Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Exercise in Resolve, Month 11

November started off rainy and markedly cooler than the previous month. I finally increased the weight of what I routinely carried, which represented a key step forward, going from a "light" load of up to 10 pounds to a "medium" load of 10-20 pounds. I also sporadically supplement my routine with a few pushups, situps, chinups, or bench presses, but the walk is definitely my main exercise and that is why carrying gear is key. And, now that I am carrying a day pack again, I am able to carry my walking stick on the walk up to the mailbox and often have a couple pounds of mail in the pack for the balance of the walk. Entries in quotes are taken from my Twitter posts. 

November 1 (Sunday): Walked 0.6 miles with a light, c. 9-pound load. 
November 2 (Monday): "Got in a two-mile walk with a light load. Perfect walking weather, sunny, bright, and cloudless but also cool here in Texas Hill Country!" 
November 3 (Tuesday): Walked c. 0.75 miles. Added a day pack and increased equipment load to c. 15 pounds and intended to walk two miles but tried to help someone catch their dogs and, in the process, dragged my trailing foot over a cactus and ended up with about 20 spines of various sizes in my foot, ankle and leg  including one so deep in my big toe that I had to take off my shoe and pull hard to get out. 
November 4 (Wednesday):  Walked 1.5 miles at twilight with a medium, 15+ pound load. 
November 5 (Thursday): "Got in a 1.5-mile twilight walk with a 15.3-pound load! Unseasonably warm today here in Texas Hill Country but cooled off a bit in the evening." 
November 6 (Friday): "Got in a two-mile late afternoon walk with 15+ pounds of gear! Has been raining and was damp and very cool here in Texas Hill Country." 
November 7 (Saturday): No walk; was part of an author panel at Bulverde/Spring Branch Library and got back too late.
November 8 (Sunday): No walk but mowed the lawn for a full hour. 
November 9 (Monday): "Got in a two-mile late afternoon walk with 20+ pounds of gear; was overdue increasing load and glad to have done it twice so far this month!" 
November 10 (Tuesday): Did a brief, 0.6-mile walk with 20+ pounds of gear. 
November 11 (Wednesday): Walked two miles with 20+ pounds of gear. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Recent Events (November 2015)

Following are events I have recently participated in, and which I am listing here with links back to archived editions of radio shows and webcasts, blog posts about them, etc. 

November 5 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 39: Under the Sea" (webcast). 

November 7 (Saturday), 3 - 4:30 p.m.: "Local Authors Panel as Part of NaNoWriMo," Bulverde/Spring Branch Library, Bulverde, Texas. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

My Upcoming Events

With the release of my latest book, Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country, I have had numerous promotional events on top of the webcasts and other activities I do on behalf of my Skirmisher Publishing LLC and d-Infinity. All listed times are CST unless noted. 

November 12 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 40: We, Robots" (webcast). 

November 19 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 41" (webcast). 

December 10 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 44" (webcast). 

December 17 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 46" (webcast). 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

An Exercise in Resolve, Month 10

October started off with perfect walking weather, bright and sunny but also cool and breezy much of the time! We hit every extreme after that, from a triple-digit heat index early in the month to driving rainstorms toward the end. Entries on the daily list below in quotes are taken from my pertinent personal Twitter posts and several of the italicized entries mid-month are for days when I know I walked but did not annotate the distance (and in retrospect it all runs together). 

October 1 (Thursday): Walked 0.6 miles with a light load. 
October 2 (Friday): Walked 1.2 miles with a light load
October 3 (Saturday): Walked two miles with a light load
October 4 (Sunday): No walk but mowed a section of the lawn. 
October 5 (Monday): Walked 0.6 miles. 
October 6 (Tuesday): "Walked 2.5 miles with a light load. Bright and sunny but not too hot here in Texas Hill Country and very pleasant for some outdoor exercise!" Also mowed the lawn for about 20 minutes and swept the upper patio and so ended up being pretty beat! 
October 7 (Wednesday):  No walk; was on the road to Wimberley to do a presentation at the library on my new San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country
October 8 (Thursday): Walked just 0.6 miles with a light load; got immersed in Skirmisher personnel issues and did not make it out until just before dinner. 
October 9 (Friday): Walked about 1.5 miles around downtown San Antonio, to and from our hotel to the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, then dinner, and then drinks. 
October 10 (Saturday): Did not walk too much but loaded things into and then out of the convention center and made three trips between it and the parking lot.  
October 11 (Sunday): Walked 1.2 miles with a light load. 
October 12 (Monday): "2.2-mile mid-afternoon walk with a light load. Wondered why I was dragging until I learned we had a 100 degree heat index here in Texas Hill Country!" 
October 13 (Tuesday): No walk; was on the road and then passed out until after dark when I got back. 
October 14 (Wednesday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 15 (Thursday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 16 (Friday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 17 (Saturday): "Managed to get in a two-mile twilight walk with a light load. Has finally cooled down a bit here in Texas Hill Country!" 
October 18 (Sunday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 19 (Monday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 20 (Tuesday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 21 (Wednesday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 22 (Thursday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 23 (Friday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 24 (Saturday): Had to skip a planned hike to the Devil's Hollow with visiting Brendan Cass due to heavy rain, but managed to get in a c. 1.5 night hike together to the local haunted 19th century Bremer Cemetery during a lull in the weather. (A time lapse image by Brendan of me standing by an ominous tree in the graveyard appears below.)
October 25 (Sunday): Got in a quick 1.2-mile twilight walk with a light load. Cold and damp after yesterday's storm and feeling like fall here in Texas Hill Country!" 
October 26 (Monday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 27 (Tuesday): Walked between 0.6 and 2+ miles with a light load. 
October 28 (Wednesday): No walk, on account of spending first half of the day cleaning the house, picking up Diane at the airport in the afternoon, and stopping for dinner on the way home and not getting back until after dark. 
October 29 (Thursday): No walk, on account of being on the road, getting Hepatitis B and rabies vaccinations, and needing to get ready for my weekly "d-Infinity Live!" show. 
October 30 (Friday): Walked just 0.6 miles, to and from the mailbox, and did not go further on account of rain. 
October 31 (Saturday): Walked two miles with a light load. Wanted to end the month on a strong note! 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Recent Events (October 2015)

