knowledge will set you free|
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|Thursday, August 27th, 2015|
|the changing tide.
As of the start of August I'm officially working part time. 20 hours a week. Beth and I had come to the conclusion back in April (I think, or May) that one of us would need to cut back in hours if we were to have a third, and possibly fourth, child. While we started flirting with the idea of having our own third child in March of last year, in recent months I had become uncomfortable with the idea for a variety of reasons and began leaning toward adoption. Beth was fine with that (her youngest brother is adopted after all) but saddened by the realization that she was probably done bearing children.
The best person to risk their career was I, because it had dawned on me in recent years that what I have is not a career but simply a job, and that I was at a dead-end. The only growth I might have experienced is an occasional raise or bonus. And with my transitioning to a vegan lifestyle -- common themes in the online vegan community are minimalism, living for yourself and not working at a job that you hate to buy things you don't need, and digital nomadism -- I've really stopped enjoying the work and have been increasingly compelled to focus on what is actually important to me. 40 hours a week is way to much time for anyone to spend doing shit that has no meaning. We'd given up control of raising our children, and our house had fallen farther and farther into neglect. Sitting at a desk for so long has been terrible on health and posture -- I hope to reverse the hunch I've developed -- and it's been difficult to find time to exercise. Even now I feel like I'm squeezing it in when I can, but I guess that's how it will always be.
I feel like I need to reboot, start from scratch knowing what I know, and rebuild my life, and I guess that's what I'm doing.
In order to make this work, we have had to move Boone out of daycare and Grace out of afterschool. One thing I've learned from this is I suck at planning activities and schedules. Not that I've ever been good at that, as I've always preferred to focus on one thing at a time and complete it before thinking about anything else. Beth has been a big help there basically planning each day out for me and getting a curriculum for Boone, who will be home one year before starting kindergarten. Grace has started 2nd grade and will still be going to martial arts but only as evening classes, which is only $109/mo as opposed to the $68/week we were paying for afterschool. I think she needs to try other things as well. I think music is crucial, and I'm wondering if she might take to dance as well.
I will be doing odds and ends around the house and hopefully something will lead me in the right direction. I still have visions of finishing my album and starting a Youtube channel as part of the activism I owe the world, but I think I may first need to break from my shell, because I can't do these things on my own.
Where I go from here, we shall see, but I definitely need to journal more often, and make sense of myself.
Oh, about that adoption: We have started the adoption process and will be taking classes for foster certification starting in September. We are looking for one child but are open to a sibling pair, because siblings having to be separated is something we would like to prevent if we can.
|Friday, April 24th, 2015|
Pretty sure I'm suffering from sleep deprivation. I haven't had 8+ hours of sleep since last Friday night. You know what a good vacation is to me nowadays? Being able to go to bed early and sleeping in the next morning every day during the vacation. That's all I ask for. I managed to get three days of that during our recent Ohio trip; made for a good trip. Could've used a little exercise, though....
That's one thing this lifestyle does: You know when your stiffing yourself of something. When you're eating animal products all your issues kind of get lost in the muddle, so that you have no way of knowing what the source of your problems are; it could be the food poisoning, could be something else. But once you nail the diet down and get that off the board of possibilities, you get a clearer picture of what's happening.
One other change I made recently was a couple weeks ago I bought a 75-cm exercise ball to use as my desk chair at work. That's another thing this lifestyle does: I hate sitting in a chair all day; I want to be up and moving because I have so much damn energy. To borrow a metaphor (Kerry McCarpet on Youtube), you become a dog that needs to be walked or else you drive yourself crazy. Also, my posture sucks, and when I'm sitting in a chair for long periods I'm prone to slouch. So I'm hoping (1) this helps me fix my posture and reverse this back hump I'm developing, and (2) I am burning a little more energy and working my muscles a little so that they are not sitting there idle and getting sore the day after a workout. It seemed to be working although these last two days with the accumulating sleep deprivation I really just wanted to lounge out in my chair -- but being on the ball I keep repositioning trying to find that perfect position (that doesn't exist), and that keeps my legs moving. I think next time I will go with an 85-cm ball, as the 75-cm is really too short unless I'm tucking it under my heels.
|Sunday, April 19th, 2015|
Just got back today from an Ohio trip to visit Beth's living grandparents. Drove up on Wednesday, so had a full three days there between driving. A couple weeks prior to the trip her grandmother (Elsie) had been diagnosed with conjunctive(?) heart failure, and it wasn't clear how much longer she would be around. Our first day there Elsie's feet had become swollen and Beth's parents ended up taking her to the ER, where she waited around half a day to get a room. Fortunately, we were able to stop by so that she could spend a little time with the kids. That may be the last time we see her in that house; she's decided she's ready to go into assisted living once she gets out of rehab.
