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Mad Plans?

April 18th, 2014 by Nicho

As I get older, I’m continually amazed at how quickly time passes. I just realized yesterday that I passed the two year anniversary of my divorce. (Divorcinnary?) It really doesn’t feel like it’s been that long as the actual 17-month divorce  process seemed to have taken much longer. But here it is, 2014, and my daughter is graduating high school, and my boys will be juniors next year.

What’s coming down the pipe is apparently momentous; My 40th birthday is less than two months away. I use the term momentous because, by all accounts, it’s all downhill from here. Truth be told, I never really expected to live beyond 40. I’ve been saying that since I was a teenager, much to the objections of certain family members who don’t like envisioning the concept. Not that I blame them, but even since seeing Monty Python’s Meaning of Life as a teenager, my own mortality has been somewhat of dark joke to me. (As a reminder to those who’ve known me for a while: I do expect to have Always Look on the Bright Side of Life played at my funeral. Don’t make me come back and kick your ass.)

But now I’m almost at that imaginary finish line. Forty is staring me down, waiting for me to flinch. I can see why folks get worked about this admittedly arbitrary number. It looks hungry, yet twitchy.

Regardless, I figured that I should make an event out of this. It isn’t often that I go out of my way to aggrandize anything about me — probably never. I figure this is as good of a time as any. So I took the week of my birthday off from work. My plan is to fill every day with something that I wouldn’t regularly do or have otherwise been putting off for some idiotic reason or another. For one, I’m getting a tattoo. This isn’t exactly an odd choice for the four decade mark; my Ex did the very same thing upon hitting the same birthday. But this isn’t so much about originality as it is new and fun experiences for me. (Not that being jabbed repeatedly with a needle should be in any way considered fun, but I digress.)

After that, I’m rather befuddled at what else to do. Call it a lack of original thought. If anyone has any interesting suggestions, I’d be delighted to hear them.

“Obama’s Deficit”

February 9th, 2014 by Nicho

After Obama was first elected in 2008, I made a vow or sorts to avoid public political commentary. I realized that after several years of doing this, I was about as popular at parties as a leper. And rather than helping people understand the sometimes quizzical nature of American politics, I was only rustling jimmies and upsetting people. Some of them were grotesquely stupid people, but they can’t help that. The point was that I really wasn’t helping much. I was only adding fuel to the fire. I was also at the point where I was ready to take my position in the political middle again. It was my hope that by having a solidly blue track ahead of us for the foreseeable future that the country would pull back from the Right Wing that it had been dancing on for nearly a decade.

So while I was retooling for a less confrontational existence, I let the world go on as it wished. It wasn’t easy, and I have to say that I did manage to become presentable in public gatherings again and even managed to rescue most of my sense of humor from the pits of caustic cynicism. Not that I could ever truly let that go, but I was much funnier before I let it engulf me. But something you cannot shake after delving into the depths of the political cesspool are the facts that you learned on your journey. And unlike many of the commentators out there, I prided myself in allowing all facts take root and letting my conscience guide me.  Read the rest of this entry »


January 26th, 2014 by Nicho

I have lived in Minnesota for my entire life. As much as those who visit have complained about the cold weather — indeed, those who live south of here have a misconception that it’s never warm — I’ve never had a problem with the cold. As I learned a few years ago during a particularly dry winter, not having snow for a few months of the year is unnatural to me. At the time, it actually plummeted me into minor depression. I proudly wear an imaginary badge on my chest that states “Yes, I’m from Minnesota, you wuss.” I think it ranks up with those who live in LA or New York City as a badge of bravery and is to be worn with honor.

All of that said, this winter has completely sucked the joy out of the season for me. As this month comes to a close, I cannot think of a January that has left me feeling more miserable. Even the novelty of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, an annual pilgrimage to the downtown area and beyond, has yet to intrigue me enough to get outside and enjoy the frozen festivities. All I want to do is stay inside, eat soup and chili, and hibernate like a bear. I have never felt this way. What’s worse, I never in a thousand years would’ve even thought I’d feel this way.  Read the rest of this entry »

Modern Fame

January 24th, 2014 by Nicho

In case you somehow miraculously avoided the news yesterday, Justin Bieber was arrested. DUI, drag racing, resisting arrest — in general for being a douchebag. And I think that’s why the majority of the civilized world is getting off on it.

