Saturday, February 16, 2013

Don't Even Know How

My mother passed away two weeks ago.
I've been a bit out of sorts since then and unable to get going, or to focus.  When I get myself collected and can focus on restarting this blog, I will.

I love you mom.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Return

I feel a need to write.

My blog will be reborn for the third time as I prattle on about, something.  I've tried Twitter.  I've tried Tumblr.  I've tried Instagram.  I've tried Facebook.  These were all grossly unsatisfying and so I made the decision to return to long form blogging. 

It's now been more than a year since my last post so I should, theoretically, have a lot to say.

Perhaps I'll just be nostalgic about old blogs, movies and video games.  I spent a year writing in a personal anxiety journal as I attempted to fix what was wrong with my mind and personality.  That experiment met with great success.  Then last November I got about 2/3 of the way through NaNoWriMo which is better than I thought I'd do.

Time to live up to my potential.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

End of the Road pt 3

I no longer have time or the desire to update this blog, so I've come to the decision to shut it down.
At least for the time being.
Until interesting things happen in my life or I have a single topic to focus on, farewell.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Blues

I'm not going to lie, I've been awful about blogging lately. 

My life has been far too busy and I'm always tired.  My current schedule usually has me up before 5 a.m. to get to work on time.  After that, thanks to us only having one car, is a three hour ordeal to get home.  This involves an average of two bus rides, the wait time for said buses, and a two mile walk uphill.  In summer.  This schedule ensures that by the time I make my way home I am both exhausted and sweaty.  After a short nap I get maybe two, three hours before having to go back to sleep in order to be back up to do it all again.  Currently I'm averaging 5-6 days a week, so I'm just not finding the time to blog.  I'm not finding the time to do anything at all, really. 

So that's my excuse for not updating in a while.  My life seems so hectic and tiring that I haven't bothered trying to be productive creatively, I'm just trying to make ends meet.  Sometimes in life there are long stretches where that is all you can do.  My free time is limited, and even that is often full of bullshitty drama that I'm getting sick and tired of, but that's not anything I'm going into detail about.

On the plus side I've got a lot of stories about the unsavory characters I'm meeting on the bus.  The route I take goes directly through some of the poorer and trashier areas of West Springfield so I get to view an element of society from which I'm usually shielded.  I expect so start a new column called "Bus Adventures" very shortly.  Look forward to reading it regularly. 

I have managed to follow all manner of sports even though I've been unable to actually watch any.  ESPN3 doesn't work so well on our connection usually.  It's hit or miss with so many people accessing it at once.  Between streaming Netflix, Hulu, Youtube and Ashes downloading music it's hard to get a consistent stream.  Not to mention the somewhat odd and limited selection ESPN3 provides.
I would LOVE to watch the Tour de France since I'm a huge fan and it has been a regular part of my Summer for the last eight years.  The only channel that covers it in America is Versus, aside from the French channel in Maine, and I only get the basic channels.  It saddens me to miss out on this sporting event and miss Versus' excellent coverage.  I watched the first few days when I was in Maine over the holiday weekend.  Caught Tyler Farrar take home the July 4th stage for America, and since the US doesn't have a top contender all we can hope for this year is some stage wins.  Farrar beat Cavendish and Hushovd that day, but I expect the Manx Missile will win plenty of stages this year.
I can moan on and on about the Tour but I won't.  Watching it live isn't an option so I turn to Yahoo Sport's  live coverage online which is pretty good.  Like Cricinfo's match reports it has a very detailed live update system with a surprisingly cool graphical interface.  If that's how I have to follow it this year, so be it.  I'll get Versus in time for 2012 hopefully.  I've also been following Sri Lanka's tour of England in cricket, which has seen some good results for both teams.  The Tests seemed to go in England's favor but the ODI and T20.  It's been fun to follow.  I understand England have a series against India later this summer as well which should be even more exciting to follow.  Indians are passionate about their cricket!  I'm not sure if Australia's in action.  If they are I'll make sure to catch as much as I can, that's my team after all.

Now that I'm out of my recent funk expect a lot more posts.  I'm attempting to find my motivation and if there's none to be found I'm going do damn well force myself to write anyway.  I've been idle for too much of this year and that has to change.  Trust me, this is a good thing.  I won't waste the few hours I have each day.

Well I'll be briefly on hiatus after this coming Tuesday since the fifth book in George R. R. Martin's fantastic A Song of Ice and Fire series is released after the longest six years of my life.  I'll hammer that out real quick and get back to writing in short order.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer 2011 - Seasons of Scraping By

It's June yet again which means summer is well and truly upon us.  If you were to ask me I'd say it's already here, but the official calendar definition says it won't be here for a few weeks.  Either way I'm not expecting a lot of excitement this year.  I'm not saying that there was a lot of excitement last year but there was... y'know... the World Cup.  Also unemployment, poverty and brutal heat and boredom.  None of that this year!  Well maybe the heat.

