Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summertime SAD

At some point in the last few days, hidden among a dozen posts about the current heatwave,  Durango tried to insult me.  At first, I was hurt and a little sad.

But I read further and saw the blame for his outburst was hidden in his blog.  He, being brought up in the cool rainy climate of the Pacific Northwest region, is suffering from, what appears to be, a severe case of Summertime SAD.

He's been posting temperature updates 4 times a day and he only blogs 5 times a day.  I'm really rather concerned for his well being.

He needs help.  But, as he pointed out in one of his comments; I don't know where he lives so I can't help him except by posting this cry for help on his behalf.

If you know where Durango lives or have an appointment to see him in some capacity, please give him a glass of ice water along with a couple of chill pills.  Thanks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Two Ignorant Complaints

I probably need to increase the quantity of posts I make.  I've heard the more the merrier.  However, I debate back and forth as to whether or not to create a new post for each new random thought or put several random thoughts into one post.  Being that I am a lazy man, I usually opt for the easiest choice.  Of course, sometimes I debate with myself so long that the original inspiration for rambling goes away or I become too lazy to write anything at all.  Today, I had a short lunch, so I just decided to to spew forth meandering opinions.  I mean offer up my two complaints for today.

Complaint number One.  The stupid agreement.  I agree that I'm not stupid and if I am stupid I will not sue you for using your software.  There needs to be a place where I can globally sign up for this once and not have to agree fifteen thousand times a day.  It occurs most often in my car on my navigation system.  I can turn off the car and two seconds later, turn it back on and the same stupid message comes up that I have to agree to before the navigation system will work.  I've never read the agreement.  I assume it says I'm not stupid enough to disobey traffic laws or run off the road while fiddling with the system and driving.

I'm kind of surprised there is not a similar warning you have to agree to before writing a text message or dialing a mobile phone.  Every time you install software, you have to agree to a 20 page document that no one takes the time to read.  Why do we do all of this?  There needs to be a national database where you can go and sign your name in front of witnesses admitting you aren't stupid.  Just to get it over with once and for all.

Complaint number Two.  Obama apparently wants to raise taxes on the wealthy.  I'm not sure who the wealthy are.  Wealthy compared to who?  I'm fairly confident that, when compared to the world population, a large portion of Americans are going to be considered wealthy.  Probably if you make more than $20k per year, you are going to be considered wealthy to someone.

When taken at first glance, you'd be apt to say, "Sure make big companies and their CEO's pay more taxes.  No one needs that much money."  These guys spend money on private jets, mansions, parties, etc.  Look at all the people who are employed because of their "frivolous" spending.  Do we really trust the US Government to do a better job of spending their money?  I personally would trust Bill Gates to spend his money wisely.  I've seen how well the government wastes money.

Why do we think the government will do a better job of spending a wealthy person's money?  Perhaps if the government did a better job of money management they wouldn't be in this bind.

The government should take raising taxes for anyone completely out of the equation and reduce the deficit.  Quit wasting money.  It's not rocket science.  And lower my taxes.  Thanks.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thoughts on Amy Winehouse

She was born September 14, 1983 and died July 23, 2011.  I wasn't a huge fan by any means, but I did enjoy her music.  She had a very unique voice and songs were funny, sad, ironic, and interesting to listen to.

Although the autopsy so far is inconclusive, anyone who followed her in the least must believe it must somehow be related to alcohol and drugs.  Her hit song was titled "Rehab" and I'm quite sure it was taken from real life experience.  "They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, 'No no no'".

Interestingly, she died at the age of 27 which puts her in an increasingly non-unique category of musicians.  They've even got a name, "The 27 Club".  The famous members of the club are, of course, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain.

I'm not much on disparaging dead people.  Of the four artists listed above, Kurt was the only one I didn't care for.  So today, on the Russ Martin Show, when a caller called in adamantly complaining that people were going to put Amy Winehouse on a level with Kurt, it irritated me to the point that I felt the need to blog.

