Just another personal weblog.
In my almost 42 years of life, I have met a handful of people who I consider famous, (is that a lot or a few, I wonder, but I digress).
This past Tuesday, I got to meet Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, a blogger whose work I have been a fan of for a while now, as her entries never fail to amuse. She was in Dayton at the Books & Co., at The Greene, for a “Meet The Author” event, where she did a reading from her book of memoirs, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened“, (she is on a book tour to promote it coming out in paperback). The store management had asked her to not use any curse words, (I’m assuming because the large children’s section and the sizable Christian books section are within earshot, of the meeting space for the event, even without a p.a. system), so she chose “hippopotamus” as a substitute!
She then took some questions from the audience and then had a book signing.
When it got to my turn, my mind was blank with what small talk to make. As I snapped a picture of her signing the newly bought copy of her book…
…I was thinking not only I hope my ‘phone’s battery doesn’t die before I get a pic, but what to say. Then it occurred to me how much there is actually to see/do around Dayton, but how little time she had in the area, (or any of the places on her book tour, for that matter), I asked if she had managed to see anything of the area, here and in the other places on the tour.
“No,” she sighed. “But I did get to eat at Arby’s,” she said, with what I felt pretend enthusiasm.
“Ugh. If I had known, I would have brought you a Killer Brownie, from a local store here, Dorothy Lane Market. I had thought of bringing one, but changed my mind. MAybe you could grab one before you leave, tomorrow,” I responded. (I had had the idea earlier in the day, but on discussing it w/ DW, it was decided I didn’t want to be “that” fan, (though considering some of the stuff that was present in the photo ops, a gift of a brownie would have been out of place as too sensible!)
Disappointment overcame Jenny’s face and I felt bad. However, her next event was in Cincinnati the next night, so quick wittedly I realized she’d be in Dayton at least for the next morning, so as I retrieved my newly signed book.
“Thanks. It was great to meet you and don’t forget – Killer Brownie, Dorothy Lane Market!”
And with that, I walked away, happy to have met Jenny and over the moon that I hadn’t become a babbling idiot and had had some real small talk to engage.
Some people don’t like her because her writings have a liberal smattering of expletives, others because they just don’t believe anyone could have such a craziness about them, but I have always seen in her writings a glimpse into everyone’s life. We all have that crazy s**t in our lives that we just don’t tell anyone about, but seeing someone write about some event mirrored or similar to something in your own life makes you realize we all have these issues, at some level.
Life as a parent is tough.
Life as a parent of a special needs child is tougher.
Life as an unemployed parent of a special needs child, with no income stream… yeah… that’s damn tough.
Unemployment has taught me one thing, though. I need to be a stay at home Dad.
DS1 is getting older and stronger and whilst his meltdowns are more infrequent and more quickly over than they were, even a year ago, the potential for damage to himself, us or the home just grows.
So, with the little savings we have gone, I ask you, do you know of any actual, real, legitimate work from home jobs?
I don’t really engage all that much, but I do like Empire Avenue, as I mentioned previously. This blog entry is just to enable their people and/or algorithms to verify this blog for inclusion in their calculations!
This past Saturday I took the short road trip down to Cincinnati for the “Victory Ohio” rally for the Romney campaign. This was my first ever political rally and I really enjoyed it.
Now, I’m not a Romney supporter, as I consider myself a libertarian, but after about an hour of listening to different speakers, the build up of the energy in the audience was palpable. As the stature of the speakers grew, so did the energy.
I was in the overflow auditorium. At one point, the sound on the big screen cut out and an audible, collective, disappointed “Oh!” echoed around the room, which was almost immediately replaced by a huge cheer, a scream almost, as Rob Portman, John Boehner and Ann & Mitt Romney stepped through the curtain at the stage off to the side of the room.
For a moment, I was confused, as I hadn’t noticed the stage area. Now I know what to look for at any future rallies I might attend! After a little banter and some mini speeches they left and a few minutes later appeared on the big screen.
Before I knew it, it was all over. I let the crowds thin as I tweeted and posted to FaceBook some immediate thoughts, and hung around the stage with a dozen or so others, who I am sure were all hoping Mitt Romney would make an impromptu appearance. As was I!
