Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zoo Fun

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.



When my children were younger, (by younger I mean young enough that they still appreciated their father and hadn't learned how to talk back yet) we would take weekly road trips. I had a job where I worked long hours and didn't see the family much during the week, but I always had weekends off and we liked to spend it on the road. Every Saturday, we would load up the car, head to Huck's to grab some gas station road trip food (mini tacos, egg rolls, sodas, etc.) and hit the road.

Some days, we ended up in a state park. A few times we stumbled onto a small town festival. Other times, we would drive into a big city. Often, we didn't even have a destination in mind when we left the house. We would just pick a direction and start driving. I loved these trips.

One particular Saturday, we decided to head to the zoo. When it comes to zoo trips, we were really lucky. We lived in southern Illinois at the time and the St. Louis Zoo was less than 90 minutes away. This is the zoo I grew up going to and it spoiled me for other zoos. It is ranked as one of the best zoos in the entire country, so I always end up disappointed when I am visiting someone in another part of the country and we end up at a lesser zoo. Our zoo was awesome. Suck it, Cleveland.

I was particularly excited for this trip because my kids were at that magical age. Kirsten was two and Christian was six. They would think the animals were the coolest things in the world to get to see. Plus, it was spring time and we had been looking forward to getting out of the house after the long winter.

Once we got there, we headed to the exhibit I always insist that we visit first. THE PENGUINS! I love penguins. I always have. This practice of seeing the penguins as soon as we get there first started when I was a child and I still do it when I go back to visit. After I see the penguins, I don't care where we go. I am happy.

I couldn't wait to share these magnificent birds with the kids and hurried them into the penguin house. As soon as we got inside, I unstrapped Kirsten from her stroller, put her up on my shoulders and turned around to see this:


Chicka-Chicka-Wa-Waa
"OK, let's see what's happening on the other side of the enclosure."

We moved further down to get away from the happy couple and were met with another public penguin porn performance. However, this time it was more like a penguin orgy. There were at least half a dozen penguin couples getting an early jump on the day…and each other. As much as I love penguins, I decided that maybe we should come back later. I don't allow guests in my bedroom to watch without paying admission and since the St. Louis Zoo is free, this just didn't feel right. Plus, I had my kids with me.

We worked our way up the hill to Big Cat Country to take in the jungle cats. My kids lost interest in the leopard pretty quickly because it just sat there.  The panther couldn't be seen, but the tigers were much more playful.


In the very next enclosure, the lions were up to the same thing. My wife commented that the animals seem to be enjoying the spring time weather as much as we were.

About 20 minutes later, we learned that the monkey house was not the place to be right now either. I will spare you the pictures. They are much more graphic.

We left the zoo after being there less than two hours, but in that time we got to see elephants, buffalo, three different species of bear, antelopes and even snakes getting it on. We decided that in future years, we would wait until later in the season to visit the zoo.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yoga

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.



I don't do yoga. My wife does yoga. She does all the yoga. The doggy style pose, the missionary position, the sexy lotus. I don't really know the names very well, but she did talk me into doing yoga with her once. It didn't go well. I got bored pretty quickly and the instructor kept expecting me to move (like, over and over again). Not really my thing.

However, I am very happy that she does yoga. She really seems to enjoy it, which makes her happy and I like her to be happy. Plus, she wears tiny outfits to do it and she isn't self-conscious knowing that I am watching. This makes me happy. It's good for all the people involved. I just don't want to actually participate.

Here's a list of other activities I do NOT partake in:
  • Aerobics
  • Zumba
  • Speed walking
  • Resistance training 
  • Tae-Bo
  • P90X
  • Spin classes 
  • Any sports
  • Free weights 
  • Failing to SuperSize it
  • Crossfit
  • Adult coloring books
  • Jogging
  • Anything requiring a FitBit 
  • Sweat to the Oldies 
  • Logging out of Twitter
  • Eat things not covered in cheese
Now, I don't want to give the impression that I avoid all physical activity. I do get physical when the need arises. Here are some examples:
  • Answering the door when the pizza arrives
  • Searching for the TV remote
  • Charging my phone
  • Active listening when my wife speaks
  • Covering food in cheese
  • Digging to the back of the fridge 
  • Numerous daily instances of exaggerated eye rolls
Despite all this activity, I have been experiencing some recent health issues. I even have a doctor's appointment (first one in eight years) later today. It's the same doctor my wife sees and he told her to increase her cardio activity. I already hate him.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for Xenodochial

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.



I had a difficult time coming up with a word for X, but a quick Google search found a suitable word for me. Xenodochial describes me pretty well. It means 'friendly to strangers'.

I love meeting new people. I can make a temporary friend anywhere. I talk to people while standing in line, sitting in a restaurant, walking down the sidewalk, stuck on a carnival ride, or being anywhere that other people are around. Not standing at a urinal, though. That is an understood No Talking Zone.

I have even been known to walk up to a person eating alone in a restaurant to ask if I can join them. I've met some very interesting people that way. I was even offered a job during one of these encounters. It's almost always worth it.

