Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I just wanted to take a moment and wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Here in Columbus, we've got a freezer full of frozen junk food we'll be cooking up along with a couple Wii games, we are living large for the night. I'm actually looking forward to a casual evening, it's been a long time since we didn't go out for New Years and although I'll miss spending time with my family and friends from Cleveland, I'm looking forward to just relaxing at home.

Be safe if you are heading out tonight!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Of Cats and Men

I love animals, I really believe I do. I'm a bit perplexed though at my thoughts over the last day or so and thought it would something interesting to write about.

As I may have mentioned before, we live in a townhouse development that has a couple hundred units. Over the course of a couple months we've developed a bit of knowledge of the houses and occupants in our immediate area. Things like who has dogs, what cars people own, and who and how many people live in certain houses. (The last bit of knowledge leads to questions like, "How the hell do fit that many into the house?"). On occasion during the warmer months, we'd see cats roaming around, but figuring out what home they belong to is about impossible.

Last night as we were standing outside smoking (I know, bad habit, I'm working on it). We heard a rather large meow coming from about 2 units down. We looked over and a fairly skinny (scrawny) orange and brown cat made its way over to us. It was about 20 degrees last night and has been that way for a number of nights. It was obvious the cat was cold and while not typically 'cat friendly' he did make his way over to us and start moving through our legs.

My first instinct was to walk away and back in the house. (Horrible, I know).

Of course, my wife was having none of that and was feeling extremely sorry for the cat.

Our conversation went like this:

Her: Oh, poor little kitty, it must be so cold.

Me: I'm sure it's fine, looking away from cat and wife. (Hoping ignorance would work here).

Her: But look how he's walking, he's already cold, I bet he can't find his home.

Me: I'm sure he'll find his home, cats do that all the time.

Her: Poor thing.

Me: (thinking: uh oh!)

I took a walk around the complex to see if anyone was looking for a cat, no luck there. The wife then took another longer walk to see and ask some neighbors that were outside if they knew of anyone looking for a lost cat. I followed her progress peering out the window at her. After her rounds, she came home and brought the cat in. We decided to put the cat in the basement in the dog's crate for the night. She tried calling an animal warden (advertised as 24 hours), but had no luck. I told her the best thing we could do would be to keep it over night and then she'd need to take it to a shelter in the morning. We got it some dry cereal and water, but it wanted neither and just proceeded to meow as it was locked in the cage.

I really didn't want the cat in the house and I wish I fully understood why. I definitely felt bad for the cat once I thought about it and realized that we needed to do something for it, but I had little desire to do so. My best guess as to why I wanted to ignore the problem is that it can just lead to complications. The cat could have been feral and caused a problem, bitten my wife or me, taking the time to find a shelter to take it wouldn't be a piece of cake, and once we took it in, in my opinion we at least had an obligation to get it somewhere. Pile all of those up in addition to life's regular stressors and I was able to successfully remove myself from the emotional side of it.

This isn't a post to try and defend my position, I was wrong for that line of thinking and my wife was right. While it took extra time and the cat maybe in no better situation, as the shelter she found that eventually took it, euthanizes after a period of time. At least the cat has a fighting chance for either it's owner to find it (if they are looking, which I doubt due to no collar) or for someone to adopt it. It's certainly a more humane situation then letting it freeze out in the cold.

After examination the shelter definitely felt like it was a house cat, not a feral cat. So we'll put up a couple signs in the area for it too. In truth there is a part of me that would have liked to keep it, he was very friendly, fairly young, and had a beautiful color to him, but with the additional price of vet bills, additional security deposits to the complex, and monthly rent for him, it just wasn't going to happen. It doesn't help that we already have one pet, who happens to have very buggy eyes, that I just don't want to take the chance of getting scratched up by a feline.

I'm going to have to work on the feeling issue still it seems, my decision making process in this case was devoid of emotion and it's not ultimately who I want to be. Emotionless decision making can be an extreme benefit in certain situations, but I also expect it makes you a little less human.

Good luck to the cat, and if someone in the Columbus area is interested in it, shoot me an email or comment and I'll get you the information on the cat.

Christmas dilemna

I took Bronwyn to see Santa Claus at the mall about three weeks before Christmas, she had already seen him once or twice before, but she was adamant that she wanted to see him again. I conceded, even though I knew it mean an hour long line on a Sunday. After holding her as she napped on my shoulder for a good part of the hour, we finally made it up to the big man. Where she asked for what she wanted for Christmas. (I should note, we already had a fairly lengthy list of things wanted, and thought we were quite familiar with the Santa Claus requests).

It's at this point, that I hear her mention Pixos for the first time, which are another one of the many crafts out today with billions of small pieces and requires regular refills, in some senses the perfect toy for today's capitalistic world. She didn't know I overheard her conversation with Santa, and she was fairly nonchalant in her conversation with me after her meeting with Santa, to the point, where she essentially avoided my questions on the subject.

We made our way to the food court for a quick snack before setting home and came across a fountain. Bronwyn asked for some change to throw in the fountain to make a wish. Of course in today's day and age, it's rare that I have any money on me, much less change. Luckily for her (and me), I picked up our snack with cash and wound up with some change, so I gave her a quarter for her wish.

She took a moment or two, close her eyes, and launched the quarter, it plunked it's way into the fountain. Immediately she asked me whether I wanted to know what her wish was, but that I couldn't tell her mom. She then went on to tell me that she really wanted Pixos for Christmas, but that mom said she couldn't have them as they were too messy and since we had less room in the new place, there were too many chances our dog could get them if they dropped. She also advised me that she was just pleading her case to Santa on the matter.

This means I had a dilemma, I was very familiar with my wife's argument, but at the same time my personal belief that requests within reason at Christmas are essential for providing a bit of magic during childhood. I talked with the wife about my concerns, and she stuck to her position, that it would be better as a gift for next year, since we'd likely be in a bigger place (hopefully). I told her I understood, but that I'd still have to think about it. (Notice I made no such promise to go along with the her line of thinking).

After some contemplation, I decided to get the Pixos, at worst it's a $20 loss and I figured it was worth it for some wish fulfillment regardless of the outcome with my wife. I wrapped it up and in the spirit of "A Christmas Story" strategically placed it partially under the tree skirt and delivered it as a last gift.

A bit to my surprise, the wife caught up in the moment of Christmas morning, shrugged it off and my daughter was bit less enthused then I expected (I blame it on gift overload). This just proves that working yourself up with anxiety over a dilemma such as this is really not worth it.

I'm hopeful that someday the little one will remember that Santa did come through with Pixos though when she really wanted them.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Thoughts 12/17/2010

It's been awhile since I've done one of these. Hopefully that means it won't be boring.


1. I've probably said it before and I'm not the last person that's going to say it, but the fees ticketmaster charges are beyond ridiculous. I purchased some tickets for Disney on Ice last night for the three of us. Tickets were on sale for $6.50/each which was half price. My fees were $6.50 per ticket. Now considering that the majority of Ticketmaster's work is handled by their computer systems, I can't see where they can justify this price. I mean compare the fact that this travelling skating show pays talent, movers, creative teams, promotions, licensing, etc. and still comes in at the same price. Unbelievable and gouging to the extreme in my opinion. No wonder why no one wants to go to any events any more, add in crowds, parking, and expensive concessions, it's just not worth the hassle.

2. I should point out, I really don't care about the total price of the tickets, $13 per person for Disney on Ice isn't bad at all. The thing that irritates me though is that half of the dollars are going to an entity that does nothing, and keeps the revenue from those that are performing. I'm not in favor of paying companies or people that aren't performing much work significantly higher then their effort requires.

3. We had a birthday party for Bronwyn last weekend at Chik-fil-a. It was a chance to meet some of the parents of her friends from school and the kids could play in the indoor playground and have a lunch. It was a nice time and the prices were very good for a small birthday party (under $4/head for the kids). Plus we wound up with a fair amount of space and were well taken care of by the staff. It was also nice to meet some of the parents, partially because my days outside of phone conversation are limited to conversations with my daughter and wife, there are just times when some adult conversation is necessary. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to set up some play dates or dinner dates with the families in the future.

4. Sunday, we were invited to one of Bronwyn's friends birthday party at Bounce City. Bounce City is an indoor facility with those large inflatable play areas. It's actually a lot of fun, and they let the parents play on them if they want, for the price of a child, since it was a party Bronwyn got in as a guest. There parties are a little expensive, but you are allowed to invite 15-25 kids depending on the package. We thought about holding Bronwyn's party there, but considering we didn't know whether anyone would show up, we thought it might be better to do something more low key this year. And if you are wondering, yes, I did get on some of the inflatables and it was pretty crazy. The slide they have has to be three stories tall and one of the fastest drops I've ever experienced.

