Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Songs for My Brother - 2020 Version

Every year I offer up a list of things that have been under heavy rotation for me for the past year and gift them to my brother in honor of his birthday.  This year is no different; virus be damned.  Here's the list:

  • Red Hill Mining Town - U2: This is the live version from their Joshua Tree tour of a couple of years ago.  The band played it in front of a Salvation Army brass band superimposed on the screen, with the Edge replacing his guitar for the keyboard.  At the concert, it was simply beautiful.  A great band and a great moment.  Perhaps the highlight of the concert for me.
  • Me and Your Ghost - Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles: The best toe-tapper of the mix.  Part surfer tune, but taken to a whole new level with the chorus harmonies.  Love this tune.
  • The Mermaid Parade – Phosphorescent:  I love the lyrics of this song; just so real.  The end is so heartfelt, you can just feel the guy’s sense of loss and heartbreak “yeah I found a new friend too, And yeah she's pretty and she's small, But God damn it, Amanda, Oh, God damn it all.”
  • Sunday Driver - The Raconteurs: Jack White is just a damned good guitarist.  This just feels like a 70's deep track from Grand Funk or BTO.  Fun to hear this kind of music again.
  • Dancin' Til Dawn - Lenny Kravitz: It is too bad this guy got as popular as early as he did.  He is such a talent, and his musical playbook so diverse.  This is just one example.  His library is worth a deep dive - lots of gems there.  Super talented.
  • Drunk II - Mannequin Pussy: A really good Philly indy band worth a listen.  This is their best-known piece.
  • Lowdown in the Street - ZZ Top:  I know, ZZ Top?  First, this is some fine blues.  Then, just really listen to this and some of the tricks Billy Gibbons does around the chorus.  Plus, I just love me a three-piece band (Rush, Nirvana, etc.) 
  • The War on the Terror and the Drugs - Ike Reilly:  Probably the most entertaining of the mix.  Ike Reilly is a really good songwriter, and while this is pretty simple, there is a lot of good stuff waiting in his library if you're so predisposed.
  • I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine – Bob Dylan: An alt take from the famous John Wesley Harding album, and easily in my top five Dylan songs of all time (and that is saying something).  Pretty much if I find a cover of it, I buy it, regardless of the artist.  I just like the picture Dylan paints with this one.
  • One of Us - Liam Gallager: I don't know what it is about those Gallager boys, but they make music that just crawls into your ear and lives there.  Just consistently good.
  • Good Love - The Bros. Landreth:  Love these guys.  They're kind of this generation's cross between the Eagles and the BoDeans.  I just wish they were more prolific in what they cranked out.
  • Dark Night of the Soul - Van Morrison:  From his latest, this is 100% pure, undiluted Van.  Could have been done by him 40 years ago.  Just love this tune.
  • Feel It Still – Pomplamoose: Known more for their incredible mash-ups, they also do true covers, but always with their own spin.  They take this incredible Portugal. The Man tune and really make it their own.  It would be so fun just to hang in their studio and watch their whole process come together.
  • If I Loved You - Delta Rose: Really like what she does with the chorus after she builds.  Lots of incredible bands doing music like this now.  Hard to peg from a genre standpoint - kind of country but kind of not.  Just good.
  • Missed Connection - The Head and the Heart:  Latest from one of my more favorite bands.  I saw them in Green Bay, but have to believe that I travelled to Milwaukee to do it.
  • Fire Walk with Me - The Black Keys:  Can it be that these guys have been doing this for damn near 25 years now?  Hard to believe.  They still sound so fresh, and so solid to me.
  • On Graveyard Hill - The Pixies:  This sounds like it could come off one of their heyday albums.  Frank Black is underappreciated on so many levels.  Love this band, love this sound.
  • On the Luna - Foals:  Easily a top 10 bad for me right now.  This is pretty representative of what I really dig about what they're doing.  Have not seen them live and would totally have a ball doing so, if we ever get back to live music again.
  • Born Under a Bad Sign – Jimi Hendrix:  Recently released.  Hendrix does this Albert King standard as an instrumental, and it is downright amazing.  Consider he was probably just screwing around at the time – there was no intention that this was going on an album.  I was just a jam.  My goodness, what a talent.
  • Neon Wound - Silversun Pickups:  Just an OK last album, but this tune, in particular, stood out and represents what I respect about them as a band.  Just a driving, pounding sound that is perfect for running.
That's the mix for this year - eclectic as ever, I fear.  I hope some of these ring your bell.  In the meantime, happy birthday.  I love you.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Is the Cure Worse than the Virus?

