A plethora of miscellany

Okay, so I know there’s been no running update…and I’m sorry about that.  Truth is, with the weather and my extreme complacency, there hasn’t been a whole lot of running.  I promise one for next week and even if I have to run 10 or 20 miles on the weekends from now til December 3, I will make this goal.

I saw an ad for the movie Paranormal which said that USA TODAY calls it, and I quote, a movie that “will effectively terrorize even the toughest among you.”  Now, tell me Intertubes…are you not effectively terrorized enough in daily life without resorting to being scared shitless Aside: to use the local vernacular during your entertainment?  What is the desire to be frightened that people find so exciting?  I don’t get it.  I remember watching a made-for-TV film “The Fall of the House of Usher” in 1982.  I didn’t sleep well again until 1984.  Ask my mother.  There are times when I go down to the basement and still look around the corner for Madeline with blood dripping from her eyes.

If you’re not watching Glee, then you’re missing one of the best shows on television.  It has great music, great drama, and a great performance from Jane Lynch who, honestly, makes me squirm with every role she takes on.  She’s great at making you uncomfortable.  Also, cheers to Heather Elizabeth Morris who plays Brittany and is in my opinion one of the better dancers on the show, though her screen time is limited.  If you liked Fame, you’ll love Glee.  If you don’t remember Fame, well…shut up, I’m not old.

The rain has been never-ending here in the Bluegrass State.  We’re probably well over the recommended monthly allowance already.  I base this assumption on the fact that I saw our resident albino squirrel wearing a life vest this morning.  I would’ve sworn that they moved the Ohio River to flow down our street, but satellite photos assure me that this is not the case.  One of these days we’ll dry out, provided it doesn’t just ice over all together soon.  Highs in the mid-40s will do that to you.

Other than that…the baby’s good, C. is good, I haven’t been the best mentally lately, but some of you will question how I can tell the difference Aside: Har de har har har! For pictures of Ivy, click on the Flickr badge to the right. Congratulations to my brother-in-law, J., who was named one of the Top 5 “Hot Now” Artists by The Culture Club in Flagstaff.  And, that’s all the news…

See you in the funny papers!

Now featuring…

Good morning!  Now, I know I’ve been lax lately with the postings, but it’s been pretty hectic around here what with the culmination of the bathroom project, the origination of the baby room project, and the end of the semester “cram-it-all-in-before-the-money-runs-out” craziness.  And, that doesn’t even cover the impossibility of Holy Week where I’m at church 60% of the time.  Oh…and I ran a 10-mile road race in there just for good measure.  Yeah, that’s right…what did you do?

Anyway…since my career path is more of a stagnant pond than a rushing river and my wallet hasn’t seen actual cash since the Clinton administration, I thought I’d rejoice in a little good feeling stuff that’s happened lately.  My flickr account has been bubbling over with people using my photos for various projects.  Everything that I post there is licensed through Creative Commons.  With this license, folks are allowed to use my photos for anything and everything provided they credit me as the photographer, which is pretty cool.  So, since they’re kind enough to use my photos, I thought I’d help them out with a little credit myself.

  1. Back in November, someone contacted me about using a photo of mine for a book they were editing.  Naturally, I had no problem with this and asked them if they could send mea copy of the book.  Earlier this month, I received in the mail, from Poland, a copy of Can Do 2, which is a book that helps you learn to speak English in lower secondary schools.  My photo, of the entrance to the San Diego Zoo, is featured on page 82.
  2. Just yesterday, I was notified by Destination Guides that they had used a photo of mine as the main photo for their section on Society Hill, in Philadelphia, PA.
  3. A while ago, I was on a tour of Waverly Hills Sanatorium, I was able to get a few nice shots of a very spooky building.  One in particular was of the doors to the solarium where patients of the hospital would be able to get sunshine and fresh air.  Another Flickr user was able to turn the photo into something much more dramatic, called *Fear*.
  4. At Home Plate has used a couple of my photos for articles on the Minnesota Twins and the Arizona Diamondbacks.  This naturally inspires me to visit more parks and take more photos.
  5. Finally, this photo of Erin Andrews has garnered more than 71,000 views since I took the picture and uploaded it last summer.  I’d say it was inexplicable, except I know the capacity for web denizens to take the most benign photo of any beautiful woman, including this photo that doesn’t even show her face, and turn it into a web phenomenon.

