clubs, perhaps? They weren't in the closet, and they're not missing. The only thing I'd think somebody would have wanted from my closets is some sort of safe or lock box. Sorry, nothing like that here.

Upon inspecting the bedroom I found my mattress out of place. Yep, they looked for an envelope of cash underneath it. Do people really do that?

They also searched several drawers from my two dressers, as they were left open. They searched the top three with no luck on the dresser closest to the door. They searched two drawers of the other dresser, atop which my TV sits. On that dresser was a large plastic container, they kind they use to sell yard drinks at Las Vegas pools and resorts. That's where mine came from, and I used it to collect silver coins for a future vacation. I had more than a year's worth of coins saved. By my estimate there was $125 worth of coins in there. That's gone.

But that's about it. I later determined one other thing was missing: two-thirds of a 1.75 liter bottle of Captain Morgan rum. Not sure why I realized it wasn't sitting amongst all the crap on my kitchen counters, but somehow it occurred to me.

So somebody broke into my apartment during the daytime, by kicking in the door, to look for a quick cash grab. Was $125 a successful take? I'd have to think so. How many people have more than that laying around their apartment? I have no idea, maybe everybody does.

My assumption is that it was a rather amateur thief, working alone. He grabbed a big plastic tube of coins and a jug of liquor and carried it out of the building to a vehicle somewhere. Perhaps he had a duffel bag of some sort and took something I didn't realize, such as one of my pay stubs sitting on the kitchen counter, unopened. But I doubt it. Any thief who makes a point to take a large, partial container of booze isn't probably collecting a lot of personal information. I'd have no way of knowing if he grabbed personal information, but it wasn't obvious that any such letters/documents were removed from any pile in my apartment. It was clear he went through a dresser drawer looking for cash underneath clothing, but I doubt he took the time to look carefully at envelopes to determine if they might contain valuable personal information without disturbing the piles in my apartment. I am sure he was in a hurry, given the noise he had to have made kicking in the door, even if there were few people in either building, as evidenced by the lack of cars in our lot most days.

So what did he miss? He went through several dresser drawers, but not the top drawer of the second dresser he searched. In there are a couple of bank envelopes contain petty cash. One has maybe $20 in $2 bills, the other contains $30 or so in mostly singles, singles I've collected for various reasons. Most because they were marked by others who use to track the movement of bills. A few just because they were old, including an old $10 bill. I'll bet there's at least $60 total there...I haven't counted. But he missed them. There were also two Minnesota Twins tickets in the drawer, valued at about $60. The contents of the drawer would have added another $100 to the take, so I am lucky.

Amongst the many things spread out across my kitchen counter was a pile of cards, such as gift cards and video store membership cards. In that pile was a valid Visa credit card with no balance due, meaning it had a few grand in available balance. I'm not sure how easily you could get away with fraud simply by having a credit card that says "Ask 4 ID" on the back of it, but it would be worth something in the wrong hands, I am sure. He was too focused on that big bottle of rum, lucky me.

Had a burglar broken into my car by shattering a window, it would have cost me more than the $125 in coins that was stolen. So I do feel fortunate that it wasn't worse.

But it was a rather sobering experience, literally. Had it never happened, I'd be drinking a rum and Diet Pepsi right now, writing about the chick flick I saw tonight, or something like that. Instead I have a lot of thoughts to express during the next few nights, although it cost me about $140 in rum and coins. At least I hope that's all it cost me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

29. (unedited)

Sometimes you sit in front of a blog page, and nothing comes to mind.

Sure, I never wrote about my walk up and down the beach while on vacation in Mexico, but that will take 30 minutes to write, and I'm not inspired tonight.

There were no surprise announcements today that a friend is getting divorced. There was no axing of talent at my once-proud newspaper conglomerate. There was no nifty prize waiting in my mailbox from a local radio station.

Today was a very boring, average day. OK, it was a bit windy, way too windy for me to entertain the idea bicycling before a city council meeting. I have biked under lousy conditions, but it's too early in the season for me to be attempting such a ride today. I don't have the leg strength yet. I hate the early-season rides. They're so painful, and humbling.

Oh, there was a memorable moment today. I said to a co-worker, jokingly, not to let his Parkinson's Disease affect his ability to hold a camera steady while shooting video. Turns out he has Parkinson's Disease. I had no idea.

