Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Best Pizza in the world

In trying to remember my previous blog posts, I don't think I've mentioned my disdain for take out pizza. I usually hate it. For years my wife would roll her eyes when she asked if I wanted to order a pizza, and I went into one of my soliloquy's on why pizza shops sucked. After a period of time she just started giving up on asking.

As time went by and we became even more busy and tired, I conceded that sometimes it would be in our best interests to order a pizza, we'd try some places and see if they could meet the standards I was looking for. Which in truth is not that much. I want a pizza that has visible cheese on it and actual toppings. What I mean by that is I don't want to see 6 pepperoni sliced so thin and spread out over a Large pizza. Crust wise I like the differences between shops and unless it's horrible I don't care much. I'm even willing to pay a premium if the pizza is within reason, but only so often, after all pizza is a quick meal, it really shouldn't break the budget in my opinion.

So let's take a look at my list.

1. Geppettos: sheet pizza for Bronwyn's birthday one year, large patches of moist dough in between splotches of cheese. So not enough cheese to cover the pizza and the sauce was thin enough that it essentially dried it out. I think there was exactly one pepperoni piece per slice. Verdict: Epic fail

2. Captain Tony's pizza: A new shop that opened, I was sent some coupon in the mail for a large for 9.99 or something like that. Called them up and I mentioned the coupon. The woman on the phone kept telling me over and over it's not a coupon for a large, it's for a medium(could have fooled me as I was staring at it), after much fruitless discussion I finally relented and went with the medium and then ran out to the store to pick it up. Of course, they have no credit card readers, I told the person who appeared to be the owner that I'd have to run over to the ATM, (a drive away) as I only had $9 on me. He says after some fidgeting "You come back to the store and order again and you can have it today for the $9." "Sure" I replied. At that point between the coupon issue and the no credit card readers (they weren't installed yet). He's lucky I bought this one, if I would have left to get money I wouldn't have come back for the pizza. Anyway, besides the incident that was just overall a big pain in the ass, the pizza sucked. Verdict: Epic fail and I'll never go back.

3. Marco's Pizza: yes it's a chain, but we always had decent pizza in Stow when we lived there. So we tried again. Cheese fully covers the pizza and toppings aren't bad. Price is pretty solid, especially since they send me special mailers which is for a large pizza, cheesy bread and a 2 liter for $12. Hard to beat that price. Sometimes the crust tastes old, but otherwise not a bad pie. Verdict: Potential, at least for the location in Garfield Heights, this will do in a pinch though when we want something quick and average.

4. Pizza Hut: Seems to be hit and miss with different locations, I've typically had horrible non cheese covered pies from PH, so I'm loathe to try other stores. But Laurie ordered one a couple weeks ago when we were exhausted from a long day. And I have to say it wasn't bad. Pizza Hut still has a bit of a problem with the amount of cheese on a pizza and the toppings at times, but at least this one wasn't like some of the sauce covered breads I've seen before. Coupon wise they are pretty solid as well. Verdict: Not bad, Marco's probably wins in a foot race though.

5. Donatos: Good pizza, lots of toppings. Price borders on ridiculous at times Verdict: Good, but I need a raise to eat here regularly.

Reading this, I'm sure there are people that are like, well duh, of course you don't like pizza places, you only go to chains. I've tried a ton of local places and most don't even rate a memory. I don't mind paying a bit of a premium if I could get quality even close to the chains, but it's usually lacking and in no cases memorable. Having ran through the also rans, here are my favorites. One's not even really a pizza shop.

6. Mustard Seed Market: It's a Natural food mart in Solon and Fairlawn, they typically sell pizza by the slice, but you can order whole pies. Their straight cheese pizza is fabulous, has about 4-5 different types of cheese on a thin crust pizza. Pure cheese goodness and only 12 bucks for a large pie (8-10 servings of pizza by the slice sizes) Two days of dinner easily. Only negative is they are a bit far away and they don't always have someone in the kitchen to make the whole pie when you call. Verdict: very good, if it was closer I'd be fatter.

