Summer “Mode” (brain now switching to STANDBY mode)

(it’s almost always summer mode around here…)

The Hermosa Beach Summer Sunset Concert Series

Now that Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of summer, has come and gone, I’m easing myself into “Summer” mode. Summer, the season lasting from June 20th (at 4:09 PST –  which is the Summer Solstice, if you are a member of the Druid faith) to September 22nd (at 7:49 a.m.), actually doesn’t begin for three weeks, but I’m already feeling that inner personal pressure from deep inside the brain to try to get NOTHING done.

“Why, Tim? Why are you turning off your brain now that the days are longer and warmer and the nights shorter?” you ask. Well, thanks for asking. I know most of you readers (few as you are) would miss me if I actually turned my brain all the way off for 3 months. So, just to allay your fears, I am NOT going to totally turn off my brain. I’m just going to put it on the back burner so speak. How could I pass on blogging about politics, “Cold Void,” summer TV, the decay of society, my job hunting prospects and other “off topics?”

We’re “Programmed” to take Summer “off”

What it comes down to is that I’ve been programmed to take the summers off by my ancestors. Thanks, mom and dad! You see, in the “olden times” in the U.S., kids went to school after the growing season was done in the Fall. The school year lasted all Winter (walking 50 miles! In bare feet! Every day!) into Spring and then took the entire Summer off to work in the fields and farms. The only field I worked in during summer was my backyard growing up, throwing crab apples at other kids in epic, cross-neighborhood, running battles until someone caught one in the eye or tempers flared with the heat. There were the 4-week growing seasons where I DID work at Doehne’s Strawberry Farm (Michigan’s BIGGEST U-Pick Strawberry Farm!!!), but mostly my summers were spent devoid of any learning or productivity. At least I played outside most of the time, unlike kids today…

By the time I returned to grade school the following Fall, after slaving away all Summer softening my brain, I would have trouble spelling the word “the.” No lie! I actually spent five minutes in Mrs. Marlette’s class in 3rd grade one September trying to figure out the word “the.” This and the fact that the band director, after my tryout for an instrument, told me to “never play an instrument,” led me into a spiral of self-doubt that plagues me to this day. (Thank God I turned out pretty good-looking and could f*cking care less what people think…) The lesson to be learned here are:

1. Parents – home school your children! Unless, you know, you’re not really that smart and/or you’re just going to teach them Intelligent Design and that Adam and Eve rod on dinosaurs and that science is dangerous. Nevermind, forget this idea. We’ve seen how certain states have (ahem) “benefitted” from this approach.

2. But, kids should be taught year round. It’s great preparation for the soul-crushing reality of life once you graduate from high school: yes, kids, you’re not going to get that WHOLE summer off anymore. Welcome to the real world.

Summer as an adult is NOT summer as a kid

After graduation from high school and needing a job to pay for things when not hitting the books (hahahaha) at the University of Wisconsin, I realized my summers no long existed as they once did. Throughout my professional life, they have never existed. You see, I actually worked each summer. Usually inside a mall, selling shitty men’s clothes to other “professionals.” I saw the beautiful glare of the sunset only as I stared out the doors to the store while standing under the harsh fluorescents. I missed out on deep, even tans and daytime activities that my friends did such as drinking and canoeing, or drinking and fishing, or drinking. Maybe it was a good thing to have a job each summer… Clearly, summer is only for kids. And I am not one.

What the hell, who cares?

As Calvin and Hobbes once said, "The Days are just packed."

Yet, I am still going to pretend like I am a kid again and enjoy my summer. Now that I am back to “amateur status” (aka NO JOB), I am going to go to the beach more often. I already got back on the volleyball court last weekend. Of course, I am still paying physically for that, but it’s Summer; nothing a beer or 12 won’t cure…

Maybe I’ll find a few $20’s in a book on my shelf and I can go golf…

Some days, I’ll just do nothing at all…

I’m going to do some exploring around Southern California. I’ll take little 100 mile road trips and write articles. Maybe I’ll spin this into a travel writing gig…

Maybe I’ll even look for a girlfriend…

(Summer is the best time to find a girlfriend, in my opinion. When you meet your soon-to-be-girlfriend at the beach, you already know what your getting. It’s not like meeting her in the winter and you realize she really wasn’t wearing four sweaters. But, finding a girlfriend during the summer is great because you can easily build a relationship without all those pesky holidays, and plans surrounding them, intruding on establishing something. PLUS, my birthday is in September, just enough time for this mythical woman to learn enough about me to get me a cool present!)

