Sometimes It’s The Little Things

Every Thursday I pick up a free copy of the San Diego Reader.  No, it’s not for the marijuana ads in the back (which were all for escort services before pot was legalized!).  No, it’s not for the articles (which are actually pretty informative and entertaining).  And no, it’s not for the Suduku (Sudoku?  Sodoku?  Sdojdskwou?).

It’s for the crossword puzzle.  And if you’re a Reader fan, you know that although it’s nice they have a puzzle every week, it’s no NYT puzzle.  They often have answers in foreign languages (mostly spanish or french).  They do a lot of abbreviating (which always seems like cheating to me). HOWEVER, it’s free, they do it every week, and it’s always fun.  On top of that, they also make it a contest and the first handful of people who submit a completed puzzle win a hat or t-shirt (no, I’ve never won).

But none of that is why I like it.  Every Thursday I pick up the reader, take a picture of the crossword, and send it to my Mom in CT (I’m here in CA).  And each week we each do the puzzle then come together the following Wednesday, put our heads together and share the answers to see what we each missed.  It’s one of my favorite things to do each week (the first is volunteering at the library, so I’ll have to write about that one day too).

Today is Wednesday.  That means that I’m scrambling to finish off the clues that gave me the most trouble all week long before Mom and I trade answers this evening.  I’ll get a few more, but probably won’t finish it (I usually don’t, and have 3 or 4 answers missing at the end).  Ironically, it’s significantly MORE fun when I don’t finish it, because then we have answers to trade!

Dave: “I missed #27 down, what do you have for that?”
Mom: “I have Kerfluffle, that was a toughie!  What did you get for 42 across?”
Dave: “Kerfluffle, of course!  I had Fractals for 42 across.”
Mom: “FRACTALS!  DUH!  I had Antidisestablishmentarianism for 11 down, but I don’t think that’s right.”
Dave: “I had Aneurism, but I’m pretty sure I misspelled it and it also doesn’t fit so *shrug*.

See?  That’s lots of fun!  Otherwise the conversation goes like this:

Dave: “I finished it.”
Mom: “Me too.”
Dave: “Neat.”

And there you have it.  BOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRIIIIIINNNNNGGGGGG.  But that’s okay.  Because (to bring us back around here), it’s the little things that count.  I tend to focus on them more than the big things, and it’s been bringing me down lately.  You can’t read anything online without seeing 50 things that are frustrating or depressing.  When out and about it’s easy to get upset about that jerk who cut you off or didn’t use their blinkers (#$%@#$%!), the elderly lady taking what seems like an eternity to put her groceries on the conveyer and then wants to pay by check (GROAN), or the fact that you dropped your keys on the ground when trying to unlock your front door (THE WORLD IS ENDING!  AAAAHHHH!).

The point is, the small negative things drive us crazy, but we ignore the small positive things.  So, I’ve been making an effort to identify and enjoy the little things.  Each week I’m going to try and identify one small thing that made me smile.  I’m also going to share one small change I made in my life to build in automatic smiles, like cross-country-crosswording with Mom (Love you!).  Next week, socks!

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

Living the Dream,

Humble Dave

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The Greatest Book Ever Written

It’s always nice when I can write about a topic that has absolutely no controversy.  Some things are just so obvious and universal that just about everyone agrees.  And I think it’s a given that the best book ever written was Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

HGG cover

First off, the overall theme of the book is something to which we can all subscribe:

dontpanic

What great advice!  Don’t panic!  Does this amazing literary behemoth offer any other wisdom we can put into practice immediately?  Why yes it does!

“In the beginning, the Universe was created.  This made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”

“Q: What to do if you find yourself stuck with no hope of rescue?
A: Consider yourself lucky that life has been good to you so far.  Alternatively, if life hasn’t been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems to be more likely, consider yourself lucky that it won’t be troubling you for much longer.”

“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

“There is an art to flying, or rather a knack.  The knack consists of being able to throw yourself at the ground, and miss.”

