Tuesday, January 27, 2009

25 things making the rounds... part two

I had seen this on facebook, thought about doing it, saw that Barry was having a little fun with it, posted my own on facebook and have now decided to copy it here too...

These are the 25 "random" things I came up with:

1. I think running a marathon (or any other sort of running race) would be neat, just to say I did it.
2. I hate running.
3. I’m very excited at the prospect of being someone’s mother. I’m also terrified.
4. I don’t think I understood what unconditional love was until I found my husband. I knew I had it at least with my parents, but I didn’t understand it. Now I’m able to appreciate what I have with my extended family that much more.
5. My best friend has been so since the 1st grade. There are few more amazing things to me, on so many levels.
6. Most dogs scare me, if even just a little bit. And I know that in 99% of the cases that’s completely irrational and I still can’t help it.
7. I like to be in control, even if I tell myself that I’m OK with not being, I know it’s definitely part of my growing to let that go.
8. I also know I worry too much, but I can’t seem to stop myself.
9. I’ve been a non-smoker for just over 1 year, after smoking for 11.
10. I mostly blame gaining almost 30 lbs. in a little over a year on quitting smoking.
11. I have struggled with weight my whole life.
12. Outside of the United States, I’ve been to Canada (if you count that), Spain, Morocco, India, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands (and soon, Costa Rica!)
13. I very much believe in karma.
14. I think cutting coupons and getting the most out of a deal is fun!
15. My favorite place to vacation is at Burt Lake with the family!
16. I probably carry too much guilt. I still feel guilty for things I did as a kid, that most likely were just being a kid. Mostly though, I feel guilty for having been mean and/or bratty to my parents.
17. My brother wasn’t always my best friend, but now that we’ve both grown up, he could do almost no wrong in my eyes, at least not much that I wouldn’t forgive him for. There definitely isn’t much that I wouldn’t do for him, or my nephew for that matter.
18. I wish I’d been a better Girl Scout.
19. I think I probably should have been born about 2 decades earlier – I think I would have been an awesome flower child.
20. We have two cats that always make me smile when they almost always greet me at the door when I get home (they’re like less scary versions of a dog).
21. It might be cliché, but I wish I’d paid more attention to what my grandmothers had to offer. I desperately hang on to anything that I do have from both of them, in lessons and objects.
22. I’m a sucker for nostalgia and attach sentiment to most every thing. I suppose I don’t apologize for it though.
23. I might be a perfectionist, to such an extreme that sometimes if I don’t feel like I can do something perfectly then I don’t do it at all. Either that, or I’m just lazy :D
24. I have next to no fashion sense, although it’s better than my rhythm, I do know it, and don’t apologize for it either.
25. I’m doing my best to learn not to care so much about what other people think.

I encourage you to give this a try, if even as just an excercise for yourself. But it's fun to pass along too... send an email or two!

Monday, January 26, 2009

25 things making the rounds

I decided to do this for the blog after seeing a friend on Facebook post this and forward to 25 people for them to do. I was not one of them, but hey, blog!

"Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you."

0. I hate when people use "random" in cases that clearly do not involve randomness!

1. One of my favorite things to observe growing up was how data storage has changed, and how it's still changing. I was in a week-long computer camp every summer when I was a kid, and one of the best things was seeing my favorite instructor go on about these fancy new 3.5" disks. "They're practically indestructible," he said, as he bent it back and forth to show off its durability. It disintegrated onto the sidewalk.

2. I've only ever broken one bone, and it was a finger. I had a splint for it, and the worst thing about it was the smell of the bandage after having had it on for a couple of days.

3. I was on my middle school track team and ran the second slowest half-mile of the team in 7th grade. I was thrilled to be moved to sprints in 8th grade, because it meant that I didn't have to jiggle all the way around the track twice before the next event could start.

4. Since my parents got us our family dog, Ben, I've given pets people names. He and Angus (cat) were great pets, if a bit mentally challenged, but I hope we made their lives pleasant. Our cats, Franklin J. Monster and Stanley T. Cat provide us with challenges every day. I have no idea how we'll discipline children.

5. I was baptized and confirmed at Settlement Lutheran Church (member, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) in Gowen, Michigan. It's true what they say, though - the best way to get a rowdy teenager out of a church is to confirm him.