Yes, I think that this summer is going to be fun. Unless, that is I return to “pro” status and get a job… (sigh)

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The “90% Turnover Project” – or “Throw ‘Em All Out!”

(I’d advocate for a full overthrow of the entire U.S. Government, but they are probably watching me already…)

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.” – special guest commentator, Mark Twain – Thanks, Mark!

Where good, honest, intelligent ideas and compromise go to die...

Government is NOT Politics, and Politics is NOT Government. Or at least they shouldn’t BE the same. You may think they are. The Dumb Ass Ewok Tribe and The Great Evil Empire Propaganda Machine, or better known to you as CNN and FOX News respectively, often use them interchangeably. Here in this country, we tend to blur the definition of the two until they become the same thing, and that’s a damned shame.

For those of you who didn’t take a civics class, or haven’t used a dictionary in a while, here are the definitions of each:

     Government: The system by which a nation, state, or community is governed.

     Politics: The art or science of government*** (I would say that this definition has even been co-opted by many to be more defined by one’s sympathies or opinions and that government is no longer “governed” by art or science and is governed more by emotion)

Government is a great system for regulating people to do things that they don’t want to do and keeping others from doing the things that they would like to do. It’s a form of subjugation in the sheep’s clothing of citizen protection, controlling the population with curbs against free will so that the MAJORITY is (or should be) protected from the “minority,” who in the view of the government, are out to get them.

But, this column today is NOT about government. It’s about the 90% of Congress that doesn’t have a positive rating. It’s about politics and its infestation with the U.S. Legislative branch and what, if you are even remotely interested in the course of your country and the responsibility of your elected officials, you can do about it.

In case you didn’t notice, it’s a presidential election year. And that makes politics for every office so much crazier. Every little thing is nitpicked. Networks brush off their “campaign trail” logos with new graphics, add new, catchy music, and pick new “hype” words. But, it’s really the same old thing, every two and four years. Unfortunately, we’ll probably get the same old (and getting older) people, doing the same old thing, and we’ll all complain the same old way about how nothing is getting done.

Secretly, I like politics in the same way I like the movie “The Room.” It’s awful and just horrible to watch, but I get a certain glee out of it, shaking my head, shouting at the TV and secretly wishing I was on the floor of the U.S. Congress so I could drop “F-bombs” and call assholes “asshole” to their faces! The very thing that is wrong with Government today is the very thing I would use to cure it. Why not turn up the volume to 11 and fight the fire with fire until it all burns itself out?  If Congress were more like “The Hunger Games,” you can rest assured that we would vote in the smartest, best fit, and strongest candidates to represent us. Not just the ones with the most money.

Unfortunately, the idiots running the show in D.C. are the most connected. It’s like “Survivor” but it’s the agents of the contestants that are playing the game while everyone else suffers.

(yes, I know TONS of analogies today!!!)

I always thought I would make a good, if not great representative or senator to the U.S. Congress for several reasons:

I’m SMART – certainly smarter than some of the imbeciles that currently represent various citizenry throughout the U.S.  This clearly indicates that either these representatives ARE a direct reflection of their constituents OR none of the smart people in that district bother to vote. Both are scary ideas to consider. (QUICK: Name YOUR U.S. REP and your U.S. SENATOR and what their (your?) position is on your most cherished concern.)

I’m LOGICAL but EMPATHETIC. This is a rare combination. I can talk about many subjects and weigh both sides equally in my head and my heart, listening to both sides. When was the last time you heard about a person speaking on the floor of the House or Senate utilizing both logic and passion or passionate logic or logical passion to further a cause? No, today all you hear about is about how much “our side” and “their side” is or are to blame. As a constituent, do I know which side I am supposed to be on?

And I would make sure to be totally TRANSPARENT, revealing every person who walked in my office, called into my office or met with me and I’d never take money from someone or some corporation that didn’t reside in MY DISTRICT.

