Showing posts from May, 2016

May On Medium

So, I'm getting back on the horse with my 'one piece of short fiction a month' goal and managed to shove this one over the finish line...  it was kind of a bugger, to be honest, but once I let the main character/narrator tell the story in her own voice instead of telling it for her, it felt complete. The Missus thinks there's more there... and you know what? She might be right- but in the meantime, for your viewing and reading pleasure: The Night Paul Bunyan Died (I owe y'all two short stories...  will hopefully make up the deficit soon.)

Boozehound Unfiltered: Laphroaig 10 Year Old

Back to Islay we go in this month's edition of Boozehound Unfiltered, this time to take a taste of a scotch that styles itself to 'the richest flavored Islay' of them all- yes, it's the Laphroaig 10 Year Old: You know, I've had this stuff before and it didn't really stand out in my mind all that much, which is surprising, given how tasty I found it to be this time around. While Lagavulin might embrace the smokiness of the peat along with Ardbeg, I found Laphroaig to be a more complex dram than I was expecting. Yes, the ever present pete was evident, but it wasn't a slap in the face. It wasn't overwhelming either. It was, in fact, quite pleasant to drink. Let's break down a toponym, shall we? There's some gaelic elements worth touching on: lag (hollow) breid (Norse: broad), vik (Norse: bay) which gets you something like 'Lag Bhrodhaig' or the Hollow of Broadbay. Another theory is that it could be related to a place name on the

This Week In Vexillology #168

This Week In Vexillology, we're still hanging around Oceania and various parts down under- only this week, we're taking a peek at the flag one of the newest countries in the world: East Timor (or Timor-Leste, if you want to be Portuguese about it.) This flag had to wait a long time before it's moment finally became 'official.' It was first adopted on November 28th, 1975* when independence from Portugal was declared- independence which lasted a whole nine days before Indonesia invaded and occupied the country. It took until May 19th, 2002 for independence to be won again and the Timorese didn't change their flag in the interim occupation- they raised the original one right back up there once they finally had their freedom. The Indonesian invasion and occupation was brought on by what else? A fear of communism- with civil war threatening to break out between the two main political parties (FRETILIN and the UDT) Indonesia played the Cold War cards and in

'Captain America: Civil War' --A Review

Well, this was a bit of a milestone movie for us, as I took Little Man along for this one and you know what? He actually did pretty well... granted, there were multiple trips to the bathroom and I did buy an extra bag of popcorn to tide him over through the end of the movie- but overall, he liked it. He thought 'it was really long' but liked seeing Spiderman. (No idea where he's picked up Spiderman from, but of all the superheroes out there, he seems to mention Spiderman the most.) He liked it! So there's that... Thankfully, potty trips didn't seem to deprive me of too many important plot points and the overall movie was incredible. In fact, of all the Marvel 'movie trilogies' there have been so far, Captain America probably ranks as my favorite (at least for now)* and they've saved the best for last and then some. The movie opens with Captain America and Iron Man in two very different places: Captain America is still leading the Avengers (Falcon, S

Time To Roll Up The Sleeves

I seem to be in a never ending quest to figure out 'what's next.' Make a plan, I keep telling myself. Think about it, figure out what to do next and then once you do that, just go out and do it. Five more years until loan forgiveness*, you can do this. It'll be worth it. Problem is, that leaves me sitting on my ass and thinking about things instead of rolling up my sleeves and getting out there and actually doing things. Maybe that's been what I've been doing wrong all this time. I've always told myself that I hate people that expect 'the thing' just to knock on the door one day and introduce itself- you've got to actual be a little proactive about going out and finding 'the thing' whatever it is. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that and ended up breaking my own rule and became one of those people just expecting 'the thing' just to knock on the door one day and introduce itself. Along the way, over the years, I've had pu

