The healing prowess of the Basset hound

I am dying. In the great inevitability sense of the word AND in the more localised, microeconomic sense. At the moment I’m mostly referring to the latter. The progeny, in the guise of the Outbreak monkey, carried on her person a deadly pestilence the likes of which can only ever be propagated in a kindergarten sandpit through the communion of sand, tiny plastic shovels and multiple strains of snot (with mutable viscosity). After briefly battling with the symptoms herself she then bestowed this virulent blight on her poor, hapless sperm-ovum contributors.

It has both her mom and dad down and out for the count. The girl tempest is however healthy again and operating at her usual 105% capacity (which is adding to the general sense of misery) At the moment I’m tagged in to achieve some mattress time while the wife grinds out suicide hour and the parent of the year achievement award. (Because I’m the male of the species my symptoms are deemed more severe and incapacitating, also my mewling is louder and more frequent which almost guarantees me quarantine)

Unfortunately it’s not all camomile tea, Netflix and sleepy time. The basset hound thinks he has healing prowess. Whenever anyone in our household is sick, Dr D. will dutifully come and… well, cry at your beside until you lift him up onto the bed. (Our household is not a believer in equal-heights) He will then attempt to ‘heal’ you (with his body weight). Theres nothing quite like a canine mandated recovery that comes with a 25kg cement bag digging into your spleen and obstructing the peristalsis of your small intestine…. I wouldn’t recommend it personally.

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The German Shepherd, although not an innate healer, feels left out and soon adds her massive girth to the equation. Eventually everyone is snoring loudly… except for the intended recipient of said healing, who as well as being sick, is now also, extremely uncomfortable.

I vaguely wonder where it all started to go wrong for me? Lying there, crushed by the symptoms of the common cold, this has turned into a time for meaningful reflection. Especially now that the trajectory of my entire weekend has now been called into doubt. I have a sneaky suspicion it’s not going to be very exciting. And may, potentially end with my demise. If you don’t hear from me again, know that I went out swinging. Okay, thats probably not true. While I endeavoured to fight them on beaches (and on the landing grounds)… I probably slipped on some toddler type detritus in the middle of the night, fell and smacked my head on the edge of the toilet… an ignominious end for one so mighty.

If at all possible I’d like a lone piper, preferably bespoke in Campbell tartan playing amazing grace while my body is stuffed into one of Elon Musks rockets, and fired off into space. When the universe contracts again I wish to arrive before my peers. I am weirdly competitive that way…

Inspection…

Yeah I think I’ve found your problem right here… It’s a basshole.

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Two year olds are awesome. I’d love to be that inquisitive again.

If the feeling takes you that you should like to inspect the basset hounds… eh… rusty sheriffs badge, you should likely do so.

My first reaction, sitting nearby on the lip of the sandpit, was ‘no, that’s gross’. But I caught myself just in time. I don’t really want to stifle that natural curiosity and interest. Besides it’s not really gross, she’s just having a gander… and he keeps his chocolate starfish pretty damn sparkly*

*annoyingly, that… eh… maintenance, is done with loud slurping noises every night just before bed time. Nothing like that melodic sound to lull you to sleep.

Josh Waitzkin (chess guy – ju-jitsu guy I like) has a great parenting theory. He’s particularly careful about his use of adjectives when he’s talking to his progeny.

He uses the example of the weather. If his kid wants to play outside and it’s stormy out, he doesn’t say the weather is ‘bad’. It’s just weather. In any event I’m trying to live that philosophy. It’s not a disgusting spider that you need to be scared of… It’s just a spider. Let’s have a look at it. And then put it outside. (Admittedly this was a little more challenging with a black widow the other day)

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This sort of language is harder than it sounds. We are very conditioned in our responses, describing things on autopilot, ascribing adverbs and adjectives with almost no consideration. I only realised how broadly negative my language was until I paused to take cognisance of what I was saying.

I still mess it up quite regularly. But I am trying to get better at this.

Keen insight

‘That’s not a dog, that’s a basset’

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My two year old daughter already knows that a Basset Hound is… something else… definitely NOT a dog though.

