Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Treats and Tricks

OK. Here's the deal. I got pictures. Adorable kidlet Halloween trick-or-treat pictures. That's the treat. The trick is to see 'em you gotta work through one of these blog "memes" forwarded to me by Beeb over at Moonbeam. Thanks, Beeb!

This thing is called the "Johnny's Gargantuan Rolling Meme of Doooommmmm". Um. Somebody's been playin' waaaaay to much "World of Warcraft", is what I think. Anyway, here's the "rules":

1) Read the meme that was dumped assigned to you. Answer the questions.
2) Add TWO new questions to the list. Answer those questions.
3) Dump Forward this onto the next victim blogger (and list their name and link to their blog).
4) This series will conclude when we get 50 questions - so yes, it’s 25 bloggers in the chain.
5) Please make sure that the next victim in the “link” doesn’t have a password protected blog.
[Optional 6] Update the links so people can follow along (this is similar to the method I used in the Why China series).
[Optional 7] When you see an update, down the chain, update your own page with the new questions and answers.
[Optional 8] Copy these micromanaging instructions into the top of your meme post.

1. What secret/surprising/personal goal (that is realistically achievable within the next 15 years) would you like to fulfill?
Hmmmm. The problem with questions like this at fifty is that you’ve either a) achieved said goal (for example, raising a child or children), or b) declared or stated/started working towards that goal, so it’s no longer secret or surprising, or c) gotten to the point where the goal is just not reasonably compassable – much as I may want to summit Mt. Hood my knees do not.

That said: to be elected to the Oregon State House of Representatives as the Democratic member for North Portland.
2. Can you list an event in which you made a last minute decision or guess that significantly changed the path of your life?
This is a hard question because you can play this sort of “what if..?” game forever. What if the New World horses hadn’t become extinct at the end of the Pleistocene? What if Katherine of Aragon had had a living son? What if Britney Spears had…never mind.

The only thing I can think of offhand occurred back in the spring of 1980. I was a young soldier trying to make it through Phase 1 of the U. S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). In retrospect it wasn’t really that difficult, but I was a complete cherry, right out of my basic training and AIT, and we were learning things like combat patrolling that really advanced infantryman skills. Anyway, late in the patrolling phase I was put in charge of the group of trainees and told to complete a very simple mission: move to a “patrol base”, hide and wait until morning. The move went fine, we got to the PB site and I set the guys in place. We were all very hungry and tired and I should have taken special efforts to ensure everyone stayed awake. I didn’t – I HAD to sleep. I turned the patrol over to my assistant, who fell asleep, the entire class fell asleep and were “attacked” and overrun. I failed my second graded patrol, was “recycled”, lost my motivation, dropped out of the course and ended up in the 82nd Airborne instead.

The thing is even with this there’s no way to know if I would have passed Phase 1, or passed the rest of the course, or managed to get on and stay on a team. But assuming all of these breaks fell the right way: I get into SF and stay in the Army for 20. I don’t go to the 82nd, don’t go to Panama, don’t get out in ’86, meet my first wife, move with her to Oregon, get divorced, marry Mojo, have the Peeper and adopt Little Missy. My entire life is different.

Maybe. Who knows? I hate questions like this because it assumes you can KNOW what would have happened if you went back and took a different path (see question 7, below).

3. What is one unrealistic goal (but your total secret dream) that you would love to come true, but are pretty sure it won’t ever happen?
I play in goal for Newcastle United during our league- and cup-winning Premiership season, culminating in the 1996 UEFA Champions League Final where I keep a clean sheet and am Man of the Match and voted European goalkeeper of the Year.

4. Who has had the most influence on your life and what did they teach you?
Several people, but primarily my father, who taught me to work hard, answer straight and keep my promises and my mother, who taught me to love unreservedly and to read ALL the signs along the road.
5. You are on a deserted island. You are stranded with someone from any point in time for 2 months (they are coming to rescue you but are busy right now). Other then family/friends/naval engineers, who is it?
Are we talking fantasy here? ‘Cause if we are, I’m taking Janeane Garofalo in a sarong. Or maybe Susan Hayward circa 1957.

