The workings of the human mind and our emotions never cease to amaze and baffle me, and this has never been more clear as I sit here on public transit choking back tears.
I realize now that I operate a certain way when it comes to loss and grief. When I was a teenager I lost my grandparents within a little over a year apart. Five years ago the man who was my example, my template, my hero and my father passed away without warning. In all of these cases I held my head high, got through what had to be done, and then a few months later some trigger finally is pulled inside of me and I have to actually deal with my grief. Today is the day where I finally realize that the empty seat at the dinner table of my life isn’t going to get filled again by my father-in-law Richard.
One of the sad parts about the human condition is our amazing capacity to take for granted that which is always around us and only being able to appreciate those things once we can’t take them for granted any more. Maybe this is the reason that my grieving process works the way it does. I have no idea. I just know that it’s my process and I have to own it.
I hold an incredible amount of love for my father-in-law because of the many great things he was. I was never in a branch of the armed forces, but he was a Marine. He had already served his country long before I met him but this man was a Marine, tried and true, to the very end. I believe he served two tours of duty in the Vietnam War, he saw sights that I hope never to see in my lifetime, yet through all of that he was proud to be a Marine. I admire the heck out of that, to have gone to Hell and back and to still have the level of conviction and pride that he had.
One of the greatest things in my life, my daughter, I might not have if it weren’t for this man and it all began with the simple nod of the head. My lovely wife and I had already depleted just about all of our resources in trying to become parents despite infertility. We had depleted savings and accumulated an incredible amount of debt trying to do something that so many people take for granted (there it is again, taking things for granted). In a phone call where my wife vented her frustration to her mom, fresh in the knowledge that to pursue adoption in the manner we wanted to it would cost us an amount equal to (if not greater) than we had already spent. I can only imagine the exchange that was going on at the other side of the phone, hundreds of miles away, where my mother-in-law may have had a look on her face that said, “Can we help?” The part I don’t have to imagine is the nod. She conveyed to us that Richard had looked at her and just gave a simple nod of yes. She may have not even had to give him a look, I don’t know, but that nod… that simple little act of moving ones head up and down in an affirmative manner… it changed my life. Everything that I am now, every decision that I make in life, all of it… stems from that simple nod. (Point of Clarification: I don’t mean to minimize my mother-in-law’s impact and contribution to this moment as well. I’m just attempting to emphasize how without a moment’s hesitation Richard did something so incredibly simple that was like a rock tossed into the middle of still water; the ripples of that impact still haven’t reached shore and continue their journey outward to this day).
Now that I’m a father I can also say that one of the things I miss most about Richard is just how much of an amazing grandparent that he was. My daughter didn’t just love him, she absolutely adored him. The moment she would walk through their door I would count down the moments until I would hear her yell, “GRANDPA!” because of how much she loved seeing him. I didn’t really have that type of relationship with my grandparents and I’m so thankful that my daughter has been able to.
I know that no matter what pain I’m going through in my grieving process it can’t possibly compare to what my daughter feels when I even try to contemplate the amount of complete and unconditional love she had for Richard, and that may be where part of my grieving is stemming from today because I can only imagine how it would have continued for her if he was there to see her driving a car for the first time, graduation, even possibly on her wedding day. Part of me is grieving for her loss as well.
I’ve got more inside me that I’m sure I want to say here in the digital realm as part of my coping process but I’ve got to stop. I’m a few short stops away from work and I’ve really got to pull myself together. So let me wind this up for now by simply saying something to my father-in-law. Richard, I miss you. I didn’t realize just how important you were to me when you were here and I’m sorry I didn’t ever get to tell you that. Thank you for everything that you helped bring in to my life. Thank you for taking me in as part of the family and for giving me all of these wonderful people in my life. Thank you for everything you did in your life to help protect the freedoms that I take for granted every day. Thank you for helping me to become a father. Thank you for being there. I love you.
I’m sure there are a hundreds of thousands of blogs being written about the exact thing I’m sitting down to write about today, and I don’t care. Marvel’s The Avengers blew me away and I want to share my thoughts with the world (if everyone in the world were to stop here and read my blog… hey, it could happen). Before I can talk about that, however, I have to step back to 2010.
I admit, for some reason, I had some concern when I heard the news from Comic Con 2010 that Joss Whedon would be writing and directing The Avengers. I don’t think it was because I didn’t think he could do it, I was actually concerned for him. I saw that there was going to be a lot of eyes looking at this film with a lot of studio execs expecting a gold mine. This man who so brilliantly has created so much that could entertain and emotionally manipulate me was doing so once again by getting a job. Weird right?