In lieu of the World Cup there are two soccer tournaments on offer, the CONCACAF Gold Cup featuring perennial final Mexico vs USA, and the South American Copa America.  While these are both interesting tournaments in their own right I'd say I'm more excited for the quadrennial Copa America.  I was hoping to see AFC champions Japan test their skill against South American opposition but the Blue Samurai pulled out in wake of the tsunami.  Costa Rica took their place which is a far less exciting scenario.  It will still be a thrill to watch Argentina and Messi play, as well as Brazil and World Cup overachievers Uruguay.  I'll probably be cheering for our southern neighbors Mexico to take the cup to North America for the first time and to pick up their second proper trophy (after the Confederations Cup). 

However in a complete reversal I will be hoping Mexico completely fail in the Gold Cup.  They won't, of course, and will probably be our rival in the final.  Unlike two years ago I hope that the United States national team fields a full strength side.  Far too much time is spent by the US national team focusing on "experience" for younger players.  Commentators and US team "big wigs" will throw away chances at success in exchange for getting untested players some experience.  Play the strongest side and let the domestic leagues weather the players, damnit.  Outside of Mexico the competition in the Gold Cup is weak.  Canada, Panama and Guadalupe are hardly going to challenge the team.  Plus we always have home field advantage.  Every single time!  Can't squander that... though they might.  We'll see what happens next week.

I can't follow the J-League any longer since Fox Soccer Channel isn't one of the six stations I get.  It's too depressing to follow it as Japan, the idea and in reality, seems so far away now.  While once I was obsessed with the land of the rising sun it has become hard to even read blogs or watch J-vlogs.  Never has it seemed like such an impossible goal as right now.  All I ever wanted was to live and work in Japan, eventually that downgraded to a visit, and now... I don't know.  I was willing to work in Korea and vacation in Japan, but that too didn't pan out.  This has all lead to not being able to focus on anything Japanese, soccer or puroresu, without being depressed.  And summer isn't about depression!  At least not this year.  So I'm ignoring J-League soccer, especially since Shimizu sold Okazaki to some Bundesliga team.

Our budge may be incredibly tight but that won't stop us from going on our day excursions!  Ashes and I are daytrippers, period.  Whatever our financial situation is we will still take our trips.  In the 2011 "warm" season we've already been all over Western Massachusetts and parts of Connecticut.  With dozens of ideas lined up we plan on having a busy summer.  Luck has been on our side since I haven't had to work many weekends which has allowed us to have two days to ourselves.  Over night trips are a bit out of our price range at the moment so we are limited to a few hours in any direction.  We're willing to sacrifice a bit of money on gas and food for a good time.

I'll post about our trips... proper posts and none of this half committed crap that I'm doing now.  That's something to look forward to, as I'm sure most of my readers are more concerned with what @theashes is doing with her time.  Plus I'll get a chance to do some more refined writing as opposed to scattershot brain dumps. 

A bit of soccer, a bit of travel and a pinch of whining.  Yep, sounds like an average post here at YGGOY.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Tornado in Springfield, Massachusetts

Two days ago the quiet New England town I live in was bombarded with tornadoes from every direction.

It was a highly unusual event for the area and made national, and international, headlines everywhere.  In a year that is already plagued by tornado problems throughout the country what happened here Thursday only further identifies this as the year of the tornado.  At least in America.  In an ailing Japan it will most likely be the year of the tsunami, or the year of the meltdown-that-wasn't-a-meltdown-that-was.

We're lucky that the storm wasn't as violent as others in the Midwest have been in 2011.  That isn't to say there weren't deaths.  There were, four people have been confirmed killed so far.  One of them was a man driving down the street when the tornado uprooted a tree onto his car, killing him instantly.  It's a scary thought that one.

It's not like there was any warning that this was going to happen.  I had heard that thunderstorms were likely but nothing more.  Earlier that day I had worked and was able to take the bus into downtown Westfield.  I walked home from the bus dropoff taking my normal route, past the Big Y and up the hill.  At the time it was beautiful out and quite hot.  Sweat was pouring off me by the time I got home since most of my walk was in direct sunlight.  It wasn't until several hours later that the skies started going black and the rain slowly came.  Even when the storm started there was barely any indication it would be a bad one.

The first sounds of thunder were heard in the distance and the skies got dark.  The rain changed from a light sprinkling to hardcore downpour in a matter of minutes.  To me it seemed like any other thunderstorm yet news quickly spread that it was so much more.  The power went out while I was in the basement, which left me in pitch black.  So I went upstairs, where the nervous dog greeted me enthusiastically, and watched the storm unfold in the streets.  I got a text from Ashes about this time telling me that she had heard there was a tornado.  She was taking her students into the basement as a tornado warning had been issued.  Little did either of us know that by the time the warning was issued the largest of the tornadoes had already blown through Westfield and West Springfield.  As worrying as it all was I felt safe in the house.

