Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Good Plan is Coming

The best news I've received in awhile is that my oldest brother's malignant melanoma, a large spot on his back, was removed entirely and won't require further treatment. The cancer had not spread; they got all of it. That's cause for celebration!

Otherwise, life's relatively bland at the moment. My weight loss continues, though the pace has slowed considerably. I'm hovering right at 200 pounds right now, fully 40+ less than I was when I started my deliberate efforts to rid myself of unneeded and unwanted and unappreciated weight. At my peak, I was over 252, maybe closer to 255 or even a touch higher. What madness to have allowed myself to have reached that point! It was very, very easy, though. I simply ate and drank without regard to how much of, or what sort of, an affect it might have on my body, let alone my mind.

Two hundred pounds for a short guy like me (about 5 feet eight or a shade under) is too much. I should weigh around 170 or so (maybe less). So I've quite a ways to go, but it's achievable. It will take longer to get there than it has taken to get here (I started this process just under four months ago; August 9, to be precise). I'm guessing my next 30 pounds will take a good six months, maybe more.

If I maintain my discipline, I may arrive at my target weight as early as June 1. Before then, I intend to begin exercising in some form or fashion. My walks have gone by the wayside, thanks in large part to my knees and in equally large part to my laziness. Add to that the fact that my wife doesn't want to join me out in the streets and I've allowed myself to have three reliable excuses. But, my wife is making loud noises about getting a treadmill that we can both use and I've been pricing treadmills. We could get one for $500 that would be a decent starter machine, but my guess is that I would outpace it fairly quickly. The next price point for decent machines that lack the gadgetry that would be nice but is not necessary is about $1000. That's a fucking lot of money! But, an expenditure of that magnitude probably would shame me into using the treadmill, as I would be quite upset to spent the money for naught.

Where I'll get the money is up in the air. I can't borrow it from retirement, as that's basically gone (I bought my vehicle with it...but I'm working on paying myself back and I am thinking about selling that vehicle and relying on the truck that belonged to my late sister). And we need to spend money on the money pit of a house we live in. But I really do need to devote some energy and resources to my health, which I've largely ignored for 57 years. We'll see.

My mind continues to be on how to rid myself of the business I'm in and get into something that is more appealing and, ideally, more lucrative. I've worked for 12 years at half of what I used to make on an annual basis, which has hurt our retirement nest egg plans quite alot. So, aside from wanting out of this worklife, I want to have some stream of revenue that could help make retirement at least a remote possibility. I don't have the need for, or respect for, money that I once did, but I'd rather have more of it than I have now and I need more for retirement. So, I keep daydreaming about what I can do. Next trick: use my newfound discipline to stop daydreaming and get to work on making something happen.

Enough. Enough for now. Ideas are rolling about loudly in my head; I have to let them have their fun and then I will act. And it will be good.

Friday, November 26, 2010


One of my brothers, the one closest in age to me, sent me an email today that was upsetting. He said, essentially, he wasn't interested in having a relationship with his siblings because he felt he was the odd one out and did not fit in with the rest of us.

He went on to suggest he felt we didn't want to talk about things he wanted to talk about and that we effectively dismissed him when he tried. His message suggested he was not blaming us (though he was), saying he had never enjoyed being around most people and had no friends, only acquaintenances.

I don't know whether to read the email as a plea for the rest of us to understand him and talk to him or whether, as I suspect, he just doesn't want to be around us. The interesting thing is that he and I had been exchanging emails over the last couple of days; I had invited him to drive up to join my wife and me for Thanksgiving dinner and then, when he said he got the message too late, for the day after (today) because there was still turkey left.

There's a long history to my brother's being unhappy with me and with his other siblings. He has felt inferior to the rest of us because he did not go to college. None of us have, to my knowledge, given him reason to feel that way, but he has anyway. And he has always been a deep, deep, deep Rush Limbaugh type of conservative, complete with the redneck attitudes. That has always contributed to whatever rancor there has been.

I believe my brother is very bright, but he also has a very, very short fuse (he has quit more jobs than I have ever even though of applying for...multipled tenfold). His short fuse has, no doubt, contributed to his quitting, getting fired, etc., but probably has contributed to his self-described lack of friends. He takes everything personally. If I complain that oil companies are getting rich on the backs of the masses, he takes personal offense. He can't seem to divorce political positions from personalities. While I also tend to gravitate toward people who share my attitudes and beliefs, I don't automatically loathe everyone who has a different perspective. I believe he does.

