Winter Random Nonsense

Well, we actually have a winter.  The last few years have been marginal at best. I haven’t minded, considering the traveling required for hockey.  I must say, 2017  was one of the oddest, most unpredictable weather years.  Traverse City is primed for winter, though.  Well, it used be. Long gone are the die-hard natives that thrived in temperature extremes.  Now all that remains are pansy-ass ‘residents’ that have no idea how to function – let alone exist when it’s a mere 32 degrees.

Since it’s mid-January, I decided it was appropriate to pen a post about Winter and the Nonsense associated with the season.  My Random thoughts will be included, of course.

  • I still can’t stand the naming of winter storms.  Never have; never will.  So dumb!  Jim Cantore and Stephanie Abrams totally rock as the Weather Channel personalities/veterans.  CAUTION: Don’t mess with Mr. Cantore if thunder snow is in the forecast.  He gets a little excited.

  • My snow blower is officially fixed.  Though shoveling remains my snow removal method of choice.  It’s rather peaceful.  I used to be quite anal about my technique – NO tire tracks. And, those little bread-crumb like tracks of snow that trailed off the sides of the shovel always made me crazy. Note: past tense.  That was before kids AND before life.  Now, my ONLY goal is to get up and down the drive without traction  issues.  At times, snow on the drive is a good thing.
  • Parking when there’s even just a dusting of snow is a complete cluster.  People are so fucking stupid!  It’s a parking lot.  Use some common sense.  But, then these are probably the same idiots who ‘do’ the Farmer’s Market.  So, …. .
  • During Winter Storm Chloe or was it Dylan (note: sarcasm), I had to pick up my daughter from a sleepover at a friend’s house.  I must say, that was probably my worst driving experience in years. And, it was early afternoon.  Visibility was horrible.  Everyone was driving with hazards flashing.  Well, except me.  I understand the intention, especially on an interstate.  But this was city driving at 10 MPH – in D3.  Maybe these drivers should’ve just pulled over and … parked? Hmm… .
  • Flannel sheets are definitely the way to go in wintertime.  Getting into a warm bed when it’s below zero and the wind is howling is quite lovely.
  • I’m still on the fence about this wool sock thing. Not feeling the ‘thread’.  My feet sweat a lot and the moisture is NOT wicked off as well as advertised. Granted, disclosing my sweaty feet issue wasn’t completely necessary. But, it’s tangible information for posting purposes.  Besides, I often include such personal trivialities.  Though if I had to choose, I prefer Darn Tough over SmartWool.
  • Lastly, my Yaktrax are finally getting some miles this season.

I guess that’s it for now.  I’m sure there’s more.  I work retail. And, it’s Winter.  There will always be another ‘storm’ to usher in more Random Nonsense.

I need to shovel.

January Hymn

Happy Winter?!

float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

This really isn’t about Muhammad Ali.  But, it is about boxing.  Kind of. You see, I often struggle with fun, yet appropriate titles.  So when I come across a catchy phrase that has anything remotely related to my topic, I run with it.

Round One

I thought about taking boxing lessons some years back.  Unfortunately, life got in the way.  It’s very time consuming AND expensive.  Still, my interest for alternative training techniques is ever present.  The gym I frequent has a heavy boxing bag.  Every now and then I’d see random people spar with it. And, I would pause, wondering about the possibility of doing it myself. I was hesitant.  My agility and coordination, or lack thereof, thwarted any concentrated effort.

Within the past several months, a few gym junkies I know have commented about the workout punching that damn heavy bag provided. So, when I entertained the thought again, I did more than pause.  Considering my last opportunity to shake up my routine almost landed me in the slammer, I decided to be a bit more conservative when choosing my next challenge.

After I googled what I needed to know, I committed to the task.  Hell, I even went and purchased my own gloves.  The community gloves that the gym supplies are gross.  I  began ‘training’ on off hours when fewer patrons were around.  The rhythm needed to perform boxing bag basics is difficult to master. In no way did I want to look like I was doing a Richard Simmons aerobic routine instead of Cassius Clay beating the shit out an opponent.

Round Two

Power Punching is a great way to build muscle in the shoulders, arms and back. By adding heavy body strikes and uppercuts, you can also target your pectorals, biceps and traps, giving you a complete upper-body workout.

boxing bag basics – 101

Benefits Of Heavy Bag Training
  • Improve Aerobic Fitness.
  • Improve Power.
  • Improve Coordination, & Core Stability.
  • Improve Boxing Technique.
  • Develop Self Defense Skills.
  • Improve Body Shape.
  • Decrease Stress.
  • A Low Cost Activity, Requiring Minimal Equipment.

