Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tater Tot 2003 - 2017

That line between life and death is such a strange place.  While dealing with it seems to get easier, it's never easy.  And when that line becomes a thin sliver it becomes more strange than painful.  My orange boy seemed almost playful on the floor of the examination room at the vet's office.  As I stroked him and caressed him the purring was intense.  I swear I think he knew the end was near.

The doctor was very open and honest about it.  This was her recommendation based on his low body temperature, his heavy breathing, and the lump in his abdominal area.  And I knew this going in because I've seen it too many times before.  His energy level since the past weekend was probably a tenth of what would be normal.  (He did show a burst of resistance when I was trying to get him in the carrier.  I guess he was holding enough in reserve to protest that most-loathed process.)

They took him to another room to prepare him for the injection and then brought him back to me for a final brief encounter.  As much as I wanted to sit there and love on him all afternoon I knew there was no point in dragging it out.  He was my boy and he knew it.  He was comfortable with me there.  

The first injection would simply make him sleep.  And it literally did not take more than a few short seconds before he rested his head on his paw.  The doctor asked if I wanted to spend more time with him and offered me a beeper I could use to summon her when I was ready.  It was a nice gesture and I'm sure some people need that.  I didn't.  It was time to move forward with this.  I wanted him to be set free of his pain and discomfort more than I wanted a few more sleeping minutes of his companionship.

"Go ahead," I said.  "Let's do this."

This injection would stop his heart and his breathing.  As she began the injection it backfired and sprayed both of us with the sticky pink death goo.  She apologised profusely and went to fetch another syringe.  I'm not sure it mattered.  His breathing stopped just seconds later while my hand was still comforting him.  She continued with the replacement syringe just to be sure the job was being done.

And that was that.  All of my anxiety from the past few days was vanquished.  I was still sad but relieved.  The quiet drive home was vastly different.  Even with four other cats in the house there is a strange void right now.  That will dissipate as well.

I grabbed my gloves and a shovel and dug another in a series of holes in the ground.  When I pulled his limp lifeless body from the carrier I was somewhat startled by what's left behind in the absence of life.  Life is what drove that body for his 13+ years of robust existence.  The connection we shared was evident when we had eye contact and that was driven by life as well.  What was life just a short time earlier was now not life.  The eyes which had been a passage were now just non-functioning eyes leading nowhere.  How can anything so natural feel so strange?  

I still have to detach myself from thought when I'm burying my companion of so many years.  I have to become almost robotic.  It's a job needing to be done and it's my job to get it completed.  I did.

I loved my boy.

Tater Tot
March, 2012

Monday, May 23, 2016

10 Years

It was 10 years ago today when I started this blog.  Why does it seem like 30 years?

Whatever.  I'll use any excuse for a party.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Anatomy of a Record Collection

For years I have thought about compiling a list in a spreadsheet of every record I currently own and including other interesting information such as the year it was released, the name of the producer, whether I own it on vinyl or compact disc, etc.  I always thought it would be a monumental task.  It wasn't so bad, actually.  I only spent a few hours a day over a period of five days getting this job completed.  The payoff takes only a few seconds after applying a pivot table to the data!

So, without further ado, here's a summary of the 1,000+ recordings.

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There are a scant few MP3s and some flexidisks taken from magazines which would take this up to 100%.

The Producers:

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This is essentially a three-way tie. Steve Lillywhite isn't far behind. Sad to say but both of the Martins are now deceased. Martin Rushent went to the great studio in the sky earlier this year.  So Hannett won't mind that his 2nd T got cut off.

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This data would probably be vastly different if I had kept all the albums I purchased as a teen. However, the early 1980s were a great new era for me with punk/new wave stuff. I was a bit perplexed by 1995 showing up here but after investigating I realized this was largely due to my enthusiasm for jazz which began to blossom in the mid-90s.

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And speaking of jazz.  I have some older Bessie Smith from the 1920s on CD, but that was all part of a compilation pulled from different times and performances.  I included this Stan Getz release because it was the oldest material I have that was ever released originally under this album title.  Unfortunately I do not own it on vinyl.

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 I was a bit surprised by this.  I expected the UK bands to edge out the US.  But there are even greater surprises ahead.

