Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Thoughts 7/30

It's continued to be a busy couple weeks, at least that means that there's enough information to put together a top 10 list. So here we go.

1. We have been approved for the new place in Columbus, and we move on the 28th of August. Moving truck is rented and now it's all about getting stuff into boxes.

2. We had our first sit down with a realtor this week on selling the house. The conversation went about like I expected it to. We'll see how things go from here, although I'm not highly optimistic it's going to resolve anytime soon. I'd like to extend a fond sarcastic "thank you" to Garfield Heights for having the audacity to charge $125 for a required point of sale inspection for the house. Considering there are in excess of 300+ houses in this suburb up for sale and a huge number of foreclosures in addition to those trying to sell, it amazes me that the city continues to look for justifications on making it difficult for people to sell their house. Their point of sale inspections are considered some of the harshest in the area, according to some of the Realtors I've talked too. Great, just another level of anxiety for me to deal with.

3. From the headlines of "What kind of idiot do you have to be" we have the Arlington cemetery superintendent. Someone please explain to me, how something like this can happen. After all at it's most simplest of forms, a cemetery is essentially an inventory system for the deceased. This little checklist would have saved them all of the agony.
a. Identify remains
b. Dig hole
c. Put remains in hole
d. Cover hole with dirt
e. Record remains name on headstone
f. Record headstone in a big book
g. Repeat process as required

4. Last week during the drive past the skyline of Columbus, I joked with the wife that I couldn't navigate where we were as I didn't have the Terminal Tower as a reference point. Since she has lived most of her life out in the rural area of Mantua and Streetsboro, she didn't find it amusing.

5. The one positive to having so many things on the plate with the move is that time really does seem to fly by during this process. The next few weeks are going to be a blur. My wife was complaining a bit last week that we hadn't made any progress toward the move, as I was outlining a plan and collecting data. I told her that before she knew it, things would be moving way to fast and there would be little time for thinking or planning. Well the next day that proved true, as she was scheduled to sign her contract for Monday, we applied for an got the apartment, set up a moving day, and have rented the truck for the move.

6. I'm taking a half day off today and taking the family to Swings and Things, if you've read my blog for any amount of time, I've likely referenced their ice cream. My favorite sports talk host of all time used to reference it regularly during his promos for the place. It's a nice diversion for half a day and considering the little one can't ride on most rides at the amusement park yet, it seems sort of a waste for us to head there and pay for two adult admissions and then take turns standing in line. So we'll play some miniature golf, ride some go karts and eat some ice cream today instead.

7. More proof that as you get older you get a little loony. Anne Rice, author of Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat, has decided to abandon Christianity again. Within the last year or two, Anne re-embraced Christianity, although most of her writings spent a fair amount of time picking at the religion. (Memnoch the Devil comes to mind). Anne was never what I would consider 'quite right' in the mind if you heard any interviews with her, but her flip flopping with religion strikes me as a bit bizarre even for her. Maybe it's not about the older you get, maybe it's more about famous people are weird. (After all I'm still trying to puzzle through Dennis Miller's constant flip flopping on policies). Anyway, it's sort of grotesquely fascinating at the very least.

8. I've talked about the fact, that I consider Cleveland to be a dying city, I have to say my trip down there last Saturday only continued to reinforce that belief. On a beautiful Saturday night with a home baseball game downtown, the city came across as lifeless to me. The people that were out, and there were not a lot of them were just not what you would expect from a major city. I realize that the population of Cleveland is small compared to most big cities, but if you factor in the population of Cuyahoga County, it's a top 15 area, and being a top 15 city, the downtown scene was embarrassing.

9. Facebook is a fascinating discussion piece for friends with mutual acquaintances, discussing status messages posted by others that often times are done without a filter is fascinating. It's 21st century gossip at it's best.

10. My head is spinning with trying to figure out what electric cigarette I want to buy, there's like 10 different models and 4 parts for each and assorted other things. I know, I know the best thing to do would be to just quit, however I'm stubborn like that.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Moving on up

As I mentioned in the Friday thoughts, the wife and I made the trek down to Columbus on Saturday to get a lay of the land and try and identify potential places to rent.

After pouring over online ads for the past two weeks, I sent my wife a stack of them that she went through and further narrowed down the choices and made some appointments. After I looked at our list of potentials for the day, my stomach dropped a bit as I saw only one on the list that had made it through the grinder and seemed like a possible match.

So we decided to start out at that one and go from there. We scoured the area for day cares and to get a feel for the area from a living standpoint and we were reasonably impressed. After touring the townhouse and confirming the previous information we have, we decided to fill out the application and put a hold deposit down on a unit.

