Sunday, February 28, 2010

Austin Rocks On Ice

When txrad told me that our Austin curling club was having an open house this morning (as well as next Sunday) and offering curling lessons, I knew I had to be in on this. The ice rink is less than 19 miles from our house and with 9AM traffic on Sunday being very light, we got there in 25 minutes. I knew from the number of cars in the parking lot we were in for quite an event.

I didn't know what to expect in terms of a crowd, but I guessed on the very low side there would be about 70, and maybe 200 or 250 tops on the high side.

It was insane.

Once I was inside and assessed the situation, I knew I wasn't going to bother with the battle to get on the ice to throw a rock, much to my dismay. I'm guessing there were around 450-500 people there by my very rough estimate.

I heard one of the club members say they had expected about 60 or 70. By the time we got in the door we were instructed to sign an injury waiver at a table. This was one of the reasons for the backlog in getting inside. I couldn't even see the table, and getting there required nudging my way through a line already forming for the lessons.

I also heard someone say they had 200 name tags and were already out of those. I figure they had expected that number of name tags to last through this Sunday's and next Sunday's Open House.

Curling wanna-bes were allowed out in groups of about 8 or 10, and there were about four, maybe five, groups at each end of the rink. The sessions lasted about 20 minutes each.

This instructor was giving pointers on the correct position of the body in the hack prior to the throw. What was most disappointing for me was the presence of thick plexiglass surrounding the rink. It muffled sound and I really could not hear a word being spoken by the instructors.

After about 8 minutes or so of verbal instruction, the fun really began as people made the first rock throw of their lives. And I don't think most of these people had ever been on ice before. At least I would have had that experience under my belt since I took ice skating lessons in college. Still, I haven't been on ice in 25 years.

But I don't mean to laugh at them. I know it's not easy. Olympic curlers make the trip up to the hog line where they release the stone look easy, but I knew that would be a challenge for anyone the first time out. This is why I wanted to try it, to fully grasp how athletic the sport is, despite the appearance of ease.

After watching a number of people of all ages struggle with sliding on one foot, and the coordination required to maintain that balance, and concentration prior to releasing the rock, I had a pretty good idea what it would feel like to be out there.

One thing I wasn't expecting was to see someone I know there. Not long after getting inside, txrad and I were standing on a bench for a better view of the ice and I felt someone tap me as she walked by. It was the woman you see above, in white. We both worked at the same advertising agency back in 2007. Her throw was pretty good!

Around 11:00 we decided to leave and grab some lunch. Maybe next Sunday I'll give this another shot and hope for a smaller crowd. If so, I'd better get back on my exercise regimen, practicing some crouching and stretching.

Tools of the trade: rocks, brooms and sliders.

Here's a few short video clips I captured. Remember, most of the noise you hear is from the crowded narrow room behind me. It was very hard to hear anything from the ice due to the thick plexiglass and the constant chatter of a few hundred people crammed into a tight space.

The Screamer:


Let Go of the Rock:

Slip-Sliding Away:

The Wobbler:

Sweepers Sweeping:

Finally, from YouTube, I found the curling club's membership director in a brief interview about her interest and experience in curling.

Happy curling!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Glen Beck Addendum and More

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, it may be awhile before I can post my results from the quiz.

If ultra-conservatives ruled our land, is this what we could expect?

And in other mind-numbing news, my brother received this from a member of the Sheriff's department in his county. It was a reply to my brother in a chain of emails about gays in the military. Quite amusing.

I sit and read e-mails about different issues and never respond, but this one I had to. Most people who have a fighting bone in their body will side with me on the fact that gays have no place in the armed forces, or any type of job that you have to make a life or death decision in seconds. I've never been in the service but I do work for the Sheriff's office, and I have been in those situations where my life was hanging on the decision of my partner. Now who would you rather have making that choice, David Carter, 100% man, who is not afraid to pull the trigger to protect his partner or whatever else it takes to take you out of harms way, even if it means his own life. Or would you like to have someone who, because they made a choice to be gay, apparantly has a clouded judgement and cannot make a hardcore, survival, heat of the moment decision, which could cost you your life and possibly theirs. I may step on toes, so be it, but I could not put on my uniform, leave my beautiful wife and children and go to work knowing that my backup was to worried about coming out of the closet or who might find out, instead of focused on their duties. David Carter, Todd Harris, Bruce Drope, Patrick Lenderman and several others, who would go to hell and back with you or a so called man who knows what scarf goes best with a dress!!! You make the choice! GOD made it very clear where he stands on the issue of homosexuality and I stand behind him 100%!!! Leave the hardcore stuff to real men, the others, well we can always use more interior designers and dress makers.

