Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

The silver lining

Well, at least one good thing resulted from the mirror coming off in my hand: Today somebody came by and replaced my windshield. :)

I tell ya, having full glass coverage was the single smartest thing I ever did when I bought car insurance.

Signs you shouldn’t have gotten out of bed today.

There are times when you should recognize that the Fates don’t want you to leave the house. Here are some things that should have made me stay at home this morning:

  1. I overslept by two hours.
  2. My uvula was swelled by about 100%, making me practically choke every time I swallowed.
  3. When I tried to unlock my car, the weather was so cold that the door lock was frozen (though all of the other locks on the car were fine), so I had to climb in from the passenger side.
  4. I tried to adjust my mirror—only to have it snap off in my hand. I’m now driving with no rear view mirror until I can figure out how to reattach it in this freezing weather or find a friend with a warm garage that will allow me to work on it. Maybe I’ll just take it into a shop and pay somebody to do it; at least then I can’t screw it up.

If any of these things happens to you when you wake up, take the hint and just go back to sleep until the next day. You’ll thank yourself later on.

2006 Wrap Up

Gosh, I just don’t know what to say. It feels like each year seems to move by faster than the last, and I’m just not sure what I can do about that. We just can’t seem to stop the steamroller of time—and nor would we want to—but it just seems to remind me of all of the things I have yet to do.

But this post isn’t about that. This is a wrap-up.

What was 2006, if a reminder of how much things can change?

I stated that 2005 started with a whimper and not a bang. 2006 wasn’t much of an improvement, but I have to say that it made up for it as it went along.

What was so special about the start of 2006? Well, not much, really. Except that from the beginning of the year to the end, things just… improved.

In the spring I got another raise. This one was far better than the last, and it went a long way toward improving the things that were lacking in the year before. I managed to start improving on my finances, slowly but surely, and it wasn’t such a black hole for me, which goes leaps and bounds beyond what I had been dealing with before. I changed jobs in the middle of 2005 (not companies but jobs within the same company, which was a huge adjustment), and in 2006 I was able to really capitalize on this new position and really make it my own. This was reflected in my new salary, and it made me feel not only that I was on top of things but that my higher-ups recognized this, and that went very far in helping me realize that my time wasn’t wasted.

I wrote last year of a friend that I thought I had lost. She surprised me in May of 2006 by contacting me out of the blue, saying that she felt like things didn’t feel right without me in the picture. As much as I can hope that things can stay the same, I acknowledged the same feelings and we attempted to repair some of the damage. I can’t say that the hurts that were caused are fully healed and in fact may never be, but we can only hope to improve my moving past what was, and heading into the new unknown. I believe that person is reading this post, and all I can say is that while I don’t believe that things will ever be what they were before… perhaps we can get past it and make something new out of it.

The latter half of 2006 is what really clinched the positive stuff for me. In late August, I moved much closer to my job, and while it was a pretty risky and scary thing for me to do, it was definitely and without regret the best thing I could have done. My commute dropped from an hour to about ten minutes, and along with this came more sleep, fewer worries and less wear and tear on my car (which, with more than a hundred thousand miles, could definitely use some breaks). Along with this came less rent, a smaller electricity bill and smaller car insurance payments, all of which had directly to do with an increased sense of relaxation in my life. This was coupled with a change in shifts at work, which meant more money and an impact on the same.

So, with all of these positive things to take with me, I look forward to 2007. I got my kiss at midnight (well, in a sense), so perhaps things will start to turn upward romantically as well, which, at this point, is the one thing I could really hope for. :)

I wish all of you (well, all five of you that read this) a safe and happy two thousand seven.

Ahh, the holidays.

Spent the last several days up in Vermont with my family and am now home after enjoying the spoils of yet another successful holiday feast. Much cajoling was had, and I believe that after all was said and done, several gallons of wines of differing types were consumed.

Now that’s my kind of holiday.

Most of my time after getting home was spent tinkering on my computers (new extra large hard drive means that I have to clone some drives and move one to another machine for more space there too) and setting up the new surround speaker set I bought on the way home with some Christmas money (thanks, Dad!), spent, of course, in the not so glorious solitude to which I have become accustomed.

