This is one of my biggest complaints about mask-wearing*.

I naturally tend to smile a lot at people I interact with. I enjoy seeing the smiles from others. When I walk by you and we all look like steely-eyed ninjas, or impassive zombie-doctors**, or just people who might be fresh from a bank-robbery, you just lose a bit of that human-interaction that greases the gears of society and keeps us feeling connected.

Maybe we all need to go back and watch America’s Next Top Model and figure out how to “smize” (smile with your eyes) as Tyra Banks trained contestants. Or better yet – someone come up with a transparent-yet-still-effective facemask!

*Yes, masks are uncomfortable/inconvenient/not fun. Please do your part and wear one in public, anyway. The next person you interact with could depend on it!

**That is, a doctor who is a zombie. Not a doctor who treats zombies. What would be the point of that?


Today I hit the “I….Declare….Bankruptcy!” button on my email inbox.  I took all my emails earlier than March 1st and put them in a “Cleanup” folder.  Out of sight, out of mind. (But still available if I ever have to go looking for them.)

22CrThe fresh white screen of an empty inbox is so soothing. I know dealing with emails is like playing whack-a-mole – the more you clear, the more pop up.  But getting rid of 1000+ emails that obviously aren’t all that important (or else I would have responded to them before now) is such a relief every once in a while.

Now only if I could do something about those moles in my backyard…

AMAThe podcast, that is.  Lately, I’ve been binge-listening to a bunch of episodes of this NPR quiz show in the car – the puzzles are fun and challenging enough to keep me thinking, without being so tough I can’t get any of the answers.  To mix things up, they also bring in “special guests”, which are usually celebrities in some form (last episode I listened to included Ed Helms of “The Office” and “The Hangover” fame), but who are usually featured in such a way that they dig into aspects of their lives you may not have heard of before.  They feature other people’s creative pet projects, too – I discovered Mike Rowe’s “The Way I Heard It” podcast through this show, as well as Joseph Fink’s “Welcome to Night Vale”, both of which have ended up in my permanent podcast subscription list.

One of their signature hooks is the nerdy word games they feature, and they conclude the podcast with catchy anagrams of the show title, venue, and host names.  I decided to plug in my name into an anagram machine and discovered that my name anagrams to “Blogger Dross”.  Pretty appropriate, given that I haven’t posted on here in years.

Anyway, if you’re into quiz shows, word games, or puzzles, check this one out on NPR’s podcast list. (You can also listen when they air it on the radio, too, but who listens to the radio any more???)


The family and I took a trip to Charleston last weekend (more about that in another post later). Since the Color Princess got a phone for her 12th birthday a few weeks back, I’ve been helping her get used to the technology. Along with Pokemon Go, one of her favorite new things to do is take high-quality photos with the smartphone. I’m very impressed with her eye for composition and hope she keeps up the enthusiasm as I’d love to take her out for photo-walks in the future.

Here’s one she took while we were on a boat, coming alongside the USS Yorktown (aircraft carrier museum) at Patriots Point:


And another shot through a cannon-port in the 5-foot-thick wall of Fort Sumter:


(Yes, that’s a sailboat anchored off the shore of the island – I’m not sure what they were doing there but it certainly was a nice day to be doing it!)

I’ll probably be posting more of her best shots here and there as I come across them.

Videos that auto-play when you first up a website are the worst. Worse than accidentally squirting lemon juice in your eye, stepping on a Lego piece in the middle of the night, or even watching the US Presidential debates. (Although I guess you could technically get even more evil by having a website that auto-plays this most recent Presidential debate when it loads, but hey, you get my point.)

Today, some arbitrary website I had to browse to for work was the straw that broke the camel’s back when the website started auto-playing a 20 minute long infomercial in the sidebar, and I decided I absolutely needed to figure out how to tweak Chrome so I could prevent auto-play videos while browsing the web.

I found it more than a little ironic when PC World’s article on how to stop auto-play videos had an aggravating auto-play video of its own in the sidebar:


Even more aggravating? the PCWorld’s instructions don’t even work for their own auto-play videos, since the instructions are only applicable to Flash content and not HTML5!

In the end, I found a few more useful articles, including this one that instructs how to disable auto-play Flash content and then provides a helpful link to a Chrome extension called Disable HTML5 Autoplay to take care of the HTML5 side of things. So far, so good – it even restrained the PCWorld video from starting up when I reloaded their page!

31 recipients, plus or minus?  I guess it depends on how Outlook feels as to whether it will deliver to all or not.  Microsoft must half-ass it on Fridays, just like the rest of us.


And So Endeth The Streak

Posted: 2016-05-12 in Running
Tags: , ,

483 days. Almost 1100 miles.

That’s how long my running streak lasted before I was forced to give it up.

