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A Tribute to Laziness September 25, 2014

Filed under: Greek,Language Learning — acgheen @ 12:00 am
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I’m feeling a bit lazy today. It’s not that there isn’t plenty to do. As I write this, I’m looking forward to a summer of travel (some of it exotic, some of it less-than). I’ll have weeks in which I’m unable to write in anything aside from my journal, so there is a pressing need to get as far ahead as I can in the composition of blog posts.

There are Greek books lying open on my floor. They are gifts from a friend whose goal is to make me fluent in a matter of weeks. I admit to feeling that his trust in my abilities may be misplaced. At the same time, I can’t help wondering whether I’m bad with languages or if, like math, I’ve simply told myself that I am so many times that I believe it to be true. (I did, after all, have an “aha” moment during yesterday’s translation work. Given the limited time I’ve had available for my studies, I seem to be making reasonable progress.)

What I’d really like to do right now, however, is sit down with a book. I’m currently working my way through nearly three-dozen different tomes – one for each conceivable mood. At present, I’m steeped in a delightful volume designed to improve my memorization and story-telling skills. I admit that, despite this, I’m unlikely to ever rival the likes of Garrison Keillor or O. Henry. But one can dream.

There’s some needlework in the basement that might be worth my attention. Bits of unfinished Christmas gifts that desperately need my attention if they’re to be delivered on time. Some of the pieces are even starting to look like the pictures on the front of the packaging. I confess that the idea of sitting in front of the television and stitching away is a close second to the relatively lazy act of reading a good book.

In the kitchen, I can hear a cup of coffee calling. Decaf, perhaps? I’m not sure, but I am certain that my taste buds are tingling. The couch, too, is begging for my presence. There is a pillow on it that is lonely when my head is so far away. And outside, the sun is shining, the temperature just right. There’s a soft breeze in the trees and I can see the way the light shines through them, illuminating them in brilliant emerald hues.

There’s so much to do. And so much to “not do”. But as much as I’d like to write a tribute to my laziness, I can’t. I’m still sitting here at my laptop. The keys are still clicking as if my hands had a mind of their own. Another blog post is almost complete. Two more to go and I can stop for the day. But maybe I’ll run to the kitchen and make that cup of coffee first. After all, a little laziness never hurt anyone.

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Waxing Poetic September 18, 2014

Filed under: Automotive — acgheen @ 12:00 am
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Last night, a miracle happened. For the first time in two years, I washed my truck. I confess that I think about washing the little gray vehicle on a regular basis. Unfortunately, there is a distinct difference between thinking and doing. I promise myself that someday, when I have some time, I’ll get out there with a hose and sponge. But someday never comes. So with each gust of wind, my truck gets a little grayer. With each rain storm that “flame job” created by the rust streaks grows more vivid.

Truth be told, I will never have enough “free time”. While my schedule changes semi-regularly, it seems that just as soon as a block of several hours has opened up, they’re filled again. Work, school, family, recreation – all vie for my attention, creating a delightful tug-of-war between priorities and hobbies, a palpable tension between what I need to do and what I want to do.

I admit that I’m usually pretty good at maintaining the requisite balance. (Though there are a few who would argue that the line between work and hobbies is, in my case, rather a thin one.) In the case of housework, however… let’s just say that anything involving the removal of dust doesn’t top the charts. After all, dust is a recurring enemy and, after years of watching my mother’s perpetual battle against it, I have determined that any concerted effort to remove it is really just an exercise in futility.

So washing the little vehicle (which I once christened “Poetic”) gets pushed to the background. The “free time” fills up once more with new subjects to study, new opportunities to serve or volunteer, new friends, and new adventures. And the old truck that gets me there gets ignored.

Last night, however, all of that changed. Despite the wind and the heat, I gathered up my courage, a bottle of soap, and my shower shoes and headed not-so-gaily into the driveway.

I admit that I had hoped to find a good set of speakers to plug my iPod into. The idea of blasting Renee Fleming singing opera at about the same volume as the neighbor’s rock music seemed appealing. (If I have to listen to them, why shouldn’t they have to listen to me?) And it would have been a nice distraction as well. But there were none, so I plugged in some ear buds and set to work.

For an hour, I scrubbed each surface, working hard to remove the rust streaks and filth. (I discovered that my gray pickup is actually white!) I cleaned the interior and vacuumed the seats. And for a finishing touch, I applied a layer of protective wax. In theory, I believe that my actions will serve to prevent any damage to the rust which I was unable to remove. In reality, it justified the name of my little vehicle. Yes, for the first time in two years, I waxed “Poetic”.

 

Making it to the Big Leagues September 11, 2014

Filed under: Baseball,Sports — acgheen @ 12:00 am
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I’ve always enjoyed baseball. Not in a fanatical way, mind you… but probably more than most of my family or friends. Because I wasn’t a boy and couldn’t play in Little League, I ended up playing softball. I spent my early years in left field until I joined a team with a desperate need for a catcher.