I just came to the realization, though, that as much as I liked getting home to my own place, I really enjoyed being with my family. I made the remark to my sister this past Saturday, after leaving my grandmother’s farm, that too many people dread spending time with their families at the holidays. I’m glad that I don’t. Every time I see my family—extra large, of course, thanks to our proper Catholic upbringing—I have a fantastic time. Every time. I love spending time with my family, holidays or otherwise, and only spending time with my closest friends can even come near that.

I guess that’s a pretty rare thing. Most times, I don’t really think about it, but the holidays always bring out the sentimentalist in me.

Next up: Where am I spending New Year’s? Come on, people, I need invitations to megaparties! I’ll drive anywhere as long as I’m given a place to crash at the end of the night—although, I suppose, I could always stay up all night and drive back without any sleep. But most of all, I need a set of female lips to kiss at midnight. Are the requirements clear? Good then. Chop chop!

Citizen Journalists: One weekend a month, two weeks a year

Reports of my death, yadda yadda yadda.

I’m alive. My friends are starting to ask where I’ve disappeared to, so I thought I’d at least post something. I’ve had ideas for things to write, but I’ve pretty much been too tired or lazy to start writing about them.

I did read something interesting today, though: Apparently, Yahoo! and the Reuters news agency have partnered up with a new service called You Witness News. It’s a service that lets citizens upload photographs of news events and get paid to have them published. Say, for example, that you’re present at a political demonstration and take pictures of a person giving a speech. You could be paid to have those photos published. Think of it like the ultimate freelancing gig.

Naturally, the “professional” news outlets are decrying this. I can only assume that they feel that this “cheapens” their own profession because now any joe schmo with a camera could get paid for what they’re worked hard for. You know what my advice to these professionals is?

Deal with it.

As a former student journalist myself, I’m firmly of the opinion that journalism has changed subtly but significantly over the last several years and with the Internet has grown into a different beast altogether. It’s only through its evolution and ultimate re-emergence as a new form of media that it will be able to survive. Journalists had felt for years that blogs weren’t true journalism either—that is, until they needed to start citing blogs as news sources. Then it suited them just fine. Now, even the news organizations have blogs.

So how is this any different? This is just another extension of “Web two-point-oh.” It’s another means to get the community involved in what happens around them. I don’t really see how getting the general public more involved in the world around them is in any way a bad thing.

Now, I’m not suggesting that any person with a cameraphone can suddenly be the next Pulitzer winner. But even point-and-click digital cameras are getting to the point where they can take print-quality photos (or, hell, near-print-quality at any rate) without a second thought. And sure, most of what they take is going to be crap. But that’s really no different than professional photographers. 95% of what they take is crap, too, but professionals know what the trick to true greatness in a photo is: timing. They take and take and take and take photos until they manage to snap that perfect shot. It’s only a matter of time before the ordinary joes can do it too.

Hell, maybe this will even increase competition in the journalism industry. At least by paying these citizen journalists, they’re creating demand. Maybe we’ll ultimately see better journalism come out of this.

…Or maybe we’ll just see more paparazzi. I haven’t decided yet.

I got a halo ’round me

My friend Nick sent me an IM on Thursday, asking me if I wanted to go up to Boston that night to see Porcupine Tree. He had an extra ticket, fourteenth row at the Berklee Performing Arts Center, for face value at forty bucks. I knew I probably shouldn’t be spending that kind of money (plus God knows how much else on food and parking in the city), so even though I’d never seen them and desperately wanted to, I politely declined. He responded that he would see if he could find anybody else to take the ticket and would get back to me later in the day if they hadn’t.

A few hours later, he sent me another message saying that he’d had no takers on the ticket, and it was now selling for the LOW! LOW! PRICE! of just twenty bucks. I reconsidered the idea of going to a concert in Boston on a Thursday night. The travel wasn’t TOO big a deal, although it would be pushing it for me to get out at five and make it all the way to Boston with enough time to get food and hit the theatre by eight, but Nick didn’t have any desire to go see the opener, so that left me with a little bit more time. Staying out late wouldn’t be an issue, because this was my first week of working Sunday through Thursday, so my week was over come Thursday evening and I could sleep in on Friday. In the end, I decided that the price was unbeatable, and fourteenth-row seats to one of your favorite bands in a great-sounding hall was too much to pass up, so I decided to make the trip.