7. My current favorite is Blasiole's in Streetsboro. It used to be Guido's until it was bought out a couple years after I got out of high school. The pizza is beyond fantastic, I never have to worry whether there is enough toppings or cheese on it, and the crust and sauce are both very solid. Let me try and describe it a bit. The crust has a medium to thin thickness. It has good texture and is a bit chewy, the toppings and sauce cover it almost to the edges and with the amount they use it piles fairly high, so there isn't a lot of uncovered crust. The crust is the delivery mechanism and doesn't get in the way of the other flavors. They use a fair amount of sauce, I typically don't like a saucy pizza, but that's usually because places use it in place of toppings. Blasioles has a good amount of sauce. Toppings: they don't skimp or give you one pepperoni per piece, if three or four come off the stack when they are topping it that's what goes there. There is flavor in every bite. Not positive on the cheese they use, but it has to be a mix of mozzarella and provolone, by the way it melts and the taste. They never skimp on this and if you order it double cheese you can be sure you are going to have a full coating of cheese over top of the toppings. Toppings are put on after the sauce and sit under the cheese. Pizza wise they are first class. In addition to a great pie, they have outstanding jo jos, fried chicken, sandwiches and gyros. The only negative is they are not practical for a night out for dinner. But since Laurie substitute teaches in Streetsboro, it's fairly easy to have her pick something up on the way home. If you are in the area, I highly recommend them. Verdict: Outstanding, if there was a closer location I'd be fatter.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bat shit crazy neighbors

One of the things I don't think you realize as a child, is just how many bat shit crazy neighbors you might have. Sure there's always the strange cat lady on a street in the neighborhood, or the father that wears no shirt 80% of the time, but I think we see it differently as adults.

I have 3 or 4 neighbors that might be able to star in their own reality show. My first one is an older gentlemen, maybe 45-55 range. We've dubbed him 'hillbilly', it's for reference purposes. Referred to as HB throughout the rest of the post. Anyway, once every other month or so, we'll see the cops show up at his house and they seem to be mediating a domestic dispute. In truth those incidents are pretty boring, as the most excitement that comes out of it is some drunken yelling and door slamming. No shirtless confrontation with the police or random appliances being thrown. Laurie and I do hum the theme from Cops though when we happen to be on the porch already and the police arrive. We are anticipating this has potential down the line.

So outside of the occasional domestic dispute call, HB has a basset hound that runs around the front yard (tied up), we were warned by neighbors when we moved in to not get close to him if we were walking in that area, as he bites, he's also a barker. He used to be outside all day, as evidenced by the large semi circle he's warn down in the grass. He's taken in at night so the barking not really an issue, but I do suspect that he's definitely a biter and most certainly aggressive. I have noticed the mailman will no longer deliver the mail to the house if the dog is out and have seen HB track the mailman down to get his mail.

This weekend the entertainment level went up a bit, Saturday night, we were sitting out on our porch chilling out, when we started hearing yelling and door slamming from HB's vicinity. Sure enough he was storming around perturbed about something. The best part came next when he started talking to the dog though and was advising the dog that he needed to guard the house while he was away. Now mind you this is 3-4 houses away on the other side of the street, for us to hear it, means it was fairly loud. Our guess is he was advising the dog to guard the house from new people that moved in across the street. HB's level of agitation has seemed to grow a bit lately which coincided with the new folks moving in. (pure guess here, not that it really matters anyway) Bottom line is, he was entrusting the security of his household with the 25lb basset hound.

Trusting the home security to the dog probably wouldn't have been enough for me to write about it, it's not that unusual for him. Yesterday though he continued to catch my attention, I was out on the porch on Monday having some coffee, when I started hearing loud booms. I looked over and saw HB kicking a trash can (it was garbage day). No big deal, it was probably in the street (it was windy) and I assumed he just wanted to kick it back to the tree lawn. Nope, once it reached the tree lawn he proceeded to kick this thing as hard as he could for at least another 5 minutes, covering at least 2 front yards in distance over that time. He then kicked the can back to the tree lawn, left it there, and walked back inside.

So that's the background on my first neighbor. I'm expecting more updates in the future and thought it would be nice to have some background.

Next up in the neighbors series will be the little old lady a couple houses down that I think has lost her mind. Animal lovers will probably not want to read about her, but I'll save that for another day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Damn that was some nice weather

Wow, what a weekend, 80 degrees everyday, sunny, with no rain. It was perfect weather, especially for April. Got a ton done in the yard on Saturday, it's amazing at how crappy my small yard can look after a rough winter. I have most of the leaves cleaned from a top of the pool cover and a good portion of the water siphoned off, although I'm dreading getting the pool into shape. What a pain in the ass that is, measure chemicals, fill chemicals, clean the filter, I spend way more time maintaining the pool then I do inside of it. But it is nice especially if we have a hot summer and the girls do get a good amount of use out of it.

