Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Glad this day is done

Today was total craziness at work. We had an issue that doubled our call volume. And I was down 2 agents today. AND I had to leave at 3 to take Christopher to a doctor appointment. Plus I had a planning session with the band tonight to pick music for next month. Not to mention getting schoolwork done and catching up on work stuff due to leaving earlier. Meaning I FINALLY got to sit down and relax at 10 pm.

Looking forward to going to bed, sleeping off the day, and doing it all again tomorrow!

Monday, November 29, 2010

More deep thoughts

Since every car insurance company says they can save you $300 to $500 on over the other guy, if you keep switching insurance companies to get a lower rate can you eventually pay nothing?

If only.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back to reality

We had a nice long weekend. I had Wednesday off with the boys and then the holiday. We probably spent WAY too much money on Friday and only got a little Christmas shopping done. Too much good stuff for us! And Ellen and I replenished our wardrobes. I'm in good shape as far as school goes. About 4 weeks left and most of my major assignments are either turned in or in draft. I have one more to do but need to wait for other teams to make presentations.

Today we made chicken stock from our leftovers from Thursday and homemade chicken noodle soup. It's acutally going right now but I'm sure it will by yummy. We shut down my team for the holiday and weekend so there's a lot of work to catch up on when we get back tomorrow. But, then again, the work is always there. So its back to the grind tomorrow.

Hope everyone has a great week. BTW, as a side note, Moose Munch from Harry and David is sinfully good and hard to resist. You should get some.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone has had a very happy Thanksgiving. We've had a very nice day. Big breakfast, football games, video games, and an excellent meal. We did a roasted chicken instead of a turkey since it was only 4 of us, but it worked out very nicely. All in all its been a quiet day, just like we wanted. Tomorrow we go out shopping, but not at the butt crack of dawn with all the other crazies. We'll get up when we want and get there when we get there. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let the partying begin!

Today was my last day of work for the week. The boys are off from school tomorrow so I have the day off as well. So I now am off until Monday! I plan on getting some school work done over the next few days but overall not too much. Planning a quiet Thanksgiving with just the wife and kids, shopping at the outlet mall on Friday, and whatever strikes my fancy the other two days. So have yourself a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Something new

Well, perhaps not new, but I bought myself a new mortgage today. We finally completed the process of refinancing our home. Interest rates were low enough that I went from a 30 year to a 15 year mortgage and it's costing me $60 more a month, which I was putting on the principle anyway. So the bottom line is we cut about 9 years off of our loan and the house will be paid for by the time we're 60. And both boys will be out of college by then. Not too shabby. One of the few disappointments I'd had in moving out of our old house and into the new one was that we'd done a similar thing with the last place and it would have been paid off 4 years from now. But now I'll still be free and clear of my loan well before retiring. Assuming Ellen and I can afford to retire.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Somewhat productive

I woke up today sort of dreading the day. There was a bunch of things I needed to get done today and was not terribly motivated to do any of them. At work, a major improvement for my customers was being implemented and I would need to test part of it. In general, don't like doing testing on a Sunday. However, there was no way around this one. Also, I had some specific things I wanted to get done around school work today. Plus, I need to get my 1/2 hour of activity in somehow.

I was able to test starting at about 9:30 am. It didn't give me much time to start, as church was at 10:30 and I was leaving around 10, which I'd informed people about ahead of time. Testing SHOULD have gone smooth if everything was as I expected. But it wasn't. So in the middle of all kinds of people wanting to do group chats or conference calls I basically said "Nope, going to church. See you after." And after things were not to my liking. By 4 pm, we reached a concensus but I was left feeling one of the teams misrepresented the capabilities of the final configuration and will probably result in me doing the exact opposite of what I'd planned in migrating our existing users to the new functionality. And, a couple of months ago, I'd asked SPECIFICALLY whether we should migrate accounts or create new, and was told we could successfully migrate accounts, which is easier. Except it appears we can't. So I've been a little miffed about it all afternoon and evening. I'll sort it all out tomorrow and make it work, but I feel like I put in a shitload of hours of prework on a plan I'll need to scrap. Enough about that.

