Month: May 2013

Not To Brag, But…

Yep- Kevin’s right, as always.

Welcome to the

We wiener dogs are nothing if not dependable!

http://www.gocomics.com/drabble/2009/06/23

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Hugh Laurie, what DON’T you do?

My Friday post this week was originally going to be a rant on Justin Beiber, mostly because I wanted an excuse to poke fun at him getting caught speeding in a Ferrari by an NFL player in a Prius, but in hindsight I scrapped it – The tone was a lot more negative than I had intended it to be. Plus, I can make fun of him getting caught by a dude in a Prius without wasting an entire post on it – So mission accomplished there. (Seriously, a Prius? Ferrari should take that car away from you for causing them to look like they can’t be outrun by a Toyota hybrid…)

Instead, you get this – My open letter to Hugh Laurie.

Dear Hugh,

Is there anything you don’t do?

I mean, seriously – Growing up, I loved you in Jeeves and Wooster. You were iconic in the role of P.G. Wodehouse’s blundering gentleman, when I read the books, I hear your voice in his narration. I also enjoyed you in Black Adder, which I remember watching with my father growing up on the PBS British comedies on Saturdays. As a comic actor, you’ve always done an excellent job, throwing yourself into the roles, apparently able to not take yourself too seriously while doing it. As Bertram Wilberforce Wooster, in addition to being riotously funny, you also showed a gift for musicality, singing some of those songs from the 20s and 30s while playing the piano, comically asking Jeeves for input (The “Minnie the Moocher” scene was probably one of the most fantastic scenes I’ve seen ever).

But comic acting wasn’t it. Oh no, you then go on to play House M.D. I never got terribly into the show, but from what little bits and pieces I saw, you played a serious role believably. Let’s face it – I’ve seen Jim Carrey in a serious role – Not everyone makes that comic-to-serious transition without showing a gap between the two, given the number of seasons house was on, you clearly did all right. And if I didn’t know you were British before you went into that role, I never would have known based on your portrayal – Years of work, I’m sure, but you completely lost all traces of Brit as Dr. House.

But did you stop there? No, no. Then you go and release a blues album. A BLUES album. Let’s stop and ponder that for a moment. A Brit singing the blues, a distinctly American music style. It’s like a Canadian being the most popular country singer, or an American the most famous hockey player. It probably should never happen, and yet – There you go, making an album that doesn’t even SOUND like you, it sounds like Dr. House performing in a gin joint. And you released another album, which I’ll be honest, I’m a little annoyed that it’s apparently only available in the UK currently, because after my jazz history class two terms ago, I was really looking forward to finding out how you treated the migration of styles as other varieties merged into the genre, but I’m currently stuck waiting until it actually releases in the US. That’s cold, man. And most actors aren’t going to be successful at crossing over to music (Gwyneth Paltrow, anyone?), but somehow, you did.

Oh, and then there was the book – I haven’t read it, but a SPY NOVEL? Come on, Hugh! Leave something for the rest of us to be good at. You can’t just keep going and showing off like that. You’re like Chuck Norris without the ninja skills. (Or are you?)

So where AREN’T you talented, huh? Poetry? underwater basket weaving? Custom woodworking and cabinetry? Kung fu? Because to date, you keep deciding to shock me with your range, and at this point I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that you WERE a crime-fighting ninja in your free time.

But seriously, dude – stop being good at everything.

Sincerely yours,

Andrew.

Throwback Thursday – Boy Scouts

Another pull on the old archive – this was from the run up to my birthday week, April 23rd, 2009.

When I was in elementary school, I was a boy scout. I don’t remember if I asked to be in it or my parents just put me into it, but it was a fascinating time. We used to go out to our den leader’s house, which was out in the middle of nowhere (at least to me, in my older years I figured out it’s actually just outside of Sherwood). His family had this large piece of property, with horses and woods and trees and creeks. Growing up I liked going to the park and catching salamanders, so this was a lot of fun for me.

Sometimes we’d go on night hikes and learn about the flora and fauna in the great outdoors. Well, the flora at least. there wasn’t a whole lot of fauna that we saw while we were out there. I always enjoyed the random craft projects we had. Like making hurricane laterns out of a mason jar, a tuna can, and a wooden stick (because we all know how often hurricanes hit in Oregon). Or the bird feeders and bird houses.I also really enjoyed the pinewood derby and raingutter regatta, the organized competitions we did while in scouts.

