Category Archives: Misc

Think I got back ten years of my life

I shoveled my sidewalk and driveway twice this month. Over the years, anytime I shoveled snow or did any kind of physical work, I’d be coughing and gasping for air. Not anymore.

Since I quit smoking in June, I’ve been noticing how much better I feel. I don’t wake up in the morning feeling like I’m suffocating and I can laugh without breaking into terrible coughing fits, and I seem to have more energy.

I have not had a single cigarette since June 3rd, when I smoked my last one and announced on Facebook that I was going to quit. I don’t know how I managed to just quit like that. For twenty-three years, I failed, failed and failed again to quit smoking. All of sudden, I’m a non-smoker. How did that happen?

Thoughts on Transgender

Recently a friend announced that she is trans, that not so long ago she had the operations to change her sex from male to female. I think that’s awesome. If she’s happier as a woman, then that’s cool.

I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand why someone would have their sex changed. It’ll probably always be a little strange to me. But I don’t need to understand it to be fine with it. I won’t criticize you for it. In fact, I’ll be your biggest cheerleader.

This friend is married. Had been married to a woman for some years now. They got married long before the operations, and they’re still married. I understand it to be a happy marriage.

A common belief seems to be that a man would want to become a woman because he’s attracted to men. And vice versa, woman, man, because women. Maybe that is the case sometimes. But I think often it has nothing to do with whether you’re attracted to the same sex or the opposite sex.

It might not have anything to do with attraction at all. Maybe it’s that some people feel they should’ve been born as the opposite sex. I can, kind of, wrap my brain around that theory. But transgender is a complex subject.

If you’re transgender, whether you actually had an operation or not, you got my full support. If it makes you happy and it’s not hurting anyone, then I see nothing wrong with it.

Though my friend is now a woman, I don’t think her interests or personality have changed. She’s the same person and I’d still have a beer with her. My only complaint is, now I gotta get used to calling her by a different name.

It still works, but I want it gone

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It took me a few years to get around to it, but I finally willed myself to move this old bomb of a TV out to the road for the garbage truck. It had been sitting in a corner of my bedroom doing nothing but collecting dust. It’s one of those big models from the late-80’s to the mid-90’s.
That sucker is heavy. Hope I didn’t give myself another hernia. It still works, but I want it gone.
Next Day Update
Someone claimed the TV before the garbage truck did. Whoever it was, I hope the TV brings them much joy. I still got the remote control here, I should’ve taken it out and left it on the TV yesterday. But the same buttons are on the front of the TV, so at least they’ll be able to work it.

Standing Rock

I guess everyone has heard something about the Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock and this big Native American movement to stop the pipeline from passing through the reservation’s water source. Of course the usual line was drawn. Some people side with the Dakota Access Pipeline and some people side with the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

They were originally going to construct the pipeline through Bismarck. Bismarck residents rejected the pipeline for the same reason the Sioux are rejecting it, they were concerned about their water source. Seeing how the pipe recently burst somewhere down the line, I think their concerns are reasonable.

Why weren’t the residents of Bismarck told that the pipeline was going through their area whether they liked it or not? Why was it acceptable for Bismarck to reject the pipeline?

The pipeline was re-routed to go through the Standing Rock Reservation. The Sioux rejected it, but their rejection was ignored. They’re taking a nonviolent stand and law enforcement is attempting to drive them off with violence. Why is that acceptable?

Negan is a game show host in a gimp suit

I’m guessing everyone saw last night’s episode of The Walking Dead. We finally got our answer on which one Negan killed, or rather which two.

It was Abraham Negan chose, but after Abraham, he decided to go after Glenn too. So, two popular characters are now gone.

Damn. Glenn had been there since the beginning of the series. Seems like there were a few different times when we thought Glenn was a goner, and yet, somehow he always managed to get through.

Unless Glenn tucked his head into his shirt while Negan was swinging the bat down on him, I’m pretty sure he’s gone this time.