Our economy has come to a screeching halt, and there are some out there demanding that Trump suspend everything for an entire month (although I can't understand what more can be suspended.  Basically, the only things open now are grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies.  Shuttering those would lead to abject anarchy.)

Through this, tens of millions will be put out of work.  Untold thousands of businesses will not survive.  Our already outrageous national debt will balloon and our currency inflate.  We're flirting with a self-imposed economic depression that could last for a decade or more.

I understand smoothing the curve extremely well, but can't we do that and still leave the lights on?  The ones impacted most by this virus and the ones eating up most of the hospital resources are the old and the medically compromised.  Can't we just lock them down (and I mean really down - tight), and put the rest of the world back to work?

I don't say this as someone that pines for my old life back.  I say this as someone that is deathly afraid that the self-imposed emergency dive we've put our economic plane into is something that we will not be able to pull out of, and that our crash is just a function of when.

Is the cure worse than the virus?  We're all going to find out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A Wing or a Weight?

Some good words for today's environment.

Long, but stick with it:

Monday, March 16, 2020

Stuff Just Got Real

It is hard to believe that just a week ago life was fairly normal.  Fast forward to today, and all sports are cancelled, schools are closed, the stock market has plummeted, and the next shoe to drop will include the closing of all public places short of grocery stores, banks, and pharmacies.  

Sheltering in place is the mantra, and this article provides the best explanation as to why.

In one week's time, I'm worried about our finances, worried about my job, worried about our economy (the ripple effect of all of these closings is going to be massive), worried about my family, and worried about my neighbors.  

This is 9/11, albeit in slow motion.  What took a morning then is likely going to take a month for us now.  We don't know what's real, what's hype, and what we don't know.  Most of all we don't know how bad it is going to be.  The fog of war is thick, and we're looking for some kind of stable footing.  Unfortunately, we're not there yet.  How long will it take?  Who knows?

What I do know is that this week at work will be a very hard one.  We have hard decisions to make, and they might even involve yours truly.  

I have no idea what the future will bring, but I do know things are going to get worse before they get better.  About all we can do at this stage is to keep our heads and pray for deliverance.     

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Only in Minnesota

For months and months now I’ve been exiting the gym to the pitch black. Today I see twilight and I feel exactly like I just won the freaking lottery.

That's what life is like in Minnesota...

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Puppy Project

Deuce has been gone a couple of months now, and I'm really missing having a dog.  I'm fortunate that where I work, we've got dogs galore walking around, so I get my canine fix on a regular basis, but there's nothing like having your own dog.

Hence, I've started reaching out to start the process on landing a new puppy.  If I had my druthers, I'd land a yellow labrador female with a pointing pedigree that I could take home sometime after May.

I'll be sure to keep you posted.  In the meantime, wish me luck on landing my new hunting buddy.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Saturday Song Share: Jackson Browne - Love Needs a Heart

This is the most underrated Browne song in his library, and one of the most underrated songs of the era.

The harmonies are incredible, and the "vacancy sign" line is virtuoso:

Friday, February 28, 2020

Coroniavirus and Winning

Our politicians - both sides - are attempting to make political hay out of a pandemic (and make no mistake, we're already at the pandemic stage). It's repugnant, vile, and shows just how far we've fallen.  Where is our humanity?

However, one side is cheering - CHEERING - market crashes, recession, illness, and death.

Here's a hint: If you need people to die in order for you to score political points, that makes you evil.

Abjectly, definitionally, and sickeningly evil.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A Brush With Greatness - The Gastronomic Version

Last month, as Fuzzy and I were flying home from our bayou hunting adventure, we happened to glance across the aisle from us there in first class and happened to spy Andrew Zimmern - the famous TV food personality.  You know, this guy:

As a Minnesota native, it should not have surprised us to find him there, flying from ATL to MSP.  What did surprise us was his choice in food.  Did he choose the salmon or the chicken salad that was being served in first?  No, he did not.  As the flight attendants brought out our appointed meals, he whipped out a bag of Arby's and chowed down.


It was just recently announced that Mr. Zimmern will be starring in a new series on MSNBC on politics and food.  Ah, just what the world needs - another show about politics!