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While the US and UK artists comprise the vast majority of my collection, the #1 and #2 artists most represented in my collection by albums are Canadians!  And as if that's not enough, the Canadian band Rush is about to get bumped into the #1 position as soon as I replace a few albums that I had as a teen and unloaded!  Go Canada!

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While Stan Getz gets the award for oldest recorded album, this is actually the oldest original vinyl I own. I would love to know how many parties this one serenaded in the late 50s!  FIESTA!!

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I guess I wasn't terribly surprised at the #1 record label represented in my collection. Some of the earliest albums I loved as a teen were on this label.  And it just kept going... Jazz, rock, new wave, country, blues.

However, I have taken Frank Zappa up on his advice and not done a breakdown of my albums by genre.  That's too damn hard and, frankly, it is a ridiculous exercise.  It's music.  If you love it, listen to it.

This post is dedicated to this guy.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Get The Funk Out My Face

I really do not know where to start.  Maybe if the people had started a revolution in the streets in 2000 I would not now be at such a loss for words.

I've been in a major funk now for at least 6 months. By major funk I mean severe mood swings generally ranging from lethargy (i.e. not giving a fuck about anything) to morbid depression.  As for the good moments, yes I do have a few.  They tend to be short-lived, perhaps an hour here and there, unless you count the three hours in the evening when I am inebriated and even those are not always a joyous occasion.  At least hard liquor is no longer a player in this game.  It has been almost two months since vodka has passed my lips, and prior to that episode it had been a month.  So, in three months there's been one bottle of vodka.  At this point I guess I can rule that out as being a cause of this intense malaise.

There really is no clearly defined reason for this.  I have a job.  I work from home.  I have decent benefits including health insurance, if you call a $5,000 deductible good health insurance.  I do not.  Basically any medical needs are out-of-pocket but I'm insured against a mild to major catastrophe should I happen to need medical services running in the $6,000 to $10,000 range, or $100,000 for that matter.  Of course, with the next calendar year I'm back on the hook again with a $5,000 deductible.  I guess the worst case scenario would be running up about $4,900 in medical bills every year which would be a truly fucked scenario.  But I digress so let's not go there.

I do get thoroughly disgusted by politics.  I was foolish enough to believe that if I could ever get through eight years of George W. Bush, everything would be better.  In theory that might have been true.  At least we didn't get McCain/Palin served to us in 2008.  (I actually had to Google "2008 presidential election" because I was drawing a total blank on who the assholes were during that cycle.)  But what we got was a black man.  OK, so he's half black, but that's black enough for the knuckle draggers to get their panties all knotted up in their ass cracks.  Honestly, an eight year cycle of blatant racism is not what I expected as a follow-up to the Bush terms.  It never showed up on my radar because I thought, for the most part, we had moved beyond that like Paula Deen.  I guess I was afflicted with SCOTUS syndrome before it became trendy.

Aside from that pesky little race thing, there have been a series of disappointments politically.  I cannot quite fathom why there is such a divide in this country.  Every election and opinion poll seems to be ridiculously close.  The election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts threw me into a tizzy.  Yeah, he served one term and yeah, he was defeated by Elizabeth Warren in 2012.  That's what I would expect in Massachusetts.  I grew up with the impression that Massachusetts was one of those liberal places.  However, if a 54% to 46% victory is what defines a liberal place now after the glaring mistake of voting in Scott Brown, we're in some deep fucking shit.

It would be nice to claim it as an aberration but the most recent victory by Democrat Ed Markey over Republican Gabriel Gomez was 55% to 45%.  It matters not to me whether all eligible voters would have made this a more decisive victory, and it probably wouldn't have.  But the fact is, here we are in 2013 and it's tough to find any issue where there isn't a 55/45 split, or closer.  Hell, 5-4 decisions by the Supreme Court have become about as predictable as a murder in Chicago.  I guess that's just where we are.  That just seems absurdly close to me, given the issues and the records of the candidates.  Perhaps Texas isn't so bad after all given the fact that Governor Rick Perry was elected in 2010 with only 55% percent of the vote.  Of course, I guess that's generous considering what a egregious despicable fuckwad he is. 

