Concerning Shopping – Online vs. B&M

I’ll just all-out admit it: I hate shopping in brick and mortar stores. I just absolutely hate it. Sales associates watching your every move, people staring at you and sizing you up, the long lines, the stupid small talk while you check out and all the other bullshit that goes along with it. Definitely not a healthy environment for anyone on the autism spectrum.

Alas, there are time where one has no choice to go into a large brick and mortar store (most notably grocery shopping as buying frozen/refrigerated stuff just doesn’t work online). In those cases, I go in, get exactly what I need and get out. I don’t lolly-gag around, look at random shit, make impulse purchases, etc. – I just get what I need and I’m fucking out of there. I spend as little time as possible before I’m checked out and bailed.

Nah, give me online shopping any day. No long lines, no social anxiety, nothing like that. It comes right to your door and you often times get much better prices when buying online even once you figure in shipping. It’s so much easier and stress free, not to mention you can peruse to your heart’s content without salespeople looming over your shoulder and trying to pressure you into a purchase.

Now, for small purchases in like a little boutique brick and mortar shop I’m all about that, particularly if it’s a type of shop that interests me. These places usually don’t have large crowds, only a couple of employees and they pretty much leave you to peruse to your heart’s content. That’s fine. When it can be a solitary, quiet experience that’s all good with me. My objection is to large department stores and such. Not to mention, I am all about supporting local small businesses. It’s good for the local economy.

Now excuse me while I go enjoy my awesome new wine refrigerator that I got from Wayfair, which will become a “wineador” – more or less a refrigerated cigar humidor. Yes, it’ll serve dual function – I’ll keep my cigars in it (in the humidified tupperware containers I store them in – I don’t do wooden humidors; too much of a pain) to stave off mold and tobacco beetles and a few bottles of wine. Living in hot Texas the dreaded tobacco beetle is always a worry for cigar smokers.

So are you more of an online or a B&M shopper?

Concerning LGBTQ+ Pride Month, Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

I saw a video on Facebook earlier today that moved me to tears. I just have to share it here. For those of you who read my blog and think like me, you will be too. If you have nothing but hateful religious drivel to spew, please fuck off right now because your comments will be deleted and you will be blacklisted.

The fact of the matter is this is the reality facing so many LGBTQ+ youth, and these problems carry over into adulthood. If you don’t pay attention to anything else you read, hear or see today I beg you to pay attention to this.

As I think about my own life and as difficult as life at home was growing up dealing with parents who were ill-equipped to deal with an autistic/special needs child (probably through no fault of their own), when I see this I’m reminded my childhood was nowhere near as bad as it could have been. The reason? I’m bisexual.

I feel very, very lucky that I have an immediate family who 100% supports my sexuality. They are a lot wiser than I often give them credit for, having grown up in the era that still considered anything other than the cishet mold as an illness. I’m so grateful that they were able to move past that mentality. I’m also lucky to have siblings and friends who are nothing but supportive of me. I do have a lot of extended family who are not and my brother-in-law is definitely not supportive but that pales in comparison to when a parents (biological or otherwise) turn their backs on their kids just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

I saw a quote recently that said something to the effect of “Gay pride has nothing to do with celebrating being gay but fighting for the right to exist without persecution; so instead of wondering why you don’t have ‘straight pride,’ be glad you don’t need one.” It’s so true. I don’t rub my sexuality in anyone’s face. I just want to be able to live my life without persecution.

We’re in difficult times in America right now with the election of one of the most anti-LGBTQ+ administrations in the recent history. Fortunately President Trump hasn’t gone out of his way to actively target us, but Neil Gorsuch is far from our friend and there’s a real possibility that he will be impeached and removed from office and Mike Pence is probably one of the most anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in America today. Don’t believe it? Check out his track record as governor of Indiana: he put into place a program that uses taxpayer dollars to fund gay conversion “therapy,” which has correctly been deemed as illegitimate by scientific medical research.

Anyway, that’s about all I have to say in the matter. You love who you love and you are who you perceive yourself to be, and you have the right to equal protection under the law (including access to legally binding relationships and all the benefits of those) and have the right to exist peacefully without persecution or mistreatment. We are all human beings, after all.

