Monday, March 29, 2010

The 'true' new year and a confession

One of the reasons I hate making New Years resolutions is that I think of it as an arbitrary point on the calendar. I enjoy the celebrations and time with people, but I have a hard time thinking of it as a new year.

My new year begins on March 30th and has for the past 36 years now. Which is why I'm thinking about making some type of resolution for the next year.

After all, even if I don't start following through for the first couple of months, I'll get a nice reminder January 1st when everyone is making their resolutions and I'll have 3 full months to still follow through with mine.

Weight resolutions are tired (and besides who doesn't want to lose weight, I don't need a resolution for it).

I could work towards World Peace, but then what would drive the economies of many nations

I'm also not a quitter, so that removes a ton of possibilities.

Which leaves me with one that I've been contemplating for a couple months now. It's rather easy to resolve at least in the way I'm going to frame it, completely resolving it will be another issue entirely.

My resolution for the year is to (publicly) admit that I don't like myself. There I did it, that feels a bit better. I should clarify that statement a bit.

I've been thinking about this for awhile, I realize that we all on some levels don't like ourselves or wish we could improve ourselves in some way, but I tend to think that I go beyond dislike into self loathing much more often.

In particular it's in the looks department. I hate the way I look on so many levels. I can take a picture of myself and break it down to minuscule levels of disgust. As examples, wow definitely not the right shirt for you, you can see how heavy you are, holy crap look at the wrinkles on your face, could your forehead be any shinier? How friggin' pale are you, get some sun. The list would go on and on, but that's a brief synopsis.

I'm convinced it's pathological as I can't conceive of a spot where I would be happy, whether it would be weight loss, clothes, or any other changes I could make. There is a part of me that knows I don't look bad, maybe not great, but if I compare myself to people around me at times, I know I have some attractive qualities, which is why its a bit perplexing.

I still have moments where people will pay me a compliment or when I see someone look at me that I can tell finds me attractive, that I honestly am confused by it. I am past the point of believing that people are lying in those instances, which is a step up from where I was in my late teens and 20's but at 37 I think I was hoping for a bit more progress.

I wish I knew the reason for this self loathing, was it during my teenage years when I was huge and got picked on relentlessly and it affected my development, is it due to my shyness and awkwardness, or is it something else? I really wish I could figure it out, as it feels like this black hole that I'm constantly doing battle with.

I've made strides with it over the years, it doesn't consume me (that often) like it used too. There's even a part of me that I think appreciates it, as it's provided me with a way to measure myself in overcoming things like getting up and teaching for a couple years and trying out for the band last year as examples. So I've learned to manage it or become functional in spite of it, but I'm really tired of dealing with it.

Which is why I decided to make this birthday post about it. I'm admitting it, which they say is the first step to recovery and while those close to me probably had a bit of understanding that it lies at the center of me, I've never publicly admitted it before. I guess we'll see where it goes from here, but at least I can say that I accomplished my New Year resolution today.

Remembering one of Cleveland's own

I learned last Friday, Cleveland businessman and former sports talk host Geoff Sindelar passed away. Geoff was known on the airwaves as the "Professor" and many considered him to be the 'authority' on sports collectible items in the area.

During my awkward high school years, my interest in sports exploded, I collected cards, I joined and started fantasy sports leagues, and I listened to sports talk radio regularly. At night I'd be up in my room playing computer games and listening to sports talk, when there wasn't an Indians or Cavs game on.

I listened to the Professor all the time, first when he was on WWWE hosting their evening show and then when he first moved over as the prime host for the new Cleveland sports station at the time WKNR.

Listening to the professor was like being let into a very knowledgeable sports conversation. Granted it was 20 years ago and the focus on sports talk was on games, players, and a little bit of the financial situations teams found themselves in. There wasn't the scandal driven conversation that goes on today.

The Professor's first love was baseball and he'd talk about it all year long. I wish I could describe the knowledge or insight he shared, but you would have had to listen to him to understand it. His passion for the sport and young players was infectious. He was a stat head like no other, and one of the few sports hosts that had the knowledge to talk about prospects from every team. On top of that he'd usually teach you a couple things about players you hadn't heard of yet either. As a stat-head baseball fan, it was a dream come true.

