I can’t be mad about the water

We had a new coworker come on Wednesday, and already he seems to be making a favorable impression on me in the brief times I’ve had to interact. Just a few minutes ago, he sincerely apologized for taking a couple bottles of my water. (Others generally have left nominal money to compensate.) But I didn’t really mind the transgression. We made an agreement, and hopefully he’ll feel like I wasn’t offended.

The above-mentioned blunder certainly couldn’t be as big as the one I saw in the Battle Creek Shopper News yesterday. They ran an ad for the upcoming Field of Flight, but unfortunately it was one for last year. I was told the publication will run the correct ad for no charge (a public apology having already been issued), but I can’t help but feel bad for all involved. It also serves as a reminder that the festival is fast approaching, with all the entertainment (both seen and behind the scenes) that it entails. I’ll be helping out my friends as I have for the past several years, so if you come, I’ll be around.

This weekend seems to be another ho-hum one. There are a couple different events I wouldn’t mind attending, but the weather doesn’t seem like it’ll be the best for either one of them. I’ll probably use the opportunity to see Jurassic World, although it’s not a film I absolutely need to see. I’ll always love Jurassic Park, The Lost World was merely ok, while I never had any desire to watch III. Perhaps the rainy weather will compel me to read the book I currently have faster. Frankly nothing else has for any of my books this year.

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Such an underwhelming May so far

I know this will come off as crass to some people, but I’m really having a hard time enjoying this month. I feel as if I’m still unwanted. I had thought going to Spring into the Arts this past Friday might cheer me up, but I ended up going with my mother and her friend. It’s not that they’re bad people, I guess I just expect to be able to do those kinds of things with my friends. I suppose that’s my fault for not trying to reach out to some of them, but once Mom got wind that I was going, she just had to come, too. It makes potentially meeting up with anyone else difficult, as Mom insists on meeting up with me whenever she comes to these art walks. At least she paid for her share of dinner after I had treated her on Mother’s Day.

Meanwhile, my father is enjoying retirement and I’ll get to see him the Sunday before Memorial Day. It’ll probably be the last time I get to see him before he and Vicki embark on their national tour in their Airstream. I’ll be honest and say that I sort of envy him that he gets to enjoy the sort of lifestyle sans house. I’m pretty certain Mom does, too. Whether I fly out somewhere to meet up remains to be seen, but we’ll have to see what opportunities develop.

I am looking forward to my trip to Charlotte in July. This lightens my mood somewhat, but there’s plenty of time that I’d like to spend hopefully with non-related friends. The only other big thing I have planned is a U.P. roadmeet trip Labor Day weekend, and based on who else is going, I should enjoy that immensely. The western part of the U.P. is by far my favorite area of my home state. In all, summer should be good. We just have to get through May, first.

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Blue is the color

Yesterday was rather bittersweet for me. I had figured I wanted to visit with the Chicago Blues (a Chelsea In America chapter) one more time before the end of the season. The fact that we could clinch the league made yesterday much desirable. Chelsea had several Sunday matches in the last part of the season, but I have a family commitment in southeast Michigan on the final day which would obviously prevent me from going to Chicago (though it would’ve been cool to celebrate the trophy), and the Arsenal match was the weekend right after my Madison trip. But I had nothing else going on yesterday, so at the ungodly hour of 3:30 a.m., I set out for Chicago.

The drive out itself was rather uneventful, as it’s one I’ve made numerous times. I had overestimated the time it took to A.J. Hudson’s on the north side, so I strolled around the Horseshoe for a little bit before finally making my way to the pub. At least this time, I arrived with plenty of time before kickoff and could have a seat. The game itself could’ve gone better, but Chelsea got the three points they needed, so that meant celebration! A generous patron or two bought champagne for the entire group, and someone else bought Fireball shots (not my shooter of choice, but I’ll take if offered). There also were pictures taken in front of the pub, and of course many chants were said and songs sung. I don’t think the euphoria has worn off about actually winning the league, and it probably won’t until the start of next season. I also was glad I got to experience the euphoria with a great group of like-minded supporters.

Because I felt euphoric, I felt like celebrating by myself by attending that afternoon’s Cubs game. (There was an article about the need to do more things alone, but doing this was mere coincidence.) Anyone who knows the geography of the area (or just looks at a map for a few minutes) will quickly realize that Wrigley Field is within walking distance to A.J. Hudson’s, and I didn’t have to move my car from my prime spot on Ashland across from the pub. Many people along the way commented on Chelsea’s triumph, which only made the euphoria deepen. (It was interesting I didn’t really feel all that drunk despite the Fireball and champagne in addition to the beers I had at the start of the match. But as a precaution, I didn’t consume anything at Wrigley.) Attending my first Cubs game since I was a boy was quite fun. It got me an opportunity to see first-hand all the improvements being done. Unfortunately, we came up two runs short against the Brewers, but I was entertained with my last-minute decision.

After the game, I stopped at another bar for a drink and almost ordered dinner, but I saw a radar map on one of the screens and decided it would be prudent to get back to my car before the batch of rain got to town. I gradually made my way back home (going a little out of my way to finally clinch I-57), stopping for dinner at a Quaker Steak and Lube in Portage, IN. It was a trip well worth the time and hit to the credit card.

