To sleep perchance to dream

I am so not a morning person. I might have mentioned this previously. To me, morning is for sleeping and you shouldn’t have to get up until the sun has warmed everything. 

I’d much prefer staying up late. It’s just how I’m wired, although as I’m getting older I can’t stay up as late as I once did and still expect to function at work in the morning. 

Yet, even going to bed earlier because I can’t stay up as late hasn’t made me a morning person. It’s just made me a tired night person.

This is all a lead-in to my present dilemma. 

Am not a morning person, so I run in the evenings. Always have. Problem that I’m seeing just recently, in the last month or so, is that after my evening run, I can’t fall asleep!

This bothers me because I have never had insomnia nor have my evening runs ever prevented me from sleeping. On the contrary, my evening runs exhausted me and I’d fall into an immediate, sound sleep.

Not lately, however. Now I find myself lying awake in bed tossing and turning. Some of it might be hormones like Adrenaline coursing through my veins, while some could be that my muscles and joints start to ache if I stay in one position too long, which forces me to change position, waking me up.

So my preamble to this was to demonstrate that switching my runs to the morning is a no go. That isn’t going to happen. Morning runs aren’t productive for me. I’m exhausted and can’t push myself the way I can in the evening, therefore I don’t improve.

Now, as an aside, I’m not one to take medication unless I have to (like the ones my doctor prescribes to keep me alive). I rarely take aspirin, but then I rarely get headaches. And the few times I’ve been prescribed pain medication, I’ve only used it if the pain became a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10.

For example, I had my wisdom teeth, all four, removed as a teen. The dentist gave me a bottle of pain killers. I never used them. In fact, I was eating popcorn that night. I will not be denied my popcorn!

The other night, however, Tuesday it was, I decided to try some Ibuprofen PM. Pain medication with a sleep aid. Now I have never in my life taken a sleep aid. Never. I’ve always had a fear of them. Of getting addicted. Of not getting real REM sleep. Of becoming one of those zombie-like people who are alternating between amphetamines and barbituates.

But I thought I’d try it just this once.

And it worked. I slept through the night. I had no joint pain and my brain took a break. Although the sleep aid did nothing for the dogs, they still had to get up, completely uncaring that I was now groggier than normal to put them out for their 1:00 AM piss.

The next morning, I woke refreshed without the usual joint stiffness I experience these days after exercise. I didn’t hobble down the stairs, groaning and grimacing.

So what did I learn? 

I’m not sure. I run again tonight and I’ll try the Ibuprofen PM again tonight and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Maybe just using it on run days I won’t get addicted?

Or is there something else I could do to help me sleep?

Do you take pain meds/sleep aids after exercise? How is that working for you? I’d like to know if I’m in the minority here. Or if I’m being overly paranoid.

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New year same old goals

Yes, yes, I’m well aware it’s already the 6th of January and I haven’t posted my 2017 New Year’s resolutions yet.

That’s because I don’t have any. Not really. Not any that I sat down and agonized over.

My goals for this year are the same as last year and the year before. Just keep getting better and better, every day in every way.  But if you want something more specific than that wonderful life philosophy, then here, they fall into the following categories:

Health & Fitness: My goals here are simple. To keep losing weight. To try to eat healthier, with more fruits and veggies and a lot of pasta and cheese. To keep improving on my running, distance and speed. And to keep trying to sculpt my aging body through weight training by adding muscle as I lose fat.

Writing: Again, simple goals. Keep reading and keep writing. Try to write something every day. Maybe go back to keeping a journal of ideas and stream of conscious thoughts, like I did back in my early days of writing. I will also try not to get discouraged and try not to take Rejections as personal insults. That last one is a hard goal, because every Rejection sends me into a blue funk. I need to change my thinking that they aren’t rejecting me, they’re rejecting my story.

Mental Health: Yes, OK, let’s move on, nothing to see here. I’m working on dealing with my ADHD in all its manifestations.Maybe I’ll try to get back into meditation or something.

And that, as they say, is that.

Well, I do have one new unspecified goal and that’s in regard to politics. I intend to get more involved, contact my Representatives more often on issues of importance, and to join the resistance against the big orange turd in an attempt to prevent him from destroying all the progressive advances we’ve made as a nation over the past 100 years. He lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and only won the Electoral College by 80,000 votes in three states. He does not have a mandate. He’s disliked more than any other incoming President in history. He does not even deserve to be President. He represents the worst qualities of Mankind: hate, bigotry, intolerence, zenophobia, homophobia, and sexism.