Training Tips

  • Pay attention – LOOK at the bag
  • Keep your balance
  • Punch DON’T push the bag - you want a snapping SMACK sound when you punch it and not a dull THUD sound.
  • GROUND your feet while punching – MOVE your feet when you’re NOT punching.
  • Don’t wait – ALWAYS throw punches.  This separates the boys from the men, baby.
  • Less power, more breathing  -  Power comes from good technique, endurance comes from good breathing.
  • Keep your hands up – wrist solid when striking the bag.
  • Throw 3-6 punches - Throwing 3 to 6 punches at a time is the sweet spot. Throwing combinations keeps up the rhythm.

Round Three
Enough random rhetoric – commence training.  I’m thinking my potential Richard Simmons days are behind me. Thankfully.  I may not  float any time soon, but I’s got me a nasty sting. ( insert: manly grunt)

Knock Out

I Can See Clearly Now

Back in October 2014, I posted my review of  The Underachiever’s Manifesto.  On a recent visit to that same ‘library’, I found Improve Your Vision  by  Martin Brofman.  I was intrigued.  Over the last few years, my vision has become compromised – especially nighttime driving.*  I’m 52 and have never worn glasses.  So I’m, thinking it’s about time.  But, if there was something I could do to prolong this inevitable, I’m willing to try.  Bonus – the book was way short.  Exercises and various other Appendices  made it even shorter. I was hesitant, though. Considering the nature of the ‘library’, I immediately thought it would be one of those self-help books, focusing more on  metaphorical references rather than scientific findings.  Quite frankly, I just wasn’t in the mood to read about my personality shortcomings let alone how to fix them.  Still, I flipped through the pages, saw a few diagrams then proceeded to the  circulation desk.

Dead metaphor

Within the first few pages, I realized how blatant the metaphor originally presumed was presented. Yet, I continued to read.  I guess I should’ve realized this when the ‘eye chart’ included remained attached to the inner binding.  Apparently, the previous reader had much better ‘vision’ than I.

the 25-50-25 principle

I’ve read enough self-help books to arrive at a formidable conclusion. Twenty-five percent of what is written is spot on great information that is totally applicable AND reasonably attainable. Fifty percent is food for thought, so to speak – plausible however, “I’m not sold on the idea” type – YET.  The remaining twenty-five percent is complete bullshit.

This book challenged that principle.  Hell, I can’t even break it down.  Since it was so short, I skimmed the remainder of the book.  Don’t worry, I had no intention on doing any ‘Exercises’.  And, the ‘Success Stories’ section was successfully NOT read.  I hate fucking testimonials. Or would that be … fucking hate … ? Hmm … .

Nut Graf 

I get that stress is bad.  It can compromise every bodily system functionality.  Yes, even your vision.  But, Brofman’s conclusion that stress related personality typing correlates to specific visual disturbances is borderline credible at best.

nearsightedness – self-absorbed individuals intimidated by their environment

farsightedness – those who’s attention is directed outward, yet obsessed with past failures

astigmatisms  - the Will eye wants, the Spirit eye feels and the resulting vision is … definitely seeking therapy  – #totally fucked

visual floaters -  a result of control issues

* and the author’s view on my condition – “We (society) are encouraged to believe that our natural tendency is to fall apart and grow useless as we get older.

Appendix: Questions and Answers 

Skimming this section was mandatory; for my entertainment, of course.  Trust me – I wasn’t disappointed either. Here is a sample of an actual question. Oh, and the … answer.

Can sexual habits affect your eyesight?   No, but suppressing true feelings can have adverse affects. Then Brofman wrote – “Just be who you really are , and feel what you really feel.  When you’re hot, you’re hot.  When you’re not you’re not.“  Yeah, that really was a direct quote.

Overall  Review 

I Can See Clearly Now   that this is definitely a book that needs to improve ITS vision.

fresh, precise, and sparkling

What is considered champagne?

Sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the region of Champagne, France, which is just outside of Paris.  Champagne appellation law allows only grapes grown according to appellation rules in specifically designated plots within the appellation to be used in the production of champagne.  Translation - everything else is just sparkling wine.  Further, champagne can only be made using white Chardonnay and black  Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. So, it’s like, totally blended, baby.

Where do the Bubbles come from?:  Sparkling wine is made by taking the simple formula for fermentation (sugar + yeast = alcohol and CO2), and not allowing the resulting gas to escape. When you ferment wine in a closed or sealed environment, the carbon dioxide (CO2) returns into the wine, only to be released in the form of tiny bubbles after opening.