Took me much, much longer to realize this. (By that time they’ve already integrated themselves at the pinnacle of the household hierarchy and are impossible to usurp)

Don’t let that laughable exterior and amusing gait fool you, inside lurks exceptional cunning and will.

 

The grim reality of Basset Hound ownership

I swallowed a bug.

That is a bit of a misnomer. It’s more like I inhaled a bug. I can feel it crawling around in my alveoli. Well more likely flailing around in the sticky gumbo, like some world war one trench fighter, slowly succumbing to the undertow of muck that coats the inside of my lung. I can feel its death rattle though… and its upsetting me. Die already.

This caps off my crowning achievement for the day. Which was wrestling a half decomposed rat away from the Basset Hound before he could eat it. It came apart while we grappled for ownership of said rodent. I then had to pry his jaws open with my fingers to extract the other half before he gulp-gulp-swallowed.

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This is still better than the dead bloated toad he tried eat once. But not worse than the time he found human feces in the park… and rolled in it. That was truly a vomit inducing affair.

I felt I needed to share my pain.

Just another manic Monday…

Like the Bangles song. (Although I always preferred Walk like an Egyptian)

Day three without caffeine. I’ve gone cold turkey since Saturday. So you can imagine how my day is going? In a nutshell, its not going well. Ha ha. Usually by this time I have metabolized about six cups of coffee. To say that I am presently ensconced in serious grouch would be a seriously dangerous understatement.  I also have a headache.

I’m compounding my woes by swearing off bread, dairy (which I initially write as fairy because of my blurry vision) and refined sugar.

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I’ve (recently) decided that I have adrenal fatigue syndrome. And folate and B12 deficiency. (This is what happens when you read too many (fringe) Paleo books). I even went and had my first B12 shot over the weekend. And… in all honesty, I felt a lot better afterwards (despite walking a bit funny afterwards). That might just be placebo. Today however, is more or less a suicide day… I feel manic and discombobulated and I might bludgeon you into a coma with a oversize stapler if you were to walk into my office brandishing a Grande Cap and a Mars bar.

Speaking of which…

My eleven year old basset hound is either suicidal or suffering from cross species dementia (where he enacts the strange tendencies of the Alpine Ibex). No more staying up late to watch Animal planet.

I  had just come back from a friends fortieth birthday where two pints of Paulaner Weissbier had me feeling somewhat sluggish. (more than usual some might say) The wife and kid were at my parents house along with the dogs and my daughter was playing upstairs in my old bedroom. I took the opportunity to lie down on the sofa in the landing and rest my eyes for a bit. I was just about to doze off when I heard a noise that sounded like nails frantically scrabbling on roof tiles. Amazingly my alcohol addled brain somehow managed to piece together in a split second that the sound was that of a basset hound scrambling for grip on the roof tiles above my head. He’d wandered out onto the balcony, circumnavigated the railing and climbed onto the roof. Now he was coming down and was losing his grip on the steep pitch.

‘Jesus’, I bolted up, sprinted out onto the balcony and vaulted the railing with one hand coming down hard on the roof, my right foot going through one of the roof tiles as I landed. I managed interject myself between the edge and the basset hound and grabbed him before he plummeted to his doom. Post event I marveled how I’d managed this feat, not only in my slightly inebriated condition, but also wearing flip flops.

As usual he was dismissive of my efforts and decided the whole thing was a complete overreaction on my part.

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My Saturday had already started poorly with a reoccurring nightmare*. Only this time I wasn’t dreaming. The girl child had hauled an assortment of pots and… a colander from the kitchen into her playroom, upended them and was vigorously assaulting them with a signed Chad Gracey drumstick.

*the one where I only sire girls and they all the women in the house are drummers.

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On a scale of one to ten. Ten being woken up with a blowjob and one being woken up because your house is on fire, being roused by this cacophony at 5am is probably a four.

So much for my hopes for a young Kim Deal. It seems she is destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps and take up the drums. Although I have tried (repeatedly) it seems one can’t mess with destiny.

In other news I started listening to this.

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I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even know about this book until recently. AND perhaps more embarrassingly that I only found out today that it has been made into a Steven Spielberg movie. (seriously, what rock do I live under?!?!)