Today, nearly two years later, I was able to breath a sigh of relief because after what I saw tonight I know that he was able to deliver a final product that both the fans and the studio execs are doing back flips over. Within the first two minutes this movie starts delivering and doesn’t stop until after the final credit has rolled (yes I live for knowing who the gaffer is in films). Pay close attention to that if, for some reason, you haven’t heard to already. In the theater we went to they made an announcement to the room that the audience should stay all the way threw the credits, but only 1/64th of the audience actually listened. That’s why I think it is worth repeating here.
I don’t know why I had a moment of concern. Joss Whedon has proven time and time again that he respects the comic book realm, something that is easily exampled by his three part run with Astonishing Avengers. That entire run could be used as a textbook example of how easily Joss Whedon he can weave his gift for dialogue and delivery into comic characters and their world. After the 2010 announcement I even went back and re-read that series and THAT should have been the blinking green light that everything was going ahead in good hands. It is this Joss Whedon dialogue and those Joss Whedon moments that help fill the time between action sequences AND during.
It should come as no surprise that Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark being handed dialogue from Whedon gets to just devour every scene he is in like it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. This is a fine tribute to the Tony Stark character, who’s movie kick-started this Marvel grand-plan. We can all relate to Stark and Iron Man because he is everything we want to be (rich, brilliant, good-looking, suave) and everything that we are (people that have flaws and have to live with them). This isn’t to say that the other characters and their portrayals aren’t great and they are all given great dialogue. In the same way that we all remember our first Doctor I remember Iron Man. I can’t help it.
The biggest surprise for me in this movie is just how much the Hulk steals just about every scene that he is. I love that for the first time I wasn’t distracted by the Hulk’s appearance. Maybe it is because I can see more of Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner in the face of the green monster or maybe it is because technology has finally caught up with what it takes to make the character. The best part? Those Whedon moments even come through in the animated character that is the Hulk. Again, this movie just drips of pure genius.
Guys, this movie is also a perfect date movie. Between Stark, Captain America, Thor and Hawkeye there is more than enough eye candy for the ladies that they will be completely entertained even if they don’t really care for “Super Hero Movies.” I’m not saying it is the Spanish Fly of super hero movies but… wait, no, actually I am saying that.
Marvel’s The Avengers is the first movie in a while that is going to get me back into the movie theater once, twice if not thrice over. It’s not just a movie, it truly is a destination event that will rock the box office for a long time to come. As a comic book lover this makes my heart smile. As a Joss Whedon fan this makes me stand tall and proud. As a Spider-Man fan I really wish he wasn’t stuck over at Columbia Pictures so he could come play with the cool kids.
What do you know? Another case of blogus interruptus. It’s about time to correct that. What better way than to talk about cat crap coffee?
Last weekend I was sitting down and being thoroughly entertained by the products offered on the web site ThinkGeek.com. It holds so many things of wonder and finer geekery that I can get lost looking at things I have no business buying for hours on end.
During my last shopping session I saw the wonderful Laboratory Beaker Mug and that prompted me to do a search on all of their other coffee related offerings. While doing this search I saw that they offered a bag of Civet Coffee. This coffee, also known as Kopi Luwak, is considered to be the finest in the world because of its amazing flavor and lack of bitter aftertaste. The manufacture of it is unique so only a small amount is harvested each year. By the simple rules of supply and demand it is comes with an incredibly high price tag ($160 per lb. US). This is pretty amazing given the fact that it’s crapped out by a weasel like creature called the Asian Palm Civet.
If you haven’t heard of this coffee before than you haven’t watched the Science or Travel channel too much or you didn’t see the movie The Bucket List. Civet Coffee is in fact harvested from the scat of the Asian Palm Civet. It seems that this weasel like “cat” enjoys the coffee berries pulp and in eating those swallows the precious coffee bean held within. The digestive track clears the pulp from the bean, enzymes do their work and the beans pass through the rest of the natural digestive process and are left in the droppings of the civet. By this time I am sure you are having the exact same question I did when reading/hearing about this, “Who the hell was the first person to try this and why?!?” The answer is actually a simple one. Dutch coffee plantation owners wouldn’t let the native farmers harvest the product for their own use. They must have been pretty darn desperate to get themselves a taste of coffee after discovering the beans in the droppings of the civet. They cleaned them, roasted and ground them and discovered the most amazing coffee in the world. Naturally word got around to the plantation owners and they tried it too, having it become their favorite coffee as well.
Why am I sharing all of this with you? Because that single bag of coffee on ThinkGeek.com lead me down an Internet rabbit hole where I had to have an answer to who tried this coffee first and why. I’m all for a good cup of coffee but I don’t think I could ever get around where the product came from no matter how it was cleaned, germs killed in roasting, what have you. During my “research” however I made an amazing discovery that made this coffee, in a fashion, accessible to me in a manner that wasn’t cost prohibitive.
