I finally got my fire going!!

A Whirly Day in Colorado

A friend once told me whenever you travel somewhere, there’s always going to be that one day during the trip where everything goes wrong.  For me, that would be yesterday.

After an uneventful flight, I went to pick up my car, fully expecting that every SUV and 4×4 will have been rented out by now because of the snow, so I could kiss any chance of getting a free upgrade goodbye.  But meh, I figured as long as I have front wheels it’s all good.

When Hertz gave me a weenie little Nissan Versa to drive though, I knew it was going to be one of those days.

Hiro says, Not a scratch on Versa
Shut up, Hiro.

Next headache was the clamp to hold my iPhone dock in place, which somehow broke when I pulled it out of the bag.  Unless I found a solution fast I was going to have to hold up my iPhone by hand to use the GPS.  Fortunately I had a backup dock using suction cups, but instead of suctioning it to the window I shoved it into a small compartment next to the steeling wheel and it managed to stay secure and in place, easily keeping my iPhone in reach.  Whew.

I had to forgo visiting Breckenridge on my way to the cabin because of the snow storms, but fortunately the roads were dry and clear from Denver to Colorado Springs, to Woodland Park and finally near Divide where my cabin was.  As soon as I walked in, the first note I read is off the fridge asking to keep my trash inside because the bear broke into the outside trash bin last week.

Wait, bear?  I was not informed that there would be any bears.  You know what else is outside?  The hot tub.  So what if I’m soaking away, minding my own business and this bear decides he’d like to help himself to some “chicken soup?”  NOT COOL.

Then I see the fridge still has more food in it then probably all of Calcutta, India.  The previous guests couldn’t be bothered throwing the leftovers out, and neither did the cleaner, apparently.  Probably because of the stupid bear.

I also checked the thermostats, but they’re of the variety where by the time things warm up, the trip is already over.  So I’d have to use the wood stove instead.  No problem, ‘ll just toss a few logs in there, light a match, and bob’s your uncle.

Yeah, the logs wouldn’t light.  So I tried newspaper, which would slowly burn, then go out, then burn, then go out, without ever setting the logs on fire.  I’m trying to figure this out for an hour, meanwhile my jeans are completely covered in soot, and I can’t feel my fingers.  I finally get in touch with the owner, who says, “Oh check outside to see if the cap for the chimney is on there, a guy was supposed to clean it before you arrived, but if it’s not there you won’t be able to use the wood stove anyway, as the open chimney is a fire hazard until he finishes the job.”

Me:  …………

And of course the cap is not there.  Well, at least there’s the silver lining in knowing if I had been able to get a fire going, I probably would have set the entire forest here ablaze by accident.  That would have been… awkward.

Ah well, at least the hot tub works and I can use that.  Provided I don’t get eaten by the bear first.

Also had to spend some time affixing heavy blankets to the windows here because there are no curtains, and I’m a light sleeper.  Of course that chore resulted in a few falls and banging my knees off every piece of furniture in the cabin.  Ugh.  Totally off my game.

Today though is starting off much better.  I made a special blend of chocolate mint blend coffee, and as soon as I took a sip, I knew the whirly day was finally behind me.  YA TAAAAA!

If I ever met the girl of my dreams and we ran away to the mountains…

This is how I imagine it would look:

Girl, blanket, coffee and mountains
Source: The Smile of Nature.

Forgetting does not equal healing

One of the habits I’ve formed over the years is to try to quickly forget whenever someone does harm to me and just move on with my life.  I’m of the sort that when a wound cuts, it cuts deeply, and I’m trying to get beyond that by learning not to take things so personally.  I thought putting it out of mind was the best way to prevent these cuts and wounds from impacting me more than they should.

I get rejected for a job.  Nothing personal.  Move on.  I get rejected for a date.  Nothing personal, move on.  No sense in nursing wounds and bearing grudges, amirite?

But then I had an epiphany one day when I looked at some of the small physical scars I had on my hands, and I couldn’t remember how I got them.  Scars from long ago, with no recollection of the injuries that caused them.  And then it occurred to me:  even though I had long since forgotten, the scars WERE STILL THERE.

I wondered then if that’s why I would sometimes be angry for no apparent reason, or wake up depressed even though the sun was out and a good day was ahead of me.  That’s when I realized, I may no longer have any memory of all the hurts that have accrued over the years, but those emotional scars were STILL there.  Forgetting wasn’t enough.  See, it had always been my rationale that you can’t get angry or bitter over a hurt if you’ve long since forgotten about it.  That’s why when a close friend suggested that my tendency to immediately expect to be rejected by people stemmed from my father abandoning me when I was a kid, I scoffed at it.  I was glad my father left and barely gave him a minute’s thought since then.  I had simply forgotten about him.