As I was heading through the parking lot of the Union Terminal, I was approached by a well-dressed woman, about my age, carrying a Romney/Ryan sign, of the kind that they hand out to wave, as part of the audience. She struck up a conversation and we chatted the block and a half we walked together, before we went our separate ways. Her enthusiasm and energy for her party’s chosen ticket kept my enthusiasm alive, too! Heck, if I had walked from there to the polling booth I might very well have voted for Romney/Ryan.
And this is my point: sitting at home and posting stuff supporting your ideology, or denouncing others’ is all very well, but to really get energized, get out there and get to a rally and/or do something for your candidate, even if its just a bumper sticker and a yard sign.
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Every year, around this time, my thoughts turn to my impending birthday. However, since 2001, I’ve also found myself get nostalgic for a unique event in my life that I hope, one day, to repeat – a birthday weekend at the Glastonbury Festival!
Going to the Festival in 2000, was my first, last, one and only visit to a large festival like that and I loved it. Of course, they have weekend–long music and arts festivals on this side of the pond, but there’s something special for me about “Glasto” that no other festival will be able to replace.
We arrived at our chosen spot at the very top of the whole site and set up. No traffic problems going in and by 12:40 we’re unpacked and ready to go. Off we wander just taking in the experience. We decided that mornings are for sleeping, early afternoons are for wandering and late afternoons/evenings are for bands.
After a good wander, we grabbed a beverage and the final couple of numbers from Fu Manchu on the Other Stage at some point in the afternoon. We then looked at the guide and decided that we’d see Priory of Brion, (a certain Mr. Plant’s new band), and The Waterboys on the Acoustic stage, with the special guest on the Pyramid (main) Stage in between them.
As we got to the Acoustic Stage, Jack Lukeman was finishing. We listened to Priory… both inside and outside the tent, (nearly all the stages were in “Big Top”–type tents). The Special Guest was Macy Gray, we listened to two songs then left. We did end up at the Dance Tent after we listened to a couple of The Waterboys tracks, but I can’t really remember what we did in between, (drink was involved, I believe!). We left the Dance Tent as I just couldn’t “get into it”.
We decide that we’re going to see Reef, Ocean Colour Scene and Travis on the Pyramid, with Rolf Harris at the Avalon Stage breaking up OCS and Travis. This meant that after Rolf we got back and caught the end of The Pet Shop Boys. This was probably the best day of the weekend.
Whilst wandering, we came across Lucky Rich, an Aussie juggler/escapologist/sword swallower who looks like Keith Flint, but with loads of tattoos and a kilt! His sword swallowing act included him bending over forwards for an audience member to pull out the sword!
Next we stopped by the comedy tent and caught some of Mark Kelly, who was not bad. Fair play to him, at times knew he was dying but didn’t care. Apparently, he used to be “Mr. Nasty”, if that helps anyone…
Reef were bloody good. I know few of their songs, yet easily got into those I didn’t know, and they did a really good cover of “Sex and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll” as a tribute to Ian Dury, who would have been on the same bill, apparently.
What we caught of The Pet Shop Boys was instantly recognizable. I must have been more merry than I thought, as I didn’t realize until most of the way through “What Have I Done to Deserve This” that Cerys Matthews, someone I’m a fan of, had stepped in as guest vocalist in place of the late Dusty Springfield
Travis’ set was, like Reef’s, full of songs I didn’t know, but easy to get into. Their encore consisted of a very good, semi-acoustic, iirc, cover of “Hit Me Baby One More Time” (yes, Britney Spears’ song) and “The Music” by The Band.
Getting back to the Tent after Travis was a bit of a nightmare as Travis, Flaming Lips and Fat Boy Slim all apparently finished around the same time. This was probably the worst point of the day being in a crowd of around 50000, all trying to go in pretty much the same direction.