Since those reasons alone will most likely keep me from ever reaching a position representing MOST Americans, I’d thought I’d share a few other reasons why I won’t ever make it into politics:

1. I’d have to move. Even if I did ever become a State Rep here in California, I’d have to go to Sacramento. Who the f*ck wants to go to Sacramento? Hell, even the Sacramento Kings don’t want to be in Sacramento and they are pro sports stars!  If I still lived in Wisconsin, I’d love to be in Madison and I suppose Lansing is alright… If I ever was elected to the U.S. Congress, I’d have to go to Washington, D.C. and I really, really don’t want to go to D.C.  But, seeing as how little work they do there (approximately 108 total working days in the entire 2012 calendar year), I could possibly swing this…

2. I have a “background.” Years ago, the sh*t that I did as a kid and even last weekend would have gotten me thrown out of the primaries! Yet, as the years have gone by and we have accepted Presidents that “didn’t inhale,” “had done cocaine,” and “hung out with radical reverends,” and have admonished, but accepted, an assortment of Representatives and Senators with peccadilloes I parents would blush at, my transgressions seem to pale in comparison…

3. I don’t have tons of dispensable $$$ to run for office. Enough said on that topic.

4. I’d have to stop writing this blog and really, there isn’t anything more than I like than picking a fight for discussion’s sake…

So, since we can’t have somewhat honest, smart, funny people like me in Congress, what can we do? We can work tirelessly to remove as much of the problem as possible. If you are interested in more about how to clean up Congress, I invite you to the Facebook Page “The 90% Turnover Project” at https://www.facebook.com/The90TurnoverProject

Until then, I am going to go cause some trouble…

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Coming Out of A Three Day Weekend

(actually, ALL my weekends are three day weekends, or four day… or five day… or six day…)

It's very hard to come back from a three day weekend.

Even when I did have a job (and I am really, really, really looking forward to that again),  it was always tough for me to come back from a long weekend. And trust me I say this, writing this blog today is not that different. It’s really tough to come back to the “reality” of life after a long weekend. And some three day weekends are tougher than others.

So, I’d pose a question to you, my readers: Is it harder to come back from a three day weekend when the extra day off is Friday or on a Monday? I’m going to give you MY opinion, because it’s my blog.

The “Friday Off” Three Day Weekend

Traditionally, I like this type of three day weekend, which usually happens when date-driven holidays, such as Christmas, New Year’s, 4th of July, etc. happen when the date falls on a Friday. With a Friday off, it make Thursday that much more fun as the night out. Your Friday is suddenly a Saturday. Two Saturdays!!! What’s so bad about that? But, the really great part of a three day weekend on which you get Friday off is that Sunday, a traditional rest/recuperation day, holds its place and then you can ease yourself back into the work week again on Monday. If you live in the South Bay, trust me, this is necessary to maintain normalcy and so much better on the liver/body.

And then going back to “work” on the ensuing Monday, you follow the “normal” plan and everything seems right with the world, work seems easier and you’re typically more focused.

“Down For the Count” Monday Off Three Day Weekend

This is the three day weekend that typically screws with my system the most. It’s suddenly Tuesday, not Monday? What the hell? I’m already behind schedule this week? How did that happen? It makes me ask questions such as “What day IS it?” and “Where’s the coffee?” “Is this a trash/recycling day?”

When you come back from this type of a three day weekend, such as Memorial Day or Labor Day, in which Monday IS the day off, you are already screwed. You think your NORMAL Monday is bad? Try a Tuesday/Monday. Suddenly, nothing makes sense. You forget that the Tuesday morning department meeting is today, NOT tomorrow. Your body clock is still on Monday mode, moving slowly, even though today is the big push on that new project. The only good thing is that EVERYONE else is in this same boat. Which makes for a slow business day.

Which begs the question: shouldn’t there be a day off to recover from a three day weekend? 🙂

Now, I’m off to find more things to keep me from actually working today…

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Memorial Day…

Off Topic Tim is off (and has been) for the weekend!  We will return either tomorrow or on Tuesday, when the drudgery of job hunting, resume emailing and generally finding ways to make some cash begin again.

Until then, enjoy the weather wherever you are! Here in Hermosa Beach, it IS FAN-TASTIC!

 

Tim

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The Art of Turning House Sitting Into a Vacation

(if I had to do it all over again, I’d be a professional house/pet sitter…)

My last real vacation was with these (great) people.

Looking back, with the exception of my best friend’s 40th birthday celebration held in Key West over a five or six day (I forget) period of debauchery, non-diving and extreme drinking three years ago, I have not taken a TRUE vacation in over eight years, when I took off for five weeks to solo hike El Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain.

Part of this non-taking of the vacation is due to timing and most of it is due to financial constraints.

