2018, Year of the Best

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, which isn’t terribly surprising.  I’m not one of those peeps that make a point to write something at least once a day.  I’m like, once every 6 months at this point.  But yeah, I figured it’s update time since I’ve got a free minute and there’s nothing else pressing at this point.

Soooooo, life is pretty grand!  The jist of this whole post is that 2018 is literally going to be my year.  We’re mid-April but things have been pretty stellar since this year started.  Let’s break it down:

I quit smoking.  This has been a thorn in my side for at least the last couple years.  There’s been a solid two stretches that I’ve quit before – the first being in 2011 when I was dating my ex, and I quit for her.  Naturally when that ended, I picked it back up.  The second stretch was while I was my last job.  Naturally when that ended, I picked it back up.  So now we’re on the third real attempt at kicking the habit, and so far so good.  I’ve had some fall-off-the-wagon moments, but there’s a concerted effort going on so I’m feeling pretty good about it.  The real difference this time is that I’ve improved my coping mechanisms in dealing with stress.  People that have never smoked or never tried quitting don’t get just how addictive nicotine is, but believe it, it’s insane.  I had a lot of reasons to quit, but never truly had the motivation to until recently, so I’m pretty thankful for that.

In addition to quitting smoking, I’ve really focused on improving my health in general.  I started buying groceries, which for me was unheard of.  Cooking at home, and paying attention to the nutrition and healthiness of my choices.  It hasn’t been easy, by any stretch.  When your body has been running on processed foods, fast food, high fat, high calorie options for years, it doesn’t just go willingly into this new era.  It hits home when I think about this article I read years ago about what’s called an Extinction Burst.  Basically, it is what happens when your body forms a habit and you attempt to break that habit – when the habit is threatened with extinction.  Your body deals with being cut off to a point where it throws a tantrum in one last attempt to get you to go back to the habit.  The link explains it a lot more in depth, but it’s a truly fascinating read.

So I’ve been eating better.  I haven’t had a soda in over a month, I drink water on the regular, been cooking at home a majority of the week, and I’ve even been a lot active physically.  Hiking a couple times a week, and a couple days ago got back on a bike for the first time in years.  You might remember back in the day I was riding my bike like a mofo, you know, 30 mile tides and all of that?  Well my most recent ride was barely 5 miles and it absolutely wrecked me.  I hurt all over.  Granted it was a mountain bike that is far too small for me, but that just made it clear how out of shape I’ve gotten.

I’ll be honest, midway through that last paragraph I tried to find the posts about my weight loss and all that jazz.  In particular, these two posts:

Fuck Your Title (04/09/2013)
Fuck Your Title – Redux (04/09/2015)

Ironic that they were both the same day, two years apart.  And here I am getting back on the health kick three years after the last.

But anyway, I was trying to find those two posts and ended up copying a bunch from The Wayback Machine, since my database got deleted when my hosting lapsed a while back.  It was fun reading my thoughts from years ago, so I guess it isn’t such a bad idea to keep blogging.  Just gotta make sure I don’t lose months or years worth of entries.  We’re self-hosted now, so I can’t foresee these latest posts disappearing, but I’m definitely going to be keeping better backups.

So I got sidetracked finding those posts and now I can’t remember what I was on about.  Guess it’s a good point to wrap this up then, deuces!

RIP Orangie

So, it was kind of a rough evening tonight/yesterday.  I usually head to work at 11:30, and as I’m walking to my car I notice a State Trooper pulled over by my neighbor’s house.  Right before I get into my car, I can see what he’s doing in the light from his headlights – moving Orangie from the road to my neighbor’s lawn…

I never did know what his/her actual name was, but Orangie seems to fit and I’ll just assume she was a she.  She was really the friendliest cat you can imagine, but she had a weary, cautious nature – something she learned from being an outdoor cat, I can assume.  If you moved too fast, she’d run a few feet and then come back for more rubs.  She was a little tubby, and her tail was broken in the middle so when she ran, the end half of her tail would just flop around.  It was pretty comical.

Sometimes I’d get home from wherever, and she’d just sit in the grass waiting for me to get out of my car.  Then she’d walk over and start rubbing your legs like cats do with people they like.  It was endearing.  One time I was bullshitting with Mike and Branden in the parking lot and she just came over and started rubbing all three of us.  The picture above I took literally the day before she died, focused on hunting something or other in the brush.