Over the years, I have tried to help my brother during his many, many periods of unemployment by lending him money, encouraging him to return to school or get training for another field, etc., etc., etc. Maybe that's come back to haunt me; maybe I shouldn't have offered my advice; maybe he took my advice as judgment that what he had been doing was wrong. I've stopped doing that; I cannot afford to help him rebuild his life every time he destroys it. But now he's living on disability (he cannot work because of his knees, among other maladies), so he doesn't even need my financial help (he could use it but he wouldn't take it if I offered).

I am not sure what, if anything, I should do to reconcile with him. In responding to his email, in which he effectively said we're all too set in our ways to change, I said:

Obviously, you're free to make your own decisions. If you choose to avoid your family, that's your choice. That having been said, you're welcome to be part of any family get-togethers, because you're part of the family.

As for subjects you try to introduce into conversation but are rejected, the only things I recall along those lines relate to politics. From my perspective, the reason is that any such conversations always degenerate into nasty arguments; I'm quite tired of that and have no interest in, nor willingness, letting it continue.

People change all the time, at every stage of life. I've been changing all along and continue to do it every day. If you want to change, you can; you simply have to decide to do it and muster the discipline to make it happen. You can't blame history for who you'll be tomorrow; only you, personally, can take responsibility for that.

If you want others to change, you'll need to get used to the fact that they will change only after they, not you, decide that's what they want or is what's best. Sometimes, if you want others to change, you have to start first.

I don't know if my response was the right one or not. I wish I knew.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I opened a rarely-used hall closet this evening and discovered a couple of shirts there to be taken to Goodwill. I don't know how they didn't end up with the last large batch of clothes my wife took in; they certainly were part of the last great purge of clothes that no longer fit, thanks to my relentless pursuit of obesity.

Inasmuch as I've lost quite alot of weight in recent months, I decided to see if they'd fit me again. And they do. So Goodwill will not get them, not just yet.

This incident made me think back to the time, only a few months ago, maybe two or three months before I began my weight reduction program, when I finally admitted I needed to get rid of a bunch of clothes. At the time I was irritated at myself for having allowed myself to gain so much weight that the shirts would no longer fit. But I was resigned to being forever larger than I had been. I agreed to give the shirts away because I thought it would have been pointless to hold on to them in the hope that I'd eventually get the discipline necessary to lose enough weight to fit back in them. That sense of failure and of the inevitability of just gaining more and more weight was very real. I remember it well.

I don't know just what prompted me, not long thereafter, to commit to losing weight. My resignation to my obesity had been so thorough and so complete; how did it change? I don't know. I'm glad it did. And I don't begrudge Goodwill and its clients the fact that they got some perfectly good shirts off of me.

Listen...The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

I've posted about this on my Facebook page. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.

Productive Time

I had a fence builder come out yesterday to bid on replacing my fence, which is quickly decaying into nothinginess, with a new one. For a brand-new board-on-board fence that's eight feet tall all the way around (stepped down from the high point at the house), they gave me a "discounted" price of $6600. If they were to use the old posts and weld onto them near the house, where it's now only six feet tall) and give me a side-by-side (instead of board-on-board), the price plunges to $4300.

If I were to build a eight-foot board-on-board fence myself, by my calculations I would spend roughly $2,600. Even if the fence company pays retail for materials, they're charging $4,000 for labor on the project. They tell me it will take three days, including one "dead" day in the middle to allow the new posts to set in concrete. So, we're talking 20 hours. Assuming a 3-man crew for two 10-hour days, that's 60 man-hours, I'll give them an extra 3 hours for getting a required City of Dallas building permit. So, 63 man-hours at $63.49 per hour. I'm betting they pay no on one the crew more than $25 per hour (and I'm being quite generous), so $38.49 per hour to the fence company owner to cover operations, insurance, equipment, trucks, office space, phones, profit, etc., etc. Not a bad gig! Maybe I'll start me a fence company!

The amazing thing about this is that I think this bid is going to be one of the low ones. I have someone coming out Tuesday to give me another bid...I hope he proves me wrong.

