Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tell Everybody I'm on My Way

Elite w/poolside Moc'tinis!
"New Friends and New Places to See..."

Early Decision
Early Action
Priority Scholarship Deadline
Reach and Safety School/Access Institution
Flagship Institution
Successful Academic Progress
Matriculation
Expected Family Contribution/FAFSA
First Time in College
Big $'s but engaged faculty
Spring to Fall First Year Retention Rate
Six Year Graduation Rate
Mid Career Median Salary
Full Freight
Net Price Calculator
Cleary Report


Over the past year and a half the family and I have been on an arduous journey visiting 15 colleges and universities in six states and DC trying to identify where our eldest will take her next steps in life.  Along the way we have learned, on the fly, a new language one has to become familiar with to gain entrance into this new world of academic higher education.  Granted, I've lived my whole life around higher education.  In fact two of my all time favorite posts have been about colleges and college towns.
Elite and it shows!

How getting into college is like meeting people on Ashley Madison
Ryan's World Wide college town tour

However, everything certainly seems quite different as a parent and seeing all of this through the eyes of my daughter.


As cool when football sucks?
Getting a job is what is most important so is the mid-year median income of that school's grads the most important factor?  But if they don't enjoy college they will never make it to graduation day so maybe spring to fall retention for "first time in college freshmen" is most important?  They are in college to learn but if they don't like the food and where they live they won't be happy and won't be able to focus on their studies so maybe Princeton Review's rating of "Best College Dining Services" is important.  And if the food sucks on Saturday night is she going to need a lot of extra $'s for Chipotle?  That could be a big $ suckage!  Classes are Monday through Friday but if they are lonely on the weekend they will want to come home and won't build an affinity towards the campus and thus won't progress towards graduation so maybe campus life is kind of important (and dang I sure would like to see Zedd for Homecoming).  But then again, it really is about learning so how connected are the faculty to their students, will Professor X really know who she is, and are there really great experiential learning opportunities beyond the classroom because that is what she really wants.  Study Abroad, should we be interested?  And then what is all this about Title IX, the Cleary Report, the Dear Colleague Letter; I thought this little college town seemed so safe?  Is safety really important?  Probably is and can I really believe those reports on the institution's web page?  Maybe I should be reading "College Confidential" blogs?  She wants to go far away to a sunny place for college, what are the hidden costs we don't now foresee like flights home over fall break?  And OMG, I live paycheck to paycheck but the Federal Government (FAFSA) thinks Shannon and I are doing fine and dandy and will have no problem signing $50K checks to good old Fancy U (google EFC)!

Oh wait, we have to get into these schools first!!!

S-A-F-E-T-Y, Safety DANCE!
That one with the great median mid-year income for graduates has a 30% acceptance rate.  With her grades and SAT she only has a 50/50 chance of getting in.  Can dance and Early Decision put her over the line.  Yes, Early Decision that big one chip gamble on the college of your dreams.  Early Decision, Early Action, Application Deadline to be considered for merit scholarship; so many strategies to consider.  We have come to understand and rue the tangled web of decisions needed in today's murky world of college applications.  If she doesn't get into her dream school what school can she get into that will make her happy and won't cost a ridiculous sum of money to a school with lesser cache!  It's one thing to lay out $65K to an Ivy League school but I ain't paying $65K/year just because they have a ropes course and Taco Tuesday on the Quad!  Although now that I think about it I would like to visit and enjoy that Lazy River myself, why didn't they have this stuff when I was in college!

Anyway, because of our life and lives this process, though stressful, has to a degree become a collage of our entire life.  We started off where Shannon and I first met and got to re-experience what we loved about that place.  We visited my Big State U.  We finished our long magical mystery tour two weekends ago at two schools that are in the heart of where our girls have come to love.  Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party was a way to put a smiling enjoyable exclamation point onto a somewhat scary, apprehensive process that in the end is what we've all been looking forward to for a long time.

Chipotle @Union but suitcase campus 
But as a parent this is very tough.  I have spent the last 17 years of my life trying to take care of this individual.  Now, as we face college, I understand that going forward for the rest of my life there will be more days I don't see her than days I do.  Though heartbreaking its also exhilarating to imagine what her life will become.


In the end all you can do is hope you've established firm ground for your kids to start life upon.  Dang, I am glad my younger one loves Big State U as much as I do and doesn't want to go anywhere else so we don't have to go through all this BS again.  I'm done!

"Tell everybody I'm on my way
and I'm loving every step I take.
With the sun beating down yes
I'm on my way
And I can't keep this smile off my face......"





Monday, July 30, 2018

More to Find Than Can Ever Be Found

Or Whiskey Before Boarding


Our family has an ongoing joke that our girls can never get a straight answer from Shannon and Ryan on what we like in a restaurant.  It always ends up going into a full on Travel Channel styled debate on quality control, menu selection, service, and value.  But we enjoy it.  Shannon of course just wants the best food and a great glass of Pinot and isn't worried about price.  For Ryan though, enjoyment (as with many things in his life) is always a bit nebulous and grounded in value.  Meaning, Ryan loves a good Filet Mignon but would rather have a great $25 filet with pretty good service over an $80 orgasmic filet.  Well maybe Filet Mignon is not a good illustration as an $80 velvet textured filet that you can spread with your tongue is a rare and beautiful thing like other things that are so tender you can spread with you tongue.  But anyway, any answer from Ryan on "do you like this place daddy?" is clouded in price vs value, along with presentation, choices of sides, service, and other accouterments that nobody (and certainly not my daughters) care about.

Anyway, a few weeks ago we found our way meandering through Orlando with a few hours to kill ahead of boarding a homeward flight from ORD to BWI.  Orlando means Disney and Disney is a second home to my girls.  On a quick count I believe we've been to Disney (Cali, Florida, and cruise included) fifteen (15) times since they were born.  Wait, this past time was probably the 16th and I'm probably forgetting one or two.  Anyway, we are addicted to Disney.  And because I'm who I am and we are who we are and this blog is what it is, I am addicted to determining the best, most efficient, and affordable way to enjoy Disney and then to, of course, blog about it.

