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December 1st, 2023

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

-Winter showed up this week, which means no working outside for several months. In it's place I've replaced actual tinkering with a delightful British show called The Repair Shop. It's a real charmer guys. People bring in their old and busted antiques - everything from jukeboxes to dolls to desks - and a collective of artisans makes them work and look pretty again. All episodes are on YouTube for free and they make a great excuse to not go out into the cold.

- As a follow up to my November 9th post, congrats to Michigan Football Team 144. I don't know if I've ever been more proud to be an alumnus or fan of Michigan, which is saying something. This team has collectively responded and played through all the overblown controversy in a way that's really to be admired. The fact the did so by putting it to Ohio for the third straight year makes me as giddy as a school girl. Of course they still have three games left, but no matter what happens going forward, to cheer these guys on has been a privilege and I'll never forget it.

-Speaking of football, your favorite defunct college football gambling podcast is back baby! Sort of. Keep an eye on your feed for a teaser for the return of the We Are So Good at Football Bowl Spectacular. The teaser is in the can, and the full show will be up before Bowl season starts. Here's a Spotify link. Here's the generic RSS feed. and iTunes. Or click here to listen! Sports!

- The ongoing saga of "can I please have my own office at work because my officemate is smelly?" has been progressing. Apparently some higher ups from my department weren't too keen on the move, stating that IT teams should be in the same office for communication, pooling of resources blah blah blah. Luckily my supervisor lied through his teeth and said we'll be in the same room and the second office is for storage, so whew! It's not going to be perfect, but it's several steps in the right direction. I got keys today so let the migration begin!

-Finally, one last shout out to my new Geeks Who Drink gig at the Detroit Pizza Pub (Tuesdays at 8!) The bar is cool, has good drink specials and I love hosting a quiz. If you haven't stopped by yet, come on over and see what all the fuss is about. Of course I still play trivia and we'll be looking to take down another Sporcle Championship this Sunday, so wish us luck on that too.

Posted 11:11am
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November 15th, 2023

I Have Returned.

General Douglas MacArthur and I have a few passing similarities. We both have a contentious relationship with the Philippines, FDR called us both one of the most dangerous men in America, and soon, we will both have fulfilled our promise to return.

While my exploits have a lesser impact on our national security posture, it is still with great pride and excitement that I announce my return behind the mic at Geeks Who Drink.

My last official show was March 10th, 2020, and then, well as much as we'd like to forget we all remember. Since then Geeks focused on climbing out from lockdown on bigger markets and chose not to try and break the monopoly that Sporcle has on Washtenaw County. Well it's time to get up off the mat and show the Wheel of Fortune of pub quizzes what real Jeopardy! looks like.

SO! Starting next Tuesday at 8pm at the Detroit Pizza Pub (and hopefully in perpetuity until I retire to the island of Montreal) I will be hosting Geeks Who Drink's return to Ann Arbor. While I am horrendously biased, I think Geeks offers the best trivia format and questions out there, and I am no slouch at presenting them to a bunch of drunks on a Tuesday night.

Of course for all this to work, people have to show up. Hopefully that means you. And all your friends. And your friends' friends. And their extended family. I mean of course word will eventually get out and like the elusive fusion reactor, this think will become self-sustaining. But until then, I'd consider it a personal favor if you came out once or twice and hung out with your old friend tbaggervance for an intellectual evening of frivolity. Let's show ol' Dougie Mac what an overwhelming show of force really looks like.

Posted 11:11am
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November 9th, 2023

Karma Police.

Karma police, arrest this man, he talks in maths
He buzzes like a fridge, he's like a detuned radio

When the news that Michigan Football was being (credibly) accused of illegally stealing signs form their opponents I tried my best to brush it off. Initial reports were that it was some lunatic fringe staffer acting on his own, unbeknownst to anyone actually in charge of anything. The reason it immediately became a kerfuffle is that people don't like Michigan and their arrogance and they actively hate Jim Harbaugh for being Jim Harbaugh. The former is and will forever be and we bring a fair amount of that disdain on ourselves, fine. The later is even easier to understand. I have my own problems with Harbaugh and all great head coaches are inherently unlikable, especially if they don't work for you. And I'm not even getting into the crazy Catholicism stuff.

Karma Police, arrest this girl, her Hitler hairdo
Is making me feel ill and we have crashed her party

The rumors swirled so fast and at such a steady drip that it was hard to know exactly what was fact and what was some low level staffer who likes to talk to reporters because it makes them feel important and no one fact checks anything anymore in favor of clicks. Then it came out (with the receipts, just like Connor Stallions) that Rutgers and Ohio were colluding with Purdue last year to pass around information about Michigan's decoded signs.

So, maybe that's not against NCAA regulations and paying a Division III coach to go to a future opponents games and record the sidelines is, but even according to the NCAA that rule Michigan probably broke is in place for FINANCIAL reasons, because by their own admission, those kind of shenanigans provide "minimal competitive advantage." If Connor Stallions and thus Michigan are "100% guilty", it's a dinstinction without a difference.

So everyone steals signs, it's part of the game. The only reason it's not fixed by the powers that be by placing headsets into QB and linebacker helmets, is because people like sign stealing. Everyone thinks they're better at it than their opponents and they don't want to give that up.