Mr. Sindelar was also the premiere sports collectible authority. You couldn't make it through one of his shows without 5-10 requests in regards to sports collectibles. Those were the regular shows, occasionally he'd run a full show dedicated to collectibles and he'd take callers for 3-4 hours straight and hit them rapid fire with his thoughts and estimates on what the item was worth.

He also was extremely entertaining to listen to, he had no problem expressing his opinions of which he had many, but at the same time it never seemed to bother Geoff to hear someone disagree with him, it simply meant they were going to have a good discussion. His broadcasts were colored with unique terms and grumblings that were his exclusives. You couldn't go through a broadcast, without hearing "That's a good item, " "Give me a second, let me grab my crayon ", "Neighbors" or him berating his producer Bob "Karlovic" in a fun manner.

During the last couple years he had his show, it was evident that there were some changes that were happening that he wasn't fond of, and as that seemed to play out, he decided to stop doing the shows. Being a sports talk host was more of a hobby for Mr. Sindelar then his 9 to 5 job as he had been running his own business full time for many years. With some management changes and not allowing him to do things the way he wanted he left. He'd still turn up as a guest on shows at the beginning of football or baseball season, but it definitely left a void in sports talk in the Cleveland area.

That's the background from my perspective, all I can add to it is, for an awkward teenager with a huge baseball interest, he had me glued to the radio regularly and I can't express how much enjoyment and knowledge I gained from listening to him.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Thoughts 3/26/2010

It's been a crazy work week, the weather has started to break and I've been getting outside a bit ton enjoy some sunshine and I've been heading to the gym everyday. If you put all of those together it makes it difficult to find any time to write.

I also flamed out in trying to write up a large post this week on a topic, I really wasn't prepared to cover, so for the time being it will reside in draft mode. So, if you were looking for a reason for lack of updates, there they are, having said that, here we go with the Friday thoughts.

1. I'm turning 37 next week. My thoughts are stuck between, "hey it's cool, I don't feel that old" and "Holy f*ck dude, 37 is old, how the hell did we make it here?"

2. I've successfully made it through 8 of the 24 workout sessions I want to get through before I head out on another trip in April. I'm right at the 4 a week mark, with 4 weeks to go.

3. I can't wait for it to warm up a bit more and get the bike out and hit the trails. I deeply miss hitting the bike trail at 6 in the morning with the ipod cranking away. So peaceful.

4. On the healthcare bill. If there's one issue in the past 5 years that scares me more then anything, its the fact that it's more and more obvious people take their opinions from talking heads and radio hosts. Holy shit, if I hear one more parroted response from either side I think my head is going to explode.

5. Here's what I 'know' about the Healthcare bill. There are two reasons it's impossible to know at this point whether it's going to suck or whether it's going to be great. It's far too large a bill too understand all of what it affects and due to many of the implementations not happening immediately and being phased in, there are likely to be adaptations to the bill before some of those things come up.

6. My guess on the healthcare bill, it falls somewhere in the middle of being good and being bad. . Sort of like a ton of other policies that have been implemented and met with media rhetoric from both sides. (Patriot act or No Child Left Behind, ring a bell).

7. If you post a status on your facebook or Twitter account, that says something along the lines "Oh my god, I told you socialism is taking over", "Finally, healthcare for all", or any other social commentary nonsense that shows you have no understanding of the complexity of the system or topic you are talking about, deep down there's a part of me that will think you are an idiot.

8. Advice for all of the parrots out there, never be afraid to form your own opinion, it's ok to think about the issues and learn about them yourselves. Remember that everyone has an agenda or bias (EVERYONE). By understanding their bias or agenda, it can help you filter the message and let you take the next step which is learning about something on your own and making opinions for yourself rather then what's given to you.

9. I'm done ranting for a bit now, but in case you weren't aware, my one weakness is I cannot suffer fools.

10. Celebrating my birthday tomorrow night, making a return to Streetsboro to hang out. Not exactly my first choice, but it will do. I'm hoping to enjoy some quality rum and a cigar at home before getting out to the bar. I'm thinking it's a good weekend to get a nice buzz from some of the really good stuff. I look forward to seeing all who are able to make it out, and if I haven't dropped you a line about it, send me a text or email and I'll get you the details if you want to come out.