5. Today's the last day of work and then I'm off all next week on vacation. Usually I take this past week off, but with Laurie having Christmas break and Bronwyn in day care it only made more sense to take this week or next off (next week was already locked up). I don't think I've had the week before Christmas off since I was in school, so it will be a bit different of a vacation for me.

6. During my shopping this year, I've been able to find small gifts for people, that I think they'll like. These are typically people I might not give a gift too, only because we don't typically exchange them or for the fact that finding something they want is an exercise in futility. I won't say what it is though in case they read the blog. I will say it's sort of fun when you can find something relatively inexpensive that should make a nice gift for someone and is a bit personal.

7. So far Columbus seems to avoid a good deal of snow that Cleveland gets. We've only had one mild pass through of snow so far and considering what my family and friends have dealt with over the last two weeks in Cleveland, it's not bad at all.

8. The car battery on my Stratus went this week. (Those 5 degree morning temperatures will have that effect on an old battery.) And lucky me to find out that the battery on Dodge cars are located in the driver side wheel well. WTF??? After a wasted day of trying to figure out where in the wheel well it was, I was finally able to get it done the next day. Needless to say I'm not a car guy, this is about the extent of my automotive expertise.

9. As usual, I've been baking up a storm. I think I've settled in on four staples for every Christmas and have come up with a new one this year, chocolate peppermint cookies. The taste and texture turned out well on them this year, but they didn't look quite like I wanted them too. I'm hoping to come up with about 2 more and then just have 6 I can make every year.

10. Happy Holidays to everyone, be safe, and enjoy yourselves!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Bronwyn!



Forgive me for a self indulgent post, but I'm taking a moment to wish my daughter, Bronwyn (or Boof around here) a happy 5th birthday.

I can honestly say nothing has changed my life like her being here has, there are days I can't even fathom what life was like before she got here.

She's becoming quite the little lady as well as her personality develops, and it's so much fun to assist in providing experiences and watching her grow.

We held a party for her and some of her daycare friends over the weekend that went well, and today, she got a special trip to the Donut shop this morning for a treat and then the three of us went out to dinner. (Her choice Chik-fil-a, mainly because it has an indoor playground, her addiction).

Anyway, it was a great day and I'm glad she had such a good time. To close out, I'll share one of my new favorites from the massive photo collection we have of her.


Happy Birthday beautiful!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Update on latest audition

I got an update from the band yesterday about the audition on Sunday. Drumroll please............

They rejected me.

Yes, it kind of sucks, and I have to admit yesterday when I heard it, I was sort of bummed, but that feeling was gone within a couple hours. I've never been good with rejection and was thinking yesterday how I was going to write up a whole piece on it, but then the feeling subsided and I was sort of in a good mood, especially once I realized I seemed to have learned to deal with rejection in cases like this relatively easily.

Let me explain, I don't mind rejection when it comes to things I can logically rationalize, applying for jobs and things like that, I understand it. Having said that, I have always had an issue with rejection when it comes to things where I put a part of myself out there, to this point that's meant friendships, relationships, and in this case my fledgling music career. I hated the possibility of being rejected based on me being me, it's hung over me for a long time, even as I built up my personality and developed into I am, I've carried that irrational fear. I really became aware of this again after getting the boot from the first band and it took a bit to climb back out from that one, in a lot of ways it felt like recovering from being dumped.

A good portion of my life has been spent avoiding situations where rejection is a possibility, I'd either avoid the situations or so work to control the outcome in my favor, that I'd only put myself in positive situations. So after the first dump by the band it took a while to get back out there, I've had two auditions now, the first one I wrote about but haven't heard anything back and assume it's a rejection, the second one came quick and as I said earlier I was a bit upset. After all I put it all out there and gave it my best shot and for what they said they were looking for I'm pretty sure I was a good fit. When I found out they were going in a different direction, the doubt and self loathing started to seep in. Am I good enough? did I f*ck something up? Say something stupid? all sorts of questions plagued through my mind, with negative answers to those questions bombarding my internal discussion.

Then I thought about it, who gives a f*ck, so they didn't like it. I know I can sing a little bit, it may not be perfect, but I'm as good as some singers in cover bands I've seen out there. If it doesn't work out this time, maybe it will next time or I'll try something else.

I can't tell you how refreshing a feeling this was. The only hangup at the moment is that I'm a bit sad that it's taken so long to overcome this irrational fear, life would have been very different if this was resolved about 20 years ago. Even though it's late, I'm still happy with the accomplishment, I'd rather have it now then never.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The rest of Thanksgiving weekend and a singing update

The other highlight of the weekend is that we took Bronwyn to the youth ballet performance of the Nutcracker at the Midland Theater. (www.midlandtheatre.org) in Newark, Oh. It was about 45 minutes away and is a very nice theater. Being a youth performance the price was right as well for a 4 year old that is challenged by sitting too long (aren't they all?).

The performance was nice, the stage backgrounds were fairly elaborate for a youth production and the performance itself while not professional quality was worth an afternoon. There were definitely points when you felt like you were watching a school production and for the price it wasn't worth it, but there were occasional scenes that were very good that made the whole experience worth it. Based on all of that, I'd highly recommend it to take a child too, a professional production is probably not something a 4 year old could appreciate yet, so I viewed it as a nice introduction at a good price and it kicked off the Christmas season nicely.

The other highlight of the weekend was a singing audition I had Sunday, I came across a band ad, that I responded to and they got back to me on Wednesday. I was a bit excited as I had seen this band advertising for a singer when I first moved down but at the time I didn't have time to try and do anything and by the time I was ready, their ads had been pulled, but I came across a new one last week and got in touch with them.

Their set list and my previous experience matched up nicely and by the time we were setting things up we had about 25 songs we could run through if time permitted. As it happened their other auditions pulled out, so we just jammed for the afternoon. They had a great setup at the bassist's house, full basement with a stage area and a lot of equipment, a great amount of space and area for it. They are a 5 piece group (2 guitars, drums, bass, and singer). We went through about 20-25 songs, a couple that were really rough first attempts for me, that I thought I'd have a chance to review over the weekend, but barely was able to find time to get the lyrics out on them, but they didn't go bad. All in all it was a good afternoon, but the guys weren't very talkative, so I have little idea on their thoughts at the moment, so we'll wait and see what they want to do. It was nice at least to get out and sing for a couple hours, and I'm pretty happy with how well I sang and how I felt the day after, especially considering I hadn't gone through a set like that in a long time. I'll have some more thoughts if we move forward on it, but I'm cautiously optimistic.

That's it for now, hopefully with these updates I can keep the blog active and find enough interesting things to write about.

Black Friday 2011

The next big part of Thankgiving break is my obsession with Black Friday. If you aren't familiar with my exploits, I did some live blogging last year, you can find the first post here http://lifeandtimesincleveland.blogspot.com/2009/11/i-ready.html and then go forward from there.(Friday morning's line at Walmart checkout, the positive they were passing out bottles of 5 hour energy as samples)

This year I decided against live blogging as I hadn't updated in so long, but for those that follow twitter there were a number of tweets I had on the night.

The sales this year were very good, better then last year in my opinion. On top of it, companies seem to be doing a better job of stocking inventory. I still think it's best to stay away from most high end 'doorbusters' as the number of units per store is usually very small, but stores are getting better at at least having a fair amount of product on hand and a number of deals available where you don't have to completely get shut out at a store.

My plan was to get a couple hours of rest Thursday night, get up around 2 or 3 and then head out. I changed my mind about 10pm, as I realized Walmart was starting at midnight, anticipating about 2 hours there, I knew I could then hit Kohls at 3, Target at 4, and then a couple other stores at their 5am openings, depending on the haul from the first three. I had a fairly large list, but there was nothing on my list I 'had to have'. I believe this is a great way to approach Black Friday, if you go out having to have something, it's so easy to get disappointed if you miss it. Most of the things on my list were probably genuinely 30-50% off at least with a couple things that were much better deals as well.

I had done a large amount of shopping in the week leading up to Black Friday, Target had some outstanding deals during the week and I had also been able to pick up two large gifts at Best Buy that were at Black Friday prices earlier in the week. Price wise these were big items that in my opinion would have been difficult to get on Friday without waiting in line at a store hours before it opened, which just doesn't interest me. I also hit two stores on Thursday morning that had Thanksgiving deals. I was at the stores by 6am and home by 8am, typically hours that I would just be relaxing anyway, so it wasn't a big deal to hit them quickly. I do have a bit of a problem with these stores being open so early on Thanksgiving and what it means for the employees and I debated on whether to shop there or not. In the end I did decide to go, as the items I picked up were essentially loss leaders and did no good to the store in the long run, so I viewed it as my way of protesting the stores working their employees on that day. Take it for what it's worth though.