Let's hope his choices of editorial for his show are better than his choices of what to eat when sitting at the front of the plane.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Caribou Coffee and Customer Service

After my brutal experience with Delta Airlines losing my firearm, I had achieved my fill of shoddy big-company customer service.  Hence, when I arrived at my local Caribou for my pre-ordered coffee which I got 2-3 times every week and found it not there waiting for me, I was more sensitive than usual.  

The reason why I pre-ordered was that I just want to pick up my black brew coffee without waiting for a long line of lattes and foo-foo drinks.  Yet, this morning my usual waiting order was missing - likely picked up inadvertently by an inattentive patron.  I was fired up to complain, but found the line too daunting and my work start time too near.

I departed, fired up like I slammed a triple espresso.  

I found my way to work and penned off a quick note to Caribou's customer service, demanding a refund.  Truth be told, I was spoiling for a fight.  I had it, and woe be to the customer service rep that chose to hide behind their corporate policy of "apologize, but don't give an inch."  I couldn't wait to get into it.

Instead, this is what I received:

Hi Yellowdog,

Thank you for contacting us.  Our apologies to you for the disappointment with your mobile app-order ahead order.  

We have refunded $2.60 to your account.  Your current balance is now:  $61.92.  

We have also added an any size coffee of the day perk to your Caribou Perks account for you to enjoy.  (perk expires 2/6/20)

If you have questions or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to call Customer Support at 1.888.227.426 select OPTION #4. Our phones are open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm Central Time.

Thank you for choosing Caribou Coffee!

Doris/Caribou Coffee Customer Relations
1.888.CARIBOU | 1.888.227.4268-Option #4
Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm Central Time.

If Delta Airlines ever needs to hire some customer service agents, I know where they can find some...

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sunday Gospel - Matthew 5 38:48

Jesus said to his disciples:
          “You have heard that it was said,
          An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
          turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
          hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
          go for two miles. 
Give to the one who asks of you,
          and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.
“You have heard that it was said,
           You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
          and pray for those who persecute you,
          that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
          for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
          and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
          what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

This Sunday is a famous Gospel, likely because it's one where Jesus asks us to do the near impossible.  How often to we actively pray for those whom we consider our enemies?  How often do we dare let ourselves love those that hate us?

It's brutally hard.  Grudges are easy.  Returning fire with fire is easy,  Hate is easy.

Love - like the kind God shows us - ALL of us - that's hard.  But that's the expectation.  That's what we're being called to do.  

We're not God, and we fail this test often.  Regardless, we're tasked with being God's presence here on Earth; to be His hands, His example, and yes, His love.  

That's what's being asked.  How will we answer?

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Saturday Song Share: Boz Scaggs - Miss Sun

Perhaps the best song from this incredibly underrated artist:

Friday, February 21, 2020

Cayman Chicken (and Cat)

We're down here in the Caymans, and our place comes complete with a suite of pets:

Meet Nick the cat and Parm the rooster.  We also have (although not pictured) Bucket and Blackie the chicken, as well as Sanders the rooster.  Parm chased Sanders off a couple of days ago, so he's been scarce, but even with him missing, there's still a ton of activity on the patio.

Nick didn't want anything to do with us the first day, but a box of Cat Chow brought him around big time.  Now he's a staple, just like the sun and the beer.

I keep expecting Nick to take a run at Parm (who'd make a hell of a meal), but Parm does have about 3" spurs, so it'd take Nick's A game.  Besides, they seem content to share the Cat Chow and leave it at that, although it is chicken flavored (which would be pretty uncomfortable for Parm if he could read labels...)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Running with AirPods Pro

My bluetooth earphones finally gave up the ghost (at least one side did), so I needed a new option for something to provide music while working out.  Working out and running is incredibly boring, and if I don't have something to listen to, I can barely do it.  That being said, a good mix or the right song played at the right time can take my workout to a whole other level.  Hence, if I was going to keep working out, I needed a replacement.

I opted to go with AirPods Pro, as I'm developing into an Apple fanboy.  I've got the HomePod, Apple TV, Apple Watch, iPhone, and about 4 iPods.  I think the only thing I have missing is the Mac (and I used to have one of those, back in the late 80's).

I love the sound quality of the AirPods, but struggled mightily in keeping them in my ears when I run.  I have a terrible heel strike which is quite jarring to everything - especially the earphones in my ears.

I tried the regular size tip covers - no go.  Went larger, and the situation got worse.  I found hints online that suggested turning them in your ears - better but still not a solution.  I tried foam covers - nada.

I was about to the point of returning them when I replaced the tips with the smallest size they sent.  Perfect!  They were small enough to fit deep into my ear canal and stayed in as snug as a bug.  Counter intuitive, but effective.