Hope everyone has a safe and fun weekend.

Promises, Promises, or when will I ever learn

If there's one thing I'm woefully inadequate at in regards to this blog, it's following through when I tease a topic. I need to stop doing that, there's a couple of reasons why I usually fail at this.

1. The topics I tease tend to be more complex for writing then I anticipate. I think of a ton of things to write about and many of them are interesting to me. However, when I start to put them down 'on paper' I find that the complexity of thought I'm trying to convey is usually lacking.

2. It also doesn't help that I see a great deal of complexity in sensitive issues and I have a tremendously difficult time writing something that's one sided and extremely opinionated. As I try to write something like that, I find myself in arguments with myself over the content.

3. As I'm struggling through all of the above, I realize it probably doesn't matter much anyway and it's not worth the time to write about it. This is a combination of laziness, self doubt, and the recognition that some of the topics I want to write about out of the blue are simply self indulgences, that probably don't read well for a larger audience.

So, I'm drawing a line in the sand, anything I've promised to write about before and haven't you can take off the list and in the future I'm going to try and guard against any promises of what's to come. That's not to say I won't get into some of those topics, but I need to find the story that allows me to let them write themselves.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Friday Thoughts 3/18/2010

Wow, my 200th post, I suppose that's some type of milestone.

I'm definitely getting back into the mindset of thinking about things to write about, I just have to decide what I can write about from day to day life and how to write certain things. I know it's vague, but it's the difference between opening up completely or continuing to keep certain parts of life private.

1. Warm, sunny weather has arrived, for all of my bitching about daylight savings time, having sunshine after work was awesome this week. I remember how much the class snickered in college at the mention of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) but tell me that people aren't happier in the sun.

2. I'd like to thank Southwest for some ridiculously bad service involving my checked bag they damaged on my trip last week. Upon arriving home I discovered they had punctured the bag. I decided to report it the next day rather then that night, of course after 6 days they got back to my inquiry into it and advised there was nothing they could do, because it wasn't reported within four hours of landing time. I understand the need for policies, but a good faith effort from a customer with a report within 24 hours of landing, doesn't seem difficult for a company to manage. I suppose their new slogan can be "Your bags fly free, but you will pay for it, anyway." To add salt to the wound, the suitcase was brand new. This one maybe salvageable, if not it would be my third bag that didn't survive travel over 5-6 or 6 trips over the last year. Do they make bags from Kevlar?

3. I'm getting close to writing up a post with my thoughts on religion and everyday life. I was in the right mood this week, just didn't have the time. Thankfully I don't think there are a ton that read this blog that I know otherwise, I'd probably upset some people with my views.

4. Within the next month or two, I'm going to invest in some electric cigarettes. I like them as an alternative and think it will work for me. We'll see what happens.

5. I'm not typically a conspiracy theorist, but I've been amazed at the amount of contrails/chemtrails in the sky over the city of Cleveland in the past month. At dawn this morning, the sky was filled with them. Not exactly sure what they are, I don't necessarily agree with the theorists that they are chemical trails, but if they are what the government claims contrails from jet exhaust, that's a hell of a lot of night time activity.

6. Random interesting fact while looking over chemtrail information on Wikipedia. Voyager 1 and 2 launched in 1977 and will run out of power in 2025. If you think about how far they've travelled based on the technology of 1977 it's rather incredible.

7. I've been thinking about scientific discoveries or confirmations in my lifetime lately. Not accounting for things that technology produced or became mainstream (i.e Internet, digital video recording), the last Friday thoughts are going to focus on these. (because I've ran out of other things to put down)

8. Science believed that dinosaurs had evolved from reptiles and were grey in color, as opposed to the theory that they shared more in common with birds and were very colorful.

9. The big bang theory was known, but it wasn't the prevailing theory on the creation of the universe that it is today.

10. Planets had never been confirmed in other solar systems.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Free Technical Work advice

There are a number of things that get me going, I'm sure all will be discussed at one point in this blog. (St. Patrick's day is an example of one that tends to draw my irrational ire)

Here's another one.