Very rarely do I make a permanent connection with these people. It is just for conversation and entertainment in the moment. I'm not trying to start a new friendship or actually get involved in someone's life. I know there are benefits to having more friends, but that is just not my interest. I enjoy being friendly to strangers and the more actual friends I make, the less strangers there are to choose from.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Writer

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.



Someone once told me that bloggers aren't writers. I'm not sure that that's true. You really can't blog without writing, therefore someone who blogs is a writer. However, any idiot can start a blog and I have seen a few that are barely decipherable. Going outside to play basketball does not necessarily make you a basketball player. Maybe it comes down to whether you get paid for it or not. I really don't know and I'm not going to put that much thought into it, but I do know that I have been writing for a long time and want to be considered to be a writer.

This week I am starting on my first book. I have spent the last couple of months going over the story, jotting down major plot points, coming up with characters, and even talking to a few published authors for some pointers. I believe I am ready to start the writing and am excited to get going.

My writing style has generally been humorous and that is the direction I plan to go with this book. It will be a horror-humor conglomeration that, hopefully, will not have words like conglomeration in it. That's such an ugly sounding word. Don't say it out loud. Trust me.

As I progress I may write some about the process, but haven't decided yet. I might just want to unleash the finished product on the world. We'll see. Wish me luck and feel free to start pre-ordering.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Virility

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.



Last night, after work, I was plopped in front of my television, enjoying some Hot Pockets and sweet tea, but was mostly focused on my Kindle. Despite my attention to the various games I had to choose from, something said on the television caught my ear.

Please keep in mind, this will only be a loose paraphrase of what was said, since I wasn't really paying attention. It was just the last line that made me say, "WHAT?!?"

A commercial was playing for a men's sexual health clinic in St. Louis. The ad focused primarily on erectile dysfunction. It stated all the usual things these commercials always claim.

"There's nothing to be embarrassed about."

"It happens to every man at one point or another."

"It doesn't mean you aren't a man."

I didn't catch it all, but near the end it said something to the effect of this, "Maybe you have tried Viagra or Cialis and they weren't effective. Therefore, you may be skeptical about what we can do for you. To address your concerns, you can try our system in our office before paying a penny to see if it works."

This is the part where I looked up and said, "WHAT?!?"

Try it out in the office? What exactly does that mean? Had I been paying attention, I would have called their number just to get the answer to this question. I can see so many possible scenarios.

What exactly is the nature of their treatment and what does it mean to "try it out in the office"? If it involves another person to really try it out, do they provide the person or do you have to bring one from home?

Do they provide a private room after giving you the treatment or must the results be observed by a trained medical professional?

Do they lay you naked on a table, give you the treatment, and the medical staff stands around you with measuring tape to monitor and record the results?

Or is it more discreet? Maybe they give you a pill and stand you in a corner, so you can give a thumbs up to indicate when you are up.

I have so many questions. One day, I may be in need of these services and I just want to be prepared.

I also want to know if Obamacare will cover this.

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Unfashionable

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.



I have absolutely ZERO fashion sense. I don't know what goes with what, what colors are to be worn during which seasons, what 'business casual' means, or why there are rules about when you can and cannot wear white. I just wear what I want to wear when I want to wear it and don't really care what anyone else thinks about it.

If you haven't already guessed, this trait (or non-trait) doesn't bother me in the least. I have been given a hard time about my clothing choices my entire life and they haven't really changed any. However, I do want to make clear that I am not a slob. I just don't have any desire to dress up or have any 'flair'. I am a jeans and a t-shirt kind of guy. I've not been able to test this theory, but I am of the belief that if I ever become rich I will still be a jeans and t-shirt guy. I'll just have a thicker wallet.

A few years ago, I was told by a co-worker that I would probably get more interest from the ladies if I dressed better. I scoffed and explained to him that any woman who would not want to date me based on my clothing choices is not a woman I would want to date. He then said I would never get a quality woman. However, I believe we had very different definitions of what 'quality woman' meant. I base this observation mainly on the 'quality' of his last two women. No thank you.

My wardrobe is a reflection of who I am. I'm laid-back, easy-going, and low-stress. I take care of myself, but don't go out of my way to put on appearances. I'm not trying to impress anyone. A woman who recognized that and would be happy with it is the type of woman I wanted. Clothing should not be part of the consideration.

Eventually, I met her and two years later we were married.

In jeans and a t-shirt, even on my wedding day,
but it was a nice t-shirt.
The light sabers were for a totally different reason.

Now, she is a quality woman.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Traveling Entertainment

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.



Before moving to Indianapolis, I had a job as a courier (which is just a fancy word for deliveryman). I mostly delivered office supplies, but I had a few contracts that involved me delivering blood for the Red Cross and the occasional biopsy sample for a medical firm. The office supplies were always delivered around town, but when I had medical deliveries, I was on the road for a while.