I hit the bike trail down in the valley this morning. Unfortunately I never made it out on a bike ride this weekend, so I was bound and determined to go this morning. It's such a great stretch for 5 miles one way. Right now with no foliage, you get such a different view of things then the way it looks come June or July, where you feel fully surrounded by the trees and leaves. Plus there is the contrast of everyone going to work, driving along on the other side of the canal. I'm hoping to get some pictures sometime of the ride and I'll post them. One of the things I love about working from home is there are times I take advantage of it, like a 7am bike ride. I did great last year and managed to go 3-4 times a week for about 8 weeks. It's something that I just wouldn't have been able to do working in an office. Either I would have to get up way too early or I'd have to try and fit it in to some other part of the day. I still enjoy the rides later in the day, but the morning rides are all mine, I don't have the additional 35lb 'little one' on the back and I can put the ipod on and just pedal away. Very relaxing and isolated.

I'm going to be all sorts of depressed tomorrow when it's back to 55 in the morning. It's just too cold in the valley to ride at that temp, especially since the valley itself is a damn wind tunnel. Great when it's on your back, absolutely horrible when it's against you. And of course I'm always guaranteed at least half my ride will have it against me. I just checked the weather now and all week is going to be at that temp, crap. Well maybe I'll get some pants for the ride and put some gloves on to save my knuckles. It's like a drug though once I got out there once, so I know I'm going to want to again this week, rather then going to the gym in the morning.

Besides yard work this weekend, I went clothes shopping. I needed some short sleeve shirts and shorts and I'm too picky and too cheap to go just anywhere so clothes shopping for me means a day of going to 10 or so stores to try and find exactly what I want at the price I want to pay for it. Definitely not an easy task. I got a little lucky yesterday, found about 4 shirts and 2 pairs of shorts and some stuff for Bronwyn, for about $60 total (Gabriel Brothers rules!). I was even thrilled when the two Claiborne shirts I was debating about getting (because of price) wound up being about 40% cheaper then the tag stated. So I think I actually have summer clothes now, although I do have to find some non button up shirts, but that's for another day.

One bit of a rant, I hate shopping for clothes anymore and it's not even a guy (hate shopping) thing. I just don't have time to find things that are right for me. Very few things fit me right. It took me years to realize that I have no torso, and that I'm all legs. So even though I have broad shoulders, large shirts look weird on me because I have no torso. Combine that with the fact that depending on my weight, medium shirts aren't always the 'best' look for me. Whether its because I don't think that I look good dressed up as a sausage (think sausage casing, stuff the meat in) or my shoulders seem to want to burst out of the "girly" man shirts like a Chris Farley/Tommy Boy impression. The fact is, picking clothes out for me is a huge pain in the ass. The biggest pain about it, is I just don't have the time to go look and try on shit to see if it's right. I don't mind the hunt, just wish I had more time. Oh well, if I was a woman being all legs wouldn't be a bad thing, (Bronwyn's appears to have the all leg thing too, my heart attack is only 15 years away ). But alas I'm a guy, so I continue to try and understand who designs these clothes for men.

Hopefully I'll get to the gym during lunch today and then for another ride tonight with the wife and little one. If it's nice where you are, hope you get to enjoy the day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Thoughts IV

It's Friday, been one of the busiest work days of the year. It's 80 something degrees outside, sun is shining and that's all that needs to be said today. Trail riding is on the agenda for this weekend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Does the end justify the means?

Hopefully I can knock this one out quick. It's a dreary day here in Cleveland, cold and rainy, although they are predicting 70's over the weekend. (Awesome)

So over the last week, there's been a lot of press on the techniques used by the CIA on suspected terrorist prisoners. Of course it's become just another issue that seems to fall along party lines. (We'll get to this one eventually, but ask yourself next time you declare yourself a Democrat or Republican, how similar are you to the party representatives you've chosen to identify yourself as).

Let me preface the following by saying, that it's fairly easy being an armchair quarterback , as a man who takes his responsibilities very seriously, I can understand on some levels why the choice was made to use these techniques. If I was faced with the responsibility to protect my constituency, the choices I might make in order to fulfill that responsibility may be very different then the ones I try to reason out sitting on the sidelines.

Whether or not it was right or we attained information is almost irrelevant to me at this point, it happened and it's over with. My curiosity lies in what it means for the future. And I must say I'm struggling with it a bit. I believe most of the methods that were used would be classified as torture for any standard definition of the word. I also believe that obtaining information from those that don't want to provide it or who are dedicated to their cause is almost impossible. So I'm torn with an opinion on what my views are on how we should handle these situations in the future.

The only thing that I keep coming back to in thinking about this is the rules of engagement for War. Now I don't know how in depth the Geneva articles go in describing what constitutes torture, but I do know that as a country we signed that treaty and agreed to the rules of engagement it outlined. So while we may not be technically in default, we are at best exaggerating the interpretation. Now the counter argument there is that these enemy forces don't qualify under the rules of engagement, and I won't disagree with that either.