Glenn, the guy who had nine lives. He’ll be missed.

And Abraham, the big dude who’d been onboard the last couple seasons, will also be missed.

Fuck Negan.

W.P. Kinsella

So, I was watching the Tigers get their asses kicked by the Indians, when I looked at Facebook and saw the link Robert J. Sawyer shared.

W.P. Kinsella is gone. Well, that gave me a pause. It’s been about an hour since I got the news and I still feel numb.

Just last year someone from Kinsella’s publisher contacted me and asked if I would be interested in interviewing Kinsella. That was a surprise. Me? Interview W.P. Kinsella? Was I even worthy of such an honor?

I was excited and a little scared. Someone was giving me the opportunity to interview a legend and I kept thinking, “Don’t blow it.” This is W.P. Kinsella we’re talking about. The author of Shoeless Joe, the novel that the movie Field of Dreams is based on.

I suspected one of my writer friends had something to do with putting the guy in touch with me, but it’s also likely that he saw my review of Shoeless Joe and just thought I’d like to interview Kinsella.

Yes, I was interested. The guy gave me Kinsella’s contact information and soon I had the interview set up.

The interview is right here.

I feel that this interview is one of the most important things I’ve done. I tried to come up with questions that he hadn’t been asked before, but I don’t know how well I did in that department. The last question, though, received a powerful answer.

Rest in Peace, Kinsella. Maybe you’ll step out of a cornfield in Iowa and play some baseball with the greatest players of all time.

P.S.
I also reviewed The Essential W. P. Kinsella.

Counting Crows in Blues Traveler’s Run Around Video

Although it’s 3 in the morning and my eyes are pretty heavy, I still got a few beers left and I intend to make use of them before I crash for the night.

What’s the title of this thing all about, yo?

Well, you know, I love Blues Traveler. Remember Woodstock ’94? Yeah, me neither. I wasn’t there, of course. I think it aired live on HBO, but… I didn’t have HBO either. I remember that I really wanted to be at Woodstock ’94. Some of my favorite bands performed, but just like most other people, I didn’t have a ticket and I didn’t really have a way to get there either. It was just a pipe dream.

About a month or two after Woodstock ’94, my brother and I found a VHS tape at, I think, the Walmart in Lapeer. We bought it. It wasn’t the entire festival , but it showed one song from several bands. The third song on that VHS tape was Blues Traveler’s But Anyway.

That was the first time I ever heard Blues Traveler and I was blown away. I loved Bobby Sheehan’s deep basslines and I loved John Popper’s singing and harmonica playing. Since then I couldn’t get enough of Blues Traveler. They quickly became one of my favorite bands.

I saw the Run Around video for the first time on some late night TV show about music videos, when I was still a teenager. Aside from the song being great, one of the things about the video that fascinated me was the guy dancing on the stage.

The way that guy moved, danced, grabbed the microphone and sang, and played the harmonica, I thought that was really neat. If I was twenty years younger and performing Run Around in front of an audience, that’s how I’d want to do it.

So, why am I blogging about this video? That was twenty years ago, man. Who gives a shit, right? Well, my friend Kathy and I were just talking about it a few hours ago. It started with me pointing out that I think the guy dancing on the stage is the singer from Counting Crows.

It’s something that didn’t occur to me until about a year ago. See, I never really got into Counting Crows, although I had heard some of their songs and I “think” I saw them at the DTE Music Theater way back before I could purchase beer legally. I still have the same wallet I had when I was a teenager. Actually, I had this wallet since I was about nine years old. I might have a Counting Crows ticket stub in my wallet somewhere, but I don’t feel like digging through it right now.

I saw this video about a year ago.

I couldn’t help noticing that the singer in the Mr. Jones video was moving exactly like the guy in the Run Around video. And I just thought that was interesting.

When I told Kathy about that and showed her both videos, she decided to do some digging around. She found this article, which was published in the Los Angeles Times back in 1995.

