Monday, August 29, 2016

Beer in all its forms

Hi, I'm Mike from The Blog of Thog, and I'm delighted that Jesse kindly let me loose on his blog to talk about a subject of my choice.

So, after reading Jesse's excellent post about beer (and book) clubs, I chose beer to write about.

Beer is a liquid that I am indeed very familiar with, it's been over the years my favourite alcoholic drink - when I say beer, I do include all beers, taking into account bitters, mild, stouts, pale ales, real ales, wheat beer, and even lager, which some people of the real ale fraternity take as a real insult.  But I'm sorry, it's all beer to me, and it's great.


My father with a selection of beers.  The smile I think was generated by the presence of the beer.

It's very easy to drink, you see.  Wine and spirits I enjoy on occasion (particularly cognac, spiced rum, and gin) but they always bring with them an element of style, of being fashionable.  This sounds like a good thing, but when you're an everyday guy who just wants a drink to unwind at the end of a long day, beer is uncomplicated.  Crack it open, and take a swig.  The cans and bottles are small enough for you to drink an entire one, and glasses are optional extras.

Another point to beer - it's resilient.  This beer had a brown sauce dropped in it, and was still perfectly drinkable and didn't even crack or chip the pint glass.  Try doing that with a flute of champagne.

And I even include non-alcoholic beer in this praise - whilst perhaps not having the same range to sample from as normal beers, I'm having a non-alcoholic lager at the moment and it's perfectly drinkable, and what's more doesn't dull the senses that I would rely on to get this post written.

Beer has some fascinating characteristics.  For example, take the world famous Guinness.  Guinness, I say to you, does not travel.  I've had Guinness all over the UK, and it has a burnt aftertaste that puts me right off (although if you mix it with cider, it makes a pretty decent drink).  However, in Dublin, the home of the black stuff, it is smooth, with a great taste, and in short is absolutely delightful.  The only danger is that after seven pints in Dublin I did find myself in a Chinese health shop apparently enthusiastically agreeing to a variety of treatments, which fortunately I suffered no ill effects from.

So, in summary, beer is a great drink for those in need of a little alcoholic (or even non-alcoholic) sustenance.  If you're of a suitable drinking age, consider having a beer responsibly. It could be the best decision you make today.

Cheers!

<<<<<  average jester note  >>>>>

A great big thanks goes out across the pond to Mike from The Blog of Thog. Mike was my very first international guest blogger here on average jester. Once we got past the language barrier, it was smooth sailing from there on out. The mutual love for barley and hops based beverages certainly didn't hurt. Many thanks Mike!    ~Jesse


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Shaking Things Up


Some of you who follow me on Google+ and/or Facebook may have noticed that I have been contributing a few posts here and there to other blogs. It's not that I got confused about where I was or who I am. Think of it more like a little child wandering out into the world on an adventure. (Keep in mind that I am neither little, nor a child...regardless of what my writing skills might lead you to believe.)

Blogging is an interesting creature. It often starts as an idea, grows into a passion and then levels out as an addiction somewhere between an avid coffee drinker and a meth junkie. One of the blogging friends I made along my path, Tim Clark, explained it pretty well in his post "Blogging-It ain't for everyone-Yes it is" if you'd like to check it out...and I would encourage that.

The fact that I am eager to share Tim's post with you is an example of one of the greatest things about blogging. I'd be lying if I didn't say the personal enjoyment of putting my own thoughts to words was the biggest joy. It's the friends you make along the journey that surprised me. Although I have met very few of my fellow bloggers in person, I have been developing some fun relationships with bloggers from around the world. (Note to future bloggers: That's where the addiction part kicked in for me, but it also added fuel to the fire.)

This added fuel made ideas that have been bouncing around in the back of my brain housing group want to jump out and be written. Because of that, I started making a few changes to my blogging habits.

First, I started writing posts for other blogs. That gave me an opportunity to write a little more of the fictional ideas that pop in my head rather than the daily personal journal of sorts I have on average jester. That added the fuel I needed to take the next step...

The next step is that I started (or will be starting) another blog called average jester writes. There is nothing really there as of yet, but I figured blabbing about it here would help ensure I finished some of the  stories I already have rolling drafts for. Hopefully that site will start popping soon.

And last, but certainly not least, I decided to not be so stingy about letting a couple of other bloggers post some content on average jester. Guest blogging (which I'm very new to) is a fun way to interact with someone else's followers. I have to admit I get the better end of the deal on this since I am the guy with the little blog in comparison to the others who've allowed me to post to their sites.

So, consider this fair warning - You will occasionally see an author or two other than me posting here on average jester. I just wanted you to be prepared when you start seeing blogs that are actually worth reading popping up now and again. Don't worry though, the majority of the content will still be mine so it shouldn't be a huge shock to your system.

Alrighty then, that's about it for today. In true average jester form, I turned a three sentence notice into a two page blog. We'll see what changes I can come up with next just to keep you on your toes. Until next time....

Friday, August 26, 2016

This is Next


Here at average jester, I hold myself to very strict standards in terms of the responsibility I have for the overall education and development of my readers. Sometimes it merely involves pointing out the obvious, highlighting it, underlining it and then putting *asterisks* (<- I had to Google how to spell that) around it. Other times, like today, it involves solving age-old questions and telling you what is true and ultimately correct. 

I know others have tried tackling the issue of "over vs. under" when loading the roll of toilet paper on the holder, so I will skip that one. I think it's too delicate a topic to cover in a single blog post. It's likely to cause too much controversy and could quite possibly lead to violence. That, and I don't want to cause any delay when nature calls and seconds count. 

Another topic of great concern has been what you call the mid-day and end of day meals. Supper? Dinner? Does it matter if one is typically your bigger meal? Does it matter if it's a special occasion? What if you're eating that meal in a diner? All good questions, but far too difficult to explain. 

