Thursday, December 31, 2009

Twas the night before...

The arbitrary day that signals a New Year. (well at least the one outside of our birthday).

I forgot how much I hate the thought of going out tonight, not from the fun part, but more from the tons of likely drunks on the roadways, especially here in a city like Cleveland, which has a severe lack of cabs. Being a suburban city, its just not sustainable through the year for cabs to have any amount of numbers, which means that on days like New Years Eve, waiting for one when you are ready to depart can be an excruciating exercise.

It appears we might not be going out tonight due to a change in plans for the sitter, but we are still working on that.

We did receive an update from our friends about the party we were supposed to be going to and I wrote some about yesterday. Let me preface this by saying, I'm sure the party itself is fun and works for the people going, but as an outside couple, it definitely felt from reading the background on the party, that it wasn't quite the perfect fit for us on New Years Eve. Lots of high end cooking (not bad, although my wife and I looked at each other with blank stares when we tried to define what some of the items were). Lots of drinking (again not bad), but that's pretty much it, they aren't into 'counting down' or party hats, games, etc. Which isn't necessarily a big deal just different.

So even if we have a baby sitter, we probably will try and find another spot to celebrate the turning of the year. Based on the fact that we probably wouldn't fit in very well to the high brow offerings and coupled with the possibility of intruding on a group's party where it might detract from their fun too, it just seemed like it wasn't the best thing to do for New Years.

Another group of my friends is going bowling (probably with lights and a DJ). While definitely not our first choice, somehow that feels a bit more right then duck priscotto (spellcheck is not recognizing priscotto, but that's what the invite says), and rabbit tostadas. So we may opt for that instead, but we'll see.

Anyway, Happy New Years Eve to everyone and I hope everyone stays safe and smart tonight. Ok, maybe not smart, but keep the safe part in mind.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The week that work forgot

I have mixed feelings about the week after Christmas, on one hand it's great as there aren't a lot of people working, as many businesses close down or people take vacation. On the other hand, if you do wind up working this week, you run the risk of getting inundated with work from others and trying to track down people that are likely as overburdened as you if they are working.

Even knowing the possibility exists of getting hammered for work the last week of the year, I tend to hate burning vacation time for this week. When I have I feel like I'm not getting the most out of the vacation days. After all, it's not exactly easy to plan a trip somewhere, when you have family obligations popping up over the course of the two weeks, so you wind up stuck at home, or taking a day to return gifts that don't fit or that you didn't want in the first place.

It doesn't help that even if you decide to sit home, there's a nagging feeling that work would be easy this week and you've missed out on that too. I used to at least enjoy the fact that driving to work (when I used to) used to be extremely light for these two weeks, now that I'm working from home I don't even get the benefit of that. On top of it, working from home means that when there are 'pressing' issues that short easy day, can turn into a 12-13 hour day, yech.

I'm not trying to bitch here though, there are pros and cons to everything, I just find myself in the middle of a fairly weird week. Plus I'm trying to keep myself posting something fairly regularly. As much as I had ideas for posts during my 'vacation' I've seemed to have lost the mojo for some of those posts and the thoughts around them have turned into one large pile of meanderings, that I'm not quite ready to start to dissect.

Enough of that though, on to the New Year's Eve plans. My wife and I decided to go out with my best friend and his wife, in this case it means going to his wife's co-workers house for a 'couples' party. I'm sure it will be interesting, although I'm not exactly comfortable at the wine and cheese style parties which I believe this one will be. Think they'll mind if I bring a flask of Jager) and 4 pack of Redbull?

My new thought for the week/year, is that it's not that we get too old and tired to do something for New Year's it's just that it's damn near impossible to please everyone. My regular group of friends seemed to be stuck in limbo this year on what they wanted to do, as I thought about options, I considered one of the 'parties' where you pay for dinner and open bar, but couldn't find one that made sense (i.e price, lodging, transportation, people to go, etc). We went to one of those parties a couple years ago and while it was fun, it took a lot of work to organize for just two couples, much less 8-10 people. Not to mention, that after you factor in the party cost, how to get there and/or lodging, it starts to become a bit pricey, it just seemed like too much effort.

Which is why we are heading out with my best friend and his wife. It doesn't hurt that my wife would rather be doing something more low key such as this, I on the other hand, would rather be doing something a bit more high energy. (Although it is New Year's Eve and just when you think somethings going to go the way you expect, it surprises you)

I did get some good news today, I was expecting to be the DD and observe people drink wine and be pretentious, but it turns out my friend and his wife have offered to drive.

I also found out that the people's house we are going over are starting around 4 or 5, not sure what to make of that, as it either means they will be the kind of people I tend to function well around, or they'll be burned out by 10pm. I'll be arriving at around 7 with my Jager flask, consider it a social experiment.

Added post submission: Have a safe and Happy New Year to everyone who's taken the time to read my thoughts. I appreciate that you take the time to do so.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

I've not gotten to all the posts I wanted to this week, but it's been surprisingly busy, the good news is today we closed on a very large deal I've been working on for over 18 months. Typically a long deal process for us is 3, so it gives you an idea how different this one is.

Anyway, a quick post about a decision my wife and I are struggling with. How to display the bike for Christmas. Since our little one has been 'wishing' for a big girl bike at every opportunity and we've obliged, our decision now is how to have Santa present it.

Do we put it under the tree and risk all other presents being ignored? Do we hide it in another room and risk the possibility of our girl being crushed when she doesn't see it right away? Or do we play it by ear a bit.

Tonight I'm leaning towards hiding it and presenting it as her last gift. My reasoning is that in the end she's going to get it so any crushing emotions should be fairly limited by the fact that there is a tree full of gifts in front of her. This is subject to change until tomorrow at least.

If your wondering, yes I could honestly create an argument with myself over anything.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tis the season of gift giving

I believe there is an art to gift giving. In order to keep my thoughts on track here, I'm going to try and write this about what I truly feel, and not try and soften the counterpoint side, as I typically would in discussions.

Gift giving is complicated business. What do I mean by that? After all, someone gives you a list or a couple things to buy and then you go out there and get it right? That's typically how it goes, but I'll be honest I hate that almost as much as someone asking me to get them a gift card.

To me gift giving should have a personal side to it. It's all fine and good to have gifts come from a list, but there has to be something special given with the gifts purchased from that list too, something not asked for, or longed for, or something that someone didn't even know they wanted.

The best gifts I've received over time were often not something I asked for or truly expected (except perhaps for some of the hard to get toys my parents got us as children.)

When I'm asked for a list of things I'd like from those close to me, it almost makes me upset. I know it's wrong, but I really would just rather they took a shot on getting me stuff they think I want. Now I realize that this might be a personality flaw in that if they don't get me something that shows they know me, I'll feel bad about it and truly wonder what the hell they were thinking. But even knowing this, I can't break that trait. I want to know whether people 'get me' or not and what gifts they choose would tell me a lot.

I see people going down there list of things and purchasing 90% of their presents from or online and I seriously wonder if they even care about other people. (I realize I'm a bit demented for this thinking) But how do you buy something you haven't seen or touched or know whether it's good quality? I realize that time constraints plays a role, and I know there are some things that are easier to buy online, but would it kill these people to head to a store once or twice during the season and buy something that takes some thought.

I know it's not possible to make every gift special, but all it takes is one or two. Something related to a hobby, or that will help in the workday, something for someone who's really frugal and won't buy something nice for themselves. All it takes is some insight and thought with it, is it really so hard to do? Half of the time, the one's that are the most personal tend to be very small anyway. A pair of sunglasses for a friend you know always loses their sunglasses, a bottle of liquor for someone that likes really nice stuff, but won't buy their own. Something for packing lunches for someone that takes their lunches to work. This is where to me it's truly the thought that counts.

Enough of my rant on that, my real dilemma lately is on the other side of this, the giving part. As much as I like receiving personal gifts, I get a lot of enjoyment out of giving a thoughtful gift. Which leads to two things this time of year, overspending (as I tend to buy the personal gifts in addition to the the stuff on the 'list') and frustration when I can't find anything special. This year has been a pretty crappy year for finding something special, I just haven't been able to find 'neat' stuff that someone might want. I think it's a bit of a hangover from last year, in that I was able to find some cool things for people I was giving gifts too, and so this year I'm out of ideas.

I had a little luck last weekend, where I was able to find some gifts that I think the receiver will really enjoy. I had some thoughts floating around in my head and I was actually able to find something equivalent. There are still a few people that I'm buying for this year, that I just don't feel like I got them anything special and it's nagging at me. Maybe another trip to the store tonight will help with that.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Back from vacation

Have a ton of stuff I want to write about. Hopefully once I dig out from this pile of work email (250 at last count) I'll get some time. Had a great 12 days off though and managed to accomplish a fair amount.

