Josh's Blog

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The calling

Been really missing home lately. I’ve found myself reliving old times…simple affairs, walking outside to the crisp, dry autumn air in Denton. DIY [projects, gardening, jamming with my mates. Eastside, the Denton square, busking, hanging with my neighbor John, my dogs, firepits, camping, my rock polishing. My family, going to Houston and stopping at Buccees somewhere in between. Seeing my Mom and step Dad, my Father, sisters, Aunts, geez…everyone and everything.

I don’t want to leave England until it is either unavoidable, or on my own terms. Those terms dictate that I reach a comfortable position to stay, and still feel the relentless call back. That is when I will know for sure, it is the right path.

Lost in the Forest

I had to take a minute this morning to reflect on the fact that I got lost in an English forest yesterday. It wasn’t for long, but still, for about fifteen or twenty minutes I was definitively without direction.

Circled area is where I lost my way after 4 mile walk/jog

Train

Keira dropped me off at the train station at about 5:20 this morning. My ticket showed the train to London departing at 6:30AM. Turned out the farkin station doesnt even open until 7AM. So I was stuck outside the station in downtown Glasgow with all of my luggage. One of the station employees felt sorry for me and let me in to the station even though weren’t to open for another hour. Super cool.

It was a long wait, and holy chit was it cold in the station. But I managed to get everything lined out. That guy who helped me was an awesome fella. There was also a station attendant named Emma, who also assisted me greatly with getting everything squared away with the train admin.

Horsin’ Around

Went with the roomie today to a ranch in Alexandria, Scotland. It was about a 45 minute drive Northwest of Glasgow, past a neat towering natural fixture called Dumbarton rock. It was biting cold when we got there but fortunately there were no clouds in the sky nd eventually the sunlight offered some relief. We had a variety chores to help out with, including cleaning horse stalls, making bedding out of straw, preparing meal nets1, walking the horses, assessing possible health issues (limping), feeding them, and giving them treats.

Out contact was a wonderful woman named Jane, who owned two of the seven or so horses out there. One horse was named Flicka, a beautiful mature, black and white, giant, female that looked similar to a Clydesdale with her long-haired hooves. The other was named Aladdin, a younger brown and white Arabian horse with much more electricity flowing through his veins.

Jane is a hard working single mother that really knows her way around a ranch, and aint afraid to get dirty. The same can be said for my roomie eira, who has been helping Jane at the ranch for several years.

The ranch itself was fairly small, but stood in front of a background of rolling hills, and the small town of Alexandria in the distance. Another woman was there, much older, I think her name was Sharon, who was incredibly knowledgeable, and helped Jane diagnose a potential leg issue with Aladdin, as he walked with a bit of a limp at times.

After spending a few hours helping out, Keira and I headed up a road which led up a sizeable hill so that I could take a few photos. It was a hard hike at times, with the pitch of the road increasing much farther than setting ten on treadmill, but when we finally mde it up to the top the views were auite worth the trouble. There was also a small creek running down the hill. I climbed down to a pebbly part of it, and took three big gulps of water from it. It was really nice, and no I was not downhill from the ranch!

Final week in Glasgow…

Today’s Sunday, my final week here in Glasgow has now arrived1. So I grabbed my camera and headed over to the University of Glasgow, then to Kelvingrove park, and finally a quest to find the great river Clyde. It was pretty cold out there, so cold that I walked almost 11 miles and never once took a drink of water.

The University is incredible. A collection of stunning architecture and sprawling views of the city. To my surprise (as we are currently in C19 shutdown) you could actually go into several of the courtyards there. It provided a lot of nice opportunities to get some good snaps in. I really want to go back and spend more time around the campus. There are strange statues of mystical creatures such as unicorns and gargoyles that really stir the curiosity pot.

The University dovetails into Kelvingrove park, which is an enormous spread of recreational Zen. It has an amphitheater, a killer skatepark, hidden trails, historical monuments, museums, bridges, you name it. It apparently is also a repository for used Xmas trees. In certain parts you would see hundreds of stacked trees forming long rows bordering various pathways through the park. I thought it was great! The smell of fresh green pine filled the cold, tree-preserving air.

It took asking directions and tingling spider senses to get to the Clyde. What a awesome river. I thought the Kelvin was legit, but the Clyde is a bonafied Scottish “Thames”. Wide enough to accommodate proper ships! The section of the Clyde that I reached just happened to have a brewery alongside of it (my spider senses served me well). Unfortunately due to the shutdown it was closed, but it looks like a really cool place to check out once things are back up and running, the next time I make my way out to Glasgow2.

I today’s escapade with another stop in to Valhalla’s Goat and picked up some Belgium beers I’ve never had before (see pics). Then went home to drop off the camera and right back out again to Morrisons to get caught up on all me shopping.

Tomorrow Im heading with roommate Keira to tend to some horses out in the Scottish countryside. Cant wait!

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On way to University of Glasgow

1On Sunday the 31st I will be on a train back to London, leaving this wonderful place behind. Its going to be like waking up from a nice dream. One that you go back to sleep quickly for the next evening in hopes for a sequel.

2I’m a bit smitten with Glasgow. I know its nothing more than a generalization – all these great impressions – since I’ve not even been here a month, but this city has a soul to it that gets on really well with my own.

