Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Tuesday 31, Jeff 0

A Bigger Waste of Time and Fuel is Hard to Imagine 

In my attempt to get some long-awaited tasks done yesterday morning, I got completely shut out. An epic fail, even, in the sense that some extra things happened that were distinct negatives, which I won’t get into. 

A big and obvious clue to how my next two hours were going to go:  the very first thing I noticed when I got to the Secretary of State’s office was a line that stretched out the door and around the entire outdoor mall.

But! There was also a much shorter line that went the other direction. 

So I was hopeful as I approached the last guy in that shorter line: “can you tell me what this line is for?”

“Plates”.

Drat. That is the only thing I do *not* need. Well, I do need them, but not today. 

A great example of how the next 2 hours were going to go, in microcosm, involving a trip to a distant suburb interrupted by emergency bathroom needs, only to be turned away by some giant armed cop when I finally arrived, then an impromptu attempt to get an emissions test done since I was “in the area” (not really but I was desperate to accomplish something) only to encounter a traffic jam due to an accident, causing me to bail on that too, so I gave up on the entire trip and headed to McDonald’s for a breakfast sandwich, only to find that I had missed the breakfast-ordering window by 10 minutes. 

Whatever. I guess next time I need to get there before they open, as I kinda figured from the start. But I can only be in one line at a time so multiply this secnario out by several days.

Waiting in lines of any kind is stress-inducing for me — so here’s a random work of art to calm myself, and maybe you too.

Pissarro, Street of the Citadelle, Pontoise, 1873

Camille Pissarro, via Twitter, believe it or not. I have discovered several artists there, and it substantially improves my feed. More on that later.

Have a blessed Wednesday — it pretty much has to be better than my Tuesday! 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

It’s Tuesday, Seems Like a Good Day to Go to the DMV and Wait in Several Lines for Several Hours

Wish me luck! 

As it turns out, when you as an Illinois resident buy out your leased vehicle, it creates this complicated and opaque logisitical process between you, your old bank, your new bank, and the state which of course wants its tax revenue.

  1. You apply for bank loan fron new bank
  2. New bank issues check for payoff amount
  3. You mail check to old bank
  4. Old bank sends confusing letter plus updated title to you, not to new bank, because now you — as a chump who still lives in Illinois for some inexplicable reason — have to hike your sorry self over to the DMV and wait in long lines with a bunch of sweaty disgusting losers for the privilege of writing some sizable check to the State of Illinois for purchasing the vehicle you have already been driving for 4 years

Why couldn’t this be a paper bill so you can mail the check somewhere, and then the state can send the title to the new bank?

You know, like normal, rational, non-insane people would do it? 

I don’t know but I suspect it has something to do with the state assuming you will ignore it or defraud them somehow. Which I still don’t get because this genius process:

  • Requires me to go somewhere and wait in line, quite a disincentive in itself, *much* worse than just mailing some sizable check that I already don’t want to write, and 
  • Actually sends *me* the title and while I am not in the business of defrauding the state and courting prison time, there are people who think that is a fine idea — maybe even a business model — and *those* people might view the idea of having the title in their possession as a good start

Like I said, wish me luck. Also: it’s raining. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

F1 Styrian Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring, Spielberg Austria

Red Bull Wins at Red Bull Ring

Edited version of original photo at formula1.com 

Max Verstappen led start to finish for his fourth win of the year followed by Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) in second place and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) in third.

The order of the first 2 finishers was reversed from last week’s French Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez (Red Bull) finished fourth just ½ second behind Bottas (at least in part due to a 2 second delay removing his left rear tire in his only pit stop).

Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) explains many of the buttons and knobs on those unbelievably complicated high-tech steering wheels ... 

A similar video - Formula 1 steering wheel video (non-embeddable)




Friday, June 25, 2021

Friday Art & Music for the Last Friday in June

 Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins “Instrumental Medley”



Masters at work. They made an excellent album together, “Neck and Neck”, worth checking out if you like the above. Here’s the cover art.


Here’s their version of “Just One Time”, a Don Gibson classic.


Don Gibson’s version.



I know that I also had Chet Atkins in last week’s Friday Art & Music but it’s not because I’m senile — not yet anyway. 


