Mission Accomplished: No-Shave November

Well, it’s official: I have survived No-Shave November.

For whatever reason facial hair really bugs me. By that I mean on MY face. I think it can look good on the right person but man, it just drives me up the wall to have it myself. The itch is almost unbearable in the early stages and even after it goes away I just don’t like the feeling of having facial hair (again, could be a sensory thing related to autism) and honestly I don’t really like the way it looks on me.

On the other hand, I’m a terrible shaver (I always manage to cut my face to shreds) so I’ve found a middle ground of using a beard trimmer on the lowest possible setting ever few days (thus leaving the ever so slightest amount of stubble, which I can get away with as my facial hair grows fairly slowly).

Alas, it’s for a good cause (prostate cancer awareness) so I’ll gladly put up with 30 days of beard itch and irritation. I don’t know how I get through it but somehow I do every year. Alas, here’s 30 days of growth on me. Get a good look because you won’t see it again until next November:

With that, here in a short bit it will be back to my normal tiny bit of stubble. I can’t wait. 😛

Why Am I Such a Misfit?

…I am not just a nitwit! Just because I’m autistic; why don’t I fit in?

OK, in all seriousness I have a huge soft spot for the old Christmas classics. I don’t have a religious bone in my body but the old classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (as told by Burl Ives) have a special place in my heart, and Rudolph especially so because I can so relate to the poor red-nosed reindeer. As I sit here watching it on TV tonight, it again serves as an empathetic response of sorts but I so feel for him and for dentist-wannabe Hermie the Elf because I don’t really fit in.

OK; so yes, I’m autistic. I have my oddities. I sometimes flap my hands involuntarily. I have strange obsessions. I have 5 tattoos and want more and want piercings now. I wear shorts that would make Daisy Duke blush but I’m a dude (I discussed this particular affinity in a previous blog entry).  I’m totally a misfit in every sense of the word.

Sure, I don’t fit in. Alas, the song continues “who decides the test of what is really best?” I have my shortcomings. No question about that. Alas, it does beg the question, “what’s the matter with misfits?” As the tale suggests, poor Rudolph with his blinkin’ beacon of a nose was the last hope of Santa powering through the storm and re-homing the misfit toys and Hermie wound up the only dentist in the North Pole. Though not fitting the mold as it were, they all found a place and were able to eventually be who/what they wanted.

Sure, this is a fictional story, but I think it has real-life implications. Who really needs to change? Is it those who don’t fit the mold who must try to artificially make themselves fit the mold or is it on everyone else to change to become more accepting?

Well, the moral of the story is that it’s up to society to change, not us. Those of us on the autism spectrum (or a number of other “neurodivergent” individuals – thanks to Neurodivergent Rebel for introducing me to the term) can’t change who we are, just as Rudolph couldn’t change his nose despite trying to hide it or Hermie trying to hide his distaste for his role. We are who we are, and if society can’t accept us as such, that’s on them.

Yes, it’s something I’ve had to learn the hard way over the years (despite trying to change myself). The years of self-hate, resentment, etc. from societal conditioning almost tore me apart. I’m glad I’m older and wiser now because I remember what a dark place that is and quite frankly I never want to return.

Now, to convince those around me there’s nothing really wrong with me. It’s an uphill battle but a worthwhile battle indeed. Maybe, just maybe, someday we will see that societal shift. If the citizens of Christmas Town could eventually learn to accept Rudolph, Hermie and even the Abominable Snow Monster, surely real world society can learn to accept us neurodivergent individuals.

Song Lyric Sunday 11/27/16 – Gimme Some Lovin’

OK, this is probably my weirdest pick yet for Song Lyric Sunday (and I’ve had some that were out there for sure!) in that I’m bending it to fit the theme of learning something when I first heard the song.

