Friday, December 30, 2011

A Good Read

Ramblings Post #176
I am a reader. But I think I've said that. I read to make me a better writer. I read things I don't always find interesting, or things that I think maybe boring, if only to find out why so I don't replicate them. Which is how I ended up reading those Blaine McCraken novels by Jon Land (And no, I am not linking to those). Let's just say you need to read what you're not going to write, so you know not to write it. That, and I have a lot of free time since I'm off from school.


I love a good read. I started reading when I was young, with the typical for the time Hardy Boys and other fare. I lived in a fairly small town, and there was a time when my mother would let me and my older brother walk...across a major highway, the railroad tracks, a housing project and cut by the stream...to the county library. Unsupervised. This might have been when I was in the first grade, but I'm not sure. It was a while ago.

But I read everything. Historical novels, biographys, fiction, science fiction, fantasy, romance, westerns...most things written on paper. It has to be horrible for me not to read it, but if I get too far into it I'll finish it just because. But once I find something good, it pains me that I can't read all of it or that there isn't enough of it to satisfy me. In need something like Terry Prachett's Discworld series, now at thirty or more books or Battlefield Earth, which clocks in at a thousand plus pages. If the writer is good enough, and the story long enough you grow to like the characters and see them grow and mature which makes for a better read.

Lately, I've taken to reading webcomics. If you look around, what you get are basically graphic novels of a sort, comic books really, minus a lot of the reaching for the masses editing, while still giving enough of a story to read. And because they're webcomics...a lot of them go on for years, so as long as you're willing to hit next for a few while...okay, days...they get to be interesting.

The ones I'm going to list here are science fiction mostly, but the genre covers all areas, including Mary Worth style drama to High School Angst. I don't really read those, but I understand they are out there.

It might have been Monday when I started reading Schlock Mercenary, a series that once the art picked up has actually turned into something pretty good...and has enough width and breadth to amount something fairly intricately plotted. It started in 2001 and has run fairly regularly, with more than 3,000 strips since inception. It's a got a huge cast and continually oddly expanding storyline that just reads like one of those thick novels that has to list all the characters in the front so you can keep track.

Another I've been working my way through is Quantum Vibe, which posts five days a week. I only started a year or two again, and the art isn't as sharp as it could be, but then the author is on a tight schedule. I'm still trying to figure out where the story is going, but so far it's been readable. Mostly.

A new find of mine is Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, a swashbuckling epic. The heroine is... "a master of forty seven different sword fighting techniques, and has fought Sikh warriors, Conquistadores, a small pride of lions and a very large Mongolian man with a large sword, a small brain and a bad temper. " It's been an good read, with great art so far. I'm looking forward to the end.

Another one that only started in the last year is Spacetrawler, a story of seven people abducted by aliens to save an enslaved race...and that story just keeps taking odd turns. The characters are memorable, and extremely flawed however, which makes for great writing. It only publishes twice a week, so I'm getting a little anxious.

I also check in from time to time on one called Endtown, another where the hero is a cross dresser called Skin Horse (don't ask), and the positively existential Sinfest.

May all time favorite however is Girl Genius, the creation of Phil Foligo one of my favorite authors. The book, which I've discussed on here follows the adventures of the title character as she reclaims her family throne. The interesting part is that the story, which posts three times a week, has been at this for years and only recently has gotten to what I guess is the meat of the story.

Two things about the stories that I like is that the characters don't fall into the normal characters that show up in every other story. They tend to move outside normal archetypes. Because the internet is such an inexpensive way to produce the stories outside the norm are possible. And the other thing I like is that the authors tend to embrace the new media of the internet properly. The sites generally don't charge for access. That's right, they give away the product for FREE. But Girl Genius and Schlock sell books of the collected comics...ala Doonesbury.. which actually sell well. I imagine most of the others will eventually if they don't already.

Their leveraging the product to build an audience for the merchandising. It's like when they sell books on Amazon for .99 cents. It's to build an audience.

Most of these I'll wait week to check out so I have a couple of days worth of work to read. And they usually post on a pretty good schedule. My latest interest is Drive, where the author was nice enough to tell you he had another project and the schedule was going to be off. It's a certain closeness to the product. The new medium makes that possible.

Barkeep, a bowl of Rice Krispies. I got some reading to do. Leave the box.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Off the Top Rope....Touchdown!

Ramblings Post #175
The sports festival that is the New Year is about to go into overdrive. Between the bowl games, the NFL, the NBA and my Playstation, it's gonna be a weekend to remember. Well, not really. Because the "match-up of the century" is going to happen every year from now until they run out of adjectives. And next year, I'll have the new iteration of whatever is supposed to be the hot sport. Maybe FIFA. Isn't sports grand?


This week the NFL, apparently desperate for ratings, has stolen a page out of the book of the people Jim Crockett Productions and staging a Loser leave town match...er, game for the NFC East title. If the refs get "accidentally" get knocked out at some point, don't be surprised. Happens all the time in wrestling.


Sunday night, in the last regular season game of the year, the Cowboys and the Giants will square off in New York for the NFC East crown, and the loser has to wait until next year to prove they didn't give up on the game. And since neither team can mount a running game at this point - Dallas due to injuries and New York because they just can't - it promises to a battle of quarterbacks. Much to the delight of the schedulers, this will be a off the top rope type affair, a high scoring shoot-out....

...unless the Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan does his job and actually stops somebody.

Ryan is the son of Buddy Ryan, the Buddy is the man who invented modern football defense for all intents and purposes. So Rob comes from good stock. He also is running a defense that in three games this season have given up leads in the fourth quarter of more than one score. He is currently...overrated. A lot of people look down upon Romo, wondering why the media and the football experts heap so much praise upon a man whose team comes up short so often. But Romo doesn't play defense, so he's not dialing up the risky blitzes in the fourth quarter...nor is he a play caller like Manning, so he's not the one deciding to keep tossing it when the team is up two scores. But then the 'Boys can't cobble together a running game for nothing these days.

Note: The key to great offense is a GREAT offensive line.

If the Cowboys lose, most likely it will not be the fault of the offense. Most likely. I'm not saying Romo is perfect, but he's doing more than a few things right. If we're gonna assign blame, how about we assign it's where it's due.

I wonder if I'll make it all the way through this game. Cowboys games tend to make me...um...testy. I get upset, loudly upset, at stupidity. Or at least what I deem stupidity. If there was ever a time I've screamed at a television set, it was during a Cowboys game. In the past few years I have had to turn them off lest I strike something. And since this game is a for a ticket to the big dance...a seat they weren't even supposed to have? Blood pressure medicine and a large whiskey sedative.

Barkeep...start setting them up now. Bottles, not glasses.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Looney Toons

Ramblings Post #174
Since the break, I'm watching a lot of TV. Well that and playing the bejeesus out of my game system. In fact, I have to remind myself to leave the house for an hour a day at this point. I mean, it's cold outside, and my house is warm, the food is close, the bathroom clean, and there is a movie coming one I haven't seen yet. There are no women here...major drawback. But I really don't like the cold.

I am not a big fan of cartoon remakes or reboots, or whatever you call them. The vast majority of them wash away the beloved memories leaving only the original hard shill sell we all conveniently suppressed. Now, I realize that you can do that with some cartoons, say the comic book based that have already been revamped a hundred times already. But some things should just be left alone.

At some point they rebooted Scooby Doo when I wasn't paying attention. Well, re-rebooted, because I'm certain the Harlem Globetrotters or Don Knotts weren't in the original 60's version. But they made the monsters real, snatching out the mystery element. It's a damn shame what they did to that dog. The revamped Tom and Jerry look cheap, I'm not sure what director thought starting over with Droopy was worth the investment, and the new Transformers (okay, I only saw the commercial) made me cringe. The commercial for the Thundercats looked like they might have put some thought into that one...so I'll let that one pass. For now.

But the things they have done to my Looney Tunes. I like the original looney tunes. I once posted Rabbit Season and Duck Season signs in my office. If they ever sell the box collection of June Bugs, the 24 hour Bugs Bunny marathon, I'm buying. The classic 40's and 50's stuff is classic, its like before writers got a taste of something cynical. They first tried a restart in the in the late 60's, but the images were shoddy. But those look like gold compared to some of the latest revamps...including the "babies" version they tried or the one where they turned them into something out of Tron.