Hopper, Read Pavillon de Flore, 1909



Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942



Hopper, Adobe Houses, 1925




Let’s Look at the Weather 

Rainy today, although that big moisture system at lower left might miss us later ... let’s hope, I wanted to do some walking and maybe stadium stairs in late afternoon ... 

This is from Weather Underground, the best weather app I have tried yet. Highly recommended. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Tommy Lasorda Quote on Your Feelings and How Many People Care About Them

Hint: That Number is Zero

Eighty percent of the people who hear about your troubles don't care, and the other twenty percent are glad you're having them.

Very similar to a quote I often use:  nobody cares about your feelings.

Of course neither one is 100% true but that doesn’t obscure the message, which seems to need reinforcing more and more.

Your feelings, thoughts, inner struggles, emotions, whether you are offended by something or not — those things are yours and nobody else’s. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

June 23 Already?!

WTF

July 4 is less than two weeks away, our regular July vacation less than two weeks after that — and then it’s August, which nobody really likes because it has zero holidays and the whole month is about counting down the last days of summer and a return to school.

They call it “the dog days of August” for a reason, you know. What that is, I’m not sure, but it sounds lazy and a little depressed, doesn’t it?

So Summer ‘21 feels kinda half over, already.

One thing I am thankful for this year — at least it’s not “LOCK YOUR DOORS AND STAY INSIDE, THE VIRUS IS ON THE LOOSE!!!” 

The summer of ‘20 — the Lockdown Summer — was awful, and nobody in our family even caught the virus. An entire summer with nowhere to go and nothing to do. As it turns out, leaving the house to congregate in public with others, where you can eat and drink and enjoy life away from the crushing grind for just a few hours, is an essential part of life just like breathing. Who knew?! 

Well, I did, for starters,  and I assumed everyone else understood it too. Apparently it was less well understood than I’d realized.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Two Versions of “Summer Breeze”

Seals and Crofts “Summer Breeze”

Their first big hit of many — both the single and the album went gold. 

The bridge is what really cranks this up to 11 — the lyrics:

Sweet days of summer
The jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day's work
And you're waiting there
Not a care in the world

It’s slightly past halfway through the video above.

These lyrics aren’t exactly poetry but they do paint a nice visual image in your mind, by far the most important attribute of good lyrics.

Isley Brothers version

A very different version, slightly superior in my book, due to the amazing vocals and beautiful electric guitar from Ernie Isley. That 2 minute guitar outro is amazing.  

More on this classic Isley Brothers album “3 + 3” in a future post — one of the best albums released in the 70s. They caught lightning in a bottle with that one.

Both versions are great and they aim for and accomplish different things, and I will turn up either version loud on the car radio. 

Back to Seals and Crofts for a very good live version. 

Monday, June 21, 2021

It Was a Grand Prix Sunday

Watching Formula 1 Grand Prix auto racing is a great way to start any day of the week, and on Father’s Day it feels like a present from someone I don’t even know. 

Sunday was the French Grand Prix and I knew this because just this week I started watching “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” on Netflix and now I am certifiably hooked on this show — it’s an excellent primer for watching the sport, introducing the drivers and racing teams and then roping you in with exhilirating racecam footage from inside the cars.

I was quite pleased to discover that ESPN carried it live. Highlight video and story here (or click image)

Congrats to winner Max Verstappen (who overtook leader Lewis Hamilton with 2 laps to go) and 3rd place finisher Sergio Perez of Red Bull Racing — that team’s third win in a row. 

Later I watched the Grand Prix at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin — a personal favorite weekend-getaway destination of ours in recent years. Alex Palou won it with two laps to go when leader Josef Newgarden suddenly lost power coming out of the yellow caution flag. 

I believe I have found a new sport to follow. Then it was time for the U.S. Open, and after that, U.S. Olympic Team qualifying for Track and Field. More on those tomorrow. 

Upcoming races:


Sunday, June 20, 2021

U. S. Open 2021

Leaderboard at 3pm Central


6pm


One hour later ... congrats to Jon Rahm on his first major win.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Friday Art and Music

Chet Atkins, “Superpickers”

Entire album here (in a playlist). It’s Chet Atkins plus the “Nashville A-Team” of legendary session musicians. ‘Nuff said.