When I was in scouts, I only ever got to go camping with the group once. I remember we went up to Mt. Hood and were camping somewhere off the Zigzag river. My dad went along, we got all the camping gear especially for the trip. Sleeping bags, tent, the works. We went hiking, avoided drowning ourselves in the river (as boys can be curious when it comes to fast moving shallow water and hopping from rock to rock, this one proved tricky). I also remember playing with (I think it was) Nolan Farr’s dog. It was a hyperactive dalmatian, I don’t remember its name, but I remember holding up a stick, him taking a run at me to take the stick, and then twirling out of the way like a bull fighter. I think I might’ve even said “Ole!” (not that I knew what it meant back then. Come to think of it, I still don’t know what Ole means… Aside from Jose Ole’s Taco Sauce…). That dog was crazy, no matter how many times I dodged him grabbing the stick, he still tried.

Memo to self: Go camping this summer. Michael, this means you, too. :-p

Wife Wednesday – Running on Empty…

The weekend after my birthday, after having saved for many months, God provided my wife and I with her dream car – a 1997 Ford Mustang.

We had been looking for a replacement for her aging Toyota Camry for probably over a year – she had been driving it since high school, and it had developed a few issues that, in the long run, was more money than we wanted to put into a car that old. We’d started out looking for something “practical”, but as the search pressed on, we came to several realizations.

1) the practical car we were looking for, a Subaru Forrester, was either selling before we had the chance to look at it, or priced well above what we were willing to pay for it.
2) we already had a practical car in my Subaru Outback
3) we don’t have any kids, so having two practical cars isn’t a pressing issue.
4) Late 90s mustangs were actually well within our price range.

When the search began for a suitable mustang, we had a few requirements. Less than 150,000 miles, convertible top, and either blue or green. The first couple we called on were salvage titles. Or there was the gem of a conversation I had with one of the other sellers…

Me: so, the ad says it runs good?
Seller: Well…. Yeah, I mean, I’m not a mechanic or anything, but it hasn’t given me any trouble. It makes this noise once in a while, but I don’t know what it is.
Me: oooookay.. Has it had any major work done lately?
Seller: No, not really. I do have a new radiator that I just haven’t had time to install yet…
Me: okay, well, let me talk to my wife and I’ll get back to you if we want to see it. (This, folks, is the polite way of saying “There ain’t no way I’m coming to check out the junker you’re trying to sell over blue book, pal…”)

The one we finally wound up with was a bit of a drive – over an hour each way to Dallas, but it was being sold by a retiree, had less than 100k, was in pristine condition, a grand under blue book, and his reason for selling it? “I started the year at 7 cars, and I’m just downsizing the fleet.”

This change in cars hasn’t been without some adjustment for my wife, though. Case and point, the gas light.

The gas light isn’t exactly a new invention. For decades, if you get to the point of almost no return, the light will happily click on, indicating that you need to find a service station before you strand yourself in the middle of nowhere. And yet, for some bizarre reason, Ford decided against putting them in Mustangs until the 1999 model year. (Keep in mind, I owned a 1997 contour. that had one, so it’s not like they weren’t using it in 1997 at all, just not on Mustangs).

Being cognizant of this fact, my wife and I both knew that this would be an adjustment, as her 1992 Camry had a gas light as well. So I told her to do the only sensible thing – check the manual for a tank capacity. After a few moments of flipping, she found the page.

“20 gallons,” she said,

“Well, there you go.”

Cut to a few weeks later. My wife, on her drive home, is met with some funky car issues, where it completely lost power and just barely made its way home.

“Something’s wrong with the car,” she told me. I went out to check it, turned the key on, and listened to the motor struggle and wheeze.

“Y’know, it’s been a while since I did it myself, but it seems to be out of gas,” I thought. I checked the trip odometer, expecting my wife had run it up to nearly 400 miles. Imagine my shock when I saw it at a mere 285. Either the fuel economy is severely deteriorated from the first fill up, where we were getting almost 20 miles a gallon, or something wasn’t right.

On a hunch, I went to the gas station, got a can and a gallon of gas, and came back to fill it up. After a struggle with the safety can (because apparently, I cannot be trusted to not spill gasoline out of a gas can, so they make an interlocking nozzle that all but requires me to spill it…), I jumped into the car and turned the ignition. The six cylinder kitten started purring like nothing had happened. From there, I ran to the station and filled it up. Full tank? 15.1 gallons.

I returned home, handed my wife the receipt, and said “Apparently, the tank is not 20 gallons.”

Two days later, I found out what really happened.

You see, on the 1997 manual for the Ford Mustang, there are two separate pages. One of them. In fluid capacities, indicates that the car takes 20 gallons. This was the page my wife landed on in her search for a tank size.