So that’s what’s been going on here.  I’ve updated movies and events pages since I’ve been away, so check those out if you’re interested.  And, if you’d like me to take a photo for you, let me know.  It will be unprofessional, but free!

See you in the funny papers!

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Intertubes, I apologize for not posting throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, but when I tell you about the trip to Flagstaff, Arizona, you’ll understand.  It was a most amazing weekend and I can go no further without thanking our hosts, TAFKAA and SV, profusely.  Their kindness and affability throughout the week was without equal…but, the meals…the meals were exquisite.  

For Thanksgiving, we started with a wonderful butternut squash soup tinged with apple and ginger, garnished with green onions.  This was followed by the main dish, red peppers stuffed with a harvest salad made with onion, pistachios, rice, cabbage and probably a host of other vegetables.   Side dishes includedseasoned asparagus and a potato scramble with two different types of potato, yellow carrots and plenty of garlic and herbs.  Dessert included a wonderful ambrosia fruit salad with coconut milk and pumpkin pie made with silken tofu and a mixed berry pie.  Isn’t your mouth simply watering?  And, all of this made without a single animal product.  I don’t know that I’ve ever had a better Thanksgiving meal.

As if this dinner wasn’t magnificent enough, they proceeded to take us to the Grand Canyon via the Grand Canyon Railway.  It was a terrific train ride and then, the absolute breath-taking awe of standing in front of this massive expanse.  I was in literal tears before that majestic landscape.  I took pictures (up later today, hopefully) that will do it no justice whatsoever.  Then, we hiked down Bright Angel Trail to the 1.5 mile Rest House and then back up again.  I can’t even begin to explain in words what that is like.  The colors, the smells, the tears of exhaustion and joy…every single moment was transcendent.  I’ve been a lot of places in the world, but there is nothing to which this compares.  

I was also able to spend some time working in SV’s pottery studio, doing some mindless work that saved him some time when he fires the kiln.  We also were able to hike around Mt. Elden on Sunday which was a wonderful hike up the mountain to a rocky outcropping that overlooked the entire city of Flagstaff.  I really thought I was in better shape than I was…but the elevation is a killer.  You can’t go from sea level (basically) to 7,000+ and expect to just hike up and down without a little effort.  My legs were a little sore when I got home, but it was total joy for me, from start to finish.

It was a treat to spend time with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law out in Arizona.  It was my first Thanksgiving away from home and it was wonderful.  Hopefully, I’ll have pictures up later tonight.  

See you in the funny papers!

Well…I blew it again!

As you may have noticed, I failed to complete the NaBloPoMo challenge for a second year.  I’d like to make the excuse that our internet connection was not functioning properly (which it wasn’t).  But the truth is, I realized I had failed to post on Friday when I came back from an errand on Saturday.  However, the weekend was exciting and that was what partially led me to a lack of posts.

Friday night, I was sitting at home…like I usually do…and The Neighbors called to see if we wanted dinner.  We headed to Señor Iguanas for some Mexican and then, we settled back into the couch for an evening of Wii and movies.  We played Tetris Party for Wii which I suck at, but managed to make other peoples’ games miserable due to the exciting addition of “items” which enabled me to be a general nuisance.  Not the least of which caused my wife to call me a “little bitch.”  Seriously…she actually said that.  Then we watched Gone Baby Gone which was a really decent movie starring Casey Affleck and Morgan Freeman.  There’s no review up yet, but check back soon.

Saturday was when it really got busy.  I had errands to run in the morning, a little house upkeep to take care of, and then off to Voces Novae rehearsal.  Two and a half hours of joyous singing and then home again.  I was able to check out the Louisville basketball game which was fairly awesome, at least in the second half.  And, then, honestly, it was just so cold, I didn’t do anything else.  I wanted to go to the Dropkick Murphys concert, but I decided that was a bad idea before church AND a concert on Sunday.  Also, we’re pretty broke in anticipation of our going to Arizona for Thanksgiving, so spending extra money is sort of out of the question.