Here’s the first tune, “Paramirabo”


“Canadian Pacific”


“City of New Orleans”


Chet Atkins Wikipedia, discography 

Art

Pissarro, Rue de l'epicerie at Rouen, on a Grey Morning, 1898


... Enjoy your Friday ... 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

30th Anniversary of Mt Pinatubo Eruption

This past Saturday June 12 was the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mt Pinatubo in the Phillipines, the second largest eruption in the 20th century

It started with earthquakes in April and then an initial explosion on June 7 followed on June 12 by this ash plume reaching 28 miles (40km) into the sky. The “cataclysmic” explosion occurred on June 15-16. 



Here’s Clark Air Base afterward, covered with ash inches thick.


The atmospheric dust cloud as seen from space that cooled the planet by 1° C for a year or more. 


There’s a photo at this article in a Manila newspaper marking the anniversary that you do not want to miss.

(These photos are not mine and I do not claim copyright on them, click the photos for the original sources)

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Boz Scaggs “Pearl of the Quarter”

A solid version of this tough-to-beat Steely Dan classic.

From a 2013 album recorded in Memphis with legendary session musicians like Ray Parker, Jr (who likely plays the excellent guitar fills on the above song), Spooner Oldham, Charlie Musselwhite, Eddie Willis of The Funk Brothers (the Motown house band) along with many others, plus a guest appearance by Keb’ Mo’. 

There’s alot to like here — I especially like “Love on a Two Way Street” and “Can I Change My Mind”. The musicians and arrangements are spot-on throughout and Scaggs sounds as good as ever at 69 years old (now 77). 

There’s more to discover here. More later.

Love on a Two Way Street


Can I Change My Mind



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Someone You Should Know Better: Tony Conigliaro

During the Cubs vs. Mets game last night they showed the ugly replay from last month of Kevin Pillar getting hit in the face by a pitch. 

He came back quickly though — he even wanted to get back into game after bleeding all over the field — and now wears a mask for protection.

He’s very, very lucky, because I remember a player who was not so lucky. His name was Tony Conigliaro. 

He was a rising young star with the Boston Red Sox in the 1960s. His rookie year in 1964 at just 19 years of age he hit 24 home runs, an all time record for a teenager that still stands today. The next year he led the entire American League in home runs with 32, at age 20. 

In 1967 he hit home run number 100 for his career at age 22, the youngest American Leaguer ever to reach that milestone. That same year he was selected for the All-Star team — one wonders what took so long, but back then it took longer for young players to break into “the club” because the selection process was different (no fans). 

Already an established star and on pace to hit a very large number of home runs in his career — until tragedy struck on Aug 18, 1967, when he was hit in the eye by a pitch, suffering severe damage to his retina along with facial fractures and a dislocated jaw. 


A famous Sports Illustrated cover shows the damage.

The Red Sox would go on to win the American League pennant despite the loss of Conigliaro, but lost the World Series to the St Louis Cardinals — one suspects that his presence could have made the difference.

He came back in 1969 and won Comeback Player of the Year, and had another good year in 1970 with a career high in homers, but his vision continued to decline and that was essentially the end of his career, at just 25 years old.

Unfortunately further tragedies awaited him in his life after baseball. In 1982 he interviewed to become the Red Sox broadcaster — replacing Hawk Harrelson who the Red Sox had acquired as a player to replace Conigliaro after the injury — but 2 days later suffered a heart attack and a stroke which left him in need of constant care. 

He passed away in 1990 at age 45. To honor him, and to recognize the players who overcome big challenges, the Red Sox that year started an annual Tony Conigliaro Award chosen by the media, commissioner’s office, and the two league presidents. 

A great career cut short, and then his life cut short too. Makes you wonder what might have been, except for that one awful moment.

Links 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

French Open


We enter the final weekend of the French Open at Roland Garros and the final singles matches are 

  • Ladies - Barbora Krejcikova vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
  • Men - Djokovic vs. Stefano Tsitsipas

No, I never heard of the two women players either. That’s a lot of syllables.