Instead of those hot topics, I have chosen to shed some light on the much more confusing issue of "this" versus "next" when referring to an approaching time or place. I know a few of you may be scratching your heads in confusion right about now, so I'll give you a couple of examples to put you on my crazy train of thought:

  • You're approaching an exit on the Interstate travelling 70mph and your navigator says to take the next exit. Do you hit your turn signal now or wait?
  • It's Monday afternoon and your friends tell you about a big get-together happening next Saturday. Do you mark you calendar for 5 or 12 days from now?

You would think this would all be very simple to communicate properly, but it gets confused far too frequently. This is where you're probably thinking the word "this" will solve all your problems. As in, "take this exit versus the next exit" or "this Saturday versus next Saturday." You'd be wrong though - as the real world so cruelly points out on a near-daily basis. 

Using "this" only works to solve the problem if everyone was on the same page...but that's not the case. I will admit that I am guilty of this myself and I am your average person. I am really good at taking things literally - which is odd since I use sarcasm at the professional level. 

To me, next literally means the next in sequence. If you're counting 1, 2, 3... 4 is the next number. It's not 4 is this number - making 5 the next number. No, 4 is the next number. If I'm driving down the interstate, 1/4 mile from an exit, the exit I can see 1/4 mile away is the next exit. It's also "this" exit. See the confusion? Just like when it's Monday and someone wants to get together next Saturday. To me, the next Saturday I will run across is 5 days away - not 12. 

Now that we can't remember if we're driving on the interstate or planning a party, I will unveil my cure-all plan to fix this. Basically, it's a simple math equation from a simple mind that I express with the following:


As you can clearly see, there's a bunch of garbled parameters involving time, distance and a confusing mathematical sequence. If you were to follow PEMDAS (Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction), no matter what changes are made within the equation, you always end up with pi. Who doesn't like pie? 

The moral of this exercise is to point out that nobody knows the difference between this problem and the next, but it really doesn't matter as long as you end up with pie. With pie, everybody's happy. Who cares if you missed your exit or the big party on Saturday - you have a full belly and a smile on your face. Until next time....




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Coincidence or Divine Intervention?


Before I get too carried away with my typical rambling nonsense, I ask you to look at the photo at the top of this post. No, not the amazingly beautiful couple in the photo. Look at the banner in the background. It has one of the scriptural texts we chose for our wedding. It's Ecclesiastes 4:12 which says, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

The reason I point out this banner, is because I learned something very interesting about it today. I will tell you a little story about its life and let you decide if you think this story (or rather the circumstances) are a coincidence or Divine intervention.

It started in 2006...
Every story has to have a beginning. This story starts around the time my wife and I were married in July of 2006. We had chosen the passage noted above as one of the readings for our wedding ceremony. My Mom, the queen bee of quilting and all things crafty, made the banner in this photo for our wedding. My wife and I were very grateful for her work and thought it was a beautiful addition to our wedding decor. 

In her typical fashion, my Mom recommended that we leave the banner at the church so it could be used and enjoyed by others as they saw fit. We agreed that it was a great idea. We were married in the Luther Preparatory Chapel in Watertown, WI, where my wife attended high school. (Years earlier that is - I didn't marry a child.) A number of our relatives have also attended and/or worked there over the years as well. We felt it was fitting that a piece from the start of our history together stayed in a place with so much of our family's history.

Fast forward a few years...
My wife's cousin, who is now a pastor, spent his vicar year down in East Texas. For those of you unaware of what a vicar is, it's basically the pastor version of student teaching. He spent the second to last year of his seminary education in East Texas as a vicar at my parents' church. So, not only did they know him from our wedding a few years earlier, they now had the opportunity to get to know him better during his year in Texas. 

And get to know him better they did! I think it's a fair assessment to say my Mom treated him like he was her own son. (I'm totally fine with that because he is a really great guy.) I can't say I was as thrilled over the next couple years when he received more care packages filled with baked goods than all of her "real" children combined did...but I've gotten over that now. 

Move up to June 2016...
My wife's cousin, Matt, married a wonderful young lady named Rachel this past June. It was a joyous occasion, but unfortunately had one person missing...my Mom. Mom passed away in January of 2014, so she was unable to see Matt meet the woman of his dreams and get married. While she was still with us, she dreamed about seeing Matt meet a woman just like Rachel. 

When Matt and Rachel were planning their wedding, my wife mentioned the wedding banner my mom made to Matt and he tried to track it down. He thought it would be easy considering his soon-to-be wife worked at Luther Prep at the time. But alas, it was not to be. Apparently it was moved, lost or given away during a recent remodel of the chapel. 

The "end" of the story....
Today, my wife received a text from her cousin Matt. He has since finished the seminary and is now a pastor in Manhattan, Kansas, at his first parish. Matt was over at his associate pastor's house and someone mentioned the banner in their son's room and brought it out to show Matt. Guess what. It was the banner my Mom made 10 years earlier!

Apparently this fellow pastor sends his kids to Luther Prep in Wisconsin for high school. (It has a dormitory and is filled with kids from all across the globe.) One of his kids got the banner from his religion professor at school and brought it home. It was now hanging in his room at home. 

I'll let you decide if it's just an amazingly huge coincidence or Divine intervention. I just think it's amazing that this banner my Mom made worked it's way from Watertown, WI, to Manhattan, KS, where Matt is now a pastor. Mom would be thrilled to know her banner finally made an appearance somewhere in the vicinity of this wonderful couple she always wanted to see meet. 

Life is an amazing thing filled with interesting twists and turns. They're not always great twists, but sometimes they turn out pretty amazing. Until next time....




Monday, August 22, 2016

Listen to your father


There are a number of things our parents told us as children that many of us struggle with understanding until we become parents ourselves. There are also some things a few of us still struggle with to this day.

I know one that took me a few years to understand is that my dad is always right. Well, almost always. (I don't want him to get a big head.) Plus, I don't have enough time in one post to explain all the things I learned from my dad after many years of reluctantly accepting that he was indeed right from the beginning.

