Posted tagged ‘weekend’

Tending the cobwebs

February 5, 2014

Wow. This place. I had almost forgotten it existed. I mean, I knew it was here, silently mocking me with goals I had set for myself and deliberately avoided for various reasons that only make sense to another lazy person. But yeah, this place…

Originally, I started this blog as a way to exercise my fat, lazy grey matter in an effort to motivate myself enough to write something serious. Now don’t get your feathers all in a soggy bunch, bloggers. What many of you do in your personal spaces far exceeds anything I could pump out if I had a team of non-lazy assistants constantly nagging me to get my fingers in gear and type something. You’re informed, you’re witty and you make me laugh and think.

When I say I wanted to motivate myself to write something serious, I meant any one of the numerous writing projects I start and then hide in a pile of old clothes that don’t fit me and hope that something seeps onto the pages I’ve abandoned from the wardrobe items I’ve abandoned. You know, misery loving company and all. Enter NaNoWriMo last year.

For those who aren’t aware, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, where you sign up and have the entire month of November to procrastinate writing an entire book. Fifty thousand words is the goal, and for those who write every day, it’s an easily achievable goal. For me, it was a lesson in how motivated I can get in the first and last week of the contest. But the end result was the same as everyone else who “won” last year: I put at least 50k words down on digital paper, skating in on the deadline with about 4 hours to spare.

The experience taught me many things, not the least of which is I write better when I’ve got white noise pumped into my brain pan, and that I really can write effectively when I just sit down and do it. Interestingly enough, The Lazy just reminded me that I then spent the following two months “editing” my unfinished book. Editing in this case means pouring over the first few pages a dozen times, changing character names and correcting grammatical errors I happened to spot. It was a way to not complete the project in its entirety. I’m nothing if not lazily predictable.

After several weeks of goading by friends, Achebeyo and one of my writing buddies, I got back to it like a child to volunteer-housework. I knew that my characters were sitting in their places, rolling their eyes every time I sat down and started “editing” again. I also knew it wouldn’t be long before the entire thread of where I wanted to take my story would fray and snap and I’d be left with angry characters doing nothing but ranting about how bad everything in their lives sucked. You know, a reflection of my own fears and frustrations.

A few weeks ago, the house was empty, except for me and Princess Pukatronic (the cat). When I went upstairs to immerse myself in distractions, nothing worked. I tried logging into online games I love to play, but the idea of lighting some digital representation of a douchebag in his parents’ basement up with electricity from the fingertips of my favorite game-toon just wasn’t holding water like it usually does. The unfinished story was glaring at me with undisguised contempt. I caved to its baleful attentions.

In two days, and roughly 6-8 hours of solid writing, I did what all of my inner voices said I couldn’t do: I finished the story. Granted, there are elements that need to be revisited, and things that need to be shored up or shaved down, but I think the basic first draft has a good handle on what I want to do, not only with this book, but (gasp) future books. I know, I may want to see a doctor and find out what happened.

Right now, the project is in the capable hands of one of my mentors for proofreading and notes. She’s admitted that she’s taking it slowly, so I’m not certain when I’ll get it back. For the moment, I’m keeping myself occupied by imagining all the book signings I’ll be forced to endure, and what I’ll say to people who actually think my story resonates with them. I’m pretty sure it’ll go something like this:

Them: You know, this book really changed my life. I now know what I need to do with myself.

Me: When you figure that out, can you come back and tell me so I have an idea for what I need to do??

Thanks to anyone who stuck around to see if I’d ever toss letters into this space again. I honestly appreciate it…even if I don’t show up enough to remind you.

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Various and sundry

August 30, 2013

I had an idea for a post called “Ghostbursting”, but it later turned out to be just a bullet item on a Friday stream-of-consciousness post. The basic gist of it is twofold:

1) are there no ghosts from any time earlier than one hundred years ago because people just got lazier and lazier and couldn’t see the point in wasting a perfectly good afterlife drifting around waiting for their 15 seconds of ethereal fame?

2) this thing known as “Electronic Voice Phenomenon” (EVP), makes me want to slap people in the soul for not seeing the obvious. If you’re watching a show that was recorded and shown later, why does it take an additional, post-production-edited recording of the recorded show to hear something that can only be heard after it has been recorded? Logic fail, ghost hunting shows.