Origins:  The story of how this all started is attributed to the monk Dom Perignon (1638-1715), but in reality it was probably discovered slowly over time by many monks in the Champagne region.  Still, Dom was a real dude. Cool!

Producers of Sparkling Wine:  Austria, Germany, Italy and  Spain  have been long time sparkling wine producers.  Recently, Tazmania, Argentina, Australia, and of course the U.S. have followed suit.  Here is Traverse City, sparkling wine is can be found at two primary wineyards  – Mawby and Chateau Chantel.

Three Hallmarks of a Good Sparkler:

  • Fresh: Bright and alive in your mouth, fruity but not necessarily sweet.
  • Precise: On the tongue, the wine should feel direct and penetrating. Precision is more about the acid, which is mandatory for good sparkling wines.
  • Sparkling: Small bubbles are a sign of high-quality wine.
Here are the world’s 10′s most expensive champagnes ever.
  • #5 Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon White Gold – $2,467. …
  • #4 Boërl & Kroff Brut – $2,489. …
  • #3 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay – $2,701. …
  • #2 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Charles & Diana 1961 – $4,309. …
  • #1 Goût de Diamants, Taste of Diamonds – $2.07 million

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of champagne. For a treat, I’d much rather have a nice dessert and coffee.  Besides, there’s definitely better ways to spend $2.07 million dollars. Since, I’m quite the alcoholic novice, these little blurbs about various spirits are fun and educational to present.  I’m pretty sure there are other vineyards here in Traverse that produce this libation.  I highlighted Mawby because sparkling wine is their specialty. And, Chateau Chantel is considered a Traverse City ‘destination’.

I was going to be cliche and close with Taylor Swift’s New Years Day.   That would be appropriate, of course.  Rarely, am I ever appropriate, though.  Instead, I default to Blackbear.  His rendition of a vocal lesson basic would make Julie Andrews blush.   Come to think of it, the song is somewhat appropriate.  The chorus summarizes my sentiment toward 2017.

Happy 2018!

Adam Thomas Christmas tradition

 What would Christmas be without the emotionally challenged? Last week, a woman picked up her Xanax and said, “you can tell the holidays are coming.” Just like everything else, gets earlier and earlier every year. Considering my Nonsense lately, I think there’s an ICD-10 category with my name on it under the tree.

On a different, yet similarly themed note, my Christmas cards are officially completed.  I decided to go basic this year – boxed cards / no picture.  Hallmark, of course. Unknown to me, my envelopes for one of the designs had an awful red bird and snowflake motif. I decided it provided that ‘twist’ I try to strive for every year.  I’m just happy to get them done. I so want to put 2017 behind me.

Enough with the random rambling, on with the Challenged Christmas Carols.  Feel free to … sing a long?!

  1. Schizophrenia – Do You Hear What I Hear?
  2. Multiple Personality Disorder – We Three Kings Disoriented Are
  3. Dementia –I Think I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  4. Narcissistic – Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me
  5. Manic – Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and . . .
  6. Paranoid – Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me
  7. Borderline Personality Disorder – Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire
  8. Personality Disorder – You Better Watch Out, I’m Gonna Cry, I’m Gonna Pout, Maybe I’ll Tell You Why
  9. Attention Deficit Disorder – Silent Night, Holy OOOOOOOOh look at the Froggy, can I have chocolate, why is France so far away?
  10. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bell …

Merry Christmas

the unintentional post

I was struggling with a post topic this time around.  A few ideas were drafted, but nothing grabbed my attention. Besides, it is the week before Christmas. Nothing will grab anyone’s attention.

I considered a post about socks.  Yes, socks.  My daughter loves graphic designed socks. And, they are great gift ideas.  But for me, socks are all about function and, uh, that’s it.  Nothing there.

My snow blower is broken.  Of course it started snowing – every day, mind you.  The good thing is I love to shovel.  Wasn’t feeling that topic either – no good angle.  I originally planned that idea for a January post.  We’ll see. Nothing there now.

Then, the unintentional happened.

Every Monday I work late.  Fortunately, Monday morning is the ONLY time everyone in the household is gone.  Translation: office time. Unfortunately, this week I was scheduled in the morning during office time.  Did I mention it’s the week before Christmas?  I had a lot to do.  And, I really needed my office time.  Needless to say, I was cranky. However, I managed to rearrange my ‘to do’ list accordingly. Remember, I do damage control rather well.

Monday night I had four stores to hit – all in close proximity to each other. Correction five.  My wife requested an additional stop.  Begrudgingly, I agreed.  Oh, did I mention she had coupons?  Yeah.