Btw, here are my past Disney Posts:

Celtic Dance at Raglan Road
     The Rides - Where's Your Laughin' Place
     Places to Eat (and Pee) - Second Star to the Right
     Special Ryan Suggestions - How Do You Do
     More Ryan Special Suggestions - A Pirate's Life for Me
     Ryan in Cali - Scary Monsters

So over the past few visits we have decided that our new favorite restaurant in Disney World is Raglan Road located within Disney Springs.  Raglan Road has it all for Ryan:  good reasonably priced food, great service, inspiring music, and smokin' hot Irish dancers!

What you end up with a happy environment, a warm atmosphere, solidly good food not at Victoria and Albert's pricing, and a free show!  Who doesn't like free, especially at Disney.  Doesn't Irish music and those quick footed Irish dancers just make life seem great!?  And when they are so close to you and so cute, all the better (dancers and musicians)!  At our last visit we got to see these dancers and the Briste Band who are one talented group of cute Irish lassies!  Yes, during your visit you will laugh, cry, drink, maybe be kicked, maybe fall down from too much drink but you will leave full and happy.

Chicken Pot Pie - YUM!
So Raglan Road comes out punching for pleasure from the time you sit down.  First tasting action is the amazing Irish soda bread with their special Guinness Dipping Sauce that, with the beer and Brown Sugar, is delightfully tangy and sweet (just like those quick stepping dancers)!  I would definitely consider an appetizer at this place.  There are many to choose from including salads and some great seafood (and yes they have wings if you just can't break free from your Yankee ways).  We like the Smokie City which is a creamy baked haddock spread with potatoes and tomatoes enjoyed over crispy toasted baguette.  By now Shannon half way through her first glass of Pinot.  Ryan does have to bail on authenticity here as he has never been one of those bitter brown beer dudes.  I admit I have to punt and do a lager.  For the true of beer connoisseur Raglan Road does have beer flights and true Irish imports.

If you don't have a big appetite, many of the appetizers and salads can sub in for center of the plate.  Shannon loves their Irish Egg, the scallops on the appetizer menu can make a meal, and if you are a little too chichi, fru fru, or simply Continental you can go with their Goat Cheese terrine with shallots and shiitake mushrooms over mixed greens.

Ryan is not a real heavy eater so when I'm going to Raglan Road I try to not eat all day and save up for some real gluttony.  I am simple and love the Chicken Pot Pie (often a special) or the Guinness Beef Stew.  The pies are warm and hearty with the savory mushrooms and Irish root vegetables making the dish as much as the main protein feature.  The creamy filling in contrast to the crisp scratch pie crust creates a delightful distinction yet balance to your palate.  You have to have the Colcannon Mashed Potatoes as a side.  I'm not a big veggie eater but the fresh bacon & almond roasted brussels are a rare way to get me to eat those typically nasty things.  The parsnips are nice and Irishy too!  Be careful the portions are mighty!  The Roast Chicken will feed a small army and if you have your kiddies along they do make a decent burger.  If you do feel like you have to experience tasteless Brit food they do have the obligatory fish and chips and bangers and mash (or in Raglan's case and booze).

Dessert is a Irish drama as there is so much to choose from including Fluffy Lemon Clouds, Sinful Chocolate Smothered Cake, Tart Berry trifles, and apple crumb cake.  I'm always a sucker for bread pudding so that is typically my desire.  But no worries you can go with a min-dessert flight which is typically how the Beaumont's roll.  If you are not merry enough yet pair that dessert with a Bailey Irish coffee or a silky smooth port.

By now you are full of food and full of drink and dance, nothing can get you down; even if you have to board a plane and go home.

So next time you are a Disney and you don't have an eternity of money (or time) then just click your heels, say Erin Go Bragh, and head over to Raglan Road and enjoy!







And enjoy the fact that while food and spirits may not be the meaning of life they sure do give meaning to life!



Wednesday, June 27, 2018

As Soon as You Get it You Want Something New


I started this post about a year after I started my blog but have never used it.  It's lived on a flash drive in my office desk in dormancy.  And now, as I am determined to bring this blog to closure and am in dire need of content, I am bringing it out.  In my first blog entry I wrote that my fantasy job would have been a sportswriter.  I do think I am a decent writer.  I minored in English in college and did write sports for my high school and college newspapers.  My English minor was in technical writing though so with that and coupled with my training in the 5 W’s and H from Journalism I tend to be an efficient writer specializing in a bullet pointed “less is more” style.  This blog has given me the chance to expand myself to flesh out the writing in order to build characters and stories.  When I started writing the blog I first wrote in a Word document.  At one point I realized that the Word doc was over 100 pages, well on its way to being book-sized!

I think I also mentioned in an earlier blog entry that I had some ideas of stories that I had partially written in my mind over the years.  So with that in mind I would like to throw out one of my story ideas here for some critical feedback.  Now that I know I have the ability to produce 100+ pages of junk, why not take a stab at a novel!

To set the story line up I will say that this was inspired by personal experiences or perhaps more accurately thoughts and feelings.  Several years ago while mired in a career crisis in the Midwest I had the opportunity to interview for a job at my alma mater.  This was a perfect job and I knew I would be a good fit.  Furthermore a former boss who hired me out of college at another business was now at my alma mater and would be my bosses’ boss at the university if I was hired.

This was a slam dunk, a done deal in my mind – Shannon and I were already thinking about what schools our girls would attend, what neighborhood we would live in.  It was very exciting and a rare escape from an island of discontent into a truly better world.

So I prepared and prepared for the interview.  I psyched myself up and nailed the many interviews I had over the course of a full day.  At the end of the day I was talking to my former boss who I considered to be a mentor and friend.  I just casually asked if there were any internal candidate as it had not been mentioned beforehand which tends to be professional courtesy.  He said there was an internal candidate but nothing had been decided ahead of time.  Of course my mind raced, I had spoken with ever person involved with the operation – which one was the “internal?”  There was one guy about my age who was very professional and seemed very motivated and energetic.  In fact I had connected with him a bit.  He had a young daughter, about my daughter’s age and was a single dad (where the mom was did not come up obviously).