6. I was a Boy Scout until I got into high school. At about the same time, my Dad became the Scoutmaster for my troop. Every part of trying to earn the Eagle rank at that point seemed weird to me, and I always wonder if this was a disappointment to him. I suppose I could ask.

7. I had an embarrassing role in a ridiculous high-school play. (I had to look up the title: May the Farce Be With You. Ugh. Upon further investigation, it's entirely likely the play is older than I am.) I stuck to doing things off-stage after that.

8. In my senior year of high school, I was given an award for being "Best Musician." I played the trombone for eight years and stopped playing when I went to college. My embouchure has been shot for a LONG time. This is one of my few regrets.

9. I used to believe that everyone had the potential to write one great song. Since then, Guitar Hero and Microsoft Songsmith have come into existence. Now I'm not so sure.

10. I used to take myself entirely too seriously, and I like to think that I've cured myself of that through a combination of occasional reflection on my numerous shortcomings and a good solid being made fun of from time to time.

11. Symptomatic of the previous item, I took over a radio show called "I Wanna Be Emo" not realizing how ridiculous that would sound ten years later.

12. I love playing games of all kinds. I love learning rules and systems, from anything as simple as Carcassonne to something as complex as Burning Wheel. The little "ah ha!" moments I get when I figure out an optimal play are like a drug. I'll never understand real-time strategy, though.

13. I have started and stopped playing more collectible card and miniature games in my adult life than I care to admit, but I'd buy up a bunch of Shadowfist, NetRunner, Shadowrun, or BattleTech cards if I had a regular-ish group.

14. I'm a sucker for a great deal, and I'm a little ashamed that it's taken me thirty years to understand and exercise monetary restraint. I noted a particular case of this over on Tumblr.

15. I used to be a real hard-ass about taste in music, movies, and stuff. I would evangelize things I loved and tear down things I disliked like I was some kind of arbiter of good taste. I've tried hard to be better about this. Life is hard enough for people without getting grief from me about something they enjoy. Unless it's Nickelback. They are worse than awful, and nobody is ever wrong or clichéd for calling them garbage.

16. It is heartbreaking to think of all of the amazing art that exists in the world that I will never experience.

17. I love having things in some kind of order. My room / house / office might be a mess, but I can tell you exactly where anything is, as long as it's been sorted by whatever strange criteria I decided to use. I tried sorting my DVDs once in alphabetical order by director name, then chronologically within that. It was a beautiful thing.

18. Working with a database every day might not seem like much of a challenge, but I like to think that I'm an expert at quickly mining the data that my bosses need to make decisions.

19. It's equally baffling and terrifying that only the set of life decisions and day-to-day actions that I've taken could have led me to meet the woman who would become my wife. It's also a bit scary to think that my friend who introduced me to my future wife did so mostly because she thought I would get along well with my future father-in-law. It worked, Tisha!

20. I started learning to cook a couple of years ago, and I can fake a pretty okay dinner when I need to. The dinner can even be themed!

21. As mentioned before, I had a lot of success the first time I joined Weight Watchers. While Beth and I were able to support each other on a day-to-day basis, I probably could not have done as well as I did if I didn't have my mom to talk to about my struggles with food and exercise.

22. Beth and I had wrote our own wedding ceremony. It's my favorite creative thing I've ever helped to produce, and we have amazing records and memories of it. The fact that our friends and family were there to be a witness to it is one of my proudest moments.

23. I have a real shortage of photographs from growing up. I'm sure that my folks have a bunch of them, but I'm trying to make up for it now. My mother-in-law is a tremendous inspiration for this. She makes amazing scrapbooks and is a great family historian.

24. I've only traveled internationally once, and it was by car to Canada in Summer 2008 for Beth's family reunion. We drove maybe 20 miles (sorry, 32 km), and we ended up farther south than we live. In February, we're going to Costa Rica and renting a car to get around, so it will be like The Amazing Race without all the time pressure. Should be a great first trip!

25. I would love to be a dad a year from now, but I'm not sure if I would prefer to have a boy or a girl as my first child. I'm leaning boy.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


no movie, but 3326 spins on the Wii Fit hula hoop (new record!), listining to some very recently purchased albums, some laundry out of the way, a good visit with Grandpa, and dinner at the folks, makes for a pretty good day. Great visit with Grandpa actually. He said to Barry and I, "boy, you guys saved my life the other day... I didn't know it then, but you did." ... wow.

a brighter outlook...

