Archive for March, 2010

The Captains Surprising Five For Twenty TenThe Captains Surprising Five For Twenty Ten

Earlier this week I rushed home from work for the same reason that millions of other Americans did – the Census form!

Filling out a form primarily used for demographic data is about as exciting as it gets!  The form only took a few minutes to fill out, but the thoughts that arose from it occupied me for hours.  It started when I thought back to the last time I filled out a Census form in March 2000. I remembered filling out the form after The Chad and I returned home from our spring break trip to South Padre Island, Texas.  I was sun burnt and still hung over from five days of drinking.  Filling out that form was probably the most responsible thing I did that month.

Back then I was a 21 year old college student getting ready to complete my first senior year.  I had shoulder length hair and I drove a Ford Escort.  I lived with Dr. Dan and The Chad in a crappy little house by campus1.  At that time I had two main concerns in life: intoxicating myself in increasingly exotic ways and doing as little work as possible to maintain a 3.25 grade point average.

Obviously my priorities have changed dramatically in the past ten years, along with a great many other things.  I’ve been preoccupied the last few days thinking about everything that’s changed in my life over that ten year period.  Most of those changes aren’t really all that surprising.  Back then I assumed that I would be married by thirty and that I would pursue a post college degree at some point.  But some things I would have never guessed in a million years.  This topic seemed tailor made for a Friday 5 list.

Top 5 Things About The 31 Year Old Captain That Would Surprise The 21 Year Old Version

1.  I’m married to my high school crush

Ten years ago I was blissfully recently single and I had no immediate plans for a committed relationship.  While I wasn’t interested in a girlfriend at the time, I knew deep down that I wanted to meet a respectable girl and get married before the end of the decade.  But I always assumed the future Mrs. Captain was someone I had yet to meet and not someone that I had already known for five years at that point.  Back then I viewed Megan as The One Who Got Away and just assumed she would remain that way.  How often does someone actually get a chance to catch The One Who Got Away?  The odds seemed long, but the payoff was astronomical!

2.  I still have a respectable amount of hair

I’ve always assumed that I would grow up to be a bald man; the bald gene is prevalent on both sides of my family.  The odds seemed stacked in favor of me having a chrome-dome in ten years.  But that never came to be, largely due to my good friend Propeica.  Right before I turned 30 I enlisted this Rx soldier to help me defeat male pattern baldness. At the time I was sustaining heavy casualties, and Propeica single handedly turn the tide.  In the 1½ years since then my hair loss has pretty much stopped.  So a big shout out to Science!  Thanks!

3.  I’m a diehard Cardinals fan

Growing up, I was never a really that much of a sports fan.  Of course I liked going to Cardinals games as a kid, but that was standard for all St. Louis children in the 1980s2.  I largely ignored the mediocre Cardinals of the 1990s, with the exception being the 1998 McGwire season.  In 2000 I was mostly preoccupied with music and movies.  I didn’t watched sports and it seemed unlikely that I would start anytime soon.  But later that year the Cardinals made the playoffs for the first time in years and I tuned in to watch.  In 2001 the Cardinals went back to the playoffs with the help of rookie sensation Albert Pujols.  From that season on I was hooked, and I was rewarded with some amazing Cardinals teams over the decade.  That’s some good timing.

4.  I am not a father

Having kids was never something I felt particularly strong about; I just kind of assumed it would happen to me at some point.  I thought I would either accidently knock up someone I was dating or I would marry someone who was gung-ho about having a baby.  Amazingly neither of these two thing occurred in the past decade.  I am happily married and happily childless in 2010.  Sweet!

5.  I live 15 minutes from where I grew up

Back in 2000 I hoped I would someday find the gumption to move out of Missouri.  I gave it a try in Florida for two years, but it didn’t stick.  In the past ten years I’ve lived in nine different homes, and six of those were in St. Louis.  So I guess it’s not super surprising that I live in St. Louis.  But I think the most surprising thing on this list is that I now live so close to where I grew up.

If I need to swing buy a Best Buy I now go to the store on St. Charles Rock Road, same as when I was in high school.  My default movie theater is once again the AMC West Olive 16.  It’s still a little hard to believe.  In fact, according to Google Maps I live 15 miles from where I was living during the 1990 Census, when I was 11. So according to the records I’ve only moved fifteen miles in twenty years. Unfuckingbelievable!

