a cup of autumn

October one; cue brisk autumn breeze. Cooler weather puts me in a creative mood, and invariably with it comes a craving for my favorite hot drink.

Spiced Hot Apple Cider

  • 2Q – 1 Gal. apple cider (not juice).
  • 2 – 4 slices orange with rind (or just the rinds).
  • ~tsp whole clove
  • ~tsp whole allspice
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks.

Add all to crock-pot, heat on low for six hours (or longer), or on high for a few hours if you are short on time. Sometimes I put the cloves and allspice in a spice ball, but it seems to turn out best if I just let it float with the orange slices.

For the grown up version, try a touch of Cointreau or Triple sec to your mug when served.

ipod tracklist executive summary

What does your iPod song collection say about you?

While not all of my favorite music is on my iPod, with three and a half days worth of music on there, what is present does tell a story. Or many stories. Was the artist with the most songs or albums present also my favorite? What would my track list say about me if a casual acquaintance glanced at it?

When I listen to music most often and what I listen to forms a solid outline of my own biography, in a way – at least to me. Every hour behind a lawnmower since I owned headphones had a soundtrack, and every commute since I got my license. My playlist is like an audio scrapbook. Looking through my collection dates back to the first cassette tape I purchased with money from my first job more than twenty years ago (yikes! that long?). Iron Maiden: Lost Somewhere in Time. I recall being amused that the answer to a history class quiz question on “Alexander the Great” was accurately represented in an Iron Maiden song of the same name. How did Alexander solve the Gordian Knot to become the master of Asia? Yeah, he cut it.

When I stop and think about it, every period of my life had certain albums I might associate with it. Whether it was countless hours in front of my C64 playing a dungeon crawl game to “Alice in Chains”, classic Dungeons and Dragons with friends to “Metallica” and “Anthrax”, or the timelessly relevant tracks in “NIN: Pretty Hate Machine”, most of my music reminds me of something, someplace, or in a few cases; people.

Fast forward through the decades and while my music tastes broadened to include everything from classical movie soundtracks and Enya to System of A Down and Sepultura, the two artists I had more content from than any other were Metallica and Nine Inch Nails. The former, in sheer content. With everything present except their live tour boxed set, they beat out NIN by just a few songs, the latter whose track total included the forty-someodd short wordless instrumental outtakes on the double album “Ghosts I-IV”.

Metallica coming out on top wasn’t really surprising, although I wasn’t sure before I counted. Looking at the bands represented, few have been producing consistently good music for as long. I was first turned on to the band a few years after their debut in 83, but haven’t missed buying an album at release since. And yes, I actually buy my music despite the ease of downloading it free – something I am proud of, and not just because Metallica lead singer Hetfield took an unpopular stand against “Napster” and similar media sharing services.

Ever had your iTunes Genius playlist come back with something really, really weird? Could be my fault, but I doubt that I am the only one who thinks Enya’s “Celts” transitions well to “A Downward Spiral”.

Or maybe I am.

of telescopes and astrology

During a vendor-customer technical interview, my manager once introduced me as being an avid amateur astrologer.

Bless his heart, he knew I had a few telescopes and was even working to build my own large Dobsonian sidewalk telescope – right down to grinding out the mirror myself. While astronomers can tell us a lot about the past, in galactic terms, if you wanted a prediction about the future, your lotto numbers, or to know if the gal with the May birthday in apt 403 was compatible with you, you might have consulted an astrologer.

Without much hesitation, the customer manager asked if I could do a reading for his IT systems.

I happened across that memory while on an archeological dig under my house. The remnants of some ancient culture dating back to the mid nineties were in several boxes down there, along with my mostly finished telescope mirror.

With it I found piles and piles of art, articles I wrote for an EverQuest fan-site, a few semi-rare comic books, college papers, my paintball gun, the missing bits of my scuba gear (what I was looking for, score!), some collectible memorabilia from the launch of Ultima Online, and a baby pic of my oldest daughter and my childhood pet cat Maverick, the original orange man-eating king of many naps.

No, Astronomers may have a good idea about what could happen to the solar system in a few million years but they cannot predict the future. I can’t be sure where I’ll store my boxes next – I certainly could not have predicted where the boxes would go when I first packed them three houses ago.

With the ghosts loose, and a fresh reminder to get the irreplaceable properly stored in some sort of albums, I put the lid back on the boxes. The telescope project can wait for darker skies. My perspective checked, I was ready to start making predicitons.

This year, I am getting back in the water. Mask and Snorkel – check.

beach brain

When I close my eyes, I see waves.

I have a serious case of beach brain. What started as an idea, a tropical getaway, turned into a persistent motivation to leave all my electronics at home and flee to someplace where the lands end and water meet. The sensation borders on the spiritual – the compulsion tingles in all of my senses.

Every task at work eventually arrives at the same place: sand between my toes. Each keystroke just another step on the hot boardwalk. There is only one cure, and make no mistake – I am planning my escape.

Ever since my wife had her surfing lessons through wbsurfcamp last year, I have wanted to get on a board myself, at least once. The water is still very cool this spring, but as my dreams of a beach vacation and reality converge, I am certain the water will be just right when I get there.

Until then, time to set down another empty mug of coffee and get set to dig into another day at the office… right after I shoo the ethereal seagulls from my cube.

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