Random Musings

27 12 2010

I’m bored and feeling uninspired to write anything significant, and yet I feel the need to write SOMETHING.  I’m opening up the floodgates in my brain and letting whatever comes out flow onto this post.  This could be dangerous.  I’m not really sure what all  lurks in the deepest, darkest depths of my mind.  On the count of three, let the tidal wave begin…

1…

2…

3!

  • I don’t think I will EVER become truly used to having a job and getting up early.  I know I’ve only been a productive member of the work force for a little over two years, but this is not getting any easier.  I think it’s actually getting harder to get out of bed.  Not to mention only getting two days at Christmas is a far cry from the whole month I got in college.  I’m also pretty sure the zero days I get for summer break is not nearly as good as the three months in college.  Nothing like being thrown into the fire head first.  I’ve actually begun to equate the transition from college to the “real world” as something similar to the trauma a newborn faces in the birthing process…
  • I know Oklahoma weather is strange, but this is ridiculous.  Forecast for Thursday, December 30th: High of 67 degrees.  WHAT?!  67 degrees at the end of December?  It was below 20 yesterday morning.  I will never understand the weather in Oklahoma…
  • The Amazon Kindle is superior to the Barnes & Noble Nook.  If you are debating which one you should purchase trust me when I tell you to get the Kindle.  Just ask my girlfriend and two sisters…
  • I’m still sad that The Walking Dead is not on anymore.  I know the show will start back in October, but that seems so far away.  Luckily, V will be starting soon.  I also saw that Merlin is going to be returning.  This pleases me.  Upon further inspection you will notice that my favorite television shows include interesting topics such as zombies, aliens, and wizards.  In the land of nerds, I am king…
  • Grammar Pro-tip of the Day: Until recently, the jury was out for me on whether to include a comma between the second-to-last item in a list and the conjunction that binds the final item to the list.  Turns out there should be a comma.  (Correct: The weather is cold, windy, and rainy.  Incorrect: The weather is cold, windy and rainy.)  It turns out that newspapers deleted the final comma to save space.  I’m glad to have settled this in my head.  Welcome back, comma…
  • A Facebook friend told me today that “a sign that you’ve chosen the right career is if you spend your free time doing things of a similar nature to your work, and another sign is that you feel energized and excited to get into the office on Monday morning.”  We are both still looking for that one…
  • On a similar note, I just read this article that states 84% of the employees in the work force plan to look for new jobs in 2011, up from 60% last year.  If you are a manager or leader in your job, take note.  That’s a lot of dissatisfied workers…
  • I’m selling an L-shaped three-piece desk/dresser.  Anybody need some furniture?  It’s really quite nice…
  • The stock market was mixed today.  Big banks were up quite a bit…
  • Do you have any big plans for New Years?  My big plan is to finally move.  Plans are always subject to change of course.  I’ve never really had a great time on New Years.  It’s really just another day for me.  A day that I get off work.  I’m hoping to use that day off for productivity and moving, so wish me luck.  Tonight I’m going to go do some painting…
  • The Thunder play the Mavs tonight.  Thunder Up…

I think I’m all mused out.  Nothing too scary made it’s way into this post, but a number of random thoughts are present and accounted for.  Sometimes I want to write but have nothing to write about, so today I wrote about nothing.  I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Happy Kwanzaa/Pleasant Festivus.  I also want everyone to have a fantastic and safe New Years.  Maybe I will put together a goals and expectations for 2011 post. Maybe…

See you in 2011!

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I Love Small Towns

17 12 2010

I was out in a small town yesterday for work, and found myself looking for something to eat.  If you’ve never spent any time out in Small Town, America I suggest you start.  There are lots of little places with lots of character to visit and get a sample of the simple life.  Although I was focused on work (right…) I could not ignore my screaming stomach at lunch time.  I was on my way back at this point, and I had skipped breakfast.  I was famished, ravenously hungry, nearly ready to eat my own arm off… Tiny exaggeration of course.