So what could I have possibly learned from this seemingly nonsense song by Spencer Davis Group? Well, it was the context in which I first heard this song recently, namely on Dancing with the Stars. When James Hinchcliffe was preparing his trio dance in the semifinals his pro partner Sharna Burgess and 2nd pro partner Jenna Johnson (who stepped in for Sharna for two weeks while she was recovering from a knee injury) it was decided they’d use this song and bring sort of a racing theme to the dance (a jive).

So what did I learn from this song? Well, it wasn’t so much learning from the song per se, it was more about learning more about Hinch. I knew a fair amount of trivia about him (and the other drivers also) as I follow IndyCar religiously but what I did not know is that when he was a kid his dad would blast this song to pump him up to go gokarting. I thought it was kind of neat they brought the song in that way and it’s kind of a sweet story, so that’s what I’m sticking with.

Here’s the song:

Well, my temperature is rising, got my feet on the floor
Crazy people rocking ’cause they want to some more
Let me in baby, I don’t know what you got
But you better take it easy ’cause this place is hot

And I’m so glad you made it, so glad you made it
You got to gimme some lovin’, gimme, gimme some lovin’
Gimme some lovin’, gimme, gimme some lovin’
Gimme some lovin’ everyday

Well, I feel so good, everything’s getting high
You better take it easy ’cause the place is on fire
Been a hard day and I had no work to do
Wait a minute baby, let it happen to you

And I’m so glad we made it, so glad we made it
You got to gimme some lovin’, gimme, gimme some lovin’
Gimme some lovin’, gimme, gimme some lovin’
Gimme some lovin’ everyday, yeh

Well, I feel so good, everything’s getting high
You better take it easy ’cause the place is on fire
Been a hard day nothing went too good
Now I’m gonna relax, buddy everybody should

And I’m so glad we made it, hey hey, so glad we made it
You got to gimme some lovin’, gimme, gimme some lovin’ woo ooo
Gimme some lovin’, gimme, gimme some lovin’

Gimme, gimme, gimme some of your lovin’, baby
You know I need it so bad woo ooo
Gimme some of your lovin’, baby
Source:  Spencer Davis Group – Gimme Some Lovin’ Lyrics | MetroLyrics

As an added bonus, I know you all are going to ask for it, here is the dance routine as performed by James Hinchcliffe and his pro partners Sharna Burgess and Jenna Johnson. Who knew someone who, in his own words, “sits for a living” could dance like this? He ultimately finished 2nd in the competition which is an amazing accomplishment considering where he was this time last year (namely recovering from a near-fatal accident and just getting his bearings going again).

I should say they got straight 10s for this routine, and rightfully so.

Thanksgiving Reflections

This will be brief but I just want to post some brief reflections on this day.

Admittedly up until very, very recent years I was always really bitter on Thanksgiving and toward its central theme. I was broke or unemployed a lot of the time, felt I had nothing to really live for or anything. My relationship with most of my family is strained at best and my life was basically all around shit. I spent every waking hour of every day wishing I had never been born and wishing I were dead. Thanksgiving? Heh; what the hell for?

I think it’s safe to say I feel differently this year. Yeah, my life is still rough and nothing will ever change the fact that I’m locked out of my dream job. Alas, there’s no question my life is better today than where I was even a year ago. This year I discovered a passion for tattoos and I extend thanks to the artists who have permanently etched their mark on me. Though my job is shitty at times, I give thanks for those who took me under their wings and given me a chance to shine.

Above all I’m thankful for my blogger buddies. When I started this blog I had little more expectation than being an online journal. Instead I’m quickly approaching 100 followers in a very short time. The friends I’ve made here have been a huge blessing to me. I know I’m cantankerous at times and at times I unleash profanity-laden rants but you stick by my side regardless. I never figured I would have anything more than an occasional comment from a stranger on this site, but you’ve given me great interaction and I feel I’ve learned from and bonded with you all. I hope you all feel the same about me.

So yes, to all of my blogging buddies, both in the US and abroad, have a very Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your day.

