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Delivering Bad News

Apr. 29th, 2014 | 04:05 pm
mood: depresseddepressed

So I'm posting this here mainly because it's not something I want to share on Facebook, and my Tumblr is for my writing, not for navel-gazing.

Today, I had to deliver some very bad news to a vendor at my work. We had a bidding process for what we used them for (printer and copier maintenance), and we ended up going with someone else after an 8 year relationship with them. In speaking with my wife afterward, I realized it was exactly like making a "breakup" call when you're in a personal relationship. At least it was to me.

You see, my whole life, I have been deathly afraid of confrontation. And while I've gotten better at confrontation, at 41 years old, I still have trouble with conflict. And every reason I gave him why we weren't going to continue using him, he gave me an argument against. He made me feel really, really shitty for having to deliver this bad news to him. To be honest, I gave my recommendation to the powers that be and they made the final decision. I tried to learn everything I could about the good and the bad of all the companies bidding, and it really came down to the product they were offering, not the quality of service they provided.

Anyway, while driving my girls home from school, I stopped by DQ, got them and my wife (and myself) some ice cream, dropped them off at home, and came back into work. And you know what?

The ice cream didn't make me feel any better. I'm overweight and know it. And I know I've learned somewhere along the way that eating makes me very, very happy, and when I'm feeling down, eating makes me feel better. But this time it didn't. I don't know what's different, but I realized that I'd probably feel better if I were to go exercise, rather than eat something. I'm not even really hungry.

So it's a bit of a dilemma for me. I'm stuck at work for another couple of hours, then home for dinner, then to a meeting at school for the parents to find out what tuition will be for next year, then home again. I don't know, maybe I'll try to exercise later, though I have the impression I'll be too depressed to want to bother going to the gym.

Right now, things just suck. My girls make me feel pretty good, but then I have to go deal with work again and I feel depressed. Need to get out of my funk.

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Mar. 9th, 2012 | 10:01 am

So I almost never post anything here anymore. Facebook has taken that away.

However, I do still think there are times when this place is ideal. And this post now is one of those reasons. If I were to post this on Facebook, I would feel a little pretentious and would worry about what people think. When I post it here on LiveJournal, it's for me and those very few of my friends who might still be watching.

But mostly it's for me.

Last night, I went to the first screening of Broken & Beautiful, the movie I acted in last year. I played a guy addicted to pornography and the problems that created in his life. It's also a musical. And I'd just like to say I was completely not entirely horrified by my performance! Yay me!

But I had a LOT of fun being around the actors and crew of the movie. At one point, they asked the principal actors to stand up in front of the crowd and get their pictures taken. I, being one of the principal actors, did so. We stood in a line and put our arms around each other. One of the actresses by the name of Annelyse Ahmad was on my right with her arm around me. She said something along the lines of we should be doing a chorus line thing and then she started doing it. You know, the knee, kick, knee, kick thing and I and the guy on the other side of her all started doing it. We got about half the primary cast doing it together at one point. Annel;yse then made a comment, "This is why I love actors!" and I realized I love actors, too. I love being one, I love working with them. It's the creative spirit, the uninhibitedness that comes from them that I love. It's the spirit that anything is possible, anything can be created, you just need the imagination to do it. It's an environment where creativity and imagination can run wild. In a strange way, it reminds me a bit of being in kindergarten, when nothing seemed impossible.

I work in I.T. I have a mortgage, car payments, credit card payments, property taxes, two children, a wife... In short I have a lot of reality that settles on my shoulders. But inside there's that artist longing to get out. I hope that someday I can find the way to let him out. I've tried a lot of little things. I've done acting (I'm not too shabby, though I'll never be famous or rich doing it. I just don't have the desire to drop everything and go for that). I've tried art in various forms: painting, drawing, etc. I'm not terribly good at that. I've tried (to a limited extent) doing film. I've even tried (back in high school) writing. My poetry is a bit pedantic, I think, since I always seem to want everything to rhyme, but I've written some prose.

I just wish I could get all the wonderful ideas in my head out into the world so I could share them with everyone else! My brain is firing like crazy. I think "Why do I want to share them?"

"Well, so they can enjoy them, of course!"

"But what if they don't like them? Or think they're just untalented crap?"

"But who are you really doing it for? Them or for yourself?"

"You mean maybe a true artist just wants to put his creations out there and doesn't do art for others?"

"Yeah, that's exactly what I mean. Maybe TRUE artists are just spewing out their art and it's all for them and if someone else thinks it's great, then fine, but that's not primarily why they're doing it."