Because I listened to Masters of Doom this entered my recommended list. Read by Wil Wheaton. Whom I now love. I looked at the reviews. Its weird when a book gets this many positive (almost to the point of rabid fanaticism) reviews. My skepticism bit flipped*.  ‘Yeah, nothing can be this good…’

*a John Romero-ism I will now use

I’m only about two… and a half hours in. But I may have to eat my words (again). So far I am thoroughly entranced. Can’t wait for my commute home.

NOT a murder mystery

I forgot to lock my front door last night.

Terry Pratchett has this great paragraph about how, in Ankh-Morpork, there are actually very few murders. Mostly dead bodies are considered suicide. Walking in the Shades after dark for example, is suicide.

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While Johannesburg likely wasn’t used as a template for this Discworld metropolis (as far as I know) I feel it definitely ranks in the top five most Ankh-Morporkian cities on this plane of existence (up there with Lagos). The most glaring difference (which precludes Jo’burg from the top spot) is that instead of a brass bridge lined with hippos over the river Ankh (primarily used to dispose of dead bodies) we have a bridge over a train yard. (which broadly serves the same function). Also a bridge made of brass would have been stolen ages ago.

In any event, not locking your front door in South Africa is broadly considered suicide. (glad we made it!)

In all fairness in order to get into the master bedroom to murder us they’d still have to make it past the booby traps (the playroom strewn with Lego caltrops), the vicious guard basset (oh who am I kidding) and there’s always the chance they might trip over the German Shepherd in the passage (who would likely then roll over for tummy tickles). I sleep like the dead, but all the commotion might wake the missus (who will then punch me, ‘Your turn’.)

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Back when I was an (irresponsible) bachelor I slept with a Glock (.40S&W) underneath my pillow, 1UP and ready to rumble. It caused me endless frustration when girlfriends wanted to sleep over. (where is the Glock going to sleep?) Although savvy enough NOT to suggest they go sleep in the other room due to their presence deteriorating the defensive integrity of fort Joey, it generally elevated my already simmering levels of anxiety. (Clearly I had other qualities which glossed over some of the other more serious psychological… eh…  deficiencies)

Marriage has mellowed me somewhat (or turned the liquid cloudy, depending on how you look at it). These days instead of rolling out of bed and into my body armor I first have to go the cupboard and take it off a coat hanger. I also have to waste precious time taking my Glock out of the safe and cycling a round into the chamber. All this while under the added pressure of being murdered. (very inconvenient)

In other news I went for blood tests yesterday. The excitingly named D-Dimer protein test. Which looks for a protein in your blood which appears when you’re busy having a thrombosis that’s disintegrating. I’ve… torn a calf muscle (I think, although it could also be a DVT). My ability to tolerate pain after twenty five years of near constant boxing and ju-jitsu makes me weary of gritting through something that may not be what it appears. Especially since I’ve had a pulmonary embolism before. Which… as you might imagine really sucked.

Anyways, the doc phoned me with the results of my test this morning. Negative (but with provisos). He thinks maybe I should go onto the rat poison for a month… just to be sure… which I’m not particularly keen on. Since I was going for blood tests anyway, I did a non-fasting lipid test. Which was was higher than it should be. I’m more annoyed about my cholesterol than the rat poison. I generally pride myself in eating healthy.

The indestructibility of youth is ebbing away to its inevitable conclusion. So annoying.

What’s in a name?

I need to pee. Which isn’t great as opening lines go. I was just about to launch into a self-involved tirade about how terrible my day was and then heap scorn on those who vexed me (Maersk) while simultaneously drenching myself in a good, solid dollop of self pity (my affluent life is so difficult). But now my bladder has laid waste to my machinations and I am forced to tack against the wind. Please standby.

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I used a sailing metaphor. And likely used it incorrectly. But this is my blog and if I want to use an obtuse nonsensical analogy that is my right, as granted to me by Matt Mullenweg and the power of Greyskull. Slash WordPress.

Maersk: ‘Hi Jo. here is your statement for S900, please settle immediately, since this account is overdue’.