So it was with much trepidation that I tried this new thing, on Cartoon Network now. The Looney Toons show.


It's actually....good. I guess it helps that the first set of Looney Toons weren't actually intended for kids. Just because they were cartoons people have forgotten they were originally filler for adult films. The new show isn't aimed at kids, unless kids are really interested in Bugs taking dancing lessons, Speedy Gonzales opening a pizza parlor or Daffy trying to run a corporation. It's semi sophisticated humor, more on a Seinfeld-esque bent than anything else. I found it watchable, which was a first for me and reboots.

Well, Duck Dodgers in the 24th and half Century wasn't all bad, but then I only caught like four or five episodes.

I can actually recommend this bit of foolishness. It's as though they actually let the writers write, instead of the usual Scriptomatic 5000 output that has driven the masses to reality television. And the less I say about reality television the better. Seriously.

Barkeep. Let me get a Carrot Martini.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Holiday Weekend

Ramblings Post #173
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening, something something, hear them ringing, we're riding tonight, I don't think this is right, walking in a winter wonderland. We mess around a build a snowman, then pretend that he is Parson Brown, he ask are you married, we'll say "no man, but you can do the job if you're in town," something something, dum de do, something something, hum hum hum, something night, walking in a winter wonderland.



I hadn't been home to see the folks in ages. Seriously, ages. We speak on the phone weekly, but for some reason that three hour trip has been harder and harder to square these past few years. Maybe because I'm a little scared that all the stuff I left won't be there when I get back. Scared maybe too strong a term, maybe "actively concerned." But after I didn't head down for Thanksgiving due to my enhanced educational situation, I felt compelled to head down for Christmas.

The Trip.

I live in a bubble, that is Atlanta. What I mean is that when social tension rears its head, it's a sudden reminder of things that happen so rarely I'd casually forgotten the caustic nature of their reality. No, it's not that I forget I'm black, in the south, it's that it's either usually not an issue or I've already taken the steps to minimize it. So when two guys started yelling at each other over a gas pump when I stopped for fuel it took me by surprise.

I'd pulled up, swiped my card and was gassing up. The lady at the next pump smiled at me and then I heard somebody yell loudly. Two pumps over a black guy was yelling at a middle aged white guy in a jeep. My trouble radar didn't go off, so I just watched silently. The black guy was fueling up, the jeep pulled off and I thought it was over. Then the black guy, middle aged black guy, yelled something and the jeep owner stuck his head out of the window and yelled back. At this point, the lady at the next pump dashed over to the black guy to calm him down. Seriously. Random black woman intervenes to keep random black man from doing something stupid.

The driver of the jeep pulls out of the station and goes across the street, so the whole thing diffused itself in a long fifteen seconds. I took note of the other odd couple in front of the station watching the whole exchange. The elderly white farmer in overalls and the young black man with dreads who after the jeep had pulled off looked at each other and shrugged.

I guess you never know. But then I probably should.

The Grand Folks.

I'm lucky enough that two of my grandparents have made it into their 90's. My mother's parents died when I was too young to feel the full effect, but I remember my mother's father as a kindly old gent who smoked a mean cigar and was always happy to comp us the bubble gum at his store.

My living grandparents are a lively bunch for old people, although my grandmother has been trying to guilt me into marriage and great-grandson for almost 20 years. She has other great grandchildren, many other great grandchildren, but the question of me always seems to come up. I like to believe every one of the grandkids still "holding" get this treatment, but I don't think so. My grandfather is planning on buying a golf cart so he cand drive around his property since he can't get around like he used to...when he was 80.

You hate to think that one day they won't be around. But then I think I've been blessed in this area more than I realized.

Christmas Day

Quiet. Family. A smattering of gifts but mostly just relaxing.

Hit Sporty up. Sent out a few Holiday texts.

Then driving back to Atlanta, because it's nice to have the stuff you left in your house still be inside your house when you get back. Driving back in the rain. Listening to the Christmas music...and the odd old school hip hop mix on some station out of Augusta.

The Day After Christmas

I had planned on relaxing and consuming enough water to clean my system out after the huge meals I'd eaten over the weekend. Well, that was the plan when I went to sleep Sunday night. Didn't work out.

Had a hearty All-Star at the Waffle House with my brother as I delivered his gifts to him. My brother is in a long term relationship, which has established its own Christmas rituals, so he didn't make the trip. I probably need to do the same myself soon. But that meal put me in back in the bed until dark...so like 4pm or so. Then trouble called. Or rather, my psuedo cousin did.

We rode over to a house party of a one of his buddies to watch the Falcons-Saints game. Not my usual fare, but I guess it will be soon, with small kids running about while the adults watched football and noshed. I have a problem drinking in front of kids, so I had a lot of soda and ate a lot of wings. And I've found that if the Cowboys aren't playing when something goes wrong or a coach does something stupid I can keep watching instead of cursing through the next three plays and turning off the TV before I start throwing things. So I watched and gave color analysis to the surprisingly underage crowd before calling it a night right after the whistle blew.

So It was a good Holiday weekend.

Kinda.

Barkeep, some of that Pale Moon beer or whatever it was they were drinking last night that I couldn't.

Friday, December 23, 2011

How do you know it's Christmas

Ramblings Post # 172
The Holidays are upon us. Well, they've been upon us for a minute, but since I just turned my paper in on Monday they didn't start for me until I dropped the paper off at my professor's house. And now, I have three weeks until school starts again. And the only indication it's Christmas around my house is that Santa now dominates the commercials. I'm a guy. Give me a break.

I'm old. Well, comparatively speaking, not really, but still I can remember when I used to think the age I am now was old. I remember before the internet. And I miss certain parts of my youth....like the trees that lined the road to my Grandmother's house, or that space under my bed. But I'm older, and I have a whole house now, so a space under my bed? Oh, I do still miss it.

In any case, Christmas is different when you're a child. I once theorized that Christmas stopped really being Christmas as a child when my outgoing gifts exceeding my incoming gifts. Which may or may not have happened yet. I fairly certain there was a period when it did, only I'm not sure. But then once you've crossed the threshold, there really isn't going back. Now, because I live alone, and have for over a decade, Christmas just ain't Christmas until I hear or see certain things. I appalled at how commercial this list is just looking at it.

1. The Grinch who Stole Christmas. I have to see it at least once. I used to own it on, wait, how old am I? I had it on video tape!

2. Silent Night by the Temptations. If you've never heard it, where have you been?

3. The Peanuts Christmas Special. I've seen it a thirty times and still am not sure if that's the actual name. But I do remember that poor little Christmas tree.

4. The Rap Trio - Christmas in Hollis, Christmas Rappin, and What you gonna get Crimmus. I seriously have no idea why, but these songs put me in a Christmas mood. They're not really traditional Christmas music I admit, but I am product of my experiences.

5. I see that lady at the mall doing free wrapping. Yes, really.

6. I start seeing advertisements for A Christmas Story's 24 hour marathon.

I'm not sure why I need those things. And considering how little Christmas shopping I did this year...I am currently an unemployed student, jeez...I had to make a special trip to see that lady at the mall.

One day I hope my mental triggers will be, I dunno, a child of mine reminding me that they've been extra good this year. Or a wife reminding me she's been extra naughty this year. In either case, let's just say that things are what they are...for now.

Barkeep. Some of that Eggnog Alize.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Then, something new pops up...

Ramblings Post #171
Everything is everything. And then you get the little bit extra that has existed outside of the whole and formed of nothing. And then you realize that everything really is just a lot, not everything.


All I've had to eat today is watermelon chunks and Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies. I'm in the home stretch, Finals are done Wednesday at 11:59, and I got one more  to do and then a quick look over my paper to see if I want to call it the final draft.

My schedule was thrown off today, because my RP is a proud papa. And because the kid is a few weeks early and they weren't at home,  I had to drive an hour north to see him. We stood in the hallway discussing the vagueness of life (football, witnessing birth, property values, getting old, kids nicknames) before they let us visitors in. He's a cute kid, all swaddled in everything warm, and I was jealous because his days are pretty much eating and sleeping. No finals for him.  It was quiet and cozy.