Ciao,

The Captain

1.  We lived in a tiny 3 bedroom shack in the rear parking lot of a much larger house.  It looked like it was the servant’s quarters for a stately home.  But my rent was only $125 a month!

2.  Going to Busch Stadium was super rad back then, it had amazing nachos and a guy nicknamed The Wizard who did backflips!

The Captain Would Like To Introduce Hugo

So apparently Megan and I are crazy, because we adopted another dog on Wednesday.  Here is the picture that sold us.

Our new pooch is quite similar to our current pooch; he’s a male toy fox terrier pup about two months older than Desmond.  We are still trying to decide a proper name for him.  In sticking with the Lost theme the most obvious name would be Charlie.  However, my younger brother Charlie probably wouldn’t be amused.

Most of the other male names on the show would sound goofy for a dog – Locke? Sawyer? Sayid? Smoke Monster?  So we’re currently calling him Hugo.  Desmond & Hugo has a good ring to it.

While getting another puppy may sound ill advised, we actually put a lot of thought into our decision.  After several months with Desmond and his unlimited amounts of energy it became apparent to us that he needed more stimulation than we were able to provide him.  After seeing Desmond’s unbridled excitement towards other dogs at our local dog park, the obvious solution was to get Desmond a friend.

But not just any friend would work.  We wanted to find a dog that was similar to Desmond in size and age, so we spent weeks searching the internet for toy fox terriers.  Eventually we found an ad for a young male toy fox terrier named Squirt at a shelter in O’Fallon, IL.  On paper he sounded like a good fit.  His first owner was an elderly lady who simply could not keep up with him and eventually gave him up for adoption.

We went out to visit him last Saturday and we loved almost everything about him1.   We filled out the paperwork on the spot and made arrangement to pick him up on Wednesday.  The rest of that weekend was spent gathering supplies for the new guy and preparing our house for a second dog.

Meg and I took off work on Wednesday so we could pick him up in the morning, and we were greeted with this loving little face.

Instead of taking Hugo right to our house, we first brought him to Creve Coeur Park.  Multiple sources told us the best way to introduce a new dog into a house hold is to have both dogs meet in a neutral setting.  So we walked them separately to the park and let them commence their friendship.  It was love at first sight.  Actually, I don’t think love is what you would call this

It was more like obsession mixed with a struggle for supremacy.  Both dogs immediately tried to establish dominance over the other, which involved a massive amount of humping.  Hugo has a slight size advantage over Desmond, but Desmond has way more energy and is more determined than Hugo.  So far this has translated into something of a stalemate.

At first it is hard to tell the two pups apart.  To the average eye Hugo just looks like a scrappier version of Desmond.  When they are next to each other it’s obvious that Desmond is a product of superior breeding.  Hugo looks gangly and his fur is kinda splotchy.  Desmond looks like a show dog, Hugo looks like a pound puppy.

Personality wise they are quite different.  Desmond has a very strong personality and Hugo is much more laid back2.  So far this has translated into Desmond following Hugo around the house obsessively.  Hugo hasn’t had a break from Desmond since he walked in the door on Wednesday.  We bought Hugo his own bed, but Desmond curled up next to him right away.

It’s a little desperate on Desmond’s part, but damn if it isn’t adorable.  Our little dudes already seem like the best of friends and I imagine this will only increase over time.  These two dudes seem ready to face whatever comes their way.

As for Megan and I, we’re just hoping that these guys don’t end up driving us crazy…

Ciao,

The Captain

1.  We may have let him keep his name if it wasn’t so ridiculous.  Squirt is the soda that alcoholics chase shots with, not a dog name.

2.  So in the end, Desmond is the handsome and intense guy who was by himself way too long and Hugo is the bigger and scruffier guy who came from group incarceration…

The Captain Sees Flames And Rifles Coming Over The Hills

As you can see from my numerous twitter feeds yesterday, I had one hell of an awesome Tuesday.  Gorgeous weather and exciting day at work and an amazing concert is about as much fun as I’ve had in ages.

Within the first hour of my workday I knew I was in for a real treat.  My boss and I were tagging along with Ranger Tim to take a tour of parks in West County.  Our morning began with a tour at the main ranger station.  Before we left Ranger Tim thought it would be fun to put my name into the police database to see what came up on the screen.  I agreed without thinking and immediately regretted it.