6. Name and describe 3 things on your mind lately. Is there any particular reason why you’re thinking about a particular thing?
a. What the fuck is wrong with the American public? Can we really have American politicians, American leaders, who publicly say they don’t think there’s something wrong with Americans using torture invented by the Spanish Inquisition, and the American public isn’t coming to get them with rope, torch and pitchfork?
b. How the hell do you convince an eighteen-month-old to sleep through the night? (Why do YOU think I’m thinking about this?)
c. Is a public high school education as crap as it seems, and what the heck am I going to do when it comes time for OUR kids to go to high school?

7. If you could go back to one moment in time and change it, what would the moment be and what would you change it from and to?
This is the same sort of “what if” question we dealt with back in question #2. I’ve never killed a man, so that’s not an issue…and if I were to choose, say, the failure of my first marriage…well, what about the wife I love now, and our children? So, no. No changes. The past is past, and as any good sci-fi reader will tell you, you fuck with the past at your peril.

8. What is your biggest pet peeve and is there anything that you can do or not do to stop other people from doing it?
People who get into the passing lane and then putz along at 5 miles below the speed limit. Slower traffic keep right, numbnuts. Sure there’s something I could do, but the amount of time I’d spend in the Oregon State Correctional Institution for Men for using an RPG-7 on other Portland drivers makes the solution not worth the cost.

9. Who has been the most influential teacher in your life and why did he or she have such an impact on you? Have you sent them a note?
I’ve been blessed with an entire life full of undistinguished teachers. Perhaps the only instructors of worth I’ve ever had have been in grad school: Dr. Burns, Dr. Cummings and especially the late Dr. Marvin Beeson, all of Portland State University. Good professors all. But I’m in regular contact with Dr. Burns, Dr. Cummings isn’t really a “note” kind of person and it’s a little late to try and contact Dr. Beeson except perhaps through the Amazing Kreskin.

10. What three things do you regret not learning to do?
a. Ballroom dancing (not the silly competition kind, just regular tango-and-foxtrot kind to go dancing with my wife)
b. Speak Japanese
c. Draw at a professional level

11. What is your biggest fear?
Leaving the house without my pants on. Other than that, the usual: nuclear war, peak oil, pandemic influenza. Seriously, my biggest fear? For the lives and happiness of my wife and children, of course.

12. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My eating habits. God, I eat crap, and my girlish figure has suffered for it.

13. What is the answer to life, the universe, everything?

14. If you knew, beforehand, that the wait for your child from China would take this long and drastic a time frame, would you still go through with it or would you choose another country.
Over, done deal, got the kid. Now ask me if, had I known what would happen along the way, would I still have gone through with it? Mmmmmaybe. But maybe not.

15. What is one food that most people like that you do not like at all?
Christ, I eat and enjoy fried pork skins! The stuff I don’t like (beets, head cheese, raw turnips) most other sane people don’t like, either.

16. Name one place in the world you would love to spend at least one month visiting? Is there anywhere on earth that is so repulsive to you that there is no amount of money that could convince you to visit it?
a) I gotta pick one? OK – Hawaii, but thats gotta include at least Maui, the Big Island AND the waters between them.
b) downtown Detroit. It’s like Baghdad only with more firearms.

17. What book have you just finished reading and why did you pick it up? Would you recommend it to others?
The Sky People” by S.M. Stirling. Ehhhh…depends. It’s junk sci-fi, a 21st Century “John Carter of Mars”. Fun, fast read, disposable. You like? Read.
18. Share a relatively quick and easy recipe for Fall. One pot/dish recipes given extra credit.
Feijoada Completa Brazilian 140mins

225g/8oz Salt Pork, cut into 2.5cm/1-inch cubes
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 Onion, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
400g/14oz dried Black Beans, soaked overnight
450g/1lb Portuguese sausage (Linguiça)
225g/8oz Lean Smoked Ham Hock
Salt and Black Pepper
2 Bay Leaves
1 small Orange, washed and cut in half
960ml/32fl.oz. Water (approx)
450g/1lb Corned Beef, cut into 5cm/ 2-inch cubes
2 Oranges, peeled and sliced to garnish