Ah.

Then I drove back and have been trying to reconcile these thoughts in my head so that I can put them on paper and send them in and be done with this final! Every time I think I got it figured out, a new thought comes to mind and I'm back into my notes trying to see if that works better. Scurry little brain cell, scurry! I only have the one, but he does good work.

Barkeep, I need a... barkeep? Barkeep? Hello? Oh, yeah, right....forgot.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Oh wither mine Cowboys...

Ramblings Post #170
You're making a sandwich right? You got the roast beef cooked to tender suppleness, a little wet but not too damp, the lettuce in crisp, the tomato is firm, the bread with a just a hint of sesame seed. You've taken the time to anoint it with a touch of oil and vinegar, a fine sheen of mustard and just a that thin glaze of mayo. Chips on the side, not that Lays but the good kettle cooked kind, and glass of iced tea. You sit down, take the first bite and you realize just then, on the verge of a taste bud explosion of sublime pleasure that the mayo is bad and not only do you have a bad taste in your mouth...you've ruined the sandwich. That feeling? That's snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.




From the Desk of Jerry Jones
Cowboy Stadium

Commissioner
National Football League

Re: Game Length

I would like to open next year's competition committee with a suggestion that the game length be shortened to 55 minutes, down from 60 minutes in the interest of ....er, player safety I guess.

Seriously, I think we can make this work.

Thanks,
JJ

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bar Chatter

Bar Chatter #22
Sometimes it just ain't enough to make a post, but it's still needs to go out....it's just bar chatter
.


I had four things I had to get done during this exam period. One down. I've slept the four hours on the couch I just managed to get up from - and the two hours last night - since Tuesday at 8am. I've eaten one meal in that time. I've come to appreciate the distinct difference between "almost done" and done. I've still got a long way to go and the only reason I'm not feeling horrible about my progress is that on my trip to library today that pretty much wasted my whole day I ran into a classmate that said they're in the same boat in their classes.

And now, looking at the small bottle five hour energy drink ...well, crack by another name ...by my monitor, I think I'm gonna have to step it up a notch.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Finals are...

Ramblings Post #169
It's funny, I never thought about getting this far or writing this much when I started this. This was a shot in the dark of sorts, something to do, someplace to talk and not worry about the look on the person's face when I said it. Now it's not that and still I continue. Strange, isn't it?



This is the way I'm supposed to be thinking.

Finals are sitting in a room on a hard kitchen chair for hours because Office Depot didn't actually have the one with lumbar support they said was on sale, staring at the increasingly small type on the same two screens all day long slogging through material that makes your head hurt, your fingers cramp and makes you feel a little less happy its all not crystallizing as it should.

Finals are quiet, an eerie quiet, because music or the television you sometimes play so the house doesn't feel so empty would be distractions from what you need to do and so all you hear are the click of the keys as you type, the faint thrum of electricity, the passing cars on the narrow road outside, the squirrels leaping from tree branch to your roof and the your own heartbeat when you stop to gather your thoughts.

Finals are eating something you know you shouldn't because making something you know you should be eating doesn't satisfy that growling at the back of your soul for a friendly face, a warm laugh or the gentle touch of warm body for too long, and food is all you have at this very moment because getting all this done is the priority so you eat and don't dwell on it

Finals are wondering why you're doing what you're doing, not in the micro sense of that word or that comma or that phrasing in the paper that is taking entirely too long to conceive, but in the macro sense of what does it all mean and you find you're asking yourself the question: "where will you be when you get where you're going?"...and you realize you're not sure anymore.

Finals in law school are a lonely time.

All the deadlines come at once, and instead of working you find your mind lost in the machinations of minutiae. As you get closer to the destination for the all the toil and sweat you've put in, you begin to wonder if you're really strong enough to hold someone's life, someone's livelihood, someone's dream in your hands where they're doing more than hoping for a good outcome. You start to question basic truths and look back upon the path you've been traveling and wonder if you should have chosen the other path, the simpler path.

Then you realize you've got more days of this ahead.

Finals are you serving yourself because you've even sent the metaphorical barkeep home for the duration.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The boy was goot....real real goot...

Patrice O'Neal..

This is starting to get a little maudlin with all these "I see you just passed on tributes, let me say a few words" type posts...

But Patrice O'Neal was sneaky funny. He deserves a few words. He was character just standing there, funny in a not telling jokes kinda way but funny just talking around kinda way. One could imagine if he was a friend of yours he'd have been the fun guy, the guy who just cracked on people because the room had gotten too quiet. But he'd also be the guy you call at 3am if you were broken down on the side of the road and were too broke to call a tow truck. He just seemed like that kinda guy.

He popped up all over, an appearance here, an appearance there, but never really seemed to get his big shot. Not even a Robin Harris style shot. Watching his standup you wonder what they were waiting for, because he had the potential to be scary funny. I liked him and remember watching something a little longer than I meant to because he was on.

Worse, I only found out today that he was younger than me. Which is like...what?

He wasn't legendary. But he should have been.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Things I meant to comment on

Ramblings Post #168
Sometimes you get busy. It happens. You don't see it coming, but you turn around and you've been up for 36 hours and haven't eaten since that chicken wing and egg roll special when you watched the games two days ago. It happens. All you can do is stop, take a deep breath, and keep it moving.
 
That's not me, that's Snoopy from Peanuts. But you knew that. 
I've checked, and other than groceries, the library or to turn in my paper & bar application, I don't actually have to leave the house for the month of December. Really. I don't have the 9 to 5, and people really aren't hiring this time of year except for holiday temp work. But then again, I might make a snazzy black elf. You never know.

I been hard at this paper, finally figured out a scheme that works so I had to start over...again. Fifth time. But on the upside it's not really starting over this time, but more a re-arranging stuff I already wrote only this time with nearly every single sentence footnoted and properly sourced.

Yes, that was written properly. EVERY. SINGLE. SENTENCE.

Okay, I don't have to source the titles, or the part where I explain what the paper is about, but everything else. Yeah. Even the basic common sense stuff. All of it. I keep looking at the example he told us we should use as a guide and I'm trying to figure out if the author slept at all.

But because I have to stop every so often to let my brain clear...it actually helps with the writing...I'll pop on and make sure the US hasn't been invaded by tribbles or something. And I realize I need to comment on a few things.

Occupy Wall Street

I've noticed that a lot of the folks who disparge the movement have no idea what the issue is. It is classic misdirection on the part of the media who either can't get a decent soundbite or catchphrase so that the whole thing is dumbed down enough OR really just want those smelly people to go away. The OWS people want if I remember correctly 1) They want accountability for the banks that took their money and 2) they want to end corporate control of government. That's pretty much it. They don't want government handouts, or anybody's stuff, what they want is the government to do its job. The idea that they have no message, when the pictures of people holding signs with their message litter the internet is pretty funny.

But then when there are new signs everyday, I guess it gets kinda confusing. I guess reading isn't fundamental.

Republican candidates for President. (except Herman Cain)

Come'on son.

The various campaigns linger on because a) there are so many of them nobody can gain any traction and b) their mistakes only last in the public eye until the next guy's pratfall. So like a week or two.

I'm not sure if they realize that the debates are being recorded - well, I'm fairly certain Hermain Cain does now - but I wonder if they realize what they means. Because some of the less palatable things said to garner the attention of the dyed in the wool GOP supporters will be used again in the general election. And since a great deal of the country tends to support the OWS protesters, telling them go take a bath and get a job may just get it's own 15 second spot.

Wait, does this mean there ARE jobs?

Republican candidates for President (who are Herman Cain)

Really? Again? Geez, even I'm starting to believe some of them can't be true simply because an educated person, of which I'm certain Cain is one, had to know all this would come out at some point if it were true. I mean he just had to. And if the one claiming the affair has pictures? I think Jon Stewart will simply explode.

The true stroke of madness was the statement about the matter that is his camp put out which included the phrasing : No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life. The public's right to know and the media's right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one's bedroom door. Since when did this rule come into effect? Somebody call Weiner! Somebody call Clinton! Somebody call Gary Hart!

And people want to call Obama an amateur.