Naturally, though, I didn’t actually get out of the parking lot at work until about 5:30, and I knew I’d be hitting some traffic on the way into the city (and sho ’nuff I did), and then, because Boston is one of the most hellish cities to drive in, I got kind of lost on my way to the venue. I then proceeded to drive for a good half hour looking for a parking space on the street (partway through this, I picked Nick up so that he could help me find a space and so that we wouldn’t be talking it over on the phone), during which time no less than five open spaces were taken by the car directly in front of me. It was becoming positively comedic. Finally, I decided to head to a parking garage near where Nick used to live (I’d stayed there once so I was somewhat familiar with the area) and happened to be just down the street from the venue. It would be $19 for the evening (making me glad that I only had to pay twenty for the ticket) to park, but I suppose in the long run it was better anyway, given that I had my laptop and golf clubs in the trunk.

I grabbed a bite to eat (and answered a long-awaited call from Nature) at a nearby Wendy’s and then we headed to the venue, where they told me I couldn’t bring in the drink I had purchased at aforementioned Wendy’s (I was practically done with it anyway as I’d gotten a good, y’know, two or three sips out of it). It’s a good thing they didn’t allow drinks, too, because we certainly didn’t need liquid refreshment in the ninety-degree heat of the performance space. I think Berklee forgot to pay their air conditioning fixit man.

As for the show itself, I certainly cannot complain. Having never seen this band live before, I didn’t know what to expect, and what I got was far more than I could have imagined. For the first hour, they played entirely new material. None of it had even been recorded yet. I don’t remember much of it except that it was amazing. The rest of the show consisted almost completely of my favorite songs from their two latest albums. The only disappointment was that they couldn’t play their last song because the singer’s voice had started to go out on him and I guess they were running just long enough that they didn’t have quite enough time to do it.

The acoustics were fantastic. The band was just barely too loud, but if I had been smart and brought/bought earplugs, it would have been perfect. The drums were the best-sounding drums I’ve ever heard live of any band ever, and the mix was pretty great except when the vocals would get slightly buried. But my favorite part of the show was that it was a seated venue, so I didn’t have to worry about my problematic feet causing, er, problems. (I’m not sure if this is just me getting too old for rock shows or if I get a pass because of my ankle issues.)

So when they get back to England after this tour, they’re going to hit the recording studio, and then they’ll be back here in the spring, touring again to support the new album. I can definitely say that after seeing this show (and hearing this new material), I’m definitely going to catch them again on the next tour.

And now it’s entirely too late and I need to get to bed because I have to work tomorrow.

(For those curious: The subject title of this post is a lyric from one of Porcupine Tree’s songs off of their newest album, Deadwing.)

Maybe they aren’t all that bad.

After all the hassle I posted about earlier, about my landlords holding my security deposit because I didn’t give them 45 days’ notice, I checked my mail yesterday only to find that they had sent it to me anyway. This just about made my month.

In other news, my company has decided that it wants to change from a 5×24 setup (Monday–Friday, coverage from Monday at 12:00 am to Friday at midnight) to 7×24 coverage, and as such is asking us if we’ll be willing to work a different shift. There’s still a contingent of people who will be working on the regular Monday–Friday, 8–5 shift, but the company offered us each more money if we’d be willing to do an off shift, so I decided to start working Sunday through Thursday instead, which I think is going to be extremely weird, at least for the first long while. I’m sure I’ll get used to it—hell, if my brother can work 7pm–7am for five years, I can work a regular shift with one day transposed. It’s gonna throw off my weekends, but at least I still have my Fridays available, and if I want to tough it out, I could go out on Saturday night, too.

I do have to say that I like the rigid Monday–Friday schedule, but the deal from my company was just too sweet to pass up.

Settling In / 911 Idiocy / I AM

Three weeks that I’ve been in my new apartment and I still don’t quite feel at home yet. It kind of dawned on me yesterday that I actually live in this new place. I think now that that’s kind of gotten through my head, I can really start making the place my own. First up is to get the stuff out of her that still needs to get out of here, like the entertainment center that’s still in pieces (need to find out if I can just drop the pieces on the street on trash day or if I need to take them to a dump or something) and the love seat that I really just don’t have the space for. Then I can finish getting unpacked and really get comfortable in this place.

