Reversing the Numbness

Monday, March 31, 2008

Going Places

So I'm in a hotel room in Chicago, and I'm thinking about some other trips we've got lined up in the near future. I'll be heading to Seattle in late April for a race, and later this summer the DM and I are taking the family to the Finger Lakes of New York for a week, which should be lots of fun. We're also going to the D.C. area for a Radiohead show in May, and to Baltimore the week after that for a Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova show. Later in the summer, the DM and I will be heading back to Washington (state) for another race.

While this is all cool, the trip I'm really thinking about is our 10th Anniversary trip, in May of 2009. The DM and I are trying to figure out where to go. We've talked Ireland, Mexico, Costa Rica, even Nicaragua. I also can't stop thinking about Positano, though that place is just so freaking expensive and we want to go somewhere that won't break the bank. Maybe even southern France, even though the DM has been there before. We just don't know, but it sure is fun to think about it.

Any suggestions on a good spot for our 10th Anniversary trip? What are the best places you've been?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

This is also my 300th post. I didn't stick with making paper models, but I guess I stuck with blogging!

I can't really think of a good theme today. I considered songs that remind us of movies, but I'm thinking I maybe did that one already. I thought about songs of celebration, being that it's Friday and this is a tricentennial post and all, but I'm not really feeling that much either.

Anyone have an idea for a theme this week? If not, let's just do a free-for-all. I'll start with this:

Next week my blog pal Devil Mood will be guest hosting Friday Music.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Finger

I've decided to make a post anyone can use to give something the finger. I know it's a negative post, but it's just what I'm feelin' tonight.

I'm going to start by giving dementia the finger. I've lost three very close relatives to dementia, and I'll never forgive it. If it ever grabs hold of me, do me a favor and cut it off at the pass.

This one's for you, dementia.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

I finally finished my latest paper model, and it's got me thinking about butterflies. I guess a fleeting life of freedom is better than a lifetime of imprisonment. So this week's theme is freedom.

Like Devil Mood said, I like links!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cigarettes and Coffee

Great news! My good friend and coworker Jeff has finally resuscitated his blog, Cigarettes and Coffee. Jeff is an awesome writer, so it should be fun, especially if you're into comics. Which I'm not ... but still. Pay him a visit!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Something I Stumbled Upon

Do any of you use Stumble Upon? If so, feel free to add me as a friend on there -- my username is SleekPelt.

It's a pretty cool thing, really, and I've seen a bunch of cool sites as a result of signing up for it. One of them is this one, which links to 100 free, downloadable paper-craft projects. This might sound really dorky, but as soon as I saw this, I knew I had to do some of these bad boys. I started with these four, which were very easy.

The one I'm working on now is a bit more complicated, but so far, so good. If I stick with this longer than, say, I stuck with making beer, maybe I'll even work my way up to this one. I mean, is it just me, or is that really freaking cool?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Easy Money

All of Morgantown seems to be abuzz about the eight women in the Monongalia County tax office who won last weekend's big Powerball jackpot. The advertised value was $276 million and the lump sum was $138 million. That is truly a lot of bread. (Story)

The receptionist in my office used to work in that tax office. She was the one who organized the Powerball pools when she was there, so of course she was (jokingly) kicking herself and talking about it all day. Five bucks says she's talking about it right now.

I spent a summer in college working temp jobs in Lexington, Kentucky, and every one of them was on an assembly line. This is where I learned to love coffee and Led Zeppelin, and it's also where I started forming my opinion of the lottery and thinking more seriously about my future. Any time there was a big jackpot to be won, it was the center of conversation during every lunch break. Assembly line lifers would talk about the money, what they would do with it, how much they would give their co-workers, friends, and family, how many tickets they were going to buy, etc. It was always clear to me that the chance at easy money was a form of escapism (with perhaps a little real hope mixed in) for people who had been working their asses off for their entire lives, with little chance of moving on to greener professional pastures. I didn't blame them, though. I probably even joined in on the discussions from time to time. But I remember thinking a lot about the reality of getting up and going to work gluing rubber rings on the ends of rubber tubes, for eight hours, the day after losing the jackpot once again. "Yeah, but nobody won. It's a push! It'll definitely get over $200 mil by Saturday!" That's how it was, and it was definitely not for me.