 

Beer Review: Jubelale

Again, I feel almost like reviewing an old friend here. This is one beer I look forward to every year. Jubelale is a winter warmer brewed by Deschutes in Bend, Oregon. It weighs in at 6.7% ABV and 65 IBU.

Pours a very dark red-amber color with a substantial cream colored head that recedes to a thin ring and leaves spotted lacing on the glass. Fruity aroma with maltiness, spices and a slight alcohol astringency. Flavors of black cherry, caramel and roasted malt and heavy spice and a tangy hop finish. Medium in body and carbonation. A nice sipping beer but slightly too rough to chug.

There’s just something very festive about this beer, from the richness to the spiciness and the sweet, fruity core. Definitely puts one in the holiday spirit. For best results pair with a nice chili and cornbread dinner on a cold night. Trust me on this one. Rating: 4.5/5.

Song Lyric Sunday 11/20/16 – Thank You for the Music

So this week on Song Lyric Sunday our challenge was to post a song about gratitude. Fair enough I think, after all we observe Thanksgiving this upcoming Thursday here in the US so you know, it’s fitting.

I know one of the things I am most thankful for is music. I love music, I love music in all its forms and I’m a total junkie. I’m also a musician myself in that I play guitar and bagpipe and I can sing reasonably well (not the best, but reasonably well). As such, my choice for this week was a pretty natural choice: “Thank You for the Music” by ABBA. The song was written by Benny and Bjorn (as are 99% of ABBA songs) and features Agnetha on lead vocals. Whereas I’m not a “girl with golden hair” (rather I’m a guy with dark brown hair) I feel I can be thankful for the music and what I personally contribute to it all the same.

Without further ado:

I’m nothing special, in fact I’m a bit of a bore
If I tell a joke, you’ve probably heard it before
But I have a talent, a wonderful thing
Cause everyone listens when I start to sing
I’m so grateful and proud
All I want is to sing it out loud

So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me

Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk
She says I began to sing long before I could talk
But I’ve often wondered, how did it all start?
Who found out that nothing can capture a heart
Like a melody can?
Well, whoever it was, I’m a fan

So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me

I’ve been so lucky, I am the girl with golden hair
I wanna sing it out to everybody
What a joy, what a life, what a chance! 

So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me
Source: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/a/abba/thank+you+for+the+music_20002662.html

As always, hope you enjoyed and thank you Helen for this wonderful blog series. It’s always fun discovering new music.

Cigar Review: Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 Toro

Rocky Patel cigars are definitely in my top 3 favorite brands (along with Oliva and Padron) and they very rarely disappoint. Smooth, flavorful smokes with a core of what is often described as a “dessert like” flavor. Today’s subject is the 1990 Vintage in Toro – a 6.5” x 52 box pressed ring gauge.

First light revealed a mild/medium flavor of a soft cocoa on the draw and caramel on the retrohale. Wakes up to a medium body within the first several draws and a subtle pepper joins the caramel on the retrohale. Second third drops the pepper and brings in a coffee and the caramel comes more into the draw. Entering the final third the cocoa and caramel gradually taper off and the coffee ramps up, starting as a slightly sweet coffee (think putting a touch of sugar in your coffee) slowly morphing into more of a black coffee toward the end. Body up to a medium/full in the last third and bringing the subtle pepper back joined with a nutty finish. First hot draw came at 1:20:00 and so I ended it here. Good burn time and very little nicotine strength.

Construction was flawless all the way down with an even burn that required no touch-ups and a nice open draw with just a little bit of resistance. Ash held on for about 1/4 of the cigar at a time.

Great flavors, great construction and a fairly long burn time. A truly great cigar. Rating: 4.5/5.

Friends in Unexpected Places and More Career Ponderings

​It always amazes me that you find so many friends in the most unlikely places. In my case, I found out such at work and the outpouring of support from everyone has been nothing but amazing. 