It sucks, and she wasn’t even my cat.  You’ll be missed, Orangie.

Arguing Politics & Taking A Step Back

I feel compelled to write this post based on an exchange I had earlier this evening.  A long time acquaintance and I got into a political debate which quickly devolved into an argument.  A quite serious argument – one with personal attacks, insults, the whole nine.  You might be wondering what started this exchange, but really that information is irrelevant.  Attempting to justify an argument based on what started it isn’t the right way to go about things.

It got heated.  And taking a step back now, I don’t know why.  It could have been born out of arrogance, maybe.  Or that we both knew our own stances so intimately, that an opposing view point couldn’t possibly be right.  Either way, the original point of contention was lost many comments earlier.  Before it had turned into a shitshow.

After 10 minutes of attempting to write a rebuttal, I got a chat notification.  It was from the person on the other side of the argument.  In its simplest form, it was an apology for letting things get out of hand on their part.  But once I reread it a few more times, it became a lot more than that.  It made me stop and consider my own actions up to that point.  I had just as much of a reason to apologize as he did – maybe even more so – but I didn’t.  The thought never even entered my mind.

Why didn’t it?

It got me thinking.  Have I been here before?  Are there times I should have apologized for taking things too far, but never did?  Maybe I’m too set in my political beliefs to realize when I’m being a dick?  Fuck.  That’s some heavy shit to consider.

It’s not so much whether either of us were right or wrong, it was about recognizing when its time to step back and consider how you’re handling yourself.  Too many times when it comes to politics, derogatory terms are thrown about – libtard, cuck, liberal, conservative, etc.  Honestly that tends to happen whenever there are any two competing lines of thought.  It escalates beyond the discussion and enters the realm of insult and argument.  In politics’ case, it does nothing except further this divide the country is experiencing.

Seeing that apology made me realize what a piece of shit I was being at that moment.  There will always be debate when it comes to politics, that’s how things have to be.  But that doesn’t mean respect for our opponents goes out the window.  We all belong to this country, and this country belongs to all of us.  It’s time to start remembering that more often.

Postgame Review

As the last sunset I’ll see here in Nebraska sets, I’m thinking about the last few days.  A lot of sights, a lot of laughs, and a lot of awesome memories.  We came out here for my cousin Lorrin and my new cousin-in-law Garret’s wedding, but this trip ended up being about so much more than that.

Speaking personally, I haven’t been out of CNY very many times.  The times that I have left, I don’t seem to recall being as influenced by my destination as I was this time.  Kansas, Florida, Indiana.  All places I’ve traveled to in the past, but this place in particular really sucks to have to leave.  Maybe it’s the people I’m with, or the people I’m visiting; all I know is that this is one I won’t soon forget.

Spending the evening with my cousin, even though I was dead beat from the road, was one of the major highlights of the trip.  Just bullshitting in her car while cruising around Nebraska.  Showing me the sights and places of importance – where she used to work, the school she went to, where my aunt got her first car – the places we all have in our own home towns, but that we never really stop to think about.

The restaurants and joints we hit up over the last few days.  Qdoba, Spaghetti Works, Which Wich.  I’ll be putting together a review of these places in the days to come, you better believe that.

And most importantly, the wedding itself.  The beautiful service performed by my uncle, the vows from the bride and groom.  The reception too, despite the DJ not showing up.  I’m glad we made the trek out to share the day with my favorite cousin on her day.  And I’m honored to have Garret as a new cousin.

It’s been an amazing trip to the midwest, and I can’t wait to make it out here again.

The Odyssey – Day Two

The follow-up to Day One is a little bit late, but whatever.  Me and the fam will be hitting the road tomorrow, so I figured this was the last chance I’d have to write.

We peaced out from the Sturgis Travelodge pretty much without incident.  Stopped at some podunk gas station to fill up the car.  I had a pretty good laugh at the sign that was inside the station that said basically “K2 and bath salts not sold here”.  Ah the small town life.  My mom mentioned later on that the lady behind the desk at the hotel was telling them a story while checking us in.  She came out to Sturgis to see family and her car broke down at some point.  She didn’t have enough money to fix it, so she’s been stuck there trying to save up money to get out.  Jesus…

Thank God that didn’t happen to us.

