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Showing posts from September, 2016

The Upload Project #1

So, in a vain attempt to find the battery charger to our weed wacker, I rolled up my sleeves and started emptying out the last boxes in the basement and discovered that I have a metric ton of burned CDs that have piled up over the years and, in the name of wanting to well, figure out what the hell is on all these bad boys and significantly downsize my gigantic pile of random CDs. Happily, with my computer getting a new hard drive, that meant that the iTunes cupboard was somewhat bare as I had lost everything I had when the last hard drive crapped out. So, The Upload Project was born...  and it's been a weird combination of 'what the hell was I thinking' and nostalgia trip from the past ten years- and who knows, maybe even before.

So, for the sake of length (there are a lot of CDs and it's sort of time consuming) I'm going to upload ten CDs a month and finally find out what's on them all. Songs in italics are repeats that showed up on multiple CDs. Here's th…

#IAM911

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I blog pretty regularly and a general rule of thumb, I like to keep my day job separate from what I do on here. Discretion and confidentiality are a must in a job like this, so I've done my best to keep it out of my public writing sphere. That's not say that I don't talk about what I do or write about it. I just haven't- at least not until recently- put any of my thoughts out there for general consumption. So pull up a chair, because this is going to be one of the few times I talk about my day job.

For anyone happening by who doesn't know, I'm a 911 Dispatcher. And right now, APCO International (The Association of Public Safety Communications Officials- basically, the broad industry wide advocacy group for 911 Dispatchers) is making a push to get Dispatchers reclassified in the Federal Government's Standard Occupational Classification system. It's a little bureaucratic and somewhat involved, but basically, the Federal Government currently classifies 91…

Boozehound Unfiltered: Drinks By The Dram

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This bad boy represents my first foray into the world of Japanese whiskey and- my first time sampling one of the awesome products of Drinks By The Dram. Exactly what it sounds like, these mini dudes arrive in this compact, waxed sealed little containers (this one came from across the Pond from my Uncle after a recent Parental visit) and live up to their name perfectly. It was the perfect dram of whiskey- not too much, not too little, pretty much the perfect amount to get a good sense of what the whiskey is about and what it tastes like.

This particular dram is the Yoichi 10 Year Old Single Malt, which Master of Malt hails as "the jewel in Nikka's crown," The company dates back to 1934- but the founder Masataka Taketsuru went to Scotland all the way back in 1918 to learn the craft for a couple of years before returning to Japan to join Kotobukiya, which is now Suntory. (Yes, that Suntory.) The company is headquartered in Tokyo, but the Yoichi Distillery is located in Yoi…

This Week In Vexilollogy #183

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Quick! Name the only two flags in the world to feature a building!

If you guessed Afghanistan for one, you'd be half right, but the other is our flag for This Week In Vexillology- that's right, we're continuing our grand old meander around Southeast Asia with the flag of Cambodia: The building in question is, of course, the Angkor Wat, which has been on the flag of Cambodia in one form or another since 1850 or so. This particular flag was first adopted in 1948 and then readopted in 1993 after the restoration of the Monarchy. The first run of this flag last from 1948-1970, when the Khmer Republic was established. Their flag looked like this: The Khmer Republic lasted from 1970-1975 when the forces of the Khmer Republic were overthrown by the Khmer Rouge, who used this flag- and changed the name of the country to Democratic Kampuchea. But wait, there's MORE...  Vietnam invaded and overthrew Pol Pot in 1979 and then they adopted this flag and changed the name of the count…

Bookshot #92: King Charles II

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Why do I do this to myself? I seem to have collected a large amount of historical biographies over the years all of which could double as doorstops and they are long and somewhat arduous to read- happily, Antonia Fraser does her best to ease the pain and dullness and makes her biography of King Charles II a fairly engrossing read.

Why King Charles II? Well, I've had this long-standing desire to wrap my head around the English Civil War (or wars, in this case) as I've got a decent grasp of it's American counterpart but couldn't for the life of me figure out the complexities of Cromwell, Charles I and Charles II and how they all figured into the whole ball of wax that was the English Civil War.* I've got a biography of Cromwell waiting in the bullpen (also by Ms. Fraser) but wanted to start here to see if I could get a grasp of the guy who not only survived the overthrow of the monarchy, but came back to England to restore it.

So, clocking in at 612 pages this is an …

Albums2010 #82: Horses

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I sort of tripped and fell and discovered Patti Smith accidentally at one point- I'm not sure exactly when, but I know the song that did it: Because The Night. The Natalie Merchant version spent a good summer or two in my youth chewing up the pop charts and I kind of dug the song. But then I found out that Patti Smith had done what I thought at the time was the original (turns out none other than the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen wrote the song originally) so I ran down a compilation of Patti Smith's greatest hits, snagged it and gave it a listen.