Some highlights from the days off that I plan to get into more detail over the week.

Christmas shopping done (have a post brewing about gift giving)
Daughter's 4th birthday, which included making the cake that I posted a picture on.
Bought a new car (been 10 years since I bought a new one, have a post brewing on this too I think).
Saw Planet 51 and Avatar (Avatar was a phenomenal visual experience, story was a little weak).
Baked tons of cookies and will never attempt a ginger bread house again, ever!

I'm sure there are more, but those are the things off the top of the head. We only had one band practice, and I'm still waiting on the .wav files to be sent over to me. Otherwise it was a relaxing week. Looking forward to getting some of the posts out over these next couple days.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Birthday cake

More for future reference then anything else, but here was Saturdays project.

The party went very well.

- michael

Monday, December 7, 2009

One of those "Good to know" moments

It's here and it's cold. I woke up at 6 this morning and decided I was going to get back on a 3 days a week workout schedule. I'm glad to say I not only woke up at 6, but I made it to the gym too. However, it wasn't without an interesting anecdote.

I did have one of those interesting (well interesting to me) conversations with myself this morning as I moved the cars around.

Me: F**k it's cold. (cold enough that the coffee I dumped that I had left in the car froze on the ground)

Inner voice: You know what they say about getting up in the morning and working out.

Me: No you idiot I don't there is a phrase that starts like that, besides what the hell does that mean?

Inner voice: Ummmm

Me: You know what they should say, I'm an idiot for going out in the cold this early in the morning for a workout. Instead of buying equipment to put in my house to workout with.

Inner voice: Oh, you are right, there is no phrase that starts like that.

Me: (puzzled) a little slow this morning?

Inner: Wow, it's really f'ing cold.

Me: (more puzzled) thanks for your input. (Note to self, my inner voice is really stupid in the morning.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Thoughts 20

Looking over my list of posts, I haven't posted a Friday thought list since Halloween. These last few months have flown by. We are definitely overdue for another list, so here we go.

1. 2 more work days until vacation, how sweet is that? A full 12 days off from work, I don't think I've had that many consecutive days off from work, since I was 15.

2. I'm really tired of turkey for a while. My wife mentioned that she started to feel like we were in Forrest Gump. Where turkey had replaced shrimp. Turkey cocktail, turkey sandwiches, turkey pizza, turkey blah

3. The CD is done and the .wav files are supposed to be sent to me sometime in the next day or so. Now I have to figure out how to get them posted here. If it was video it would be easy.

4. Fruit roll ups are too small.

5. Cookie madness is about to take over the house, there is likely to be flour everywhere, it's rather unfortunate for our black dog, as his coat seems to show off the flour particularly well. Although if he didn't hover under our feet so much, he would likely have much less flour on him.

6. If I haven't mentioned it my daughter has been extremely affectionate lately. She's been grabbing a pillow and watching a movie each night, laying up against me. I'm hopeful it's just because she's feeling comfortable and not due to the extra padding I'm sure my stomach is showcasing lately due to me being MIA from the gym for the past month and a half.

7. I don't like the new book e-readers like Kindle and the Sony one, they'll never replace books for me if I can help it. The only use I can see out of them is helping schools and students with reducing the expenses of books, where the publishing companies change one word per year in order to sell a new 'version'.

8. There are not many things that do not taste better with whip cream.

9. One of my favorite Christmas MadTV clips:

10. More MadTV spreading Holiday cheer, what can I say I have a bit of a morbid sense of humor. Apologies for the foreign subtitles, I had no luck finding one without them.

A couple of good lines from this clip, but I think my favorite is, "You're a bright and special child, April. but i still have to smoke ya!"

Have a great weekend, hope the weather stays nice where you are, and that you don't have to eat turkey all weekend.

Remember when you first heard your recorded voice?

I do, my brother and I used to tape silly songs on the tape recorder and play them back. I was amazed and even at that time slightly disenchanted with the sound of my own voice. (and let's just say the content of those tapes was just what you might expect 7 and 4 year old boys to put together if left to their own devices).

Which brings me to tonight, we finished recording our demo songs. 7 songs we got down for a cd to take to some of the bars and see if we can start getting paid. We only took them halfway through on each, but as soon as they are processed by our awesome sound man/drummer and converted to the right format, I'll work on figuring out how I can get something posted so you can hear it.

The music is incredible, I could go on and on about how well our drummer, bassist, and guitarist our, but you'll hear for yourselves. Which leaves how I sounded, I'll give myself a B to B minus, I did pretty well for a couple songs that I didn't quite expect to and sounded worse then I expected for a couple songs I expected to sound better for. I'm still in the process of understanding nuances of my voice, the sound system, and a variety of other things that come along with singing for a band. It's definitely getting there, but I still have a ways to go before I'll be satisfied.

I will say this though, the voice is much stronger then when I first started and I've learned a ton so far. There are a fair number of songs in our set list, that I'd say I basically force myself through rather then sing and adapt to the song. After certain practices, I can really start to spot the intricacies of some songs and know whether I'm really starting to own it or still just forcing my way through it. If you've ever played baseball it's the difference between fouling one off and hitting the sweet spot. I'm definitely starting to feel like I'm hitting the sweet spot on some of the songs. For the other ones, let's just say that I've got a strong enough voice to push through for now and some of them aren't ever going to be home runs for me, but I'll take a nice double or even a single.

For the songs we recorded tonight we tried to go with a medley that gave a good indication of what we are going to play. I'll save my self critique for when I post them.

Here's the list.

1. Wanted Dead or Alive (Bon Jovi)
2. Sex Type Thing (Stone Temple Pilots)
3. Don't You Forget about Me (Simple Minds)
4. Slither (Velvet Revolver)
5. Holiday (Green Day)
6. Nothing Else Matters (Metallica)
7. Symphony of Destruction (Megadeath)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day stuck in reverse

Why are there days when I seem to be stuck in reverse?

I guess I should clarify, sometimes I'm amazed at the things my wandering mind will think about. I find myself thinking about things from years past and drifting off into a day dream state on certain days. It doesn't help that I don't think there is anything driving this trip down memory lane. There isn't any problem in real life or coincidence that seem to be triggering it, it just seems to be very random day dreaming.

So I'm kind of pissed about it, as it's interrupting my work time and screwing up my concentration. If it's going to interfere with my focus, it needs to at least be productive. I would suggest something akin to past life memories from the movie"Dead Again" where the hypnotist used the past life memories of his patients to secure himself family heirlooms and wealth. I probably wouldn't mind the occasional mind wander if it came back with say a couple gold doubloons or something equally valuable.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Back to a regular style post

Well enough Black Friday micro posts, and dessert porn for awhile.

The Holiday weekend was a good one. I love the 4 day Thanksgiving weekend. At it's worst it's 4 days off, not to mention, the whole 'party' day is the first one, so you start things off with a bang and you have 3 more days to do whatever you want. I wish every winter holiday had that many days.

Although this year, Christmas and New Year's falling at the end of the week, will be very similar. There is nothing worse then Christmas on like a Tuesday and then going back to work on Wednesday. Yes, I know there are vacation days available, but it's just not the same. I'm proposing that we move Christmas and New Years to the last Fridays in December every year. To heck with the dates. (After all, they are artificial anyway given the history, if we really want to get into that). I don't think it's going to change though, sigh.

I got a ton of stuff on Black Friday, and spent the least amount I ever have. I also was able to shop for multiple people, which means, I have very few things left to get for the year. Which is kind of cool, since it's only December 1.

A bunch of things coming up though, that will take up the majority of the time anyway, Bronwyn's 4th birthday and party, Christmas cookie baking, and some band stuff. Luckily I have a week and a half of vacation starting next Wednesday, can't wait for that.

Practices for the band have been going pretty well, really starting to feel comfortable with the stuff we have and if things go right, we'll be recording on Thursday. Keep your fingers crossed. Once we have the recording completed, it will be time to head out and start trying to land some shows. Which we definitely need to do, as we are a bit tired of practicing at the moment.

That's all for today, hope you have a good week.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Finished came up short on last item. Will get another day. Felt like screaming zhu zhu pets in aisle 12 at last store to move crowd. Car is stuffed. Good day, home to put turkey in oven and sleep.
- michael


Crap, only got 1of 2 items left at walmart. One more try at another walmart and done. 9am if u aren't done yet it's over anyway.

- michael

Success at the K

Got more bags at kmart including a surprise not in the ad that saves me driving across town in this mess.

