Author Archives: Ericles

About Ericles

Born in the wild lands of Pennsylvania post WWII, Eric managed to survive by eating mostly tomato sauce covered simple carbohydrates. He eventually moved to New Jersey to join with the Shor'ites in their constant war with the Bennies. He now lives with his wife, daughter and cats in a small cave somewhere in Cliffwood Beach subsisting on dew that he can lick off of the grass and tomato sauce covered simple carbohydrates.

Just some High-Handing, Grand-Standing, Ban-Planning Fire Fanning Brain Dripping

Back in the early 1990s I used “biodegradable trash-bags” as my science fair project. They haven’t caught on because IT DOESN’T MATTER in the slightest. I might generate a few pounds of plastic bag trash every year while the farmers use hundreds of millions of pounds of “plastic mulch” in the same time. My contribution isn’t even two tears in a bucket.

But don’t worry, New Jersey will save the world by just doing whatever New York does. Our governor is like the little dog dancing around the big bull dog in the old cartoons. “Hey Spike! What are we gunna ban next Spike? Come on Spike, let’s ban something! Heya Spike! Wanna get high, Spike?” It’s been a while since I’ve posted because I’ve been collecting data. It turns out the ban on Plastic Bag only extends to the people and stores where it is most likely to annoy us instead of actually achieving anything useful. Are you feeling like you’ve made a sacrifice? That’s will assuage your guilt from living an otherwise wasteful lifestyle! Don’t feel bad. You’re American. You really have no choice.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted because I’ve been collecting data. I’m not going to spew a bunch of internet-researched fake news numbers supporting anything in particular. I’ll just point out a few things and you can do the math.

  1. Since the ban started to get real this past Spring the family has been given about 2 dozen tote-style bags to replace the single-use-plastic-bags. The majority of them are made of plastic.
  2. 8 out of 11 stores we have shopped in (that are not labeled “grocery stores”) have given me plastic bags in which to ferry my stuff home.
  3. Some cats share our living space. They make the poops so our “grocery bags” were never single use. We’ve now had to buy bags in which to put the poops. The new bags are made of corn and will decompose if the humidity gets above 80% but the manufacture and distribution isn’t carbon neutral like the bags already in our home were.
  4. Here’s the best part: I estimate that the groceries coming into our house would have used 28 bags. We’ve used none since the ban! Yay! I can upgrade my car engine to have a fourth cylinder without guilt now! Oh, but wait. The groceries themselves contained 97 single use plastic bags. Plastic bags in the cereal box. Plastic bags to hold the fresh veggies. The sugar. The apples. The tissues. The meat. The bread. Hot Pockets individually wrapped? Like anyone eats just one at a time! Oh, and this number could be a LOT higher if I counted the little things. Each. Kashi. Bar. Is. Individually. Wrapped. With. A. Small. Plastic. Bag.

So, for all the hubbub, the “ban” hasn’t done much good. Sure did annoy some people though so that brings the magic of Awareness into the equation which is then touted as winning. Of course, we’ve always been aware we just don’t care. No, that’s too strong. We just don’t have time to care what with dodging the potholes while driving our kids to school in the morning because of the bus-driver shortage, trying to find a vaccine that actually works so we can visit Grandpa in the veteran’s hospital, and getting a building permit so we can build a pantry to hold all of our new bags. The point is, these little plastic crimes against nature are and have always been recyclable. You can bring them right back to the store you got them and, if you dig around under some old boxes, you’ll possibly find an empty “plastic film recycling” receptacle covered in dust and mouse droppings. Making these more prominent and accessible would have been easier than a high and heavy handed ban that required a big media campaign. Ah, but I forget… the point isn’t making a difference. The point is making a big media campaign. Paid for by our taxes. Damnit, the Murph just wrote himself a campaign check and we happily endorsed it.

Let’s pretend for a moment that we care to make a difference, why not? We’ve already hit the first “R” of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra. Here’s a no-grand-standing, no ban-planning, no political fire-fanning approach to making a difference:

  1. Reuse: Compress those bags into flat strips and use them for insulation in our homes. Energy efficiency will play as big a part as deplastification in the future.
  2. Recycle the bags we have. Seems a forgotten no-brainer. They were always crappy (even before my cats got at them) so they’re not good as double-use-bags anyway.
  3. Ask stores to start giving out biodegradable bags, if they must, like the brown paper bags that were, counter-productively, also banned by this law.
  4. Forget all that nonsense because the VAST majority of plastic waste is NOT the bags.
  5. Start asking local companies to go back to wax paper, cardboard, cloth, tin or glass for their packaging. Then ask harder. When they stop donating to your political campaigns, out them publicly. Reward those that willingly comply.
  6. Fix the recycling programs that no longer actively recycle cardboard, tin or glass.