I've got $10 and will give you 5-1 that all of this is coming from Ohio in some capacity. Ryan "dye beard" Day is all butt hurt because he got his brains bashed in for two straight years by Michigan and then got called soft by an 80 year old man with dementia and lost his shit.That's all my opinion and a guess but I mean, tell me I'm wrong. Michigan got too good and people are freaking out. If they stole signs illegally, that explains 45-23 and 42-27 in the collective hive mind of Columbus.

This is what you get
When you mess with us

Now the Big Ten is threatening all kinds of immediate punishment for Michigan, including suspending Harbaugh for two games. People on the internet are calling this the worst scandal in the history of the Big Ten, but I assume these are eight year olds not old enough to remember Jerry Sandusky, Larry Nasser or let's say 500 other scandals. No one knows what's going to happen, but what should? The NCAA should finish their investigation and after due process, Michigan should pay a hefty fine, maybe lose a scholarship or three for a couple years, and the people in charge should put this issue to bed by admonishing everyone in the conference and putting headsets in helmets.

If Commissioner Petitte and the sanctimonious asshats calling for Harbaugh's head want to play it hard, then at this point I say bring it on. I was thoroughly enjoying this once in a generation season and some spoiled people born on third base thinking they hit a triple are trying to save face by pointing and yelling "J'accuse!" I'm going to put my faith in the money and intellectual prowess behind Michigan to show you the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station. What will you have left when Michigan runs the table and wins the National Championship?

This is what you get, when you mess with us.

Posted 1:00pm
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October 27th, 2023

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment.

- Moar woodworking! I went and bought some exotic hardwoods for my birthday last month, So I made a couple stand-up paddle boards paddles and of course, a new cutting board for the BDGF. All these and more coming to the Ann Arbor Artisan Market this Sunday:

- It's been a month of mini-vacations. At the end of last month I went back to Lincoln, NE with my tailgate buddies as part of our quest to watch Michigan win in every Big Ten stadium. Then last weekend I went to Cleveland to hang with my old college roommates, as their band Taproot just released new music and is out touring again. The first trip was part of an ongoing concern with people that I see on a regular basis, and the second was with a group of guys that I've been largely out of touch with for twenty years. They were both remarkably fun. The BDGF noted that I don't seem to have the issue that's the subject of so many think pieces about the decline of adult male friendships, and thank god. I apparently have no shortage of guys with whom I can talk about serious issues or just get slowly drunk with while watching sports or playing bar games. I guess it's something I don't think about that often as it's generally always been there in my life, but I'm a very lucky man.

- Not to be outdone, the BDGF went with some friends to Iceland a few weeks back, and because she's the BDGF, she had brunch next to Bjork. Because of course she did.

- When the subject of work comes up these days the first words out of my mouth are always "three and half years until retirement!" and we've gone into great detail here on the blog of exactly how (un)true that is, but today I have news that's the next best thing. About five years ago they moved myself and the other IT person in the building into a tiny basement office with no windows and little ventilation. This has been exacerbated by the fact that my office mate smokes, eats fast food in the office twice a day and has an irregular bathing schedule. Well it finally got to me and I convinced the powers that be to move us, and I'll finally be back in my own office. Sitting on a beach in the Caribbean it is not, but it's going to feel like it for a while.

- Finally, it's back! I'm back! We're back! After three and a half years I finally got the call and Geeks Who Drink is coming back to Ann Arbor, dragging my corpse of a hosting career behind it. Hosting my weekly Geeks Who Drink show is the only thing that hasn't returned from my pre-pandemic life, so I say again, we're back! Of course this little charade could fall through as other opportunities have, or it could fail to launch if nobody shows up, but y'all aren't going to let that happen, are you? As of now and subject to change, I'll be hosting every Tuesday night at The Detroit Pizza Co. on Main Street in Ann Arbor, 8pm, starting November 21st. Is this the Tuesday before Thanksgiving you ask? Yes it is. Is this an ill-advised launch date? Probably. But I double checked and that's what they said. So stay tuned for further information and updates, but feel free to put it on your calendars and I'll see you Thanksgiving Eve-Eve.

Posted 1:00pm
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October 6th, 2023

The Unsinkable BDGF.

With sincerest apologies to my friends who have and continue to participate in the sport, I've never cared for crew. I understand that it's good exercise and teamwork and it can be meditative and all that noise, but ultimately it just seems like a sport for rich assholes. It's for dudes whose other favorite pastime is date rape. You know, the Winkelvi of it all. Is that unfair? Of course it is, but this is my little corner of the world. And after what happened on Wednesday, my position is unlikely to be swayed anytime soon.

The BDGF and I as of late have taken to going to happy hour on the "pond"* two blocks from our house. We throw the kayaks in the back of the car and go float around for 2 hours and have a couple of beers. It's so goddamn pleasant I can hardly stand it. The only sad part is that it's something we only recently thought of. We regularly take the boats out on the weekends and do the exact same thing, but we've only started to do it as a happy hour in the last month or so.

*It's actually a river that's been dammed, but we call it a pond?

Given that it's October and the weather is about to take a turn for the worse, we were keen to get one last float in while the getting was still good. So on Wednesday we hauled our gear down to the pond and floated gently, watching the sun set, marveling at the weird crane that was hanging out near us and throwing back some two hearted. Unfortunately, it didn't last long.