"This is war" is often the argument used for justifying the techniques, but my point is that civilized nations have been outlining the rules of engagement of war for many, many years now. By not holding ourselves to that higher standard, I believe we inevitably risk becoming that which we are fighting. I know that lives may have been saved with the information extracted from these prisoners. And they don't play by the same rules, but by engaging in this manner, I think we lose sight of the fact of who we are and risk losing the philosophical war that is going on as well.

While it's easy to sit back and say "who cares to the rest of the world we need to protect ourselves" The fact of the matter is the U.S population is only a small part of the world overall and if we are going to ever have a chance at eliminating terrorism then we need to win the philosophical battle, not the small skirmishes. By doing so that means the possibility of more acts that cause harm to our citizens and that's the rub. It's scary and politicized so much today that our politicians and population are unable to see the longer term consequences of our actions. I know I won't ever convince most that believe that these types of techniques are valid ways of dealing with a situation if it protects our own, and they might not be wrong. But put aside the fear for a moment and think back to 9/11. Al Queda struck at the heart of our country and we held our resolve, while they may believe they won something that day, they didn't. There was a terrible loss of life on our side and it saddens me deeply, but they did not stop our way of life and only furthered our resolve to eliminate the types of people that want to cause us harm in this way.

I know as people we are scared of these kinds of things, but the reality of the war doesn't go away just because it hasn't happened again. It's easier to deal with because we are caught up in everyday things, so we forget about it, but it still exists. And something like that will happen again and we'll persevere through that as well. I don't say that to cause fear or be pessimistic, it's a realistic statement, if someone wants to cause harm, they will in some way at some point. We should be vigilant in trying to stop them, but we should also be able to not lose sight of how we truly want the world to be. And if we believe we are better society then we have to act like it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday musings

Another Friday is here. And so little to talk about, honestly can life in mid-America at slightly less then middle age be any more routine?

Oh well, at least it's a solid routine, roof over the head, weather's getting nicer, etc, etc, yada, yada. Of course I could go on and on about the little one, but that's more self indulgent then anything else. So that leaves talking about frivolous things that are off the top of the head.

1. When the hell did lunch meat become gourmet cuisine. Has anyone seen the price of this crap lately, regularly 5.99-8.99 a pound for sodium infused, pressed together meat. Wasn't it in my life time that lunch meat was a cheap meal alternative? Hell I've seen whole beef tenderloins regularly priced at $7.99 a pound and on sale for $5.99/lb. So let's see I can have filet mignon or turkey pressings for dinner, that doesn't seem to be a hard decision.

2. The Indians suck, but beating the Yankees in their home opener, has given me a bit of hope, not to mention it felt really good. (Anxiously awaiting that feeling of maybe they aren't so bad to be shot down though.)

3. I'm about an inch away from swearing off the Browns for a couple years. Matter of fact if they trade Brady Quinn for junk, I'm done for at least this season. While I'm sure the 'football' people are more knowledgeable then I in many football matters, I just can't get on board with some of these moves. And truth is I'm tired of wasting my time and money on this team. Maybe I'll finally by an Eagles jersey.

4. This one has been bugging me for awhile. Listening to the previous executive branch administration that was in office for 8 years or their pundits who want to outline/blame why we have financial issues as a country (because of the previous administration) is a bit bogus in my opinion. While I'm sure Clinton's administration did enact policies that affected the current environment, the fact is when it's your job to run the country, your role means you have the responsibility to anticipate and adjust policies based on the current and future states of the issue. Whatever policies Clinton's admin or the Republican or Democratic congress may have enacted during that time, very well may have been necessary/beneficial for that time. By then sitting 8 years in office, Bush's administration either ignored, was unaware of, or was incapable of making effective changes in leading the country. What other job in the world, can you sit and do nothing for 8 years and then when catastrophic problems hit blame your predecessor for the issue?

While I'm sure there are those that think this is a Democrat tilted tirade, I can assure you it is not, it's about holding those elected to office accountable to perform the duties they are entrusted with and in my opinion the Bush administration failed. Ah, if only the right wing conservatives hadn't performed a smear job on John McCain during the primary between Bush and McCain, it was so the time for McCain to be president, unfortunate really.

Ok I've broken the seal and moved to politics a bit. Maybe that will let me get into it more in the future. There's a whole bunch saved up for some of my favorite Democratic targets as well, Dennis Kucinich and the Cuyahoga County Democratic party.

Until then, have a good weekend, enjoy the spring weather.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

If it wasn't for titles I'd write more.

As if it wasn't hard enough coming up with content, now I'm obsessing over the titles of the blogs. Don't worry I'm well aware of how neurotic I am. I'm almost 40 posts in now on the blog and here are some of the things I'm thinking about in regards to new posts.