It was awesome. (Along with 'Gloria', 'Summer Cannibal', 'Dancing Barefoot' and a great cover of 'When Doves Cry'.) But the album that everyone seems to talk about when you're they talk about Patti Smith is her debut album, Horses, so I jumped on my Spotify, did some searching and gave it a whirl.

The album opens with 'Gloria' which I had heard before and continues to rock. It starts nice…

The Pre-Endorsements: Confronting The Inevitable

If I could go to sleep and wake up sometime after Election Day, I probably would. It's awful, it's unbearable and while actual news is happening (you remember, the shit that actually matters) the media fixates on Hillary's hacking, wheezing coughing and hangs on every piece of verbal poo that flies out of The Donald's mouth. I honestly don't want to think about this train wreck of an election, but it's creeping up on me, so it's time to dip my toe into this kiddie pool of shit and see what I'm thinking about...  yes, it's time for The Pre-Endorsements...

For President:
I have no earthly idea who I'm going to vote for.  I can't stand Trump. I'm not a fan of Hillary. Jill Stein, despite being a candidate worth voting for in 2012, seems to have gone slightly off the deep end. (Though props for getting an arrest warrant- might be the only Presidential Candidate in history to get arrested in consecutive elections while running for President, w…

This Week In Vexillology #182

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This Week In Vexillology, we're still running around Southeast Asia, slipping just over the border from Laos to take a look at the flag of it's next door neighbor, Thailand:
The interesting thing about the flag of Thailand is the evolution it's had over the centuries. The first flag of Thailand (then called Siam) was a plain red one that made it's debut around the middle of the 17th Century. A white chakra was added around the end of 18th Century and then an elephant was placed inside in during the early parts of the 19th Century. From the middle of the 19th Century until the flag assumed it's present form in 1917, Thailand doubled down on the elephant, going for a large white one, facing the hoist of the flag, once again on the field of red- first without any regalia and then for awhile with some regalia on board for the ride.

Then 1917 rolled around and King Rama VI entered World War I on the side of the Allies and this flag emerged not long after. The colors are…

'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' --A Review

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For reasons passing understanding, I signed up for a double over Labor Day Weekend and, with the Missus and the Kiddos heading up to visit the Mother-in-Law and The Nieces, I did my best to stay up a little later than usual the night before so I wouldn't be completely wrecked for the overnight portion of my double the next day. My movie of choice? Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice...

I had sort of been of two minds about this movie when it was kicking around the theaters in the spring. Part of me wanted to try and find a time to go and see it, but part of me also thought that it seemed like a solid lock for a RedBox rental and it turns out that latter instinct was right. Don't get me wrong: it wasn't a bad movie, in fact, it was pretty solid and there was moments and flashes of brilliance and the outlines of something really really good were visible throughout the movie.

But, I think they still haven't quite figured out Superman* yet. I don't hate Henry Cavill in …

Randomness: Let's Do This, Hollywood

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So, for some reason at work the other day we ended up talking about the Meiji Restoration. (As 911 Dispatchers so often do.) And my co-worker and I had a brief discussion about the name of the American Naval Commander who broke Japan's isolation in the 1800s, which all the world knows is Commodore Perry. So I looked it up on Wikipedia (as you do) to see if I was right (I was) and look at the handsome fellow I found:
And his full name? Commodore Matthew C. Perry- and then it hit me: this is a biopic waiting to happen! (And no, Shogun and The Last Samurai don't count.) Plus, you've already got the perfect actor just waiting, just begging to play the part. Who else?
HOW HAS THIS NOT HAPPENED ALREADY? If he turns his smile upside down and eats a lot of cheese so he can look a bit constipated, Matthew Perry is a dead ringer for Commodore Matthew C. Perry. I bet they're even related! How insane would that be? Matthew Perry playing Matthew C. Perry a distant ancestor of his o…

Can We Talk About The Dakota Access Pipeline?

If you want proof at what bullshit our media has become, look no further than what's going on in North Dakota right now. Then check your the news... I guarantee you won't see a damn thing about it. Local news is a little better about it. I've at least seen news articles float by me about the protests in Iowa about the Bakken Pipeline (which, admittedly, I didn't read, but I've at least been vaguely aware of the controversy, which is more than I could say about the North Dakota section of the pipeline, which confusingly is being called Dakota Access- but is actually part of the same big-ass pipeline.)

Heavy.com has a pretty good round-up of the basics of what's going down in North Dakota and DemocracyNow.org has been all over this- they've got the latest here. (Speaking of which: I always appreciate news sources that are dedicated to the actual news instead of fluff and Trump. I will have to peruse it more often.)

What's bullshit about all this?

