Monday randomness

It has been quite an interesting week or so, lots of things going on that will have an impact on my life over the next few weeks to few months.  First thing’s first though, my “cave” is now complete because I have now mounted that television that’s been sitting on the floor for weeks.  Here it is, directly in front of my desk:

television
This wall never looked so good!

I’ve already broken it in by watching The Day After Tomorrow, a movie that someone used to prove a point related to climate change or global warming, or whatever you call it.  Yes, it was as good this time as the last 20 or so times prior.  It really is a good movie set smack in the middle of what I call the “end of the world” genre.

Have some potential of getting a new position at work that is in the very beginning stages, otherwise I’d put more details into the post.  Lets just put it out there that it would be a promotion, more responsibility and of course a moderate bump in salary.  There would be travel associated with this position as well which doesn’t really make me excited, but the higher up you go, the more you travel.

I’ve also officially signed on with EatPrayVote.org as a contributor and have started posting op-ed’s on their site.  If you’re interested in seeing what I’ve been writing about, you can check out my author profile.  Be sure to check out the entire site as there are multiple contributors all with their own style of writing.  It truly is a good mix of writers that post about all sorts of topics.  I’m glad that I took the initiative and reached out, it’s been fun writing in a different style than I’m used to, which surprisingly, hasn’t been as hard as I had originally thought.

You can also see at this point, I’ve finally decided on a premium theme that I think I’ll be keeping for a while.  I don’t have a plan that allows me to tinker with CSS or any of that stuff, but I liked the look so much I felt what the hell.  Actually buying one removes my urge to constantly browse the free themes and make changes to the look, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for me it’s a time suck that I just can’t afford.  Ok, I got a theme I like now, so onward.

One final random thing, it’s been ridiculously warm in the northeast US for the last few days, easily in the mid-70’sF.  There are buds on the trees, the geese are flying back north (pooping on my car!), and for cripes sake the grass is getting green again.  I spent over $300 to get the snow blower fixed between last year and this year and dammit, I’m going to mow my law for the first time with the damn snow blower if it doesn’t snow at least a few inches this winter.  Remember, make sure to use fuel stabilizer and ethanol neutralizer in the fuel for your small engines, otherwise you’ll be replacing the carburetors every few years.

Enjoy the week peeps!  See you Thursday.

Weekend “Would You Rather?” 19

After playing an interesting round of “Would You Rather?” with the family, I thought it would be fun to get into the game of a weekly blog post.  Feel free to join in on your own blog and be sure to give an answer to the question of the week.

**I will keep these questions rated G**


good-would-you-rather-questions

Would you rather be the sand castle

OR

The wave?


Be sure to leave your answer (and justification) in the comments!

Three Things Thursday – 2/23/2017

three-things-thursday-winter-image-nerd-in-the-brain

Inspired by Nerd in the Brain

BRING THE HAPPY!

It seems strange to me that I’m still using the “Winter” graphic when for the last few days, it’s reached 70 and has been absolutely beautiful here in the north east.  I hope it holds out, but this is how it was last year just before we had 30″ of snow dumped on us over a long weekend in March.  Here’s hoping that I get to use my repaired snow blower before having to stow it away again until next year.

Random Painting

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This is hard to look at when I’m feeling vertical

My wife came home one weekend with a large painting she picked up from the local Home Goods store.  She ended up getting it for $15, accidentally marked down as clearance, and its now hanging up in my stairwell from upstairs to downstairs.  It matches the front door, when its open, otherwise it’s something that still startles me every morning as I walk down to get coffee and leave for work.

Evil Floof

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NO!  My chew toy!  Floof off dog!

This dude, named Harley, is an old asshole of a cat.  He not only stole the dog’s bed but also stole the dogs chew toy.  Every time KC would come over to grab it, Harley would swat at KC’s nose and she would wimper away to my wife or I to help save the day.  I just looked at KC and told her to grow a pair and grab the toy from the cat that has no claws.  KC is such a wuss.

