Friday, December 23, 2011

The Lazy Squirrel Gets Nothing...And Dies

Okay, so it's been a few days since my last post. This happens every damn time! I get all excited about blogging, do it for a couple days, and then leave it to rot for months and months. This is how my lazy mind seems to work:

1. Think about something interesting in that moment
2. Decide that I have thought enough to be able to write something
3. Decide that the rest of the world will find in interesting
4. Get really excited (well, not that excited. But excited enough to write about it)
5. Blog it
6. Share on Google+, Twitter...and possibly spam everybody I know on Facebook about it
7. Obsessively check my blog stats to see how many page views I've received
8. Obsessively check to see if anyone's clicked on the ads in my blog, which lead to a few cents of "earnings" for me (never happens and it makes me feel kind of dirty)
9. Find out that most people don't give a shit about what I write...
10. Because it's not that interesting...

And I have no volume. I don't produce. I'm lazy. Just like everything else in my life, I just keep expecting all of these gosh darn good things to happen to me just by thinking about how cool/great they are/would be. I'm not driven to succeed. I'm driven to think about being driven to succeed. I am a lazy shit who keeps expecting great things to happen to me because they just happen, right?

Wrong. Successful people work hard. Successful people don't stop at the daydream. They envision it and then they do whatever it takes to make it happen. And sometimes they fail but I bet (because, being a lazy shit, I don't really know what happens next) they chalk it up to experience and move on to something else. Being successful involves taking risks and sometimes you do fail. The beauty of daydreams is that you never fail. You can spend all of your time thinking about success and how awesome that would be and you never have to worry about the work, sacrifice, and disappointment that goes into even a modicum of success. That's right, you dumb fuck. You'll never do anything successfully if you never do anything. Huh. Seems simple.

Throughout my life in the educational system, I've been able to skate by on the decent pile of natural intelligence that I was blessed with. In my schooling I've never had to spend a lot of time studying. Don't get me wrong, I do the work, I pay attention in class, I study a little for my tests...but I've never really worked hard in my classes. I keep my grades up through attendance and homework and I cram for tests so that I can do well on them and promptly forget everything I memorized. Also, I think I owe my relative success in my first run-through of college (I got an English degree) to the fact that I didn't really take any hard classes. I took writing classes. Those classes weren't hard for me because I think I have at least a little natural ability in writing. But that doesn't mean that I'm good at writing. No, it means that I'm a good bullshitter. With writing classes you get writing tests. Sure, you have to memorize some things, but with a short-answer/essay test, if you bullshit enough you're eventually going to cover the right answer. This isn't the case with other types of classes.

I'm not sure where I wanted to go with all of that. I'm in school again and I'm studying computers and IT. Hopefully, I'll graduate and get a good job. I guess my point (if I even have one) is that I've never plunged into any of my interests. Sure, I might have some talent at writing but I've never tried to cultivate that. It was easy enough to wax poetically ad nauseum throughout my high school papers and get good grades. I was even able to do fairly well in my college writing courses. But I never pursued anything beyond that. To be a writer you have to be constantly honing your craft. You have to make it a craft in the first place! You can't just write some school papers and then decide that you're a writer and be done with it! And that's pretty much what I've done.

For the longest time I thought I'd be a novelist or poet (or both) when I grew up. Ha! Sure, I wrote a bunch of angsty teenage poetry and even burped up a few story ideas. But I never actually worked on anything. Bad poetry is easy. Good stories are much much much much harder. And how would I even know? I've never completed one in my life.

I am not a writer. I am a college graduate who went to work in a couple cubicle farm for a few years; decided I didn't like it (like everything else); went back to school. What happens when I graduate this time? Will I get a job and then decide after a few years I don't like it? That's my pattern. Most things I decide I don't like because they are hard. Or they're not "interesting enough" to me.

Life is tough. Life is unfair. Life is. Haven't I figured that out yet? Anyway, enough convoluted bitching about being lazy and unmotivated. Time to do nothing about it!

P.S. Will you look at that? ^^^

I just wrote something. Not that it's any good, but I wrote something! Here I was thinking that I couldn't think of anything to write about and I just poured out a good five minutes of life that some poor suckers won't get back if they read this! Yay, me!

Monday, December 19, 2011

To the Motherland We Go (Sweden!)

Being but a humble Nebraska citizen and never venturing outside the borders of the United States, I still take pride in my Swedish lineage and I refer to Sweden as the Motherland. I did a report on the country when I was in fourth or fifth grade; I remember sending off for some information on the country and the details from the info packet that stuck with me are: that the Swedish enjoy smörgåsbords, and those smörgåsbords sometimes contain smoked reindeer meat. I think I drew a Swedish flag, too.