I also had a talk with her grandfather (we call him Papa) and found out he had had what they believe was a mild heart attack six years ago and he's now taking three different medications for his heart and blood-thinning. He's 91.
It's hard for me these days not to think about food and how it's affecting the life of each person I encounter. After seeing what he had been eating (lots of meat, and milk with breakfast), I decided I had to ask him if he was taking anything because I had trouble believing his health hadn't started to fail him already if that's the way he had always eaten, and that's when I found that stuff out. Every day I receive affirmations that a whole-food plant-based diet is what's right. (Even the day Elsie was going to the hospital she ate some cereal with cow's milk and Beth's dad had gotten her a fast-food burger, but earlier that day Beth's mom had mentioned how excited she was over eating an orange. Listen to your instinct and binge out on oranges!)
I see it everyday. When I'm out in public. Want to know if a certain restaurant's food is good for you, all you have to do is take a look at the customers and employees, as they are the ones eating it. We spent a lot of time in McDonald's on the drives, mostly for bathroom stops, and seeing the people eating there tells you all you need to know about how terrible that shit is for you.
It's so fucked. Seriously, think about all the adults you know or encounter on a daily basis, and try to count how many of them are at their ideal body weight -- specifically anyone in their late 20s or later, as anyone younger than that may still be benefitting from a child-like metabolism. Now, of those few you know that are lean, how many of those actually look healthy, are not calorie restricting in some way (maybe assisted with extensive exercise), and are not dependent on some sort of stimulant (usually caffeine in the form of coffee, soft drink, tea, energy drink, etc.)? I bet you don't know a one, and if you do, I bet they're vegan.
Try it; it's a fun game.
The worst part is seeing the overweight kids. I joined Grace for lunch a couple weeks ago at her school, and we sat at the table reserved for kids and their parents. We were joined by a hispanic boy and his father. The boy was round as a ball, and eyeing my oranges while he devoured a slice of pizza and a chicken sandwich and fries from Wendy's his father had brought him. People want to downplay the effect the food you eat has on your health, but what is going to affect what is going on in your body more than what you are actually putting in your body
And I'm tired of this "everything in moderation" mantra. Does that mean fruits and vegetables in moderation? No! In fact, you should be increasing the percentage of whole fruits and vegetables to as much as possible, close to 100%. Nuts and seeds are health-promoting but best in moderation. Refined carbs and salt, use sparingly only to enhance your enjoyment of a whole-food planted-based dish. Free oils, meat, dairy, eggs, and all the weird chemicals cut out completely; they should be in the same category as cigarettes and alcohol. How many cigarettes would you consider "in moderation"?
|Sunday, April 12th, 2015|
|The year I went vegan, part 2
A couple months in I had decided that eggs and dairy were BS, but that meat was actually a benefit in the percentage that other primates consume it (1% about). Finally letting it rest, one day I caught myself thinking about variances in digestive tracks what not only separates us from not just carnivores but also the ruminants that have a much more complex track than ours, which allows them to eat more mature leaves that we primates just can't handle. Maybe we are frugivores just as the other primates; maybe fruit is our natural staple. Leading up to this point I had seen the fruitarian diet come up but just thought that it was too out there, but now I was ready to hear it out, and it started making sense.
One of the youtubers that goes by the name durianrider really appealed to me, as he is uncompromising and what I call "punk rock"; the Johnny Rotten of the vegan movement. In one of his older videos he recommended a book called The 80/10/10 Diet, so I buckled down and bought it (I mention that it was one of his older videos because I doubt he would recommend it now based on recent actions of the author, who's come across as a bit of a douche lately). While the book demonizes cooked food--which I now think is ridiculous because I stick with the science (a la Dr. Michael Greger at nutritionfacts.org) and as long as you're eating whole-food planted-based, you're fine, just have to figure what is best for you. You want greens, and you want whole-food carbs, either raw fruit or cooked starches, whichever works best for you in whatever combination--the argument for frugivorism as our core diet nailed it home for me. This whole journey has taught me so much about what it is to be human; our entire history as a species can be read in what we eat.