We weren't the only people out enjoying the last throws of summer. The pond was fairly busy for a Wednesday evening and the ever-present high school rowing teams were also out there practicing. Now you'll note my previously stated disdain for crew on principle, and I also don't care for them in practice. They act like they own the lake, the coaches boat has a noisy outboard motor and they're constantly yelling at each other through megaphones. It's annoying, but it's a public space and we gladly share the water.

Every once in a while we'll be sitting out there gently floating and someone will ask us to move 20 yards one way or another so they can row through the area that we currently occupy. Again, annoying, but we always do it without question. Wednesday we were sitting near a small island, no where near the middle of the pond where the teams make their runs, when I looked up and shouted "Look out! Look out!"

Before I could get my paddle in my hands to make a move, a twenty foot long crew boat full of high school kids T-boned the BDGF and threw her out of her kayak. The oars of the crew boat slammed into my chest and spun me around so fast that I was completely discombobulated. My the time I had my bearings back the BDGF was clinging to her overturned kayak. The boat that hit us was 30 yards down the pond, and the team's coach was making his way over to us in his boat.

The coach tried to make sure we were OK and offered to call for help. We politely told him to fuck off without using those words, and preceded to make our way towards the shore 30 feet away so we could right the BDGF's kayak. We were both pretty traumatized and out of sorts, but everyone was OK. I mean, I was obviously furious but the BDGF took the brunt of the collision so I decided not to white knight it and let her take the lead on what to do next. Knowing that these were high school kids meant she was going to forgive them anything, and me reading the riot act to some douche bag crew team coach wasn't going to accomplish anything other than making me feel 5% better.

The coach eventually called us over to talk after we were back in our boats, and his response was... not great. He again made sure were OK and apologized and offered to pay for anything we lost, but his attitude was just like "these things happen." He reiterated that he didn't see the incident, and as much as I wanted to, I didn't furiously respond "Well, no, they don't "just happen" when your team is properly coached and supervised, which they aren't if they just ran over a couple of stationary kayaks no where near where your team should have been, your ignorant pompous jackhole."

Bad gas travels fast in a small town, and the BDGF knows everyone in Ann Arbor Public Schools, so she's talked to the athletic director from the crew team's school and had people contact her and say "I heard what happened." I mean everyone's fine and it's just an anecdote going forward, but the whole thing could've been much worse. Someone could have been badly injured. If this had happened to someone much older than us who was by themselves, I don't think the crew team's response would have helped what could have easily been a dire situation. So yeah, the crew teams can go fuck themselves. You're lucky you hit a kind even-tempered person like the BDGF and not tbaggervance, because my response would have been much different.

Posted 1:12pm
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October 4th, 2023

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment.

- My journey towards "professional" woodworker continues apace. I'm not exactly raking in cash in my limited selling opportunities, but at least I'm paying for my materials with my sales. We're gonna call that a win for year zero. I'm going to see if I can hit up some "holiday" markets starting next month and of course there are plenty of projects to try and get done before the weather turns too cold. Here's some teak cutting boards I made for the last market I went to that are already selling:

- The BDGF's littlest is now a junior at Michigan and finally moved into a "big girl" house. Gone is the expensive high rise "training wheels" living and the era of over-priced student housing in hundred year old dwellings has begun. This means a lot of projects for dear-old-fake-step-dad to make the house livable so that her Mom can sleep at night. The fun one was this table for their back porch. Your guess as to what they wanted it for is as good as mine. Or the same as mine.

- September was a whirlwind. After we moved the littlest into her new digs, there were 4 straight football home games followed by a trip to see Michigan in Nebraska, we saw Beck, Ted Leo and Matt and Kim in concert, attended two artisan markets to sell my wares and found time to turn 48 as well. I think things are supposed to slow down as you get older? I am apparently not getting older*.

- Speaking of, there is of course more travel on the horizon. The BDGF is headed to Iceland next week with some friends and I'm headed to Cleveland in two weeks with my old college roommates. I agreed to go on this "guy's trip" when the one person that I lived with in college and am still in regular touch with suggested I "come along" - with this group that's been taking regular vacations together for years. Then he dropped out. So I'm headed to the mistake by the lake with a bunch of people that I've seen once or twice over the last twenty years. How many of these people are now religious and/or Republican? Why did I not immediately bail when the one person I still know dropped out? What happens when I say something to piss everyone off on Friday night and I've carpooled to Cleveland and am stuck there until Monday? Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion to "T tries to extend himself outside his comfort zone and walks into an unmitigated disaster." Or it will be fine.

- Finally, sandwiched between all of the aforementioned goings-on I also got roped into writing and hosting a trivia night for charity a couple of weeks ago. It was fun, and thankfully I quickly convinced the organizers to let me do everything myself, so it went buttery smooth. It was a stark reminder of how much I miss doing it. Some friends and I had a dalliance this summer with trying to host our own show at a local watering hole but it sadly fell through. I don't feel like I have the time to write and host a trivia night every week going forward (see everything above) but it is very tempting. I've avoided the complete DIY approach because the time it takes to write the questions leads to me being paid a horrible hourly wage, and there's more lucrative ways to kill time. But damn if I don't want to try it. It'd be better if my friends and I found a venue to do it as a team, and it'd be best if Geeks Who Drink came back to Ann Arbor and let me host a show at a cool bar where I can just show up and be a loud mouth once a week. Perhaps the dam will break and I'll get one of those chances. Until then, If someone wants to give me $200 to host a monthly show, have your people call my people.

