Mayday! Mayday!

Posted in Uncategorized on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 by Ed Wyrd

Since rolling out the “Mayday” button on new Kindle eReaders, there have been:
- 35 marriage proposals to the tech advisors.
- 475 customers asking for Amy, the tech advisor in the commercials.
- 648 customers who serenaded the tech advisors.
- 109 requests for help ordering a pizza.
- 44 times the tech advisor sang “Happy Birthday” to a customer.
- 3 requests for a bedtime story.

The Wearin’ of the Purple!

Posted in St. Urho on Sunday, March 16, 2014 by Ed Wyrd

Everybody’s Finnish today! Put on your best purple and green, hoist a frosty glass of purple beer, and speak in a Finnish accent!

That’s right folks, once again, it’s St. Urho’s Day!  

Why wait until tomorrow and “that other ethnic holiday” when you can start today pretending you are Finnish?

St. Urho’s Day is the day before that other one and thus is superior to it.

I mean, really, if you’re going to pretend to be of a different ethnicity, why not pretend you’re Nordic? Vikings! Raids! Skiing down slopes battling invading Russians!

Reindeer! That other holiday doesn’t have reindeer.

And instead of just one color, St. Urho’s Day celebrates with two colors: purple and nile green.

That makes the holiday twice as good as that other. St. Urho’s Day, if you’ve been living in a cave, celebrates the Finnish patron Saint Urho, who saved the Finnish grape harvest from a cloud of grasshoppers.

So raise a glass of purple beer and shout: “Heinasirkka, heinasirkka, mene taalta hiiteen!” (Grasshopper, grasshopper, go away.)

Or, if you prefer, celebrate both holidays together. Make it a 48 hour blast of Finnish-Irish-American camaraderie!

hauskaa viikonloppua!

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Snacks and junk food and soda, oh my!

Posted in childhood on Monday, March 3, 2014 by Ed Wyrd

As a child, my parents had to make some tough choices when putting food on the table. We just weren’t very well off.

So we did not get snacks very often, if at all. A bag of Geiser (Be Wiser, Buy Geiser) or a tub of Mrs. Howe’s potato chips were a rarity.

Now popcorn, we had. It was probably one of the most inexpensive snacks, and my parents or I would pop some on a Saturday night. This wasn’t your modern microwave variety, we made this on the stove the hard way. In a pot that we shook and stirred.

And soda? Never. The best we could hope for was my mom brought home a gallon jug of soda syrup and we’d add that to a glass of tap water. Not carbonated soda water. Tap water. So we essentially drank flat soda. This probably explains why I like to open a Coke and let it sit until its flat before drinking.

Oh and not that it was a snack, but we rarely had fresh milk. We got powdered. Similac. My mom said it was because I was allergic. Yeah, OK. So I’d always go to my friend’s house who had Bordon delivered and drink it there.

Now as an adult, we have snacks and soda in the house. Maybe unconsciously its a symbol of affluence, a snack status symbol. And I do tend to give in to cravings too often, munching on a whole bag of Ma Fischers or Mr. Gs potato chips.

But I think its healthier to have these things around the house so the children learn how to monitor their own input and develop healthy snacking habits rather than deny them altogether.

At least that’s what I’ve convinced myself as ai enjoy a warm, flat Coke.

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Hot and cold running weather

Posted in Uncategorized on Thursday, January 23, 2014 by Ed Wyrd

Worldwide, 2013 turned out to have tied for the fourth hottest year on record (or the seventh hottest, depending on the criteria used). I found that rather interesting because locally, we never had a summer. Or even a Spring. We went from Winter, straight to Fall.

What there was of our summer was cold and wet. We never got to enjoy our backyard with our new privacy fence we had put up the year before. We never got around to putting out our summer yard decorations. We never planted any flowers along the front of the house like we do every other year. 

And most telling, I made it to the beach only once. Most years we’re at the beach as often as we can, nearly every weekend at least.

And now, winter. This January has got to be the coldest on record, I’m guessing. We had the “polar vortex” as the media called it, where we had a week or so of sub-zero temperatures and wind chills all the way down to -30s or -40s. It warmed up briefly. Snowed. And now we’re battling the frigid temperatures again. The weekend looks to be a little warmer and if we’re lucky, Saturday might reach 29 degrees, but then Sunday we’re plunging down to sub-zero temperatures again.

I usually walk to work. Not all the way, that’s fifteen miles, give or take. But I park a mile away from work, on the one lone street near downtown that doesn’t have parking meters. But when the temperatures are sub-zero, even just a mile walk is like a page out of “To Build a Fire” by Jack London. The air so cold it smells like the frost in a supermarket freezer; so frigid it freezes your nose hairs.  If you dare to breath through your mouth it’ll make you cough.

Exposed skin starts to tingle and tighten as it freezes. Blood slows its flow to your fingers and they grow numb. The walk, one of joyous exultation in the summer, vibrant with life and greenery, becomes a forced march through a white, monotonous wasteland of snow and ice and the endless painful jabs of polar air.