His complaint was the that her music sucked, she only had two albums out and she had no influence.  Not like Kurt who seemed to have some sort of godlike status in this deranged moronic stupid ass listener's brainless opinion.

First, he needs to somehow develop an IQ.  Then, he needs to learn to read.  Then, he needs to learn the difference between fact and opinion.

Of course, the most disheartening part was that Russ let him on the air and didn't degrade him.  He is normally very good at degrading morons.  I was mostly disappointed that Russ agreed with the stupidity.  It was very disappointing.

Here's a quote from Soundunwound: "Platinum selling and five time Grammy winning singer Amy Winehouse has died at the age of 27. Well known for her soulful voice, Winehouse's numerous hits include "Stronger Than Me," "Love is a Losing Game," and "Rehab." Her platinum selling album, Back to Black, helped usher in a new era for female vocalists from Adele to Lady Gaga."

I always thought she was pretty.  She was prettier before she started doing the drugs and alcohol.  It's just a shame that someone that talented has to die.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Life and Strife of Gar

Normally, I don't like posting stuff that involves other people.  Generally, this causes flames to fly and I'm caught in the middle of a swirling giant burning torrent of "ow, please stop, I can't take it any more".

This week was one of those weeks.  It all started on Monday.  I got home to be greeted by my two charming daughters.  It was nice they were both home so I decided to go to the store and buy us something to eat.  While at the store, I get a disturbing text message from the youngest daughter.  We'll call her Wee Z.

The text was something along the lines of "Rile E (my oldest daughter) is going to kill me.  Mom is coming to pick me up.  I love you.  Bye."  These are my favorite kinds of text messages.  I sent back some clever response to start the defusing process (that's what I do; I defuse), but it's not important.

Before I could make it out of the store, I'm getting text messages from the mother.  We'll call her Aim E.  What am I going to do about Rile E?  Perhaps family counseling?  Does she need to see a psychologist?  Is the sky falling?

I believe that in matters of tension, Rile E behaves like Aim E.  They apparently share the I'm too emotional to think clearly when I'm stressed out gene.  I should also mention that Wee Z takes after me in her ability to piss people off who are too emotional to think clearly.

For the most part, I'm ignoring and thinking.  To keep the parties from believing that I am not empathetic to their plight I make a few choice phone calls to get both sides of the story and to tell Rile E to clean up her mess.  Apparently during the confrontation she had thrown a Dr. Pepper can at Wee Z and dumped a bag of potato chips on her head.  I'm still not entirely clear where the threat of imminent death at the hands of Rile E entered the picture.  It's not important.

When I got home, the house was eerily empty, but the chips had been cleaned up.

Back when Rile E was about 8, a pediatrician diagnosed her with ADD.  I'm not a fan of the diagnosis and you, as my most adoring reader, should know that by now.  If you don't know it, you can read about it here.

The messages continued to come at me on Monday.  Apparently Wee Z had convinced her mom that imminent death at the hands of Rile E was on the horizon and she was living in mortal fear, not knowing when the death blow would actually occur.  I told Wee Z to buy one of those junior sized aluminum baseball bats to help alleviate her fear.  I'm not sure if she did.  But, they do help with fear.  No, I'm not condoning her hitting anyone with it.  Just defusing.  It's what I do.

I had a talk with Rile E on Monday night and she seemed all better and had regrets for losing her precious little temper.

On Tuesday, I made Rile E an appointment with a counselor to talk about her anger management issue and perhaps give me some insight as to whether she actually has ADD.  He said on the phone that losing ones temper for no apparent reason is a classic symptom of untreated ADD.  I knew that Rile E hadn't been taking any ADD meds for quite some time so I had a moment of panic.

I should mention in passing that on Tuesday Rile E and Wee Z were safely huddled under the same roof again and seemed to be content in their proximity.  There were no baseball bats in the room.  Or potato chips.