Jo: ‘Um… can you send me a copy of the invoice, I’m not entirely sure what this is about’

Maersk: ‘Here you go’

Jo: ‘Um… this Invoice says, Port of lading, Jawaharlal Nehru, India. Port of discharge, Santos, Brazil’.

Maersk: ‘Yeah, so’.

Jo: ‘Well… The first problem is that I’m Johannesburg, South Africa. I think you’ve misallocated the invoice to the wrong customer.

Maersk (Copy and pasted) : ‘Hi Jo. Thanks for your reply, please advise to whom these charges need to be billed? We would need written confirmation from new payer in order to move charges’

Jo: (wondering if they’re messing with me) Um… I have no idea?

Maersk (four hours later) : ‘Hi Jo. Please find attached a copy of your invoice’.

Jo: (its the same invoice) Oh my fuck!

This upsets at least three quarters of my mongrel genealogy. The one quarter nominal Dane is embarrassed by his countrymen. The half German is feeling somewhat smug, but also keeping one eye on that suspicious looking Syrian and the quarter Pole doesn’t care because he’s more interested in holocaust denialism and smuggling cigarettes.

Is it satire or sarcasm that’s the lowest form of wit? I can’t remember. I’m guessing sarcasm, but don’t they broadly mean the same thing? I feel I should probably know this. (I have huges gaps in my tuition) My eighth grade English teacher, a diminutive (but violent) nun called Sister Mary-Joseph used to punch me because I couldn’t identify clauses or the conjunction that joined them. I remember taking a beating in front of the blackboard once because, identified as an English language malingerer, I would randomly point to non specific part of the sentence in the hope that I had guessed correctly and could sit back down. Unfortunately for me Sister Mary-Joseph recognized my duplicity and negatively reinforced me accordingly (with her fists).

Good times.

Still not as bad as Khewzi who was ratted out by Sister Mary-Joseph to Mr. Collier a fearsome, bull of man and deputy headmaster, for some or other undesirable behaviour during Religious Education. (I think he was playing with a condom) Mr. Collier burst into our classroom during mathematics and smacked Khewzi down something fierce in front of the stunned class. I’m talking full on football hooligan type violence. This was the tail end of apartheid and while I imagine that sort of behaviour today would have elicited (in the very least) some serious charges, a black kid back then had no recourse and zero hope for justice. To be fair Khewzi wasn’t a particularly nice kid (he cut my silkworms in half with a pair of scissors) and I don’t think he picked up a beating because he was black but that incident left me pretty rattled. Both parties involved were eventually quietly ushered out of the school and like the crusades, violence of action became a Catholic past tense (mostly).

Interestingly years later I played chess against Khewzi in an inter-school tournament and he trounced me. He seemed to have turned out alright. He certainly wasn’t brain damaged.

It dawns on me that I haven’t seen the the Basset hound in a while. I find him curled up on the recliner in the nursery using the feeding pillow as a cushion. I poke him with my big toe, ‘Oi’, he glares at me.

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I apologize and shuffle off. Basset hounds know psychology. The German Shepherd lives to please, but a Basset understands and works the slave-master mentality. ‘Scratch my neck vagina human’.

He’s getting on a bit. (turning 11 this year) In a morbid bout of fatalism we have started bandying about names for next basset. So far Montgomery Burns leads the short-list. Followed by Elvis Houndsly.

Anyways, I’m tired, so here endeth the blog. More exciting tales of dashing and daring (courageous and caring) will likely follow on the morrow. Or whenever.

TL;TR

I was playing PlayStation. Until my controller ran out of juice. Which depending on your school of thought may have been a fortuitous occurrence because now I’m forced to do something else (possibly something productive even). I’ve recently been feeling guilty (not guilty enough to actually do anything about it, maybe more of a mild malaise) about my more mindless hobbies, PlayStation in particular.

There always seems to be an opportunity cost to playing games. Whether it is reading, or working or even exercising. PlayStation is probably broadly considered the least efficient use of the time available to us. Has killing an end of level boss ever improved your life? Not really. Possibly a small hit of dopamine. But it’s fleeting. On my deathbed it seems unlikely I will look back fondly on all the hours I sunk into… Damn… I was going to say The Witcher… but that is an experience hovering just below my wedding day in terms of general awesomeness. I have no regrets!!!