Join the fight. Let your voice be heard. The election is only lost if you give up and normalize ignorance  and racism.

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The day the music died

As you should be aware if you follow my blog, I hate my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. I’ve written twice about it since I got it in June.

Hate. It. With. Passion.

My biggest complaint has been that the receiver is just weak. I can’t get decent signal strength at work and even at home on wi-fi, reception is spotty.

But the one thing I kept forgetting to mention in those reviews was it’s music capabilities. When I first got it, I was able to load a small portion of my music library to it with the intent of adding the rest when I had more time.

The problem is, it hasn’t allowed me to add more and I can’t figure out why. 

I’ve followed online directions. For some reason when you connect the S7 Edge to your computer, the phone defaults to Charging mode. If you want it to do something else, like transfer files, you have to swipe down and change that on a menu.

How idiotic is that? I would think once you plug it in that should be it. It connects, it charges, it transfers files, it’s happy. Like every other phone I’ve ever owned.

But no, not the S7 Edge. It has to be difficult.

The other issue I’m having is regarding connecticity with the computer. Once I do the swipe, the computer sees the phone, recognizes it as a storage device, but files won’t transfer!

Use Windows Media Player to sync? It won’t. In fact, it crashes WMP. Use Explorer to drag music over? Nothing happens.

Even rebooting both devices won’t help.  So the few songs I had downloaded when I first got the device I was stuck with. I couldn’t add any more.

But now this morning, I go to listen to my music and… Nothing! There is no music! Somehow all my music, and only my music, was wiped from the S7 Edge! 

I’m this close to smashing this piece of shit with a sledge hammer.

Tonight, I’m going to do a factory reset and see if that solves anything. Maybe I had downloaded some app that was preventing my phone from transferring music. Fine if that works. That won’t explain what caused my already downloaded music to disappear.

And if you can recommend a good quality music playing app, I’d appreciate it. On my Droid Turbo I had the Poweramp and I was very satisfied with it. On the S7 Edge, however, the app plays much too softly. It has no volume to it no matter how I set up the equalizers.

I’ve downloaded and tried a few, Black Player being the one that seemed to work best with this phone, but I deleted that to see if it was interfering with my downloading of music. It wasn’t.

I do not recommend the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.  In fact, I rate it a piece of shit. Avoid it. (Note: my wife owns the Galaxy S7 and loves it. So if you think you need a Samsung, get that instead of the Edge.)

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Losing natural insulation

Just a quick thought. Since it’s now winter here (it’s 20°F here so please don’t say, “Well, winter doesn’t actually start until December 21st,” because I will hurt you) I’ve noticed the cold affects me more. 

I’m going to assume it’s because I’ve lost a layer of blubber, at least 20 pounds of its, and that’s the reason I’m feeling the cold more than I did before.

So cold that I’m often wearing a little winter skull cap or wrapping myself in a blanket. (And the first person who says, “You are getting older,” will join the previous pedant for a dinner of knuckle sandwiches).

To be honest, I haven’t researched if fat people are better at dealing with the cold than thin people, I can only report what I’m noticing with regard to my own body.

And I can only assume, since I’ve got at least another 20 pounds to go before I reach my goal weight, that I will only get colder and colder.

Thing is, I always made fun of those people who always are cold. I’ve always worn short sleeved shirts no matter the season. When others were putting on winter coats, I’d wear a light spring jacket.

I don’t want to be among the Always Cold.

 I don’t want to live my life in a Snuggle!

And here I had gone and tossed out all my sweaters and turtle necks because I was too hot all the time to wear them.

I really dislike clothes shopping.

Run. Lose weight. Get a Snuggie.

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Spritzen was not one of Santa’s reindeers

Does anyone else make spritz cookies for Christmas?

Spritz cookies are a German cookie, called Spritzgebäck (the German verb spritzen means “to squirt,” which makes sense as you’ll see).

They are a delicate, somewhat dry cookie, have a rich, buttery flavor, and are full of wonderful memories of my childhood. (If you don’t get flashbacks of my childhood when you eat one, you probably made it wrong.)

These simple ingredients: butter, egg, sugar, flour, and vanilla create the dough, but after that you’re on your own.

We tried for a number of years to make Spritz cookies but they just don’t come out right. By that I mean, I remember making them with my mom all through my childhood. We’d put the cookie dough in a metal press, push the dough through the design onto the baking sheet, and yay! A little Christmas tree, or wreath, or a heart, or a Mercedes-Benz emblem, and a few others I still can’t identify.