Just a mile? It becomes a battle of endurance, Invigorating at first, it quickly changes to fatigue and a wearisome numbness spreading from your extremities. 

Where the hell is a tauntaun when you need one, to slice open and climb inside to survive?

Is it too early for that groundhog to be looking for his shadow?

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Influences and Inspirations

Posted in fantasy, memories, sci-fi on Monday, January 6, 2014 by Ed Wyrd

I was reading David Gerrold’s “Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy,” and did one of his exercises, which was “Take out a blank piece of paper (or open a new file on your computer), and make a list of your favorite science fiction and fantasy movies.”

I did. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that these movies, and the television shows I also added, most likely had the greatest influence upon my young mind and imagination. These were the images that were most indelibly imprinted upon my subconscious as a writer.

To be honest, I wasn’t much of a reader as a youngster. Sure, I read the usual stuff, “The Song of Roland,” “Alexander the Great,” “The Once and Future King,” and illustrated versions of “The Illiad and the Odyssey,” and the Norse legends. Along with assorted non-fiction books and Hardy Boy mysteries and school assignments. Not to mention a boatload of comic books from “Little Lulu,” to early DC superheroes, such as The Flash, The Atom, Superman, Aquaman, The Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, and Batman. Marvel’s merry mayhem joined into my reading when I was probably nine or 10.

It wasn’t until I was around 13, maybe 14, when my actual science fiction and fantasy literary education finally began, first with Robert E. Howard’s “Conan” and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Tarzan,” then later with nearly everything. But in the beginning, in the dim twinkling recesses of my memory, there were the movies that first held greatest sway over my curious beginning writer’s mind.

So now, without further ado, that list of science fiction and fantasy movies that greatly influenced me growing up.

“The Wizard of Oz.” Flying monkeys. Witches. A living strawman and tinman, and a lion that could speak. This movie was shown nearly every spring and in those days, before the invention of recording devices, and I’d watch it every time it aired. In addition, I also read many of the Oz books.

“Forbidden Planet.” Earthmen traveling to a distant planet in a flying saucer. Robby, the robot. An invisible monster that made footprints in the sand.

Invisible monster from “Forbidden Planet”

“Johnny Quest.” The Saturday Morning Cartoon. It had science fiction. Adventure. Lasers. Robots. Futuristic jets, subs, and hover discs. It also had an invisible monster, just like “Forbidden Planet.”

Invisible energy monster from Johnny Quest

“Lost in Space.” Sure, corny by today’s standards, but as a child, all I saw was the Jupiter 2 spaceship. B9 robot. The spacepod. The “chariot.” Laser guns. Force fields. And of course, lots and lots of weird aliens.

In the same vein, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.” The Seaview, then, seemed like such a futuristic submarine to my young mind. Today, I know that such a sub, with those wings and fins would have created such turbulence that even the least technologically advanced nations could track it while underwater. Nor would glass windows in the front be practical if even possible. But still, it had the flying sub. And lots of giant monsters. (Additionally, all the other Irwin Allen shows, such as “Time Tunnel” and “Land of the Giants.”)

“Star Trek.” This had everything the previous shows had, stunning spaceships, rays guns now called “phasers,” along with transporters, food processors, and more alien worlds, but it was more serious and much of it written by some of the big names in science fiction, including David Gerrold.

“The Outer Limits.” It had elements of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and to be honest, probably scared the bejeesus out of me with episodes like “The Zanti Misfits” more than anything else on television or the theater.

The Zanti Misfit still creep me out

I think those had the most influence upon my childhood. But there are more. “King Kong.” “Godzilla.” The giant bug movies: “Them!” which is still one of my all-time favorites. “Tarantula.”

Other 1950s science fiction movies included, “The Thing from Another World.” “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” “The Blob.” “War of the Worlds.” “The Fly,” which our middle school showed over several lunch periods.

Of course the Universal monsters, especially “The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” had a big influence, as well as the Hammer horror films. Many of these movies aired on a late night horror show in my hometown on Channel 6. It was “Shock Theater” with Dr. Cadaverino, who was among the great horror hosts of all time.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the movies by special effects giant, Ray Harryhausen: “Mighty Joe Young,” “Jason and the Argonauts,” “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers,” “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” “20 Million Miles to Earth,” and “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad,” and more. Even today I marvel at his work and probably subconsciously try to recreate his wonderful story-telling ability.

There is one more movie, or show, that has influenced if not my imagination, then my nightmares. I don’t know its name. I was fairly young when I saw it, somewhere between eight and ten I’d guess. I was up late one night when it came on. As I said, I can’t recall its title, but I remember distinctly the beginning. This man was driving down a dark country road in the rain when suddenly something unidentifiable ran in front of his headlights. He struck it, but when he got out to see what it was, he couldn’t find it, however, in the light of a lightning flash, we see that this little clawed hand came up and punctured his tire. He got back into the car and made it to a diner, I believe. At that point, the horror was too much for me, so I went to bed, but not before it left an indelible footprint upon my subconscious. I had nightmares for weeks afterwards and to this day, I still have an urge to rewrite that story, “stealing” that beginning then creating my own horror story from it.