1. Neurotic, depressing, self indulgence, is probably not the best way to develop a reader base.
2. Long posts vs short posts
3. Details vs recap
4. Titles of the posts, straight to the point, witty, boring, reusable

I know that it really doesn't matter in the long run. Ultimately the posts can be all or none of the above. The point of the blog was to express myself and if we wind up moving, give family and friends a chance to peek into my life on a regular basis. It is interesting though figuring out the things I want to write about though and a little surprising at times the stuff I have wrote about.

For a Wednesday things are going pretty well this week, work is slow, which in itself is mind numbing. Working through leftovers from Easter and staying away from candy as much as possible. I just completed my fourth week of my 3 day cardio schedule. I'd love to bump it up to a 4th day, but schedule wise it's just not fitting in right now. I am starting to feel the results though in how I exercise during the 50 minute sessions and that's a definite positive.

That's all for today, hope everyone is having a good week.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekend recap

Had a great weekend, unfortunately the Tribe continued to lose, and it rained bad on Friday, but got to spend a long night out away from the house and had some typical male style conversation. As long as the night was Friday, I couldn't believe how rested I was Saturday morning after about 6 hours sleep. I'm amazed sometimes at how a simple break from stress can lead to such a good nights sleep.

Saturday Laurie and I took Bronwyn to see Monsters vs Aliens in 3d. The new 3D technology is pretty damn cool, although the pricing for it is kind of a deterrent in my opinion, $26 for 2 adults and one child for a matinee, seems high. Especially since Bronwyn won't keep the glasses on the whole time. But with a bag full of popcorn and a movie she wanted to see, she made it through the whole movie without getting antsy, talkative, or wanting to run around. A definite win. It's funny, she's very well behaved, but we just haven't taken her out to dinner or movies a lot where she's forced to sit for periods of time. So it's always a hit and miss proposition when we do go somewhere like that. I'm glad to see that she seems to be adjusting to it.

Sunday of course was Easter, where we were inundated with a copious amounts of candy from a rather large rodent. Followed by another huge meal prepared at my parent's house. Between Easter dinner, candy, Friday nights drinking and bar food, and Saturday's movie theater popcorn and ordering pizza I can honestly say, the diet for this weekend was an ultimate failure. Luckily I didn't let it deter me and I got back to the gym this morning for my 50 minute elliptical session. Unfortunately I haven't been making my lunch time strength workouts though, as I pulled a neck muscle (sitting in a chair last Friday during work) and it's causing me a huge headache right now. Hopefully that will disappear here within the next couple days though and I can continue with the strength sessions, as I seriously need to tighten up a little bit in those areas.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Random Thoughts III

Another Friday post, and I've only done 3 of these in the whole time I've been writing this blog. Note to self, need to stick to the self promises a little better.

Off to hang out and watch some sports today, as I've mentioned before, I don't care so much for the games anymore, but it's a nice way to get out of the house for a bit. With a baseball and basketball game too, it makes for a bit earlier of a day to go out, and once I'm out I have the whole night to do whatever. The funny thing is, I'm really just looking forward to having that much time to spend outside of the house. 3-4 hours is always nice, but 7-8 or possibly more if we all are drinking for awhile is even cooler. I think it's the fact that 3-4 hours, I feel pressured to have a good time and anymore I just don't want to feel pressured sometimes. Heck I might get bored after 3 hours and go home (unlikely) but it could happen. Just need to feel like once in awhile I have full control over my time.

The birdie mentioned this week is almost hatched. Between that and Easter in two days, Bronwyn is on a constant energy rush. So exhausting at times but fun.

Had a moment yesterday where I beat myself up a bit. So many days during the week and even on weekends that I'm too tired or have too much to do, where I feel I don't take advantage of the fact that Bronwyn has so much free time and wants to play or do things with me. Made me a bit sad as I realize that 3-5 years from now when she wants to play with friends or do her own thing, I won't be quite the center of attention I am now. I know it's a natural progression and I know that being worn out is just a fact of being an adult sometime, but I do want to keep trying to do more with her, as I don't want to regret not fully taking advantage of this time now.