Sunday, there was church which went well considering we had a guest organist.  Y’know…whenever you have a guest anything really, church doesn’t flow the way it should.  And that’s understandable.  Sometimes it’s okay, sometimes it’s horrendous.  Even so, church on Sunday was not terrible.  After church, I grabbed a bite to eat, got all gussied up in my tux and headed to the concert.  The Voces Novae concert was incredible.  Most of the pieces were the best they’ve ever been, the dynamics were sharp, and I believe, given some early reports from friends, that the songs were incredibly moving.  It was, however, draining and even though I protested being tired, I believe I was exhausted.  I was in for the night and spent the evening watching SuperBad.  All in all, a wonderful weekend.  And now I’m looking forward to an encore performance this evening, since we had a sold-out crowd yesterday.

See you in the funny papers!

P.S.  A big thank you to all regular readers and visitors to the Conspiracy of Happiness.  This month was the first time since the Conspiracy set up shop that the number of views increased for 3 months in a row.  Thank you for you support.

NaBloPoMo 10

nablo1108120x240Today I started a new flex time schedule at work.  I work from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but I have Wednesdays off.  So, it’s like having a Monday, a Friday, and then a day off, a Monday, a Friday and then a weekend.  Pretty cool.  At least, today it was cool, tomorrow may be another story altogether.  Still, the traffic was non-existent early this frosty morning when I left for work.  And by 5:30, most of the traffic should’ve cleared off the campus…so commuting to work is hopefully going to be a breeze.  Now, I just have to carry this momentum of productivity through to Wednesday and get some stuff down around the house.

Speaking of frosty mornings, it really wasn’t all that cold this morning.  I needed gloves and a jacket, but overall, it was pretty decent.  I know that this will not stay this way…the forecast is for some rain for the rest of the week…but it’s nice to have non-inclement weather for as long as possible.

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving in Arizona.  As I mentioned the other day, I purchased some hiking shoes for the event.  I’m hoping to scale Humphrey’s Peak, but if not that at the very least do some hiking in and around the Grand Canyon.  That would be a highlight.  I saw some pics from TAFKAA and SV of their recent hike in the Canyon and they were magnificent.  I think I’m an outdoorsy person, but I don’t really feel like I live close enough to “the outdoors” to enjoy it.  But, I live in a state that really caters to persons who feel the need to get out and stretch their legs among the pines…I should just do it more often.  

See you in the funny papers!

True happiness

The early autumn cool chills the last of the summer wine as the leaves dress in their golden gowns for a long winter sleep.  The frost of morning glazes the grassy field as the snowbirds pack their songs for another trip south.  I pulled the extra blanket tighter down around my shoulders and breathed in the morning as the golden glint of sun burns colder through the trees.

I really, really love autumn.  I know it means the onset of winter, but in my mind, there’s nothing like crisp, cool mornings to really make your heart alive.  I wrote the above in my head this morning while waking up.  Plus, I have all sorts of things to be happy about this morning:

  • My beloved Red Sox slapped down the Angels (AGAIN) last night in their quest to repeat as the World Series champions.  Of course, it’s on the west coast and I didn’t get to sleep until 2, but hey…that’s why there’s coffee.
  • A situation at work regarding some missing passports miraculously cleared itself up yesterday and I can’t begin to explain how happy that makes me.
  • My running program has ramped up a little in this second month and I’m now doing 2:20 walk/1:00 run intervals.  The first one went really well.  I just have to focus on the program and not how much faster I really want to be running.  I’m still getting 2.5 miles in at a 30 minute clip, which is pretty quick for an old man.
  • Also, I’m looking to interview with a company here in town about some GIS possibilities.  Wish me luck on that, because I’d really like to find a job in my field.
  • And, finally, I’m psyched about my trip to Philadelphia.  In recent years I’ve become very interested in history and the founding fathers and what not, so this should really be perfect.  Also, we’re now booked to go to Arizona for Thanksgiving and I believe I’ll be able to summit Humphrey’s Peak while I’m there which will be a huge thrill.

Finally…I’m going to be attempting a lot more politics and baseball in this blog for this month.  I know…some of you are saying that other than running, that’s all I talk about.  But it’s important…for a lot of reasons.  I encourage you to watch the VP debate this evening and if you’re not registered to vote, you have until Monday I believe…so go register now!

Slow and Steady

Not that long ago, I was frustrated with my running program, but recently it has become easier to live with.  I’m actually enjoying it now and I seem to be increasing my distance within the time allotted.  My last run went really well and while I took yesterday off, I’m excited about the prospects for the rest of the week.  With that said, here’s another running update from the Melisa Memorial 570.