Pending the complexes approval, expected to come in the next day or two, we are moving to Grove City, Oh. A southwestern suburb outside of Columbus. The townhouse is nice, 1400 sq. ft, for a rent that feels ridiculously low compared to my house payment and estimated utilities that are about 33% of my current utility bill. Once we sell our house, I may never own again (not likely). However, I'm pretty happy with the place we found, there are a ton of restaurants, stores, and other things that are right in the area. The only unfortunate part is the place isn't available until the first week of September, so that means the wife may have to spend a couple weeks with a friend until it's available.

The complex is fairly large, 400 units, with 3 playgrounds and a pool. Unfortunately they don't have a gym, but we do have a basement, so the treadmill gets to come along and with the suburban nature of the area, I'm hopeful I can find a gym I like in the area.

So now it's back to packing and getting the house on the market, the fun never stops.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Thoughts 7/23/10

Here we go with another edition:

1. A big thank you to my Dad for helping me put some carpet on the porch to fix up an area that needed improving, although I must say it was a bit weird, since he's now discovered the blog and was making veiled references to it throughout the evening. So welcome as well Dad.

2. I've been listing a bunch of stuff I have for sale this week on the web, I've procrastinated so long in doing it, but with the move coming, it's a nice opportunity to try and make a couple bucks and get rid of some of the crap I don't plan on moving anyway. So far, I haven't had a bad week, as I was able to get rid of a playstation 2 system I had bought from a friend a couple years ago and never really used.

3. I had an interview this week, for a new position, that's based out of Columbus. Well it was sort of an interview, it lasted about 15 minutes. The manager really liked my skill set except for the fact that I don't have a ton of experience with distributed server farms and since it's in another division getting approval to move over there would almost take an act of God. (or insert relevant deity here). I was pretty happy how it went though, although I'd like the position, I know the reality of moving across the divisions is extremely difficult, this is when you find that working for a large company means the bureaucracy is pretty ridiculous at times. It is nice to know though that my previous career choices are lining up well for my next position though, that tells me it's only a matter of time, rather then a complete act of deity in order for it to happen.

4. My preseason predictions for baseball don't look horrible at the moment, at least for division winners, but my MVP and Cy Young predictions are probably no good at this point. Although I'm thinking my comeback player of the year choices might be right on.

5. And from news that you should be paying more attention to your city government, we have this web story about City administrators and salaries. My favorite part is the sentence that states they won't get severance, but that they get their pensions of astronomical values.

6. Tomorrow is the first trip down to Columbus to look for a place to rent. There's one very good looking place on our list we are visiting, that I'm extremely hopeful about.

7. Apple and Steve Jobs, seem to have fallen into that standard trap that can happen when you go from being the underdog to champion. Apple continually looks arrogant and foolish for the way it's handled the 'death grip' phenomenon for it's iphone 4. I begin to understand public relations so much more as I get older and seeing things like this. The funny part to me though is the fact that Apple likely spends a fair amount on public relations and if they are being consulted on this, they should be fired for the missteps in this process so far. I tend to believe that the ego of Steve Jobs is driving this far more then any public relations firm though, so Mr. Jobs like so many before him will get a chance to see how stupid, arrogant decisions in the public eye play out much differently when you are the king of the hill rather then the underdog. Here's a recap of some of the issues without a lot of commentary on what's happened since.

8. Working from home as I've pointed out before has it's advantages, but it also has it's disadvantages, after not being tethered to the computer in my home office last week, going back to it for 5 days this week, has been pure pain. While it's not a different feeling then going to a work office after being away, it sort of makes you hate your home when you are feeling like this.

9. Going out to 'celebrate' with a friend tomorrow downtown, his wife is moving out today of their house and their divorce is about complete. Interesting how many of these relationships are playing out for friends. I'm hopeful this is a good start for him in getting to where he wants to be after the divorce.

10. Speaking of things I'm going to miss in the Cleveland area, I asked my parents to pick up some Blasioles pizza yesterday before they came over (as the drive is a bit prohibitive for dinner). I ordered two large pepperoni, one with extra cheese, the funny thing was we couldn't tell which one was the extra cheese one as they were completely loaded. I wonder how my mother is going to react when I order Blasioles for Thanksgiving when we visit?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thinking about luck

I've talked about my fascination with coincidences before and am a firm believer that you make your own 'luck'. Every once in a while, the world seems to be aligned in that things just start falling right. Simple things, a good nights sleep, the perfect dinner, a decision on what to do in your spare time being rewarding are all examples of alignment when the world is going right.