I just haven’t had the nerve to do so yet.

So there you have it. A small look into my mind’s inspirations.

So what sci-fi and fantasy movies do you think have had the most influence upon you?

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I’m a motor moron

Posted in education, life on Saturday, January 4, 2014 by Ed Wyrd

My therapist had me try a new exercise. I was supposed to lean my shoulder against the wall, then move my right foot forward a bit. I sat and thought about it, shifted the left foot, then moved my right foot.

“Oh, you’re a motor moron,” she said with a laugh. “That’s what we call people who have trouble distinguishing their right from their left.”

Ah. Well, then, yes. I’m a motor moron. When I was in the Navy and they wanted us to do something involving left or right, I had to think about which hand I salute with (your right), then go from there. But now, I’ve been out of the Navy so long, that my muscle memory of saluting is gone, so I’m back to struggling with right from left.

My wife and I used to have a VHS copy of Richard Simmons’ “Dancing to the Oldies.” We’d do the tape together in our small apartment living room. My wife would watch the dancers and could immediately translate their movements. If they moved to their left, she moved to her left. When they moved to their right, she moved to her right. In other words, she was a mirror opposite of them.

Then there was me. I’d see what they did, which was moving to my right, and I’d follow along, moving to my right. Except, in real time, they were moving to their left. So they’d move to their left. I’d move to my right and my wife would move to her left and bam! We’d run into each other.

“You’re going the wrong way,” she’d say.

“No. They go that way and I’m going that way.”

Needless to say, “Dancing to the Oldies” ended up in the trash because we became frustrated running into each other.

It’s also another reason why I gave up learning Tai-Chi from a video. Sure, I could learn all the moves, but they were backwards. My “Ward Off Left” was “Ward Off Right.” My “Left Brush Knee Twist Step” was “Right Brush Knee Twist Step.” So on and so forth.

Directions? Take two rights and a left, third house on the right. Guess where I’ll end up? So please, give me compass directions. Today I was driving and my wife was showing me a place in the park she goes to relax before heading on to work. I said, “Should I make a left?” but pointed right. She said, “No. Make a right.” “Right. That’s what I said.” “Yeah, right.”

And politics? Because I can’t tell left from right I’ve never been able to figure out what a red or a blue state is.

And of course, if you tell me to come right over, I’ll never make it.

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Eating my words

Posted in coffee, K-Cup, Keurig, QVC with tags , on Friday, January 3, 2014 by Ed Wyrd

A year ago I wrote this: Coffee by the cup, in which I basically made the argument that I would never own a Keurig Brewing System because:

  1. I’m too cheap: Keurigs are very expensive, and,
  2. I drink coffee so fast that making it one cup at a time would have been impractical.

I’m here today to tell you that I’ve seen the error of my ways. It mostly came about because we have three coffee drinkers in the family now. My wife and I and now my oldest son. And everyone likes their own type of coffee. They like flavored coffees and I just like a good old-fashioned cup of Joe.

So there would be days when they’d make a pot, so I’d be stuck not having coffee until it was all gone or they were done. Other days, if I got there first, then they’d have to wait until I finished my pot of mud.

This quickly became an annoyance to me. Therefore, to correct it, the single cup brewing Keurigs started to look more and more inviting. One cup at a time? Well, now it made absolute sense. I could make a cup of Kona or French Roast, then my wife could make a cup of Café Mocha, my oldest son could make a cup of Celestial Seasonings Breakfast tea or a Cappuccino, and then my youngest son could even use it to brew a cup of hot chocolate.

So for Christmas 2013, I started looking at Keurig K-Cup Brewing Systems (not the newer Vue pack systems, which are a different size and are not interchangeable with the K-Cup) and I found one on QVC. Yes. QVC. I’m one of those people. No, I don’t watch the channel and listen to the inane hucksters, but I do browse their website. And no, I don’t just buy a product off their website without doing price comparisons on other sites first. Usually, QVC doesn’t have the lowest prices (Surprise!), however, but what they do offer are easy payments, sometimes in five or six installments.

Keurig K75 Platinum Brewing System

This time, however, QVC actually did have the lowest price. So I ordered the Keurig K75 Platinum, which also came with 72 K-Cups packs and a My K-Cup – a reusable coffee filter so you can buy and brew your own favorite coffee while saving money and not adding to the landfill problem. Once it’s finished brewing a cup, which only takes a few seconds, the water is heated automatically for the next cup in under a minute. Additionally, since we also like to drink loose leaf tea, the Keurig, without a K-Cup in it, can simply heat a cup of water up to 192 degrees F.

It arrived a week before Christmas and I must say, the convenience alone of brewing one cup at a time has more than made the Keurig a great value and it’s brought us together as a family. As they say, the family that drinks coffee and tea together, stains their teeth together – or something like that.

The whole experience has left me eating my blog words, but they aren’t too bad dipped in freshly brewed cup of Gevalia Columbian first.

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