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.