In the Men’s semifinal Djokific defeated Rafael Nadal in 4 sets, despite falling behind 5-0 to start the first set.

Nadal’s French Open record is so completely dominant it’s hard to fully comprehend it:  he was riding a 35 match winning streak, his overall record is 105-3, and has won the tournament 13 times. 

Thirteen French Open titles!

Dkojokic said it was one of his top three matches of his entire career. Win a title win Sunday he could become the first player of the Open Era to win all 4 major titles multiple  times — the fact that none of the greats of the last 50+ years have done this is amazing to me. 

Both Nadal and Djokovic have always struck me as very likable, along with Federer. Men’s tennis has been lucky to have them as leaders — one wonders who is in line to carry that torch going forward.

Will update with results for both matches over the weekend ... the ladies’ match is ongoing as I type this.

[...]

Krejcikova wins - first Czech to win ladies singles title since 1981.

[...]

Dkokovic wins - becomes “first man in the Open Era to win the four majors twice and to have come from two sets down twice en route to a Grand Slam title".

Congrats to both champions.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Friday Art and Music

The O’Jays “Live From Daryl’s House”


It’s the O’Jays, it’s Daryl Hall and his band, and it’s live from Daryl’s house. 

Any questions? Should be self-explanatory. 

The Ventures, “Perfidia”, 1960


Perhaps I’ve mentioned it before ... this band is amazing. “Perfidia” was written in 1939, a hit in 1940 by Xavier Cugat, and then the Ventures version in 1960 made the Top 20 nationwide — and remember, this is three years before the Beatles. The Ventures were blazing their own trail for years before the British Invastion. That’s not nothing. 


Cezanne, Bibemus Quarry, 1898



Link

Le Fauconnier, Figures, 1913



Happy Friday friends. 

Link to this post

Thursday, June 10, 2021

It’s Hot Outside So ...

Sly and the Family Stone, “Hot Fun in the Summertime”, 1969

The original. This was blasting from everyone’s AM radios in 1969, in the car, on portable radios, it was part of the fabric of popular culture. 

There are no words good enough to describe this incredible band. Simply in a league by themselves. 

Here’s a live version from some TV show, and it’s an actual performance, not lip-synced, believe it or not.


Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Pretty nice summer weather this weekend around these parts, highs around 90 Friday through Sunday but the humidity was fairly low — so while it was definitely warm it was not oppressive. At least your sweat has a chance to evaporate to cool your body. 

I took advantage of this opportunity and got out on the bike both weekend days. My goal every summer is to ride 3-4 days per week for a total of about 3 hours — this year I’m adding stadium stairs 2x per week, plus a 20-30 minute walk 2-3x per week for some variety and a mental break from high exertion activity. 

Sounds like a lot sweating and it is — but not doing it is even worse.

Most people think about only the physical and health benefits of exercise, but I find that my overall attitude and sense of “drive” are better with a consistent level of these kinds of activities, especially biking. 

Experience has taught me that it’s about emotional mood management almost as much as physical health:  something amazing goes on inside your body and brain with steady state aerobic activity, and it stays with you all day. Endorphins, increased oxygen in your blood, etc., it’s a miracle cure for a lot of ills.

When the weather gets really hot, say 90s and humid, everyone knows that the coolest time for biking and running is in the early morning, before 7am. However this involves way too much waking up at 4:30 and sweating by 5:15 — I’m more of a “wake up when I wake up and have some coffee and do some reading and writing” type of guy — but I can probably aim for 7:30 though on those really hot days.

Quick music notes: Late last week I discovered a good jazz/pop singer by the name of Laura Fygi — pronounced “fee-gee” — so over the weekend I listened to a lot of her music. The three albums that really caught my attention so far: “Introducing” her first album in 1991, “Change” from 2001, and “At Ronnie Scott’s” a live album from 2003. Her version of “Dream a Little Dream” is outstanding.

Link to this post 


Monday, June 07, 2021

Someone You Should Know More About: Gen. Chuck Yeager

One of the most amazing life stories you will ever read is Gen. Chuck Yeager’s biography “Yeager”. 