Then my brother and I would help decorate them with red and green sprinkle sugar, jimmies, those tiny jawbreakers, some kind of gummy candy, and cinnamon red hots, which were always the last ones eaten, begging the question: why did we even use those?

And if my wife ever tells you that my brother and I decorated the cookies with weird shit like sunflowers seeds and such, don’t believe her. We only did it that one time as a experiment. I swear.

The process seemed so easy. Press. Lift. Cookie. Sure, even my mom had all few flubs where the dough wouldn’t release from the design disk, but they were few and far between.

My wife and I tried making them ourselves and I don’t know if we were doing something wrong or if something in the ingredients was changed over the years, but the whole process was one big frustration.

The cookies rarely stayed on the baking sheet when we lifted the press, forcing us to peel them off, thus distorting or totally ruining the shape. The dough was not only difficult to work with, but it destroyed a couple cookie presses. A plastic one and an metal one, both using a trigger to push the dough. Only it didn’t push the dough. Instead the dough destroyed the ratchet gear mechanism in both.

Thus, for the time being anyway, we have stopped making Spritz cookies. At least until we can figure out what we were doing wrong.

Which makes me sad, because those were my favorite cookies. They were as much anyway part of Christmas as eggnog, decorating the tree, and gift giving.

What makes me sadder is I can’t even find them in the stores. I can find Spritz-lookalikes. Some come in tins. Some are called an Italian cookie or whatever. They look like a Spritz cookie but one bite and you know its a poser. It’s a cheap imitation made of shortbread.

If I wanted shortbread, I’d have asked for shortbread! Such asked disappointment.

Do you make Spritz cookies? What’s your secret?

And can you send me a Spritz Cookie Care Package?

Happy baking. Happier eating.

Basic Spritz Cookies Recipe

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup soft butter, 1/2 lb
3/4 cup sifted sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp almond extract or 1 tsp vanilla (I believe my mother used almond)

Have baking sheets ready–do not grease. Start oven 10 min before baking; set to moderately hot (400 deg F). Sift flour and measure. Cream butter until shiny, add sugar gradually, creaming well. Beat in yolks until fluffy, then flavoring. Stir in flour in 3 or 4 portions until smooth. If dough is soft, chill an hour. Now shape dough into a cylinder and drop into cookie press, fitted with desired design plate. Press dough out onto cold baking sheet about 1-inch apart. Bake about 8 min or until a delicate brown. Remove from pans immediately to cake racks to cool. If difficult to remove from pans, return to oven a minute. Cool thoroughly. 4-1/2 dozen medium cookies.

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The Edge of Tripe

I apologize for not posting much recently, but I’ve actually been doing some real writing, fiction-type writing. 

And no, I wasn’t participating in NaNoWriMo. I don’t need an artificial challenge to write shit. I can write shit all on my own, thank you very much.

And speaking of shit, I thought I’d do a long term review on my smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. I first reviewed it here. OK, it wasn’t a review so much as I savaged it.

Well, time hasn’t improved matters. After six months of ownership, I’m chomping at the bit to replace this piece of shit. It is by far the worst smartphone I’ve ever owned and I’ve owned a few.

My first “smartphone” was an LG something or other with a slide-out keyboard. it wasn’t an android device, it had a weird user-interface and to get online (which I rarely did because we didn’t have a data plan at the time) you clicked on the LG browser icon and were launched into an AOL-style experience. Anyway, it came out about the time the iPhone first did, before android, when Crackberry dominated the market and touchscreens were still in their infancy.

My next real smartphone was the first generation Samsung Galaxy S. I liked it at first, but quickly found it didn’t like the area where I had just started working: downtown in the mall.

Thus started my love/hate with smartphones. The building I’m in is, as I’ve mentioned, like a Faraday Cage. Reception within sucks. Although some people seem to do it, I haven’t been able to. 

That first gen Samsung Galaxy S wouldn’t connect to the Internet until I did a hard restart by yanking the battery once I stepped outside my building. 

My next phone was the iPhone 4S. Oh, yay, Seri! Personally, I don’t get the whole fad of talking to your phone (or those Google home devices where you can turn on the sprinklers to get rid of annoying people on your lawn). I don’t like to talk. Period. Not to people. Not to my devices. Seri, therefore, was a wasted accessory for me. But beyond that, and at first I was thrilled with the iPhone, I soon came to loathe it. For many reasons which I won’t get into. I’m sure I ranted about them four or five years ago. But the iPhone’s reception sucked, too. I had to do a hard reboot all the time to connect to the Internet.