Now, I know that there's more to Sweden than tons of food and unfortunate reindeer. They also seem to enjoy pickled herring (thanks to my recent reading of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)! Seriously, though, I've always wanted to visit. This last weekend we went to see my grandmother (in McCook, NE, not in Sweden) and we were talking about how her parents both came over from Sweden when they were very young and that she and her sister used to correspond with a cousin who lived in Sweden. I told her we should go to Sweden sometime and it sounded like she'd be on board! I think it would awesome to visit but the chances of a trip are pretty slim. The biggest factor would be the prohibitive cost. Flights alone would probably cost over $1,000 per person and then we'd have to pay for lodging, attractions, food, local transport, etc. A trip of this magnitude would require a lot of saving and massive cuts to my frivolous spending habits (but who couldn't use some of that?). Who knows how serious my grandma actually was when we were talking, but I want to go someday. My wife is on board as long as we can get her some nice tropical beach time before we head to the far away Scandinavia. Also, we're not going anywhere until I finish school and get a real job. I graduate a year from now so we're looking at a year and probably more before we can do any serious travel.

I've looked a little bit at but I haven't found anything that clearly breaks down cost. There are some links to travel agencies that I'll have to peruse later. I'm thinking it would probably be easier and less stressful for us if we went over there with a tour group but it may be a bit more expensive to have the luxury of someone else telling you where to go and making sure you don't get lost.

With the help of Google Translate, I leave you with this:

 rökt ren hålla dig genom de långa vinternätterna.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Training and Cinephiling

Yup, believe it or not, I ran again. Still fairly pathetic, but better than my last run. I'm running in the Lincoln Half-Marathon this next May, and I have this notion in my head that I'm going to actually train for it and be in decent shape by then. Not an unreachable goal, but one that will take a lot of work and a different mindset than what I currently have. I need to break my junk food diet and actually go running regularly if I want to lose the rubber padding that I've got all around my body. I've lost weight before; then I gain it all back. A vicious cycle. Yes, I've written all of this before so I don't think I need to say anymore about it.

I watched an interesting movie this weekend: Downfall. It's a German film about the last days of Hitler as the Russians close in on Berlin. I'm on a foreign film roll lately, watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last weekend and then Downfall this weekend. It takes a while for me to get used to the subtitles. I always feel like I'm missing everything while I'm busy reading the dialog. I recommend them both. It was hard to watch Dragon Tattoo because I had just finished the book. So I spent the entire time thinking, 'this wasn't in the book,' or 'they left out that whole section!' I'll have to watch it again after I've been removed from the book for a while longer. I'm looking forward to seeing the English version that's coming out soon. Another one that's on the schedule is the latest Sherlock Holmes flick. With a slight bit of Kevin Baconing without any actual Kevin Bacon: Noomi Rapace, who plays Lisbeth Salander in the Dragon movies is in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Should be fun.

All right, enough of this, I'm off to watch the football game.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Awful Qwest

Just had a terrible experience at the Qwest Fuel in Kearney, Nebraska on the south side of Interstate 80. We pulled in to get gas and the pump was slower than molasses. I should have known something else was going to go wrong. About ten minutes later when our tank was full I released the handle and pulled the nozzle out... and gas kept flowing. I wasn't sure what to do so I juggled the damn thing while trying to catch all the gas that was pouring out. Like I was trying to contain a bottle of ranch that was leaking or something. Dumbass. I finally had enough sense to look for a shutoff button. Not seeing one, I asked Wanda to signal the workers in the building and they finally shut the pump down.

Now my hands reek of gasoline. At least nothing exploded. Lesson? Stay away from Qwest Fuel in Kearney, Nebraska.

Did I Speak Too Soon?

Gizmodo says: Don't buy a french press!

Crap. Maybe I shouldn't buy a french press. Then again, I'm not out to become a coffee guru who intensely analyzes coffee extraction and all the wondrous characteristics of the caffeine I'm about to consume. I also don't want to chew my coffee. I'd be willing to noodle around a bit with a french press and see what I came up with. If my efforts should fail miserably and I'm left with soggy coffee chaw, I can chalk the whole thing up to experience. Onward!

Coffee Coffee!

Just for a brief moment, I'd like to extoll the virtues of Sonic Drive-in's coffee. It's becoming one of my go-to selections for a quick cup of coffee. Slightly alarming, however, is the fact that any time I get a cup it's coming with a sausage croissant sandwich and tater tots. I'm working on my first heart attack, you know.

Anyway, I really enjoy their coffee plain. It's got a nice smooth flavor (no! I'm not talking about cigarettes!) and I'm content to sip it without any milk, creamer, or sugar. It always seems kind of oily to me but that doesn't bother me. Although a pot of coffee brewed with a stick of butter in it may not be a bad idea . . .