When I sent out my letter of resignation on Friday I immediately got a bunch of responses back saying how much I’d be missed and how they wished I’d give the matter more thought. It was absolutely overwhelming, and in fact so overwhelming I decided to stick around for the time being. 

If it’s a lesson I’ve learned over the course of the past two weeks, it’s that I guess I never much realized how highly the people who really know me think of me despite my shortcomings and oddities. Sure, my mental health condition makes me a little odd in some ways, I have multiple tattoos and am about to have piercings, I have strange taste in clothing and I’m just totally unconventional. They look past that at the quality of the work I put out and I guess I never realized before just how huge my role with this company has been. It’s just been a very sobering few days for sure. 

Now, is that to say I’ll be with this company forever? Don’t count on it. I will eventually move on as almost all of us do (very rarely do people stay with one company for their entire lives). I’m still searching for something that really satisfies my soul (as much as I hate to admit it this job still isn’t very rewarding for me) but until I find out what that is it’s comforting to know that I have friends here who value not only my work but me as a person. 

I’ll always look to better myself and at this point I’m considering self-employment as an option as well. It dawned on me last night while I was puffing a Padron 3000 Natural and sipping a Glenlivet Nadurra that why not take those two loves and combine them into a business idea? Most tobacco shops don’t sell alcohol and most liquor stores don’t sell premium cigars. If I can combine the elements of a cigar shop, a liquor store and a lounge I could be onto something good and sell fine cigars, microbrew beers and fine whiskeys of all kinds (Scotch, Bourbon, Irish, Canadian, etc.). For the non-drinkers I’d have artisan coffees to choose from. I’d want somewhere that people can come in, enjoy the finer things in life and meet and visit with new people. No TVs, soft background music and no WiFi. Maybe a couple of chess boards, a few decks of cards and a pool table or two. For me I’d be getting paid to enjoy my vices and being the owner I could come to work with all my tattoos showing, all my piercings in and wearing my short shorts and I’m sure nobody would give a shit as they’d be too interested in drinking, smoking and shooting the shit. 

Now obviously this is quite some time down the road but still, it’s a dream of mine. They say you’d never work a day in your life and maybe it wouldn’t feel like work at all. Man, I’m almost 30 years old and I still don’t know what I want be when I grow up (well, I do but that option is closed hah). I guess I really am still a child at heart. 

Beer Review: Oskar Blues Death By Coconut

A rather interesting concoction from Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, Colorado: an Irish Porter with coconut extract and chocolate malt. It weighs in at 6.5% ABV and 25 IBU. Not really a heavyweight but not light on flavor by any stretch of the imagination.

Pours a dark brown color with a tan head that recedes fairly quickly. Heavy coconut aroma up front with a little chocolate undertone; very aromatic. Flavor is almost like a liquid Mounds candy bar – very assertive sweet coconut flavor with dark chocolate. Slight caramel malt and delicate hop bitterness. Medium bodied with ample carbonation. Drinks very easily and smoothly and you could easily polish off the 4-pack in a sitting.

This was a very pleasant beer that was almost like a dessert in and of itself. I really did enjoy this rather unique and tasty brew. Rating: 4/5.

Song Lyric Sunday 11/13/16 – Expressing Ourselves Through Music

So interestingly this week’s Song Lyric Sunday is just to express our feelings through music. Man oh man, I have a lot to say as a result of the events of this week so I couldn’t pick just one song. I could have picked dozens of them but I’ve managed to narrow it down to three.

Firstly, I’m very saddened. As such, as much as it kills me, I must return to the first song I ever featured when I started participating in this prompt: “Mad World.” Quite frankly never has the lyric “the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had” more resonated with me than it has this week. Originally by Tears for Fears, this week I’m featuring a duet between Gary Jules (who covered the song) and Curt Smith of T4F (who sang it originally). It’s pure gold. An interesting tidbit – when he first recorded his cover, Gary Jules misheard the next-to-last lyric and sang “enlarging your world” as if that made any sense at all. The correct lyric is “Halargian world” which Smith just kind of threw in as a joke (Halarge is a fictional planet) but the producers loved it so they kept it.