Of course that ended up being the guy who got the job.  I was beyond crushed but I couldn’t help feeling a bit happy for the guy.  This was the opportunity of a lifetime for him and would set him and his daughter up for life.  Such a strange and difficult paradox to deal with on a personal level but I am always intrigued by paradox.

And so some time later as I pondered my feelings I envisioned a movie around this storyline.  Of course just interviewing for a job and not getting it is of no interest to anyone.  But throw in anticipation, desperation, aspiration, dejection, anger, sorrow, love, hate, fear, yada, yada and you have the makings of a murder mystery story around this same plot.  Of course I will change scenery, names, careers, etc. to make it more interesting.  And of course I am not really crazy so I have never actually thought about making fiction reality here. J  But I do think it is a good story idea.  So what follows will be my attempt to put that story into an initial script outline so to speak.

By the way, I'm a little late to the game now that Netflix has scored big with Last Chance U.  I am a total addict to that show as it hits close to home.


Fourth and Long (or Two Minute Warning):

The Background:

Dalton Drakeford is the archetypical All-American guy.  He is from Santa Cruz, CA.  His dad, Duke Drakeford (“Double D” to his friends), was a legendary high school football coach from the area.  Double D was famous for being ahead of his time for his high energy, wide open, throw it all over the field style offenses. Dalton was his greatest quarterback.  Dalton was all everything in high school and went on to play quarterback and star at Northern California State University (mythical).  He had a great career and was All-Conference and Academic All-American.  He did get some pro try-outs but in the end although “mobile and cagy – the typical coaches son” he was a bit undersized to make it in the pros.  But that didn’t matter because as his dad told him “it’s time to move onto your life’s work.”  And that was to be a coach, the path he always knew he would take from the day people started calling him “Double D Jr.”  Additionally he was now engaged to his college sweetheart Katie.  Katie is a beauty from Northern California as well and was majoring in Elementary Education.  They were excited to start a life together eagerly awaiting the path of success that undoubtedly lay ahead.

Hell-a-Good Hair Coach T as DD Jr.

Early on Dalton and Katie’s life charted according to plan.  Dalton stays on at NCSU as a graduate assistant while Katie finishes school.

Note:   underpaid graduate assistant is usually the necessary entry into college athletics and even at that you usually need to have connections to get that first opportunity but of course Dalton always had plenty of connections.

Could be Katie or cute adviser from LCU
After Katie and Dalton finish there degrees Dalton gets that first full time opportunity as a position coach at Omaha State University (mythical) in the Mid-West where his old quarterback coach at NCSU had gone to become the head coach.  Life away from California is difficult but Dalton loves being fully dedicated and Katie knows this is the sacrifice that needs to be made to get Dalton started on that career path that will undoubtedly land him that Pac-10 coaching job by his mid-30’s.  For the meantime Katie is content to be a wife and a kindergarten teacher and of course she is excited to plan for the family she dreams of.

Dalton becomes somewhat of a guru on recruiting in the Mid-West, particularly that great JUCO talent base throughout the Plains.  Over the next 8 years Dalton moves three times to progressively better jobs and eventually is the offensive coordinator at Texas Panhandle State (mythical) a top notch FCS school.  He is now on the verge of being a head coach.  But upon sending out feelers about some head coaching opportunities at the D-I level he gets feedback that his biggest detriment is that he has never been the “top guy,” that he needs some actual “head coaching experience.”  Isn’t that always the catch how do you get the job when you can never get the experience.

On a whim a colleague suggests he go interview for “that opportunity at Oklahoma Panhandle Junior College.  It’s a solid if not great program with great potential.  If you can turn it around there it will build your resume and give you that experience you need.  With your energy you should be able to turn that program around in 3 years and be on your way.”


So Dalton and Katie are now off to a small town in the Oklahoma Panhandle.  At 32 now Dalton is not exactly a youngster but this should get him at least a “Mid-Major” head coaching job by 35.  And then it would be on to the big-time.

Of course the best laid plans don’t always work.  Three years turn to 5 and Dalton is still at OPJC and the turn around isn’t as easy as it seemed.  And now he is not the up and comer, he is starting to be the guy who can’t get things turned around.  It’s not that the team is awful; it’s just that a 27-23 record over 5 years with no bowl games just doesn’t turn heads.  And for coaches on the fast track as they say “just win baby.”  So the big time slowly gets farther and farther away like the tide going out after midnight.  The folks in the OPJC community do love Dalton and Katie and they would be welcome there indefinitely.  The good side is no pressure here for championships; the downside is when do you let mediocrity become satisfactory.


But as Dalton starts preparing for spring football again he sees that the Offensive Coordinator at Northern Cal has just left to take the head coaching job at Colorado Tech.  And Dalton knows that Coach C at NCSU is near retirement.  The guy that gets that Offensive Coordinator job now might be on an inside track to being the Head Coach in just a few years.  Yes, these are the fates determining his direction.  Dalton calls Coach C about the opportunity and they have a great conversation.  Coach C is glad Dalton is interested and encourages him to apply.

Soon after the call Dalton gets his chance to interview.  He and Katie are ecstatic.  They begin earnest discussions on what neighborhood to live in, where are the best schools.  Dalton’s mom and dad are cautiously optimistic but all are happy.

The interview goes well although Dalton is a little underwhelmed by the reception at NCSU.  Coach C was certainly glad to see him and asked a lot of questions about Katie, the kids, his dad, etc.  It was more like a family reunion than an interview, should he be worried about that?  The team of assistant coaches, while certainly cordial and respectful, didn’t seem really excited to meet him.  Perhaps he is just being conceited.  He did leave NCSU 13 years ago, for most of these coaches he is just a name on the wall of letter winners and just another guy trying to score a great coaching opportunity.  A few days after the interview Dalton has a follow up call with Coach C and he finds out that one of the offensive coaches he met (Jim Bergsten) has also applied for the job.  Coach C says “nothing has been decide yet and that nothing is a slam dunk, I’ll be in touch in about a week to keep you posted”
Of course one week turns to two and then two and a half and finally Dalton calls Coach C.  Apparently the job was offered to Jim and they were working out the details.  Coach C is sorry and says he was going to call later in the week.  He says he wishes he had 2 jobs “because we would love to have you on board.  But with your experience you will land something soon.  Best of luck to you and stop by whenever you’re in town.”