Following are events I have recently participated in, and which I am listing here with links back to archived editions of radio shows and webcasts, blog posts about them, etc. 

October 29 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 39: d-Infinity Plays: One Starry Night (Call of Cthulhu)" (webcast and role-playing game session). 

October 24 (Saturday), 7 - 9 p.m.: "The Paranormal View: Author Michael O. Varhola" (radio show). The Paranormal View is a very relaxed, round table style talk show that focuses on bringing together experts, enthusiasts, and listeners with varied viewpoints. Instead of focusing strictly on ghostly phenomena, hosts Henry Foister, Geoffrey Gould, Barbara Duncan, and Kat Klockow, strive to provide listeners with topics that cover all areas of the paranormal, including ghosts, UFOs, cryptozoology, psychic phenomena, and more. 

October 22 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 38: We Are Werewolves!" (webcast). 

October 10 (Saturday), 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.: Fantom Fest, Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, San Antonio, Texas. 

October 15 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 37: Playtesting" (webcast). 

October 8 (Thursday), 8 - 9 p.m.: "d-Infinity Live! Series 4, Episode 36: Mars" (webcast). 

October 7 (Wednesday), noon - 1 p.m.: "Lunch & Learn: Ghosthunting in the Hill Country," Wimberley Village Library, Wimberley, Texas. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

TravelBlogue: 'An Excursion Into Egypt'

In October 2006, my wife Diane and I made a port of call in Alexandria, Egypt, while on a 12-day cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel from Athens, Greece, to Istanbul, Turkey. Ours was the first cruise since the terrorist attacks in September 2001 that was allowed to make overnight excursions to Cairo and we made a whirlwind trip from Alexandria to Cairo and nearby Saqqara, Memphis, and Giza. Check out my new photo essay on "An Excursion Into Egypt" on my TravelBlogue

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Favorite Quotes

Once in awhile I hear someone say something I think is particularly cool, witty, funny, or absurd, or formulate something that I think is a good maxim, but almost as often I neglect to write it down and then only remember that something notable was said but not what it was. With that in mind I have started a post for material of that sort and attempt to update it periodically.

"Things are always going well, except for the bad shit ... " (Comment made by me in a recent online chat with my friend David Fitzgerald that I thought was worth preserving). 

"Worst ... episode ... ever!" (This periodic judgement by Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons is, like some of my favorite quotes, one that I have the opportunity to often use myself with regard to the things I end up watching.)

"If I owned Texas and all Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell." — General Philip Sheridan, during a March 24, 1880, speech in Galveston at the Tremont Hotel

Her: "Are you still drinking"? (Upon my wife getting up and discovering me enjoying a pre-dawn glass of wine.)
Me: "No. I'm drinking again." 

"Do not prepare, serve, or eat a meal that does not include a vegetable!" (This is one of my own recently coined guiding maxims tying in with my efforts to eat more healthily and limit my consumption of meat to just once a day.)

"There are no IT limitations, just personal limitations." — IT expert Brendan Cass (This comment was in response to a remark by me about his ability to accomplish information technology tasks that were beyond the ability of other people I had worked with.) 

"Advice is just ego and ignorance disguised as helpfulness." — Dilbert/Scott Adams, in a July 15, 2015 comic strip

"Do you understand how much I hate you?" (Uttered by the woman cited in the quote below. The person who told me this assured me that he probably does not understand how much his wife hates him, or even entirely why, but that he is dedicated to making every attempt to.) 

"I hate you so much that I can't even describe it!" (This was uttered unprovoked to a friend by his maladjusted and apparently inarticulate spouse and he, knowing she would later deny saying something so hideously inexcusable, asked me to commemorate it here. I advised him to repurpose it as a daily affirmation.)