"Makes sense, but WHY do I really want to hare the beauty I see inside my own mind?"

"I don't know. Why?"

"It's because of how those visions make me FEEL. My heart breaks at the beauty, the tenderness, the vast possibilities. I don't want so much to share my visions with others, I really want to bring out those emotions."

"So I'm looking to bring out an emotional response in people. I want to share my emotional response to something (like music) to others, to let them feel the music or scene or whatever in the same way that I do."

"And maybe I will be forever frustrated trying to do that. It's not art. It's trying to share an emotional response. And is art really the best way to do that?"

"I don't know. I need to think about this."

There you have it, as close to a real-time flow of my thoughts and how my brain works as I think I've ever even put down. I didn't even watch the words come up on the screen as I typed them, because I wanted to pour my stream of consciousness onto the computer without the added filter of possibly seeing my writing and being able to distance myself from it. I just want it all down so I can go back and read it later and start trying to figure out what it means to me. And if I can understand my innermost feelings and workings well enough, maybe I can figure out what will satisfy me. I feel hungry and I don't even know what it is I hunger for. Or perhaps more accurately, I'm feeling desperately hungry, but I don't even know what food is and I'm trying to learn before I starve to death.


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Car Shopping

Jul. 16th, 2010 | 11:13 am

So...D and I are going car shopping. With one car 10 years old and the other 13 years old and neither of them with functioning air conditioning in this very, very hot summer, we think now is time to pull the trigger on a "new" car.

"New" is in quotes because we're looking for a used car. Neither of us feel it's the right thing to do to buy a new car and pay for the serious depreciation that happens as soon as you drive it off the lot.

What we're looking for is a vehicle that can give us all room to sit, even in the back row. We have a Chevy Cavalier and a Dodge Ram with a quad cab right now. Neither of those have a ton of room in the back row, and both were bought several years before any of our kids were born. Also, it would be nice that, if we drive around not only our own kids, but their friends, then we have room for them as well. Oh yeah, and also room for their "stuff" in the back, should we need to also be carrying "stuff".

So ... our criteria:
7-8 passenger vehicle
Working A/C
Good reliability
Inexpensive to make repairs, if needed
Inexpensive maintenance

That's all we really NEED. Wanting, on the other hand ... well, it would be nice if it had:
Additional power outlets for DVD players
AUX in for iPod/mp3 player
Backup assist

And the rest would really just be gravy and/or extras we don't even really want (like a built-in DVD player...the girls don't always want to watch the same thing at the same time).

We've looked at a lot of vehicles, include the Mazda CX-9, Kia Sorento, Toyota Highlander and more. We've talked to car rental places, we've talked to 4 different mechanics at independent garages, and I can't even count the number of hours we've spent perusing reviews and comments and blogs online about vehicles. We've even posted on Facebook to ask friends and coworkers their opinions. We started with a rather large list of vehicles, but I think we've narrowed it down to four and of those, I think two are front-runners. They are:

Chevy Traverse
Ford Flex
Honda Pilot
Hyundai Veracruz

We've heard good things about all of these vehicles and about their companies. Obviously, we've also heard bad, but all things considered, it's good. The Honda is good all around, it seems. Its only stumbling block is the price. Hondas aren't cheap. Hyundai looks pretty good, though their customer service seems to be the most lacking. That coupled with the fact that the Veracruz is extremely new, so there's not a lot of hands-on experience out there on that vehicle. Of the top four, I'd say it's #4. The Ford Flex is the one I like a lot. I think it's a good car and I like the exterior of the vehicle as well. D, on the other hand, doesn't like how it looks. Mechanically it's a decent car and Ford has improved a ton over the past 5-6 years quality-wise, and hey, they didn't take any of the bailout money from Obama. The Chevy Traverse is the one D likes the most. Heard decent things about both the vehicle and the company. The Traverse is actually the only crossover vehicle that any of the car rental places use, because they want a car that doesn't break down easily and is cheap to fix and maintain. All that sounds pretty good to me!

So this Saturday we're going to go test drive at least a couple of these cars (the local Chevy and Ford dealerships are across the street from each other and Honda is three blocks from them). I'm writing all this because it seems to me that every in-depth review I've read of these cars is from people who drive cars all the time. I don't find that terribly useful sometimes, because they talk about things like body roll, feeling a hesitancy to the transmission, etc. But how does that feel to someone who is used to nothing newer than 10 years old? I'm going to post here myself to give you exactly that. I have a feeling even the worst of these vehicles will feel absolutely amazing to me! I'll definitely post here once I know! I'm even going to try to make it as full-featured as some of the professional reviews, just from the point of view of the layman with old cars (and not old in a good way).