With all of the shopping during the week, it definitely meant I didn't have a ton of wants or needs for Friday, but I had a couple of nice items I was targeting. My planned worked out nicely, I did wind up spending about 2 hours in Walmart (with about 80 minutes spent in line), and then I hit Kohls, Target, Big Lots, Staples, and Home Depot before heading home. I wound up with a trunk load full of stuff for about $200 and probably averaged $30-$40 profit per hour for the effort. I missed a couple things that sold out, but for the most part did get most of what I wanted.

I tend to find that many of the things I wind up buying on Black Friday are things we use around the house, so while technically I am shopping for Christmas, I'm guessing 50% of my spend is for things like towels, throws for the living room, network components, and other things, it's a nice refresh once a year for things that typically aren't discounted to that level during the year, and they tend to not sell out so for a little effort it's worth it in my opinion.

The last point I want to make on Black Friday is my personal opinion of who does the best job as a company in handling it.

1. Target: Far and away the leader in how to do things. Here are the high points in what they do right.

  • Great sale week prior to Black Friday with many prices that beat Black Friday prices and for many items that no one had available on BF.
  • A fantastic job on laying out the store, they place their sales items in well traveled spots without creating a lot of traffic jams. They also do a very good job of displaying items with the proper price and visibility.
  • The sheer number of items available is the typically the best of any store. Many stores have 'lots' of things on sale, in my opinion though Target has lots of 'things' you want or can use. What this means is even if you are shut out on a deal, you probably will wind up going home with a couple things that you had on your list.
  • Line management and employees. Target has things organized and down to a science with this, I've never left their store feeling like they were overwhelmed. It's easy to feel that way at other stores.
2. Big Lots: I'm not a huge fan of Big Lots, but there are times when they have items that are quality and on sale, and since they aren't a big retailer, crowds aren't usually bad for this store. This year, I had some toys to pick up for the daughter that they had at very good prices. Management at the store was outside 30 minutes prior to opening, passing out tickets for some of their high end items, they were also very helpful in advising where other items were on the floor and were asking people to refrain from rushing the store as it opened. ( I don't think the crowd was ready too, but the manager handled a potential situation early and did a nice job in doing so). They also opened the doors 5 minutes early and considering it was 6 am and many had been out for a while and it was friggin' cold it was a nice gesture. There were only about 20 people in line, so it wasn't like they were about to get swamped in the store. The only negative I have is noticing some cashiers were allowing people to 'gorge' on items that had limits listed in the ad. I would have no problem with someone buying, leaving and coming back or splitting them up with someone else, but if the ad says limit 4 it should be held too. Now they didn't have a big enough crowd to sell out in the first hour, but it's the principle of it. With stores doing a better job of getting stock in for the sales, I believe there is a consumer responsibility to allow others to have the opportunity at those deals too.

3. Staples: They only had a few things I wanted and I was luckily enough to get here about 10 minutes after they opened (thanks to Big Lots for letting us in 5 minutes early, this is the type of thing that matters on BF), which meant no standing in line outside, but early enough to not miss anything. They were passing out tickets to all items on Page 1 and then you took the ticket to the back of the store where they gave you the merchandise, this was a great system as it kept the front of the store open and was very organized. They also had a community line they were directing people from to the registers, so there was no chance of getting in the 'bad' line or trying to queue up in a mess. Both of these actions were greatly appreciated. Staples also seemed to have a very solid supply of their advertised items, after seeing some stores that have 1 or 2 of something in an ad, this is a huge positive. The one issue I had with Staples was that they were passing out tickets at the front door, which meant it appeared to be a line to go in and you couldn't tell what they were doing until you got to the desk. I'm guessing they announced this prior to opening, but a free standing sign or something along those lines would have done wonders for this. It wasn't a big irritant as this location wasn't as busy as others I had heard about, but it is a small thing they could have improved upon.

4. Walmart: Ahh Walmart, the big dog on the block. As usual they have very solid deals and a large selection of inventory. No issues there. This year they opened at 10pm with deals starting at midnight and then another set of deals starting at 5am. This I presume is to try and eliminate the stampede issues they've had before. This did make for a huge cluster though in the store. People arriving at 10pm attacked pallets of product that weren't supposed to be opened (per store staff) until 12pm, which meant there was a ton of boxes, shrink wrap, and pallets that were not cleaned up by staff and added to the mess that the store appeared to be in. Considering Walmart had employees down almost every aisle to direct traffic and ensure no rowdy customers, I definitely think it wouldn't have hurt to put some on cleanup duty, as the clutter made a crowded store even worse. Add in the fact that there was a fair contingent that camped out in electronics and through the store, having grabbed the 5am items at 10pm and just camping for the 7 hours and it had the feeling of a homeless shelter at times. I did like that Walmart seemed to have a large amount of product and I liked that they had it out on the pallets, their signing on most of it was pretty bad though and there were a number of things that made no sense in where they were placed. Plus the pallet layout meant a mess if people were looking for a certain type. (Children's PJs come to mind). Their line management was atrocious as well, I referenced earlier that I spent about 80 minutes in line and was only able to get out as I moved lines finally as the line I was in leading up to 4 self checkouts, was the cause of the issue, as it appears that people are unable to use the self checkouts correctly. I will give Walmart props for passing out free bottles of 5 hour energy as a sample, it's the type of Black Friday weird thing that makes the day kind of fun. (Photo: Walmart electronics section at midnight)



5. Kohls: I like Kohls as a store, they tend to have some interesting things and their ads are always jam packed(although most of their 'bargains' aren't really as their original price is high). They tend to have some unique things at times and they also can get some standard items in especially at Christmas. I was able to get the three things I wanted at Kohls with no issue, and they had sent me a 15% email coupon prior to the sale, which I was able to use with no Kohl's card or any other provision which was nice as well. The issues I have with Kohls though, really make me think about whether I want to go back next year on Black Friday.
  • They have way too much merchandise on the floor. It's ridiculous the tiny amount of space that is available in aisles, in the rack section or anywhere else. Way too much stuff for the size of their floor. This is fine for non-BF days, but add in a large crowd and it's absurd. The sad part is I'm not even talking about the displays of Ad merchandise, this is just typical stock merchandise that is the problem
  • I was asked no less then 6 times while standing in line outside in the cold on whether I wanted to sign up for their Kohl's charge card. No means no!
  • One of the perks for applying for the card was jumping ahead in line, at first they advised these people would be going to a customer service desk for checkout, turns out that wasn't the case, they had a specific line for credit card applicants, although if you were in the back of the store, it appeared they were inserting them in front of the main line people as well. I can understand making a perk for applicants, but you need to do it somewhat fairly in this case, if the applicants were jumping the whole line, it's unacceptable in my opinion. It didn't help that I was asked another 10 times in the checkout line to apply for their card and asked again as I got to checkout. While I know the checkout clerk 'has to' I sort of rolled my eyes at this, as if I was going to apply, I probably would have done so when I could have skipped the line.
  • No carts at Kohls (well at least not many) if you are going to buy more then 2-3 things, forget it, combined with no room to move (because of the aisles). Navigating around Kohls as a solo shopper during BF is a major headache.
  • Kohl's had a bagger and a cashier at each spot (a very good thing). However the person in front of me had their bag go off at the security settings (tag on jeans) and my bag did as well, tag on dress for the wife. This is unacceptable, since the baggers only job is to bag and remove security tags. If it was just one I could understand, back to back is a problem.
6. Home Depot: Not much to write on Home Depot, the employees were helpful and I know Home Depot wishes they can drive some BF traffic, but it's just not going to happen. The good news is I got a great flashlight set for around the house and a Poinsettia for a dollar. It was also the only store where the clerk said "Merry Christmas" which while I know is a bit against political correctness, sort of made sense for Black Friday shopping and it was a nice touch at the last stop of the morning.

I wanted to hit Macys and Gap (Gap was offering 50% off all merchandise in store on BF). However by the time I finished at Staples and had basically spent the amount I budgeted for the day, I didn't have the energy to continue (especially considering the 10pm start with no sleep). Macy's sale was a bit lackluster although there was a pretty nice watch at a discount that I thought about buying for myself, but I decided to wait on that.

My final thoughts on BF.