That's when I promised myself I was going to find a career that I loved, something that I'd want to do no matter what, and that's how I'd make my way through life. I was never going to let the practically imaginary lure of instant, "unlimited" wealth cloud what was really possible in life with hard work and a strong belief in myself. Conor Oberst of Rob Zero's favorite band Bright Eyes wrote, "I'd rather be working for a paycheck than waiting to win the lottery." He was using it as an analogy for love, but the literal meaning rings true for me. I'm happy to say that I found the career I was looking for.

Of course, some people do win the lottery. It just happened in my town, and a dude named Jack Whittaker from a small town in WV won even more money a number of years ago. Here's where it gets crazy, though -- Whittaker's life is in shambles. He's constantly been in legal trouble, his granddaughter died of a drug overdose at 17, which was surely facilitated by her ridiculous allowance ... I saw him on TV once saying that he wished he'd never won the money. It just brought trouble. It turns out that all of that easy money wasn't so easy after all.

Maybe Whittaker is just an idiot, and if you or I all of the sudden came into $300 million, we'd be responsible with it, and it would make us happier. But maybe not. Once you get past the most obvious benefit of having that kind of money -- security for your children's financial future -- I think it gets a bit cloudier.

Friends, for example. What happens there? I have some of the best friends a guy could ask for, and I'd want to help them out in a big way with some of that cash dropping out of my pockets. But here's where you have to start making weird decisions about just how close your friends are. Maybe you have one lifelong buddy who you don't hang out with much, but you've always been close and you still talk to occasionally, and you decide to hook his kids up with a $10,000 college fund. Pretty cool, right? Sure, until the next time you see your buddy and he's wearing a "My best friend won $300 million and all he got me was a lousy $10G" T-shirt. I certainly think really deep friendships could withstand the pressures that this sort of thing places on a relationship, hopefully, but I bet these same pressures wreak havoc on less established friendships.

I think I'd feel like a target if I won the lottery. Making that kind of money honestly is one thing, but I bet winning it just makes you an immediate bull's eye. People would drive by your house, knock on the door asking for help (uh oh, gotta live in a gated community now), every relative and person you sorta knew at one point would contact you, hundreds of charities and random strangers ... and watch out for those pesky lawsuits.

Some people like to say they wouldn't change if they won the lottery. I think that's highly unlikely. So you think you'd still be driving your Jetta if your bank account is bulging at the seems? Yeah, right. To a large degree money is power, and I bet $300 mil seems pretty limitless. Lord Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." I totally believe this. (And so did J.R.R. Tolkien; just ask Gollum.) Oh, you'll change alright, and who's to say the change is necessarily for the better?

Who knows what it would really be like? I guess if somebody walked up to me and handed me a check for that kind of bread, I'd take it and hope for the best. But in the meantime, I'm going to focus on the life that I do have and try to enjoy as many moments of contentment as possible. Good family? Check. Good job? Check. Good friends? Check. Who needs the lottery?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tagged 2

I was tagged by the DM. It's the one where you just list five things about yourself and then tag other people.

1. If I could have dinner with any living person, I'd choose Gillian McKeith. She's bloody awesome.
2. I think it would be extremely weird to see photos of the ten people throughout time who have looked the most like me. Not including relatives of course.
3. I used to make beer and I probably will again one day.
4. I once broke two fingers playing spin the bottle.
5. I became a pescetarian a few years ago on Thanksgiving. It was instant and definite.

I don't mind being tagged, but I'm sheepish in tagging because I don't know if people really like to do them, and some blogs seem a bit too structured (Teoh). But I'll pick: Rob Zero, Dalyn, Inarticulate Fumblings, EoB, and good ol' Josh Williams. This tagging is so optional that I'm not even going to leave comments on your blogs -- if you read this and you want to do it, word.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

I think I'll go with an '80s theme this week. Here are some early '80s songs to start things off that would likely not appear on a typical '80s various-artists album.

