Sunday, December 25, 2011

Creating Christmas Magic

I'm not a religious person, I've attended Christmas eve mass a handful of times in my life at best. I do love Christmas though, to the extent that it's pathological. I love the gifts, the food, the planning, the decorations, and the time with family. There's magic in the season for me, and I try and take as much advantage of it as I can.

I'm sitting here up at 4am on Christmas morning, simply taking in the ambiance of a lighted tree with presents spilled underneath it, and stockings stuffed beyond good measure sitting on the table. I've just lit the two holiday candles I bought to add a bit of ambiance to the room and will likely kick off the Christmas tunes around 6:30, or about the time I expect my daughter to venture out of her room. (I actually think she's still sleeping).

I'm nearing 40 years old and could only manage to sleep for about 4 hours, before I knew that there was no use in doing so and if by some chance I was successful, I would miss this wonderful time of the day. See I've been getting up like this (and earlier) since I was about 8. As a child I used to torment my brother who seemed to be immune to the effects of Christmas, I'd wake him up out a deep sleep and force him to engage with me on speculating about what might be downstairs. We played board games together (which likely never happened outside of that night) until we felt it was safe to go downstairs and peek at the tree. We'd spend about 30 minutes quietly moving up and down the stairs listening closely at the door to see if Santa was still there. At about 5am, we'd usually venture out into the living room and peek. Even then I was directing the play, as I'd reprimand him for touching anything or looking too long at that point, we were there to get our stockings and get back up stairs.

From there we'd sit and open our gifts and indulge in a couple treats. We'd usually pass another hour by playing with our toys and then we were back down stairs. At that point, we'd both take a seat. On a good year, that meant having your feet up on the chair, as there wasn't room to put them down, as we had a small living room, and my parents had a knack for spreading presents out from the tree, like it was a Macy's store display.

Eventually as dawn broke, we'd make our way into our parents room and try to rouse them, I can't say we ever jumped up and down on the bed to wake them up, but the hurricane that awoke them from their slumber was at least a category 4. I can remember my father rolling out of bed, grumbling as he rose. By getting up, he let my mom get out of bed a bit slower and started getting coffee ready. Eventually my mom made her way out of the room. In many cases back then, they used to host some family on Christmas Eve, so my parents were usually getting done with presents at about 2am, coincidentally about the time I started waking up.

We spent the next couple hours unwrapping gifts, enjoying hot chocolate, candy, cookies and whatever and just spent the time together. I'm not sure there was a more perfect time spending with my family. My father passed out gifts, as he pointed to things my mother would say, "Yes or No" as she directed the morning. We never found it weird that she was directing Santa's gifts too. After we finished, we headed off to my father's parents and spent the afternoon and evening.

There were a couple years in my teens and my 20's where I didn't have much interest in the whole Christmas phenomenon, but it changed once I got with my wife, slowly I found myself methodically organizing and planning how many gifts to get, what to make, how many wrapping papers was appropriate (and the how they look together under the tree). It was good practice for when we had our daughter, and the first years with the daughter were great, but the subtleties are lost on an infant and even a toddler.

My wife just laughs now, as I explain that there is Santa paper and our paper, and that it would show a lack of effort if there weren't a multitude of different papers to use. I am also a present architect, laying the gifts out under the tree, to ensure it gives off the effect it of a full bounty, and to make sure that the contrast of the papers, meets the mood I'm in (Some years presents that are wrapped in the same paper can be next to each other, and other years, it's an absolute no-no).

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, isn't just the line from a book, while we no longer have a chimney, I can assure you, ours are meticulously stuffed. Fitting in as many components as possible is critical, along with taking advantage of the contours of the stocking design (the round base). There are bonus points, if you secure some stocking stuffers, that are perfect for the top of the stocking, that you can see as it sits or hangs, giving you a feeling like you know part of what's in there.

And that's where we sit, the presents and stocking are out, and I'm awaiting the little one to wake out of her slumber. I'll of course be dictating today, what can and can't be opened, as my mom will later today as well.

I understand that many of these things are a result of the commercialism of Christmas that so many hate, and I won't necessarily disagree. However, when they are shaped up and laid out with family, I believe they can become magical. I will say this to all of the devoted Christians out there that are offended, I would remind you, that most of my favorite activities of Christmas are based on pagan traditions (of which I'm rather fond). These traditions were associated with the birth of your savior in order for you to integrate cultures into Christianity (by less then peaceful ways in many situations). At the end of the day too, it's best parts are the memories I have with my family and the new ones I'm making, likely the greatest gift there is.

So to all those out there, Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays (for whatever holiday you celebrate with your family and friends), may you have one as filled with magic as mine.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Another news story I find interesting.

I was reading over stories today and found another 'interesting' story or in this case legal issue, that's currently in process. I thought I'd put down a few thoughts on it. Civil rights suit against Cheney Secret Service Agents.

I don't have a side that I feel right about in this one, I'm leaning toward the side of the citizen, although I recognize the Secret Service agents have a very difficult job.

Here are the problems I have with what I can read from the story.

1. At no point does it appear anyone thought that the citizen touched Mr. Cheney in a threatening manner, the issue seems to be whether he admitted to having done so. I'm not aware of the law that states that a person cannot touch someone on the shoulder, regardless of who is being touched.

2. I realize the agents have a difficult job, but I'm not fond of saying that just because their job is difficult they have the right to violate the civil rights of another citizen. The argument that they shouldn't have to worry about being prosecuted for something like this is bs. Many, many people in different occupations have to deal with situations where they could ultimately be prosecuted. Being a Secret Service agent is a great responsibility and there are things that are just part of the job, this to me sounds like one of them.

I'm not excusing the behavior of the citizen in this case, it seems from the quotes in the article that he had every intention of making a scene, and while he does have the right, I do not agree with his approach in doing so. There is a respect for the office, that I believe most Americans forget nowadays, and asking the Vice President "How many kids have you killed today" is meant to be an emotionally charged inflammatory statement.

There is a level of responsibility that I think the aggressor has here as well, and I think he failed at being responsible. I'm not a fan of Dick Cheney, but I can respect the office he occupied, and there are far better ways to disagree and voice displeasure.

Writing this out, I think I've come to a decision on how I feel about this. Bad decision on the citizen's part, he got himself detained and embarrassed by it, which is punishment that about equals what should happen when you make a bad choice. Bad decision on the agents part, and one that needs to be constantly monitored and discussed (as they treaded a very fine line here with probable cause and insinuation of intent to harm). With no charges pressed, I'm not sure the citizen's freedom of speech was violated, so I'll call this a wash.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's finally happened, they took everything

I remember my parents telling me when I was growing up, that I should be prepared to deal with people in this world that would take anything they could, no matter what it was.

I better understand that now, thanks to Ann Coultier, and her recent statements. According to Ann racism in politics only exists in reference to conservative African-Americans, which means that the Republican party now owns political racism as well.

I can hear my parents saying "I told you so" right now.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Figure this one out

Parents fighting to have their children returned.

I don't know where to begin with this one. Obviously if there has been physical abuse, it's an open and shut case. What exactly entails emotional abuse in a situation like this? Is a name enough?

This article/situation disgusts and fascinates me on many levels. I consider myself a staunch libertarian, with a mindset of live and let live; however, I'm very sensitive to prejudice and injustice.

There is a part of me that says if these psycho's want to raise their child in this manner and name them as such, then they have a right too.

There is another part of me that's horrified by that thought. I'm not horrified easily.

It's not illegal to give your child a horrible name or to teach your child to hate. While I despise both of those things, I do not want to live in a world where our government is tasked with 'fixing' these types of things.

Which means, as I look at this situation, I have to wonder what constitutes emotional abuse, is it the name, the things they are teaching, or something more? Can we consider ignorant teachings as emotional abuse and if we do, what kind of precedent are we setting?

I think the majority of people that look at a situation like this would think there is enough justification (just from the article) to taking the children away from the parents, I doubt many of them consider the implications of such actions. This would be a great argument for a debate class or any number of subjects, I just wish it was hypothetical like most of those questions.