Having trouble with your AirPods fit?  Try going small.  It just might work.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Cayman Islands Bluebill Decoy

We've been on vacation on Grand Cayman since Saturday, and it's been glorious.  The weather is perfect - highs in the mid 80's, sunny, humid, but with a big north wind to keep you comfortable.  It could not get any better.  

I've been running every morning, and what a joy to be running outside again.  It's tough going - the humidity really saps you, likewise half of my daily run takes me into a really stiff wind.  Despite the crappy results, I won't complain.  I'd craw if I could do it in this weather.

I was out for my daily yesterday morning, and enjoying my route which boarders the sea for most of it.  It's an incredible view.  Anyway, as I was slaving away, something caught my eye.  I stopped to verify, as I couldn't believe it.

There, bobbing in the rough seas, still attached to its string and weight, was a bluebill decoy:

What is that doing down here?  There's only teal hunting in the Caymans, Bluebills don't migrate here in any kind of numbers, and this wasn't something that was placed there - the waves were too big, and it will be on shore by the end of the day.

It had to come from some gulf coast duck hunter.  But what a trip!  Consider the map:

What a journey that thing has been on!  Over 1,000 miles, especially since it had to navigate its way around Cuba.  

When I was a kid, I was enthralled with a move called Paddle to the Sea, about a carving a guy made of a native American chief in a canoe.  He dropped it in a winter stream, and we followed its journey to the sea.  This bluebill decoy is a lot like that, and I can't imagine the adventures it has had.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Bad Lip Reading - NFL 2020

It's like heaven in a pickle
Heaven in a pickle...

Monday, February 17, 2020

16 Curling Rocks in Play

Two weekends ago I spent the entire time at the Curling Club, trying to come back via the losers' bracket after dropping our first match.  A good effort was made, and we actually took second, but it was a long slog - both mentally and physically.  It was a lot of damned curling over three days!

Note to self - don't lose the first game next time...

On Saturday, in the lane next to ours, a group pulled together an incredibly rare feat - all 16 curling stones were in play.  We have a number of old-timers at the club that have been playing for decades, and nobody had ever seen anything like it.

I wouldn't have believed it myself, but we actually stopped our game when they had 13 in play to watch the end.  They didn't disappoint:

It ended up scoring two red, but nobody will ever remember that.  What will be remembered is the time when all the rocks in the end had the potential to score.  

Good curling, indeed.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Saturday Song Share: Neko Case - Hold On, Hold On

I just love her voice - it reminds me of 50's country.  She's just incredible.  Enjoy

Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day from Fr. Don

This week, Father Don had a really incredible post about love, and given that's what this day is all about, it seems only appropriate to share here:

The 60-year-old attorney, well-known for his pro bono work and passion for justice, died of cancer diagnosed about 6 months earlier. During the months of hope and treatment, he was lovingly cared for by Jane, his wife of 30 years. At one point, while not yet immobilized, Jim eulogized her on his CaringBridge site. “She drops me at the office in the morning and picks me up at the end of the day. Fixes my breakfast, packs my lunch, serves me dinner, and cleans the kitchen. She keeps track of my medical appointments and hauls my sorry ass around to every single one of them. The bulk of the house cleaning devolves on her. Oh, did I mention that she also works full-time outside the home? That she spends every Saturday with her 92-year-old mother, doing her shopping, bathing her, tidying up and just being with her?” When people marvel at this, Jane says: "He would've done the same for me." Witnessing the loving relationship they had rules out wishful thinking on her part.

The same week as Jim's death, a letter came from 28-year-old Tom telling of a frequent experience in a person's quest for a partner: "It was a trying year for me personally. A year ago I went through a very bad breakup with my girlfriend of two years the week I started my new job, and it has been hard to stay focused. Without getting into the details, the circumstances surrounding the ending of our relationship really shook my confidence in people, relationships, God, and myself."  He found it shattering enough to seek counseling in regard to his faith, heretofore pretty sturdy. When we love others we make ourselves vulnerable to such almost inevitable and disheartening moments. Without underestimating the pain and sadness of breaking up, the relationship of 30 years described above makes such experiences worth the risk.

Here's wishing all of you the kind of love the attorney and his wife enjoyed.  Happy Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Joe Biden = Yosemite Sam

A "lying dog-faced pony soldier?"

Where have we heard that before?

Looney Tunes, indeed.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Who Won the Super Bowl?