At this point, I’d tried Android and the iPhone and found both lacking, so I picked up a Nokia Win7 phone. If memory serves, the hardware was pretty decent (Yay Finland!), but the disappointing part was the lack of apps for Windows phones.Basically, with that phone I could get online, but the apps sucked so bad it didn’t really matter that I’d gotten on.

My next phone was the Motorola Droid Turbo. I liked this phone, except the camera sucked. it was like time warping back to 1998. This phone suffered from severe digital lag. Snap a picture and seconds later the picture takes. Forget action shots unless you could anticipate when something would happen. “Oh, my son’s shooting a basket!” *click!* And by the time the phone reacted, all the players were already at the other end of the court. “Hey, nice shot of an empty court, dude.” Shut up.

So I traded that in for this, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Yes, it takes excellent pictures. I have a great portable camera.

But for anything else? It sucks. As I mentioned in my first look post, the receiver is THE worst. (Pronounce it like thee for full effect.) I have to restart or do a shutdown all the time so it’ll find a signal.

Wi-Fi isn’t any better. I can sit right next to my wife in our house and she’s Facebooking and Instagramming like all get out, but there I sit only a few feet away unable to get a fucking signal. It can’t find the Wi-Fi. And she owns the standard Samsung Galaxy S7! WTF?

Does hers have a better receiver? Because her phone is thicker, was Samsung able to squeeze a bigger, more powerful receiver in hers and we S7 Edge owners get stuck with inferior crap?

I don’t know. All I do know is I hate this piece of shit phone and I can’t wait until I can trade it in for something else. Maybe the new Motorola Droid Turbo 2, if they’ve improved the camera. Or possibly the latest LG (which I was looking at until the Verizon Wireless rep talked me into this POS. “Oh, the S7 is so much better!” Or maybe I’ll get the latest HTC, that one with the stereo speakers, because the speaker on the S7 Edge is horrible. No. Horrible would be a improvement. You need headphones to listen to videos because it its one weak ass tiny speaker on the bottom can’t be heard unless you’re isolated inside soundproof room.

Okay. Sorry. That really wasn’t a review so much as as rant about every smartphone I’ve ever owned, was it? This phone really has me on edge. Pun intended.

Maybe one day I’ll find a phone I can be happy with. 

What do you have? Are you happy with it? Whose your carrier? Are you satisfied with them? Feedback it’s appreciated.

Until next time.

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What was once lost is found again

​It’s been a year since I’ve written anything, and longer than that since I wrote anything I actually liked. Call it writers block or what have you. I had given up and thought I’d finally come to terms that I just wasn’t a writer. I was a reader. No shame in that. Readers are an important part of the literary circle of life.

Recently I rediscovered Ray Bradbury. Last time I read him, “The Martian Chronicles,” I was far too young to appreciate the writing itself but those stories had an impact on my young psyche.

I reread “The Martian Chronicles,” Then read “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” followed by “Fahrenheit 451.” 

You don’t just read Bradbury, you become immersed in the language. There is poetry there. His sentences are like music for the eyes. His phrasing touches the soul and awakens the psyche.

It was while starting “Dandelion Wine” that I noticed it. A long dormant feeling. I tried to focus on his words, but I found myself growing more and more distracted. 

I’d read a sentence, a paragraph, but I couldn’t remember what I’d read. Instead, each word sparked a resonating echo in my mind. A reflection. 

And soon, with reluctance, I put the book down. I knew this feeling. It was like an old friend.

I wanted to write.

So I did.

The first day I write over 7,000 words. The next day I wrote some more.

I ran on my treadmill and don’t recall anything about the TV show I had on. Instead, my imagination freely flowed over the story idea I was working on, giving me more insights into the world and it’s characters. 

I was immersed in the music of my own writing and I was glad for it.

But more than that, not only does writing once again give me joy, a joy I thought I’d lost, even when I step away from writing to do everyday mundane tasks, I feel imbued with an elation, a euphoria if you will. 

It’s as though I had been stranded in the dark for years and a light has come to illuminate my path.

In other words, a part of me that I thought was lost has been found again. The childhood joy of writing has returned.

I feel whole again.

And I give thanks to Ray Bradbury.

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