  1. Stay away from Best Buy, unless there is something you have to have, you are going to spend the bulk of your morning there and considering their doorbusters have a limited amount you are likely to get shut out anyway. Bite the bullet and find a deal there on another day or somewhere else.
  2. To all the people with 2-3 carts and literally grabbing stacks off the shelves in order to just reduce at the register. I understand the importance of a 'good' deal, but there is such a thing as gluttony, really did you need that 4th shop vac. or are you just buying it because it's a 'good' deal.
  3. Is it really necessary to bring children/infants and the whole family out especially at midnight. While I understand that it might be beneficial to shop with someone or a couple people, its not the type of day to just 'hang' out for shopping especially for kids, find a baby sitter, or send one spouse out.
  4. Since the stores have gotten better with inventory, I think the onus is on the shoppers now. Do you really need those 25 blankets at 1.99 (I'm talking to the hillbilly and another woman at Kmart Thursday morning who almost came to blows as one looked in the other's cart thinking it was a store display). If there are limits on the item, pay attention to them, and remember if you leave them for someone else to get, you probably benefit if they do the same for another item. I don't mind if you buy the 4 you are limited to, take them out to the car and come back in for another 4 if you choose to do so, at least it gives someone else a chance to purchase them in the meantime.
  5. Stores, you have to do a better job at managing the crush of people, registers should be open with baggers at them for the big stores and you have to think about dynamics of lines and aisle space for shoppers. It wouldn't hurt to put people on cleanup duty too so your store doesn't look like a war zone.
  6. The last point is to remember it's not the end of the world if you don't get something, have fun with it, try and save some money and remember it's just stuff, if you don't get something you'll live and at worst if you really need it someone else probably has it on sale for a couple bucks more.

Thanksgiving Break updates and some food porn

Well if you took a look at the blog, it would be safe to assume I've been rather busy. Or at least busy enough to neglect the blog for a while. It's a typical situation for me, go out of town for a couple days and the whole 'routine' of life takes about 2 weeks to get back on track. Add in Thanksgiving and Black Friday and you have a real mess.

Anyway, I'm taking this opportunity to try and get back on track to some regular posts. While they may not be interesting, I'm hoping they spur some interesting posts down the line. There's no better way to inspire oneself then to write something, so apologies if this is a bit bland for the near future.

A quick recap of interesting life things over the past week or so, Thanksgiving was very nice, we decided to stay down here in Columbus this year rather then make the drive back and forth up to Cleveland and only get to spend a couple hours with family. While I missed being around family, I think it was a good choice as it let us enjoy the long weekend, and since the move, it's been awhile since we had a number of consecutive days together. I made most of the dinner and it turned out pretty well, although I did make a mistake in purchasing oven bags that were too small for the turkey. Of course it didn't help that I didn't realize the oven bags take off 2-3 hours of cooking time easily with my roaster, which meant that the Turkey was done a bit later then I had anticipated. Thankfully I did brine the turkey the day before, which saved some of the moisture, otherwise it would have tasted like sawdust with such a long cooking time. Even with the brine, I was a bit disappointed in how it turned out from other years, I'd call it average at best, where in years past it's been close to my view of perfect.

I also did my normal assortment of baking, pecan pies and pumpkin cheesecake. The pecan pies were average, but the pumpkin cheesecake was easily the best rendition of it I've ever made. Perfect consistency, right amount of crust and perfect cooking time, I was extremely happy with how it turned out.
Needless to say, I'll need some time on the treadmill over the next couple weeks. I'm going to break up this post to a couple others, so this is where I'm going to finish up for now. Next up is Black Friday.

Monday, November 8, 2010

That perfect feeling

I'm a big believer that the enjoyment of life is made up collectively from experiences. Both the ones given and experienced by a person. I'm highly sensitive of this when it comes to my daughter, I think that comes from the excellent job my parent's did in guiding me through a safe, fun, exciting childhood.

The weekend before I leave for a couple days, always makes me a bit sad and that's where I was at heading into Friday evening. I knew the wife had some things to do at home on Sunday, so I thought it would be a good day to take Bronwyn out and spend some time with her before my trip. I decided to take her to Dave and Busters, as I had some credits in my card. She had never been to one and was excited when she saw all the games. We had a great time, regardless of how she remembers it, I'll always have this in my memory.




The spoils of the day, sometimes it's good to be the Dad.

Update from Friday audition

Not a lot of time today, but I thought I'd check in and write an update from Friday's audition. After driving out to the middle of nowhere, about a 1/2 south of Columbus with nothing but farm land around, I finally found the 'city' and then the house for the practice.

I met the guys and we headed to the basement to give it a shot. They had a nice setup, pro equipment and a nice layout. Unfortunately their drummer wasn't able to make it out, but we managed without him, although that's not really an easy task. We played for about an hour, the first three that we set up the audition with went really well. After that it was a bit of a struggle as I had put together a couple sheets of lyrics based on stuff they advised they could play. Not knowing their arrangements, along with no drummer, and some unfamiliarity with certain parts of the songs made it a bit of a challenge, but I thought it went pretty well.

Overall, it was a lot of fun getting back behind the microphone. If nothing else it was well worth it just to shake off some of the cobwebs.

Now, let's talk about my thoughts, the guys are nice, and talented, but I think even if they call back and want me to come back out for another audition or with the offer of the spot, I think I'm going to turn it down. It's hard to put my finger on why, but I think it breaks down to the stuff they play, it's just not heavy enough for me, plus it tends to skew more towards 60's and 70's music, which I don't mind mixing in, but I don't really want as the majority of the set. I'm sure it's a bit premature as I haven't been offered anything yet, but those are my thoughts after a weekend of thinking about it. So I'll be back to looking for a new group, the good news though is the confidence continues to develop for it. I feel like a singer as I get ready for the audition and I know it's coming across in presence too, which is pretty good considering where I started out at.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Friday audition

Well, it's confirmed I have an audition on Friday, with Rewind. There are 3 tunes we'll be doing and then taking a look to see if there are any more that we know.

3 tunes currently on tap:

1. Smooth (Santana/Rob Thomas)
2. Summer of 69 (Bryan Adams)
3. Twist and Shout (Beatles)

The nice thing is I can do those three in my sleep. I'll be spending the evening listening to some of the other songs they sent over and printing up some lyrics.

If nothing else it should make for some interesting writing.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Weekend recap!

I so wanted to come up with something clever for the title of this post, but alas I have nothing. Besides since it's so difficult to sit down and knock out posts lately, I didn't want to break my mojo spending time thinking about it anyway.

This whole post is just a random collection of thoughts on the weekend and what's going on in life right now, it's probably going to be a disjointed, but regular readers will be used to that.

Anyway, I packed up the car on Friday afternoon, grabbed the kid from day care and headed up to Cleveland. I was feeling great, thinking I beat the Columbus rush hour (which at times makes Cleveland's seem tame). That is until I hit the outskirts of Columbus near Polaris, where there was a massive 5-6 car wreck, that put traffic at a stand still for an hour and a half. This is the third time in the past two months, that an accident has blocked up a three lane highway, that I've been on for an hour or more. It's insane, especially if you consider most of my drives consist of the 1/2 mile or so it takes to get to the store or my daughter's day care. I'm not impressed with Columbus drivers to this point. Blah.

The traffic jam meant my 2.5 hour trip turned into a 4 hour trip and I was pretty tired at that point, but being in town and on the same day that my former band was playing www.torrn.net I decided to tough it out and head over for the show. They were doing a Friday Halloween show at Slam Jams in North Olmstead. I've been meaning to get out and see them for a while, trying to put the whole 'kicked out' thing behind me. I'm glad I did get to go, they sounded great, and I got a chance to say hi to everyone and talk during their break in sets. As disappointing as the change was, I still had a great time practicing and playing over the 4-6 months we played together, and I'm very thankful for that opportunity and the friendships I made. Plus I learned a ton of 'band' social norms, which is helping immensely as I'm looking right now for a new gig. (more on that later). So if you are in the Cleveland area and are looking for a great night out, check their schedule out at the website.

Saturday, meant finishing up the laundry list at the house, and it went much quicker then expected, cleaning garage, appliances, yard work, and another stab at the garage door (getting it primed for painting). All of that went well and I'm happy to report that the house passed with no further issues on the inspection on Monday. There's still one small thing left to do, but they passed me anyway, so that load of anxiety is off my back. We also dropped the price again in talking to the Realtor. Considering we haven't had one call or look, it's justifiable to the bank from what I'm told and considering the difference it probably doesn't matter much at this point anyway. I do wish I had some pictures from when we bought it 7 years ago to see the differences in it now, considering I'm not the handiest person around, every time I was finishing a project, I'd think of all the things that were done to the house while we lived there, a pretty significant list.

Saturday night was my brother's Halloween party and I convinced my friend Will to come out from Niles for the night, as we decided to hit the party and then go to The Boneyard in Mayfield for their Halloween party. It was a lot of fun seeing my brother and sister in law and my friends before we headed over to the Boneyard. I'm hoping to post a couple pics of my costume and maybe some of the others, but we'll have to see if I can get things ever connected to the laptop to do it. The Boneyard was packed and it was a trip seeing all the costumes and hanging out with Will, my other good friend Aaron showed up after work as well and we finished out the night.

