Thursday, September 29, 2016

National Coffee Day

I read that today is National Coffee Day.

Who comes up with this stuff? Not that I have anything against coffee. Oh heavens, no! Every damn day is national coffee day in my life. Coffee is my elixir; my cure for all things dark and dreary. In fact, on this overcast and chilly autumn afternoon, guess what I'm drinking?

You guessed it.

I'm kidding. Coffee it is. Specifically, Caribou Daybreak, even though it is nowhere near daybreak at the moment. Hell, I will probably be swilling this stuff well into the evening hours. And by 10:00 PM, I will be deeply regretting my decision. I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

But what can I say? I love coffee. Good, strong coffee. And best of all, the Surgeon General has decided that it won't kill me now.  

This is still the Surgeon General, right? He's the only one I'm familiar with, so I'm guessing there's been no change in the past 35 years.

I remember my introduction to coffee. I was a freshman in college, late autumn, 1988. I had to write a paper which was due the next day (surprise!). I knew I had to pull an all nighter, so I went to Target, bought the cheapest coffee maker I could find and the cheapest coffee possible.

When I got back to my apartment it occurred to me I also needed something called "coffee filters." Well, I didn't want to waste precious time going back to Target -- and to be perfectly honest, I didn't have the money, either.

I MacGyver'd myself a perfectly good coffee filter out of a several layers of paper towels and proceeded to slurp, write and slurp, rewrite.

By morning I had finished, got to class on time (nearly pissing myself on the way there... that stuff flowing through me like hot lava). But as I sat in the lecture hall, I noticed my heart was doing flip-flops in my chest, my ears were buzzing and I was shaking from head to toe although I wasn't cold. In fact, I was sweating.

What was this sorcery?

Coffee. It was on that day in 1988 I became your bitch. And your faithful bitch I remain.

Speaking of faithful bitches, the Dingo is interested in nothing but sleeping in my chair on this lazy day. She needs coffee.

...actually, no. A caffeinated Dingo is a bad idea. Very bad.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Rising Tide

I always enjoy a good read and thanks to a recommendation from my old friend, Jon, I just finished an excellent one. The Rising Tide by Jeff Shaara was first published ten years ago and documents Operations Torch, Husky and Avalanche during World War II. But it is way more than just that... it's a good story revealing the human element of men whose names are larger than life.

This is hardly Shaara's only work of historical fiction. Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure are just part of his impressive profile.

While this is a novel and there are a handful of fictional characters, it is based on real events, real places and real people. Shaara undoubtedly invested thousands of hours in research (in the foreword he mentions he prides himself on historical accuracy) and the novel's narrative flows effortlessly in Shaara's very readable style.

The book was particularly interesting to me because my father was a part of both Operation Torch and Operation Avalanche and many of the towns and places mentioned in the novel are also mentioned by my dad in his diary; in a way I felt I walked through the deserts of North Africa and mountains of Italy with corporal Howard Branstner (for more on my dad's World War II diary, I made a blog based on his writings right here: Oak Valley to Po Valley).

If you have interest in historical fiction, Jeff Shaara definitely has a knack for keeping the pages turning. A highly recommended read.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

First World Problems and Flag Football

I could categorize this weekend as "first world problems" for myself. Petty stuff, I know, considering some people don't know where their next meal is coming from or don't have clean water to drink.

Still, they're my problems.

It started last night when I tripped walking up the steps while carrying my iPad (yes, I was still sober at this point). My left forearm hit the stairs and my right hand (with iPad) reached out to break my fall. Somehow the iPad still works, but the case didn't fare so well. I almost had my excuse to get a new iPad since mine is old and S-L-O-W. Maybe better luck next time.

Also, yesterday I solidified my reputation as a wold class computer-illiterate moron. 

I wanted to update my Mac with the new Sierra operating system. I decided to back up my iTunes data via external hard drive (good idea, Sam). It had been five years since I backed up anything (yes, five years) and I could not remember how to do it. I went to the Apple web site and followed the instructions to the letter...

I eventually figured it out (and I jotted down a few notes, which I will inevitably lose, but I try), unfortunately somewhere along the line I managed to wipe out nearly all of my iTunes songs and every single playlist. Out of 4,500 songs, I had 15 left. No idea what I did.

The good news is I simply imported the songs again from my iTunes folder, really not that big of a deal, but all of my playlists -- dozens of playlists representing hundreds of hours of work -- gone. Poof!

And I still don't know what the hell I did or how the hell I did it.

So it's back to the drawing board. The only positive spin is I am now weeding out all of the duplicate files/songs I have on iTunes. There are plenty. Once again, I don't know how the duplicates got there, but there they are.

But I will no longer bore you with my technological woes. All will be fine. I truly am a bull moose in a china shop when it comes to computers.


Today, a misty, cloudy day, was the Boy's first flag football game. He was so excited to hit the field. His team is called the Broncos, thank goodness. If it had been the Packers, I would have had to pull him out of the program and demand my money back. So all is good.

I posted the above collage in my Instagram account about a month ago. The Boy decided he needed to practice for flag football after we signed him up. Those are my old football pants he's wearing. These are among my favorite photos of him; just out in the front yard by himself practicing. He even brought a towel to wipe the sweat away because that's what "real" football players do.

Ready for the day!
I do have to say gathering a group of seven year-old boys together to play flag football is the very definition of "goat rodeo." But they learned a few basics and burned some energy. Most of all, they are learning good sportsmanship and they had fun.

The Boy is far right in white. He's by far the tallest kid on his team. He's going to be big just like his old man.

Also this summer, the Boy met his goal of reading over 2,000 minutes. If anyone doubts reading is important, I can testify to the fact that his vocabulary, spelling, sight words and even his speech have improved twenty-fold compared to last year at this time. Best of all (for him, at least!) he got a medal for reading over 33 hours this summer.

Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated subject... the Girl is now also specializing in desserts... lucky me!