————-

We were supposed to go to that third world country, Detroit, this weekend for a comedy tour. I was going to write a post detailing, if you know me personally, how to lay claim to any of my stuff after I fall prey to one of the highest crime rates in the country. I don’t want all of my fun stuff, like remote control bugs, Sleestak mask and rubber dragon wings, to collect more dust than they have to. I want them to have loving homes. Turns out, however, that a series of life’s how about we make a different choice moments for both myself and Achebeyo has given us pause. When your cat horks up everything she ate in the last 24 hours three days in a row, and your car explodes (even if it wasn’t a movie-grade explosion), it’s time to listen to that voice saying, I may want to keep this bad streak closer to home. We’ll brave the turbulent carpet of our own property this weekend and see what happens.

————

Modern telephony. We’re all aware of the technology. Unless you’ve been examining your agrarian skill sets for the last decade or two in preparation for one of the popular apocalypse ideas these days (zombies, aliens or zombie aliens), you are probably aware that it doesn’t require a megaphone attachment to get microphones on modern phones to pick up sound. So please tell me why 90% of the people in this country feel the need to town crier their phone conversations to the world at large. HEAR YE HEAR YE! I’M BRINGING DINNER HOME AFTER PICKING THE KIDS UP FROM SCHOOL!

Okay, we get it, you’re important enough to have one of them there fancy cell-u-lar telephones that are so difficult to come by these days. You want everyone to know that Billy-Joe-Jim-Bob can warsh his own laundry and live with his new baby-momma if’n he cain’t keep his junk all locked up…and stuff. Just don’t be surprised when the Secret Society of People Who Still Know How to be Polite give you those looks or frown at your general existence.

————

Many of my real life friends who read this have mentioned that they absolutely cannot relate to my video game reviews. In their honor, a few paragraphs.

I was recently handed leadership of an in-game guild, a loose association of like minded people who want to band together electronically to inadvertently keep birth rates down while conquering their respective digital realms. This guild was a popular, active and well-known guild, and I was a neophyte in it’s ranks. At some point, the game developers made some drastic changes to help bandage the hemorrhaging outflow of paying customers and revoked the guild’s original name in the process. In a frantic dash to ditch the guild while pillaging its resources, the leadership apparently made an over-the-shoulder fleeing shot to bestow the guildmaster title, and I stumbled into the path of said shot.

Being the kind of gamer that I am, I immediately began a recruiting frenzy that only a three-toed sloth could truly relate to. Most of the previously active members were no longer playing, but their numbers still counted towards in-game benefits. This was my chance to step up, take charge and show the kind of digital fortitude it takes to build the leading guild on the server. Rather than hassle with all of that, I recruited a recruiter. Within a matter of days, we tripled our active player base, and gave them the ability to recruit as well. Now we’re a happily growing tribe of miscreants bent on helping each other waste as much time as possible being utterly unproductive in real life. At least I require them to  be polite to each other and represent us to the rest of the server in a dignified manner befitting faceless Internet entities with a conscience.

———–

Italy! Europe’s thigh-high stripper boot! We’ll see you soon. I know you’ll give me stuff to write about and take pictures of so that the people reading this have something substantial to look forward to. Our whirlwind tour will take us first to Rome, then Venice, then Florence then back to Rome. While I personally would like to stay clear of the unwashed masses at your most popular tourist traps, Achebeyo has insisted we rub sweaty arm meat with other travelers and see your top sights. I’ll be happy to try real pizza for the first time, and to eat other real Italian food that isn’t mass produced, frozen then cooked and served by angst ridden teens. Regardless, I’ll be the bald polite guy hoping he doesn’t do anything to get him accidentally thrown in jail. Purposely thrown in jail…that’s another story.

———–

As a Friday parting thought, which theme park ride would you hate to be stuck on while they fix it and why?

Me? I’d hate to be stuck on “It’s a small world” at Spendneyland, because all that singing from robotic children seems like something straight out of a Wes Craven nightmare. I’d almost rather be trapped in Chuck E. Cheese on a summer Saturday. At least there would be games.