So since I left you last, the things I wrote about are still true... but good things have also happened. 

Barry and I went to see Grandpa Thursday night and when we got there, it was as I feared. He was curled up in bed, not really making much sense. I thought, oh no, here we go. I really don't want to "fight" with my Grandfather to get him to sit up. It didn't take him too long though, once I got his hearing aids in, for him to realize who we were and that we wanted to visit. To me, that's most of it, he just needs some company. That's part of being a human being. You need contact, no one doesn't understand that. Anyway, he didn't want to eat, and hadn't all day. So I started probing, I just can't help myself, it's part of my being a human being to KNOW EVERYTHING THAT'S GOING ON. If you know me, you know that. Anyway, he wasn't hungry. Really? So there was some juice sitting on his dresser and he thought that sounded pretty good. He gobbled down a cookie from his stash in his dresser. Then he wanted more... not hungry huh? ;) Barry went down to the kitchen and brought back some fruit an instant breakfast drink and some sort of dessert. When Barry went back down to get, still more, the girl wanted to know if he ate it all and when Barry told her he was looking for more, she gave him a solid fist pump :) Nice to know. Anyway, we ended up having a really nice visit, talking about all kinds of things, including keeping your lawn nice like Clint in Gran Torino... he Grandpa have some similarities. We plan to visit today to report on the bands we saw last night. The visit was refreshing. 

Yesterday I made, the surprisingly short, trip to Brighton for a friends baby shower. I met Tom and Betsy just once before when we met up with them at Cedar Point earlier this summer. Barry was friends with them in college (and roommates with Tom). I had already figured them to be nice people. But watching how appreciative and humble Betsy was at all of the people and effort that went into each beautiful gift, reiterated that, ten fold. I was hesitant at first about going to a baby shower for someone that I had met just once before and figuring that I probably wouldn't know anyone else, but ended up having a really good time! Also very refreshing.

Then as soon as I got home, Barry and I got in the car and drove to Mount Pleasant were we met up with friends Jason and Julee at Los Palaminos for an awesome dinner, some tax preparing, Lions, and wedding planning discussions. Then we went to the Broadway theatre to see a couple of bands that Barry knew and was excited to see, and then a couple more. There were five in all, we heard 3 complete sets. My favorite was Frontier Ruckas, very folksy, and even had a banjo player and a saw player! Mason Proper was up next & while I didn't totally get them, Barry really liked their execution. I apologize to him forever, but musical execution will almost always go right over my head. It's NOT something that's part of my being a human being. Sorry honey, but I do take your word for it! The singer was someone Barry played in a band with years ago while at Tech, so he's someone that's been able to hear Barry play the guitar, unlike his wife. Anyway, we got the chance to talk to him after their set and Jon told Barry that he had been a big influence on him all those years ago - pointing him in the direction of other great bands with a stack of CD's. Fun stuff. Great Lakes Myth Society was really good and lots of fun too. Also, the drunk college kids really like them too... we didn't stay for the headliner, which the drunk college kids like even more. I am old. I know I used to be one of them myself, but I can just barely understand it anymore. Anyway, a trip to Marty's finished up the trip. We were up two and a half hours past pumpkin time by the time we got home! SNL was already over! LOL. 

This morning I woke up to eggs, toast and coffee in bed. There's plans to go see Grandpa and maybe a movie with the folks. I'd say the weekend was pretty good. :) 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Weight! Watch!

Beth and I got engaged in July 2006 and joined Weight Watchers together that fall. I was skeptical at first, and my first day on the FLEX program was awful. My boss had brought goodies to the office, and I decided to have half a bagel with a bit of cream cheese. Seeing that tiny amount of food numerically represent a fifth of the calories I should eat in a day in order to lose weight at a maintainable rate opened my eyes to how bad my eating habits had been since leaving my parents' home for college.

I reached my Goal Weight of 169 pounds late in the summer of 2007, a bit in advance of our wedding day. I had lost about 70 pounds, and did it all with the support of my wife. We learned to cook together, eat well, and kept going to the meetings. We had been so pleased with our personal successes that we actually invited our group leader to our wedding.

I'm not sure when I stopped following the program, but through the summer and fall of 2008, I knew I was putting weight back on. I wasn't going to meetings, I wasn't journaling the food I was eating, and my portion sizes were out of control. When I finally went back to a meeting last Wednesday, I found out that I had gained 25 pounds since hitting my goal weight.