Ranger Tim:  It says here you had a warrant in Kingsville, Texas back in 2000?

Me: Uhh…..

My Boss:  What was that about?

Me: (shrugs) Spring Break (flash grin)

Ranger Tim:  What happened?

Me:  What happens in South Padre stays in South Padre?

After we were all done laughing I explained that I had a speeding ticket that I forgot to pay and eventually took care of.  It really set the tone for what turned out to be an extremely entertaining day.

Ranger Tim is a middle aged man with a great moustache and a million stories.  As would be expected for a guy who spends his days in public parks, he as lots of funny stories about catching people mid-coitus and catching teens with liquor and drugs.  Or as he would say, perverts and dope smokers.  It must be a generational thing, because I think I’ve heard the word “pervert” more yesterday than in the rest of my life combined.

The Ranger’s stories made the drive entertaining, but the real star was the parks.  Not a bad view for 10:30am on a Tuesday.

Having grown up in North County, I was not too familiar with the parks of West County.  Surprise, they’re really beautiful.  We saw all sorts of entertaining things, including a gathering of old men flying little glider planes like this

The planes were cool, but watching them try and free a stuck plane from a tree branch was actually more enjoyable.

I was up for anything and I agreed to almost everything, including riding the carousel.

I was trying hard not to look too thrilled.  I did everything except agree to climb this monstrosity

Maybe next time.

The highlight of the day was definitely the prairie field set on fire.  Burn!  I was lucky enough to watch several parks staff do a controlled burn to a brush field.  While they were busy making sure to tightly control fires like this

I was standing in the background sounding like a teenager.  Cool!  I watched an entire field burn in about an hour as I hatched a plan to bring a busload of teenage boys with me next time and charge admission.  I would have paid $5 back when I was 14 to see something this cool.

It was a solid eight hours of stunning scenery and perfect weather, or just the best day of work ever.  And my nite was even better.  I attended my first concert of the week with my old friends Jamie and Eric.  The double bill at the Pageant was one of the best I’ve seen in awhile – Band of Skulls opening for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  Band of Skulls is a new group that was featured in my Modern Rock 2009 disc recently and who put on a great live show.  Strangely enough, both bands were three piece sets with a female member.  Band of Skulls features a kickass bass player named Emma who is a dead ringer for Chrissie Hynde.  Killer.

But the real show was BRMC.  I’ve been a fan for a few years now, but I’ve never found a chance to see them live.  Being the huge music fan he is, Eric’s seen them multiple times before.  Music nerds unite!

From the start I was determined to have the band play “Rifles.”  It’s definitely their best song and probably one of my favorite songs from the past ten years.  Eric said they rarely play it live anymore, which made me all the more determined to hear it.  After mercilessly shouting “Play Rifles!” for 1½ hours, the band finally relented during the encore.  Here’s a good approximation of how it sounded.

I came home exhausted late last nite and slept hard.  I needed to be well rested, because today was the day that we adopted another toy fox terrier puppy.  But more about that tomorrow…

Ciao,

The Captain

The Captain Is Ready For Closure

Every day for the past few months the news coverage had mentioned something about the proposed Health Care Bill.  While I have many thoughts on the subject, I have purposely not mentioned this topic here on the Captains Quarters.  With so much shouting about this issue on both sides of the table I was trying to not be part of the deafening noise.  I usually keep my opinions reserved for those who are interested in having a discussion.

As it now looks like a decision one way or the other may come soon, I’ve decided that there are a few things that I want to mention before the debate is closed.  First off, let me state that I support the passing of this bill.  There are many things in this bill that I like and several things that I dislike.  But on the whole I think that this should become law for one specific reason – cost containment.

As a guy that works on budgets for the government, I tend to side with the budget office most of the time.  In this case, it’s the Congressional Budget Office.  The CBO looked at the proposed Health Care Bill and determined that over the next nine years it will raise total health care spending by 1% while extending coverage to 34 million Americans who would otherwise go without1.  In my book that’s an amazing deal.  Raising costs 1% and getting over 10% more coverage is a deal for anyone purchasing insurance.

And while I know that there are a lot of assumptions that go into that calculation, I think this is a reasonable estimate.  All budgeting involves a fair amount of forecasting and guessing, and I know firsthand that budget offices in government do their best to make estimates as accurate as possible.  Could there be more cost containment measures in the bill?  Yes, and I would love to see them at some point.  But I think this is a good start towards tackling this monster of a problem.