But the highlight of the day… sorry… the weekend, was Rolf Harris! Yes, he was 70 at the time and played the same old songs but we bloody loved him for it. The tent for the stage he was playing probably holds 1000 at a push… I think 2000, maybe even 3000 people crowded in and around the tent to hear him. (His consequent appearances at Glastonbury have all been on the bigger stages). At the sides of the tent, the crowds raised the walls so they could see. It was marvelous to look about and see as many different sorts of people as could be, all there for one thing: to cheer for and sing with Rolf! Everyone sang along to every song he did, except for the excellent “A Fine Day” which was his new single, to which we all just pogo’d. He even added sound effects, in his inimitable way.
At one point we were repetitively chanting “Rolf”, when he stopped us and told us to “try this one” and proceeded to use the “Guantanamera” tune to sing “One Rolfie Harris, there’s only one Rolfie Harris”, even directing the key change.
When it came to the end of the performance, the MC was booed when telling us that that was the end of the set. The booing grew even louder when he said about the great act following. If we’d had been allowed, I think we’d have kept Rolf there all night. I’m sure he would have happily obliged too!
We had great plans, but the best laid plans of mice and men…
The heat from Saturday seemed to have taken more toll on me than I thought, as a little sunburn meant my forehead was quite sore and my arms, nose and neck were starting to feel the same. Insanely, all I did to combat this was to use a little sun lotion and spent all morning laying in the shade of the tent sipping water or sleeping and most of the afternoon wandering the friendly New Age/hippy area. I briefly slept in the “Sacred Space” area, (a field with a stone circle near one end) and woke up just in time to find my way down to catch Chumbawamba.
I had decided that, judging by the way I felt, walking over to see Willie Nelson, standing in the sun and coming back for Chumbawamba would have near killed me. After Chumbawamba I decide to go back to the tent and as I wandered, I came across The Wurzels playingon a small bandstand. I only stayed for the end of one song, then “I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester”, and the start of another song. The crowd was small when I arrived, but had grown to be fairly large by the time I left. The reason they were on the little bandstand in the middle of a bunch of stalls and not on one of the stages is a great story. Apparently the lead singer turned up at Michael Eavis’ farmhouse a few weeks before, looking for tickets and instantly they were invited to play!
Well, my plan was, back to the tent to change and then venture to the Acoustic tent for Paul Carrack, to meet up with my friend. This however didn’t happen. I fell asleep once more and awoke at goodness knows when with an urge to use the bathroom, so, off I trot, toilet roll in hand, (allegedly a tradable commodity @ Glasto!). Anyhow, it transpires that I had enough time for some ablutions, a change of clothes and a roast pork sandwich, (of course – they seemed to be a staple food source for me all weekend!), before Bowie came on.
Thankfully, I had just chosen a spot that I was comfortable with and about to sit down, when his set starts. Maybe it was the general euphoria of the crowd or an inner sense of occasion, but by the end of “All The Young Dudes”, I’m singing along, (when I knew the words), clapping and cheering just as much as the next person. Even the stuff he did I had never heard of was great. There was even a track he did which was kind of a “drum and bass” genre tune! Part of the encore included a slight reworking of “Let’s Dance”, probably my favourite Bowie track.
Random Thoughts on the Experience:
Go with an open mind and no opinion about anyone and the way they dress/look/act and you’ll have a great time. Which also means, don’t be paranoid about what people might think about the way you dress/look/act, either!
Don’t be completely paranoid about your tent being robbed/stolen or you being robbed. I found the best way to deal with this was to think that it was going to happen to me, sooner or later, so I was really happy when I got home with money, tent & stuff all present and accounted for.
Don’t expect to have an undisturbed, full–night’s sleep.
In the general market area there are four types of shops: food, clothes, instruments, (drums & didgeridoos mostly), & New Agey stuff.
In the Green Fields, (i.e. New Age/hippy area), you can also get massages, therapies, readings, etc. Even though the area and origins of the Festival are very “New Agey”, the festival isn’t a thoroughly New Age/hippy affair.
As darkness descends, the air gets very smoky as everywhere people light fires and outdoor candles.
Maybe there’s a little too much drug use. If there’s smoke in the air it usually has a sickly sweet smell…
When you get to a high point in the site, you’ll be awe–struck by the size of the whole site.
Take along or buy a hat, if it is sunny.