- michael

What do they say about Cleveland weather

Wait a minute it will change.
Accumulation in 90 minutes in target.

- michael


Line moving fairly well halfway to go, here's the stuffed cart.

And the line


Target success

Got 85% of what I wanted at target, and by far my biggest list. Now in line wrapped to back of store though at least an hour wait.

Pic of snow if u can see it.

- michael

Behind the building

In line at target wrapped around building and it's sleeting.

- michael


Kmart no good can't get sale price until 6 although could come back with receipt. F that. Found toy at toys r us though, kohls next.

- michael

First update

Best buy parking lot filled up 2 hours before open. Noone in super K. So while no doorbusters no problem on other stuff on sale Friday.

- michael

I'm off

2:50 am and I'm out of the house going to try super k first. 24 hr stores get around those pesky opening hours.

- michael

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm ready

List and gameplan made. Now off for about 3 hrs sleep. And then to do battle. Worried a bit as I don't have 1 goto store that I know I can get a bunch of stuff early for momentum.

- michael

Tonights baking

Can you tell I like to bake.

Pumpkin toffee cheesecake

- michael

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How time flies

Next month my daughter will turn 4. Fairly significant in it's own right. Significant to me as it's the first age I have memories of, not many but some.

So I guess going forward I consider my parenting skills on the record.

As if it wasn't enough she keeps growing before my eye, today she got her ears pierced. Prides in a picture.

Hers, mine's already documented.

- michael

Some non-holiday thoughts

When I first started this blog, one of the big questions I found confronting me was being on the higher end of 35. I was having a hard time aligning the physcial age with how I felt mentally. I seemed to be perpetually stuck in my 20's mentally.

I'm not saying this was a bad thing, it just felt weird and contributed to me being off track. It felt like there was a whole period of years missing as I wasn't in synch mentally and physically.

I'm happy to say (well sort of) that last night, I had one of those moments where I realized, I felt my age. It wasn't one of those, 'oh man I'm 36 moments'. But rather it was thinking about my age and not being completely distraught. Here are some of my thoughts on why it's changed.

The first catalyst of my 'fear' of aging was the regret I was starting to feel about past and present and the feeling like time was suffocating me. Confronting it seems to have helped, it's not that these things don't bother me anymore, but I feel like I've got a handle on them and I'm better able to adapt when faced with a situation.

The second catalyst, was my fear that older men, seem to be either crazy or so run over from the world that they appear to be lifeless shells. I'm fairly confident going forward with an eye towards this, that I won't end up that way. No promises though, as it's too soon to tell. Besides whoever really knows when they've become crazy and crotchety?

The third catalyst is life had become a bit stale, day in day out of the same old grind. So what's a person to do? If you've been reading, you know I've joined a band. Outside of having a lot of fun doing it, I've realized that there are additional, unexpected rewards. I like that it's out of bounds from the norm, it's been too long since I pushed on the boundaries of what's 'right'. Besides that, I'm pretty good at it and I'm considering it a lost opportunity recovered. All of these things are bonuses in my opinion. If you are going to shake up the status quo, might as well do it with a bit of style. However it does feel overwhelming at times working in practice and planning gigs around everyday life, but the satisfaction I'm getting from it, more then makes up for it.

How did all of these things make me suddenly align myself with my mental and physical age? Not entirely sure, but if I had to hazard a guess, it's the fact that as you get older, it becomes harder and harder to stop or to change direction. Just being able to recapture the ability I had in my 20's to stop, look around, and then adapt feels very satisfying right now. With all of the added pressures that come at 35, it feels like I've been able to catch up and apply my former techniques to the speed and challenges of today. It doesn't hurt that I've added a hobby to things to look forward to and to give myself something new to explore and master. After all to me life is pretty dull without new challenges.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

First pies

Pecan pies, yum. The first of many belt busting foods. Of course the three ramekins at the top are purely for research.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The first volley in shopping

In looking over the ads this week, I realized there were some really good deals that were out before Friday's big shopping day. The big one was a netbook computer at Target for $200. It's similar to the one I bought my wife last year, 10 inch screen, plenty of ram and processor for word processing, web surfing, heck with a 10 inch screen and Itunes it would pass for a movie player on play flights in a pinch.

I headed out tonight to take a look and see if they sold out, while I was running out to pickup Bronwyn's bike as well. Of course Target was sold out, so I took the long walk out and headed over to Walmart to pick up the bike, even though the bike wasn't on sale (gasp). I wanted to get it before Friday in order to have more room in the car for the rest of the haul.

I decided to check out the electronics dept. in Walmart before heading to sporting goods and noticed that they had a comparable Netbook available for $300, with a sign next to it that they price match, if you have the ad and it's the same item. Hmmm, knowing computers, I was pretty sure that the model numbers would be different, considering this one had a newer operating system and a variety of colors, but I decided to give it a try. I ran back to the car and grabbed the ad and an associate, he looked it over, matched up the specs (which were the same) verified the ad was current and not a Black Friday ad and agreed with me it fit the criteria. It should be noted the model numbers do not match, however all of the specifications of the system do.

After waiting for 20 minutes for Walmart's cashier manager to come back to the department to complete and confirm the transaction I was home free with the new system and a $100 savings. Love starting out like that.

It should be noted that the cashier manager couldn't have been more confrontational, bitching when I wouldn't purchase the 'extended warranty' and ensuring I knew that it had a 15 day return policy to the store from today. All of which I'm very aware of, as the warranty for 1 year is through the manufacturer. Regardless of her attitude, I did feel a little vindicated in my wait, as there were other people around who must have been familiar with the Target ad, and noticed the same computer, and miraculously came up with a Target ad, even though mine disappeared. As I was leaving, there were a line of 4 people with the same computer and as I walked away and the electronics person told the cashier manager there were more people ready to purchase the same system, I heard the first person say "Is there a limit on these?" I had to smile a little bit at that. Especially considering that department was looking at a $600 loss for the night on those 6 systems by the time those people alerted their friends to come buy them up.

I must say, it's a pretty sweet little pc. I really want to keep it for myself, maybe next year. I did wind up going to another store to get the bike as they didn't have the one they wanted. Bronwyn now has a brand new 20' bike waiting for her. I decided to go with a 20' bike after much deliberation over the 16' as my child is a tree and she'd grow out of the 16' bike by June. I do have to find some training wheels for this bike though, but I'm pretty happy with it, as it's pink, has streamers, a front basket, and ladybugs on the spokes of the wheels, I think she'll like it.

Testing from new software

Here we go again, pictures didn't work from SMS or email, so we are trying a new iPhone app. New for me at least

In the words of Spongebob, I'm ready, I'm ready, well you get the idea.

- michael

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back in the saddle and big plans for the week ahead

Back in front of the computer for the week, had a band practice today, which went pretty good as we made it through two of our sets. I did zero in on some of the trouble areas I'm having though, specifically three songs that seem to really throw me off. I'll get to that in a later post though.

A couple big things though this week, first one is Thanksgiving, I don't know what I love more, 3 day work weeks with half the world on vacation (jinxing myself here). Or the whole eating, cooking, relaxing bonanza that accompanies it. We are heading over to my aunt's house (a first) for this Thanksgiving, which means I don't have to do a ton of preparation on Wednesday night. However I have promised to make at least one dessert, and I'll likely do two, just because I enjoy it so much. I'll be making my pumpkin toffee cheesecake and possibly a banana cream pie. Can't wait, baking is such a good stress reliever.

Going out for Thanksgiving does bum me out in one way, the fact that we will have no leftovers (gasp). If I haven't stated it before, leftovers are the wife and my secret weapon on saving ourselves huge amounts of time and stress. Most of our meals are planned on having at least one days of leftovers available as a second meal, heck, many of the meals we order from restaurants are based on the same premise. 3/4 of our winter meals are based on crock pot soup made Sunday and then adding accompaniments for 3-4 days worth of meals.

Anyway, Thanksgiving dinner makes for great leftovers and so many different ways to use them (soups, turkey Reubens, potato cakes, turkey BBQ pizza,as just a couple of examples). Plus it usually means we won't cook until Monday or Tuesday and by then we'll be so sick of turkey we'll just order pizza for two days of meals. Eating at my aunt's means we will be leftoverless (word?). So it means I'll be cooking on Friday, and I'm extremely excited about that. Especially since I get to try these new Paula Deen Sweet potato balls
Don't they look awesome?