So there it is the dream over, no plan B – only reality back to Western Oklahoma.  But how does one feel when your dreams die - sad, angry, happy for Jim (he did seem like a great guy), glad we don’t have to move the kids half way across the county (rationalizing)?

The main point though – one guy, good or bad, stands between Dalton and the life he had dreamed of since he was a boy!

Dalton goes back to work, spring football starts in one week but this year he has little motivation.  He is all consumed by the lost opportunity – his lost opportunity and how to feel about it.

Then one night he has the dream.  In the dream he travels back to NCSU and removes the road block, the guy standing in the way from HIS life.  Just a little accident, something that could easily happen on one of those windy Northern California ocean-view drives.  And with the road block removed, he is back on track.  A horrible act to be sure but one deal with the devil and then a lifetime making up and enjoying the good life he was destined for.

Main Cast:

Dalton Drakeford                   Luke Wilson
Katie Drakeford                      Elizabeth Banks
Duke Drakeford                      Scott Glenn

Coach C                                  Bruce McGill
Jim Bergsten                           Paul Rudd
President NCSU                      James Cromwell

Story Progression:

The story would be in medias res.  The opening scenes will be set in a dream-like sequence just after Dalton has apparently acted on his dream.  From there, the story will alternate between the recent past to include the lead up to the interview, the rejection after the interview, the planning of the act, and then the act alternating with flash-backs to his life growing up, in-college, meeting Katie, playing at NCSU, and his coaching career through his years at OPJC.

Ultimately at the end we are brought back to the present which will be just after the act.  There will be another scene where Dalton wakes up from a dream in a pool of sweat and we will be left to wonder if the entire story of the act is in fact a dream.

The story could be left there if you want an Indie-style movie.  Perhaps sirens sounding in the background or a police officer at the door and we are left to wonder if he has been caught.

For a Hollywood ending Dalton would wake up, realize it was a dream, realize the thought is horrible, and then go off to practice feeling a bit better while breathing a sigh of relief and determined to “gut it out and persevere like his dad would.”

Once at practice his assistant would say “good mornin’ coach, hey coach, there is a message for you from Bobby DeLoss at Colorado Tech.”  The assistant says, “isn’t he the new coach there?  He must be needin’ some quick fixes from the JUCO ranks, you think Jefferson or Marshall (OPJC players) could play at the FBS level?”

Dalton walks slowly to his office sighs and then dials the number on the note left on his desk.  The secretary at the CTU football office politely answers and says “Hello Coach Drakeford, Coach DeLoss was looking forward to your call, he said put you through as soon as I hear from you.”

A few seconds later the husky but energetic voice of Coach DeLoss answers the phone “Coach Drakeford, thanks for calling!  Hey, I was just on the phone with Coach C up at Northern Cal; you know I worked for him over there!  He says I need to be talking to you about the new offense I want to put in here at CTU!  I know you were disappointed…… (conversation continues but slowly fades away).”  Dalton slowly turns in his seat while listening to look out of his office window onto the OPJC football field as players in practice uniforms make there way onto the field.

…..Dalton:  “Sure Coach DeLoss, Katie and I would love to visit CTU when would you like to see us.”

The End







Tuesday, May 29, 2018

TMI Tuesday - It's Just a Fantasy


It's been a long time and I can't think of anything to write about.  If you are new and have not played along this is a really fun way to waste time!

Here is TMI Tuesday!


1. If your lover was turned on by forced feminization would you participate (giving or receiving)?
*forced feminization is the practice of enforcing activities on a male, which are typically associated with women, to make him submissive. For example: wearing lingerie, heels, make-up.
Does drinking Pinot count?  In my old age I have started to enjoy ballet and musical theatre but that is about as far as I go.  I am a left of center dude but the emphasis is on dude.  I don't have any desire to walk around looking like a woman or wearing uncomfortable clothing, though I sure like looking at women and being with women!  I will say that in high school Journalism class we had a project to create commercials and my group was developing a line of "male cosmetics" (e.g. 80's hair metal type stuff).  When we shot the commercial I was the preppie guy.  It actually was pretty fun and Shannon was in my group.  Not my wife, the other Shannon.  As for the other stuff I did swim competitively so I did develop a liking for extremely tight clothing but a speedo is not women's lingerie.  Speaking of swim wear, did you realize  that if you are a woman you have to pay for a bottom and a top when you buy a two piece swim suit?  Yeah, I was paying for a bikini for my daughter and found out about that little fraud, as if I was going to hold the line on one piece or the other with my daughter!  The things you learn when you raise girls.  So I guess I'm pretty boring - sorry.  But I just a regular guy as the blog says!