Having 12-foot ceilings is really nice, too, but it poses a wall space problem—the problem being, of course, that I have to find something to fill them. I’ve been thinking that I could take some of my own photography and put it up in large-format prints (poster size, perhaps), but part of me says that it’s a bit conceited to do that and part of me realizes that in order to do that, I have to actually go take photos in order to get them printed and put up on the walls.

In other fronts: I went back to Plymouth last weekend to perform in a 9/11 Memorial concert. A bunch of alums and community members did a performance of Mozart’s Requiem, and the orchestra debuted a new piece by my former composition professor that was based on a poem written by another faculty member. It just blew me away.

Speaking of 9/11… At first I was going to write something about the anniversary, but I realized, as we got closer to the date, and especially after I did the concert, that I really didn’t know what to feel about it. I was confused, hurt, angry, morose, and just plain annoyed at everything. The politicization, the pseudo-patriotism, everything about it just kinda made me sick. What drove me over the edge, though, was hearing the letters to NPR’s Morning Edition this past week. I know that NPR can choose to run whichever letters it wants to, and so to some degree even this was politicized, but some of these letters just made me literally sick to my stomach. To suggest that a media outlet is committing sedition by running a segment about Muslims in America on the anniversary of September 11th is the absolute height of idiocy.

The close of this very strange, unique week was the I AM festival here in New London. One of the myriad of benefits of living in this very interesting city is that I get to be exposed to its rather large and thriving indie music scene. The I AM festival is New London’s own little indie music festival. I only caught the tail end of it (having completely forgotten about it until I was eating dinner), but I managed to make it down to the docks in order to catch a couple of bands, then heading to the after-party at a local club and catching another couple bands. Some of the stuff I heard was flat-out amazing, whereas other bits were, well, less amazing. All in all, though, it was a great way to close out the week, especially because my job has been asking us to put in extra hours, so I feel the need to kick back and relax with a little more force than normal during these times.

It’s My Move

This past weekend, I moved about fifty miles eastward. I have my entire family (sans my brother, who had to work on Saturday) to thank for helping me with this process, especially given the fact that at the end of the week, I had far less material packed than I thought I would.

All told, there were five vehicles transporting stuff, two of which were trucks and one of which was an Explorer, which meant that we only had to make one trip. This is beneficial, of course, when you have to travel fifty-plus miles.

For the most part, the move went successfully. We went back to my dad’s house for a barbecue afterward, and I spent the night there because it was closer to my old apartment (I had to do some cleanup), so last night was the first night I spent in the new place. The new apartment is an absolute mess right now, boxes and crates everywhere, but I suppose that’s to be expected. I got internet and cable turned on today and I’ve started setting up my computer/music station. The kitchen is next once I can get the living room straightened up some.

Why did I say “for the most part,” though? Some stuff got broken. This is the first time I’ve had serious mishaps occur during a move. My headboard lost one side when my father tried to put it in the truck by himself. My entertainment center was the victim of wind shear during its ride on the highway and the top half of it was ripped off. And the 4×3-foot plate of glass that used to sit on top of my desk got broken when the attempt was made to open the truck tailgate.

The glass isn’t a big deal—my parents had made me the desk when I was in school so that I’d have something to write on. Now it’s used mostly as a computer desk, so there’s no real need to replace the glass. The entertainment center has already been replaced with a smaller TV table-esque unit I found at IKEA yesterday. (A side note: I could have spent all day at IKEA. It’s like crack for the home furnishing industry.) Now I just have to find a way to get the old one to the dump (something my friend Steve is willing to help with, given that he’s got a larger car than I).

As for the headboard, I’m not entirely sure. My dad thinks that I can repair it, and given the way that my bedroom is currently configured, it would be hidden pretty well. I guess I’ll have to see what I can do with it.

