Words On A Page

I know, I know, it’s been a while.  You’ve missed me.  “Where are Dave’s entertaining blogs,” you’ve asked?  “Why hasn’t he been amusing me like the trained monkey that he is?”

Haven’t been in the mood.  I have had (and am having) a tumultuous few months.  And not in a good way.  Wild changes in all aspects of my life whose repercussions have yet to be fully felt.  New career with no financial security, living arrangements in flux, HUGE life changes, continued pain and physical limitations following my neck surgery, and death of a very close family member are just what immediately come to mind.

But people keep telling me to write another blog, so here it is.  A bunch of words on a page.  Really, a screen.  Unless you print all my blogs out before you read them.  Do you do that?  That would be strange.  I periodically hear stories of people’s grandparents who find interesting articles on the internet, print them out and then mail them to their grandkids.  So it’s not completely outside the realm of possibility.

Anyway, words on a page.  Still not really feeling it.  Deedle-dee.  It’s hot outside.  It’s also hot inside.  I have a list of to-do’s and instead of doing the big things on it that stress me out I’ve been doing the little things that are easy.  Makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something even though really I’m not doing the things that are important.  Shoot, writing this wasn’t even on the list, that’s how far down my priorities this is right now.  But I happened to have the laptop on my lap, so this is what you get.  Words on a page.

I watched Ready Player One on the airplane yesterday.  It was mediocre.  Read the book instead.  I also watched Rampage.  It was better than I expected but… come on.  It’s a nearly 2 hour long movie based on a video game in the ’80’s where you played a giant monster and smashed buildings down.  Hollywood is really reaching these days.  What’s next, Centipede?  Pew Pew!

The gentleman sitting next to me on the plane was editing some restaurant menus.  The girl sitting next to him, whom he didn’t know prior to the trip, had a tattoo on her right wrist of a fork and spoon.  That was weird.

I’m playing a new game on my phone called “Hole.io”.  You control a small hole that gets bigger by eating parts of a city.  The bigger you get, the more you can eat.  Each game is 2 minutes long.  You can play against other people online, against others locally via bluetooth, or by yourself.  It’s a fun time-killer.  Check it out.

Oh, Jetblue has a new class of seats called, “Mint.”  They look neat.  No, I didn’t get to sit in them.

Anyways, I’m pretty much done with the words on this page.  I’m not editing or adding any pictures.  Serve over ice and enjoy.

-Humble Dave

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It’s My Birthday

Happy birthday to me. I’m 42 this year, and if you’re a fan of Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy you know the number 42 has special significance.

If you’re unfamiliar, the number 42, after extremely careful study, consideration, and calculation, was determined to be the answer to the Ultimate Question is Life, the Universe, and Everything. Unfortunately, the question still eludes us. The answer is decisively 42, though.

Perhaps I’ll learn it this year. I’ll keep my towel handy, just in case. Take it easy you hoopy froods!

Living The Dream,

Humble Dave

Stupid Companies Doing Stupid Things Stupidly: Ford Automotive

Sigh.  I like my car.  Honestly I do.  It’s a 2013 Ford Escape.  Silver.  Titanium Package, which means we got the wave-your-foot-under-the-tailgate-and-it-opens package.  There’s adjustable mood lighting on the inside.  I’m not joking.  We can pick from something like half-a-dozen colors and adjust the brightness.  It’s remarkably awesome.  It has a nice long sunroof.  The car will parallel park itself.  We love that feature.  It does a GREAT job at it, too.  It’s comfortable.  Are you picking up what I’m laying down?  We like it.

It also has built in navigation.  I’ve always liked having navigation in my car.  It’s convenient.  There’s a nice big screen and it tells me where to go with a polite, yet confident and direct female voice explaining how even though I thought I was supposed to make a right turn, what I actually wanted was a left turn, assuming of course I intended to go to the destination I preselected.

However as we all know, new roads get built.  Occasionally, old roads get closed.  On-ramps and off-ramps get moved.  Lanes are widened and additional lanes are added.  So obviously the navigation maps need updating.

Does Ford do this automatically and wirelessly for you?  No.  Do they mail you a card/CD/USB stick annually so you can do it yourself?  No.  Do you have to take the car into the dealership for the update?  Also No.

Ford Navi updateThey send you an email offering you an SD card with updated maps for $149.  AND THEY OFFER AN UPDATED MAP CARD EVERY YEAR.  That’s right.  Ford apparently feels that users should pay an extra $149/year for updates THAT EVERY OTHER NAVIGATION SYSTEM OFFERS FOR FREE.  Forget google maps for a second (which is arguably the best navigation/map service ever devised).  You could BUY A GARMIN for less and get free updates for life.