And of course:

“A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

So stay hoopy, you bunch of froods.  The answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything is decisively Forty-Two.  All we need to do is figure out the question and we’ll be all set!

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

Living the Dream,

Humble Dave

The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog

I have five “drafts” of blog posts pending right now.  The natural question following this statement could easily be, “Why aren’t you writing one of them instead of this nonsense?”  There’s an easy answer for that question, but I’ll be damned if I know it.

You see, I mostly write stream of consciousness style.  That means words fall right out of my head and onto the keys.  Sometimes they’re interesting, sometimes they’re clever, often they’re varying degrees of “why bother,” but they’re always honest.  My honest words, from honest thoughts.  When I write, I’m not “making up stories.”  I’m sharing a brief view into my head.  A brief, carefully filtered, view inside my head.  Unfiltered Dave is a more acquired taste, and you poor souls only get a small does of me when I’m motivated to write.

Still, you’ve received some gems over the years, that’s for sure.  The Way of Jello was pure gold (or pure jello!).  This post about idiot companies being stupid was a personal favorite.  I really appreciated the opportunity to call out the excellent service I received from Sharp Memorial Hospital before, during, and after my surgery last year.  And how could we forget my first post, back when this blog was primarily focused on reviewing products I bought on Amazon (PS I still love my inflatable lounger!)?

The point is, I have no idea if I was trying to make point.  That’s what this blog is all about.  Wandering through my mind in a semi-coherent way, stopping to look at any interesting sights along the way.  No, they won’t all be interesting to you.  No, for the most part there’s no coherent theme or order in which they’re presented.  And no…

I stopped here to check an email, and now I have no idea what I was talking about.

So anyway, no anything.  But there’s a lot yesses (yeses?  yeahs? Yarps, if you’re a Hot Fuzz fan) too!  Yes, I find all my posts interesting!  Yes, some of them will make a point accidentally, and some even on purpose.  Yes, I’m usually smiling when I’m writing, and hopefully that cheer comes through on the page.  Yes, I know most of you are reading this on a screen, but I’m allowed to call it a page because it’s my world and I rule here.

Maybe that’s what I like best about it.  For me, this is an extremely low pressure environment.  I had 5 ideas for blog posts and put them into drafts so I wouldn’t forget.  But today, now, I have no interest in writing about them. I COULD force myself to do it, but that would be stressful.  They are ideas that are obviously not ripe yet.  So they have to sit and wait for me to be in the right mood (the WRITE mood!  So punny) to ponder them.  They need to percolate.  But the fun bit, are you paying attention?  I’m coming to the fun bit.  The fun bit, however, is not writing about something that came to me yesterday, or 2+ days ago.  The fun bit is putting my fingers on the keyboard and watching what falls out of my head.  For me, THAT’S to fun of this blog.

I hope it’s fun for you, too!  As always, thanks for reading and you’re welcome!

Living the dream,

Humble Dave

P.S.  If any employers are reading this and are thinking about hiring me for a writing job, but are concerned I won’t be interested because it may not be fun:  MAKE ME AN OFFER!  I would LOVE to write for a living, and will happily trade my writing time for money and health insurance.  And if in turn I receive power and fame I promise to only use them for good.

Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Throughout my childhood, I probably heard this phrase more often than any other.  I was a very “hands-on” child.  If there was a switch I would flip it.  A button had to be pushed.  Levers needed to be… levered?  EVERYTHING needed to be touched.  So.. “Keep your hands to yourself” was bandied about by my parents with reckless abandon.  In their defense, I have a short attention span, so repetition gives you the best chance of getting something through to me.

That being said, I managed to make it to adulthood without breaking anything irreplaceable (that I’m aware of), or experiencing any sexual harassment lawsuits.  I also haven’t accidentally launched any nuclear missiles, although I have launched rockets.  I have accidentally turned off the power to things for which power was important.  C’est la vie, right?

