Thursday, January 15, 2015

Are we all Charlie?

When I restarted this blog after my hiatus, I decided to let myself blog about some bigger issues. There had been events in the past that I wanted to talk about but decided against doing so because I didn't want to alienate anybody.  Now I realize that if I write about whatever I want.

I awoke last Wednesday to a reminder that there are those capable of horrible acts in this world. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who keeps up on the news.  This recent act has captured the minds of the world. Of course, I refer to the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris last week. I am not going to go over all the details but here is some good coverage.

These chaotic events have put my mind in a chaotic state. It took awhile for me to be able to write anything intelligible(ha me be intelligible that's unpossible) about it.

Are we all Charlie?

One of the biggest outcomes of the terrorist attacks has been the rise of a solidarity movement around the phrase "Je Suis Charlie" or I am Charlie.  These three words have shown up all over the place: from social media to professional athletes. Many of the people stating their solidarity would not have published the things Charlie Hebdo did, in fact many of them probably found much of its content offensive. So what were they really standing for?

One recurring theme has been, the pen is mightier than the kalashnikov.  For many people involved, the marches and cartoons are a rejection of terror. We will not let fear be used as a political tool. We will argue, we will use satire, we might even get angry, but we will not use violence. We also will not be swayed by those who do. The solidarity is not in support of everything Charlie Hebdo published but in their right to do so without violent retribution.   Defending someones right to express their view is in no way an endorsement of that view.

The second theme expressed is a defense of one of the most basic underpinnings of western civilization: the right to self expression, or free speech.  I'm old and I remember one of my first real life lessons about free speech.  I don't remember the details, but the gist involved a shock jock or some one similar who spent his days offending everybody. I learned that if someone could not offend another's opinions on the minor things how could we discuss the important things.   Speech cannot be constrained by others personal beliefs no matter how strongly held.

Fear and violence should not be used as tool of political advancement and people should be free to express their beliefs without fear of reprisal. I think that is what it means to say Je Suis Charlie.



Monday, January 05, 2015

Music Monday: Jimi Kings' Top 30 smooth jazz songs of 2014

A US spotify playlist. I don't know if this works in other countries. Once again it goes from #1 to #30


NOTE:
#24 Following my soul - Renato Falschi is no included.  I couldn't even find it on youtube.


Thursday, January 01, 2015

Working on a dream

I had another post written for the New Year. Perhaps I'll post it in a couple of days. Past all our pretensions life is pretty simple. Beyond all the resolutions, and babbling about goals, what am I doing in 2015?

I'll let the boss fill you in.  I'm working on a dream



and searching for a bit of God's mercy,




Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Review


I thought about writing a detailed wrap up of what happened this year, but frankly not a whole lot happened.  Besides a rather entertaining and debt increasing, cruise I am leaving 2014 pretty much the way I entered it.  I am not really down on 2014. It was just a year that happened.

At the beginning of 2014 I asked myself three questions and recorded what I hoped would be the answers:


How do I feel about 2014?

  • Content with what happened
  • Glad to have lived it
  • Willing to move onto 2015
  • satisfied with the decisions I made

How am I a different person after 2014?

  • I am fitter and healthier
  • I think more about how my actions affect me and others
  • I follow through on what I plan to do 

What did I accomplish in 2014?

  • I got out of credit card debt
  • I wrote a bunch
  • I will have learned some of a new language

How do I feel about 2014?  Like I said, it was a year that happened. Not much changed.

How am I a different person after 2014? I am actually healthier. I ate a little better this year.  I also started jogging again a couple of months ago. My resting heart rate has dropped from around 100 to about 80.

What did I accomplish in 2014? I massively increased my credit card debt. Though in the second half of the year I began taking real steps toward lowering it.  I wrote more than in the past. And yes did learn a bit more French.

Reading this post I realize it is kinda lame. I feel I should try and write something profound and moving. I just don't have it in me.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

This song give me a happy





Inspired by this post over at A blondering life, I give five of my favorite Christmas movies.  They are in no particular order.





