Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday, 9/20

I live three blocks from work. And these days, I only have to walk six blocks to get there.

Yes, I know the math doesn't add up. But it's true. Like just about every street in Marquette this year North Front Street is under construction. Specifically, the curbs and sidewalks are being replaced. Now, I don't have a problem with that. It's s good thing the streets are undergoing an upgrade. The thing with which I do have an issue is this—on the 200 North block of Front they're doing work on both sides of the street, which means the sidewalks on both sides are closed at the same time. If you're walking down Front and come to that block there's nowhere for you to walk, unless you wanna walk in the street. And since I kind of value my life and don't feel like walking in the street, I have to cut over to Third, walk down that street for two blocks, and then cut through an alley to get to work.

That's why my three block walk ends up taking six (or, more to the point, five and a half blocks).

Like I said, I have no problem with the construction on the sidewalks and streets. Really, I don't. They needed them, and it'll make our pretty downtown even prettier. But what I do have a problem with is the fact that they're doing construction on both sides of the street at once. I know nothing about construction, so maybe there's a reason for this, but wouldn't it be easier on both workers and (especially) pedestrians to tear up one side of the street, rebuild it and make it functional again, and then do the same to the other side of the street? That way at least one side of the street would be open at all times and, instead of having to go three blocks out of my way I'd just have to cross the street twice.

Or is that just too easy?

I don't wanna sound like I'm whining. Really, I don't. I usually reserve that for the weather. But it just doesn't seem like they took the needs of pedestrians into account when they set out to plan this whole project. I guess I shouldn't be surprised; when talking about another project a few years ago with a construction worker he said, and I quote, “we didn't know that people actually used the sidewalks here”. Why yes, we do. In fact, a lot of us do. And that's, apparently, unlike a lot of places where this person had worked. I don't know if that plays into why they do things they way they do or not; I just know it's inconvenient.

Thankfully, it'll also be a short inconvenience, as it only takes a few weeks to repair & replace a sidewalk (as opposed to, say, putting roundabouts in). I know that my walk will shortly go back to being the usual three blocks. It's just that it's a pain in the butt for those few weeks. And that's all I'm gonna say about that. After all, I do wanna reserve my whining for more important things.

Weather, you'd better watch out!

8-)

Oh...don't forget to get your votes in for my desktop picture. Scroll down to Monday's entry if you wanna know more.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday, 9/19

Okay. The dreams can stop any time now.

As most of you know I drove almost 2,000 kilometers (1,200 or so miles) during our European getaway. For me, that's somewhere between 85 and 90 percent of the total mileage I drive all year, compacted into a 9 or so day span. And I'm guessing that's the reason why, every night since we've gotten back, I've had dreams about driving.

Some dreams I'm just driving around like a normal person does. Some dreams, I'm driving around in circles, not knowing where I'm going (much like several days we experienced in Europe). And in some dreams I think I'm driving but, as it turns out, I'm actually doing something else (like running) when I'm supposed to be driving.

The human brain is weird, isn't it?

This is the first time I've had dreams about driving after returning from a trip. Normally, at least as far as I've noticed, I've NEVER had dreams about driving, especially for 10 days in a row (and counting). I don't know what caused it; sure, all the construction and detours that we rain into this time were a hassle, but nothing that (I thought) would've scarred my psyche to the extent that I'd have dreams about driving for a week and a half straight. And if that were the case, wouldn't you think that all of my dreams would tend toward the bizarre and/or nightmarish? Nope; a large chunk of the dreams just involve me driving without getting lost or me driving with all my clothes on.

I don't get it.

But then, that's kind of the point of dreams, right? It's your subconscious trying to work out whatever issues it's dealing with at the moment. You're not supposed to entirely understand them. You're just supposed to wake from them feeling refreshed. Or, in this case, with a weird feeling that your brain's not doing what it's supposed to do.

Maybe, deep down, my brain is telling me that it misses driving. After all, I never had dreams like this when I drove to work all the time. And I didn't have any dreams about driving while I was actually driving every day in Europe. The dreams didn't start until I came back and stopped driving. So maybe that does have something to do with it. The only thing is...how come I didn't have these dreams after coming back from Europe any of the other times I also drove everywhere?

I don't get it.