There's a new program now that combines the fundamentals of the FLEX and CORE programs I was introduced to when I joined, and based on my first week, it looks solid. If I'm going to get myself back to my goal weight, I'm going to have to do a lot of hard work. I've always had a hard time wanting to exercise, and I can name about a dozen things without difficulty that I will always eat unless I'm in total control of my hunger.

After one week, I've lost 2.2 pounds, but I didn't earn any activity points for the week. For now, I feel like that's okay - my first priority has to be managing my hunger - but I need to get myself moving if I expect to be able to maintain the kind of success I had when I got to goal.

So, anyone have any advice for a sedentary nerd who needs to make time to do something he hates?

My mom says it’s gonna be a bad year...

And I suppose I should believe her, it’s just the whole thing about “my glass being half full”, I guess. She should know though, she’s had her fair share of bad years, more than her fair share, if you ask me. This came right after they had to put Grover down last Monday.

It might seem silly to someone that doesn’t have pets, or doesn’t care for cats, but losing Grover a week ago was harder than I thought it would be. He was 17 years old, and very much a huge part of my Grandma’s life, especially when she needed both Grover and Gina the most. Then they were my cats, I had every intention of taking them with me, where ever that was going to be. But they had been through quite a bit and moving them wasn’t going to be fair. Then they were my parent’s cats and had a very full, warm lapped life. It’s just hard to lose someone/something you love, even though I know he’s better off now.

Also, cancer is a bitch. Uncle Mike, Cindy, Rick Edwards, were all diagnosed in 2008. Mr. Edwards didn’t make it, and I’m not going to write about that here, I don’t feel like I can do it eloquently enough. Besides, if you were at his memorial, you know what it meant to lose him. I found out yesterday that the prognosis isn’t what it had been for both my Uncle Mike and Cindy. I’m not going into details here, I’m sure I wouldn’t get them right anyway, I don’t even know most of them. I do know it doesn’t mean anyone is giving up or losing hope. The point is that it pisses me off – it’s existence, itself. As it does anyone who’s been affected by cancer, which is everyone.

Apparently my Grandpa has decided that it’s better to be in bed all day. I can’t really blame him, he’s 94 years old, I just wish he felt better is all, really.

There was a round of layoffs at work. I made it, as did most people. But for eight other people, I hope they had a good Christmas.

Oh yeah, my ex brother-in-law is an idiot. Really, a plain idiot with no regard for anyone else. I won’t go into details (Barry may want to at some point), other than he’s hurting people I care about for no other reason than his disregard. I think the worst part might be that he actually thinks he cares about others – puts them before himself. What?

And now for the little stuff – that you’re not supposed to sweat, but I am for now anyway – I have a never ending pimple on my chin and I spent a week (most of anyway) completely back on program with Weight Watchers, only to gain .6 lbs.

It’s only January. See why I was afraid of being “mean”?

Sorry – this blog wasn’t meant to be a sad place, and I’m sure in Barry’s eyes it should include some useful information (and just might from time to time). For now though, I’m sure you’ll excuse me for using it for venting. The glass full part though? I have the most amazing husband. He loves me for every part of me… and I love him for the same reasons. I am part of this amazing network of people I truly care for and them for me. My family are my friends, and my friends are my family. Not everyone gets to say that.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Am I too cynical for a blog?

I’m worried. Can I write in this blog and not be mean? I don’t really consider myself to be a mean person; I would consider myself to be somewhat cynical though & I suppose there is some difference, although not much sometimes. I said that I thought I was becoming more and more cynical to my dad several years ago and he acted like I’d learned a new word and wanted to use it. “What?! You’re far too young for that!” He said, and left it at that. I thought for a while he might be right, but this world makes it tough. If you’ve seen Gran Torino it’s like the kids that walk by the lady with the groceries falling out of the trunk of her car and making obscene gestures or the ONE kid that runs to her aid. Do I BELIEVE in that one kid anymore? More and more I don’t. Am I Clint Eastwood? I really hope not. But it probably also doesn’t help that I grew up believing in Ward and June Cleaver. That’s how families were, that’s the things they did… in my mind. I went to Eastern High School, and Otto Middle School which probably today if you walked into either and knew me you’d think, “no way she survived”. They are different places than they were 15+ (?!?!) years ago, but a little rougher than some. My point is, I didn’t live in a bubble, but I did have an ideal for how people should act and treat each other. They (people) did act that way for a long time, and I chose fairly carefully so that I was around the ones that seemed to have the same idea in people as I did. But as time went on, people disappointed, family members passed away, I watched the news. Don’t get me wrong, please, I rather love living life. I generally like, most I even love, the people that are in my life. I do try to keep my glass half full too. It’s just from time to time people get on my nerves, some even that might eventually read this. I’ll try my best to keep those thoughts though for my sweet (poor – for having to listen to it) husband or anyone else who happens to get one of my tangents now and then, privately, if I need to get them out.

