Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blank Canvas

Artists are said to look at a blank canvas as they begin to create a masterpiece.  With a flick on the brush they add color with flare as the painting comes together.

This is my blank canvas:

It's the interface for Blogger.  This is where I put this blog together in preparation to publish it to the internet for you to read.

It's blank when I log in, and like the artist, I must flick the keys to create my artwork.

More and more I'm struggling with the creative process. It takes time and I need to be in the mood.  Early morning is my best writing time zone.

It's 5:05 am, I've been up for over an hour and here I am at the keyboard, filling the canvas to create my masterpiece.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Politics Everywhere

I'm immersed in political craziness this weekend.

Inaugural hysteria is over and I thought, that at least for a few years, I wouldn't have to put up with the chaos of politics.

A weekend away in Toronto has found me smack dab in the middle of the Ontario Liberal Party's Leadership Convention.

These people are nuts.

Think of it as U.S. Democrats/Republicans holding a convention to elect their party leader. Or as they call the position, Premier.

This is an important decision, from what I can gather, since the Liberal Party is in power in Ontario.  That means that the choice this group makes this weekend, will have a position in Canada's government to represent the Liberal Party.

I used to do the party convention thing as a Republican Delegate for Huron County Michigan.  That was n the day before the party lost their minds and allowed the far right to run the show.

But I digress.

I'm trying to find a way inside the convention to watch the madness as it unfolds.  I'm always interested in how other countries run their show.  I'm told I need to be a voting member or alternate to get inside.  Maybe I can pass myself off as a media man writing a lowly blog about international politics.

Nah, I don't care that much about the Ontario Liberal Party.

Party is the key word here.  There was plenty of that going on last night into the wee hours of the morning.

Maybe I can join them for to celebrate tonight.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Another Adventure!

From the movie,
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventury
As you read this, I hope I am fast asleep in a warm and cozy bed on another adventure!

Life is never dull.

More to come.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Key to Keeping Warm

It's cold.

That's really an understatement.  Yesterday the bank clock down the street from my workplace read -1F when I was arriving just before 7 am.

Add in the "wind chill factor," and it was more like -20.

That's cold.

Key to warmth.
I could feel the wind freezing my legs through my thin polyester pants during my short stroll from car to the office back door.

Brrr. It's cold in my bedroom too.  When I checked the last two mornings, it was 62 degrees up on the second floor.  That's another reason I find myself warm and cozy, wrapped in a handmade blanket, on the couch.

My house is heated by a hot water boiler that circulates the warmth through radiators scattered around the house.

I've noticed the bedroom radiator was pretty much cold as ice.  I figured the circulating pump wasn't doing it's job.  Just another of the many necessary, but sometime unaffordable, repairs my nearly 110 year old home needs.

As I made my way up the stairs this morning, my modern techno world jumped into old world common sense.

I remembered when I bought the house that the previous owner had given me several keys and other things necessary to, according to him, maintain the house.

One of those things was a radiator key.

It's a little wrench type key that opens a small valve on the top of a radiator to bleed out any air trapped in the lines.  I've bled the lines in years past and only got water in return.

Today was different.

I opened the value on my bedroom radiator with a whoosh of air that continued for several minutes.  As this air was flowing out of the radiator, I placed my hand near the bottom and could feel the heat of the boiler's water entering to share it's warmth with the room.

A simple metal key.

The key to keeping warm in an old house.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tie that Binds

One day last week, while at the grocery store, I ran into a woman I've known for sometime, but don't see very often. She looked great and I told her so.  We chatted a bit about diets and eating and our "new lives."

She, too, had gastic bypass surgery several years ago. I got to know her when she called me at the urging of her family doctor.  She was struggling with the adjustments to a new way of eating. Her doctor knew I had been successful with the surgery asked me if she could call.

Gastric bypass surgery is how I know this woman.  It's what we have in common.  The tie that binds us together.  It's one of those things that comes to mind when I see her.

We all have those ties to people. That connection that gives us common ground upon which we live.

Think about all the ties to others. School and church. Clubs and organizations. Being left-handed or having blue eyes. There is something that ties you to others.

Of course, we're all human. The first groups, tied together, are male and female. Then young and old.

As you read this, you're tied to others who read blogs.

I could makes list that go on and on.  But you get the idea.

We're all bound together, one way or another, with the tie that binds.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Last Monday, 27 of my roughly 130 coworkers started a weight loss competition. We're calling it The Biggest Loser: Agri-Valley Edition.