Glad to know I'm just a "so-called" man. Wow. The extent to which these people lack a clear understanding of any given set of issues is simply astounding.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Conservatives Love Quizzes

At 4:00 today I turned on the TV so I could start recording a curling event and noticed CNBC wasn't starting the curling until 5:00. And then my eye scanned down to Glen Beck on Fox.

I have two clients who are advertising in that program, one of which demanded this week to get out, so I was a little curious to see if I was successful, coupled with a desire to see the other client's spot which I've never seen. (In the former I was not successful; in the latter I was.)

Now, I've never watched Glen Beck's show. Ever. So, first time for everything as the saying goes. It wasn't bad. It was all based on "Who Are You," in terms of your political beliefs vs. the label you give yourself. If you think you are a liberal, take his quiz and find out for sure.

He went through a series of questions that were on the quiz and polled his audience on how they answered. Needless to say, the questions were rather limited without exploring the full scope of the political spectrum or the subtle nuances surrounding many important issues of the day. They seemed, in fact, to be caricatures of beliefs by the most hardcore of any label.

Since I consider myself to be sensible, logical, and practical, and a thinking man vs. someone who just hangs a sign on his back saying, "I'm Liberal," it could skew things. Interestingly enough, during the entire time I was watching Beck go through the series of questions, I found almost nothing I disagreed with in terms of the points he was making. Naturally, his audience was also in complete agreement. Yet, it's bizarre that if we all sat down and talked through these issues, we'd be at each others throats within a matter of minutes. Interesting.

Here's an example. While he was making perfect intellectual sense in posing his positions, he couldn't mask his ridicule of progressives when launching into a mockery by raising his voice effeminately and saying, with Valley Girl airhead intonation, "I'm progressive, because, um, I like progress?"

The audience chuckled in agreement.

That's how quickly it can turn. I went from thinking the guy actually makes some sense to knowing that I wanted to kick him in his nutsack.

This is the type of childish brainwashing which is providing fodder to millions of people embracing this tea-bag/states-rights/limit Federal Government/Give-Me-My-Country-Back movement. And unfortunately, the rank & file population can and do take it all out of proportion and decide that it's OK to skip debate and just go straight for the jugular. This is something I have seen recently in various email threads from the Don't-Tread-On-Me contingent who feel I'm a threat and a traitor to this nation because of my political beliefs and therefore should be shot.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to watch all this transpire. Sickening, but interesting.

Meanwhile, today's show has ended more than an hour ago and I have yet to be able to get in to take the quiz. I'll keep trying and will update this blog post with the result when I do.

If you have the stomach for it, the quiz is here. Just for fun, mind you!

After reading this, it reminds me of curling.

Friday Pussy Blog: Funny Face Edition

I've had a rather interesting day... did something I've never done before but I'll get to that in my next post. (To be fair, it's not that exciting so don't get your adrenaline pumping over it.)

I can say it's Friday and I'm damn happy the workweek is over.

I woke Sissy up on the bed to get a photo and she might have been disoriented.

I woke up the Tot on the same bed and he might have been disoriented.

Nice loaf, boy!

Wheeeeee! Last Pussy Blog of February!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Good Riddance, Hummer

I shall not mourn the Hummer crash.

General Motors said on Wednesday that it would shut down Hummer, the brand of big sport utility vehicles that became synonymous with the term gas guzzler, after a deal to sell it to a Chinese manufacturer fell apart.

Up to 3,000 jobs could be lost if GM follows through with the shutdown. But honestly, we could, and should, be creating better jobs out there, manufacturing products which don't contribute to our downfall.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Piece of Olympic History

You're not going to believe this. I was sitting in the living room watching curling when suddenly the stone closest to the front of my TV fell off onto my floor!!

OK, so I know you're not believing it because the handles on the Vancouver stones aren't the same as the ones used in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, which is the origin of that rock.

Here's the real story of how it got there.

Last week while watching curling, I had already consumed a bottle of red wine while waiting on txrad to get home from an errand. He was running way behind, hence I consumed the whole bottle of wine as opposed to the half of it which was my intent. When he did arrive it was almost 9PM and he wanted a drink or six. He did a tequila shot and so did I.

I got on the internet to research something about curling and stumbled upon a website for a curling supply store in Madison, WI. Lo and behold, they had a stone for sale from the Salt Lake Olympic curling competition.

For many weeks after the 2002 games I had been searching online to see if I could find one. I looked everywhere and on ebay. No luck. I finally gave up after concluding that the Olympic Committee keeps a tight grip on them, or that there are so few available that the lucky ones who have an opportunity to get one are not so eager to part with it.