My problem with doing it myself is this: I don't have anyone to help me. I could hire someone on an hourly basis to come be my "helper," but thanks to the f#@%7ing government and its overboard attitude about protecting everyman from evil, corrupt businesses and individuals who are hell-bent to rip people off by refusing to pay Social Security, etc., etc., I'd either have to spend LOTS of time and money becoming an employer, filing paperwork with the government, etc., etc. or risk very big fines for paying someone "under the table." The government's claim that it's protecting people from abuse is horseshit. The government wants to feed its addiction to taxpayer money. I'd hazaard a guess that the guy I'd hire would MUCH prefer $18 per hour from me than $12 per hour plus my Social Security contributions on his behalf, plus my efforts "on his behalf" to withhold his taxes and pay them to the f#@%7ing government.

Don't get me wrong. I believe in taxes, I believe in protecting workers from employer abuse, and I think everyone ought to pay his or her fair share. I just don't for a minute think the government of the United States of America is structured to protect anyone but big business, politicians, and government employees. Enough of this for now; I don't want to start the day so pissed off.

Fence issues notwithstanding, I'm not sure I should be focusing on a fence at the moment. I still need to fix the shower pan in the master bath (and probably replace some framing for the shower itself, thanks to water getting through the broken shower pan to the framing) and get new tile in there. That should be done first. I don't have the skills to do that myself, so I'll have to pay someone. So, about the same time I'm getting another bid on the fence, I'll have a tile guy give me a bid on tearing out my shower and pan, fixing the underlying structure, and retiling the shower and putting in a tile floor in the bathroom. Aaarrrgghhhhhh! Money pit on steroids!

On to other things. The other day, on the way to work, I listened to an interview with Siddhartha Mukarjee, author of a book entitled, "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer." Mukarjee is assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and is practicing physician and a researcher at CU/NYU Presbyterian Hospital. He struck me as an exceptionally compassionate person, someone who really feels empathy for his patients who are battling cancer. I didn't hear enough of the interview to get a clear understanding of the premise or purpose of the book (but I can guess), but without even reading it I know I would recommend it. And I will read it, though perhaps not for awhile.

Well, it's 6:00 am and I've been up for well over an hour. Time to stop writing this crap that nobody will read and start doing something productive.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy Tractor

In connection with my fruitless fantasy about working on my own little place in the country, I subscribe to a free magazine called Acres. Acres is a marketing vehicle for New Holland Tractors, but is nonetheless interesting to me and I read, or at least skim, every issue. The current issue came just a couple of days ago and I got around to reading it this morning. As usual, I'm up early on this Saturday morning and I've made a pot of strong coffee and am ready to face the world. Sipping strong dark coffee and reading about "the lives of farm tractors" go together quite well; it's a natural thing.

The current issue of the magazine has a piece about the destruction and resurrection of a town called Greensburg, Kansas, which was literally destroyed...completely flattened...by a tornado in 2007. The little article, which just happens to mention that the current mayor helped the town recover with the help of his aging New Holland Boomer tractor, piqued my interest. So I did a little research.

Shortly after the town was destroyed by an F5 tornado, its leaders and many of its residents decided it would be rebuilt. The decision was made to rebuild as a "green" town. More on that at www.greensburggreentown.org. That decision has led to a town that has more LEED-certified buildings per capita than any other in the U.S., including a number of LEED platinum certified buildings.

The decisions by the townspeople to rebuild and to do it in a way that contributed to a more sustainable use of resources is inspirational and thought-provoking. While Greensburg is probably FAR too conservative, politically, for me to be happy there, I admire what they've done. It gives me hope, too, that even people who have an entirely different political perspective than I can share my viewpoint when it comes to our stewardship of rapidly-dwindling resources.

Now, if only I could go out and work the land with my tractor this morning, I'd be even happier.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Business for Fun and Profit

There are so many options available to someone who wants to start a business. It's almost overwhelming. Almost, hell. It is overwhelming.