My own girls are no different. They are just as stubborn and unwilling to believe in the all powerful wealth of knowledge that is their father. They also seem to have learned the same tactics I used when trying to avoid admitting dad was right. Cover and concealment.

I'm not sure where I learned cover and concealment in the first place, but I know it wasn't until my years in the Marine Corps that I really understood the difference. For those of you who don't understand the difference, here's a quick refresher using a battle scenario:

The enemy is approaching and you jump behind a bush. You have found concealment. They cannot see you because you are concealed. As long as they never see you, you will be alright. If they do spot you though, a bullet will fly right through that little bush and hit you...because you don't have cover.

Cover on the other hand is getting behind something strong like an armored vehicle. You are protected from that bullet flying your way. However, the cover you choose to take will only protect you so far. There's always another means for the enemy to by-pass your cover, but you have to at least make it hard for them.

Bringing this to the topic of defending against admittance that your father was right, you still have the same concept. Take for example, (totally hypothetical and not at all related to something my dad said to me last night at 7:42 pm CST) if my dad were to say that I really seem to have been blogging a lot lately. I didn't think I was blogging all that much, but my natural instinct to not admit he was right moved me into concealment and cover.

Step one was to move a bunch of my blogging activities to other websites. I know my dad only reads the average jester blogs because I signed him up for automatic email delivery to his inbox. Yes, this was without his prior approval and no, he doesn't know how to turn them off. Anyway, this is concealment. By blogging from a different platform, it's not easily seen by my dad and therefore protects me by limiting the chances he'll see the other posts.

My dad is getting a lot more computer savvy these days though, so I know this concealment method won't last too long. He might remember that he has a Facebook account and pay a visit to the average jester facebook page and see the other posts that I share there. He might even take it another step and use the comment section on the Facebook post or Facebook Messenger to send me an "I told you so" message.

To prevent this, I need cover. By intentionally writing this post about the whole topic, I am calling it out before he does. I have a legitimate cover story about how I wanted to mix things up and broaden my writing experience, blah, blah, blah. The point is that it now looks like it was my idea to admit that I have actually been posting a little more frequently rather than him just being right.

I suppose it would have saved a lot of time to just admit he was right from the start, but where's the fun in that? What would I have blogged about tonight if I didn't have this refresher course in cover and concealment? I guess we'll never know because I never seem to learn. Until next time....

Friday, August 19, 2016

Race to Space


Most of you probably aren't aware of this, but my personal time is extremely valuable. I am very careful to spend my time on tasks of only the utmost importance. That is why I have set some time aside this evening to create this online resume and formally submit it for one of the last remaining positions at Life Explained: Deep Space Colonization Department.

I should probably fill you in on this as it's quite possible you've never heard about this opportunity before. This is a leading edge exploratory adventure being lead by some blogger guy (not me - the other one) and apparently a dog. This mission has been so closely guarded and cloaked in secrecy that it has barely made a blip in the media. To learn more about this opportunity, feel free to check out the original online application sites HERE and HERE

This post will hereby serve as my formal application for one of the extremely limited and highly sought after positions at Life Explained: Deep Space Colonization Department.

Name: Jesse Zahrt
AKA: average jester ("Average" doesn't mean I can't shoot for extraordinary.) 
Age: Aged to perfection. Old enough to know better, but still young enough to try.
Education: Bachelor of Science from the School of Life with a minor in Learning Things The Hard Way. 
Burrito Preference: The potato burrito is my favorite, but I have been know to enjoy just about any frozen gas station burrito equally. 

Special Skills:

Gives 120% (about 83% of the time)Some may refer to this as average, but I like to look at it as a balance between over-eagerness and laziness. I make sure I have enough motivation and drive to get the ball rolling, but I am smart enough to know when to just sit back and watch it roll down the hill. 

Multi-tasking MasterIf you took the time to read the explanatory links above, you will know that two requests were made. One was a request for applications. The other was a request for logo design. I am completely nailing both requests in true multi-tasking form with this post. By that I mean I am doing two things at once. Well, kind of. 

As with many multi-taskers, I did a mediocre job of two tasks rather than doing a great job on each - one at a time. I didn't submit my resume in the manner requested and (technically) I created a banner or possible billboard design rather than a logo. I'm not worried though because I realize the position has probably already been filled. 

Excellent Report WriterAs with any scientific exploration, the reports are all that anyone really cares about. Even though I am incredibly humble, I have to say that I have this part in the bag. I can write a report like nobody's business. You need 1000 words describing the daily activities and discoveries? No problem. I could write more than 1000 words without even having a topic. (Note to management: Get more black markers. A lot of what I write will probably have to be redacted because I tend to go off on tangents.) 

Easily AmusedBoredom is not a problem for me. I'm about as easy to amuse as anyone you've ever met so no worries about me falling asleep on the job. Something as simple as the wind changing direction will peak my curiosity. (I would even be willing to write a report on the wind if needed.)

GhosterificI realize the request for application specifically wanted to know what I would do if I met a ghost. I'm torn on this as I have never encountered a ghost. I know I would be amused (see previous paragraph) and would write at great length about the encounter (see two paragraphs back). I'm sure there would be a mixture of emotions felt at once like fear, excitement and curiosity (see three paragraphs back). At least I'm 99.6% sure that's how I would react (fine- see four paragraphs - technically five - back). 

Summary
You'd have to be crazy to hire me for this position at Life Explained: Deep Space Colonization Department. Yes, I said that right and I'm counting on it. It sounds like a crazy position in a crazy adventure lead by a crazy guy (and a completely sane dog). What can I lose?

If anyone is willing to act as a reference for me in this position, please state your willingness in the comments. Until next time....



PS - I just wanted to make sure that I gave proper credit to the originator of this outstanding company, Tim Clark. I think you could have figured that out from the links above, but I'm not taking any chances. It sounds like some other blogger is already suing him for something and I don't want Tim to sue me to pay for his own lawsuit. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Major Events


I'm always looking for major, earth shattering topics to blog about here on average jester. For those of you who've read a number of my blogs, you know I rarely find them. You loyal readers also know where I turn when I need help in the content creation department...my girls.