On Broadway (at the beach)

August 22, 2013

This past weekend, Achebeyo and I decided to buy into the inherently flawed, corporate-sponsored the more you spend, the more you…spend mentality with a national hotel chain. You know, one of those situations where you only need to spend another $450 dollars to get $25 worth of savings later kind of deals. Still, we needed something to break our recurring weekend code:

10 goto computer

20 goto couch

30 goto bed

40 goto 10

A short ride in the Ren-mobile, and we were at one of our favorite “local” distractions: Broadway at the Beach, where fun and frivolity can be had for just a few paychecks, and foot blisters are free…because there’s plenty of walking to do. It’s essentially a combination of a weekend carnival that got permission to hang out longer, and an outdoor shopping mall. There are various attractions around a manufactured lake, connected by various shops and restaurants who are all vying for your frivolous shopping dollars. Luckily for us, we were only there for the karaoke…and hot sauce…and 1500 thread-count sheets…and candy. But nothing else.

We got into our hotel room later in the evening than our usual dinner time. Thankfully, we had arranged to fill the boiling bile in our bellies (alliteration is frequently fairly fun) with over-processed junk food on the drive down, so we weren’t any more hungry than any other time we’ve gone 2+ hours without cramming carbs in our face-holes. We did, however, find that because of Achebeyo’s membership in this hotel’s Spend-a-rama plan, we had been upgraded to a room with a jetted hot tub. Off to the store I went to acquire the necessary items to create an unholy mess for the cleaning crew.

Since I never know how much bubble bath to put in those things (especially when you’re not really supposed to put any bubbling solutions through a jetted tub’s system without a structured plan to spend the hours following your bath wasting more water purging your mistake from the entire contraption), I of course added what turned out to be a sitcom-esque epic amount. Picture a bubble mountain where one entire side of the room used to be. I guess I really need to trust measurement instructions for stuff like that.

We managed to clear that mess up by draining the tub and giving it 8-10 hours for the foam to subside. We got up early the next morning to run on the hotel’s treadmills and act like none of the rest of the previous night’s chaos had happened. Turns out the running, as well as a 2-hr follow-up walk around the previously mentioned carnimall, gave us the kind of energy boost that meant we’d need to take a nap for a few hours to ensure we’d be up for the real reason we were there:  an evening of karaoke.

We dragged our carcasses out of bed from our life-giving nap and prepared for the evening ahead. For me, that meant putting on slacks and a classy two-shirt combination, one that makes me look like a mafia bowler. Add shoes and I was ready to roll out. For Achebeyo, it’s a bit more involved. There’s a convoluted process that no straight male will ever understand where most women get ready, and I’ve found it helps to have extensive distractions to while away the vast time between when I’m ready and when she’s ready.

After construction was complete on Going-Out Achebeyo, we walked back to the human fly-paper that is Broadway at the Beach and picked a nice sushi restaurant to have dinner. The food was great, the service was fast, and we never felt like the waitresses were timing their visits to deliberately interrupt us every 2-3 sentences of our conversation to see if everything’s okay. If I’m not looking around like I want someone’s head on a platter, I’m usually good. And this place was aware of the subtle difference between helpful wait staff and I’m filing a restraining order against my waitress (COUGHtakenotewaitressesCOUGH).

We had, unfortunately, timed our dinner to coincide with a 2-hour wait before karaoke would begin at another destination in the same complex. Being that we had some time, we decided to work on our evening blisters, and walked around the 3-4 block area of attractions again. We window shopped, we gawked at interesting tourists and we even took time to cater to a few of the billions of carp in “Lake Broadway”. You think I’m kidding when I say “billions”, but I’m not. Go see for yourself. I was too afflicted with The Lazy to take any pictures. After playing some air hockey and a 2-player shooting video game, we finally settled in outside our destination and waited for the clock to tick down to go time. We had less time to wait than we originally thought.

Turns out that start times for events in pubs down there are pretty fluid. If they SAY they’ll start at 9:30, they really MEAN they’ll start when customers begin shelling out cash and plastic. Luckily for us, I was antsy and peeked inside an hour before their stated start time and we dashed in to get good seats before too many more people piled in.

This place wasn’t just a bar, wasn’t just a dark room with an old flatscreen television and sticky floors. This place had a STAGE, with professional lighting, smoke machines built into the floor and monitors at various locations and elevations so you could wander a bit while singing and still see the lyrics you might otherwise have to fudge. They were serious. We were simultaneously impressed and intimidated. We were used to the barely-lit rooms with booze-sodden spectators cheering what was probably just buzzing and thumping in their ears by the time we sang. This place would actually feature the singers.