His fascinating life story filled with adventure and great risk to accomplish great things would make an incredible movie — and if we lived in a country that still celebrated its heroes, that movie should have been made in the 1980s on the tails of the tremendously successful “The Right Stuff” and “Apollo 13”, when his name was already in the news.

In fact his story of relentless confidence and courage in the face of daily risk of death would have been a perfect counterweight to the oppressive gloom and loss of national confidence after the horrific Challenger explosion in 1986. Gen. Yeager was even on the investigating commission to look into it, along with another personal hero of mine, Prof. Richard Feynman.

Yeager accomplished many things, but the most famous by far was becoming the first human to break the sound barrier — on Oct 14, 1947, with two broken ribs — and if you don’t understand what that is or why it matters or how dangerous it was, here’s why

On October 14 Air Force Capt. Charles E. (“Chuck”) Yeager, flying a Bell X-I, became the first pilot to break the sound barrier. Today, with supersonic flight routine, the sound barrier seems an arbitrary figure, like a .300 batting average. But during and immediately after World War II it was real—and frightening. As planes of that era approached the speed of sound, cockpit controls would lock up and massive, uncontrollable turbulence would batter the airframe.

The X-I was designed for breaking the sound barrier and nothing else. It was tiny (Yeager had been chosen in part for his small stature), and its fuselage was shaped like a .50-caliber bullet, because bullets were known to achieve supersonic speeds. Its wings were swept back in a V shape to move the center of gravity toward the rear. Since jets were still in their early stages, the X-I had a rocket engine that ran on diluted ethyl alcohol and liquid oxygen. It provided two and a half minutes of extremely powerful thrust.

To break the barrier, the X-I was loaded into the bomb bay of a B-29 and released at twenty-five thousand feet with Yeager in the cockpit. He climbed to forty-two thousand feet on two of the engine’s four chambers, then switched on a third and watched his speed indicator zoom to seven hundred miles per hour, 1.06 times the speed of sound at that altitude. Observers on the ground heard a sonic boom, a sound that would become familiar in years to come. Yeager shot upward until his fuel was exhausted and then glided to a landing at Muroc Army Air Field in California. The Air Force did not officially announce the achievement until June 1948, though Aviation Week magazine had leaked word the previous December.

It was all experimentation all the time, and every test pilot that wedged themselves into any of these experimental aircraft to go faster and higher than anyone had every flown, into the upper reaches of our atmosphere, almost into space, was risking death at any moment. 

The Bell X-1 had no ejection capability, and exiting through the side door was a sure decapitation via the wing. You were trapped in an experimental aircraft. Good luck!

They did this every day. That was the job. Some of their test pilot friends did not make it due to the daily risk of “augering in” or crashing into the desert. 

The whole idea seemed crazy to many experts at the time — nobody knew what would happen if an aircraft tried to break Mach I. Would it explode? Would it shake violently apart? Who knows? From this history.com article:

For years, many aviators believed that man was not meant to fly faster than the speed of sound, theorizing that transonic drag rise would tear any aircraft apart.

And yet a group of courageous test pilots including Yeager were determined to resolve this question, at risk of violent death. Several of them paid that price.

But that’s not all. As Chuck himself says in “Yeager”, they spent many nights out carousing at a local watering hole named Pancho’s — the owner was also a pilot and promised a free steak dinner (!) to the first pilot to break the sound barrier — and then getting up before the crack of dawn to get into a test aircraft and risk their lives again.

That my friends is Living On The Edge. But nobody knows about all this unless they happened to read “Yeager”. This is dumbfounding to me — his life story is one of the most remarkable true life adventure stories anyone could ever imagine, but there’s no movie version!?! 

Here he is with the test aircraft Bell X-1 he named “Glamourous Glennis” to honor his wife:



The aircraft is shaped like a .50 caliber bullet because that shape was known to go supersonic without doing strange and unpredictable things in the air. 

Before his test pilot days, he flew fighters like the P-51 Mustang in WWII over Europe, 61 missions in all, with 13 kills, including making “ace in a day” with 5 in one mission. Shot down on March 5, 1944, he was sheltered by the French Underground and helped them build bombs until they helped him escape to Spain a few weeks later. The D-Day invasion would follow a few weeks after, helping him get back into the cockpit when the French Underground membership came out of hiding after liberation by the Allies, removing extra security risk from pilots getting shot down again. 