(My discussion here makes major assumptions in relation to this situation. My main assumption is that the state is considering the abuses to be the children's names and/or the parent's teachings. The argument does not apply if there is any other type of abuse that would be considered typical in situations such as this.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Friday Thoughts 10/28/2011 Still alive and kicking

Every time I start a blog post, I end up saving it and putting it to the side for later. I have five in process right now, many of them are emotionally charged, scatter pieces, talking about everything from politics to what's going on in my personal life now. I've said before I'd rather not commit to future content, but since I seem to be having large gaps between updating the blog, I thought it would be beneficial to anyone reading it, that it's something that's still on my mind and that I'm trying to come back to.

Anyway, here's my newest Friday thought list, hopefully less emotionally charged then where I'm at currently.

1. The big one, my wife was told last Friday that 10/28 is her last day at the school, they are laying her off. This probably wouldn't be as big a deal if we hadn't uprooted our lives to come down here for the job and weren't still in the mud with selling the house in Cleveland (and some of the things that needed to be done that means we have to sell it). Needless to say, it's been a somber mood around here as we try and figure out the upcoming months.

2. We are one month out from Black Friday, wife's job be damned, I'll be out again and I'll probably provide some mobile content to the blog. I can't wait to start game planning the chaos.

3. I'm a big fan of Halloween, but it doesn't look like there will be any grown up activities this year. I did however, come across an interesting article relating to Halloween costumes. A group of students at Ohio University are protesting racially insensitive costumes. I'm not sure what my position is on this subject. I can understand their point of racial insensitivity, but I also would point out that, in most cases, we are talking about humor, which is a complex subject in relation to insensitivity. I'll acknowledge that my view maybe tinted as my demographic (heterosexual, white, male) isn't a minority and I'd love to hear people's thoughts in regards to the issue.

4. Gadhafi is dead. As a person born in the 70's, he's in many cases a more significant figure then Osama Bin Laden was to me. The change in the Middle East over the last couple years is significant and I wonder what further affects some of these changes will have. Although I'm a bit concerned about the new Libyan government's initial communications on how they intended to run their government.

5. It's rare that a new show catches my eye enough for me to watch it and rarer that I like it once I do, but FX's American Horror Story is pretty good so far. I recommend people check it out and on Monday 10/31, they are running a marathon of all the episodes aired so far.

6. That Lohan family is kind of f'ed up.

7. Beavis and Butthead are back tonight, I don't know whether I'm excited or sure that it's an indicator of the upcoming Apocalypse.

8. Last weekend we had a chance to visit for the second time "All Hallows Eve" at the Ohio Historical Society, it's really a fantastic time for a family night out. The event is capped by a live telling of the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" which includes a visit by the Headless Horsemen. If you near Columbus during the last two weeks of October, I highly recommend a visit. They also do a Christmas/Dickens event, that I hope we'll get to visit this year.

9. I guess I should weigh in on Steve Jobs, as everyone else seems to have done so. I can appreciate what Mr. Jobs brought to the IT industry and there is a fair amount of design genius that he championed. However, I have a bit of an issue with those that seem to be deeply affected by Mr. Jobs passing. While he had many admirable qualities from a business standpoint, he was an asshole. He walked over people, demeaned them, and would never have been considered modest. While I have mixed feelings on whether the uber-rich should contribute to charity, Mr. Jobs in comparison to other billionaires was not known in any way for his philanthropy. I find it bizarre that he could be so endearing to people, given many of these traits.

10. I have no facts to prove it, but I have to believe that bars (at least in most of the mid-west) that close at 2, hate the fact that daylight savings time changed the schedule a couple years ago. Having it fall on Halloween weekend, had to mean huge additional profits from just that one hour and full house. If I was an enterprising sort, I'd probably promote that as one of the reasons we are in the recession and blame whatever party was occupying the Presidency or House at the time.

Bonus: Halloween and October overall make me miss so many of my friends that I hung out with during my college years. We had so many good and drama filled times. If any of them are reading this, Hi, and stay safe this Halloween.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Baseball Predictions 2011 American League Follow-up

The regular season ended for Major League Baseball, so let's see how I did in predicting things this year.

AL Predictions.

NL Predictions

Indian's Predictions

American League:

Starting with the East, I'd say I didn't do well. I predicted the Rays to win the Division and the Red Sox to finish in second and take the wild card. The Rays did make the playoffs and the Red Sox didn't. The only point I'll make is I did say the Red Sox would be better then the Yankees due to their pitching, the Yankees got a big boost from some youngsters this year, that evened the score. (side note: CC Sabathia is still going strong and 300 is going to be talked about here in the next year or 2)

Moving to the Central, my predictions stunk. I was as wrong about this division as I could be. The White Sox and Twins got off to bad starts and never recovered. The Tigers got off to a mediocre start and then pummeled the rest of the division. We'll get to the Indians in a bit.

The West saved me from a total disaster of predictions in the American League. (but I'll be honest, it was a fairly easy prediction for this one.) The two top teams are pretty good, the two lower ones are pretty bad.

Surprise team: The Blue Jays, not a bad pick, although given how horrible we expected the Indians to be, maybe not the best pick. The Blue Jays are rounding into a contender though and even in a very tough division will probably get there before the Indians do.

MVP, Cy Young, AL Rookie: The awards haven't been announced yet, but this prediction to me is more along the lines of how well the player you did predict actually performed during the season.

MVP: Oh god, Joe Mauer was my prediction, what the hell was I thinking. The Twins will be lucky if he moves to second base and puts up Craig Biggio numbers for the rest of his career after giving him a bloated contract.

Cy Young: Justin Verlander, keep picking one of the most talented pitchers every year as your Cy Young candidate and you are bound to be right at some point. An excellent year for possibly the best pitcher in the game right now.

AL Rookie: Kyle Drabek, decent year for the son of Doug, but not Rookie of the Year worthy. Not an impressive year for the American League for rookies. Mike Trout of the Angels probably will win this and should win it. He replaced Kendry Morales and carried that offense in many ways for the Angels.

Comeback Player of the Year/Most Improved Player: I didn't pick a comeback player, but instead picked two to improve. Gordon and Butler had very good years and finally came around to what scouts had been predicting for them for years.

Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon was my prediction and given how the Rays got into the playoffs, he proved to me at least (again) that he's one of the top 3 managers in the American League.

American League champ: Let's just pretend I didn't predict this, yikes, the Twins .

I'll follow up with thoughts on the Indians and the National League in future posts.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Anxiety and life today

There are few things I hate more then unknown situations. I despise the anxiety that comes with the unknown and much of what's going on in life now is unknown.

I'm still in the thralls of selling the Cleveland house, with the buyer responsive one day and absent the next 10. As the days tick down, inevitable outcomes linger on the horizon, ones I'd rather not contemplate.

I've recently taken a new job for the company I work for. It's been 5 years since I had a change in positions, it's technically a promotion, although in today's world that doesn't come with immediate compensation. In the meantime I'm tasked with understanding a new business and how I fit in, in addition to the organization going through a massive transformation that's going to leave it looking differently next year.

The last bit of anxiety comes from watching my daughter adjust to kindergarten. In some respects she is doing fine, she's taken to the learning quickly and is making huge progressions in comprehension and reading. On the other hand, I've noticed a change in her demeanor and she doesn't appear to be having a ton of success in the social aspect of kindergarten (or her new pre-school class). It's upsetting her and it's upsetting me, as like the roller skating teaching, there is little I can actually do, it's all about teaching at this point and hoping she adapts. It doesn't ease the frustration.

Given all of that, I just haven't had a lot of time to update the blog. My whining about this stuff is the best you are likely to get for a while. Apologies for that, as there are a ton of topics I'd love to be writing about in today's world, hopefully by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I'll have a better handle on things.

I can't remember if I mentioned this or not, but being a singer is currently on hiatus as well, the guitarist of the group I was with, decided that he had too many personal things he needed to spend time on and the bassist and drummer, just didn't have the heart to try and find another guitarist, so I'm an 'unemployed' musician again. It's bittersweet as it means I'll have to find another group to sing with, but nice as I could see myself mentally exploding from adding it to the balancing act I already have going on.

