Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Thoughts 9

Here we are once again with another list of irrelevance.

1. Has been a relaxing week, it's been very quiet at home without Bronwyn and Laurie here. I do miss them though and am glad they are coming back tonight or tomorrow, but have enjoyed the break.

2. Looking forward to celebrating Laurie's birthday on Sunday. Have some great plans for her.

3. Cautiously optimistic about the Cavaliers.

4. Car problems seem to be resolved for now, phew, knock on wood, insert random superstition here.

5. The new Star Trek was very good, really enjoyed taking my dad out for the night. I need to do this more. Great way to see movies the wife isn't really interested in and to spend some time with him. Plus it gets him out of the house for a bit, which Mom likes :)

6. Need to get the pool ready this weekend, hope the weather hits 80 and stays there for the summer.

7. Finally caught up on all the remaining episodes for Fringe on my Tivo. Love the show and ending, can't wait for next season.

8. Have to prepare my ears for Bronwyn's tales from this week, going to be on sensory overload I think from hearing about the trip from her. Can't believe she's only 3 and to think of how it seemed like yesterday I was just waiting for the first words or for her to walk.

9. This week has been a complete failure from my work out schedule. The appeal of having time alone was too much to overcome and I ditched all thoughts of working out. Have to get back on track next week.

10. Our dog, Edgar, is seriously missing his Mommy's lap and Bronwyn.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

et tu Lebron

I should have known..... As I've mentioned previously I just don't watch a ton of sports anymore. I'd have to say I watch basketball the least of the 3 major sports nowadays. While I'll follow how the team is doing on the web, I rarely watch an entire game. I just don't have as much time as I used to and in truth the game has changed in the last 15 years. I've not been a fan of the changes and it's only helped fuel my disinterest in the sport.

So of course I decided to watch game 3 of the Orlando series where we got pummeled and then subjected myself to the heart wrenching game 4 last night. Here I was enjoying the fact that they were doing well. Casually following the team and not becoming emotionally invested. As soon as I decide to become emotionally invested, blammo. That's right my ego-centric view of the world has determined that the reason for the last two losses is a direct result of me watching the games.

It has nothing to do with how they played or Cleveland curses, I am ready to accept responsibility for the playoff losses. Feel free to throw fruits and vegetables at me while I'm on the streets. I completely understand the need for Cleveland fans to express their frustrations and I'm more then prepared to do my part.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Melancholy weekend

Memorial day weekend has now come and gone. The weather here in Cleveland was wonderful, 3 days of sunny, 80 degree heat, perfect for outdoor gatherings, especially since the bugs aren't out yet. My weekend was jam packed with parties, projects to get done, and issues that needed to be resolved.

Let's start with some of the issues, my cars stink. Seriously, there is no need to even describe them outside of Adam Sandler's "Piece of Shit car" song. As I may or may not have mentioned, my Stratus wound up needing $600 in work for a busted strut and some other issues last week. After getting that headache resolved, I had the brilliant idea of dropping off my Neon, since it had been shaking at 50-60mph on the highway. The Neon's got a bad set of ball joints, the tires are shot, and the left rear tire was loose. Total price is $800 to get it fixed up. After giving it some thought, I decided that since the car is 9 years old and hasn't had a payment on it in 4 years, $800 seems a bit much and declined for now. On driving home I did discover that the shakes at 50-60 are gone, which turns out to be the result of the loose tire. So while I know the ball joints are bad and I need new tires, the truth it's running fine for my needs at the moment(short errands, since it basically just sits in the driveway and looks ugly). It seems the car had other ideas and one of the crappy tires burst out Sunday night, so after replacing it on Monday, it looks like I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get tires this week.

Thankfully the tire went flat at home in the middle of the night. Such a nice thing to wake up to on Monday morning. I was able to get it out of the way, so Laurie, her mom, and Bronwyn could get started on their roadtrip. But that's enough on cars even though they seem to be dominating my life at the moment.

The ladies were able to get an early start on their road trip to South Carolina. I got a call from Laurie Monday afternoon saying they were halfway to Myrtle Beach, so they found a hotel and spent the afternoon enjoying the pool. Things seemed to go well for Bronwyn's first extended car ride (about 6 hours) and they were planning on ordering a pizza and watching some movies for the night. I'm hoping the weather stays nice for them and they get to enjoy their beach days, they are supposed to arrive in Myrtle Beach today. It's also the first time outside of Bronwyn's toddler bed that she slept on a regular bed and from the call I received Tuesday morning it appears to have went well.

As you can see my Monday seemed to start out bad, I really should have just stayed in bed. After a restless nights sleep on Sunday night, I needed to get up early, as I was driving out to pick my friend Will, as we were going to Mountaineer casino (about a 2 hour drive) for the day. Of course I woke up a bit late and had all sorts of issues getting motivated. After finally getting out of the house and putting the flat tire abomination back in the driveway I headed up to the bank ATM. After starting the day with a flat tire, I had this impending feeling that I just wasn't on the right page for the day, and sure enough I continued to be off track, leaving my ATM card in the machine. I didn't realize I was missing the card until Monday afternoon which further added to my anxiety. Especially since I was 2 hours away from home and unable to look up a number to call and cancel it.

This is the second time I've left it in this particular machine what's worse is previous to the two incidents I've now experienced, I've never left it in a machine before. I don't know if it's this particular machine, sleepy mornings, or that I just don't withdraw cash that often anymore. Since my ATM card is a debit card, I use it for just about everything and withdraw cash once or twice a month at the most. I'm going to tape a big yellow post it note in both of my cars for occasions such as this. "Hey dummy, remember your ATM card"

To add insult to injury when trying to cancel my card the bank number provided by their website had no option for it and simply advised there offices were all closed, so I found a number for a credit card hot line on their site and called them, after walking through the fact that the card was lost, they cancelled my card and gave me the spiel of it coming in the mail with new pin etc. I said, "wait a minute" a new pin, they didn't do that last time for my ATM card, at which point they told me it wasn't the ATM card but my Visa they had just cancelled. "DOH!" and unfortunately there was nothing they could do to stop the cancellation of it, so now I'm without my debit and my Visa for a week.

After the morning bank stop I drove out to my friends and only managed to hit one snag, by taking the wrong road from the exit and tacking on another 20-30 minutes of drive time. See a recurring theme here for the day.

I hadn't seen my friend Will in about a year, I consider Will one of my closest friends and definitely one of the most interesting. To say Will's personality is a bit different is like saying raw jalapenos are a bit hot. For those who know him, you are likely nodding your heads right now.

Part of the reason I wasn't as motivated to hang out with him for the day, was something that happened on Saturday. Will had called me Saturday and immediately started apologizing, the reason being that he had inadvertently mentioned to his neighbor that he was going Sunday and on top of that had asked him if he wanted to go. Which of course his neighbor accepted. Again, not such a bad thing in the scheme of things, but to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I was really hoping to catchup on how life is now it's a bit hard to catch up when there's a third wheel along. It doesn't help that I don't know this person at all and Will doesn't really know him more then casual 'neighbor' style conversations. Add in the fact that his neighbor is older and retired and there's not a lot of common discussion points.