* I am absolutely getting older.

Posted 3:00pm
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August 30th, 2023

The Long and Winding Road.

In the early 90s art was my life. My senior year in high school was largely spent in the art room, churning out everything I could in pastels, watercolors, batiques, what have you. Artisitc endeavors have also been where my passion lies, whether I'm paiting or making music or building a desk. Unfortunately my grades and test scores were too good, and my parents too pragmatic, to have ever considered it as a career, no matter the medium.

I still paint sometimes, albeit sparingly. Today is the BDGF and I's fourteenth (14th!) anniversary, so I finally got around to painting this picture that she requested years ago when our home renovation was finished:

Like every painting I've ever done, it didn't get finished, it got abandoned. At some point you have to walk away for fear of ruining what you've already put down. Hindisght always says that was a good idea in some parts, not so much in others, with a third of the painting begging to have been walked away from earlier.

This all feels prescient as I type this three and a half years from retirement. At some point I want to walk away from this job that I haven't enjoyed for years, but I can't afford to cut my salary in half by becomming a bartender who spends his afternoons painting and building kayak paddles. Maybe when the house is paid off? But I can't imagine abandoning all the expensive tastes I've developed either. There is no right answer, at some point you just walk away and live with the consequences. All the while the pragmatism drilled into me forty plus years ago is screaming in my lizard brain.

The reality is that I won't retire until the government starts sending me checks, unless I die at my desk dreaming about whatever project is on my workbench at home. That's far from a raw deal and in truth a pretty lucky situation. And if I'm even luckier, I'll get to do it with the BDGF next to me, pushing me to try more and more outlandish creative outlets. For sure it will be full of surprises, just like the last 14 years, which is all anyone can ask for.

Posted 3:00pm
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August 18th, 2023


Going on vacation for a month is a long time. It's about 1/12th of a year you guys. The BDGF is fond of saying "we're not on vacation, we're just living here!" while not working, going out every night and spending 24 hours a day together. You know, just life. I suppose you could call it a trial run for retirement, but even that's a stretch given the lifestyle we were maintaining.

I do feel more like a local than a tourist though. I've spent over a year of my life there at this point, so I can confidently answer a tourist who stops me and asks for directions or how the metro or bixis work.My french is still fairly terrible, but I don't have a panic attack when I walk into a store and someone starts asking me questions in their thick quebecois accent. I still sound like a five year old when I respond and no one is confusing me for a native in that respect, but things have come a long way.

The BDGF has a lot of big ideas when it comes to plans for the future. Who knows how all of it will shake out, but we'll probably spend more and more time in Montreal as we get older. It's a nice feeling to have found somewhere you want to be and someone you want to be there with. I'm looking forward to strolling through Parc La Fontaine in 10 years and have the tourists say "Look at that cute old French couple."

This year we finally convinced some folks to come visit us while we were "living" in Montreal and having traversed most of the island and visited every tourist attraction the city has to offer, we were able to lay out all of the best options available for first timers. So as a public service, here's (basically) what we sent to them for things to do while visiting La Belle Province.

Outdoor stuff
- Mount Royal - There's a spectacular observation lookout up there! There's also a giant, beautiful stone building with a visitor center and such. There are a lot of short hikes to other spots on the mountain like a lake where you can rent boats to tool around in and the iconic Montreal cross. Getting up to the top is a nice hike (you can also take a bus, but you can walk up a gentle switchback route or climb enough stairs to give someone pushing 50 a heart attack. Dealer's Choice!) In any case, kind of a must see. experience/welcome-montreal- mighty-mount-royal

- Parc Jean Drapeau - A little island they made in the middle of the Saint Lawrence for Expo '67- it's all excavated dirt from digging the tunnels for the Metro.  Great place to hike, rent bikes, or e-scooters, visit the eco museum, which is inside a 100m round geodesic dome.  You can connect to the other islands via bridges - hiking, biking, or bus to see the now-casino building (was the Canadian building at the Expo and is gorgeous), and walk paths and trails to see gardens and sculptures and such still in existence from the Expo.There's even an Easter Island rapnui statue! Highly recommended.
https://www.parcjeandrapeau. com

- Place de Spectacles - Right outside our place is Place de Spectacles. All kinds of things to do/eat down there, it's the heart of the Just For Laughs festival. Free shows on the big stages in front of our apartment, street theater/performers, food trucks, lots of free hands on activities and games throughout the Place.

- St. Joseph Oratorio - Giant old church on the Mountain.  People crawl up the giant steps to "repent" Pretty neat church at the top if you're into architecture and buildings. en/

- The Beach! There's Clocktwoer beach and Pied du Courant and a beach on one of the islands in the river.

- Boats! - There's a Giant speedboat that zips around St. Lawrence really fast if you're into thrill rides https://www.oldportofmontreal. com/activity/jet-boating-on- rapids
There are kayaks and paddle boats for rent on the canal next to the Atwater Market.

-Fireworks! - Thursday at 10.  You can watch from the bridge, but you should get there by 9 if that's how you want to see them so you have enough time to walk all the way up. You can also see them from some great rooftop restaurants in the Old Port, or just by hanging out next to the bridge rather than going up on it.  

