Friday, November 27, 2009

Exhausted



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

50/50


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

- michael

Success at the K


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

- michael

What do they say about Cleveland weather


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




- michael

Update

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



And the line




-michael

Target success

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

Pic of snow if u can see it.




- michael

Behind the building


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




- michael

Crap


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




- michael

First update


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

- michael

I'm off

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


- michael

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm ready

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


- michael

Tonights baking


Can you tell I like to bake.






Pumpkin toffee cheesecake

- michael

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How time flies

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

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

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



Hers, mine's already documented.


- michael

Some non-holiday thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

First pies

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



Monday, November 23, 2009

The first volley in shopping

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

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

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

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

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

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

Testing from new software

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


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

- michael

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back in the saddle and big plans for the week ahead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My free spirited Sagittarius

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Top 10 song list for the week

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

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

Middle of the week clean up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 9, 2009

On being 'great'

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

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

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

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

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

Mom: "Yes"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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