On top of cooking the meal on Friday, I'll be getting up early in the morning to hit the Black Friday sales, after mapping out the game plan on Thursday night, I'll be descending on the masses in order to pick out a car full of Christmas gifts. I headed out two years ago on Black Friday almost accidentally, my mother mentioned something on sale at dinner and when I got home I looked over the ads and put together a sort of map of where I wanted to go. I didn't think I would get up, but wound up waking up very early and headed out and made a killing. I was able to repeat the process last year and I'm now officially hooked.

The key for me is not looking for the super fantastic deal where people wait 1000 deep at 11pm Thanksgiving night for a 6am opening, but rather finding really, really, good deals at places that are sort of off the beaten path. Which means I don't have to wait in huge lines and I can knock out 2 or 3 of these before 7am and even if I don't get anything else, I've got success for the day.

Beyond the great deals though, Black Friday is really an event, there is an energy among the shoppers and the store personnel. This isn't to say that everyone is cheery, there are plenty of people that would push over their Grandma to get the item they want and plenty of workers that don't give a shit, but if you look for it, you will see people having fun.

So that's what I'm looking forward to for the week, Wednesday baking, Thursday eating and planning, Friday fighting the masses and cooking the big dinner, and then Friday or Saturday night decorating for Christmas.

I'm all over the place right now with this, but I'll post some more thoughts on Thanksgiving dinner prep, Black Friday, and some other traditions around the house later this week.

Oh one other thing, I'm going to try some live blogging on Black Friday as well. I'll be posting pictures and putting updates on the site through my phone. It's something I've wanted to try for a while and day lends itself well to the process as you can see some crazy things and there are times when you have a ton of wait time standing in lines in which to type updates.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My free spirited Sagittarius

I have a bit of a fascination with astrology signs. I tend to find that people often display the characteristics of their signs. Now whether this is mystical based on the stars alignment at birth or a result of them being told what their characteristics are, I do not know. I just know that I find a lot of use out of the astrological signs in identifying personality traits of people and expected reactions of them in different situations.

My daughter's birth sign is Sagittarius. here's a partial character trait reference I found on the web:

This sign symbolizes the search for wisdom; this is the sign of the philosopher
and the explorer. They have an appetite for learning and travel. Such people
prefer to be footloose and fancy free, however should they become involved in a
relationship they make it as enjoyable and as much fun as possible. Normally
they are very gregarious, but they will be glad to find the time for that
special relationship. They concentrate all their attention on whatever they are
doing at the moment, and seem to see no other way but theirs until their effort
is made.

Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Psychology can tell you a generalization such as this is just that, a generalization and any inherent meaning derived from it is ego based and subjective at best. They are probably right. A deeper view though would point out is that through our own self nurturing and nurture performed by others which can often reinforce these personality traits that are associated with the zodiac sign of our birth.

With my daughter, I have no doubt there are times I 'foster' her free spirit and fiery personality. There are things about her non stop energy, abundant curiosity, and determination that I relate to. It also happens to be that I'm a fire sign (Aries), and these are characteristics that are associated with all three of the fire signs. (Leo, Sag, and Aries). I also watch my wife, whose an Air sign (Gemini), become perplexed and exhausted in dealing with our daughter when she's exhibiting some of these traits. At which time I tend to think my daughter's behaviour is perfectly normal. Are these traits mystical due to a birth associated with the stars alignment? Based on this paragraph, probably not, as it's just as likely to be genetic or nurturing based on her physiology or how I interact with her.

However, last night when we took the little one to her gymnastics class, it was evident to me she doesn't have all the associated traits of her father or mother. And as a matter of fact, she has some very unique ones. I identified in the title of this post, that the best way to describe my daughter is as a free spirit. It's not about the destination for her, it's about the journey, she's just as likely to become enthralled with a flower on the path to a destination as she is with the destination itself.

A couple points of reference from her gymnastics class, they break 1/2 way through for water and every time I've been there, she's last in line to get water, she starts out in the middle of the pack and then sort of gets preoccupied with other things as other's move up. I find myself fascinated that this doesn't seem to bother her at all. She seems to proceed under the belief that she'll get to the water at some point and it's not going anywhere. And since it's not going anywhere , there are plenty of other things to pay attention to or do in the meantime. (I should incorporate this view into my own life)

They also walk them through what amounts to an obstacle course, where the teacher demonstrates the path and them turns them loose, she's typically last again (due to preoccupation with watching the 'big girls' dancing). As she goes through the course, I watch as she consistently gets sidetracked and doesn't continue on the course in an orderly manner, dancing and redoing things that catch her interest at the moment. If they were grading her participation on a standardized scale, she would not score well. To her , this is the most natural way to proceed, when I try to explain to her the benefit of following the course and the other children, she looks at me like I'm an alien.

Those are two examples (there are more, but without visuals they'd be harder to describe). I know that she's only 4 years old. And I realize my expectations of how she should be doing things may be a bit off. I don't expect her to have the focus of an adult or an older child, but it should be pointed out that her classmates, of the same age, do not have these issues.

I do wonder how much of an adjustment she'll have to make in a school setting, but otherwise I don't have an issue with the behaviour. I find it a bit amusing and it provides me some insight into how she is developing and viewing the world.

I do find that it fits a lot of my views and experience with Sagittarius. I find them to be a bit of a free spirit, who are friendly, with boundless energy, and curiosity. As another fire sign, I love it. Well at least until she starts maturing, dating boys, and displaying further characteristics that make her so likable. Then again that was going to be a problem regardless of her sign.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Top 10 song list for the week

Just for fun and because I'm putting my IPOD playlist together for the trip, here's my Top 10 songs for the week.

1. Not Enough Time (INXS)
2. Try not to Breathe (REM)
3. Deuces are Wild (Aerosmith)
4. Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day)
5. Possession (Sarah Mclachlan)
7. Walk Out (Matthew Sweet)
8. Cold Fire (RUSH)
9. This ain't a scene, it's an arms race (Fall Out Boy)
10. Burn (Nine Inch Nails)

Middle of the week clean up

It's Wednesday and this week has seemed to drag on and on. It doesn't help that we continue to be extremely busy at work, which of course is a good thing, but on top of that I've been trying to line up my work for those covering for me while I'm out of the office next week. If there's one thing I have learned, it's that I work messy, even virtually. I'm not at my best unless I'm literally juggling 15 things in the air, all in different states of play. While this seems to work for me it's definitely not something that's easy to transition to someone else. Which means I inevitably wind up taking extra time to clean up my work in order to turn it over.

It will be nice to get out of the home office for a week, I can't tell you how much like prison it seems like at times. Yes, working from home is nice and has a ton of benefits, but it also messes with your head a bit, as you tend to be constantly working because you can. Getting out of the office is one of the few things that breaks that pattern.

I absolutely hate my last blog post "On being great". I'm tempted to take it down and delete it. The feeling is a bit overwhelming on doing that. However, I'm not going to do it. I'm starting to understand the 'blog' more or at least what I want from it. It's my outlet, a new way of expression. It's not for publishing or notoriety, it's simply a type of public journal that I can use to track progress, vent, brag, or pontificate with. I also want it to reflect me, which means it has to be a collection of messy, insightful, dumb, brilliant, humorous, sloppy, irrelevant pieces because ultimately that's what I am.

So why do I hate that last blog entry, here's some of the reasons:

1. I never got on track in writing it, as usual I wanted to go 10 different directions with it and I know without even reading it, that it suffered do to this fact.

2. Getting sidetracked by different angles ultimately leaves me without a way to tie it up at the end. I decided to tie it up after about 90 minutes of writing and thinking time, it was late Sunday and I just didn't want to see it anymore. Which adds a level to the sloppiness.

3. Grammatically it's probably a mess. Have I mentioned before that I know a ton of my stuff is messy grammatically. This one was likely worse as when I don't have a direction, I sometimes attempt to go back to the middle of the document and insert, often times missing how that insertion flows for the document. That's what I get for writing while thinking though.

4. Not thrilled with the title or the finish. Both can easily give the wrong perception of me, and I think I did a poor job of communicating how 'subjective' the word is.

Enough of the self critique though. It's staying and withing 4-5 more posts, I won't even remember it anyway. (And then next year, when my mushy mind is typing up the same stuff, we'll do this all over again).

I'm off to put the finishing touches on my packing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

On being 'great'

Just a quick weekend recap, got a ton of stuff done around the house, and had a nice date night with the wife (karaoke, who would of thought that). I picked up a very cool jacket at a discount store. I had seen a version of it a month or two ago but I held off picking it up. I'll work to get a picture up here over the next day or so. It's a faux leather jacket, black, simple front with a couple lines and color distortions on the seems, that gives it a very slimming and clean look, and has sort of a button collar, which sort of looks like a belt but has a nice effect. Very cool and looks good on me, and it only cost $25. Which is all the better since I'm a cheap ass when it comes to clothes.

