Crossroads

I feel as if I have arrived at a crossroads. There appears to be multiple paths, and each leads off in a different direction. Everything past the crossroads is foggy and cannot be seen. Cryptic signs appear next to each of the paths, but not enough information is provided to help with the decision process.

I remember well the path from which I came, but I know that if I spend too much time dwelling on how I got here, I will be paralyzed and unable to proceed. Absence of progress does not progress make, so I know I must push on. It’s difficult to make a decision, but I know I have to make a choice.

So I make my decision and start to move towards my selected path. As I approach, I see that there are even more choices available than I had originally anticipated. Additional paths become visible just past the crossroads, providing even more options and choices past the initial selection.

As new information becomes available, it’s important to constantly re-evaluate the choices that available based on the information that is known. But it doesn’t mean that the original decision isn’t valid… it just means it’s important to continue to evaluate and adjust as you get more information.

But the most important question is: did the crossroads exist before you got there, or did you construct it yourself?

Stomach Recollections

The following represents thoughts of the past based upon the remembrances of my stomach. This doesn’t mean that it was the best, but personal recollections might very well override the otherwise shitty presentation of the sustenance. Perhaps.

Long John Silvers

Those fscking hushpuppies. Fsck you you flattering sons-a-bitches. I thought I loved you. A local branch opened up within the last few years… either the recipe changed, or you always tasted like ass. Either way, I just don’t see a future for us. But I used to love that place when I was a kid.

White Castle

Sliders. Goddammn you. I’ve driven to Kenosha for those things before. I’ve written to the corporate office about opening a Green Bay location before. Memories of my father and I, stopping for the forbidden sandwiches in the past. Hell, that makes me want to put the offspring in the car and drive two and a half hours tomorrow just for some steamed grilled burgers. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a walk.

Yes I know, in all reality it’s the memories that make them tasty. I. DON’T. CARE. You can’t take that away from me. Kenosha is only one state away. I’m actually considering putting the child in the car and taking him down there to experience the wonder that is White Castle.

Don’t you judge me. You have no basis.

Fuddruckers.

Best burgers ever by a chain. When I was 8, I didn’t know it was a chain. I thought it was heaven, delivered on a platter. Now you can get in Appleton, but not Green Bay. Seriously? Yeah I used to live there, but still. It’s right behind the Outback Steakhouse. Oh! Yet ANOTHER restaurant available only in Appleton. Blooming onion my ass, that’s 15 miles away.

Tippen’s

Kansas City area. This place closed. CLOSED!?!! Can you believe that? Never you mind that you can get the same damned French Silk Pie at Perkins. When I lived in Kansas City, I considered this place to be an institution. FFS, replaced by Perkins! Home of the microwave pizza and whatnot! When you think silk, you’re supposed to think ladies’ stockings and French Silk Pies. Not fscking Perkins. Really.

Winstead’s

I used to love this place. It was 50’s style everything. They had a steeple on top of the eestaurant. I went back in 2005 and it was almost exactly the same. Like Green Bay’s Kroll’s restaurant, before I even know what a Kroll’s was. I haven’t been here in close to nine years, and I don’t even want to remember the last time I was there.

There was a place in Shawano that came close, so of course that place closed. We just can’t have nice things, can we?

Reading Addiction

For as long as I can remember, I have been addicted to reading. I mean, it’s not like I was born with a book in my hand. That would be gross.

I distinctly remember reading Tom Clancy books for Mrs. DuPree’s sixth grade class. The Hunt for the Red October got me started, but I ended up reading all of his books even though I only needed one for a book report. Tom Clancy doesn’t write simple little 100 page books, either. The man can spent an entire twenty page chapter describing, in intricate detail, the step-by-step process undertaken when a nuclear bomb is detonated. I’m pretty surethe teacher thought I was full of shit when I told her I read them. Most people in class were reading “age-appropriate” books, whatever the hell that means. And I read them a number of times. Sometimes in a single weekend. I probably should have undergone an intervention at that point, but that wasn’t really fashionable then. Or maybe it was, how the hell would I know? I was like 12.

Reading in high school was a bit boring. It was all required reading and school textbooks and such. When I got to college, it was more of the same thing. I was only there for like an hour. But reading the classics didn’t quite do it for me. Tom Clancy wasn’t writing books fast enough for me. Probably something about being a big shot author or something, who knows. Maybe he had a life? I know he bought some sports teams or something. Whatever, my dealer wasn’t giving me my product fast enough!!

For the next few years, I was still reading, but usually the same Tom Clancy books. Every once in a while I would pick one up and fly through it on the weekend. Then I had kids and started a business. Wasn’t much time left for reading. Then I decided to really go back to college again, and there was even left. But every other weekend, I’d start reading. Sometimes it would be a new book, sometimes one of my go-to books. But it kept me sane through some really tough stuff.

About a year after starting school, I picked up an iPhone. Then I picked up the Amazon Kindle app. Have you ever tried to read a book on an iPhone 3GS? I have. I probably ended up reading 40-50 books on that screen. Nobody believes me when I tell them that, but it’s true. I had the text size up a lot, and spent a lot of time swiping pages. It is a bit tricky, but definitely possible.

After a while, I finally decided to give in and upgrade to an Amazon Kindle. I had resisted, only because I knew what it was. It was a crack delivery system. Totally a razor and blades business model. I never do well in these scenarios. They totally know how to get to me. So of course, I bought one. I had received a gift card for $50, so I bought the device and a cover with a light on it. It was great, and I still use it all the time three years later. Probably one of the better investments I’ve made.