I don't feel embarrassed about making the quip. The guy doesn't exhibit any signs that he might have Parkinson's Disease, so it wasn't like I was picking on an obvious physical flaw. But I felt bad because I just learned that one of my co-workers has early signs of a debilitating disease for which there is no cure. There is a guy in my company that I'd argue deserves it, but Charlie isn't him.

Monday, May 11, 2009

28. 1 becomes 2 (unedited)

I was sitting at a city council meeting tonight, bored, tired and sore. My spring bicycling is underway, and it's always painful. Thirteen miles feels like a chore at the beginning of the season. My ass is extra sore from the seat at the beginning of the year, and this year I'm getting pain in my neck and shoulder that I'm not use to. Of course I won't go to the doctor unless it cripples me.

So as I sat at the city council meeting, pitying my life, I wondered what I could possibly be inspired to write about tonight. then, as I was driving home, I had new messages on my phone. There was one from last night, that I didn't know I had, and a second one tonight from Chuck, a college friend. She's getting divorced.

This news wasn't a total surprise. Chuck saw this coming back in December, and was prepared for the end, right before the annual holiday pilgrimage to visit the families. As it turns out Chuck and her husband decided to continue to work toward saving their marriage. Well, that has come to an end.

I remember meeting Chuck for dinner one night several years ago. She had ended a long-term relationship with a real dufus. He was a likable guy, but he wasn't originally from our planet, I decided. He was 12 or 13 years older than Chuck, had never been married, if I recall correctly, and had a solid career as a school teacher. His life was pretty decent, and clearly he wanted a relationship. Chuck wanted to get married and have a traditional life. The ex-boyfriend didn't, evidently.

You'd think that a guy in his early 40s might be willing to make a few concessions if he wants a long-term relationship. I promise you this, if I meet a woman 12 years younger than me tomorrow who doesn't irritate me constantly and doesn't already have a litter of kids, assuming I'm attracted to her I'd consider myself one lucky son of a bitch. Maybe Chuck's ex never wanted kids, being a school teacher and all, and knew that it would never work because Chuck wants children. Whatever the reason, he wanted to maintain the status quo, but Chuck didn't want that in her late 20s. End of relationship. (The ex didn't handle it particularly well, I heard. He wasn't psychotic, but he was rather remorseful and regretful, but for Chuck there was no turning back.)

Enter her husband. Chuck and her husband were set up through mutual friends, having met a few years earlier. Chuck didn't like the long-distance aspect of the potential relationship, but against her better judgment she went on a date. Nothing really happened on night 1, evidently. But Chuck consented to a second go of it, and something happened on night 2, Chuck recalled at dinner. It was as if everything magically clicked in her life. She was quite happy, or so it seemed.

But there was the issue of distance, about 75 miles or so. Chuck lived in the Twin Cities, her husband did not. And to make matters worse, his employer asked him to transfer out of state indefinitely. Chuck and the husband decided he should do so, and shortly thereafter she would join him out west.

Within a couple of years they were married, and not long after that they came back to Minnesota. They ended up in the town her husband had lived and worked in prior to the transfer. That was great for him, but a bit tough for Chuck. Sure, she was 90 minutes away from her friends and family in the Twin Cities, a lot closer than she had been, but she had to adapt to a life her husband knew quite well.

Her husband did well for himself, and Chuck found meaningful employment in her profession(s) difficult to find outside the Twin Cities. The fact she didn't have to work 40 hours per week might make many jealous. But for Chuck it was a bit of a sacrifice.

What seemed to be a well matched pair wasn't quite the perfect match. Chuck still wants to spawn a child, (why are people drawn to that I don't understand,) but it hasn't happened. And clearly it won't at this point.

So after seeing multiple counselors and attempting to find a reason to stay together, they failed. And although I only have one side of the story to judge by, it's safe to say things are going to get a bit ugly.

Her husband proposed resolving the divorce without attorneys or a court battle. Chuck was fine with that. Something changed, because quite to her surprise Chuck wound up being served with divorce papers. So now Chuck is trying to find an attorney to represent her, (which isn't as easy as you would think,) trying to line up an apartment in the cities, preparing for periodic trips back and forth for a future legal showdown and trying to find any sort of a job in the worst economy of her life as she prepares to go it on her own after years of relative dependency upon her husband. I don't envy her.

And once again my meaningless life doesn't seem so bad. If only I could afford a massage or three.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

27. 37 blogs in 40 nights

I did it yet again. Ever since I forgot to blog, I am on an every-other-day completion rate. So if I was to write 40, it'd take me at least 43 nights. And given I'd miss a couple of nights due to being out of town, (which wouldn't count against me, per my rules,) it would technically take me at least 45 nights to get to 40.