Original name huh?

At any rate, today is our first weigh in and I just got off the scale.

By simply cutting out snacking between meals; eating smaller, more sensible portions for my meals; drinking more water; and making wise food choices, I've manged to drop 5.4 lbs. the first week!

Now, before I get too excited, I have to tell myself that men lose much more easily than women and first week weigh loss is always decent if you're doing the right things.

For now, I'll be happy that my shirts and pants already fit a little better and be thankful if I drop about two or three pounds by this time next week.

An added incentive is the Biggest Loser in our group wins $185!

That will buy a lot of chocolate cheesecake!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Death of Common Sense Advice

Several years ago I read a book entitled: "The Death of Common Sense." It focus on how laws are killing our county.

It was the title of the book that caught my eye and drove me to read it.

Common sense is dead.  Long live common sense!

Yesterday, Pauline Friedman Phillips passed away at age 94.  She was known to many for handing out witty, common sense advice to millions of people worldwide.

You would know her as Abigail Van Buren -- Dear Abby.

For years she wrote a syndicated newspaper advice column that often had some bite. She seemed like the kind of woman who didn't put up with non-sense.  Her advice wasn't that "make you feel all warm and fuzzy even when you're wrong" advice of today's politically correct world.

I didn't grow up reading Dear Abby. The newspapers I read carried another advice column written by Esther Friedman Lederer, more commonly known as Ann Landers.

She, too, offered pointed and sensible advice very similar to that of Abby's. Perhaps that's because Pauline and Esther -- Abby and Ann -- were twin sisters who grew up in Sioux City, Iowa.

Esther/Ann died in 2002.

Back in 1981, a reader wrote to Abby about two men had recently bought a house together in San Francisco, and the neighbors were annoyed. The men were entertaining "a very suspicious mixture of people," the neighbors wrote, asking: "How can we improve the neighborhood?"

Short and to the point, Dear Abby replied: "You could move."

Yeah, common sense advice died yesterday. But the legacy left by these two woman will last forever.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Since the first of the year, I've been trying to make lists.  Especially at work.

I have my list of "Things To Do." Mostly projects that I'm working on. Some ongoing, others that need my input at some point in time.

Making lists has become a necessary part of my life.  I just have too many things to remember.

There are several lists in my life. One for work, another for weekends. I make a list for shopping, mostly for the essentials I can't forget to pick up.

From time to time I've written about my list of Must See movies.

I even have a short list of blog topics. That list needs a sub-list with content for those topics.

Lists are good.

They let me clear my mind of information that needs to be remembered.

Now, if I could just remember where I left my lists.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I can't win

I see a horse and buggy in my future.
I'm not sure if I mentioned the bent rim on my Ford Fusion.

An icy intersection, turning the steering wheel right when I should have turned left, the unyielding curb on the other side of the street all lead to the rim being bent just a few feet from my home.

That was three weeks ago.

Finding a rim at a decent price was a trick, but I finally found one last week at a junkyard in Detroit.

Thankfully a friend who lives in the Metro Detroit area was working in Saginaw so he picked it up and dropped it off at my nephew's house in Bay City.

By Saturday, the rim was in the back of my truck and I continued my travels to West Michigan to hang out with a friend.

Sunday, as I was traveling back home, I noticed the battery light was glowing bright on the dashboard of my truck.  The alternator gauge showed the battery was charging, so I continued on. I hoped to make it as far as I could (hopefully home).

As life would have it, I lost the alternator about 20 miles west of Bay City... But I continued on, turning off all non-essential power draws and praying all the way.

By the time I was about two-miles west of Bay City, I pretty much had no lights (it was dark) and an angel in a large truck followed me, illuminating the road ahead and protecting me from traffic behind.

I made it to the Walgreen store parking lot and, just as I was pulling into a parking spot, the engine died.

The battery was dead.

Thankfully I have AAA road service that will haul a vehicle 100 without a charge to me.  I was about 50 miles from home.

So, the flatbed truck arrived and the pickup was loaded.

Today, between my work commitments, I will be making a phone call to my mechanic to be both the car and truck repaired.

I'm worried the car has more damage than the bent rim.  This could get costly.

Perhaps I'll look into a horse and buggy too.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Running the Roads

It looks like I'm going to be running the roads this weekend. Like that is a surprise.

A late afternoon trip to Detroit is necessary to pick up the car wheel (rim) for my 2011 Ford Fusion. On Christmas Eve, I managed to hit the curb hard enough to bend the rim on the car.  A new one costs $225 or more. This one is just $100.