There, wasn’t that easy? It shouldn’t take more than 50 years but by then it will be a problem for our grand children and they are bound to be smarter than us. Hopefully they were not crippled by anxiety after being told daily that everyone is out to get them, everything is dangerous and everything they do is harming the world. Hmmm. I think we need an addition to the above list.

7. Get off your high-horse, stop feeding us a line of horseshit that the world is ending and go back to using horseshit to get around, feed our fields and fuel our fires. The world has been around for 4.5 billion years and will be here long after we’re gone. Enjoy it while you’re here, do no harm, and don’t put anyone on a pedestal who wouldn’t gladly pull you up to join them. Oh, and don’t forget your damn tote-bag in the car.

Clyde North Carolina Trip 2022 News

Over Allison’s Spring Break we took a family trip down to the Asheville area to visit Aunt Claire, Aunt Glady and Cousin Xavier. We had a good visit and saw a lot of wild hills and scenic nature. Good times were had by all! Go ahead and click an image to see a larger version. I dares ya!

We arrived on Tuesday and met the family then Heather and I took a walk around the small town of Waynesville while the kids played at the house. On Wednesday we worked around the house a bit then enjoyed a trip to Lake Junaluska at dusk. Thursday was the day of adventure as we took a hundred mile tour through the Smokies checking out waterfalls and scenic vistas, getting in a few short hikes and finding caches in 4 different counties along the incredible Blue Ridge Parkway. On Friday we all piled into the mini-van and headed to Waterrock Knob & Cherokee where we, eventually, were able to track down some of the herd of elk that wonder through the town. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the warm weather at the tail end of the day in a park that is just rocks in a stream. Simple beauty!

Many thanks to Claire and Glady for hosting and acting as tour guides. It was a wonderful week!

Spring forward… to a bright new future! Brain Dripping

It’s March! Spring Forward for Daylight Savings! For most of my adult life I have disliked the twice-annual time-change. It screws with my sleep patterns, gets the US out of sync with the rest of the world, messes up the daughter’s bedtime and has occasionally caused me to be up in the middle of the night making sure computer scheduled jobs didn’t run twice or not at all. Whether springing forward or falling backward, I’ve never been a fan. I won’t lie, I did rejoice when Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 extending Daylight Savings by a few weeks. I do enjoy the daylight in the evenings since I’m really not a morning person… but it’s such a pain to keep switching. And changing the clocks. About 12 years ago I spent a lot of time and money researching and purchasing clocks that would keep themselves in sync and automatically adjust to daylight savings changes. They never worked right. Invariably, right after I would manually adjust all of the clocks in the house, the power company would blink the power on/off and make me do it all over again. Watching the stove, oven and microwave all blinking 00:00 at me I determined that I would be OK with perpetual Daylight Standard. Imagine a world where there were fewer pitch-dark mornings and we could set off the summer fireworks BEFORE the kids bed time!

But… what if the U.S. of A. could say “screw you” to the rest of the world, leap forward an hour… and stay that way? A federal bill, possibly inspired by NJ’s own bill from 2019, is moving through Congress to make it so. A billion patches to phone/computer/scheduling software is a small price to pay and we have done it before. Twice! From 1942 through 1945 the U.S. was in perpetual daylight saving “War Time”. We instituted it again in the 70s during the “energy crisis”. Unfortunately, in winter with the clocks forward an hour, the sun will not be fully risen until after 8. Any morning commute – including kids waiting at the bus stop or walking to school – will be in the dark until 7:45 or so. It eventually was a rash of pre-dawn car accidents involving children that ended the 1970s experiment after only 2 years. Maybe we saved some energy but the price was high.

That was then and this is now. While the energy we use is greener than it was in the 70s, our average usage has more than doubled. It’s not really about the energy savings anyway. When it gets dark we don’t turn off the A/C, stop microwaving burritos or unplug our phones (and cars if trends persist). Nobody really believes this is about energy savings. We just like getting home from work before it is dark out. The morning issue is real but fortunately we also have a lot more crossing guards and school buses (not to mention hyper-protective parents and school districts) than we did 50 years ago. During parts of the school year, my middle-school aged daughter will have to leave the house before it is light out to get to school on time. I’ll have the same issue getting to work on days I actually go into the office. But that’s really only for December and January. In the summer, it will be as though nothing has changed! It will be light from around 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Hooray for the long days! The rest of the daylight-savings countries will be in sync with us and all will be well with the modern world. Crank up the A/C, grab a cold one from the fridge, a hot one from the nukerowave and Let There Be Light!