I got most of the schoolwork accomplished I'd intended. I turned in one paper, finished my second draft on a second, and made a big dent in the outline for a third. I got a lot of that last work done in the previous 45 minutes. I'd tried to work on it earlier, but Nicholas wanted to watch a Christmasy movie and we'd purchased The Santa Clause at Target today and there was no focusing with a movie going. Mind you, it was a pretty good movie, but I had to go into the den after the boys went to bed and sit at the PC to focus. Too many distractions in the kitchen and family room.

Got the activity in today by taking the dog for a walk with Ellen and Nicholas in tow. It was pretty brisk outside but good to get out of the house. I might have preferred going riding, but I took a ride yesterday and the wind kicked my ass. Big time. And my thighs were still feeling it a little so I took a day off from riding. I keep telling myself I'm going to go for a nice "leisurly" ride on the road bike and end up going at top speed every time. One of these days I'm going to back off and go for distance over speed. Maybe.

So now I should be able to kick back and chill for the rest of the evening. This week will be a 2 day week since I took Wednesday off since the boys are off from school and then the holiday. Hope everyone has a good week and good holiday.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Now for something completely different

I was going to post about my recent visit to a guitar shop (no, I didn't buy one) but instead I wanted to talk about my pleasant lunch today. I found out earlier this week that one of my co-workers was leaving to go to another employer. That's sad because I really like her. She's a little rough around the edges, but I don't mind that. She's also only 26 and has lived more in her short life than my wife and I combined. Which I'm not sure is good in someone so young.

Anyway, we went to a great BBQ place nearby. It was supposed to be a group lunch but one by one everyone cancelled until it was just the two of us. Mind you, I have no problem having lunch with an attractive young lady, and told her so. It was actually quite nice as since I changed roles I haven't seen her much. She talked a lot about why she was leaving, and I felt bad for her because her previous boss really screwed her over. That's a story I shan't tell here as it isn't mine to tell. But she's excited to go somewhere and spread her wings. Despite what she'd been told to her face, the bridges here were burned down for her and there was no repairing them. Quite unfortunate.

However it was great catching up with her. And now that she'll no longer be a co-worker, we can be friends. I have a strict rule of not making friends with people I work with since I'm in a supervisory position. It could get awkward. But now she won't be a co-worker so we can be cool!

I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving and the holidays this year. Not sure why but I'm in the spirit this year where as last year not so much. Not many plans this weekend other than schoolwork.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

That's what I get

I got the latest grade from a group assignment today in one of my classes. It was all right, but the comments from the instructor tell my my group mates totally hosed me on the grade. I was the only one that actually seemed to understand what we were being asked to do and put it in a coherent package. I should have pushed them more but half the information got posted the night before the assignment was due so there was little time to make it better without doing all the work myself. Sometimes it sucks to rely on other people.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Deep Thoughts

I saw a Facebook posts about getting your ducks in a row and it got me to thinking (I know, that's a bad thing). Why do we want the ducks in a row? What if they don't WANT to be in a row? May they want to be in a column or in a vee (they like to fly that way, right?)? Should we even by telling the ducks what to do? Awfully presumptuous of us to assume we know what the ducks want.

And speaking of ducks, how come they call Congress after an election (or the Pres) a lame duck session? Why do people gotta diss the ducks like that? Ducks that limp need some love too you know. We should just call Congress lame. Or at least Congressmen (and women). They all pretty much stink after all. So think kindly of our feathered fowl and enjoy the following tribute (at least to the rubber kind):

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why wait? with update!

First of all, I'd like to say that its very satisfying to get a whole brasil nut out of the shell with a nutcracker. Don't know how many of you try that, but it aint easy. If anyone knows how to do that every time, tell me your secret.