Hopefully, one night soon I'll have normal dreams, dreams of Loraine or of chocolate or of flying on a dragon while wearing a kilt (what...you don't have dreams like that?). Either that, or pretty soon I'll start having dreams about entering an around the world driving rally, or something like that.

With my brain, you never know.

***

Before I leave you today, a big shout-out to the two people without whom I would not be possible...my mom & dad. It's their anniversary today, so if you know 'em and see them around, make sure you congratulate them. And also, don't forget that I need your vote to tell me which picture should be on my computer desktop for the next year. Scroll down to yesterday's entry to see the choices!



Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday, 9/18

Once again, it’s time for you to decide.

As you may recall, every year when I get back from Europe I let you guys decide on which picture I took there gets to be my work computer desktop photo for the year. So far, you’ve chosen trees, flowers, village scenes, and last year, these tomatoes from the market in Bayeux, France--



I always pick out a couple of semi-finalists from which you get to choose, and I base the choice on this criteria--that I like it enough to be able to stare at it every day for the next year. After all, it would make no sense for me to, say, have to look at a picture of snow or something grungy for an entire year, which is the reason why you may notice all the pictures have a little sun or something cheery about them. Oh, and there should be enough room for a dozen or so icons to appear without disrupting the flow of the picture.

Okay, with that out of the way, here are your choices for this year, as taken in chronological order--

A cow in the sun with a wicked storm in the background, from Chaumont, Belgium--



The Moselle Valley in Remich, Luxembourg--



The peacock that tried to steal Loraine's dinner, Parc de la Pepiniere, Nancy, France--



The Stadtgarten (City Garden) in Freiburg, Germany--



And the castle in Heidelberg, Germany--



Take a look at the pictures, and by this Friday morning please let me know which you think should be on my computer desktop. I’ll announce the winner then, and for the next year, that’ll be the picture that greets me every morning when I come into work. You guys have shown great taste in the past; I look forward to seeing what you choose this year!



Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday, 9/15

I've been breached!

Whenever I get back from Europe I know there are a ton of loose ends with which I have to deal, but never in my wildest dreams did I think one of those loose ends would be to take care of things because I was one of 100+ million victims of the Equifax credit hack.

I guess I'm just lucky that way.

There's a website where you can go to see if you're one of the victims of the hack (and it's a legit site; Loraine was given it at the bank at which she works). You enter in your last name and a few digits of your Social Security number and the company lets you know if your info was stolen in the hack.

Mine was. Loraine's, thankfully, wasn't.

Once you find out if you're a victim you then can, if you so choose, fill out a few screens of stuff to have your credit monitored to make sure that it's not used in a nefarious way. I don't know if it matters; after all, the cynic in me has always assumed that your personal info is floating around the dark web anyway. Bit I'll admit it does give you a small slice of peace of mind, and it's the least the company can do after allowing itself to be breached.

The very least.

Other than that, all the other loose ends from the trip have been pretty much swept up, with the exception of some laundry that needs to get done. I'm looking forward to this weekend for a couple of reasons, several of which have nothing to do with the fact that it's supposed to be sunny & 80. I'm looking forward to getting back into our normal weekend routine, seeing it hasn't been “normal” for a couple of months now. As much as I enjoy writing these things (and I really DO enjoy writing them), I've been writing one every day since August 28th. It'll be nice to rest my brain for a day or two. And secondly, I'm looking forward to the benefit for Phil's statue being held Sunday afternoon at the Delft Bistro.

Hope you can join me for that; if I don't see you there, make sure that you have yourself a spectacular (and credit breach-free) weekend wherever you are and whatever you do!



Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thursday, 9/14

So where was this kind of weather this “summer”? Sigh...

Here we are, now four days into our “Summer in September” (trademark pending) and I just have to chuckle at the absurdity of the whole situation. I have to chuckle, otherwise I'd probably start crying. Yesterday, in fact, was especially gorgeous, and it looks like we have have another amazing day on Saturday. If the forecast hold, it means that we will be having six straight days with highs above 70 degrees this week.

The sad thing about that? There was not ONE stretch of six days this entire summer where the high hit 70 degrees. Not one.

See why I'm laughing?