I am glad I went, while I didn't get to talk with Will as much as I had hoped to, we did get to hang out for a couple hours, given how long it's been since we've seen each other, I suppose it's not such a bad thing. The whole situation was less painful/uncomfortable than I had anticipated, and while it wasn't what I wanted the day to be, I do have to take it as a lesson on how things don't always go the way I expect them. Scratch that, I understand things don't always go how I expect them, but I need to try and not become so agitated when they don't.

I am trying to figure out why the situation bothered me so much, I'm perfectly capable of going with the flow and know that these things happen. I feel like my feelings were selfish and I'm trying to understand to what degree they should be. I seem caught between trying to be understanding and not caring and being selfish. I know a large part of this is driven by the fact that I seem to have limited time to do what I want and my anxiety seems to be coming from trying to control situations in order to maximize the value of that time that I have. It also wouldn't hurt if I remembered how to relax.

That's all I have for now, a ton of other stuff from the weekend that I may or may not get around too. As much as I like having the topics, I know this post is already convoluted and disjointed. And I'm too lazy to go through and try to formulate how to get everything down in my head into one post. (Hell it's hard enough for me to proofread my work, as I'm sure you know from reading. My tendency to write as I think is not a best practice. Too many unnecessary words and I'm sure multiple grammatical miscues. I am working on doing a better job with it though.)

Oh by the way, I got my ass kicked in the Brownie throwdown, not only by Laurie's brownies but my aunt brought some to the party too. I was a distant third from most of the judge's comments.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quick weekend update

Great start to the weekend, I wound up waking up early on Saturday and had a ton of things on my to do list done before Bronwyn and Laurie got up. Pretty surprised I woke up so early considering I didn't get to bed until around 2am on 'Friday night' (Hey was finishing making the banana cream pie for the party).

We then headed out to pick up my car at the shop and then over to my wife's good friend's family gathering. for a day of sun, drinking, eating, and relaxing. When I have time, I'll have to go into details on why it's one of my favorite places to go for a weekend cookout. All in all a great time though at the party.

I did get some positive news about my POS car this week. While it went into the shop and still needs repairs, they were able to adjust one of the tires a bit, which has stopped it from shaking horribly on the freeway. Considering I drive 20 miles a week, I definitely think it's going to make it through the summer like I hoped. So some positive news there.

Sorry if there are more typos or grammatical errors then usual, just wanted to get something up today before starting the day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Thoughts 8

A bit dejected today, took one car in for repairs, got a fairly good size repair bill. Took the other car in to get looked at and was given a pretty high estimate on it's repair bill. The second car is 9 years old and I've gotten quite used to not having to having a car payment for 4 years. Oh well, at this point though the repair bill is too high to justify as something else breaking is likely just around the corner. The big problem is I hoped it would make it through the summer and once Laurie found a teaching job we'd get a new one. Now it looks like I'm going to have to find something used. How I love dealing with used car salesmen.

On to Friday's thoughts.

1. Great weekend ahead, activities planned for the whole weekend, a lot of friends, food, and drinking. Should be a great time.

2. Laurie is finishing up her last day subbing today (in all likelihood as she's gone next week and the week after is just 3 days). I know subbing can be stressful for her, so I'm glad she's getting a break, now we are just keeping fingers crossed that there's an opening somewhere (here or other states) that she lands as a secondary Social Studies teacher. It's been a rough go for her finding a spot and I know it's been stressful, so I'm desperately hoping something works out for it.

3. Laurie, her mother, and Bronwyn are off to Myrtle Beach on Sunday. Laurie's mom is heading down there for a new artificial leg and Laurie and Bronwyn are tagging along to enjoy the beach for a couple days. Hopefully they'll have a great time.

4. Speaking of road trips, taking one with one of my best friends on Monday. Will and I are going down to Mountaineer West Virginia for a day. It will be good to see him as I don't think we've seen each other in person for at least a year.

5. I need to get Green Day's new cd.

6. Laurie and I were supposed to have a Brownie 'Throwdown" at my brother's party on Sunday. She's just not feeling up to it though, too bad too as she makes a pretty mean brownie and probably would have beat mine handily in a competition.

7. If you ever need a repaired garage door in the Cleveland area, I highly recommend A&L Service and repair (ad in the money saver, don't think he has a website). I can vouch for the work on the door he replaced at my house, he's also done work on my brother's and parents. Price is fair with no hidden costs and he's very prompt.

8. I'm a bit sad (well at least as much as one can be for a TV show) that My Name is Earl has been cancelled.

9. Crap, when did I start making this list 10 things long and why the hell did I do that.

10. I need to come up with something to drink this weekend, suggestions welcome in the comments section.

Have a great long weekend everyone, hope you eat a lot of food and get to enjoy some sunshine.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

American Idol thoughts

Ok, so I came back to watch the finale last night and I'm glad I did. This post is going to focus on my love/hate relationship with the show and my thoughts on watching the finale. There's not a lot of insight on the winners and losers, there's enough of that out there on the web.

Let me give some background on my love/hate relationship with American Idol. I've watched the show every since the last couple episodes of Season 1. Each year I seemed to stop watching with about 3 or 4 episodes remaining usually becausee I became bored or just didn't care about any of the contestants anymore. This year I only made it through the auditions and only casually watched some performance shows, I was a bit burned out on Idol. My wife still watched though and I became familiar with the contestants as she watched the show as usually I grabbed the laptop and worked during the show. It was nice as I saw some of the good performances but really didn't get invested in a performer.

In the last couple of years I've become a bit jaded with some of the production of the show. I've also become disgusted with some of the voting results (Taylor Hicks I'm speaking about you). It's also bothered me that more and more of the "amateur" contestants have turned out to be has-beens that were previously signed and bombed with albums (hello David Cook). It also hasn't helped that in some years the talent has just stunk across the board. I'm also not a big fan of younger contestants, while I can appreciate the talent most are a bit too raw for my preference. These issues aren't huge, but this year I decided I'd try and give myself a break from the show.

Anyway, so I broke my Idol addiction this year, but I did see some performances and I followed a good portion of the buzz on the web. I do find it interesting that the finalists over the last 2 years seem to have had more talented men/boys then girls/women, which is a direct opposite of the first 4-5 seasons. (Save possibly Season 2) That's not to say there haven't been talented guys during those years, just overall if you took the top 20, women typically outweighed the men in talent, at least in my opinion. Which brings me to last nights finals.

I loved the production of the show last night, in my opinion it was a well produced fast paced show. Kiss, Fergie, Black Eyed Peas, Santana, Cyndi Lauper, and a variety of others that I can't remember were all guest performers and there was a strong mix of old and new music. From a TV music perspective I'm ready to anoint American Idol as the new standard. MTV and the Grammys should take note for their award shows (which have become tiresome and over-produced and do a poor job of showcasing music). I'm a bit amazed that I enjoyed the show so much, since I wasn't really invested in any of the contestants. (I was pulling for Adam as I liked his uniqueness and talent, but sometimes his theatrics seemed broadwayish to me, which turned me off a bit)

I turned on the show last night as I knew my wife and her mom would want to watch. I was intrigued but not really expecting much, when I've watched the finales before they seemed to be one long commercial waiting for the results of the show. It's also become such a hyped show that it's almost impossible to surf the web or watch any kind of entertainment news without hearing about it. So I grabbed the laptop to finish some work and thought I'd sort of casually watch it. About 15 minutes in I found myself watching more then working and by 30 minutes, I had pretty much given up on work for the night.