The roads through Indiana and Illinois were pretty easy going.  Boring, but easy going.  Ran through some storms along the way.  Saw a crop dusting plane.  ‘Twas legit.  But that’s when some bullshit came our way.

Somewhere in Illinois, we were sitting nice in super light traffic.  Cruise was set to 75.  AC was set to 70°.  Music was on some news show that we picked up.  In the oncoming lane a Ford Edge was busting a bitch (doing a U-turn) in the median.  We passed by without much a thought.  Now, enter a couple minutes after that.  I’m in the passing lane, attempting to get past a truck that must have had his cruise set to half a MPH less than us.

The Ford Edge from earlier is literally, by means of osmosis, becoming one with my rear bumper.  Now bear in mind, up until this point, my cruise control has not left 75 MPH in probably 100 miles.  I see this Edge clearly wanting to get a move on, and since he had just pulled a U-ie, figured he forgot something and was in a hurry to get back to wherever he came from.  I disengage cruise and speed up just enough to get in front of the truck in the driving lane.

Big fucking mistake.  Whoop-whoop, red and blue flashing lights come on from the Edge.  Are you fucking serious?  I pull over and get ready for whatever bullshit this guy tries to sell me.  Comes up to the passenger-side where my grandmother and dad are seated.  Roll the window down.

You know you were going 8 over right?

Ya don’t fucking say.  Could it be because you were up in my face like Mayweather was up in Conor’s face?  (Yes I realize the fight happened after this occurence, so fuck you.)

I try to explain that I was keeping up with traffic and saw he was in a hurry, so I was trying to get out of his way.  He didn’t want to hear it, asked for my license and headed back to the Stealth Edge.  At this point I’m thinking to myself, “If I get a ticket, I just won’t ever come back to this shithole state again.”  He wanders back to the window, hands back my license, and says “Just watch your speed folks” and leaves.

Now granted, he did basically wave traffic over into the passing lane so we could leave, which was a real bro move, but seriously?  Pull over the family from New York for some bullshit “speeding” charge?  JenniferLawrenceYeahOK.gif

Anyway, we get back on the road and continued on with the final leg of our journey.  A few hours later, it’s getting to be lunch time and no one can decide where to eat.  That rule of no local eats remains in effect, so grandma’s suggestion of Subway is out.  After some miscommunication on Route 80, and some quick exiting of said highway, we found ourselves in some small town called Durant, Iowa.  A T intersection with Subway in one direction and a place called the Wilton Cafe in the other, I made the executive decision to hang a Ricky and head to Wilton.

Best.  Decision.  Ever.

Oh yes.  This little cafe, let me tell you.  Their lunch entrees all came with a side of soup by default, which I thought was pretty strange, but equally awesome.  I ended up ordering a burger, because fuck yeah, ‘Merica.  I put some ketchup on said burger and thought nothing of it.  My mom was the first to realize the ketchup bottle had a green cap on it.  Dafuq?  This is why:

That’s fucking right.  JALAPEÑO KETCHUP.  How in the entire world have I never heard of such a thing before?  Mind blown, because it was absolutely amazing.  It wasn’t unreasonably spicy, just a perfect amount of heat to go along with the ketchup taste.  Unreal.

After finishing up a surprisingly awesome lunch stop, we got back on the road towards Nebraska.

Now, let me illustrate the state of Iowa for everyone reading this.  Nothing but straight roads surrounded by flat fields of whatever.  That’s it.  Literally the worst and most boring part of the trip was Iowa.  At this point in the trip, I just wanted to get to where we were going and be done.  There were some cool parts, like an absolute shitload of windmills.  Like, think Fenner but at least ten times as many.  The featured image was taken by the dashcam of some of the windmills along the side of the road.  It was real impressive.  Along the way, we passed by a lot of tractor trailers hauling windmill blades, actually.

Finally, after about 10 hours of driving on the second day, we arrived at my aunt and uncle’s place.  The Fusion performed admirably, surprisingly enough.  Oil level was perfectly level and didn’t smell burnt.  Win fricken win.  Total stats for the entire trip from NY to NE:

Total Miles – 1169.8
Total MPG – 28.3
Total Time – 18:10:23

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