Wednesday, Rile E and I went to her first counseling session.  After talking to Rile E for an hour, he decided that if she does have ADD it's very borderline.  He said he believes it's more a tone of voice thing.  Based on what Rile E had told him, she doesn't deal well with the way her mom or Wee Z address her.  Is this her fault or their fault?

In Rile E's pretty little head, it's their fault.  They are condescending and it causes her to flip out.  Anyway, he goes on to say, among other things, that Rile E has perhaps learned this behavior from her mom.  I kind of shutdown after this because I'm picturing in my little head what kind of sh*t storm this is going to create when Rile E announces to her mom that her anger management issues stem from something her mom has allegedly done.

And, in the irony of all ironies, Rile E told Aim E and Aim E lost her temper.  Neither one of them can see that they are just alike.  It's almost amusing.  One of these days, I'm going to put a voice recorder on my phone so they can both hear what they say to me.  Rile E will call me at 9 AM and say something like, "Dad, Mom's driving me crazy!  She completely flips out for no reason and now she's turned my phone off!".  Then at about 2 PM, I'll get a call from Aim E, "Gar, you need to do something about Rile E, I can't handle her any more.  She completely flipped out for no reason so I've turned off her phone."

If they both weren't so angry, it would be funny.  But, I laugh a little on the inside anyway.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Going 110 To 40 (Vapors)

I have a t-shirt that reads, "Extreme Indoor Enthusiast".  For some reason, I've never been much for the great outdoors.

My good buddy Durango tried to cure me about 10 years ago.  He convinced me to cut my hair, but he never managed to break me of my outdoor problem.  He was fond of calling it the vapors and when he gave up trying to cure me, I never heard from him again.  Here's a list of his complaints:

I can kind of see why he finally gave up.  I tried to scan and see how many times I saw the phrase, "case of the vapors".

So anyway, over the weekend I was invited to Platter Flats Recreation Area.  It's part of Lake Texoma on the Oklahoma side of the lake.

On Saturday, I was full steam fun loving Gar the Texan.  Running at 110 percent.  I stayed out on the lake.  I went tubing.  I played Frisbee.  I cracked jokes.  I went swimming.  Yeehaa!  After about, maybe 4 hours of this, I crashed.  I had me a good case of the vapors.  I went from 110 to 40 in 30 seconds.

It is the most irritating thing imaginable.  I can see why Durango finally gave up on me.  I'm ready to give up on  me too.  The nice woman who allowed me to come on the camping adventure told me that had she known beforehand of my outdoor vapors problem, she would not have allowed me to date her friend.  Sad, but true.  She kind of reminded me of Durango a little bit.  Both of them older than me and in better shape and more active.

It all started when I realized my insulin pump had quit working.  I went out of my way to buy a waterproof insulin pump from Animas (supposedly water proof up to 12 feet).  This is the second one in less than 6 months which has sustained water damage.  I'm not sure I'm too happy with Animas.  I'm tempted to buy a different pump and getting a waterproof case.  Of course, then the pump company wouldn't be as apt to replace my pump when the case malfunctions.  I guess it's better to buy one that professes to be waterproof even though it doesn't seem very consistent.  Perhaps I'll continue using the Animas pump and buy a waterproof case as well...

But, the broken pump just caused me stress.  I'm fairly certain the nausea was caused by some sort of heat exposure.  Perhaps I didn't drink enough water?  I've switched to a strict water diet.  I've drank more water since Saturday than I have all year.  I'm hoping I get invited to the next camping adventure.  I just hope the next camping adventure doesn't take place until my nightmares have subsided.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I Was A Netflix Fan (options)

I've been a happy Netflix subscriber since December 2004.  Yesterday was the first day I shopped around.

They raised my rate from $11.99 per month to $17.98 per month starting September 1.  This irked me because of the significant increase.  And, according to several news sources, I'm not the only one irked.

So, yesterday and today I went shopping.  Basically, for $11.99 I was getting the 1 DVD at a time + Blu Ray and unlimited streaming.  With their new plan, the 1 DVD at a time + Blu Ray would cost me $9.99 and the unlimited streaming would cost me $7.99.

