Personal Goal Reached, Revisited

So one of my goals for this year was to read all the comic books I own.

Well, to finish reading the comics I’d purchased, not read all the comics I owned again. Last year, I organized my comic books into short boxes and stored them.

However, I had another short box of comic books that I’d bought in 2008 at a garage sale at Edgar Road Elementary. They were marked 10 cents each, but I bought the whole box for $4 or $5 without counting them. It turns out they came to almost 100. Plus, I’d picked up a couple books at Vintage Stock in recent years. And I’d bought a couple comics for my kids that they’ve then sold to me for a discount when they wanted to buy Pokemon cards. In retrospect, even though they sold the books to me at a discount, I have bought the books twice which makes me a not-so-smart shopper. It also explains why I have single issues of mutant titles–when it seems inexplicable, I realize the cover has Cable on it, and the youngest thought Cable was cool for some reason when he (the youngest, not Cable) was six years old.

At any rate, I decided to read those comics this year so I could enumerate them in the spreadsheet of my collection and then store them properly with the others in an organized fashion. So it’s sort of like how I treat my actual library: I get, then I read, then I enumerate. Of course, there is not much organization in my book library at all, so the comic book collection quite differs from real books.

As you might know, I have been diligently knocking off comic books throughout the year, often as a break from reading actual books or after completing a chapter of a real book like The Grapes of Wrath. The Edgar Road Box, which I would shorten to ERB if I planned on ever speaking of it again, contained pretty good sets of mid-80s comics like Alpha Flight, Power Pack, and The New Mutants, but I was not familiar with those series, so I pushed them off.

But I eventually got to them.

And this week, I finished the last of my comic books.

Now that I’m done with the personal goal, I lack a sense of accomplishment.

On the one hand, as you might expect, I look at the end of the stack and I think, “Is this the last time I read a comic book?” I don’t tend to go to the comic book shop looking for comic books these days, and I haven’t even been to Vintage Stock for months. I haven’t been to Missouri Comics since it closed and moved to Florida (I wonder whether the recent hurricane has wiped him out?) The answer to this is probably not, since I’ll still pick up stuff from the independent comic book publishers at -Cons, and if I discover a small box cheap at a garage sale, I might still be tempted. But who knows?

On the other hand, now that I’m done with it, I look at it in terms of a personal goal, and think, “That’s the best you can do for personal goals each year?” To be honest, my annual goals in the past have been tied to certain metrics. Ten years ago, they were: Read 70 books (I read 125); write 50 rough drafts (I wrote 12, most of which ended up on this blog eventually); submit 50 pieces to magazines (I submitted 12; one, though, appeared in a national magazine); write 3 applications (Junk Data; ReadTrack; WriteTrack–0 completed). I also had a nebulous goal (exercise more) and a specific goal (learn to play piano). I didn’t do so good with those goals, although even today I’m tracking the books I read and get close to or more than 70 per year. And I do exercise more, although I don’t track it.

This year, though, I had more discrete goals: To get a black belt; to do a triathlon; to read all the comics I own; to publish a book of poetry. I’m three quarters of the way through the list, and I wonder if perhaps I should not have looked for something more meaningful than these. Or at least more meaningful than reading comic books as an annual goal.

I mean, I’m ::cough, cough:: closing in on fifty years old. Reading comic books in middle age is not something one does. At least, I look around my cohort and don’t see anyone else doing it. I’m not sure I’d even feel comfortable mentioning it to anyone I know. So let’s keep this between you and I, gentle reader.

Of course, when wanting to have a goal of something more meaningful, you have to have a concept of what is really meaningful. Perhaps that is what I’m struggling with when being down on this particular little pastime. I mean, I enjoyed reading the comic books a bit, although I’m more of a book reader these days. I take a certain pride in my collection (I should add an s, as I am proud of most of my collections). Perhaps that’s meaningful enough, and perhaps annual goals can be that trivial.

Who knows? Perhaps I should set as an annual goal for 2018 Get over the mid-life crisis you’ve been having since you were sixteen years old.

At any rate, since I did bother to list them, below the fold you can geek out with the complete list of my comic books as of today.

Continue reading “Personal Goal Reached, Revisited”

Do Not Confuse Coney Dog With These Imposters

As you might remember, gentle reader, my cat was recently fitted with a Edwardian collar after surgery. He spent a couple days sequestered in my office and went a little stir crazy, so we let him out and took off the collar since he wasn’t paying attention to the stitches.

Well, with the collar off, he found them and irritated his surgery site, so he’s back in the cone of shame.

Now, just as a reminder, we call him by many appellations now, but remember, he’s still the Big Bopper. Do not confuse him for someone else.

The Real Thing:

The Big Bopper

Not to be confused with:

Ming the Merciless

A Triceratops

“Weird Al” Yankovic
in the “Dare to be Stupid” video

Marvel Villain Doctor Bong

Although, to be honest, when he scratches the cone in the bed in the middle of the night, he sounds like Doctor Bong.

He gets the stitches out in a couple of days, at which point we will have to go back to our regularly scripted humor at his expense.

A Father’s Pockets Are A Cornucopia

A couple years back (and by a couple years, I mean a decade), all the cool kids did posts where they emptied their pockets, took a picture, and talked about what they had. The meme ran through the gun bloggers, so you had an assortment of knives, pocket guns, spare magazines, and whatnot.

I’m a little behind the times, but bear with me.

As I have mentioned, I like wearing looser khakis with decent pocket space. I need to wear a waist size up and cinch the waist with a belt to accommodate my fat thighs, and this leaves me with lots of pocket space. Enough to hold me until tactical harem pants come in style, anyway.

How much pocket space do they give me? Plenty, as demonstrated by what I carried in them on a recent trip to the local Silver Dollar City amusement park.

So here’s my junk on the table:

  • The obligatory bottle of sun screen. The lotion, because I suspect the spray-on bottles provide plausible appliability–that is, you can say you’ve put on sun screen, but mostly you’ve sprayed some at your body and not actually covered your skin enough to protect yourself.
  • The Thoughts of Confucious, a paperback I brought along because I don’t like most rides. Was I the guy reading a book in the amusement park (while wearing khakis, no less)? Yes. During the Southern Gospel Picnic, too. Talk about missing the spirit.
  • A large stuffed horse for winning the shoot-water-at-a-target horse race game. And two smaller horses given as consolation prizes to my boys, who aren’t yet as fast as their father at bringing the stream of water on target. But soon, they will beat me at everything, so I have to enjoy these wins when I can.

    Full disclosure: The big horse rode in my shirt pocket, not the pants. But it went with the khakis, which were not actually khaki in color but> 

  • A wallet that shrank as the day went on.
  • A key ring that I recently reduced to the keys I actually use from a larger set that includes what looks to be a number of house keys to…what? My home in Old Trees? My mother’s house? I have no idea.
  • A pocket knife that I used to open a bag of chips at the park. “Do you only use that for opening things?” my oldest son asked. I’m not sure what else he would use a pocket knife for, but the question does not help his case that he should have a pocket knife.
  • An iPhone that, I’m proud to say, only has one screen of apps on it, and most of them are things Apple won’t let me uninstall. I AM A LUDDITE.
  • A notepad and a pen. In the old days, I’d use this for scribbling down thoughts and poem fragments. Now it’s mostly shopping lists and films I want to rent from the video store.
  • A small lighter. I don’t smoke, but if I’m ever in a situation where I need fire, I’ll really need it badly, and I’d hate to spend that time futilely trying to start a fire with sticks or stones and lamenting if only I had a thirty cent lighter now.

Not depicted: The theme park’s paper/calendar of events and a collection of change that grew as the wallet shrank.

In the olden days, the everyday pocket contents would have included wipes, little toys to amuse little boys, and whatnot. But that’s when the post would have been entitled “A Daddy’s Pockets” instead of “A Father’s Pockets”.

The Narrow Escapes of Nogglestead

This morning, while taking my children to school, our loud music scattered a couple of deer a couple houses up from us, and as I drove slowly by them, on fled from the loud music pouring from my car. Too small to leap the rail fence, it ran until it found a spot it could comfortably duck under. My oldest son, whose name has five letters so he gets to ride in the front, and I chuckled about the deer not liking Billy Idol. As I continued on the farm road, I was working on the humorous Facebook post I would make for it.

We went over a couple of large hills, and as we came down the hill and towards Wilson’s Creek, I saw in the distance a car with its flashers on on the side of the road. So I tried to figure out what was going on and slowed down. The car started moving, and I saw beyond it a truck sitting with it’s flashers on behind it, and I looked to see what was going on.

Then….IT broke from the trees and the shadows on the right side of the road.

A cow, escaped from a nearby pasture.

It moved into the left, oncoming traffic lane; apparently, it was some kind of English breed. I stayed, behind it, driving slowly because it’s impolite to pass livestock on the right. Also, I was not sure when it might decide to move into my lane.

The cow ran from the loud music pouring from my car. It was no longer Billy Idol; instead, it was Against the Current.

I’ve never seen a cow double-time it like that since Top Secret!

Someone came out on a four wheeler to get it, but I herded it into its pasture as it fled from me and turned left at the first drive. Perhaps it wasn its pasture. Perhaps it was just a quiet pasture, or at least a pasture that would be quiet when the loud Toyota was past.

I don’t know how close it was; if I was going my normal rate of speed, would I have been past the cow when it broke onto the road, or would I just have been too close to stop in time? Idle speculation at this point.

But I did get a Facebook status out of it.

Feel free to scrub it of context and submit it to “City People Are So Dumb!!!!” listicles.

Every Day At Nogglestead Is Like “The Purloined Letter”

So my children started their own business, again. This time (or perhaps back then since it was the day before yesterday, and their business models change quickly) it’s secure document disposal. That is, they discovered that, when you wet a piece of paper, it becomes easier to tear. So they would wet documents and tear them for a small fee.

They used a page out of the most recent copy of Forbes magazine, but left me a little note telling me what happened.

Your magazine was a victem of circumstance

Of course, it’s reminiscent of Poe’s “The Purloined Letter“.

Not a mysterious letter. Not a victem of circumstance.

That you have to look on the back of the wadded-up, torn, and repurposed piece of paper.

He wrote the note on the back of an important letter home describing an upcoming event for one of his clubs.

Which we would not have read if we hadn’t gone all C. Auguste Dupin on him.

Raising children starts out all H.P. Lovecraft from the very moment they emerge from the birth canal and then grow into Poesque mysteries as they age.

I’ve Had This Decal On Every Car I Have Owned

My kids asked me about the decal in the back of my pickup truck window.

As you might expect, my pickup truck’s rear graphicature represents the stereotypical country dweller in Southwest Missouri. I’ve got an old bumper sticker from around the turn of the century that says “I’m proud Bush is our President”. I’ve got an American flag so faded that you can’t tell it’s an American flag unless you’re really close. I’ve got the logo of a professional football team–the Green Bay Packers, the only team that matters and not the Kansas City Chiefs, the closest team to this corner of the state and therefore the preferred one for most of the locals.

Things go a bit awry with the Webster Groves Historical Society decal, as I’m no longer in Old Trees itself (but I maintained memberships in the historical society and the friends of the library until they stopped sending me things because I moved away).

No, the boys were asking about the Reason – Individual Rights – Capitalism decal:

It’s a little worse for wear, but it has been on the truck for longer than the Bush bumper sticker. I most likely put the decal on right away, as I have affixed a similar decal in every car I’ve owned.

The decal came from an Objectivist-themed outfit called RIC Trading. Back in the last century, I was a big-O Objectivist. I read a lot of Ayn Rand in college, of course, and I even read Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff. I subscribed to a magazine called The Intellectual Activist (which employed a much younger Robert Tracinski, if I am not mistaken). The magazine turned me down when I offered to write for it, but to be honest and as reasoning writers of today will tell you, I’m a little lightweight for serious philosophical diatribes. I think I saw an ad for RIC Trading in the back of the magazine, though, and I got one for my first car, a Nissan Pulsar.

Well, I bought my cars cheap and high mileage in those days, and I put ten or fifteen thousand miles a year on them, so I turned them over pretty quick. When I couldn’t find RIC Trading around for another order, I bought a bunch of them on eBay (and got a free lapel pin to boot).

As I have aged, my cars’ prices have gone up, but they’ve lasted longer as demonstrated by the current pickup truck that I’ve been driving for sixteen years and change.

But never fear: When I get my next car, I’ll have a RIC decal for it. As I’ve got a couple left, I might have enough to cover all the cars I’ll ever own.

I explained what each meant for my children. Although I’m no longer a capital O Objectivist (I don’t recognize the infallibility of Ayn Rand), I still believe in Reason, Individual Rights, and Capitalism.

To Ask A Question While On Vacation Is To Answer It

So I’m reading a philosophy book on the balcony overlooking Lake Hamilton while drinking some sweet tea, and I come to a famous question by Camus from “The Myth of Sisyphus”:

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards.

You know, I’ve tried to read that essay a couple of times, but I find the setup contrived and absurd (in a not Existentialist way, i.e., ridiculous).

Especially when I’m sitting on the lake and reading a good pop philosophy book (Every Time I Find The Meaning Of Life, They Change It by Daniel Klein, book report coming forthwith).

You know, I think I could enjoy something like this, reading by the lake, when I retire. First step to retirement: Get a job from which I can retire. No, scratch that. First step to retirement, revised: Invent a time machine and travel back to the mid-to-late twentieth century, when a job from which one retired existed (until the dinosaurs ate them).

Also, note to would-be burglars and my insurers: Hot Springs was last week, man. I am back in residence, so don’t try it! (Link via).

Also note that a gap of posting for a matter of days does not necessarily indicate a vacation on my part; it might merely be my irregularly scheduled ennui, where I wonder if it’s worth it to work so hard to keep fresh content appearing for up to 10 readers a day (mostly students looking to rip off book reports on The Sire de Maletroit’s Door).

Thank you, that is all.

Am I In The Video Gaming Elite Yet?

Last night, the family and I went to the local arcade, 1984, and played video games.

1984 has an electronic leaderboard of the monthly high scores, and if you get the monthly high score on the video game, you get a free pass for a future visit, your initials in a slideshow that displays on two big monitors, and a button.

So I looked at the monthly leaderboard and picked out a couple of low-hanging fruit:

Spy Hunter and Tapper had the default values, 20000 and 8000 respectively. I played a couple games of Spy Hunter to make sure I surpassed the threshold. The first game of Tapper I played I beat the minimum, which means that not many people have played it. Perhaps because it is a cocktail game, one that you sit at (although a cocktail game about tapping beers seems somehow wrong).

So I got my button and my free pass.

The button, though, represents my second award for a video game high score.

Way back in 1987ish, the Arnold Bowl, where my mother was on a bowling league, had a promotion where they’d award trophies for monthly high scores on some of the machines. As with my later trip to 1984, I cherry-picked and looked for the machine with the lowest high score on it. Strangely enough, this was Pac Man on December 30. Perhaps it was not as popular of a game some seven years after its release. Perhaps someone had unplugged the machine. It was ridiculously low, and I managed to surpass it. My high score held up for a day and a night, so I got a trophy.

A trophy with an engraving error. Funny thing that: My sainted mother won a trophy of her own for being the most improved bowler in the league, and the trophy shop at the bowling alley managed to misspell improved on her trophy. So of the Arnold Bowl trophies our family accumulated, they were 0 of 2.

At any rate, it’s kind of funny. At some point, I stopped really getting into video games. I might have been confused by the complexity of the NES controller. I haven’t really played them that much, and I spent a lot of time in 1984 last night just wandering around. Thirty years ago, playing all you wanted in a video arcade would have been a dream come true, but last night, at least until I decided to try for a high score, it seemed like it was going to be a long slog of a night.

Perhaps it’s the video game selection at 1984. I might have matriculated into the video game scene a little later than its titles skew. If it had a Double Dragon, an Ikari Warriors, or a Heavy Barrel, I’d be on it. Of course, I spent most of my time on the Arkanoid they have, which is sort of silly and embarrassing with how little skill I have at it, since I’ve got one standing here in my office less than four feet away but that I don’t play but a couple times a year.

At any rate, BOW BEFORE MY VIDEO GAME SUPERIORITY! The trophies are only slightly better than participation trophies, BUT THEY ARE SYMBOLS OF MY PROWESS!

In other news, my beautiful wife also got a high score, but hers was for the game Joust which other people play and whose commemorative button represents actual skill and effort.

Not The Store I Hoped For

So I saw the Battery Outfitters on Campbell the other day, and as I needed some supplies, I stopped in.

I was greatly disappointed! I hoped to pick up some 105mm shells for my M119A3 and some 150mm shells for my Paladin (well, what kind of mobile artillery did you think I would own?), but all this store had was small power cells.

It’s back to the black market for me, I guess, and grizzled guys named Sergei and Michal.

But it takes a lot of concentrated fire to keep Japanese beetles off of my peach trees. Also, for keeping peaches, leaves, branches, and limbs off of my peach trees.

“Do You Have Any Health Conditions?” The Coach Asked

True fact: When I was taking a triathlon class preparing for my first indoor triathlon this winter, the coach did ask me if I have any health conditions that would impede my performance. He asked this after watching me flail about in the swimming pool for thirty minutes. (I have previously related the story.)

But medical professionals have helped me uncover the thing that will keep me from becoming a top-flight performance athlete: I am fundamentally lazy I have an underlying heart condition.

My heart is three sizes too small.

Actually, it is not, and I have no heart condition that I know of (but if I continue with these foolish mid-life athletic futilities, who knows what I might learn?).

I just have a ready-made quip for any occasion related to my athletic performance or lack of endurance.

Not only am I fundamentally lazy inclined to reserving energy, I am also full of excuses capable of reasoned, logical explanations for accomplishments of sub-optimal level.

My Print Credit For 2017

So I’m in the acknowledgements section of a political science/women’s studies/social movements book this summer:

To be honest, I don’t settle for just as critical. My goal is to always be more critical.

The book is Empowered By Design: Decentralization and the Gender Policy Trifecta by Meg Rincker if you’re a political scientist and are interested.

That’s the only time my name has appeared in print this year, so far. I’d better hop on my own writing sometime soon to rectify that.

Probably not a political science/women’s studies/social movements book, though.

An Ode To Automatic Paper Towel Dispensers

So I’ve done my business and washed my hands like a good fellow, and I’m standing before the paper towel dispenser. It’s an automatic one. With the manual paper towel dispensers with the spring-loaded rollers where, if you can’t just pull the exposed paper towel to get it, you can push the bar or turn the reel on the side to get one. But not automatic ones. You have to discover, like in a video game, the angle at which the sensor points and the distance that the sensor can detect.

I’m all like:

But no paper towel presents itself. I spent what seemed to be twenty minutes pleading with SkyNet to give me a couple square inchdes of paper. In truth, it was probably only a minute. Either I lacked the proper thieves’ hand signals to steal something to rip off a towel or the device was not functional.

I left with wet hands.


Poetry Pro-Tip

When finishing your slam-bang sonnet up with a couplet that rhymes Josephus with Bocephus, remember you have to add another syllable at the end, as the stress on each is on the middle syllable (JoeSEEfus, BoSEEfus).

Although, to be honest, I probably won’t use this particular tip myself, as I’m not comfortable or natively familiar with the pronunciation of either. I mean, although it’s spelled Joseph-us, apparently it’s not pronounced that way (my beautiful wife and Wikipedia agree), and the only time I’ve heard Bocephus spoken aloud was in the song “Redneck Woman”.

Given that the song is entitled “Redneck Woman”, the pronunciation is suspect.

So it’s back to rhyming “love” with “dove” for me.

What Does Facebook Know About Me That I Do Not?

Everyone’s worried about Facebook knowing too much about you. If that’s the case, why did it insist on showing me this ad for weeks?

A Spanish language advertisement for WIC? But Pepita and I were just friends!

Perhaps Facebook was feeding me this to see if the state spending money advertising social programs in a foreign language would trigger a rant as I can think of better uses of my tax money, but if the state weren’t burning it on the easy, arts and science degree jobs like this one, it would spend the money on a different set of advertising/communication/marketing/make work and not on, you know, infrastructure or something.

Wait, it almost did trigger a rant there. Never mind, I shall return to whatever else I was doing.