I don’t know why…

…but this is just funny to me.  For some reason, a couple months ago I decided that I wanted to contribute to Google Maps.  Part of it is their point system, and the different levels with various “access”.  Make something exclusive and I guess I want to be a part of it.  Smart marketing on their part.  Some of it was forcing myself to take more photos, even if with just a phone.  Composition is composition and I can practice it with any type of camera.

So in the last four months or so that I’ve been doing it, my photos have garnered 86000+ views as of this morning.  My most popular photo?  Of a guy running the grill at Waffle House.  It’s up to 41k views and it’s only 3 months old.  Who the hell is looking at reviews and photos of The Waffle House?  Don’t you just know what you’re getting when you go there?

Frontline Radio

I’ve had a slacker account that I’ve used for years.  Way back when I thought it had a nice, flashy interface compared to Pandora and I love music enough and was too lazy to convert my extensive CD collection to MP3 so I bought a subscription.

I really haven’t been getting the most out of it over the years.  Originally I created a station or two, threw a couple dozen artists in there and then just started hitting favorite on songs until I had an auto-generated playlist.  Late last year I switched to an android phone and since Christmas I’ve been road-tripping a lot on the weekends.  With the new interface for the Slacker app on the new phone and more time in a car I decided I should start exploring more and started playing more of their curated stations.  My “favorites” station was getting somewhat incestuous and it needed some fresh blood.

Not too long ago I found frontline radio.  You can listen to it here. 

It’s a pretty neat station.  People write in with songs that had some significant meaning to them during their military career.  Even if you just fast-forward through a song because you don’t like that particular piece of music, the stories are fun to listen to, especially as a veteran.  I was road-tripping this weekend and was just enjoying it so much that I called my Dad and I think he’s downloaded the app so he can listen now too.

For years, this song always struck home with me.  It’s “Cot” by the Carnival Strippers:

I’ve been that exhausted before, especially at the end of a tour, coming home after a year of keeping it all together and getting everyone back.

This weekend while driving the song “Zzyzx Road” by Stone Sour came on.  I’d never heard it, but the story was instantly relate-able as was the song:

 

 

Gifts

I really, really love it when I come across the perfect gift for somebody.  In the last couple of weeks I came up with two, one for each of two different people.  I have this one friend who is a little…  drama-club-y.  She LOVES big productions and mystery and spiritual stuff and considers herself to be a witch.  So when I learned about The Mysterious Package Company I got really excited.  They’re kind of expensive, but the idea of her getting a different clue every couple of weeks until she got all of them, and this cool statue in a wooden box, etc…  She’s going to flip.  But it’s going to be months of her wondering what’s going on before she gets the final reveal and learns it came from me.  How am I supposed to keep it a secret that long?

My Dad generally LIKES a gift but hates “stuff”.  So for the most part we’re forbidden to get him presents.  He’s a gigantic fan of the B-52.  He’ll go out of his way to drive by one on display and loves telling stories about seeing them take off from the base he was stationed on during the war.  If you’re willing to listen he’s got tons of technical details to bore you with.  Fortunately I love military planes too.

His birthday is early April and I just got an ad for these little keychains/luggage tags made from the “skin” of an old B-52.  Because it’s small and something he put on his key-ring or backpack it won’t take up space and irritate him.  It’ll just be cool.

For the love of Mike, would someone come take away my internet access and my phone and duct tape my mouth so I can’t ruin the surprise?  Please?  This is he worst part of gift giving, keeping my big mouth shut!

Movement

I’ve owned a pretty decently sized assortment of motorcycles over the last 26 or 27 years.  Sports bikes, cruisers, endure.  A little bit of everything.  My dream has always been to tour the states by motorcycle.

This year I’ve been blessed with almost 5 weeks of PTO.  I haven’t had anything close to that much since I was in the Army and got 30 days of leave every year.  I finally decided that I shouldn’t be waiting for retirement or some magical lottery win to go ride, I should chunk it up and do it in pieces.  In the past with only a week or two of PTO, I’ve felt guilty to take off and ride.  But with 5 weeks, I don’t feel bad at all taking a 10 day ride.

I’ve been planning this ride since late last year.  Leaving Colorado and doing some big loop, the direction to be determined by weather.  I was thinking I’d go to Arizona, San Diego, Las Vegas and SLC and Moab Utah at least.  I’ve got good Army buddies in SLC and Las Vegas who ride and could spend part of a day touring with me around those areas.  I was planning on leaving here around the 20th of April and probably be back at work around the 1st of May.

I was talking to Dad last night and his operation is scheduled for the 24th of April.  That makes me happy, it fits in perfectly for me to be able to see him before and/or after the operation, or be there to support both of them in any way they need.  This is something I can handle better.  Action points and direction and movement instead of…  waiting.

Hide the Happy

Kid lenses – I’ve written about them before.  It’s my term for the goofy perspective we have of the world as a kid without experience, perspective or knowledge.  The coming up with ideas or beliefs or behaviors as a child because they fit your understanding of the world.  As I’ve gotten older, it’s been interesting to see the views I’ve had, the behaviors I’ve had that have been unhealthy, but that have been so ingrained in me, such a part of me they’re hard to change.  They’ve become like a default setting.  It takes a lot of conscious effort not to return to those default settings in times of stress.

When I was younger, one of those beliefs was the certainty that I had to remain calm, flat on the outside.  If things were going super well, I felt like I had to hide that happiness on the inside.  If I was too public about that happiness something bad would happen, somehow that would be taken away.  Fate or something.  If I was sad about something, I needed to be careful not to complain too much or that same fate would show me how much worse things could be.

I remember how much I used to love little toys.  Things that I could carry in my pockets and hold in my fist.  Things I could touch and just be secretly happy on the inside.  When I was really little and got a stuffed animal for Christmas, I would bury my face into it to hide my smiles.

This was actually behavior that was called out fairly early on.  My first real girlfriend was bothered that I wasn’t shouting with happiness from the mountain tops about my joy of dating her.  Over the decades I realized I was a story teller and liked opening up about some things as I was teaching soldiers or my son about things.  Then when I started therapy a couple of years ago after the big break-up I realized I needed to let people in, express joy and sadness more openly with friends, family and significant others.

My blog is a weird animal.  It’s obviously publicly posted, but I don’t have a real audience.  I do use it for interaction with a few people who are friends, but largely I use it as a diary, to augment my craptastic memory.

So.  The last couple days I vented on here about ex girlfriends and social media.  I bumped into one of them a couple weeks ago and it knocked me off my beam.  I complained about it to all the normal people who listen to me.  And then instagram suggesting we be friends, then my mom doing the group message thing.  Stupid stuff in the grand scheme of things.  And you want to know what put it into perspective?  Finding out, and then subsequently having to tell my son that my Dad has prostate cancer.  I know prostate cancer is relatively manageable but the fact that my older sister died of cancer, my younger sister is fighting with leukemia and I’ve had 2 cancer scares myself, I’m just kind of not as optimistic as I could/should be.

Now I know I wasn’t being punished for complaining about my ex-girlfriends.  He’s known about this for awhile and just last night decided to tell me.  And I know that if something…  more tragic happens, it wasn’t be because I’m upset about my dad’s prostate cancer.  But there’s still that urge to just go complete turtle.