One of my main motivations for purchasing a dedicated reading device was the fact that I kept getting distracted when reading on the phone. It’s the same reason I don’t usually read on a tablet today. It’s just too easy to read something that then causes me to want to reference something on the Internet. Next thing I knew, I lost a half hour of reading time surfing Wikipedia. (Another addiction?). Staying on the dedicated device allowed me to focus on reading time.

Lately, the addiction has gotten pretty bad. I’ve been reading anywhere between five and ten books in a month. Random fiction is the current thing. Amazon Prime grants you two free books per month. One is from the Kindle Reading Library, and the other is a newer option called Kindle First, which lets you select one free book before it’s released. Pretty cool.

In addition to that, I’ve realized that spending between $6 and $10 per book can of course get expensive. Amazon is always offering books for a temporarily reduced costs… sometimes free, sometimes a dollar. Much better on the wallet. Sometimes it’s worth springing for more.

Oh well. I’m not giving it up, either. You can’t make me.

Microwave Popcorn

As time goes on, I remember less and less about the details, but I remember the general idea.

I remember that it was January. Probably 2007, which would have made Toliver 3 years old, and would have put Carter in kindergarten at Cormier School.

Toliver wasn’t feeling well at all, so I had to pick him up from daycare. Unfortunately, I still had a number of things to get done for work, so I was dividing my time between him and my work duties. He had a fever of 101, which is why I got called in the first place. I picked him up from daycare and brought him home to my duplex, and asked him what he wanted to do. He asked if he could do a puzzle, so I set him up with one right next to me. I could hear him humming as he worked on it. I only had a few more things to take care of, and then I could focus on my blue-eyed bundle of joy.

Suddenly, I realized it was quiet. Parents instinctively know that quiet is NOT good. “Where did he go?”, I thought to myself. He was right next to me only a minute ago.

So I got up to find out what he was doing. He wasn’t in his room, and he wasn’t in his playroom. Hrm. He has little legs, he couldn’t have gotten that far. My place was a two-story duplex with a basement, so I went downstairs to see where he was at.

As I descended the stairs, my eyes started to water. It was a very odd feeling, and I wasn’t sure why it was happening. Then my mind finally kicked in. Smoke. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot… smoke??

I turned the corner and walked into the kitchen. Smoke is pouring out of the microwave. There is a kitchen chair near the counter by the microwave… Toliver is sitting on the floor by the chair. “Daddy, I wanted popcorn. Is it ready?” he says. His eyes are watering due to the smoke. I’m not sure what to think, so I look at the timer.

It appears he set it for 55 minutes. There are 51 minutes left.

The poor little guy, with a fever, decided he wanted popcorn. Dad wasn’t moving fast enough to make him happy, so he made it himself. But he didn’t know what buttons to hit, so he set it to nuke for an hour or so.

What could go wrong?

I hit the Cancel button. Flames are exploding out of the back, but stop when I press the button. However, smoke keeps pouring out of the back. I open the microwave, and find a pile of nuclear waste in a convienent microwavable bag. It’s truly molten lava. The wall is charred, flames were shooting out of the microwave. It smells like dead bodies in the duplex. And not the good kind of dead bodies smell. The ‘OMG my son microwaved the shit out of the popcorn’ kind of smell.

I’m a good Dad, though. I dab the tears from his face, and then offer Toliver some cheese and crackers. This totally makes him forget about the fire hazard he created. As he’s eating his crackers, I start trying to clean things up. OMG! It’s alive! Kill it! The bag of popcorn is moving. Toliver, age 3, has created a new life form. I choose to beat it into submission rather than learning what it wants. I enter into a life an death struggle, as my son happily eats his crackers only three feet from where I choose to make my last stand. Custer, eat your heart out.

Fast forward 20 minutes.

It’s 9 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I have the windows and sliding door in the kitchen WIDE open. Toliver and I are wearing coats, because it’s still bloody January. He asks me “Daddy? Why is it cold in here?” as I move the expensive microwave out to the curb to be picked up with the trash. After that, I scrub the wall. Have you ever scrubbed char marks off of a wall? Hint… not a easy as you’d think. Especially with a 3 1/2 year old in your arms. I throw the microwave out on the curb and PRAY that Ashwaubenon will take it without a permit.

We go to pick Carter up from daycare. The little snot is on to me. “Daddy, why is it burning in here?” my little Sherlock asks. Trying to take the brunt of it, I say: “Dad had a cooking accident.”

Toliver, oblivious to the whole thing, says “I tried to make popcorn and started a fire and Dad saved me and then gave me crackes. Can we play cars Carter?” Carter falls for it, and they’re off playing cars. As I continue to scrub the wall, while making my boys dinner. Without the char marks.

Toliver’s such a good kid, and his blue eyes will look into your soul. He might have almost burned my house down. But I love him with everything I have.

Green Screen My Ass

Why is it that I can always pick up when things are superimposed? For example, see this snapshot from Amazon.com’s Alpha House:

WTF? Green Screen at its worst.

Adam Sandler’s The Goat said it best: “They fucking superimposed me!!” Seriously. I like this show, and I know that Netflix doesn’t have the powers that other studios have.

The fact that the bookworm girl in the front looks like she has been Photoshopped into the frame isn’t good. Is it really that hard to film this scene in an actual office? Stop cutting corners. I pay $79 per year for this shit AND FREE SHIPPING, and I don’t like it when you try to screw me over. That’s right, Jeff Bezos. I’m watching you.

… yeah, I actually don’t care that much at all.