Since I make the rules, here's the new plan. I won't get to 40 blogs in 40 nights, but when I hit what will be night 40, this experiment ends at whatever total I am at. At best I'll write 37 blogs in the 40-night span. But if recent performance is indicative of future results, I'm not going to get past 32. We'll see.

A lackluster weekend has come and gone. There are going to be a lot of them this summer. I wish my life was a thrill-a-minute plane ride, but it's not. Now more than ever.

But rather than dwell on the excitement that is not forthcoming, let me say thanks to my mother. She has worked hard to make ends meet for her children as we were growing up, sacrificed some things along the way and got far more than she ever bargained for when she married my father 40 years ago. Most people don't think about what their life will be like if they don't grow old with the person they marry, and my mom may very well have opted for a different route if she could have known how the chips would fall. But despite all the challenges life threw at her, she persevered, and is a far better person than I will ever be.

Today was a day to honor mothers. My family did that, but in doing so I was reminded of how fortunate I am. It's too bad I'm too lazy to count my blessings.

Friday, May 8, 2009

26. 40 blogs in 42 nights (unedited)

After 24 in a row, I have missed two blogs in three nights.

I have learned that it is hard to find the inspiration to blog every single night when it becomes an obligation. I always have an idea in the back of my head, but that doesn't mean I have the passion to write when the night comes.

And again last night I thought about the blog, but had brought work home with me, and thought I would do some of that first, then blog. Needless to say I forgot about blogging when 2 a.m. rolled around.

If I hadn't missed a night, and don't go out of town next weekend, I could have finished 40 blogs by the start of Memorial Day weekend. At this point, however, it will take until Memorial Day, at the earliest, to finish my 40 blogs. We usually head home on Sunday, so that means I should be able to blog on Sunday night. By then I'll probably be five behind 40.

This spring will be our 20th annual spring camping trip. If you would have told me back in 1990 that I'd be camping with JayHawk, German Bear and Doug 19 years later, I'm not sure I would have believed it.

Obviously there's no reason I would have thought about where I'd be in 19 years, but had I done so, I never would have imagined that four of us would be getting together all these years later, or that I'd be the only person to make it for all 20 trips.

So, when I'm sitting around a campfire two weeks from tonight, trying to stay awake, can I see myself sitting there for a 40th annual camping trip in 2029?


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

25. God bless the Dixie Chicks (unedited)

I don't watch a ton of movies per year, and when I rent a bunch for a month or two during the winter via an online rental service I usually end up watching a decent number of documentaries.

Tonight I finally got around to watching "Shut Up & Sing," a documentary about the Dixie Chicks and how the lead singer's 12-word comment sent country music fans into a tizzy. When you look back on it, it was ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

Some hicks took exception to the fact that the comment was made overseas, as if saying it to an American audience would have made it OK in their eyes. Some people acted like they should be deported for daring not to support the president. And as usual, if you are against a war in any way, you don't support the troops who have no choice but to go to battle overseas. A death threat against the lead singer prior to a Dallas concert is chronicled in the film.

The Chicks didn't back down when it came time to record their first CD following the controversy, and the documentary shows them candidly at times, discussing strategies to maximize or minimize circumstances. The lead singer's response to President Bush's comments about their album sales is priceless.

And I forgot what an opportunistic redneck Toby Keith is. This movie reminded me.

I'm not a fan of country music, and I can't claim familiarity with their music, but the few times I've seen concert footage, I'm impressed with their material and performance. It may be country music at its root, but it can easily transcend the genre, which is perhaps why they did so well with their "Taking the Long Way" CD. That CD earned the Chicks five Grammy Awards. Damn impressive.

I'll never be a fan of country music, and I'll probably never own a Dixie Chicks CD, but after watching the documentary, I'm a fan of the Dixie Chicks.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

24. 40 blogs in 41 nights (unedited)

I made it more than halfway before I forgot to write a blog.

I was actually thinking about it last night when I was sitting at my computer, but I didn't have a good topic to write about, and inspiration was lacking. So I started playing an online card game, and before you know it, I went to bed without thinking about it again. For some reason I realized my faux pas early this morning after I awoke. The mind works in mysterious ways.

Today is the one-year anniversary of the day my worthless belongings were moved into my current apartment. I had hoped to move in before Cinco de Mayo, but I couldn't get it scheduled on the Friday prior to Monday, May 5, 2008, in part because it was threatening to rain, and the company handling my smoke damage didn't want to deliver my crap if it was raining. I couldn't blame them.