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Trivial matters

Tomorrow for the second time since getting back into the swing of it, I play a Team Trivia state tournament. The last time our team went, we were only one point off of finishing in the money. I’ve been fortunate to be able to play with a solid team and know that sometimes I have an answer that my teammates do not for whichever reason. Tournament questions by their nature are designed to be trickier than normal, so we really rack our brains when we have to come up with an obscure first name of a scientist, for example. I would consider myself strongest in scientific categories, with a sports, U.S. geography and song lyrics close behind. (Sadly, when they specify “football,” it always refers to pigskin. There hardly are questions about the sport across the pond to my disappointment.) But most of all, we still have fun while being competitive.

I’m still looking to take another major roadtrip or two this year. While last weekend’s trip to Delavan (in order to attend a Madison roadmeet) was a pleasant getaway, by and large it covered no new territory for me (although many stretches of road were new to me). I’ve always wanted to visit Oklahoma City (a cousin lives neat there), and getting back to Minnesota has been something I’ve wanted since a jaunt into Duluth almost five years ago. I also want to get to a major concert, so perhaps I can combine the two if the right situation develops. Regardless, this summer has to be better than the last two when funds were obviously more limited. I’ve already considered the Incubus/Deftones show in Cincinnati. Are there any other big shows within a day’s drive of Southwest Michigan worth considering? (Damn, I never made that bucket list of bands I want to see, did I?)

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Random thoughts

  • I’m wearing shorts for the first time this year, even though the weather will probably preclude me from doing any outdoor activity after work.
  • We scored an 84 at Team Trivia last night (perfect score is 86). We only missed a question about Shiva. But the host played the new Twenty One Pilots song, which I hadn’t yet heard. I may have to listen again before I decide whether it’s good. (Yeah, it’s good as is the video.)
  • Reese’s Eggs seem to simply be Reese’s Trees with smoother edges.
  • The previous thought was rather pointless as is this one.
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The junk versus the reality

I always seem to get SMS messages with requests to reset my Facebook password. Considering I don’t have anything of particular value there, I wonder why some unknown person keeps wanting me to reset my password. (It is said many of those unsolicited requests are accidental.) I wonder why my SMS inbox can’t be more real people wanting to do real things rather than some bot wanting to reset my password or alerting me to gas price hikes or offering me discounts on convenience store items I don’t intend to purchase. I’m pretty sure I lead a real life—you just wouldn’t ever know it based on what flows through my inboxes.

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Taking money from that state to the south is always fun!

Early Saturday morning, I decided to pay another visit to Hollywood Casino in Toledo. It gave me an opportunity to play some slot titles that aren’t at FireKeepers. This included the new Flintstones slot, which didn’t really have any large payouts despite all its hoopla (the show clips were top notch). But I think the biggest payouts I got were from a “Win It Again” title where I got a big line hit, then I was able to trigger the “Win It Again” feature three or four times. Suffice it to say, at 40 cents per spin, being able to hit for over $200 within 5-6 spins is never a bad thing. Then I hit a bonus on the first spin of a Bally game which (through a retrigger and a premium symbol hit with wild multipliers) amounted to $96 on a 50-cent bet. Before leaving, I sat down at a pai-gow table and left up $100 when they decided to change cards. Through all that, I ended up doubling the cash with which I entered.

Of all the casinos I’ve encountered, I have to say that Hollywood is one of the nicest designed in terms of its theme of 1930s film culture. If you even think about the floor’s layout, it could very well resemble a film reel. The only gripe I might have is that minimum table limits tend to be high (forget about finding a $5 table here), but the tables themselves are nicely designed with marble rails with built-in cupholders. I also have to like their house way of playing straights and flushes in pai-gow, which are ignored with a pair of tens or better with an ace top. (It allowed me to push my hand with a straight whereas more usual house rules would have resulted in a loss.)

Coming back to Michigan, I took the part of Ohio Route 2 that I hadn’t yet clinched and got to see two roadgeek-worthy things. The first was some goof OH 475 shields marking a detour for a closed ramp at I-475. The other was seeing a HAWK signal in the downtown area of the village of Delta. Much of the land is the same as seen from the nearby Ohio Turnpike, which is mainly flat farmland.

Overall, it was a relaxing spur-of-the-moment drive. The fact that I got some “Buckeye money” (as the guard at the casino put it) made it that much sweeter. I got to donate some of that for a spaghetti supper held for an anti-domestic violence charity, so it’s doing some good.

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Our self-made purgatories

By now I’m sure most people are aware of yesterday’s passing of actor Leonard Nimoy. His role of Spock in Star Trek leaves an everlasting legacy. While I certainly can identify with many of the character’s traits, a part of the New York Times obituary really struck out at me.