#15

First, you’ll notice that the elevation chart is back, which I’m happy about.  You’ll also notice that toward the end it flattens out.  That’s because I’ve reached the Indiana/Illinois border (nearly!) at the Wabash River.  I’m also closest to Grayville, IL.

Grayville, IL is actually situated in two counties in Illinois and is the birthplace of naval hero (of the Spanish-American War and WWI) Rear Admiral James Meredith Helm. Their website City of Grayville also provides much more history and entertainment information.

WOW!  All residents of Grayville (roughly 2,043 of you) are invited to send in a comment on my blog.  I’d love to hear from you.

In other news, the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff spot last night with a win over the Tribe.  Here’s to a great run in the postseason and another World Series win!  The weather here in Louisville has been absolutely outstanding over the last month or so which has led to some great sleeping and beautiful rides to work and back.  The lawn has suffered a little, but I’m not too worried about that.  The bermuda grass always bounces back.  And C. and I are planning trips to Philadelphia in October, Arizona in November and possibly a trip to New Orleans for me in January.  So, yeah, we’re out to see the country in short order.  WOOHOO!

See you in the funny papers!

Relaxed

I’m sitting at the Coffee Pedaler in Flagstaff, AZ enjoying a cup of coffee, free wi-fi, and the CubsHumphreys Peak game being broadcast in beautiful 1948 black & white (just for a few innings apparently), so needless to say I’m relaxed.  Actually, I’m beyond relaxed.  I’m mellow.  How easy is it to just sink into a mountain town and chill for a day or two?  Really easy.

I’m enjoying my time away from things.  I haven’t thought about mowing the grass, or doing paperwork, in several days.  It’s been great.  However, that being said, I don’t really have anything to write about.  At least not regarding me.  So, I suppose it’s time for some Random Thoughts:

  • The flooding in Wisconsin is building to biblical proportions.  It will be interesting to see how quickly the FEMA folks get there with their “poison” trailers.
  • President Bush continues to want to “protect” us with his disregard for the Constitution and its processes.  To which, I can only say, PLEASE, STOP protecting us!
  • My left running shoe has developed a squeak in the heel.  Quite possibly, there is nothing more annoying.
  • If I lived in the southwest, I would have to invest in crates of lip balm and a hat that would stay on in high wind.

That about covers everything for now.  I may write more tomorrow, just depends on my level of relaxation.  If I can find a hammock, I may just sink into a Rip Van Winkle stupor. Aside: not to be confused with Pappy Van Winkle which would be a whole other thing.

See you in the funny papers!

Where in the world…

Today, I write to you from beautiful Albuquerque, NM.  I know, I know…I just got back into town.  How could I possibly be on another vacation?!  Well, it was serendipitous really. My brother-in-law, J. Aside: there’s really no good way to distinguish them and still maintain privacy, so you’ll just have to follow the context and remember which ones are which.  Maybe later I’ll make a chart and his wife A. are moving to Flagstaff, AZ and they needed a driver for their second vehicle.  I happened to have time available and have always desired to drive out west.  So, I loaded up my gear (GPS included), Aside: Thank you J. and A., see, I told you it would be difficult to distinguish and we headed off Monday morning.  We drove 18 hours the first day and I experienced some real life on the road moments, not the least of which was sleeping in the cab of a rental truck in the parking lot of a “Cherokee” restaurant near Geary, Oklahoma. Aside: That beats the Circle B in Binkelman, Nebraska all to hell. The next morning, we drove around 9 hours to Albuquerque, NM and stayed at a Super 8 which is much better than the cab of a truck.  And, in an hour or so, we’re headed to Flagstaff.

It’s beautiful country out here.  Yes, it’s flat, but not like you might expect.  Oklahoma, which I had not previously considered as being a destination state is really very nice.  Especially near Catoosa, outside Tulsa.  The sun broke the clouds in dramatic fashion and everything was really green and wonderful.  Texas, at least through Amarillo, is really not all that great, but it’s not terribly boring.  Nothing like Missouri.  I dislike Missouri about as much as western Ohio.

Anyway, pictures to follow, and more discussion about various states.  I’ll say this for New Mexico, the winds are incredible.  I’m glad I haven’t lost weight recently otherwise, I’d have to have weighted shoes. Powerfully strong winds here and the heat…well, the heat doesn’t bother me much, but it is definitely warmer, without the lovely humidity of my own hometown.

See you in the funny papers!