Achebeyo and I powered through our initial fear and filled out song slips. Our choices would turn out to be quite popular and make each of us a celebrity du hour. Achebeyo went first and chose Rumor Has It by Adele. She KILLED it. Men around the establishment were head-bobbingly enthralled, and the women were cheering her on and singing with her. She finished to a standing ovation.

Since I put a nickname on my slip, and was subsequently reprimanded over the PA system, I had to resubmit my selection of Stray Cat Strut. when I finally got my turn, I had fun with it and didn’t do terribly badly.

Achebeyo would follow up her 1st hit single with the Divinyls I Touch Myself. She made sure to disclaimer it at the beginning to discourage pervs, but she ventured on stage to collective repeated shouts of GO ACHEBEYO! Her real name isn’t as cumbersome to chant as her blogdentity here, so it sounded way better than it just did in your head. Again, she KILLED it. A second standing ovation and lots of happy congratulations on her way back to our table made her night.

My second selection was Faith by George Michael. According to Achebeyo, the crowd went wild. Apparently, that song is something of an anthem. Not only was most of the bar singing along with me, people actually got up to dance on the floor in front of the stage. It’s a fun, upbeat song that most people know and I had a lot of fun with it. As we left the bar following that song, we were both stopped by various people asking if we would be singing again. It was a night of fun, frivolity AND boosted egos. Score!

The rest of the weekend would pale in comparison, but our brief bout of beer-goggle-celebrity gave me loads of bragging rights at work on Monday, as well as something to write about besides not being able to come up with anything to write about. I guess the cure for casual writer’s block is doing something on your weekend besides vegging out in front of electronics and hoping something fun will spontaneously burst out of your noggin. I’ll test the opposing side of that theory this weekend.

Beach-sauce redux

August 15, 2013

After spending a few days back at work and realizing that I’d rather be at the beach watching my language, instead of cursing at my phone, monitor, keyboard and career choices, I decided to head back to the beach house my dad had rented and spend some more time plaguing my family with bad puns, methane emissions and a new game.

In the past, my choices for family games has met with…we’ll politely call it “vociferous disdain”. If I like a game, they hate it, especially if I brought it and the rules require more thought than holding numbered cards of varying colors and matching them in one of two ways. The one that comes to mind most readily, as that is the one they immediately ask me NOT to bring when we plan these things, is Drakon, which bears a strong resemblance to the algorithmic visual programming language which I’m sure it was at least partially based on.

This is an admittedly complicated game where you not only have game pieces that represent your fantasy adventurer self, but also “cards” that you draw that are also map pieces with different rules for how to play/move across them. Oh, and there’s also Drakon, the dragon who is guarding this ever-shifting maze-map and will gank all of your coins if she lands on the same tile as you. Since that is engineered by the other players, it WILL happen. I can understand my family’s hesitance in playing this game, especially when I frequently have to consult the rules as each of us ponders what card/map piece will simultaneously help themselves and screw the other players. I keep telling them if we play it more often, it will be easier to play. Their answers, when not mocking my looks and intelligence, are crossed-arm, stony stares that seem to indicate they wish Drakon would maul me and my stupid game.

This time, in addition to hauling Drakon along for the humor factor (watching their faces light up at the mention of games, then fall again as I drag Drakon out of the bag is a game all in itself), I brought a new game called Cards Against Humanity.

If you want a quick peek at what the game is like, click the link and prepare to laugh until you feel like you’ve performed a 90-minute ab workout. The basic gist is that there are two kinds of cards, black cards that contain questions or fill-in-the-blank statements, and white “answer” cards. One person each round is the judge and picks a black card at random to read. Everyone else picks from their continuously replenished 10 answer cards to present what they think the funniest answer will be. The judge reads them all and picks his or her favorite….if they can get through the reading without falling off their chair or crying from laughing.

I’m sure there’s some Apples to Apples-esque scoring mechanism, but we were having so much fun playing the game that we didn’t bother to keep score. We learned a lot that evening, not the least of which is one horrible way to lose your virginity: tickling Sean Hannity even after he tells you to stop. The one that turned my dad into an adult fetus is too obscure out of context to share here. Plus, I really want you to play this game for yourself and report back one ridiculous thing you learned from it. You’ll thank me…if you aren’t rolling your eyes and shouting at your monitor that, “I already HAVE that game, MORON!” Still, your obnoxious condescension aside, I’d like to hear what you learned from this insanely hilarious game. Oh, and don’t purchase it if you’re strictly religious, or have a stick up your bum the size of a redwood. It’s not for you, trust me. They don’t call it the party game for horrible people for nothing.

