Aug 20 2012

Fus Do Clean!

So I was cleaning my study.

I hate cleaning.

But once in a while, usually while on vacation, I get this urge to clean. Everything. Yes, I’ve seen the meme.

The problem with me cleaning, even when I am enjoying it, is that I clean the way I play Skyrim. No, I don’t mean I enter every room, pick every lock, and kill every organism that opposes me (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

What I mean is this: I used to play various games that were entirely linear, like Halo, Halo 2 and Crimson Skies, and Tomb Raider. They are awesome games. And so I played the heck out of those games. Thoroughly. And so finally one day I was bored enough to play a game Heather got from a video store that was going out of business. ‘The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.’

I hated it. You pick stuff up, people kill you. You walk outside, the fish kill you. People threaten to take your money–then kill you.

So I did not play the game. It stunk and I hated it.

And so I went back to playing HaloHalo 2 and Crimson Skies, and Tomb Raider. They are awesome games.

And so finally, I was bored with them.

I gave Morrowind another chance. It was what they call a ‘sandbox play’ game. That means instead of a linear story, you wander around and do what you want. If you don’t want to do something, don’t. If something is too hard, come back later. You don’t want to do something a certain way, use your problem solving skills and learn a better way to do it–be it killing a skeleton, obtaining a treasure from a festering sick ward, or getting from one island to another.

It still took some getting used to.

“This game’s OK, but it still kind of stinks.”

“This game’s pretty good, but it still bites here and there.”


And so I was hooked. Then I got The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for my birthday, and it was even BETTER. Now I’m playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

And so on Sunday afternoons when I was resting, and the weather outside was not delightful, I would sit inside adventuring all over the grass and tree covered hills that filled the expansive virtual world. It was one of the things that my brother and I would do together. I’m not saying The Elder Scrolls is a multiplayer game–it’s not (in fact there is an in-joke about the lack of multi-playability in Morrowind). It’s just that the world was so expansive and so many ways to accomplish tasks that we loved to sit on the couch and watch the other one play. To an extent.

He hated watching me play. When he played, he would get a quest, do it, get the next quest, do it, and so on. Just like A, B, C, D, etc. No matter where those quests took him, he was always about the mission. Me, I loved the open world and its vast choices. I fulfill ABCD quests every day. I don’t get to wander off and just do whatever (I have heard that is frowned upon by many employers, especially ones open 24/7/365).

And so I would start on quest A, and then get distracted.

“Ooo, what’s that?” I would ask.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to go check out that house.”

“What? You’re almost to the city. Just finish your quest and then go check that out!”


And I wouldn’t either. Mr. Mission-Oriented had to sit there and watch me play Oblivion like a kid with ADD trying to read Wikipedia. I would wander here, there, maybe back where I came from, and frequently just plot a compass point and start wandering on purpose just to see what I might find. I don’t do that IRL because that is how you end up on 12th street in downtown Kansas City with people asking if you ‘NEED something;’ but that’s another story.

And so, to tie it all up finally, that is how I clean.

“What is this sponge doing in my study? I will take it to the kitchen.” Walk to kitchen, place sponge, and decide to make coffee.

“While the coffee is brewing I will clean my study some more,” I think. Head back to the study, pick up bucket of car wash stuff.

“This belongs in the car,” I say, in the same way Indiana Jones says, “This belongs in a museum.” I take the stuff out to the car, only to find the trunk is full of stuff. Might as well clean it out. I’m on vacation, I don’t have time to clean it out during the regular work week. Clean the entire trunk. It looks amazing, put the car wash stuff in the trunk. Full of dopamine from completing my task (“Happiness comes from the achievement of goals!” as Darwin Mayflower would say), I enjoy the cool autumn morning air.

“I should vacuum the car while it’s nice out.”

That’s great–but I have to clean the car first. I can’t divert a river to clean something like Heracles, so I do it myself, sort things into ‘goes in the house’ and ‘goes in the trash.’ I goes in the house. Coffee’s up! I grab some coffee, but my travel mug is in the car–the only thing that belongs in the car. Nevermind, I’ll just put it in a non-travel mug and take it with me.

And so I head to the car wash–carp, no quarters. Off to Walmart, pick up things I need, get cash for quarters. Back to car wash, vac the car. Coffee is now cold. Autonomic brain orders another dump of dopamine as a reward to the volitional brain, which fuels promises.

“I swear on the lives of my daughters and all future unborn grandchildren that I will never ever again let my car get so messy!”


My stomach hurts from drinking coffee all morning and not eating food. I’m too busy to eat food. I’M CLEANING DANG IT!


Fine, stupid stomach. I’ll stop what I’m doing, which is CLEANING just so I can put food in YOU, baby!

But the stomach doesn’t care. He knows I love him. I want breakfast, but now it’s too late to get it anywhere. But Casey’s has donuts all day. And it’s kind of a ripoff to buy one or three when you get a discount for buying six. Six it is.

Now I am full of caffeine, dopamine, and donuts. LIFE IS GRAND! I’M ON VACATION AND I’M CLEANING AND I ACCOMPLISHED STUFF.


Back to the kitchen, hey, maybe some more coffee? Nope–the coffee is now scalded, while I was out cleaning. Whatever.

I walk back to my study. It’s still a complete wreck because I have cleaned the trunk. And vacuumed the car. And bought stuff for the house. But only have removed one sponge and one bucket from the study.

“Why didn’t you just clean one room and finish that quest?” asks my brother’s memory, squeezing all the dopamine out of my brain. If accomplishing goals makes you happy (which it does for me), the lack of accomplishment brings abject soul-wallowing depression.

Might as well play Skyrim.