Could I split the things, cancel Netflix and save money?  First, I checked my Amazon Prime trial account.  For $79/year I get unlimited streaming from "some" Amazon titles.  None of the shows I've been watching via Netflix are available on Amazon Prime.  So, I'll cancel my Amazon Prime account.

Hulu had a very similar selection as Netflix for streaming.  How much does Hulu cost?  $7.99 per month.  No savings there so stick with Netflix?  Of course, I could cancel Netflix just on principle.  I've always thought very highly of their service for the price and now they jack my rates by 60%.

Okay, how about physical DVD's?  Red Box allows you to go to a vending machine and rent movies for a $1.  With the one at a time plan, I have the convenience of having a movie mailed to me so I don't have to go to the store.  I usually see 2 physical DVD's per week.  That's about 8 per month which would be $8 on Red Box so I could possibly save $2 per month.  That's not bad.  However, you miss the fine print.  They charge $1.50 for Blu Ray titles.  You get charged for every night you keep the movie.  If you pick it up and then can't watch it because of some unforeseen circumstance, you end up paying an extra night's rental.  It could quickly run out of control.  The convenience of not having these worries is probably worth the extra $2 per month if you are intent on watching physical DVD's.

Blockbuster has a mail order plan.  How much is it?  $11.99 per month for 1 DVD at a time + Blu Ray.  Blockbuster allows you to bring DVD's into a physical location to trade them out, but where's the convenience in that?  I've also heard Blockbuster is close to being no more.  It's kind of a shame if that's the case.  They are the only ones capable of competing with Netflix at this time.

I could just quit watching all together.  It's probably a big waste of time.  But, I'm on episode 13 of 111 in the Ally McBeal series.  I'm almost done with Spartacus.  I just started watching all the Star Trek movies.  I just started season 3 of True Blood.  I don't know that I can just give it up like that.

If I wanted to "stick it" to Netflix I could switch to Hulu Plus and Red Box.  It'd probably be cheaper if I was pedantic with my Red Box rentals.  Red Box would also give me the ability to go pick up a movie on a whim.

So there it is.  If you are irritated with the new Netflix pricing structure, switch to Red Box for physical rentals which gives you the convenience of spontaneously picking something up when necessary and Hulu for streaming.

Maybe I should start my own service and compete with Netflix.  I could start small and only do online and physical DVD's to the Dallas area.  Eventually, I could expand.  Maybe even offer games.  I could call it DigiGar.  Then I'd have something to do with my old domain name.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

MANually Evolving Intelligence

Not too long ago I was watching a show on Discovery or National Geographic or one of those other nerdy stations I used to watch when I had cable TV.

The show was talking about how the evolution of human intelligence can be explained via climate change.  To simplify and summarize, every time the climate changes, the smart ones survive.  You can read a pretty good description of it on wikipedia's "Evolution of Human Intelligence".

For example: About 2.6 million years ago, the earth entered an ice age.  This caused the forests in North Africa to die out and be replaced by grasslands.  The smart primates vacated the dying trees in order to survive.  Some even learned to walk on two legs.  There are several more examples.  You can read the link above.

Most recently, it has come to my attention that we, intelligently evolved primates, are actually causing, to some extent, the climate to change.

Thus, if you look at the silver lining, we are killing off the stupid ones so the smart ones can evolve.  God bless Al Gore.

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Quest for the Perfect Hefeweizen (made in America)

I spent large amounts of time in Germany back in 2002 to 2005 time frame.  One thing I learned while there was that I loved Munich style Hefeweizens.  My favorite was the Franziskaner Hefeweizen.  Their Dunkel is in my top 5 list.  Their Hell may also be in my top 5 list.  At a minimum in my top 10.  Hell means light, Dunkel means dark.  When you order a bier in Deutschland most of the time they will ask, "Hell oder dunkel?" Light or dark?

