Ramble, ramble, ramble

I am not sure how to put this... i am feeling a little guilt about not being in similar situations as some of my friends... Friend #1... he was unemployed for, well a really long time.  His wife has been needing to become a stay at home mom due to diabetes, etc. so she could get it under control.  He finally started a new job, after obtaining his Master's degree in history, as a truck driver.  Being a truck driver is a noble and highly needed profession, but it takes him away form his family several nights a week - and obviously it is not in the field he went to school and lost sleep over assignments for.  To top it all off... they are not sure the salary will be enough.  Friend #2... is the manager of a store for a national retail chain.  He is a hardworking, dedicated, and loyal to a fault.  He has worked 50+ weeks, with no over or comp time... for a 'coons age.  He gets up early, works late, packs a bag lunch, his wife has had to work, just for them to make ends meet. 
Friend #3... also has his Master's degree, and some progress on a Doctorate, but life has thrown him a curve.  He now is a Chef, an "ambassador chef" for different food companies, he has done battle field tours at two different Civil War battlefields, he has sold prints and framing, is a a food services equipment tester (and as a result i now have a really nice grill that he tested and blogged about for the manufacturer), he writes food related articles for a local newspaper, and does at least two other types of part time jobs.  He is also partly responsible for helping my Beloved re-enter the work force.  Each of these friends struggle financially, and from what i can tell - for the most part - they are each fiscally responsible.  I, on the other hand, am a high school dropout.  I "feel" into my job... and i have been able to provide an income so that my beloved, until recently, could stay at home with the chilluns.  We were not able to put a lot of money away... far less than the recommended amounts, but we've kept out of credit card debt, we have a nice house, and for the most part have never had any serious financial troubles.  I do not say all of this to proclaim i am some sort of genius at financial matters, nor am i saying i am even very good at either my job or my management techniques.  But i sometimes wonder... why me?  All three of these guys have done the college thing.  They were careful in jobs.  They are all responsible men who seek after God.  I, on the other hand, tend to be "C'est la vie" - what will be will be... and i know it is not because of that.  It is things like this that, in my mind, make the case, it is all of grace.  Because one man prospers and another struggles, that is no indicator of how good or (un)worthy a (wo)man is.


I have finally completed my initial run through the ground floor of the "King's Gauntlet" in MouseHunt.  I have no one to blame but myself on the tedium of my initial run because i opted to stock up 1,000 pieces of cheese in order to get as good a stock pile of the Tier 2 potions (used to make the cheese for the next level in the Gauntlet) as i possibly could.  You see, you cannot hunt on the next level until you have captured a mouse that drops a potion, which then needs to be used on some cheese to make potions for that level, and so on so forth all the way up to Tier 8.  My results for my Tier 1 run has been:
208 Wound Up White mice, 187 Toy Sylvan mice,  187 Hapless Marionette mice, 121 Sock Puppet Ghost mice, 96  Clockwork Samurai mice, 17  Puppet Master mice and 172 Tier II potions
The potions in turn are then used to make 6 pieces of Tier II cheese if you use Super Brie cheese (a cheese rewarded for financial support of the game, and rarely dropped as prizes from certain mice within the game), or 4 pieces of Tier II cheese when using the much more common Swiss Cheese.  The trick is to balance the attraction, strength, luck, etc.  The higher the luck the higher the drop rate of potions... but then the cheese goes stale more often, etc.  Sad thing is... this is exactly what keeps drawing me to this game.

Some recent changes to the game have been an additional area for some of the more veteran MouseHunters (MiceHunters?) is Zugzwang's Tower.  I am looking forward to eventually hitting that place (in probably a year from now) if for no other reason than it has a Chess theme! A while back i picked up a trap called Zugzwang's Last Move, a tactical-type trap.  It shows a couple of pawns and other pieces on a chess-board type base.  I bought it, even though i had a more powerful trap already, just because of the appearance!  Well, when the time comes i am going to have to smash it (which means i will be buying another one, just to have them both) to create Zugzwang's First Move.  Since i was in counseling, living in New York City with my father (to help me deal with the divorce, the custody battle, and my mother attempting suicide), i have had a thing for chess.  I remember playing a game with my counselor and winning (i am sure it was because her head was not in the game), and i even played some with my father - who as far as i am concerned... is a pretty good chess player.When i was on active duty a fellow soldier helped me improve some.  I play on Facebook, but i am a lousy player.  I am sure THUMPER, if he is not already, will be a better player than me (he used to play in the chess club at school).

So far i have found a countryside theme, a woodland theme, a graveyard/undead theme, a scientific theme, and a mining theme.  All of them are really interesting (to me).  I am also getting ready to embark on a nautical theme.  In all i have only caught roughly half (127 of 255) of the various breeds of 'regular' mice and only 4 of the 23 special event mice.  But it's not just mice that you can collect. 
There are a wide variety of traps and bases to collect, and not just because one might want to (such as with me and Zugzwang's Last Move - aka ZLM).  Each trap piece has different characteristics that are useful in different situations.  Then there are cheese types (this should get CHEF excited - if he actually ever read my blog) such as Cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, Gnarly, Ancient, Cherry, and many, MANY more.  If the expected trap components and bait options aren't enough or expected, there are then "collectibles" to bu hunted and found.  An ancient Mouse Hunter called Plankrun wrote a journal that has since been lost to time.  Pages of it can be found throughout the kingdom.  But all of it takes TIME and patience.  Even if you know where to find something, that does not mean you will find it right away.  You have to position yourself to be successful, and then patient enough to obtain it.  Fun for the whole family!