The article is about trade schools in most cases technology trade schools that basically prey on the naive. I can't stand these places. As someone that broke into the technology field with a Psychology degree and some self taught skills, it drives me insane that someone would pay upwards of 30k for an associates degree and some very soft skills in IT.

There are a couple issues with the programs.

1. Most tech jobs are entry level, unless you are coming out with your Computer Science degree and have interned at a company.

2. Entry level tech jobs are either 1st level support, or low level sales. For these spots a little ingenuity and motivation go way farther then IT school resumes.

3. By the time you advance to a new tech position, your IT skill set is likely worthless, as you'll have to have developed new skills to continue going forward. IT is an ever changing field, what that means is your ability to apply and utilize techniques is far more valuable then your knowledge. Computer science majors have a deep understanding of systems and code and our engineers, which means they pick up new systems and code rather easily. IT school graduates are highly skilled users which means, they've mastered the first level of technology work. (i.e be better then those you support).

I hate that these companies prey on people's fears, desires, and ambitions, and that's exactly what it is at 30k for the program, preying. I had one technician who worked under me that spent 36k and four years for the program and wound up with an associates degree. The funny thing about this tech, is the program definitely helped him, as he was a horrible tech before he got the position, but by the time he was done, all it meant was that he was finally qualified for the job he was in. And I guarantee he would have achieved it anyway under some guidance and with some time.

So, if you are sitting around with people and someone mentions their interest in ITT Tech or some other IT trade school, please send them to me, I'll be more then happy to give them a list of things they can do instead and how to focus on securing an entry level position and then how to try to grow into a new position once they secure one. Free of charge too.

Thoughts for a Tuesday

Well I'm successfully applying my addictive personality back to working out. I forgot how good it makes you feel. I'm also happy to report that my brother has started up on his own gym regime and I'm extremely proud of him, as he's seeing results right away.

For those keeping score on my addictive traits, the tally is now Good habits: 1 Bad habits: a bazillion

I'm in a bit of a rant mode today, so I'll share it with you. First thing I read this morning was this article. The article is about the Texas school board deciding on how to 'interpret' history. This has a fairly large impact on other districts, due to the fact that Texas is the number one purchaser from many of the publishing companies, and much like computer programs, who that buys the most gets to direct functionality.

I don't even know where to begin in bitching about this, there are so many issues to rant about I'm almost speechless. I said almost though, not entirely. If there was ever a time I would throw my support behind electronic books, it would be now. I'm not a fan of what the publishing companies do to regularly try and maintain revenue on a per year basis (ask anyone in college, that has seen chapters flip flopped in order to call it a 'new version'). So if there is one industry I'd like to see turned on it's head, I'd have no problem if it was the textbook industry.

Coincidentally by moving to e-books, it makes agenda driven groups like the Texas school board far less relevant in the scheme of things. I've reviewed the points that they are proposing changing and I just don't have the energy to spend criticizing them. I will remark on one though, attempting to minimize Thomas Jefferson is just plain stupid.

Since I'm in a rant mode, I might as well discuss St. Patrick's day. The one time of year the Irish and everyone pretending to be Irish drink like Scotsmen. The unfortunate outcome is they usually wind up laid out on the floor because of it though. Maybe it's the fact that St. Patrick's day has has turned into nothing more then a beer company holiday, much like our greeting card holidays. Needless to say, I won't be going to the parade. I will try and placate the wife who enjoys the holiday though (based on her Irish ancestry), and cook up some corned beef, I might even dye her beer green.

Enough ranting, here's a nice little "Dad" tidbit I got from my mother the other day.

Mom: "Son, do you know what your daughter told me last week?"

Me: "Oh know, what now?"

Mom: "She told me that when her daddy takes her to tumble class, he knows I get hungry afterward, so he always brings me a snack and something to drink for the ride home" "isn't that so sweet of her, don't ever stop taking her the snack and juice, she'll always remember that"

Me: "thanks Mom, I'll remember that"

And I can assure you I won't be changing that habit any time soon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Trying to resume regularly scheduled programming

I'm still dogging it after getting back from my work trip and I apologize to those re-clickers out there looking for an update. I'm hoping to get going this week again and get back in the swing of things.