For reasons that remain unclear to me, I've been thinking a lot lately about starting another business. Or, I should say, businesses. Here are some of the ideas that have crossed my mind:
  • Create and distribute prepared foods that respond to special diets, e.g., various levels/types of diabetes, low roughage diets, diets geared toward peopel in renal failure, etc., etc.
  • Related to the above, create cookbooks and meal plans, with grocery lists, to address the needs of people who need to stick to special medically-necessary diets.
  • Organize expos that bring together realtors, developers, sellers, and buyers of all kinds of properties so that buyers can learn about options, prices, neighborhoods, etc., etc. before they narrow their selections.
  • Small-scale "general contractor" services for people who don't want to pay for and don't need the expensive services of a general contractor for less involved projects.
  • Related to the one above, homeowner services that respond to a host of homeowner needs in a "one stop shop" way, e.g., lawn service, tree trimming, pest control, house-cleaning/maid services, window-cleaning, landscaping, pre-sale home staging, appliance-repair scheduling and oversight, etc.
  • Event-sponsor hotel liability reduction services (matchmaking services to provide "heads on beds" for event organizers who face attrition penalties for under-subscribed sleeping room blocks).
  • Non-dues revenue program development, roll-out, and marketing for associations.
  • Public relations firm that focuses exclusively on association clients.
  • Group buying services...representing groups of buyers who, collectively, could get lower prices than they can get individually.
  • Related, in a way to group buying, would be a group building discount service, i.e., identifying large numbers of individuals who are planning to build their own homes and working to get them quantity discounts on building materials, builder services, etc.
  • Continuing personal education programs...emulate (and improve on) companies like FunEd, etc.

I have a thousand other ideas. I just want to do something different, something that's intriguing and could generate sufficient revenue to make it worthwhile. I'd love a partner in this (these) endeavors. Anybody game?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Be all you can be...if you're young enough.

Spent time in a squad car yesterday. Hit speeds of 90+ MPH with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Stood just a couple of feet away as a cop yanked a .40 calibre gun out from a guy's waistband. Watched a driver get ticketed for driving without a valid license (he was sent home with two tickets as his friend drove the car away). Got in the middle of a screaming match between four screaming neighbors, all hurling insults and obscenities at one another, and listened to cops bet there would be bloodshed...but their hands were tied. Heard complaints that low pay and efforts to "take away our pension" could lead to a mass exodus of officers before too long.

Learned I'm too old...by 12 years(!)...to join the police reserves.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Pairs

Ever since I started my weight loss regime in early August, my sleep habits have been changing. Well, it may not be the weight loss regime; it may be the alcohol abstinence that's connected to the weight loss regime. At any rate, things have changed.

I seem to be back to my old ways of "early to bed, early to rise." While that was not unheard of before, it's much more common now. And, I have to say, I like it. There's something about getting up very early, being the sole current practitioner of "awakeness," that I find quite appealing. It's as if I own and control my little piece of the world. That's especially true on weekends. On weekdays I'm only up an hour or so before my wife gets up, whereas on weekends I might be up 2 or 3 hours earlier, perhaps even more.

The odd thing about this perspective is that being awake and alone early in the morning doesn't really have a uniqueness to it. When I'm here in my study in the evening and my wife is in our bedroom watching television or reading, there's not much difference in context than what I'm experiencing right now. In both cases, it's dark outside. At this hour of the morning (about 5:30), I don't hear much traffic, but then I don't hear a lot of traffic any time of day or night.. I suppose it is quieter now; there's no background television noise, I don't have my earbuds in, listening to music. I suppose I'm responding to my own inquiry; it's different, if only subtly so. It's those subtleties that I find highly appealing.

Now that I've wasted my time and your attention span on trivialities, I'll redirect my energy and your mind to other things.

Yesterday, while I was at the office (which was, unfortunately, a period of several hours), I took a break from work to get my mind clear and reduce the stress that had been building. (I should do that during the workweek; taking time to reduce the stress would make me happier, I think, and make the lives of those around me more pleasant.) Yesterday's stress-reliever involved finding and reading some wisdom from Buddhism. I've not read much of any religious text, at least not much that I have found particularly enlightening, until now, but reading from The Dhammapada (which, I gather, means 'aphorism') yesterday was different.

The Dhamapada is, according to Wikipedia, "a versified Buddhist scripture traditionally ascribed to the Buddha himself. It is one of the best-known texts from the Theravada canon." Wikipedia goes on to say "Theravada is literally, 'the Teaching of the Elders' or 'the Ancient Teaching', is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India. It is relatively conservative, and generally closest to early Buddhism, and for many centuries has been the predominant religion of Sri Lanka (about 70% of the population) and most of continental Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand)."

While I don't find what I've read of the text of The Dhammapada to be enlightening in the sense that I am filled with awe and wonder at reading it, I do find it quite thought-provoking and intellectually challenging in some ways.