It is hard to believe that it has been five years since Hurricane Katrina struck.  I still remember the smell and sights.  Incredible images of billboards blown to 90 degree angles, yachts sitting in the middle of the woods as if they had just been built and left there until the forest grew up around them, five story casinos that were designed to float on the water... moved inland 200 - 300 yards and plopped in the middle of the highway.  The skeletal remains of buildings (God spared me from seeing the human kind).  Words cannot describe... even pictures fail to grasp the scope or the level of destruction.  How can a picture, even from a helicopter or airplane capture hundreds of miles of destruction?  There is so much still left to do.  Please keep the gulf coast in your prayers, and if you feel so led... contribute money or time to help them to continue their rebuilding efforts.  When i saw  the New Orleans Saints make that push into the playoffs last year... they became my "heart favorite" for the year.  Habitat for Humanity is still there, and many many other organizations.  Seek out ways to help.  If not there... then look around your own towns and neighborhoods.  "For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them."  (Mark 14:7a, ESV)


Well, it is finally September... and to me this ushers in the best time of the year.  Not only is is the doorway into Fall, but it is the start of the American Football season!  The Carolina Panthers allowed most of their "seasoned" players go - either free agency, or out right release.  I can't remember the total number of players over the age of 30... but it's not a lot.  Coach Fox has never made a big deal out of the pre-season, and to be honest, i am usually not one to get all bent out of shape.  I have seen Super Bowl winners go 0-4 in the preseason the year they won the Super Bowl, but in the era of ESPN-type hype... There is one writer i like to read when it comes to the Panthers.  Scott Fowler for the Charlotte Observer.  Anywho... The Panthers' Offense and Special Teams have looked woeful.  Even my favorite Panther player, the last original Panther, John Kasay has missed an extra point and a 25 yard field goal.  In 42 Offensive possessions of the ball this pre-season... they have had 0 touchdowns!  Now, i do not want to read too much into this, but Steve Smith and Jonathon Stewart have been sidelined all pre-season... and that is a good thing... but i am still nervous.  However, the Defense has looked just plain OUTSTANDING!  If the Special Teams can keep from giving up too many big plays, and the Offense can begin to generate some of its own points and not allow turnovers... this could turn out to be a much better season than i am currently hoping for.  I will be very happy with a 9-7 season... and if they do better than that i will be ecstatic.


I have written before that my Beloved has returned to the work force after fourteen and a half years away from it.  Throughout that time she has been an outstanding mother and wife to our three children.  For Twelve of those years she had to put up with me going away one weekend a month and my two weeks (usually in the summer - during peak vacation time).  She put up with me being away for Hurricane Katrina AND thirteen months of active duty time - during which DD3 was only four months old when i left.  About a year and a half ago i could see signs of her getting antsy.  She was feeling listless, trouble finding direction (so to speak).  She had dived in and really became an advocate for the Autistic children of our area.  She linked up with support groups, helped run them, etc.  She even helped an outreach program find office space and was supposedly on the short list to help run that office, but that never panned out.  She also tried her hand at substitute teaching, and helping run a deli in the evening at a nearby University.  She didn't really enjoy any of them.  But now she has the same job she left all that time back.  The same position, just a little updated with some technology, and she is loving it already.  Want to hear something sad... i am feeling pangs of jealousy.  I experienced this before too.  Not during those other jobs where she felt "uncalled" (for lack of a better word coming to mind), but this particular job.  She shares with me the unfounded rumors of her sleeping with the bosses that many of the old timers seem to spread (and yes, they spread similar rumors about others as well).  I hear her phone conversations with her now boss who used to be her assistant when she left way-back-when, and how well they get along.  I am so happy for her.  I really am... i see how she is diving into this job, and how she is eating up the new things she has to learn (where everything is kept, the computer filing, the order processes, etc.).  She has needed something like this for sometime now... so why am i struggling with jealousy?!?  I have struggled with this in the past... but not with a job situation.


My ADHD Me said...

Wow. Such a long and interesting post that I stopped reading to comment and will then go back and finish...my attention span, you know.
As for your friends. Who knows why things work out the way they do. You have made me stop and think about all the times I had to choose on a path, all the times I hope I took the right road and all the times I know I didn't.

Speaking of doors....oh yeah, we weren't.....but someone is at mine.

More later.

Ace said...

Some deep thoughts up there in the "Why Me?" section. I don't know. You hear so many conflicting answers even within the church. I really think this is a major sticking point for non-believers.

A said...

Life isn't fair. Or, at the least, it's certainly not even. Like you I feel very lucky when I compare myself to friends and family, which I try not to do. I think that the best response to finding yourself in a lucky situation is to be grateful for it and generous to those who are not. Earn the good fortune you don't deserve.
As far as your deserving, but underprivileged friends - they are still SOO much better off than most of the world. And they don't deserve it any more than you do.