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Showing posts from April, 2019

1,556 Miles Update #3

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Okay, it's been a busy couple of months and I'm sort of failing at this whole thing right now- but we're finally (I hope) through the busier period and I can get more consistent about this whole business, because honestly, I haven't been consistent at all and it kind of sucks. But-- the good news is that I managed to do something since last I posted a check in-- granted, it's not much of a something, but anything is better than nothing, right?

Here's where we were at the end of the last update:
I posted a rather desultory 41.1 miles on the Big Pink Bike- with a few days of walking to work thrown in just for fun. Though, I have to admit, I'm glad that I'm not walking to work this week as I am pretty sure it's going to do absolutely nothing but rain. But, combined with the 182.1 miles that I've already logged, that puts us at a grand total of 223.2 miles. Which means our map looks a little something like this:
That's actually a lot better than…

This Week In Vexillology #288

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Our tour of the counties of England continues this week and we're heading back north again to take a look at the flags of Lancashire-and we're going to do a double shot to handle Cumbria!

Let's start with Lancashire! First of all, we have to answer our now familiar question: where the heck is it? Well, I think the easiest way to describe it is that it's north of Liverpool and Manchester, west of Leeds and more or less directly southwest of Yorkshire Dales National Park. The county dates back to the 12th Century and appeared in the Domesday Book of 1086 but there were records of settlement that date back to Roman times. In terms of 'interesting things about Lancashire' I supposed I should lead with the fact that my maternal grandmother hailed from Lancashire and ended up living in Yorkshire and serving on the Leeds City Council where she took great delight in being known as 'The Bloody-Minded Lancastrian'-- which, I have to say, is honestly more interest…

Boozehound Unfiltered: Balcones Baby Blue

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A trip to Texas all but demands that you get ahold of some Texas whiskey of some kind and this trip was no exception. I had heard about Balcones Baby Blue- and indeed, Balcones in general a few years back and I've been keeping an eye out up here to see if any of their stuff shows up- but going to Texas I knew that I could find some. When we added a stop in Waco to our itinerary (to see the Magnolia Silos and make a quick stop at Harp Design) it seemed like the fates couldn't have aligned any better. We found a local liquor store and I got ahold of my bottle of Balcones Baby Blue as well as a bottle of Mezcal that turned out to be tastier than expected- but that's another blog post. (Actual visits to distilleries, I think are going to have to wait for the kiddos to be a wee bit older.)

Founded in 2008, Balcones started in downtown Waco in an old welding shop under a bridge and grew from there, starting their own distilling in 2009. I seem to be on a good streak with whiski…

Columbine at 20

I never knew who actually said, "The past is another country" until I looked it up. Turns out it's a quote by the author L.P. Hartley from his novel, The Go-Between and the full quote is, "The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there."

I was in third grade when the 1991 shooting on campus happened. I was in my sophomore year of high school when Columbine happened. I remember the pictures of the kids dropping from the second floor window. Running away from the school with their hands on their heads. The band and the choir were both on trips that week, so the next day, the school felt emptier than usual. There were rumors that someone had threatened to bring a gun to school that day and for the first time in my life, I could tell that the adults were nervous. They were doing their best to hide it, but it was tense.

No one did bring a gun to school that day. We had a fund raiser to send...  teddy bears, I think to that other CHS, two states over…

Netflix & Chill #61: Dune

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Watched On: Amazon Prime
Released: 1984
Directed By: David Lynch
Starring: Francesca Annis, Leonardo Cimino, Brad Dourif, Jose Ferrer, Linda Hunt, Freddie Jones, Richard Jordan, Kyle MacLachlan, Virginia Madsen, Silvana Mangano, Everett McGill, Kenneth McMillan, Jack Nance, Sian Phillips, Jurgen Prochnow, Paul Smith, Patrick Stewart, Sting, Dean Stockwell, Max von Sydow, alicia Roanne Witt, Sean Young
Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Pick: Mine

Dune is one of those movies that always seems to be on the SyFy Channel, TNT or [Insert Cable Channel Here] late at night that I don't think I've ever sat through and watched from beginning to end all the way through. I've seen large chunks of it- enough that I might as well have seen it from beginning to end- but never all at the same time. So when it popped up on Amazon Prime and, being stuck at work on a gloriously sunny 4/20, I figured what better way to celebrate the unofficial holiday than by watching Dune? The spice, after all, must flow.

In t…

This Week In Vexillology #287

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Our tour of the counties of England keeps on moving this week with England's smallest county: Rutland and the home county of Liverpool, Merseyside! Let's get to it!