But in all seriousness I'm not into roll play, I'm into being me and the person I'm with being them and if that works then that's the best for all.
2. When you have sexual dreams or fantasies that are aggressive or cruel, does it worry you?
Yes, but I'm from the South; I'm never cruel just kind.  It just seems a tad discourteous to spank someone and then stick your finger in their bum and call them a nasty name.  Think of me as John Edwards, a little devious and deviant but always with a kind smile on my face!
3. Tell us your hottest, sexiest fantasy, right now, in 100 words or less. 
This is the fantasy about your desires that you probably never share, maybe they even go against your morals or are societal taboos.
I have never really had physical fantasies, rather place fantasies.  For example sex along a mountain stream or in a sail boat.  Sort of like green eggs and ham:  "I would screw her in a boat, with a goat, in the rain, or on a train."  Wait, train sound pretty sexy but with a goat?  I'm not that trailer court!  So I go to conferences and at a lot of these conferences there is always a vendor showcase.  At my little conference MTV usually has a table and there is always a demo-table for one of those restaurant order apps.  These groups always have the hottest girls to attract us stupid middle aged guys. These girls know how to flirt and get us interested in their product.  So I have a fantasy that one of these girls asks me up to share a bottle of Pinot and a hot tub and you know what follows.  The only problem is that if anything like that actually happened she would whisper sweetly into my ear "let's go upstairs and watch some Netflix and chill," to which I would say "cool, I need to catch up on Stranger Things."  Yeah I would probably fail at that intra-generational fantasy!
Ryan and Wonder Woman!
4. Which super hero would you like to have sex with? Why?
a. Aquaman
b. Superman
c. Wonder Woman
d. She-Ra
Easy one, I still fantasize about Wonder Woman; I mean Lynda Carter!  She is just so good and true and could lasso me and make me tell the truth.  Hey does that qualify as a form of kinky BDSM!?
5. Do you think the lure to live out sexual fantasies or have sex frequently is amplified by technology? Briefly explain.
Ryan and Kate getting a latte
I guess to the extent that we see a video or a post that gives us that inner twinge of a yearning, the answer is yes.  I was watching the Talented Mr. Ripley just the other day and remembered how much I've always fantasize about Kate Blanchette!  She is so nerdy sexy and I'd love to be her little Frodo and show her a little Elfin magic!
Bonus: Describe your fantasy life in three (3) words.
I can do it in 2 - Stephen Colbert
————-
How to play TMI Tuesday: Copy the above TMI Tuesday questions to your webspace (i.e., a blog). Answer the questions there, then leave a comment below, on this blog post, so we’ll all know where to read your responses. Please don’t forget to link totmituesdayblog from your website!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Sail on Silver Girl

"Sail on by.  Your time has come to shine all your dreams are on their way.  See how they shine.  Oh, if you need a friend I'm sailing right behind."

Bridge Over Troubled Water was released in January, 1970 and became, perhaps, Simon & Garfunkel's most consequential song.  If imitation is the greatest form of flattery then the song is substantial in that it was later covered by Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley (who both offer a more gospel perspective on the song).  The song is beautifully written, beautifully sung, and beautifully produced, being influenced by and pulling from elements of the Phil Specter Wall of Sound Wrecking Crew.  The soft piano at the entrance and through the first two verses that ultimately bleeds into the dramatic orchestral bridge give peace, joy, or solace to whichever mood the listener is in.  That bridge leads to one of the more apparently introspective third verses in popular music and one of the more pressing questions, "who is Silver Girl?"

Originally Paul Simon intended the song to be two verses.  Simon's producer convinced him he needed a third verse to support that big histrionic sound at the end.  Simon then quickly penned a third verse in the studio somewhat on the fly.  Apparently the Silver Girl reference was a simple mischievous jibe at Simon's then wife, Peggy Harper.  Harper had been recently perplexed by premature grey hairs.  Simon had playfully created the nickname "Silver Girl" for her.  That third verse became his simple hope for her happiness.  And thus a simple, off the cuff, playful reference ends up being the frame to a more meaningful purpose.

That song was a central focus of an award ceremony I recently attended at my daughter's school.  The recipient of the school's annual alumni service award cited that song as a passage that had given their family solace in times of personal crisis.  She was quite eloquent in describing her love of the school and how the school and the familial relationships she had developed with faculty, alumni, students, and other parents had truly been a Bridge of Over Troubled Water many times in her life and thus the song was emblematic of those feelings of connection.

As I listened her wonderful speech I reflected on my life.  As I often do I reflected on choices I have made and what they represent to me.  And of course how I could make meaning of them on this blog.

Recently a freelance writer contacted me and I did a brief interview for a piece she may write on Ashley Madison.  I'm not sure if she will use any of my feedback.  She asked the typical questions:  does your wife know? what would she think if she found out?  why did I first go onto the website?  what attracted me?  what still attracts me?  I'm not sure I gave her good answers but it did give me pause for reflection.

Over the past fourteen years a wonderful historic river has been ubiquitous in the background of my life.  I see it from my office.  I run across it and along it on afternoon runs.  I hike along its banks on the weekend.  I've kayaked along it many times with my wonderful friend Sandee on lazy sunny spring afternoons.  Running along the river is the C&O canal a 180 mile trail from Cumberland, MD to Georgetown in DC.  The C&O is a serene bypass or perhaps a frontage road to the river just slightly to the north and below those highway bridges above the river. There are many historic and beautiful bridges that ford the river for travelers.  While the river is mostly tranquil, rarely troubled, those bridges take travelers past the river and onward to where they are destined.  And for those not so much in a hurry and in need of a detour, the canal is truly a calming third place escape from those troubled waters of life or towards one's "dreams along the way."

Life does have many troubled waters and, as with that eloquent speaker I so enjoyed Saturday night, the communities we make help us ford those waters.  In my life my daughters are my bridge, my work is my bridge, the school community I have come to love and enjoy serving are my bridge.  I take pride in knowing I matter in my community, that people consider what I have to say relevant.  I enjoy working in my yard and seeing balance and beauty along the flower beds rimming our house.  I love that so many birds and sometimes woodland critters find food and shelter in and around our deck and porch.  The fact that our family "matters" is a bridge over troubled water for me.

Ashley Madison has been an aspect of my life for several years now.  For some it may be a bridge over troubled water or simply a bridge away from a troubled life.  For me it was a silly chance encounter and one I did not anticipate.  It was proverbially an off the cuff off ramp from an, at the time, tumultuous life.  It has been a third place, a third verse, a detour, and a canal running along side yet never really crossing the river of my life.  It is not a Bridge Over Troubled Water, much more valuable things are that for me.  But the people I've met on AM and on the blogosphere have been a sunny day along the river, a pleasant detour, a convenient frontage road that has allowed me to drift off the highway for a few moments.

I hope I have been that for others.



"Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind...."





Friday, March 30, 2018

I'm Not Ashamed to Listen to the Fast Falling Rain

I am always bad with letting my mind wander.  As I sit here going over my itemized deductions for taxes I see where I need to fill out an 8283 - Noncash Charitable Contributions form.  Then I remember I never got a final document from Alecia for all that furniture I donated to her program last May.  Dang I said I was going to get that from her and now she's gone.  Oh yeah, I wrote about Alecia in my blog about three years ago; how I had reconnected with her and what was happening in her life.  I wrote two posts using a kind of "karma" theme with Three Dog Night's Shambala as the lyrics.  It was going to be a three part post but I never did part three!  For anyone who is new here Alecia was my first Ashley Madison meet.