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I received some positive reinforcement in the book store earlier. I was dilly dallying in Philosophy, wedged unceremoniously around a bend between Judica and Science where I was trying to find a book on Proust (which I couldn’t find, because the philosophy section is a sad, sad* place) but I did see this…

*literally and figuratively.

Which made me feel a bit better. It has a click bait look about it… but interestingly they went for a PS4 controller on the cover, which means they might actually know something about gaming. If they’d gone for a Xbox controller I could have written them off as academic noobs who clearly don’t know anything about anything. However…. (being a hardcore gamer) I’m not sure you can legitimately claim ten things that video gaming can improve. But that such a book exists is comforting.

Wait. Maybe I should start my day at the beginning. I was up at 4am after a bad night. The girl child decided she need to hone her sleep deprivation skillset on us. Some parents try push their children towards neuroscience or biochemistry. We’re coming to terms that our kid is going to be a CIA contractor. (we’ll start CQC training when she turns two) I tried to confess that I was the one that had thrown out her play-doh in the hope that she would relent in her onslaught. But she wasn’t having any of it. (serious work ethic there)

Bleary and not all together copious-mentos I had to take the basset hound to the veterinarian. He has a haematoma* in his eye. It’s not serious, likely from the sun the vet said, but if it’s not healed up in two weeks he’ll have to cauterize it.

*hematoma if you’re from the lilypad on the other side pond and have ‘newspeaked’ the English language (and also continue to resist the metric system, seriously wtf?)

After that I built shelves in the garage out of old roof trusses and shutter-board. We need space to store our ever burgeoning supply of crap*.  It’s not the finest work I’ve ever done, slightly crooked, but those trusses were old and almost fossilized in their hardness. After I’d realized my mistake I didn’t really feel like working the screws out again. (they’d stripped going in) I decided I could live with the whole thing being a little wonky.

*possibly because all the cupboard space in the house is taken up with lego and boardgames. #justsaying.

After that we went to the bookstore.

Essentially to go buy Room on a Broom. (I’ve developed a serious liking for Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler). I gravitated towards Psychology as I’ve been prone to do, which together with Business occupies four solid shelves. Psychology is a bit of a misnomer. You won’t find any Freud or Jung or Maslow there.

Why isn’t it just labeled advice? (or spurious bullshit and lump it together with the esoteria)

Advice. (noun)  guidance or recommendations offered with regard to prudent action.

I’ve (recently) decided it’s all the epitome of ego.

Advice is paired with expertise. There is the assumption that there that the advice giver has a decent grasp on the material that the advice is dispensed about. For example my doctor having studied about infection and disease can give me advice about my malady. I have less knowledge about the subject and so defer to his knowledge.

But things become a little murkier when it comes to life and the plethora of good advice that people feel they need to market to you. Who is qualified to give you life advice anyway? The short answer is no one and fuck you.

Diogenes lived in a barrel and told the most powerful man in the world at the time that he was blocking his sun. How many of us would take life advice these days from a smelly Greek who lived in a barrel? But if Alexander the Great had a twitter account we’d be following every 280* character burst of inanity that came from his hallowed brow. We’ve come to equate wealth and power with success.

*since I think twitter is basically step one to an Orwellian dystopia I had to google this.

As an aside, why is Alexander the Great still great? He was certainly NOT a paragon of humanity and should likely be dumped into the same category as that German fellow, that Russian fellow and that Chinese fellow. (weirdly there no genocidal females… yet) His body count is in the same sort of league (relative to the population of the world). Why we’ve tacked on great to the end of an otherwise blood thirsty psychopath is one of those great mysteries.

Further we then equate success in a certain field with the ability to generate advice on a whole range of topics. For me it’s troubling when someone feels they can dispense advice about something as subjective as happiness. It’s not even something you can address in broad strokes. Not really. For me, success and happiness means something completely different and yet I feel qualified to advise you? Ha ha. Have we really all becomes so unbelievably vain and narcissistic.

