Joe's New Blog

Nothing special, this is just my third effort at writing a blog about my life and what goes on in it: Hobbies, cooking, work, maybe the occasional book or DVD review, and so forth. Nothing really noteworthy, but this is sort of a little subset of my world...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The daily rundown, April 30

I got up pretty early, when the girlfriend was getting up to go to work. I got my laundry kind of organized, sorted, and ready to go, and went through the paper to see if there were any good jobs available. Of course there were, but I was too lazy to really call or send out resumes. Idiot. I scooped out the litter box, but didn't really do too much else with the morning. I did get caught up on e-mail, at least. Oh, and I tried to get my music keyboard set up again, but it turns out I bought the wrong size power adapter at Radio Shack, so I guess I'll have to go back and get a different one, because who knows when I'm going to manage to dig the one out of my storage unit.

My girlfriend came home for lunch, like usual, and she was in a better mood than she had been recently. She wanted to see if we could do laundry together in the evening, which was fine with me. She also asked me to empty the dishwasher and bake a loaf of the bread mix she had in the cupboard, both of which were also fine with me.

After she went back to work, I emptied the dishwasher, and got the paper recycling brought out to my car, along with the laundry. I started watching a baseball game and nearly forgot all about the bread, which I was kneading as she came home. Once she changed and I had the bread dough rising in a bowl, we headed out into the world. We had to stop at her work first, because she'd forgotten her phone there. That was no problem, and apparently she doesn't mind my driving, even though I think I don't do a really outstanding job on the roads around here. After getting her phone, we headed to the laundromat. It's a good thing that I hadn't decided to go by myself earlier, because the laundry that we'd gone to when I visited last year is closed now, and I didn't know that or where the new one she goes to is located. When we got there, the washers were pretty much all taken, so we decided to head home and try later. She asked if we could go by her bank first, and the recycle place was on the way there. So we stopped there, but it turns out that the recycling dumpster for paper is completely full, and when she called the number on it, it just rang, so the office was probably closed. But we did get to her bank and get out the money so she could pay her rent. So we really went out for two things, and we did accomplish two things, but neither of the things we accomplished were the things we'd originally set out to do. Oh well.

We came back home and I punched down the dough and put it into a loaf pan to rise. I then sat down and watched the tail end of the Canadiens losing to Philly. I remembered to put the bread in the oven after that, and then I sat and watched the Sharks managed to stay alive, just barely, by beating the Stars to force a game 5. Between the games, the girlfriend headed out into the world and paid her rent. She also picked me up the three main newspapers for the area so I can look for more job openings, despite the fact that she seems to think that I have the inside track on the job at her work. Hopefully I'll get that one, but I really do need to start sending out more resumes and such just in case I don't. Can't get work when no one even knows that you're looking, after all.

After the hockey was over, I wandered upstairs, checked my mail to find the usual stuff, nothing much of huge interest. I brought the girlfriend up a slice of bread with butter on one half and peanut butter on the other. Personally, I didn't think the sourdough bread went well with peanut butter, but she seemed to like it. I had a slice myself, but with just butter on it. I read through a few e-mails and then we watched part of the Daily Show before heading off to sleep.

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The daily rundown, April 29

I had really high hopes of getting up early this morning. Unfortunately, once my girlfriend headed off to work, I wound up lying in bed for "just a few minutes" and didn't wake up until a little after 11. Once I did get up, I wandered over to my "office" and checked my e-mail. At least I thought I was going to check my e-mail. It turns out that the internet connection was down. I went downstairs and unplugged the modem and router, since rebooting is always the I/S department's best friend. I did notice that the cable light on the modem was blinking slowly, though, and that's just usually not a good sign. So I turned on the TV and, sure enough, there was no reception there, either. And, since I'm kind of a guest at the place, I didn't really feel that it was my place to call Charter and gripe about things, so I was kind of screwed. I did a little bit of stuff that I could on the computer with no internet service, then went and took a shower and got myself a bit more ready for the day.

By the time I had eaten a little bit of lunch and had myself ready to head out the door, it was just about time for my girlfriend to get home for lunch, so I figured I'd wait around and talk to her for a little bit. She was not having the best of days, and it was rather unfortunate that I was in sort of a chatty mood, probably because I couldn't get my chattiness out on the internet, at the same time that she was pretty much just wanting to be left the hell alone. I talked to her for a little while, then left her to have a bit of her quiet time. She stayed a little longer than usual, because she was going to have to work late because her co-worker called in sick again. She always seems to take up the slack for everyone else around that place and never seems to have any of the other girls cover for her that much. It rather sucks, I think, but that's the way it goes.