Song Lyric Sunday 6/11/17 – Whiskey in the Jar

Yes, I’m late with my Song Lyric Sunday submission. I’m sorry. I just got back from Texas Motor Speedway in No Limits, Texas after a fun-filled IndyCar weekend. Congratulations to Christopher Bell for winning the Rattlesnake 400 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Friday night and to Will Power for winning the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race. The finishes were both disappointing (both finished under caution) and there were some nasty wrecks in both races that all drivers walked away from, but it was a fun weekend nonetheless.

Anyway, I’ll just get right to my submission as I’m ready to go rest. A song with alcohol in the title is an easy one because I used to play this song in my old Celtic pub band and it’s a great song. Here then the traditional ballad “Whiskey in the Jar” (writer unknown) as performed by Celtic Thunder (my favorite version). Note there are countless versions of the song so the lyrics might not be exact from one version to another and there are some differences in this version from the lyrics posted.

As I was a goin’ over the far famed Kerry mountains
I met with captain Farrell and his money he was counting
I first produced my pistol and I then produced my rapier
Saying “Stand and deliver” for he were a bold deceiver

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o. Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar

I counted out his money and it made a pretty penny
I put it in me pocket and I took it home to Jenny
She sighed and she swore that she never would deceive me
But the devil take the women for they never can be easy

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o. Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar

I went up to my chamber, all for to take a slumber
I dreamt of gold and jewels and for sure ‘t was no wonder
But Jenny drew me charges and she filled them up with water
Then sent for captain Farrell to be ready for the slaughter

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o. Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar

It was early in the morning, just before I rose to travel
Up comes a band of footmen and likewise captain Farrell
I first produced me pistol for she stole away me rapier
I couldn’t shoot the water, so a prisoner I was taken

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o. Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar

Now there’s some take delight in the carriages a rolling
And others take delight in the hurling and the bowling
But I take delight in the juice of the barley
And courting pretty fair maids in the morning bright and early

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o. Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar

If anyone can aid me it’s my brother in the army
If I can find his station in Cork or in Killarney
And if he’ll go with me, we’ll go rovin’ through Killkenny
And I’m sure he’ll treat me better than my own a-sporting Jenny

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Whack for my daddy-o. Whack for my daddy-o
There’s whiskey in the jar

Here are a couple of other versions of the song, one by the Dubliners who made it famous in 1968 and another by Metallica of all bands. Hope you enjoy them both.

With that, I’m going to rest. Have a lovely day, readers.

Obsessive or Just Well-Prepared?

So this weekend is one of the biggest weekends for a racing fan living in Texas – this is Verizon IndyCar Series weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, featuring a Friday race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (Rattlesnake 400) and the featured IndyCar race Saturday night (Rainguard Water Sealers 600). Needless to say I got tickets and pit passes as soon as I could. This ought to be fun.

Anyway, with the races coming up this weekend I’m just agonizing over every aspect of getting ready. I want everything to go absolutely perfectly and without issues so I’m making sure I cross off all my necessities – tickets, igh-SPF, non-comedogenic sunscreen (oh man does it suck having hormonal teenager skin), insect repellant, seat cushion, in-ear plugs, earmuffs, sharpie for autographs (in case I get a chance to get a couple), backpack small enough to carry into the speedway, cooler, beer, water, sandwiches, etc. etc.!!! A lot goes into preparing for a weekend at the speedway!

Anyway, those around me always go crazy when I think and re-think to make sure I’ve got everything I need for anything, but I’m a firm believer in being over-prepared. It’s always better to have stuff on you that you won’t need rather than to not have stuff you might need, because lo and behold you will wind up needing it. That’s just the way it works, and with my autistic wiring needing something you don’t have on the fly is a sure-fire way to induce a meltdown because I’ll be freaking out.

Nah, I might agonize over it for several hours but you damn well better believe I’m going to have everything I might need in that little backpack I’m allowed to carry into the speedway. It will go with me everywhere, including into the pits and the garage so I’ll always have it on me ready to go. Again, better to be over-prepared.

So as I get everything ready, I’m gradually building my TMS “survival pack” and I’m sure to have a great time. This is going to be awesome, I can feel it. If any of my readers will be in attendance, if you run into me please say hi. You should be able to recognize me by the short shorts and the tattoos. ūüėČ

Anyway, my fellow “neurodivergent” people (see, I’m trying to use politically correct terminology, LOL!!!), what say you? Are you the overprepared or undeprepared type?