Back to what I was going to write about. So much of my writing lately has been nice from a daily recap or random thoughts perspective, but it hasn't had much substance to it. Which means it's about time, I put something deeper down.

I may have mentioned this before in my writings (note, thinking further I have likely touched on this before, so consider it an update). When I was between the ages of 18-25, I had this constant inner voice that repeated constantly that I was going to be 'great' or do 'great' things. Nothing more specific then those, just that word repeating over and over. As I struggled with career choices and life choices it caused a huge amount of internal strife, especially considering that there were no job postings that seemed to have a direct line to being great.

It's funny as much as I share with people in my inner circle, I think I had only mentioned it to my friend Will. Sometime around 25, I remember sitting around talking to my Mother about something and I wound up telling her, that I had these crazy thoughts inside my head that I couldn't shake. Without a blink she responded, "Oh yes, that's what I used to tell you multiple times a day when you were a baby and growing up".

Me: "So Mom, let me understand this, I've been up and down psychology, mysticism, self analysis, and a variety of things trying to figure out where this inner voice comes from, and your telling me it's simply from a statement you used to repeat to me over and over?"

Mom: "Yes"

Me: "Couldn't you have been a little more specific, you know a doctor, a lawyer, the president, or something tangible?"

Mom: "No, I just thought you were great, knew you were going to do great things and I didn't want you to ever forget it."

Me: "Fair enough, (not much you can say in response to that)"

At least at that point, I had a reason for my constant thought, and in truth it's helped quell that voice or at least allow me to incorporate it correctly.

The funny thing about the word 'great' is fairly complicated, does it mean better then someone else, the best at something, kind hearted, a leader, etc. describes it in the following way. I've removed some that don't apply (numbers retained for reference purposes) and added a comment or two in bold.

1.unusually or comparatively large in size or dimensions: Ah a reason for my size in high school.
3. unusual or considerable in degree, power, intensity, etc.: hmm, should have focused on unusual
4. wonderful; first-rate; very good:
5. being such in an extreme or notable degree:
6. notable; remarkable; exceptionally outstanding:
7. important; highly significant or consequential:
8. distinguished; famous: 9. of noble or lofty character: 10. chief or principal:
11. of high rank, official position, or social standing: 13. of extraordinary powers; having unusual merit; very admirable: a great statesman. 14. skillful; expert (usually fol. by at or on): 18. a person who has achieved importance or distinction in a field: She is one of the theater's greats.

As you can see it's a pretty fair set of criteria to try and accomplish. What's even worse is someone striving to be 'great' is going to look at that list and decide they need to do them all. (I'm just guessing for someone that decided too) In actuality I'm just stating to you how I view the list, oh to be great I need to do all of these.

I find this strive to be great has affected many of my perceptions, actions, and planning in everything I do. The nice thing is as I've gotten older, I also have a bit more perspective on things. Being 'great' relies on a lot of variables and subjective criteria, that ultimately I set.

Take my singing in a band, I have no delusions or interest in making albums, winning American Idol, or being 'discovered'. I do want to perform at the best of my abilities with it, which means I have to understand what's involved with the hobby and then apply that knowledge to performing. While I don't want to be famous, that doesn't mean that I don't look for gauges to know whether or not I'm successful at doing something I've set out to do. There are a number of things I've already started thinking about that I'll use as indicators of how 'great' I am. Whether it's playing at a particular bar, the price that we charge per gig, or being in the running in a Free Times article for best cover band in the area. These are the types of measurements I'll use to measure myself.

I've also learned that I don't have to meet all of the criteria, in order to consider myself great at something or great overall. Because even when I may not obtain 'greatness' in my pursuit of something, often times that pursuit is something I'm measuring myself with in the grand scheme of things and just attempting it maybe classified as great from that criteria. Damn, I hope that made sense.

Trying to bring this back around and to a conclusion, I think I can finally put to rest, the whole anxiety over whether or not I'm going to be great. Ultimately I set the parameters of it, so therefore, I think I'll assume I am and just move on, secure in the knowledge that how I approach situations is driven by this thought regardless of what I do going forward. And by the way, thanks Mom.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween recap

Had a very nice weekend. Started off with some pumpkin carving Friday night, after finally pulling myself away from work. (Working at home is sometimes overrated). We made some pumpkin seeds, had some cider donuts and watched some movies, a very nice stressless night.

Of course that meant for some reason Saturday morning I woke up at 3:30am after going to sleep at midnight, not only did I wake up early, but had absolutely no luck in going back to sleep. I'm guessing that it was due to the fact that I had a bunch of grocery shopping to do and I wanted to get an early start. After trying to fall back asleep for 45 minutes or so, I said hell with it and got up and got ready. Hit the grocery store at 4:45 (I love 24 hour stores) returned home and dropped that batch of stuff off and then hit Walmart by 7am and was out of there and home by 8:45. It's an awesome feeling to be done with your shopping by 9am on a Saturday, even if it required an afternoon nap. No lines and you don't have to wait for anyone to get what you want in the aisle.

I still don't know the reason I couldn't sleep, but at least I made the best of it. It reminded me of shopping on "Black Friday (BF)" without all of the people or lines. I started going out on BF two years ago and I know I've been starting to look forward to going again this year, and I think subconsciously my mind decided to do a test run. I'll post more on my recent addiction to BF as we get closer over the next couple weeks.

The rest of the day we just did the normal Saturday routine, we ran out to pick up a couple last minute costume or party necessities and then we got ready for trick or treating. We decided to go over my parents this year and let the little one trick or treat there, then she'd stay the night and we'd head home to get ready for the party.

Trick or treating went very well, Bronwyn dressed up as Belle, her favorite Disney princess and scored tons of candy. While her energy level was very high to start, there's only so much a 4 year old has in reserve, so by about 7:05 after starting at 6, she was spent. There was no wagon this year as she wanted to walk it all, which of course meant that Dad got to carry her for long stretches, which is ok with me, but she's getting harder and harder to carry, especially since she's so long.

We headed home and got ready, I found an old wig Friday night, that I wore once before and decided to go with a glam rock look, makeup and all. I used my poet's shirt layered with a jean jacket and assorted accessories, which turned out pretty decently, even with full makeup :). My wife went as Angelina Jolie with kids in tow, stuffed into a bag and with appropriate nametags. We headed over to my brother's house to thankfully find that everyone had listened and were wearing costumes. It was a great time and we all drank way too much, except for my wife who was gracious enough to drive. I'd recap the party, but well that wouldn't be fair to the guilty. There are some facebook photos on my page for those interested. I tried to snap a picture of everyone's costume. Unfortunately (fortunately) I don't think anyone took a picture of me, so you'll have to wait to see me in eyeshadow, mascara, and lipstick until another day. (read, probably never :) ).

That's all for the weekend recap, I'm hoping to get to some of the outstanding topics this week I've continued to promise I'll write on, but we'll see how things go.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday thoughts (Halloween edition)

Here we go another list of 10 meanderings.

1. I don't care how old I get, I don't think I'll ever not love Halloween.

2. At this point in my life, as I start reflecting on the past some (more on some days, less on others). I love thinking about Halloweens of years past, some of my favorite, parties, trips, memories, and drama from my twenties happened during this weekend.

3. I haven't decided what to wear tomorrow for the party at my brother's house. Nothing ground breaking, pirate, punk rocker, or something that's fun to wear but not cumbersome.

4. Bronwyn is dressing up as a princess this year, (big surprise :) ). I believe she's chose Belle from Beauty and the Beast over, Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. However as with any women, I think she's reserved the right to change her mind 5 minutes prior to going out.

5. I think I'm going to take Laurie to a Haunted House tomorrow before the party. She's been wanting to go, we haven't been in about 3 years. We used to make it a couples night out, but a couple years ago, I really started to dread standing outside with a pack of teenagers.

6. I could do without carving pumpkins on Halloween, I know it's for the little one, but I so tire of pumpkin goop.

7. Not really Halloween specific, but the Automatic for the People album by REM always reminds me of October/Fall/Halloween, just something haunting about it.

8. I have bought no Halloween candy this year, save the gross candy corn, that my daughter asked for and then very wisely didn't eat.

9. I do hate that most gatherings and all trick or treats are on the same night this year (Saturday around here). I'd have rather they put trick or treating tonight, at least all the communities are doing it at night this year.

10. I miss the fact that we don't get an extra hour for Saturday night "Halloween" anymore, since they changed Daylight savings around.