I could go into more detail but need sleep. High-carb vegan for the win. Animal-based foods are food poisoning. Awareness is rising; don't be one of the last victims. Don't let your body be a graveyard for dead, tortured animals and a septic tank for their secretions. Get that shit out of your body.
|What I Want
I want to record my album.
I want to have more time in the day. I want to be able to go on a 2-hour bike-ride or hike everyday if I feel like it and the weather permits. I want at least 30 minutes for journaling, 30 minutes for reading, and 30 minutes for creative writing.
I want more time off to be able spend quality time with my kids and wife.
I want a job that allows me to grow.
|Saturday, April 11th, 2015|
|Letter to myself
We haven't been the best of friends. Fuck it, we haven't been friends at all. Our backs have been to each other. The hardest person to get to know is oneself. But we're in this together; if I struggle against you, we go nowhere. We fail together.
I've been hard on you. One thing I've learned about us is that I am a jealous creature. Envy is my sin, but I am envious of others because they have pushed themselves and pursued their dreams where I haven't. Envy is just misguided self-contempt.
I gave up on you, just as I have given up on so many. Just as I gave up on friends, let them go and didn't keep up with them. Just as I never fully committed to that band freshman year in college, let it go after Dan complained he was doing all the legwork just before winter break, then blamed them for never returning my amp and microphone; I can now see what they saw, afterward, when the looks they gave me were of absolute disappointment. How my friends must see me. How the acquaintances who are around me long enough must see me. They give up on me because I gave up on you. Or maybe they're waiting on me to come around, like you. I don't deserve anymore than what I've earned.
I am sorry.
What is it you want? What is it you need? I want to know. I'm ready to give that to you. Let's talk this through. We'll get there.
Don't turn away from me. You escape from the hard reality too often that you remain where you have always been. Turn off the videos. Close the Twitter and Facebook feeds. Don't pick up the guitar just to fuck around with songs you already know or don't plan to complete. Don't busy yourself with chores that can wait until tomorrow. The only way you're going to get past something is to deal with it. The only way to fell a tree is to take swings at the trunk.
I am here for you. We will figure this out together.
I'm glad we had this talk. We'll talk again soon.
|Sunday, April 5th, 2015|
|The year I went vegan.
It's been a strange past twelve months. It was approximately a year ago today I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives. As I watched it, I remember cursing out loud, saying "I have to go vegan? I have to go vegan. $%#$%!" It may seem odd that I would so easily accept the claims it makes against animal-based foods, but leading up to it my eyes were open. My workplace had hosted a lunch-and-learn, a 45-minute class once a week for six weeks. One of the doctors (I think they were doctors) that spoke talked about how bad canola oil is for you, because it's one molecular bond away from being plastic, and I had been using it for years, especially 3 Tbs in my pancake recipe (so I had started switching to coconut oil). Dave (Kelly's husband and also our head accountant) had mentioned to me that I watch FOK during one class, and since it was available on Netflix online, I gave it a shot.
Of course, as soon as I watched it, I started watching whatever else I could on Netflix -- Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (if you watch this, also watch the sequel Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead 2, to learn that the guy is completely clueless), Vegucated, etc. Doubt started to creep in: How did I not know about this before? How could everything we've been taught about food be wrong, that meat, eggs, and dairy were part of a healthy, balanced diet? Even primates eat a small amount of meat (mostly bugs); we've had meat in our diet throughout our documentable history. So I googled, read, watched youtube videos for months, trying to wrap my head around it.
(Have to cut this one short. Hope to finish this story later.)
|Sunday, March 2nd, 2014|
I'm getting frustrated with myself. I find myself becoming a crank, getting old, buying a smartphone to join the younger generation. Thinking judgmental things. Stupid.
I worry that we're letting Grace and Boone down by providing them with the same lack of guidance that I received growing up. It seems too often we keep them at home without structure or doing anything.
I've come to understand recently that I'm an asshole. At least, that's how others see me based off my actions, or inactions, and, really, how are we defined if not by what we do? I always keep to myself, I don't keep in touch with friends, I don't take action to visit them or invite them over, too worried about money, too worried about what stupid shit I will say, too worried about being my socially awkward self.