 

I literally just can’t even.  I just can’t.  I smell burnt toast, AND IT’S YOUR FAULT, FORD!

Oh, wait.  Nevermind.  Look at all the perks:

Ford navi info

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. No.  I’m not going to spend any time countering the above bullets, because they’re all stupid.  I use Google Maps/Navigation.  It gets me where I want to go, and updates every second.  Traffic, accidents, route-changes, multiple route options, whatevers.  There’s literally nothing Ford can to to their navigation that makes it better than Maps.

Dear Ford, if you’re reading this make the navigation updates free.  Better yet, integrate Google Maps into your car’s navigation systems and sell advertising to gas stations, restaurants, etc.

Dear Readers, if you’re paying any money for navigation updates in your car, STOP DOING THAT RIGHT NOW.  Drop a smartphone up on your dash and upgrade your life experience immediately.

As always, thanks for reading, and you’re welcome.

Living the Dream,
Humble Dave

The Universe Is Not Out To Get You

This isn’t the sort of thing I’d normally write in my blog.  I usually like my writing to be fun and upbeat.  Like most people, I suppose, I like to show people “Happy Dave,” and not the other guy.  Why dump my problems on other people who undoubtedly have problems of their own to deal with (Grammarians, you can take your “with which they have to deal” and stuff it)?  But who knows, maybe I won’t even publish this blog and you’ll never read it anyway.  Here goes.

The Universe is out to get me.

I got laid off from my job March 31, 2017.  It didn’t come as a big surprise, although it happened faster than I expected.  I wasn’t TOTALLY upset, because I wasn’t really interested in what I was doing anymore.  It was one of those jobs that kept the machine moving by taking value from one space and adding it to another.  Ultimately, I wasn’t really adding value to the system, just moving it around.  I USED to be a true believer in the work, back when I started, but after 10+ years of doing it… well, deck chairs on the titanic.

My goal was to take three months to relax, recharge, and reassess, then move forward in a new direction.  I wanted not only a new career, but I wanted it in a new industry.  As if that wouldn’t be hard enough, my real challenge was I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.  It makes no difference that at the time I was 40.  I was still lost.  Regardless, my plan started off well enough, I suppose.  I relaxed.  I surfed the web looking at different companies, jobs, etc., just trying to learn what else was out there.  I spent a lot of time with our new dog whom we rescued March 1.  Although there was always that ever-present pressure to get a job, things were okay.  Well, okay enough, anyway.  The important thing was that I was excited to try something new, and motivated to execute this new plan.

Unfortunately, the Universe is out to get me.

July I got a neck injury that left me in INCREDIBLE pain.  Forget moving around, but not moving around was almost as painful.  I had to take an extensive cocktail of nerve-blockers, painkillers, muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories, etc multiple times a day, and that was so I could sit on the couch.  Doctors visits, meds, x-rays, meds, MRI’s, meds, Physical Therapy, meds… you get the picture.  It SUCKED. I wrote a whole blog back in February about this bit which you can read here.  If you want to save time (you should read it though, it was a good one!), I’ll tell you that it ends with me feeling better and beginning to embark on beginning to embark on a real estate career.  I had some hope.

But the Universe is out to get me.

In mid February I re-injured my neck.  This sent me into a deeper depression, and I lost all my motivation to study for my real estate exam (If I’m being completely honest, which I might as well since I’m not convinced I’m actually going to publish this blog, my thoughts were turning dark.  I got scared, realized I needed help, and made an appointment for therapy.  Never had it before, but I figured, this is what it’s for).  After more doctors, meds, x-rays, and MRI’s discovered that my neck was worse, and in addition to bulging discs I had some bone spurs pressing on my spinal cord and narrowing my nerve canals.  I don’t think nerve canals are the technical term, but I like it.  They’re where the nerves leave the spinal cord and exit the vertebrae to go do their thing in your body.  And those canals were partially closed off.  Result: Incredible nerve pain. Hooray!  After seeing a couple of neurosurgeons we determined I needed Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) surgery.  I wrote all about this here.  Surgery went great, and I wrote all about the hospital stay here.

So now I’m 2 weeks post-surgery.  Neck is healing well, although I have a heck of a scar, still some numbness and nerve pain, and an inability to life anything heavier than a jug of milk, I’m doing okay.  Saw the neurosurgeon yesterday and he confirmed my recovery is on track.