Rutland is actually a pretty fascinating county- at it's greatest length, it's only 18 miles north to south and 17 miles east to west- and it's Latin motto leans into it's size: Multum in Parvo, 'much in little.' As an entity it dates back to Domesday Book-- the northwestern part, specifically, while the southeastern part is described as 'the wapentake of Wicelsea.' and it was first mentioned as a separate county in 1159 and called the 'Soke of Rutland' as late as the 14th Century. Rutland was it's own county all the way up to 1974, when it was integrated into Leicestershire. After another structural review of local government in England which was conducted in 1994, it made a triumphant return as a unitary authority in 1997.

Where is it? Well, if you head more or less direc…

Free Write Friday #10: Dragon's Eggs

"I don't need to tell you that the war isn't going well. The Elves have their golems in the north and the southern dwarves have those damned walking engines. In ten years, our empire will be going. So you get me those dragon eggs, captain. Or don't come back at all."

"Don't come back at all." Captain Vasili Borogov said in a mocking tone of voice. "Easy for him to say, he's not here."

Here, was balancing on the edge of an active volcano- well, not exactly active. There wasn't lava spewing out of the crater below. Poisonous gases and boiling hot rocks being flung into the air weren't pressing concerns- at least not yet. But it was hot. Really, uncomfortably hot. Borogov was dressed in thick leather from head to toe and metal plated armor to protect him from the heat- but in reality it was making him sweat profusely. It was, in short, awful. But it was, Borogov had to admit, somewhat necessary.

The General had been right. Granted…

Nine Years

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I've always been a little reluctant to talk about 'The Day Job' because I never wanted this blog and my writing to be about that. I like using the blog and what I write as an outlet and as something to feed my soul and my passion for writing a little bit. I've let 'The Day Job' really eat large chunks of my life at various points over the past nine years and it's taken me a long time to figure out how to fully leave work at work and focus on the rest of my amazing life when I'm not at work.
But it has been weighing on me a little bit: this is year nine. I think after nine years, it's probably time to lean into 'The Day Job' a little bit and own it more than I have. Over the years, I think I've put a lot of pressure on myself to 'do more' and 'figure out the next thing' and 'the next big career move' but the more I think about it lately, the less I feel that impetus to figure out what's next and move along. I …

On Faith and Politics

Look, it's ridiculously early yet. I'm not really expecting the race to really get down to brass tacks until fall at the earliest. There are more Democrats jumping into this race every day- so who knows how the race is going to go. Who knows who's actually going to win the Democratic nomination or much less with the election in November of next year.

It's ridiculously early yet.

That said, we gotta pause and talk about something that I never honestly expected to be talking about in this race- the odd, but important intersection of faith and politics that seems to have emerged in the race- mainly centered around the intriguing candidacy of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. To be clear: I have no idea whether or not Buttigieg is going to win this thing. He's raising money at a pretty brisk clip. He's got a lot of people interested. What that translates out to over the marathon length of the primary campaign and then the Presidential campaign I haven't the fain…

This Week In Vexillology #286

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Our tour of the counties of England is moving right along, because This Week In Vexillology, we've got the flags of Cheshire and Bedfordshire!

First up, Cheshire! We start with our usual question: where the heck is it? Well, find Liverpool, head south across the River Mersey and eventually you'll hit the city of Chester and find yourself smack dab in the middle of Cheshire. (For some reason, Google Maps doesn't want to give me a nice set of boundaries when I search for Cheshire, so unfortunately, no helpful link to the Googles.)

What's the deal with Cheshire? Well, it's a very agricultural county- hence, Cheshire cheese. But Harry Styles, Ian Curtis, John Mayall, Paula Radcliffe and George Mallory all hail from the county. So, let's take a peek at their flag:

Registered with the Flag Institute in 2013, it's based off a banner of arms of the former Cheshire County Council which was granted in May of 1938. (There was a big governmental reorganization of all th…

Psephology Rocks: All Right, It's The Greatest Show On Earth

I haven't really been all that inspired to nerd out over an election for a few months now. I was toying with the idea of doing a deep dive on Israeli elections and how they work, but I figured the results would be too depressing to really get excited about (turns out, that assessment was right) but then a flurry of news hit: Algeria got rid of it's old President (a bigger deal than people think) and is getting a new President. Sudan is getting new military leaders and perhaps a new President. Israel had it's elections and The Greatest Show on Earth is getting underway as we speak as India starts it's amazing exercise in month long electioneering.

So, there's a lot of things to talk about all of a sudden, so I figured, why not hop back on the Psephology Train and here we are. Let's start with Israel and the nuts and bolts of how it all works.