And last but far from least:

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Best Business Yet

You may have read my previous posts about the hot new saying "that's some good business." Well it just so happens that the first printing of the official sticker is currently in production, thanks to the excellent folks at (This is a really good company -- one I've worked with for a long time -- so be sure to check 'em out if you're in need of personalized stickers for any reason. They're super fast and the stickers are surprisingly affordable.)

If you want one, I'm offering them now at the low, low price of absolutely free. Just shoot me an e-mail. Help me spread the word(s)!

The Squirrel Assault Course

Thanks to Josh Williams for e-mailing me this little gem.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

And so does Erin O'Brien, who's guest commenting this week! If you haven't checked out Erin's blog yet, head on over to the Erin O'Brien Owner's Manuel for Human Beings. It's chock full of hilarity and brilliance, including this YouTube video, which has garnered a more than impressive 1.4 million views. She also wrote Harvey and Eck, which I fully intend on reading after I finish a few books, including The Sparrow and Small Town Punk.

Anyway, Erin's in the hot seat. This week's topic: Mixes. You're making a mix -- what's the first song? (It's up to you what kind of mix it is, what mood it appeals to, etc.) And feel free to post more songs from the mix as well. As always, please try to post links.

The Shoo-In

There was a cover story in USA Today yesterday about Brett Favre's recently announced retirement. Here is a direct quote from said story, by Larry Weisman:

"With his all-but-certain Hall of Fame career on a late upswing and the Green Bay Packers resurgent, 38-year-old Brett Favre chose this moment to announce a retirement hinted at repeatedly over past years and seemingly more likely then than now."

Um ... excuse me? Did he say "all-but-certain"?

Brett Favre could cheat on his wife with a hotel maid, then kill her with a hunting knife, then admit to betting on the Packers to lose in the playoffs this year, and he would still be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. The only question whatsoever about this guy is: Is he the greatest quarterback who ever played the game? His place in the Hall was secure long ago.

All-but-certain? Please.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sweet Redemption

So a month or so ago, I had my first gig as a parent reader in my daughter's kindergarten class. I was stoked about it, too. I'd chosen the books that my girl loves the most, which I figured would be an indication that the other kids would love them too.

Wrong. I went in thinking I was going to bring the house down with my animated storytelling style and character voices, but I fell flat.

"This book is too long!" one kid said as i trudged on through Seuss' Horton Hatches an Egg. I noticed some of the kids looking around the room as I moved through The Old Woman Who Named Things. What the hell!? This is a great book! I just didn't understand, and I was bummed when I left. I was also nervous for my next gig, slated for 8:30 am on March 3.

Last night, when the Dalai Mama reminded me that my next reading session was today, I broke out in a cold sweat as I tried to contain my panic. Were they going to bring rotten fruit this time?

I had to show up big this time, so I went for shorter books that I was sure would engage even the antsiest of kiddies. I knew my opener was vital, so I pulled out all the stops and went with Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late, much to my daughter's delight. This book starts out with a fella asking the readers to make sure the pigeon doesn't try to stay up late, then the pigeon goes through legions of excuses about why he should be allowed to stay up until, fatigued from his antics, he passes out. Was it a good choice for an opener?

One kid broke out in uncontrollable laughter that forced me to delay mid-book until he could semi-regain his composure. Every other kid in the circle was in stitches, and they cheered when I finished. And this was just the first of five books, folks!

I was on a roll, basking in the glory of their five-year-old approval. I moved into the more serious When You Grow Up, about a bear who has discussions with his mother about his future as an adult, all of which involve him living with his mother. Despite the more serious tone, it was also a hit. Then I read Franklin Is Bossy, which turned into a grand discussion on taking turns, treating your friends right, etc. The last book I had brought was My Dog Never Says Please, about a snooty little girl who decides she wants to be a dog so she won't have to watch her manners, clean her room, etc. This one also had the kids howling, and when I realized that I still had seven minutes left of stage time, my daughter chose a simple, silly Seuss book off the bookshelf for me to close with: There's a Wocket in my Pocket.

When I closed the fifth and final book of my set, I got the ovation I'd been missing ever since that first gig all those weeks ago. It was sweet success, folks. I nailed it.

For booking information, please contact my agent.