(Just as an aside, if you are ever looking to test yourself both physically and mentally and come out with a richly rewarding spiritual and cultural experience, find the time to hike for four weeks from the French Pyrenees to the city of Santiago de Compostela in far Western Spain on this ancient pilgrimage. You’ll thank yourself someday.)

But, Spain wasn’t much of a vacation. It was a Quest. El Camino is not an expensive trip, staying at church run alburgues (hostels) and eating ‘pilgrim’s meals’ at local restaurants. A total cost to me of about 25 euros a day to hike, eat and sleep. The two days following in London cost me as much as the previous four weeks had!

A vacation should be time to just chill and enjoy the local food and drink(s), dip my toes in crystal clear, warm ocean waters, SCUBA dive deep below the waves or hike up to a waterfall or an ancient ruin in the jungle, like a PROPER vacation should be. Vacations are NOT going home to visit the family in December-cold Michigan. I love my family to death, but I’m often more tired AFTER visiting them from the weather and activities.

And if you were to not include this pilgrimage, my last vacation would have been in 1987 with my parents as we drove from San Fran to LA. In a car. With the family. Depressing…

Thankfully, though, I have friends who are constantly on the go and have lots of things planned, from weddings and get-togethers, to actual family vacations.  And because I am constantly without plans, a family or any other obligations, I am the go-to guy to house and dog sit. I am not complaining by any stretch of the imagination. To me, this has become MY vacation time. It’s my pied de terre. My second home. My HQ. And, it does have both its advantages and disadvantages.

Like all good vacations, even to those places where you’ve been many times before, there is an initial exploratory phase to get the lay of the land so to speak. WHERE do my friends keep their toaster!!!! WHY are there so many condiments in this fridge!!! On my current “vacation,” I quickly found my guest room and laid out my clothes for the week, consisting of gym clothes and my “writing clothes” which are sometimes plucked from the same clothes grouping…

This current extended stay vacation comes with Riley, who most of you know already if you are a Facebook Friend. Eager to great me, she quickly settles into her various sleeping poses. We schedule out our walks for the week, agreeing that 7 a.m. seemed reasonable wake up time and for both a quick bite and a walk, and then we quickly devolve into vacation mode, which is why writing this damn post is really getting to be a pain in my ass!

Riley's vacation time activities and mine are often synchronized..

Riley's vacation time activities and mine are often synchronized..

Even though I am 4 blocks from my house, I might as well be a world away from my home. Here, I have access to hundreds and hundreds of TV channels and can catch up on “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” and whatever else I don’t have access to home. This is very distracting when you should be telling yourself to write (i.e. this blog, “Cold Void” information, building the Cocktails and Movies website, looking for a job, etc., etc., etc.). Already, this vacation is killing me!  🙂

I also have access to appliances like a washer and dryer, which is a blessing when your laundry piles high.

Then there’s the stocked kitchen. The last words my friends said to me as I dropped them off at LAX (another service I provide) were, “Help yourself to anything in the kitchen.” I will. I have. I suspect that this serves a purpose for them as well: cleaning up the fridge of anything that is about to go bad. I will have to double my efforts at the gym as I graze through both the upper and lower parts of the Frigidaire AND the cupboards…

But, what really makes this a vacation for me is the silence and comfort. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my place. It’s the perfect size for a single man (alas), with comforts that I’ve always wanted to own. But, when I go on vacation to my friends’ house, I sleep in a very comfortable bed and don’t have to hear the sounds of loud, drunken 20-somethings talking about how they can’t believe that, “Tiffany was making out with Travis even though he just made out with Muffy. OMIGOD, RIGHT?” (how much trouble can one get into using an air rifle and BB’s to quiet the drunken cattle at 2:30A.M.?)  In this vacation home, the windows weren’t made in the 1940’s and actual reflect sound away rather than draw it in and amplify it. I slept through an entire night without waking up last night…

Unfortunately, someday I will have to say to my friends, “I’m sorry I can’t this weekend. I have plans.” I know, I know. I’m laughing at that thought as much as you are. I’ll honestly be very disappointed that day for putting my friends out. I’ll miss my vacations here. And in some weird way, I suspect that I’ll hate whatever I will be doing instead of house sitting here. I’ve grown accustomed to helping out. It gives me a purpose.

And a place to get away from doing nothing at all at my place to doing nothing here! The way a good vacation should be!

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