"Sometimes the only reason I don't kill myself now is because I know I can always just kill myself later." — Anonymous (Undeniably grim and clearly born from deep unhappiness but also fairly philosophical and amusing in its way.) 

"What we say about what we do is as important as what we do." — Michael O. Varhola (This is my own debatably cynical observation on the importance of promoting our own work and efforts if we want others/the public to notice them.)

"I didn't know we were going to be walking." — Diane K. Varhola (My wife has made this assertion multiple times every year for the past 25 years. We always end up walking, often in stupid and inappropriate shoes, so the basis for this statement has been questionable for a couple of decades now.) 

"We are most inclined to be creative when we are least able to be." (This is my own personal observation.)

"I should be able to visit my parents without having to die!" — Hayley Waters (Who says so? This was, in any event, my daughter's unhappy reaction to visiting a house full of cats that she is allergic to.)

"When I found inversion it changed my life forever, and I believe it can change yours!" — Dr. Roger Teeter (I actually own a Teeter Hang Ups inversion board and think it is great. What makes this quote amusing to me, however, is that "inversion" was historically used as a synonym for homosexuality, which can make its modern-day use hilarious when considered in that context.)

"Watch out for the poop!" — Carter Valentine (This sound advice was given to me by my grandson during a walk we took together in 2013 and can certainly be viewed as a profound allegory for the human condition overall.)

The following interchange occurred between my grandson and wife on Sunday, August 18, 2012:
Diane: "What kind of chicken do you want?" (While carving up a roast chicken we picked up at Costco for dinner.)
Carter: "The chicken nugget kind." (A statement met with laughter and us letting him know this chicken did not have any such parts.)

"Ah, the plot thinnens!" (This clever twist on a common phrase is one that I use whenever appropriate. I heard it for the first time in a movie based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, although the phrase certainly does not actually appear in any of the author's stories.)

"Hideous ... ugly ... freaks!" — Denis Leary/Gil Mars, Small Soldiers (It is amazing how often one is in public that this phrase seems apropos.)

"I'll tell you what!" (This common Texas phrase is used to express agreement with something someone has said, such as an observation about the weather. I noted during a recent trip to the East Coast that, after hearing it, people unfamiliar with this expression will pause and wait for you to "tell them what.")

"Not anti-Christian, nor un-Christian, but most decidedly non-Christian." — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"What I do now I do alone. I could not do it well with thee." — Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (I often irreverently use this quote, either just the first part or in its entirety, to announce my departure for the bathroom.)

"There is a fine line between being a romantic and being delusional, and I often tend toward the latter." — Michael O. Varhola (my own observation of my tendency to view life as I want it to be, rather than how it really is.)

"Oh, so you want to play the truth game?" — Anonymous (In response to my asking someone why they sometimes deliberately lie to their friends as a device for manipulating them.)

"We are all so lucky to live in this God-forsaken place." — Anonymous (A resident's comment upon observing the natural beauty of Canyon Lake, Texas.) 

"Crazy is as crazy does" — Michael O. Varhola (my observation upon already-crazy people who deliberately do things geared toward making them even crazier and more unhappy.)

"You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas." — David Crockett

"No one ever died from a gut wound." — Michael O. Varhola (I picked this up from an Army buddy of mine c. 1986-87 and use it a lot. I don't think it's true.)

"Teeheehee! I told you about it!" — Chick in an Activia yogurt commercial

"Och, Hungary! Our dogs are from Hungary!" — Richard Allan (in response to a barmaid at the pub in Paddington Station, London, reveal her country of origin; "Och" is a Scottish word that means "yes," unless you use it in conjunction with "no," in which case it means "really no!")

"I do not presume that other people's problems are harder on me than they are on them." — Michael O. Varhola

"You need to scare kids, not scar them." — Lindsey Valentine

Overheard around 8:15 p.m. near the Hoffman Center 22 cinema in Alexandria, Virginia:
Him: "Damn hippies! I'll hacky their sacks ... " (in response to some kids in shorts and tie-dye shirts crossing the street in front of him)
Her: "Uh, do I need to remind you that you just smoked dope, that you're still in your sleeping shirt, and that it shows people partying on it?"

"That was pretty metal!" — Rico Nardini, Gen Con 2011 (in response to me downing a dirty vodka martini in one sip when he said it was time for us to get going)

"Put the boots to him — medium style." (coopted from Metalocalypse and used by me and friend Jon Reichman as a catchphrase during Gen Con 2011)

"Get the butter." — Marlon Brando/Paul, Last Tango in Paris (this line can be interjected for hilarious effect in any number of circumstances, as my friends Jon Reichman, Chip Cassano, and I have all aptly demonstrated over the years)

"In a respectable household, it's useful to have a weapon." — Gitt Magrini/Jeanne's Mother, Last Tango in Paris

"Fun was had by all." (common phrase brought to my attention when it was applied to a school play in The Simpsons, and used by me since then in writeups of events I have hosted or run)

"This one goes to 11." (coopted from Spinal Tap and applicable more often than you might think; used as one of our group's catchphrases at Comicpalooza 2012)