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Thoughts on Personal Grooming

May. 23rd, 2010 | 02:20 pm
mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

So I just saw a guy walk past, balding, short moustache, very old-fashioned and unattractive. At first I thought he looked the same as every other guy I've seen looking that way my whole life. But then I thought that I remember seeing guys like that when I was a kid. Yet this guy only looked to be in his fourties. Heck, I'm approaching that age!

So what separates me from him? He's clinging to a VERY unflattering style from his youth. As am I. I still wear a goatee which isn't exactly stylish. At that point, I realized I've had facial hair the majority of my adult life. My wife, in fact, has only seen pictures of me clean-shaven. She has only seen me as shaven as having a moustache. My kids only know the goatee.

Why? I remember, back when I was about 14. My family was on vacation down the east coast. We were at an aquarium that had an artificial tidal pool where you could touch and pick up things like starfish, sea urchins, and horseshoe crabs. A little kid, I saw, was trying to reach a horseshoe crab, but his arms weren't long enough. Kindly, I reached down and picked the crab up for him to touch. His mom said something to the effect of, "Here honey, this lady is letting you touch the crab!" I still let the kid touch it, but it bothered me a LOT! So much so that 23 years later I still remember.

Now, admittedly at the time I wore my hair in a mullet. But I swore to myself that once I could grow facial hair, I would ALWAYS have some facial hair so that no one could mistake me for a girl again.

I find this interesting.

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The Filming of ... a Film!

Apr. 18th, 2010 | 11:07 pm

So all day yesterday, I was part of my first filming. It was an amazingly fun and even exciting, if exhausting experience.

First, the run-down. A co-worker of D's posted on Facebook she was looking for actors among her friends to act in a short film she was going to be making. For a couple years now, she's been a part of Filom Racing (www.filmracing.com) where you are given a theme and a surprise element at 10:00pm and by 10:00pm the following evening, you need to have your film turned in at a particular place in Chicago (one of many of the cities doing this). It originated in New York, but spans most of the US and the bigger cities in Canada, now.

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Dozin' with the Dinos

Apr. 10th, 2010 | 03:15 pm
mood: jubilantjubilant

So last night, E and I went out to the special event at The Field Museum in Chicago called Dozin' with the Dinos. We got there about 45 minutes after the museum had closed for regular patrons and checked in. I brought my sea bag full of all our stuff to sleep in/wish: air mattress, cordless pump, sleeping bags, pillows, nighttime reading, flashlights, other small items.

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Thoughts on Glasses

Mar. 24th, 2010 | 04:54 pm

So I've now been wearing glasses for just under 4 months now. Not ALL the time, but fairly often. It's easier than trying to find somewhere to put them when I don't need them. I just keep them on my face!

But one very interesting thing I've noticed: I'm far less intimidating to people when I'm wearing my glasses. I'd never noticed before that strangers might be just a little more nervous or careful around me. When I'd joke with someone, they'd hesitate for the barest fraction of a second before realizing it was a joke. This is mostly strangers, mind you. The clerk in a store or a stranger in a crowd.

But since I've been wearing glasses, there's been a noticeable change in the way people act toward me. I realized that people don't feel as threatened by someone wearing glasses. I am, while wearing glasses, considered less of a danger to people on some subconscious level.

I've waited this long to write this because once I started noticing it, I wanted to watch people and make sure it wasn't just a few people that acted this way. It's an interesting observation of our culture.

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Mar. 19th, 2010 | 01:59 pm

I'm feeling particularly unproductive today. I can't decide if i want to throw myself into my work or blow it all off. Might be the mixed news of my blood tests today. We'll see.

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Been Too Long

Mar. 17th, 2010 | 04:53 pm

While I've mostly been on Facebook, recently I've found I wanted to say a bit more than a simple status update could say. I think I might return here and let more thoughts be heard. Inspired by Blee-bee. ;)

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Feb. 5th, 2009 | 05:34 pm

I was just looking through a clothing catalog for big and tall men (both of which I qualify as) and I felt a sudden, old, and familiar pang.

When I was a kid, leafing through the J.C.Penney catalog, I remember looking at the grown-ups in the clothing section and feeling longing, even envy. I remember wishing fervently to be like them...to be OLDER.

I felt that same longing again just now. But it wasn't to be older. It was just to look more like them: thinner, even if still tall.

Les sigh.