Friday, December 12, 2014

Food Friday: Pumpkin Soup


It's that time of year when EVERYTHING is pumpkin flavored. With cans of pureed pumpkin going for 10 cents, slight exaggeration, I had stocked up on pumpkin. I wanted to do something a little different, so I decided on putting together a pumpkin soup. I apologize for the terrible pictures. They were taken with my horrible horrible phone.


Ingredients (I adjusted the amounts from a recipe for the amount of chicken stock I had on hand):
  • 26 oz chicken stock
  • 1 3/4 cans pureed pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream 
  • one medium yellow onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic (can use less but I like garlic. 
  • pepper to taste




Put the chicken stock, pumpkin, diced garlic, and chopped onion in a pan and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 40 minutes.  Your soup probably will NOT look like mine above.  I had misread the recipe and initially only used 1 can of pumpkin. About half way through the simmer time I realized that there was no way the soup was right and reread the recipe.  That's when I added the extra 3/4 can of pumpkin. Luckily I have other uses for left over pumpkin.  Next time I think I will just use both cans and add a little water.

Anyway, once the soup has simmered you need to blend it to a nice paste. You can use a good stick blender for this. My stick blender isn't good, so I use my stand up blender which has a  nice thick glass blendy thingy(probably a name for this).  I poured in small amounts of the soup blending as I went. Once all blended put it back in the pan and add the heavy cream. 


You can garnish. I didn't bother and just chowed down.  This stuff is actually really good even if it does look like baby food.


Sunday, December 07, 2014

The Tale of Three Jogs - Illinois Weather


Near the end of October I started jogging again. Every few years or so I get the bug to seriously take up running again.  Serious means being able to run a 5k. I could go all sorts of directions when blogging about running. I could talk about he life lesson learned from the rapid improvement or how it improves my mood. What I am going to talk about is the weather. Stupidly, I've taken up running outdoors as we transition into winter. Even with my cold weather gear we've already had a week were it was too windy and cold to run outside. I might have to jog some on a treadmill... ew.  Most places joke about their weather: "if you don't like the weather just wait an hour".  No place is that more true than in the midwest.

Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I went for a jog.  The temperature almost hit 30F and  brisk wind blew from the south producing a wind chill of 19F. I wore four layers on top and two below the waist.  My fingers and toes got cold and the cold air burned my lungs.. It was not a pleasant experience. I would much rather run when it is 90 than when it is 20. I think sweating is better than freezing.

On Sunday I went for another jog.  Again a gale wind blew from the south. The slight difference was the 60 F temperature. I only wore a windbreaker and sweatpants over my usual summer running gear.  By the  end of my run sweat soaked my clothes.

After work, four days later, I went for another jog.   This time it was 40 degrees with a breeze and a slight rain falling. I had a good run. The best since I restarted running.

So that is Illinois weather for you.  In less than two weeks we had: 19 degree windchills, 64 degree weather with gusting winds, 40 degrees and raining, and also there was a bonus ice storm mixed in. 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

NaNoWriMo: Finding Success in Failure



It will come as no surprise but I didn't finish writing the 50 k words for NaNoWriMo. I stalled somewhere around 11k. I wrote nothing for the novel during  the second half of the month. I am trying to see the positive in this failure.  I more than doubled my word output from any previous NaNoWriMos. I also worked through some sticky plot points. At this rate I might finish a single draft of a single novel by the time I'm sixty... maybe.

I have a the quote above printed out and taped to my desks: "If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse." If I apply this quote to my near lifelong desire to be a writer, I have to admit I must not really want it. With saying that, I am unwilling to give the dream up. The desire has been to much a part of my life since my teens.

I understand the only way for me to be a writer is to regularly and consistently write.  It is a complete no duh statement, but it's true. Writing has to become a common and reoccurring part of what I do and who I am. It really is as simple as just do it.  I need to find an hour, heck even a half hour, worth of time a day and write. Before work, after work, it doesn't matter when.