So here we sit, back on the couch. I’m not quite where I was April 2017.  Still no job.  Can’t walk my dog, due to the injury (heehee, dog doo).  Still don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up, although I recently watched an awesome TED talk that might help with that.  I do have a potential career in the works in the meantime as soon as I get back into studying for and subsequently passing my real estate exam.  And perhaps most importantly, with all the extra time I’ve had to think, I realized something:

The Universe is NOT out to get me.

Despite being incredibly humble (and you know it’s true, because I have my own website that says so), I am incredibly ego-centric.  Everything that happens, happens to ME, personally.  Cut off in traffic, THAT ASSHOLE!  Drop the cap of my water bottle on the floor?  FUCK YOU, LIFE!  Get injured, WHY ME?  And you may or may not know this, but when you’re depressed the little problems get so much bigger.  The gardeners not mowing a small patch of grass in the yard becomes a problem so insurmountable that it frustrates you the point of tears.

It’s only very recently, after my first therapy appointment, that I’m starting to realize it’s nothing personal.  The Universe is truly NOT out to get me. Everyone has problems, and everyone can choose to let it go and move on.  It’s been hard for me to step outside myself and realize this.  And I’m far from accepting it emotionally.  But hopefully this will help me to move on.  Besides, things tend to balance out, so I’m probably due for something good soon, right?

Anyway, sorry for this wall of text.  I’ve been writing it for so long I don’t even know what in here anymore.  If you’re reading it, I didn’t go back and edit anything (although I did make some edits “on-the-fly”) so if it’s tripe just say so in the comments.  If anything I said resonates with you go ahead and comment on that as well.  Also, if you hated it just pretend you never read it and move on.  This will probably not be indicative of the stye of post you’ll see on my blog.  I apparently felt it was necessary at the time, and in here nobody can tell me what to do.  If I’m learning anything through this process it’s that, for me, writing is cathartic.  Also reading, but that’s also for another blog post.

As always, thanks for reading, and you’re welcome.

Living the Dream,
Humble Dave

edit: so I wrote this yesterday (4/20/18) with really no intention of publishing it, but what the heck.

The Way of Jello

During a recent experience you can read about here I learned about the wonders of #Jello, a medicinal miracle, excellent not only for your body, but also your soul.  Although sometimes you must seek it out, it will occasionally appear when you need it most brought by a helpful stranger in colorful scrubs and comfortable shoes.  Accept this gift.  For Jello Is Love, Jello Is Life.

This recent experience got me to thinking, is there a deeper meaning to this miraculous substance?  Is it possible to put into words the lessons that were imparted to me, or must they be experienced to be truly understood?  And the answer, of course, is “Yes.”

And here it is.  I give you, “The Way of Jello“.

  1. One must be solid, but jiggly. Be viscous.  Immerse yourself in your environment, but don’t give up everything that makes you what you are.
  2. Let people see into, but not through you.  It’s important that you let people get to know you, but you don’t have to give away all your secrets.
  3. Explore a variety of shapes, colors, and flavors.  The world has so much to offer, don’t close yourself off simply because something appears different than what you’re used to.  Step outside of your comfort zone.
  4. Be delicious.  If someone gets close enough to put their mouth on you, make sure they enjoy the experience.
  5. Don’t be afraid to get a little mushy.  Sometimes getting a little emotional can be cathartic.
  6. It takes great change before we reach our full potential.  Like Jello, that strange powder which becomes an amazing treat full of life lessons and  awesomeness, if you’re feeling stuck don’t be afraid to make a dramatic change to shake things up.
  7. Subject yourself to a wide range of temperatures.  The proper application of both heat and cold is necessary to healing injuries to your body, as well as your soul.
  8. Step outside of your comfort zone. You must escape your little box to reach the next phase in your evolution.
  9. You make your strongest impact not on yourself, but on others.  Never underestimate how simply being yourself can affect those around you.  Like Jello, make it a positive experience for those with whom you come into contact.
  10. Always be prepared to perform at your best.  All times are your time to shine.

Remember: #JelloIsLove, #JelloIsLife

As always, thanks for reading, and you’re welcome.

Living the Dream,
Humble Dave

Tell People When They’re Awesome!

I know I say this all the time, but this one really WILL be a short post.  I think.  Sigh… we’ll see?  Here goes!

So often people only share a negative experience.  “The food was cold,” or “The service was terrible,” or “They didn’t have the size/color/etc I wanted.”  And I understand this.  You WANT people to know that you didn’t receive the level of service you expected, and often it was below the level the store promised.  It’s important to share these experiences so that, 1) Other people can use this info to manage their expectations, and 2) The store can use this feedback to improve their services.