I'm still reading and re-reading it, as something new comes to mind each time I spend time reviewing it. What appeals to me is not the reference to The Tempter or Nirvana or any relationship to implication about an afterlife, etc. What appeals to me is what seems to be its delivery of fundamental concepts of truth about the human condition. Unlike some of the few other "religious" texts I have read, it doesn't seem to depend on magic for its profundity. I'll leave this diatribe with this, some quotations from The Dhammapada:

1. The Pairs
Mind precedes its objects. They are mind-governed and mind-made. To speak or act with a defiled mind is to draw pain after oneself, like a wheel behind the feet of the animal drawing it.

Mind precedes its objects. They are mind-governed and mind-made. To speak or act with a peaceful mind, is to draw happiness after oneself, like an inseparable shadow.

I have been insulted! I have been hurt! I have been beaten! I have been robbed! Anger does not cease in those who harbour this sort of thought.

I have been insulted! I have been hurt! I have been beaten! I have been robbed! Anger ceases in those who do not harbour this sort of thought.

Occasions of hatred are certainly never settled by hatred. They are settled by freedom from hatred. This is the eternal law.

Others may not understand that we must practice self-control, but quarrelling dies away in those who understand this fact.

The Tempter masters the lazy and irresolute man who dwells on the attractive side of things, ungoverned in his senses, and unrestrained in his food, like the wind overcomes a rotten tree.

But the Tempter cannot master a man who dwells on the distasteful side of things, self- controlled in his senses, moderate in eating, resolute and full of faith, like the wind cannot move a mountain crag.

The man who wears the yellow-dyed robe but is not free from stains himself, without self- restraint and integrity, is unworthy of the robe.

But the man who has freed himself of stains and has found peace of mind in an upright life, possessing self-restraint and integrity, he is indeed worthy of the dyed robe.

To see the essence in the unessential and to see the essence as unessential means one can never get to the essence, wandering as one is in the road of wrong intentions.

But to see the essence in the essential and the unessential as the unessential it is means one does get to the essence, being on the road of right intentions.

In the same way that rain breaks into a house with a bad roof, desire breaks into the mind that has not been practising meditation.

While in the same way that rain cannot break into a well-roofed house, desire cannot break into a mind that has been practising meditation well.

Here and beyond he suffers. The wrong-doer suffers both ways. He suffers and is tormented to see his own depraved behaviour.

Here and beyond he is glad. The doer of good is glad both ways. He is glad and rejoices to see his own good deeds.

Here and beyond he is punished. The wrong-doer is punished both ways. He is punished by the thought, "I have done evil", and is even more punished when he comes to a bad state.

Here and beyond he rejoices. The doer of good rejoices both way. He rejoices at the thought, "I have done good", and rejoices even more when he comes to a happy state.

Even if he is fond of quoting appropriate texts, the thoughtless man who does not put them into practice himself is like cowherd counting other people's cows, not a partner in the Holy Life.

Even if he does not quote appropriate texts much, if he follows the principles of the Teaching by getting rid of greed, hatred and delusion, deep of insight and with a mind free from attachment, not clinging to anything in this world or the next - that man is a partner in the Holy Life.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Taking Control

Last night, as I was wandering through Facebook (not sure how one does that, but I did), I came across a very, very large number of people I used to know in a former worklife.

I was somewhat stunned to realize that there so many of them; literally several hundred people with whom I once interacted on a regular basis. (I came across them as Facebook friends when I stumbled across just a few people I once knew as members of an organization I once managed.)

While I was never best buddies with any of them, I was fairly close to a few and I sent those three of four people "Friend" requests from Facebook. This morning, I'm wondering if that was a good idea. When I left that organization, it was under unhappy conditions.

I had grown increasingly unhappy with its board of directors and had found the board, to which I reported, populated with not-so-bright people with big and unwarranted egos. Finally, my disdain for them was obvious and we went head-to-head and, of course, I lost. They were, after all, the board that controlled the organization. While I was the CEO, I was only an employee. They refused to renew my contract and asked me to leave. While I left on financially solid ground (they had to buy me out for the remainder of the calendar year, which had about 10 months left in it), I left with a bitterness that has never completely dissipated. So, that's why I wonder whether it was a good idea to reconnect and, consequently, reopen some pretty nasty feelings I have tried to leave buried.