Yet I shouldn't have felt so safe, as the largest of the tornadoes had started only a few miles from my house.  There were half a dozen tornadoes in a 1-2 hour period as the storm raged on.  With power out I got all of my information from texting with Ashes.  I could hear sirens screaming down College Highway, I later learned they were heading to Shaker Heights to deal with damage there.  When the power came back on at around 6 o'clock I immediately sought out any news stories.  I found videos of the twister, several dozen posted in an hour period, and numerous news reports.  Downtown Springfield had been hit by the most powerful of the tornadoes.  Yesterday we found out it was F3 strength which is incredibly bizarre for this area.  Springfield had been hit bad and areas were demolished.

Luckily Ashes drove home after the worst of the storm had passed but that didn't stop me from worrying.  In fact there was plenty of storm left.  She saw black clouds on the way home and had to drive through intense rain.  Not ten minutes after she got home another, smaller tornado ripped through Westfield.  She was lucky in her timing, very lucky and I'm glad for that.

We had to pick up our roommates (landlords, Ashes' aunt) from the bus station yesterday, after they arrived home from Africa.  This gave me a chance to see the destruction in downtown first hand.  The park next to city hall that I had sat in and read not even a week ago was completely destroyed.  Giant trees were torn up from their roots and littered the whole area.  A section of Main Street was closed off and further down you could see ruined buildings and rubble in the streets.  On the on ramp to I-91 was debris and tree limbs.  Even in the Midwest I think it's rare for a tornado to get a direct hit on a major city so it's no wonder this is such a compelling disaster story.  Fortunately most of the damage was structural and the loss of life was minimal.

At the moment all I know is I and Ashes are very lucky not to have been in the path of any of these tornadoes.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer Cricket Fever Dream

Summer has arrived in the northern hemisphere.  Well, it's close enough anyway.  After spending it's winter down in Australia it has finally returned to the top and has brought with it so many interesting things.  For one, cricket!

The weather up here is warming which means the cricket is back.  Sure the Cricket World Cup (#cwc11) was only a few months ago, and the IPL has been on for the last month.  It's back to the international stuff, though, and Test cricket!  Today I caught small bits of Sri Lanka vs England in Cardiff.  It was the second day of the test and Sri Lanka went all out for 400.  That's a pretty good score for an innings... I think.  Still learning y'see.  I love watching those white uniformed bastards battle for superiority, I really do. 

Also going on in the world of cricket is the IPL final.  This is harder for me to really sink my teeth into.  It's a more familiar form of sports for my American brain, city teams in a league.  So many years of soccer has, however, conditioned my brain for national teams so I don't mind that.  The IPL has been notoriously hard to find online.  Sure I can find match summaries and live updates, but unless I'm watching the game I have trouble following the league.  I managed to watch only two games, Kings XI vs Deccan and Mumbai vs Kerala.  I'm also not as informed about India as I am about, say, England or Japan.  That is another barrier to following the IPL.  All of the big name players compete in the league so there is a lot of excitement, certainly, but it didn't capture my interest this year.  I was too busy and the schedule is extremely tight, understandably, so I mostly passed on it this year.  Maybe next year I'll give it a chance, though that depends on so many different factors in my life. 

I'll try to catch the IPL final Madras... oops Chennai vs Bangalore.  There are some players that I'm familiar with on those teams.  MS Dhoni, Michael Hussey, Chris Gayle, Doug Bollinger, AB de Villiers, and Daniel Vettori. 

Ashes recieved a package from Cricket Australia in the mail the other day containing childrens cricket sets.  We had been expecting the delivery for a while but I guess the whole thing got stuck overseas for quite a while, to our frustration.  Luckily I arrived home from work last week to find a huge package sitting on the porch addressed to Ashes.  I had to resist the urge to open it until she finished work and then we busted it open.

Inside was a large duffel bag with the Milo in2cricket logo on the outside and stuffed full of cricket gear inside.  Six cricket bats, a dozen cricket balls, six sets of stumps and field markers were the contents.  We immediately took a bat a piece and went out into the yard for a quick hit around.  We didn't play long as the yard at the place we rent isn't meant for activity, but it was a lot of fun to finally have our own stuff.  Yes, it's meant for kids.  That won't stop me from enjoying the hell out of this stuff as much as any of the kids that will use it.  On a day that isn't raining (of which there have been few lately) she's going to bring the set into her preschool and play the game with the kids.  I'm sure there will be videos or photos to accompany the experience, so look forward to that as well.  For the moment I've rarely been without a cricket bat by my side over the last week.  It just feels good to have one around, like I'm not so out of touch with the cricketing world.

We haven't got any major travel plans this summer, unless some kind cricket organization wants to invite us to a game... which of course is highly unlikely.  So we'll just resort to the standard day trips this year.  We have got a cartload of new trip possibilities in our immediate area.  Since we moved down to Massachusetts last fall we haven't had a chance to explore much since winter was so extreme this year.  This means we have dozens of destinations in western Mass to visit.  There are also hundreds of places in a 2-3 hour radius to occupy us all summer.  Adventures await, and hopefully the accompanying articles!

I have a few more half completed posts about Sydney to finish, and after that I can move on to other stuff.  So look forward to even more gushing about Australia's finest city, as if you aren't already sick of hearing it.

Globally Ignored