The Chiefs, of course!  

But who won the commercial battle?  There were lots of great entries this year - many really strong showings that got a lot of people talking.  In fact, many of the "best of" lists had different entries, which means we got a lot of really good submissions.

It started out early with the redux of Jake from State Farm.  I was wondering what State Farm would do given Patrick Mahomes was a spokesperson, and they dusted off the perfect answer.

Sam Elliott's moustache danging to Old Town Road was a hit, as was Jeep's Groundhog day.  But for my money, Google won the day, and it wasn't even close:

I'm not sure how advertising gets better than that - human universality, clear benefit with obvious utility, and emotion-evoking in its storytelling.  

That's excellent advertising, any way you slice it.  Hats off, Google.  

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Romney the Saint

As Romney faced off against Barak Obama a few short years ago, we were treated to a lot of descriptions of him by the left:

  • Uber-rich
  • Out of touch
  • Bigot
  • Magic underwear wearing
  • Religious zealot
  • Homophobe
  • Nazi
  • 1%
  • Racist
  • Misogynist (remember how the "binders of women" quote was treated?)
  • Etc.
Now, with his vote for impeachment, he's deemed as:

  • Honorable
  • Principled
  • Grounded
  • Fair-minded
  • True to his religion
  • Etc.
Sorry, Democrats.  You played the Nazi, racist, homophobe, etc. card - not only on Mitt, but also on Bush, McCain, and everyone else with an (R) behind their name for the past twenty years.  And also on everyone that chose to vote for and support them.

And that's EXACTLY what got Trump elected.

The time for reaching across the aisle was decades ago.  Your current embrace of Mitt is rich.

Literally and figuratively.  

You made this bed.  Sleep in it.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

On Rush

On his show Monday, Rush Limbaugh announced he had stage 4 lung cancer.  

I started listening to Rush in 1990 during the Gulf War.  While I've not been a regular listener for a number of years, I've always been a fan of his steadfast and resolute conservative convictions.  In many respects, his is the last voice left of the true conservative.

No, he's no saint, and his bombast rubbed many the wrong way.  That being said, when conversing with someone with whom he disagreed, he always did so respectfully, and with an eye toward conversation.  No personal put-downs.  Just conversation, albeit with a hope of perhaps changing a mind.

I heard his announcement, and he sounded weak.  I saw his picture, and he had lost a ton of weight - weight which plagued him his whole life.  I came away from those engagements concluding that he is indeed a very sick man.  His odds are incredibly long, if not completely insurmountable.

In the wake of the announcement came the vultures.  The comments at the Huffington Post (the only area I allowed myself to read) were stomach-turning.  His impending death is being met with glee.  Unmitigated, hate-filled glee.

I won't link to that garbage and I won't say any more about it, other than if your political side celebrates the impending death of someone on the other side for the sin of political disagreements, you and your ilk are beyond sick.  

And, as it turns out, you're even worse than what you imagined Rush thought of you.  

Rush had a saying, "Rush is right."  Even in the announcement of his greatest fight, he's proving that phrase correct.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Suggestions for Super Bowl Halftime

The 2020 halftime show had a lot of stuff.  Mostly crotch.  Yeah, lots of crotch.  

It's hard to juxtapose all of the woke messages about women in space, and the groundbreaking performance of the first woman NFL coach with all the crotch, but there had to be some fit into women's empowerment or something somewhere.

Anyway, unless you were into crotch, the halftime show sucked.  It just did.  Hence, NFL, I have a list for you of some real bands that would knock the bad taste of the last lamentable episode right out of our mouths.  In no particular order:

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - Huge library, longevity, and incredible music.  Unfortunately, shirts may be optional, and given some previous appearances, maybe some tube socks.  On second thought, maybe not RHCP...
  • U2 - Hard to have them back for an encore after they knocked out the greatest halftime show ever following 9/11, but many have appeared more than once.  We could use it.
  • Metallica - Another huge library, and not all hard.  They can slow things down when necessary (Nothing Else Matters, Unforgiven, etc.) and they can tear up an arena.  James and the boys would be perfect.
  • Foo Fighters - Ah, the last rock and roll band standing.  If rock is going to go the way of the buggy whip, at least have it go down fighting, or should I say Foo Fighting?  There simply is no better band for this show, and it's not close.
Here you go, NFL.  Any of these will work fine.

And to see what a real show looks like, let's revisit that U2 performance, shall we

Monday, February 3, 2020

Shoptalk 100% Women

Shoptalk is a conference in support of retail and retailers.  It's also woke.  I mean really, freaking woke.