Until next time take care, and here's my thought for the day: Banning books is never an acceptable practice!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Patrick Henry was right

I haven't had time to put a blog post together on my thoughts about September 11th's anniversary.

However, I'd be remiss if I didn't offer some type of commentary on it, so I'm directing those that are interested to read this blog post , by a woman detained on September 11th on one of the flights that was escorted in by military jet escort to Detroit's airport.

We lose our identity as a nation if we allow ourselves to take away each other's civil liberties. The rules allowing our law enforcement to impede on our citizen's civil liberties because we are afraid is no way to live.

The quote attributed to Ben Franklin, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" rings truer to me everyday. My outlook doesn't allow me to write off those that want to give up our liberties. I accept the fact that they cannot understand what they are doing. They cannot grasp the concept that rights and liberties apply to all of us and that when they point out someone because of their race while they are blinded by fear they perform an act that assists in destroying one of the most important foundations of our country.

Patrick Henry was right.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2012 NFL Season projections

With the first NFL game here, I thought I'd run through projections for the season. I know I haven't given much time to the blog lately, unfortunately life has gotten in the way rather heavily. It probably will be pretty sporadic posting over the next couple weeks.

Playoff teams AFC:

North: Baltimore Ravens (close call with Pittsburgh, but offense is improving for Ravens)

South: Tennessee Titans (Manning's hurt and Houston still scares me. I'm going with the Titans as they are left with the best player in the division and a savvy veteran QB)

East: New England Patriots (I don't bet against Tom Brady)

West: San Diego Chargers (last year was an aberration, this team is the most talented in the division and enough so that even Norv Turner can't screw it up too many years in a row.)

Wild card 1: New York Jets (2 bad teams in Miami and Buffalo mean the Jets get 4 easy games. Add in the fact that they've got a fair amount of talent and a whole lot of attitude and I like them for the wild card spot)

Wild card 2: Pittsburgh Steelers (see above for Jets, 2 bad teams in division in Cincinnati and Cleveland, make it much easier to be a wild card, although I think Cleveland will be improved )

Playoff teams NFC:

North: Green Bay Packers (this team at the start of the season is better then last year's team that won the Super Bowl.)

South: New Orleans Saints (Philly got the hype in the off season, but this team made some great moves. They are reloaded for another run at the Super Bowl)

East:Philadelphia Eagles (The Giants and Cowboys have a number of questions, I see no reason the Eagles can't repeat, even if Vick gets hurt, they have one of the better backups in the league at this point and if Andy Reid gets through to him, look out.)

West: Arizona Cardinals (The Rams will give them a run for their money, but this is the Cardinal's division to lose, with no quarterback last year, they still almost won the division.)

Wild card 1: Detroit Lions (Matt Stafford has to stay healthy, if he does, watch out)

Wild card 2: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (I like this team more then the Falcons, based on what I saw last year when they played the Browns. The Falcons still have issues on defense in my opinion and a stronger schedule is going to show that. The Bucs are younger and I think have more room to grow, whereas the Falcons I think, already think they are there as a team.) (Besides Atlanta never makes the playoffs two years in a row, ever).

NFL MVP: I hate this award, at least they could separate it by conference. Oh well, I'll go with Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers0

NFL Offensive Player of the year: blah, see my comments on MVP. Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals) with a qb that can throw him the ball again and settled on a contract, he puts up Jerry Rice style numbers in the prime of his career.

NFL Defensive Player of the year: Ndamukong Suh (Detroit Lions) just a monster at his position. He's going to hurt a lot of quarterbacks this year.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints) They didn't trade up to get him for no reason, and it's possibly the best offense in the league, he'll put up big numbers.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jabaal Sheard (Cleveland Browns) Why not, most pundits are going with Von Miller, a very solid choice, but sometimes its fun to just be different and Sheard's name continued to pop up on plays during the preseason, a very good sign.

Thoughts on the Cleveland Browns: The Browns are getting better, it appears they've had another successful draft and there is talent being accumulated on this team. Their big issue is that they have no depth. This has been a common problem in the 10 years they've been back. It's not unreasonable to think this team could get off to a 4-2 or 5-1 start especially with Peyton Manning likely to miss the Colt's game. That would be huge for this young team and give them a chance at 8 or 9 victories on the year. The second half of their schedule is harder, but as injuries pile up on teams, that belief could change very quickly.

The key for the season will be continuing to develop the offense. Since Bernie Kosar left in the early 90's this organization hasn't had a pro style offense (see Bill Belichick with Metcalf up the middle searches). In the years they've been back, they've only glimpsed a true pro style offense briefly during the 2007 season.

The defense is very much a work in progress. It will work if the offense puts up points, if they don't then it's going to be a long season. They have a couple of pieces, but very little depth and the 'special' talent they have is young and difficult to judge on how quickly they'll hit their ceiling. In my opinion it's being set up as a bend, don't break unit, which if the offense can take time off the clock, will be a good fit. Depth on defense is worse then offense in my opinion.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Thoughts 8/12/2011

After a dreadful Monday, the type that had one thing after another go wrong, the week hasn't turned out too bad. Here are my current thoughts and ideas for the week.

1. I'm halfway through typing it up, but my Monday personified Murphy's law. A sprained ankle in the morning, first day back to school for wife and day care for daughter, my bike stolen, you name it and it seemed to happen. What a rotten day.

2. As you probably are aware by now, the S&P downgraded America's credit rating. It's nice to see the U.S' credit rating matching many of it's citizens especially over the last 3-5 years.

3. The Indians made a bold move at the trading deadline and acquired, Ubaldo Jimenez from the Colorado Rockies. My first thought on it, was that they gave up too much, but if you consider Jimenez to be a number 1 or 2 starter (and I believe he is) then even if Alex White and Drew Pomeranz are successful (and the odds say they both won't be) you only lost one prospect, as you traded one successful starter for another. The other two players they gave up were inconsequential.

4. I'm 2 weeks into quitting smoking (regular cigarettes) I've only had one minor relapse, a couple on Monday night, but the personal vaporizer (or e-cigarette) has been fantastic. I've had no cravings for real cigarettes and can already see the improvements in breathing, energy, and outlook. Given my previous attempts to quit with all of the products out there have been met with constant cravings, thoughts on when I would be going back, etc, this is truly an amazing development.

5. I remember sitting around drinking coffee and talking about useless things when I was younger. One of the things we used to get into discussions about was what actor would play us in movies (or we'd actually think of who would play other people we know). Anyway, given it was a fair number of years ago and I'm guessing some that read this might have done so too, who would you choose to play you now? For the record, I have no idea who I would choose now.

6. I think the new Smurfs movie looks stupid. Although I will likely take my daughter to it at some point as she's enamored with them.

7. There are times when it feels like the death penalty is completely justified. Anthony Sowell's case seems like one of those times.

8. I mentioned in point 1, that my bike was stolen on Monday, that's not exactly true, at about 7pm I went out back of our townhouse and noticed my bike was missing (and presumed stolen) at midnight when I decided for some reason to check out back again, my bike was back in the spot I had previously left it. So it wasn't stolen, rather it appears to have been 'borrowed'. I still have no idea who borrowed it. It's now back in the basement.

9. In reading the Plain Dealer ( recap of the sentencing, they mention that Sowell delivered an 'unsworn statement' to the jury, prior to their deliberation. It also mentions that due to this being an unsworn statement, the prosecution was not allowed to cross-examine him. I've never heard of this and my web searches so far are turning up very little. I wonder if this is common, or what type of parameters are around such a thing. (Most references I've found seem to be either about the trial, or based on Australian and English law)

10. I love fall weather, the evenings here in Columbus are already reminding me of it. Kind of nice, since we've had such a hot summer, which was great, but fall weather in Ohio is the perfect weather in my opinion. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Having my cake and eating it too!

I just wanted to pop in for a quick update. As of today, I'm smoke free for about 5 days and am in the best spot ever after quitting. Patches, gum, and lozenges have all failed miserably for me in previous attempts. I'm very happy to say that the e-cig that I picked up last week is working like a charm. It's working so well in fact, that even after trying a regular cigarette the first night after I started I completely hated the taste of it. An extremely significant event for me, who upon quitting every other time couldn't even be around someone else smoking without craving it badly.