Corona update I

Today marks day 5 of duking it out with the ‘rona. I feel like I’ve rounded the bend and now heading toward the finish line. Its a great feeling, as Ive been bed ridden for the past three days, bored as hell, and dealing with a mountain of emotional turmoil. As well, my senses of taste and smell are only working at around 20 percent of normal.

I plan on making some good out of all this dread, however. One positive to build upon… I haven’t smoked for a week now. This is a ball that is long overdue to keep rolling. Weird fact: Since being sick I smell cigarettes all the time, even now. While this wouldn’t have been my first choice if given a selection , at least it isn’t the scent of burnt toast!

I’ve been meditating every day, even when my mind is so stirred it is the LAST thing I want to do. Im seeing the payoffs already, my ‘rona induced irritability is softening, and Im a bit more mindful . The great thing about meditation, is that it is always there to be done, and it is the easiest thing in the world to do once you get used to it. You just sit, smell nice incense, see the occasional flicker of a candle penetrate through your eyelids, ah… and listen to the swell of waves reach into a distant shore (through headphones of course, here in London), and sometimes… without even realizing it… you’ve forgotten who and where you are.

Quarantine Books

Christopher Hitchens: God is not Great – How Religion Spoils Everything – Religion through the view of one of its greatest contemporary critics, Christopher Hitchens. As an ever developing non-believer myself, I stumbled across Mr. Hitchens through one of his many YouTube debates, where he can be seen systematically dismantling the views of several religious prominents, especially within the three Abrahamic faiths. Rating: 7.5/10 – Thoroughly well written, but at times perhaps a bit self-indulgent at the sake of meaningful objectivity.

Steven Pressfield:  Gates of Fire – a fictional and largely militarist recounting of ancient Spartan civilization up to its famous clash with the Persian Empire in the Battle of Thermopylae. This was recommended to be by my Father after discussing the film, 300. Rating: 8/10 – I thoroughly enjoyed this ride with Xeo, and his journey with the Spartans.

Sam Harris: Lying – a psychologist view on lying and its profound effects on both the deceiver and the deceived, even in the case of the small white lies we tell our children. It also examines the cathartic benefits of always telling the truth under (almost) any circumstance. I stumbled upon Sam Harris as recommended viewing on YouTube after watching several C. Hitchens interviews and debates. Rating 8/10 – there were several aspects of this essay that I wish were expanded upon, namely, techniques to implement a 100 percent truth principle 100 percent of the time, when we live in a world that operates around a multitude of multifaceted deceptions.

Guitar Head: Guitar Fretboard – Master the Guitar Fretboard in less than 24 hours – Short and sweet guide to memorizing the guitar fretboard through the use of mnemonics and visuals. Rating: NA Although I’ve completed this book, I have not yet given its lessons the required attention.

Gordon R. Dickson: The Dragon & The George – This book was recommended by none other than legendary metal icon Ronnie James Dio (may he rest in peace), in a random interview I saw of him on YouTube. When a science experiment goes wrong, a man and his fiancé are transported into a fairytale world of dragons, knights, and castles. The man, who now actually has taken the over the body of an existing dragon, must rescue his fiancé, who has been captured by an evil knight. Along the way he makes friends, who join him on his journey. Rating: 7.5/10 – an easily accessible and fun escape from the maladies of quarantine. Thank you Ronnie!

1,000,000 views

Almost eight years ago, I decided to bring a newly purchased camera along with me as I made my landscaping run. Little did I know that the resulting  video it would one day reach 1 million views…

I remember a long time ago my friend Jason R. told me that I would look back at my landscaping days as some of the best days of my life. While I am not ready to attest to the accuracy of that statement just yet, I am able to say that I look back at them with a growing amount of fondness and a bit of longing each and every year. It was a good chapter in my life. A simple read, but it had almost everything I needed in it.

I am super happy that I made and have this video to archive these special times. 

A few little facts about this video:
– I made it to test out a new video camera I had purchased. Canon HF500 I think it was… great camera.
– I did not tell the lawn client I was going to be filming
– I received a lot of strange looks from both client and neighbors while making it – particularly when I stood a 6 foot tripod on the cab of my truck to get an overhead shot.
– I did not storyboard the video. I just tried to shoot as many angles as possible.
– The intro music was an early variant of “Mirror and the Man”, which was later recorded by Copper Root.
– The end music was an incomplete diddly I had written a couple years prior.
– The Metallica song is Leper Messiah
The voiceover was added a week or two later while putting the footage together,
– The insect video playing on the computer monitor during the introduction was inspired by Jeffery Hurst, from an earlier video called, “Jeff likes Insects”. (Rest in Peace Jeff).
– The watercooler was used daily in my home all the way up to my move to London.
– I sent the finished video to the lawn client, who was a professor at UNT. She liked it so much she forwarded it to several of her fellow staff members.
– The first year after the vid was uploaded, it was barely noticed. However the following Spring – during lawn season – it started to get hits.
– The Chevy truck was totaled a few years later.
– The suzuki 2 stroke mower lasted several years after filming. When it finally went kaput, I took the piston out as a keepsake.
– A part 2 was partly filmed and never finished.
– Video earned $3770 in YouTube revenue
– The video typically spikes in views every Spring.

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