Sunday was spent sanding down the garage door and repainting it (for about the 5th time in the past two months) and then over to my parents to take my daughter out for her third trick or treating night of the week. I spent a couple hours over there visiting and I was so thankful to have some home cooked food at that point. One of the problems of spending time in an abandoned house means there's no pans, plates, or microwave, so you wind up cooking nothing and reheating nothing, which means a lot of restaurant style food or you just skip it. Boof had a great time trick or treating with her cousin Erica, although the week seemed to finally catch up to Bronwyn, as she was definitely showing signs of fatigue. Considering she had three trick or treats, a school costume party, two drives up to Cleveland in two weeks, Erica's birthday party, and a visit to the Columbus zoo over the last week, I can't say I was surprised, but I will say I'm impressed, she definitely has my motor. Of course after a good night's rest Sunday, she was raring to go on Monday, right about the time I was exhausted.

Sunday night, my friend Aaron came out to Cleveland and we went and watched the football game and bs'd for the night. We called it an early night at about midnight, but it was a lot of fun. One of the other negatives about staying at the old house, being there makes me want to be out of it when I'm not working on it, so nights are usually spent going out for drinks or hanging out (inevitably drinking). Which I don't mind, but along with sleeping on an air mattress at the house, it wears me down after a bit.

Then Monday was a quick run to the dealer for the car checkup, the house inspection, and then the drive back to Columbus.

It's weird to think it might be Christmas time until I'm back in the area and that it's likely I won't see a number of people until my brother's birthday weekend in January. I guess that's pretty standard for this time of year anyway, just seems weird when thinking about it. It was a lot of fun seeing everyone over the course of the weekend, and I still miss Cleveland dearly, although I find myself thinking of Columbus as home, more and more in reference.

I mentioned earlier that it looks like I have an audition coming up if the band and I can find a good day for it. They appear to be a bit lighter on material then Torrn, meaning a bit more pop, but it looks like they are fairly established and have liked the demos I sent them, so we'll see how it goes. It looks like they are typically a 5 piece group, keyboards, drums, lead guitar, bass, and singer. I'm sure I'll have a variety of thoughts on this as things progress. I'm going to miss some of the rock if I do get the gig, but it will be interesting to try some of the more poppy stuff, if that's truly the case.

That's enough for now, a full weekend of rest coming up which seems like the first one in months, and then a work trip scheduled for late next week, which will give me another break from Columbus for awhile. There probably won't be a lot of interesting stuff coming up for posts, so perhaps I'll get back to some 'thought' style write ups. Until then, take care.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Still kicking

Sorry, for the lack of updates lately, October tends to be by far my busiest scheduled month ever. The last couple weekends have been jam packed, as we got to visit one of Columbus' most notorious Haunted Houses, visited Ohio Village for their Hallow's Eve festival, ran back up to Cleveland for my niece's birthday, and visited Columbus Zoo's Boo Bash. That's just been the last couple weeks, add in multiple trick-or-treat days (3 by last count) for the daughter and going back up to Cleveland this weekend for a Halloween party at my brothers and a ton of work around the house (hopefully to complete everything I have to do there).

Anyway, that's just a long way of saying, I haven't had much time to write anything. The beginning of November probably won't be much better. At some point I'm hoping to write up a review on some of the things we did in October, but we'll see how that goes (I know I'm breaking my rule on not promising future posts).

Until next time, hopefully your Halloween costume turns out perfectly, you get to indulge in a ton of candy or adult spirits and you have a safe Holiday.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Friday Thoughts 10/15/2010

I was hoping this week would have been a good one, but I seem to have hit a rut as we got closer to the end. The good news though is the week has went by fairly quickly and I'm looking forward to the weekend as we do some Fall/Halloween activities here in the Columbus area.

1. While I don't approve of the alleged behavior of the NY Jet football players in relation to the Ines Sainz incident. I do want to point out a picture in the link of the story I've attached below. While there is no doubting she's an attractive woman and I completely understand as she puts it "She likes to look good". I do think that it's entirely possible that she doesn't quite understand the word 'professional'. There aren't a lot of 'professional' jobs that I know of where a female would find it appropriate to walk around with their blouse unbuttoned to the point it is in this photo. Again, this isn't to say what the Jet players did was excusable, but I do find it sort of amusing that this woman considers herself a 'professional' sports journalist. Given her hard hitting journalism such as measuring biceps on Super Bowl media day and such, you to ask the question on what exactly is she supposed to be doing in that locker room.

http://www.cleveland.com/ohio-sports-blog/index.ssf/2010/10/ines_sainz_reporter_in_jets_co.html

2. A quick trip to one of the many Thrift stores in Columbus last week allowed me to find what I needed for my Halloween costume and I lucked out in that I found it at the first store I visited. I'm going a bit dapper for my costume, either as a devil or a vampire. I'm leaning toward a Devil, as Vampires have been so overplayed, and I've dressed up like one before.

3. I don't know how they manage to do it, but the South Park writers never stop amazing me, how they can keep their edge so many years in is absolutely amazing. If you haven't seen this week's episode, check it out. The 'Jersey' episode bordered the line of hilarious and offensive in only the way South Park can.

4. While driving today, I noticed bumper stickers plastered all over a van that caught my eye. I can only remember one exactly, which was "Satan was the first liberal". I'm guessing I will not be hanging out with the driver of this vehicle anytime soon.

5. The fascinating thing to me about strongly religious people, (assumption based on all of the bumper stickers, although most were conservative/republican based). Is that to my knowledge, most major religions preach about compassion and understanding for others. I'm guessing the lessons did not take for the car owner.

6. I'm trying to figure out how to handle my daughter's religious education she's receiving at day care. It's a Christian child care. I don't necessarily have a problem with what they are teaching her, but it is interesting to see what she's picking up, and at some point, I'll likely have a conversation with her in regards to it. I want to try and ensure she has an understanding that Christianity and it's beliefs are not necessarily the only ones out there, this will likely be an ongoing theme.

7. It seems I've been able to work some religion into the blog, after struggling with large posts for sometime that I eventually scrapped, it's interesting that it sort of works itself in there on its own. As to some of my thoughts, I could fill a book on it, I'm sure, which is why you haven't really gotten any posts about it from me. Every time I start writing something it strays off into so many directions that I'm sure it's unreadable. Anyway, I'll give up this much, I suppose if you must label me, you could call me a "Christian". My family is not what I would call 'religious' at least growing up. I've never attended church regularly, except for the time period when I became Catholic, due to my wife's request for marriage and I had to go through that whole process. I can say with some conviction though that even though I 'converted' to Catholicism, I most certainly am not Catholic, at least at this point, I still wonder what the hell I was doing in going through that, but then again we all do things at times for our significant other. Right now though, I'm not entirely sure I believe in anything, maybe it's due to things happening in life, maybe it's the inevitable position I was bound to take based on my father's views. I could probably give a better synopsis if we broke it down into spirituality and organized religion. Organized religion doesn't work for me, although I can appreciate what it does for some people. Spirituality, I'm still working on.

8. I watched Rocky IV again last night. It's the one where he fights the Russian, Ivan Drago, it's always been one of my favorites, (actually all four of the first Rocky movies are favorites). Anyway, I'm going to treat life's problems as my Ivan Drago from now on. Big imposing issues, that essentially you just have to overcome and ultimately beat down. If I was clever, I'd figure out a way to make that statement witty and put it on a bumper sticker.

9. My parents are really awesome. I can't list all of the great things they do. While those on the outside who viewed us as we were growing up probably wouldn't ever think that we were 'family orientated'. I'm constantly amazed in watching families who pay lip service to that commitment but fail to deliver on the actions. Anyway, I asked my father to try and work with a contractor to get something done with my water heater at my house, since I wouldn't be in the area and it was required by the city in order to pass the Point of Sale inspection. Estimates were in the 250+ range. Anyway, I heard a rumor today from my brother that my father has decided against a contractor and is completing it himself. I'll be a bit premature (since it's not done yet) and express my gratitude here first. (He doesn't know, I know). Thanks Dad, actually thanks to both you and Mom, for all of the things you guys have ever done for me and my family. A person could not have asked for better parents.

10. I'm really excited for tonight's stay at home night, I picked up a copy of "How to train your dragon" (which is one of the best animated movies I've seen), am either going to make pizza or pick some up and then I'm going to make some Cafe Du Monde beignets for dessert. It's shaping up to be one of those great nights at home.