I realize that as the planet's climate changes our weather norms are changing, as well. Maybe from now on we'll have rather crappy “summers” and then get things like our “Summer in September” (trademark pending) on a yearly basis. But while a week of “Summer in September” (trademark pending) is okay, I would much rather go old school and have, you know, three months of summer. You know—a June where it's not rainy, a July where it's nice and hot, and an August where the temperatures actually get above 60 on a daily basis.

That's not asking too much, is it?

I know. I'll shut up now. I've been told time and time again, by people much smarter than I, that there's nothing you can do to change the weather. You get what you get. And if you get a “Summer in September” (trademark pending) after the lack of a real “summer”, you should probably enjoy it as much as possible, if only because I have a feeling that a “Summer in October” (trademark not pending) is not something we will get to enjoy.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wednesday, 9/13

Just for the record, I have never driven on that side of the road.

I've had a bunch of people ask me how our little trip over to Europe went, and that's nice. It's kinda cool to know people are interested in what we did. When they ask for details, driving in Europe invariably comes up, and the one question that almost everyone asks is something along the lines of “Isn't it strange driving on the other side of the road”? And I always have to answer this way--

“I wouldn't know”.

It's funny that people think that everywhere else in the world you have to drive on the left-hand side of the road, because that happens in very few countries (Britain and its former colonies, mostly). Everywhere in Europe—every single country outside of the UK and Ireland—you drive just as we drive here, on the right hand side of the road. In fact, I think the only difference is that you can't make a right-hand turn on red.

And you can't even do that in some US states.

I think I know why people believe everyone in Europe drives on the left-hand side of the road. Because we speak the same language, we get so many TV shows and movies from Britain that it just seems as if all foreign countries are like that. But they're not. Watch a movie or TV show from France or Germany you'll see people driving down a street just like we do. In fact, they're probably driving better than we are, because fines for traffic violations like speeding or cutting off other drivers are quite steep, and if you get too many penalty points you can lose your license.

Because of that, European drivers actually treat traffic laws as laws, and not just suggestions, as some American drivers are wont to do.

I'm sure I'll keep getting the question, and that's fine. It shows that people are genuinely curious, and if I can help broaden their knowledge of the rest of the world just a smidge, all the better. But just for the record, no, I have never driven a car in a country where everyone drives on the left hand side of the road. That's a life experience that's still to come, with any luck.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tuesday, 9/12

My body is going through chocolate withdrawal.

I wish I could say I was kidding; unfortunately, I fear I’m not. Yesterday was the first day since I left for Europe that I haven’t devoured a chocolate bar or three. I figured my body would thank me; after all, while they’re among the most delicious things on the planet, and while I do eat mostly dark chocolate filled with all kinds of good antioxidants, the chocolate bars are just (basically) empty calories. I’m sure my body would much rather have its usual whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Boy, was I wrong. I felt. . .off all day yesterday, my body wasn’t reacting the way it usually reacts, and I even found myself with a slight headache. And that’s when it hit me--my body was rebelling by not having its usual (at least for the past few weeks) dose of chocolate. You know how coffee drinkers often say feel like they’re going through withdrawal when they quit drinking cold turkey?

That’s how I felt yesterday by going cold turkey on chocolate.

I know chocolate shares a common ingredient with coffee in caffeine, but I don’t believe that chocolate has THAT much caffeine, at least an amount that would cause withdrawal symptoms. But then I’m not a nutritional scientist, so what do I know? Maybe I AM going through chocolate-fueled caffeine withdrawal and don’t even realize it. Either that, or my body just became so used to the creamy and gooey goodness of the chocolate I’ve been eating that it wants some more.

And I couldn’t say I’d blame it, if that were the case. As I’ve mentioned two or three thousand times in here recently, I’m that fond of the chocolate. I know it’s probably not that good for me, but we all have a weakness or three in life. The chocolate appears to be mine.

Other than that, I seem to be handling the transition back to reality okay. My body clock has adjusted back to Michigan time, although I‘m sure it could use a little more catch-up sleep. I think I’ve dealt with all the problems that popped up at work in my absence, and my suitcase, while it’s still sitting on my living room floor, is now mostly empty. The clothes that were in it are soon to be washed, the plastic containers that held stuff (mostly chocolate) are now empty, and I just need to throw in all the little items that’ll I’ll be bringing to Germany with us NEXT year into the suitcase before I schlep it down to our basement.

Hopefully, by then, the withdrawal symptoms will be gone.