1. Place the salt pork in a saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil and continue to boil for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan add the onion and garlic and sauté until light golden brown.
3. Drain the beans and salt pork and add to the onion mixture together with the sausage, ham hock, salt, black pepper, bay leaves, halved-orange and water.
4. Mix well, bring to simmering point then cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are tender, stirring from time to time and adding more water if necessary.
5. Add the corned beef, mix well and continue to cook for a further 1 hour, adding more water if necessary.
6. Serve hot with the sliced oranges and accompanied with rice and/or toasted manioc meal.

19. Would you rather be financially well off, but unhappy, or a happy person who is always in need of money?
One of Dickens’ characters says (I think its Mr. Micawber, but, whatever): “Income twenty pounds, expenses nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and sixpence, result; happiness. Expenditures, twenty pounds, sixpence, result; misery." One of the biggest loads of crap foisted on the world is the idea of “poor but happy”. Poverty – real poverty – is a grinding, daily misery of avoiding creditors, dodging eviction and scratching to find a way to survive until the end of the month.
So are we talking real poverty? Then, no, I’ll take the Donald, thanks.
But I’d be willing to go shy half a slug as long as I have my home and family around me. Come to think of it, I already have.

20. What is the most comforting sound in the world to you and why?
The sound of my children’s happy voices, and my wife’s contented silence. Why do you think?

21. What is your all time favorite book? If you aren’t a reader, what is your favorite movie? And why?
Too many to list, and for too many different reasons. You might as well ask if I have a favorite star in the sky. I will say that I have some popular authors I love that aren’t widely “popular”; I think Donald Barr was a great and underappreciated writer, and I really enjoy the work of Jack Hunter, Lois McMaster Bujold, Richard Adams, and Judith Merkle Riley. Pretty much everything of Carl Hiiasen’s makes me laugh my ass off. George McDonald Fraser has written some terrific stuff. I can’t honestly pick one book in particular from these writers. It’s the body of work that is so much fun.

Movie? Have to be either “Buckaroo Banzai across the Eighth Dimension” or “The Lady Eve”.
22. Share one of your most cherished childhood memories.
Can’t say that I can recall a particular moment. I remember stuff like the sound of cicadas and the smell of new-cut grass on a sunny Chicago summer day, Pennsylvania hills under a thick blanket of snow, the sound of dry leaves underfoot and the crisp chill of autumn under the elms of Glen Ellyn.

23. What are you paranoid about?
The usual kid stuff – injuries, illness to the littlies. Losing my job.

24. What trait of yours do you MOST hope your children will carry on?
My ‘saitiable curiousity.

25. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Comic books, especially the work of Richard Moore, Rod Espinosa and Frank Cho.

26. What would you buy if you had a thousand dollars to spend n yourself? The only catch is that it has to be a totally selfish purchase, just for you. No paying bills or buying a year’s supply of wet wipes.
A week birding the cloud forest of Costa Rica, or June in Churchill. A birding trip, basically.

27. Help me update my your favorite artists, and then your favorite song that they perform.
Benny Goodman “Swing, Swing, Swing”. Billie Holiday’s “God Bles The Chile’”. Of all people, Queen Latifah has an album of blues, jazz and pop with one song that’s getting airplay: “A Little Sugar for my Bowl” that kicks ass. Suzanne Vega rocks, though picking one song would be hard. “If You Were in my Movie” maybe? Or the title track from “Songs in Red and Gray”? Laura Love’s “Shum Ticky”, or pretty much anything off “Pangaea”. Tom Petty’s “Last Dance With Maryjane”? Joni Mitchell “Paprika Plains”, Barenaked Ladies “Light Up My Room” or “When You Dream”, The Eagles “Those Shoes” and “Life in the Fast Lane” (and Don Henley’s “Driving With You Eyes Closed”).

