Thursday, December 31, 2009

Twas the night before...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The week that work forgot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tis the season of gift giving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

Back from vacation

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Birthday cake

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

The party went very well.

- michael

Monday, December 7, 2009

One of those "Good to know" moments

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

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

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

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

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

Inner voice: Ummmm

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

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

Me: (puzzled) a little slow this morning?

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

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

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Thoughts 20

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

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

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

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

4. Fruit roll ups are too small.

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

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

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

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

9. One of my favorite Christmas MadTV clips:

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

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

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

Remember when you first heard your recorded voice?

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the list.

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day stuck in reverse

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Back to a regular style post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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