- The Old Port - There's a Zipline, a giant Ferris Wheel and 400 year old streets that make you feel like you're in Europe. Touristy as hell but you have to see it.  Lots of restos and shops obviously. 

- The Ring - Giant Ring (art installation) downtown that currently has a nightly free cirque du soleil type performance daily at 6 and 930
https:// montrealcompletementcirque. com/en/p/the-giant/

- Beaux Arts - Fine Arts museum.  The one to hit if you want to see paintings and art museum stuff.

- Pointe a Callier - Montreal History museum.  It goes underneath the city and shows parts of the city hundreds of years old that they've excavated and preserved.  If you want to know the history of Montreal, it's pretty great.  They usually have fun rotating stuff too.

- Redpath Natural History Museum - On McGill's campus, it's free (!) and they have dinosaur bones and the like if you're into that

- Olympic Stadium Campus - This place has a Botanical Garden that is spectacular (this is outdoor), and inside are the Insectarium (we haven't been), Planetarium, and Biodome  (four different climates inside with flora and fauna for each.  Pretty neat but kind of just a zoo?) But everyone we've sent there loves it, it's neat if it sounds up your alley. There's also a skate park there if the kids are into that.

Food and drink
- Beer - There's two breweries we really like, Benelux and Dieu de Ciel.  The former is by our house, the latter is up in the hipster neighborhood of Mile End. There are plenty of others, these are the two worth the trip.

- Famous Foods - There's smoked meat @ Schwartzs.  There's Portuguese chicken (Ma Poulee is a good one, but it's everywhere) as well as Poutine.  PoutineFest is happening at the Old Port, so probably as good a place as any to try if it's on your list. Bagels are everywhere but the two classic shops (St. Viateur and Fairmount) are up in the Plateau and Mile End.

- Restos - Le Central and Time Out Market are two high-end food courts that have something for everyone.  And Time Out currently has a bunch of arcade games and pinball up there.  

Other stuff
- Escape Rooms - There's plenty.  We've tried most of them, but good vacation thing to do with kids for about $20/person for an hour. Three's even an outdoor one!

- Aura At the Notre Dame Basillica - They have an amazing light show inside.  It's pretty spectacular. I mean I'm still an atheist, but that church is awesome and the show is super fun, 10 out of 10.
https://www. tickets

- L'infini - In the old port, you can do an hour long VR walk through the ISS. The BDGF has done it twice and we have tix to go a third time.  Can't miss for space nerds or anyone who wants to try high end VR. https://www. activite/space-explorers- linfini

- Habitat 67 - THE architectural thing to see in Montreal.  Designed for the World Expo, these lego looking buildings have to be seen to be believed.  Great tour that tells you all about how and why they were built. habitat-67-guided-tours/

Some of this stuff was for a specific visit, and doesn't begin to touch even all of our favorite stuff, not to mention all of the festivals that are constantly going on, but you get the idea.

Posted 10:57am
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July 12th, 2023

Relax. Don't do it.

I have a hard time slowing down. It wasn't always this way. When I was younger I had no problem whatsoever spending an entire Saturday on the couch watching movies and playing video games. Now when the BDGF and I go out of town for a weekend I advocate to pack up and leave early so I can get back home and get some "work" done.

I don't know exactly what caused this shift in demeanor. Sure there's more to do now. As a pseudo home owner there's always a project or to-do list that needs tending to, and I've never been great at staring something that needs doing and letting it sit there. There's also the pending specter of death. Pushing fifty with my lifestyle means I don't know how many years I have left, and certainly don't know how many good years there's going to be. I also have more money now. Twenty years ago I didn't have a garage full of tools nor could I go to Lowe's or Michael's and drop $100 because I saw something on the internet I wanted to try and make.

And that's probably the crux of it. I'm happiest when I'm creating things. Doesn't really matter what most times, or at least the things very wildly from time to time. The satisfaction I get from taking raw materials and turning them into something I'm proud of is unparalleled. I posted a picture on Instagram recently and a friend who's known me for forty years commented "You've always been an artist." That's a sentiment that's always been a.) at the core of my being b.) silly and pretentious to say c.) true.

So now, at 47, as an empty nester with extra cash on hand, I don't want to waste a second where I could be making all the wonderful things I never had the time or money to do earlier in life. I think that's it. So even going on vacations can make me anxious as I don't have access to all the things to make the things I want to make.It's hard to slow down.

Except for summers in Montreal. Going away for a month means I have no choice but to make peace with the fact that I'll only be experiencing culture and relaxation for an extended period of time. It took me a while to wrap my head around it, but I've got a handle on it now. Sure while the BDGF is already in MTL ahead of me I'm furiously trying to complete as many projects as I can before I join her. And as much as I love our home away from home, the last few days in Montreal will mostly be spent thinking of all the things that I "need" to do when I get back. But I've come along way. Hell after I've worked a full day at the day job and then spent another five hours after work making stuff, I can even collapse on our porch with a drink in my hand and feel satisfied that I've made something or even made progress towards something and relax for two hours. Of course the next day is still going to be go go go, but you can only fight who you are so much.

Posted 11:41am
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June 5th, 2023

Selling Out.