How woke?  This year, all of their 257 speakers will be women.  Not. One. Man.

They justify this by claiming that currently there are only 5% female heads at S&P 500 companies.  Forget the myriad logical and reasonable reasons for this.  Forget the fact that retail, among all other business sectors, has been historically the most gender-diverse in terms of leadership, and has been for decades.

Nope, Shoptalk has a point to make, and men can just shut the hell up.

Personally, I know where I'm not welcome, and I'm certainly not welcome at Shoptalk.  Hence, I won't be attending this year.

In fact, I won't be attending any year.

Here's a hint - discrimination, even if it's to prove how woke you are, is still discrimination.  And that, Shoptalk, makes you scumbags.

Enjoy your conference.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Sunday Gospel - Luke 2 22:40

When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, the parents of Jesus brought the baby up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law.

Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed God, saying,
“Now, O Lord, you can dismiss
your servant in peace,
for you have fulfilled your word
and my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you display for all the people to see.
Here is the light you will reveal to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.”

His father and mother wondered at what was said about the child. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, “See him; he will be for the rise or fall of the multitudes of Israel. He shall stand as a sign of contradiction, while a sword will pierce your own soul. Then the secret thoughts of many may be brought to light.”

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God and spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew in stature and strength and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon him.

Today's Gospel reading is a most famous one, and again shows revelation of who Jesus truly is and what his role is going to be.  You can imagine the joy Simeon felt, knowing that God's plan had finally come to fruition.

However, as joyful as Simeon must have felt, Mary must have felt foreboding, worry, and anxiety.  It doesn't get much more ominous and horrible than "a sword will pierce your own soul."  How long did she carry that worry?  It had to be in the back of her mind constantly.  I'm sure she wondered what it all meant, and what exactly would happen.

Then, on that darkest of days, when they took Jesus' lifeless body down from the cross and placed Him into His mother's arms, I wonder if she didn't recognize and say to herself, "So this is what Simeon meant..."

Blessed art thou among women...

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Saturday Song Share: John Hiatt - Tennessee Plates

Anyway he wouldn't care
Hell, he gave 'em to his friends...

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Winter Blues

While I'm less than two weeks removed from an incredible hunting trip with family in Louisiana, the glow has worn off.  Or you could say it has frozen off.

Late January in northern Minnesota is brutal.  Every day is the same, and it's the same because we can't go outside.  The days are getting longer, which helps, but the snow is up to your crotch, ice and snow are everywhere, and there is just this cold that feels endless.

It's amazing how limited one becomes when being outdoors isn't an option.  Sure, we can go to the movie, church, work, club, etc., but it just feels so limiting.  

We'll be in the mid 30's this weekend, and I'm looking forward to a rare January outdoor run, provided I don't break my neck on the ice.

I miss my patio, my grill, my boat, my lake, my grass, the whole damn thing.  

Hurry it up, Spring.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Why Trump Wins in 2020

The media thinks that you're an idiot.  A raving, southern drawl, uneducated idiot.

And they hate your racist, homophobe, gun-loving guts.

And sometimes all that hatred bubbles up to the surface.  Like this:

Unless you think EXACTLY like them, you're hated.

And that's why Trump wins in 2020.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

RIP Terry Jones

Terry Jones, a main player in Monty Python's Flying Circus, passed away last week due to complications with frontotemporal dementia.  He was 77.

He's the second Python to die; Grahm Chapman died of cancer in 1989.

While Jones took a back seat to bigger names it the troupe, his comic sensibilities were fantastic, especially when playing someone of the other gender.  

Here's my most favoite Jones skit:

Rest in peace.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Delta Airlines Lost My Gun - #2

On to conclude the story.  If you're just joining us, you may want to first visit the first installment of Delta losing my gun.

As stated previously. Delta refused to deliver my gun to me.  They claim they don't deliver guns, despite that being exactly what they were doing the previous 24 hours.  I got that from both the agent at Fargo, as well as the person that was "helping" me on Twitter:

Hence, I dutifully hopped into my truck and drove the hour drive, one way, to get my property back from Delta.

Except they do deliver firearms.  They drove Fuzzy's right to him.  

Crappy service is one thing.  Being lied to (and being able to document it) is another thing altogether.  

Going on a hunting trip with Delta?  Flyer beware...