In Episode 24 [“This Side of Paradise”], which was first shown on March 2, 1967, Mr. Spock is indeed transformed. Under the influence of aphrodisiacal spores he discovers on the planet Omicron Ceti III, he lets free his human side and announces his love for Leila Kalomi (Jill Ireland), a woman he had once known on Earth. In this episode, Mr. Nimoy brought to Spock’s metamorphosis not only warmth, compassion and playfulness, but also a rarefied concept of alienation.

“I am what I am, Leila,” Mr. Spock declares after the spores’ effect has worn off and his emotions are again in check. “And if there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else’s.”

In one quotation, Spock expresses the despair and hope of human emotion. It rings true with me. While I have a lot of anxiety about how I carry myself, I can take solace in the fact that everyone else does as well. The details of our self-made purgatories will certainly vary, but as Spock says, none is worse than any other.

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Beautiful autumn

I entered my favorite season with a lot of happy news. My niece was born last month, I’m working full time again, I’ve gotten back into Team Trivia again on a somewhat regular basis, and somehow I can still win radio contests from time to time (the latest being tickets to this weekend’s Western Michigan game). As I’ve always said, persistence pays off. Getting a new Prius just before September kind of helps the other things, although I am a bit bummed I’m not joining several of my friends in Alabama this weekend.

During the next year, I’ll look to continue to improve all the aspects of my life. Since I now have a car with better gas mileage, I hope to take some more road trips and see places I haven’t before. I may also start to look for another place to live, since I wish to have a dog. Life is getting better for me, so I might as well put it to good use. I might have to expand on these thoughts later, but for now consider this a quick update on things.

Posted in Something about me

Band list

I’m using this post to keep a list of bands I’ve seen over my lifetime. I’ll try to include dates and locations when possible. After tomorrow, I can add at least four more to my list. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to many shows before I was an adult, so pretty much all of these occurred during adulthood. I’m not including local cover bands here as they may be too numerous to mention, but rather major artists which have toured nationally.

  • Vince Neil—played a free concert at Kellogg Arena for WRKR; I’m unsure of the date, but I’m thinking it was sometime between 2002 and 2004.
  • Greensky Bluegrass—numerous times, but I first saw them at a small bar in Augusta called the Barking Frog. They’ve gotten way too popular to ever play a show there again.
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo—played at Common Ground in Lansing July 2006. I think I was walking around the festival grounds during their set, but I did hear at least two of their songs. I was primarily there to see the next band on the list.
  • Styx—like I mentioned above, Common Ground in Lansing July 2006. By that time, Dennis DeYoung had left, which is why I’m planning to see him at Ribfest this year.
  • Downplay—first of three bands I saw at Common Ground on July 15, 2011.
  • Black Stone Cherry—second of the bands at Common Ground on July 15, 2011.
  • Theory of a Deadman—the headliner at Common Ground on July 15, 2011. What’s odd about it is that since then, I haven’t really been big on their music (or the other two that played that night, FWIW).
  • Skid Row—I had forgotten I had seen them at Ribfest in 2012 until I saw it on Timehop. The funny thing is that even though they headlined the night, another local band played after their set.
  • The Verve Pipe—two times, the first at Bronson Park in Kalamazoo when they played their kids songs, the other at Taste of Kalamazoo July 28, 2012, when they played their more traditional material. I also got to see Brian Vander Ark at a private event the following month.
  • The Wailers—Seen at Common Ground July 9, 2014. I wasn’t really all that impressed, even though their music is quite fine with me.
  • Flobots—Common Ground, July 9, 2014. These guys put on a performance worthy of the main stage, but as it was, they were slotted into the pavilion stage between the Wailers and Violent Femmes. My buddy listened to more of their set than I did, but that was simply because I wanted a decent spot to see the Femmes.
  • The Violent Femmes—Common Ground, July 9, 2014. Their set was much better than what I saw from the Wailers. The shoutout to the singer’s mother was a nice touch.
  • 311—Common Ground, July 9, 2014. By far the best performance I’ve ever seen at a Common Ground. I’m not a huge fan, but their 90 minute set kept me groovin’. The highlight was P’nut’s solo of “The Imperial March.” If you haven’t seen 311 live, this is something you need to do. I’m very thankful that I won tickets from the Lansing State Journal to have the opportunity.

One of these days, I’ll have to come up with my bucket list. There are plenty of bands I’d like to see live, and hopefully I’ll be able to do so in the coming years.

 

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Review: Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind

Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind
Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind by Biz Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit that I wasn’t very interested in Biz Stone before I read this book. However, I’ve found him to be an entertaining storyteller, and his story rather intriguing. He has a rather engaging personality that I probably would never realize he had if I hadn’t read this book.

Stone writes this as part memoir, but mostly it’s about how he wanted to build a company that wasn’t only successful financially, but successful altruistically as well. He reveals how various aspects of both personal and professional lives shaped him to be willing to give to others. Of course, much of this is focused on how he helped build Twitter, where he was able to put his corporate philosophies into practice. His relationships with the various people throughout his life are a source of refreshing humor.

If you’ve ever wondered about about some of Twitter’s backstory, this book simply cannot be overlooked. Stone’s candidness makes for a truly entertaining read, and I find that I respect the man a lot more.

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Posted in Book reviews
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