First of …

This Week In Vexillology #181

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This Week In Vexillology, we're heading down into Southeast Asia to take a look at the flag of a country that's actually had a passing mention or two in the news this week thanks to President Obama. That's right, it's the flag of Laos!
In the great cultural zeitgeist of contemporary American pop culture, Laos is probably on people's radar mainly due to King of the Hill, but if you go back a little further in our history, there's that whole secret bombing of the place ordered by everyone's favorite President, Richard Nixon. So, we've got some not-so-nice history with the country.

While Laos as a country is a relatively new concept, it's precursor was the Kingdom of Lan Xang, which lasted from 1354-1707 and was a major power in Southeast Asia during that period- it provided the cultural and political foundation for the state of Laos that exists today- and indeed, until the Communist regime began in 1975, Laos was a monarchy. (Coolest thing about Lan X…

Squawk Box: The Post-Frasier Grab Bag

After chewing through eleven season of Frasier, I was left without a direction, so of course, I went in about five different directions and launched into binges of five different shows, all at the same time. They're pretty wide-ranging, to be honest and somewhere better than others. So, without further ado: The Post-Frasier Grab Bag!

The Newsroom: There's an irritating thing that Aaron Sorkin does that you just have to sort of accept if you watch his television shows. They all have threads of commonality and similarities that run through them, from dialogue to character types, to whatever- there's supercuts of his Sorkinisms out there on the internet. That doesn't mean the writing's bad...  it's just ice cream. There are multiple flavors of ice cream out there in the world- they might taste different or look different but at the end of the day, it's still ice cream.

The first season of this show was rough stuff indeed. I hated the initial conceit of having t…

40 For 40: Year 3

Well, I'm officially 33. Which I guess makes 2016 my Jesus Year? I'm getting depressingly close to being halfway through my third decade of life (and therefore, that much close to death, which is always a cheerful thought.) How's it going? I honestly can't complain about most of it. I have two beautiful kids, wife that loves me, beautiful new house. Life is good. A little sprinkle of change could make work a lot more bearable right now, but failing a sprinkle of change, there's always the tantalizing possibility of another chapter in my career.

How's the list coming? I've got a couple of more years before the big 3-5 gives me the opportunity to change anything on the list, but so far, so good. There's been progress and I think I can get more done this year. Here's where we are:

1. Publish my novel.
2. Get another tattoo
3. Finish all 4,532 pages and 12 volumes of Winston Churchill's 'The Second World War.'
4. Run a 5k
5. Visit All 50 Stat…

Adopt-A-Team 2016-2017: Eredivise Edition

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I love soccer. It's not exactly a secret to anyone that gets to know me a little bit. I love Arsenal, I'm still pondering an MLS team to support. I'll sit down with a Bundesliga game when one's on. I love Men In Blazers. It's my sport! But the more I watch soccer and plug into it as best I can, the more I realize that some leagues get more love than others, so that's when I had a thought.

What about exploring some leagues that maybe aren't quite as prominent as say the Premier League, La Liga or the Bundesliga? Why don't I pick a league, pick a team and follow them for a season- in other words: go down the rabbit hole and see where it takes me?
Thus was born Adopt-A-Team!* And because, well, I have a great affection for the Dutch and their football, I figured why not start with the Eredivise!
So, I looked at the latest Eredivise table, wrote down every team playing in the top flight of Dutch football on little, teeny scraps of paper and put them all in …

This Week In Vexillology #180

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This Week In Vexillology, we're heading south and a little bit west from the Caucuses and back to South Asia, where we're going to take a look at the flag of Bangladesh:
Adopted on January 17, 1972 as the national flag of Bangladesh. It's almost identical to the one used during the Liberation War in 1971, except that a yellow outline of the nation of Bangladesh that had been placed in the center of the disc was removed- they reckon the difficulties of rendering the map correctly on both sides of the flag. What's unusual and somewhat striking about this flag is that the red disk is slightly off-center- they also wanted to avoid any use of the Crescent and Star symbol seen on the flag of Pakistan, because well, let's just say that the events leading up to the Liberation War and the independence of Bangladesh weren't exactly fun and pleasant.

What stands out about this flag though is that it's got a specific origin story-- and unlike, say the American Legend o…

True Confessions: This Shit Is Hard

I should have paid more attention in math class. I never quite believed it when every math teacher I ever had tried to tell me that 'this is important' and 'you're going to use this in every day life all the time.' And while it's true, I have yet to find a practical, everyday use for trigonometry or quadratic equations, the older I get the more I realize that adulting, as the young and the hip like to call it, is nothing more than one long equation that gets more complex with every element life throws your way.

Family. I try and be as present as possible in the lives of both my children. I have to learn how to fully unplug from work and just be present with them, because they're both awesome in totally different and unique ways. I want to read more to Little Man, because I feel like I never get the chance too. I want to lay down next to Little Dude as he chills on his mat, playing with his toys and smiling, laughing and making all kinds of neat and adorable…