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places
Worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere
Going nowhere

And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression
No expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow
No tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen
Sit and listen

Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me
No one knew me
Hello, teacher, tell me what’s my lesson?
Look right through me
Look right through me

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very
Mad world
Mad world
Halargian world
Mad world
Source: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/tearsforfears/madworld.html

The next feeling I have is angst/fear. Due to the results of the election, I have made the bold decision to resign from my job and relocate to a liberal state where I will still have protections even when DJT’s SCOTUS picks overturn Obergefell v. Hodges and when he and his GOP-controlled congress and him repeal the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course, this decision comes with a certain level of fear as there is always the possibility of failure, despite thinking it’s time for a new adventure.

To express this, I’m featuring my favorite Kansas song (which I might or might not have featured here before – I don’t remember): “Fight Fire with Fire.”

There’s a hole in the wall
With a light shining in
And it’s letting me know to get up
It’s time to begin

Oh there is nothing to lose
‘Cause it’s already lost
In a runaway world
Of confusion
I’m not gonna take it

That’s why I’ll fight fire with fire
Oh I’m burning inside and my heart is a-cryin’
Fire with fire
And I don’t want to lose this flamin’ desire

Standing alone
In a crowded room
I can feel a chill in the air
I’m shakin’

I’m miles away
I want to cry out loud
I want to fight ’til the end
And I won’t let ’em take me alive

And you know I’ll fight fire with fire
Oh I’m burning inside and my heart is a-cryin’
Fire with fire
And I don’t wanna lose this flamin’ desire

Fire with fire
Oh I’m out of control and I want you to know I’m fightin’
Fire with Fire
And I’m never gonna lose this flamin’ desire

Fire with fire
Oh I’m burning inside and my heart is a-cryin’
Fire with fire
And I’m never gonna lose this flamin’ desire

Fire with fire
I’m out of control and I want you to know I’m fightin’
Fire with Fire
Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa 
Fire
Source: Lyrics transcribed by me as I found nowhere with the correct lyrics.

Lastly is a song that is true of the journey on which I’m about to embark. I’ve never much ventured out of my little bubble, save for my brief stint away from my little town when I went to grad school. It’s never been clearer that it’s time for me to move on and strike out on my own. It’s time for me to spread my wings and learn how to fly, make a wish, take a chance and make a change, but I’ll always love my family and my home town. Hence my final choice for this prompt: “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson.

Grew up in a small town
And when the rain would fall down
I’d just stare out my window
Dreaming of what could be
And if I’d end up happy
I would pray (I would pray)

Trying hard to reach out
But when I tried to speak out
Felt like no one could hear me
Wanted to belong here
But something felt so wrong here
So I prayed I could break away

I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes ’til I touch the sky
And I’ll make a wish
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway
Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won’t forget all the ones that I love
I’ll take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway

Wanna feel the warm breeze
Sleep under a palm tree
Feel the rush of the ocean
Get on board a fast train
Travel on a jet plane far away
And breakaway

I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes ’til I touch the sky
And I’ll make a wish
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway
Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won’t forget all the ones that I love
I’ll take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway

Buildings with a hundred floors
Swinging ’round revolving doors
Maybe I don’t know where they’ll take me
But gotta keep moving on, moving on
Fly away, breakaway

I’ll spread my wings
And I’ll learn how to fly
Though it’s not easy to tell you goodbye
I gotta take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway
Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won’t forget the place I come from
I gotta take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway, breakaway, breakaway
Source: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/kellyclarkson/breakaway.html

Anyway, these are the songs I chose to put into words how I feel this week. I think the lyrics speak for themselves and I can only hope that my future has some bright shining star somewhere along the way in the despairing road of darkness that will likely be the next four years of my life (if I make it through without losing it and ending my story along the way).

We shall see what the future holds I suppose.