Friendly Girl Scout Cookie Rivalry

girl-scout-cookies
Cookies taste so much better when they’re $3.99

Probably the most hilarous thing I’ve seen in the office to date.  One box showed up, as usual, from the guy that has three daughters.  A few days later, another box showed up that I thought was an amazing bargain.  Decide for yourself if you think it’s as much of a bargain as I did, because saving a penny is better than not saving a penny.  Oh, and I’m “that” guy, I put in exactly $3.99 for a box of cookies.  I went over a hour or so later and took back the change and gave the guy $1 in return.

TTT Weekly Music Choice

old-school-vs-new-schoola

We’re taking it old school again this week, enjoy.

Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses

Missed my Monday post (updated)

It was an interesting weekend that capped off with something really awesome…..I was picked up as a contributor to EatPrayVote.  I’ll soon be removing all anonymity from this blog, but won’t be advertising my full name in too many places.  It’s related to the fact that I wanted to contribute under my real name rather than a pen-name.

Politically related posting on this site will be limited to non-existent as they’re all going to be published on EatPrayVote and that will take this blog back to personal topics.  One topic that I’ve missed writing about is technology, and my post schedule will be updated to reflect some of these changes (basically removing the Friday post).

I’ll post more later this week once things get more settled in.  Glad to have all of those who follow me (especially the new ones lately) and hope that what I write is interesting enough for you to to stick around.  I do enjoy writing and of course, reading.

Weekend “Would You Rather?” 18

After playing an interesting round of “Would You Rather?” with the family, I thought it would be fun to get into the game of a weekly blog post.  Feel free to join in on your own blog and be sure to give an answer to the question of the week.

**I will keep these questions rated G**


good-would-you-rather-questions

Would you rather have x-ray vision

OR

Have bionic hearing?


Be sure to leave your answer (and justification) in the comments!

Bans, Russia and Trump Tweets

Reading the news this past week, I’m left wondering who is actually in charge of the country? It’s an odd feeling to have seeing signs that the country you’re living in is actually being coordinated by a loose group of people who may or may not understand truly how government works. I’ve found that BBC News does a good job of covering American topics without a lot of bias, you may feel differently, but the sources in this post are all from BBC News.

On Tuesday, Virginia’s U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a preliminary injunction on the travel ban because it violated the U.S. Constitution in what amounted to a “Muslim ban”. Despite the fact that those words weren’t implicitly written in the travel ban from 7 middle eastern countries, those countries are overwhelmingly Muslim with a very small contingent being other religions.

In her 22-page ruling, the Virginia judge cited several of Mr Trump’s campaign statements including those in which he promised to create a “Muslim ban” if he were elected president. “The president himself acknowledged the conceptual link between a Muslim ban and the EO (executive order),” Judge Brinkema wrote. She also criticised the president’s statements that persecuted Christians may be permitted entry despite the ban, which she said amounts to a religious test. She also referenced a Fox News interview in which former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump adviser, said that the president wants a “Muslim ban” and that he had been instructed by Mr Trump to put together a commission to determine “the right way to do it legally”. Judge Brinkema sharply criticised lawyers for the justice department, who she said did not present any evidence except for the president’s executive order. “Maximum power does not mean absolute power,” she wrote. “Every presidential action must still comply with the limits set” by the separation of powers laid out in the US Constitution.

SOURCE: Trump travel ban hit by new legal setback | BBC News

As if the news coverage and protests on the travel ban weren’t enough to keep us on our toes, Michael Flynn announced that he was resigning as National Security Advisor this past Monday. Only 24 days or so on the job, there has been controversy surrounding this guy regarding his son and Pizzagate weeks prior to his appointment by President Trump. Now he is allegedly involved with conducting phone calls with the Russian Ambassador over the Obama Administrations actions towards the 35 Russian intelligence officers in December. He claimed he couldn’t recall or remember such events, something right out of the Watergate playbook.

Mr Flynn is said to have misled officials about his call with Russia’s ambassador before his own appointment. It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy. US reports said earlier the White House had been warned about the contacts last month and had been told Mr Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail. The national security adviser is appointed by the president to serve as his or her chief adviser on international affairs and defence.

[…] In his first public comments about the controversy, President Trump tweeted on Tuesday: “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N Korea etc?”