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sunday Gospel Matthew 4:12-23

12 Hearing that John had been arrested he withdrew to Galilee,

13 and leaving Nazara he went and settled in Capernaum, beside the lake, on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali.

14 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

15 Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali! Way of the sea beyond Jordan. Galilee of the nations!

16 The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a country of shadow dark as death a light has dawned.

17 From then onwards Jesus began his proclamation with the message, 'Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.'

18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast into the lake with their net, for they were fishermen.

19 And he said to them, 'Come after me and I will make you fishers of people.'

20 And at once they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them.

22 And at once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.

23 He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and illness among the people.

In today's gospel, we find Jesus filling out his team, and doing so quite adeptly.  Can you imagine being tapped for this by the Lord?  Moreover, can you imagine just dropping everything for someone you don't know, whom you just met, and leaving everything?

That's sacrifice for faith.

While few are called like Simon, Andrew, James or John, God does call us.  The ask might be a whisper, or it might be a shout, but ask of us He does.  

How do we answer?  Do we do so only when it's convenient for us?  Do we ignore and pretend we don't hear?  

We don't have nets to leave, but we all have other baggage.  Baggage that would serve us well if we dropped it.  Baggage that needs to be dropped in order to answer.

Like the apostles, what we drop and how we answer isn't a sacrifice, it's an opportunity.  

The ask is there.  How will we respond?  

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Saturday Song Share: Foo Fighters - 2112 Overture

From Rush's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a resounding cover by some of the Foos:

Friday, January 24, 2020

Trump to Speak at Today's March for Life

In an unprecedented move, President Trump will be the first sitting president to speak in-person to the crowd today at the annual March for Life.  For those that may not know the event, the March is an annual rally at the Mall in Washington DC for the right to life.  It draws in excess of 100,000 (last year's estimate was 200,000) and is routinely ignored by the mainstream media.  

I mean buried.  Zero reporting.

The media has the story this year, claiming that Trump is using it to obfuscate from his impeachment proceedings.  Personally, I think the move is brilliant.  Trump is using the media's hatred of him to cast light onto an event that they have attempted to shield from mainstream America for decades.  Real jujitsu stuff by Trump.

It will be interesting to see how the media cover the story today.  Expect crowd sizes to be downsized if not abjectly ignored.  And certainly, the messages of the March will absolutely be ignored.  We'll see how it all plays out.  In the meantime, we wish the attendees a good march, and that their efforts change hearts and policies.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Too Much Fuzzy

I've been on a hunting trip to Louisiana with Fuzzy, and we had a blast.  It's always good to see kin, and being able to also see ducks was just icing on the cake.

We shared a room at the local hotel.  Not a great room, but comfortable enough with dual twin beds and a serviceable shower.  It's really all we need.

A couple of nights ago, I woke to go use the facilities as middle-aged men are wont to do.  Having done my business, I climbed back into my bed to resume my slumber, when Fuzzy reached out and touched me.

What the hell is he doing in my bed?

I cracked open an eye.  Was I in the right spot?  I had made a similar error many years before on a hunting trip and it was damned embarrassing.  No, I was where I needed to be.

Hey, wait a minute.  I'm home.  My bed partner is actually my wife.

Thank God.

I think it's easy to say I've seen way too much of Fuzzy these past couple of days.

Dorothy was right - there is no place like home.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Delta Airlines Lost My Gun - #1

The good news is that Delta got Fuzzy and I home from our trip to Louisiana for our annual January duck hunt.  The bad news is that Delta lost our guns.

It has been an incredibly frustrating process, rife with errors, people that do not know what they're doing, and absolutely no empathy, much less compensation.  

As of this writing, one gun was acquired (I won't say returned as I needed to drive an hour one-way in near blizzard conditions to pick it up), and Fuzzy's is still missing.

The full details are coming, but I really want this to rank from an SEO standpoint, so I'm breaking it up.  Look for the whole nightmare in a post in the next day or two.

In the meantime, if you're travelling with firearms, stay way away from Delta.  They absolutely could not care less about you or your property.

Monday, January 20, 2020

My Last Cabbie

As I completed my trade show on Thursday, I hailed a cab for the ride back to the airport.  I got picked up by an older gentleman, and we began making small talk.  He inquired where I was from, and upon hearing my reply, asked if that was anywhere near Leech Lake.

Needless to say we hit it off.

We talked about his fishing trips to Leech, then his time flying in the Navy, where he lost a lot of friends, but also met JFK and Jackie, as well as John McCain, and the stories were discussed in detail.  We then talked about life after the war, raising kids, and owning a line of restaurants.  We then talked about the loss of his wife five years ago, and the loss of his son just last December 24.