So what does one do when they are out in the middle of nowhere with nothing in range besides a few small towns located along the back country roads?  You stop in the smallest, greasiest, oldest diner you can find of course!  I was lucky enough to have a connection to someone who had spent some time in this particular small town.  He gave me the lowdown, inside scoop, straight talk, the skinny.

I followed his instructions and arrived at this little bitty, teeny tiny burger joint called Folger’s in Ada, Oklahoma.  Apparently Folger’s has been around since Ada was a tent city.  Oddly enough, the burgers are still flipped by the same two brothers who opened the place.  Between the two of them I reckon they have about 130 years of burger-flipping experience.  Naturally, I ordered a cheeseburger, made exactly as they intended, with a side of piping hot french fries.

Behold!  The Folger’s Cheeseburger Basket!  Bow down and avert your eyes to it’s majesty and splendor!

Seriously, this is one of the top three best tasting hamburgers I’ve had in my entire life.  Not surprising, the best burgers I’ve ever had were all in small towns.  This is why I reiterate my first point.  Explore, go on an adventure, discover dirty little diners in a small town near you.  You won’t be disappointed.  Perhaps you too can find a hidden gem like I found.

If I don’t write again before next week, I wish you all happy and safe holidays!





Is It Brew-Thirty Yet?

15 12 2010

I’ve really been meaning to write more lately, but to I’ve been a little sidetracked with a serious case of the apathies.  I couldn’t think of much write about, but homebrewing has been on my mind a LOT lately.  Therefore, here I am to write about homebrewing!

This is really just a picto-blog about a special homebrew day I had with a some friends.  These three guys I know were brewing a smoked beer (called a Rauchbier) for a competition and I just showed up to tag along like a little puppy dog.  A puppy dog who wants to brew beer.

So yeah, this beer was a smoke beer.  You may be asking yourself, “How does one smoke a beer?”  I know smoking a beer barely even makes sense, but they dip bacon in chocolate at the fair so you tell me “Why not?”  As a side note, Ben wants to brew a bacon beer, so……. yeah.

To the brewery!

This is Ben.  Ben is smoking a beer.  Smoking a beer is actually fairly simple and only adds one additional step to the brew process.  The grains used to make the beer have to spend a little time in the smokehouse before being turned into beer.  As you can see, we decided to not only smoke the grains but to make this a smoke apple beer and add some apples to the smoker!  Pure genius.

When you smoke the grains and apples they take in some of that nice smokey flavor that will be passed on to the beer.  You have to be careful though because if you smoke them for too long or with the wrong wood or smoke too much of the grain your beer will taste more like a campfire than a good smoked beer.   And Smokey the Bear does not approve of campfire flavored beer.

After the grains are smoked you have to “mash” the grains.  Basically that means soak the grains in hot water to get all the starches out.  The starches are the fermentable sugars that yeast will eat and turn into alcohol, thereby creating the magic of beer!

I also want to point out that this is the most legitimate way to make beer.  Using the grains like this literally takes your beer from grain to glass.  This beer started out with nothing more than a bag of grains and a few apples.  In a few more weeks it will turn into beer… hopefully.  Ideally, it will be delicious beer.

This thing on the right is what we affectionately call a “keggle.”  That’s a combination of the words KEG and KETTLE.  Clever, I know.  This is literally an old beer keg with the top cut out that works really well as giant pot to brew beer in.  Brewing beer in a beer keg… appropriate.

Everything seemed to go really well on brew day.  I really do think the beer is going to become something special and unique.  That’s the real joy of homebrewing.  You take very basic and simple ingredients, follow a simple set of instructions, and in a few weeks you have beer.  And not just any beer, magical beer.  Ok… the beer has no magic powers, but generally it’s very tasty and is a product of your own labor.  There’s something very fulfilling and satisfying about creating your own beer.