It was a co-ed adventure in which the only two rules for participation were that you had to be at least 12 years old and you couldn’t be dead. I was the only one on the team who could get down and get back up again – so catcher became my position by default.

That was, of course until that one game when our short stop didn’t show. I don’t recall the reason for putting me in the field. What I do remember was that I proved to be quite good at the job. So from that point forward, they alternated me between the two positions.

Our town had a minor-league team which was, at the time, owned by the Atlanta Braves. I remember sitting at the games, eating giant red licorice whips and nachos drenched in cheese, wondering what it would be like to play professional ball. (Was it possible that someday a woman might make it to the big-leagues?)

It’s been years since I’ve played, but I do still occasionally attend a game. There’s something about the atmosphere of the ballpark that takes me right back to being eight years old, sitting beside my parents, one hand in my ball glove and the other grasping a gigantic Coke. I still delight in the semi-drunk guys who heckle the umpire and my heart leaps with the crack of the bat.

It was for this reason that I jumped at a recent opportunity to go to a game. This one, however, was a bit different. The Texas Rangers had offered our company some comp seats and, nose-bleed or not, I was on my way.

I’d never been to a big-league game before and it was a thrill to sit in the stands with 35,000 other people (half the number of people in my home town), most of whom had the sense to cheer for the Rangers. The requisite drunk guys sat five rows back from me, yelling at the umpire for a call which everyone (including those rooting for Detroit) could see was wrong and heckling a pitcher who seemed unusually paranoid about stolen bases. (This paranoia was not entirely unfounded.)

While it was obvious that I’m not a Texan myself (I removed my cowboy hat as soon as a light breeze began sweeping through the stands – an action necessary in a locale where light wind becomes a gale with little or no warning), I sang “Deep in the Heart of Texas” with the same gusto as my companions. And my heart swelled with joy as we stood for the 7th Inning Stretch.

In the end, Texas lost 8-6, but it really didn’t matter. I’d had a blast. I’d made it to the big-leagues. And it was everything I’d hoped it would be!

 

 

Taxes and Tires September 4, 2014

Filed under: Bicycling,Bicycling,Books — acgheen @ 12:00 am
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This wasn’t quite how I’d expected my day to go. Ideally, I’d have been outside in the cool of the morning, washing my bicycle. That my bicycle is better cared for than my pickup is a well-known fact. During the heat of summer, when gas prices skyrocket, those two wheels carry me nearly everywhere. I can ride from one side of the town to the other and back again without wincing. (It’s an odd reality given my lack of stamina with nearly every other form of exercise.) A 25 mile ride can take place quite by accident.

Instead, I was indoors, on the phone, trying to resolve what I’m considering dubbing “The Great Tax Saga of 2014”. I don’t usually have any difficulties with my taxes. I fill out the 1040 EZ and I’m done. This year, however, presented a few difficulties including a misunderstanding as to whether my employer was to pay the employer’s part of my taxes or I was. It took several 8 hour work days to get the situation sorted out, but I was set to go and mailed my return, payment enclosed, two full weeks before the deadline.

It wasn’t until later that I discovered there was another problem. While the IRS had signed for the return and processed my payment, they hadn’t processed the return, itself. After another hour and an half on the phone with two separate, but extremely helpful employees, it was determined that I needed to refile. (I still firmly hold to a belief formed in my days as a Staff Assistant to a U.S. Senator that the IRS is the easiest Federal agency to work with.) Still, it was lunch time now and my bike was still in the garage.

I ran off several photocopies and dashed off a letter with precise names and dates (just in case the IRS wanted to double check my story), and stuffed them in an envelope for later mailing. (I hadn’t sent anything to the IRS via registered mail in years, but was glad I had done so this year!) Back to my bike.

I’d spent a small portion of my morning (before discovering the tax problem) reading a copy of “The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance & Repair: For Road & Mountain Bikes” – a volume which I had determined to read cover-to-cover. Unlike my automotive endeavors, my interest in how my bicycle works is more than academic. I’ve ridden several thousand miles on this particular bike and, to date, the worst it’s done is drop a chain. I’d like that to be the worst that ever happens to my baby.

The morning’s topic was “suspension” and I was eager to discover what type of front-wheel suspension my bike possessed. (And to discover whether it needed adjustment… which I was sure it did if only because I wanted the experience of fiddling with the settings, myself.) But washing the bike was to come first.

It was nearly 80 degrees outside when I opened up the garage. I grabbed some de-greaser for my chain and derailleurs and a bit of polish for the frame. Then I turned on the hose and began the meticulous work of removing the grime from all those hard-to-reach places between the pedals and spokes. Yes, it was work. But I’ll take tires over taxes any day!

 

 

 
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