Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bro and Snow

My brother-in-law's band had a gig last night and we thought it'd be cool to go out and show some support. The kid's like 15 years old and I couldn't believe I was watching him tear it up on stage at the Newport Music Hall. He also knows more about 80's rock than I do, which is somewhat unnerving. He's a natural drummer, which means when he's not playing in the band he's banging and tapping on everything within reach. His excess energy can drive people crazy. But seeing him on stage last night made it all fit together. I think I understand him better now and think he's actually pretty cool.

It's snowing again. I feel sorry for our neighbor. He just moved here from California and one of the first things he admitted to me was that he wasn't looking forward to snow. I assured him that the last few winters have been pretty mild and we probably wouldn't get much this year.


Saturday, January 24, 2009


Today I reflect on the nature of serenity, and the general state that comes with peace of mind. To illustrate this feeling I have included a recent photograph of our resident furball. She's just come in from the cold, a veritable cat icicle. She immediately goes to the bathroom and plops down in front of the heat register, which she treats like her own little roaring fireplace. As she dozes off, I can't help but marvel at the serenity that envelopes her.

Serenity in us humans is along the same lines, though often more complicated. I think of the peace that comes from watching my wife as she is engrossed in a book. The room is quiet, save for the occasional rustle of pages. Her focus never wavers. She is engaged in a silent task that affords her much enjoyment. Is this the definition of serenity?

Human serenity seems to involve the simple comforts of pursuing a process. My own interests as another example: I slather adhesive across a sheet of quarter-inch thick MDF and afix it to the underside of a polystyrene panel. This process is another serenity-- engaging tools that work and materials that come together. These are my enjoyment and my quiet satisfaction. And a quote from the A-Team: "I love it when a plan comes together."

I concur.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Drifter Adrift

I've been here before. I am a connisseur of the limbo; I know it like the texture of the back of my hand. Winter has come.

Like many people I get seasonal depression this time of year. It's very cold tonight. The web tells me it's negative 11 degrees (F) out there as I type this. Stay warm wherever you are.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hobbies, Ice-Skating, and Stuff

At least once a week our kitchen table is transformed into a miniature warzone where the denizens of the 41st century settle their differences by attacking each other with guns and chainsaws. Warhammer 40k is one of my favorite games of all time. If you are friend or family, you've more than likely found me sitting on your couch painting and assembling warhammer models sometime in recent history. The pic here is from a game a few weeks ago: Ken's loyalist space marines squaring off against my traitor berserkers (the traitors are hiding behind cover in the mid-ground.) Also note the chaos dreadnought staggering around in the background looking for something to blow up.

I went ice-skating for the first time in my life today (technically yesterday. I'm up late). Some close family friends invited us to their son's birthday party at the Chiller, and we were happy to oblige. It was a lot like roller-blading, though with the added element of dodging children and other obstacles while endlessly circling the rink. To my credit I did not fall down, though we all wore furrows into the ice that kept tripping me up.

The experience made me nostalgic; I remembered my mom taking us to the skating rink at the Rutland Civic Center when we were kids. Mind you, this was back before the existence of roller-blades. I'm talking about these unwieldly things: clicky. You should remember these. They're a part of your past. Anyway, I remember some fantastic crashes at that civic center. Perhaps we should stop attaching extra bits to the bottoms of our shoes?

When I was in college, I was convinced by friends to take up rollerblading... the new, cooler version of roller-skating. Three of us bought some high quality rollerblades. These things were amazing, and we got what we paid for: sleek, fast death.

High quality rollerblades (clicky for picture) are synonymous with assisted suicide in the hands of noobs. I look back to the year 2003 and try to imagine how I was not outright killed in a rollerblading accident. At speed, it took only a tiny pebble to wipe me out. Rollerblade wrecks are the worst thing outside of car crashes. In 2004 I decided to hang up the skates. My dad and I got bikes instead. Our bike rides were a joy compared to the hell of rollerblading.

Apparently the correct term for rollerblading is inline skating. Rollerblade is a brand. Sort of like Q-tips for cotton swabs, or refering to adhesive bandages as Band-Aids. What did I do before there was wikipedia?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Oven-Fried Chicken: A Rock Opera

Alright, so not a real rock opera. Just dinner. Here's an easy one I made this week. Oven-fried chicken is the bomb.

Preparing the chicken: I got around my dislike for thawing meat in the microwave by placing four frozen chicken breasts in a big bowl of cool water. After about a half-hour, the chicken was thawed and ready. We've got a pair of kitchen scissors that come in handy for clipping the little bits of fat away (do this now) and pat the chicken dry.

Next, mix some egg-beaters and 3 tbl spoons of milk into a bowl. Dip each piece of chicken in the mixture and then roll in a mix of bread crumbs, spices, and pepper until both sides are well-coated. Place in a greased pan, drizzle with some melted margarine and bake for 50 minutes. (preheat on 375 degrees)

Other sides: I went with Instant Mashed Potatoes and steamed some frozen broccili and cauliflower. Next time I'll try stuffing as well.

Suggested Drinks: We were out of beer and wine, so I went with a glass of Arizona Pomegranate Green Tea. Technically it's green tea, but it looks and tastes like red cool-aid. I drink this stuff by the barrel.

Suggested Entertainment: We watched the 1984 hit Cloak & Dagger. It was our first time watching this movie, and it was pretty surreal.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Basements and Horizons

Nothing interesting in the pipeline today. The basement (rendered above) is becoming a vast, empty wildress of limitless new potential. I've already got a new mega-project waiting in the wings. Hope to give it the green light sometime in the next few days. My friend, David, donated a big bucket of wallpaper paste to the art cause, and preliminary experiments with this substance have yielded some amazing results. It takes and holds paint very well, is workable but sets up in a short span of time, and is non-caustic. It also mixes nice with cat litter for texture. (the first experiment was to create a textured, realistic surface for our warhammer gaming table, which I tick down as a resounding success)

What to do with wallpaper paste? I'm not certain yet. I keep thinking of rolling hills though. We'll see.

In an ironic twist: after my pro-swimming post, I suffered from burning, blurry eyes for the entire day. Chlorine attack!

Wear your goggles in the pool, kids.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I've been swimming on a regular basis at the YMCA since family and friends pitched in together to get me a membership for my birthday. It could well be my favorite thing in the entire world. Something about swimming makes me complete. You put me in the water, and suddenly I get it. Life makes sense.

I don't swim for the exercise. Well, that's not entirely true, but it's part of it. Although I can't help but notice some new defininition in my arms and shoulders, and experiencing the secret human glee that comes with getting into shape and seeing improvement.

But the real reason I don the swimming trunks and take the plunge every morning is the simple harmony involved. Mind, body, and soul unite for one purpose: locomotion in a suspension. The great secret is that real swimming is almost effortless. This isn't work. It's pulling oneself along in a weightless universe. Simple motion and peace. I recommend it to anyone. Can't swim? Learn to swim. Do yourself that favor. It's really pretty great.