Tonight wasn't one of those times where I was struggling for a topic though. I've actually had quite a few "half-topics" as of late. Those are almost more irritating that not having a topic at all. Some of you fellow bloggers out there may know what I'm talking about. You get a flood of ideas, but they're all half baked and don't seem to amount to a full blog post. Luckily for me, my youngest daughter had a great idea for a blog tonight.

As we were eating supper this evening, Siri (my youngest) offered up an exceptional idea for a blog. She said I should write a blog about how well she was eating all her blueberries. You would really think that one could write pages of thrilling content about blueberry eating, but I just couldn't seem to make it work. (OK fine...I never really tried because I had another idea first, but don't tell her that.)

I thought I would share a different major event of this week. Our neighbor has been watching his brother's dog for the last few days and that has created a lot of excitement on our household. My girls and I love dogs. My wife can go either way on the matter and is therefore not real vocal for or against dogs. Needless to say, we don't have a dog of our own. That means when there's a perfectly good dog right next door to play with - it's game on.

After a few trips next door to pet the dog, our neighbor gave us the go-ahead to take him for a walk. That made the girls' week. We took a nice educational stroll around the neighborhood. I probably answered 100 questions during that 20 minute walk. I'm pretty sure I knew the answer to at least a third of them. The rest I just gave good educated guesses. 

Mostly it was a learning experience for my girls as they tried to understand why the dog had to smell everything. It just added to the excitement when he chose to pee on something he just smelled. That lead to more questions. Why did he pee here, but not at the last spot? Isn't he supposed to lift his leg when he pees because he's a boy dog? Why is he only peeing and not pooping? You know - all the typical "edge of your seat" questions. 

We then had some more major excitement yesterday when he managed to wriggle through the door next door and make a break for it. He gets a sense of freedom. The whole world is at his paws. Where does he go? He ran right to our back door and begged the girls to play. Of course, as soon as the girls opened the door a crack to say hi to him, he bolted inside the house for the grand tour. I unfortunately missed it as I was at work. I did however get to hear about it 15-20 times over supper. And let me tell you, the story just kept getting better and better. 

Today the major event was learning that tomorrow will be his last day living in his temporary abode next door. Due to this earth shattering news, we decided to take him for a little walk after supper this evening. I was proud of my girls for pointing out every little thing he did and explained why he was doing it. I still got asked 100 questions, but it was the same question over and over...

He decided to do his pooping business two minutes after we left. That meant I got to carry a plastic bag filled with poop for the next 15 minutes. That bag of pure joy I was carrying lead to the repeated "What's that smell Daddy?" question that I answered the first 30-40 times...out of 100 times being asked. 

We'll see how the girls do tomorrow when Major leaves. (That's the dog's name by the way - Major.) I'm sure there will be some tears. The good thing is that I am also friends with my neighbor's brother and he lives here in town. That means there's a good chance we will get to see Major again at some point. 

Does this mean we're going to rush out and get a dog? Probably not. A dog in our house would be a lot like my kids in my youngest sister's house. A lot of fun, but you better be prepared for when the novelty and cuteness factor wears off. 

Truth be told, I would enjoy having a dog again. I had one back in my bachelor days in East Texas. Then again, I had 6+ acres of land for my dog to run around on. I also didn't have to go outside in the sub-zero Minnesota winter temperatures we have here. Who knows what major events next week will bring. I can tell you one thing though - You'll probably hear about it on the old blog here. Until next time....

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Controlled Chaos



I have always been a by-the-book kind of guy who thrives on standard operating procedures. It's quite possibly because I wasn't all that great at listening, following directions or behaving in general as a kid. I gradually improved over time and whatever wasn't already in order by the time I left for boot camp was corrected in short order there.

My passion for order does not mean I don't operate well without a well defined standard operating procedure. It just means I make every effort to somehow control the chaos. I'm pretty sure any parent can back me up on this.

Now that my following is soaring to almost the double digit mark, this same thought process on order is starting to work it's way into my blogging... and I don't know how I feel about that yet. I have really been enjoying my fly by the seat of my pants approach. Nevertheless, I find myself looking at ideas to add a little order to my chaos while trying out some new things. I'm always excited about trying something new.

I have thought about mixing some video into my blog from time to time. Every time I started to pursue the idea in the past, I ended up putting it on the back burner. A few of the other bloggers I follow recently posted videos and got me thinking about it again. I'm excited to mix it up, but I'm currently undecided on what I would actually want to include in the form of a video.

For the time being, I created this little video as a test project to see how it worked out. I don't want to build up my outstanding (-ly lacking) video production skills and ruin it for you, but I will tell you this though... If you watch this 41 second video, you will learn the answer to a question that has been burning in the minds of all my readers.


Besides the possible addition of videos to the average jester blog, I have been considering adding further order by setting a schedule or sorts for my posts. The problem I have with this is that I write for fun and I don't want to turn it into a job where I force myself to produce on a schedule. I would rather be inconsistent than lose the joy I have for blogging.

Throwback Thursday seems like an easy enough plan for me. It would not only be a consistent schedule, but would also allow me to showcase a few of my earlier posts. I should be able to make it a few months of Thursdays before I run out of halfway decent blogs to re-post anyway.

I even thought about Follow Friday or Sharsies Saturday, but I see minor flaws in both those plans. I already make an effort to share other bloggers' posts and encourage others to follow them. I like to do that when I see them rather than waiting for a specific day to focus on that.

Who knows what my gameplan will end up being. At the very least, I will see if this video processes properly. (Which was the main point of this post....but I ramble.) Only time will tell if I choose to try and control the chaos that is my current blogging habits or if I just keep trudging along as I always have. Until next time....

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Average Workout


I get inspired by many things in life. Some of them stick with me while others are a fleeting fancy that disappear as fast as an ice cream sandwich in my hand. Most of this inspiration comes from things I see because I am a very visual person.