SOURCE: Michael Flynn: Trump’s national security adviser resigns | BBC News

Do I need to go into detail over the fact that Trump is having an issue with the leaks coming out of Washington when he himself tweets out information that no previous President would have dared send out? I’m a proponent for transparency, but using Twitter as your platform of choice to assist with transparency is eliminating a large group of Americans that don’t have or can’t afford the Internet.  Are we on the verge of our centuries “Watergate” scandal? Time will tell, but the signs are all there and the actions of the White House now will have a huge impact on the mid-term elections in 2018.

From inauguration to full-blown scandal and a high-level resignation in 24 days. That simply has to be some kind of record. Donald Trump never does anything small. If his administration is going to have a political crisis, why waste any time? Mr Flynn has now been cut loose but that may not be enough to staunch the bleeding. Congressional Democrats – and perhaps some Republicans – will want to find out who was informed about Mr Flynn’s contradictory stories and why nothing was done earlier. How far up the chain of command does it go? All of this has some observers dusting off language from the mother of all presidential scandals, Watergate. What did the president know, and when did he know it?

SOURCE: Michael Flynn: Trump’s national security adviser resigns | BBC News

The tweets of the President go a long way in demonstrating that his operating knowledge of the Constitution is limited and he doesn’t have a full understanding of how the systems of government truly work. If he did, he would understand that an Executive Order is subject to the same checks and balances as any law passed by the Congress and it’s the Judiciary that determines constitutionality when a case is PRESENTED to them, never before.

Day to day, it’s the 94 District Courts which deal with interpretation of US laws, treaties, and public officials – powers devolved to them from the Supreme Court. But the courts do not offer opinions on government policy unless they are asked – they only interpret law when a case is brought before them. The other two branches of government make and enforce the laws, and the judicial branch interprets the laws when there is a dispute. That is the issue here – a presidential executive order has all the force of law, and is subject to the same checks.

SOURCE: Taking on Trump: Is the US facing a constitutional crisis? | BBC News

checksandbalancesus

As the Constitution states: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made…  US Constitution, Article III (2)

Someone should send President Trump a copy of the U.S. Constitution so that he may reference it before singing anymore Executive Orders. With all the negativity that has surrounded this administration the last four weeks, one thing is for sure, we’re living through what will likely be a dark time in our countries history.

Get to know me challenge

Well, That’s What Anxious Mom Said posted her “Get to know me challenge” and as expected, challenged all her followers (instead of picking three) to do the same. How can I ignore that? So, here you go, in all it’s semi-anonymous glory.

Share your profile picture if you have one.

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Who are you named after? No one in particular, Mom just liked the name.

What is your favorite lunch meat? Sandwich Pepperoni

Longest relationship? Current one, together 19 years, married 17.

Do you still have your tonsils? Yes

Would you bungee jump? Uh, no, as if I’d trust a rubber band.

Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Always, it keeps the laces and show from stretching out.

Favorite ice cream? Mint Chocolate-Chip (the green kind, because artificial dye!)

What is the first thing you notice about people? Body language, easier to see who’s an introvert.

Football or baseball? Sports, meh.

What color pants are you wearing? Light tan.

Last thing you ate? Chicken Cheesesteak with Fried Onions and Bacon

If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Blue (III), superior to the first two, LOL.

Favorite smell? Turkey and stuffing.

Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? Doctors office.

Hair color? Brown.

Eye color? Blue.

Favorite foods to eat? Spaghetti & Meatballs, Meatloaf, Girl Scout Thin Mints

Scary movies or happy endings? Scary movies, no contest.

Last movie you watched? Twilight: New Moon (no laughing, daughter has the flu, her pick)

Favorite holiday? I don’t do Holidays, ever.

Beer or wine? Why no Bourbon?

Favorite day of the week? Tuesday (I get 4 hours alone, wife and daughter are at archery)

Which three, randomly chosen, bloggers would you like to know more about?

Who were the latest three people to follow your blog (link to their about page)?

Reflections of minimalism

Having recently moved in the last 12 months, I started to evaluate the importance of the stuff that I had accumulated over the previous 15 years while living at my now former home. At the time I didn’t understand the overwhelming urge I had to part with some of my stuff. Stuff that at one point held enough significance that I decided to find a place for it rather than let it migrate out to the street or into someone elses life. My first awareness of my urge to get rid of some of this stuff came when I started to pack everything into boxes in preparation to move down the street (another story in of itself) to a new location. I started to ask myself what importance items had or if they added value to my life in the present. The surprising answer I found myself continuously coming back to was that most of it didn’t hold any value to me.