She took the application I'd filled out for the I/S job at her work when she returned, which helped because that way I didn't have to run down there in addition to the other things I was going to need to do in the afternoon. As she was leaving, there was a Charter truck out in front of the house. I waited for him to head down the road before checking, but there was still no connection. He seemed to be stopping at several different utility poles, though, so I guess the problem was a bit more widespread than just us, and he was trying to find where the problem lay. In any case, I finally headed out into the world at about a quarter to four.

I drove down 377 to Argyle and then took 407 over to Flower Mound. I was looking for the Washington Mutual Bank which I knew to be on 407, called Justin Road as you go through the city of Flower Mound. Unfortunately, they had a bunch of construction going on and that part of the town is made up of a lot of strip-mall type development, so I didn't really see it anywhere from the road. I finally pulled over at a RaceTrac gas station and went into the store to see if anyone knew where the damned bank was located. A guy who worked there told me the address that the gas station was, so I knew it was just a few blocks away and now I also knew that I was looking on the correct side of the street for it. He wasn't sure if it was back the way I came or further on, though, so I opted to go further on.

It was the wrong choice. I wound up driving through the north end of Flower Mound until I got to the Lewisville city limit. Knowing that I'd obviously gone a little further than I wanted, I turned back around and headed back past the RaceTrac, then started keeping my eyes peeled for the WaMu sign that I knew would be there. I pulled off into a shopping center with a number that looked close, but it was too soon. So I continued to the next shopping center, but that one's number was too high. So I drove back through the shopping center parking lots and finally found the bank, with very little in the way of signage, sort of sequestered away behind a gas station in the corner of a strip mall. I was kind of glad that I was actually closing the account, because I'd hate to have to find that bank again.

The tellers there were quite nice, though. I was greeted by three of them as I went through the door, probably because there was no one else there and it looked like there hadn't been for a while. When I told them that I was there to close my account, I was informed that it was "No Closing Accounts Tuesday." The lady who helped me, who happened to be both the closest and the cutest, was actually very helpful, though. She told me that they were actually looking at putting a branch here in Denton, but that doesn't really help me for the time being. Maybe if they follow through with that, I'll rejoin their bank. For now, though, I have to head off to some other financial institution. In addition to my money, she gave me her card and told me to have someone from my new bank call her if they had any problems with the cashier's check or anything like that. That was quite nice of her and beyond the call of duty, I think.

With my cash in my wallet, and knowing that I was out of rum at the house, I headed back toward a liquor store I'd seen on the hunt for the bank. Unfortunately, I found that the building was for lease and they had apparently just not removed the sign from the strip mall's collection of placards. That was sort of a bummer. I resumed my journey vaguely in the direction of home.

I stopped at another little strip mall because I remembered that I needed to buy some envelopes to ship some stuff off to Mom and a few other places. There was an Office Depot, which was really empty considering the size of the store. I thought it might be closed, but it wasn't. There just weren't any people shopping there. I guess the office types must do their business shopping earlier in the day or something. I found a couple of padded envelopes, and I also picked up a spindle of blank CDs that were on sale for about half price. I have a couple of spindles in my storage unit, but I have no idea when I'm going to be able to dig back there far enough to get either them or my DVD recorder out of the mess. When I paid, the girl asked if I had one of their rewards cards. I didn't, but I filled out the little form and got my card before I left. I doubt I'll use it much, but what the hell. It's free...

I continued back the way I'd come, heading toward the tiny little town of Corral City. I think that city was basically established primarily for the purpose of having a liquor store. In any case, I got there with no problem, picked out a bottle of rum for my very own, and headed back out on the road. I was thinking about taking the back roads back, but I figured I might as well get a little more used to driving on the freeways. It didn't look like 35W was all that busy anyway, so that's the route I took.

It wasn't all that jammed, which was nice. I made a nice smooth ride up to University and then headed back into Denton. I stopped at the Kroger shopping center, because there were a few stores there that I wanted to have a closer look at. One was the Denton Thrift. I wandered through that store for a little while, but didn't really find too much that absolutely grabbed my attention. They did have kind of an interesting selection of records, which I may have to go back and browse through later, and they also had some nice art prints, frames, vases and such at pretty reasonable prices, especially when compared to buying them at the downtown "antique" stores, which usually seem to me to be pretty much junk stores for the hoi polloi. In any case, I'll probably go back once I get myself set up a little better in my own place and such. For now, though, I just kept my money in my wallet.