Make sure you always have water handy if it is hot & sunny. The site can get quite dusty.
Make sure you use some sort of sun protection lotion and some after–sun care cream.
Make sure you have a bum–bag/fanny pack or similar, “secure” pouch for keeping your money in.
You can’t walk around hungry for long.
The wax from the outdoor candles is very, very hot. I still have a few small scars to prove it.
Next time I go, I’m going to try the stuff I didn’t get around to, like a craft workshop.
Missing Willie Nelson; don’t know why, but I felt quite gutted when I decided to miss him.
Missing The Happy Mondays, who were apparently only together for the Festival.
Wednesday, when it was back to work & reality, (thankfully I had wisely taken the Monday and Tuesday off to acclimatize).
Well, I am so glad I went now, and even more glad I had a friend with me to enhance the experience, but all too often over the weekend, I thought that it was a shame that more of our friends had not decided to come along. Maybe one year…!
For the benefit of my friends that hadn’t gone, I wrote an email, which was the basis for this blog entry. Here’s some comments from a reply I made to my own email and to some of the comments made by my friends who didn’t go, (their comments are italicised).
I’ve been in an hour or so, (I started writing this @ 12:00ish), still on the rollercoaster ride between tiredness & happiness. Despite 11 hours sleep last night, I’m still there! No doubt work’ll change that tomorrow! *s*
On the subject of going next year I’m quite keen to go to a festival just for the experience of having been and Glastonbury is the obvious one. That is the main reason I went.
I’d have gone this year if there had been somebody I’d really like to have seen. I thought this year’s line–up was particularly poor. I’m also really…
Rolf Harris was about the only person who, before the event, I would have been gutted to miss. Glad to have seen Bowie too, seeing as the guy is such a big name. And I agree… the line–up was not particularly good, but that’s life.
…put off by the conditions. I have hated all my previous experiences of camping and the description of the toilets sounds desperately grim. You also…
Well, I only described the cubicle–type toilets. There were also urinals and chemical toilets and they were all regularly emptied. I didn’t use a chemical toilet so I can’t describe them. The urinals were… well… urinals, (connected to the cubicle sess pools, I think).
…have to remember it didn’t rain this year…
We did have a brief shower on the Friday… for about 10 seconds! But the weather in the early part of the week was piss poor. Personally, I think I would have enjoyed myself if it had snowed!
Besides, you don’t get sunburned if it’s raining.
*rubs sore forehead & arms*
If a large number of people decide to go next year or if there’s an artist I’d really like to see (and I can afford it) I’ll probably consider going.
Go on… live a little… *s*
It sounds like you had a really good time.
Despite the lengthy post, I can’t really describe just how much I did enjoy myself.
Just chuckling to myself about the fact that everyone staggers back to the tent at night and would shout, “Bollocks” – This is quite a funny thing when you have 1000’s of people all shouting it at the same time, and it echoes across the Glastonbury Site!!
“Piiiggg… piiiiigggg… squeal little piggy, squeal!” This became a bit of a theme with me and my friend. Whether we were hungry or not, whenever we saw a vendor selling roast pork sandwiches, we’d make the call and kill ourselves laughing. Guess you had to be there, really! *lol*
#Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down…# Altogether now.
Whether Glastonbury or some other festival, you really should go at least once in your life! I remember, when I originally posted this, being sat at my computer with Monday’s evening news on in the background and still feeling on high!
Back in 2005/06, those in charge of USA Rugby sent out an email to all its members, talking about how they got some sports guru-types to come in and help make some future plans, and wanted the opinions and ideas from the US ruggers, refs, etc.
I’m not going to c&p the whole thing, just the interesting bit, so, here were my responses:
Have you any additional views and visions for the game in the U.S.?
i) The LAU’s should be broken down into a League structure, rather than Conferences – i.e. all of the teams from a Division are in the same league.
ii) This new League structure would require a re-structuring of the Domestic Season with the relegation/promotion of teams at the end of each.
iii) A knock-out domestic Cup competition, running in parallel with the Domestic Season.
iv) Set up a tiered professional system akin to the Major and Minor Leagues in baseball or the AFL/af2 in Arena football.
v) The LAU’s play a Six Nations-style competition at the mid-point of each domestic season.