This Week In Vexillology #167

This Week in Vexillology, we've moved from controversy to non-troversy in our tour of the Pacific and Oceania- yes, this week, it's the flag of Nauru! Well, let's talk about Nauru. For a start, it's tiny. We're talking about the smallest state in the Pacific and third smallest in the world, behind only the Vatican and Monaco. It's got just over 10,000 people and has a unicameral 19-member Parliament headed by the Speaker, Ludwig Scotty and their President is Baron Waqa (I kept thinking: Baron Harkkonen from Dune? Where is House Waqa from?) Phosphate mining is a big deal there. So naturally, (before we get to the meat and potatoes and talk about the flag) that got me wondering: how the hell does one get to Nauru? Well, if you can get yourself down under there's flights out of Brisbane . Not sure how much they cost, but it's possible. But then again apparently not many people actually go... Originally grabbed by the Germans, Nauru passed into Austra

Cooking Around The World: Venezuela

So, awhile back the Missus and I started this tradition with Little Man, where he goes and gets the globe out, closes his eyes, we spin it and wherever his finger lands, that's the country we make a meal from one night a month, learn some basic facts about a country (I usually have an excuse to get online a buy a flag, which doesn't exactly displease me) and all in all, it's usually a lot of fun. This month, we tackled Venezuela! On the menu: arepas!  Okay- we made one big mistake with these guys right off the bat: we got the wrong flour! We kept seeing all these recipes say over and over again, 'masa harina is not the same thing as arepa flour' and 'arepa flour (precooked cornmeal)' so we went ahead and got cornmeal...  yeah.  Not the right thing to get. I dutifully mixed my two cups of cornmeal with some salt and added two cups of water only to end up with soup. Happily, we had a bread expert on board for the evening (the Madre) who saved us with some f

MLS Quest Round 2

I've been somewhat neglectful in my duties of late- we moved, right now we don't have cable (we might jump back aboard the Mediacom train, but we might also cut-the-cord once and for all and go the Sling route) so my chances to watch soccer have been somewhat limited of late. I snatched the closing minutes of Chelsea's win over Tottenham, but haven't been able to catch too much MLS action of late, but last Sunday I changed all that, catching the back half of Sporting KC vs Orlando City and a goodly chunk of the Portland Timbers vs NYCFC. I looked through my list and made some cuts... this is what's left standing: Western Conference: FC Dallas Sporting Kansas City Colorado Rapids Real Salt Lake Eastern Conference: Columbus Crew SC Chicago Fire Toronto FC Montreal Impact The teams in italics  are ones that I want to actually see play- I keep hearing a lot of good things about Toronto FC and obviously, Montreal is worth talking about- not only because it

Lost Keys, #DadFail

We've been pretty lucky so far with Little Man and the stuff that's really important to him, One of our first trips with him was to Des Moines and we almost forgot his blue blanket- but a quick call to the hotel bailed us out and we managed to pick it up. There was that time I left his cowboy boots in the seat of one of the race car grocery carts at Hy-Vee and had to frantically drive back to the parking lot- only to amazingly find that the boots were still there and the cart hadn't moved an inch. There was those frantic few hours when Baby Bear was missing, whereabouts unknown until we figured out that Little Man had stashed him in the cupboard under the sink in the bathroom. But, our luck ran out, finally, with his keys. Ever since we moved into the new house, he had been missing those keys. And when I finally found them in a box downstairs and surprised him with them the next morning, he was so happy- like the ridiculous, unadulterated joy that only kids have.

This Week In Vexillology #166

So, This Week In Vexillology, we're still in the South Pacific and looking at the flag of the pleasingly-named nation of Tuvalu. (Seriously, it really is an awesome name. Just rolls right off the tongue. Tuuuuuuuvalu.  Tuvalu!) Adopted on April 11th, 1997 for national usage, the flag of Tuvalu reflects it's status as a former British Colony with the Union Jack present in the upper left canton- however, unlike a lot of other former British colonies, the field of the flag is sky blue instead of a more conventional, dare I say, British blue. The nine stars in the flag represent the nine islands that make up Tuvalu- and here's the slightly cool thing. The arrangement on the flag is actually geographically correct- with the east being toward the top. There's also a little bit of a linguistic disconnect, as the name Tuvalu actually means 'eight together' but population pressures lead to the settlement of a ninth island- so they added a ninth star. (The islands