Bronwyn's also going through a bit of a phase right now where she's not listening, not necessarily being bad, just sort of ignoring Mom and Dad when they ask her to do something (or to stop doing something). Which is hard to deal with as she's very emotional and doesn't make a big production out of it, so when we get frustrated and yell, she starts crying. The problem is she's well behaved and for the most part just doing her thing, but she's been a bit more rambunctious lately and careless in how she plays (near stairs, running at full speeds through the house, etc). Most of the stuff we tend to yell about is in relation to making her aware that she needs to settle down or be aware of her surroundings because she's close to areas where she could get hurt if she's not careful. The other stuff we tend to yell about lately is that her ignoring us, makes it difficult to get things done (bath, going to store, etc) as she's in the habit of running away or not settling down when getting ready. As I said though, it's not obnoxious (I'm not going to listen behavior) but rather I'm just playing, or I'm doing this first things. So we have to balance being a bit frustrated with the fact that she's working to take control of her environment a bit. Needless to say though it's a bit exhausting.

Enough heavy stuff though. Here's a couple random thoughts for finishing out a Friday.

1. I still need to get used to watching Tivo. Watching a show from mid-February last night and forgot I was watching Tivo when the 'Severe weather alert' came on and I'm yelling at the TV, "What the hell are they talking about snow, it's supposed to be 50 tomorrow". Smooth Mike, really smooth.

2. I love my Ipod shuffle. So nice for working out or hooking up to my car radio. Ipods overall are cool but the shuffle being so tiny is just awesome in my opinion.

3. I finally completed the installation of the dishwasher last week. For weeks after I installed it, I constantly had to keep fidgeting with it, as I had minor leaks. Of course after all was said and done I learned how cocky I can be for not fully reading the directions and after numerous parts and hours working, it's completely leak free.

4. I'm still bitter that Snickers changed their Easter candy a couple years ago from an egg that was like a Cadbury egg, to something more akin to a Reese's egg. The Cadbury style egg was way better. Don't ask me why, it just was. Maybe it was because the carmel seemed softer.

5. Laurie's surgical implant is healing up and she's starting to feel better, only a month or two now before she gets the device attached that will let her hear.

6. My Italian wife has a tradition of making pisacaina (sp) it's rice, eggs, romano cheese, and ham in a pastry dough and it's awesome. Based on the ingredients though, probably not the most healthy food in the world. Of course she made some this week, just as I was starting to see workout results. (Pants that were too tight started fitting nicely this week) I've threatened to go on a baking spree and make cheesecakes to get back at her for it. (In case I haven't mentioned it, baking horrible caloric treats is one of my hobbies). However I think it's an idle threat on my part though, no point in escalating the caloric wars at this time. She's won this round.

Have a great weekend and eat something that makes you happy, even if it's just a little bit.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday thaw out

Not much new going on here, have a couple of blog posts I'm working on. Just trying to determine how I want to approach the topics (religion and politics). For those two topics , I need to focus my writing/thoughts or I'm going to spend 4 hours on every post. So stay tuned for that.

Otherwise, it's been a slow week, it seems to have snowed for two days straight, huge, fluffy snowflakes, that luckily have not stuck to the ground, but has made for some great muddy terrain. I'm seriously sick of the cold right now and am in a dog kicking mood because of it. (Figure of speech people, Edgar is fine).

I have plans to go out Friday night with the guys, watch some baseball and basketball and drink a ton, amazing how my disposition improves when I have some planned activities to look forward too. While they aren't necessarily the best use of my time, they get me out of the house, which from working at home feels more and more like a prison everyday. I'm sure I'll get into the prison analogy one of these days.

On the homefront things are good, Laurie is recovering nicely from the surgery and goes in for a checkup tomorrow and have some of the stitching removed. Bronwyn is currently fascinated with an egg that gets put in a cup of water and over a couple days a bird hatches out of the shell and then grows. I must say I'm a bit jealous, toys that were supposed to grow and do things when I was a kid always left me severly disappointed as they flopped. I seem to remember a pack of Martian babies, which in retrospect turned out to be rather large metal ball bearings about the size of a marble. So it's neat to watch this thing work and Bronwyn get excited about it, it's actually peaking out of it's shell now two days in and Bronwyn wakes up each morning and asks to see it, yelling encouragement to it "You can do it Birdy, come on out". It's a nice diversion on a cold Wednesday.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Over the weekend

In my effort to start blogging on more everyday things (and not the long drawn out psychosis posts). I thought it would be nice to talk about the weekend, since I actually had a pretty full weekend of activities.

Had a nice start Friday night, after a fairly boring week at work, I was ready for some activity, in other words something to do. Laurie was only one day out of the surgery and still pretty sore, so heading out, was out of the question. Which leaves making food. So I put together a crepe batter for Saturday morning, since Laurie wanted to work on them and put together some deep dish pizza dough for Saturday night as well. I figured it was a chance to use my new deep dish pan that I got for my birthday and while I'd rather be baking (something with high calories and indulgent) this fit my fix for something to make.