But forgetting didn’t exorcise the wound he left behind.  It colored my thinking as I grew up, to the point where I wholly expect people to generally dislike me, hate me and ultimately reject me from their lives, their social circles, or the jobs they might offer.  Rejections piled upon rejections, and when I WASN’T rejected, I would immediately get suspicious, like there was some nefarious motive behind it.  Or I would then get really stupid and purposely act in a belligerent manner that so puts people off that they have no choice but to reject me.  Rejection was like an old, comfortable shoe, and to not be rejected put me in new territory and could make me a bit paranoid.  Because it I hadn’t been rejected now, all that meant was that I was soon going to be rejected later.  And even worse, when I least expect it too.

One of my last friendships was like that.  You hit it off, you think things are going well, but then months later, without warning, you’re just… rejected.  The friendship is over, and you’re left picking up the pieces, not knowing why.  It’s one of the reasons why I keep most people at arm’s length.  Any acceptance of me I regard with suspicion, because I believe such acceptance is false and will only result in more rejection anyway.

All this, because of past hurts that I have long since FORGOTTEN about.

Clearly forgetting wasn’t enough.  If I really wanted to prevent the hurts of the past from haunting the present and future, I needed to learn how to forgive too.  Or else, I’m going to wind up like Bob Kelso:

Driving to work

How I usually drive to work:

Stuck in traffic jam

How I’d LIKE to drive to work:

Tank bulldozing on highway

Single ladies, I’m ready to provide, are you ready to cook?

I can just hear the teeth grinding from de vimmins now.  Heh.  So let me ask you, why am I as a man still expected to fulfill the traditional role of a provider, but it’s perfectly ok for women to cede the traditional role of a nurturer? (and making me good sammiches?)

So if I not only have to slave all day to rake in the coins, but also come home to cook, clean, maintain the house, etc., what exactly will you be contributing while I’m busy here effectively working 2 full time jobs (one at work and one at home)?

I understand that there are men who are willing to stay home while the women work.  I personally think these men are girlie boys who should be ridiculed, scorned and flogged mercilessly with a rusty barbed cane, but hey, if the relationship works, more power to them.

I’m not a nurturer though.  My drive is to protect and provide, because I like protecting things, and I like providing for others.  It’s a man thing, and I’m not going to apologize for it.  I also know, as much as so many feminist/career minded women today will deny it, that deep down most of them ENJOY being a homebody, cooking, nurturing and otherwise taking care of their homes.  It’s  a lot of work, but if I take immense satisfaction in being a protector, I can only imagine that they derive an equal amount of satisfaction in cooking a gourmet meal worthy of a 5 star New York City restaurant for their honey snoogum winkles (or family and friends.)

Darth Vader points way to kitchen

I’m not an unreasonable man though.  If we were BOTH working full time, then it’s completely reasonable to expect and work out a way to split our chores equally, including cooking as well.  The irony is that I LIKE to cook, but I’m very inexperienced at it, and I could use the guidance of one who has mastered the craft.  One of the things I fantasize about is enjoying a cooking weekend with my honey twinkles, where she teaches me how to crack an egg with one hand and spin pizza dough with the other.  Mad ninja cooking skills, yo.  A feminine mentor who shows me how to handle my… curry, if you know what I mean.

Cooking together, doing chores together, working together as a functioning and stable unit, why that almost sounds like how a healthy relationship should work!

But if there ever comes time where marriage comes in and children after that,  I simply will not accept any arrangement that would have me staying home full time to raise the kids, because it’s not who I am.  Whoever I wind up with will understand that as well,  and would cheerfully give up her job/career to care for the children and the house.  Even then it’s not necessarily permanent, as she could work part-time or re-enter her choice of profession full time again once the kids are grown.  Together we can provide our family with the dual pillars of both financial and domestic stability.

That’s why honesty is the best policy for me.  Letting women know up front what I expect of them, and what they should expect of me.  If you decide cooking is beneath you, your career is more important than not leaving kids with a weird nanny, and/or men are glorified ATM machines to be abused and insulted on a regular basis, well then, there’s the door, hope you find what you’re looking for, nice knowing ya.

It’s ironic.  Women have these lists of demands about what they want in a man beginning with him not being unemployed and living on mommy’s couch, and for the most part I totally understand and agree with it.  But when a guy’s criteria starts with a woman having some good basic cooking skills, they go CRAY CRAY.

