Hidden Treasures All Around Us

7f0ff37aecabc29a8fb5de4be5e459b8I tried preparing hand-kneaded hamburgers today for dinner and they came out great. At first, however, I struggled to get them the nice round shape you see hamburgers at say “In n Out” have. I imagined I might used a cookie cutter when lo and behold a box of cookie cutters that I had been ignoring since Christmas came in real handy! I found a perfectly round one about the size of a hamburger bun and knew these would be the real McCoy.

Junk_Fest_Teasers_052After I made the first one I  realized I could use some parchment paper (wax). Every morning when I make the kids their lunches I looked at this paper in a drawer of our kitchen but never had any use for it. I cut 6 slices out of is and used them to put under the patties. At this point I got the idea I wanted to share on the blog: You never notice some things until you need them. This can be said of people around us, landscapes, sunsets, and the like.

hamburgerBy a very simple twist of fate, I got a knock on my door from a man who was seeking discarded junk that might be worth something. He gathered some junk from my sideyard, including an old metal futon frame, and went away happy. This site right in with my topic! My hamburger experience today reminded me to accept that everything around me is there for a reason, even though I haven’t needed it yet.

Edge of Tomorrow

eot1I have to tell you about this movie, it’s a breath of fresh air in a 2014 Summer of mostly dull movies. This one flies above the rest. It’s concept is not unique but if you see this movie, you’ll be talking about it for days. It’s a bit like Groundhog day in concept. By that I mean, the same way Bill Murray’s character has to keep reliving the same day over and over again until he gets it right. In this case, the conflict is fighting aliens, and scary ones at that.

We see a funny Tom Cruise for a change. I recently saw “Oblivion” and absolutely loved it. ALL YOU NEED IS KILLHe was the rough and tough sci-fi action hero. In “Edge of Tomorrow” it’s a lot of that but with laugh-a-minute deadpan humor thrown into the mix. Much of this humor consists of Emily Blunt beating him to a pulp to train him day after repeated day: hence the title “Edge of Tomorrow.” I liked this movie for many reasons and therefore highly recommend it. I am going to try and avoid spoilers on this blog because I know a lot of people like to leave the movie a mystery as they watch it unfold. Suffice it to say, the critics of all the major movie sites are saying the same thing I am.

One final note: This is not playing at the Cinemarks in the High Desert where I live. This is a crime! If you want to see it, I recommend heading to an AMC or Regal down the hill. I saw it with my wife at Ontario Mills Mall. Below you’ll see those high scores I was telling you about. Have you seen this film yet? What are your thoughts?


Cross-posting Formula

cross-postingI’m a big fan of cross-posting. If you haven’t heard that term, it’s the process of sharing one post on one social media site with several other audiences at other social media sites. Usually this can be done with a few clicks. Each social media service has hooks built in to get your posts “cross-posted.” Unfortunately, some don’t render correctly. For example: Flickr for the iphone offers the ability to cross-post to Facebook but when you check the Facebook post, you find there is no title or associated description that you intended. For this reason, I dug in my heels, hunkered down and discovered what works for me. I share that below.

1. ALL SHARE TYPES: *Tumblr is fed via RSS to blog as private (Through the “Feedwordpress” plugin) – if wanted on blog must input feed, edit post and make public, (OPTIONAL) clear title, and adjust to desired format (only modifies on Home page).

2. STATUSES: status EMAIL to ifttt makes clean status on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. IFTTT is really cool. You can make if then recipes for many services.

3. PHOTOS: Instagram posts & renders correctly to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.
(Flickr posts to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr but renders without text.
SO use Instagram for PHOTOS instead.)

4. BLOG POSTS on WordPress: Manual share to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+.

5. TUMBLR REBLOGS: Reblog and manual send during process to Facebook and Twitter.

To close, Tumblr is a wonderful backbone for crossposting. Not only does it render a feed, it also has buttons hooked into reblogs and posts to send them to Facebook and Twitter. Tumblr renders correctly in these two sites. Make sure you have a good description that shows up in Twitter as images don’t always show in a feed. Do you have a great way to share content via cross-posting?

Hardest Job First, The Rest is Downhill

A few days ago I started the arduous task of getting algae from my pool. It is a common and difficult thing as any pool cleaner and/or owner will tell you. It sounds like an innocuous task but I have learned year after year that it takes hard work, time, and patience to do it. The filter is the biggest weapon. You can put all the chemicals you can buy into your pool and the algae may wane. Eventually however it will come back and usually when you are away on vacation or otherwise unable to offer a retaliatory strike. When you have algae, the filter needs to be cleaned or backwashed. This is the “fish gill” through which the water must pass. It can take 48-72 hours for all the water in a pool to pass through a filter but when it’s clean, boy howdy it really cleans the water. There are other tips I may get into at another time but the universal takeaway is this: Do the big jobs first when they pay the biggest dividend. You can see the top of my filter tank behind me in the photo. That is my biggest wrestling job when getting algae out of my pool.


gravity-largeMovies about space always freak me out but documentaries showing real footage are worse! Gravity looks like both. I watched a documentary of the Hubble telescope a few years back and the space walking really had me taken aback. Imaging weightlessness. Now imagine momentum that doesn’t stop! In other words, in space if you start twirling, there is no resistance so you keep going at that same velocity. Gravity makes us all too aware of this law of physics. It also takes us on a terrifying journey to the satellites, unencumbered by the title.