As I said earlier, from a production standpoint I have to give it an A, blending the established artists with the idols worked in most of the segments, although Smooth by Santana with the whole Idol group reminded me of a bad Brady Bunch episode and the Steve Martin bit was a bit weird. It was interesting and fast paced and did a great job of focusing on the music and theatrics for television.

Idol producers also have done a great job of incorporating their Idols and judges as minor celebrities, bringing a change of pace to the established musicians and making it feel like a jam session of sorts. It reminded me of something you'd see at a Rock and Roll hall of fame induction ceremony (think Axl and The Boss doing Come Together). I believe they did a great job of focusing on the music rather then the musician. Old songs that might be considered tired had a jolt of change to them that made for interesting TV. The industry as a whole might want to take a look at when they start designing their next awards show.

Having the judges as minor celebrities also lead to the highlight of the show for me, when Kara DioGuardi came out performing behind 'bikini girl' and severely outclassed her singing it was one of the best ideas I've seen on TV in a long time. The producers set it up beautifully showing the background from the auditions when 'bikini girl' dissed Kara's voice and Kara telling bikini girl the next time she performs she should just do it naked. So while Kara came out and blew her away with her singing, she really put the final nail in the coffin when she finished the song, as she ripped open her dress to reveal her own bikini . The look on bikini girl's face when she first realized that she wasn't going to be performing solo was priceless and caused her to stop singing halfway through the song, the clothing reveal at the end was pure icing on the cake. In my opinion that was some fantastic production and reality TV at it's finest. It was worth watching the show just to see that part. (audio's horrible on this clip, but definitely gives you a chance to focus on the reactions).

All in all, it was an enjoyable two hours and focused on music, something I haven't seen in a long time on an awards show. As most know by now Kris Allen won, and I've heard a lot of buzz about it. Every morning news station and website seems to have an opinion on why Adam didn't win, whether they are true or not, who knows, in my opinion outside of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood (and possibly David Cook), the most talented idol hasn't always won, which is why I'm a bit surprised that people are in 'shock'. Maybe I'm a bit jaded from the year Chris Daughtry and Elliot Yamin were bounced early and were the most talented (in my opinion and historically shown to have greater record sales then Katherine and Taylor). There are all sorts of pundits that like to come up with conspiracy theories on this (American homophobia, all the right wing leaning Gokey voters moving to Kris, etc, etc). It makes for great watercooler talk. If there is any conspiracy theory that I'll buy, it's that Kris benefits more from winning Idol as he gets a boost in sales where Adam likely doesn't need it.

I expect Adam to have a much more successful career then Kris. Obviously, time will tell, but I think Adam is more talented and benefits from being unique. Kris looks good and has a nice voice but unless his producer is able to secure a truly unique song or do something to make him stand out, his sound is average at best and he could easily get lost in the pop music shuffle.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

yada, yada, yada

I really should have something to write today. I'm sitting here waiting on various approvals for contracts that I'm working on and essentially have nothing to do, but alas I just don't have much to say today.

I did want to put a post out there though, just to say hi to everyone that might be reading and at worst it keeps me in the habit of writing (kind of daily). So stay tuned and maybe I'll get motivated enough to write up one of those posts I've been promising about for some time now.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend update

Another weekend come and gone and it's the middle of May already. (How the hell did that happen). Anyway, had a good weekend, got a ton of grocery shopping done and hopefully enough stuff to make it through the month, where we can just grab produce each week.

Had a chance to spend Saturday morning with Bronwyn, before she went over my Mother in law's for the night and then got to spend Saturday with Laurie.

Had some great Mojitos at of all places Ruby Tuesdays. Seriously, who would of thought, that I'd find the perfect Mojito at Ruby Tuesdays, including sugar cane stalk and correct glass. Especially since it was the drink of the day and only $5 per drink. I should temper my enthusiasm though by saying that the first one was perfect, the second one was dreadful in they poured way too much lime juice in the darn thing.

We then went out to Chagrin Falls to take a walk by the shops and see the waterfalls, grabbing some Euclid Beach custard while we were there. It was a nice diversion. I think my wife was hoping for some more shops to browse, but while the weren't empty shops, there just wasn't much to see, but we had a nice time walking around. On the man made waterfall they have farther up the river, I did get hit a couple times by the wife, rooting for this pack of ducks that was swimming towards it to go over the edge. (They didn't they swam to the top of the waterfall and then just walked along the edge). I'm still protesting the slugs I got for it, after all it wouldn't have hurt them to go over the edge and it would have been fairly funny to watch. My wife found it less then amusing :)

Afterwards we headed home and since it was only about 8:30, I was pressing to go out for the night. Luckily the wife agreed. (Her and I tend to have different interests when we go out, she likes mellow kind of stuff and I tend to look for more chaotic environments. So knowing the wife probably wouldn't be up for going to see a band or someplace too crowded, we decided to see if we could find a spot with karaoke. 5 years on this side of town and we've not really been able to find a spot for karaoke. Most don't run it on Friday nights out here. I did finally find a place through some web surfing and we headed over there. Actually it was the perfect spot for us, a medium sized crowd, plenty of room to sit, and not too far from the house. However the sound system for their karaoke sucked. (More on that another time). All in all a good night though followed by some sleep in time on Sunday morning, since the little one wasn't there to wake us up.

That's pretty much how the weekend went, I'm struggling this morning in getting into a working mood as I'm looking forward to next weekend. We've got a full schedule of things to do. Picnic and gathering Saturday, BBQ at my brother's on Sunday. Monday the girls leave for Myrtle Beach and I'm taking my parents out. Once again I can tell the summer is here as my weekends are becoming completely filled with things to do. Why I can't figure out how to do this in winter, I don't know (maybe it would make the winter seem to go faster if I could).

Hopefully work won't be too busy this week and I'll have some of those stories I keep promising. Hope you have a good week.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nobody gonna breaka my stride.... (Friday Thoughts 7)

Nobobdy going to slow me down... Woh oh, I got to keep on moving.

That's pretty much how I feel this morning. Awake, alert, and ready to take on life.

Having said that and not wanting to break format here are Friday's thoughts:

1. Have slept great this week, not exactly sure why, but it's rare that I have multiple restful nights in a row. Plus some vivid dreams since men aren't supposed to keep remembering their dreams as they grow older according to psychological studies I'm not sure what to make of it. I do know that it likely means some part of my sub-conscious has figured something out that I've been stewing over. However it hasn't been kind enough to alert my conscious yet, but I'm not complaining since the bags under my eyes have disappeared for a week.

2. I've got a two page long list of things I need to do in the house, everything from patching the one leak I have on the garage roof (after replacing the whole roof last fall) to cleaning out the gutters.