This trend of asking myself if something held value to me continued through the entire packing cycle much to the dismay of my wife and daughter. Neither of them understood why I suddenly started recommending that a lot of the stuff they had accumulated be tossed or donated rather than moved. My wife in particular had a strong negative reaction to my “just throw it away” answer when we were pulling out boxes and containers that in some cases hadn’t been moved since we put them there 15 years ago. Rather quickly, I became disenchanted with the amount of things we had packed into every place through the house and my perception of our former home changed. I saw her home as cluttered, filled with things that held no value. The burden we created for ourselves keeping all of this stuff clean became something that I started to resent and at that moment I decided that our new home would not be anywhere near as cluttered.

minspodcastcover

The research and reading I did to help me understand all of this change led me to a documentary that chronicled the lives of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus as they discovered minimalism. They started a website, called The Minimalists, to describe what they did, how they came to their new-found beliefs in minimalism and the importance that embracing minimalism had on them. I spent a lot of time on their website and continue to listen to thier podcasts as they’re posted. The one theme they place a heavy importance on is that you don’t need to live a life of “nearly nothing” with white walls, essential furniture and next to nothing in possessions. Advice they gave and I quickly learned and implemented is that items of value, true value to your life, should remain as minimalist lives should have color, meaning and depth.

office

I’ve taken this to heart and a picture of my basement office that I work from home in weekly is a representation of their advice. You can see two racks of CDs against the wall, that I listen to on a regular basis in rotation when working on a mini-stereo system that isn’t in the picture. Music reproduced from a CD, I feel, is superior to a copy of the music in MP3 format (which I have on my laptop). The value that music adds to my life isn’t easy to put into words, but is the reason that I’ve continued to hold onto the collection of CDs I have in my office. There is a portrait of my daughter to the left, and several items on the right (not in the picture) that reminds me of specific times in my past that make me happy; first car I drove, first car I purchased, quarters map from a passed family member and original work of art by my wife. My desk also has a work laptop and a personal laptop as I keep them separate, always. 20 years in information technology taught me the importance and value of “separate” lives to promote work/life balance.

What does this all mean for you? Well, I can’t answer that question, all I can do is give advice based on my experience up to this point as I’m still heading down after choosing that fork in the road. I found a different perspective for my life that has enabled me to reduce my reliance on technology and invest in my physical ties to family and friends. My life doesn’t have the clutter it once used to have distracting me from the truly important things that I had been missing. A really good example of this is how my daughter and I now listen to, and sing, songs while in the car with each other. Until I embraced minimalism, I would often be preoccupied with other things and we would hardly, if ever, talk to each other. She has since discovered Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Guns N’ Roses and Van Halen all because of me and my love for most music. I like to believe that seeing my reaction and enjoyment of the music I listen to, that I share with her, is indirectly teaching her to value what matters in life and thus instills an embrace of minimalism without her even realizing. Over the past several months, she has been emptying her bedroom of items that she claims she doesn’t like anymore, but items left behind (received at the same time) have stories and memories attached that make her happy. It’s a lifestyle that I think will help you reconnect with people in the real-world and rekindle our natural craving for human social contact with others.

I ask myself these questions on a regular basis:

  • Does this item/ideal/action add value to my life?
  • Will I miss this item if no longer in my life?
  • What will I gain by letting go?

Meaning has returned to my life and everything around me now holds significant importance. I can now see everything that I value and cherish without the distractions of “stuff”.  What have you kept in your life that no longer holds any meaning?  What will do you with it?

Weekend “Would You Rather?” 17

After playing an interesting round of “Would You Rather?” with the family, I thought it would be fun to get into the game of a weekly blog post.  Feel free to join in on your own blog and be sure to give an answer to the question of the week.

**I will keep these questions rated G**


good-would-you-rather-questions

Would you rather have ONE wish granted today

OR

THREE wishes granted in 10 years?


Be sure to leave your answer (and justification) in the comments!

