I was going to get this out yesterday, and didn’t. I explain why in a little bit. Anyway…
Jess Witkins, over at Jess Witkins’ Happiness project, had a post last week where she listed ten things that she likes (what she called “guilty pleasures”) that start with the letter S. It sounded like fun, and since I’ve been having a lousy time coming up with posts for the Thursday Ten, I asked her to assign me a letter. She gave me “D,” so here we go:
Ten things that I love that start with the letter “D”
Decaf coffee: I can hear the jeering and raspberries already, but, left unchecked, my blood pressure builds until I have enough for two people. I don’t want another stroke, which is why I’ve cut out the caffeine (for the most part) and stick with decaf coffee and water. At Starbucks, my drink of choice is a decaf venti Americano, since for some reason they don’t brew decaf after the morning. At home, it’s Eight O’Clock decaf. A couple of cups of that, and I’m good for the day.
Donuts: Of course, a cup of coffee goes much better with a couple of donuts. Kroger has the small and relatively cheap (under two dollars for a dozen) plain cake donuts, which are perfect for a small breakfast with my first cup of coffee while I’m working. The day just goes so much better.
Back in my younger and much more foolish days, I worked third shift as a supervisor in a Chicago food plant. After spending the night making cracker meal, nothing was better than a couple of apple fritters and a large cup of coffee at the Winchell’s on Fullerton and Pulaski. Unless, of course, I stopped at the coffee shop at 47th and Ashland and bought a dozen to take home. I would then sit, read the Sun-Times, eat donuts and drink coffee, and when I was done with all three, go to bed. I weighed about 140 pounds in those days. I can hardly believe it myself.
Doctor Who: WTTW, “Channel 11, public television for Chicago” had the greatest Sunday evening lineup in the early Eighties. Starting at 10 PM, they showed Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Dave Allen At Large, The Two Ronnies, Doctor Who, and Image Union, a show of independent films. One Sunday night, we decided to see what Doctor Who was all about. I think the first episode we saw was “The Seeds of Doom,” featuring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and the lovely and delightful Elisabeth Sladen as Sara Jane Smith. And we were hooked. We absolutely loved the cheesy effects and the sometimes melodramatic tone of the show, and we watched it faithfully. In 1984, I took a job where I had to be on the road on Sunday nights, but that was all right; we had just bought ourselves a VCR, so I would set it to tape the episode so I could watch it when I returned from whatever garden spot of the Midwest they had sent me to. Mary would fall asleep during the show; when she had trouble sleeping when I was away, she would pop one of the tapes in. Worked every time.
It’s only been recently that we’ve started watching the new series on a regular basis. Apart from the odd episodes featuring Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant, we missed most of the revived series, and just this year felt to watch it on a regular basis. By and large, I like the new series very much (“Asylum of the Daleks” was worth seeing a few times), but I miss the cheapness of the old show. Fortunately, the old episodes are still available in numerous formats.
And yes, the new shows still put Mary to sleep.
Diamonds, as in baseball diamonds: I grew up in Chicago, and Chicago is a baseball town. As I’ve explained before, even though I grew up on the north side (normally Cubs fans’ territory), I became, and am still, a White Sox fan. When I moved to Atlanta, I started to watch the Braves, and liked them almost immediately, because they were awful. I suffered through many years of the White Sox being awful, so I felt right at home. Of course, the Braves got better before too many years had passed, and won the World Series in 1995. Since then, it’s been nothing but frustration for them. I, on the other hand, am in heaven. The White Sox rewarded my faithfulness for having stuck with them all those years by also winning a World Series, in 2005. You see? Had I been a Cubs fan all these years, I’d still be waiting…
Diamonds, as in “clubs, hearts, spades, diamonds”: Growing up, we played a lot of cards. Not just poker, but gin rummy, hearts, old maid, the infamous slap jack (which takes on a certain level of violence when three boys under the age of thirteen play it), war, “I doubt it” (also known as BS). And solitaire. As long as I had a deck of cards, I could keep myself amused for hours. There’s something almost meditative about pushing cards around, either the real ones or the electronic kind. I get more good thinking done when I’m busy putting black cards on red and piling cards up by rank and suit.
As long as I’m on the subject, if you’re looking for a good collection of solitaire games, try Solitude for Windows. The guy has put together some very interesting and challenging games, some of which he created himself. best of all, it’s free. It was written for the PC originally; I use Wine to run it on my Mac.
Disco music: Might be unusual hearing this from someone who remembers Disco Demolition at Comiskey Park in 1979 (when they scheduled the destruction of disco records between games of a White Sox-Tigers doubleheader, and let’s just say that it didn’t end well), but disco music was kind of the music of my teens, and hey, the Bee Gees had been around since the mid-Sixties. Maybe it had more to do with the memories that it brings back.
Dumb and Dumber: This movie was a collection of fart jokes, gross humor, and just plain stupidity that starred Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. Nevertheless, it has me laughing to the point of loss of bladder control any time I see it. I personally think that, as far as funny goes, Daniels (who was better known for more serious roles) upstaged Carrey. I know, I should be a lot more sophisticated than that, but what fun would that be?
Dystopian fiction: I am hardly a fan of science fiction and fantasy, but every blogger that I read (and you know who you are) was all about The Hunger Games earlier this year. I saw it at a local bookstore, and figured what the hell, and picked up a copy. And couldn’t put it down until I had finished it, then devoured Catching Fire and Mockingjay, the other two books in the series. Then, when I heard that “if you liked The Hunger Games, you’ll love Divergent, I had to get that one, and liked that so well that I also picked up and read Insurgent, the second book in the trilogy. Veronica Roth’s trilogy has the added advantage of being set in Chicago, so I have a good idea of the places that she mentions.
Deep-dish pizza: If you’re from Chicago, it’s almost required that you love deep-dish pizza. It is, after all, the national dish of Chicago. Originally made at Pizzeria Uno on the Near North Side by Rudy Malnati (whose sons, Lou and and Rudy Jr., also run pizza parlors, Lou Malnati’s and Pizano’s, respectively), there are now lots of places in the Chicago area that serve it and its relatives, stuffed pizza and deep-dish pizza. I had never actually heard of it or had any of it until after I was married and moved to the South Side, where Connie’s and Giordano’s both delivered. Mary can remember the original Giordano’s when it was nothing more than a storefront. I miss it sometimes; fortunately, most of the restaurants offer them frozen and available on the Internet.
Databases: Here’s why I didn’t get this out yesterday: I run some daily reports for my brother, culled from data that I get from emails every morning. I use the Ruby programming language to generate SQL transactions that then load the data into a MySQL database. Lately, I’ve noticed that there have been some issues with the database and the reports, and while I’ve been told that the report more than serves the purposes for which it was intended, it was bothering me.
At heart, I’m a technical person. I worked in IT back when it was called Electronic Data Processing, and computers were huge machines that took up an entire air-conditioned room. I learned FORTRAN, ALGOL, PL/I, and COBOL in college, and worked with IMS, IDMS, DMSII, Datacom, and DB2 databases on mainframes (IBM and Burroughs large-system machines), and Sybase databases on UNIX and Windows Server. In my last job, I worked with Apache web server, Tomcat web server and servlet container, Microsoft SQL server and Oracle databases, and Java, and did many of my data conversions with Perl. Since being laid off from that job, I’ve learned Ruby (including Ruby on Rails), Python, Java, and PHP, and work regularly with MySQL databases.
Do you think I’d do that if I didn’t love it?
And that’s your ten for this week.