Saturday morning was an early morning, my parents had a 60ft tree fall in their backyard, so my brother and I were enlisted to help cut the thing up and move the pieces. If I get the pictures off my cell, I'll post them here shortly. Needless to say, the tree was a monster though, and after some good natured arguing (don't put three Type A Stewart men together with something they aren't familiar with) we were able to get over half of the tree removed and the fence that it crushed back up. Our friend Brian also came over to help, and was subjected to family bickering for a good part of the morning. But his help and calmness were greatly appreciated. So 4 hours of hauling tree parts around the yard, luckily my father was manning the chainsaw and no injuries happened during the morning.

Back home and set off to make some deep dish pizza. Loved how these turned out, a pepperoni, black olive one and a chicken, spinach pizza. I've made deep dish 3 times now (previous to my new pan) and am 2 for 3 in them turning out right. The disaster was a mushroom one that left the dough inedible. Anyway, there was a ton of pizza and enough for two nights dinner. (I swear one of the best things in the world anymore is multiple night dinners, that don't suck, such a time saver).

After that, my task was to get the pizzas fully prepared, cooked, the little one fed and washed up before I headed over to my brothers for a night of drinking and playing Rock Band 2. Laurie realizing that cabin fever had set in badly for me, gave me the go ahead to head out for the night and give her a chance to rest her aching head further with the little one down. It was a nice night, Francis and Missy were kind enough to pick me up and we all spent a couple hours in my brother's living room on the cheap, drinking our choice of beverage and mimicing (badly) a rock band. One of the funniest moments of the evening happened, while Francis was playing drums for the first time, Missy decided to heckle him some, asking if he really did play drums in high school and yelling out some other not for print jabs during the song. It was good fun that only a married couple can do, but it lightened the night some.

Finished up the evening at about 1, a little tipsy but not bad for an exhausting day. Sunday was sent recuperating a bit as I was tired as shit and sore from the day before. I did make a run to Malley's for some Easter candy, I made the mistake of bringing Bronwyn though, she immediately started running upon entering the door and grabbing different treats, thinking that I was going to buy them for her (she did wind up with one treat) and while my memory of the time at the store is that it was a bit chaotic, in truth she behaved reasonably well for a 3 year old with that much candy stimulus.

Since it was a nice day out, we hit the playground and got some energy out of my little fiery three year old, which helped greatly as she took a nice nap, and I took a much needed one as well. The rest of the night was just spent relaxing in the chair.

I'm realizing more and more, that even though I want to do more things, It's a struggle to get into the right mindset to do it. I could spend a whole weekend 'working on stuff' around the house, but finding time to do things I want has to fit in as well. I'm at my best when I have some pre-planned free time to look forward too and accomplish a ton of stuff when I do. Hopefully with the warmer weather coming, I keep the activities up for things to do.

Baseball opening day

Opening day again and the temperature is approaching the 30's it's raining now, but they are predicting snow showers. Wonderful, I wonder how I'm not constantly sick this time of year with the weather changes. The Indians open on the road this year, so unless there's rain in Texas, they'll actually play today.

Baseball seems to be the one sport I continue to have interest in, perhaps it's because I can listen to it on the radio, as it's perfect for that medium, or by the fact, that during the summer, they play everyday. Who knows, anyway, for fun, here are my season predictions for this year. (Format blatantly stolen from the Plain Dealer)

AL Division Winners: Indians, Red Sox, Angels
AL Wild Card: Rays
NL Division Winners: Cardinals, Phillies, Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Cubs
World Series Champ:Angels (I want to predict the Red Sox here, but can't do it as much as I hate them)
AL MVP: Carlos Quentin, White Sox (who are the idiots that felt Pedroia was it last year?)
AL Cy Young: Scott Kazmir, Rays
AL Rookie: Matt Wieters, Orioles
AL Manager: Mike Sciosia, Angels
NL MVP: Ryan Braun, Brewers
NL Cy Young: Dan Haren, Diamondbacks
NL Rookie: Tommy Hanson, Braves
NL Manager: Joe Torre, Dodgers
Indians prediction: 91-71, first in Central
Couple surprises:
Fausto Carmona is comeback player of the year and shows up as possibly one of the top 5 in AL.
Atlanta's rebuilt team finishes second in NL East, with an outside chance of taking the Wild Card.
The Reds are this year's surprise team, ala the Rays of 2008, don't know if they make the playoffs, but they are going to be a headache.
St. Louis falls flat and doesn't win the division if Carpenter gets hurt again.

So in 6 months if I miraculously am correct in many of the picks, I'll gloat like there's no tomorrow, however upon being horribly off in my predictions I'll probably delete this post.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Bearclaw and the Red Filter

A phrase from a movie popped into my head a couple weeks ago and made me laugh.