3. I've conceded another point to my father. Years ago we were talking about movies and he mentioned how he had become a bit tired of them, do to it being rare that there were any new stories to tell. Unfortunately I realize I've gotten to the same point with movies and TV. It's just rare that I watch something and go wow, that was pretty damn good. Although I will say this I'm not positive that he was right, as it's certainly possible my mind settled on that theory after watching the crap I've seen over the last couple years.

4. I'm thinking about publicizing the blog a bit more. To date, I've left small notes around on the internet and alerted a select few that it exists. And I've seen comments and notes from people which means someone is reading it, which is great. It's not that I've been trying to hide it, just that I wasn't sure how to handle being that open and honest to a wider range of friends and family. It's still something I'm thinking about, so we'll see. My expectation is once I send my retired father a note on it, I'm going to be over for a holiday dinner and he's going to have a sit down with me to discuss multiple things he would have read. Again not a bad thing, just trying to prepare myself for that.

5. On my blog, it's a bit weird seeing how it's incorporated into my life. Whether it's a comment on facebook from someone reading it, a stray comment or email from someone on another blog that saw the address, or someone mentioning my favorite pizza reference in conversation.

6. Wife and daughter are going to the beach with my wife's Mother, the week of Memorial day. So while I'll miss them, I am looking forward to having the house to myself. Which basically means that two page long list I have on things to do is going to get smaller.

7. Since this is turning into the blogcentric version of Friday thoughts, here are some upcoming topics I'm planning on writing about. (a list within a list, my grammatical skills need work.) Wacky Neighbor II, thoughts on self medication, the tao of spongebob, thoughts on religion, and being balanced.

8. I need to decide on what gifts I'm getting my wife for her birthday. (June 1)

9. I'm dreading my monthly pilgrimage to Walmart tomorrow, however the Overlords of Walmart do require their monthly tithe.

10. I've been thinking about a new day to day philosophy. A type of filter if you will to apply to life experiences. For example, 2 new years ago I decided on a philosophy of 'take what's mine' (I'll explain that one at some point). Anyway, I think I'm settling on "Perspective you need some" which applies to myself and those I run into when I'm ready to rip my remaining hair out in trying to deal with them.

That's it for the week, have a great weekend and hopefully the sun is shining where you are. My suggestion for the week is get shit done this weekend, with Memorial day next weekend if you finish now, you can spend all three days kicking back.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Looking to go 5 for 5 this week

Looks like I might actually make a new entry each day this week, which would be a first I believe. I can't believe I just moved past 50 posts.

Nothing real deep today, just some updates from around the homestead. The little one's come down with a cold and it appears another croup cough. Ugh, the dry air of this house can be such a pain. So I've got double duty again today while Laurie is subbing. Always fun to try and corral the little one and still get on a conference call without alerting those on the conference call that you are watching a little one.

Thankfully, Bronwyn behaves very well if Daddy tells her he has to get on a call for a couple minutes. Plus even though it's very stressful I know in the back of my mind it's just another chance to have a couple hours with her that I wouldn't have gotten if I worked in an office.

It's definitely one of the things I'm going to miss if we get Bronwyn enrolled in pre-school next year, but I guess that's just the nature of having children, they grow up. As a matter of fact with the school year ending in a couple weeks, this is likely one of the last times I'll have to do it when she's not sick if Laurie winds up with a teaching job next year. A bit surreal, another stage passing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More thoughts on my little one.

Time for another update on my little one. We are about halfway through age 3 and she's slowly wearing down through the 'why' stage. On a daily basis she continues to amaze me in all that she learns and does. Plus she's become extremely loving, constantly giving kisses and hugs to Daddy (even at times without prompting, yay). She went through a long stage where kisses and hugs were definitely being in short supply.

I've briefly touched on her musical fascination in my note last Friday, in addition to that she loves to dance. I've now sat through "Barbie and the 12 dancing princesses" at least 50 times. And the dancing song runs through my head at least twice a week.

Bronwyn dances throughout most of the movie, she puts on her play ballet shoes and twirls around the room. I do wish we had a bit bigger room for her to dance in though, as while the room isn't small, her dexterity and grace at three years old resembles her father's (at any age). For a visual reference, think bull in a china shop.

Other current show and movie favorites are: Spongebob Squarepants, The Last Unicorn, Secret of Nimh, Lady and the Tramp, and Cars.

Laurie has remarked several times in the last month that she's definitely Daddy's little girl and I won't argue that point. I do wonder sometimes though whether my constant doting on her is good in the long run. I remember hearing someone talk at a party many years ago about his little girl. He was talking about how he and his wife were dead set against treating their little girl like a princess or letting her be referred to as one. He even mentioned how his daughter corrected people that suggested that she might be a Daddy's little princess. I found it an interesting concept, but not one I agree with (obviously).

While I can understand the strategy to raise a little girl and not want her to develop into a pretentious, coddled woman, I find it interesting that someone would want to totally fly against the typical desires of little girls. What I mean by that is while I certainly fawn and dote over my daughter, I try and encourage her interests, which just happen to focus on things girls like (princesses, babies, animals, etc) . I'd feel bad if I was discouraging her based on my own preconceived notions. Well at least intentionally discouraging her, I'm likely to do enough unintentional discouraging throughout her life. I got the impression from that conversation that they were intentionally discouraging thoughts and activities based on their own thoughts, which is every parent's right, I just found it a bit interesting. I do try and expose Bronwyn to non-stereotypical interests and if she finds something she likes I hope that someday it will provide her with a more balanced perspective. I'm just not sure I associate a child's interests with their behavior. I tend to associate bad adult behavior or attitudes on upbringing and discipline.

The other thing on my mind more and more with Bronwyn is her sensitivity. I constantly hear from people who are around her or babysit her on how well behaved she is. I have no doubt that this is true although the level of it compared to others is almost impossible for me to know. It's rare that we have to discipline Bronwyn, as a matter of fact she's a bit over-sensitive to criticism, which is my concern. She does step out of line like all children do, but it's rarely in an aggressive manner. Most of the time it's just something where she's working to extend her boundaries or playing in a position where she can get hurt. And usually we'll just ask her nicely the first time to not do that and she'll stop. Occasionally though she'll either forget(ignore) or we'll forget to ask nicely (usually due to our patience being used up for the day) and we'll raise our tone with her. About 75% of the time when that happens, Bronwyn will become completely quiet, and start trying to hold back the tears. Within a minute or two that fails and she'll start crying. I know that some of this is calculated on her part even at three, but I also know this feeling, as it's got a lot of similarities to me from my childhood(and her mother too actually). The crying doesn't bother me unless it's on those occasions where deep down I know I was being a bit too harsh on her due to my frustration levels and not her actions. I just need to remember that she's really a well behaved little girl (knock on wood) and try not and let life's regular frustration levels get to me in that I let it affect my way of handling her missteps. There is nothing wrong with disciplining her even if she gets upset about it, but I don't want her to become to overdeveloped in following the rules. Breaking or bending the rules once in a while can be a beneficial skill to have.

Well that's all I have for today on the little one, I did want to share this poem that someone special gave to me a little while back, whoever wrote it definitely captured the essence of a father/daughter relationship.