Song Lyric Sunday 6/4/17 – The Bell Ringing/The Men of Northlew

A happy memory? Hah, as if I had many of those. Seriously. In my 30 years and 3 months on this planet, I’d say I’ve spent about¬†30 years and 2 months cumulative in total misery. Seriously. My life up to this point has been seemingly nothing but a constant shitfest. Somehow I’ve managed to hide that pain from the people I encounter on a day-to-day basis but it really is true. Sure, there are short bouts of pleasure interspersed in between those things but I always wind up back to square one.

I actually tend to agree with philosophy professor David Benatar when it comes to the state of sentient existence, “Each one of us was harmed by being brought into existence. That harm is not negligible, because the quality of even the best lives is very bad – and considerably worse than most people recognize it to be.” Yeah, that statement definitely rings true for me. Well, I know the overall culmination of my life has been that way anyway.

Well, in thinking of the happiest memory I have I’d have to say it has to do with bell ringing, as pathetic as that sounds. Probably the happiest I’ve ever been is when I rang my first “quarter peal” – a change bell ringing¬†performance consisting of 1,260 changes or permutations of the bells. It’s a hobby that’s really all-consuming and requires full physical and mental concentration.

As such, I’m posting this song about bell ringing. This is a traditional English round (#1515) with an unknown author. This song is basically about a “striking competition” – a bell ringing competition featuring a set “test piece” of call changes or a method (two systems of permuting the bells) and the band that rings the test piece with the fewest “faults” or “striking errors” and the most steady tempo is declared the winner.

I will say there is some bell ringing jargon in here, but not enough to confuse anyone. So with that, here is the song, arranged by composer David Solomons. The lyrics are in the video so I won’t bother transcribing them here.

As an added bonus, I’ve decided to give you all a brief taste of what change ringing is. You’ll hear in this clip how the bells start ringing in sequence, then start changing according to a pattern (in this case, Grandsire Triples). It’s also easy to differentiate an evenly struck change vs. a change with one or more striking errors. This might clear up some of the meaning.

OK, I know, this is probably the lamest Song Lyric Sunday in history. I’m sorry I couldn’t do better than this. I’ve had a long day, I’m in a bit of a crabby mood and I just want a drink, an ambien and some sleep right now.

Beer/Cigar Reviews: Genesis 20:20, Elda N and Rocky Patel Sun Grown

Man do I have some good stuff to review today. I say good stuff because the products I’ll be reviewing here are all stellar. Seriously, I was really blown away by all of these (4.5 and up stuff!!!) that I can hands-down recommend these all for all of you. We’ll start with the beer reviews.

Schmaltz Genesis 20:20

This big mother of a beer hails from Schmaltz Brewing Company in Clifton Park, New York. This American Barleywine weighs in at a staggering 16.7% ABV and an unspecified IBU and gravity. Had on draft in a 5-ounce pour from Goodfriend in Dallas, Texas. Needless to say this beer was heavy, full-bodied and succulent.

Pour was a deep reddish-brown with a very thin ring of tan head that sticks around and leaves behind ample lacing. The aroma was an astringent alcohol, fruity esters, molasses and a touch of citrus hop pungency. Big, bold, complex flavors consisting of an overall sweet backbone apple, brown sugar, molasses, brown sugar and plum. Full-bodied finish consisting of dark chocolate and a balanced grapefruit hoppiness. Going down it has a fairly big burn and a hint of a bourbon barrel age on it. Thick body and mouthfeel with a low carbonation. Drinks smoothly enough but definitely a sipper.

Well, there’s nothing bad to say about this beer. I love big beers and this is definitely a big beer. Full-flavored, thick and smooth. Everything and more I love about the American Barleywine style. Drink this one standalone after a substantial dinner and just savor the flavor. Rating: 5/5.

No Label Elda M

Elda M is a Milk Stout hailing from No Label¬†Brewing Company in Katy, Texas (just outside of Houston). Though not the heavyweight listed above, she’s no slouch weighing in at 6.9% ABV and 25 IBU. This is a winter seasonal but I picked it up on sale at a local grocery store and it was really tasty.

Pours a deep brown color with a substantial head that sticks around and leaves a bit of lacing. Aromas of roasted malt, vanilla and a hint of coffee. Rich flavors follow the nose featuring all of the above plus a subtle hint of creamy chocolate. Medium thickness and carbonation. Very drinkable; almost quaffable.