A little over a month ago, while on one of my normal “1.5 mile minimum a day” runs, I had a stabbing pain in my ankle that shot down my foot and scared the hell out of me. I was able to walk on it, but running felt like someone was driving a nail into the top of my foot with every step. I limp/jogged my way through my last half-mile back to the house and iced my foot, hoping I just twisted something in a funny direction and it would be better a few days later.

As the days progressed, I still limped and I still ran. Nothing improved, and I had to go back out to Texas for work. Three weeks into my work schedule there (where I was on my feet at least 5-6 miles a day on top of whatever I was running), I decided it was time to seek medical attention before I did something really stupid and permanent to my foot/ankle.

The x-rays came back negative for stress fractures (what I feared was likely), but the Doc still was concerned and asked me to treat the injury just like a stress fracture, including 6 weeks of laying off the running, elevating and icing the foot as much as possible, and generally giving it time to heal itself before I screwed it up worse.

At one time, I would have said, “Screw it” to such advice, and kept my almost-16-months-streak alive. But older-and-wiser me started considering how I’d feel if I messed something up to the point where I’d be in agony every time I tried playing soccer with the kids, or hiking with the wife, or any of the million of things that are enjoyable but require you to be active on your feet. I decided, as disappointing as it would be to end my streak, it was a small sacrifice to make to get me back to normal.

So here I sit, icing my ankle & foot in the evenings, binge-watching Netflix and jealously glaring at random folks as they run past my balcony, carefree and happy, not knowing how good they have it. I was one of those people once, and hopefully in about 4 more weeks, I will be again. In the meantime, I’ll just try to make the most of the situation and keep my spirits up. (Sometimes, drinking the spirits down helps in that respect.)

So 483 days. It’s not a bad streak – over a year of running every day. Will I start a new streak when I get back into running? Probably not the same “run every day” type streak – that has proven to be a little too much for my bones to handle. But I’ll still keep running, and I’ll try to remember that each run is a privilage that not everyone gets to enjoy, and treat it as such.

Still, it would have been nice to hit 500.

Someone sent this to me, and I was just blown away.

Listen to David Bowie and Annie Lennox singing Under Pressure for the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert back in 1992 and see if you can make your ears happy, too.

First, a rehearsal prior to the show:

And then the live performance:

It gives me chills to listen to that. If only I could have been there in that crowd. Of course, I was only 13 at the time and probably wouldn’t have appreciated what an amazing concert that was, so now I’m off to build a time machine so current me can go take past me to the concert and school myself in some music appreciation.

I think this cartoon from the New Yorker says it best:


“Here’s to the best damned antagonist a guy could ask for.”


Credit to Benjamin Schwartz

I mentioned (in passing) that late last year, my family moved out of Casa de Bedlam into our new (as yet unnamed) home. It was a whirlwind move and my head is still spinning, but almost all the boxes are unpacked and we’ve already had family over for a number of celebrations (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’) and love the additional floor space for “entertaining.”


Home Sweet Home!

What I’m not loving so much? All the headaches that come with inheriting someone else’s home with all the hidden (or not-so-hidden) problems that tag along for the ride. Last month, the magnetron on the microwave went kaput, leaving us in a Hippy-like “No Nukes!” status for the better part of the week while we scheduled an appliance repair guy to come out and take a look. We all had a good laugh at how hard it was to adapt to life without a microwave nowadays (as The Bean said, “Guess we’ll be eating out all week, right?”) but we weren’t laughing when the invoice for the repairs came due. Yes, it was cheaper than buying a new microwave, but that didn’t make it any more palatable to shell out the funds for the repair.

I had actually considered buying a home warranty to cover those “unforeseen” repairs, at least for the first year while I was getting a feel for the state of the house, but didn’t get around to purchasing it at the house closing. And of course, the warranty companies put a 2-week hold on claims from when you sign a contract to prevent you from “purchasing after the fact”, and it slipped my mind to follow up with a purchase after the microwave was working again.


Picture this, but made out of 1/8″ cable on each side of the garage door. Not pretty.

So of course, what happens this week? Breakdown #2 – this time, the garage door. Torsion bar / springs failed, causing the cables to snarl in a big bird’s-nest mess on both ends of the bar. My mechanical knowledge in this area was limited to figuring out how to disengage all that mess from the door so I could roll it down and lock it in place, and (of course) figuring out how to use the telephone to call the Garage Door Doctor. Luckily for us, they were able to schedule a evening appointment same-day as I called, and replaced the entire assembly in an hour (to the tune of an emptying wallet).

So at this point, I’m expecting it’s only a matter of time before the third shoe drops (yes, I’m assuming there’s an octopus wearing shoes in the room above me, shut up). Time to get on that home warranty purchase before the next repair forces me to take a job as a male escort to pay the bills.

Anyone have any experience with home warranties? Any good companies I should consider? I can use my Google-fu to do some research, but it doesn’t hurt to have a head start on the process…