Have a great weekend, and as always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Life is a game of inches

About two months ago, I wrote about how fortune seemed to line up for me over the past few weeks, and how small things seemed to be moving in positive directions when I needed them too.

I think I jinxed my own karma. It probably started happening about a week or so after that post, but since that time the last two months have been dismal, with one bad break after another. Sure they were likely to happen anyway, but when you start going bad, they do seem to pile up.

Here's what we've had, just off of the head.

1. After thinking my home inspection by the city went fine, upon receiving their formal write-up I realize I'm left with no choice but to hire a painter to paint the house and have a plumber come in and do some work on the water heater. Cha-ching

2. Our new car suddenly has warning lights come up regularly on one of the tires. After filling it thinking it was just low, two days later it's back and I schedule an appointment. Of course there is an issue with the tire, a nail in the inside sidewall, meaning the tire is not fixable, and there is no roadside warranty on the new car, just manufacturing warranty. It doesn't help that the price for the new tire, is about what I usually spent for four on my old car.

3. Chipped tooth on a tic tac. Visit to the dentist reveals a crown is needed. Another nice bill.

4. I haven't mentioned the wife's purse and bag being stolen yet have I, of course this happened so long ago now, I don't remember it as much.

5. Continued fighting with insurance and the hospital that can't seem to submit appointments right from a year ago, when my wife had a series of bills come up.

6. Regular oil change and rotation on my old car, which we hardly ever drive, turns up that the back brakes and rotors are bad, wonderful.

That's all I can think of off the top of the head at the moment, and it's not like they don't happen to anyone else, but I'll be honest, combined with the move to a new city, and stress of getting situated and trying to get the old house ready, I swear I'm ready to kick the dog. (Figuratively speaking of course.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Follow up to baseball predictions for 2010

So, the regular baseball season is over, let's see how I did.

http://lifeandtimesincleveland.blogspot.com/2010/04/baseball-predictions-for-2010.html

Well, in the American League, I did predict 3 out of the 4 playoff teams. I mixed up the AL East and Wild card winners as the Yankees and Rays flip flopped and I missed on the West Division winner. Nice season by Texas and I gave them no chance in my preview. I did call Seattle's issues though, so I don't feel too bad about my predictions here.

In the National League, I picked the East and Wild card winners. I missed on the Central and I've been kicking myself all summer, as I really liked the Reds, but couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger on the prediction. I'm also kicking myself as I didn't identify them as my surprise team and the thought did cross my mind, but it's easy to say after the season isn't it. Great showing by the Reds and this team is definitely one that can maintain this level of play especially if their pitching comes around. My west pick of the Rockies wasn't bad, the Giants and Padres both had great years and until the last 2 weeks of the season the Rockies were in the discussion. The Dodgers were a nightmare, here's hoping that the McCourt fiasco forces them to sell the team to an owner that can run the organization with the respect it deserves. (2nd to the Yankees for all time organization, in my opinion.)

Now to the awards, I realize that they haven't been announced yet, but for my purposes (fuzzy math), let's see how we did.

AL MVP: Evan Longoria, probably won't be in the top 5 for voting, had a nice year, but did not break out, like expected. This one seems pretty far off from a prediction standpoint to some of the others I did.

AL Cy Young: Fernandez is in the discussions, Verlander, while having a good year is not. Fernandez's big question though is whether they can vote for him since he doesn't have the wins of two other contenders (Price and Sabathia). It would be easy to argue though that Fernandez was the best AL pitcher this year, and hence should win the award even if he doesn't.

AL Rookie of the Year: My pick of Brantley stunk, he just didn't have much of a season, my mention of Wade Davis looks pretty solid and considering the AL class was not as good as the NL, I don't feel bad about my predictions. My guess is the win is probably going to Texas' closer (although I'm not positive he still qualifies as a rookie). If Carlos Santana did not get hurt, he would have been in the discussion and that's good news for the Indians.

AL Comeback Player of the Year: Fausto Carmona, I feel pretty good with this pick, nice rebound year for the Indian's pitcher. Someone else could win the award, but he's in the Top 3 discussion.

AL Manager of the year: Ron Gardenhire, given that I'm seeing a lot of articles talking about Gardenhire doesn't get the credit for what he does, I'm feeling pretty good about this prediction. Nice year for the Twins and their manager.

NL MVP: Prince Fielder isn't even in the discussions and shouldn't be. I took a shot on someone other then Albert Pujols and picked wrong. In my opinion, Joey Votto (Reds) or Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies) should be the winner, but we'll see what happens.

NL Cy Young: Adam Wainright, nice year by Wainright, but I think he get's overshadowed by Ubaldo Jiminez who if he had finished like he started would have been a slam dunk or by Roy Halladay, who lived up to the hype and delivered a great season for a Division winner. My guess is this vote goes to Halladay.

NL Rookie of the Year: A lot of good candidates here. I picked Heyward at the beginning of the season and he had some ups and downs. While I'm not sure whether he'll win the voting, a case could be made that he should be. The NL had a great class, so even handicapping at this point is a bit difficult. The AL is going to need a stellar class of rookies to keep the balance of power in their favor over the next couple years, as there are some superstars in the NL class this year. Stanton (Marlins), Baumgartner (Giants), Alvarez (Pirates), Posey (Giants), Strasburg (Nationals). If I had to guess who will actually win the award at this point, I'd probably choose Buster Posey from the Giants.

NL Manager of the Year: Bobby Cox, as his last year and the fact that the Braves made the playoffs, I'm guessing this pick is right.

NL Comeback player: Ricky Weeks, he's another one that is definitely in the conversation even if he doesn't win it. A good recovery from a broken leg.

NL Surprise team: As I mentioned in the preview, I had a hard time calling the Braves a surprise, but considering they had been down for a couple years they sort of fit the criteria. My real regret is that in choosing the Braves, it prohibited me from putting my thoughts on the Reds down.

Last review of my predictions post: The Cleveland Indians, oh how I wish things would have been better or would be better next year. There are some pieces here for this team. From an offensive standpoint if LaPorta can become a real player and team with Choo, Santana, and Sizemore (if he can get healthy) this team could have some consistent offense. The rest of the offense stinks though and the pipeline in the minors doesn't bring me a warm fuzzy feeling. Most of the minor league players are marginal at best in my opinion their 'ceilings' are as solid major league players, which means there aren't many potential superstars. The pitching staff has some bright spots, at the very least they'll have a solid rotation next year. If Fausto Carmona can revert to Cy Young form, it goes along way in carrying a pitching staff if you have a dominant ace. The other prospects and likely starters don't do much for the imagination. This seems to be the common theme for the organization over the last 10 years, there seems to be an inability for recognizing players with superstar potential, except in an occasional trade (Sizemore, Santana, Choo). You can't be a perennial contender by relying on other teams to develop your top talent.

I completely forgot to do an NFL preview, so most of the sports content is likely to just be thoughts on baseball and football over the next couple months.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Friday Thoughts 10/1/2010 The Yin and Yang version


This week you get a double dose of Friday thoughts. Believe me, not all are gems, as it's definitely not easy to come up with 20 things to post a quick blurb about. When I started doing the Friday thoughts, I thought it would be a good way to force myself to have a semi-regular feature for readers to count on in order to make the blog interesting. It also was meant to be a way for me to type out quick thoughts without droning on about something, that would make it unreadable anyway.

I typically start thinking about things I might want to put on the list about Wednesday of any given week, as I started typing this up on Thursday, I realized that I was likely to have a very negative toned list. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but given the fact that I like a little balance and it is Friday, I decided that I needed to balance it out a little this week. Hence, the Yin and Yang Friday thoughts. If you aren't looking at being down before the weekend, save the first 10 for another day. Unfortunately, this is an imperfect project and my guess is that the

The Yang:

1. A somber link this morning.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100930/ap_on_re_us/us_student_taped_sex_24

There are so many things wrong here, I don't even know where to begin. While I admit to making an assumption that the reason for the jump is due to the actions of the roommates. The point I want to make is for those that find all sorts of reasons to hate homosexuals. The suicide by this young man is an indirect result of your hate and prejudice. This isn't the first situation like this and unfortunately it won't be the last. While you may have all sort of reasons to believe what you do, remember that your crusade, crude comments, hate, and bad behavior toward those that are different then you have an impact. Why you struggle with the fact that someone maybe different then you, I'll never understand.

2. This is a video link:

http://news.yahoo.com/video/us-15749625/boy-fights-bullying-for-the-right-to-cheer-22181559

Another case of bullying, where two boys allegedly broke the cheerleader boy's arms. He wants to be a cheerleader, so what. Even as children we tend to be so miserable we can't stand it when someone is enjoying something. I realize there is a level of bullying that we probably will never be able to eradicate. Bullying goes hand in hand with point 1. We, as a society, seem to have forgotten how to teach our children or each other how to respect others.

