Friday, May 31, 2013

7 Quick Takes Vol. 9

1.       For Memorial Day my Dad and brother and I all went out shooting. They spent most of the time raving about my S&W Model 60, about how good it feels, how accurate and functional it is, how powerful it can be, and so on. So, yeah, I think I made a good choice with that one. Oh, and Dad’s laser sight was awesome too.

2.       Another busy week at work with two days of set up for a four-hour training session, which, apparently, wasn’t very good anyway. Still, I learned that you should always over estimate the number of pizzas you order for an office lunch.

3.       I’m tentatively beginning to look for another job, possibly out of state. It’s just starting to feel like I ought to be moving on, and my current job doesn’t really have much to offer except a decent wage. This is something I’ll need to do a lot of thinking and praying over, especially as my lease ends in the coming months.

4.       On the writing front while I’ve been plugging away at Hendricks I also started a side ‘80s genre film crossover’ fan-fiction project just for fun (and extra practice). I’m considering posting it in installments for people to read since I’m enjoying it so much. Sample sentence:

“The DeLorean roared to life and sped off down Elm Street, scattering leaves in its wake.”

                I don’t know about you, but that sentence alone makes me happy.

5.        Another current writing project is coming up with funny and bizzare little similes. For instance:
-As Shackleton said to the man who brought ice cream, that doesn’t really help.

-As Pyrrhus said, at least we won.

-As Gavrilo Princip said before shooting Archduke Ferdinand, what’s the worst that could happen?

                   Well, I think they're funny anyway.

6.       A prior commitment to meet up with a friend means that Famous Catholic Friday this week will probably become Famous Catholic Saturday. Oh, well.

7.       I’ve been re-watching some old Columbo episodes, reminding me of how wonderful they are. What really strikes me, though, is how very manly the characters are. Columbo himself in particular, but also in the villains of the week. There’s a confidence, a professionalism about everyone that I don’t really see much in contemporary shows. I might have to do an article about it in the future.

Friday, May 24, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday Vol. 8

1.       So, it turns out my rent is going to go up this year, and I am not happy about it. This makes me seriously consider my perennial back-up plan, which is to move to Texas and open up a rattlesnake sanctuary, where people can come to watch the rattlesnakes roam wild and free.

I’m only joking a little; I have honestly considered that, and I think I might be able to make a success of it. I mean, everyone likes rattlesnakes, right?

2.       Seriously, I have considered a move down south. Booming economy, conservative, and lots of space; sounds good to me! If I find a job and/or some cheap, good land down there, I’m gone.

3.       I’m slowly, reluctantly trying to eat healthier, which at the moment means such things as cooking up asparagus to go along with my eggs and bacon and leaving the lettuce on my sandwiches (I draw the line at tomatoes). So far, so good (except when I forget, which is, admittedly, a fair amount of the time); asparagus works fine with bacon and eggs, and I’m actually starting to enjoy the taste of lettuce mixed in with my ham and cheese (especially if there’s mayo as well; mayo makes lettuce much more palatable).

4.       I was actually ahead of the game on my Famous Catholic Friday post this week! I’m so proud of myself! And I even managed to post something that wasn’t either that or a Scripture Reflections! Go me!

5.       It’s been a crazy week at work; first we had a meeting with the head of the department (who is very nice, but a bit of a neat freak so we had to make sure that everything was PERFECT) to discuss something I can’t talk about in a public forum. In setting up for that I learned that ordering high-quality muffins requires 24-hour notice. Then we had another major meeting two days later, requiring chilled juices (one of the managers had me put the out roughly two-hours early, with the result that the ice was half-melted by the time the meeting began), coffee, a sandwich tray, and, yes, muffins!

6.       Meanwhile, I’m mulling over trying to sell some ideas, including ones for a video game and a beef commercial (that’s ideas plural: I’m not considering a video game that also functions as a beef commercial. Though now that I think about it…). I figure it can’t hurt to throw some ideas out there and see if anyone bites. Who knows? I might strike it rich in the beef business.

7.       I’m glad this is a long weekend, because my apartment needs a good Spring Cleaning. And I still need to put together that pull-up bar I mentioned weeks ago! So much to do…

Friday, May 17, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday Vol. 7

Again, hosted by Conversion Diary

1.     Woah, what a week! Those of you who follow politics know what I’m talking about, but even if you don’t, odds are you’ve heard something about all that’s been going on. At least three major scandals blew up all at once, and like the Fiendfyre in the last Harry Potter book, they appear to just be getting bigger and bigger rather than burning out.

And the worst part? We still haven’t heard anything about what I think is the worst of the Obama Administration’s scandals: Fast and Furious (I believe that’s because they’re still trying to work around the President’s not-at-all-suspect Executive Privilege declaration). Hey, House Oversight Committee? Maybe we can use all this to draw people’s attention to the whole “the DOJ shipped guns to the Mexican Cartels, leading to the deaths of hundreds of innocent people” thing.

2.     Speaking of politics, I have a free tip for any future Presidents:
Don’t. Do. This.

Now, before anyone says it, I’m sure that some previous Presidents have done it too, but I frankly don’t care. A United States Marine is not the President’s personal valet and manservant. If I’m not mistaken, he actually has at least one valet and manservant! Get him to hold up your damn umbrella. Or how about another one of the bloated White House staff? In a pinch you could even call up one of the more useless Cabinet members (Secretary of Education, Secretary of Energy, etc.) and put them to work. Or, how about this? If you think it might rain, put up a friggin’ tarp, you lazy incompetent!