I'm not really sure where this is going. Where I am going. I'm don't want to be an asshole. Life's too busy.
|Monday, February 17th, 2014|
|kiss of kidsmoke
I know I need to update, and now I have a little time, but I'm not sure what to update.
I am persistently concerned that I'm letting the kids down. I don't know if it's hurt Grace that she was with individual caregivers who work out of their home/apartment her entire time before she started kindergarten. I remember she was very anxious to be with kids her own age. And so far she's been a car-rider, me dropping her off at school in the morning, Beth's dad picking her up and taking her to the caregiver's where she's back with kids younger than her. I can't see any superficial negative effects. She's at the top of her class when it comes literary skills, and close to the top when it comes to math; she got a great report card recently that said she was a role model for the rest of the students; and she's freaking Ms. Popular. I just hope we can keep her going on this track without getting in her way.
We've decided to move Boone to a true preschool, where he will be in a class with 8 other kids his own age. He will have a more rigid schedule and get 2 hours of outdoor playtime. I think it will be good for him and my hope is that he will be ready for bed more so than he is currently, i.e. still jumping off the walls at 9pm. I know it's been hard on Grace; I tried to get Boone to bed first tonight, and she ended up just lying down on her bed and passing out before I could get to her to read her a book. This will be our first time with a childcare "business", although this one seems a little different in that it is run out of a church and apparently not for profit as they told us the church will often supplement funds. Only one teacher per class (the class rooms are not large enough for the ratio of kids with more 2+ teachers), so we don't have to worry about large classes where the teachers become disengaged; that was a major turnoff with the other place we looked at. They also have afterschool for elementary students and pick up from Grace's school, so she will get to be a van-rider in the afternoon and hang out with kids her own age. I've also been toying with the idea of having her ride the bus in the morning since with this new school, both kids can get breakfast at school, and so my only goal in the morning will be getting them there, and no longer making sure they are fed.
The other thing that makes me glad about this change is that we will no longer relying on Beth's parents as part of our routine. We'll be dropping the kids off and picking them up. If and when they help us now, it will just be a favor or because they want to, and not an everyday thing. It's not that they haven't been reliable, because they most certainly have been, but they deserve a break (we've been relying on them for 5 1/2 years) so that they can focus on their lives and getting ready for retirement.
|Thursday, January 2nd, 2014|
|2013, at risk of obsoletion
With the changing over of the year, one tends to take a look back at the past twelve months to assess just what the fuck happened. My posts last January were written with the intent to (1) purge the reservoir of happenings since my last post 2 1/2 years prior and (2) usher in a new era of more consistent posting. Didn't happen, and yet it doesn't seem
that long ago since I wrote those posts, like maybe only a couple of months. When I stated I felt I was in transition to a new chapter of my life, I didn't realize the entire chapter would be dedicated to the actual transition, but that's where I feel I am at. I don't know if it's my age or my present state of life (as a parent of two), or both, but time just vanishes too quickly. I'm 34 and I'm not really sure where the first half of my 30s went, but they're gone. There's a sense that we're moving sideways: Any attempt to start new, self-improving habits usually fades after a good-old-college try. For instance, we talked seriously about possibly adopting a third child early last year, filled out most of the application, sat on it while we gathered our references, and eventually realized maybe now is not the best time, maybe.
It's been an underwhelming year. Work entered a post-excessive-growth phase where the defects that were submerged under the rapid expansion of the previous year began to break the surface; the vendors we contract with for title-search work committed several egregious errors earlier in the year that called the reliability of our work into question with our clients, undermined my confidence in their work, and forced us to reconsider our entire business model when it came to title searching. I couldn't help but think that my lack of experience with title abstracting helped to create a faulty foundation; fortunately the two other members in my department that started the previous year came from an abstracting background, and their experience and insight helped us to plug through. The other title department that enjoyed the most spastic growth last year has suffered a slow down, resulting in some minor downsizing in their department, as well as no 3rd quarter bonus and less than half the Christmas bonus I enjoyed last year.