Law School

Well, here we are. Again. Finals time. And working in the two finals I have with paper that I have increasingly become obsessed over....well, not quite obsessed, but really interested in doing well, has suddenly become an issue.  You know how it goes, you want to do well, but then you suddenly want to do spectacular. Then suddenly you want to do better than awesomely spectacular. Then you want even better than that.

I'm sill at wanting to do it well. I'm little scared spectacular is around the corner. I need to email my prof.  Get some guidance.

My Folk

Well, let's see.
My text conversations with Sporty leave me feeling warm inside.
Slim has left the country temporarily. Teaching overseas, she is not "on the lam".
Schmoopy is still on the bodybuilder fitness model deal, which means no brunches. Boooo.
Spanky is starting to actually worry me, because I think she really doesn't understand we're getting old.  If she busts out in a Nicki Minaj wig next time I see her, I may have to break out the tranquilizer gun.

Due to my schedule for finals, that's about it. It's only because I slipped by Spanky's for Thanksgiving did I even see her.

Oh yeah, spent Thanksgiving in the ATL. My brother somehow ended up in Hawaii, don't ask, so I rolled through Spanky's and then my Aunt. So I had Thanksgiving dinner twice. I had to leave my Aunt's early, because for some reason they don't watch football at her house. So even though I got there late, when everyone else started for the door I got up and joined them.

Thanksgiving with family. That's how it's supposed to be.

New Year's Eve

If I can't get a hotel room and sleep there, then I probably ain't going. I'm getting to old and too wise to wandering the streets of Atlanta during such "festive" occasions. Find a spot, hunker down.

I guess that's it for this update. I got to finish this paper, or least get a lot farther through it, then start prepping for the finals in earnest. Promises to be fun.

Barkeep. I'm gonna need a thick vanilla milkshake. Trust me, it's brain food.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

How about 'dem Cowboys?

Ramblings Post #167
This year has been an odd one for the field of sport. There might not be a basketball season, the Colts haven't won a game, the undefeated keep getting defeated in college football, and Tiger has lost his mojo. But then that's why you play the game...or in the case of the NBA, you don't...because sport is last of the Western world's arenas of survival of the fittest. I say the Western world, because in many parts of the world, the plain old world is the survival of the fittest. Put that in perspective.

Tony Romo, just don't do nothing stupid. Okay? 
I've noticed that I don't really post a whole lot about sports. That's interesting considering that I love sports and have and will  watch football, basketball, will suffer through a baseball game, can stomach swimming and diving, attended track meets, can sit still while them cars take left turns if I'm really bored, enjoy rugby, Australian rules football, golf, formula one, cricket, curling, skiing, skating, soccer, gymnastics, horse racing, boxing and if I'm really really desperate and of a broad opinion, will even pay attention wrestling...if I can't find the remote. And even so I consider myself just a casual follower of most sport.

This year my team, the Dallas Cowboys, appear to be able to play at the top end of the spectrum...for about three quarters. At best about fifty five minutes. Unless the opposing teams quarterback is Rex Grossman.

Yet despite this, in the next three weeks the Cowboys could be leading the division. Their next three games are against potential walkovers, but then the erratic way they have been playing I'm not getting my hopes up. By contrast the Giants are playing the powerhouse schedule - and should Philly decide to man up and go at them, they could be losers in their next three. And since the rest of the division is made up of teams playing under their potential..unless your quarterback is Rex Grossman... the 'Boys could be sitting pretty in a matter weeks.

Oh joy.

But then over the next three weeks I'm probably only going to get to see the Thanksgiving game, as I have a paper and two finals to get ready for. And one of the professors was nice enough to give us the entire two weeks of finals to work on his. Did I say nice enough? I mean diabolical. I wonder how many re-writes I'll do before I send him the finished product. Whatevers.

How about them Cowboys?

Barkeep, I'll need a tall Texas beer, in a tall Texas glass.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Very Mis-informed Christmas

This is a political post
Oh Christmas Tree....

A "friend"....okay, a guy I went to college with who I reconnected with on FB, posts a link. He's upset and hot. But then, I'm fairly confident he's got a end of the Obama Administration countdown app on his iphone so, there's that. It seems the USDA has decided to place a 15 cent tax on Christmas trees to fund the Christmas Tree promotion board. The article, at the conservative site I read it on, blames it on Obama ( because obviously the President has nothing better to do) and uses this as more proof the administration is "out of control" and attacking "real" American values. 

I thought at first...really? But then you read down further and see it's only 15 cents per tree, not 15 percent...so the article's supposition is this increase will be swept under the rug by the mainstream media. Then I look at it a little closer, and something doesn't look right. There is no link to the actual law or regulation so I put the cite in Google and the only place it pops up, are in articles that mention this "new tax".

So I look at cite again - 7 CFR 1214. But that cite isn't for the Federal Register, that's the cite for Code of Federal Regulations. Okay, a little skeptical now, but  I figured maybe the government has had a rule change, so lets look at the original rule. Only 7 CFR 1214 deals with Kiwi fruit...not Christmas Trees. So now I'm a little confused. 

So I check the Federal Register at www.gpo.gov. There, you can look up things by all kinds of ways, so I check the cite again, and nothing. No hits. So I look up the word "tree", and turns out the actual cite is 76 FR 69094. So wait, this true? Could the conservatives be right? So why not cite it properly so people could find it, since it is actually here. Hmmm.  

So I start reading. The Christmas Tree Promotion Board is made up of 12 members - 11 producers and one importer. So, now I'm even more confused...this is an industry board, made up of members of the private sector.  Next it goes through all the legal authority and justifications, processes, explaining notice and comment, etc, then to the history.

Now, the original article had started out with how outraged we should all be at this insult to Christmas, and how the Christmas tree industry doesn't need any help. I wonder if the person that wrote that actually read the background section, because the people they think it will injure - i.e., the Christmas Tree industry - are the proponents of the plan. The Christmas Tree producers are the ones who asked for this!

It turns out sales in the "live" Christmas Tree industry have been on the decline for thirty years while "artificial" Christmas trees sales are on the rise. The "live" section of the industry is asking the government to enforce a tax on them, so they can organize to improve their sales.

Voluntary taxation? Unthinkable.

Then I got to page 9 of the lovely PDF that happens with the correct cite, and there I found some odd language. Just so you know, the process of making a rule involves notice - the government notifying people they're going to change the rule in say, the Federal Register - and a period of comment - where people can tell the government their views and suggest changes and even ask questions. Page 9 is where they finally got to answering the objections, and someone already questioned the constitutionality of the "tax".  There the government answered with a succinct " However, the assessment provided for in this type of program is not a tax nor does it yield revenue for the Federal government. These producer and importers funds raised by producers and importers are for the benefit of producers and importers."

So it's not a tax. By definition. Says so right there in the document.

Nor does this unfairly promote the live tree industry.  It also doesn't violate the establishment clause. They even take a moment to remind Texas they're one of the 50 states.

So what was the point? Why the outrage? Why the screaming?

Then I realize where this originally came from, and then who it's targeted at. It's just to rile up people who already don't like the President. But then when you don't like someone, everything they do is offensive.

Today I read that the tax has been "scrapped" due to outcry. Outcry from who? The only people affected would have been the producers...who wanted the "tax" in the first place. Of course the judicious use of the word tax out in front of all the comments probably didn't help.

When did actual reading and gathering your own facts become unfashionable?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Got Nothing But Love For You, Baby...


I really liked Heavy D. He was officially one of the legends in the rap game, having moved from the mic and the stage to the board room, with occasional - successful - forays into acting. He had started back when rap was fun and bright, before everything was how hard you are, or how gangsta you could be. Back when you could switch between suits and jams, be bright and colorful or dark, depending on how you wanted to play it, not just what the audience was expecting. He performed back when you actually had to have a stage show, not just a gathering of your friends and hangers-on wandering around the stage screaming. Back before there was a "gangsta formula" for rap success.

He was conscious before conscious was cool, and had songs about subjects in terms that aren't heard today in modern rap. 