I have no idea whether the e-cig ultimately will have negative affects, all I know right now is it's working for moving me off of regular cigarettes. Perhaps I'm trading one bad habit for another, but given the absolute nightmare quitting has been in the past and the relative ease it's been so far, I'm more then willing to make that deal at this point.

The e-cig I picked up isn't even one that I wanted or that was rated better by those that switched, it wound up just being a generic one the tobacco shop had, but so far it's working. I'll be picking up a backup and some other supplies here at some point, but for now I'm thrilled with the results.

My previous best for quitting smoking was one month, I'm a ways away from that, but I'm thinking that will be an easy goal at this point. Even for that quit, I never had a day where I didn't crave a regular cigarette. At this point, I have no craving for a regular cigarette.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Thoughts 7/29/2011

Nothing gets me back in the mode of regular writing, like spewing out 10 miscellaneous thoughts and rants.

1. It's one day late, but my wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary yesterday. Holy crap, that's a pretty long time and it's been quite a ride through those years. If anyone ever tells you marriage is easy, they haven't been married, but at the end of the day it is worth it.

2. You know those commercials that talk about Dyson vacuums never losing suction, while that maybe true, I'd like to raise a large middle finger to Mr. Dyson. While your vacuums may not ever lose suction, the fact that I have to replace a complete clutch for one belt snapping, means I truly hate your bright yellow product.

3. Sad news from the TV world last week, TNT's "Men of a Certain Age" has been canceled. This truly sucks. I realize the show didn't relate to a broad audience, it's writing was excellent and covered growing older in a way I'm not sure many shows have ever done. It will be missed.

4. To our elected lawmakers on the National debt issue, I totally feel your pain in managing crushing amounts of debt. Oh wait, I'm not supposed to empathize with you, it's supposed to be the other way around. Jackasses.

5. Yes, I'm a bit surly today.

6. I'm truly sorry that Amy Winehouse died from an overdose, but last weekend's major news story should have been about Norway. The fact is when you compare a tragedy like this, to a self inflicted tragedy like Amy Winehouse experienced, there really is no comparison. Both tragic, one by a measurable difference.

7. Ahh, Glenn Beck, I always kind of thought you were an idiot, but you do continue to impress me. The fascinating thing to me is that you are pretty bad at what you do. Some would assume I think you are an idiot for the views you present, and while I certainly disagree with them, I can understand why you present the ones you do. Except when you so blatantly go over the line of good taste, that I have to wonder if you are truly mentally handicapped, as you did with your Norway comments. I probably should thank you, as you do try to ensure that reasonably minded individuals don't ever take you seriously or bother to listen to your drivel.

8. I'm off to purchase my first e-cig today, or at least shop locally for one. I've been looking over everything on the web that I can find to try and make the first decision easier, we'll see how it goes.

9. Traveling seems to throw my workout schedule out the window. It's been about three weeks since I had a solid workout and getting over that hump and getting back to it is the biggest hurdle. Tomorrow I think I need to go for a morning bike ride. It's also probably time to set a new goal for workouts in a period of time.

10. August is here (well almost). Enjoy the last month of what we consider summer, even if it's hot and humid, we'll be crying for this weather 6 months from now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shaking off the cobwebs

I just wanted to check in and post a few updates, as I anticipated this stretch of summer has been brutal for writing and many other activities. The plate is completely full at the moment and the anxiety level is high on so many levels. I'm hoping things cool off in parallel with the temperature here soon.

The short sale on the house is still in progress. We are in the final phase with the bank (again) the hold up at this point has been the offer sheet which has some difficult to read text due to multiple scanning and faxing. I'm trying to stay positive and am using all of my optimism to believe it's going to finish up this week.

I'm also in high gear with the new band, after some discussion with them, we decided to rename the group to "Deadringer". It looks like our first show is September 23rd, at Bethel Road Pub in Columbus ($3 at the door). I'll have some more thoughts on this as the next month goes by, I'm really happy with how things are going so far. If you are interested, the band's fan page is here.

In addition to the above, we are still waiting to hear whether my wife will be renewed for full time for the school year (they originally were going to renew her full time, but had some budget issues). On top of that, I'm on track for a new job myself, that I'm waiting for some confirmation on. I tell you when it rains it pours.

That's enough for now, the next couple weeks will be spent enjoying the Ohio State Fair and hopefully some of the other summer fun things to do down here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy Anniversary 40th anniversary, Mom and Dad!

I wanted to take a moment and send out Happy Anniversary wishes to my parents. They celebrated their 40th yesterday. I couldn't ask for better parents and I'm going to tell you why.

My parent's anniversary was yesterday and I forgot to call them and hadn't picked up or mailed their card. I always get the dates confused with birthdays and anniversaries. I just can never remember the actual dates, I know what month they take place in, but jumble up the dates every year. (This year for some reason I thought their anniversary was on the 14th., I woke up this morning realizing their anniversary was the 10th and a bit giddy that I was right and that the 10th hadn't passed yet, that is until I looked at the calendar July 11, crap).

It's very possible that I'm a horrible son, but considering my brother forgot the actual day too, I'm guessing it's something else. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure it's their fault.

My parent's never made a big deal out of their anniversary or birthdays, it just wasn't their style. They approached those days with some celebration, but it never was something over the top. They celebrated every day as if it was their anniversary and they taught my brother and I to do the same.

They taught me to have an appreciation for everything in life, whether it was good or bad. Over the course of my life, I can remember periods of desperation like my father losing his job at the Cleveland press with as much fondness as I remember vacations to Disney World (or Autorama, dear Dad what were you thinking?). They had their moments I'm sure where they were scared, angry, or tired of the grind of life, but they never gave up, they always found the bright side of things. During my father's unemployment, I remember he decided to be a den parent for our school class and made styrofoam snowman ornaments for our Christmas party. I still have one of those ornaments and hang it every year. He also during that unemployed period helped coach my peewee football team. Things he didn't always have time for when he was working.

My mother worked night shifts until I was 7 or 8 years old in order for her to be home with her boys. I have no idea when she slept as she came home my father was leaving and it seemed like she went to work as soon as he got home. I'm sure they hated it, but I don't remember them complaining. It also didn't stop my mother from selling candy to co-workers at Christmas time for more money, not to mention the thousands of treats she made regularly.

My father even when regularly employed also took on a newspaper route at an apartment building for more money for a couple years. Sunday mornings were spent as a family in the lobby of an apartment building as we put the papers together, as my father came down to collect more and deliver them. This was perfectly normal to me.

My parents always found time for us even while working 9-5 jobs, which were more like 7:30-6:30 jobs if you include commute during those days. There level of participation in our lives is mind blowing to me. I think about it regularly when I dread taking my daughter to dance class and while I work a fair number of hours, I work from home.

Most of our vacations were spent camping in a small pop-up camper. It seemed like we camped every weekend of the summer and often into fall, my brother and I hated it then, but I look back so fondly on it now, as we spent so much time together and had so many good times. (Although my father still gets upset if we mention Swamp Fever, which is what my mother, brother, and I decided we had after his booking of a Space Campground in Florida that smelled of swamp gas.) We might have mentioned it a few times during that trip to Florida and on the way home.

The lesson I learned is that you make do with what you have, it doesn't mean you can't have a vacation, it just means that sometimes it's different. What my parent's lacked in money, they made up for with smarts.

Let's take another area of how special my parent's were, although there were times as a child, that I remember meals for weeks being what flavor of Campbell's soup we were going to eat. (Bean with Bacon being the regular serving). It never felt like we were tightening our belts. I know there were numerous reasons for belt tightening, but I also know that they still managed to make Christmas special, or get a special birthday gift, or 1000's of other things that children desire. They also weren't afraid to talk to us about some of the things they were doing to provide, whether it was soup for meals to save, or other things, we were a family and while I'm sure they didn't share anything, they did make us a part of things and the discussions.