And yes, I have figured the gas so my price is going to be more in the $150 range.  But, I'll taking care of some other business while I'm in town.  You know, killing two birds with one trip to the city.

After I pick up the rim, I'm headed back to Bay City.  I hope to catch Pinconning Michigan native and Comedian Rob Little's show at the State Theater. They're taping the shows (a second show was added after the first was sold out) for future DVDs.

Following the show, I'm going to crash with a friend in Bay City.

Saturday may take me to Big Rapids to hang with my buddy Andrew, but those plans are still up in the air.

On Sunday, I'm headed back to Bay City, for dinner and maybe a movie.

All this hustle and bustle will make me appreciate getting back to my Monday morning routine all the more.

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Not My Thing

I’m always amazed at the narrow-minded view so many people have of the world.  Their lives revolved around a few well-known, tried and true activities that seem to keep them content.

Recently, I've made it pretty clear that I do best with a routine. But that doesn't mean I’m not willing to explore and enjoy new adventures.

It’s really quite saddening for me when I invite friends to join me for an activity and get a “that’s not my thing,” response.

Case-in-point: I recently asked a friend to join me to see a play, a local production of a well-known Broadway hit, as my guest.  Dinner and a show.

The offer was refused with a rather stern, “You keep asking me, but it’s just not my thing. I find plays boring.”


Now I know I have a special gene that allows me to enjoy the arts more than I do sports.  I’m not sure where it came from since I was born and raised in Huron County Michigan. This area can be all about guzzling beer and watching football.

Upon further investigation I discovered that the only plays my friend had ever seen were local-yokel productions that, I’m sure would sour most people’s taste.

I certainly understand the desire to not be bored.

Maybe I’m a martyr? I've suffered through some really boring (and sometimes annoying) events for the sake of friendship and spending time with the people I call friends.

Sometimes doing things that’s “not your thing” is the thing to do!

How do people sit at home, night after night, watching TV? Talk about boring!

But then watching Dancing with the Bachelor, Survivor of Downton Abbey or Monday Night Basketball… Well, it’s not my thing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Surprises come in many forms. Some are good and usually welcomed while others are bad and, of course, unwelcomed.

I've had some surprises in the past few weeks.

The unwelcomed column includes an overnight stay in the hospital, a warning light flashing on the dash of my pickup, being unfriended by two Facebook friends and the recent slushy snow I didn't expect.

Some welcomed surprises, that added a smile to my face, included a forgotten $50 bill tucked away in my wallet, unique personalized Christmas cards from friends from my past and a personal visit from friend I assumed I wouldn't see again for several weeks.

Surprises can, for someone who functions better with a routine and schedule, cause chaos and havoc to a normal day. They're a twist in life out of left field.

For the most part, the surprises in my life are welcomed and enhance my life. Even the bad surprises lead to lessons that help me grow and an individual.

Making all surprises positive is really all about facing life head on.

But that's no surprise.

This blog was written on Monday, January 7, but I forgot to "publish" it.  It's interesting how I the topic was surprises because later that day, I was surprised by a belated-Christmas gift from my friend Wanda Eichler (  That was one of those unexpected, but welcomed surprises!  Thank you Wanda!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tuesday Tally: Movie Must NOT Sees

I haven't shared a Tuesday Tally in a while. So why not share something odd:

Here's a short list of Movie Must NOT Sees.  These movies either showing or have opening dates coming soon.

Texas Chainsaw 3D —  January is often horror film month. TC-3D is, according to one report I read, the 47th variation on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. I missed at least 45 of the previous versions, so I don't think I would understand the plot.

A Haunted House — While this sounds like another horror film, it's actually looks like a horrible film. It's not officially part of the Scary Movie series, but it has that feel. Unfortunately, the Scary Movie movies haven’t been good since The Wayan brothers left. I think you'll see the best of the worst by watching the trailer here.

The Last Stand — The Last Stand is an attempt to revive the career of a Hollywood relic, former California Gubbanator Arnold Schwarzennegar. Personally, with all the swirl around Arnie, I'm not all that jazzed about the return of Schwarzennegar. This very well could be The Last Stand for Arnold.

Parker — Another one of Jason Statham’s biannual movies, Parker will probably be remembered as the Statham Movie in which he wears a cowboy hat and Jennifer Lopez walks around in her underwear. That's probably a sellling point for some movie-goers, but if you want a movie with any substance, make another pick.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters — What's with taking fairy tales or real life people (Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) and turning them into hunters of the unreal.  Fantasy meet fiction? H&G: Witch Hunders will either be the worst movie of the year or sweep the Oscars (because awful movies sometimes do that!).