I have no idea whether this is true or not, and if I was reading it, I'd discount it as some new age gobble dee gook, but there are times when I feel like I'm running right in life. For me I think it's about getting in synch with things around you, once you do that you wind up on the roll. For a comparison, baseball players when on torrid hitting streaks will say the ball looks like a beach ball during the streak, decisions in life during this 'roll' are much like hitting a beach ball.

It's funny that during my life, I find parallels so often from books I read as a child. One of my favorite series is the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. Alexander based the books on Celtic legends and tales and then wove a story around it. The series is through the eyes of an orphan named Taran. I could write many words on the similarities I see between myself and the main character, but that's for another day.

There is however a situation that relates in book 4 to luck that I found interesting. Taran meets a character named Llonio in book 4, Llonio has a large family out in the middle of the wilderness, to say he lives by meager means would be an understatement. During Taran's encounter with Llonio, he watches as Llonio makes do with whatever comes his way. Fishing nets empty after a night of being left out, Llonio becomes ecstatic when he comes across a large shield that's floated down the river. When asked why is he so happy that he's found a piece of junk rather then food for his family, Llonio advises that they'll make do without fish for the day, but that they may find a use for that shield that will better their lives.

There are many other situations like this, that Taran witnesses in his encounter with Llonio, but essentially Llonio believes he is the luckiest man on earth and proclaims himself as such. A puzzling bit of information to Taran, who longs to be of royal blood or wealthy in order to ask the royal daughter he is in love with for her hand in marriage. Llonio's luck is his own though, he creates it as he views everything as a positive outcome. There are no setbacks just different paths to success. I always loved this view, and when I'm rolling right it's how I feel about how the world is going to go.

I'm guessing that I haven't done a great job at explaining the feeling to you or my thoughts behind it in this post, but based on the mood I'm in, I'm sure it will get it's point across in the way it needs to. For now though, I'm going to continue enjoying this nice little run that started last night, and see what it brings. Luck to you as well.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Big Dipper

Before I forget I thought I'd take a moment and write about my daughter's favorite ice cream shop. It's called the Big Dipper and it's an amazing spot. It's smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood surrounded by houses on the middle of the street.

The store hours are 5-9 and their open seasonally during the warm months with some of the best hand made ice cream you'll find.

In addition to this prices are extraordinary, it's easy to walk out of there with a 6 or 7 dollar bill which includes two fully loaded sundaes and a cone. Dairy Queen would set you back 10 or 11 on that.

The insides have an old style ice cream bar with spinning stools, Bronwyn regularly twists around them while deciding her order. The owner, has taken a fondness to her and announces the arrival of the princess when she enters, and has good naturally chided me for trying to get her to stop spinning on the chairs, saying "the princess can do whatever she likes in here."

We'll likely visit more before we leave in a month, but today he mentioned congratulations and how disappointed he is he won't get to see her grow up.

It's not the type of place that needs advertising or big budgets because it's part of the community, I know places like this are a dying breed and hope it flourishes for as long as the owner wishes. I have a feeling when we visit family in the summer this is a likely stop during a trip, for anyone in the Garfield Heights area I'd recommend a trip as well.

- michael

Friday Thoughts 7/16/2010

Hmm, let's see if I can come up with anything worth reading today. Here's a very overdue version of Friday thoughts.

1. Lebron James, a couple points devoted to you today: enjoy being second fiddle to Dwayne Wade (you do realize he has one championship, so like an older brother you can't exactly catch up playing together, right?)

2. Thank you for making every Generation X'er, start thinking things like "What is this world coming too" and "today's youth" phrases we heard our elders say and we laughed at, but we just kind of nod knowingly now. Congrats on the attention and enjoy it now, because in another 5 - 10 years you are going to be a has been (actually since you'll get to share the glory and fame with Wade and Bosh, you maybe on the road to becoming one already), and although I'm sure the fame and money are great, the fact that we'll likely get to watch you became surly and agitated due to the focus not being on you anymore will sort of be poetic justice. (For a comparison, see the fact that Art Modell had to sell the team he had owned for 50+ years, that was an extremely satisfying feeling). Oh don't believe me "King" James, see how goofy Michael Jordan looks in his interviews now or for his Hall of Fame acceptance. Fame's a tricky thing, baby.

3. BP, great you plugged the leak, here's a suggestion, continue to keep it low profile, you are better off that way. I don't compliment my child for falling asleep at night like she's supposed to.