When my parent's bought their dream house that was being built and then fell horribly behind schedule, they moved us to the new city for the school year (and because our old house sold). At the time they only thought we had a month or two to spend in the apartment, so they got a one bedroom and decided to sleep on the fold out couch. We wound up being in that apartment for close to a year. They had their share of fights as the pressure of things was getting to them during that time, but they taught me a lot in how they handled that crappy living situation. Talk about downsizing, two teenage boys, and two adults in a 400sq ft. apartment after living in a 3 bedroom house for the past 15 years. Add in a new city and it wasn't exactly a wonderful year. The fold out they slept on was a piece of fabric on metal bars, it was serviceable for one nights sleep, not for a year. They fought a lot that year, but they worked through things and eventually when we moved into the house, we were all a bit more closer and more aware from that experience living in that apartment.

Moving into our house was likely the quickest move ever, as I'm sure we sprinted things into the new house in order to abandon the apartment. We moved on my 16th birthday, and my parent's forgot that it was my birthday that day, which gives me much joy in bringing up every once in a while. Although between you and I, I completely understand their forgetting the day, as we were at the end of a grueling marathon and their focus was on moving into the house, I just like to be a pain in the ass.

I learned from my parents how relationships can bend and sometimes feel like they are cracking but with work and understanding they can survive. When I see my Mom and Dad, I see how they fit together, I also see that they weren't always a 'fit' there were a lot of tools used to make them fit. They taught me that through the years and I'm a better person for it.

Throughout my adult life, my parents have always been there for me and my family. They rarely say no to a request and often times go out of their way to assist if they think it can help.

They created an environment where we could talk about anything with them and continuously through my youth beat into my head that I needed to treat my brother better and that relationship has turned out very nicely as well. They never stood in the way of our development, they nudged and pushed at times, but they always let us make our own mistakes and were right there to help pick us up if we got knocked down. I can honestly say that without their influence and teaching, I would find it very unlikely that my brother and I would be working at the company we do and for 10 out of the 20 years or so that we've worked there, one of us has been rated in the top 5% of the companies employees. A feat many never even achieve once.

I understand that this is not necessarily the most polished piece of work, as I started to write this, more stories and thoughts came to my mind and I tried to work many of them in where I could. It's has some rough edges, but I think the heart is there, which sort of symbolizes my thoughts about my parents.

I've tried to tell you how influential they've been in my life, but even as I wrote this, I know I'm incredibly short of conveying that message. Their support, understanding, and wisdom have been invaluable to me through my life and I wouldn't be who I am today without them.

Thank you Mom and Dad, congratulations on 40 years of marriage , I love you!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Favorite Baseball Notes

These are some odds and ends of some of my favorite memories of watching baseball. They aren't in any order and although I tried to hit my normal 10, I felt after #8, that I'd just be throwing things in there, if I remember something later, I can always come back and update. This post is inspired by Derek Jeter getting his 3,000th hit. The player that to me is the #1 reason the Yankees have been so good for close to the last 20 years. (and the reason I'm so sad the Cleveland Indians drafted Paul Shuey at #2 that year)

1. Jeter's Flip, this play to me is the type of understanding and hustle that a great player does to separate himself from the good ones. (It doesn't hurt that it was in the playoffs)

2. Kirk Gibson's pinch hit home run off of Dennis Eckersley. Eckersley was beyond dominant that season, Gibson was a wreck after the LCS. The video is fairly long but the only one that captures a bit of the drama of him actually coming to bat. (Fast forward to about 3:30 to get close to the clip) This home run changed the series and the Dodgers quickly disposed of the A's.

3. Knoblach/Gagne fake tag from '91 World Series Game 7. This was Jack Morris' masterpiece, but it would have had a very different ending if not for Knoblach and Gagne's fake double play move to freeze Lonnie Smith. (8th inning of game seven at 4:50 in video)

4. Jack Morris pitching 10 innings of scoreless baseball in game 7 of the 1991 World Series. For the recap of the series see the video under #3 above. An amazing performance in a sport that doesn't often get a chance to let a player put it all on the line for one game.

5. Albert Belle and Tony Pena's home runs in the 1995 Division series Game 1 against the Boston Red Sox. Unfortunately I couldn't find any video. This was the first playoff game for the Indians in my lifetime. Belle hit his homer in the middle of the game after the Red Sox had an umpire confiscated his bat for testing (for cork) at the request of the Red Sox. After the home run, the cameras caught Albert in the dugout pointing at his bicep and yelling over to the Red Sox "Cork this!" Pena hit his home run in the bottom of the 13th and ran so fast around the bases that if you blink you missed him. Since this was a 5 game series (the first year of division series) this let Cleveland fans breath a huge sigh of relief.

6. Kenny Lofton's 1995 Game 6 ALCS performance.. Cleveland fans were terrified of Randy Johnson as was the most of baseball in 1995. Luckily the Yankees forced the Mariners to use him a lot in the ALDS, which allowed the Indians to get a few less looks at him. Lofton in Game 6 of the ALCS with a moment inspired by the movie "Major League"

7. Orel Hershiser's 59 1/2 scoreless inning streak. 1988 was all about Orel Hershiser, in what I consider one of the most dominant seasons by a pitcher ever.

8. Ken Griffey Jr. hitting. One of the most perfect swings to watch. This was homer #629.

This was homer #100, grace in hitting.

At the end of their careers it will be very hard to decide who was better all time. Ken Griffey Jr. or Albert Pujols. Although as a left hander, Griffey's swing was far better to watch.

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's never to early to plan

We are probably 10-13 years away from this blog becoming really interesting, which would be about the time that boys really starting entering my daughter's life. If there's one reason I can point to that makes men prefer to have sons over daughters (outside of hoping they become professional athletes) its the issue of their daughters having to date someday.

Since I'm an obsessive planner and the only hope I have in combating this is to utilize the time I have now when she's a child, I've started to get to work.

Please realize that there is a good deal of this that is tongue in cheek (although the degrees of that are open to discussion).

I'm in the group that believes that no boy/man will ever meet my expectations for my daughter. Having said that, I also realize that it is my issue not hers. So I accept the fact that I can't dress her in a burka, lock her in a room, or feed her fried twinkies until she's pleasantly plump enough that I don't have to deal with the issue.

She's going to date someday, she's going to have her heart broken at times, and she's going to make her own choices at some point.

I see two ways of approaching this, one I can take the stereotypical path and become a curmudgeon (Dungeonkeeper) and make life impossible for her as a teenager or I can work to prepare her for what the world has in store for her and maybe add a bit of psychology to the mix.

I have to admit the idea of being a curmudgeon is appealing, bolting windows, forbidding her to see boys, and barring her from wearing certain outfits all seem like perfectly logical things for me to do, and we are still about 10 years away from those issues (imagine what will feel right then). I also know that if I have that mentality, it will cause huge fights, she'll lose respect for me, and she'll probably do the opposite of what I forbid anyway. That's not an appealing scenario.

That means I have to take an alternative path. That path entails preparing her for the world at large and developing a strong relationship with her. My hope is that the relationship will make her comfortable enough to talk to me about difficult situations that are going to happen. (I hate being the grown-up sometimes)

Now, you might be reading this and thinking, "Oh how sweet, you are such a good father". Thank you (if you are), but don't get ahead of yourself yet.

From day one, my goal for Bronwyn has been to fill her with love and help her find her own confidence. I fully expect to continue on this path, but I've also come to realize I have a highly manipulative side to me as well (my family reading this, just rolled their eyes and said 'no shit, Sherlock').

Which is why over the weekend, I had a bit of an epiphany in regards to the "dating dilemma". I realized how I was going to approach this issue and I was a bit ecstatic that I've already been doing some of the work.

About 6 months ago, I was joking (kind of) with Bronwyn, that any boy she brought home, I was going to throw in the garbage can. She didn't say much at the time, but on a visit to her grandmother's (my mom), she shared with my mom her fear that I was actually serious. This is wonderful news and the hook I needed to enact my master plan.

My master plan is that there will be no fights over boyfriends or dating, it will be my responsibility to get her to recognize how strong and smart she is and to help her her understand what she should be looking for in a boy. It will be her job to choose the boy based on those things.