The other places around Lincoln that I'll frequent for coffee are:

Scooter's Coffeehouse
The Mill

I'm not a coffee snob by any means. I make no great demands of my coffee or of the places I get it from. I'm sure there's lots of places around here that I can get good coffee from. These are just the venues I go to most of the time.

I would rate coffee from The Mill the highest on the list, even above Sonic. But The Mill is missing one key item: the drive-thru window! Don't get me wrong, I've long been a patron of The Mill and they make good coffee and good coffeeish drink concoctions. But speed is not high on their list of priorities. Also, I often get the feeling when I go in there that I've spoiled their hippie/indie sanctum or interrupted some grand discussion on the benefits of skinny jeans by walking in and asking for a Crowbar.

Scooters coffee is good and they have quite a few drive-thru options here in town. They always have a different flavor of the day but lately I've found myself getting their medium roast. Their coffees are good, but they always tend to have a certain aftertaste to them that I can't quite explain at the moment. I'll have to write down what it reminds me of the next time I go there.

Starbucks. Oh, Starbucks. I love Starbucks but I never go there for their plain ol' coffee. Espresso drinks? Yes. Coffee? No. I've always found it to be extremely bitter and no amount of doctoring has been able to save a cup of their joe for me. But, some people love their coffee. To each their own.

I've heard that a french press is one of the best ways to experience coffee so I would like to try that someday. We've been employing our trusty and drippy Mr. Coffee at home for a few years now and he's done his job admirably. Perhaps it's time to give him a tag-team partner and pick up a french press. Until we win the lottery and can buy a Keurig machine. :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Fat Will Rule the Earth

Yup. It's that time again. Time for me to blog about running, getting in shape, losing weight, blah blah blah. I've done it before, I'm doing it now, and I'll probably do it in the future.

I am fat. Obese. Working on my first heart attack and trying my damnedest to shut down my pancreas. I seriously need to lose weight or I'm going to be reaping the bitter fruit of my life of excess eating and sparse exercise plan. I've been a yo-yo dieter with Weight Watchers for about four years now. I'll get motivated and work really hard for a week or two and then I lose it. I blow up like Oprah and it sucks.

Anyway, I went for a run tonight, as you can see below. It was cold outside. And my run still looks pitiful.

Reading More With an E-Reader?

Are Tablets and E-Readers Responsible for a Rebirth of Reading?

This is an article from Gizmodo (one of my more frequent tech news haunts) responding to a presentation from The Economist. I haven't viewed the presentation yet (shame on me!) but I just wanted to share a thought about reading. Also, I haven't posted on here in a long time, so it's about time I put something up!

My wife reads a lot. She has for as long as I've known her. We recently got her a Kindle Fire and she loves it. She's been reserving and checking out e-books like crazy from our local library's digital collection (Lincoln City Libraries). Owning a tablet/e-reader hasn't made her read more. I think she's still reading about the same amount that she used to.

I, on the other hand, do not read a lot. I used to, back when I was a kid. But that was before the Internet and before I became more immersed in video games, TV, and watching sports. Sure, back in the day we had a couple Tandy computers (with my favorite game, Red Storm Rising, which was awesome), network television, a Sega Genesis, and a Super Nintendo. But I read voraciously. Through high school I still read a lot, but my intake was tapering. I've been on a steady decline since then. Now, I'm lucky to read one or two books a year. I still haven't finished The Lord of the Rings and I started that my senior year in high school! Well, I've stopped and restarted a couple times since then, but I'm still mired in the dreck of Sam and Frodo plodding towards Mordor. I will finish! One day, I will finish. I think I'm on about the fifth or sixth Harry Potter book. I've been working on that series since 2008. Dracula is another book I've been on for about two-and-a-half years. But there is still hope for me.

Enter, the iPad. I just finished my first exclusively e-read book-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I hammered it out in two weeks. I read a little bit on one Friday afternoon, and then I finished the book the following weekend. I'm hooked on reading on my iPad. Perhaps I should give a little background: I've always been a little hesitant to read on an e-reader/tablet. Even though I've turned into a terribly lazy reader, I long held to the belief that I could never get into a book on an e-reader because it wouldn't be the same experience as reading a physical book. True, I'm not holding a book or turning the pages, but this last book converted me. After a little adjusting, I have no problem reading on my tablet. So, I guess you could say that I have been reading a bit more lately because of my e-reader/tablet. I don't think my iPad has caused me to read more. I think it's a combination of the convenience of constantly having the iPad with me and a desire to start reading more. A team effort. It's much easier to carry your library books with you on a slim tablet then it is to lug around physical books. The ease of access and use has certainly contributed to the uptick in my literary consumption.

So there you have it. As a bonus, here's the list of the books I've read this year and the book I'm currently reading:

The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Time Machine