It will be interesting to see if this passes and if other countries follow suit but I just hope something comes of it. Whether the country goes for forever standard or perpetual savings, I’m all for it. Just leave my clock alone!

Family Biking and Binge Watching during a Pandemic DaughterHealth/FitnessNews

I promised in a previous entry that I’d talk about what we did during The 2020 Pandemic. At least I thought I did. Regardless, I’m doing so now even if you were not forewarned!

I guess the best thing that came out of the spring of 2020 was Allison finally getting comfortable on her bike. For most of the summer she enjoyed just riding up and down our street learning how to hit the bumps and how fast she could go before her little bike would start to wobble. Of course we had to go on some bike ride adventures too – including hunting down the Easter Bunny who was riding around our neighborhood on the back of a firetruck. In the past year Allison little bike has been upgraded to a “big girl” bike but still prefers her original. 

But there are days that are cold, lazy. dark or wet. Sometimes all four. Bicycles are not appropriate. You need to kill some time during lockdown?  Forget a measly 8 seasons of Game of Thrones.  Try binge-watching 706+ episodes of The Simpsons! It took a year and a half watching an episode or two or four a day but we made it through all 32 seasons available at the time. Not all of them are available on DVD so we had to pick up a subscription to Disney+ for a few months to finish it off. 

Along the way Allison was introduced to hundreds of cultural references. Often I would stop the show and google up some explanations, maps, videos or movie clips. Off the top of my head, The World Trade Towers, the World Wars, The Flintstones, Tom & Jerry, various world religions, Busch Gardens, Orson Wells, Lassie, 2001: A Space Odyssey (Daisy, daisy…), Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Star Wars, Rain Man, Planet of the Apes (Rock Me Dr. Zaius!). So many movies and songs! Watching episodes of The Simpsons directly led us to then watching Gremlins, The Nutty Professor, Mary Poppins and Kindergarten Cop. Homer’s love of the song Funkytown led to Allison rediscovering her love of the Lipps Inc’s one-hit-wonder. 

While the show does excel at low-brow humor, we did occasionally raise our brows with discussion of some of the many literary references in the show. Ayn Rand, Goodnight Moon (read by Christopher Walken no less), Harry Potter, Charlotte’s Web, Robert Frost, Kurt Vonnegut. The last was accidentally timed perfectly as I just happened to be listening to “Slaughterhouse 5” at the time it came up. Allison listened in for a while before deciding the poetic prose wasn’t her style. 

Probably the most interesting part of (re)watching the shows for me was picking out the voice actors and guest stars… or just Frank Welker’s animal noises. We enjoyed watching clips of the actors doing their various voices and impersonators doing what they do… often poorly. My voice is naturally closest to Hank Azaria’s so I can impersonate the characters that he voices… often poorly, but good enough that Allison would recognize Comic Book Guy or Professor Frink if they showed up in one of her bedtime stories. I enjoyed cross referencing guest stars with other movies/shows she might recognize them. She enjoyed when I’d be quiet and let her watch the funny cartoons. 🙂 

Two dozen seasons in Allison started to lose interest. I hadn’t seen any of the episodes after season 23 when we dropped cable TV so, while I still enjoyed the episodes, they were clearly not the classics that held up to the test of time. We both agreed that Season 29 should have been final season – and in fact I believe the writers set it up to be. It features flash backs to classic episodes and characters from the early years – all the way back to The Simpsons first appearances Tracey Ullman show. The last episode of the season shows how several of the characters meet their final end including many subtle references to the glimpses we’ve had into how the family would grow up and grow old. Bart dies wearing his Supreme Court Justice robes (Season 4 Ep 6). Marge does eventually marry Ned (Season 4 Ep  2, Season 15 Ep 10 & Season 21 Ep 5). Lisa is still pursuing Buddhist enlightenment (Season 13 Ep 6). 