Exercise has long been a struggle for me because I never enjoyed it, and more importantly, rarely stick with it long enough to notice the benefits. Certainly not in recent years anyway. Between the Olympics being on tv, my wife constantly exercising and some bloggers I follow posting tips, I figured I better get on board. Because of this, I decided to write a post outlining "The Average (Jester) Workout."

I'm going to start out small with this first ever exercise tip here on average jester. You may recognize the format as completely plagiarizing Jeremy Crow, but don't blame him for this post. (I would recommend checking out his page if you're farther ahead in your exercise routine than me.) I know I have to hit the ground running walking....just like with my blogging abilities...so I am starting with a fairly remedial exercise tip.

With some exercises, it's hard to relate the repetitions of a particular exercise to the benefits they provide in every day life. This tip is not one of them. The result of properly executing this exercise is directly proportional to the level of enjoyment in your tv watching experience.

We've all been there. After hours of binge watching Netflix, the screen pauses and asks if you're still there. At this point, you must locate, retrieve and then use your remote to continue your binge. This simple exercise will not only help you successfully manage this task with ease, but also (possibly, but probably not) help you prevent a back injury. Here's the tip for today:

"The Balanced Remote Lift"

"Muscles" Worked: Many would think this exercise would work your biceps or one of those other arm muscles that I don't know the name of, but that's not where the real value of this exercise is. This exercise benefits both the heart and brain. Your blood pressure will drop while enjoying your shows and your brain can relax into a blissful state of escapism. (Author's note: I'm not a physician and I think the opposite is actually true...but where's the fun in that??)

Starting Position: Technically, the starting position would be laying on your back on the couch, probably with one leg kicked over the side and a bag of Cheetos resting on your belly. Don't panic, but you will need to set the snacks aside and rotate your body to an armrest-viewing position in order to begin the exercise routine.

  • Wedge your left foot into the couch cushion to provide leverage.
  • Grip the arm of the couch with your left hand to add stability.
  • Plant your left foot firmly on the ground to prevent any rolling toward the floor.
  • Keep your right arm and hand relaxed and hanging.
  • Drop your head slightly to improve visibility of the remote on the floor.

Motion:

  • Slowly extend your right hand towards the remote on the floor. 
  • In a smooth, fluid motion, grasp the remote in your right hand and pull it back toward the center of your chest. 
  • (Note that reversing this motion will return the remote to the floor where you can do your second repetition a few hours later when Netflix locks up again.)
  • Return to a resting state on the couch.


Key Points:

  • Maintain a steady position over the couch without allowing your center of balance to cross too far over the living room floor or you might fall off the couch.
  • Do not grasp the remote too tightly or you could damage it and ruin future workout opportunities. 
  • Lift with your back - not your legs. Every time I tried doing this by lifting with my legs, I ended up slamming my face into the arm of the couch.
  • If you feel you are having to do numerous reps, you should have someone else help you in selecting a show to watch because clearly you can't make up your mind. 
If you have any further pointers on this exercise, I am always willing to field feedback that may benefit my workout routine. Remember, this exercise is not for everyone. I wanted to start you out with something that nearly everyone is capable of performing.

Once you feel comfortable with this, I would recommend one of my more advanced routines. Perhaps a little insight into how I transitioned from 12oz beer can curls to 16oz. I should tell you it is quite effective. It is actually possible to transform your six-pack abs to a keg in just a few months with this routine. It's not for the faint of heart though.

I will leave you with this tonight. My Netflix has paused and the remote is on the other side of the room. This is unfortunately a scenario I did not address in the steps above. I hope you can forgive me for that oversight. I will better prepare the workout area in the future. Until next time....


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pizza



Before my girls go to bed each night, we do a little reading time with each of them. Tonight, I had the pleasure of having my seven year old read to me from one of her chapter books. The title of the book was, "Pizza is the Best Breakfast." As horrible as this makes me sound, I couldn't help but think of all the different kinds of pizza I love...and breakfast pizza isn't high on the list.

I really love pizza. I love many different types of pizza. With the exception of pineapple and anchovies, I enjoy just about anything on a pizza. I have my favorites, but a breakfast pizza just isn't one of them. It not for a lack of trying on my part though. I have tried breakfast pizza on a number of occasions and found they come in two forms: Really awful - or - tastes good, but is a waste of perfectly good eggs and sausage. That's just my opinion and it is affected by the fact that there are plenty of other toppings I would prefer to have on my pizza.

I could fill an entire post listing all the different types of meats I like in my pizza so let's just say a meat lover's pizza is a great starting point for me. I'm not as fond of pepperoni as I was as a kid...at least not if it's the only topping. I tend to flip between sausage and chicken as my meat of choice. It's probably my sophisticated adult palate or maybe it's just not exciting enough for a high falutin' guy like me.

I have always loved peppers. Having grown up in Texas, I like to throw a little fire in my meals. Jalapenos and banana peppers are my go-to additions to many meals...and pizza is not an exception. I do enjoy green peppers and/or spinach as well for a little something extra, but they don't really add a lot for me in terms of flavor. (I won't get into the after-affects the combination of spicy peppers and mixed vegetables on my pizza have on me.....You're welcome.)

Cheese is a crucial pizza ingredient in my eyes. Obviously cheese needs to be in a pizza. I'm saying there needs to be lots of cheese. I had a love of cheese long before I spent a decade living in Wisconsin. It was just intensified by my cheesehead years. I went through a period of time where my addict-like craving was for a Pizza Hut cheese lover's stuffed crust pizza with chicken and jalapenos. It apparently wasn't enough to have the double helping of cheese on the cheese lover's pizza - I also had to add the cheese stuffed crust.

These days, I tend to lean towards the deep dish pizzas which I can only assume is because they provide a deeper base to hold more meat, cheese and other delicious fixin's than a regular crust. I did even attempt to eat an entire large stuffed pizza from Sbarro in one sitting, but that was in reaction to a challenge from the guy behind the counter. I made a joke about being hungry enough to eat an entire stuffed pizza by myself. His response was "no way" and it would be free if I did. I'm not sure whether to be ashamed or proud (health-wise), but he didn't end up having to give it to me for free.