Other than that, the rest of my time upon returning to the beach house was spent either eating, drinking, being pummeled by mother ocean or any combination of the three. It was a much needed break from The Work. And I think my nieces escaped without too much corruption from Uncle Ren.

Thanks for another great summer of fun memories, dad. Next year, we’re having a Drakon-a-thon until we all know how to play without consulting the rule-novel. Either that, or I unveil my Epic Pouting. It’s your choice.

Mr. Freakin’ Hot Sauce

August 5, 2013

***I’d apologize for not having any pictures of the following tale, but it was more fun living life than filming it.***

At least once every year, my dad launches onto the Internet in search of the perfect beach house for a week of family fun, frivolity and food. I’m not sure what his process is, but we’re frequently found pulling up to residences that seem surprised to see us there expecting a place to stay. And by frequently, I mean this time.

After a week of stress and frustration at work, Achebeyo and I were looking forward to a little down time at the beach. You know, someplace we could have drinks mixed for us and food pumped into our system while we curse the days away. Enter The Nieces.

My two nieces, 3yrs and 8mos respectively, are adorable. And I’m not a fan of kids. Let me be clear: since I’m a big kid myself, I’m not interested in adding to Achebeyo’s growing frustration with raising one whining, crying mess. Thankfully, neither is she. However, I can’t help but be smitten with my two nieces, and not simply because we have people in common. There is one thing, though, that makes it tough for me to be around them: Mr. Hotsauce.

Let me give you a sample conversation and see if you can figure it out.

The Mr. Hotsaucing television won’t Mr. Hotsaucing turn on. And with those Mr. Hotsauce neighbors stomping all around, I’m about to lose my Mr. Hotsauce mind!

Get it? Yeah, it would probably be easier to list the words you can say around my nieces than the ones strictly covered by the Mr. Hotsauce rule. I found myself inventing all new uses for hotsauce this past weekend that would likely make real hot sauce blush.

That mother hotsaucing wave slammed me into the sand and nearly tore my hotsauce off. And now I’ve got sand so far up my hotsauce that I’ll need a hotsaucetal exam to get it all out.

Ah language, the thin red line between corrupting your young relatives and going insane. I survived with my hotsauce intact, though.

While I kid about having to watch my language around my nieces, it was still fun spending time with them both. We played in the sand and water, we watched movies and played with building blocks. We even flew my high-performance parafoil kite. Many activities designed to keep Mr. Hotsauce far from our minds. Plus, there are far more subtle ways to create mischief for my brother through my nieces.

Say ‘Daddy is a Mr. Hotsauce-Head’.

DADDY IS A MR. HOTSAUCE-HEAD!

Atta girl.

Sky-flyin’ Friday

July 19, 2013

***I’ve been informed that I must strive to write about something besides not writing. My blogging Sith Master has spoken.***

You wouldn’t know it from looking at me, but I have over 500 skydives…and about 8 cutaways (what you do when your main parachute throws a temper tantrum in the air). To the people who claim that skydivers are reckless adrenaline junkies, I won’t bark at you like a junk yard dog to convince you otherwise, but I will pee in your shoes when you aren’t looking. It’s what I do.

To the average person, with their feet firmly lodged in their mortgage, white picket fence and overpopulation dreams, skydiving is seen as frivolous at the very least and downright insane at the worst. Both assessments are about as fair and reasonable as spinach-oregano cake at a kid’s birthday party, though you likely won’t get punched in the junk for offering a slice of free skydive. The truth is, skydiving is as fun and as safe as any activity that peels asses from couches and puts them more than 50ft from a television.

Me…trying to slow down for the cameraman.

Achebeyo and I met back in 2002 on a canoe trip to the outer banks. Since we were the only two people on that trip not in adult (or child) diapers, we naturally gravitated to each other and hung out extensively while camping on the island. Beginning a trend for our impending relationship, we traveled all over the island together and even discovered the herds of wild ponies…and nearly got trampled when they rallied to protect a foal from the friendly nose-kisses of my dad’s dog. This sort of adventurous outlook on life would set the pace for our leisure activities in the years to come.