28. What is your favorite charity?
The Old Soldier’s Home in Dayton, Ohio

29. In The Shadow of the Wind, there is a beautiful passage that says “few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart.” Do you think this is true, and if so what is your “first” book and why.
No. I have no idea which book first “made it’s way into my heart” but it was probably a bit of popular junk fiction I read as a kid. That I have long since forgotten. I’ve read and enjoyed many different authors and genres, for many different pleasures. I love books and reading, but if you have one single book that has captured your heart it either means something to you for reasons other than its literary merit or you need to read more.

30. What is your favorite wilderness hike and why? (You knew I was going to ask this-if you aren’t a hiker, you can modify it to drive by landscapes or whatever speaks to you.)
Patrol route 3-5b up Wadi el Fortaga in the southeastern Sinai mountains. A little-visited spot of great and desolate beauty.

31. What were/are your nicknames? Do you like them?
Johnnie, as a child, not particularly like or dislike. A friend in college called me “Red”, which was OK – I had red hair at the time. In the service I was “Doc”, which I treasured.

32. What was your first concert? Your most recent?
Far too long ago to recall. Most recent was, I think, probably the Welsh choir that sang at the Portland Episcopal Cathedral last fall. Lovely fellas, really. Mojo hated it.

33. Have you ever done someone the dirty? I mean really, foully, badly wrong. And would you do it again, and why, or why not?
Yes: we abandoned a little brain-damaged girl in China to a life of want and hopelessness. And yes, I would, because I believed it was a choice of her needs and the health and life of our marriage and our family. But it could well have been pure selfishness. I've always believed that one of the most important things to know about yourself is the degree to which you can be a right bastard. I can. And have been. I'm not proud of it, but the evil and darkness is part of me as much as the good and kindness is. Helps keep me humble AND on the lookout for the times when I'm tempted by the Dark Side.