Having a couple little pizza-eating monsters in my house, and a tight budget, we have our fair share of frozen pizzas. I have noticed a strange thing that happens with (cheap) frozen pizzas. They typically taste like a cheese covered piece of cardboard straight out of the oven. I manage to get past that and eat some anyway. What amazes me though, is that even the cheapest of the cheap pizzas are amazingly palatable the next day if re-heated in the microwave. That makes me wonder now why we don't just microwave them in the first place??

There is one type of pizza I just can't stand...and I know I'm going to take a little heat for this one, but I will stand behind this until the day I die. In my completely humble-lacking opinion, pineapple has no business being on a pizza. I think the idea itself is disgusting. I almost feel nauseous just thinking about it. I realize everyone is entitled their own opinion. That doesn't mean your opinion is right though. :)  <--- See? I even put a smiley face to tone it down a bit.

There is probably another "issue" I have with pizza that might cause me to catch a little more flak. I have never liked cold pizza. I don't care if I wake up at 3am and feel the pizza in the fridge calling my name, I will wait the 60 seconds it takes to heat it up in the microwave before I will eat it. Well, 59 seconds anyway. At 3am, I better stop the microwave manually before the beeping starts at the end of the minute I lazily keyed in while I was half asleep. Otherwise I will have to share my pizza with an irate wife and/or curious children.

Well, if you managed to trudge through to this point, I now offer you good news. That's all I really have to say about pizza for tonight....other than the fact that I think there might be a few slices in the fridge right now. All this talk about pizza made me hungry. It's not even 3am yet. I better go check it out before I forget and wake up at 3am with a hankering for a slice. Until next time....



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Love Your Spouse


If you've spent more than five minutes on Facebook lately, you've probably seen your fair share of photos posted as part of the "Love Your Spouse" challenge. My wife has received numerous requests to take that challenge, but for some reason she has not yet accepted.

I figured I would take this opportunity to do it for her in the form of 7 things she loves about me rather than 7 photos of us together. So here is her very own description (totally a lie) of the 7 things she loves most about me (as far as I know). If you pay very close attention, you'll almost be able to hear her voice.

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7 Things I Love About Jesse - by his (unsuspecting) wife, Sarah
Sweet
Jesse is one of the sweetest people I have ever known. I'm thinking it has something to do with the fact that he eats so much ice cream and chocolate. Or perhaps it's the peanut butter and honey toast he makes in the middle of the night (that I totally don't know about). Come to think of it, maybe I meant sweat instead of sweet. He sweats at least as often as he is sweet.

Caring
Jesse is a big and strong guy. I often need him to lift things that are too big for me. Oh wait, that's carrying. He is very good at carrying things. Come to think of it, there was that one time about 10 years ago that he actually held my purse for me while I was trying on clothes in the department store dressing room. I can only assume he walked around a bit while he waited for me - so that would involve carrying. It also makes him sweet....and possibly sweaty, but I digress...

Good Father
Jesse is a great father to our daughters. I think a lot of this has to do with how much trouble he was always getting into as a kid. That apparently prepared him for anything that our girls can throw at him. He certainly has plenty of ideas for different forms of punishment that I can only assume came from first hand experience. In reality, this one is more like 50-50 because he's kind of like having another kid in the house about half the time.

Good Provider
Jesse is a PHENOMENAL provider! Not only does he help us pay (some of) our bills on occasion, he is always providing me with things to do. I don't even have to ask and I will find a hamper full of dirty clothes I can wash. (Technically, some of his dirty clothes are located "near" the hamper rather than in it.) He is always providing me with little treats like a dirty glass in the sink or a towel on the bathroom floor. All in all, I never have a shortage of things to do around the house thanks to all the opportunities he provides me.

Handyman
Jesse is all hands at times...oh wait, this is a family friendly blog... Jesse is pretty good at fixing things around the house. He better be considering how many things he breaks. It is nice to know that he has a number of friends who are better at fixing things than him, so some of our broken stuff actually does get fixed eventually.

Always There For Me
Jesse is nothing if not dependable. I can always count on him to be there for me when I need him. By "there" I mean, in the living room. If he's not sitting on the couch typing on his computer, he's laying on the living room floor taking a nap. (I still don't understand why he loves that floor so much??) On the rare occasions he can't be found in one of those two places, I always know I can reach him via text or email...because he's always there.

Handsome
Jesse is far more handsome than the few thousand photos of him online make him appear. If you saw him in the same light I do, you would understand. The best light to see Jesse in is with the setting sun behind him. His silhouette in front of that canvas of orange, red, purple and blue is a sight to see. It's even better if you're squinting a little bit. If that doesn't work for you though, Jesse is also pretty handsome when there is no available light as well.

In Conclusion
Jesse is more than I ever could have, or would have, asked for. Well, maybe I'm just afraid to ask for more if these are the first seven things I got. Sometimes it's just better to appreciate what you have instead of trying to think of ways to change it. You never know exactly what you might get.

~ Sarah (Jesse's loving wife)

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Thank you honey! I couldn't have said it better myself. Until next time....

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Salad Lover


My wife and I have very similar taste in food, but we never seem to order the same thing when we go out to eat. She is a lot better than me at making "healthy choices" (as if that's a real thing), but I have been surprised (or even disappointed) on a few occasions when our meals were served.

During our recent trip to Portland, we managed to go out on a date for our 10th wedding anniversary without our kids in tow. My sister and brother-in-law took us out on the town to show us around. We started out a McMenamins Grand Lodge for dinner. As it turns out, it was a great choice.

As we perused the menu, I passed on a number of options in the steak, pasta and seafood areas due to the unstoppable draw I felt to one of their specialty burgers. I wish I could tell you the name of the burger I had, but I can't. It was a glorious combination of local cheddar, mushrooms, onions...there might have been an egg involved?? I don't really recall. I just remember loving it, but that's not the point of my post today. 