But the real reason for the post is to wonder aloud (ok, in print) why people wait until the last minute to do stuff when you get told a week in advance that a team is reviewing all the work on a Sunday since the assignment is due on a Monday? There was an email from one of my groups that basically said "did I do the assignment wrong?" The person then quoted a small part of the assingment but didn't read the BIG bunch of text that said "for the group assignment use the following rubric" with point values associated with each bullet point. And this email came to the team tonight at about 8 pm. AND this person is traveling on business tomorrow. I don't know, it seems like that's the kind of thing you'd know about ahead of time and schedule your assignments accordingly. But maybe that's just me. So in honor of my classmate, I encourage you to listen to the Anti-Procrastination Song by one of my fave bands, the Stormtroopers of Death. Take the time to listen. It won't take much of your time.

Update: In case you really loved the above song, here's SOD doing Joan Baez's Diamonds and Rust, the Extended Version:

Friday, November 12, 2010

New disease

Overheard tonight at home: the dog was licking Nicholas' rash

Christopher: Don't let the dog lick your rash! He'll get measles!

Nicholas: No, he'll get Beasles!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Got nothing

It's been an up and down pair of days. Nothing I really feel like writing about, but suffice it to say conflict is very tiring. And sometimes you try to do the right thing and end up in the middle of someone else's pissing match. But I had a great chat with someone I trust today and that made things better. Plus, since I had the day off to be home with the boys, I got a nice ride in on a perfect day. And I got a lot of stuff done. And had time to make a very yummy dinner. So there were some bright spots as well.

Now back to the grind tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One of those days

Last night I got a call from Christopher's earth science teacher. It appears he's been struggling in the class lately and had not turned in 4 labs. There were some other issues the teacher brought up with me. I wasn't 100% happy with Christopher's response but am at my wits end on how to get him to take responsibility for his school work. I wasn't even that angry, more just very disappointed. It has not made for a very up kind of day today.

And, of course, today was one of those days all the "frustrated" customers needed to talk to me instead of listening to my staff. My favorite of the day is when I got to speak to a soon to be ex husband and wife over their online account. The "wife" had created the account using the "husband's" member number and wanted to know why he was messing with the account and what he was up to. Of course, he's completely entitled to change the access since the account has his name on it. Then the "wife" was worried he'd try to remove their kid's coverage at which point I told her she really needs to talk to someone else as I only handle the technical stuff.

Some days this job is interesting. But not today.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Those darned kids

Christopher had his first day of wrestling practice yesterday. We knew he wouldn't get to wrestle just yet because he's 4 or so pounds below the minimum weight class. We're trying to bulk him up. We'd assumed since he was on the modified team last year and can't wrestle this year he'd make the JV team. However, he told us last night his coach put him on the Varsity team! As a freshman! Not too shabby! Now if we can just fatten him up a little...

Nicholas has been dealing with a rash that's all over his body. The first time we took him to the doctor they said it was probably just a virus and should clear up over the weekend. By yesterday it was worse so we took him in again. They're not yet what it is but the did some blood work and he's seeing a dermatologist this morning. We'll see what they say. I feel bad for the guy. Even though it doesn't itch or anything, it looks horrible!

Monday, November 08, 2010

A new week

We had quite the refreshing weekend. The boys were camping Friday night and Saturday and didn't get back until Sunday morning so Ellen and I had some together time which was nice. We had some good spiritual recharging between baptism prep and Mass on Saturday. I think the boys enjoyed their break from Mom and Dad as they were in pretty good spirits when they got back. It's nice to have a weekend where you can recharge the batteries.