Israel has always been kind of a fascinating country from a political science viewpoint: it's got a unicameral legisl…

Sportsyball: Post-Bracketology

Adopt-A-Team: Trabzonspor is in the top 4! This might legit be the best result that my Adopt-A-Team has posted to date. When last we checked in with them, it was mid-February- specifically, February 18th, 2019. Since then, the results have looked like this:

W vs Goztepe
L to Umraniye (QF of Turkish Cup- lost 3-1 on aggregate)
D to Kasimpasa
W vs Akhisar
W vs Buyuksehir
W vs Antalyaspor

That's a pretty good run of football! Down the stretch they've got matches against Fenerbahce and Besiktas, so there's potential to move up further in the table, provided they don't drop any games down the stretch. All in all, it's pretty awesome. (Prior years: Defensa y Justicia is sitting in second place in the Superliga- and I actually think their regular season is done already. NEC Nijmegen is sitting in 14th place in the Eerste Divisie, so the news is not so good there.)

The Arsenal: Oh the peaks and valleys of the Arsenal season continue! They were looking pretty damn good and s…

Netflix & Chill #60: Saving Mr. Banks

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Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2013
Directed By: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Colin Farrell
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Pick: Mine

Netflix seems to have upped it's movie game lately, because Saving Mr. Banks sort of popped up last week when I was down with some kind of a stomach bug and I figured, what else was I going to do in between rounds of various stomach related ailments? Saving Mr. Banks seemed like the perfect sick day movie and that turned out to be absolutely correct, because with a cast this charming, it's hard to find complaints about this movie.

The film opens in 1961, with the financially strapped author of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) confronting the ugly truth: her book royalties have dried up and it looks like finally, she might have to surrender to the inevitable and let Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) adapt Mary Poppins for the big screen. Disney has apparently been after her for the right…

This Week In Vexillology #285

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We're back in the saddle again and heading back across the pond to continue our (now rather long-running) tour of the counties of England .I sat down with a printed map of the counties of England, a sharpie and a list of all the counties we've looked at so far and narrowed down the list of what's left. I figured we've got maybe a month, month and a half left of our grand tour- but today, we're going to keep on moving with Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

Let's start with Buckinghamshire. Where is it, exactly? Well more or less northwest of London. If you find Oxford and Milton Keynes on the map, you'll find the town of Aylesbury and that's more or less the center of Buckinghamshire. The boundaries of the county  narrow the closer it gets to London, running along the M-25 and the Colne Valley Regional Park before arching around the town of Slough and heading back up into the Chiltern Hills again. Seems like a lot of famous folks live in Buckinghamshire…

Free Write Friday #9: Familiar Day

Most young mages use incredibly complex spells and extremely rare ingredients to summon their familiar. You just drew a circle and threw a bag of chips in it.

The main lecture hall of Merlin College was starting to fill up as Preston Cameron Morgan IV made his way up the narrow stairs to the back of the hall. Preston was a large young wizard who loved partying more than the serious study of magic. He was the third member of his family to be accepted to Merlin College and had become a fixture of the fraternity that both his grandfather and father had been members of: Alpha Beta Rho. He had eschewed the usual robes today and instead wore a large, ill-fitting t-shirt with the fraternity's symbol on it and it's motto in large friendly letter below it: "Abras Forever!"

With a huff and a puff he flung himself into his usual seat and began to settle himself into his chair when he noticed that his friend, Teddy was shifting in his seat and looked somewhat green. "Why yo…

Bookshot #118: The Odyssey (Translation by Emily Wilson)

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It's surprisingly difficult to figure out how to review a work that you've read in various forms multiple times over the years, but that, I suppose, is probably par for the course when it comes to translations of the ancient works of Homer. I have a very good prose translation of The Odyssey kicking around somewhere on my bookshelf, but I began to hear a lot of good things about a new poetic translation of the work by Emily Wilson the fact that she is the first woman to ever translate it made me sort of curious about it. I threw it on the old Amazon Wishlist for Christmas, Santa delivered and I dug in.

Look, I know these are poems. They're supposed to be poems, Homer- whether he was one dude, a collections of dudes or entirely fictional was a poet. But between The Illiad and The Odyssey I've always preferred prose translations of the works. I don't know why- I think it probably has a lot to do with my general dislike for a lot of poetry. Growing up, my parents had…

Google+, 2011-2019

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Google+ is officially dying tomorrow and I almost want to say that I'm sad about it- but honestly, I'm not. In fact, I think the kindest epitaph for it is probably going to be a bunch of people saying, "Google+, is that still a thing?" when the doors are closed at the lights turned out tomorrow. Such is the internet. Such is social media. So it goes.

The debates about social media are going to be with us forever- or at least until social media as a concept dies or evolves into something else. One thing that I've learned over the years that I wish more people understood is that you should never have all your eggs in one platform's basket- because that's a good way to get screwed when things like this happen. Obviously, in the case of Google+ I don't think there are going to be that many people who went all in on the concept, but there might be a few. Lives, memories and photos are all going to be gone- unless you've downloaded them to your home co…