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween everyone.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Feeling out of sync

This has been a very weird week, I'm not exactly sure on the reason, but I feel completely out of sync and out of sorts. The problem is that I don't know exactly why , I'm not sick, have been sleeping fairly well, I'm no longer overwhelmed at work and I don't have any pressing, immediate issues that need to be resolved. I'll chalk it up to the sun's alignment or some other funky reason.

Hopefully I hit the apex of out of sync last night at practice. The short version "I stunk". The longer version is I couldn't get out of my nasal voice, I was missing marks in the songs, my timing was off, my breathing was all screwed up and with all of that, I continued pushing on the voice and could hear it starting to go, so we called it a night.

I cannot begin to express my frustration on this, if this was my audition, they'd have laughed me off the stage. And it's the first time I've ever run into a situation like this, where I was not able to bring things around and at least be decent.

There are a couple factors at play, one I didn't look over songs for the week, I mistakenly thought giving myself a mental break would be beneficial and it just exasperated the problem. Also from trying to lay down recordings the past couple weeks we were a bit rough in our timings overall and although I've come a long way since the beginning, I'm not quite able to just kick it into gear on songs I'm not as familiar with. The other aspect is my friggin house is drier then shit, which wrecks all sort of havoc on my voice, I had previously been using a vaporizer in my office to get some moisture in the air, but with Laurie working the last week and me watching the little one and by default working downstairs I haven't been able to use it, coupled with the heat being on which takes the little moisture in my house and sucks it up like a shamwow, it leaves the voice pretty harsh and out of shape.

I haven't mentioned that I was finally starting to feel like the strength of my voice was getting stronger and that I could sort of relax instead of extending for some singing, which seemed to go out the window last night. I truly hate being so wrong about something and I'm going to have to reevaluate things, take a couple steps back from a confidence level and aim for a good practice next week.

Last night was really just the culmination of out of sync though, even during work this week, I've just felt like I was one step behind or all over the place for managing things. Hopefully I'll make it through the week, get this behind me and start hitting a groove again.

Til next time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Micro is easier

It seems to be getting worse and worse, what exactly am I talking about, updating my blog. In the interest of trying to keep a semblance of updates, I'm going to try and commit to doing some micro style blogging for a bit and see if I can't break this rut.

Things have been very busy this last week, two band practices , a dinner out with the family, a night out to see the singer I replaced in his new band, my niece's birthday party, a night at home with Bronwyn, a poker game and an afternoon at the playground with the little one. Phew, I'm tired from just recapping it. It's been a great week and although it can be a little tiring, I love being able to have multiple things to do instead of sitting around bored, thinking of something to do.

I still haven't found time to work out again, but I think I'm going to make that effort this week. I compare having a large amount of activities on the plate to working out, once you start doing it, it feels healthy and right and forces you to take advantage of the time you have in the most productive manner possible.

It's always a bit of a struggle to incorporate multiple activities into a family/work life, but doing so is extremely rewarding. It's amazing to me when I get back to doing things like this, I start to realize how much wasted time has been in my previous days, it's almost sickening.

While it doesn't mean go non-stop or to not find time for things at home. I do find it's so easy to get into a rut with life and not taking advantage to what's available to you and when you do that, it ultimately makes for a rather stale environment.

That's all for now, hopefully I'll have some more things to discuss this week.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New gadget on the right

It looks like I've managed to figure out how to add a Facebook gadget this page. If you are using Facebook, I hope you add us as a fan. Our Facebook page is currently our web presence, I'll be working on a regular web page shortly with details to follow.

If you are a fan of the Torrn Facebook page, make sure you look for event updates, reminders, and other general mayhem coming soon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Friday (Tuesday) thoughts

Wow, almost another week, with no blog posting. That's not a way to encourage repeat readers. But I'm still pressed for time, so I'll go with list of thoughts for a Tuesday.

1. Recording equipment is in, and we are recording tonight, hope to have some postings within the next week. (I have no idea what's involved from moving it to recording to a presentable format, while I think it should be rather simple, too much unknown for me to commit to more.)

2. We have a commitment for a first paid show (well at least at an establishment, rather then performing for a party). It looks to be either November 21 or 28.

3. I'm hoping Kim Ng gets one of the open baseball GM jobs this year. It would be a serious glass ceiling break for professional sports for a women to be placed at the top position of an organization as a talent evaluator. Not only do I hope she is named, but successful as well, baseball and basketball are the two sports where this makes the most sense and it's long overdue.

4. Finally some actual Autumn weather here in Cleveland, mid September to mid October have been damn cold (think late November) refreshing to go back to light coats and enjoy some of the season.

5. October is such a fun month, Boo at the Zoo last week, apple festivals, Halloween at the end of the month, and my niece's birthday next week. Plenty of things to do and lots of activities, makes it nice before settling in for the winter months where it's more difficult to get out of the house.

6. I can't remember the last time I got to the gym. Amazing how easy it is to get out of synch when schedules change.

7. Where the Wild Things are is a pretty special movie. Not a great movie for little ones, as it's going to lose their attention in parts, but for the content they had to work with and the story that's told through the features they've added to the creatures it's pretty special and worth a watch.

8. We're thinking of taking the plunge and getting a new car, been long enough, now just have to decide what we want. Probably some type of hatchback, sounds so much better then station wagon. Doesn't it? I'm a master of fooling myself.

9. I think I've thoroughly broke my TV addiction again, it had gotten bad for awhile, but I've weened myself now to only DVR'd episodes of Fringe and of course Spongebob anytime it's on. This may change when American Idol and Lost come back on, Lost for sure, but it was hard to get into Idol last year, and not sure I'm loving that Ellen is now a judge, why in the hell couldn't they just keep it as three?

10. Number 10 is always the hardest to come up with something. I had an interesting thought come to mind for a short story last night. I might give it a shot on flushing it out. In comparison to other stories that have popped into my head over the last couple months, this one seems to be one I can start with. Not overly complicated or long, but has the type of philosophical questions I think I can write about given the correct situation to present them in. It would be classified as science fiction, which I'm not overly fond of, but it's the only way the story will work. And by science fiction, I mean along the lines of Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein, not George Lucas. We'll see what happens though.

11. Crap, mentioning Heinlein, made me think of another 'thought'. For a truly different read I would suggest "I will fear no evil" by Robert Heinlein. While it's classified as 'Science Fiction' it's an interesting perspective on life, death, consciousness, gender and sexuality. It's a bit of a tough read at times as it drags in certain parts, but for those interested in such things, it's different then anything I've ever read. (oh and by the way, this isn't one of my 3 influencing books, I'll get to that at some point.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The interesting thing about today's technology

By now most of us are familiar with social networking sites such as Facebook or Myspace, well at least I'm assuming anyone reading a blog has a fair idea of what those are.

Besides being a nice way to express irrelevant thoughts on your own home page, you get the chance to share it with everyone else who has 'friended' you. In addition to this, you find yourself connecting with people you haven't talked with in years.

Without this technology in most cases you wouldn't hear from those people again unless you had an extraordinary network of friends (grapevine) or you ran into them randomly or at some type of reunion.

I had a situation like this come up recently, I've wrote before that I moved out of Parma at the end of my 8th grade year, my parents bought a new house in Streetsboro, so I was shipped off to a new city leaving the majority of my friends behind. I only managed to stay in contact with one of them after the move, my friend Mike, who in a surprising twist I hadn't met until I was in 7th grade. My other friends from elementary and middle school others moved on as I did. It really wasn't a surprise to me, high school was on the horizon for all of us, and it was likely to take us all in different directions anyway.

I had fond memories of a lot of those friends from the middle school and earlier years, but I sort of was resigned to the fact, that I likely wouldn't see any of them ever again, moving during the middle of your school life, sort of ends it for good, as you aren't even going to be at the same reunions and such. But with the new social networking sites, a fairly good memory (by myself and others) and one or two common friends you can even reconnect a bit with those from many years ago.

Ok, enough about that, I think you get the idea anyway, I now have a couple facebook friends from my 'childhood' including one I spent a large amount of time hanging out after school with for a number of years. I saw recently that John was still playing the drums and his band "Chief Bromide" was playing a number of shows in the area.

I've been wanting to see more local bands lately due to joining one. I tend to learn and refine my skills by doing and then observing. I find that if I can run through a task and understand the outline of what it takes to perform it, then I can observe or read the instructions to better refine it. By doing it this way, I find myself recognizing the details of the task and I'm able to incorporate those details quickly into my own actions. Which is the reason I've wanted to get out and see some performances. I also thought it would be a nice way to say hello and reacquaint myself with a friend from the past.