My favorite song of his was "Nuttin but Love", where he showed a deftness of lyrical skill not heard much anymore. I still use that phrase from time to time. And I thought he was the business along with Omar Epps in the badly timed and thus horribly underrated "Big Trouble" (2002) where he played FBI agent Pat Greer out to stop a nuclear bomb during one crazy night in Miami. He doesn't show up until about halfway through, but he and Omar make the movie. 

The Overweight lover. That was how he had billed himself, from "money earning Mt. Vernon".  True he had slimmed down a little, we all have, but he was still Heavy.

Heavy in thought. Heavy in soul. Heavy in style.

And the world is a little less bright.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Smoking. Joe. Frazier.

The night Joe took down Ali 
To be a true champion, you need a nemesis, and opposite number...a villain. They have to rise the stature of the champion, be his equal, match him, at times defeat him, to make the eventual triumph of the champion all the more sweet. In a true test one has to grudgingly respect them for their mettle, if not the skill in which he's faced his foe. And because the world is as it is, it is possible that this villain might even transform in the collective conscious into the hero, given time or the proper mindset.

Such was Joe Frazier.

In the annals of sport, the greats always have the one who tests them, and as Magic & Bird and McEnroe & Bjorg have been linked forever, so too have Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Champions both who waged pugilistic battles unimaginable today. Unfortunately, the circumstances worked out that Frazier gained the heavyweight championship belt in a less than auspicious way : after then Champion Ali was stripped of the title for his objection to serving in Vietnam.

Joe supported Ali's religious objection to Active duty, even going so far as seeking out a license to for Ali so the man could get back in the ring and giving his competitor money. Joe actually cared about his foe. True, Joe's motives weren't completely pure - he needed to beat Ali to give legitimacy to his title. To be the man, you have to beat the man. But Joe was a good person first, a sportsman second.

Yet, after his suspension ended, Ali turned on Joe. They were the original "beef", with the taunts getting personal, and at times racial. They turned into boxing's Batman v. the Joker, with less articulate Joe cast in the role of villain to Ali's mouthy superhero. Their battles became epic feats of manhood, boxing artistry and personal fortitude. But Batman needs the Joker. Without him, Batman just a guy in a funny suit, with a snazzy car and a really bad case of insomnia. And equally Ali needed Frazier. The only way Ali could be great is if Frazier was as well. And so they have equal billing in the pantheon of sport.

Together, they were the main event. One could only imagine the spectacle that the "Thrilla in Manila" would be with today's media machines. This was a fight that put a war on hold.

As much as we admire Ali, to get to the idea of Ali we need Joe Frazier.

He was a simple guy, born of poor circumstances who ascended to greatness, only to find himself cast in a role less than desirable for someone of his talents. He was champion, one of the best boxers ever, who history sadly remembers as a foil.

And for that history is lacking.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Down to the Nitty Gritty

Ramblings Post #166
When you start a journey, you dream about how great it will be when you get to the end. The problem is, if the journey takes too long, the journey becomes the the purpose in and of itself, instead of the destination. With the journey you have purpose, you have direction. When you get to the destination, all that's left to do is it hit the buffet or find out if the activity fee is included. Wait, wrong journey. What you really have to do is figure out the new destination. So, I might need a new destination soon. Or a buffet ticket. Either or. 

If all goes well, and all the stars line up, less than 12 months from now I will have a doctorate degree...it's called a Juris Doctor, so technically yes, ... and I will have taken the bar exam and be days away from receiving notification of triumph or ....lining up to do it all over again. Now is when I need that trade mark trait that used to irk Sporty to raise it's head...and get a little too into my work.

I enjoy work. The structure, the purpose, the doing something. Given purpose A, it makes me realize how precious time is and then I can figure out a way to carve out a few minutes for purpose B, and purpose C and so on. Given too much time, like I have now, I have a tendency to either procrastinate or tinker to much with the finished project, such that I occasionally end up taking it apart and starting over for no reason other than...what if I did some other way?

Right now, while I don't have acres of free time, I also don't have a day job taking up 8 or so hours, and three of my five classes this semester don't have finals I have to start prepping for. My former squeezing it all in is getting a little indulgent. I'm a little frightened I'm going to rewrite myself into oblivion.

This is normally the Nitty Gritty. With a month or so until finals, you hit the books hard, beef up the outlines, and I don't even contemplate going out. Which really isn't a big change, since I just realized I've practically stopped going out anyway - except on special occasions - in the past few years. Once I realized that an hour out never was an hour, and when I did get back in a reasonable time, I wouldn't be of the proper mindset. Better to just focus until it was done. The actual imposition of the Nitty Gritty is just a formality.

I do have a paper to finish, and a group project but with the proper preperation and timing, they should be doable. I think I'll feel better once I start to get nervous. Getting nervous makes me prepare more, which usually means better outcomes.  We'll see.

Right now. Barkeep. A vanilla milkshake. Ooooh, put some Oreos in it too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fill out form G-2012-Gotcha!

Ramblings Post #165
A few years ago, when I moved to Atlanta, I was great success. On paper. I've found that on paper, a person can appear to be someone that they're not. Or maybe that's a mischaracterization, but the image that can be projected by what exists on paper can shape the viewpoint of reality. But what if what is on the paper doesn't quite correlate to reality? And for the record, even though the bank might have believed it, I could NOT afford 20K for that couch. But I will.



Well, as full time law student, I'm supposed to be taking advantage of more opportunity to meet and connect with my fellow students, as well as avenues in which to get my new legal career ignited. To that end, last week I filled out the application for an externship - basically working at a place in a just less than legal capacity during school hours for credit - in effort to get some degree of legal experience before I wander out into the world.

I did not even get the interview.

But then, I'm at a place where my competing law students can list a summer they spent working as an intern at a firm like Impressive, Prestigious and Clout, LLC, or at least watched the lawyers work at Scrappy, Small and Tenacious. Right now, my resume isn't going to get me many looks, because all my previous experience is non-legal. Standing in front of someone I can demonstrate a fairly decent grasp of the law but currently on paper I am a lightweight. The bulk of my current non school related legal experience comes from conversations with Police officers trying to explain that "No, we did not realize the music was that loud". 

So the resume thing is probably not gonna work for me right away.

I'm singing up for a seminar in a week or so to speak with an expert on "career transitioning" which is what I'm doing going back to school so late in life. That, and I'm going to get my resume redone professionally, not just cobble something together from the legal resume samples on the internet. I'd planned on having it done by a pro a few years back, but got derailed keeping house and "replacing stuff", but this revamping is become more imperative with each passing day. My path to the Career Services Office is about to get even more well worn.

And then finally : The bar fitness application.

It is in eight sections, had to be downloaded in parts, and will be as my brother described the most invasive examination of my life I will ever experience. Your average law student is a decade or so younger than I am, and if you're living the optimal experience, almost two decades, so the examination of their lives usually involves the seven or eight years they've living since they reached the age of the majority. A simple kept your nose clean keep it moving sort of thing. My application and subsequent and probably necessary attachments...I'm figuring the package I'm going to give them might qualify as a short novel. They're going to want everything I've ever done legally, financially, possibly morally, and they expect me to remember and report it all. To say I'm certain there are going to be things I will have forgotten is a basic. Which credit cards I had in college due a free T-shirt? Um. I had an account with who? Er. I'm wanted in Bolivia? I'm not even allowed in Bolivia. The rep claims she doesn't expect perfect recall, but I'm almost certain that I'm going to be a special case. I can feel it in my bones.

This is where I see if it's all worth it. Oddly, some of the women in my class (older chicks) are suddenly talking about things you can do WITHOUT passing the bar, making me wonder if there are other folks with bones in their closets. You know what they say - It's always the quiet ones.

Barkeep. They haven't asked about my drinking yet. But just in case, I'll have Sprite, with a splash of rum.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yet another game I have no business playing...

Ramblings Post #164
You can't make your focus singular. Even when I was working out strong...it happened...even then I had those little things that let you take your mind off how much your feet hurt, or how much your arms ached, or if that popping sound was your spine suddenly saying "no mas"! Now that I'm honing my mind, or something like that, I need little ways to let me mind relax, but not so much that sink into the couch and fall asleep with the TV watching me. I need something I can pause or turn off at whim, so I can get back to business. Instead....