It turns out that science once again stepped in to find out the what and why of the amazing flavor of the civet coffee. Some men much smarter than I at the University of Florida studied the beans as only chemists can do and they synthesized a chemical method of producing a simulated civet coffee. By putting the beans through an acidic and enzyme wash the proteins are extracted and the beans modified in the same way as the Civet’s digestive system does without having to ever enter a mouth or pass through an anus. The best part? Because the process is chemical it can be done in much larger quantity so the price is more in line with regular coffee. Turns out a company called Coffee Primero licensed the process from the University and they sell their simulated civet coffee. Naturally I had to buy some to try it. What follows is my experience with this coffee.
Yesterday, while I was at work, the order of Magic Cat Coffee arrived. I wasn’t even home for five minutes before I opened the sealed bag to tag a smell of the beans. It should come as no surprise that they smelled like roasted coffee beans. The aroma wasn’t as pungent as some beans, but I think we’d all agree that to the common nose all roasted arabica coffee beans pretty much smell the same.
This morning I awoke early with the anticipation and excitement of a child on Christmas morning (I know, sad right? We’re just talking about coffee here). Having a 1.5 hour commute (minimum) I can’t really drink coffee first thing in the morning. I was going to have to wait until arriving at work to truly experience the supposed wonder at my fingertips. I did, however, have to grind the beans since I purchased whole beans and there is no grinder at my work.
I have ground plenty of coffee beans in my life time and typically they all smell the same to me. I don’t know if it is because I am caught in the simulated civet coffee spell but I swear on my favorite coffee mug that these beans, when ground, had an amazing aroma that I’ve never experienced before. It was with deep regret and longing that I had to take my freshly ground beans and seal them up in a package to be brewed later at work. Even when taking my MacBook Air out of my backpack to type these very words on BART the enticing aroma wafted out of the bag and into my heart.
After getting to work I have to admit that I took the brewing and consumption of this coffee to a ridiculous extreme. First I made sure to have my morning meal that I usually have at the office (because we all know that coffee tastes even better after you eat). I made sure to let the grounds “brew” in the French Press for at least five minutes. The most absurd thing I did was to eat an orange after my breakfast to cleanse my pallet to prepare for consuming my first cup of what is purported as an extraordinary coffee.
The first item I noted after I pressed and poured was that the aroma smelled like… coffee. It wasn’t a pungent odor however. It smelled good. The coffee was a nice brown, not too dark and not too dense. I let it sit in the cup for a moment to take in the aroma and allow the grounds to settle a little. Then, after taking a deep breath, I took my first sip.
As the coffee passed over my lip and onto my tongue I instantly wondered what I was in for. What is this going to taste like? Is it going to be an amazing experience? Did I just pay $15.99 for a pound of something that is going to taste just like Folger’s or a cup of joe from Denny’s? Why am I thinking so much about something as simple as a cup of coffee?
After getting past this nanosecond of panic I let myself actually taste the coffee. I drank it straight, black with no cream and no sugar. I never take coffee plain but in the interest of science I knew that this flavor had to be taken in pure. So after all of this build up, this hype, this anticipation I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it tasted like… coffee.
The flavor of the coffee was good, smooth and not bitter in any way. I think part of the draw of this coffee, if the Magic Cat coffee tastes anything like it’s overpriced counterpart, is that the coffee truly has no aftertaste. Not only does it not leave a bitter taste in your mouth it also seems to taste even more pleasant as more time passes after drinking it. I have to admit that it honestly is the best cup of coffee that I think I have ever tasted and it will make it hard to go back to any other kind of coffee.
There you have it folks. A ringing endorsement for Magic Cat Coffee from Coffee Primero. If you want to try civet coffee but can’t stomach the price tag than I have to say that this is probably a decent alternative (saying probably because I have not nor will I probably ever drink something that came from an animals ass). I only wish I had been able to drink it in my soon-to-be-delivered Laboratory Beaker Mug because this product of science deserved to be consumed from a container that respected its origins.
I’ve been so caught up with performing SIRvice I’ve neglected a far more important thing. My cousin is running a half-marathon in order to help the Tourette Syndrome Association raise money because my niece has TS. Here’s what my sister-in-law has to say:
Tourette Syndrome is no laughing matter!
Please sponsor my cousin who is running a half marathon on behalf of my daughter to raise money for the Tourette Syndrome Association!