What is a daughter

She’s a joy she’s an angel’ well that’s what she thinks
She clings on to your heart like a plug to a sink
She drives you all crazy with make believe games
She’ll have you believe that fairies fly planes

She often comes in with imaginary friends
And can draw on their dads with permanent pens
She has pretty parties with dolls as her mates
But then runs straight out and she swings on the gate

She listens to stories of love and romance
Then shoves a live frog in her best friends pants
At night when asleep the angels go quiet
I often do think that she could start a riot

She looks like a princess all said and done
And Uses mums lipstick to draw a big sun
All over the walls and down the settee
Her face is alive and she giggles with glee

Its then that you have to be strong and quite firm
For if you stand back she will never quite learn
And learn things she does most every day
She learns how to get things her very own way

She came into your life and captured your heart
And then from that time you won’t stay apart
You may keep your son till he finds a good wife
But your daughter's your daughter for all of her life

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thoughts on our former VP's current discussion points

Update: Article on Yahoo news 5/13.

Wow, Former V.P. Dick Cheney does speak. Well actually I knew he spoke, but I do find it interesting that once he's left office, he's become a regular chatty Kathy. After so many no comments or prepared statements around policies that were being enacted during the Bush/Cheney (B/C) administration I do find it a bit ironic that the former V.P. has decided to go on what appears to be an interview offensive during the initial stages of the Obama/Biden (O/B) administration. (points at the end of this article explain his reasoning for current criticisms of the current administration)

The content of the interviews aren't surprising to me, after all, former V.P. Cheney is defending his administration and his views or at the very least giving some insight into his opinions which no doubt shaped his actions in office. There is nothing ground breaking there, most of it's been what news articles have reported during the B/C administration. However in most cases it wasn't from direct quotes, it was from speeches or off the record comments and in some cases even press conferences with screened questions.

The reason I'm a bit fascinated is based on these points.

1. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, the former V.P seems to be quoted a lot these days,.With many of those quotes directly criticizing the current administration. I thought there was an unwritten rule that at the very least you give a new administration time to see how their policies are going to apply. (The unwritten rule is for past admins to essentially shut up during the new administrations, but I realize that Clinton, Gore , Bush Sr, and Carter have all had moments where they've broken this unwritten rule during later terms of presidencies)

2. For a man who had little interest in becoming the VP (most reports indicated he did it out of duty to the party) and had no interest in running for President (I will not run, will not serve if elected. yada yada) I find it interesting that he's become such a quote machine, especially since it seems in direct contrast to his time in office, when he wouldn't go on record for things such as the Scooter Libby indictment.

3. I wonder sometimes if he's afraid that regardless of his role as possibly the strongest policy making VP in our history, that history will simply fade him away as just another V.P. of an administration. Especially considering that the Bush administration is not likely to be shown very well in historic context. Huge economic downturn, two costly military actions that may or may not resolve to their intentions, 9/11, and other things. This isn't to say that these were Bush's fault, that's an argument for another day, but the B/C admin. will be associated with those events by time association at the very least.

4. I get the impression that former VP Cheney wants credit for things done during the administration but has no interest in taking any blame for failed policies and problems that developed during that time. It's impossible for every decision that was made during that administration to be right, yet I don't believe we ever hear the former VP express his thoughts on failed policies or decisions.

It's almost like the interviews are an attempt to continue proving that he alone was able to save us from another terrorist act with his policy decisions. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that the former V.P understands that protection of the American people is a thankless job. Just as police officers, firefighters, and our military know when they take the position. The fact is when something doesn't happen, it's the way it's supposed to be. And when something does happen you've failed, it's thankless, but recognition isn't really what the position is supposed to be about.

5. Which brings me to my last point , congrats on making it through the last 6 1/2 years of the B/C administration without another episode. That is an accomplishment, but that doesn't remove the fact that 9/11 happened during the B/C administration's watch.

Was the B/C admin. responsible for allowing 9/11 to happen? While I'm sure there are democratic pundits that would tell you yes, my belief is no. Their association is based on the fact that they were on the job at that time. Whether or not they could have stopped it is almost irrelevant. A true leader accepts that something like that happened on their watch and takes it as their own responsibility without pointing fingers. And when the change in power comes they work to advise the new administration and accept that those decisions are out of their hands. If the former VP felt so strongly about policies and protection of America going forward then having been the VP for the past 8 years, he certainly had an opportunity to run for the presidency and make his points heard or enact them himself if elected. Which is why every time I watch or hear former V.P Dick Cheney talk about how the O/B administration is putting American lives at risk, I have to wonder what his motives are for such statements.

My belief is that when people are looking to hurt people they will figure out a way, regardless of what policy we enact or liberties we remove from our citizens to prevent it. As I pointed out, I don't believe the B/C administration or Clinton/Gore would have been able to prevent 9/11. I have no idea what information the B/C admin. was alerted to previous to 9/11. I also don't know whether they continued policies from the Clinton/Gore administration or changed them. Maybe they could have stopped it, but I do find it interesting that they seem so quick to criticize the new administration on policies. Especially considering they operated in an environment without that high level of criticism previous to 9/11.

Which is why, I think it's important that the criticism be viewed with the filter that the B/C administration was on the job when 9/11 happened. Terrorist acts on American soil didn't start with 9/11 they were done previously at the WTC and other plots that were foiled. So I think it's a faulty argument for the former administration to claim success in preventing terrorists acts, as they have the biggest failure on record during their administration. On top of that I believe the former VP is smart enough to know these acts will happen again, maybe not as big or as tragic, but it's just not feasible to believe that they won't happen again, especially considering there are people motivated to cause harm. We will stop some or most of them, but in my opinion it's inevitable that another one happens on American soil someday.

And that's what bugs me about the former V.P's recent comments. They seem to be nothing more then a veiled attempt at diverting future blame or at worst a self serving attempt to mark a place in history. With such an important issue it seems rather stupid to play the political game with it. It's unfortunate that in today's political climate, we seem to focus on fear and self promotion rather then trying to find solutions that work across different ideologies. I thought that was one of the things that made our nation great.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Weekend Update..

Another Monday is here and it's already about half way through the month of May. (Why do some months seem to fly by and other's crawl at a snail's pace?). Not a lot to write about today, just some updates from the weekend.

I had a nice start to the weekend Friday, two large contracts that I had worked on signed at the end of day Friday, both had been out for signature for about a month each (typical out for signature time is a week - week and a half). That meant the anxiety level dropped for the weekend and not as much stress for a Monday morning.

Mother's day weekend was nice, Laurie had planned on having lunch with Bronwyn and her mom on Sunday, so I decided to make Saturday the day for Laurie. Bronwyn and I got her some flowers, a small gift, and card, first thing in the morning on Saturday and we made some crepes for her for breakfast. It was a nice relaxing morning.

We did some yard work for most of the afternoon on Saturday and wound up playing some keep away, well Laurie and Bronwyn played keep away from me for the most part, but it was fun. I did offer Laurie her choice of going anywhere she wanted, but I think she just wanted some relaxing time with both of us which is what she got. After the long road of fertility issues, I know she just enjoys being a mommy and things like Mother's day are just icing on the cake.