Oh well as Three Dog Night wrote in another song "the Show Must Go On," so here is part III.  Alecia has stayed in communication over the past three years.  She called me once frantically worried after her daughter moved onto her college campus.  I talked her through her nerves.  Alecia is a social worker and I helped her on some projects.  I probably had opportunities to connect further but I didn't push.  Last spring I had a lot of furniture to donate and I knew her organization could probably use it so I called her.  It ended up being a very therapeutic endeavor.   She had two clients moving into the same apartment building who needed anything I could offer.  I ended up spending the better part of a weekend working with a moving company to set up these two forlorn little apartments tucked away along a forgotten side street of our city.  The stories behind these little families moved me.  The downstairs apartment was to go to a mom and her two boys.  Mom had a restraining order on the dad who had taken the family south for vacation and then simply left the mom on the side of a Louisiana road and left.  The mom had to hitch hike back with no money but made it and now was trying to mend her life back together.  The upstairs apartment was for a single dad who was taking sole custody of his daughter as the mom suffered through that opioid thing we all here about on the news.  I have to admit I shed tears as I placed furniture in a new place that had long been in place in my memories.  I imagined how that furniture might be sat on, how those toys might be played with, and how that crib (once slept in by my daughters) may be enjoyed by a new family.  I remembered scenes from my past that included those pieces of furniture and imagined that new scenes would occur with those same pieces.  Scenes I would never see but hoped would occur.  Anyway, by the time we got the furniture in each apartment those once forlorn spaces started to feel like a home and I felt as warm inside as the springtime air outside.

Alecia thanked me for the furniture and gave me a warm hug.  I think that was the last time I saw her.  On Facebook I saw where she met a guy and ran off to California and has since formed a new life.  I'm happy for her.  I'm sure I can send her a note on Facebook and she'll get me that documentation.  The guy isn't as good looking as me and doesn't look as cool but hey he isn't married so I can't fault her!  Sorry my mind wanders.

Oh wait, I implied I had made contact with a lady on AM on my last post.  I have to admit that getting a note back from a 40 - something petite Asian women in the semi-conductor business was both exciting and daunting.  Unfortunately we had our annual family vacation and in the this case Ryan's curiosity didn't get him in trouble and I let that prospect slip away.

Upon my return I came across another really smart lady (who spoke three languages) and I sent her a pretty good note if I do say so myself:

"Hmmmm, I only speak English and food, I feel at a loss. But I must say you are right about chocolate, it satisfies for about an hour in the afternoon but dang that hour is really nice and that pick me up is often really needed, particularly if accompanied by a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. So yeah, coffee and Sharffen Berger chocolate (see I talk food) can be a great start.

So I'm all about lazy and fun adventurous days and if they are accompanied by chocolate or coffee or maybe even one of those Pinots they have over in Loudoun Valley all the better!

So let's talk politics and you can curse me out in German if you don't like my opinion and I'll just think you are smiling at the scenery! :)

Take care and enjoy the rest of the snow on this fine second day of spring. "


Unfortunately I was a day late and a credit short as she had just met "her guy" as she responded.  But wasn't it nice for her to thank me for my nice note!

I've not spoken of Sandee for some time.  Ironically she moved to the same Carolina beach I once had an opportunity to work some 20 years ago.  Life might have been very different had I gotten that job, Shannon might have been much happier.  I stay in touch with Sandee as we constantly poke fun at one another for our very different political perspectives.  If I were more daring or more courageous we may have ended up together.  I joke with her that we will end up together in our 80's at some "old folks home."  We will be like the cute little couple who finishes up each other sentences.  I don't think another women has ever "gotten" me the way Sandee has/did.  In another world I do see us as those soul mates that are so sickeningly happy together, adults that still splash each other in the river and laugh at each other's stupid jokes.  But who knows, as my Alecia story has never really ended I suspect my Sandee story or my Ryan story for that matter will never really end.

Unfortunately taxes never end as well so I probably should get back to work.


As my mind continues to wander I'm reminded of one of my favorite artists who (somewhat like me) has made a career of covering other artists.  Here is a song that sort of sums up my mood.  Gordon Lightfoot wrote the words but I think I like Tony Rice's version just as well.

"Words are for explaining the mistakes we might have made
Names are for calling when there's nothing left to say.
I'm not ashamed, no, to say that I've loved you well.
I'm not ashamed, and yet I know I'm just a name, that's all
scratched upon your wall;
You've used it well, but what the hell,
that's what walls are for...."



Monday, February 12, 2018

About Forty-Five Minutes Southeast of Thibodaux, Louisiana


Happy Mardi Gras!


If you have read this blog you know the two things I like talkin' 'bout the mostest is chasing ladies on social media sites and cookin' food.  And if I'm talkin' food I'm usually talkin' 'bout poor folks food like jambalaya or paella or anything else you can scratch up and throw together in a pot and stew on all day.  Of all the topics I've written about (food or chasin') Creole food on Mardi Gras has been perhaps my favorite and my most consistent annual post.

Another thing I love is visiting restaurants where the real food is made and enjoyed by the locals.  Not the tourists, the people who like the real deal.  I've spent some time down south and across those bayous in Louisiana.  One of my all time favorite "diner, drive-in and dives" type places I've come
across is the Jambalaya Shoppe.  The original store is in Gonzales, LA near Baton Rouge.  It's kind of an In and Out Burger meets Boudreaux the Cajun.  The Jambalaya Shoppes have franchised out across Louisiana now totaling about a dozen shops.  But they all serve great food.  One unique item they have that is sort of a new take on classic flava' (Cajun dialect) is Pastalaya.  So since I've done just about every creole recipe I know I present you today with -


The Jambalaya Shoppe's Pastalaya

Ingredients:
2 Tbs     Butter
1#          Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast Cut into 1" cubes
1#          Andouille Sausage cut into 0.5" rounds
2 Cups   Trinity:  equal parts finely diced yellow onion, green pepper, and celery
2 Cups   Fresh Tomatoes chopped
1 Cup     Chicken Broth
2             Garlic Cloves minced
2 Tbs      Creole Seasoning:  paprika, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil, white pepper, thyme, celery seed, cayenne, ground black pepper
1#           Linguini, cooked
0.25 Cup Green Onion Chopped