Squawk Box: Deutschland 83

You know, I'm not sure where I first heard about Deutschland 83 . Could have been a random article on or but man, am I glad I tracked this down on Hulu and watched it. Broadcast on the Sundance Channel over in the United States, Deutschland 83 is a German import that should rank right up there with The Bridge and The Killing as excellent pieces of television- even more so when you consider the fact that the show only has eight episodes to work with and a ton of story to tell. Set in West Germany in 1983, Deutschland 83 opens with a young East German soldier by the name of Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay) who gets sent undercover to West Germany to serve as an aide-de-camp to Major General Edel (Ulrich Noethen) who is a high ranking General in the Bundeswehr (West German Army.) He's given a new identity (Moritz Stamm) and a code name (Kolibri) and begins to pass information back to his handlers in East Germany. Initially, he's pretty reluctant: his mother,

A New Map For America

Is the concept of a 'state' in need of a reboot? Seems like proposals for reorganizing America are popping up more often and it's kind of thought-provoking in a way. Why not break free of these relatively artificial boundaries we've created for ourselves? Who says we need to have fifty states? Or even ninety-nine counties, like Iowa does? The whole idea of 'reorganizing government' at the structural, macro type of level instead of tinkering with laws and stuff really popped onto my radar in 2014 and Iowa's last gubernatorial race where a new political party called the New Independent Party Iowa proposed a radical reorganization of state government- the details of which are here , but the big kahuna: reducing 99 counties down to 9 regional centers (which includes 9 state universities...  not sure how that's going to work.) Of course, if you love maps like I do, the idea isn't exactly new- Urban Planner Neil Freeman created this map , which shows w

Asking The B1G Questions

So the Big Ten is getting a new television deal and Fox is reportedly set to pay a stupid amount of money for half the TIER I television rights with ESPN the most likely candidate to pick up the other half- now, over at Hawkeye Nation there was a fascinating podcast about this very thing that's worth a listen. So, here's the link , go listen and then let me know when you're done, all right? OK- so you listened, right?  Good.  Let's talk about this: I think the point that Deace keeps hammering on in the podcast is a good one. Demographically, the Big Ten is not in a good place- populations are shifting away from the Rust Belt that's traditionally been the Big Ten heartland and in terms of the conference's geographic footprint, the power is shifting south and east in a big way. (It could also be shifting west and south- but westward expansion unless Delaney blows up the Big 12 to get Texas and/or Oklahoma is a dim prospect in my book.) So, from that point of v

This Week In Vexillology #165

This Week In Vexillology, we're still in the South Pacific and this week, we're looking at a flag that can never be altered thanks to the constitution of it's nation- yes, it's the flag of the Kingdom of Tonga! Adopted on November 4th, 1875 for national and civil usage, the flag of Tonga is heavy on religious symbolism. The red cross alludes to Christianity. Methodist missionaries arrived on the islands in the early 1800s and began converting the islanders to Christianity and in 1831, they succeeded in converting a Paramount Chief who would eventually become King George Tupou I in April 1845. Today, 97% of the population is Christian. The white in the flag symbolizes purity and the red evokes the sacrifice of the Blood of Christ shed during his crucifixion. In 1875, the Kingdom of Tonga got a new constitution which codified the new flag design. Article 47 of their constitution states 'this flag can 'never be altered' and 'shall always be the flag o

Let's Talk About Leicester City

I assumed it would wait another week having checked the score at halftime. Tottenham was up 2-0 on Chelsea and given how Spurs have been playing of late, I assumed that was that. Glory delayed- but perhaps not denied. A little while later, I saw something float by me on Facebook about 'the entire country cheering that Chelsea goal' and quickly found NBC Sports to catch the final minute. Chelsea pulled out the 2-2 draw and the Premier League title belonged to Leicester. (And boy did it get chippy at the end... Spurs, I think, felt the moment slipping away and got frustrated. Chelsea, well, Chelsea gonna Chelsea, I think people would say- I saw something on Twitter pointing out that it was very like Diego Costa to actually get injured and end up pointing to the wrong side of his face, but there you go.) But Leicester: as a dutiful Arsenal fan, I think I'm obligated to express my relief that Tottenham didn't actually win the League- though without a shopping spree and