Long before we met, Achebeyo had been on a tandem skydive. For those not really savvy on the terminology, that’s the kind of skydive where you are strapped to another biped with a massive parachute that can easily accommodate you both, and that person spooning you in the air controls everything on that skydive except your vomit reflex. It’s kind of like the test-drive for the sport, where you can try it out and possibly decide to make your next jump a 1-parachute 1-person jump, or you can flip the sky a trembling bird as you empty the semi-fluorescent and chunky goo from your innards. Sometimes it’s a little from column A, and a little from column B.

My buddy Barry realizing he’s fallen out of an airplane with someone on his belly.

After we had been together for a while, Achebeyo and I began to notice parachutes landing near the freeway every time we would make our way into areas of civilization with more than a well-known supermarket and a buffet or two as the main attractions. We decided that we would make an effort to find out where they were jumping from and how much it would cost to start jumping ourselves.

We ventured into an area where you’d expect to hear both the sound of banjo music and your sphincter slamming shut permanently, and found a nice little grass-strip dropzone with plenty of non-rapey, helpful people. We learned quite a bit about the sport simply talking and observing. Though the price for starting the Accelerated Free Fall course, the one that eventually leads to you becoming a licensed sky-jumpy-jumper, was a bit steep for us at the time, we vowed we’d find a way to make it happen without selling internal organs or fluids. And we did.

New skydiving student leaving the plane with her two instructors.

We pooled our resources, and with a little help from my unsuspecting father (who likely would have bought me cement shoes and a strait-jacket if he knew what the inheritance money he gave me would be used for), we began our adventures in the air.

Understand that you aren’t just slapped into clothing you wouldn’t even wear for Halloween (unless your family was being held hostage, and then you’d REALLY have to like your family), saddled with a parachute rig and shoved out an open airplane door the moment you pony up the cash. No, there’s a life-saving, but near coma-inducing, 6-7 hour classroom and equipment instruction, where you learn all about the essentials of body position, comprehensive equipment functionality, canopy (parachute) flight, altitude awareness and emergency procedures….that you will promptly forget the moment you step off the aircraft for the first time at 12,000ft. That’s why you leave the plane with two instructors locked onto you like they’re transporting Riddick across the cosmos to face temporary justice.

It’s not that you aren’t smart enough to absorb 6-7 hours worth of data for something you’ve never experienced before that will require you to save your own life. It’s the tunnel vision. Seriously. You can be the best student on the planet, someone the rest of us secretly hate (you teacher’s pet), but once you step off of that plane, everything you learned is reduced to a singularity from information overload. There’s so much to see and take in that new students tend to only see what’s right in front of their face, which hopefully includes instructor hand signals to get you to alter body position, check your wrist-mounted altimeter or deploy your main parachute NOWNOWNOW! Whether or not you pay attention in class and can apply what you learned in ground school in the air determines whether or not your instructors feel you are ready to move forward in your training, but don’t worry, they’ll deploy your parachute for you if you exhibit signs of waking air-coma.

See? They don’t leave until your inflatable wing is out and…inflating.

With a 2-way radio strapped to your chest, and turned on before you leave the plane, it’s now up to you to fly your inflatable wing to safety. The instructor on the ground gives you a few commands to follow so that he or she knows you’re paying attention, then proceeds to direct you into a safe landing pattern that will bring you in comfortably on your butt, or your feet if you’re just that good your first time, show-off. I think I gave myself a grass enema on my first jump, but nothing that required anything more than a quick brush-off. At that point, Achebeyo and I were hooked.

We completed all of our student jumps in a few weeks (we had great instructors who took the time to make sure we weren’t air-tards), and soon moved off of student status and on to exit solo-land solo jumper status. Not long after that, we passed both our written and practical tests for licensing with the United States Parachute Association (USPA), or as I like to call it License to look THAT good…in the air. We’d keep jumping together for a year or so more, until I was lured away by the dark side discipline of freeflying.