At my first stop, I was found by an employee as I wandered the establishment, then handed the store phone.  Are you fucking kidding me?  It was my wife informing me that even though the coupons were expired, the store would still honor them. Once again - Are you fucking kidding me?

At my second stop, I saw a former fellow employee.  She stated she had just come from the funeral service for another former employee’s teen aged daughter. Apparently, this girl was born without an enzyme and, well, you can imagine the struggle the family endured.  The father was a good dude – we celebrated Corduroy Day back in 2011 – (11-11-11).  The family moved away years ago seeking more specialized health care. Alas, we lost touch. Their roots were here, though.  So it was decided this is where the service would be held.

I checked the time.  She apparently knew what I was thinking and told me that I could probably still make the viewing if I hurried.  I wanted to be there.  I haven’t had a sense of urgency like that for, like, ever.  I abandoned my remaining errands (and expired coupons) and drove to the funeral home. Suddenly, my want quickly shifted to a need.  I felt horrible for the loss and just wanted to express my condolences.  I was consumed by grief.

By the time I arrived, though, everyone was gone.  I sat in the empty parking lot, contemplating options.  Sadly, there were none.  My opportunity was lost. Now, a sympathy card and/or awkward social media generated message will be sent.  It’s just not the same.

I entitled this as I did because it was not intended to be written.  Some things are not intended to happen either.

nice one, Dad

What did the pillow say when it fell off the bed?
     Oh, sheet!
With the onslaught of holiday parties and family gatherings over the next few weeks, jokes will be told. Hell, jokes NEED to be told. Holiday parties and family gatherings can be painful.  Joke telling breaks the proverbial ice.  Actually, the alcohol is what really gets things started. After that, everything is funny – even the dreaded dad joke.
I’ve been a dad for twenty years and never heard of the term until recently. No surprise there – I rarely get out.  And, if I’m hosting an event, I’m usually in the kitchen.  It works for me.  Bonus – I’ve never had any of my children say the words, ‘nice one, Dad’.
How do you make a Kleenex dance? 
     Put a little boogie in it.
  •  dad joke (noun) - an unoriginal or unfunny joke of a type supposedly told by middle-aged or older men.    That’s me – unoriginal, unfunny, AND middle-aged. 
  • a true dad joke is provoked by his kids’ behavior or a question, often making fun of their kids for being whiny and needy.   More often than not, the parents are much more needy than their children, yielding a whole new meaning to – the jokes on them, eh?
  •  a dad joke is not the answer the kid wanted, but it’s the truth.   People just ‘can’t handle  the truth’.
  • Dad jokes are knowing.   As far as I’m concerned, this is way too analytical for a dad joke.  
  • The key component of the dad joke is not answering the question or answering with nebulous misdirection.   I have no idea what ‘nebulous’ means, but I’m thinking it could explain some things.  And, trust me, I’m reminded every day about ‘misdirection’ .
Our wedding was so beautiful,  even the cake was in tiers.
Of course there’s a website.  Why wouldn’t there be?  But, hey, it’s fun.  The majority of dads get no respect, so let them have something.  Penning good material is hard.  And, the audience can be even harder.  If you’re going to attempt the party stand up routine – Be prepared.
“Sometimes a joke will just float into my head, fully formed, as though someone’s whispered it in my ear (note: not in a creepy way).”
Most times, they don’t.  So, what’s a dad supposed to do? My first and only thought would be to – Shut the fuck up.  Rarely do people listen though.  Just because I strive to present my blog randomness with the utmost completeness, I searched for ways to take an awful joke idea and make it into an even awfuller joke.  According to How to Build a Joke, Demetri Martin dissects the art of building the one-liner.  These tips help even the worst comic ‘wanna dad’ to ultimately get … the last laugh.
  • taking an idea about something that is funny, yet uncertain on how to articulate it
  • identify the elements of the joke and ponder how those elements go together
  • to perform the joke, add another layer - drawings, props
“I think the worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades. Especially if your teammates are bad guessers.”

The Christmas ‘pickle’

The Legend of the Pickle -

The Christmas pickle is not really a pickle at all, it is a pickle-shaped ornament. A very old Christmas Eve tradition in Germany was to hide a pickle (ornament) deep in the branches of the family Christmas Tree. The parents hung the pickle last after all the other ornaments were in place. In the morning they knew the most observant child would receive an extra gift from St Nicholas. The first adult who finds the pickle traditionally gets good luck for the whole year. It says that Germans hang a pickle-shaped glass ornament on the Christmas tree hidden away so it’s difficult to find. The first child to find it on Christmas morning gets a special treat or extra present.