So with that bit of history behind me, I knew I had to do this. Mix wine, tequila, and beer with a credit card and internet access and well... a fool and his money are soon parted.

The next morning I woke up and it felt just like any other day, until I recalled that perhaps I had spent $800 on a 40-pound chunk of granite. An email from the curling supply shop confirmed it.

For about an hour I felt like I'd made a huge mistake... until the euphoria started to kick in. After contemplating that it could potentially be considered an investment, aside from being a true piece of Olympic history (OK, Olympic curling history; it's not exactly the swim briefs worn by Michael Phelps in the summer Olympics!), I started to get excited.

Over the weekend I was so hoping it would arrive by Monday but I suspected it would be Tuesday. And on an appropriately cold and snowy day in Austin, my rock arrived.

And oh my God, that box was heavy! You think 40-pounds isn't much but when it is condensed down to something this small, it boggles the mind.

I started looking for the serial number inscribed by the Olympic Committee and couldn't find it. For a few seconds I was starting to suspect I'd been scammed. Actually it's extremely hard to see unless the light hits it at the correct angle. I had to take 5 or 6 photos to get this one.

The owner of the curling supply store in Madison, Wisconsin included a handwritten note as well as an article about the rock with which the gold medal was won by Great Britain at the 2002 Salt Lake City games.

"After the British Olympic Committee purchased this [the winning rock] and the seven other yellow handle stones they used, we were able to purchase the other 8 stones used in the game from the Salt Lake Olympic Committee.

This stone is very special -- enjoy!"

And it was at this point that I realized just how special. This wasn't just a "rock used in competition" during the 2002 Olympics. This one was used in play by the Swiss team competing against Great Britain for the GOLD MEDAL! And it has a very legendary sister residing in the Scottish Hall of Fame -- Yellow C4, serial number 1829 -- which secured Britain's first-ever Olympic gold in curling.

2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics Women's Curling Championship:

Later this afternoon, I can settle in on the sofa to watch some Olympic curling, and occasionally glance down at my own rock. Sweet.

Crossposted at B3

Snow Day in Austin

I wouldn't go so far as to say snow is rare in Austin. We average about an inch per year. That being said, we can go 5 years without any and then get a rare 5-inches. What is unusual is seeing it fall during the day! Most of the snows I've seen here happen at night and you see it when you wake up in the morning.

This winter I've seen it snow during the day twice: some flurries back in December and today. The flakes today were very large and it has snowed off and on for about 3 hours now. This shit should be ending by around 2pm. That should make the commuters very happy.

Alice With a Hammer at the Cooper's Bar

Just because you don't see or hear much about Alice Cooper, that doesn't mean he's not maintaining a busy lifestyle.

Clever Germans.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Canada Rocks

Based on the score of 6-2 favoring Canada, you might not think this was an exciting competition. Quite the contrary. I'm amazed. Not that I was ever in doubt Canada was going to clinch it, but the Swedes could muster some precise deliveries.

Great throw by Sweden.

Great sweeping.

80 pounds of rock on the button. Canada grabbed that end by a hair. Literally.

What's not to love?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Feline Motivation Edition

I get that from Sissy when I go take a nap and she stands on my chest looking down at me, just before sitting down with her front claws on my neck. Not very relaxing.

A Better Art Of Disguise:

The Tot loves that medallion! Happy Friday!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's So Frustrating

Friday is Day 2 of the Conservative Political Action Conference. Day 1 was a delight.
Speaker after speaker drew hoots as they mocked Mr. Obama for his use of a teleprompter, seemingly oblivious to the teleprompter that rose from the floor before them.

Yep. That sounds about right.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Poor John Shuster

I feel bad for the guy. Really. Just can't get the rock on the button.

The US lost in yet another frustrating nail-biter in curling competition against the Swiss today.

Jeff Isaacson, throwing a stone for the US today. The US lost in the extra 11th end.

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's Not Warm When She's Away

I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know...Leave a young thing alone.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Danger, Will Robinson!

I've been seeing emails going back and forth between my brother and some of his friends and acquaintances, some of whom are sensible people, and some of whom are dangling from the far right edge of the political spectrum by one middle finger.

Here is an email my brother and I received this morning which was obviously directed to others who share his passion for going off the deep end. Miserable has been redefined this morning.

I really like you, Carol, Buzz, HAnk, and a lot of others that I do not put on these Emails. You guys understand the US Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Federalist Papers plus economics of freedom, liberty, and owning property. Which is, although the word is not used in the Constitution, the same as saying Capitalism.