I want to give a shoutout to the real brewmasters behind the whole operation: Ben, Ryan, and Brandon.  They came up with a really unique and special recipe that I think will turn out to be fantastic here in a few weeks.  I appreciate them letting me tag along and learn a little more about brewing.  BONUS, we got to sit around for a few hours drinking homebrew and playing tailgate games.

As a side note, I think my first homebrew (Wheat beer) turned out really drinkable.  I’m proud of it as my first beer produced.  My second beer is out of the fermenter and in bottles.  I tasted it before it went into the bottles and I think it’s going to come out quite nice.  It’s a robust Porter and should be very roasty and toasty on these cold winter nights.  On tap for my next beers are a special India Pale Ale that Brandon gave me the recipe for and a Lemongrass Wheat beer that is out of my own twisted mind.  Hopefully, they turn out fantastic and I hope to share one with all the readers someday soon.  Brew On!





The Reality of Mortality

3 12 2010

I had the unfortunate experience of attending a funeral yesterday.  This was one of those horrible unexpected funerals.  To fill you in a bit on the story, a friend and fraternity brother from college, who was a couple years younger than me, was involved in a motorcycle accident this past weekend.  To be brutally honest he was being reckless.  I won’t go into all the details because frankly they don’t matter much for the point of this post, so we will just leave it at that.

In reality, him and I weren’t best friends.  We were friends though.  I’ve played golf with him, I’ve hung out with him, I was one of his pledge trainers in the fraternity.  He was a good guy who always had a smile on his face and was always ready to have a good time.  I didn’t see him often, but it was always a good experience when I did.

As tragedies often do, this ordeal set me to thinking about life and pondering the realities of this world.  Last night I came to the conclusion that there are two very important lessons that can be learned from his death.

The first lesson to be learned is that we need to live everyday like it might be our last.  I know it’s cliche but it’s true.  This guy knew how to have a good time.  He was very aggressive in “grabbing life by the horns” and “seizing the day.”  We all need to live a little more like that I think.  Life really is very fragile and can be taken on a moments notice.  It could be like this friend who stepped over the line into the realm of recklessness, or it could be as simple as slipping on ice covered stairs.  It could also be like my dear friend Chris, who was also taken at such a young age 11 years ago, by falling asleep behind the wheel.  All things great and small carry a risk of taking our lives, but we cannot surrender to the fear of death.  We need to be a little more like this friend and stare that risk in the face and refuse to back down.  We are blessed with life, and we should feel duty-bound to live it to it’s full potential.

The second lesson is a bit of a contrast to the first.  While we should be living everyday to it’s fullest we must also have a healthy fear of our mortality.  Although we should refuse to succumb to the paralyzing fear of death we should also understand that when we take risks there are potential consequences for our actions.  We still must remain prudent and cautious in our actions.

There is a delicate balance to maintain in life.  The ambition to live life with excitement must be weighed against the potential consequences and repercussions of those actions.  The balance of those factors is really up to each individual person to decide though.  This friend chose to weigh the ambitious exciting side more than the cautious prudent side, and he unfortunately had to pay the ultimate price.  On the other hand, how miserable would we be if we refused to find any joy in life because we couldn’t surmount the idea that we might die?

All I know is this: We are given this life, and we should not be afraid to live it.  Are you living life heedless and foolhardy?  Or are you too frightened and guarded?  I leave you with one quote because I think it’s perfectly on point, and I think this friend who has passed lived it to the extreme.

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life.
A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
~Mark Twain

 

You will be missed, brother.  Thanks for these lessons.





The Ideal Working Relationship

1 12 2010

Quick Note: This isn’t about me or anything that happened to me.  Not ranting because anyone was mean to me.  Just sayin…

Time to get my rant on.

Everyday we are thrown into situations where we have to interact with other people.  When facing these scenarios we have two very generalized paths we can take.  The first option is to be humble, helpful and cooperative.  The second option is to be rude, manipulative, and arrogant.