As a teenager, I remember watching an episode of Maury Povich where they were showing kids doing bizarre things. Apparently they had this strange disorder called Tourette Syndrome. I’ve seen numerous characters portrayed on TV (remember Ally McBeal?), in movies and comedians, making fun of Tourette Syndrome. Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that one of MY children would be born with this nuerobiological disorder! But that’s exactly what happened! In December of 2001 in just a matter of weeks, my well adjusted, popular, happy go lucky 8 year old daughter started jerking her head repeatedly. It caused her so much pain yet she couldn’t stop doing it. Then she started uttering “sh!t” under breath over and over again. No amount of punishing or time outs would make her stop. When she started having explosive outbursts of anger we knew something was wrong. It took almost a year of waiting lists, appointments, a pediatrician, a psychologist and a neurologist to give us our answer we did NOT want to hear. My daughter has Tourette Syndrome. School became difficult for her. She lost friends. She was being bullied. she was in pain from the repeated use of muscles which werent designed to be used the way they were. She was depressed. She was having rage episodes. We couldn’t bring her with us in public as that just made things worse. When we did bring her places I usually came home in tears. Hurt by the way people, stared at her, mocked her, laughed at her. Adults, children, teenagers, the elderly, grandmothers, you name it, we’ve been bullied by them. We’ve even been discriminated against. She was asked to leave a tap class at a studio she had been dancing at for YEARS. They said a noise she was making was distracting (a noise that sounded like a hiccup was too distracting for a TAP class!!!???). We’ve had to leave movie theaters. We’ve even been verbally assaulted at Disneyland.
More important than these social issues, Tourette Syndrome HURTS. Katelynn has TMJ now from her jaw muscles being over used. She has headaches and eye strain from days when those muscles are over used. She has had back pain and neck pain.
Some days she has rage episodes. Many people with TS experience this. Following one of these episodes Katelynn experiences and extreme amount of guilt and slips into depression and doesn’t get out of bed!
Despite these challenges, Katelynn is a shining light for any one who knows her. She’s truly is an inspiration. She loves instantly and without judgment. She is the most steadfast and best friend anyone could have. She is selfless and funny and has a joy for life that is rarely seen.
My saving grace during those early years was the Tourette Syndrome Association. They were a light in a very dark tunnel. For FREE, they gave me very much needed support. They gave me the tools to navigate the SST process in the public schools so that we could get an 504 Plan for my daughter. They gave me resources on how to educate everyone we came across. they do in service sessions at schools for teachers and kids. They pointed me to doctors, gave me access to the newest research in drug therapies and treatments. The TSA gave me ways to talk to my daughter about Tourette Syndrome to help build her self esteem. They gave ME the knowledge I needed to educate even our very own doctors!
The TSA funds research to find a cause and cure for TS. They also do a fabulous job of raising awareness of what TS is. The recent shows you’ve seen on Oprah and HBO can all be attributed the TSA.
We very much want to give back! My cousin is training hard to run this half marathon. If you have it on your heart, please donate to this cause! If you cant donate at this time, that’s OK, but please spread the word and share the link below on all of your social networking sites!
I screwed up folks. I should have posted this A WHILE AGO. I didn’t. Right now, however, my cousin is in the home stretch of reaching her goal. Because of my neglect I wanted to make sure that on this day we push her over the top, reach the goal, and help the TSA as well as letting everyone no that Tourette Syndrome is not a joke.
If you can just donate one dollar it could make a difference.
Thank you for your time.
I just overcame a technological hurdle after changing web hosts. I’m glad I finally did because I haven’t been happy for along time with my last host because they royally sucked when it came to keeping my sites secure. Security aside the added benefit of my blogging software working again is the aforementioned hurdle that now allows me to once again sit on a train and type this into the net-o-sphere.
If you re-read that last paragraph you may notice at I said sites and not just site. I have more domain names than I know what to do with. I only wish I was able to support my family and provide them with the quality of life we’ve come to expect while being able to dedicate my working day to all of the ideas that I have for all of these domains. I want to create. I enjoy creating. I want my creations to entertain people. Is it wrong to want to do these things and make money at the same time? I’m sure many a struggling artist would tell me where to stick my wants but you need a destination to move forward to, don’t you?
I have a belief that it is an individuals sheer force of will that makes these types of desires become a reality. If you want it you have to struggle for it to show the universe that you’ve earned it, you deserve it, and you will care for it once you get it. This may be some holistic type of hippy bullshit thinking but it seems to have proven itself time and time again in my life. If you seem something happen over and over, if you see the pattern that keeps occurring, you would have to be pretty dense to not capitalize on it. I think I’m at the point where I need to capitalize on it, figure out my roadmap on how to do that, and take some action.
In a completely unrelated note from the stream of consciousness that comes from typing on a train I have to ask the masses why they have to have loud and obnoxious ringtones on their cellphones? I keep mine on vibrate out of respect to those around me. You don’t need what you are doing interrupted by the Super Mario Theme or Ozzy screaming “All aboard…” before the Crazy Train riff kicks in so I keep it quiet to be kind. Is this me being over-considerate or are others rude? Thoughts?
This train ride is just about up and I want to see what my buddy Trent is up to on his Less of Him adventure.