I decided to shop at Big Lots yesterday to see if they had anything that was worth purchasing. I lucked out as they had a ton of stuff I was looking for at some good prices as well. Laurie and Bronwyn are going out to North Carolina at the end of the month with her mom, so I grabbed some road trip essentials for them, granola bars, sun tan lotion, and some mason jars.

Yes, you read that right; mason jars. Laurie is planning on filling sand at different spots for Bronwyn over the years and attaching a picture and decorating each jar. It's a way for them to remember their trips and a craft for them to do on some rainy days. Between scrapbooking and that project, Bronwyn should have plenty of mementos from childhood.

I was also able to stock up for a trip Laurie and I have for July. Since we are planning on getting a ton of sun then, I got some more sun tan lotion and a pretty darn cool pair of sunglasses. Buying sunglasses for me is like buying clothes. A never ending search for ones I like. All in all it was a fairly productive shopping trip. I closed out the day making a nice dinner for Bronwyn and Laurie and we just relaxed for the last part of the day.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Thoughts VI

I've been in a weird mood the past couple days. I'm not sure if it's because my routine is a bit out of whack or if I'm just in a bit of a minor rut. I think it's the routine causing a minor rut.

My mother in law has come into town and when she's here, she stays over on some nights. She doesn't have a place here (near us) and loves to spend time with Bronwyn. So she watches Bronwyn during the days when Laurie is substituting. I get a bit weirded out as my house already seems small enough. Add to the mix my mother in law and sometimes her partner and I really feel cramped. Oh well, it's just for a couple days over the next month. My wife and mother in law both think I'm upset at the situation (or them) and while it's not the best situation, I can accept it for what it is. It just puts me a bit on edge. It also doesn't help that my wife and her mother's relationship is strained at times. So when my wife thinks that her mother staying over is upsetting me, she can get a bit upset with her mother and try to lecture her on how she should live her life. I've told Laurie again this week that it's really just me and that she should relax about it. She's better off just letting me be me. It's not an optimal situation but I can deal with it for a period of time. It only frustrates me more when Laurie gets worked up over it. She's got enough issues that she still needs to work through with her mom and in my opinion my anxiety should be the least of her worries in relation to those bigger issue. We will see what happens, but I think that's why I'm in a bit of a funk this week.

I am getting out of the house Saturday night, I've got another poker game on tap. My brother is house sitting for my parents, and the plan is to drink, play poker, and crash at my parent's house for the night. Should be a fun time, just being out of the house sometimes is so damn refreshing.

Of course it's getting to be the end of the school year and Laurie is getting anxious about finding a full time Social Studies position for next year. We are keeping our fingers crossed that one opens up and she gets in somewhere. (Wherever that maybe). At this point outside of California and Alaska I'd think I'd go anywhere, it's going to be rough to leave Ohio, family, and friends, but there are days when I can only think of the excitement that a new area would bring, at least for a brief period of time.

Which brings me to something that's been on my mind this week: Boredom. I cannot stand being bored or having nothing to do. Maybe it's my Aries personality. Everything this week seems boring, I need to find something to put my energy into. That in itself would probably not be the hardest thing to do, if I wasn't so particular. I need something to occupy my thoughts or at least stimulate the mind and I'm just not finding it this week. Sure, there is busy work to do, or I could do one of a hundred different things I do on everyday occasions, but I need something new, exciting, or at the least different. I have no idea why I crave this on a regular basis, but it seems to be a common theme running through my head more and more lately. I don't think my wife gets that part of me. She likes doing new things, I just don't think she craves it like I do. I think it actually drives her a bit crazy. She and I both see it in Bronwyn (I'm telling you it's the fire signs, she's a Sagittarius). Some days I think we exhaust my wife, especially when we are bored.

Ok, enough on that. Here are a quick 5 thoughts for a Friday. (I'm starting to realize I'm forgetting things I've written about, so over the course of time you should expect to see overlaps, the soft drink one from below maybe a repeat :) ).

1. Why can I go to the grocery store and see 10 different types of diet soda, but when I go to a restaurant or bar, they still have only one type of diet soda. Can't they even put a damn diet lemon lime soda on the gun or something. If the regular soda companies can figure out there is enough market share for multiple offerings on their limited shelf space, I have to believe a restaurant somewhere would at least think the same thing. It's not like the fountain machines haven't been updated in years and can still hold only 5 types of soda.

2. Grocery store prices are stupid. Went shopping yesterday for soda and some other 'on sale' items at a place I'll only go to when things I want are on sale. I spent $55 and on my receipt it showed a savings on this trip of $35. So if the stuff I bought wasn't 'on sale' it would have cost me $90? I don't even know where to begin with all the problems with something like this. Especially since this grocery store is the remaining "Big chain" grocery store in the Cleveland area.

3. Bronwyn's musical fascination cracks me up. I regularly sing her a couple songs before she goes to bed and at least once a week, she'll make a request for something other then twinkle twinkle or one of the other songs are. Her requests? "Hot and Cold" by Katy Perry and "So What" by Pink. Not only does she request they be sung, I politely decline, but she's persistent. She pretty much knows all the words to "Hot and Cold" and a good portion of "So What". As a matter of fact, she regularly tells me when we are driving what songs she likes and doesn't. (She definitely prefers Pink's music at this time) Beyond her unusual bedtime song requests she can also can be regularly found playing her flute (with drums at the same time) or her guitar during playtime. And in case I didn't mention this in a previous post, she's a rather big 80's music fan, with preferences for Depeche Mode and Erasure to date.

4. I have a feeling I'm not going to get much work done today. Not by choice or lack of effort, there is just a ton of stuff I'm waiting on that is 'in process' that can't be pushed along.

5. Happy Mother's day to all Mother's out there, you do an amazing job. Special love out to my wife, who's a wonderful mother and to my mom, who I think is still recovering from raising my brother and I.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I've noticed more and more talk lately about the pending fate of newspapers and wanted to share some of my own thoughts on the subject. The news I've seen lately ranges from prognosticators predicting their demise to headlines on saying that there will be no bailout for newspapers.

Growing up newspapers were a big part of my life. My father worked for the Cleveland Press and my mother for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It gave me a healthy dose of balance for future years in that competitive dichotomy. The Cleveland Press closed abruptly leaving my father unemployed in the 80's for a bout 6 months, right at the point unemployment was running out he was hired by Pepsi, which he just recently retired from. My mother retired from the Plain Dealer a couple years ago through a buyout package, she had been there about 30 years. My parents weren't writers or editors or anything, they were either drivers (Dad) or a classified manager/credit collector (mom). So to them while the papers were very important in the end they were just a job.

I bring up my background because I think it provides some perspective on my thoughts of newspapers future. Through the years my parents have chastised me for not subscribing to the paper or in my Dad's case yelled at me when buying a competing soft drink product. Their sense of loyalty is a bit puzzling to me. Was one paper better then the other at the time they were both employed by them? Why demand loyalty to something blindly? My parent's focus in raising me was to teach me to develop my critical thinking, make decisions on my own (for their merits), and to keep a heavy dose of cynicism in my decision making process. Not to mention neither was ever enamored with their jobs, they weren't careers, they were jobs that paid well, but given an opportunity either of my parents would have jumped at the chance to do something else.