But you know what?  Positive reviews and positive feedback can be MUCH more effective at accomplishing these same goals.  When you tell someone they’re awesome often enough they start to believe it.  Once that happens, they aren’t a regular person doing an awesome job, they’re an awesome person doing their regular job, which happens to be awesome.  They’ll be awesome at whatever they choose to do! That’s an amazing thing!  And each one of us can help everyone else achieve this state of awesomeness simply by sharing our positive experiences.

This is already longer than I wanted, so I’m going to wrap it up with a task for you.  And here it is:

Each day this week, starting from the moment you read this, I want to you tell someone they did an awesome job, and thank them for it.

I’m not talking about mumbling a “Thank you.”  Make eye contact with the bagger at the grocery store, “Thank you so much for putting the eggs on the top of the bag instead of the bottom.  I really appreciate it.” To the person you pulled behind at the gas station, “Thank you for pulling up enough for me to reach the pump!  I appreciate it.”  And smile.

Always remember to smile.  But that’s a topic for another post.  Go do it.  I think you’ll discover that you not only made their day, but improved yours as well.

As always, thanks for reading, and you’re welcome.

Living the Dream,
Humble Dave

Dudes Can Cook Too, You Know.

For most of my life, the ladies did the cooking.  My mom is an AWESOME cook, and always made delicious meals despite my insistence on eating nothing besides bread and water.  AND WOE BETIDE THE FOOL WHO SLICED MY BAGEL FOR MY WRATH SHALL FALL UPON THEM.  Seriously, I was a pain in the… buns?  Does that bread joke work?  I’m going to leave it in.  But I digest…

We all know that guys can cook on a grill.  It’s manly and simple at a basic level:  Light fire.  Fire hot.  Raw food goes over hot fire.  Cooked food comes off hot fire.  Eat.  Happiness ensues.  Naturally grilling can be ridiculously complex, but I’d rather eat the complicated food than make it.

My brother-in-law is an awesome cook.  Kitchen, grill, smoker, wherever.  I’m fairly confident that if you give him a hot surface, a dead animal, and something that grew in the dirt he can make a incredible meal out of it.  No joke.  He once cooked some steak with an asphalt torch just to see if he could <Spoiler Alert: He could!>.  He’s the one who finally convinced me that it might be possible for me to cook food also.

So for the past few years I’ve been doing the cooking in our house.  Except on rare occasions, my wife simply doesn’t have the time to cook.  The rest of the time it’s mostly up to me, and I’ve been slowly transitioning from bbq grill, to broiler (which is basically an upside-down grill in the oven), to pots and pans meals.  For Chrismahanukwanzikah this past year they bought me an Instant Pot (IP).  Changed my world.  But more interestingly, it also opened my eyes!

You see (eye joke!  Woot!), the Instant Pot is a pressure cooker and can be incredibly intimidating to use, especially for a novice cook!  But he turned me on to an IP Facebook group where other users go to share tips, tricks, recipes, successes, and failures.  It’s been a huge help.

So about now you’re asking, “what the hell does this have to do with dudes cooking vs ladies cooking?”  CALM DOWN!  I’ll get there when I get there.  Now my train of thought derailed… … … okay I’m back.  Here we go.

It’s the comments on these IP Facebook group posts that got me going.  “My husband loves this,” and “I begged my husband to buy this for me,” or “My husband loves it when I use my IP for xyz.”  Blah blah blah.   It’s almost exclusively women talking about cooking for their men.

WHERE ARE THE IP DUDES?  Are they all lurking in the shadows, afraid of drawing attention to themselves?  We are wildly underrepresented in the amateur home-cooking online world.  I’ve made chicken casserole, teriyaki drumsticks, corned beef and cabbage, beef stew, chicken wings, baby back ribs, Beef w/ broccoli, orange chicken, and some other things I’m not even thinking of right now.

So I say, “MY DUDES!  RISE UP AND BE PROUD!  You cooked a thing people ate!  Be loud and shout I TOO CAN FEED PEOPLE!”

And for those of you who are just getting started, here are two tips to help smooth over the process:

  1. “What if my food isn’t good?”  Add bacon.  BOOM, it’s good.  You’re welcome.
  2. “Cooking is too stressful!” Two fingers of whiskey (neat) while you cook, along with some background music makes everything doable. Again, you’re welcome.


Cheers,

Humble Dave

 

Just Another Pain In The Neck

Welp, it’s finally happening. I made it nearly 42 years before I reached this point, but I’m here. Surgery. Doctors are going to take me apart and put me back together again. Huh. I assume they’re going to put me back together again. How would I know? What if they open me up, take me apart, and are like, “Okay, who brought the replacement part? We’re ready for it.” And then they’ll all kinda look at each other, shrug, and just… wander off. It could happen! Look around you, people. This is a weird timeline we’re living in right now. Anything’s possible.