The other thing that I wanted to address is the sudden scrutiny over the parliamentary procedure concerning this bill.  I’ve followed politics pretty closely since my days as a political science major at Missouri State, and I’ve never seen anyone care this much about the process of Congress adopting a law.  This stuff seemed pretty boring to me ten years ago in college, and now it’s making the news every day!?!

I honestly can’t believe that the general public is really concerned about Filibusters and Reconciliation.  Today the chatter was concerning Deeming Resolutions!  Really?!?

These discussions always seems super disingenuous to me.  As in most sports, the losing team is the only one who complains about the validity of the agreed upon rules.  As long as the bill is passed legally according to Congressional rules, then what else is there to discuss?

I think that the vast majority people are really just concerned with the outcome of the vote and could care less which set of parliamentary procedures are invoked.  The result is really all that matters to me.  So let’s finish this discussion already.  It’s been over a year since this debate began and I am ready for the decision to be made.  Yes or no.  Up or down.  Let’s get to it.

Ciao,

The Captain

1.  Instead of a snarky comment, I’m actually going to link to the source of this figure .  How literary of me.

The Captain Is Sending A Friend Request

Last week I attended a show so wonderful it became my new favorite type of live entertainment, the Middle School Musical1.  My 14 year old brother Charlie has decided to follow in my hammy footsteps by taking an interest in theater.  He was one of the leads in the Seager Middle School production of Schoolhouse Rock! The Musical.

To my delight, the show was solely comprised of songs from the Schoolhouse Rock! television show.  Charlie is a talented singer and was able to score a few solos in some of the best songs.  He lead in I’m Just A Bill and also on my personal favorite, 3 Is The Magic Number.  Here he is with our brother Paul after the show in his Just A Bill costume.

Great job Charlie!

The funniest part of the whole evening to me was the after-show-freak-out.  After most school theater productions the hallway outside the theater is complete chaos.  The kids’ excitement about performing translates into extreme hyper activity.  It’s been years since I witnessed firsthand that many teenagers running around and screaming with so much excitement.

My mom informed me that after the show, the 30+ members of the cast headed to Applebee’s where they made life hell for several servers and the rest of the patrons2.  Back in my school theater days we did the same thing to the waitstaff at the Casa Gallardo on the Rock Road.  For some reason this really got me thinking.

Back then it was more or less true that everyone involved in the production was invited out.  While everyone may not have been best friends, there was still a certain level of camaraderie within the group.  Assembling a large group of people for loose plans on the fly was no big deal.  It stayed this way for me pretty much up until I graduated college.  There always seemed to be a near endless supply of people ready to meet up at a moment’s notice.

This is obviously not the case anymore.  Getting a group of friends together now requires at least a week’s notice and typically involves several cancelations.  I’m not trying to point any fingers here; I am just as guilty of this as everyone else.  Lately I have been lamenting this fact because it is about to get more challenging for me.  This year is quickly turning into Babypalooza 2010.

Megan and I currently have five close friends/couple who are currently pregnant.  My buddy Dave and my buddy Morgan are both due to be parent this summer(!), and our good friends Jamie and Rachel, are expecting twins(!double-up!!) in June.  Megan’s Maid of Honor is actually in labor today(!) and my buddy Timmy’s wife was due on Wednesday!  That’s a lot of babies; congrats to everyone!

And while newborns do not prevent me from remaining friends with anyone, it does make hanging out with them more challenging.  To address this issue I have been attempting to find additional people to fill in the impending gaps.  This is proving to be a challenge.  As I lamented numerous times while I was living in Florida, making friends becomes more difficult with age.  Luckily, living in St. Louis gives me options that Florida did not.  I’ve recently begun trying to reconnect with several friends I haven’t seen in awhile, and I’ve had moderate success.  My other strategy has been to try hanging out with some of the casual acquaintances that I’ve made over the years.  This approach has also produced some mild victories.

My next few months look to be rather social for me.  Not table for 30 at Casa social, but I am planning on putting myself out there more than usual.  So it  looks like the next round is on me.  Cheers!

Ciao,

The Captain

1.  It’s kinda like High School Musical movies, but without any real characters or plot.  Wait…

2.  Although I would contend that if you’re at an Applebee’s on Thursday nite at 8pm your life is pretty much hell anyways.

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