The problem seems to be the stupid white people. Exit Polls showed Perry winning whites by 71% to 29%, and losing the African Americans vote by 88% to 12% and Latinos 61% to 38%.  Why any white person would claim to be superior to others, or being God's chosen race is beyond my comprehension.  Let's be honest here:  most white people, and specifically most white voters, don't exactly fill my coffers with a lot of hope.  Those are overwhelmingly the so-called "swing voters" who can't quite make up their fucking minds just what they are besides fickle and stupid.

As much as I love to fantasize about moving away from Texas for the sake of my sanity, it really is a tough call when deciding where I would go.  Sure, we have this Asshole with good hair here posing as a governor and a bunch of silly pricks in the legislature who don't know the difference between a time stamp and a rape kit.  Sure, our fucking prick condones murder but have you checked out governors in places like Maine, Wisconsin, Florida and even New Jersey?  (Yes, sorry to break the news but Chris Christie is a fucking asshole.)  Let's not overlook Ohio and Virginia.  Ken Cuccinelli can suck my ass.  Yeah, like I'm gonna go to the trouble to pack up everything I own just to get away from here so I can be there and endure that.

No matter where I go, I will also know that my rants against whomever are being gathered up by the NSA/PRISM clusterfuck for safekeeping.  I can't imagine anyone in the Obama Administration deciding to personally let Governor Prick know that I think he has shit for brains.  But if they do, so be it.  Last time I checked we still have free speech rights in this country, as long as I don't interpret my speech rights to mean I can take some chalk down to the local Bank of Fucking America and give them a graphic piece of my mind on their cement slab.  Or the Fucking Bank of America for that matter.

If I could live anywhere in the US (and technically I could), it's a really tough call figuring out where now that politics have become so intolerable in so many places. Despite my profanity-laced diatribe, I don't want you to think I attribute all of my malaise purely on politics.

Last year during 10 months of unemployment I did a lot of religious soul-searching and came to the conclusion that I am, and have been for decades, a Buddhist.  And one thing that Buddhism taught me (and I'm paraphrasing here just a bit) is that all of this rampant bullshit stupidity is but a fleeting nanosecond on the great celestial clock.  The system is rigged and I can't change it by myself.  And if enough people aren't willing to listen and act, then fuck it with a bean pole.  I'm 53 years old.  If the future has a pocket to pick, it's with those who are 18-35 who still have about 30-45 more years of this shit to live with before facing whatever fucking passes as retirement when that time rolls around.  Jesus, I sound like one of those fucked up newfangled Myanmar Buddhists but seriously, I'm not violent;  I'm just fed the fuck up.

I should count all my blessings. The good news is I'm a white man.  I'll probably never have to wait more than 20 minutes to cast a ballot.  The bad news is I don't even care anymore.  Give me some time away and I'll check back in when the white man is playing second or third fiddle.  And thank God I'm not a young woman.  The idea of having to carry around a baby for 9 months, by law, after getting raped by an uncle, a brother, or a total stranger just does not sound very appealing to me.  I'm made as hell because my life is going to be disrupted for one Monday afternoon in August thanks to a jury duty summons.  I trust the system of justice in this country like I'd trust George Zimmerman with a handgun in colored town so pardon me if I seem un-American when it comes to my civic duties and all that shit.  I'm not the right guy for it.  Trust me, I know.

We don't have many politicians willing to go to extreme effort to do what is right to have a positive political impact and even then you can still get bulldozed over.  Fuck, you can do the most amazing service to your country ever and still get 45% of voters in the next election wanting your sorry ass removed, assuming you are lucky enough to get 55% or even 50% who want to keep you in.  It's fucked up.

Something else getting on my last nerve lately is Facebook.  At the time I'm writing this post I'm at the threshold of 2 weeks since I have posted a status update.  The longer I don't post the easier it is to not post. I certainly have not been off Facebook; I comment here and there on posts of other people, but I just haven't been in the mood to post anything of my own.  And I can't seem to make the leap to shut it down because in all honesty I'd lose contact with some people who are important to me.  I suppose I could always call them on the phone and talk live in real time but I have about as much use for a phone as I do a printed newspaper.  So I guess that's out.  Besides, I don't want to clutter up the NSA/PRISM database more than necessary.  But then again, I'm a white guy so I probably have a lot less to worry about.