I have a few pages of notes on what I think would be a good restructuring of rugby in the US that I’ll be sure to put into a blog entry sometime soon.
What are the short term priorities which USA Rugby should focus on (in the next four years)?
i) Getting the infrastructure at the “grass roots” level right.
ii) Ensuring that the targets imposed upon us by accepting the IRB’s funding of High Performance etc., are reached, if not surpassed, in order to secure future IRB funding.
ii) is probably irrelevant, by now!
What long-term priorities should USA Rugby focus on (next 10 years)?
i) Having more US players play with teams overseas.
ii) Having more non-US players playing with the domestic clubs.
iii) Regularly hosting tours by sides from Tier I Unions.
iv) Regular tours, by the International sides, of Tier I Unions.
v) Consistently obtaining qualification for the Rugby World Cup.
A good balance of i) & ii). I would add to v) “…[for], and progression to the knock-out stages of, [the]…
What are the key factors which will assist USA Rugby to achieve its goals?
i) Focus on the goals and the fact that the changes and improvements will be gradual processes.
ii) Communication between the different aspects and levels of the game, within the United States.
iii) Measurable progress towards the goals.
What are the key issues which USA Rugby needs to address if it is to be successful?
i) Clubs need to become more professional.
This will not go down well with a lot of players, as they play purely for recreation, but it needs to happen for the game to progress here in the United States. The more recreational player should always find a place to play in the “B” side, or Clubs might set up specifically recreational sides.
ii) Those involved at the lower levels need to feel that the “Powers That Be” are listening to them and, ultimately, have their interests in mind when making any plans and decisions about the game here in the United States.
iii) The lack of qualified Coaches and Refereeing Staff.
I’m afraid i) is a bit of bugbear of mine, especially when it comes to “my” club.
What is your vision for the game in your own area?
A single organization within the Dayton-Cincinnati-Columbus triangle, with its own stadium, training facilities, etc.
This is interesting, especially considering my previous blog entry around this subject!
What are the short term priorities for the game to develop in your area?
iii) Qualified Coaching and Administrative Staff.
What are the key factors which will assist the game to grow in your area?
i) As mentioned before, the results need to be visible.
ii) Also, as mentioned before, the “Powers That Be” need to show they are listening to the “Little Man”.
Continued exasperation with either of these factors will lead to people leaving the game and not returning or recommending it to others.
Again, same old.
So, those were my ideas and thoughts back then, and not a whole lot has changed, in my mind.
This past September, I started working again, after almost two years of being unemployed.
At the beginning of my period of unemployment, I saw it as an opportunity to have more of a home life for a while, so I took the easy option of doing the bare minimum job searching to receive Unemployment Insurance, as I figured I was “owed it”, having worked since I was first authorized to, in April 2001.
This was the wrong kind of thinking and I fell into the trap…
The UI I was receiving was just enough to cover our costs, so I coasted along, dipping into our savings, if I needed to.
Sometime in the Spring of 2011, though, I realized I was living in a manner I felt was dishonest, so came off the UI and started living off the rest of our savings and the paltry amount I had in my 401(k). I really should have done that earlier, as it meant that I was now facing an even bigger struggle in obtaining even an interview for a job.
What this meant was, that as well as, almost frantically, firing off numerous job applications a week, I started to toy with ideas for starting a business. Some may never work, and those that do might not make me a millionaire, but I feel much better about my lot in life and certainly believe that America is still the land of opportunity, you just need to put some effort in to your version of the “American Dream” and not sit back, expecting others to give it to you.
The job I have now is temporary, but looks like it will last well in to 2012, with a reasonable wage. As soon as our debts are back down and our savings start to build, I feel that my renewed confidence in myself means that, one way or another, things will just get better and better for me and my family, as time goes on.
2012 is the year that I will finally start making a difference. Grow up, if you like.
You can do it, too. Just think about all the things you want in life and start working towards them. Baby steps are all you need, too.