The reason I say there will be no fights is that, with the hook I've set in place I won't need to fight with her. All I need to do when she brings a boy home, is sigh, slightly shake my head in the negative, or make eye contact with her in a disappointing way. At that point her subconscious will be dumping those boys in the garbage. The date will go fine, but within a week the nagging feeling of trash will surely extinguish any interest and she'll move on. It's simple and brilliant! I can only imagine the cartoon like sequences that will be playing through her mind and the subsequent disinterest towards the boy that will follow.

This is not a fool proof plan (unfortunately). It's conceivable (although unlikely) that I'll be reasonable and not sigh or shake my head disapprovingly at every boy. It's also possible that she'll have enough confidence in her decisions to not care about my approval (which would be very good) or that she'll catch on to my subversive ways (which would be very bad). There's also an outside chance that I'll turn her into Ally McBeal where she regularly suffers from humorous hallucinations brought on by emotional situations.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Assigning blame: A person is smart, people are dumb

If you are involved with any kind of social media, then yesterday afternoon, you likely saw the crush of opinions on the Casey Anthony verdict.

I knew of the case, but I didn't follow it at all and really wasn't aware of any details of the case. Even as a bit of a news junkie, the media around it smacked of sensationalism and I just didn't care to hear about it.

Much of the public's outcry over the verdict is aimed at jury. (For a very good piece on thoughts on the jury, please check out craAAKKer). It's misguided and stupid to do so. Out of all of the parties involved in this case, the jury is the last group that deserves any blame. They took what was presented to them and within the guidelines provided by the judge came to a unanimous decision.

Think about this for a moment, 12 people who don't know each other except for the time they've spent over the past weeks, reviewed the material presented to them and unanimously agreed to acquit Casey Anthony on murder and manslaughter charges in less then a day. You have to appreciate how difficult it is to get 12 people to agree on anything, much less in trying to balance justice for a 2 year old child against the life of it's accused mother. Think it's easy? take something that's obviously not as serious and try to come to a decision with 11 of your friends (or strangers). Maybe decide on a vacation spot and dates for everyone to go together or whether man actually landed on the moon.

If there is blame to assign in relation to the case. It has to be laid on the prosecution and law enforcement. Ultimately it's their failure, not the jurors. We sometimes become so caught up in having to blame someone, that we forget who is ultimately responsible (I blame the current political climate for fostering this, but that's another post). This isn't to say that the prosecution or law enforcement could have done anything more, but it is to say that the failure in this instance rests with them.

So remember, when you get upset about this verdict, what you know and what the jurors were presented with are two completely different things, in addition to that, their responsibility was in ensuring that guilt was proven beyond a reasonable doubt and they ultimately decided it wasn't.

The larger the group of people, the stupider they are as a whole. Take an issue to 1 person (or 12 in this case) and they are able to apply reasoning to something that a massive group cannot.

There is no doubt there was no justice for Caylee Anthony and there likely never will be, that doesn't mean we have to ignore the facts of something though, because we want it to be right. Doing so would be disastrous.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

So much to do and so little time!

I just wanted to put some thoughts down to paper, since I seem to have a slight break in what's turned into a crazy summer schedule. I have a ton I want to write about, and also a bunch of things standing in the way of doing so. Here's some quick hits on what's going on in life right now and what I'm thinking about getting up on the blog in the near future.

1. I went to the 20 year reunion, and it was kind of a dud from a turnout standpoint. I was glad that a couple people I hadn't seen in 20 years did come out to the mixer and we got to talk, but the reunion itself was pretty boring and I didn't really see anyone there I was interested in talking too. I'm glad I went though and I have some thoughts on it as a 'rite of passage' of sorts as I think it was a bigger mental milestone then I understood.

2. The Disney trip has come and gone and it went very well. My daughter had a great time and was doted on constantly by princesses. I have so much I want to write about the trip, everything from how Disney's resort/park business does things that no one is even close to achieving, to watching my daughter for the week, to dealing with the first family vacation. The one interesting piece I'll leave you with now is: Prior to my trip we measured my daughter's height, she measured at 44 1/2 inches. Disney's highest ride requirement was 44in for Space Mountain. Prior to the trip we watched some of the videos on Disney's website and my daughter had her heart set on riding Space Mountain. She did in fact ride it and I can honestly say she had no idea what she was getting herself into (as evidenced by her look after the ride). I'm extremely proud of her though for riding it and how she held up at 5 years old though, and even more impressed that after a day break, she decided she wanted to ride it again and did.

3. My house sale has driven my anxiety off the charts. I'm hopeful as of today and some conversations I had that we may actually be at the finish line for this, fingers crossed, once we do finish, I'll write up some thoughts on it.

4. Tonight is my first official practice with my new band, "So What". I'm looking forward to it, but as usual a bit anxious and expect to be until I settle into a routine with the group.

5. Right before my reunion, I attended a big company anniversary party/session. I don't talk much about my company, and even though I'm fairly confident there is nothing on here that would be an issue, I'll still keep it's name out of the blog. Anyway, as I sat in the session, a lot of thoughts crossed my mind about the company and how I became a part of it. In addition to that, I also thought about what it means to me to be a part of the company I am now. This one is far down on the list of to do's but it's something I want to explore at some point. My company has been around for a while and I just celebrated my 12th year with them in April. It was only about 2-3 years ago, that I got over the disbelief that I'm working for who I am, especially considering I started with them in Cleveland (not exactly Silicon Valley). If you had told me when I was a teenager or even when I was in college that this is who I would be working for, I'd have assumed you were drinking more then me at the time.

That's it for now, need to go prep some songs for the practice tonight.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Let it rock! Columbus's newest cover band singer!

I got my hopes up and got rewarded in this case, I received a call tonight from the bassist forLink "So What" that they liked my audition and wanted to offer me the spot as their singer. I eagerly accepted.

Now the real work begins, the band is playing out their last three gigs this month with their previous singer, whose moving on to other projects, and in the meantime we'll start putting together a new set list and learning tunes we each will be bringing to the table.

I'm extremely excited about the opportunity and can't wait to write more about it as we move forward. The next two months maybe a bit slow in putting things together as I have two weeks away and the drummer has a two weeks in July he's gone too, but considering how much we were able to accomplish in the audition, I'm hopeful we'll be looking at something for mid to late August.

I'll have more details as things go along and will be updating the blog with all sorts of band related stuff, including set lists, struggles, and gig reviews. I also have to go find a microphone I like, which means likely giving a call to my former drummer and getting his insight.

I knew this jacket I bought last weekend as it was 90 degrees outside was meant for something.

Although that isn't the exact style, it's pretty close.

Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Thoughts 6/10/2011

1. Besides being my favorite post to write up to date, it appears that my Ginsu knife post has also drawn a lot of traffic. Considering traffic to my site is usually like traffic on a dirt road, I may have to come up with some new things to try.

2. The wife is back on the yo-yo in regards to her job. As it turns out, her letter last month was commitment to sign contract once presented, however the school hasn't reached their necessary enrollment numbers yet, and while they believe they'll clear that easily, she won't be getting a contract until July. After the last couple years, I'd really like to just see a 5 year period or so where we don't have to worry about jobs.

3. My 20 year reunion is next week, I'm glad to say that my goal of 44 workouts before my reunion that I started 11 weeks ago is nearing completion, I'm currently at 42 and expect to have no issue reaching the 44th. I will say that I haven't gotten the exact results I've hoped for, but I've seen some definite improvements. The lull in workouts after moving down to Columbus was far longer then I've gone in 20 years and the effects were pretty substantial. I cannot afford at this age to have a period of inactivity like that again.

4. In trying to keep my balanced outlook and refrain from bashing on Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter this week, I'm trying to decide who's actually worse. John Edwards or Anthony Weiner. Actually there is no comparison in my opinion. Edwards wins in a landslide, terminally ill wife (check), baby with mistress (check), hide in bathroom from National Enquirer (check), make staff member take ownership of child and harm his marriage (check), and pay out of campaign funds to mistress to keep her quiet (check). Outstanding work there John.