It's time. I started building some furniture for the house about a decade ago with a $30 circular saw I got from Craigslist and a bottle of wood glue. Then we went through a renovation and the pandemic and I now have a garage full of power tools and the BDGF is covered in sawdust. The kids these day say you have to have a side hustle, so I'm starting T's Woodshop.

Everything above and more should be available for purchase this Sunday in Kerrytown at the Ann Arbor Artisan Market. Will anybody purchase anything? Will this be a fun, lucrative adventure or a lesson in hubris? I'll either be flush with cash or something you see above may end up under your Christmas tree or at your birthday party.

If it works, I hope to make more diverse products as well as larger, custom pieces as I continue to figure out what the hell I'm actually doing. I was just telling someone this weekend that it sucks that I try stuff out for our house, and then I finally figure out how to do it right and that stuff ends up in other people's homes. So get in early, because while the stuff I make in the coming years will inevitably be nicer and of better craftsmanship, if no one buys anything the train may never leave the station. Or at least it'll travel at a lot slower speed.

Posted 12:02am
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May 1st, 2023

Self advocacy.

It's no secret to anyone here that I don't enjoy my job much anymore. I imagine this happens to a lot of people who are in their late 40s and have had the same job for 25 years. This is not a condition that begs for sympathy. I make a decent living and I'm not exactly breaking rocks for eight hours a day. But I am bored and frustrated.

The good news is that having over 25 years under my belt makes the job easy and puts a retirement date within my grasp. Of course it's not like I'm getting a pension. Plus I still have at least a decade or two to kill before I die and the BDGF has expensive tastes. So I'm probably going to die at the desk I'm typing at right now.

What's a guy to do? Well a significant part of my dissatisfaction has been this boat anchor that's been around my neck for some time. This boat anchor is heavy and as a result I've felt like I've been doing the work of two people for the last 5+ years. The boat anchor also smells. Sharing an office with a boat anchor that doesn't bathe often enough, smokes and brings fast food into a tiny, windowless, poorly ventilated room every day is maddening.

Now I'm not a total doormat. I've mentioned the fact that the boat anchor is a burden in my yearly evaluations on paper for years. I've been patiently waiting to talk to a supervisor in person to get things on the record since pre-pandemic, but I haven't had an in person evaluation since 2018. Seems improper at best, right? I also don't want to come off as a whiny entitled asshole, and I know that if I start raising flags someone could look into some of my less than stellar behavioral traits and figured maybe I could just live with things how they are.

But of course I got tired of waiting, and as luck would have it an opportunity came along. A staff shake-up in the organization ended up with a whole new building to look after that's 5 minutes away from where I sit next to the boat anchor. So I gently pointed out that maybe the boat anchor could be pawned off on the new building, and I could handle the current building myself. Thankfully they bought it. I will oversee the building I've been in for over a decade (700 machines) and the boat anchor will take care of business at the new place (350 machines).

Now the math savvy amongst you may note that those figures imply that I'm still responsible for twice the work that the boat anchor is. This is true. But this isn't about the amount of work per se. I've insulated myself from the lazy so that the anchor isn't around my neck anymore. Plus, I've setup a scenario where the boat anchor has its own office in the marina down the street and doesn't drag its barnacles into my slip every day. The actual move hasn't happened yet, but I'm hopeful; and already happier than I've been at the office since Obama was President.

The point of all this is that you have to advocate for yourself. Do it now. If you wait and it eventually works you will feel dumb for suffering for so long in your own inaction. I do.

Posted 4:02pm
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March 30th, 2023

Purple Rain, Rainy Day Women and Milestones

What state has the best pair of native born musical sons or daughters to its name? New Jersey has Springsteen and Sinatra. Washington has Hendrix and Cobain. Michigan has Stevie Wonder and Aretha. But no, Minnesota has Prince and Bob Dylan and that's that. And they are rightfully proud of them. Hell there's a Prince store at the airport.

As previously stated the BDGF and I went for a little sojourn to the Twin Cities because we found a cheap flight and they had a light rail that went to the airport. Of course we paid to upgrade our seats so we weren't packed into the plane like sardines and literally every light rail trip we took featured people smoking various drugs in the cars, but what are ya gonna do? We got to see First Avenue and explore the city a bit. I'm not sure Minneapolis will make our regular rotation of places to visit, but it was nice to put images to all the places The Hold Steady talks about.

- In other news, this year's Spring Break trip did not kill my pedometer streak!

I'm all for the gameification of things. I'm 47 so I'm going to just assume that taking 12,000 steps a day is sufficient exercise for a man of my disposition, and having my phone give me side eye when I feel lazy works for me. Here's to another year of pacing around my house at 11:30pm to keep those bars green.

Posted 10:27am
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March 22nd, 2023

5 innocuous things that are making me happy in and around the present moment

- People I love writing things! My lovely and talented (and sometimes editor and hair stylist) pseudo sister-in-law wrote about her family's adorable new kit-tens in the Ann Arbor Observer. Come for the prose, stay for the pictures!

- People writing things about people I love! My lovely and talented partner (the BDGF herself) was profiled in her school district's news portal. As I've likely mentioned, she got a new position a year ago coaching math. She's never worked nor loved her job more. I'm quite happy for her success and its recognition.