I should probably avoid Facebook altogether around all holidays both major and minor.  Christmas, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Flag Day, Memorial Day, Fathers Day, Armistice Day, you name it.  The Borg collective kicks into high gear spending one day out of 365 to remember something or someone and then after that it's back to the bacon humor or whatever.  Seriously.  God herself didn't make these rules or set aside these days.  We did.  And it's pretty fucking stupid and arbitrary if you think about it.  And if you think 80% of your Facebook friends whom you've never met give a shit what your dead mother looked like then you are delusional.  And if you think it makes your dead mother proud then you have even bigger problems than I thought.  Deviate from the herd:  give her a shout out in the middle of October for no other reason than you were thinking of her.  Maybe it won't get lost in all the motherloving frenzy of a marketing gimmick.

And this leads me to prayer.  What is up with that shit?  I'd rather do something constructive with my time like clip my toenails.  I am no stranger to this religion stuff.  As a child I was hauled to a church pew every Sunday.  And my dad had been known to preach from the pulpit on occasion.  But when I'd ask, as a child, why does God let people die in horrible accidents, I'd get the cop-out line that "God works in mysterious ways" or "We don't always understand why but God has a plan for those people."

So basically then, why the fuck waste time praying?  God is busy.  Let God do God's infinite business and stop with the fucking selfish interruptions.  God isn't going to alter the outcome of your sports team's shitty performance.  God isn't going to save you from burning in the inferno of an airplane (or Ferrari) stunt gone awry.  God isn't going to breathe life into that dead cat you love so much and God sure as shit isn't going to bless your fucking corrupt nation.  So get over yourselves.  Can you imagine how it might impact OPEC if just the Southern Baptists stopped driving their SUVs to church on Sunday?  If it's that important to you, walk to church!  Like Jesus.  You know, instead of walking 5 miles on that dumbass treadmill at the secular gym.

Of course there are good religious people out there and my rant is not directed at those people.  I still don't get it but if it makes you feel good then do it.  My beef is primarily with people who feel they can pray away teh gay and others of that ilk.

What the fuck does the valet have to do with anything??

The past 8 weeks have probably done more to destroy my hope for the United States than anything in the last 12 years combined.  And that's really saying something considering some of the good news out there.  Everyday is either something new or more of the same bullshit.  Maybe I'm just too sensitive but a big part of me knows it's just horribly wrong, unethical and immoral when my government is creating crime and popping people off on death row while screaming about the sanctity of life. This is all fucking nuts!

I think I need to go away to clear my head.  Iceland comes to mind frequently.  Hell, I'd even take Ecuador.  But I'd want a direct route, not some bullshit detour through Hong Kong and the fucking Sheremetyevo transit lounge in fucking Putinland, however nice it may be with the amenities and all.  And it may take me quite a while to clear my head so can I just buy a one-way ticket for now and come back when the job is done or will that flag me for a fucking strip search and a DNA harvest at the airport?

This is all moot speculation.  I don't even have a valid passport.

Happy Friday!  Let the good times roll!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Pussy Blog

Sweet Pea
1999 - 3/29/2013

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What a strange week it has been.  Sweet Pea was his usual old self until a few days ago when I noticed he wasn't eating as much.  Then a day or two later it was obvious he wasn't eating anything.  On Wednesday Sheldon noticed he seemed weak and wobbled a bit when walking.

We agreed he probably needed to see the vet.  Sheldon made the call and brought the pet carrier out to the patio.  Sweet Pea was curled up at the fence in the back of the yard.  He seemed oddly nervous when I went to fetch him.  In fact he tried to get away from me but I carried him to the patio and poked him into the carrier.  He let out a very guttural protest -- a sound I would only hear him make when he had eaten something and was about to vomit, or when he had a live critter in his mouth.

I really didn't think for a moment that it would be the last time I'd see him.  But that's how it played out.  Sweet Pea fell to the same liver/kidney failure that claims so many other cats including at least two of our previous felines. 

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Sweet Pea and his two siblings were brought to our back patio by their mother.  The mother lived across the street from us and I never knew her name.  I just referred to her as Big Thumbs.  She was a polydactyl with an extra toe on each of her front feet giving her the appearance of very large thumbs.