My wife eyeballed the menu and ended up settling on a salad. She is an amazing woman when it comes to food. She loves great food just as much as I do...but with a better sense of self control. Before you turn your nose up to the idea of eating a salad when you're out on a special date night, scroll back up to the top and take a look at that photo again. That was her salad - rightly called a Steak Salad.

I'm sure when she ordered it, she was thinking there would be a few steak medallions sprinkled into the salad for a nice meaty bonus to the salad. What she got was a six or eight ounce steak on top of an amazing salad. Add the Stout beer to the side and she was in heaven.

I am not complaining about my meal. It was a huge, delicious burger and I was extremely happy with the results. I cannot say the same for some of the other restaurants we have visited in the past. The funny part is that it only seems to happen when I am starving and she just wants something light.

My wife and I review the menu a bit differently. In my mind, if I'm going to pay restaurant price for a meal, I want to get my money's worth. My wife just looks for something she thinks she'll enjoy. I don't recall too many times either of us have been disappointed by the taste of the food served. It's more often been surprise by the portion size. 

A typical scenario involves me ordering what is described as a mountainous burger that will completely change your idea of what a burger should be. My wife, not feeling all that hungry, will order a simple chicken pasta dish. Then we both wait for our scrumptious meal to arrive. And then it does...

My burger will often end up looking like what I would normally refer to as a "slider" - those little appetizer burgers that take two bites to consume. My wife's "little" pasta dish gets delivered by a sumo wrestler-sized waiter in a bowl about six inches deep and two feet wide with pasta stacked a foot high and falling over the edges of the plate. Basically a meal for a family of five....or ten.

I can't complain too much because she will share her overflowing plate of food with me. I just wish the menus would do a better job of describing what you're actually getting. Don't get me started on a photo to reality comparison of a burger at a fast food joint like McDonald's or Burger King. I can't really blame them though. Everyone knows the photos are a ridiculous rendition of the actual burger. 

Maybe my wife and I should just agree to each order our own meal and plan on splitting them both in two and sharing. That way we'll both get food we love and nobody will get short changed on portion size. (By "nobody," I mean me. She never complains about portion size.) 

Well, I have to run for now. My wife is making hot meatball subs with fries on the side for dinner. Considering the aroma is so strong I can already taste it, dinner must be almost ready. I can't wait! Until next time....

Friday, August 5, 2016

Just one in a crowd


For those of you who may have missed it, I work for a Managed IT Services Provider. IF you're one of those who think the whole "computer techs are nerds" idea is just a stereotype, I'm here to tell you you're wrong. OK, maybe not 100% of techies are nerds, but it's pretty close. At least, most of them have a nerdy side to them.

I'm not one of the computer technicians at our company, but I love technology. I know enough about tech to get myself in some serious trouble...and have fun trying. To go along with this, I have a bit of a nerd streak in me as well. If you asked my wife, she'd probably say it was a big streak. I'm not sure she's really qualified to make that judgement call though. She has never even seen Star Wars.

All my rambling about nerdery IS actually getting to a point. (I appreciate that you've stuck with me so far.) This was my rambling, roundabout way of explaining that I have one of the classic nerd traits. I'm an introvert.

Yeah. I know. Can you believe it? The guy who shares his thoughts and ideas with the entire world via the average jester blog is an introvert. Even though I just confirmed my self proclaimed introvert classification by completing an online quiz, I personally think I'm a fairly even blend of introvert and extrovert.

I am a classic introvert when it comes to loud parties or large crowds of people. I would typically prefer a quieter setting with a smaller group of closer friends. That is not to say I am shy or in any way uninterested in meeting new people. I love meeting new people, but I'm horrible at initiating a conversation...unless I have a specific reason to. 

I think the best way I can explain it is that a large, loud group feels like a mass of unconnected people to me. It's like sensory overload to an infant. There are too many options and possibilities of people to talk to that I don't know where to start. 

When I have a specific reason to interact with large groups, I have absolutely no problem with it. I can easily get up in front of hundreds of strangers and address a crowd, give a speech or issue directions. I would have more difficulty walking into the middle of that crowd, going up to just one of those strangers and saying, "Hi. My name is Jesse. What's your name?"

I have always been very comfortable with speaking to large groups - starting with school and church presentations as a kid, through my years in the Marine Corps, and continuing in my professional life today. I will say this though...If you ever want to get over any kind of fear of public speaking, join the military. After the first few times of telling a group of trained killers what to do, you can talk to pretty much group of people. 

Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that my mixed blend of introvert/extrovert comes primarily from two things. The first of which is that I am pretty content in general. I am happy with the friends I have and just don't have a burning desire or need to intentionally add to the numbers. Don't get me wrong, I love making new friends - I just don't go out of my way to do it.

The second reason I have noticed is directly related to why I don't appear to be introverted in my professional life. Whether it was in the military or my civilian career, I have always been part of a team. For some reason, my twisted mind sees that as a single entity rather than a large group of individuals. I know that both are actually true, but I seem to focus on the singular team.

The photo at the top of this post is a great example. It happens to be part of the crew on a Naval aircraft carrier. I'm hoping the Squids don't get upset that this Jarhead used them as an example, but at least it's a good example.

At first glance, you see a large group of people. Then you start to notice stripes of color through the crowd. Every one of those colors mark different "teams within the team" who are responsible for a specific set of tasks. It's a group of individuals who make up a task-specific team working together with other task-specific teams to ensure the entire group of teams act as one within a tiny margin of error. 

I look at that group as one team rather than part of thousands of individual sailors on an aircraft carrier. Don't ask me why I can see my fellow teammates as one large group, but I can't see the others around me in public the same way. I really should if you think about it.

I live in New Ulm, MN. The small town around me could be like one big team. Team New Ulm is also part of Team Minnesota, which is part of Team USA, etc. That obviously scales out of control pretty quickly, but I hope you see my point. You would think I could wrap my mind around that and become an instant extrovert, but I can't. You see, not everyone in my town, state or even country are on the same mission or have the same goals as me. And that's where it falls apart for me. 