Most of what you see in movies and television for skydiving is what Achebeyo once accidentally coined as “belly-w”, or relative work (RW for acronym-nazis). It’s the kind of skydiving where you link up with others and make shapes together as you freefall; all in belly-to-earth orientation. Freeflying is the kind of skydiving that looks like badass aerial ballet…without the tights and tutus. It’s typically in feet-to-earth and head-to-earth orientation, and it’s much faster than RW. It also requires you to have much more minute awareness and control of your body positioning and movements. Back when I started skydiving, these people were the rock stars of the sport. And I’m all about being in proximity to perceived greatness. I was enthralled, but it took time to even be mediocre at it. Didn’t stop me from having a blast and making friends from all over the world.

My brother in law making me look good as the cameraman.

Me and some friends on what is known as a “zoo dive”. (Photo credit to Arvel Shults)

Achebeyo and I have traveled quite a bit, and have made some truly wonderful friends from all walks of life in our skydiving adventures. I was even fortunate enough to help plan, organize and execute an event at our home dropzone, The Raeford Parachute Center, where jumpers from all over the globe come to share air and time. We call these events boogies. They’re a concentrated serving of fun the likes of which you’d be hard pressed to find at home…or anywhere else people are rotting their brains on television and salty carbs. Heck, even the spectators seem to really enjoy sharing in the excitement and fun…from tables, chairs and bleachers, of course.

Whether or not you skydive, whether or not you even view skydiving as something other than people “jumping out of perfectly good airplanes” (which don’t exist anywhere, by the way), you’re likely to be at least a little bit social and sociable. If you ever wanted to meet a wide range of professionals and slackers alike, people from all walks and stages of life who enjoy what they do with their free time and love talking about it, go hang out at a dropzone and politely express interest at the level you are most comfortable with. People will jump (heh) at the chance to tell you all about their experiences and get your own blood pumping at the prospect of flinging yourself across the sky. And who knows, maybe you’ll get all infected with the idea that skydiving isn’t as crazy as, say, wasting away at a desk five days a week so you can afford to spend your weekends gathering tales of couch lint and bed sores to share with everyone on Monday.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Go catch the sun in the sky, like my buddy Joe.

Milestones are for suckers

May 10, 2013

When I started writing for an invisible audience, I knew this day would come. A day, like many others, when I had less to say and less desire to say it, but with one big difference: it’s a numbered post that might indicate some form of ceremony or celebration should be involved. The Lazy tells me that’s just plain ridiculous. I can’t find any reasonable argument to the contrary, so let’s just proceed as if this is any other day of aimless writing.

“Casual Friday” in an office where we all wear jeans and slogan t-shirts most of the time seems a bit ambiguous. Not only am I not interested in being forced to concentrate on not viewing my co-workers’ nearly see-through leg-meat, I don’t want to subject them to my Wookie legs. If I thought I could get away with it without losing most of my body weight in water, I’d wear this in:

Improvised, unfathomable costumes have consequences.

This past week, I made some fried rice from scratch. Okay, so I didn’t grow the rice or the vegetables myself, I didn’t grind up the spices by hand (except the pepper, and it was more of a by-peppermill kind of thing) and I didn’t squirt out two organic eggs from my nethers. I did, however, manage to get all of the ingredients together in a palatable manner without burning the house down. And I learned a valuable lesson about myself: I make kick-ass spicy fried rice.

The picture is crap but the rice was not.

Last week, I asked my dad what my niece is into at 3yrs old, as her birthday celebration was last weekend, and I wanted to cement my title as Uncle of the Weekend by bringing the perfect gift. His answer? Pirates. I nodded politely while secretly thinking it might be time to start looking for in-home care for my dad. A 3yr old girl wants pirate stuff (booty?) for her birthday? Uncle Ren’s forging his own neural pathways on this one, thanks. I took a day off from work and spent the entirety of it debating myself in a well-known toy dispensary.

I should get her something girly. Why? because she’s a GIRL? That’s toy-sexist. Then I’ll get her something I would like. How do you know she’ll like what boys like? Then I’ll get her something gender-neutral. Yes, buy her something bland and unexciting, “Uncle of the Weekend”. I hate you, other voice of me in my head.

After 2700 laps around the store, I finally opted for something my eyes caught when I first ventured into Torture-R-Us’ labyrinth of misery: a musical, dancing & bubble spewing flower. It was a huge hit, but it turns out she really IS into pirates.

Parrrrrrtners in birthday crime.

Happy 3rd birthday to my niece, and happy 50th post to me.


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