34. If you found out that the universe HAD been created, and you could ask the Creator one question, what would it be?
How could you create sunrises, Goya, painted buntings and chocolate malteds, and smallpox, Dick Cheney, peanut butter cereal and “From Justin To Kelly”?
35. What were your dreams as a child? Are you kidding? Do YOU remember what you were doing 45 years ago? C'mon...I can barely recall what I did last week. My parents tell me that I dreamed of rhinos. I do remember a recurring dream of running and hiding from some unseeable but terrifying thing.
36. What can you do better than most people? I have a head full of useless trivia, which I can recall almost at will. And I can classify soils.
37. What is your favorite bird and why? Two: the American crow and the common raven, for reasons I explain here.
38. When did you last go camping? Memorial Day, 2007. Read all about it.
39. Is there something that you feel you should love doing with your kids but you really don't enjoy at all? Not so much any specific thing, but my patience is much less limited than theirs for almost everything. Playing with the kids always reminds me of the old joke about playing catch with a dog: you will get tired of it looooong before the dog.
40. What home improvement project is next on your list? Finishing the basement for a third bedroom.
41. Which season is your favorite? Autumn; the early part where it's cool and sunny, the wild geese overhead are calling and the leaves are turning color. I've loved fall ever since I was a kid but those autumns were midwestern and northeastern - the crisp weather continued until snowfall. Late fall here is a nasty wet mess, and you can keep it.
42. MAC or PC? I know that I'm supposed to be all about how great Apple products are - and they are - but frankly, the incompatibility between them and PCs is a PITA. Apple made a monster boo-boo when they went after the schools and left the businesses to Microsoft and the Windows Mafia. I had to use a MAC when I taught high school and I was impressed but not THAT impressed. I have a Dell laptop at home and a tower at work. PC all the way, baby...
43. If you had to name the best thing about getting older, what would you say it is? The senior discount? I suppose it's something related to experience...but there's always the bargain expressed best as: s1 jeunesse savait, si viellesse pouvait.
44. If you were to name the most comforting thing for you to hold in your hands, what would it be and why? The warm, softly breathing little slumbering five-year old who should have been my first child, Bryn Rose, who died stillborn. Figure out the why.
45. What is the most surprising thing you've learned about the blog world (and you CAN'T say "I've made such great friends". We all have, so we know that already! lol...). The amount of good writing out there that isn't being published.
46. If you had to choose one actress to play you in a movie, who would it be? Kath Bates. She kinda looks like me, except for the beard thing.
47. What are you currently watching on TV... and don't give me the I'm a smarty pants, I only watch current event shows type answer... what's you guilty pleasure TV show? Currently? Go Diego Go "The Wolf Pup Rescue" for the fourthzillionth freaking time - yeah, welcome to parenthood. My "guilty pleasure' would have to be MXC except fucking Spike doesn't show it anymore - like the world needed more cage fighting, Spike? Jackass.
48. What is your favorite Holiday and Why? Whichever one gets me the most days off work. Seriously, I could care less about holidays - I have no religion and the civic holidays have lost their savor during the Bush Epoch. Sorry. Ugly, but there it is. If you forced me, maybe Thanksgiving, because I like turkey and stuffing.
49. What is your favorite scent and why? Don't have one. For sexy, give me chlorine on warm skin - dunno why but I suspect it has to with early pubescent lifeguard fantasies. For calm, ponderosa pine needles and the clean sage smell of the high desert. For excitement, the drift of harsh propellant smoke that makes me think of the thunder of the guns under my control and feeling like the God of War. For peace, warm cotton sheets and hot coffee on a crisp morning...
50.How did you meet your best friend? She walked into my old workplace and announced that she was the new permit specialist. It took a long time, and a very winding road, but, eventually...I married her.
That's all!
Next victim? I tag Millicent of Different Dirt - YOUR kid sleeps through the night so what are you wasting your time doing if not blog memes??!!
Where'd this thing come from?
Red Hot n' Rollin': Johnny(1,2) -> Our Journey to China (3,4)-> 3D’s Adoption Journey (5,6)->Waiting for Pumpkin (7,8)->Two Kayaks (9,10)->Watch Our Family Grow (11,12)-> Our Journey to Little Maple and Back (13,14)-> American Family (15,16)-> Chicago Mama (17,18)-> The Further Adventures of Spacemom (19,20)-> Mrs. Figby (21,22)-> Mortimer’s Mom (23,24)-> Mimiboo (25, 26) -> Sopapilla (27, 28)->Jiangli (29, 30)->Beeb (31,32)-> FD Chief (33,34) -> The Daily Grind (35, 36) -> Different Dirt (37, 38)-> Two Ladybugs (39, 40) ->Forks and Chopsticks (41, 42)->)-> The Mad Race for Macey (43,44)-> Digging a Hole to China (45,46)->The Sense in It All (47,48)-> Elena, r u? (49, 50)


walternatives said...

Oh, Chief, this truly was a pleasure to read. I'd happily vote for you. I'm in complete agreement to your answers on number 2; hate those "what if" questions, though your answer (including New World horses & Katherine of Aragon!) made me snicker as well as gave me insight into YOU. All of it did, actually, and I'm grateful that you participated. I treasure and admire you Even More after reading through all this. I'm glad you played along and, with a p/w protected blog, glad I won't be. The pics are adorable - Mojo looks so happy in #4. Let's hope Millicent takes the bait - that will be entertaining, yes? One last thing - it's never too late for dancing lessons. X's from Texas.

atomic mama said...

One of my fave candy bars when I was growing up in England was the United bar. It had blue and white striped packaging and was a delicious chocolate covered biscuit with little crispy bits and was actually affiliated with the league. I don't think they make it anymore...

Well done. Oh, and I'd take Janeane, too.

lisa said...

Glen Ellyn, eh-seems we were neighbors once upon a time ; ) Thanks for sharing your perspective, and all the fabulously cute pictures! And walternatives is right on two counts-I was going to lob this meme her way but was defeated by her protected status (though I did wonder if it counted, since she is only protecting posts?), and it is never too late to dance, just have to watch out for the ballroom crazies in the studios. ~lmc, who loves to foxtrot

wzgirl said...

That was pretty smart to put the pics throughout the text. Lil' Miss seems to be holding her own & makes such a cute ladybug. I wonder how Peeper felt abou ther wearing it (just remembering his "buff" bug pic)?

Have you ever seen a painted bunting? Thanks for the link - they are so beautiful.