For example. I want my family and I to have our own place in the country, where we can live as self-sufficiently as possible. This will mean moving from our city dwelling, which in turn means “doing it up” for an eventual sale. So my first step? Dressing up for work! Hey… fixing this place ready for sale will take a lot of money, so I’m taking on that old adage: “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have”. Sure, I’m getting some resistance from my colleagues, (my current assignment is in a place where “business casual” is the mode of dress), but donning a shirt, tie and dress pants has boosted my confidence.
Here’s an honest to God, truthful story about how just that small decision to “dress up” for work
I spent one lunchtime, last week, out looking for a winter jacket that went with my attire better then the cheap, faux fur-lined WalMart hoodie! As I was perusing the display at the local J C Penney’s, an older lady approached me.
“Yes?” I replied.
“Could you tell me where I can find the ‘Nobo’ stuff?”
I was taken aback, a little, as I’m sure most any of us are, when mistaken for a store employee.
“Er… no, I’m sorry. I don’t work here, I’m just shopping.”
Her response, really floored me.
“Oh! I am sorry,” she said, looking apologetic. “I thought you were the Manager!”
The Manager! Not a Sales Assistant… but the Manager!
I was literally speechless for a moment.
I don’t know if she heard me, but I responded, with a big smile “Oh! That’s quite alright!”
Yes… 2012 is going to be a good year…
Every night, 10 men met at a restaurant for dinner. At the end of the meal, the bill would arrive. They owed $100 for the food that they shared.
Every night they lined up in the same order at the cash register. The first four men paid nothing at all. The fifth, grumbling about the unfairness of the situation, paid $1. The sixth man, feeling very generous, paid $3. The next three men paid $7, $12 and $18, respectively.
The last man was required to pay the remaining balance, $59. He realized that he was forced to pay for not only his own meal but the unpaid balance left by the first five men.
The 10 men were quite settled into their routine when the restaurant threw them into chaos by announcing that it was cutting its prices.
Now dinner for the 10 men would only cost $80. This clearly would not affect the first four men. They still ate for free. The fifth and sixth men both claimed their piece of the $20 right away. The fifth decided to forgo his $1 contribution. The sixth pitched in $2. The seventh man deducted $2 from his usual payment and paid $5. The eighth man paid $9. The ninth man paid $12, leaving the last man with a bill of $52.
Outside of the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings, and angry outbursts began to erupt.
The sixth man yelled, “I only got $1 out of the $20, and he got $7,” pointing at the last man.
The fifth man joined in. “Yeah! I only got $1 too. It is unfair that he got seven times more than me.”
The seventh man cried, “Why should he get $7 back when I only got $2?”
The nine men formed an outraged mob, surrounding the 10th man.
The first four men followed the lead of the others: “We didn’t get any of the $20. Where is our share?”
The nine angry men carried the 10th man up to the top of a hill and lynched him.
The next night, the nine remaining men met at the restaurant for dinner. But when the bill came, there was no one to pay it.
This past October, Bruce McLane wrote an article at the RugbyMag.com website suggesting that “We Don’t Have To Be Minnows“, when it comes to the sport of rugby, on a global scale, and makes some suggestions, as a fix.
Basically, his theory is this: pick 50 or so ruggers at every level and concentrate on their development.
Its a feasible and sensible plan.
I was born in Wales, who sit at number 8 in the IRB’s rankings, (compared to the USA‘s number 17), at the time of writing. Wales is not a big country, in fact their population is less than that of thirty of the United States!
Lets have a look at some figures, then…
Number Of Registered Players: 50,557
Population (est. 2010): 3,006,400
%age of population: 1.68
Number Of Registered Players: 88,151
%age of population: 0.03
So, as you can see, the United States already has more registered players than Wales. Also, for the USA to get to the point where it has 1.68% of its population playing rugby, we would need 5,241,948 registered players!
My point is that we already should not be minnows, but a dominant force, in world rugby. With some of the recent announcements of the professionalization of parts of the game, at a National level, by USA Rugby, the Utah Warriors heading into their second season and the 7’s game being made an Olympic sport with a debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, now, the whispers are getting louder and slowly a fully professional rugby set up is not some fanciful, pie-in-the-sky idea of a few visionaries…