On the last page in the manual, however, there is a service station page, that indicates the tank is, in fact, 15.4 gallons. My wife, as it turns out, is a very competent manual reader, Ford, on the other hand, is incompetent at printing manuals.

And lets be honest – this wasn’t something putting a gas indicator in the car two years earlier wouldn’t have fixed. 🙂

Thanks, Ford, for letting my wife experience the joys of an empty gas tank. /end sarcasm

The class barbecue…

This weekend, I had the privilege of running the grill for my Sunday school class barbecue. I think I got the duty because of the grill my wife got me for my birthday, but I was really excited to get to do it.

Now, grilling on that large of a scale wasn’t something I’ve actually done before – there were at least 20 people present, so I was nervous about making sure that no one went home sick. This, as it turns out, was not the biggest problem I had, though.

You see, the grill that I was using was a behemoth. Eight burners. Two tanks. It’s easily got double the cooking surface of my grill at home.

It also, as it happens, had some issues.

The first problem I encountered was lighting it. It had the push buttons for igniters, much like my home grill, save for one minor difference – they didn’t work. I got a crash course in igniting the burners the old fashioned way – light the end one, the. Turn on the next and wait until it ignites, then repeat. At one point, this nearly cost me an eyebrow because the burner took a little longer than expected to light, and as I leaned over to check it, I heard “Pwoomph!” I dodged back from a low level fireball and vowed to never, ever do something that stupid again.

The next issue, apparently not all of the burners worked consistently. In some areas of the grill, the burgers were cooking right up, on others they were barely thawing. This was strange to me, because s I checked, all of the burners appeared to have flames. Some just were hotter than others,

And the hot ones? Well, once you had a few burgers on them going, there were flames licking up over them a foot in the air. Flipping burgers became a masterful ballet of me avoiding losing my arm hairs to the grill. I don’t want to brag, but all I lost was some rather unsightly knuckle hair. I might go pro in flame dodging.

It was a blast to do, but it also made me appreciate how good of a grill I have. I like not having to fight to cook the food properly. 🙂

My New Book Strategistics Began Here.

I’m taking today off from blogging in honor of Memorial day, however I thought I would share this. Gunnar Simonsen is a good friend and mentor, and I worked under him for five years at the position he gained this insight from. I can say having worked along side of him, “Clarity is the Antidote to Anxiety” wasn’t just his mantra, it was something he lived the entire time I worked for him. I appreciate the insights he gave me during that time and appreciate them more now that I’ve moved to other business endeavors. 🙂

Thoughts from the Horizon

habkkukWhen I was promoted to the corporate office after managing a store for a regional chain of bookstores, my staff presented me with a Bible that had both my name engraved on it along with a verse.

The verse was Habukkuk 2:1

“I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he[a] will answer my complaint.”

To be honest, I had no idea why they chose this verse. For whatever reason, I never asked. I think everything was a whirlwind as I was thrown into a position while we were about to double our stores in a timespan of about 6 months.

As years past, I somehow was eventually promoted to a vice president position. While overseeing both operations and merchandising, I began developing a training strategy that was built upon clarity of message.

As I sat…

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Poetry Corner – My Dog is Not a Winter Dog

Anyone who knows me knows that poetry is not my strong suit. In fact, I think the last time that I wrote anything even remotely poetic was in high school, when we studied limericks. Well, actually, thinking about it, I did write “The stalker’s valentine” as a joke for a classmate freshman year of college, when some random guy she barely knew gave her flowers on Valentine’s day, but there’s really nothing poetic about making “Roses are red” inherently creepy. However, this evening, as the rain beat down on myself and my little waterlogged dachshund, who seemed incapable of doing his business, I was struck by a moment of sheer insanity brilliance and corniness artistic  fluidity. So without further ado, I give you my first crack at poetry in over a decade.

 

My Dog is Not a Winter Dog

My dog is not a winter dog,

He does not like the rain,

Nor does he like the bitter cold,

For which he shows disdain,

 

When time to go outside it is,

He shoots me puzzled looks,

“I did not sign up for this mess,

It was not on the books.”

 

In spite of this, he takes his time,

Whilst doing his foul chore,

“This spot right here just isn’t right,

I think I’ll sniff some more.”

 

Born in May, raised in June,

He came home in July,

But for the winter weather months,

He wishes they would fly,

 

Alas, poor pupper, sopping wet,

Shivering, soaked to bone,

Just do your dirty business, sir,

After which, we’re home.