With regards to the LEftist, tyrannical, Socialist/Nazi/Communist personnel of the Democrat party we are at a cross roads that requires a COUNTER Revolution. Just like John Adam, Alex Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Benjamin franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington we will have to take up arms against the treasonous, treacherous, anti-constitutional personnel of the Democrat PArty.

I consider the Farrell family [this would be konagod and others of my ilk] as the RED COATS and should be shot on site as traitors to the US. Traitors and treasonous people to the US according to the US constitution shall receive Capital Punishment, i.e. death.

Mitch, Carol, Buzz,

Remove these boneheads from your CC line, so we do not have to interact with tyrannical, totalitarian, hippie, pot/heroine smoking idiots. I consider them dead men walking. Just like others here in NJ that I have to deal with.


Well. Brian gave me much to think about. First and foremost, I'm concerned about the "site" on which I would be shot. I might want to avoid that place.

Can you imagine what can make a person wake up on a Saturday with that level of anger? What must he be like on Monday morning? Sheeesh.

I'm purely speculating here, but I have a hunch this guy isn't a big fan of the arts. Doesn't get out and see much ballet or opera. Probably doesn't have any Creedence in his CD collection, or any Neil Young. He definitely doesn't read the New York Times -- that was covered in a previous email. He seems to have so much pent-up anger and hatred, you'd think he hadn't seen justice served since December 8, 1980.

During his name-calling tirade, he failed to mention homosexual and vegetarian, but perhaps those fall under the all-inclusive hippie label.

But seriously, if you had any doubts about how deranged and angry a certain segment of society has become, this should help to clarify. I am at a loss to explain what led to, and is feeding, this collective desire to rip the country to shreds. I used to think it was simply having a black man in the White House. And perhaps that was indeed the catalyst. But it's morphing into something unimaginably wicked and evil.

But let's get one thing straight: I don't smoke heroin. Never have and never will. Not smoking any heroines either.

There's a part of me that would gladly cede one or two states to these mouth-foaming imbeciles just to get them out of our political system, and out of our lives. But that really wouldn't be fair to our progressive allies in those states, nor would it cleanse this toxicity from our midst.

So I guess we are stuck here, together, and will watch this gut-wrenching morbidity unfold in 2010 and 2012 and beyond.

If this guy's version of America does prevail someday, please... can his leaders at least have some grammar skills and use spell check?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Daddy Adoration Edition

Sweet Pea adores me.

Tiger adores me.

Sissy would like to have my kittens if she could. (OK, that's kinda gross.)

Tater Tot adores me. And supervises my every move.

Bonus Tot (because you just can't get enough Tot):

And Daddy adores the Supreme Totness. The Divine Totrosity. Totosaurus Rex.

It's Friday AND opening night of the 2012 Winter Olympics! Hot DAMN!

Snow Slams D/FW

It was one for the record books.
By 9 p.m. Thursday, a record 9.4 inches of snow had fallen at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, smashing the area’s previous record for one calendar day of 7.8 inches, set in 1917 and matched in 1964.

“This has been an absolute amazing event,” said Jesse Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

Snow began falling at D/FW Airport at 3:53 a.m. and never let up throughout the day, Moore said. Alliance Airport in Fort Worth had piled up nearly 10 inches by 8 p.m.

Lots of folks are going to have a Friday off from work and classes!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

There Ain't No Rest For The Wicked

Finally found something worthwhile to fill this space.

'Possum Night at Kona Ranch

I've seen this bad boy before.
Pink toes to die for!

You can thank me later for not including a shot of the 'possum saliva around the food bowls. YUM, that must be some good shit!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Feed Them to the Lions

One of the things that just upsets me so much about "Christians" these days, politically, is that I take so much abuse from them for being a pagan (feel free to substitute atheist since it's all the same to them), and yet I, and txrad, are doing good deeds, just as Jesus preached.

And I am annoyed as hell that we can't get a health care bill passed to cover those of us who are not as fortunate or lucky as others.

We get called all kinds of names, like "liberal" and "socialist" and "marxist" because we want a country, which we could easily have, but this is the measure which should be the standard.

So when the McCains and Palins and McConnells and Boehners start flapping their religious tea bags at me, pardon me if I need to leave the room. And to the Reids, and Pelosis, and Lincolns, and Landrieus, you are all just as shameful. You people have nothing to contribute. Because you don't fucking care for anyone except yourselves and your corporate contributions. Because you have no needs other than those.

It's a fucking shame.

And whom do you represent?

McCain Doing a Step to the Right

It's just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
With your hands on your hips
You bring your knees in tight
But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane,
Let's do the Time Warp again!