One amusing note. I received an email from our church music director. He'd forwarded an email from a parishoner. It said we were the "best folk group she'd heard in a long time". And she hoped we'd play more. Great compliment but OUCH! Folk group!? Oh, well, I'll take it as a compliment anyway.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

God Moments

Today we (Ellen and I) helped teach a baptism preparation class at church. We're part of a team that takes a Saturday morning every other month with parents getting ready to baptize their child. As part of today's discussion, we asked them to share "God moments", times in our life where we've seen God working. It was one of the most moving sessions we've had. We had several people/couples that went though some very tough stuff, both personally and with respect to their children. And to see how their faith was actually strengthened in the face of this adversity was so moving and inspiring!

Then, at Mass this evening, we were talking to a couple celebrating their 43rd anniversary. We'd mentioned how we were kidless this weekend since the boys are camping with their scout troop. The wife mentioned to us how our children really aren't ours, but they're on loan to us. We raise them, teach them right from wrong and how to deal in the world, and then we let them go.

So many profound spriritual moments today! It was certainly a God filled day.

Friday, November 05, 2010

I'm confused

While watching a new story about a new screening test for lung cancer, I caught part of an interview with a woman who had gotten the screening, had cancer cells removed, and was convinced she's alive today because of the early detection. To celebrate her new lease on life, she became the first African American woman to reach the North Pole. When asked what she was going to do next, she replied "I'm going to the South Pole this winter. I'll be the first black AND African American woman to reach both poles" (emphasis hers).

Not to denigrate her accomplishment or anything, but how can you be black OR African American? I thought they were the same thing? Or is that something a white person wouldn't be able to understand?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Musical interlude

Still going crazy doing writing, although right now I'm analyzing Bush II's decision to go to war with Iraq. If you want a good read about it, pick up Fiasco by Thomas Ricks. But I digress.

I've been filling my Ipod with stuff I loved back in the day (meaning the 80's). My latest is some Jefferson Starship. Not the crappy We Built This City shit, but their GOOD stuff! So enjoy two of my favorite tracks from them (Jane is also on the cool list). As a side note, if you don't like the outcome of the recent election, get Megadeth's United Abominations or Endgame. Lots of politial anger there. Just a taste of the lyrics from Amerikahastan:

No rules of engagement, this enemy hides
Amongst women and children
And to beat violence, you must ignore the focus groups
You must send in the Mossad, turn off the BBC, CCN
And don't look back
Rest assured there'll be no more Middle Eastern crisis,hell!
There'll be no more Middle East!

These are your people Lady LIberty
Pull up your dress today
And tattooed is "property of The USA
A subsidiary of Halliburton"
But a roaring lion is about to be unleashed on earth
Hey, Jihad Joe? Guess what? We're coming to get you!

Now the videos! (BTW, the first video is full of my fave BC Rich guitars, especially the Bich!)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Welcome to the band!

Last night was a great night! Not because of what went on due to election day, but because my band now has a new drummer! We've been looking for a drummer since June when our then drummer graduated and went on to college. We weren't having any luck so we finally put up a Craigslist ad for one. One of the respondents lives close by and was looking to join a group like us! The Spirit works in mysterious ways and brought us toghether when we all needed each other.

I've very excited to work with this new drummer. We auditioned him during our practice last night and it was GROOVING! I haven't had that much fun playing at practice in a long time. I know he's going to work out great.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


It is again Election Day! I'm a firm believer in excercising your franchise rights and getting out and voting. You can't make a difference in what goes on in government unless you're part of the process. It's sad to see voter turnout lately.

So whichever way you lean (right or left), make sure you get out there today and make a difference. I know I'll be heading to the polls right after work. Today could be a significant day in national (and NYS) politics so don't be left out!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Rock Stars

Below is a picture from our recent visit to Niagara Falls. We walked down to Devil's Hole right up to the Niagara River. Pretty cool. This picture is from the walk back up. You take a stone staircase to the river and it's a couple hundred feet vertical drop from the parking area to the river. The steps snake their way down. So now you can all check out my rock star family. Too cool or what?

You can also enjoy one of my favorite rock star songs from Josie and the Pussycats: