Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Non-traditional Thanksgiving Dinners

We've always had pretty traditional Thanksgiving Day dinners.
You know the kind -- roasted turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, some kind of sweet potato dish, cranberries, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie.
Oh yeah...and the dinner rolls that you forgot to take out of the oven!

We'll have pretty much the same this year, too.

So I was wondering...

Do any of my readers have non-traditional Thanksgiving family traditions?
Or have a meal tradition of something other than turkey and the fixin's?
Do any of you have a daily tradition like a morning run, football game, etc.?
Or maybe you have a pretty traditional kind of day plus something special.

A part of many people's holiday includes travel over the hills and through the woods. We won't be doing any travel and rarely have for Thanksgiving. With a career that was one of those 24/7 kind of jobs, we usually were home for the day and often scheduled dinner time around my work day.

This year we'll have a few friends over for a late afternoon meal with Hannah and Daniel coming over, as well. Aaron and Jenny have started their own Thanksgiving tradition of hosting a holiday meal for international students that go to school at IIT in Chicago. I'm really proud of them but miss having them around our dinner table.

I'm pretty sure I'll try to be careful but will overeat anyways.
Okay -- let's hear about your non-traditional traditions!

John <><

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday, Monday. Can't Trust that Day!

What happened to Monday?

The day is nearly gone and no post for the day -- yet!

I had a pretty full and enjoyable weekend. The Thursday drive to Chicago was uneventful (that's a good thing) and pleasant. I arrived around 6pm and then took Aaron to pick up their car from the shop. We then grabbed a quick bite to eat and waited for Jenny to get out of class. It was pretty cold out and I was dressed for driving (just a light jacket) but managed a short walk on the IIT campus while we were waiting.

Aaron had a Friday morning meeting. I tagged along and had coffee at a Bow Truss coffee shop and managed a morning post for the blog. Then we had a late breakfast at The Little Goat. On Friday afternoon, Aaron took me to where they roast the Bow Truss coffee.
Oh my! There were pallets and pallets of green coffee beans from all over the world. Somebody was roasting coffee and several people were weighing and bagging coffee. It wasn't fancy and many might have found it a boring place, but I thought it was pretty cool.
And when you walked outside -- oh the aroma of the roasting coffee beans!
Yeah, it was pretty cool to get to see that!

Anyways, I had a great visit, got to eat at a few of my Chicago favorites and even managed a short visit and dinner out with my mom and dad on the way home. Today was an all day drive. Tomorrow is a day of helping someone move. Wednesday is get ready day and Thursday is Thanksgiving!
Gonna be a full week!

I hope yours is a grand one.
Be thankful!

John <><

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Chicago! Chicago! That Freezing Town!

It is a frigid Sunday morning in the city of Chicago. The thermometer hasn't moved from the 14F (-10C)  from when I first woke up a couple of hours ago. It's eventually supposed to climb all the way up to 29F (-1.6)! I had to move my car yesterday afternoon. California Street (where it was parked) by Douglas Park is a snow route. It's now parked a couple of blocks away near the Lagunita's brewery. I'll need to stop by their Schwagshop before I leave today to pick up something for a neighbor anyway. I had a late lunch there yesterday with my favorite daughter-inlaw. I had the Hogunitas with mac & cheese.

It sounds like we are going to hit The Haymarket for brunch. I already know what I'm having -- the morning riot!  Aaron has to work this afternoon and at some point I'll make way to Metamora to visit with my parents. Home on Monday.

Part of the good thing/bad thing of not living in Chicago is that there is so much in the way of really good food -- from pub food and sandwiches to the fancy, high dining places. With just visiting from time to time, I often want to go back to the places that I've been and really liked the food. Of course, that means missing out on something new! I think that we usually end up at places that Aaron and Jenny frequent and that's okay. They have great taste and know that we are open to trying anything.

Time for some coffee!

John <><

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Saturday Supplement

As long as I posted Thursday's thanksgiving post on Friday, I figured that I'd post a Saturday supplement to it this morning. I suppose it's kind of a kidding/not kidding kind of thanksgiving but I'm definitely saying that I am thankful that I don't live in Chicago!

I love visiting the kids here but prefer to visit them during the summer months.
Because it is cold and snowing -- and it is not even winter, yet!

It was snowing last night from about 8 o'clock and was still snowing at past 1am when I went to bed. There were still a few flurries coming down when I woke up this morning, but it has now stopped.
And it is cold.
My phone tells me the current temp is 34F (or just above freezing for my Celsius friends) and that is the expected high temp for the day. Tomorrow's high is forecast to be 26F (-3.3C) with tonight's low at 14F (-10)!

I know that there are many of you that love the snow and don't mind the cold. Great! You can have it. I am grateful that Southern Missouri doesn't get the snow and cold of a Chicago winter (although I understand that there is also light snow in Ozark this morning).

In a rather self-serving kind of way, I don't think I'll mind if we have a snowy winter in the Ozarks this year. I don't have to be out in the bad weather as far as driving goes. I can walk in the snow. And every time I hear Chris say, "I hate winter," I can suggest that we move to a beach in Mexico!

Have a great weekend!

John <><

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thursdays are for Thanksgiving (even on Friday!)

At some point during my drive to Chicago yesterday, I realized that my Thursday post was not a thanksgiving post. I thought that I might get another post in last night, but that didn't happen.

So today's Friday post will be a Thursdays are for Thanksgiving post, albeit a day late.

As I ponder about what I might share this morning, I can clearly see that I live a first world kind of life. I am truly thankful that so many of life's simple pleasures are mine for the taking. It is nothing for me to be able to drive all day to make the trip to Chicago to spend some time with my son, and yet there are many in the world that live out their lives within a relatively small area--maybe never travelling more than a few miles from where they were born.

Even in the USA there are people that -- whether due to means or circumstance (or choice)-- never experience life or cultures outside of their immediate area. My family has a bit of both. My dad (with the exception of that Navy gig that sent him halfway around the globe to meet my mom) has pretty much lived life in Central Illinois. He is not much of an adventurer and prefers to stay pretty close to home. My mom (and her sisters) all married men from different countries and moved away from their home in the Philippines. Her brothers remained in the Philippines.

My siblings and I (there are 6 of us) live in six different states. Our kids that are grown are also adventurous. Although Hannah is still in the immediate area, I sense that she longs for a more active city kind of life and a more diverse culture than the nearly pure whitebread culture of Southwest Missouri. However, I do think that Daniel (her fiance) is a less adventurous type and may be more content to stay close to home.

In any case, my thanksgiving today is for the ability and the desire to travel and to experience a bit of the life that other people live; to experience the tastes, the smells and the activities of life in their cities, towns and countries.

Yes, it is a first world kind of thing.
But the reality is I have a pretty good first world life!

John <><

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Religious Literacy

I've just started reading a book titled Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. I'm reading it to better understand the Jewish faith, but also to better understand the beginnings of my own faith. It is going to be one of those books that will take a long time to work through and I'll be reading it more slowly as learning material, not as one would read a novel.

I was intrigued by the opening sentences of the introduction.

"At a time when Jewish life in the United States is flourishing, Jewish ignorance is too. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of teenage and adult Jews are seeking Jewish involvements -- even Jewish leadership positions -- all the while hoping no one will find out their unhappy little secret: They are Jewish illiterate."

It goes on to say that many are uneducated in some of the basic things of Jewish history, culture and terminology.

I think that the same could be said of Christianity in the United States.
Just last Sunday my pastor was explaining a couple of simple words that are often misused, and therefore misunderstood, in our church language. It seems unfortunate that many today receive their knowledge of what Christianity should be from the news media or politically motivated personalities rather than from the Bible or from qualified teachers of the faith.

My plan on working my way through this book is to read a chapter or so each day after my daily Bible reading. Also in my 2016 reading plan is to work my way through the Qur'an and its teaching in much the same way. If anybody knows of a good Qur'an study guide, I'd appreciate your recommendations.
I also have the Kama Sutra, The Book of Mormon and a book on the life of Siddhartha on my bookshelves.
Oh yeah, and a few books on witchcraft, magic and the occult. Some Christians might find it disturbing that I have such books, but I just see them as tools of the trade.

I know that there are many books on Christian apologetics. I wonder if there are as many resources for Islam apologetics, Mormon apologetics or apologetics for any of the other multitudes of belief systems that exist in our culture.

I know that there are Christians of many different denominations that read this blog from time to time. I know of at least one Buddhist, suspect a couple of Mormons and know of several other non-Christians and atheists. It would surprise me if there are any Muslim readers. It actually pleases me that there are different beliefs represented in my small readership.
It is not my intent to become an expert on what everybody believes. I don't even know that I can become an expert in my own Christian beliefs. I would like to know enough about what others believe that I can engage in an intelligent conversation and ask good questions about their beliefs and I'd like to know enough about my own Christianity that I can truthfully and factually answer questions about my faith and the Jesus of the Bible as opposed to the Jesus of the media or contemporary culture.

Enough rambling for today.
I have an eight hour drive ahead of me as I make my way northward to see my son and his wife for a weekend visit.

A double check of the calendar shows this to be the 30th day of consecutive writing in my 30 Day Writing Challenge. I don't believe that I completed it according to its original intent and didn't use very many of the suggested topics. For me, it was more of an exercise in taking the time to write every day. I think I'll continue with a daily post through the end of the month and will try to be more frequent through 2016.
I thank you for your indulgence and for taking the time to read and occasionally comment on my posts.

John <><

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Good Morning!

Checking the calendar, I see that I have only three days left to complete my 30 Day writing challenge.
Without a topic of my own that seems demanding of being written, I turn to the suggested topic list and find one that says: Your morning routine.

I have a pretty boring morning routine, but I suppose the simple fact that we call it a routine would indicate that is the case for most of us. Of course, as a working air traffic controller, each day was a little different so it was more like having a Monday routine, a Tuesday routine, etc. Now that I'm retired, I can say I have a morning routine.

Typically, I sleep a little bit later on days when Chris isn't working. Part of that may be that we tend to stay up later when she doesn't have to get up for work (she works three days per week), and part is because I generally get up shortly after she leaves (around 6am) on days when she does work.
Once up, I head to the kitchen to make my morning pot of coffee. I use a stove top espresso maker that makes 12 oz and add hot water to fill a quart carafe. As I've said before, I'm glad that Chris isn't a coffee drinker because one pot is just about right on most days!

I generally do a dozen squats or so and a little stretching to get the blood flowing while the coffee is brewing. Most mornings I drink my coffee black, no sugar. Sometimes I add a little half and half, and on rare occasions I add half and half and a splash of Mexican vanilla. I'll pour a cup, grab my Chromebook and sit in a comfortable chair (not always the same one or even in the same room) and read my regular blogs, check Twitter and Facebook and fall into the Great Internet Time Suck. I manage to break away a couple of times to go refill my coffee cup, but generally spend a couple of hours before deciding that I've spent enough time doing nothing. Sometimes (very rarely) I watch a couple of morning news shows. I'm more likely to watch a training DVD in an attempt to learn some new magic.

Then it's usually out for a walk before getting a shower and figuring out how to spend the rest of my day.

All-in-all, it is way better than the make coffee, shower, dress, drive to work, grab my headset and camp out on radar for awhile routine that I had for much of the past few decades. It's generally way past noon before I ever encounter another human being (other than Chris on days when she's home) and I kind of like it like that.

I'll manage some reading time later in the day -- sometimes before I take my walk -- and maybe watch a little TV. Most days are pretty non-eventful. On nice days, I tend to spend an hour or so on the deck with a decent Dominican (sometimes Honduran) cigar while reading or just taking a break from doing nothing.

I've learned that retirement is no picnic.
You never get a day off from being retired.
Avoiding people, while not difficult, is an ongoing task.
And when you're doing nothing, you never really finish.

Yes, I have a good life -- but I need another cup of coffee!

Have a grand day!

John <><

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Diminishing Circle of Influence

To be fair, I doubt that my circle of influence is truly getting smaller. I think that I am just beginning to realize how small it has always been.

When we are young and full of ourselves and our grand ideas and opinions, we think that everybody wants and needs to hear our thoughts on every subject under the sun. Sometimes, even as we grow older, we continue to believe that we have all of the answers and people want to hear what we have to say.

I'd have to be honest if asked how often people actually come to me and ask, "What's your opinion on this matter?"
It hasn't been very often. There have been very few times that somebody has come seeking my opinion or advice.

I guess we often figure that if somebody freely offers their opinion, they are inviting us to give ours. I'd say that isn't really true. Having to listen to our affirming or contrary thoughts are just the price they have to pay to speak their piece. They know that. It doesn't mean they want to hear what we think. It means they want us to hear what they think.

I've considered writing about the attacks on Paris and some of the worldwide responses, but I've decided that I'm not willing to pay the price of sharing my opinion. In fact, I'm going to pull a page from a much older and wiser cousin's Facebook playbook and just restrain myself. Having to listen to the views of others is often more than I'm willing to do.

I don't mind that we have differing opinions and I actually enjoy discussions with well informed people from diverse backgrounds. I'm happy to have thoughtful friends that can give me valuable information that may give me a better perspective. However, the truth is that we (self included) usually don't want a better perspective or to have to change our opinions. That would imply that we were wrong and had to learn something from somebody else -- and don't we all want to be the smartest one in the crowd? Don't we want to be the one doing the teaching?
Shame on us when that is the case.

There are many social, political and religious battles that we can fight over. The grand majority of them have little impact in our daily lives and are not worth the time and argument effort to me.

(A couple of notes here -- discussions and arguments are different things,
and social media discussions between two three people can easily turn into fights or arguments when others decide to chime in.)

Realizing that giving my opinion (which nobody really wants to hear) is an invitation for others to give theirs ... well, I may just keep them to myself (at least in public forums). I'll also be more selective about sharing in personal discussions. As I said before -- I don't think there are too many people that are really interested in what I think about most things.

Looking back over this post I'd have to say that I've said a lot about saying nothing!

Be informed.
Be well,

John <><

Monday, November 16, 2015

Leonids Meteor Shower

I love watching the night sky!
The winter sky is pretty impressive on its own. Some of the brightest stars and deep space nebulae and clusters are visible in the winter sky. It's too bad that it is often too cold to stay out and star gaze for an extended period of time.

In addition, the fall and winter months offer a couple of other highlight events. Tonight (actually early tomorrow morning) the Leonid meteor shower takes place. This will be the best night for viewing, although you may still catch a glimpse of a few shooting stars through the end of the month. This year isn't expected to be a grand event as in some years, but if you have clear skies you should be able to see a dozen or more per hour.

It is forecast to be overcast in the Ozarks, but I'll still probably get up and check the sky in the early morning hours. For those of you that don't have clear skies or just aren't going to get up in the middle of the night to watch a meteor shower, the Geminids shower is only a month away and is best viewed just after sunset (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere).

John <><

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, 
the moon and the stars , which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Psalms 8:3-4 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

How Cold is Too Cold for a Motorcycle Ride?

I have decided that I really enjoy riding my little motorcycle. I also know that I'll be upgrading to a more highway worthy bike before next spring. I'd like to take a couple of long rides next year.

But as fall sets in and the temperatures continue to drop, I'm wondering -- How cold is too cold to ride?

I don't really have any cold weather riding gear (yet), just a leather jacket and gloves and a full face helmet. I have been riding in the 40s with a pair of exercise tights on under my jeans and was very comfortable. I know one guy that has a heated suit and rides year round as long as there isn't snow or ice on the roads.

I suppose I could get a snowmobile type suit and gloves that do a better job of covering my wrists, but I'm still curious about how cold is too cold for most riders? And how do you dress for riding in the cold?

I found a motorcycle windchill chart but if windchill is how it feels against exposed skin (and it is) then this doesn't really apply to being properly dressed, right?

Whether you are a fair weather rider or pretty hard core when it comes to winter riding, I'd be interested in your opinion.
I'm just curious.

John <><