So here I am, one year later, and life hasn't changed much. I'm still drifting aimlessly, and the more I write about it on this blog, the more it sounds like my only skill is self-loathing. I need to start being more hateful with this blog. OK, I jest, slightly.

I am excited for what my short-term future has in store for me, even if it isn't glamorous. I look forward to September like I never have before.

Monday, May 4, 2009

23. I love a good scam (unedited)

Rush likes to call any deal I take advantage of a "scam."

If I use a coupon to get a free lunch, or take advantage of those goofy Walgreen's deals, it's a scam, according to Mr. Big Spender.

I went to the grocery store Sunday night. I noticed that there were instant "save $1 now" coupons on 24-packs of Pepsi products. I wasn't buying those, but that didn't stop me from peeling about 15 of the coupons off various packages. Rush and I had a discussion about this practice last summer. He mocks me for it.

I can't hold it against him. It is kind of lame. I spent five minutes discreetly peeling coupons off of packages, all for future use. In theory, the coupons are for use by those purchasing the product that day, but last I checked, I'm not committing any crime by taking them for future use.

As I have written before, coupons are kind of a disease. Some day I will have a six-figure income and no longer worry about stockpiling ill-gotten coupons. But until then, I need to save a buck anywhere I can, at least when it comes to Diet Pepsi.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

22. I missed 'em both (unedited)

There were two horses left last night when I got my chance to pick a horse. I picked a random number to select one of the two horses left. I had a chance to keep it, or to trade it for the remaining horse. Both were 50-1 in the morning line.

I traded the horse I picked for the remaining horse, Flying Private, because Flying Private was trained by reknowned trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The horse I gave up? Yep, Mine That Bird, the horse that won the derby.

I didn't lose out on much, just a Kentucky Derby prize package, such as a hat, T-shirt, etc., but it's amazing to know that I nearly won. That would have been a great story to tell had I won. Damn!

Of course I did win Queensryche tickets for Saturday night. Unfortunately the concert, planned in three sets over 2-1/2 hours, was to be done by 10 p.m. so the Myth Nightclub could have a disco dance party countdown spectacular for three hours. Since I was committed to going to the fundraiser, it didn't seem realistic to think I could get bail out after eating and make it to Myth with any significant time left. Doug may have went solo to take advantage of my free tickets, tickets Monica also won and couldn't use, but I couldn't make it.

Instead I sat through a prize raffle for which I bought five tickets. I walked away with nothing.

Somehow my luck ran out today. Damn!

Friday, May 1, 2009

21. Flying Private to Queensryche (unedited)

I'm usually sitting up doing something meaningless late Friday night, and when I am, I'm listening to ESPN Radio.

They have call-in contests most overnights and I have managed to win the "ESPN Sports Radio Match Game" a few times. I've lost once or twice as well, and once I was chosen to play as a guest celebrity rather than a contestant, which was a lot of fun. Given I'm a game show geek from way back, and love Match Game, I get a kick out of playing, whether or not I win the fabulous prize. (They always follow up references to winning a fabulous prize with the disclaimer, "prize is not fabulous," and they're right. For a nationwide sports radio network owned by Disney, you'd think they'd give you something valued at $25 or more, rather than something valued at $10 or less. The last time I won, I received a 99-cent ESPN Radio key chain. Seriously.)

Tonight they had a contest where everyone who got through on their toll-free line would get a horse in the Kentucky Derby. You pick a random number and get a random horse. If you don't like the odds of your horse, you get to trade it back. Then you're stuck with whatever you choose second. By the time I got in, there were two horses left, both 50-1 in the morning line. I ended up with Flying Private, which I preferred over the other long shot only because Flying Private is trained by the celebrated D. Wayne Lukas.

You receive a handful of Kentucky Derby gifts if your horse wins, but at 50-1 in a 20-horse field, there's virtually no hope of an upset, so I'm not going to win anything, but wish me luck!

I am a winner, however, thanks to the local "playing what we want" radio station. I have tickets to see Queensryche Saturday night. I've seen 'em in concert a couple of times, and they're a good band from the hair band era, but not the prototypical band of that era. They don't sing about cherry pie or staying up all night. Their songs, and musicianship, are a bit more sophisticated. A couple of buddies, including Doug, are big fans. So Doug and I are going, although the concert starts a bit earlier than I'd prefer, since I have to go to that fundraising dinner with mom. Such is life.