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World of Warcraft Fun

Nov. 29th, 2008 | 02:51 pm

So I just did my first ever online music purchase (from Amazon, naturally, sans DRM). I got Knights of Cydonia by Muse. Then I had it playing in the background while I fired up World of Warcraft. I have to admit, WoW'ing while listening to that song is full of three hundred kinds of awesome.
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I Saw Neil Gaiman Last Night

Oct. 3rd, 2008 | 08:14 am

I got a signed copy of his new book, "The Graveyard Book" and listened to him read chapter 3. After that, we got a sneak peek at scenes from Coraline he had just received on DVD yesterday morning and wanted to show all of us, then he answered questions from the audience, a short intermission, and then we got to see the movie Stardust, based on his book.

It was at the Tivoli theater, one of the two oldest theaters in the Chicago area. Absolutely beautiful, and smells a little bit like a very, very old building. Before Neil came on, they had a guy up from playing a very, very old organ, like in the old movie houses before "talkies." He was really quite good, and I was impressed, listening while I started reading my book. By the time he finished, I was honestly expecting a middle-aged man to turn around. To my surprise, the guy didn't look like he could possibly be older than 25. I was even more impressed as he smiled and waved to the audience who was cheering and applauding. As I said, he really was quite good.

I've seen video of Neil Gaiman and even heard him in the audiobook version of Fragile Things. But let me tell you, that guy is funny! He's definitely got the dry British wit down pat, and it's quite natural. I'd relate some of his offhand jokes, but honestly, I think without the timing and inflection, you'd most likely just end up looking at your screen strangely and wondering where on earth I ever got the idea that was funny. But he was gracious and willing to answer every question put to him. He didn't sign the books in front of us, as he's broken his finger on his right hand and signing is a bit of a slow process for him at the moment. Let me tell you one joking or funny thing he said, of all I can think of off the top of my head, I think this one might actually translate to the written word:

"So I've just figured something out, just today. I've been doing my signing of books with a fountain pen. And the colour of ink I'm using is called maroon, but what it really is is the colour of dried blood. So after I've been signing books a while, I'll be talking to people and they'll stare in horror at my hands and say, 'Are your hands all right?' And I've just come to figure out just today, after looking down at my hands that they see this cast on my finger and what looks like dried blood all over my hands."

I thought that was pretty funny. Another great part was where he described what he thinks fiction is. Without the pauses and timing I'm not sure this one will work, but here we go:

"I think that's what fiction is. It's me telling you that we're going to go into a dark, scary place, but that it's alright because I'll hold your hand. And then I take your hand and I say come with me into this dark and scary place. No, no, it's alright, I've got your hand, see? Then I guide you into that very dark and scary place ... then I let go of your hand and run away."

And lastly? His advice to people who want to write: finish a story. You'll learn a ton about the writing process.

The pre-trailer and short scenes we saw of Coraline were pretty cool. It's stop-motion animated, and being directed by the same guy who did Nightmare Before Christmas, and very much has a similar feel to it. Looks cool, but I think my daughters are still very much too young for it.

And finally Stardust. I never got a chance to see it, so it was really cool to get a chance, finally to do so. Simply amazing. I definitely want to buy and own that movie. And I want to watch it a couple more times to be sure, but I think it might, just might replace my favorite movie of all time in my mind, The Princess Bride. I wasn't sure that would ever happen, but I think it just may have!

ANyway, it was really a fantastic night, marred only by the fact thta I was there alone, rather than with D, because there wasn't a way to work it out. That kinda sucked, but other than that, it was wonderful, and I do mean that in the truest sense of the word: it was an evening full of wonder.


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Economic Woes (and Barack Obama's Response)

Sep. 26th, 2008 | 10:27 am

So I wrote an email to my congressional representatives and senators, expressing how I didn't obviously want our economy to tank, but that I thought a total bailout of Freddie Mac, Fannie May, etc. was a COLOSSALLY bad idea. Interestingly, I got a form letter response from Barack Obama's office (he being one of my senators). I agree with his sentiments, I think, though in true politician fashion, he doesn't really say anything. I thought other people might be interested in it as he's a Presidential candidate, so here's what he said:

From: "senator_obama@obama.senate.gov" <senator_obama@obama.senate.gov>
Subject: Message from Senator Barack Obama

Dear Jackson:

Thank you for writing to share your concerns on the current state of the U.S. economy and the government’s response to the ongoing stress on our financial markets, homeowners, and families.

From Wall Street to Main Street, the U.S. economy is in trouble. We have suffered 600,000 lost jobs since the beginning of this year, over a million families have lost their homes to foreclosure with millions more at risk, and many banks and other financial institutions are struggling to stay afloat. The bailout of investment bank Bear Stearns, the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Federal Reserve’s emergency intervention to save AIG, and the emergency Treasury action to shore up money market mutual funds demonstrate the seriousness of the situation we face.