Just a few weeks ago, they let go of the only other employee that survived the move from Kelly's original firm (if you don't count Kelly's husband or IT guy) -- this was the girl that had worked with Kelly for over 10 years and when, a few months after I had started with Kelly made the break and move from TransUnion, only her, Kelly, Kelly's husband, and I. I can't say I was that surprised, as her and Kelly's relationship seemed to have waned over the last few years, and it sounded like it was a business decision, as she had been given the new position of vendor manager several months prior and, really, our issues with vendors hadn't improved during her tenure. Her and I were never really close, so her being gone didn't bother me, but just the fact the someone of her seniority can be shown the door is a reminder that you can't rest on your laurels. Things change, and you are always at risk of obsoletion.
One of the more interesting developments of the past year has been my increased involvement in church. They had been advertising a search for a guitarist in the ensemble, and in February I finally roused myself to join. It's been a rewarding experience -- I've never been involved in an orchestral-type band before, and in fact the only time I really ever played with other musicians was during my very brief stint in a rock band my freshman year in college -- and has helped to nurse my passion for music back to health. It's gotten me in contact with the drummer Steve K., just a really cool person who has gotten me involved in performing special music at a couple of services this year (my real contribution was adding harmony), and Tom E., who is a professional musician and at-home-studio producer. Anyone who knows me knows that I've never been a big church person, which probably has mostly to do with the fact that my parents never took me to church growing up, that the idea of worship is uncomfortable to me, and that I really don't care for the lyrics in worship music, but I have found a few songs (hymns?) that I enjoy, and I even challenged myself to write a worship-y song, which is complete except for final line in the final (2nd) verse that I'm having trouble with.
I feel like there's more I need to get out, but my time is up. Beth got me my own Chromebook for Christmas, so I'm hoping that will be the key to getting me to journal more frequently.
|Sunday, September 15th, 2013|
|Notes on diet (2013)
I was going to get around to writing an (albeit short) entry, when LJ prompted me that I had a saved draft. I believe I had copied this from a response to a friend's entry to post here. Anyway--
Diet trumps exercise when it comes to losing weight, and from my own experience and from what I've read, exercise is almost adverse to helping you lose weight, because it makes you hungrier and you end up overcompensating -- we like to think that exercise burns more calories than it actually does. My advice on diet:
Don't drink anything but water. No alcohol (contains shit-ton calories), no soft drinks (obviously), no fruit juice (just as bad as soft drinks), no milk (skim milk is probably all right, but I question how nutritious it really is -- we mix our cereal with a little bit of yogurt instead). No cheese, or, if you're craving it, then good quality cheese so that you only have to have a little to get the flavor. Cut out all processed foods and pre-made foods and prepare your own meals so that you know what you're eating. Eat more whole foods. Once a whole food is processed, it loses much of its nutritional value, leaving you with empty calories, and my theory is empty calories makes you hungrier over the long run, because your body is still "hungry" for the nutrition that it still needs. Work in fruits and/or vegetables into every meal, raw and cooked -- make raw fruit a significant portion of breakfast; have some baby carrots or other raw vegetables on hand to slip in between bites of lunch; cook up some vegetables with dinner. Don't worry about how much fruit you're eating; Weight Watchers taught us that you can eat as much fruit as you want. Raw fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, and fiber hangs around undigested in your stomach and makes you feel full (it also later soaks up toxins while traveling through your intestinal track). Also rich in fiber are whole grains: Go with brown rice over white (it takes an hour to cook, so plan ahead). Grind your own flour, and learn to cook oatmeal from whole oat groats. If you pre-grind and let them soak overnight, they cook up just as quick as old-fashioned rolled oats. Whole grains are amazing stuff, and delicious; it's too bad most of us don't experience that amazing-ness nowadays because we've gotten so used to the convenience (at the cost of nutrition) of rolled oats and pre-ground flours. There's a reason they "enrich" the flour; they're trying to compensate for the nutrition lost when the flour sits on the shelf and goes stale; it's no different than grinding up a vitamin into your food, i.e. you're not getting the vitamins in their natural state, so your body isn't absorbing much of them, if any. Refined grains = empty calories. Refined sugars = empty calories; use honey instead.
Eating a healthy breakfast everyday is a great safety net: it kickstarts your metabolism and minimizes your hunger throughout the day, thus allowing your body to absorb a reasonable amount of less-than-wise consumption choices you might make later in the day.
A side note on empty calories: I believe empty calories are at the core of the so-called obesity epidemic, a consequence of premade/processed foods. Everything our ancestors ate contained a balanced marriage of nutrition and calories; their concern was strictly to get the calories they needed, because the nutrition always came with it. Nowadays, it's reversed, and the foods available to us have the calories but lack the nutrition, and our bodies adjust to this in absurd ways. Nowadays, our concern is strictly nutrition.
|Monday, May 10th, 2010|
|Vacation at Litchfield, May 6 thru 10, 2010
I wish this long weekend didn't have to end. It showed me how much the mundanes of life deplete what little time I have to focus on what's important, or distract me during such little time. Even writing this entry feels like trying to beat a shutting door. This was Beth, Grace, and my time together. I don't want to forget this feeling.
Getting home, it feels like we just left. I guess when the last memory you have of a place is leaving it, that is naturally the first memory you are going to call to mind when you return, and so your sense of the three days you spent away gets a distorted as the brain bridges the memory gap.
We spent the first couple of days there hanging out at the beach and pool, and going out to dinner and/or getting take out. The third day we hit the Charleston aquarium in the morning, got back in time for a late nap, then Grace and I hit the beach one last time. Today, on our way out, we visited Brookgreen Gardens, which we quickly learned upon arrival should have been a full day affair, and it was pleasant reminder of how wondrous our native wildlife actually is.
Every day we took a nap. That was nice, and definitely something I missed today and will in the days to come.
Grace, being out of her routine, felt a little overwhelmed, we think. She whined during bath time the first three nights, and was relatively crabby the latter part of our visit to the aquarium, and cried much of the way home from it (SuperWhy! on iPod being the only cure).
About elevators: I think this was Grace's first real experience with elevators. Her first couple rides on it, she didn't seem too sure about it. The third ride, we had some strangers in with us, and at that point on she started crying on every ride. In attempt to attach the elevator experience to something fun, Beth and I started making a game of counting up or down with the floor number as the elevator moved. It worked, because for the last several rides Grace would get super-excited and yell out the number of each floor, and we would echo her jubilantly, and she would get really excited then. When Grace gets really excited, she sticks her arms out, and her whole body shakes while she does some in-place quick-stepping. So freaking cute.
My favorite part of the trip was that last afternoon at the beach. Grace was a bit of a wreck on the way home from the aquarium, but after her nap she was in the best mood. I took her down to the beach, and we just kind of hung out. At one point I started digging a hole near the fringe of the breakers and building a wall for protection. Grace would sit in the hole and help me dig out sand to put on the wall, then she would climb out, run to this preexisting sandcastle-like structure several feet down shore, then come running back, leaning on me to climb over the wall and plop back down in the hole to dig some more, saying "Dah-dee, Dah-dee" repeatedly, grinning. It was awesome.
|Monday, July 6th, 2009|
|As The Wheels Turn
Being that I turn 30 today, I should probably say something.
Over the past few days I've faced the fact that I'm just not that good a person. There are two types of compassion: active and passive. I have always been the passive, never the active. I never seek out a way to bring about good will; I simply am there and, when an opportunity arises e.g. someone says, hey, you want to help out with this?, will not hesitate to pitch in. I am inherently lazy.
This entry is not intended to be a downer, because I am a happy guy. But I have my flaws, and I wish to understand them, and I wish to be a better man, or, more specifically, a man that affects others and things in more positive ways. Or something like that.
I've given up on all creative outlets. I go days without picking up the guitar, I don't role-play, I don't write (which pretty much went with the roleplay). I've thought about possibly getting back into roleplaying a little bit, but I'm so far removed that I (1) lack the confidence in my writing to think I could find it rewarding and (2) don't think I can shake off the prejudices I carry.
Our house has become something that controls us rather than we controlling it. The yard's a wreck and needs serious weeding and landscaping. We need an exterminator to take care of the black widows around the outside of the house. I'd like to lay some stone to extend the patio and maybe even along the side of the house where we keep the trash can and hose, but before I can do that I need a wheelbarrow, and before I can get that I need to organize the shed in order to make room for it, which includes getting rid of the nonfunctional push lawnmower (still need to figure out where to dump it). Ultimately, the yard is no longer a joy, and that's a problem. I would much rather put the work into it myself rather than pay someone to, but I don't know diddly.
In lighter news, I splurged on a road bike a few weeks ago, and have gone out riding three times so far (the last two Sundays and last Thursday) with the Bee Team here in Waxhaw. They are a great group of casual riders who won't leave anyone behind, and they ride on the back roads which is all we really have around here. They meet at the elementary school, which is right down the street from our house. I'm glad I found them. The rides kick my ass (the Sunday rides are 23-25 miles long), but I can already tell they're getting me into better shape.