A very delightful milk stout that’s smooth and rich and not overly alcoholic so you can kill a few of these and not think twice. Went very nicely with the cigar selection below. Rating: 4.5/5.

And now for today’s cigar selection:

Rocky Patel Sun Grown Maduro Toro

This tasty treat from Rocky Patel cigars features Nicaraguan long filler and binder under a Connecticut broadleaf maduro wrapper. This box-pressed Toro vitola comes in at 6.5″ x 52RG and it impressed in leaps and bounds.

First light revealed a slightly loose draw producing large plumes of thick creamy-textured smoke. Medium/full body flavors of sweet, creamy milk chocolate and roasted nuts on the draw followed up by a smooth earthy finish and a subtle hint of pepper on the retrohale. The flavor profile remained largely consistent for 2/3 of the cigar (which was OK with me because I was digging the flavors) with the last third dialing down the sweetness morphing the draw flavors to more of a sharp, biting dark chocolate and bringing in a hint of a coffee. The smoke finally went hot and acrid at 1 hour and 20 minutes so a very respectable burn time. Mild/medium nicotine strength.

Construction was flawless with a near-razor sharp burn all the way down, which is surprising for a maduro. I can see why this cigar was ranked #2 on Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 of 2016: rich flavors, ultra smooth and not much nicotine. Just great all around. Rating: 4.75/5.

“Be the Freak You Were Born to Be”

My ex-girlfriend’s best friend’s blog back in the day had that as her tagline. Admittedly I never much paid attention to that tagline and even laughed it off as somewhat funny but I have to say, as I’ve gotten older (and maybe wiser, I have no idea) I’ve come to embrace that saying more in the way I express myself.

I’ve never been one to totally fit the mold so to speak, though I did try when I was younger. I would do my best to mask my autism and act neurotypical when in the public eye. After all, neurotypical people were the proper ones and I, the autistic, was the abnormal one who needed to make myself fit in the mold, right?

Well that was the way I lived for many, many years, though as I got older it got more and more painful to do. It’s like the depressed person who tries to put on that fake smile, pretend to be fine but really feels like shit day in and day out. Eventually that feeling like shit can’t be masked anymore and when that mask breaks sometimes the consequences are catastrophic. Having clinical depression which runs comorbidly with autism spectrum disorder, I know the results of that all too well also.

When I started learning to express my true inner self, it was like a huge burden lifted off of me. I’ll never forget the time I tried on a pair of short shorts for the first time (oh how seeing women in them made me envious during the hot times, but being male I wasn’t supposed to wear them). It was so liberating and comfortable (yes, I chalk my liking of them up on account of a sensory processing issue¬†– I briefly explained this in a previous post), not to mention I kind of liked the way I looked in them. So I permanently adopted the look and quit caring about societal standards in that way.

Once I got over that one hurdle, I started expressing myself more genuinely in other ways, allowing myself to “geek out” (term borrowed from my ex-gf) about the things that interested me and showing and engaging in those interests openly, however weird those interests might have seemed to others. I’d keep my motor tics to myself as I could, but if I had to let it out I did so (man, I can’t imagine how badly it must suck to have Tourettes).

Though most recently, entering the world of body modifications was like the real big thing in ultimately just being that freak I was born to be. As I continue to add tattoos and piercings, I find other things to change about my appearance or otherwise that more accurately reflect who I am. In addition to the ink and jewelry I’ve even added black eyeliner and such to my appearance, because quite frankly it just matches my soul (the emo side of it anyway – and I am an emo dude deep down).

Unleashing my inner self, in addition to being liberating and just easier, also had a more profound effect that I never anticipated – I actually have more friends now. I honestly imagined I’d have fewer because people would realize the freak I really am, but no. Though I did lose a few friends in the process (who thought I had gone off the deep end), I formed new friendships that were much more deep and profound and ultimately wound up with a net gain in friends. I still don’t have all that many friends, mind you, but it was an interesting observation.

So here I am, 30 years old, still autistic as ever, the only change is I don’t hide it the way I used to. If I had a choice, would I still choose to be neurotypical? Absolutely. That much has not changed. My life would have been a lot easier being neurotypical and if a “cure” were to become available today I’d still likely accept it. As liberating as it is to unleash your true inner self it’s still not easy being a freak, but if I had to be born a freak I’d much rather openly be the freak I was born to be than to try to put on a false front and conceal it. I’ll never forget how miserable that made me.