Grateful Recap

Giving ThanksAs we enter a new year, there are several things from 2013 for which I’m thankful:

1. Being Alive. This year brought about an allergic reaction that I’d never had before that put me in the hospital for the first time in my life. I thought I was dying waiting for the paramedics to arrive and I had passed out by the time they arrived. My wife tells me that they were moments from intubating me, but thank God, He brought me through the entire experience. And surprisingly, the hospital food was quite good!

2. Paramedics, Doctors, Nurses, Hospitals, Health Clinics, etc. It’s rather obvious why I’m thankful for these individuals and institutions. 🙂

3. Family and Home. So thankful for the missus, our little menagerie of animals who’ve become a part of our family and a warm, cozy home.

4. Good Jobs. Both the missus and I are very blessed to have good jobs. During a time when so many are without a job, we feel very blessed and fortunate to be gainfully employed.

5. Music. I’m continually amazed at how music is not a static interest, but rather one where one’s relationship with a particular piece is always changing based upon one’s life experiences. And my taste in music seems to be ever-evolving. It’s something I didn’t expect to happen when I was younger. But I’m liking it so far!

6. Photography. 2013 brought about a new interest in photography as the missus and I were finally able to obtain a DSLR camera. This has opened up a creative outlet I’d dabbled in a little before, but hadn’t really studied in depth. I’m looking forward to learning to fully take advantage of the power of a DSLR camera and see what kinds of shots I can come up with.

Here’s looking to 2014 and all the things it will offer for which to be grateful. Happy New Year!

Two Days, Three Nights, One Tired Guy

Kermit and Miss Piggy Home ImprovementRemodeling stories are a dime-a-dozen. Nevertheless, here’s mine.

The missus and I have been at it since June of this year attempting to remodel our bathrooms. Mind you, we aren’t doing most of the work ourselves. We’re buying the materials and letting others do all of the manual labor. But in order to save a few dollars, I’ve done some minor things that I know how to do.

We’ve had new bathroom vanities installed replacing old ones that, while reliable, were very dated. Simple enough. But it took a couple of months of shopping, several trips to the big box store (trying to get an installation estimate that was way overpriced) and delivery from 3 different locations because our local store didn’t carry everything we needed. Thankfully, our trusty handyman was able to install them and they look great.

Then we moved onto flooring replacing old vinyl with ceramic tiles. After two estimates from the same big box store that were way too high, I ended up getting a referral from our handyman with their price being 2/3 of what the previous two estimates came in at. Again, this has taken a couple of months to get arranged and completed.

After two days of work by the installers and three nights bunking at the in-laws with dogs in tow, our new tile floors are finally in. Now the time-consuming part of cleaning up, re-installing toilets, laundry appliances and new baseboards begins.

After powerwashing the house and garage on Saturday, removing baseboards, toilets, laundry appliances and prepping the house for this week’s install, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so physically tired. I don’t want to imagine trying to remodel an entire house and the accompanying stress it must bring. But after all of the work is done, it’s all going to look great and definitely be worth it.

While in the middle of struggling to remove the bathroom baseboards in prep for the tile install, I half-jokingly said to the missus that our next house is going to be new construction. I’m hoping the serious half of that statement wins out next time.

Random Notes

Just some unfinished random unrelated notes floating about today:

1. It’s hard to believe that we’re heading into October already, but we are. I remember those days as a child when a year seemed to be a lifetime. Even after school let out for the summer, vacation seemed to last a long time. And forget Christmas. It took FOREVER to come around each year, but the season seemed to last months. It’s ironic how the longer we live, the faster time seems to move. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

2. I find myself growing weary (or at the very least a bit annoyed) of the continual desire/need/want to always have the latest update to the latest thing. The past couple weeks have seen the release of the iPhone5 and accompanying iOS update, an update to the music production software I use, an update to several websites I frequent, etc., etc., and on and on. Honestly, none of these updates were transformative; rather, they were just refinements to their existing paradigms. There’s certainly nothing wrong with refining and improving something and I’m a big proponent of reaching for excellence. My struggle is at what point do I have to draw the line and say, “You know, what I have is working just fine. No more upgrading until I need to.”

3. Candy Corn M&Ms prove that some ideas need to remain just that.

4. The word “meme” needs to be struck from the English language. I’m tired of hearing it used by those who want to sound intelligent (i.e. the media talking heads).

5. And finally, there are only 52 days until Thanksgiving and 85 days until Christmas.

All aTwitter to Be the Cleverist

Twitter FightOkay. When it comes to social media, I’m purposefully reluctant to be the vanguard or even jump on the bandwagon. However, I finally overcame my natural hesitancy and reactivated my dormant Twitter account a few weeks ago. Result? Now I’m addicted. Mission Accomplished Twitter; you’ve managed to monopolize a good portion of my time recently. Now, since I can feel myself being sucked into the Twitter collective, I’m having to force myself to check my feed only a couple of times a day, maybe post a few tweets, retweet something interesting and then move onto something else.