I also bought a new home PC through work and was finally able to play through Half-Life 2. The game was awesome, except that it felt like it ended way too soon, like there should have been another couple of chapters there where you delve deeper into the Combine lair and confront one of the main Combine leaders or whatnot. Guess I'll have to play the Episodes now, maybe when Episode Three comes out I'll just get them all at once.
Grace is almost 1 and continues to be an untethered dynamo of joy. Her and Beth can duel it out to determine which one is the best thing to ever happen to me.
|Friday, January 2nd, 2009|
|Thursday, December 25th, 2008|
While departing from mass this morning and having a discussion with Beth on what each person allows himself to get out of Christmas, I stated something that I've probably understood for several years now but have just never put into words until today: Happiness is something you earn.
That said, this is hands-down the best Christmas I've ever had. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but I would guess Gracie being in our lives has a lot to do with it. Everything just kind of worked; the parts that make Christmas great--time spent with family, reflection on the year past and giving thanks, a day of peace--were in full focus, while simpler things like gift-swapping provided color to the cheer (and I got a lots of cool stuff!). I couldn't be more in love with my wife and baby girl. I still feel the magic.
|Tuesday, October 21st, 2008|
|Tuesday, October 14th, 2008|
Isn't Grace the cutest? (See icon if you don't believe me.)
Lately I've discovered the wonders of winter squash. So funky looking, so yummy tasting, so various. They're not just for decor. The one I cooked up last night reminded me more of a sweet potato than a summer squash. I've never really had winter squash before this month (not including pumpkin, which is probably considered a winter squash), unless I ate some in a recipe one time and didn't realize it. Supposedly they get sweeter if you let them sit around for a few weeks to cure. And they'll store for 2-3 months. I plan to stock on them for the winter, as the only fresh vegetables that can be found during that time are at the grocery store, where freshness is always suspect.
|Thursday, September 25th, 2008|
|It's a Gas
We've been staying at Beth's parents last night and tonight (and, probably, at least tomorrow night), because there is no effing gas in this city.
Beth filled up the cars just as Hurricane Ike was hitting Texas; I thought that would be plenty of time for the gas gurus to get things up and running again--about two weeks--but, alas, no. It wasn't until I was driving home Tuesday night, running at about an eighth of a tank, planning to fill up the next morning, when I saw a line at one of the small gas stations in downtown Waxhaw, when I thought I might have miscalculated. And, it really didn't dawn on me that it was serious until every gas station I passed on the way to work the next morning had substantial lines. I had enough gas to get to work, but not to get home.
So, Beth had enough in the CR-V to get up to Matthews, which is where I work and where her parents live, literally, right down the street, and also where Grace's pediatrician is. (I managed to pass the cold I had last week along to Beth and Grace, so it was comforting to know we could still get Grace to the doctor if we needed.) Beth packed some things, left the cats with some food and water, and here we still are.
To get gas today is like a gambler's scavenger hunt. You have to drive around, gas station to gas station, until you find one with gas, which you can determine because it will be the one with long lines spilling out into the streets with cops directing traffic. Even if you wait in line, there's no guarantee the station will still have gas when you get to the pump, and by that point it could be hours. Neither of our cars have the gas to attempt such a fool's expenditure.
I rode the in-laws' mountain bike to work today. It was a good 10- or 15-minute, a good workout. It makes me long for how much healthier, more various and versatile our transit system could be if our urban planners would show a little creativity, as well as consideration that a little exercise with your commute is good for your health. But I digress.
The scary thing is it could be a lot worse. Beth's family has a number of cars with gas in the tanks. If Beth's parents weren't here, or if they didn't live close enough, I would have had to have taken the risk and went hunting for gas, and probably have gotten stranded somewhere on the side of the road. Beth could be off maternity leave and having issues with getting the gas needed to work. We could be having to miss our vacation at Litchfield Beach, which we were planning to take today through Sunday until issues with time-off at my work forced us to push it back to next weekend.
The mayor and the governor say help is on the way, but who the heck knows when and how much. How do you not anticipate something like this? If our only source of gas is a single pipeline, and the suppliers to that pipeline shut down production at the sight of any hurricane in the Gulf, and the Gulf is prone to tropical disturbances come hurricane season.... Hello? And there was nothing in the news anticipating a shortage. Heck, there was no anticipation, period.