Granted, it more likely they’ll finish the surgery smoothly and that’ll be that, but I’m just saying… weird timeline.

Anyway, if you know me at all, you know I’ve been having a bit of neck pain over the the past 9 months. I say “a bit of neck pain” in the same way one might say the pacific ocean has a bit of water in it. It actually has a lot, in case… ummmm… that’s something you didn’t know for some reason. Which would be weird. I’m not judging. It would be a lot less weird than some of the other stuff I’ve been reading lately.

So back to my pain in the neck.. Surgery is the solution. Hopefully. Already tried medication, rest, physical therapy, and begging for it to go away. No luck. So, surgery! Specifically Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) surgery. Basically what they do is open up my throat, shove all the junk in there off to the side (esophagus, trachea, arteries, etc), rip out one of the discs in my spine (specifically between C5 & C6), grind out some extra bone, screw in a metal spacer, put the rest of my throat back and stitch me up. Done and done.

I wonder if I can keep the disc they’re removing? My wife doesn’t think so. That seems unfair. It IS mine, after all. Really, it’s more mine than almost anything else. Literally a part of me. Had it my whole life. I’m kinda sad to see it go. We’ve had some good times, that disc and I. Ah well.

I also wonder if I should record it? Set up a camera in the corner? It might be interesting to see what the inside of my neck and spine look like, right? Probably gross, but still… a learning experience.

It’s late and I’m tired, so I’m not entirely positive any of this rambling makes sense. There’s a good chance it doesn’t. I was watching Flight of the Conchords while typing, so… distracted. However, if you’ve made it this far I guess it’s good enough.

To sum up: First surgery – slit throat and spine removal. Pretty standard really. Souvenir unlikely.

As always, thanks for reading, and you’re welcome.

-Humble Dave

What’s your favorite 404 page?

Ahh, the dreaded “Error 404: Page Not Found” message.  Most of us have seen one, and usually they’re lame.  Oh so lame.  But occasionally a clever web dev or some kind of internet leprechaun will take advantage of the opportunity and create something really special.  Something that makes you smile when you’d normally just be frustrated that you can’t look at the cat pictures you were searching for.

I guess I should take one moment, before sharing my favorite 404 page, to address those who have never seen nor heard of this phenomena.  I can only assume that this is also your first time on the internet.  Welcome!  The internet is a strange and mysterious place filled with wonders and horrors alike.  In fact, some of the wonders are actually horrifying.  An Error 404 happens when your computer was able to leap across the internet and talk to the computer you’re looking for, but the page you’re seeking just isn’t there.  It used to be just a boring old message on a white screen.  But not always.

Here’s my favorite, from the website meh.com.

Meh-404Above is just a screenshot of their 404 page and the playable video is below (you’ll need some volume for this)

I never get tired of that.  What a clever way to turn a negative (page error) into a positive and entertaining time!  And there are a whole BUNCH of great 404 pages out there.  Share yours in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading, and you’re welcome.

Living the Dream,
Humble Dave

[RANT] HOW COULD THEY DO THIS TO WONDER WOMAN?

What. The. Hell.  DC.

I hear all the news and comic book / movie pundits droning on and on about how great the Wonder Woman movie is and how nice it is to have a strong female lead in a comic book movie.  This is driving me nuts.

First off Wonder Woman (the character) IS an incredibly strong female hero.  She doesn’t need a sidekick, and can go toe-to-toe with any other superhero out there.  There are SO MANY WAYS they could have gone with this movie and character, which makes the direction they chose so disappointing.

They actually started off strong.  She was arguably the best part of “Batman vs Superman.”  The parts with her in them were awesome.  Mysterious, powerful, Good.  Then they released the Wonder Woman movie.  The whole thing is basically about her infatuation with a man.  Nearly everything she does is centered around this guy.  What the hell?  It is SO MUCH the central theme, that it carried over to Justice League and became a major plot point in the that movie!  I mean, come on?  They expect me to believe that Wonder Woman’s entire sense of self was so wrapped up in Chris Pine (I forgot his character’s name) that she was actually afraid to take charge of anything or trust herself since his death?  That’s just stupid.

Anyway, that’s the end of my rant.  And this is one of the reasons that DC is screwing the pooch on their comic book franchise movies.  Marvel is straight eating their lunch.  Here’s hoping the fix it, because everyone should be cheering for a stronger DC Universe.  The potential is literally limitless.

Aphrodite Aid Her!

-Humble Dave