Because if I concentrate solely on tax law and the mental gymnastics needed to tame the various codes and regulations, and other stuff you should just know, my mind would turn to grey tapioca. Cheap grey tapioca. And because I'm on a budget. Well, I was always on a budget, now I'm on a tighter budget. My goal was to find something inexpensive as an occasional mental diversion, because given too much free time, I'd be mentally contemplating answers for questions my first year law professors asked. No seriously, I have done that.

Well, I did find something just like that. Free in fact. And now I have to figure out a way to stop.

It's a compter game called Dwarf Fortress. It's free to download, free to play, a product of one of those online labors of love that most users tinker with to while away a few hours and the builder uses as part of their resume to show somebody who writes paychecks they know what they're doing. I looked around online, and read in the NY Times that the creator of Dwarf Fortress has refused to sell the rights and gets by on donations from dedicated game players. Doing just this he only makes around $50,000 a year. But then he lives in a two bedroom apartment and enjoys a geek's paradise - waking at dark, living on chips and Mountain Dew and coding his masterwork until he decides he's done, then going back to sleep. Not a bad gig if that's what you like. And what's he's created....

I'm playing it, and it's scarily intricate.

It took me a while to make a fortress last longer than building a basic setup. I'd usually get killed early due to something - run out of water (or buckets) and everyone die of thirst, run out of food, we'd get attacked and every one gets slaughtered or they'd just go insane one by one due to something I failed to address. In any case, as my little settlers...er, dwarves, would start to check out, I would quit, like apparently most people who start. Until a wee bit frustrated, and and tired of going over whatever case I was reading, I went online for a few tips and to check out what the game was all about.

Sometimes, you're better off not knowing what is possible.

Online there is a whole community. A dedicated, hardcore, talking in terms of which I have no understanding while looking at the same thing I'm looking at type community. I am mystified. But then, a write up in the NY Times should have been a clue that something big was going on. Some of the fortress constructions are unbelievable. I get at best a few minutes a day trying to layout something that looks reasonable, you know, get my little dwarves arranged with a little atheistic appeal. But I look at some of the layouts, the designs, the constructions and it's obvious some of these guys spend months...real MONTHS... building structures that look like something out of Lord of the Rings. No, wait, they put the stuff Tolkein and the movie magic makers invented to shame.

My newly found and realized ego says you too must build a construct of great and ridiculous stature. My reasonableness says this ain't the time to pretend like you're not in law school. I read through some of the notes, and look at the depth of the message boards, and wonder if some of these people have sun sunlight lately. But then again, I haven't been getting out much myself, so I probably need to check myself.

So this is me? I do need to get out. Just as soon as build this meeting hall....

Barkeep. Something to get me out of the house. In a large glass. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Maybe something new...

Ramblings Post #163
Things can't stay the same. The sun rises and sets, the wind blows, and the Cowboys continue to pin their hopes on the erratic Tony Romo. But most other things change, and as they do we must rise and meet them or be left in the dust of tomorrow.

I am apparently getting new neighbors. I say this because there have workmen, in teams, going over the house across the street from mine. I may not have ever mentioned it, but my house is kinda secluded, with only a single house sort of catty-corner to mine on my end of the block. Which partially accounts for the lovely target my home makes to the local miscreant. When I bought it, the separation was supposed to be a selling point when the area started it's transformation. One man's trash....

That house has been empty since that morning I wandered out to street full of police, people in handcuffs, and screaming babies. As I related here, I decided it was easier to be late that Friday. They were a, um, lively group and I'm sure they found other lodgings that made things...well, whatever. At least there was always somebody there and after I did a favor or two, the matriarch was willing to keep an eye on my place. I didn't even mind the late night traffic.

Okay, I tolerated the late night traffic, considering they were willing to ask people in my yard why they were there. 

And because of the new work being done, I'm certain someone will be renting soon. It's sat vacant, with windows covered for months now. I know the hands are over there, working hard putting down new carpet, fixing windows, painting and all that, because I was awoken at 2am because they were making so much noise I thought they were on my front porch. Standing in my sleep pants peering out my window, ready to dial up the cops on my cell phone holding a makeshift weapon was not fun. But it does mean whoever is renting it is serious, because I can't figure out any other reason they pull the normal contractor shuffle and get work done like ninjas.

Does it mean that life is changing for your friendly neighborhood middle-aged fellow? Who knows, but it's just another cog in the wheel.

Here's hoping they don't have a restless dog.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Goodbye Mr. Jobs

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

Steve Jobs death was one of those events that rouses people. He had in life's terms, pulled something out of a hat so many times before we were halfway certain that although his condition was serious, he'd get past this as well. So when Sporty hit me with with news, the idea of death catching up to a man who literally had the world by it's tail was a bit of a shock.

But let me be clear: I've never really been a Steve Jobs fan.

Now don't get me wrong, he was smart guy, and true driving force behind a company that designed some really snazzy products. I played some of my first sophisticated computer games on a Mac. And history should properly record that his company really perfected the windows graphical user interface and Microsoft really did copy it, so he and not Gates is the father of modern domestic computing. We should also note that he was a man who lost his kingdom, then
came and took back, something few titans past or present can attest to, taking a side trip to reinvent animation by re-fashioning Pixar Animation Studios along the way.

But I didn't really like his business model. Primarily because I didn't think of it first.

The idea of building the gate to the new media with the iPod, then charging everyone to get through that gate and keeping the tech in house was in a word - genius. And once he got a hold of you, to get out was nigh impossible. Because buying into item A meant to get the full effect you needed item B. And in some cases item little B. Or B squared. And then the domino effect got you and before long you end up like my old co-worker with an Apple logo tattoo'ed on his forearm.

He had a way of just making it all work. A true showman, as well as mogul among moguls.

Full disclosure: I don't own an iPod, iPad, or really any Apple product. And yet, I too will miss his eye for the future.

Barkeep. One for Mr. Jobs. The good stuff.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Everybody wants a piece of the pie

Ramblings Post #162
It seems that nobody with any power wants to take a loss. On anything. A lot of things in this country would be better, if as I found out in in law class on corporations, greed hadn't been actually legally codified. It's a baffling mental concept, one that actually isn't new, just brought with more focus as of late. But like survivors on a life raft, chances of survival increase if you share what you have instead of hoarding. On unless the idea of everyman for himself catches on. Then we're all in trouble.

I'm being gaffled. By my mortgage servicing company. Let me explain.

I haven't written a check in ages. Because everybody takes Visa, and nearly everybody allows you to pay online. Once a month I pull out a slip of paper, write down my stock bills and pay them in order. At the end of the month I pay the mortgage. In less than 48 hours every month, every bill is paid and whatever is left I'm free to spend on gas, groceries, or the occasional drink as I see fit. Simple easy, and up until last month only the power company would tack on a three dollar fee for online processing, because a third party handled it and folks wanted to get their slice.

Then a month or so ago, my mortgage service provider changed. I had formerly been handled by Bank of America, who for reasons unbeknownst to me, moved my mortgage to a subsidiary servicing firm. Nothing changed except who I had to go online to pay.  Or so I thought, until the first payment was due.

I log on, pull up the old account information, hit the button twice because all the info is already in, then pause.

There is a $12.00 service fee to pay online.

Because I bought my house in the days of creative financing, when the phrase "You can always refinance!" was popular, so I have first and second. So in reality, it's a $24.00 service fee to pay. Online.

To process Visa costs about $0.01. To electronically move money from your account might cost $0.50. What in the hell is the other $23.00 for, exactly? Then I heard that Bank of America, the owner of this company, wants to charge you $5.00 a month for access to your own money. This would be on top of the checking account fee they already charge. So suddenly I'm not surprised.

Now, I'm good customer. I've never been late with a payment. So what gives?

That will be the subject of my call to them, because after all, for $24.00 a month from the thousands of accounts that got transferred, they're not open on weekends.

Barkeep. I need something get my nerves back to right.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I got a target on my back

Ramblings Post #161
The funny thing about learning from your mistakes is you actually have to make the mistake first to figure out what you did wrong. Which is cool when it's something you can fix, or problem you can leave behind after a reasonable amount of time. But if the problem is huge, and your middle aged, and the economy is bad, and you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Well, let's just say some mistakes create larger learning opportunities than others.