I also went down to the JoAnn store that's down at the far end of the shopping center. My girlfriend told me that it's a tiny one, and she was pretty accurate about that. Even the old one I used to go to in Medford was about twice the size of the store here, but they do have a full selection of embroidery floss and a decent selection of cross stitch fabric and accessories. And they're a lot closer than Hobby Lobby and Michael's, so I may just wind up doing a fair amount of my little craft shopping there. Again, though, for now I just left my money in my wallet and headed toward home.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. I got home, unloaded my little purchases, and checked my e-mail. Surprisingly, I already had a little welcome message from Office Depot's rewards program. I guess they must have been bored there at the store and put all my info into the computer already, which is kind of cool. I went downstairs and watched some hockey. The girlfriend came home and watched it with me. After the games were over, we headed upstairs and retired for the night.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

The daily rundown, April 28

I got up a little before nine, got the little beastie fed, and checked the e-mail. Nothing hugely interesting. There was a comment on one of my 43Things postings, and while I was reading through the mail, I got a message from one of my friends on StumbleUpon, but the majority of the remaining mail was just the usual kind of mailing list stuff. I still need to get caught up on the backlog, though, because I have hundreds of e-mails left to read. A little at a time, I guess.

I had all kinds of high hopes for getting stuff done with the day, but I wound up for the most part just sitting around playing on the computer more than I should have. I did get my application mostly filled out for the I/T job at the girlfriend's workplace. One of the problems I had with that, though, was that they wanted three references who were not previous employers, and one of the ones I put down on my resume was my former boss. I thought that was something of a gray area, so I wanted to find someone else who definitely wasn't a previous supervisor or anything. I wrote to one of the ladies in customer service who I usually had a pretty good relationship with, but I haven't heard anything back from her yet. I wonder if my e-mails are being blocked by the company now or something, although it's always possible that she's just on vacation or that the one particular e-mail got stuck in her junk mail folder or something. I don't know. But I really do need to write back to some more of the people there at the old work, just to keep the bridges still standing. I lose so many friends that it's unreal, and I'd really like to quit doing that, because I don't really know how many new friends I'm going to be able to make at this stage of the game...

I did write back to the guy who was looking for the bass player for the dance band. I just told him that I'd gone down to the jazz festival with my girlfriend and that I hadn't really had a whole lot of time over the weekend. I told him to go ahead and send me back an e-mail or something if I hadn't already totally pissed them off. Haven't heard anything back since then, but I don't know the situation, so not a huge deal at the moment.

I was supposed to go close the bank account today, but I just was feeling terribly unambitious. In addition to that, I also saw that there was still one outstanding payment on the account, for my Allstate motor club membership, and I wasn't sure what to do about that aside from just waiting for it to close out. So I basically wound up doing nothing as far as that was concerned. And, in general, I wound up doing very little with the day at all. I did wind up going downstairs and watching the hockey game that was on, but that was about the extend of my mobility, if you want to call it that. Never even got out of the house for the rest of the day. Typical laziness on my part...

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The daily rundown, April 27

The girlfriend and I slept in pretty late in the morning. I'm not sure if it was because of the drinking, the large amount of fried carnival type food, the late night, or some combination of all of the above, but she was definitely not feeling very good for most of the early part of the day. We did go downstairs and she made some breakfast for us and the roommate. Blackberry muffins and bacon. Not too bad a way to start the day. After she had cleaned up the kitchen a bit, she went back upstairs to lay down for a while. I stayed downstairs and watched the hockey game that was on, then came back up to work on some stuff on the computer.

Because she was feeling rather miserable most of the early afternoon, I was doubtful that we were going to make it to the jazz festival to see that last night's performance, but she seemed to be getting better toward the middle of the afternoon, and we got ready to head out to see the show. Her roommate didn't want to come along because he doesn't really care for Brave Combo, who regularly close the show at the jazz festival. Her friend who came the previous night was going to be there though, which was a good thing. She's kind of a kick, really.

It looked like there weren't quite as many people at the festival for the close as there were the previous day, but we still wound up sitting in almost exactly the same spot where we sat for Delbert McClinton's show. This time around, we didn't wind up buying very much of the overpriced and overgreased food, but the friend did buy each of us a corn dog. The girlfriend doesn't like corn dogs because she's a little leery of what might be in them. The friend and I each had one just because they're that kind of traditional carnival type fare that you just have to eat at an event like that.