3. I contacted my mortgage company this week at the request of my Realtor to inquire about their short sale process. All I have to say is it's a wonderfully bureaucratic process .

4. Lebron James has dropped the race card on his popularity sagging due to the 'Decision'

http://nba-facts-and-rumors.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22748484/24932277

5. The Brown's are now 0-3. I promise you though, it's not as bad as it looks. There are some positives here, just not showing up in the record yet. The real concern could be that the public turns completely on this team though before they continue to make progress. Here's hoping they don't pull the plug on things, as that would just repeat the previous cycles.

6. I know today is link heavy, what can I say, the news is bugging me this week on the Internet.

http://rivals.yahoo.com/highschool/blog/prep_rally/post/Florida-coach-suspended-for-taking-in-homeless-p?urn=highschool-273393

If this was a case of just 'helping' out a homeless student, is there a reason he had to play football. And while, the article comments that he 'only' makes a stipend of$3,800.00 for coaching the team, does that take into account, that technically he only does it a couple hours a week for 3-4 months? I'd take $3,800.00 to work 2-3 hours after school on weekdays for 3-4 months. It also should be noted, that most 'retirement' packages for teachers count your stipends as part of your salary for determining your retirement package.

7. There are some days, I wake up really hating Columbus and this Townhouse.

8. If you follow any world news, then you should probably familiarize yourself with 'Kim Jong Un' as he's likely to be in the news over the next couple of decades. (yes, this qualifies as Yang for those not in North Korea)

9. Rahm Emmanuel is leaving his White House post tomorrow, I think it would benefit the current administration to add Emmanuel Lewis in his place.

10. For a city surrounded by farmland, I'm disturbed by the lack of Farmer's Markets, stands, or any semblance of places selling locally grown produce in the area. The North Market farm vendors were selling some of the crappiest looking stuff I've ever seen there on my visit two weeks ago. I'm telling you it was so bad, I'm pretty sure I could have grown better stuff with "Brondo" (it's what plants crave, look it up).

The Yin:

1. Our insurance claim appears to be settled. We filed a claim when my wife's car was broken into and her things were taken. While I can honestly say it was a more fun then being stabbed in the eye, I'm very glad the process is over.

2. Bronwyn hasn't cried once this week when being dropped off at day care. That's good for a deep sigh of relief at least.

3. During my college years, I worked at a souvenir shop, which doubled as a local liquor/lottery/sex toy/adult noveltie shop. (Yes, you read that last part right). Anyway, in the fall, they would turn the store into a Halloween store, as there weren't a lot of places to go in the area to get costume stuff. It was one of my favorite jobs, as we were able to build displays and pretty much dress in whatever we could put together when we were working. I've still went back there over the years to look for costumes and even worked a couple falls there after I had left. I've never quite found a place that had as much Halloween stuff as we did at the Odyssey. That is until yesterday, when I came across Party-City. A party store here in Columbus, that blew away the Odyssey layout. I took the daughter and wife there yesterday and they found their costumes. I'm very into putting a costume together this year (it seems to come and go for me, some years, I'm crazy about it, others I just throw something on the day before). Anyway, my wife asked me if I wanted to look around, I told her that it's best if I don't as it will take me 2-3 hours of going through the store to see what they have and it probably would be better if I did it alone (this isn't an exaggeration) . I really want to get a part time job there for the season.

4. I'm the type that just can't throw on any Halloween costume, even ones that are last minute are usually cobbled together from all the 'stuff' I have. Detail is so important, although I'm like that when I dress to go out as well. Anyway, I'm finding it funny that Bronwyn seems to be exhibiting some of my quirkiness in regards to costumes. The costume she wanted this year, had to be a little cute, and a little scary, but it couldn't be too scary. Nice... I think we found a witch one that fits that criteria for her.

5. Stuxnet, if you aren't familiar with what it is, do a search on it. In my opinion this is one of those significant events in our lifetime. If it's as sophisticated as most experts are claiming and it completes it's mission as intended, this type of offensive will change the world as we know it. I'm secretly hoping it is actually U.S. funded code, at the very least I'd like to think we still have the ability as a nation to be the first/best in something.

6. There are days I love living in Columbus and finding new things out about the area. There is something refreshing about change. It's also fairly stimulating to discover new things to do.

7. Fall is here, absolutely my favorite time of year. I'm still convinced Cleveland has the best fall weather of anywhere I've ever been. Columbus is close though (big surprise there due to their proximity). I'm very happy though, that the move for the wife's new job did not take me too far from Fall in Ohio. The weather is perfect and the trees changing color are gorgeous.

8. I highly recommend checking out groupon.com or living social(.com). Both sites offer local area deals on a daily basis. Anything from restaurants, to spa treatments, to auto services. Unlike restaurant.com, most of the dining deals include alcohol too, which usually makes it pretty easy to hit the total you are shooting for and get a free drink in the process.

9. Here's some more shameless promotion. I've taken another step in trying to find another band to play with. We'll see what happens. If you didn't get a chance to listen to the demos I did before with the old band and had posted, you can find them here: http://www.bandmix.com/mhs/

10. That's it for the week, Yin, definitely not as solid as the Yang this week, we'll see if that balances out in future versions, that is if I ever do a future version like this. Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Spin me right round

I'm back in Columbus after a weekend taking care of things related to the house in Cleveland. I'm happy to say it's now on the market, so if you are looking for something and one of the other 400 house in Garfield Heights isn't to your liking, let me know, I may have the house for you.

I think I'm mentally exhausted from this past month, so many things to keep track of and constantly having a list full of things to do. I'm also smack dab in the middle of a host of things that are 'unknown' to me and it's driving me a bit crazy.

I really feel like I'm driving a car in slow motion and it's spinning out of control on a sheet of ice. There's a part of me that knows that I'm going to pull out of the spin, I just don't know how it's going to happen, what type of damage may be done in the process, or how long it's going to take.

While my visible emotional exterior probably looks fairly normal for me, please be aware that internally I'm much more powder keg then zen master at the moment, if you have to deal with me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday, err, Friday Thoughts 9/23/10

It's a day early I know. I don't feel like setting the timer for the post to show up tomorrow, so you get it one day early, and it helps with my title obsession of trying to keep things mixed up.

1. Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck admit that Joaquin's 'retirement' and bizarre behavior were just a hoax. Does anyone care? Yes, I know Phoenix has been nominated for Oscars and I'd consider him to have marginal ability in a field that still employs William Shatner and Kevin Costner regularly. This is what happens when you let younger brothers do what they want. Ben should kick Casey's ass and Joaquin's too, since River isn't here.

2. I spent the afternoon cleaning the house and upon discovering the vacuum cleaner was no longer working, had to go through the whole process of removing a bag full of hair from the rollers. (yech). For all of the woman out there who regularly bash on their men for things they do or are responsible for, next time you think of doing so, think about whether your vacuum works regularly and who has to clean up that mess. If you aren't the one doing it, think about saving that that barb for another time or shave your head.

3. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy this week. Before we claim that Netflix killed the video store, might it be that huge corporate businesses killed the video store, since they ran the small stores out of business and then raised prices to cover their predatory pricing? Just something to think about.

4. I'm off to Cleveland tomorrow to finish up some of the cleaning and maintenance of the house. I'm also meeting with the realtor to put the house on the market. So if you are looking in the Cleveland area, email me :)

5. This is the week of my friends annual trip up to Put in Bay, an island on Lake Erie. They've been doing this for about 11 years (at least) and have asked me to come up for at least the last 5. I've always declined. I'm happy to say though, I'll be making a visit to the island tomorrow after visiting the house. It will be interesting to see the island, as I've never visited it in all my years in Cleveland.

6. I forgot to mention that two of my closest friends decided to nickname me the last time we went out over Labor Day weekend. In some morbid way, I'm sort of excited about this, as I can't remember anyone ever giving me one (well at least that I thought was unique or interesting). They did a pretty good job with it, I think, although I'm going to hold back on sharing it for now. (the reason is, it's a bit to revealing for parts of my personality I tend to only share marginally on the blog).

7. Living here in Columbus means I'm inundated with Ohio State Buckeye promotion everywhere and on Saturdays in the fall, everyone is wearing Scarlett and Grey. I'm trying to get into it I really am, but after watching OSU squash Marshall, I just couldn't get over the fact that college football teams have like 2-3 'hard' games each year. It's just hard for me to get behind something like that, maybe I'd care more if I had gone to OSU, but living here doesn't seem to do it for me. I guess that's what happens when you've been a fan of the Indians and Browns for so long and your college was Kent State.