My new alarm system, post my last alarm system's horrible failure, has revealed to me a disturbing truth. My new alarm has an exterior motion sensor, placed in an area where the only way to trigger it is to stand precisely where one would stand if one were say...examining the window into which one would break if one was so inclined. Not looking at the window, examining the window. Like from less than five feet.

It's gone off four times in the last four weeks.

I realized sometime ago that the individuals who broke into my house sometime ago were probably the guys who broke in years ago, and just kept coming back time after time, knowing I would replace stuff, mad they didn't get the TV. What I didn't realize is how often your casual criminal wanders past and says "Hey, nobody's home, let's check it out!" The little bit of seclusion that would have made my house a touch more desirable after the neighborhood changed is working against me in this case. It's more than a little unnerving. And it only spurs on my need to finish up this law school trip, and find a gig that will let me slip up out of this piece.

I know that things are rough all over, but damn.

I'll be visiting the local constabulary to let them know of this change to my alarm routine, so that they don't start marking me down for excessive alarms. 

They say that hindsight is twenty twenty, and I guess their right. I should have chosen one of the other many spots available, including a house that if I drove by today I wouldn't be able to look at because I still remember my boy looking at me as we finished walking around it saying, "you need to buy this house" and me standing there trying to come up with a reason not to. I'm stupid that way sometimes. I know they say don't dwell on the past and things you can't change, but we still need to learn from our mistakes.

Bacon & Egg Scrambler with Goat’s Cheese, Spinach, Puff Pastry and B├ęchamel Sauce
By the way, this would have been a post about my Sunday afternoon, but this last alarm when off I was on the terrace at Canoe celebrating Shade's birthday. She's a girl in transition, having just gone through med school in Georgia, then more med school at Harvard, then more med school at Howard, and is now doing a fellowship in Philly. One of her girls asked her why she keeps coming back, as we've had her birthday brunch there at least six or seven times,  and she told them that with life always in transition you need to keep some traditions to keep you grounded. That was what I was going to write about before all this happened.

So as they chat I'm standing in the garden, talking to the dispatch trying to figure out if the cops pulled up in time. Yes, really.

Then the Cowboys, er, let me correct myself, then Romo choked again. It is rough being a Cowboy fan.

I just need to get on with the getting on. And finish my Tax homework. And find some food.

Barkeep. I need in this order: Glass, Ice, Bourbon, coke.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Five Minutes Watching: Unstoppable

I don't watch a lot of movies, because I don't have time. But at the end of day of work, then class, then reading for the next class, and writing down what I wrote so I can remember it all, I'll turn on one of them pay channels I have for just such an emergency and catch five minutes of something.



In the interest of full disclosure, this wasn't really five minutes of watching this. I've now probably caught bits and pieces of this at least ten times over the past few weeks and each time I'm compelled to watch a little more than I planned. It's a very interesting movie, where for the bulk of it the main characters are in a very small space, doing something amazing. Acting.

If you don't know, the story fairly simple  - a series of fairly basic accidents cause a freight train to leave the station with no driver.  Two company employees then stop said train. That's pretty much it. There are number of things that make this interesting, my main one is that the two heroes are just two guys who were doing their jobs and then decided to do something they really didn't have to do...because it was the right thing to do. Nobody turned out to be a former Ninja Navy SEAL, nobody got shot, and the characters back stories were fairly mundane. Technically, it could have been anyone going to work and then when things went off the rails, stepping up and doing something. 

Other than some obvious movie angles when they tried to work in the fake news footage, or the cell phone usage, and that the runaway train didn't seem to be going really fast in a number of shots, it was fairly straightforward. Everyone had a halfway reason for doing the stuff they did with few exceptions.  Management was driven by costs. The Yard Master felt squeezed. The guys in the field were throwing something at the wall and see if it stuck. I read a couple of reviews after I watched it and the people critical of the film hated how they Hollywooded it up. But then there had to be some tension, I mean, come on. Otherwise it just could have been a documentary voiced by Morgan Freeman.

Even more surprising, Chris Pine can act. After seeing him the mess that was the Star Trek reboot...or re-imagining... or re-whatever lets them sleep at night....I was about to write him off as another pretty boy actor who more or less fell into a sweet gig. But in this he actually looks and sounds like a guy whose life has taken an odd turn, but is otherwise just trying to make it to the next payday. And Denzel manages to find his way out of previous acting stupor and puts a nice little spin on Engineer Frank Barnes, giving him all the emotions of guy in a situation he didn't plan on, but trying to make it work.

In the end, its a pretty watchable flick. Not perfect, but pretty damn watchable. See it from the very beginning if you do, because there is a nuance that I didn't get the full effect of through two viewings until I saw the first five minutes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Water, water everywhere...except here.

Ramblings Post #160
At one point I was a certified....well, I had a red cross certification for something involving swimming. I had a tendency when I first started to dry my face every time it got wet, but I got over that. I have danced in the rain because it's fun. And at a party, I'm the idiot who always manages to crawl into the hot tub. And I can stay in a shower for an hour and have fallen asleep in the bath. So I think I have a fairly good relationship with water. I think. Maybe. Still scared of drowning.



If it ain't one thing, it's another.

First, the school is tripping, acting like the private loan I applied for and was approved for - at a rate lower than a federal student loan - they will end up having to pay back. They have budget for me, and since nobody has any actual numbers, I've been a battle of the forms with them for the past two weeks. That warm and fuzzy feeling that the University actually cares about lil' ole me is fading. Fast. But since I'm in the home stretch on this degree, and oddly, I have NO intention of returning to the old job....something will break in my favor.

But that's a story for a another time.

As part of my form "gatheration" activity to see if I could make the school understand I'm middle aged and have been managing my own money for years, I discovered I'm not paying my water bill. And by not paying my water bill I mean the city hasn't sent me one since July. Well, June, because I paid it in July. I only realized it a week or so ago, so that was on my to do list of things to figure out.

Today I figured it out when the city turned off my water.

A call to customer service, thirty minutes on hold, and two call backs from a supervisor and I get some interesting news. It turns out that sometime this Spring, somebody somewhere re-coded my account to show that the previous owner still owned this address. And they sent him the bill. And he told them to turn the service off. In May. It just took them five months to do it. Nothing I did. Nothing I was responsible for.

But tonight I have no water.

The supervisor was nice enough to tell me that the service would be restored on tomorrow, but that I'd owe for the months I missed. And because I really wanted my water, I decided not to argue the point... at this time. At one point in college I lived in a house with no working water. Or power. It's not even fun. And right this second, I'm not talking to Spanky, so that conversation where I ask to stop by and take a shower would be awkward. And since I'm actually paying attention and trying to get an education this time around, being withheld the privilege of "inside plumbing" for a prolonged period of time is a major distraction. Major distraction. I thought it was an inconvenience not having a washing machine, but that was nothing.

As it is, I'm hoping I'm not too gamey at post time (time to go to class) tomorrow. And I think I'll postpone my visit to the career center until Wednesday. Just sayin.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

If I could move today...

Ramblings Post #159
Sometimes you don't want to get familiar. There are places where you're happy when they recognize you, because it means something good. Your favorite bar makes sure you get good service, your favorite restaurant means you food is always piping hot, your favorite book store where without asking they've got a couple of the hot sellers under the counter because they knew you'd stop by. And then there are mine.


The first set of officers just left. The second set have been delayed.

The thieves who periodically break into my house finally got the big screen after two years of trying. It was bolted to a six foot steel stand with four of the inch and half long screws. It was glorious. It is now gone. In its place is a pile of debris, because my alarm company took so long the crooks had time to literally take the damn thing apart. It took me twenty minutes to set it up, I wonder how long it took them to take it down. I am not happy.

They took my third PS3...with the Tiger Woods Collector's edition that's no longer available. Or the three quarters of a season that I had played. I am not happy.

They did leave the PC, which was wisely in a an old beige case, disguising it's high powered contents, but the flat screen monitor is gone. Again. I am not happy.

They took the change cup I keep in my bedroom. I am not happy.