Officer Dale Rigby.....

Whether that's the exact line or not, I don't know, but it's a voice over from Natural Born Killers, the voice over is done by Robert Downey Jr. during one of the reporting scenes on Mickey and Mallory's killing spree. It's intercut with Dale's partner saying in a very pathetic way, "all he wanted was a bear claw."

Let's start by saying I really hated this movie, I thought as a whole it sucked and wondered, like many others whether Oliver Stone was out of his friggin mind for making it. Since then I'm going with the out of his mind theory as everything after Platoon or JFK has not been very good.

Now while I thought the movie sucked, I did make it through the whole movie, and perhaps even watched it a second time (quite possibly in an altered conscious state). There are some things I liked about it, which is why I think the line popped into my head and the soundtrack was one of the best soundtracks ever in my opinion.

The part I liked, was that Stone tried to show that almost no one is what they appear to be on the surface. That everyone has an inner demon(s) of some sort inside of them, buried down by society and norms. Stone tried to show this by having his two protagonists being his most 'normal' or 'real' characters in the movie. Real in the sense that they didn't pretend to be something they were not. I happen to think that he made this point sloppily and the actors he chose for some of the main roles were incapable of delivering what he was hoping for. And with the subject matter made for a bit of a disaster of a movie.

The reason I'm remembering it is what I've referred to as the 'Red Filter' the color Stone shot characters when they were 'free' of their societal chains or moments where the film was showing a character's inner turmoil or hidden secrets. I remember Robert Downey Jr's character for much of the movie, and how at one point he let go of his control on things and picked up a gun and started shooting, releasing himself from the bonds of society. At least that's how I remember it and what I think Stone was going for in the movie. It bears repeating though due to the subject matter, I wasn't really a fan of the content or the story that he used to try and explain his point. The gratuitous violence was gross and disturbing. While I'm sure that was also part of the point, I thought it was exaggerated, in poor taste, and a crutch used in the absence of good writing.

I think a large number of people have a hidden side of their persona. The level of it varies, and I don't believe everyone hides things, but I believe that many do and I'm fascinated by it. Sometimes it's a deep dark secret no one knows about, sometimes it's a secret shared with a few people, and sometimes it's something that the holder isn't able to contain and it becomes public knowledge. There are more reasons then these three, but those are the ones off the top of my head. I don't think my fascination comes from what people hide. I think my interest comes in why they choose to do so. Sometimes I believe it's conscious and sometimes I believe it isn't.

When we choose to suppress or hide something it changes who we are, because how we choose to take this path shapes our personality. Call it a Freudian view on personality if you will. In my experience I've observed this in many people and sometimes wonder how much of my life has been affected by suppression or hiding things.

That's where "Officer Dale Rigby" comes in, while looking over my current state of mind and trying to understand what has gotten me here, this was the trigger in my mind for the next point of understanding. What have I suppressed in life, what have I hidden, what have I denied? These are the questions I ask myself. I seem to be uncovering a lot of them lately and it's a sobering feeling. I do believe some of it's functional. Emotionally at times I just couldn't accept things for what they were. I needed to suppress the truth to myself in order to proceed, as I just wasn't prepared to deal with the emotion, so I'd convince myself that what was real just wasn't true and create scenarios that fit.

The problem with denying the truth is there are feelings that were associated with those situations, that were extremely important to me that I denied as well. It shaped me going forward and by not understanding the truth, it inevitably influenced decisions further down the line in my life. Unfortunately one critical misstep can multiply expotentially when it's applied to life decisions creating more frustration as I come to realize how much influence that denial has factored into my current state.

If someone was to apply the red filter to me, it might show me screaming, pounding my head against the wall from frustration, or in a deep isolated sadness. I'm working through this and I am making good progress. I've come to terms with catalyst situations that I've emotionally denied and I am trying to understand what other decisions my denials influenced since then. I wish it was something that just happened a year or two ago, but it's a series of incidents in upwards of 15 years that I find myself trying to rectify. It's a bit difficult to fully understand how my thoughts were influenced going forward during that time, but I'm not looking to understand all the decisions. I accept that time is gone and there is nothing I can do to change the past, but I will gain an understanding of myself by accepting those mistakes and choices. Once I've determined who I am today I can start to come to an understanding of how I need to shape my life going forward.

It's funny one of the phrases, I work to live by is sometimes a banana peel is just a banana peel. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to it years ago and I would have faced the facts instead of trying to come up with complex scenarios. But then again, I suppose I could use it now as well, and just assume that an obscure movie phrase from a movie I hated is just that as well. Funny how that works.