The article says, “The main theme of this video is to make fun of the Counting Crows, something which I applaud. Without actually flashing the name Counting Crows, it pokes fun at this one-hit wonder of a band right down to the bad Van Morrison impression, rhythmless dancing and bar haircut of the lead singer, Adam Duritz.”

I was like, “Huh?” I mean, neat, I wasn’t the only one who noticed the guy in the Run Around video moved like Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz in the Mr. Jones video. But, “make fun of the Counting Crows” and “it pokes fun at this one-hit wonder of a band right down to the bad Van Morrison impression, rhythmless dancing and bar haircut of the lead singer, Adam Duritz”.

Um, really?

I sure as hell didn’t see the Run Around video as making fun of Counting Crows. As far as I’m concerned, the Blues Traveler video is respectful to Counting Crows. It makes Counting Crows look pretty awesome.

Really, you shouldn’t take people who write shit like that seriously. I’ve found time after time that I simply can’t trust people who write negative reviews. I review books and movies all the time, but I don’t write negative reviews. If I really don’t like something I read or watched, I won’t review it. This is because I don’t want to trash someone else’s work. Even if I don’t like the work, someone else might.

I was skeptical about that article from the Los Angeles Times and I decided to do some digging myself. And yep, it turned out that whoever wrote the LA Times article was blowing shit out of his ass, because I found this article on BluesTraveler.net, which contains quotes from an interview with John Popper:

Likewise, the band’s big 1995 hit, “Run-Around”, was sung with Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz’s style on the hit “Mr. Jones” in mind.

“I felt like I was ripping him off on that one, but I don’t think people really make that connection,” he says. “At the same time, though, I’ll hear Sister Hazel and say, ‘God, that guy was thinking of me when he did that.’ ”

“Everybody’s songs can be melded into everyone else’s. I love that tradition of not trying to rip each other off but still musically hear each other. I’ll rip off a Flintstones Chewable Vitamins ad if it’s got a good melody.”

Doesn’t sound like Blues Traveler was making fun of Counting Crows at all. John Popper felt like he was ripping off Counting Crows. I imagine both bands were cool about the whole thing and having fun with it. It’s like how people thought Ronnie Van Zant and Neil Young did not like each other, when in reality they were friends and loved each others’ music.

Okay, it’s 6:15 AM and I just finished my last beer. Good night.

The Internet Lied To Me About Switzerland

Yeah, I really bought into some articles I saw a  few years ago. The articles described Switzerland as a country with a very strong gun culture and a very low crime rate. They had me convinced that just about every home in Switzerland had at least one fully automatic SG 550, that most children learn to use guns at an early age and people are often seen open carrying.

There is much I admire about Switzerland. It seems to be a country governed by commonsense and open-mindedness. One example is the stance the Swiss took during World War II. They held their borders against the Axis and the Allies, refusing to take either side in the war, and yet they welcomed in refugees fleeing the Third Reich.

Being the gun nut that I am, I was kind of excited about Switzerland’s awesome  gun culture. I mentioned it in arguments about America’s gun culture, upholding Switzerland as an example of how more guns in the hands of good, responsible people could mean a lower crime rate.

Well, I recently had the privilege to talk to someone who lives in Switzerland and I found out that what I heard about Switzerland’s gun culture is not entirely true. I’m now under the impression that the articles I read a few years ago were written by right wingers bent on spreading propaganda.

Switzerland does have a gun culture, but it’s not as popular as I had thought. Guns are tightly regulated in Switzerland and permits to own guns are expensive. Some homes might have full- automatic rifles in them, but those are likely the homes of people serving in the Swiss Army, as soldiers are allowed to bring their issued weapons home with them. Switzerland’s lower crime rate probably has more to do with the population not being as large as it is in the United States.

None of this changes how I feel about guns or my belief that guns can and do deter crime. But Switzerland might not be the best example of that theory functioning. While I’m mildly disappointed about that, I enjoy learning about different countries and I still think there’s much to admire about Switzerland.