This strikes me as a painfully disrespectful thing for the President to do. These guys are Marines. Not only that, but they’re color guard Marines serving the President: they’re the elite of the elite, and he’s using them as a personal umbrella stand!  

Just check out that poor Marine’s face: even he can’t believe the President is making him do this. I like to imagine he’s weighing the relative merits of going ‘The Penguin’ on Obama’s arrogant posterior.

3.     I’m still going strong on Chronicles of Hendricks; we’re up to about 26,000 words (though some of those I’m already planning to cut/replace). You know, writing works in funny ways. This week I happened to come up with the idea for a joke about the “only one way to find out” trope (you know, someone will say something like “is it safe?” and the other person will say “only one way to find out” and risk their lives to ‘test’ the thing). Then I decided, ‘wait, if they’re going to climb up the laundry chute, they should run into something on the way…’ then, when trying to decide how they escape from the ‘things’ (I won’t say what they are), I wound up having them pulling off a sheet that was covering something…and now I want to make that something a plot point somehow. I just don’t know what it is. Stay tuned!

4.     So, I went shooting again this week; again, trying to make it an at-least weekly thing, since A). I need to practice and B). there’s a range fairly nearby that is cheap, quiet, friendly, and seems largely unaffected by the ammo shortage. Anyway, this particular range gives you a pair of clips to hang up your targets, with the rule that you have to pay for any that you accidentally shoot. So, I plugged out my usual fifty rounds into two targets, was doing fine, hadn’t hit the clip once…then on my very last shot I destroyed the clip. Literally; the bullet smashed it to pieces, taking a good chunk of target with it.

Frankly, that was worth the two dollars they charged me for it. 

5.     My apartment has been invaded by ants. Seriously, they’re everywhere. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t bother to kill them unless they’re directly in my way. I’ve got the exterminator coming, but since that’s done through the apartment office I don’t know when exactly he’s supposed to get here. In the meantime, I just squish them when they bother me and try to clean up my food so they don’t have a motive to come in. Of course, now it’s too late: they think this is their home now.

6.     By the way, regarding the violin recital I mentioned last week? Well, it was one of those things were everyone tries to assure me I did fine, but I know it was the worst version I’d played recently. Oh, well; I’ll do better next time.

7.     Today at work we had a cook out (I forget what for: some of the wiper guys put it on). Lots of delicious-smelling hamburgers and brots and chicken…and I couldn’t have any of it because it was Friday! For a while I considered just diving in and doing some other penance later, but then I thought “It’s a penance; it’s supposed to hurt” so I passed over the sumptuous meats and contented myself with asparagus, carrots, and watermelon.

I actually found it wasn’t too bad; after a few minutes I stopped noticing the heavenly aroma of grilled flesh, the asparagus provided a nicely smoky/seasoned flavor, and I walked away fairly contented. So, it all worked out and I don’t regret the loss of juicy meat-flesh (*twitch*).

Friday, May 10, 2013

7 Quick Takes Vol. 6

Again, hosted by Conversion Diary

1.       Mid-way through last week I fell down with one of my patented seasonal colds. This hit me hard for a day or two, then linger on in a moderate form for the next couple of weeks, leaving me lethargic and disrupting any exercise schedules I may have established (as of this writing, that is still the case). About the only silver lining is that I get to take Nyquil. Sweet, sleep-inducing Nyquil…

2.        During one of my healthier moments I managed to finally get out to a small local firing range and try out my revolver. Here’s the result:


Both of these silhouettes did very bad things: I had no choice but to take them down.

Overall, I’m pleased with how it went. I definitely need a lot of practice (and this was with .38 rounds: .357 rounds will pack a lot more kick), but it’s not a bad start. The range itself was okay; small, but literally empty  (I was the only one there ). On the one hand, I enjoy the privacy. On the other, it makes me worry that they might not be around for long. In any case, I plan to make this a (at least) weekly thing so I can get really comfortable with it.

3.       I have my first public violin recital tomorrow; nothing fancy, just a low-key opportunity for my instructor’s students to scratch out a short piece for the audience. It also means that I’ve officially memorized my first actual song on the violin (Faith of Our Fathers), which is a pretty cool milestone. I’m hoping to do The Star Spangled Banner next.

4.       Speaking of memorization, I’ve recently discovered that Rudyard Kipling was an absolutely awesome poet. My latest memorization project was The Gods of the Copybook Headings, which is an alarmingly perfect description of the current state of Western Civilization.

“And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing, and no man must pay for his sins
As surely as water will wet us, as surely as fire will burn
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!”

5.       On the topic of memorization, the problem I’m running into is developing my ‘palaces.’ Briefly, those are the visual environments that I populate with the mental images to help remember things. See, the problem is that simply making them up is difficult and requires me to use precious memory to accomplish. But, on the other hand, there are only so many real places that I know well enough to use, and most of those are either too small for my purposes or already being used. I’ll have to go on more walks in the future to counterbalance this.

6.       I haven’t been keeping up with ‘Famous Catholic Fridays’ very well lately: I missed the past two weeks and probably am going to miss this week as well. Lethargy, laziness, and a lack of material are the main causes: I just haven’t had the energy to do the research and get the article out.

Let’s commit to getting one out next week no matter what, shall we? I’ll even give you a preview: it’s probably going to be Dante (hi, Liz!)

7.       Related to the above is DISCIPLINE! I need to get a lot better at disciplining myself. Grr! Let’s make that my goal for May, shall we?

Extra Take: This week I was very saddened by the death of Ray Harryhausen, one of my personal heroes. I take it as the final sign that the classic film industry that I loved is truly gone forever, and nothing like it will ever be again.