4. Secretly, one thing I've always wanted to do is go over Niagara Falls. Ever since I was a little boy and we used to visit the daredevil museum up in Niagara or looking out at the falls, I've always had the desire to be one that went over it. Today's the 50th anniversary of one of the most remarkable incidents. I was also very excited to see that a daredevil went over them about 2 years ago. If I ever was diagnosed terminally, you may seem my name on that list someday. (shh, don't tell anyone though, the Canadians tend to frown on that :) )

5. In one of my first Friday thought postings, I was pining away for the newest fad. (Snuggies, sort of fit the mold then). I'm happy to report though that Silly Bands have been around to fill a bit of the void. Here's a retro look at some others. (Notice how the majority of these are for girls, is there something inherent in being female and succumbing to fads? Just questioning, not judging.)

6. George Steinbrenner passed away this week. George was a native born Clevelander and made a legacy for himself in New York. If there was one thing I can say about George though is I'm not sure any public persona rehabilitated his image as well as George did. He moved from a cartoon character, to outcast from baseball, to elder statesmen over his career. In my opinion that was only able to be accomplished as he learned from it and adapted over time, understanding the missteps and not repeating the same mistakes. As anyone knows, that's easier said then done, I give him a world of credit for that and the fact that he did it in one of the biggest spotlights around.

7. Speaking of Cleveland's heroes and villains, here's another situation I've taken a fair amount of joy in over the years for one of our most infamous villains, Art Modell. Art is still not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and likely won't be before he passes away. In truth, he probably deserves to be based on his influence with the NFL and television. However, due to the move and the impassioned argument against Mr. Modell for the one year he was nominated from the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Brown's beat reporter Tony Grossi, he still has not been elected to the hall and doesn't appear to be in line for nomination anytime soon. I'm telling you Karma's a bitch.

8. Mel Gibson is a fruit cake and if he wasn't famous, would likely be featured on a Cops telecast, are you listening Whoopi Goldberg?

9. I would only recommend this after you see Toy Story 3, but after you do, you should visit Harry Knowles review here: . There is a reason Harry Knowles is known for his uncanny ability to narrate 'nerd/pop' movie culture.

10. Not a great week for Cleveland as we all think of the Lebron 'decision', but the fact that George Steinbrenner and Harvey Pekar passed were probably much more significant. If you haven't seen the movie about Harvey Pekar "American Splendor" I'd highly recommend it.

Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

That's an interesting twist (Update to blog cliffhanger)

Well it looks like the original intent of the blog may hold true. I originally started writing this blog down as I expected to be moving at some point and wanted a forum to post the daily life happenings for those that might be interested in following. That was the intent of the first post. Considering it took me a full year before I came back to write the second post. It would a be a reasonable assumption to say that I decided to utilize the blog in a different manner. I decided to use the blog to try and partially sort out a number of things I was dealing with (some I made public, some I didn't). This may help fill in some of the blanks during that time.

I'm rambling though, so let me provide some background, my wife and I decided when she was pregnant with Bronwyn, that she'd leave her current job, which was at an inner city charter school and take a year off to raise Bronwyn. There were multiple reasons for it, but the two biggest ones were that she wanted some additional time with Bronwyn during her first year and that the charter school she was working at was a year round school and she wanted to find something that had a traditional school year.

You know what they say about best laid plans, for the past 3 and a 1/2 years the wife has been diligently trying to find a teaching position. Given the current economic climate and the fact that her field of choice (Integrated Social Studies) isn't a high need position, to say the search has been stressful would be a bit of an understatement. We did have an opportunity 2 years ago to move to Florida, but against better judgement and some underlying factors (current house, family, etc.) we decided against that move at the time.

I cannot begin to tell you how stressful the process has been over the course of the last 4 years. Whether it's been solely caused by this job search or other factors I just don't know anymore. Without going into too many specifics I can honestly say it's been one of the most stressful situations I've ever been involved in, it's literally at times tested the limits of my sanity, alcohol intake, and put a tremendous amount of stress on my relationships with friends and family.

A year and a half ago, I found myself approaching the breaking point (one of many) and decided to try and start sorting things out as best as I could through this format. It's been a much needed outlet during that time. I haven't specifically talked a lot about the current issues in my life, but that was by design and my own philosophy. The situation in my life and relationship couldn't begin to move forward until I started to work internally again, much like I've had to do at other points in life. (although not really since my early and mid 20's.). I had to find an emotional starting point in order to try and begin moving forward again. I've made a tremendous amount of progress in this area with my blog, but I have a lot of work to do still and while it's help me answer a lot of questions, it's also opened up a whole host of other ones. I'll get into that in another post though, as I've got too much to get to in this one.