It was a good work trip and being in Vegas means I got far too litle sleep, but I'm slowly recovering (amazing how much more difficult it is to do in my 30's rather then my 20's). The spring ahead on the clock has not helped matters at all, as it's messed up my internal clock as well.

Anyway enough of my whining, hope you are having a good week and I hope to talk more this week.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A couple of notes from the weekend

The weekend started off great, we decided to get takeout at "Melt" and it was very good. We got three sandwiches to try. Here they are with my thoughts.

1. Tokyo Tuna Melt - This is Yellowfin tuna with cheese, lettuce, and tomato. It was outstanding, the marinade on the tuna gave it a nice full flavor and the mix of textures on the sandwich made you eager to take another bite. This one will definitely make it into the rotation.

2. The Big Popper - This is a jalapeno popper as a sandwich. Execution wise it's flawless, with cream cheese and jalapenos throughout the sandwich. The whole sandwich is deep fried and served with very good berry preserves. I have two problems with the sandwich as I suspected I might.

a. It's a terrible sandwich for takeout, being deep fried and then transported you completely lose the crispiness of the sandwich on the outside. I was afraid of this and it proved to be true.

b. It's creative and tasty, but in the end it's still just a jalapeno popper. Its probably a nice alternative for vegetarians, but it's just cream cheese and jalapenos and while good, it's just no substantial enough to hold up as a meal in my opinion. Especially when you consider there are so many other options.

3. Chorizo and Potato - I ordered this mainly because I had fears about the Big Popper. I'm so glad I did. This is a chorizo sausage and potato hash grilled cheese. The biggest reason I targeted it is I anticipated it would reheat in the oven perfectly, warming and getting the bread crispy again quickly without affecting anything on the sandwich. The sausage/potato has was a perfect compliment to the crispy bread and cheese. It's filling, tasty, and texturally awesome. I highly recommend this one, especially if you plan on doing take out.

We'll definitely be heading back to Melt in the future and I anticipate 1 and 3 being regular rotation items.

We also visited the auto show this weekend. It was a nice way to get out of the house without breaking the bank and gave the little one a lot of room to run around. I'm not a big car guy, but I do hear the siren call of mid-life crisis sports car. As I continue to look at them and sit in them, I get closer and closer to laying out a plan to buy one. Even though it's unlikely I'd ever drive it more then casually or for some long trips for fun. My two newest favorites are the 2010 Chevy Camaro and the 2010 Dodge Charger. I love the modern retro look they've put on the cars and neither would break my budget for a new car. Well at least if I anticipated getting one in about 2-3 years.

That was technically it for the weekend, although Monday brought a couple of more tidbits.

Early Monday I got a text from the drummer from my former band. They had their first show with the new singer on Saturday. The text said that people who had seen us play before thought I was a better singer. That was nice to hear, not because I care whether I'm better then the new guy or not, but more a confirmation that I can actually do this singing thing. That made for a good start to the week.

I also had a bit of an inspired idea on Monday, I've come up with an idea that I'm going to be working on either as a website or a book. I'm leaning toward a website with some book ideas possibly down the line if I can manage to make the website successful. I'll provide more details as I flush the idea out more.

Typically when I think about writing, I come up with ideas for stories or novels. When I try to think of an idea for a book or a site that's interesting and not overly ambitious I run into a complete block. This one feels right and I think it has some potential with some work, but I have some work to do to verify it's not already being done and in collecting some information on it.

I probably won't be blogging a lot over the next two weeks, I'm traveling for work next week and have been trying to get organized in order to make the trip. It's hard for me to say there won't be any updates though, as a lot of it depends on how much work I have to do and whether something comes up that's post worthy. I do anticipate at least one Friday Thoughts and in thinking about it now, maybe I'll put together a second one that's not day to day relevant that I can use for the second Friday.

Hopefully we'll be seeing the first signs of spring by the time I get back to regular updates.