There was Sweet Pea, the short-haired black cat; Coal Pot (on bottom in photo) was black with longer hair, and then Sissy the tortoiseshell.  Sissy, named for the Sissy Hankshaw character in Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, also inherited the big thumbs.  Sissy was the only one of the three we kept inside the house.  Coal Pot disappeared after perhaps a year.

Sweet Pea has been a fixture in the back yard for so long I can hardly believe I won't be watching him strut across the yard as I sit at my desk working during the day.  On a positive note I won't be having to run out on a lizard rescue mission every few days this summer.  He had a nasty habit of catching lizards and bringing them to the patio in his mouth.  I'd have to grab his neck sometimes to get him to release them and often they wouldn't even have a puncture wound.  I won't miss those moments.  The lizards can finally live in peace.

I am convinced Sweet Pea, perhaps like all cats, was psychic.  He was very skittish around strangers.  A strange car pulling into the drive would raise all kinds of red flags with him in spite of the fence between the yard and the drive.  And yet, if he was sleeping, I could go out the front door of the house and walk around to the back, open the gate and walk on up to the patio where he was sleeping without him even flinching or raising his head.  Somehow he always knew it was me and not a stranger.

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He would always respond in some way when I'd say his name.  Even when he was coiled up sleeping I could whisper his name and the white claws on his feet would extend along with a bit of paw curling.  He also enjoyed it when I would grab his snout and rub up his face, across his ears and all the way down his back to his tail.  One of my favorite things to do was to grab his face with my hand and shake his head vigorously while saying "Sweet Pea!  I'm going to pinch your head off!"  He actually enjoyed that.

Once in awhile we'd allow him to come in the house in the evening for a few minutes.  He'd walk around and check out everything and then was ready to go back out.  Two or three times I took him to the master bedroom where Sissy lives so he could visit with his sister.  Sissy is about ten times more skittish of just about everything.  She despises Tater Tot and Jessie Lee and prefers solitude and being left alone.  Allowing either of those cats in the bedroom would send her scurrying for a place to hide.  Strangely enough, even though she hadn't been with Sweet Pea since they were kittens, she had no problems with his presence.  I would even take Sweet Pea in there and place him on the bed with her and there would be no adverse reaction.

This is my fourth cat to cross over to whatever comes after.  Three of the four have timed it to happen around some memorable date.  Jezebel was the first and had to be put down on Memorial Day.  Samantha just expired in the house on some anonymous date that I don't specifically recall.  Tiger took care of his own expiration last year by doing it on or just before my birthday, and now Sweet Pea exits on Good Friday which made it impossible for me not to... umm...resurrect the Friday Pussy Blog.

So long, boy.  I know you loved me and the feeling was mutual.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2012 In My Rearview Mirror

I still like these even if Joe thinks they are passé.  However, my life is a bit more boring than Joe's.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Probably coming to terms with the fact that I'm more Buddhist than I am anything else in terms of religions.  I've never been hellbent (pardon the expression) on religions and I seriously explored Judaism this year, but Buddhist is what I've always been, even when I didn't know it, or thought I had no religious slant.  But I'm not in your face about it.  It just is.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I've kind of given up for the most part.  It's too hard for me to adhere to one single day to make a resolution.  I need to ease into it.  I did get a picture hung today which has sort of been a resolution off and on for 20+ years. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not that I know of.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Lost a Facebook friend in April.  And I'm kind of glad we had never met because it's so much easier to deal with when you remove that personal dimension.

5. What places did you visit?

Like travel?  I didn't leave town unless you count Round Rock for an IKEA trip.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

I would like to have a job for the entire year.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

(a) Election Day because I never get what I want and this time I got a bonanza on so many different levels.

(b) The day after Election Day, while I was enjoying my blissful state, I got a job offer which I accepted.

8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year?

Probably getting about 25 books read while I was unemployed.  I got reconnected with Buddhism and Eastern philosophy which helped eradicate a lost of depression I routinely experience.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I didn't stop smoking.  I gave it the best run for the money ever, and for a few days I was down to 3 cigs a day.  Then 3-5.  This is the hardest thing to kick. 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

None at all.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Really happy I decided to get a Nikon D7000 camera.  That was a great gift to myself.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I have to quote Joe verbatim on this one:  Chief Justice John Roberts. I may never agree with another decision he makes in my entire life, but by casting the swing vote to uphold Obamacare he quite literally changed tens of millions of American lives for the better. Good on him.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

The leader of the NRA whose name I shall not speak.  And pretty much anyone and everyone on the far right during the election year. 