About two weeks ago the wife got called in for an interview in Columbus, Ohio, she had applied online to the school through a posting she saw on one of the many school sites she visits daily. We didn't think much of it, as the wife has been called in for interviews 2-3 times a year with little success to show for it, and considering the 100's of applications and resumes that she sends out each year, we tend to not get our hopes up too high. At the end of the interview they scheduled a second interview with her for the next week and during her second interview they cut the interview short and offered her the position, which she accepted. I've been hesitant to write about this, as the formal school letter hasn't been sent out yet, but considering yesterday, her new boss advised her that they were still just waiting to take it to the school board (a formality) and that they have provided her with a letter of employment, I decided to forgo my superstitions and put my thoughts down. (there's a part of me that needs to do this anyway, to start focusing on the next steps we have to take and for me to recognize it's real).

Which means we are packing up the truck and moving to Beverly, errr oops, Columbus. For the time being we get to face my biggest fears, not having a lot of control over a situation, anxiety over things I'm not familiar with such as selling a house in a depressed market, moving the family across state, being in completely unfamiliar surroundings and I'm sure many more. If there is a bright side to this (outside of the major stress relief from the wife finding a job) it's that there should be a fountain of topics to write about over the next couple of months (if I can find time).

I was hoping to write up a whole note/post to friends and family that have been affected by some of the collateral damage of the stress from these last couple years, but since it ties in so closely to this note, I thought it might be best to put it here.

To my friends and family that have been involved with this process, thank you for your compassion, time, and support during this ordeal. I know there have been difficult situations throughout this time, that you have handled beautifully. The amount of support you have lent me specifically and in many cases my family, have been crucial to us reaching this point. I'm not eloquent enough to put into words how much this has meant to me. I'm also sure it's been very confusing at times, due to my natural tendency to compartmentalize what I share and the fact that it would be impossible to convey at times all of the factors and emotions that were part of the situation. Add in the fact that at many points, I was buckling under the amount of stress and that decisions change on a daily basis and I'm sure there are things that don't make a lot of sense at times. So again, thank you for your support during this time, I'm eternally grateful.

To those that may wonder about my thoughts on Columbus and the move, this is the best I can give right now. Columbus is the next step in the saga, it's a huge cathartic release though for Laurie to have found a job. It doesn't erase all of those things that have happened over the past four years, but it's a significant step forward. While the support network we've grown accustomed too isn't going to be there, there is a security in knowing that it's only two hours away to visit those we are close with. However, the move will bring it's struggles too (new surroundings, selling current house, moving further away from friends and family, etc). So in answer to the question about my thoughts on Columbus, I'm excited, but it tastes a little bittersweet as I'm wary of the steps ahead. This is one step in the process and I'm hopeful that it provides the new opportunities I think it will going forward and to put things back to 'normal'. Once some of the next pieces start falling (selling the house, getting situated in Columbus), I'll have a better idea of the roadmap back to normal, but I'm optimistic about the possibilities ahead.

So how does "Life and Times in Columbus" sound? In truth I might get to that point of updating the blog, but for a couple months at least, I'm going to leave it as is, we'll consider it knowledge of the inner circle.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

About as quick as it gets (that's what she said)

Just a quick update on what's been happening in life. I had a great weekend for the fourth, had a small turnout for the bbq, but it was a lot of fun and everyone seemed to have a good time. I was hoping to go to my aunt's house on Sunday with the family, but my garage gutter decided to change those plans. The gutter was sagging from the winter ice flows and I went to put it back up and realized that it had some serious damage to it. So that's what I spent the majority of my time on Sunday doing. The good news is, the way I decided to fix it seems to have worked, although we will know for sure after the first rain. (If there is one thing I am not, it's handy).

The pool is in full use with temperatures around the 90s, at this point, I'm very glad to have put the work in getting it cleaned up, now if only every summer could be like that.

I still am being cryptic about some of the changes that are coming, but as I mentioned in the comments of the last post, it's more a superstitious thing then anything else. I will say this at least it should give me some new material to write about, although that's heavily dependent on the time I have.

That's it for now, a work trip coming up this week, so I likely won't be blogging until the middle of the month, hope you stay cool if you are in the heat wave, and if not, hope some comes your way.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I do have an excuse

I swear I have an excuse for neglecting the blog lately. It's just that I don't want to go into full details yet, until a couple more things are clarified. I can tell you though that my work laptop decided to go down, and since that is the system I use most, I'm sure you can understand it's sort of hard to blog without the tool to do so.

Anyway, that's not the big news that's dominated the week. Truth is, I received a call from Lebron James the other day and he asked me to become part of his 'team'. So I've been advising him on his options for free agency. I'm trying to come up with a cool nickname too, ala World Wide Wes.

Ok, so you probably aren't believing that's the big news and you'd be correct. Soon though, I promise.