You can usually tell by the state of my Jeep if it's a good night to ride. But that doesn't always speak of the month, or season. If we're knee-deep in the middle of a string of 40° days and suddenly get a nice 75er? You bet, I'm taking the windows and top off Amber Waves. Because it only takes five minutes to take it off, and about fifteen to put it back on. No sweat for me, I'm gonna enjoy the weather. It's nice to be able to leave the top off for a while, and have a place to park it. Did you know they make garages you can park your vehicle inside? Well, I just learned this when I moved into this house. Historically I've always turned my garages into bars or dart alleys or beer-brewing stations, so I've never been able to get more than one…
It’s morning. You’ve just woken up. It looks warm outside, the sun is shining, but there’s a thick blanket of snow on the deck. A large mug of coffee sits on the window sill, sunlight illuminating the steam as it lazily escapes the heat of the mug. You may be cozied up with your chin on your knees, a thick blanket wrapped round you as you stare out the window from the overstuffed leather chair. But it’s not a happy time. It’s sad. You’ve just lost a friend, finished the final legal hoops of a failed marriage. It’s a pensive, reflective moment. All cried out. Alone. Relieved, at peace, but saddened and forlorn. A complex web of emotions hangs stagnant amidst the lingering aroma of the coffee. They’re all real. Every bit of it as real as the snow outside. The sun, too far away to melt it, serves as a reminder that it will warm someday. This ain’t the last rodeo. The fingerprints on the window also serve that hope. There is life. And when the bell rings and the kids come traipsing in the front door, your silent melancholy will be abruptly shattered.
I’ve come to find that winter is my favorite season. I do like that cold. But that’s not it. It’s like a hard reset for planet America. Or at least planet North Texas. My world. It gets cold, freezes off the trials of the summer and the first nine months of a year, drops the leaves in the street and starts over. Let’s give it another chance. Let’s see if we can get it right this time. A perpetual trial and error in small, annual runs, like caption bubbles popping, saying “Once more”. Every year I contemplate what I could have done differently to make it a better year. Have I achieved what I set out to achieve this year? Have I grown as a man? A husband? A father? Am I where I wanted to be in life? On that third-grade questionnaire, where it asked ‘where do you want to be at forty-five’ what did I answer? Rich with a mountain home and a private plane? Warm with a red-haired wife and a black dog in a small cottage? Alone with a television blaring nonsense at a sub-audible level while I play solitaire on a sticky TV tray?
Just sayin. So the story goes something like this. I play a lot of poker. I don’t host many tournaments. My buddies and I are more into the cash games, or ‘ring’ games, as they’re called. The big difference is that in a ring game, the blinds don’t increase, and it’s just a relaxing, easy-going game between friends, where any many can stand up at any time he’s ready, and cash in his chips for cash value. In a tournament, it’s kill or be killed, and usually only the top three seats are paid out. You might leave with nothing. The point of all this will be discussed in the next paragraph, so please consider this sentence the closing of the first.
So if you go look on the Android market, the Google Play Store, wherever the hell you buy your Android apps, you’ll find a metric butt ton of tournament manager apps. Seriously. Like a million. But they’re all for tournaments. And thus they mainly focus on your blind schedule, and timers that let you know when they’ve gone out. But you’ll not find a single app for cash games. Well, you’ll find one. But it’s so shitty that it shouldn’t even be mentioned. Literally, it sucks like a brand new Dyson 220v industrial elephant vac. For instance, you can add money to people’s accounts in increments of 5 25 or 50. But not 1. Or fifty cents. Because we all play small chip’s a finn, right?
My red-haired wife and our friends and do a lot of sitting on the driveway. Just about every night, and certainly every weekend. We sit out there drinking Cold Ones and starting at the lake, telling stories, playing guitars, Danae and I singing together, smoking cigars, skinning catfish – whatever. The point being we’re always out there, and the easiest way to accommodate all this madness is fold-up chairs. These things are pretty comfortable, and they’re great for space-saving when you’re done with them. They fold up and stand in the corner of the garage. The problem is, they don’t last very long.
Well, this black chair has one more problem in particular. It’s the top-dollar version of the chair. It used to have a footrest and all that, which is another bad design in and of itself. But today we’re going to talk about the cupholder. Have a looksee.
In the age of self-publishing, and the ease with which anyone can be a writer and publish his/her own work on Amazon and the like, we find ourselves both blessed and cursed. On one hand, it’s great because anyone who’s ever wanted to write can do so. And be heard. On the other, there is no QA for the work.