5. Last week, there was a lot of buzz on the child's sign in Texas, where he offered his piggy bank to the Ranger that hit his brother. A lot of the discussion was on whether the parent's were bad parents. I won't say they were bad parents, but I cannot for the life of me understand for one minute, why they allowed their child to put up a sign like that. It's definitely a case of bad judgement on their part, who let's one of their kids put a sign like that up in public 'targeting' their other child.

6. It looks like Florida is in process of passing regulations requiring welfare applicants to take a drug test. I can understand why they are doing it, and I understand why so many people are in favor of it, but I'm against it. As I am with any kind of drug testing, as I believe it's an infringement on an individuals privacy. It amazes me how quickly people are eager to allow the government to take civil liberties, when they think it's being taken away from someone else.

7. Over the last week or two, I noticed some articles that talked about ending the "War on Drugs" and taking a different approach in how we spend the dollars supporting it currently. I didn't note any of the links and I'm not having much luck in finding them, but I would consider them sort of mainstream articles, not fringe web sites. The reason I mention this, is I think we will come to a point someday where we end the "War on Drugs" and stop spending millions and billions of dollars on enforcement, incarceration, and everything else we spend on it and rather redirect some of those funds to continued education and rehabilitation programs. To this point, I don't think that sentiment has been anything other then a fringe suggestion, it's going to take some time for it to be brought to the American mainstream consciousness, I think the thought is getting closer to becoming a subject we'll see average people debating over here in the near future.

8. My opinion is that ending the "War on Drugs" is the way for the country to go. There would be an adjustment period to doing it, but in the end I think prohibition in this case is far more costly then allowing it. I think the important message that those supporting the end of prohibition is that legalization does not mean 'has to use'.

9. After a soggy beginning to spring, I'm extremely happy that we jumped right into July and August style heat. It's a welcome relief from the winter, and with the pool at the complex here, very easy to head over to it for a quick dip or a relaxing weekend day.

10. This will probably be the last Friday Thoughts for a couple weeks, we have our first Disney vacation coming up here soon and I'm guessing I won't be doing many blog posts at all. I hope to recap some of the trip in the blog when I return.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

For those about to rock

Yesterday I had another audition with a band looking for a lead singer. I have to say I think it went pretty well. We met at a studio the band practices at, which was nice as it was a more neutral site for me and the studio itself had a great setup.

Lately, I've been very picky in looking over potential bands, there are a ton of factors for me that are important and I'm looking for in order to make this kind of commitment to playing. One thing I've learned during my brief 'career' as a singer, is there are just way to many variables affecting a band for you to not try and find a situation that works from the start.

Having said that, I've only got a small sample to choose from. A couple auditions here in Columbus and Cleveland, my time with Tornn, and a couple sessions with a group down here. So this is what I'm looking for.

1. Similar musical interests. I'm not a heavy metal guy, but as I've found out when playing with that band briefly in March, I am a rock and roll guy, and I need some music with energy and tempo.

2. People that enjoy playing. This has got to be fun, I want guys that play because they love it. I can appreciate those that are looking to make their place in music or earning a living playing, but that's so far removed from what I'm looking to do, it would just not be a good fit.

3. The group should like each other. There's a ton of time that gets spent together, who has time to deal with people they don't like. This is a bit more difficult for me coming in, as I have no control over whether the band members like me, but I do want to see that they like each other.

4. Open to new things, this could be categorized in a number of ways, but going back to 'this should be fun' I'm looking for a group that has a fairly diverse set list and a lot of interests, it doesn't hurt that they are open to new things too. This fits my mindset and as I've found out while singing, most of my favorite tunes at this point, are ones someone else decided they wanted to play/explore. (which may just mean, I suck at picking out good tunes for me to sing)

After getting an email last week about the audition, I started reviewing my song list and working on some tunes they asked me to do and some others that I was familiar with and had saw on their set list. After struggling for two days and wondering if I forgot how to sing, I listened to the demo tracks I did with Torrn and found my voice again. I ran through 2 completely new tunes they had asked about and about 7 or 8 songs that I knew, but had never tried to sing before. In addition to that, I had about 10 songs that I have done previously that they also knew.

The plan as far as I could tell was for me to just play with them through the studio time they had, so I wanted to be as ready as possible. I was actually thinking I didn't have enough ready and was beating myself up over the fact, that I wasn't able to pick up another new song they had asked about. (I looked it over, but with all the other preparation, it just never got to the point where I was comfortable putting it out there for an audition).

I met the guys and we got started. I have to say there are a lot of things I like, they tune down a half notch for every song, and the difference for me was incredible. A couple tunes that were always pushing the bar for me, fell right in line, with just the half notch down. We rumbled through about 2 hours of songs. They liked the fact that I pulled a number from their set list out to try and I liked the fact that they winged a couple other tunes that I had done before. The nice thing was we just seemed to have a really cool time playing for the evening. The stress of an audition, always makes me a little hesitant to just give something a try, as I know it takes a number of takes before I can hit it out of the park. The problem for me is, I don't like to be hesitant in that spot, I'd rather put it out there and let it be a bit sloppy, as I'd rather at least take advantage of the playing opportunity then worry about whether someones going to judge the flaws in the first or second run.

The atmosphere was right to give some of the stuff a try and I think it sounded really good. I picked the order, so I was able to mix in the new stuff, with things I knew really effectively, and by the time I told them I was out of ideas, I got the impression they were fairly impressed that we had went through 2 hours of playing.

We talked for a bit afterwards and I have to say, I like the guys, it's a nice group and they seem to really fit with my personality. They let me know afterwards, they had one more audition coming in, but expected to be getting back to me soon. I typically don't want to get my hopes up, but unfortunately after the nice session, I already am. This would be a very good fit if I'm the choice. Of course if things work out, I'll be talking about it here. If nothing else, I'm feeling a bit re-energized in my pursuit of a singing spot if they decide to go in another direction. I questioned before this audition whether or not my heart was still in it, but after last nights session, I'm convinced I still have a lot of passion to sing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"But wait, there's more!" Ginsu knives!!

Before Billy Mays and OxiClean, the catchphrase in the 1980's of TV infomercials was "But wait, there's more." In the early 80's you couldn't watch TV without seeing an ad for the Ginsu knives. They were the decade's "Snuggies" of kitchenware. As a child of the 80's, the Ginsu knives hold a special place in my memories, along with "Where's the Beef" and Michael Jackson being black.

The Ginsu knife commercials were as over the top as the 1980's were. The knives could do everything and there was no need to sharpen them, ever. Here's a commercial I found on YouTube for the 90's version of the Ginsu knife.

Imagine my surprise then, when a couple of months ago, I noticed one of my steak knives was the legendary Ginsu 2000.

Unfortunately, this is the only one of its kind in my collection and in truth I have no idea how it got there. After discovering this treasure, I realized that I was in a unique position to test this wondrous creation. I have not bought or sharpened a knife in at least 10 years. I know this because, prior to living with my wife, I'm not even sure I owned knives and it's been 12 years since we moved in together. I also know we haven't bought or received any knives since at least our wedding shower, which was over 10 years ago as well. This is the opportunity I've been waiting for my whole life. I'm going to get to see if the Ginsu knife can cut a can after 10 years of wear and tear and never having been sharpened.

Here's our victim.

Not a clean cut like the commercial, but the knife made it through, and definitely 'cut' the can. But wait, there's more.

I was out of tomatoes, so I ran the knife through an apple. It cuts the same as it did before I cut the can. "Amazing"

Truth in advertising!

I can now put this childhood memory to rest, safe in the knowledge that the decade of the excess (the 1980's) was an innocent decade rife with technological advances like the Ginsu knife.

*side note* No, I wasn't going to try and cut a nail or a lead pipe, are you crazy? This is the friggin' Ginsu knife. Of course it can cut through a lead pipe or a nail, it probably would slice through my finger too if I tried to cut those, just out of spite for taunting it. :)

Retraction for Cleveland Festivals

As I've pointed out before, I'm more then willing to admit when I'm wrong. Last Friday in my Friday thoughst post, I praised the Columbus Asian festival for its authenticity and took a shot at Cleveland's typical festivals (at least the ones I regularly attended).