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Apr 22 2012

Thank you for the coffee

Dear Nichole,

Thank you so much for the large sampling of Flavia coffee packets. I would write you personally and thank you, but I try not to write personal thank you notes to members of the opposite sex that aren’t from me and Heather. I realize that your kindness will go unthanked, but still I must express my gratitude somehow, and hope that what comes around really does go around.

On the day you gave it, I really needed some coffee. I once killed a man because he came between me and my coffee. I don’t mean that figuratively–he was simply between me and my coffee–and just slightly so, at that. At the trial they asked me why I didn’t just ask him to move. Anyway, I payed my debt to society.

All of the coffees you gave me were nasty, and I hated them all. You told me I would, especially after being spoiled by our marvelous Keurig machine for the last two years. Nonetheless, I appreciate you humoring me by letting me try them anyway. While you did say that Flavia coffee was nasty, I think a more accurate description would be urinesque.

Thanks again,


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Jun 16 2011

Overheard: 15 year old female

Referring to barista at Starbucks:

“Do you think if he has a girlfriend he brings her here? Cuz if so, I want to date him.”

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Jan 4 2011

Review: Bates City Café

Heather and I stopped in at the Bates City Café last week.

Having lived in Bates City for one miserable year, I try to avoid the town. However, since the gas station became a Valero franchise it’s really the quickest way to stop and get gas between Kansas City and Concordia. When Heather and I stopped in for gas last week, we noticed that the café, which wasn’t much to look at, was absolutely packed. On the way home from Christmas shopping, we really wanted some pie and coffee, but we had already left the city. We knew there was no place to get what we wanted back home after about 7pm, so we decided to give Bates City a try.

First, the service: fast. The place was packed again, and our waitress didn’t stop moving for a second. She took our order quickly and got our pie and coffee quickly as well.

Atmosphere: the Bates City Café is a former service station that has been converted to a ’50s-style diner. The bay doors have been walled up, the concrete floor painted in large black and white checkerboard. The place is close, but not cramped. Elvis, Marilyn, and James Dean cover the walls.

Food: I ordered the peach pie and Heather ordered what she orders everywhere she can–bread pudding. Both desserts were homemade. The peach pie was good, though I think it could have used more peaches and less filling. The crust was soft and flaky. Heather didn’t love the bread pudding, the texture being quite a bit softer than she liked. Our coffee was freshly brewed, but a little on the weak side.

Price: the prices at BCC aren’t bad, but they are a little steep on some menu items.

Overall I was actually impressed. The service was excellent, the staff was friendly, the food was homemade and decent, and the place offered free wifi. A lot of people say they want to support mom-and-pop shops, but when you are traveling, it can be risky trying new places. Heather and I are glad we gave the them a try.

You can find them on Facebook.

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Aug 28 2009

Test of faith

A friend of mine from our Baptist church and I recently took at trip and we stayed the night at the house of a Baptist couple. By ‘night’ I mean ‘four hours.’

Anyway, we got up the next morning anxious to get back on the road. Our hostess was insistent on fixing us something for breakfast. I turned down the wonderful offer of bacon, eggs, and pancakes in lieu of quick-and-easy cold cereal.

“Do you want some coffee?” she asked.

“Yes, please,” I replied.

“No thank you,” said my friend. “I don’t drink coffee.”

She looked at him thoughtfully before she asked:

“Are you sure you’re saved?”

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May 7 2009

Senior Coffee

The McDonald’s I get my coffee at frequently gives me a discounted senior coffee. I figured it was because they liked me, or they just like rewarding their frequent fliers, not because of all the gray in my beard.

But some time ago I was at a McDonald’s in downtown Kansas City and they gave me a senior discount as well. And then last month I went to another McDonald’s in yet another town and got the same discount.

I’m not saying I don’t appreciate it. But I really didn’t think I looked that old.

The only other explanation is that women working at McDonald’s restaurants all over Missouri are all hitting on me, and that’s not really rational.

My friend Kay wrote about a similar experience some time ago, but I don’t think she appreciated it so much.

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Feb 18 2009

Gray’s Café in Butler, Missouri

We went in for breakfast at a quarter to 10. The food was excellent; I had the Country Boy breakfast with bacon, eggs, and pancakes. The bacon was crisp, the eggs were done just how I asked, and the pancakes were flat-out awesome.

If you like sissified coffee, then this place is not for you: their coffee hot and strong (like I like my women).

Our waitress was cheerful, quick, and efficient.

The only thing I can say against the restaurant is this: the smoke. Gray’s Café consists of one small room, and it is a smoking restaurant. Because of this, you are going to both smell and smell like cigarette smoke.

Side note: a middle-aged guy with a feed cap and suspenders who was dining alone gave up his table and moved so that they could seat a family of four at his table. That kind of courtesy is so seldom seen that it bears noting.

Overall: 4.5/5 stars

Gray’s Café
404 N. Orange ST
Butler, MO


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Dec 19 2008

Update: Dunkin Donuts Coffee

As I previously mentioned, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee the best coffee in the world. What I did not know is that it comes in several varieties, not just regular and dark:

  • Decaf
  • Cinnamon spice
  • Hazelnut
  • French Vanilla

God bless America.

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Dec 10 2008

Review: Best Coffee Ever

Dunkin’ Donuts.

I tried it last year when my brother brought some over for Christmas, and it is easily my favorite, beating Starbucks, Folgers (though the deluxe Folgers beans are very nice), and Eight O’Clock coffee (also nice).

Comes in grounds or beans, regular or dark, and runs about $7 for an 12oz bag. The only downside to this coffee is that it completely ruins you on cheap Folgers coffee.


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