- Publications I used to write for writing about things I love! The student run newspaper The Michigan Daily (the only newspaper in Ann Arbor anymore) wrote about Ann Arbor's two historic movie theaters, The Michigan and The State. Our community is ridiculously lucky to have these two historic palaces still up and running, which is why I've been volunteering there for 5+ years. I love our house and never want to move, but I still daydream about living downtown so I could walk to these theaters and enjoy a nightcap at Knights afterwards.

- The internet talks about urbanism! I just recently learned that I am an Urbanist, or perhaps I've always known and just discovered there's a word for it. There's apparently quite a few of us, many of which have youtube channels where they discuss housing, transportation, urban planning and ultimately how cities are good and living in the country is for farmers and weird loners. I've spent a lot of time with City Nerd, RMTransit, Oh The Urbanity, City Beautiful and PaigeMTL. If you are interested in the topics above, including everything from the future of high speed rail to city biking in the winter, these wonderful weirdos are for you.

- Finally, the AAPS is on spring break next week so the BDGF says we have to go on vacation again. Thanks to inflation and still having a kid in college, we're merely going to Minneapolis for four days. Why the land of 10,000 lakes? Because we felt we could get around the city sans automobile and found tickets for $100 round trip. The highlight? Getting to visit the legendary rock venue First Avenue (it was in Purple Rain!) Everyone from The Replacements to The Hold Steady have called it home as well and we get to see Inhaler! Because that's what was playing and it turns out Bono's kid is the lead singer! It'll be fun to hang out in the back with all the parents.

Posted 2:17pm
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March 1st, 2023

Oi! It's tabggervance, innit?

Growing up in a small town being a ginger was part of my identity. People I'd never met knew immediately that I was one of the Brubaker kids because I had red hair. Sometimes people would make a distinction and say I was a strawberry blonde, but the emphasis was still on the strawberry. It wasn't until I was far away and much older that I learned that some people just thought I was blonde.

I also didn't know I had any discernable accent until I went out into the world. In college my friends hailing from all over the country would make fun of the way I said "five" when I thought I was just saying it like everyone else. Once the BDGF and I were drinking with some drunk Torontonians and they were doubled over with laughter saying we (mostly me) sounded Bill Swerski's Superfans and just repeating "Da bears Da bears Da bears Da bears" at us all night.

So as a cosmopolitan gentleman of a certain age, I'm more attuned to being out in the world and understanding that some people are going to see me in a way that does not comport with my residual self image. But that doesn't always make them right.

I've been going to the Blue Tractor every Monday night basically since COVID waned enough for restaurants to be open. I try to be especially friendly at the places I frequent, so I know most of the staff there, albeit on a customer basis. So when I was there last Monday and hanging out with an actual friend who happens to work there, I was informed that several of the staff referred to me as "the blonde British guy."

Now I can understand the blonde thing. Gingers get stigmatized so I'm happy to "pass" but British? I promise I've not pulled a Madonna and started affecting a fake accent. I suppose some combination of wearing sportcoats and drinking by myself at trivia and saying "Cheers" a lot made someone connect the dots and their coworkers just went with it? At the end of the day I'm merely perplexed and not complaining. It's not exactly a badge of honor to be American anymore, and if I can pass for blonde and British, maybe I'm back in the running to play James Bond? Worked for Daniel Craig.

Posted 12:04pm
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February 15th, 2023

OscarQuest© 2023! - Michigan Theater Speedrun Edition

It's been fairly quiet on the western front in pursuit of OscarQuest 2023. As it always happens, the nominees come out, and there's stuff that was in theaters in October or whenever that I missed that is just sitting there on streaming ready to be watched. Then there's usually a batch of foreign films and docs that haven't been released in the States yet, so we once again play our dangerous game of "will this be possible to watch before the ceremony?"

After a short fallow period, it's game on for a successful 2023 run starting this weekend with the Michigan Theater Speedrun. We'll be commencing with what I can only assume will be a 2024 contender in Ant Man the Wasp: Quantumania on Thursday, followed by what I consider to be one of the most rewatchable films of all time, School of Rock, on Friday. Yes, School of Rock is 20 years old this year.

Then we begin in earnest on Saturday. We've got all three of the Short Subject categories sandwiching the International nominee Close in four days. Since the Michigan is closed on Wednesdays, it's most consecutive days one can spend at the Michigan allowed by law.

Where will that leave us? One doc left (All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, premiering on HBO soon), one international left (The Quiet Girl, quietly making me nervous), the obligatory Diane Warren nom for Tell It Like a Woman, and goddamn Avatar.

At some point I'm going to have to make a decision about giving James Cameron money. As I type there's 25 days left and the idea that it'll hit Disney+ before March 12th is becoming increasingly unlikely. So do I buckle and forgo the completion of OscarQuest on the principle that I hate that James Cameron has three of the five top grossing films of all time, or do I give this steaming turd another $8 for a Sunday afternoon matinee that I will fall asleep during? Since the idea of this little exercise is to see the best in film, I won't feel bad about skipping a three hour cut scene from a video game that I will begrudgingly eventually watch, but it will bother me watching the telecast one movie short. This is truly the dumbest problem to have.

Posted 12:04pm
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February 1st, 2023

OscarQuest© 2023!

It's that time of year again kids! The Oscar nominations are out and daddy's got work to do. Thanks to my Michigan Theater gold card, it's an easy row to hoe this year.