*     In Dutch oven melt butter over medium heat.  Add chicken and sausage and cook until lightly browned.  Remove meat and set aside, leave butter and drippings.
*     Add Trinity to pot an cook until softened, stirring occasionally for about 7 minutes
*     Add back in chicken, sausage along with tomatoes, chicken broth, garlic, and creole seasoning.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cover.  Let simmer for about 15 minutes.
*     Stir in cooked pasta and green onions

Here is some more information on the Jambalaya Shoppes down dere in Louisiana!

http://dastylishfoodie.com/2016/04/the-jambalaya-shoppe-louisiana-home-cooking/

http://www.thejambalayashoppe.com/lafayette-la.html

And here are my past Mardi Gras food posts, laissez les bon temps roulade!

Here are my other Mardi Gras Food Posts
2011 - Cajun vs Creole
2012 - Muffuleta
2013 - Po Boy
2014 - Shrimp Creole
2015 - Gumbo Rice Fritters
2016 - Gumbo
2017 - King Cake Cupcakes


And here's you dat old Cajun song about dat dere man in da swamp....





As for that other love in life, yeah I did that as well recently.  Here is my latest effort on AM, do you think this note will get a reply?
 Well Ms Bell, Here's to hoping you grade on the bell curve and that I can be just ahead of the median male message on this forum! You've hit on a lot of my hot button topics - namely goofy! I love that, isn't that kind of what this is all about, getting outside the comfort boundaries a bit and pursuing who we want to be in our most free spirited moments. So you sent me to wiki a few times on that profile which is good, I love to learn; now I know what eigenstate means (only took one quarter of physics in college). So I think what you are saying is that the home life is kind of like Newton's First Law, cruising at a constant speed and direction and you have no interest in having an external force applied to that vector. Now comes AM and a desire to find that "alternative third place" or perhaps utilizing Newton's Third Law to achieve a certain balance, an equal (yet not evasive) opposite reaction (or relationship journey) that vectors towards the exciting if not thrilling and to get spiritual achieves a certain feng shui balance with that first law state of being. And of course you seems to be active and like active people so we can even throw in some of Newton's second law and say we can generate great force when our dual masses accelerate expeditiously towards fun! Or a walk along the river, etc. As Einstein said (in his law of happiness): "A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness." So let's not move around restlessly knocking electrons off our atoms, let's move with balancing purpose and find that tranquil (and goofy) third place journey. Stay off the ice and have a wonderful evening! R

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I Can't See a Single Storm Cloud in the Sky but I Sure Can Smell the Rain


"Looking back is a bad habit" R. Cogburn
Thanks to my parents I grew up with very eclectic taste in music.  My earliest memories are of Glenn Campbell singing the theme song to "True Grit" and the Beatles "Maxwell Silver's Hammer," I loved it not quite getting the disturbing violent imagery in the lyrics (even then I was clueless).  But something about Classic Country music always gave me a warm soothing safe feeling of home.  Ray Charles said of country music "the words to country songs are very earthy like the blues.  They're not as dressed up and the people are very honest and say, 'look, I miss you darlin,' so I went out and got drunk in this bar..."  I guess he's right, I just like country because it is clean and true and the stories are so great and don't feel like you have to pour your beer into a glass!  I always seem to feel best when listening to Glenn Campbell or Waylon Jennings or Johnny Cash.  All of which get a great deal of playful disdain from the fam who like to chastise me for my taste that is shared by about 0.01% of the population.  But I don't really care, I am after all the arch-typical goofy dad.

Of course in college my musical tastes evolved and I liked all that grunge and raw Seattle rock of the 90's.  After college I even delved into some of that rave techno stuff that all the hot girls liked to dance to in the clubs, funny how that was always my primary motivation in life.  That's kind of where I met Shannon, the eternal new waver - anti old schooler who is the antithesis to good old Ryan.

When Ryan and Shannon moved the deep south in the mid-90's we left all that East Coast techo-electronica and landed on an island where only Classic Rock, Pop, and Country lived.  The good news was that those years were full of (now) Disney Classics on the pop charts (see Lion King release date, etc) and quite a nice new era in Country music.  Those country years featured the continued emergence of Garth and the introduction of Toby Keith, Faith Hill, Clint Black, Collin Raye, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Sawyer Brown, and many others.  One of my favorite songs from this time is Blackhawk's "I Sure Can Smell the Rain."  "Somehow what she never says means more than all the other words I here."  Wow, ain't that the truth!

Unfortunately down there, we totally missed the Gangsta rap thing (I'm still not quite sure who Tupac is, is that some type of cold medicine?).

Anyway I like Blackhawk and all that early 90's Country that is now Classic Country along with all that Classic Country stuff I listened to when I was really young and it was new country.

I think one of the last times I wrote I mentioned that I had been back on AM!  I even got a response from a lady names Alexa.  Of course her name isn't Alexa, but as always the names here are changed to protect the guilty!  :)

Anyway, want to meet her?  As one of my fond former blog friends used to say?

Alexa is an INTJ and apparently difficult (as stated in her profile).  I also mentioned her here.

Early on Alexa was very inquisitive.  I enjoy the subtle dance during this period, telling a little of oneself but not revealing too much factual data.  In a sense this is more revealing as you tell as much who you want to be as you do who you are.  I tend to be coy and like to play.  Hint, hint, to ladies I like when they play along.  Alexa was being very INTJ and not playing along very well.

When she asked about my profile tagline "ami du jour," I replied:

She liked this when I sent it to her
"The Ami du Jour tag line is a tip of the hat to my food background.  As I navigated through the site it seemed like so many people, and perhaps me, were like waiters announcing the special of the evening.

"I'm a 40 something business professional who loves the outdoors and is fit and trim.... I can be wonderfully paired with a North Coast Pinot and finished with rosemary infused rubbing oils...."   :)

Sorry I like to be humorous but every menu has to have a soup of the day but french always sounds more classy so I used a few words I still remember from high school french.