The only thing I heard more often than “Keep your hands to yourself” (KYHTY) was in the same vein.  “Put your hands in your pockets” (PYHIYP).  Although usually it went like this…

hands in pockets

*I reach out to touch something.*

Parents: “Keep your hands to yourself!”

Me: “Okay.”

Parents: “Put your hands in your pockets.”

Me:  ——————————————————————————->

Also, that’s not me.  That’s just a random internet person I found. You know, just because full disclosure and all.

Anyway, the reason I was thinking about this was because for 20 solid years I heard this CONSTANTLY.  Keep your hands to yourself.  Put your hands in your pockets.  Keep your hands to yourself.  Put your hands in your pockets.  Keep your hands to yourself.  Put your hands in your pockets.  Over. And over. And over. Again.

Now PLEASE don’t think I’m knocking my parents.  I NEEDED this level of repetition if this action was something you wanted to program me to do.  And most importantly, IT WORKED.  I mostly kept my hands in my pockets, and over the years pushed fewer things.  If I remember my psychology at all, this was classical conditioning at its finest.

However… sometime around age 20 I was working in my Dad’s print shop helping customers.  Standing there, hands in pockets, talking to a customer, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  OH NO!  THE BIG BOSS (aka Dad).  He said, “Take your hands out of your pockets while talking to customers.  It’s unprofessional.”

What the heck?  Do what? After 20 years of being told to stuff ’em in my pockets, all of the sudden, NOW, with no prior warning, I’m supposed to take them out again?  WHAT IF I PUSH SOMETHING?  Nope.  Apparently that’s not a concern anymore. Life is weird.  When I commented on the rule change to my father there was a brief moment when I could see the gears spinning and then he started laughing.  Good times.

So anyway, I learned a couple of things that day.  1) Consistency is apparently a secondary consideration in parenting, and 2) I keep my hands in my pockets everywhere except at work, because it’s unprofessional.

Anyway, I’m still fairly curious about that will happen if I touch this or that, and for the most part am able to resist the urge (thanks Mom and Dad!).  I do occasionally touch the thing, but they also taught me to take responsibility for my actions (thanks again!) so you know.  Karma evens out I guess?

God only knows what they would have done if I’d been a girl.  How do you all deal with pants that have no pockets?  Or even worse, fake pockets?  What sick individual came up with that idea?  Someone who hates people, that’s for sure.

journal_comic__fake_pockets_by_lizwuzthere-d6x55bn

Welp, my work here is done.  As always, thanks for reading, and you’re welcome!

Living the dream,

Humble Dave

PUZZLES!

I love puzzles!  Jigsaw puzzles are fun but are mostly an exercise in patience.  Except for this jigsaw called One Tough Puzzle.  Wow.  It’s only 9 pieces.  There are no edge pieces, so all 9 pieces have 4 usable sides.  According to the box there are over 300,000 ways to align them incorrectly, but ONLY 1 WAY TO DO IT RIGHT!

Just for fun, I crunched a few numbers on this one.  If you average 10 seconds each time you do the puzzle, and you’re supremely unlucky thereby finishing it on the 300,000th try, you spent a little over 833 hours on these 9 puzzle pieces.  THAT’S OVER 1 MONTH of steady puzzling, nonstop.  No eating, sleeping, bathroom breaks, etc.  Also assuming you average 10 seconds per attempt, and really that would be nearly impossible.  20 seconds makes it closer to 2 1/3 months of constant work.

puz-4

My mom finished it.  Of course she did.  She’s amazing.  The rest of us ordinary people just have to do the best we can.  I’ve had this thing for YEARS and still haven’t gotten it.

So, the moral of this story is puzzles suck, but are also kinda awesome.  I recommend you buy this for a friend or family member who loves puzzles.  You can also buy it for a friend or family member you hate.  I won’t judge.

Stupid puzzle.

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

Living the dream,

Humble Dave.

P.S. Stupid puzzle.

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

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.