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What a Difference a Day Makes

In my world, it's amazing what a difference a day makes.

Often, when we're troubled by something, if we just set it aside for a day the problem will lesser or perhaps disappear.  If nothing else, we will have a new perspective and can see the concern in a new light which allows us to deal with it in a new way.

"Let me sleep on it," is a (semi) common phrase when making a big decision. There are laws that allow you to rescind a decision -- often on a major purchase like a house -- after 24 hours.

Studies have shown that when given a project, many individuals show a much more creative and detailed completion of the task when they have had at least a day to work on it.

A day can make a difference in your health as well.

How often do you feel fantastic one day, and sick as a dog the next?  We've all heard stories of people in the hospital, near the brink of death, suddenly opening their eyes on morning, fully revived.

This past week was a roller coaster for me.  The holidays and time off work had my schedule totally missing. Add in some travel and late nights with early mornings and my world can become a little less friendly.

These highs and lows, coupled with an on-the-road diet lacking proper hydration and the re-introduction of my customary daily pot of coffee, and was feeling the physical effects by Wednesday.

Overnight, the backflips I could feel from my heart, disappeared, but returned Thursday afternoon with an intensity that sent me to the emergency room.

An overnight stay in the hospital with lots of tests and a fast running IV, made me feel good as new the next morning.

Now, this morning, the beginning of the weekend, I'm getting back into the groove, my routine.

And I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Ah, what a difference a day makes!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Home with Dada

This video started my day out with a smile, so I'm sharing it with you.  Happy Thursday!

(Life with Dada is borrowed from

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Surprise Discoveries

Surprise discoveries are always fun.

Perhaps it's a $20 bill tucked away in your wallet or purse, an unopened Christmas card discovered after the holiday or a website filling with information you can use.

My surprise discovering relates to the blog.

Unless I go to the main blog pages, I don't see BNB the same way you, the reader. I access the blog through the dashboard which gives me many options for style and statics.

One of the tabs is labeled "Comments."

I rarely look at the comments section. I worry too much about critical comments and people pointing out typos and grammatical errors.

This morning, as I was poking around I decided to take a glance at the comments and made a surprise discovery: multiple comments from several people. Even more surprising is that several of the comments are from strangers.

For that, I say, "THANK YOU."  It's nice to know people are reading what I write and it's great to hear your thoughts on what I have to say.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Goodbye 2012, welcome 2013!

Do you remember when everyone was in a panic over Y2K?  Time sure flys.

Here it is, January 1. Time to make some resolutions.

Most of us do just that on January 1 and the majority of us fail at the resolutions by the middle of the month.

Statically, it's known that if you can stick with your resolution for 30 days -- just to the end of January -- your chances of success increase dramatically.  That's because you're actually creating a habit.

But don't let that 30 day number fool you.  Old habits die hard. So don't think you're over the hump on February 1.

So what do I resolve this year?

Since you asked (you did in  your head, right?), here are a few of my resolutions:

Eat better and lose weight.  I think everyone has these resolutions. For me, I gotta follow through and do it.  I'm carrying about 25 more pounds than a few years ago and it's starting to bug me. I know how to do it, I just need to put my mind to it.

Move more. This goes along with the the eating better and losing weight.  I'm not getting any younger but I can feel my joints are a little stiffer and I have more aches and pains. Moving more will help with both of those.

Tell it like it is. This isn't going to be too difficult.  I tend to say what I'm thinking.  This resolution applies to my friends (and perhaps family) who need to hear the reality of a situation.

Stop trying to solve other's problems. My personality is to nurture and care for others.  That often leads to me trying to solve their problems. Seriously, I need to stop that... I have enough problems of my own.

Do not allow others to use me. I call this being the "Friend de jour" or Friend of the day. It seems like there are people in my life who only want the friendship when they need something.  Sorry folks, those days are over!

Spend my time wisely. I find a lot of my time is spend doing things I don't really want to do. And far too often, it's at the expense of not doing something I would rather do.

Travel more. I'm sure my family is rolling their eyes reading this one. It seems like I'm never home.  The truth is that I may not be home, but I'm not far away either.  I want to do some serious vacationing in my future.

I have a few more resolutions but they're more "I'm going to try to" rather than full-blown resolutions.

We'll see how it's going a month from now.


Happy New Year!