Tuesday, January 29, 2008

News from the front - Jan. 29

Ben Franklin is my kind of American. He's long been a hero of mine, every since I read parts of his "Autobiography," but now I'm reading a bunch of books on the Founding Fathers to prepare for the big New England trip this spring.

And I don't dig Ben just because I use "Franklin" as my name during restaurant reservations. He was a genuinely fun, prototypical American - full of industry and humor and inventiveness, a true man-about-town. Ben was a carpe diem fellow, constantly using every available moment in his life to be productive or useful. I admire that.

I'll always remember the image of him carting rolls of paper around Philadelphia, just so he appeared to be a hard worker (really, he was - but it was all about appearances). Plus he's a printer and journalist, and those two professions always have a place in my heart.

So does Ben. He was America's original American, and it's great getting reacquainted with him.

As a teenager, I wasted many hours playing "Warcraft II," a war simulation game with a fantasy twist, and I'm here to report that the sickness is back.

Owning an original iMac allows me to run all the old Macintosh software. With this in mind, I'm revisiting some of the older games that kept me occupied as a high schooler (I'm still looking for "Sim City 2000" and "Star Wars: Tie Fighter" - the greatest space shooter game ever invented).

The "Warcraft" I got includes a mode to play online against other people, and I've come to learn one thing: people that play games online aren't very nice.

I'll admit, I'm a "newbie" (or "n00b") when it comes to online play. But Sweet Cannonball Jesus, these guys are ruthless. They have little patience for people trying to learn the ropes, and often comes the game when everyone gangs up on me and blasts me into next week.

I don't take it personally, because really these guys have nothing better to do than sit at home and play games all day. Shit, I've heard stories of guys dropping out of high school to dedicate their sad little lives to "Warcraft" ("World of Warcraft" is even worse, I hear). And I just can't compete with that.

Nor should I. My mistake is trying to play for fun.

I'm pitting my chili recipe against nine other coworkers tomorrow.

Faith comes easy, but after placing second in the last American 1 International Invitational Chili-Con Cookoff, I have renewed passions for my chili and its deliciousness.

The secret is the experimental ingredient I always include. Last time it was pineapple, the time before it was beer (which is now a staple), and the time before that it was venison. What to do this time? Any suggestions?

Speaking of New England trips...the plans are coming right along.

I've already got my map staked out, complete with spots to visit and sites to see, plus the where-do-I-start question has been answered (Philadelphia).

But it got me thinking about all the fun adventures I want to do before I die. So I've done the cliche "100 things to do before I croak" list, and here it is. I'm a bit over half-way done:


1. Drive Route 66
2. Drive across New England
3. Write a book
4. Learn to fly a plane
5. Live in another state
6. Own an apple orchard
7. Travel by train across Europe
8. Visit India
9. See the Acropolis
9. Hike the Appalachian Trail
10. See a Michigan/Ohio State football game
11. Own a boat
12. Learn to use Linux
13. Build a website from scratch
14. Be debt-free
15. Shake hands with the President of the United States
16. Eat a meal in Italy
17. Retire early
18. Change my own oil
19. Hike up a mountain
20. Start my own non-profit
21. Be my own boss
22. Drive 100 mph
23. Swim in a Canadian lake
24. Drive to Alaska
25. Save someone's life
26. Sell everything I own
27. Camp in absolute wilderness
28. See a San Francisco 49ers game
29. Work for Apple
30. Win a national award
31. Eat a lobster on the Maine coast
32. See the Grand Canyon
33. Make a major contribution to an environmental cause
34. Meet the Dalai Lama
35. Drive Route 66 again, or the reverse way (Santa Monica to Chicago)
36. Run for political office and win
37. Own a copy of "Amazing Fantasy 15" (first appearance of Spider-Man)
38. Become a Notary Public
39. Swim in a Swedish mountain lake
40. See "A Prairie Home Companion" live
41. Get my master's degree in communication or english literature
42. Go to a Buddhist temple for a week-long retreat
43. See the Himalayas
44. Cook Thanksgiving dinner
45. Visit all 50 states
46. Swim in Walden Pond
47. Eat a Coney on Coney Island
48. See a Michigan/Ohio State game live
49. Live to 70
50. Eat at Zingerman's Deli
51. Beat Final Fanstasy VII
52. Go on a horseride through Montana
53. Float in the Dead Sea
54. Participate in a bowling league
55. Appear on an NPR program
56. Craft my own wine
57. Win money on a gameshow
58. Play guitar or bass in a band

More items to come...

Oh yeah. I'm on Twitter.

Check it out, send me some tweets.

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