I made a broad generalization in saying that most Cleveland festivals I attended often lacked vendors that fit with the theme of the festival. I was called out on it and referred to the a link for the Cleveland Asian Festival, which appears to be organized in a similar fashion to the Columbus festival and certainly looks like the organizers have done a great job on engaging local Asian businesses for participation and maintaining their theme throughout the festival.

So, if you are in Cleveland or Columbus in May and have a craving for some Asian food, now there are two places you can go.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ever wonder how things would be?

Over the weekend, I seemed to have many dream filled sleep sessions, and while I can't remember specifics of those dreams. I can remember waking up Sunday morning, with a question, I thought I'd write about.

It's actually a couple of questions.

1. How would everyday life change if something epic happened?
2. What would the coverage of said event be like?
3. How would the world change?

The first thing I need to do is define what I mean by epic. In this case, I'm talking about something that defies rational thought, something spectacular that has the ability to change our perception of the world. In this case I'm not referring to catastrophes (Hurricane Katrina devastation, Japan tsunami, or nuclear meltdown) or acts of war (September 11th attack or Oklahoma City Bombing). Those things definitely change the way we think and act, but not in the way I'm wondering about right here.

What I mean by epic, is something akin to finding out the world isn't flat or isn't at the center of the universe, but in a more significant way.

Here's an example of some of the things I'm thinking about.

1. What if some religious miracle happened and was completely visible?
2. What if there was some confirmation of aliens, whether by contact or some sort of attack?
3. What if something happened to the earth that made the scale of Japan's tsunami or Hurricane Katrina pale in comparison? (i.e. a global event)

There are a ton of other epic style events, I'm sure people could come up with. I wonder how the world would react and how life would change, if it did at all?

I know a lot of it depends on the act and the fallout from it, but it's something I used to wonder about as a child/teenager and I was just thinking about it this weekend.

Personally, I'd find it fascinating to see how things develop, I have a strong affinity for chaos in social systems and something epic would be the epitome of this on a global scale.

There is a part of me that believes that not much would actually change though if something happened, or at least not much in the day to day life of the masses. From my view, large change to the social conscious is something that takes some time. That time can be affected by the size of the event; however it's still a fairly slow change.

Anyway, that's my random, irrelevant question for the day. Feel free to share any thoughts in comments.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Thoughts 6/3/2011

I find myself growing increasingly busy and it' s not looking good for the next couple months. So while I have a number of posts that I'm thinking about, I'm afraid all I have time for at the moment is a top 10 of thoughts.

1. Jim Tressel, coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team, resigned this week. On a personal level, I could care less, college football has never been one of my favorite sports. From a sociological level, I've been fascinated by the town's reaction and sports talk discussion. I'd say before the resignation there was a definite feeling in the Columbus community that he should either be fired or resign. I must say I was shocked by this sentiment. For a town that lives and breathes based on Ohio State Football in a similar way to what Cleveland does with their pro sports teams, I couldn't understand why they'd be so quick to dump the coach that led their team to a championship. The best assumption I can make is that they care far more for the program then the coach and cannot fathom the possibility of big sanctions against the program. That seemed to be the argument in favor of getting rid of Tressel. Compare that with the mentality in Cleveland, where we idolize players and coaches and make them our own, no matter what type of trouble they get into, and if they are really good or win us a championship, the town adopts them as a permanent icon. Cleveland's the town that after Albert Belle came back from his alcohol problem and then proceeded to hit a fan in the chest with a baseball, gave him a standing ovation the next day (and we loved and protected him until he turned his back on us). The list of flawed superstars that we take as our own is fairly long, Jim Brown, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, Bernie Kosar, Robby Alomar, Art Modell, and Lebron James. Jim Tressel if he won a championship in Cleveland, would have buildings and roads named after him immediately and I can guarantee most of the talk there wouldn't have been he needs to go (unless of course he turned his back on us, like a large number on the list above). I must admit I find this difference fascinating and a bit disheartening, Cleveland may have a lot of things wrong with it, but the fans loyalty and passion aren't one of them.

2. My daughter graduated pre-school yesterday. At first I thought it was sort of a ridiculous to have a ceremony for pre-school graduation, but as I sat there and watched them do their songs and show a slide show of pictures of the kids, I began to appreciate it. It's another step in her growing up, something I continue to not want to think about, but a thought that constantly drives me to make the most of the time now. In honor of her graduation, here's one of my favorite pictures of her.
This was a dress up evening, wearing her witch hat and Cinderella outfit. There's an innocence I think I captured in her expression.

3. I can't say enough good things about the pre-school my daughter has attended. The program they run there exceeded my expectations in every way. During college I worked as a child care admin. for a number of places. You learn a lot from the inside, including the fact that turnover is a huge issue for the programs and that organized teaching plans are often talked about and rarely implemented successfully. My daughter's pre-school does an excellent job on both fronts. Her main teacher has been there for 10 years and much of the staff has been there for many years as well, that's a tribute to their director, who has been there for 21 years. I couldn't have asked for a better setting for my daughter to learn in.

4. Dr. Jack Kevorkian died, for those that are old enough to remember, one of the most controversial people of the 90's, Dr. Kevorkian was the poster boy for physician assisted suicide. In my personal opinion, I believe physician assisted suicide should be allowed; however I've always been a bit repulsed by Dr. Kevorkian as I believe he had ulterior motives in his assistance. I believe he was a bit of a ghoul and took far too much pleasure in his actions. Of course this is all based on readings I've done and there is no shortage of personal bias in many of the articles I did read on him, however based on how I review things, my gut instinct tells me that Dr. Kevorkian had an agenda for himself in addition to 'assisting' others.

5. Uh oh, bad run for the Cleveland Indians right now. Here's hoping they pull out of it, or at least get some less then .500 teams to play against. Even with their bad run, they still own the best record in baseball (see what a good start does for you). On a lighter side, check out this story from the Onion, let me just say that whoever wrote this, captured the mentality of the Cleveland fan perfectly.

6. I have another audition scheduled for Wednesday, another one that I'm cautiously optimistic for. These guys definitely seem to have it together and there style is very similar to mine. I'm almost fearful of writing about this, as if I don't I can keep from getting my hopes up. There is a part of me that really wants to get something going with a band and another part that really hates the potential rejection. At least for now I still seem to be able to overcome the side that wants me to do nothing due to possible rejection.

7. Memorial day weekend was interesting, it was the first summer bbq weekend we have had down here in Columbus. It was kind of sad on some levels as we couldn't head over to see friends and family for an afternoon, and on the other hand it forced us to try and find some new type traditions to do. We wound up heading to the Asian Festival here in Columbus. I have to say it was pretty cool. The festival was laid out in the park by the conservatory, with stages set up for dance routines and martial arts. In addition they had two areas of vending set up, one with food and one with items for purchase. The food vending section was very impressive. If for no other reason then they had such a variety of Asian cuisines available. One of the things I used to hate about festivals in Cleveland, whether it be Irish, Italian, or any other nationality is that when you got there, there was a horrible selection of food representing the festival. You'd wind up with the same 4 gyro trucks at every festival and if you found something Italian it was usually pizza or Stromboli. Every vendor at the Asian festival had something interesting and there were a ton of Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese choices. The only bad thing about it, was the fact that it was about 95 degrees, a temperature that severely curbs my appetite.

8. Based on our enjoyment of the festival, I can see us going to a lot more of those over the summer, especially since there isn't a lot of room at the townhouse to relax and just hang outside. I will say that getting into Columbus is relatively easy and the festivals tend to be spread out all over the city, the one negative though is parking in downtown Columbus sucks.

9. I ordered four bottles of my favorite rum from online this week. My Cruzan Blackstrap has arrived, now the summer can officially begin. It's a great mixer for summer cocktails, although I like it straight up too, although I will say that most rum reviewers don't consider it anything special.

10. You would think after all of my drivel for the first 9 that coming up with a 10th point would be easy. You would be wrong. Oh wait, I guess this is my 10th point. Have a great weekend everyone.