Apparently the Republican primary for the Arizona Senate race will be politics as usual.
Mr. McCain now finds himself jammed, moving starkly — and often awkwardly — to the right, apparently in an effort to gain favor among the same voters whom Mr. Hayworth, a consistent voice for the far right, could pull toward him like taffy come summer.

Mr. McCain now sharply criticizes the bailout bill he voted for, pivoted from his earlier position that the Guantánamo Bay detention facility should be closed, offered only a muted response to the Supreme Court’s decision undoing campaign finance laws and backed down from statements that gays in the military would be O.K. by him if the military brass were on board.

Aren't flip-flops just one of the reasons we're losing we've completely lost faith in the political process?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Monday Bonus Pussy

My friend Elizabeth sent me a picture of Lily so I decided to share since I have nothing else to report.

I'm a little mentally spent after Super Bowl night, and the subsequent Monday at work which ended with a call from my mother telling me everyone who had died or is dying, has cancer, etc.

And then we touched on politics which I usually try to avoid.

Mom: I still like Sarah Palin.

Me: Did you see where she was being interviewed and had written her talking-points on the palm of her hand?

Mom: Well, I don't care. Sometimes Obama screws up when he's reading from the teleprompter. Everyone in Washington is so crooked, but especially the Democrats.

Me: Not just especially the Democrats. ALL of them are corrupt.


Part of me wishes Sarah Palin would get elected just so the people stupid enough to vote for her could see the end result for four long years. But then I have to slap myself because the people that stupid actually want what she might bring to the table.

The mind boggles.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Caressing the Locks

txrad let me caress his locks tonight.

Factoids From The Deep

It has to be one of those getting older things that causes you to have these earth-shattering realizations about the passage of time that seem difficult to believe.

In 1950, Ella Fitzgerald released the LP Pure Ella which featured this song.

Just 15 years later, the Beatles released the Rubber Soul album. (I was only 5 years old and they had already released 5 previous albums!)

A scant 15 years later, the Police released their third album, Zenyatta Mondatta. Incidentally, this was also the year John Lennon was murdered.

And now that was 30 years ago.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Sunny Afternoon Edition

The sun finally came out this afternoon for the first time since last weekend. Those long stretches of cloud cover and rain are one reason I haven't posted since Tuesday. Motivation becomes difficult.

Sissy was happy to see a bit of sunshine streaming through the bedroom window to warm her buttocks! She actually opened her eyes wide today. Sometimes I think I could just use the same picture of her each and every week since she is ALWAYS in the same spot on the bed at the same time on Friday afternoons.

The Tot was in the kitchen window watching the two outside boys waiting to be fed. I just noticed you can see Sweet Pea outside looking in!

The two boys waiting on some food to arrive. Sweet Pea looks surprised. I had only been out on the patio just a few seconds earlier and then I went back out with the camera. Does it look like he was expecting me to be carrying a bowl of cat food instead of a camera?

Happy Friday everyone! This one seemed to take its sweet fucking time in getting here, I must say.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Beat Someone to Shit... for Christ

Some days I wake up and I swear I don't even recognize the world in which I live.

Today is one such day.

I just can't wrap my head around the idea of a church/fight club. Let's go to church and kick some ass!
Hmmm. It makes about as much sense as me slicing myself up with razor blades to wake up in the morning as opposed to making coffee.
Recruitment efforts at the churches, which are predominantly white, involve fight night television viewing parties and lecture series that use ultimate fighting to explain how Christ fought for what he believed in. Other ministers go further, hosting or participating in live events.

The goal, these pastors say, is to inject some machismo into their ministries — and into the image of Jesus — in the hope of making Christianity more appealing. “Compassion and love — we agree with all that stuff, too,” said Brandon Beals, 37, the lead pastor at Canyon Creek Church outside of Seattle. “But what led me to find Christ was that Jesus was a fighter.”

It sounds to me as if they simply cannot deal with the fact that the lessons of Jesus were not full of machismo, so in order to accept it, they have to modify it.
Roughly 100 young men, many sporting shaved heads and tattoos, attend fight parties at Canyon Creek near Seattle, watching bouts on the church’s four big-screen televisions. Vendors hustle hot dogs and “Predestined to Fight” T-shirts. About half are not church members but heard about the parties through friends, said Mr. Beals, who is known as the Fight Pastor.

Jesus would be so proud.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go back to my mancave and hide out until my nausea subsides.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Monday Dog Blogging

Because I'm not motivated to write anything. My brother sent me this picture of TJ. In case you aren't certain, TJ is a boy dog.