In response to these concerns, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Paulson have met with congressional leaders to request legislation that would authorize direct intervention in the economy. The plan would grant the Treasury Secretary $700 billion to purchase bad assets from financial institutions. By doing so, the Treasury would inject much needed liquidity into the market and work to rescue the economy from a worsening downturn.

While I agree that urgent and decisive action is necessary during this time of economic turmoil, I will not grant a blank check for billions of taxpayer dollars to the Treasury to bail out banks, with no oversight, accountability, guaranteed help for homeowners, or even assurances that the risky plan will work to the benefit of American workers and taxpayers.

Instead, we must insist upon a plan that includes relief for burdened homeowners, ensures restraints on exorbitant executive salaries, and ensures that the American people share in the upside as Wall Street recovers. It is also critical that the power to spend $700 billion is not left to the discretion of any one person but is instead under the rigorous oversight of an independent and bipartisan board.

Further, we need to move forward on a second emergency economic stimulus plan including tax rebates to help families cope with rising food and gas prices and investments in jobs and relief for state budgets.

In closing, be assured that as this process moves forward I will continue to work for a fast, fair and viable response to our nation’s economic crisis. Again, Jackson, thank you for sharing your comments and concerns with me. Please feel keep in touch on this, or other matters of importance to you.


Barack Obama
United States Senator

P.S. Our system does not allow direct response to this email. However, if you would like to contact me again, please use the form on the website: http://obama.senate.gov/contact/

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Aug. 25th, 2008 | 12:29 am

So tonight is garbage night, so I carried it all out to the curb. As I do on most garbage nights if the weather isn't very unpleasant, I pause and look up at the night sky. It's a clear and beautifully cool night here near Chicago tonight. I see Jupiter, I locate a few obvious and favorite constellations.

But I miss something. I didn't even realize I missed it until I thought I caught the barest glimmer of it out the corner of my eye. You know what it is? The vast, sweeping glow of our arm of the Milky Way. You can't see it here near Chicago. Heck, I don't think you can see it in any somewhat populated area. I've always gotten my best views of it when camping out west, in South Dakota or Wyoming. I can remember walking back to our campsite with my family as a teenager and, while trying not to step on any cacti, looking up at the night sky and just being dazzled by the sheer number of stars I could clearly make out. I remember I once decided to count them, just to see how impossible a task it is for one person. I believe I made it somewhere around 500 or so before looking at what a small section of the night sky I'd covered and stopped, grinning, loving the fast that the universe is so incredibly, mind-bogglingly vast and that from my vantage point, I could see more of it than I'd ever thought possible before. Strangely, I didn't find it humbling, but rather exciting. I love the fact that there's a LOT of things we don't know about this universe, and that we're always learning new things. It's another thing that makes me glad to be Catholic. By my beliefs, even after I die, I'll be around to know what other discoveries are made and by whom. Maybe I'll even hang out in heaven and cheer the human race on.

Anyway...just some thoughts banging around my head tonight. Now I need rest.


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Mar. 13th, 2008 | 10:56 am

...do stories like this make anyone else think maybe we're not the only sentient life on this planet? Or at least that we're not going to be for long?


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Recharge Days Off - Day One

Mar. 10th, 2008 | 11:02 am

Well, after sleeping in (at least a bit), I'm now lunging in the house, making pancakes with the girls and getting ready for a REALLY late breakfast. It's lightly snowing outside and I'm wondering if I should bother checking my precipitation gauge for CoCoRaHS or not. I probably will after I eat. Later: World of Warcraft!

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Gary Gygax Has Died

Mar. 4th, 2008 | 03:47 pm
mood: sadsad

I'm shocked and saddened beyond words. Gaming has been such a huge part of my life for so long and helped me meet the best friends I've ever had, not to mention my wife.


So long, Gary. And thanks for all the fish.

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This Sucks

Jan. 9th, 2008 | 05:38 am

I'm still up, still working, and desperately afraid I'm going to see sunlight before I get sleep. I HATE still being awake at dawn! It just fucks up your whole day!

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Wow...Just Wow

Jan. 8th, 2008 | 02:24 pm

Now I DESPERATELY wish I lived somewhere near New jersey, if you can believe it! Found a short posting by Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, pointing me to this! Read through all the postings by Teller (of Penn and Teller fame) and be amazed and equally as angered that you have no way of going to see this play.


Seriously. It sounds that good.

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Jan. 3rd, 2008 | 12:59 am

funny pictures
moar funneh pix

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