The band that was playing when we got there was not half bad, kind of a R&B sort of group with a little more jazziness than the usual pap that's played on R&B radio these days. They played quite a few familiar covers, although now I don't really remember what they all were. I do know there was a lot of the old Motown stuff in there, but I couldn't name names at the moment. Might be because of the rum and coke I was drinking out of the bottle at the time, but it also just might be because I'm writing this up a few days after the fact. Maybe some kind of combination of the two. Who can tell?

The event of the night, however, was certainly Brave Combo. The girlfriend had warned me that they were a bit eclectic, which really doesn't bother me all that much. They were actually incredibly good players. The combo initially started out as the lead singer on guitar, a left-handed woman bass player, a drummer and an additional percussionist playing congas, and a three-man horn section of trumpet, trombone, and sax. I mention that they started out that way because almost all of the players aside from the drummer and bassist played various other instruments over the course of the evening. They also seemed to add another percussionist, although it's also possible that I just missed him, because he was sort of stationed behind the horn section. Several other folks aside from the regular lead singer also contributed to vocals, including the bassist, who did a nice little polka sort of number in Polish. Throughout the show, the bass wasn't necessarily all that flashy, but was definitely very solid.

The band played mostly cover tunes, but very interesting versions of them. They played things from all over the place: Latin, polkas, sambas, waltzes, as well as a number of not easily categorized tunes that definitely emphasized the fact that they were, as the girlfriend mentioned, somewhat eccentric. Overall, though, it was a very fun show. Nearly everyone at the place, probably about 1500 people, at least, were standing, dancing along, enjoying the audience participation sections, and generally having a fun, good ol' rollicking sort of time. I was even convinced to do the Chicken Dance, which is pretty much a staple, according to the girlfriend and her friend. And anyone who knows me already knows that me dancing is pretty much not a really common kind of thing, so it must have been a pretty good show for that to be happening. The band did a couple of encores, and then we headed off toward home.

Fortunately, the friend had parked her car near the site of the show, or at least a whole lot closer than the house, so we were able to hitch a ride home with her. Despite the fact that the show was over quite a bit earlier than the McClinton show, the friend had to head on back to her apartment to work on papers or something, so the girlfriend and I just headed upstairs and wound down for a little bit before going to bed. Overall, it was a pretty good end of the day...

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The daily rundown, April 26

I got up fairly early when my girlfriend went to work. I think I was actually up at about 8:30 or so, which is definitely quite early for me lately. Unfortunately, I didn't take as much advantage of the extra time as I really should have. I got the cat fed and such and then plunked myself down in front of the computer and checked my e-mail and all of that good stuff. I had thought about driving down to Flower Mound, which is where the nearest branch of my bank is, so I could close out my accounts there and move them to a new bank somewhere here in Denton, but my lack of ambition got the better of me.

Over the course of the morning, I did subscribe to a new Yahoo list, which is the North Texas Crafters list. I posted a little message to it, introducing myself and what I do that is crafty, but I haven't heard back from anyone else yet. The list at the moment appears to be comprised of myself and the list owner, but hopefully more folks will add themselves and we'll get a little community going. I also noticed that I got a reply back from my posting to, but apparently their e-mail notification system didn't choose to notify me, so I didn't see it until I logged back on and had a look manually. Oh well. I need to take some pictures of some of the stuff I've been doing and post it up there.

On the job hunt front, I did add a couple more items to my online resume on the WorkInTexas site, but that's about the extent. I got a notification from one of the agencies I'd sent my resume to that they'd received it and would be looking at it to match me with their potential job openings, which gives me incredibly little hope that I'm going to get anywhere from them. Which is sort of a shame, really, because the job I'd applied for with them seems like it would be quite a good match for me. But that's the way the cookie crumbles.

From the band standpoint, I sent off messages to two new ads on Craigslist. One was for a possible Pink Floyd cover band here in Denton, which is made up of college-aged players. Not sure about that one, because I'd be old enough to be the father to most of them, but we'll see. And the other listing was for a dance rock band that needs a bassist and guitarist. I don't know precisely what kind of "dance rock" they have in mind, but I figure that the worst that can happen is a wasted trip to talk to them and possibly a couple of other people I know in the local music community. Not a bad deal, either way. The guy who posted that second ad wrote me back, asking me to call him after 4 PM, but I wound up having other things to do at that time. Hopefully I'll get back with him later, and we'll see what kind of music they're really playing.