Season 4
Season 29

It’s not the best episode but it felt like reminiscing back to the golden age of the series. My favorite scene featured all of the “dead” characters – including Sherry Bobbins and Bleeding Gums Murphy. No Frank Grimes though. Now that I’ve watched the next 3 seasons I can really see the change. Season 29 was the last season under Fox’s creative control, still had the original voices for characters and still featured fan favorite Apu. It would have been a fine time for the series to fade to black. I wouldn’t mourn the loss but I will treasure the memories – from my own childhood and those I’ve made with my family.

Next up… Futurama!

RIP Titus – 2007 to 2022 News

Last week we had to say goodbye to Titus. We rescued him and his sister from a semi-feral litter when he was just a kitten. Heather named him Titus the Tiny Titan and the little guy did his best to grow and earn that title.

He eventually grew to be a long tall cat tipping the scales at 26 pounds despite being on a “Diet”. Over the years he took his dwindling food rations and then eventually insulin with characteristic nonchalance. He was a big goof-ball but nobody warmed a lap better. He was a beast to his sister but also a protective older brother. When young Allison entered the picture he shared his favorite warm spots with her.

He had a strange fascination with our slippers ever since he was small. Usually Allison’s towards the end. In the middle of the night he would start an unusual howling cry and then grab a slipper in his mouth and carry it downstairs where he would lay on it. Allison would wake up the next morning and, finding only one slipper, have to go find it in the basement.

His last few years we had his weight under control but cancer is not so easily controlled. Towards the end he had a lot of pain but he continued to eat and enjoyed his nightly lap rituals. We did what we could to make him comfortable and the last thing he did on this earth was purr. Farewell Mr. T. You’ll be missed!

Pain in the Brain 2021 (Now with Politics!) News

I’ve been overdue for a cluster cycle for a few years now so every Spring I’ve been mindful of avoiding triggers. Stress and sleep issues are #1 and #1 again in the short list. The stress of 2020 apparently wasn’t enough or maybe social distancing during the onset months of April and May made a change? I can’t say. Well, I could say but it wouldn’t be backed up with scientific proof. Then again, the burden of proof doesn’t seem to even be a passing distraction for the bulk of the suddenly-an-expert-on-virology Interneteurs out there. But I digress… we were talking headaches here. Know what else is a headache? Wearing a mask that inhibits normal oxygen intake. Instant. Eyegraine. Brainpain. When forced into a desperado mask situation I found that full-lung meditative Darth-Vader breathing helped a lot. It also made sure nobody invaded my 6-foot bubble. Especially when combined with tantric eye-contact. But now I’ve trigressed. better start a new paragraph and pretend this one didn’t happen.

So, yeah. in April of 2021 I started getting the all-too familiar aura just as I was beginning my day. A few weeks later the aura was sometimes coming with sensitivity and mild nausea. The pain aspect finally kicked in near the end of May. The periods slowly shifted from morning to afternoon to evening – a vast departure from my old “10:00 to 10:30 every day” routine. Through June I was experiencing some form of headache 3 or 4 times a week, usually in the evenings. I had my last full-blown episode on July 10th and a few minor issues over the next few weeks and then nothing since. With the 2016 cluster cycle persisting into October I’m rapturously ecstatic at having a cycle apparently end in July. Was it something I did to shorten the cycle? Very maybe 99% sure!

The yuuuge difference this year is my environment. Working from home. The kid and wife often at school or work. Easy access to walking paths down by the bay and the weight set in the basement. Best of all: I could get a nice quiet dark room whenever I needed one rather than have to try and ignore a headache while trapped in a meeting at the office. I’m still finding the quickest relief with high-intensity lactic acid producing workouts that cause endorphins to be released en-masse. Ahhhh… a quick hit of the natural endo and the ‘graine is gone. This time around I also experimented with antihistamines now that I’ve found some good ones that don’t make me zombiesque. On days spent fully on histamine blockers I experienced nothing more than an aura of the headache. I try to only take the stuff when I need it for known allergens so more research will need to be conducted.

Speaking* of research, the world continues to become more aware of Cluster Headache and now uses a “CH” as a know abbreviation. The Wikipedia article is no longer a stub but a full article and many major medical sites now have some information on it, though their stock-photos of headache sufferers make little sense. Apparently CH is also called Horton’s syndrome now. Who knew that Dr. Seuss’ big blue elephant was suffering from clusters? The good doctor was obviously ahead of his time. He also predicted 2021’s use of pandemic politics in his book about Sneeches. Whether you choose to wear a star or not is irrelevant as long as McBean gets paid. Remember that and follow the beans! Be safe. Have fun. Don’t believe everything you hear. Fear nothing. Except cluster headaches!

Until we next cluster again…