So it’s been a pretty busy weekend, overall. I slept for about twelve hours on Saturday night, which was a really really great way to start my vacation after the move. Of course, it’s not quite completed yet, as I do still have to shampoo the carpets in my old place, clean the oven and empty the storage room of all the empty boxes I’m never going to use but saved anyway. Then I’ll call, tell them I’m ready for an inspection, and hand the keys over. And then I will officially be completely and totally moved out.

Get a move on / Landlords / Jacked up / Sideways

My plans for today were that I was going to get up early and clean my apartment. I need to throw out a whole bunch ‘o stuff before I move. There’s just no point to my packing up everything in this place when the fact of the matter is that most of the stuff lying around here is stuff that I no longer use. I have two—count ’em, two—computer monitors that I either don’t use anymore or don’t work. I guess part of me keeps thinking that at some point, I’ll get it fixed or I’ll find a use for it, when I know deep down that it’s pointless and if I don’t throw them away they’ll just sit there collecting dust in my storage room. And speaking of my storage room, I have about six big 13-gallon trash bags full of old soda and beer bottles that I never bothered to take to get redeemed. Potentially dozens of dollars’ worth of old plastic and glass that I just couldn’t be bothered to do anything about. Why? Because, dear readers, I am a lazy-ass son of a bitch.

So yeah, getting to my whole getting-up-early-and-cleaning thing. Didn’t happen. Well, that’s not entirely true. I cleaned today, I just didn’t get up early. It’s not that I didn’t try or anything, but I didn’t anticipate that when I went to bed at 11:30 last night (getting to bed before midnight on a Friday is quite a feat for me) I would actually sleep until ten the next morning. But I did get up, watched a little TV, and then after lunch I really did clean. I actually cleaned quite a bit of my living room up, filling up a whole gigantic trash bag with stuff for which I no longer have a use. Made me feel good and horrified at the same time. I mean, I had a whole trash bag’s worth ‘o stuff lying around my living room just collecting dust. How awful is that? But hey, at least it’s gone. Now I just have to redeem those bottles and empty out my storage room, then throw away just about everything in my bedroom that doesn’t either sleep two (well, potentially two) people, hold a synthesizer on it or keep a computer monitor above the floor, and I’ll be all set for the move.


Speaking of the move, I got a call from my property manager the other day. She told me that they had received my letter that said I was moving out, but because I had not given them 45 days’ notice, I was going to forfeit my security deposit. I wasn’t too blown away by that, and had sorta been expecting it, but my security deposit was only a hundred bucks, and I’d easily be saving that after a single month in my new apartment, so I wasn’t torn up about it.

But then she gave me the whopper: My security deposit wasn’t only a hundred bucks; it was six hundred and thirty bucks.

All of a sudden I was a little torn up.

I guess I’d just not realized how much I had actually given them as a deposit. It just so happens that the six hundred and thirty bucks she had described to me was the same as one month’s rent plus a hundred bucks, back when I originally moved in. So part of me just assumed, way back when, that I had given them my first month’s rent plus a hundred dollar security deposit. I was mistaken.

The funniest thing about all of this is that had she not informed me of the actual amount of my deposit, I never would have realized it, never would have gotten upset and wouldn’t be posting this right now. I wouldn’t have even missed it.


Friday, while driving to work, a tire on my car went flat. I pulled off the side of the highway, nearly got killed by cars going by at 80 miles an hour, jacked the car up and put the spare on. I found the nearest tire place and waited nearly two hours before being told by the guy at the shop that I had to get a new tire. There had been a slow leak on that tire for a couple weeks, and God knows how long it had been leaking before somebody had told me about it. At any rate, it had apparently developed some bubbles on the sidewall that made it basically completely unfit for driving.

Sixty-five bucks later (after a discount because I bitched about having had my tires worked on only a few weeks ago and nobody mentioning anything about this), I was back on my way to work.

It just bugs me that what was under normal circumstances a perfectly good tire—that was still under warranty, mind you—wasn’t any good.


Random musing: Why is it that every time the movie Sideways is on, I feel the need to drink some wine? Also: Know how I can tell I’m not an alcoholic? I have a bottle of opened Cabernet Sauvignon on the counter in my kitchen, and a bottle of Riesling chilling in the refrigerator, and what do I go for when I look in the fridge? Crystal Lite Lemonade.

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