I tend to avoid celebrity gossip and such. It’s pretty simple reasoning in that I genuinely don’t give a flying petunia what these people are like. When you stop to consider how much money is spent on public image, it’s a wonder how anyone can take anything they say as being serious. While I don’t like thinking about the personal lives of celebrities, I do tend to get wrapped up in the phenomena of what it must be like to be a celebrity. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t wish the experience upon anyone.

It’s sort of become the standing joke that once some kid gets famous there’s an invisible countdown that’s set off that ticks down to the moment where that kid finally implodes under the weight of their own success. The public at large seems to get reap great joy in making predictions and celebrating when it finally happens. For the record: Bieber hasn’t hit that moment yet. But it’s because of this recent news that I thought it was finally time to say something. Read the rest of this entry »

New Year

December 31st, 2013 by Nicho

I tend not to make New Year’s resolutions. It’s not that I don’t see the value in wanting to make positive changes to one’s life, I just don’t see the necessity to feel automatically compelled because of an arbitrary change in a number representing a trip around a burning ball of gas. Perhaps that a bit clinical, but it doesn’t change the fact that people have all kinds of reasons to make changes and they shouldn’t save them up to make the commitment at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

If I were to be bluntly honest with you all, I’m perfectly aware of my shortcomings that could easily be changed if I just made the proper choices on a day to day basis. But that would mean actually changing my habits; routines that I’m perfectly comfortable with, thank you very much. Probably the most offered resolution around this time every year is to “lose weight”. Well that would be nice, now wouldn’t it? I could stand to lose a few, myself. But is the period just after a holiday period that encourages eating not only too much, but incredibly rich foods really the best time to reach this conclusion? What,  are you people masochists or something?

Another that tops the list is quitting smoking. To anyone who finds solace in burning tobacco, this is something akin to removing molars with no anesthesia — only less traumatic. And what makes it fun is when you combine this resolution with the aforementioned. It makes for the perfect storm of unpredictable emotional outbursts. Pro tip for my non-smoker friends out there: Quitting an oral fixation (don’t get cute with that) tends to make eating an all-too-perfect alternative. Trying to moderate your nutritional intake while quitting smoking has been a dominant astronomical theory in the collapse of certain galaxies. Ask Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Read the rest of this entry »

Dating at 39 – Part 1

December 17th, 2013 by Nicho

I’ve made a concerted effort to start dating again. This process has been met with mixed results, to put it kindly. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t take very good care of myself. So in entering the dating world again I feel like used car salesman who’s got one car to sell; a beat up Dodge Minivan. Sure, it’s got a horn that plays La Cucaracha, but how entertaining can that be after the first few uses? In the first few months, my walking train wreck of self-confidence was clearly evident to all who witnessed it. I think the women I was with stuck around for as long as they did out of pity. The alternative was that they were batshit crazy. But the point is that I had all of the dating skills of a dead ferret. I should add that this may still be the case, but I’ll let my dates decide.

What made this more fun was attempting to restart a love life that had about eight or nine years of dust on it (I’m being nice — honest, but nice), and doing so with three teenagers. You’d be amazed how much fail can be generated on a first date when you’re only real recent social experience is whatever is going on in your teenager’s life. I honestly think I frightened the first one when I refused to have liquor with a light dinner because “I’m driving and you can’t be too careful.” This was shortly after the Ex moved out, and I was abiding the rules I had set for myself many years before. Regardless, I’m sure her beer was just twice as tasty in the knowledge that this nutball on the other side of the table was probably judging every sip she took. I wasn’t, but do you think anything I said after that would’ve changed her mind? The poor girl nearly left skid marks on her way out of the restaurant parking lot. And I don’t blame her one bit. Read the rest of this entry »

On Getting Old…er

December 15th, 2013 by Nicho

I was having a discussion with my kids tonight as I drove them back from their mother’s house to mine. You see, today my boys turned 16 years old. And while this is an inevitable outcome of raising children, feeding them and foregoing the desire to scream and run when they do the sometimes stupid things they do, it doesn’t make it any easier as a parent to look at yourself in the mirror and realize how viciously Old Man Time has beaten you up so far. This can be especially fun when you have baldness.

But as the discussion carried on, one of my sons quickly headed off the lament that I’m apparently offering out loud a bit too frequently — Dad’s getting old. Well, I felt the need to clarify my feelings on the matter. Read the rest of this entry »

Reality 101

October 9th, 2013 by Nicho

As we go into Day 9 of the shutdown of the Federal Government, the media has gone to great lengths to do two things:

  • Assign blame
  • Appear unbiased

The two obvious exceptions to this are the networks of Fox “Ultra-Conservative” News and MSLiberalNBC. The rest of the networks, by and large, have been doing everything they can to appear as unbiased as possible in their coverage with varying degrees of success. The problem is that has arisen from this is their apparent inability to give any kind of news without some strange obligation to make this issue look like it’s the fault of everyone involved.

This shutdown is the fault of the intransigence of the collective House GOP. There’s no simpler or direct way of putting that. You can argue with me about that all you want, but you’re wrong. It’s not an opinion. It’s a pretty well-established fact at this point. Largely because the Speaker of the House has maintained a thin mask that he is, in fact, at the mercy of the Tea Party members of congress and he wants to keep his Speaker’s Chair. His usually well-focused messaging is everything but focused, as he proved on Sunday on This Week. Read the rest of this entry »

A Scorned Lover’s Lament

October 7th, 2013 by Nicho

After President Obama was elected back in 2008, I made a concerted effort to put a good distance between me and politics. It was like an abusive relationship. I was so in love, but politics inevitably made me into an unlikable person. Even when it donned that French Maid outfit and said all those naughty things I loved hear, I looked at my reflection in the mirror and was horrified by what my lusting affair with politics had made me become. I was a broken man.

Over the past five years, I’ve done everything I could to get away from that self-destructive lifestyle. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check up on my old mistress from time to time. I watched from afar, knowingly, as my old temptress brought old friends to her bed. I did what I could to warn them, but I knew that perfume all too well and know what it does to one’s mind.

What I’ve learned is that politics is a very old mistress – something akin to a vampire; No, not a vampire in the Stephanie Myers-influenced nonsense, but a beast straight out of the tomes of Ann Rice. This creature has been around for centuries – feeding on her victims as the penultimate result of long, quiet, inescapable seduction. And much like a vampire, you cannot kill what is already corporeally dead.

Truth be told, I don’t necessarily want to end politics. Perhaps it’s the spousal abuse talking, or perhaps I’ve watched Return of the Jedi too many times, but I know there’s good in her. When you break it down to the basics, the word politics comes from the Latin word polis, which means “people”. And that’s what politics is supposed to be – the people making laws for the betterment of all. And, really, how can one not fall in love with such a vision?

In light of my mistress’s latest activities, I’m formally throwing my hat back into to the ring. So expect a bit more out of me in the coming days and weeks.

It’s Come To This

August 20th, 2013 by Nicho

As a child of the 80s, I was raised initially to mistrust the country of Russia. It was the USSR back then, and everything they were was supposed to represent all that was evil in this world. President Reagan implored Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” and that wall finally came down in 1989. America basked in the glory that was the final victory in the so-called Cold War.

That’s how the history books will record it. That’s how it has been recorded so far. Communism was a failed system and Democracy, with the capital D, was the only way to enlightenment.

Now I must ask my fellow countrymen, be they republican or democrat, how it feels to know that a citizen contractor who worked for the NSA has sought and succeeded to find asylum in the country of Russia because his government, who touts “the land of the free and the home of the brave” as their stock in life, has found his exposing what everyone already knew was unspoken truth?

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so detached from true freedom. Fuck your parties, fuck your protections against our free society…this young man sought to bring to light a grievous overreaching of our government, in the name of protecting our way of life, and he’s a pariah. He didn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know, or even less what those we call our enemies knew; he only focused it for us so that we could see it more clearly.

Is this what Democracy means? If you dare to speak the truth, to pull back the curtain to expose the man behind it; is this the end result?

I was against everything that Preznit Bush spoke for, but only because I knew full well what his intentions were. He barely hid them. But now that President Obama is seemingly compliant with the very same raping of what it means to be free, what’s the fucking point? I’m absolutely disgusted with the whole endeavor. If being free means robbing people of their freedom to the point where they seek freedom in the nations that once represented everything but freedom, who do you believe?

This country needs to collectively pull its head out of its ass. Sadly, I don’t see that happening. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not holding my breath doing so.