14. Where did most of your money go?


15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I was really excited about reading books!  And when my stereo amplifier when on the fritz I had to hook up my mid-80s tube amp in the interim and was blown the hell away by how great vinyl records sounded.  And Elizabeth Warren beating Scott Brown.  And the marijuana vote in Colorado and Washington.  Buying a box set of every Blur LP.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

This is always a tough one because music is pretty timeless for me.  And just because a song reminds me of 2012 doesn't necessarily mean I like the song.  But Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" caught my attention during the start of the year when I was being laid off AND feeling like shit.  So definitely that one.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) Happier or sadder?
Happier.  Definitely.
b) thinner or fatter?
About the same.  Thin with a beer gut that needs to go away.
c) richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

For some reason I can only think of things I wish I'd done less of.  Sorry!

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Oh fuck.  I didn't see this coming.  Just go back to #9.

20. How did you spend Christmas this year?

Lunch with my neighbors and their family.  It was lovely.  Then an evening at home.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

With more music.

22. How was work?

Considering I didn't work between 13th January and 8th November it was great!  But it's been even better now that I've started back again.  I'm getting my mojo back again.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

Just whatever.  Home improvement shows and cooking shows.  (I am going to miss No Reservations.)

24. What did you do for your birthday in 2012?

Nothing much.  Read a book.  Probably went out for lunch.

25. What was the best book you read?

Mercy.  I can't begin to tell you.  I enjoyed the hell out of Alan Watts.  And a D.T. Suzuki book called "Zen and Japanese Culture."

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Blur and Gorillaz.  I totally fell in love with Gorillaz and then Damon Albarn and then started working my way back thru the Blur discography.  Got their box set on vinyl and have had a blast with it.  It takes me so many different directions and levels.  So many great influences that sometimes come through the music in abundance.  I've had whiplash on a number of occasions.

27. What did you want and get?

Lots of things.  If I want something I usually find a way to get it.  I guess the biggie was the camera.

28. What did you want and not get?

Toyed with the idea of a turntable upgrade and a newer model tube amp but that can wait.  There ain't nothing wrong with what I've got.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

Didn't see one that was released this year.  Not one.

30. Did you make some new friends this year?

Surprisingly enough, yes.  Mika and Jen who are living next door to us, renting rooms from our neighbors.  We had lunch with them today!

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being 27 again.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Cargo shorts with hiking boots.

33. What kept you sane?

Walking when it was warm.  Playing music when it wasn't,  and sometimes playing music when it was.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I can't really disagree with Joe on this one either, so I quote: Guns. I could say the election or the bullshit around the fiscal cliff, but no, guns. With each gun massacre it seems the fuckhead gun apologists double down. People come out of the woodwork to explain how guns aren't the problem, that gun control can't work, that guns have nothing to do with gun massacres. FUCK guns.

Yeah, that's about it.  I was so depressed about Sandy Hook I damn nearly deleted by Facebook page, and I felt the need to unfriend a couple of people just so I wouldn't see their incessant pro-gun posts.

35. What political issue stirred you the least?

Again Joe nailed this one:  Benghazi. I wish a permanent case of herpes on each and every Republican liar who tried to turn this unfortunate event into a political scandal. They should be utterly ashamed of themselves. Disgusting people.

36. Best sports moment?

Seeing the Razorbacks fire their good coach because of some infidelity and then go on to have a horrendous losing season, getting beaten by some embarrassing teams.  There was a lesson to be learned here.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

I don't think I met any new people besides Mika and Jen.  See #30.  I don't get out much.

38. Burn any bridges?

I try not to.  Some bridges do need to be burned though.

39. Best new restaurant you went to?

Cafe Malta for Sheldon's birthday.  We just don't go to places like this often.  It wasn't fancy.  In fact it was rustic in a European way, and tucked inside a strip mall in south Austin.  But I was so taken with the place that I ordered an appetizer AND a dessert, AND coffee.  And it was divine.

40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

Easy.  Don't allow work to rule your life.  It's OK to do a good job and not allow it to consume you or extend into your personal life.  There's no reason to feel guilt for that.