Listen, I’m not trying to criticize any particular writer here. I’m sure we all have fine stories. And I applaud everyone who self-publishes for seeing it through, for writing terrible drafts and making them better until they finally have a product they feel is ready for readers! That’s the process we all take as writers. My first manuscripts were pretty horrific. But that was because I didn’t know much about storytelling. The grammar, on the other hand, has to be there.
So many times my red-haired wife will come home and tell me about news stories she’s read or heard, and I’m always surprised. I don’t read news sites. I don’t watch TV, so I never see the news there. I don’t believe in newspapers. I mean, I’ve seen evidence of them before, but I just really don’t believe in them. Too much like bigfoot. A lot of hearsay and no real proof. And I really don’t listen to any news-bearing stations on the radio. So I guess you could suffice it to say that I don’t really keep up with current events.
I was sitting on the couch today, getting ready for my mid-afternoon nap when I suddenly had the urge to turn on the ole telly. I have one of those real old-school ones that’s not LED or 3D or 4K or any of that. It’s just a simple 1080p LCD. Remember back when those used to be cool? Anyway, I looked through the list of recorded shows – all the Doc McStuffins and Good Luck Charlie and various other Disney crap we record for my daughter – past my Ultimate Treehouses and Treehouse Masters, you know, the good stuff. And I found Nik Wallenda – Walking the Tight Rope.
I’ve been home since Saturday. But I’m still getting used to it. Like I said before, it feels like I’ve been in a different airport (and hotel) every week. And indeed, I pretty much have. It’s nice to get home and know you’ll be staying there for at least a little while. Our next trip isn’t scheduled until August, so I have at least a month here before I have to use a suitcase again. Gah, I’m so tired of putting stuff into suitcases.
But you know what I’ve found about being back in the house? Well, besides the fact that when you’ve been gone for a week you get to see what your house actually smells like. I’ve found that it’s too big. You know, 7500 square feet can just get overwhelming for a guy like me. No, seriously it’s only about 2500 square feet, but when you’re home alone, it feels like a whole helluva bunch of wasted space. Of course, when you’ve been living out of a suitcase in a hotel room every other week, you start realizing that you’re doing just fine without all your big luscious space. And furthermore, all your stuff.
Beer of the what? Seriously? Beer of the Month Club? How have I not heard of this before now? Actually maybe I had but I didn’t know what it meant. Or maybe I thought you had to go to a bar to get them. Either way, what I do know is that my ridiculously awesome and hot red-haired wife joined the Beer of the Month Club in my name for Father’s Day. Now there’s a wife who cares!
The idea of this is extremely attractive to me. So if you haven’t heard of it, you get your red-haired wife to join you up, and she can pick monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly delivery. It’s pretty expensive. If you sign up for monthly for a year, it’s upwards of $450 bucks. It ain’t cheap. But you can find coupons and save yourself a little cash on shipping and whatnot. So then they just pick two microbreweries per month and send you two varieties (three bottles) from each, for a total of four unique beers that you have probably never heard of. What’s not to love?
Do you brew your own beer? Do you brew more than one style? Do you, therefore, occasionally rotate different styles in and out of your kegerator? Do you take enough pride in your beer to actually come up with names and labels for your delicious creations? Well, then we have a lot in common already. We should get together and share a pint sometime.
I often find myself looking for custom tap handles that I can have painted up with my beer names and labels on them. And I haven’t found a lot of options that appeal to me. Mostly what I find are cool handles with a square at the top where you slide a printed piece of paper into a plastic sleeve for your “custom” tap handle. Or another popular one is the one with a small black square chalkboard at the top where you write your beer name in chalk. Yawn. No, I want something a little more customized. Well, not finding what I wanted, I improvised. Now I’m going to show you what I did.
by Jack McDevitt
as posted on Goodreads
This book was like a “wave” at a football game. You know the one where people stand up in turn waving their arms around and it gives the effect that the stadium is an ocean? Yeah. That. Let me explain the analogy.
Well you probably got that it was up and down with the suspense, drama and general kickassery of the story. It was indeed. The gait would pick up and get me real interested, then it would slow back down and even bog down with unnecessary character introductions and irrelevant loose ends. But it also reminded me of a stadium wave because of how imperfect the wave part of the wave actually was.