I understand that people have different management styles and some people interact differently, but I’m pretty sure I’ve come to the conclusion that there is never a proper time for being mean.  In my profession you experience the whole spectrum of how people interact, especially in stressful situations.  You have some people (who I feel I identify best with) that approach support staff and colleagues with equality and friendship.  I don’t treat secretaries like they are below me just because their rank falls somewhere under me on the organizational chart.  It’s much easier to coexist and be productive with your coworkers when you foster a friendly working relationship.

On the other hand you have some people who prefer to interact in a more aggressive and dominating role.  These people can go berserk on a whim and oftentimes will exhibit deep anger for no important reason.  These people treat others they work with like peons who are simply there to do their bidding.  They have little understanding of the reality outside of their own world because they always assume they are correct.  Most of the time everyone just gets by though with a little grumbling of dissatisfaction.  No major blowups in day to day activity.  In my opinion though, this is not a healthy way to treat people.

The problem arises in a stressful situation.  Maybe a deadline is approaching and things are behind schedule.  Perhaps something has gone wrong with a project and some mistakes slipped by.  It could even be that a simple miscommunication or misunderstanding has taken place.  This is where the different types of people really make or break the situation.  When I’m faced with a stressful situation or if something has gone horribly wrong I try my best to stay calm, approach this situation logically, figure out how to fix the problem, work with others to fix it, and move on.  Seems reasonable enough.  I’m not perfect of course and sometimes the stress can get the better of me.  It happens, we make mistakes, we freak out in difficult times sometimes.  Learn from it.

So what happens with the other personality type?  Irate phone calls with lots of cursing.  Emotional decisions based on quick reactions rather than carefully considered options.  Hurt feelings.  Bridges burned.  Jobs lost/quit.  Bad bad stuff.  I think we can all agree that getting angry and upset is generally counterproductive.  It’s also unprofessional and does nothing to foster good working relationships.  One bout of yelling can permanently ruin a working relationship.

I don’t know why it happens.  I know we are emotional beings, but as adults we need to do a better job of having control over our extreme emotions.  Throwing a temper-tantrum and freaking out does little towards getting the job done.

It just seems so simple to me.   If you are faced with a stressful situation, stop for a second and ask yourself, “Am I being a dick?”  If the answer to that question is YES then maybe you should reevaluate how you are acting.

I’ve always been a bit of an idealist.  I just want people to get along and have nice, happy, fun times together.  Life should be all full double rainbows and unicorn farts.  I know that’s ridiculously naive, but I think we could be a lot closer to that perfect utopia if everyone just got a grip on their emotions and decided it would best serve society if we worked together and treated each other with some respect.

I think my point is pretty clear, but just to sum it up in a quick sentence: Don’t be a dick.

/rant

And on a totally unrelated note, my Brown Leaf Wheat is officially bottled!  I will be sure to let you know how it turns out!





It’s Time To Get Thankful!

24 11 2010

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!  Here we are, once again, at that special time of year we generally refer to as “The Holidays.”  The holidays have a lot of very interesting implications for people.  Each person views this time of year from Thanksgiving through New Years in very different ways.  Some people dread the stress and hustle/bustle of this time of year from gigantic family gatherings which require abundant amounts of food, cleaning, and planning.  The traffic and crowds associated with Christmas shopping can also add an extra helping of mashed brain stress.  On the flip side of things we have some really enjoyable consequences of the holidays.  This time of year let’s us reconvene with family members and friends that are often separated by vast distances.  We also get the opportunity to enjoy some gridiron matches from our favorite football franchises, both college and professional.

So as I sit here contemplating what this Thanksgiving means I feel I should share with all of you some of the things I’m thankful for.  Hopefully this will help you to forget some of the stresses of the holidays and remember what you are thankful for in this joyous time of year.  Without further adieu…. THE LIST:

  • DOGS: That’s right, I’m thankful for dogs.  Specifically big dogs.  Dogs are great, aren’t they?  In the movie Snatch the character Mickey, played by Brad Pitt, eloquently asks, “D’ya like dags?”  My response would most certainly be, “Indeed, Mickey.  I do like dogs.”