Yeesh.  Modern women today tend to believe the traditional roles such as is described in Proverbs 31 are beneath them, leading to the logical conclusion that leave men with no other choice but to take on multiple roles to support a family, while women take on, well… no roles.  Except moving up the career ladder so they can be just like Marissa Mayer.

Is it any wonder so many men have decided, “You know… this is kind of a bum deal, I’m out!”

The sad thing is so many of them think they’ve finally one upped the EVIL man by being stroooong and independent and like, stuff.  But while those of us who remain single enjoy flush incomes, peace of mind and a drama-free life, women can only soldier on via the taxpayer’s dime, or relying on the goodwill of companies offering work at home jobs (for those of you who actually have some self-respect and refuse to take handouts.)  You know, companies like Yahoo!  (Oh wait…)

In some weird twist of poetic justice, we’re living in a world where women, having refused to take on one role, are now being forced to take on TWO in order to survive.  Brave new world, my friends.

Digitizing my cold hard cash at Coinstar for a gift card and a woman (but mostly a gift card) #NOFEECoinstar #CBias

Due to being awesome, I have been paid (at Coinstar’s request) to blog about Coinstar’s products/services as part of a Collective Bias shopper insights study.  All opinions are my own, but they are awesome opinions.

Because I’m a guy, I like to keep my spare change in a sophisticated and completely hi-tech manner: my jean pockets.  None of those man purses or pouches for me thank you very much.  I am HARDCORE.

So on the occasion that I pull out some greens to pay for something, I usually jam whatever spare change I get from the purchase into my pockets, then unload them into a pouch inside my suitcase when I’m back at the hotel, and ultimately into my coin bank when I return home from another crazy traveling adventure.  My coin bank is cleverly designed to be completely undetectable to the naked eye.

Coca Cola Soda Can Coin Bank
State of the art, undetectable coin bank.

That’s generally been my habit since I graduated college, though usually when I’m ready to cash in I head over to the credit union.  I’ve tried the Coinstar machine once before at Stop & Shop but lost nearly $8 from the fee I had to pay just to redeem my cash, so I never bothered to use it again, at least until now, when they got smart and introduced a NO FEE option.

Koko inspects a fake coin bank
“Yeaaah, I don’t think this is a real soda can.”

With my coin bank now at capacity, there was no better time to give Coinstar another try, so I grabbed my *ahem* soda can, and headed over to my favorite Stop & Shop. (BTW, check out Coinstar at Facebook and Twitter.)

For whatever reason Stop & Shop has that vibe that makes me prefer going there for groceries over other supermarkets, and particularly because their self checkouts are blazing fast and usually don’t have a line to them.  Anything that allows me to run in and run out with bags full of food in as little time as possible is WINNING in my book. (Check out Stop and Shop’s Facebook page for more info about their supermarkets.)

Coinstar Machine at Stop and Shop
A slot machine I can work with.

The Coinstar here was located next to Redbox and their customer support/lotto center, right by the entrance. About as convenient a place as you could hope for.  Long Island being what it is though (as in, filled with rancid, uncouth human beings such as myself), I basically got shoved aside by some battle axe of an old lady who wanted to use the Coinstar machine, not to redeem coins mind you, but to scratch off an instant lotto game she had just purchased.  Sigh.

The battle axe finally left, so I finally had the machine to myself, and started sifting through the NO FEE options.  As it turned out you can select from a variety of different gift certificates, but I was surprised to find out that despite touting the option of redeeming your coins for a Stop & Shop gift card, there weren’t any gift card choices that you could actually use at Stop & Shop itself.  Weird.

Gift Card Options at Coinstar
Y U NO GIV Stop & Shop option?

Ultimately I picked Amazon.com as it has the widest range of goods, though I might have picked a Stop & Shop card instead had that option been available.  I slowly dumped my coins in, and watched and listened as the machine chirped and beeped away while tallying my coins.  Net total:  $77.28.

Total coins redeemed for Amazon.com via Coinstar
Wow, I should save coins more often.

The machine then gave me a second chance to turn my coins to cash instead, but the fee was nearly 10 cents to a dollar.  Um, no.

Gift Card Receipt from Coinstar
I cropped out the gift code.  No freebies for you.

That said, this was pretty convenient, as long as the NO FEE options offer a nice library of gift cards to choose from I’ll likely continue to use this in the future than go to the credit union (where I have to wait in line and then stand there like an idiot while they slooooooowly tally the coins.)  Plus I rarely visit my credit union anyway, so this kinda works out perfectly.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a few niceties I’d like to buy off of Amazon.com now…

Oh and if you have a moment check out my Coinstar Google+ album and share.  Thanks for reading!