I'm pulling this from memory, but I believe hefe means yeast and weizen means wheat.  So a hefeweizen is brewed with yeast and wheat.  Yeast is probably the unique ingredient.  They tend to be heavy and although you can drink them out of a bottle, it is highly discouraged.  The yeast settles quickly to the bottom of the bottle.  The first time I got home after being in an extended stay in Munich, I immediately started looking for hefeweizens locally.  The first one I found was from a well known Texas brewery called Shiner.  They had a beer called, imaginatively enough, "Shiner Hefeweizen".  To me, it didn't hold up to any of the ones I had in Munich so I was mostly disappointed.  But, it was still my favorite Texas beer.  The funny thing was they had instructions on the bottle for how to properly pour it and to not drink it out of the bottle.  Trying to save a bad beer experience for one illiterate Texan at a time.

Just last year I tried a sample pack from an American brewery called Flying Dog.  They had a couple of hefeweizens in their variety pack and they became my favorite American hefeweizen.  It was called "In Heat Wheat".  Of course you could never get it on tap.  My favorite American hefeweizen you can get on tap would probably have to be Widmer Hefeweizen (also imaginatively named).

Okay, that was all useless information.  This next section is the real reason for this post.  I hope you manage to weed (I mean read) through the drivel until now.

Last Friday I accidentally went to a Texas Brewery tasting at Las Colinas Beverage.  They had four different breweries in attendance: Rahr & Sons, Franconia, Saint Arnold and Real Ale.  I, of course, immediately started looking for the wheat beers and hoping to get lucky and find a good hefe.

Saint Arnold was supposed to have their Weed Whacker, but they were out.  I was disappointed.  The Franconia guys seems to have a good selection, but their Hefe is nothing to write home about.  I didn't care for Real Ale's selection.

Rahr.  Oh my.  The fantastic awesome wonder and the terrible disappointment all wrapped into one.  They poured me a sample of their "Summertime Wheat".  From the moment the smell hit my nostrils, my mind was taken back to a warm summer day in downtown Munich.  The beer reminded me of my first hefeweizen in Munich.  The taste took me back to sitting out in the Marien Platz during the summer of 2002.  I had finally found an American beer that held up to the Munich style hefeweizen and they were brewing it in Fort Worth, Texas!

After I offered up my heartfelt excitement to the Rahr employee pouring the samples, she looked at me and said, "Well, this is a seasonal brew and this is all there is for this year."  I almost cried.  Why do you torment me so Rahr brewery in Fort Worth?  There's nothing wrong with brewing the Summertime Wheat year round.  Just change the name of the beer.  Call it, "America's Best Hefeweizen".  Call it, "We Mix Wheat and Yeast and Make Bavarian Immigrants Less Homesick".  But, for all that is great and holy in the world, don't call it Summertime Wheat and only make it available May and June.  That's just wrong and sad and unacceptable.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Look Them in the Eyes

I've always had a bit of trouble looking people in the eyes.  I could never win one of those staring contests when I was a kid.

Well recently, I have accidentally stumbled upon a solution.  It's nothing silly like looking at their nose or anything.  If I was to be able to do that it would give me continuous problems in regards to wondering if they could tell I was actually staring at their nose.  And what if they have dangly hairs?  Disgusting.

Also my technique is not always conducive to having a conversation.  It doesn't allow a lot of time for concentrating on what the other party is saying.

What I have come to discover is that I can look someone in the eyes indefinitely if I make up mean and vulgar descriptions of their eyes.  It also helps me remember what color they were if the question should ever come up in the future.  Example:

Your eyes are the color of a cesspool with flecks of feces gently oozing away from that black speck you call a pupil.

As the eye contact is forced to continue, the focus starts going to the flaws: What are those two dots on the right side?  Are they little bits of fermented fecal splash damage?

It creates huge amounts of entertainment.  When you start giggling at your internalized descriptive verbiage and the person with the gruesome eyes asks what you are laughing about just tell them you told yourself a joke and it was funny.  I recommend having a random joke handy.