Don't be mistaken, I do understand why they stand by their companies, in their view for all the blemishes, these companies provided our small family a wonderful security and prosperous living and they were appreciative of that. I get that and am appreciative of that as well and of all of my parent's hard work during those years at their respective companies; however at the same time it has given them the inability to see the problems as it relates to those companies, especially the newspaper industry.

Enough history though, this post is about the problems I see in the newspaper industry. It would be easy to sit here and tell you it's as simple as the Internet. While it plays a factor, in my opinion it's just a small factor in some of the woes the newspaper industry is in. For my discussion, I'm going to focus on Cleveland's own Plain Dealer.

Here's my quick list of thoughts on the industry as a whole.

1. Physical paper's can't compete with online news.
2. Newspaper online sites suck.
3. Distribution choices for newspapers have created a generational gap.
4. Newspapers have done a poor job in grooming voices for a new generation.
5. Not many industries can survive as a dominant player for so long with so little evolution.

1. Physical papers can't compete with online news.

The web happened. In the last 15 years, we've seen an explosion of new technology which has been focused on providing news and information. This has created an even greater need for real time updates and 'need it now news', which of course have caused great harm to the newspaper industry. After all, how do you stay relevant when breaking headlines are yesterday's news before you even go to the presses? The answer is of course you don't. There's no way for the physical paper to compete with this fact, it's just not going to happen. And instead of working to reinvent themselves, as I'll point out in my fifth point, they've forged ahead with the exact same business model.

2. Newspaper online sites suck.

Ok, so maybe they haven't forged ahead with the exact same business model. After all, they all have websites with their print information available online. It's true, I can pull up and see stories from the print edition of the Plain Dealer. The truth is the website might be one of the worst designed sites ever. This format is used for other major newspapers as well, while I haven't researched all of them, I have seen it with and given the geographical distance between New Orleans and Cleveland, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that other publishers use this format as well.

The site is a mess visually, it's not appealing and in many cases appears tacky. (The car of the day or job of the day on the front page is a particularly nice touch for a news organization). Beyond the visual issues with the site, navigating the site is an effort in futility. It takes 5-6 clicks at least to find a corresponding print article or columnist. In addition it's always a hunt and search operation.

Let's take the sports page as an example. Categories on the left are broken down by team. And then there is junk on the left hand side as well, mobile weather sign-up, sports blogs (not the pd columnists), photo links (including share your own). It's a mess of irrelevance, then the days' headlines are put in the center with a paragraph of an article in type large enough that you get maybe one or two stories in the list. The rest of the page is devoted to contests and ads. In the lower right hand corner of the page, after scrolling down you can find a link to the columnists for the PD, but in order to get to a list of recent articles you have to click through at least two times, otherwise it shows up with the articles and the first paragraph in a list format like the main page.

With all of the ads and junk on the main page and every subsequent page it feels like your sports page is lacking in information. The articles feel like they are an afterthought and they usually are. While I will advocate that the newspaper needs to change some of it's ways. The consistency in your online editions for titles and headlines is inconsistent. Not to mention a bit wordy.

Here's an example: Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James plays the game he loves like the 2009 NBA MVP he is, says the Plain Dealer's Bill Livingston (this is how the article is titled from the columnist link). And on another page the title of the article is this: At his dominating best, James made defeat an impossibility in Game 1 -- Bill Livingston same article, a bit confusing if you were searching for it and while I don't have a copy of the print edition, I do wonder if it's the same title as either of these. Not to mention both titles kind of suck as headlines. Who's editing this content? And where's the consistency and why can't the same principles of creating headlines or titles from the print edition be used online. To the point statements that catch attention and summarize.

Other problems with the site. They've recently begun to try and provide new multimedia and real time updates on the site as well as podcasts, forums, and chatrooms. Here's the thing, you are my newspaper, nothing wrong with acting like it (you don't have to compete with the local news stations, but we'll get to that). Your video tends to suck as it's either user created content or something pulled from another site. Blogs by your columnists and chatrooms are fine, I guess, but your real time updates don't work. Reporting on the Indians game during the game looks stupid in the way your content is displayed (one of the two middle stories on your page). Again most of this goes back to your site design. Take a look at any sports site or news site, that was designed for the Internet age from the ground up and take some notes. I can't even begin to tell you if your content is any good for this new stuff as it's all over the place. Clean it up.

3. Distribution choices for newspapers have created a generational gap.

You stopped having paper carriers 10 years ago. In favor of adult operated driving paper routes. Guess what, it didn't work. You removed a cultural icon and a sense of community people had with the paper. They knew their paperboy/girl. It was a connection, instead you figured you could pay an adult less to do more. What you didn't count on is what I've heard from other people with home delivery. No one's accountable anymore if the paper doesn't show up and it's a hassle to call about it and wonder where it is. So people stopped subscribing. You took one of the things that was sort of unique to your existence and removed it. Don't be surprised now that people just don't have time for the paper. They especially don't have time for the paper when they have to go get it or their delivery causes them to spend time trying to track it down.

4. Newspapers have done a poor job in grooming voices for a new generation.

Where's my 2000 version of Dick Feagler? Where is a columnist that connects with his reading audience? Newspapers have horribly failed in developing any kind of modern connection with Generation X, Y, etc. Newspapers used to be skilled at developing voices for our community and even if we didn't agree with them, we respected them. What I see now is more of the same which I can get on talk radio, they have a columnist spill vitriol from the left and then another from the right. Shock and awe seems to be the focus.

5. Not many industries can survive as a dominant player for so long with so little evolution.

Newspapers have done a horrible job at adapting. Most papers contain the same style of information they did from 20-30 years ago. On top of that, they've lost the strength of that format in not developing new writers for this day and age. When they've moved into new formats, they've been unable to utilize things that are good about their current format (consistency, journalistic skills, editing, headlines) and style and apply them to the new age format. They've also failed at utilizing new techniques in order to get their message across.

And that leaves me with my summary. I think there is a place for newspapers in the new Internet age. I think there are things they do that are better then any other news organization and while they have been painted as the villain by our political process for the last 10 years. I think the print organizations still hold themselves to journalistic standards that TV and Radio left behind long ago . Internet news is still too young to have an understanding of it. The fact is newspapers are losing site of who they are, they don't have to be the latest greatest technological site. They do have to be organized, understand how their content displays to the web, and get back to writing articles and pieces that are relevant. There is still a place for news to be done in writing without video or podcast. Figure out how to display it and develop some new voices and credibility before it's too late.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Not much love for Tuesdays

If everyone loves Fridays and everyone hates Mondays, where does that leave the other weekdays? Wednesday is hump day and Thursday is "must see TV" (is it really?). Which means Tuesday is left with nothing, no definition, no clever marketing, just a boring day that most of us never experience a hangover on. (Think about it, who gets drunk on Monday night?).

I wish I had a cool idea for giving Tuesday some perspective, but I don't. It's just one of those weird things that crossed my mind this morning as I looked over the gobs of work email. The only suggestions I have so far are Tuesday, it's not Monday or Tuesday, who the fuck cares. Inspiring aren't they?