Sandra Bullock is mystifying. She is dedicated to her tasks in space and that keeps us hopeful she may get home. Still, we are reminded by George Clooney and her failed attempts that the ship cannot re-enter the atmosphere. Without giving spoilers, I will say this is a movie you cannot turn your eyes away from. I had the notion it might be boring when I saw the previews: no way man. Besides stellar effects like you have never seen, This is a thriller, adventure, and drama experience. What’s more, it’s all done with only two characters! I highly recommend this flick.

A Time I Stood Out in a Crowd

Damien S RileyI don’t suppose I stand out in a crowd much. I teach, therefore I am at the front presenting the whole day. Still, there’s a difference from the kind of attention you get when you’re teaching kids and when adults spontaneously notice you’re different, or outside the “norm.” One time I do remember when I stood out in a crowd was when I bought my yellow car, a Hyundai Veloster. The salesman was surprised I didn’t want to see any other colors. You see, I had made up my mind around a year earlier that I wanted a yellow car … the make and model were irrelevant.

14365828221_7387d179e5_zI was parked recently and a guy tapped on my window to compliment my car and ask me a few questions. He was “struck by the color.” I believe in getting up and going to work and doing a great job. I am not flashy with my car or any other material possessions. I even tell my kids they should avoid fame if at all possible. It all seems like a brutal trap. At 45 I did however choose to get this car and stand out in a crowd. It’s my way of saying I’m in the “game” they call life. I’ve paid my dues and now I’m in the second half of my book that is my life. I’m not out to impress but sometimes you want to stand out in a crowd, to remind yourself you’re alive. Is there a time you recall when you stood out in a crowd?

Remember the Milk Killed My Procrastination

logo2It’s safe to say we have way too much on our “to do” lists these days. From renewing a driver’s license to making a dental appointment, our lives are attacked by demands. I’ve been using online tools like Google Calendar and Remember the Milk for so many years I can’t remember life without them. I have no problem saying these tools are much more reliable than my own brain. That’s why I use them every day.

If my wife asks me to do something for her, I don’t procrastinate. I whip out my iphone or laptop and create a task with a reminder. Colleagues ten years ago would have thought this futuristic but to me it has become commonplace. Crucial commonplace. I don’t think I could survive without these services. If the internet ever goes down I will resort to writing my tasks down but paper and pencil will never buzz me 30 minutes before a task is due. Thanks to online tools, I don’t have to procrastinate my life. Best of all, I can go to sleep every night knowing I am covered and the many tasks ahead of me will get in touch when it’s time.

Relaxed Priorities

Damien S RileyDo you have a place you go to relax? Where you can find solutions to daily problems? In the Summer months, one of mine is the pool. Relaxation clarified a problem for me today. Let me explain: Some tiles are missing from our pool. Up until today, I thought fixing them would be a crippling cost or even impossible. As I walked through my pool seeking relaxation, as I do most every Summer day, I began to realize that only some needed replacement. The rest just needed an acid wash. Now I must admit my wife has told me this a dozen times but I was discouraged or stressed so I didn’t listen. Today, after relaxing and slowing down, I saw the possibilities and they were encouraging.

Have you ever lost your keys when you’re in a rush? You may have found that when you calmed down they just showed up! In a fight or flight state, the brain can’t relax. It’s focus is only to survive the heat of the moment. Give yourself a break and dedicate some relaxation time every day. If it’s a struggle at first, try once a week and build up. From personal experience, I can tell you it will improve every aspect of your life. The biggest improvement however will come in things like finding your keys and finding solutions to problems.

Planned Spontaneity on Date Night

14630918212_4ce42a7d9c_mI’ve never been one for scheduling spontaneous fun but since my wife and I started date nights every Thursday, I “get” how that works. We live in a generation of instant results. You can send data across the world with a click and of course, another example is fast food. What about the crock pot? It is easy to fill but takes hours to cook. The meat tastes tons better than quickly prepared food. Scheduling date night is like that. You have to wait for it to be good sometimes. My wife and I get excited on Thursday and it feels spontaneous because we’ve had so many good times on our weekly “date night.”

That Disconnected From my Phone Feeling

20140708-144903-53343880.jpgA phone means so much more in 2014 than it did in say 1994. Some of us are connected to our contacts all the time. Whether it’s touching base with a spouse or sharing a photo on Facebook, I never realized how connected I am until today when I had no service on my iphone. At Silverwood Lake there apparently is no cellular service. I had planned to crosspost photos and statuses of the day in “real time.” As it is, no such luck and I feel incomplete. Sure, I can do without the crossposting to social media, right?


Sunsational Pool

sunsationalMost people I know tell me they wish they had a pool. I have to inform them every time that it is a lot of work and expense and you don’t use it as much as you think. But today was “sunsational” out at the pool. I spent most the day restoring my wife’s computer and after dizziness took over, I jumped in the pool with my youngest daughter Julianna. We splashed around with the camera, ate snack pack puddings in the shallow end, and made general hilarity in the refreshing pool. Some parents might say their 7 year olds won’t do anything with them. As long as you count the cost, I recommend a pool. (flickr set)