There is probably more missing, but since I can't clean up until officers from Robbery get here, I'm stuck. So I'm sitting here. Frustrated. Just so, so very frustrated. I got other stuff to do, and I just did not need this. My plans,with the quitting the job-going to school-getting through this all I can tell you did not call for a major catastrophe like this. But then whose does?

Oh, if I could move. Today. I would have a truck out by tonight if I could. Back to the side of town where I lived for eight years without a single attempt. When the police officers say that your address rings a bell when they hear it on the radio, and when they pull up they ask "so what did they get this time?", let's just say it gets old fast.

The only way this will stop if I'm not here. And then I think they'll swing by for the copper. I am so, and I mean so, done right now.

Barkeep. Whatever you got.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Will I be happy as a lawyer?

Ramblings Post #158
Transitions are odd. Given a choice I'm a night person, unless I have to work at night, then I'm a morning person. I don't really drink coffee, unless it was free and I was at the office. Now that I don't have an office, I'm thinking of getting a coffee maker. I need focus and self discipline, and I shouldn't have expected them to just suddenly pop into existence. Or should I have? It's only been a week. It's a transition. At least that's what I keep telling myself.




Would I be happy as a lawyer?

Sporty asked me the other day, a question I really hadn’t thought about. That question is the the title of this post - will I be happy being a lawyer?

I make no bones that applied to Law School on a whim, and then actually made the move to go only because it looked like Sporty had moved on and I needed something to occupy my time and my mind. It’s not the first time I’ve started something for less than completely pure reasons and later developed an interest. But that concept made me think about something else that I don’t usually consider about myself.

I’m a fairly intense person.

To look at me, to observe me, to know me you probably wouldn’t believe me when I say that. I’ve cultivated a strenuously casual demeanor, something I’ve been working on to mitigate my “dark side” since I realized I have a tendency to go overboard when I get involved... in pretty much anything. I liked reading as a child, so I read everything under the sun. Westerns, Romance, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, How-to, Horror, Novels, etc. I played organized football, and was that wild eyed screaming lunatic always a little too into the game that my coach would have referred to as - agile, mobile and hostile. I’ve had employers where I was willing to put in nineteen hours days if the job called for it, and with my last employer I nearly worked myself into the grave. Those things I do, I do with a passion. As I’ve said before, I think of my approach to things as being like that of a freight train, slow to start, but a force to be reckoned with once moving.

It’s been three years. So I’ve kinda gotten into this law thing.

That and there are so many things you can do with a law degree, so many types of lawyer you can be. Or even if you don’t take the bar, as I discussed with a classmate, there are things you can do with just a Juris Doctor. It is an advanced degree. The field is wide open for career opportunities. I'll have more tools.

But happy?

The things that make me happy can’t be earned. I can’t really work towards them, or build up a bank to use later. They aren't something I can hone, or develop, or anything I can buy. The things that make me happy have to be given to me.

Love. Friendship. Compassion.

It’s an odd concept. I don’t want to call myself gifted, but those things that can be mastered I have tendency to eventually get a grasp of. I have persistent quality and a great degree of patience, so it comes. Eventually. Most times. It is the intangibles that interest me, that drive me, that make me. And in those situations what I'm counting on mostly is luck of the draw. Damn shame.

So, will getting to the end of this make me happy? Oh, I'll be an effective lawyer, of that I'm certain. Like any other skill, given a little time I will start to get a handle on the nuances and shades that make a good counselor, and mature into legal hardwood.

Happy? Barkeep...how about a small whiskey, and just bruise it a touch with some Sprite. Happy?

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Found Freed...hey, hey, hey, not so fast there.

Ramblings Post #157
First weekend post chicken plucking, I think. I say that because I got no exit interview, no packet, no nothing and still have my badge. I'm not sure what happened, only I know I'm not going, it's on to the next thing. Maybe I'm just on vacation and don't know it. Hmmmm. What can they do? Fire me?


This weekend its been party-party-party and drink-drink-drink. For somebody. I mean I know it's happening because I'm seeing the adverts and hearing about people heading out and the like, but your guy is home studying for the most part. I did dip out on Friday night - for the first time in absolute ages - to Spanky's birthday drop in at Six Feet Under. But I didn't get there until eight and was headed home at eleven. I thought she'd gotten a private room or something, but she preferred the excitement of the bar, so our little party of fifteen or twenty mixed in among what I assume is their normal Friday night crowd. SFU seems like a cool place, only the evening came to an abrupt end when Spanky's "guy" showed up and her priorities changed. Abruptly.

But it was her birthday, she can do what she wanna.

Saturday was studying. I actually woke up and read for class. And then I realized I don't have work on Monday, or any other day, so I can read then, and promptly started looking for stuff to do around the house. I could have gone down to One Music Fest, which Spanky was making day four or five of her Birthday week celebration, but by all reports, the sun had shown up and had taken off its shirt. Temperatures were in the mid-90's in the part of Piedmont Park with no shade. So that was a no go. Then I remembered my Tax HOMEWORK is due Monday by 9am, so I realized I did have some weekend school work to do and started doing that, because it normally takes a while. A long while.

By Saturday evening, upset and frustrated at my inability to decipher Federal Tax Code, after six or so hours off and on, I headed over to my RP's house. Earlier this year I finally let him know that I was over the "Mega Party" Concept we'd been keeping alive for the past few years, and he admitted he was kind of tired of it as well. So this was a small gathering of maybe 10 or 15 folks. We played cards, dominoes, ate, drank and whiled away an evening. It was nice, but again was home before midnight.

Sunday, I woke up and started on my tax problem again, piecing it together, line by line. After this semester, I'm going to ask the dean to re-write the descriptions for the tax class. I could have sworn the phrase "discuss tax theory" was in the listing when I signed up, not "we will try to make you a tax attorney." Especially since currently I have no desire whatsoever to be a tax attorney. Zero. This promises to be my challenge class, if I can make it through this I'm going to see if there is Underwater Basket weaving has a legal angle. After much whittling, and five more hours, I finally got the problem down to something I was comfortable turning in and dutifully emailed it.

This is gonna be a long semester.

Barkeep. Let me get a tea.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tne New Groove

Ramblings Post #156
You got to have a plan. Even if you don't stick to it, you have to have a plan. It is the metaphorical picking a direction and heading out instead of just wandering to wherever fate and the winds take you. Even if it's just a few parts sketched out, as long as it contains the basics -where you are, where you going, and the realization it's some distance - you're good. It needs to be flexible, becomes things change, but resolute to a great degree, because it's far too easy to give up...and just pretend you made every effort. You got to have a plan. And a towel.



What I envisioned for this next part is straight out of the movies. The rising at 6am, heading to the gym then home for breakfast. Dashing to campus to spend my days flitting between the library, various student organizations and the career center. Body sleek, mind honed to a razor's edge, rested and prepared for classes for which I've read the material enough to recite it from memory.

Then again, considering the demands of my SECOND tax class (yeah, I know, brilliant idea) that reciting from memory part might not be that far fetched.

What's really going to happen will be a lot less pretty. I've already found out the parking situation on campus borders on surrealistic tragic comedy, so one idea may already be dead. Funny, now that I write that, I suddenly remember my undergrad Alma Mater having similar issues, with parking problems that NASA and Watson would have been hard pressed to find solutions for. Here its an urban campus, with school structures next door to office buildings, and no verdant lawn of green to act as a hedge against the vast swathes of uneducated masses...or something like that. This promises to be fun.

I'll be in and out, I see that now. Or there will be days I go and stay from 8am - if I can sneak a park close - and don't leave until 9pm when my last class is over. Or I'll break down and ride Marta, which for your information on the urban side ISN'T imbued with the nice secure parking structure that exist up north. I'll be packing lunch and dinner and looking for the quiet spot in the library. The ladies in the career center will either come to love me or begin to hurriedly jump up to lock the door when I turn the corner. It's going to be a mix of ardent study followed by periods where I have to force myself to read, carefully structured reading and research along with periods where I'm winging it because I was doing something I shouldn't have been doing.

It's going to be very real.

What I don't want is become the hermit student. It's all too easy to read the cases, do the write ups and stay home, avoiding the traffic and worse on campus. I resigned so I can do this...so now, let's do this.

I think I need a hug.

Barkeep. A jagermister and the five hour energy.