Not much going on today for me outside of work. Made it to the gym again this morning and grabbed a McCafe Mocha for the first time, haven't tried it yet, but interested in seeing how it compares to Starbucks. I've been good lately and have avoided Starbucks for about a month to save some dollars. It's so easy to get in the habit of going even when I work from home that every once in awhile I have to put a stop to it and actually use my perfectly good espresso maker here if I want a fix.

I've got some posts that I'm working to fully think through before trying to write them, pending the amount of time I have this week, I should be able to get to one of them at least.

After yesterday's poor start, I tried to make up for it by making a desert last night. (when all else fails, bake) I went with something new and it actually turned out pretty good, so here's the recipe. I like it, as it has a lot of taste and mix of flavors, without being too work intensive or too heavy. Plus with all the mixing Bronwyn was able to give me a hand. The other good thing is it was stuff already in the cupboard or the freezer. Think of it as a fruit tart.

1 box yellow cake mix.
1 1/4 cup of milk
1/4 stick of butter

1 package instant pudding (banana cream or vanilla)
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup lemonade
3 oranges

Melt the butter and mix with the milk, add in cake mix and stir to combine.
Bake at 350 degrees in a non stick pan. Bake until toothpick comes out clean or whatever amount the box says. Don't worry if it doesn't rise or it falls when it's been pulled out of the oven. It's really just the crust for your desert.

Make the instant pudding.

Soak dried cranberries in lemonade or some other liquid to rehydrate. Give it some time to soak up, a couple hours would be best. Drain once completed. I like lemonade here as it seems to give them a bit of a kick, but use anything you want. Water would be fine too.

Grate some zest off the oranges. Cut the oranges into small wedges, whatever technique you want to use is fine for this or however you want them to look.

You can put the pudding over the crust, after the crust cools and top with the fruit, if you want to be done with it or take it to a party. I took a different route and simply kept all ingredients separate and then put them together when serving. That way the crust doesn't become too mushy after a day or so in the fridge. Besides the crust by itself isn't too bad either.

I totally fell in love with an orange, pineapple, and re-hydrated cranberry salad I made last week, and had to figure out how to get the orange and cranberries into something else, so the result was this. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Maybe I should have stayed in bed

This is turning into one of those days, where I probably just should have stayed in bed. I guess I can't complain much, it's been a long time since I remember having one of these; however I don't think that makes it any better for how I'm feeling so far this morning.

Where to start, well besides being Monday, it was pretty damn cold this morning. I woke up being unable to turn my neck to the right after sleeping wrong last night, always a pleasant start to any day. After a nice weekend in the mid 60's I was hopeful the morning would hold that temperature as well, it appears Mother Nature had other ideas though.

I decided yesterday after Laurie, Bronwyn, and I went for a bike ride, that I'd keep my bike on the car and ride it in the morning. My reasoning was that being outside would be a better start to the week then going to the gym. Great idea or so I thought, I got up, took the dog out and realized it was a bit cold, but I threw on a sweatshirt and layered up and headed down to the valley. I just mentioned last week how I planned on using my thin gloves, which are in in my car if I ride during cold weather, so of course I forgot to put them on. By the time I realized that I really was going to need them, I was too far along to go back.

I then spent the better part of my ride, wishing it was over and taking frequent breaks to try and regain the feeling in my hands and fingers by putting them in the pockets of my fleece pullover. To say it was mind numbing pain would be an understatement. After the ride I sat in my car with the heat on full blast for a good 15 minutes just to regain feeling and wait for the pain to subside.

Not the best start to the day, but I did exercise outside. This let me satisfy the stubborn portion of my mind, that had decided it didn't want to go to the gym this morning. It also didn't help my mood any that every song on the ipod this morning stunk. I began questioning who actually put this playlist together. There were at least 3 or 4 songs that I didn't recognize and 2 or 3 others that really just stunk. In the scheme of things, bad music for the morning workout isn't the worst thing in the world, but it just added to my dismal mood for the morning.

So that's the start to my Monday, I'm finally typing this up 4 hours after my morning ride started (I think it's because my fingers have finally regained feeling). I've decided I'm going to stay away from convenience stores today, as I don't want to slip into a Michael Douglas inspired psychological break. Besides, with the candy bar prices of today, he'd really flip out.

In mentioning the movie "Falling Down" I can't help but wonder if every male past the age of 30, who has ever blogged, has at least considered a "Falling Down" related post during their blogging existence. As bad as that movie was, Michael Douglas' character had a realness to him, that isn't often seen for working class men on screen.

Hope you have a better start to your Monday.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Thoughts V

1. I can't wait for the "Swine Flu" Southpark episode. The level of sheer mass hysteria is approaching comical proportions.

2. Swine Flu = Mad Snail disease. (For those who watch Spongebob, you'll know what I'm talking about)

3. I didn't realize how much I missed 85 degree weather until it got back to 60 degrees this week.

4. Workouts are going well. I have no idea if I have lost pounds, but I am pretty confident I have. Clothes are fitting better and some summer clothes that didn't fit last year, now fit like they did two years ago. Losing weight would be great, but the real plus is that regular workout schedule has done wonders for my disposition.

5. May and June are shaping up to be crazy busy on the weekends. On one hand, I like it as I have things to look forward to on the other hand, I can start feeling smothered.

6. Laurie's first surgery is healing up nicely and she's on schedule to get her hearing device next month. I'm definitely excited for her and I know it's been pretty nerve wracking for her to lose the hearing last September and then have to go through the surgery and recovery during the last couple months.

7. Laurie and I are pretty sure Bronwyn had her first nightmare the other night. When I got in her room in the morning, she was doing her nervous cry/laugh and talking about how scared she was of the robot that was outside her window. She jumped out of bed and gave me a big old bear hug as tight as she could. It was actually kind of cute but it made us realize based on her reaction that we are still learning how to help her understand pretend and real.

8. Eric Wedge, manager of the Indians, needs to be fired. His nonchalant approach is just not working for this team. In addition his inability to accept players that don't fit into his philosophy has made this a team of boring, lackadaisical players that seem to have no sense of urgency or fire to recognize that the season is 6 months long.

9. The Cleveland Browns draft was boring. Not a bad thing, good teams have boring drafts, so we'll see how it goes. I do like the fact that for the first time in 10 years back in the league, this regime seems to be intent on putting depth on our roster. For the last 10 years depth and a Browns roster have been mutually exclusive.

10. Chris Berman from ESPN needs to retire or be let go. His hosting of the NFL draft on Day 1 was abysmal. You would think he never hosted one of these things before as poorly as he lead the discussions. He seemed paralyzed every time a producer talked into his ear. In addition, the production of the event by ESPN was horrible. It wasn't until watching the coverage of the draft that I ever understood why they have Emmy's for production. As I was watching that mess they put on TV, it made me realize it might be the worst produced show I've ever seen. And if there was a razzies for TV, it would win my vote hands down.

My advice for the weekend: Do something outside even if it's a little chilly. Just think about how you won't want to do it in the middle of summer when it's "too hot" or the bugs are out. Have a picnic, or go for a bike ride or fish. For those in Ohio, it's a free fishing weekend, no fishing licenses are required for anywhere in Ohio.