Rumor and speculation place the origin of the tradition in Germany. However few in modern-day Germany recognize or have even heard of the Christmas pickle. Regardless of where it came from, the Christmas tradition survives and is a fun and great family tradition worth sharing. Ornament manufacturers continue to make the specialty ornaments and enjoy sharing this legend and its origins regardless.

I was given my pickle years ago, totally oblivious to the tradition.  Honestly, I think I read the enclosed card describing the legend, but discarded the relevance.  I had just received a fun gift from someone unexpectedly – I was totally enamored by the thought.  Since my children were young, I kept the ornament out of reach.  Besides, it was mine.  That sounds a bit selfish, but as a parent,  few things are about us.  So, when something like a pickle ornament makes you smile every time you see it… .  Well, you hide it from your children.

Recently, a Bronner’s catalog was delivered to our house. For those who don’t know, Bronner’s IS the be all, end all of everything that is Christmas – especially  ornaments.  Moreover, it’s located in one of those ‘cute’ Michigan towns with a German heritage named Frankenmuth that is on every ‘must see’ geriatric tourist bus trip.  Anyway, I was  flippin through the catalog and stopped when I came to the page highlighing their pickle ornament.  I smiled.

In general, I’m not a ‘tradition’ dude.  My blog has a few  ‘annual’ elements, but those have a purpose.  And, it’s all me.  When others, especially family, are included in, well, anything planned, a different kind of ‘pickle’ inevitably results.  Individual expectations about what said family tradition is and means differ.  Rarely are those views shared.   So, something that is supposed to be fondly remembered turns into something that everyone wants to immediately forget.

Over the years, I have continued with my original decorating concept, embracing my tradition – subtle pickle placement in a ceramic basket with other similarly themed ornaments. Still out of reach – from everyone. Truthfully, I’m not even sure if anyone in my household is even aware of the folklore.  So, for me, that’s one legacy I hope prevails.

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Deck the halls with boughs of  … pickles?

Cyber Monday, Monday

Monday, Monday, …

Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. The term “Cyber Monday” was created by marketing companies to persuade people to shop online. The term was coined by Ellen Davis and Scott Silverman, and made its debut on November 28, 2005.

Apparently, “77 percent of online retailers said that their sales increased substantially on the Monday after Thanksgiving.”  This annual trend fueled the concept of Cyber Monday.  Since then, online retailers have shifted into marketing overdrive.

 … so good to me

  • The deals on Cyber Monday are online only and generally offered by smaller retailers that cannot compete with the big retailers.
  • Cyber Monday is larger for fashion retail. On the past two Cyber Mondays, there were an average of 45% more clothing deals than on Black Friday.
  • There were also 50% more shoe deals on Cyber Monday than on Black Friday.
  • Cyber Monday has become an international marketing term used by online retailers across the world.
  • Observed by – Australia, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Brazil, Bulgaria, Romania, South Korea, Portugal, Uganda, Germany, UAE, Egypt, Netherlands, Finland, Chile, Columbia, Peru, Japan, and Argentina
  • Germany has  Cyber Monday Week - 8 days of online savings
  • Ironically, only 7 of these countries celebrate Thanksgiving usually in October.

But Monday mornin´,  Monday mornin´ couldn’t guarantee

However, UPS, FedEx and USPS can -  #we love logistics.

FREE SHIPPING – This is what seals the deal for me.  Going to the Post Office anymore is so frustrating.  And expensive. The lines are insane.  But, on any given online site you can have one ‘cartload’ and ship to three different addresses with the click of a fuckin’ button.  “Absolutely, positively”, baby!

Monday, Monday, can´t trust that day

So what does this Cyber Monday shit mean to me?  Don’t worry – I will not get all mushy and reflective here.  First of all, I hate that stupid word – reflect.  Ugh!  Second, any compassion I may have had once was sucked out long ago by working retail. Imagine that!  Lastly, the answer is  simple - book sales.  That’s what Cyber any day of the year means to me.  So, in the spirit of giving and to commemorate this online world we have become,  click those book icons to the right. Please?!

Mama needs a new pair of 50% off shoes

Monday, Monday, it´s here to stay 

Thanks-Wiig-ing with Adele?

Just like Vidalia Onion Pie is a menu staple, Adele has become an Adam Thomas Thanksgiving tradition.  Well, the Adele themed skit from SNL.  However, not everyone likes onions. So, I decided to include an alternate viewing option.  Think of it as the annual marital ‘discussion’ (note: sarcasm) about who to spend the holidays with – parents

Thanks, Adele!

or  in-laws.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gobble,  gobble!

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