Who knows? Maybe I'm just a stuck up snob and nobody's had the heart to tell me yet. Maybe I'm really super shy and I'm just good at faking it. Maybe I'll never know. What I do know is that I enjoy rambling on and on for hours - often without a topic - and that's probably part of the reason I started a blog. You would think it would make me more extroverted. Until next time....

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Beer and Books


My wife and I love spending time together. Really...we do. Honest. But every once in a while, we take the opportunity to venture out on our own to hang out with our own group of friends. Many of these friends are mutual acquaintances, but these get-togethers are gatherings that don't offer much appeal to the other.

My wife has a book club with a group of ladies that she looks forward to every month. As a matter of fact, that's where she is as I am writing this. They've been getting together for as long as I remember and I don't see any end in sight for them....which is good since they seem to love it.

A little over six years ago, I got together with a co-worker for a couple of beers after work. That former co-worker has since become one of my best friends and the beer after work turned into a recurring get-together that has grown to a larger group of friends. Somewhere along the line, we started calling it "beer club." 

Our two clubs might sound like a night and day difference, but I have a feeling they are a lot more similar than it might appear on the surface. The photo above may be a little misleading as beer club never happens in a bar and book club doesn't take place in a book store, but you probably don't want to see a photo of a garage or our messy porch.

My wife's book club apparently doesn't just sit around and talk about books. At least that's not what it sounds like whenever she has hosted it at our house. Either that or all the books they read involve a lot of animated discussion and bursts of laughter. I would find that hard to believe as some of the books they read aren't exactly side-splitting comic novels. 

Beer club is a chance for the guys to get together and solve all kinds of problems. Most of my automotive needs are taken care of at beer club. We've celebrated, and vented about, wins and struggles in our professional careers. We've had some heated (and animated) discussions about religion and politics. There's never a shortage for conversation. 

The ladies' book club seems to have a slight advantage in the food department though. There always seems to be some appetizer, snack or dessert that I hear about after the fact. I know she brought a cake along with her this evening. 

The closest thing beer club gets to this is when it's butcher night after deer hunting. We will have a grill going while butchering and enjoy some of the freshest venison possible. Every once in a while, there might be a pizza involved, but that's few and far between.

At the end of the day, or night - as the case may be, each club isn't really about the label it has. It's about the friendships, laughter and an opportunity to put the rest of life on hold for an evening. They may have different names, but the end result is the same.

Maybe you have a similar "club" that you look forward to. If not, I would highly recommend starting one. There are plenty of opportunities to get together with friends, but where's the fun if you don't turn it into a highly structured and well organized affair and label it a club? Ok. Maybe not, but you have to start somewhere. Learn to walk before you fly. Until next time....

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Going for Gold


I figured if I was going to write something about the Olympics, I better hurry up and do it before the whole world gets crazy about it. Or at least before I get sucked into watching the Olympics and won't want to peel myself away to write a blog post.

In the past, I never really got all that excited about the Olympic Games. This year is a little different though for a few reasons. The biggest reason I am now excited about the Olympics is because I just found out that my wife and girls are all excited about it. Since they're all excited to see the games, I better get excited too or I'll be the odd one out. 

Another reason I hadn't been real big on watching the Olympics in the past is because of the viewing schedule. They always seemed to highlight the events that I didn't care about. If I was lucky, I could wake up at 2am and watch a few snippits of something I actually enjoyed. It's looking like that may be better this go-around. Not only do the summer Olympics have more of the events I enjoy, the opportunities for streaming and online viewing are growing constantly.

Truth be told, there's only one sport that I'm really excited about. Taekwando. I have never seen the Taekwando events in the Olympics. It was always replayed at some unnaturally early hour of the night or barely even mentioned. Looks like I have four days of options this year with the big events being in the evening when I can actually watch.

It's sounding like I will also need to figure out the volleyball, swimming and gymnastics schedules as that's what my girls are interested in seeing. I enjoy volleyball in person, but can go either way if it's on tv. Swimming has never been one of my favorites. I enjoyed the US/Phelps victories, but that meant swimming overload to me. Diving is fun to watch though. 

Gymnastics is the one I think I will actually be able to get into with my girls. They fancy themselves little gymnasts, but in reality, I do better cartwheels than they do. I have a feeling that will change before the summer is over though.

I'm interested to see how the Olympic Games continue to evolve. The variety of sports have changed a bit over the years. Judging by how our society is going, I am expecting one of two versions of the Hunger Games to begin.

Yes, by one of those I am indeed referring to the book/movie by the same title. I'm sure it will start out as an interesting mix of the shooting sports and hand to hand fighting sports. Swordplay will be an added bonus. Although technology could provide a virtual "safe" version for the players, I imagine our desensitized blood-lust mentality will turn it into an actual killing game like the book. 

I would propose a different Hunger Game that will feed off (yes, I've been waiting two whole paragraphs to use that pun) our spiraling decent to gluttony. A wide smorgasbord of eating competitions. Plenty exist today already - although not at the Olympic level. The only problem I have with this is which one I would want to train for. Hot dog? Cheese Curds? Oh, I know...Chicken Wings.


Come to think of it, the Hunger Games, or Gluttony Games if we have to call it like it is, could actually go hand in hand with the training for a few of the existing sports. I recall hearing the ridiculously high amount of calories Michael Phelps had to consume daily when training. I guess if you spend all day swimming at that level, you might be able to get away with eating that many calories. Then again, some "doctor" will probably tell me it's still not healthy and ruin my idea.

Whatever the outcome of the Olympic Games, whichever countries come out on top, or how many chicken wings I eat while watching them, it will be fun. I am envisioning my two little girls suddenly developing a huge passion for swimming, gymnastics and volleyball. They already enjoy all three as it is. Seeing the "pros" do it will only intensify their desire to give them all a shot. Until next time....