As always, thanks to for my checklist.

As I type this I've got seven movies left to watch, plus the shorts. The last five international and documentary nominees aren't available yet. Neither is the obligatory film nominated for having a Dianne Warren song in it (Tell it Like a Woman) which thankfully sounds a lot more interesting than the last few pieces of shit forced upon me because elderly Academy voters love them some Dianne Warren.

No, this year my white whale is the three hour video game game cut scene that is Avatar 2. "White Whale" isn't the most apt analogy, as I could easily make it happen. It's probably more like eating the dinner your 10 year old makes when they decide they want to cook for the first time. But even that is flawed because I will bitch and moan for the entire runtime and not feel bad about offending someone I care for.

Look, I just don't like James Cameron movies. It upsets me that he directed three of the four top grossing movies of all time. Like Lucas, he's seems far more interested in advancing the technology used to make films than making a compelling story with rich characters that tells us something about the world. Scorcese should be doing a lot more bitching about Cameron than he does about Marvel movies.

But I digress. This should be fun and esciting! I'm super happy for all the love shown Everything Everwhere All at Once. I love that Bill Nighy, Brian Tyree Henry, Sarah Polly, "Naatu Naatu", Marcel the Shell and EO got nominations. We don't need to focus on how Top Gun got a best screenplay nod or that Decision to Leave wasn't nominated.

What really matters is that EEAAO or Tar wins best picture (or maybe Banshees, but they can just give McDonagh screenplay right?) That and also all the nominees hit the theaters or streaming before the ceremony so I can complete the checklist. Because my sense of duty requires me to watch Avatar, but I'll be damned if I contribute to its box office total.

Posted 2:17pm
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January 23rd, 2023

Four Weddings and a Funeral

It's official. I can retire from the clergy.

In 2010 my very dear friends were getting married and wanted to include me in the proceedings, so they asked me to get ordained and perform the ceremony. Maybe the idea of a devout atheist marrying them was part of the appeal? Either way it was a surprising turn that I was honored to oblige.

I've often been asked to "speak for the group" or give the toast because I'm a loud mouth with a bit of that "look at me" syndrome, but I figured that would be that when it came to doing so in even a pseudo-religious context. But then some other friends (whom the BDGF and I introduced to each other) asked me to perform their nuptials and I couldn't say no.

I mean, you kind of can't say no in any case? I certainly couldn't when a third set of friends (whom the BDGF and I also introduced) needed to get married in a hurry when he got cancer. And when they asked me to officiate his funeral a few years later, I did my best to provide the kind of celebration of his life that he wanted.

At this point I imagine it's what it's like when people learn you're a doctor - they start showing you all of their maladies and asking for a diagnosis. Honestly it's not unlike being in IT. But once I got three weddings and a funeral under my belt, well I kind of hoped I'd get one more crack at it so I could say I've performed four weddings and a funeral. Because, well you know.

Enter couple number four.They met thanks to my former career as a trivia host, and later started down this path thanks to backyard movies at our house. So when they decided to make it official, I got a call in the bullpen and I had to start warming up to get back in the game.

I'll be honest, doing these things is stressful. You don't want to screw up something people are likely to remember for the rest of their lives. However, these are people I know really well and figure they wouldn't ask me if they didn't want my version of the thing. It also happens to be a huge honor to be asked. So getting to four weddings and a funeral is an accomplishment I never knew I wanted but also something I'm very, very proud of. I'd like to say I'm retired, but of course I'll also say yes the next time the BDGF and I put two people in the same room and decide they want to be in the same room with each other forever. I mean, how can you not?

Posted 2:17pm
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January 4th, 2022

Another one bites the dust

It's 2023! That number seems impossibly big to me as I rapidly descent into oldmandom. Before you know it we'll be in 2025 and I'll be 50. I tried to freak out about 30 and 40 but I never really felt that much different as they approached, but the wheels are already starting to come off and we're over two and a half years away.

But that's a discussion for another time. I suppose I just did a little unconscious new year stock taking. I am generally against the arbitrary nature of this sort of thing, but we just got back from a family vacation in Montreal so let's just blame it on that.

ANYWAY! 2022. OK? More normal? 2023? Even moreso? Time will tell as it inevitably does. I think I've had a countdown in my head for a few years about hitting retirement early and paying off the house so I could start the next chapter of my life and finally do something more interesting with my life, even if it means making less money. And that's not going away - it would be galactically stupid to leave the U four years from being able to be guaranteed health care for the rest of my life. But something new would be nice.

What is that? What does it mean? Who knows. I have ideas. It'll probably be something radically different than anything I've dreamed up. But let's all do something new and different in 2023. I know I called this type of thing arbitrary 100 words ago, but any impetus to take a chance or mix it up is also a good thing. So here we go 2023. Once more into the breach...

- A little process note, I've switched service providers for the website, which is always a pain, but one that saved me over $100 for the year on a site that generates no money, so the couple hours work was worth it. You may see some wonkiness on older pages, but let's be honest, there can't be alot of people digging in the archives of this dump.

Posted 2:17pm
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This is me

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This page is written and maintained by Tyler Brubaker. All content is spewed forth from the author's brain, unless otherwise credited. He views his opinion as much more valid than yours, but welcomes all thoughts and comments.