His son was a pit boss, a non-smoker, who acquired double lung cancer.  Dead at 49.  His wife left him upon him losing his job because he was too ill to work.

As we approached the airport, he stated, "I figure I can pay off my son's bills in about three years.  At that point, I am done workin'."

I tipped him 150%, to which he seemed genuinely touched, and sent me off with a "God bless you, sir!"

Did I get played?  I asked myself that walking through the airport.  He sure sounded ex-military, and our discussion on helicopters and ships seemed legit.  How he felt about McCain is exactly like my cousin, so that seemed real as well.  Finally, we started out with him asking about Leech Lake, for cryin' out loud.

I feel crappy harboring the thought that I got played, and resigned myself that I was either in the company of a hero, of one of the world's best story tellers.  

Regardless of which it was, the tip was justified.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Prayer to St. Michael

A couple of years ago, after a couple of especially egregious abuse stories broke about the Catholic church, our church adapted the Prayer to St. Michael at the end of mass.

Thank God!

As a practicing Catholic, I believe that evil exists in our world.  I also believe that if evil had their druthers, the place they'd most wish to be made manifest is in the Catholic church.  The horrific abuse that has be perpetrated for decades now, to me, is a total sign of that.

As much as it pains me to say it, Satan has established a strong beachhead in our church.  

That's why I love us reciting the prayer.  We all know evil has a foothold in our church, and beyond just praying to God for her, we're seeking proactive protection, not only for the church, but for all of us.  If priests can be turned, the laity certainly can be as well.

Evil is literally everywhere in our world.  Seeking an ally in our fight against it seems like a wise thing to do.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle,
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil;
may God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, cast into hell
Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Saturday Song Share: Lucious Jackson - Ladyfingers

These guys never made it big, and I'm not sure why (other than they do crappy videos).  As protegees of the Beastie Boys, you would have thought the path would have been paved well for them.

Too bad, good band.  Bad, bad video.  Good band.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Flying Again

After previously holding Gold status with Delta, and having at least Silver since the early 2000's, my current gig doesn't require me to fly.  Hence, I've done maybe a trip a year or so for the past four years.  

Now, all of the sudden, I have three trips in the next month.  Unfortunately, I forgot what it was like to fly with zero status, and to be relegated to the back half of the plane, and likely in a middle seat to boot.  

Despite the multiple upcoming trips, there's nothing else on the horizon, so odds of me getting far enough to get back to Silver are damned slim.  Thus, it's to back of the plane I go.

No drinks.  No legroom.  No fun.

I think I'd rather stay home.  

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Real Difference Between the Sexes

Recently there has been a call to dust off the Equal Rights Amendment because women somehow are still massive victims of the patriarchy.  

How bad is it for women/girls right now, and how good to men/boys have it? Consider this chart, curated by University of Michigan professor Mark Perry:

I'm not ignorant enough to say that in our history women had it bad - they did.  And it wasn't ancient history, either.  In some instances, it was just a couple of decades ago.  Regardless, the pendulum has swung, and as it pertains to education specifically, has swung too far.  

Singer Joe Jackson penned in the song Real Men

If there's war between the sexes
Then there'll be no people left

We're there, folks.  We have got to stop the hating on boys and men.  I fear what we are going to reap when we have multiple generations which have endured this abject hate.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Running at 55

About a month ago I headed out for a rare December run in the Minnesota outdoors.  We were in the 20 degree range, the sun was out, and there was no wind, so I decided to give it a shot.  Our winters are so brutal, and the treadmill is so boring, that when one gets a chance to get outdoors, one takes it.

I had gone perhaps 600 yards when my right calf started barking.  At my age, something is always barking, so I told myself I'd run through it as my body warmed up.

100 more yards and the barking was constant.  50 yards later, the bark turned into a scream.

I pulled up with a significant limp.  I limped my way home; angry at myself for not listening and ending up on the disabled list.

Since that time, it's been a lot of stretching, elliptical, and bike work.  I tried running a couple of times but always ended up pulling up as the twinge in my calf returned.  

Finally, today, I was able to complete a two-mile run.  My cardio was really solid, but I definitely wasn't in "running shape."  That's something I can build to - the goal now is to do so while remaining healthy.  

There's a lot of things that suck about being in your mid-fifties.  Staying healthy is probably at the top of that list.