I follow friends, coworkers, musicians, politicians, journalists and news sites. One thing I’ve noticed in just a few short weeks is that Twitter is generally one big echo-chamber where adult hipsters (likely still living with their parents), political hacks and even some journalists try to come up with the snarkiest tweet or reply to someone’s tweet. The amount of “I’m so clever”-styled tweets has become excruciatingly dull already. There is no real exchanging or discussion of ideas, just a barrage of sarcasm, condescension, profanity and hatred flung at the offending tweet. And if the original tweet contains a link to something someone disagrees with, they respond with their own link essentially saying, “Oh yeah, moron? I see your link and raise you one that proves you wrong. I win!”.

I admit I like Twitter and enjoy using it. It’s a fun and powerful communication tool with many interesting people and companies to follow. But so many of the tweets are just a total waste of time including a bunch of “Oh yeah?!” “Yeah!” exchanges and “Look at me!!!” posts. It’s like being back in grade-school with the bullies and the so-called “cool kids” but now it’s online. Yes I know, I’m not the first person to make this observation. But it is what it is (and yes I know I’m most certainly not the first person to use that phrase).

(addressing the empty chair to my left) Am I immune to the urge to post a tweet drenched in sarcasm or a withering reply? Certainly not. I’ve got the same human faults everyone else has. Am I going to stop using Twitter? Nah. (addressing the reader now) It has it’s positive communication and informational qualities and so far they are outweighing any negatives. But perhaps Twitter should come up with a BS filter that can be applied to my feed. That would be quite useful. They could call it the “Eastwood” filter. Nevertheless, for the time being, I’ll just have to use the one sitting between my two ears. And at the end of the day, that’s probably the better filter anyway.

Am I There Yet ?!

My computer was infected a little over 2 weeks ago with a redirect virus, and after several unsuccessful attempts at removing it, I decided to just reinstall the operating system. That way I’d be confident that there would be a clean install free of malware and other junk. I was aware it would take some time to reinstall all of the software that I use, but I had no idea it would take every evening after work for a week.

Granted, in the old days, I would have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, fueled by inordinate amounts of coffee, reinstalling every bit of software so it would be done in one sitting. But a weary brain isn’t one’s best friend during such a task. And quite frankly, I just didn’t want to put myself through that ordeal.

-Monday night, I load up the OS disk which installs quite smoothly, and I begin loading all of my non-music making software. But just as I’m about the start loading that stuff, I realize I hadn’t fully partitioned the hard drive to ensure I had access to the full 300GB. Errrr! Time to start over from the beginning. (Tomorrow.)

-Tuesday night, start over with the OS install, download all of the OS updates from the past 12 months and reinstall all of the non-music related programs. (Hours of fun!)

-Wednesday night, begin installing the tons of music software I have starting with my DAW. Apply updates. (Hours of, well, not fun.)

-Thursday night, continue installing software and VSTs. (Getting tired of this.)

-Friday night, finish installing software. Download driver updates. Double-check to make sure everything is working properly and is the way I want it for a clean install. (Am I there yet?!)

-Saturday morning, create a system image and full backup to use in case, God forbid, this ever happens again! (Big sigh of relief.)

Finally, after about a week, my computer is back up and running. What’s the lesson here? Have a clean system image and backup handy, boys and girls.

And just for giggles, here’s a pic of the list I used to keep track of where I was in this whole process. Fun times, indeed. 😛

OS Reinstall Checklist

Old Houses and Toilets

Man Pressing Toilet Down onto Wax SealSome advice for those of you wanting to purchase and live in an old home: be ready to spend money and have a constant to-do list. An old house and shallow pockets do not mix well.

Now before you think I don’t enjoy my circa 1910 house, I actually do like living in it. If my wife and I could pick it up and move it to the city, we would. It’s a great home on a nice lot with several majestic old oak trees around it. It has (we think, but can’t be sure) original soft yellow pine floors which aren’t available anymore as far as we know and massive curb appeal with a wide front porch that no builder these days would ever put on a house. Simply put, it’s cozy and comfortable which is what a home should be.

However, at times it can make one question why in the world one ever wanted to live in an aged abode. For instance, I’d never fixed a toilet before and always had this fear (akin to my fear of snakes) of what I might find when removing the toilet from its connection to the bathroom floor. I would picture myself staring down into the dark, dank and disgusting drain pipe and seeing ancient stool stubbornly hanging on to the sides refusing to be flushed away into the great sewer beyond. Or perhaps some disgusting sewage worm with a sucker mouth and dirty pincers ready to hook onto and burrow into my delicate flesh, much like the one in an old X-Files episode (if you’re a fan of the show, you know what I’m talking about).

Surprisingly though, it’s not as gross as you might imagine. No stubborn remnants of human debris inhabiting the bowels of the bowl. No parasitic invertebrates ready to infiltrate me as their unwilling host. Only a moist and squishy wax seal that really is the worst part of the whole experience. Once that’s been removed and a fresh one applied, the whole process moves along quite easily.

Due to my inexperience in properly seating the wax seal and said inexperience resulting in persistent and recurring leaks, I’ve done this little routine so many times that I can now drain, remove, replace and refill the toilet in about 15 minutes. Not too shabby for an amateur plumber. But don’t ask me to work on your toilet. I can handle dealing with my crap, but I’m not putting up with yours.