8. Bronwyn's still struggling with day care drop off, breaking into tears three of the four days she's been dropped off this week. The good news though is that she seems to be doing well when she's there and hasn't been angling to get out of going to daycare each night. As the designated drop off person though, I have to say it's not easy leaving when she's upset like that.

9. Speaking of Bronwyn, she's starting Pee Wee cheerleading tonight. It's a once a week class at the park, although they don't cheer for a football team. (We were told that's another group). Anyway, it should give her something to look forward too over the next two months or so and hopefully will help her adjust more.

10. The Browns have started out 0-2. While the national pundits have placed them consistently in 2nd last place in their power rankings, I can guarantee the team is not that bad. Yes, they've had two games where they've made crucial mistakes, but for those games they controlled the majority of those games. Compared to what's been on the field for the last 10 years, this team is making progress. The two losses are by a combined 5 points, in years past double digit victories were the norm.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Peculiar obsession for the week

It's hard for me to admit that I can obsess at times. If you knew me personally you'd probably be a bit surprised to learn it, as I hide it well (at least I think I do in comparison to others I see do it all the time). If you are familiar with this blog, it's probably not a huge surprise, as I think it may come across in the writing.

Anyway, I have a mild obsession going on for the last month. Working from home means you interact less with people. This can really screw up your social skills. Reflecting on times I've been around people in the last couple years, I become a bit horrified at times that I'm so uneasy, anxious, or out of sync talking to people face to face. I'm sure there is a part of my worry that is unfounded, but I know those skills have eroded some due to not having to use them.

This leads me to my newest obsession over the past couple months, the handshake. Not meeting new people or shaking hands regularly has made me worried that my handshake might stink the next time I need to use it. Which means I've been obsessing over it. I'm sure some of this comes from the fact that I'm acutely aware that I would have more situations where I would need to use it, since we are living in a new area.

My obsession takes two forms. The first is thinking about the act as you are doing it, which for something like a handshake is asking for trouble as it's really not something you should concentrate on. Is it to firm, too soft, bone-crunching? Since there is an art to the handshake, I'm confident that thinking about it while performing the action is only going to lead to disastrous results. Luckily, I think I've been able to ignore these thoughts during the process and have been able to rely on past muscle memory to perform it correctly. For those that are unfamiliar with the anxiety I'm talking about for this, think of it as really trying to concentrate on giving a high five. You are far better off just performing the action, rather then trying to 'think' about it.

My second obsession about it is due to recent events. I was working one day and noticed an article on Yahoo.com's homepage about handshakes. I was doing fine until the end of the article where it stated that it's inappropriate to offer to shake hands with a female, unless they have offered their hand first. Crap, I didn't know this and many of the new acquaintances I've came in contact with recently are female and I've offered my hand first. Now, I'm not one to beat myself up over the etiquette faux pas, it's a live and learn situation; however looking back on those encounters, I'm fairly certain that I caused some awkwardness in the encounters with my action. Not recognizing that awkwardness is what I'm obsessing over, in the past I'm confident I would have noticed it more quickly (like during the encounter, rather then a week or so later).

While I just said that I don't beat myself up over etiquette mistakes that you are able to learn from, that's probably not entirely true either. I'm sort of horrified at the thought that for many years now I've not been aware of this. I'm trying to rationalize it in a couple of different ways.

1. Maybe the cases of shaking hands with women before actually had them offering it first.

2. Maybe, it's not such a mistake due to the field I'm in.

3. Maybe, it's just an archaic piece of etiquette, after all, aren't we equals now?

Perhaps those reading this can offer some insight into this.

Until I can resolve the thoughts with this , I'm thinking about some of the ways to proceed for encounters with woman where I would typically think to shake hands.

1. Go European, kisses on the cheeks. (Probably not going to work, too many reasons to list, besides I just don't have the personality to pull this one off, wife probably would interpret it wrong as well)
2. Bow (again going to be a problem, as I know there are different meanings depending on how far you bow).
3. Hug (this won't work, how hard should you hug, where do the hands go in back, this has the potential to be worse than handshaking).
4. Stand far enough away that it's not an option, preferably choose a position where there are things in between you during initial conversation. (this works well if my daughter is there, as I can just awkwardly position her in front of me and move her as needed).
5. Stand too close to people during introductions (shift the anxiety to them, although you do have the risk of appearing 'creepy')
6. Fist bump (I'm thinking of taking this to Howie Mandel levels and always wear gloves, pretending I've got Mysophobia or OCD with a fear of germs. I'm guessing this wouldn't leave the initial impression I want though)
7. Refuse to interact with anyone.

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Thoughts 9/17

It's been awhile since I had a Friday list, so here goes.

1. A scary moment for one of my favorite bloggers this week. www.hurricanemikey.blogspot.com it looks like he is pulling through though, I wish him all the best in his recovery.

2. I'm adjusting to life in Columbus, slowly but surely. One positive I've been able to find 5 FM stations to plug into my presets and for the most part they are superior to Cleveland's choices. I particularly like Gen X radio so far 106.7.

3. I'm tired of insurance company forms and constantly paying out for shit during this move. If I hadn't mentioned it before, the wife's purse and bag were stolen from her car the day prior to our move, so for the last couple weeks I've been compiling a list of things stolen, talking with the insurance company and filling out way too many forms. Hopefully I'm finally done with all of the paperwork. I can't imagine having to go through it for a fire or loss of house property.

4. When we moved, I decided to try and change my diet a bit. I've been really focusing on eating more fruits and vegetables. Considering my definition of vegetable before was potato, this is a bit of a monumental task. I'm happy to report though that so far, so good. I've been munching on veggies like they were going out of season and I'm definitely feeling the effects of catching up on the nutrients they provide.

5. I miss my office, while the basement is almost finished being arranged, I still find myself on most days sitting with the laptop in the living room. It works for what I need to do, but I need to force myself into the basement more often, to at least break the monotony of working and relaxing in the same place.

6. A big thank you to the FBI this week, for starting to break up the corrupt County elected officials in Cleveland. Cuyahoga County for those not familiar with the area. Frank Russo, former county auditor since 1997 resigned this week and yesterday pleaded guilty to charges that will put him in jail for 21 years. County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora is up next having been arrested this week. This is a big step forward for the county and hopefully they can do a fair job at eliminating the corruption in the offices, although I don't think they'll fully clean it up.

7. I would be negligent if I didn't point out that the Cleveland Plain Dealer (cleveland.com) has done a very nice job of reporting during the whole county ordeal. I'm sure they've shed light on a number of areas that assisted the FBI probes. I'll leave the determination of who did it first to others, but the coverage alone by the Plain Dealer has been very good.

8. I apologize for bitching about the Plain Dealer's online offerings in previous blog posts. While I still think there is a lot of room for improvement. The Columbus Dispatch is so far behind from an online standpoint, it's laughable. It doesn't help that after reading some of the online information from the Dispatch, that I can't help but think that there coverage of things has a very college feel to it, similar to their Sports section, that is listed as Buckeye Sports, rather then sports. All Major League and NFL content I've found for the most part are linked from the Plain Dealer or Cincinnati Enquirer. I realize Columbus doesn't have any of the major league sports (MLB, NBA, and NFL), but given the proximity to the two cities, I have to believe it would be better served by beat reporters for those sports. After all, isn't it the 'largest' city in Ohio. It wouldn't hurt for the Dispatch to display Columbus' professional teams a little better either, while I'm not a big fan of Soccer or the NHL, I'm surprised there isn't better coverage of them in the paper.

9. I'm really happy with the grocery offerings here in Columbus. Krogers and Meijers blow away the choices and sales that Cleveland has available. Considering Cleveland only has Giant Eagle right now as a main store, and a lot of discount stores supporting it, it's no surprise. Giant Eagle is also down here in Columbus, but from a pricing standpoint their ad is eons behind Krogers or Meijers.

10. I'm heading out for the first time tonight to check out some of the nightlife scene in Columbus, my childhood friend's band "Chief Bromide" is actually playing down here tonight for a show. A good opportunity to see something familiar and get a chance to see the area and people at some of the shows. I'm still in process of trying to find a band to sing with and get that kick started again, I'm thinking I'll have more to report on that in the next month.

Bonus point for the week: Bronwyn has been enjoying day care, but the long week and new settings have been catching up to her. Today she cried on drop off that she wanted to come home with me. Each night, we've had problems getting her to leave, but at home she's usually angling for how to get of going the next day, everything from pretend illnesses to begging. It's a rough adjustment for her so far, but today is the first today, she's actually cried at the daycare and gave the bear hug to try and get me to take her home. I'm glad its the last day of the week though as I'm sure she can use a weekend of being home to get back in the swing of things.

Have a great weekend!