Last week, I saw a facebook posting from John, that Saturday was going to be their last show of the year, so I figured if I didn't do it Saturday, I'd probably not get a chance for a fairly long period of time. So I made plans to go see the show. It was a multi-band show starting at 11pm at the Beachland Tavern, I was fairly certain that they wouldn't be first up and I was right, as they turned out to be the third band on the ticket. I got there about 11:15 and spotted John and said hello, we were able to catch up for a bit, and as it turned out another friend from those years was there as well, and I hung out with him as John helped get things set for the show and performed.

I sort of expected it to be weird seeing John after so many years, not to mention the fact that you sort of get a casual feel for a person as a facebook friend, still weird to even have close friends say oh yeah, I saw you went there last weekend. So I really didn't know what to expect, in truth I'd say my worry was unwarranted as we hung out and talked for a bit based on the time he had available and caught up a bit on life. It was sort of 'neat'.

Plus I got a chance to hear the band, let me say I was blown away, they were incredible, a 6 member group and the sound was incredible. If you have a chance to see them, either in the Cleveland or in their tour cities come spring (St. Louis, Chicago, and somewhere else). I highly recommend it. You can also listen to some of their tracks off the myspace page.

It was quite a night, reconnected with an old friend and got to hear a great band, can't ask for much more then that, all from some small piece of technology. listening to some good music

Monday, October 12, 2009

One more layer

Ok, so through the first two shows with the band, there's been something bugging me a bit. It wasn't nerves, or anxiety over remembering my timing and words, or even keeping my voice intact.

What then has been bugging me? Well if you've read my blog at all, you might be able to guess, it's the clothes. I just have not found anything in my wardrobe that seems to foster the feeling of being a singer in a rock band or feels comfortable enough to stand up on stage and be like, here I am.

I changed that tonight. I went out and bought clothes. I wound up with about 5 shirts. 4 printed long sleeve shirts and 1 sort of pullover. I've been debating whether to buy a military style jacket and decided to forgo it tonight and just focus on some things that I could alternate. So I took my $100 Macy's card and went crazy. The shirts are similar to thermals but thicker and fully screen printed in dark color and for lack of a better term rock design. The pullover is pretty sweet, love the way it feels and looks with the collar. None of them are things I'd probably typically buy for wearing around, although that might change now too. But I like the fact that they cover the imperfections that happen from not getting to the gym enough and working at a desk all day.

While not exact, here's some pics of the styles.

Here's an example of the thermal
And an example of the sweater
The best part, a total of $20 out of pocket tonight for all 5. The thermals were relatively cheap, but the sweater was $60, nice to have those credit card rewards. Now at least the anxiety level can be down a bit for the next show.
I also stopped at Gabriel Bros. tonight, which is an outlet store for clothes and came close to picking up a faux waist cut leather jacket, but I decided to wait and see if I can find something cheaper in the military style I was looking for. More to come I'm sure.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mapleside Farm Saturday recap

Here's another shot at getting back in the swing of writing regularly. We had quite a weekend here. Laurie, Bronwyn, and I headed off to Mapelside Farms apple festival on Saturday and met up with some of Laurie's friends and her cousin Felicia and her family.

It was a bit cold starting out in the morning, but turned into quite a nice fall day. A little cold and the ground was muddy as hell, but there was a lot of warm apple cider, great food, and a lot of things to do.

I'll get to some food thoughts in a minute, but I'd remiss if I didn't mention the one thing that drove me crazy, the damn bees, they were everywhere. I know they tend to congregate around sweet smelling things, but having a cup of cider was like having a target painted on you. They were relentless, and I friggin hate bees (could be the severe allergies my brother has to them, whether I do or not, we don't know as I haven't been stung before). I thought for sure with the cold weather that there would be a lot less of them, but they were everywhere. Very frustrating to try and eat lunch or sip a cup of cider, with one trying to fly into your cup every 2 seconds.

Ok, back to the food though, let me just say that these past two weeks, I've done horrible in trying to watch what I eat. Not to mention, no time for the gym over the two weeks, and I'm not thrilled with how much indulging I've done. But indulge I have, in addition to the aforementioned cider, there were: (by list as it's a fairly detailed list)

Apple fritters: easily in the top 5 for apple fritters, although I think West Side Market still holds the crown. They were crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, just enough apple taste and not too much glaze. Had one there and took a bag home. They didn't make it to Sunday night.

Caramel apples, these were to take home and I finally cracked one open tonight, mine was caramel with pecans surrounding it, it was delicious. Laurie's was a caramel apple, made up to look like a buckeye, layer of caramel, covered in chocolate and peanut butter. The caramel the farm uses is very thick and chewy.

Cider donut: Bronwyn had one and she offered a bit I couldn't refuse, good, but I wasn't going to choose that over the fritter.

Brownies: Don't ask me why I took a couple home from their bakery with everything else we had, but I did, for a $1.50 they are awesome, dark chocolate, moist and frosted. Every year when we go now, I have to take some home. Even if they get slowly eaten by Laurie and Bronwyn before I get through all the stuff I bought, I know I at least made an effort.

Orange Blossom honey: Ok haven't eaten this yet, but it's local grown and I get a bottle every year. Here's a quick bit of advice, never ever buy that corn syrupy honey shit they sell in the big box stores again, just throw it away, get a bottle of real honey and make some biscuits and eat it all in one sitting. Go now.

Huge bag of apples: Yes, we do actually get apples too, a huge overflowing bag of apple goodness. Best thing is by the time we are tired of the eating just the apple, I get to go crazy cooking with them. I think apple crisp is in the future. (My apple pies suck).

Unpasteurized Apple Cider: Once again, see honey above, if you go to the store and buy pasteurized apple cider, just dump it down the sink or go buy some apple juice. It sucks and it can't compare to the unpasteurized stuff. So much flavor is killed from the pasteurization, yes I know it's "killing harmful things" blah, blah, blah, whatever, pour in some bourbon and drink up, alcohol is good for cleaning, so there's nothing to worry about.

Chocolate covered marshmallows on a stick for Bronwyn, these were very cool looking and she loved them, they had a regular marshmallow and a strawberry one covered in thick chocolate, not my thing especially with the strawberry, but the kid enjoyed it.

Pulled pork sandwiches: We didn't get to eat at the restaurant they have on site (darn), where we ate at last year. But we did get something close to it, by eating at their outdoor tent and grill and getting the pulled pork with apple butter based bbq sauce, pork was perfectly cooked and delicious.

Kettle corn: Bronwyn loves popcorn and signs were everywhere for their kettle corn. Even though I've listed a ton of crap here, all we ate at the fair, was the sandwich and a fritter, everything else was to be taken home, so I bought a bag of kettle corn for Bronwyn on the drive home. The problem was we only gave her like a cup from the bag and kept the bag for home, well actually that wasn't the problem, the actual problem was that I've never had kettle corn before, holy crap how had I skipped over this? Salty, sweet, with perfectly popped kernels, can I get a kettle for my basement and make it? I'm not likely to ever skip buying this when I see it again. This is seriously negative expectation on the waist line.

Sorry there are no pictures hopefully the descriptions due some of the food justice. While most of it was brought after all of that food and again indulging in Mr. Hero's romanburger today for lunch during the football game, I think I've fallen completely off the watch what I eat wagon, at least over these last two weeks. I so need to get back to the gym, guess what's on the agenda for 6am Monday morning?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Some band photos

Still not able to get to anything very deep as far as writing goes, but thought I'd put out some of the photos of the band we took the other day for those of you that might be looking for updated content as well, you can find the page on a facebook search, by searching for Torrn.
Here are the photos. We're debating a webpage at the moment as well, which I think we'll be doing at sometime in the near future as well.

Here's our drummer, Jim.

Our lead guitarist, Chris.
Our base guitar player, Roy.

And this guy, the singer.

Yes, that's me, god I take bad pictures, need to get to the gym too and I swear I was trying to give a good look for the pictures, not that squinty eyed thing I did. Can I blame it on the lighting?

And finally our group picture.

The lighting of the picture is one of our new running jokes, in the constant repositioning and how many shots it sort of appeared in unusual ways. A little taste of Spinal Tap I perhaps.
More to come as time goes on, looks like we are going to try and start booking shows within a week or two. We've ran through all 30+ songs at this point, now we just need to tighten up the final 10, with about 5 of them needing the most work.
Hopefully I'll have some audio for everyone soon enough too, we have some video/audio of Bon Jovi's Dead or Alive, that I think sounded pretty good through about half of the song before we got too much feedback. We have to see whether we can pull it from the phone though for posting.