  • BICYCLES: You already know that I love my bicycles.  Road bikes.  Mountain bikes.  All bikes.  I offer you these quotes about bikes to help emphasize my passion for the two-wheeled human-powered velocipede:

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man.
Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish.
Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.
~Iris Murdoch, The Red and the Green

Why should anyone steal a watch when he could steal a bicycle? 
~Flann O’Brien

  • INK PENS: I hate pencils.  Pencils write like garbage.  Not to mention you can erase pencils.  What’s up with that?  When I write something down I want it to be transcribed into the annals of history FOR-EV-ER.  I don’t pencil you in, I pen you in.
  • THE WALKING DEAD: I love zombies.  Well, that’s not entirely accurate.  I hate zombies.  I will slay any and all zombies with the merciless precision of the ancient Japanese samurai.  If/when the zombie apocalypse arrives and you find yourself turned into a zombie, rest assured that I will end your tragic zombie existence with speed and efficiency.  What I do love is stuff ABOUT zombies.  The Walking Dead is a TV show on AMC about zombies.  It’s one of the best TV shows I’ve ever watched.  I’m thankful for it.
  • BEER: For obvious reasons.
  • MY BLOG: Without my blog… this post wouldn’t exist.  MIND BLOWN!

So there you have it folks.  Some of the things I’m thankful for this holiday season.  I encourage you all to sit down and really put some time and hard effort into thinking about what you are thankful for like I did.  It just might change your perspective on this holiday season.

I wish you all a very happy, safe, and zombie-free Thanksgiving!





Oklahoma City Marathon via Team In Training

12 11 2010

As pretty much everyone who reads this blog knows, I did a 100 mile bicycle ride with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program.  It was an amazing experience where I accomplished something I said I would never do, I raised a bunch of money for the LLS mission of curing blood cancers, and I met some really amazing friends.  Every year Oklahoma City puts on an incredible event in April/May called the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.  This next year will be the 11th annual Memorial Marathon which was started to benefit the Oklahoma City bombing memorial and remember the horrible tragedy from 1995.  They do a full 26.2 mile marathon and a 13.1 half marathon.  It’s a really great and inspiring event.  The streets are lined with thousands of fans to cheer you on and get you to the finish line intact.  It’s a well supported run and a important tribute to the tragic 1995 bombing of the Murrah Building in OKC.  It truly is a run to remember.

The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is also a Team In Training supported event that has a very reasonable and low fundraising requirement of $1,000.  If you raise $1,000 you will gain entry into the event to either run OR walk the full OR half marathon, you will get some sweet Team In Training schwag like technical shirts for running, you will get access to fully supported and organized training with coaches, and you will get to experience what is considered one of the most emotional marathons in the country while raising money to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  It really is a heck of a deal.

The reason I bring all of this up is two-fold.  1) I’m considering doing this even myself, and 2) I think you should do it too or pitch the idea to someone else you know who would like to do it!  It’s not too late to sign up, training is just about to get started (in fact, the first training run is tomorrow at 9:30am at Red Coyote in OKC, and there are training runs in Tulsa too).  Even if you miss the first couple training runs you still have plenty of time.  The actual event isn’t until May 1, 2011, so it’s even later than usual.

That’s pretty much it.  I just wanted to give everyone the heads up that they should really consider getting involved in this program because it can and will change your life.  Even if you have no experience running, or even if you aren’t in good shape you can complete this with great success.  There aren’t many things I recommend more highly than Team In Training events.  So once more I’ll post the links to the OKC Marathon website and Team In Training’s website and if you have any questions at all just leave a comment on here and I will get back to you.  Or you can even call me, email me, text me, facebook me, twitter me, smoke signal me, tie a string between two cans and hollar at me.  Whatever it takes, if you are even a little bit interested just do this, you will not regret it.

Team In Training Website: http://www.teamintraining.org/ntxok/

Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon Website: http://www.okcmarathon.com/