There’s much more in “Yeager” — his childhood alone would make a fascinating adventure book for boys, about growing up in rural West Virginia, hunting and exploring with his friends — and I highly recommend reading this book to anyone who loves adventure and values courage and leadership. In fact I would recommend that every American child should read this book by 7th grade, it’s that important to our national story to understand his life and how it helps define America in the 20th century.

Other interesting links:

Saturday, June 05, 2021

On June 5, 1968

... Robert F Kennedy is assassinated — just two months after Martin Luther King Jr — in Los Angeles after winning the California primary and clearly on a path to a potential U.S. presidential election win in November.

Friday, June 04, 2021

Tribute to Billy Joe (B. J.) Thomas

Friday Music

Legendary singer B. J. Thomas passed away on May 29 at 78. 

“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” was of course a giant hit in 1969, when I was 10 years old, and I absolutely loved that song. I still like it today.

But for my money that is nowhere close to his best song. And most people had no idea that he also ranged into country, gospel, and even Latin Jazz in later years.

Here are my top 5 — your list is probably different, and that’s okay.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Updates on My Leisure Time Activities 

Video/TV

Our video streaming has dropped off lately — it is summer, so we all have better things to do — but one show we really like is season two of Fargo. The series is about a turf war between crime families, supposedly a true story. Jeffrey Donovan of “Burn Notice” (one of my favorite shows from the last 20 years) plays a true scumbag. Patrick Wilson as the state cop is very good, as are Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons as the hapless local couple that gets caught up in the turf war. Great music, too. An old FX series available now on Hulu. 

The other main show we are currently enjoying is The Kominsky Method, mid-way through season 2 now (and season 3 just released last week). Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas and Nancy Travis are such professionals and a pleasure to watch, but I could live without the actress playing Kominsky’s daughter ... she is not interesting or compelling and lacks human warmth, and brings down every scene she’s in because she’s not in the same league as Arkin, Douglas or Travis. Do the producers think I’m the only one to notice that? What are they doing? Anyhoo, good performances all around and the overall tone of the show walks that fine line between funny and serious very effectively, which bonds you to the characters since that’s more like real life, and credit for that goes to the producer and writer, Chuck Lorre. 

Mainly we’ve been watching a lot of Cubs baseball. They had an amazing month of May, we’ll see if they can keep that up. Update: they just swept the Padres 3 straight: 7-2, 4-3, 6-1.   

Podcasts

Good podcasts — no, make that excellent podcasts — from the last week: 

  • Upstream: How Men Can Finish Life Well - Interview with Robert Wolgemuth discussing his book “The Gun Lap: Staying in the Race with Purpose” (Spotify
  • Mike Rowe: The Way I Heard It: Episode 202 The Leaf Blower Stays In (Spotify
  • Rhino Records: Interview with John Densmore (drummer of The Doors) who is a very interesting guy (Spotify)

The “Gun Lap” episode hits on a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately. Men are happy to allow their careers to define them, probably a lttle too much, but here we are. Retirement does not appeal to me all that much — but there’s also more to life than working full time and devoting your best hours of every day to that. I should write some more on that soon. 

Music

Musically I’ve listened to mostly The Ventures as noted last week. Completely blown away by this band, I literally had no idea how much great music they had put out, and how innovative they were. In a league of their own. 

Also listening to the Latin Jazz playlist and Emilie-Claire Barlow Radio. I find Latin Jazz very enticing, the kind of thing that can both be relaxing when you’re stressed and energetic when you’re down. Lots more space between the notes than other kinds of music.

RIP BJ Thomas — more about him tomorrow.  

Beer

Discovered Boathouse Reserve, an excellent local microbrew Imperial Stout from Crystal Lake Brewing. Frankly it’s a little too delicious because at 10.5% ABV — even in those “little” glasses — two of them is bordering on too much. Beer Advocate reviews here — although there are apparently two versions (Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged vs. Barrel Aged) and I’m not sure which one I had because it was on tap. They also have an Oatmeal Stout I need to try.


Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Be Careful Out There

One day last week on an absolutely beautiul late Spring day —  low humidity, temperature around 80, sunny — I started on a bike ride. 

Then I nearly crashed in the first 50 feet, just steps from my driveway.

Trying to get your shoes seated into those cages on the pedals is a little tricky, you see, especially with biking shoes. And sometimes while you are focused on that you might not pay attention to which direction you’re going and you know ... end up in the ditch. Right in front of your neighbor’s house.

I stayed upright fortunately, so no real harm done, but was immediately reminded of that time way back in, let’s see ... probably 1972, when I was around 13, and I had just bought and installed a cool new speedometer on my bike. 

I was *so* excited about this thing, admiring it while riding home from my friend’s house.

In fact I admired it so much that as I rounded a corner I hit a parked car and launched myself onto the trunk. Right in front of my neighbor’s house.

Rounding corners with your head down is *not* a good idea, as it turns out.

This neighbor happened to be in his driveway and then crash! 

Not one of my finer moments. I had a couple scrapes and bruises but nothing serious. The bike however now had a bent fork, and so I was reminded of this incident every time I rode that bike forevermore, since it pulled left.

Too bad I didn’t pull off this move — impressive!


But back to this century, and last week’s ride ... after that initial mishap I also almost hit a street sign and almost ran off the edge of the path. Almost. Good times.

So my advice to you is keep your head up, eyes forward, when riding a bike. Sounds simple, but every 50 years or so, you might forget. 

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

The Thinks You Definitely Should NOT Think at 2AM

Saturday night I fell asleep pretty quickly but then at 2AM I found myself awake, too warm, needing to go to the bathroom, etc.

Actually it might have been 1AM, or 12:32, or 3:15, I don’t really know, because I didn’t look at the time. In fact I *never* look at the time in the middle of the night. 

I stopped doing that years ago when I realized a) it does not matter what time it is and b) all it does is annoy me and get my brain going. 

Checking the time is a pretty silly idea, when you think about it. You got somewhere to go at 2:30? You got plans? Who cares whether it’s 12:28 or 4:45? What possible value does this have for you? 

Here’s what matters: you’re awake and you want to get back to sleep very soon. That’s it. 

Don’t do things that complicate that process like check the time and then now your brain gets all “oh, great, it’s 1:37, why am I awake, and I need to get up in ... (engage math brain) let’s see 4 hours would be 5:37 and my alarm is set for 6:15 so that’s ... 4 hours plus 30-something minutes, that’s just great, now I’m going to be tired tomorrow and I’ve got this thing I need to do and that’s going to be harder now, and then ... (blah blah blah your brain is completely awake now)”.

Will this help you get to sleep? No it will not.

It’s essential to find some mental trick to keep your brain from engaging on such craziness. I learned to focus on regulating my breathing — neither all the way in nor all the way out, and very steady — but anything calming could probably work, like counting sheep or saying the Lord’s Prayer several times or picturing your happy place such as waves rolling in on the beach or a green meadow with a deep blue sky or a snow-capped mountain range or flying in a hang glider. 

Sometimes if I feel physically restless I have even visualized some kind of invisible force — something like a gyroscope — moving around through my arms and legs actually releasing tension and causing me to relax. 

These tricks are especially important to avoid things like worry or anxiety about the future, or regret about the past. Been there, done that, it’s a terrible idea, pointless at any time of day, and doing it while you could be getting back to sleep is costing you in two different ways and compounding the sleep issue. 

But for some reason our brains like to torture us with these stupid games in the middle of the night, so you need to find some tricks to keep it from sabotaging your sleep and even sometimes your mental and physical health.

It’s your brain, and you have control over how you use it.

But when all else fails, one thing you should *not* do is keep lying there, awake for an hour or more, increasingly frustrated and annoyed. I like to get out of bed and go lay on the couch and watch some TV, especially a movie or a re-broadcast of some sports event. One of two things will happen, either you still won’t get to sleep but at least you distracted yourself and maybe even saw a decent movie at 3-4AM — this has happened for me more than once — or your eyes get tired and you fall asleep. Either way it’s better than lying in bed awake.