Chuck fear mongering under the bus

We, as a people, have used fear and anger to drive our existence for thousands of years. What we have to show for it is a dotted history of violence, genocide, war and generations of conflict. Are we not better than that at this point in our short history on this planet? What makes a person wearing a hijab any different from someone wearing a shirt and tie? They both breathe the same air, both walk with legs, have similar composition of blood pumping through their bodies. Our world culture has created a system where people are classed based on wealth, religion and nationality and made judging others a normal part of life. What right do we have to judge another person, that we don’t know, merely based on their appearance? What visual references do we draw upon that tells us, without impunity, that someone is a terrorist vs. a U.S. citizen?

So muslims wear a hijab, that doesn’t make them terrorists. Catholic priests wear a white collar and a black suit, we don’t see them as terrorists yet the Catholic church has a horribly violent past with wars fought over religious beliefs. It wasn’t that long ago that Protestants were viewed as devil worshippers, and publically hanged, merely because they rejected the Vatican and Catholicism. Christians are persecuted in countries primarily dominated by Islam in much the same way that Protestants were persecuted by Catholics (1300’s)and Jews were persecuted by the Germans (1900’s). It’s sad that we’re a violent species that terrorizes others based on perceptions of inferiority, to the extent that Americans do this to other Americans. The Civil War for example over the issue of slavery. Even after African-Americans being freed in 1865, flash forward 150 years and there are compelling arguments that African-Americans *still* aren’t free in the United States.

Call me an idiot for not fearing others that are different from me, I’ve heard it all in the last few years as my ideology has slowly shifted to what I’ve heard referred to as being a humanist. I see people for what they are, fellow humans, and attempt still with some difficulty to not judge based on appearance. It’s hard to break a habit that has been slammed into my brain for over three decades from mainstream media, educational systems and other powerful figures. We have a 10,000 year old instinctive response of fight or flight when presented with a situation we perceive as a threat to our lives that has been reinforced over the last thousand or so years to include everything from a charging bear to someone walking down the street wearing a hijab or a someone wearing a long trench coat in the middle of summer. I get it, we’re hardwired to act on our instincts, but I am arguing that we’re ignoring vital information that we sacrifice with our laser focus on only the perceived “bad” thing in front of our eyes.

I don’t believe that *every* Muslim in the U.S. is a terrorist much like I don’t believe that *every* African-American is a drug dealer or *every* Hispanic is someone’s maid or butler (which really are stupid stereotypes if you think about it). My grandparents had a dislike for everyone that wasn’t a white Catholic; a fact I found disturbing and an indicator of their learned, backwards thinking from their parents. I really could keep going, the common theme of all this is a common hatred of anyone that isn’t in *your* arbitrarily labeled group. We’re all flipping human beings, we’re *all* in the same group.

I consider myself lucky being an introvert in the age of the Internet. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to engage in deep conversations with others that wasn’t predicated on their appearance. I was able to interact with them on a human level, brain to brain, not caring about their religion, station, wealth or physical appearance. I’ve been like this for years, much longer than my awareness of the fact that we subliminally treat others different based on physical traits. My drive to take this into physical life, instead of virtually, is a rather large and difficult hurdle that I’m still struggling with on a daily basis. I ask stupid questions out of naivety, that I find is usually dismissed as I’m genuine about my curiosity. The answer is something that I absorb like a sponge, stored for later when I have the time to process through the interaction.

My outward interactions with the world, how others perceive me, has changed significantly in a dramatic and profound way. My view of the world has grown so much, in such a fantastic way, it’s hard for me to put into words even after thinking about this for several days. My interactions with others are getting easier because I’m no longer drawing on outdated prejudices or life lessons that feel as outdated as my grandparents’ views did years ago. This is something that I’ve had to work at, constantly remind myself to not judge based on appearance, force myself to look beyond the surface. Looking (and interacting) with what’s inside all of us takes time, effort and practice…. lots of practice. To put it another way, I’ve learned to love the taste of my foot 🙂

Enlightenment starts with the self, then becomes contagious to those around. This is one pandemic that I think would benefit the human race. Call me crazy to believe that we can do better than we have in the past, we certainly have a lot of history showing us what not to do going forward into the future. Why not start small, a little change that could have a large impact: resist the rhetoric and draw your own conclusions.