Monday, October 5, 2009

On absence and delays

Sorry the blog has been silent for awhile. Real life seems to have reared it's head. Which has taken all of my meandering time and forced me to apply that energy to real situations. I'm hoping to have some time over the next week or so to get back to some writing.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Understanding anger and conflict, the art of being 'mad'

It seems like I've been thinking a lot lately about how I deal with situations. There seems to be a ton of drama going on in my life, some I tend to talk about on here, and some I've decided that needs to be kept off the pages for the time being.

(By the way my brother if he's reading this, will be telling me I told you so, the next time I talk to him).

One of the many things I've realized lately is I don't deal very well with anger as an emotion. That statement maybe a bit misleading, as when people typically think about issues in dealing with anger, they think of someone unable to control there emotion. In my case, it's just the opposite. And in truth while I've described the emotion I have difficulty in dealing with as anger, it's more an issue with getting mad. I rarely get mad.

I don't really know how to get mad. To be upset with something that borders on anger, but ultimately isn't a very strong emotion that ties me up mentally. I just don't know why this is. Maybe it's the fact, that I tend to let things roll of my back or that I just don't think the energy is best spent in getting mad about something, when I can already begin working on how to correct the issue that got me mad.

I'm beginning to wonder though, if that's the best approach. To many times lately, things seem to build up into anger, and too a level that is physically and mentally draining. Not to mention the fact, that I don't necessarily do my best thinking when I'm emotional. It makes for bad circumstances.

There is a part that's over thinking this as well though, while getting 'mad' once in awhile would likely prevent pent up (pop can like emotions, there you go Jason). It's not going to solve the underlying issues of what's driving that emotion. In many senses I see getting mad regularly as making it worse.

Which brings up my other issue, that I've come to realize recently. I despise having unresolved issues in my life. And I hate not having a consensus on an issue, even if it means difficult compromises. I want to understand the issue from the sides in contention and then determine how to proceed with it going forward.

This is probably why I've never been really good at relationships. They tend to have a lot of grey areas to them, where it takes time to work through an issue as both parties can sometimes have vastly different thoughts or approaches to a problem. It's not that I'm opposed to the work and compromise, it's just that in many cases, I run into situations where I'm at a polar end in a belief and I know I'm not going to change my opinion on it. I can't stand situations like this, as I'm not really the type to say to someone, you are just going to have to deal with it, as this is the way it is. And again, it's not like I've never said those words it's just not my typical nature. I've never thought of myself as this type of person and have always tried to avoid these types of situations. Hell I'd go so far to say, that it's my number one philosophy meaning i.e avoiding these types of situations.

In case you haven't been able to decipher, I'm faced with one of these types of decisions right now, and I know I'm not going to change my opinion on the side I'm on, I got to it after many years of thinking on it and examining the pros and cons of it. In dealing with it, I'm finding myself anxious as I have to consistently be in a state of agitation due to the issue and the person who's on the opposite side of the issue in my life. And as I pointed out, I don't do plain old mad well, so I tend to repress emotionally rather then upsetting the uneasy balance that currently exists as I watch the issue become larger and larger.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tales from the weekend

It was quite a weekend, had our second show Saturday night and it went very well. The weather was horrible, constant rain, but it didn't seem to affect the crowd at the Pig Roast. There were probably 60-70 people at the roast, and I think they were all packed into the garage where we played. Crowd was great and definitely enjoyed the first two sets of the night. I ran out of energy during the third set. A big part of that was first time through syndrome, i.e understanding how much energy you are going to need to complete something and not overspending it early.

I also got a chance to set up the equipment for the first time, even for a small group, it's a ton of stuff and kind of fascinating, once you start understand what goes where. Overall though I'd have to say it was a very successful second show. Even better is that I had a chance to review some singing techniques and tips with a voice coach on Friday and apply them to Saturday's show and I'm happy to report that there was no loss of voice on Sunday.

I'm all over the place in writing this morning, trying to put it together between work and watching the little one.

The last thing I want to recap from the weekend though is Sunday, had a chance to take the family to see 'Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs' always fun to take Bronwyn to a movie and depending on the movie, she can actually sit through the whole thing. It was a good time and a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Outside of that though, I was amazed at how affectionate Bronwyn was towards me on Sunday, constant hugs and kisses, cuddling up when she was tired and multiple other actions. I swear if I didn't know better then I would have believed she was working an angle for something she wanted, but it wasn't the case, she just seemed to be rather loving for the day. Considering the last week or so, she seems to have been in one of those phases where she was definitely withholding the affection a bit or at least directing it elsewhere. It was nice to see the previous phase end and makes for quite a rewarding day with all the hugs and cuddling up.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Working toward the weekend

It's Wednesday and that is awesome. Well today it is at least. This week has gone very fast and considering the amount of work that has piling up and then being moved from my desk, that's a good thing.

Not a lot to write about evidenced by yesterday's post. But I did go to the first practice we've had in over a week. We have a show Saturday, so I was eager to get back to working. We started work on our third set, which is going to be a heavier rock set.

I was a little concerned about the heavier sound and whether we could find a middle ground on stuff I like, since I don't tend to trend that way for music and some of it, is just impossible for me to sing. I'm thrilled to say, I'm loving where we are going with the third set. I think we've found a pretty damn good mix of mainstream with heavier sound. And a couple of the third set pieces are likely to be some of the best stuff we perform in my opinion.

Here's what we have so far for the sets. After Saturday's show, we'll likely add a couple more songs to get us to 30 total and then we can put a CD together and start trying to take it to some of the clubs to play. I like the mix so far, a lot of stuff I like. Some songs that worked for the band before that I was able to pick up and a little diversity in stuff that other bands typically don't play. There are a couple on the list that we are going to see how the crowd reaction is to them, as they may or may not make our final rollout. Would love to hear any feedback in the comments about the song list.

The other good thing is my voice seems to be back in synch, after the last bout of laryngitis, going to give it an easy practice on Thursday and then hope to make it through Saturday and keep it for Sunday, we'll see how that goes.

Set 1

Sex Type Thing: Stone Temple Pilots
Machinehead: Bush
Gel: Collective Soul

Far Behind: Candlebox
One: Creed
December: Collective Soul

Interstate Love Song: Stone Temple Pilots
Rebel Yell: Billy Idol
Man in the Box: Alice in Chains
Kryptonite: 3 Doors Down

2nd Set

My Own Worst Enemy: Lit
American Band: Grand Funk Railroad
What I like about you: The Romantics

Pour Some Sugar on Me: Def Leppard
Nothing but a Good time: Poison
Good: Better then Ezra

Don't You Forget about Me: Simple Minds
It's the End of the World: REM
Learning to Fly: Foo Fighters
What I got: Sublime

Set 3:

Symphony of Destruction: Megadeath
Enter Sandman: Metallica
Gimme Three Steps: Lynard Skynard

Vasoline: Stone Temple Pilots
Slither: Velvet Revolver
Basket Case: Green Day

(possibly Nothing Else Matters by Metallica too, still working on some timing issues for it)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day by day

I have some topics I'm still kicking around in my head that I want to write about, but unfortunately things have been pretty busy with work, so I haven't had the time I thought I would to put those together.

On top of work being busy, I just am not feeling it this week, when it comes to writing. I can't quite explain it, but the thought of diving into a piece that explores "x, y, or z" seems like way more then I'm capable of at the moment. We'll dub this the 'bleh' feeling.

The good news is, that by reading this post on nothing about a 'bleh' feeling, then you likely have now experienced said feeling as well. What can I say, I'm a giver, you're welcome.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rare Saturday post

Have some time tonight and feel like writing. It's day 7 of the smoking cessation train and while I haven't been perfect, I'm pretty damn happy with the results so far. The nicotine lozenges seem to be doing a great job on the cravings and unlike previous times quitting, I don't seem to be eating everything insight.

I have smoked a couple over the week, but considering I was over a pack a day, I'm pretty impressed that every day in getting up, I'm perfectly content to continue using the lozenges and having had a couple over the week, it's removed the forbidden aspect to the equation.

I'm noticing immediate effects from quitting to. I'm waking up more refreshed, not feeling as achy, and seemed to be walking with my head held higher a bit. (I think there was a part of me that despised my dependency on smoking and it affected my persona). I feel like I've got control over it at this point. So we'll see what happens from here.

Got a text from our lead guitarist on Friday with a few new songs we are going to do for next Saturday's show. I can't wait for practice on Tuesday. I miss the fact that we didn't have practice last week, although my voice needed the rest and is coming along nicely from having lost it after the other show.

That's all for now, talk to you next week.