But, since I’m not entirely sure I can “not be mean”, you might hear a whole lot about our cats. Speaking of… oh okay, I’ll leave it for later when I’m not quite so salty! ;)

P.S. I wonder if it’s coincidence that I feel the need to write about this on such a historic day? I do have hope that this president will deliver on the promises of change. A brighter outlook for everyone.

Monday, January 19, 2009

An Introduction

Well, Beth opened this up with her first post and the Facebook link, so I may as well jump in.

I'm the bearded fella over in the right column. I turned 30 in December. I don't feel old, even though I'm five years past the point where I could conceive of myself as the baddest MF in the world. I'm several years into a career that is largely challenging and satisfying, analytical and specific. I have no shortage of hobbies and interests, some of which require a little creativity. I've always been addicted to input from games, books, and movies, but I've always fallen short on producing any kind of meaningful lasting output I can share with my family and friends.

I've made a few furtive stabs at writing online, but I've always leaned too heavily on hyperbole and parenthetical thought to take myself seriously. There are so many talented people already writing about my interests that it's sometimes difficult for me to tell if my thoughts and ideas about those things are my own or just a distillation of things I've read. I know that this is just a blog, but I've already taken a shot at this post three times to lay out my mission for myself: I'm going to journal my life with Beth.

While I'm not fully convinced it's a great idea to subject the web at large to my relatively unsophisticated ideas about a lot of things*, it's probably not a horrible idea for me to write publicly about my own life. I can't imagine the number of memories I've already lost because I haven't taken the time to preserve them. With equal parts optimism and narcissism, I feel I may eventually have some insight that makes the whole thing worthwhile; more likely, the page will stand as a monument to my non-commitment to critical thought. I'll do my best to prove myself wrong.

I'm counting on my amazing wife as a reader and an editor, and I'll need her support to make sure that I write as often as she does and to hold me accountable for what I say. If anyone else happens to get anything out of our writing, hey, bonus!

* Disclosure: I did register a bunch of other Blogspot domains with a few ideas in mind. I'll keep those to myself until I have some idea of what I'm actually going to do with them.

Edit: Clarified non-commitment. Thanks, Editor!

To blog or not to blog

I'm sure there are thousand entries out there that have this heading, but it's something that's been spinning around in my head for a while. As you can see Barry and I set this up eons ago... and then surprise! we didn't do anything with it. We did use our wedding website (that has since expired), so that served any purpose we needed it to.

But seriously, like I said, I've thought a lot about blogging... and wondering why people do. I LOVE to read other people's blogs! But I do feel a little like I'm spying on their private lives, especially when someone has links on a friends blog, so I wind up reading the blog of a friend of a friend of a friend. I assume that because they put it out there, they're okay with that though. Or, you might be someone like Barry, that reads blogs pertaining to particular interests, which I get (understand) more than just random entries. My interest is people, so I spy. Do I write and let people "spy" on me? I was talking about one the blogs I've been checking in on every now and then with Barry the other night and he said "you should blog..." and we remembered we had this. Obviously I'm in control of what I write, so why not!??! Besides, someday I hope to be pregnant - (not quite yet!) and I've seen blogs chronicling a mothers/fathers experience with pregnancy, and eventually a new baby, and presumably what will be an extended, growing family. I wouldn't mind a record of that... :) (Are smiley faces "against the rules" in blogging?)

In the shorter term - we got a neat Christmas gift from my brother - a travel journal. So while we're away in Costa Rica (just over a month away!) we can log our journey (because there might not be internet honey!) and then transfer it here when we're back.

Maybe we'll get ourselves together enough to set up a flicker page and link it here? Time will tell, so far this wasn't too bad :D