He quit talking to me for some reason.
I usually had to deliver to St. Louis (90 miles from my house), but I didn't always make the pick-up in my hometown. Sometimes, I had to drive for a few hours to even get the product. These trips varied from 180 to 450 miles round trip. In addition to these trips being long, they were always done in the evenings after I had already gotten off my regular route. For this reason, I was usually tired before I even started the trip and often needed help staying awake. And as much as I love caffeine and its glorious side effects, there is only so much coffee and Mt Dew a person can drink before it begins to revolt against your system.

Apparently, it is illegal to talk on the phone while driving and my Candy Crush scores tend to suffer when I can't give the game my full attention, so I am always looking for ways to pass the time. On road trips, this is not an issue because I can pull over at any time to look at anything that catches my eye. When making deliveries, I was on a schedule. It didn't take me long to learn that texting passed the time fairly quickly.

NOTE: My phone is voice activated and the texts are read to me over my stereo system. So, I am not looking at my phone. My eyes are on the road. Sometimes I drive with my feet to entertain myself, but I am always looking at the road.

Recently, while going through my phone, I found one of those texting conversations. It was getting late and I needed someone to talk to. So, I shot a text to my brother Kyle. It turned out he was on the road also and even had other people in the vehicle with him, but I was not deterred. Despite the fact that he didn't stay in the conversation for very long, I tried to keep it going since I had an audience.

That conversation is included on the right.
→→→→
I didn't feel bad about it. Kyle has a long history of trying to tie up people's time on the phone. Back in the 80's when answering machines still used miniature cassette tapes, Kyle would talk long enough to use up the entire tape. If the machine had a 30-second cutoff, he would just keep calling back until it was used up. He still does this today, but in today's digital world, there is an almost unlimited amount of time. I have received many voice mail messages from him that lasted longer than the Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended versions).

Now that I don't have that job anymore, I have to find new ways to be annoying. 

Kyle's actually pretty good
at being annoying himself.

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Snoopy

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.



We had lots of pets growing up, but the one that has always stood out above the others was a beagle-rat terrier mix named Snoopy. Snoopy was the runt of the litter from one of our neighbors' dogs. He never had any special training, but was the best dog we ever had.

Every young boy wants a dog that will play fetch. Snoopy played half a game of fetch. If one of us threw a stick, he would run after it and bring it back to set right at our feet. That's where the proper game of fetch ended. As soon as we would reach for it, he would grab it again and move it a few feet away, setting it down once again, just daring us to try for it. He would never let us have the stick again. The game continued until we got tired of chasing him.

During the winter months, he was allowed to stay in the house. However, like many animals, he wanted to eat food that was not for him. Cats will not gorge themselves the way that a dog will and often left food in their bowl. Obviously, Snoopy would get in trouble if he ate the cat's food, but it didn't keep him from trying.

Because the cat's food was on the hard floor of the kitchen, we could hear the dog when he walked across the floor. His nails would click on the linoleum. The living room was right next to the kitchen, so we would look in the kitchen when we heard his nails and would catch him headed toward their food. Soon, he figured out that it was the noise giving him away.

My mother walked into the kitchen once and caught Snoopy slowly walking across the floor, lifting each foot slowly and gently putting it back down. He lifted each foot extra high. It was the canine version of tip-toeing. We had to start putting the cat food up high enough that they could jump to it, but Snoopy could not reach it.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for Remembering

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.



I got a little behind this week and could write today's post ahead of time like I have all the other posts. Therefore, I have the opportunity to change what I was going to write about. R is now for remembering.

Prince died today.

I walked into the break room at work to this on the tv screen. At first glance, I thought it said the Prince of Death had come to Minnesota. That would be scary, but then I saw that they were talking about the death of Prince.

Now, I am not one of those people who gets all teary-eyed over the death of a celebrity. I never knew him. I wouldn't even say I was a big fan, but I did like his music and it was all over the place in my teenage years. I found his songs bouncing around in my head for the rest of the work day.

I guess I am feeling a bit nostalgic. I wish the best for his family in this time of mourning and I think I'm going to go watch Purple Rain.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Quilt

As a participant in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I will be making my way through the alphabet all month.



For a good portion of my life, my grandmother lived right in our backyard. Not literally in the back yard. I mean, she had a house back there. My mother's mother (Mary Jane) lived behind us when I was very young until I was about 8 or 9.

In my teen years, my father's mother (Margaret) lived behind us. I have many memories of being able to walk out of the house and be in one of their homes within seconds. It's great to have grandparents so close.

Grandma Margaret was a quilter. Most of the time, when you walked into her house, she would be working on a quilt. I have no idea how many she made, but those quilts are everywhere. Every family member has several of her quilts. Looking around, I have four in this room right now.

Quilting is not something I have ever particularly cared about, but I was always very interested in Grandma's quilts. I can remember many times upon walking into her house, she would want to show me her latest pattern. She would be trying something new and wanted to show it off. The only pattern name I can remember today is the log cabin pattern, but I used to know several more.

She's been gone four or five years now, but I always think of her every time I see one of her quilts. I have several, so I see them often. Hopefully, they will last forever.