Oh wow, I've written so much about myself and I was supposed to be listening to you about your day!!!  I do like to listen and (sorry to sound like our President) many, many people say I'm a great listener.

Have a great day Alexa and I'm ready for those questions.
Take Care,
Ryan"

Alexa didn't feign delight at my humor, just asked more questions:

"Ami duj our, very cute then.  Creative.

I'll ask just a few questions for now. I tend to ask more than I'm asked so I'm restraining myself.  The basics for starters:

Married for how long?
Children?
Have you had an affair before?"

Yesh - she's making it very hard to be charming!

She did ask why I had not asked her for photos.  She seemed impressed that I had restraint.  That did score points for me though.

"Once  I send this, I'll send a couple of photos your way.  You should know what the woman looks like that you're talking to, me thinks.  I am glad to know that you're interested without the photos, keeping you engaged it appears.


An affair to me is one where there is intimacy involved.  What drew you to my profile considering you're  in ******ville and I'm in  ********** County?  I've had three relationships (none met via AM), the longest was three years and the other  two were about 1 1/2 years so yep, I'm not a short-term  kinda gal, and I don't go poof either. Why have you not  met anyone on the site in five years?  That's a long time relatively speaking.

And  I always need and  want funny things, so thank you for sending that.  Much appreciated 😊"

Well that's starting to recognize my charm, savoir faire, and joie de vivre et al!  I'll be honest with you I kind of pulled a Trump on the "why have you not met anyone of this site..."  Nobody wants to hear your resume and that you are a blogger before that first "meet and greet."

So the messages went back and forth.  A few things in common, we both play racket sports though she is more into tennis (me racquetball).  She works in and around the hospitality business as do I but does not like to cook (as I do) and didn't seem so interested in talking about cuisine (thus I couldn't impress her with my foodiness).  She came across as a bit of a Yankee, thus impervious to my Southern charms.

All things considered things were not flowing seemlessly yet I still couldn't detach from her profile of wanting someone well traveled, well education, sophisticated, confident, yada, yada.  Dangit, I wanted her to recognize and admit how charming and witty I am.  Yes, I know the hubris is showing.

But then again, maybe words did not come to her easily.  Alas, she did always answer me and she was still asking questions.  She did say I had "piqued her interest!"

When she finally did send me her photo she looked pretty cute.  I didn't scare her off with my photo.

But all in all the dialogue was rather - MEH.

"Hey Ryan-

Thanks for sharing all you did, between where you grew up and lived, as well  as your interests in skiing and  cooking, Miami and weekend activities. I decidedly do not have a southern accent.  And my girls, never close to ballet.  Both gravitate to tomboyish, as I do. I've never skiied, and you know how I feel about cooking. I appreciate those who enjoy cooking for sure.

Much work for me, as is usually the case most weeks.  

As to a time to meet,  that'll be up to you.

Alexa"



Well not exactly fawning all over me but she did say meeting was up to me so I delayed no further.

We arranged an afternoon to meet at a common restaurant that I enjoy.  I think she appreciated that I picked out a nice place and sent her the menu.

She arrived a few minutes after I did.  I stood in the entrance hall and saw her as she walked past me on the other side of the window as she approached the front door.  It was still warm and she had on a tight button down white shirt and tight black pants.  Alexa is short and not exactly petite but certainly not large.  She is curvy, well let's face it she has a pretty nice "booty."  I'm I allowed to say that in the #metoo era?

I looked into her eyes and she looked into mine and it was as if I instantly understood how two souls could look into the mirror of the Universe and see their match.

Actually not, I looked into her eyes and saw Mrs. Holden, my best friend's mom from grade school.  Yeah, I guess in retrospect Mrs. Holden was kind of hot but I didn't want to have sex with her then I didn't think I wanted to have sex with her now.

But I was all in for lunch so we walked up to the maitre d.  He didn't say anything, stepped away, came back, thumbed through a reservation book, picked up the phone, and made a phone call.  It was kind of rude I thought to myself.  Alexa said, "well, that's mighty rude of him" just loud enough to be heard by those around us.  Me, in my Southern cordiality, couldn't help being a little embarrassed. He was rude, but I exhibit my reaction by not coming back, not by making a scene.  I mean, that's what Shannon would do and I don't need more of that in my life.

This is how I imagine Cecil & Alexa
We finally were seated.  Lunch was nice.  She did go into detail about one of her affairs with Cecil.  Apparently, Cecil is quite the salesmen; very talkative and engaging.  Didn't sound like he was a looker but I guess he was a charmer and a fast talker which I am not.  Based on her description it sounded like they chirped a lot at each other.

As a special the restaurant had a butternut squash soup.  I was not really that interested but Alexa said how much she liked butternut squash soup.  She talked me into trying it.  I am always OK with trying something.  I liked the butternut squash soup, I didn't love it.  It was just good enough to try a few sips and then I was OK.  But Alexa kept asking me if I didn't like it, as if it would be an insult if I didn't.  I felt like I was facing an inquisition from my mom, and I guess Mrs. Holden.  Btw, Mrs. Holden was always one of those moms that tried to pawn off healthy snacks like peanut butter stuffed in celery.  I liked that a little as well, but not a lot!  :)

Seems like I mentioned my friend's sister (Mrs. Holden's daughter) once.  She faked me out, being nerdy in middle school, going off to a service academy for college, and then showing up several years later really hot and divorced a few years after I was already taken.  Sorry, I know I seem to be grumpy today as I ramble.

During the meal Alexa had to take a call from her boss.  By the third call she finally said she had to leave because she had to meet him in Fairfax in an hour.

I took it to mean that this was her friend who was instructed to call her one hour into the date to give her a plausible exit.  Who knows, I guess I could have been offended but like the maitre d I figured I would express my displeasure by not going back.

I walked outside into the sun and I looked over to her as she got into her car.

I couldn't see a cloud in the sky, but I sure could smell the rain.  I decided it was best to get into my car and drive back home to where there wouldn't be any rain any time soon.