The answer is yes we have. Because we genuinely believe we are going to be helping people. If I can just reach out to that poor guy who is wasting his life and inspire him greatness. Hey poor guy wasting your life… I think you’re a loser, and you need my help to turn things around. Buy my book. I will teach you to take control of your wayward existence and make something of yourself.

Fuck that.

I’m so done with this genre. I’ve let people guilt me into this feeling of unfulfilled potential since the moment I was born. I think 39 is a good age to give it all up.

In the end I bought Room on a broom. And a book with pop-up dinosaurs in it. (it was easier just to buy the book than break my daughters fingers) She was pulling a Charlton Heston, ‘Out of my cold, dead hands’ move.

I bought this for myself.

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Which might seem like a weird choice. I think I’ve been going at this all wrong. My infatuation with self improvement books was born out of a desire to learn stuff and therefore be better. But I wasn’t actually improving. All I was doing was reading about what had improved other people and what had made them happy. I was taking a square peg and trying to ram it into a round hole, and then wondering why it wasn’t working.

Anyways. I still want to learn stuff and improve. But not waste my time on stuff as nebulously vague as happiness and self improvement, as listed in a manifesto by some ego maniacal wank who thinks he’s got it all figured out. Thanks, but no thanks.

Now I’m going to learn stuff about spiders. And when my controller is fully charged I’m going to get me a new suit of magical armor. And a shiny new axe. And then I’m going pretend smite some pretend evil.

Looking forward to it.

An eclectic mix of tags

My day has gone distinctly sideways on me. I can tell because I’m listening to Nine Inch Nails at volume on my Bose. The self destructive, depressed, banging Courtney Love, drugged up Trent Reznor. Not the much more together and totally less angry individual of today. Further down the spiral. Which is how I feel about life right now.

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Motherfucker looks good for 52. Wait what? When did that happen? If you’re as confused as I am there could be several reasons for this.

My excuse (currently) is that the coffee machine was empty, so I’m drinking instant. Which is only slightly better than drinking toilet water. Well, my dogs would probably prefer toilet water (now that I think about it).

I need to take break from the one hundred and sixty four unread emails and the dangerously piled stacks of paper on my desk that are beginning to lean precariously to one side. One ill considered move could spell disaster. Although I suppose it could also spell something else, depending on how they fall.

I’ve been awake since about 2am this morning, wrenched from REM sleep by a Basset Hound who wanted to go pee (in the rain). A quick resolution to the bladder crisis didn’t seem to be on the cards and by the time he did feel the need to lackadaisically wander back, he was of course soaked (much to his surprise I imagine). By this stage I’d irradiated my shadow into the bedroom wall with blue light* waiting for him to complete whatever predawn shenanigans basset hounds get up to snuffling around in the undergrowth. Of course then he wouldn’t settle until I’d dried him and re-furled him into his blanket.

*while I read the Wikipedia article on Steve Jackson. (he likes lego and model trains, I knew we are kindred spirits!!)

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Happy now? Actually… since you’re up… could you bring me a cookie?

After that sleep was largely a parody. I should have started working or gone for a run or something. Instead I idled away my time watching people play Starcraft on YouTube. I still count not being able to rescue Sarah Kerrigan from the Zerg as one of the biggest failures in my life. A burden I have carried around with me now for more than 20 years.

Is it just me or were the Superbowl commercials this year less good than in previous years? (the other thing I did) Only one really made me laugh, part 1 of the Bud Light commercial. Maybe I’m just getting harder to please in my old age.

‘They have arrows with fire… which… probably don’t hurt more than the regular ones’. 

Ha ha.

That is an eclectic mix of tags you have on your blog post there Joey.

In other news I’m going fishing this weekend. I say fishing… but really that means fishing will be happening around me, while I… drown out my inner monologue with Five Finger Death Punch and read comics.

To me, this is fishing…

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I don’t really understand the allure of fly fishing (although the gear-queer in me gets all exited by those vests with all the little pockets) and then letting what you catch, go? Huh? That seems counter-evolutionary. I think it might be meditative for some people, you know get out into nature and pull an aquatic creature out of its environment by its mouth. You guys are weird.

#justsaying