Even though the people to whom I sent the friend requests were not on the board at the time (I would sooner eat hot coals than give any member of that board the time of day), they remain engaged and connected with those board members. So opening a connection to those people might open a connection I don't want to open.

When I left that organization, I learned that all the "friendships" I developed during my seven-plus years there were based on my position, not on myself. When I left, I felt as if all the people with whom I had been (for me) close simply switched off the power and switched it on again with a new relationship with a new person (my successors) who had some value to them. My confidence in human nature, which has never been terribly strong, was shaken to the core. Oh, I've always believed people are usually dependable and reliable when it comes to family and a few friends, but I've also believed that dependability and reliability ebbs quickly once outside that sphere. But I had been lulled into believing that sphere had been enlarged. And when I left that organization, the sphere collapsed as though it were a balloon that had been suddenly ripped open to have its supporting structure of air removed.

None of this is getting me anywhere, is it? I've opened the door and will just have to ensure it doesn't open too wide. I'm a believer in the principle that others don't control your emotions unless you let them. I also believe I tend to let them. I must take control of my own for awhle.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Itinerant Hobo For Sale or Rent

Looks like another client is about to pull the plug. I won't miss it. But I wonder if the business is rotting away beneath me. Except for the lack of money and health insurance, that wouldn't be a bad thing.

I have literally dozens of other businesses I'd like to start. But that's where it gets interesting. I don't think I want to run them. I just want to start them. I'm full of ideas. I just need the startup capital and someone to take over the business once I've got it up and running.

Or I could become a transient beggar.

Weighing all my capabilities against all the things I could do, I've come to the conclusion that itinerant hobo is what I'm most qualified to be.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


It's dark and it's chilly; my computer weather widget says it's 39 degrees outdoors. The clock says it is 5:19 am, but in the time before the clocks changed, that would be 4:19.

When I got up earlier, the clock read 4:52 am, but that was in the old configuration of time. In the new configuration of time, I would have been up since 3:52 am. That frightens me and makes me nervous and I'm shivering. But that...the shivering...may be due to the thermostat setting, which is intended to save energy and make a down comforter über-appealing.

I have my Powell's Books coffee mug at my side, filled with very dark, strong black coffee, which tends to make me feel like the world isn't such a bad place. I grind just enough beans to make six cups of coffee (by the coffee carafe's measure), which is only two and a half mugs' worth, if that. It's all I need most weekend days. On weekdays, I wait until I get to the office, where I drink criminally commercial coffee. It's only fitting to drink subpar swill at the office, I think. It fits the environment. One wouldn't have medium-rare leg of lamb with fresh asparagus and gargonzola-rich potatoes at Dairy Queen, right? And one wouldn't have coffee made from freshly-ground Lola Savannah ultra dark French roast beans, at least not often, in a dingy office that promises a day of paper-pushing and not much else. Lola Savannahh is a company in Houston that, I gather, imports coffee beans and roasts them. The stuff I drink is a blend, but I don't recall just what beans they use. I don't really care much; I just like the coffee.

We held a garage sale yesterday and got rid of lots of stuff...but not enough. We only made $179.40 from the sale, which ran from 7:30 to 3:00, which translates into $23.92 per hour, or $11.96 per hour each. And then, of course, there's the value of the stuff we sold. It was a success only to the extent that we got rid of some crap we didn't need cluttering up our house. And it prompted me to do a modest amount of clean-up in the garage, something I haven't done in more than a year. Sadly, the garage sale did not provide the funds required for an early and immediate retirement.

After the garage sale, we took a break and went for a long, aimless drive that took us from Carrollton to Garland and places in-between. Not a long drive, but interesting, nonetheless. We stopped for an early dinner at Vetoni, an Italian restaurant in old downtown Garland. I was surprised as how cheap it was, and it was actually quite good. I had linguine with red clam sauce and my favorite wife had chicken picatta; hers was especially good, with a wonderful lemony flavor. It was covered with an enormous number of capers, one of my favorite things in the world. I recommend the place only on the basis that we enjoyed it...and it was very quiet for our VERY early dinner around 5:30 pm.

I will not complain that it's too chilly for me to work outside (at least work COMFORTABLY outside) today. Chilly is not something to complain about. Chilly is a good thing. Chilly is the antithesis of stiflingly hot, the latter about which I have been known to complain.

Enough of this drivel. Back to my dwindling supply of dark, rich, strong, satisfying coffee!