Does anyone even know this is happening outside of the affected areas? I haven't seen or heard anything in the national media. County courthouses and schools are shutting down because they can't function.
Let's get serious here--OK, really
serious. It could be a whole lot worse. This is just a scathing blow; everyone should be looking at our situation for what it might look like if a sudden, national or global shortage were to occur. Building a one-dimensional mass-transit system based on one type of vehicle, and one type of fuel, making us dependent to the point that we must rely on foreign imports to maintain not just our way of life but our very well being. I hope the rest of the country is paying attention: It could be a whole lot worse.
|Monday, September 1st, 2008|
Commissioners and whatnot: Get rid of the lame overtime rules
in both NFL and college and adopt 5-minute overtime periods like basketball does. If the game ends in a tie, have another coin flip and kickoff to begin the first 5-minute OT with two timeouts each. If the score is still tied at the end of that OT period, have a second 5-minute period, and if it's still tied have a third 5-minute period. And, if the game is still tied, and it's a regular season game, it ends a tie; if it's a playoff, keep going until someone is leading at the end of an OT period. At the end of each 3rd OT period, each team gets two more timeouts to a maximum of three.
What's the most exciting part of a close game? The last few minutes, of course. Under this OT system, you'd be recreating that pressure-cooker scenario, without
changing the nature of the game. You're not zapping the excitement out of OT by having teams play only for field goals (NFL), and you're not starting an entirely new--and wildly confusing--game (college).
Division I or FBS or whatever: Ditch the BCS bull and adopt a playoff
, with at least eight teams participating, if not sixteen. Perhaps the pageantry was cute back when there were only a few really good teams, but today there is too much parity and there are too many good teams that deserve a shot at the national championship. I have refrained from getting too interested in college football because I know, come postseason time, that elitism will rule out, as it always does. Do this, and you may even eclipse the NFL, like March Madness eclipses the NBA.
Commentators: Please stop trying to be witty.
You're calling a damn ball game; what you do is not art. Stop distracting us like some amateur writer. I'm talking to you, Bumburger or whatever your name was who was calling the Clemson-Alabama game, but don't think I've forgotten about you, Joe Buck.
Hopefully in the future they'll begin offering commentating choices, e.g. a choice between an unbiased crew, one biased crew for each team, and no crew at all. I'd get the NFL Ticket if that were offered. I enjoy the Panthers preseason crew so much more than any of the Fox regular-season crews.
|Monday, August 18th, 2008|
|Going for the Gold
Presently, we are about $171,000 in debt. "In debt" is probably misleading, because about 75% of it is our mortgage, and we have some equity built up in our house, the value of which has gone up slightly; and $5,000 of it is our car loan, which is a 2007 Honda CR-V, so obviously we're not upside-down there, either. The rest is roughly $43,000 in student loans.
My two immediate goals are:
1. Have the car paid off by the end of the year. With the exception of one of the student loans, the car loan has the highest interest rate, and we can't write the interest off on our taxes. For the past few months I've been making decent pay thanks to a raise and some healthy overtime, and have been managing to put 1K toward the car each month. If I can keep that up for the rest of the year, I won't have to dip into our "fun-money"/savings account for the coup de grace
2. Get the '00 Corolla to pass inspection this October despite its chronic "check engine" light problem. This will buy us almost a year of not having a car payment once the CR-V is paid off, during which I can make a serious dent in our student loans. This would all be moot if Liz/Beth doesn't get the position she's seeking at her job, in which case she'd need a new or newer-used car for her commute to work (with the position, she'd get a company car).
Long-term: If all goes to plan, I could have the one student loan with the bad interest rate knocked out by the end of 2009; and, if--fingers crossed--we can squeeze another
year out of the Corolla, we could have just the one student loan with the nicest interest rate and smallest balance left at the end of 2010. I don't know if I would bother paying that one remaining loan off, or start saving that extra cash for more fun things, although I doubt it would take long to knock out the loan at that point.
With no student loans or car payments, I would be banking well over one grand a month at this point after mortgage and bills. I don't know if we would begin putting that extra money toward our house or what. Of course, I should probably soon begin investing in retirement or something, but that's another conundrum best left for another day. Let's just get through this year first.