After my girlfriend got home from work, which was in the early part of the afternoon, we had a bit to eat for lunch and each had a drink to "lay down a base coat," as she put it, and then we walked down to the site of the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, which was going on this weekend. I was pretty astounded by the size of the thing. I had sort of expected a little outdoor stage with some folks sitting around on the lawn watching the band, but this was the size of a small county fair, with five real stages, as well as one small stage like I had expected to see, and probably a hundred or more booths selling food and various arts and crafts sorts of things.

We wandered through a few of the booths and such before stopping in front of one of the stages which was apparently the one where most of the UNT bands were to be performing. We met one of the girlfriend's friends and chatted with him for a while as we listened to some nice Latin jazz. The band switched over to playing more of a standard jazz after a few songs, though, and we headed over to see what was going on at some of the other stages. We made our way through the crowds of people and over to the jazz stage, which was pretty much the main stage for the event. We got there as one band was finishing up what sounded like a pretty decent set. It was pretty crowded, but we found enough room to lay out the little blanket thing we'd brought with us. I wanted to see Delbert McClinton, who was closing the night, so we kind of figured that we'd stay in that spot for the remainder of the evening, which we indeed wound up doing.

My girlfriend called her roommate and some of her other friends to see if they were going to come down to the festival. The roommate and one of her friends said they were, and they showed up after a while. The roommate was actually sort of funny because all he did was sat with his back against a big 50-gallon drum they had as a trash receptacle, facing away from the stage, and played his portable game system thing.

The first act that we got to see much of was a lady who went by the name of Annagrey. I'm guessing that her actual name is Anna Grey, but I guess they thought that naming the band that way was cooler or something. In any case, she was a singer in the vein of Sheryl Crow or something along that line, only fairly mediocre, really. I think a lot of the audience was just waiting to see Delbert, so the occasions when she tried to get audience participation or anything going wound up with lackluster results at best. But it didn't completely suck, which is always good. The bass player was halfway decent, although for the most part he just sat back and handled the groove. No real flashy solos out of him, and even his one real solo spot was more just sort of a funk groove thing, not a whole lot of trying to play as many notes as he could in as short a time as possible.

When Delbert finally started playing, the roommate left. For whatever reason, he doesn't like Delbert McClinton, but he thought the somewhat less entertaining (in my opinion) opening act was good enough to sit through. A little backward to my way of thinking, but I guess it's a case of different strokes for different folks. My girlfriend, her friend, and I all had a good time watching Delbert play, although he didn't wind up playing the one song they both really wanted to hear ("Have a Little Faith in Me"). We nevertheless had a very good time, including the fun of watching some of the people who were in attendance. There were a couple who managed to get their own little nicknames, although they'll never know them: Turkey Leg Girl and the Stripper were the two that readily spring to recall.

Turkey Leg Girl was a little girl, maybe eight or nine years old, although I'm certainly not a great judge of that sort of thing. She looked like your typical little girl, but for some reason, when McClinton started playing, she decided that she had to stand up and dance while alternately holding and eating her big ol' smoked turkey leg. Of course, she was right in the spot where the girlfriend and I had the best view of the stage, and she was munching down these huge mouthfuls of turkey as she was turned facing back toward us. By the time that I thought about taking a few pictures of her just for posterity, she had already moved on to annoying some of the other members of her little group and was probably off blocking someone else's view of the show. On the plus side, she knew how to dance far better than I do.

Which is definitely not something that I'm going to say about the Stripper. This was a fairly attractive girl, probably in her early 20s, I'd guess, although I might be guessing a bit older than she really is. In any case, we noticed her dancing after the band had started. She was doing a fair number of moves that would probably not have been at all out of place in a strip club, but she had absolutely no sense of rhythm whatever. She was dancing very fast to a couple of slower ballads, and the faster tunes, which she seemed to be enjoying more, just caused her to be somewhat out of sync, as though she had the right tempo, but had started about a quarter beat behind everyone else. She continued dancing most of the evening, although we did notice that her mom was leading her back along the exit aisle at one point. Mom was looking none too happy, and we all figured it was because Stripper was rather wasted. Nonetheless, they returned to the scene a short time later. I'm not sure what became of her as the evening's entertainment came to a close, because the people were pretty much clamoring to get out, and it became difficult to see anyone not one or two people away from you.

Other fun events of the night included my first funnel cake, which was quite good, albeit very expensive. Not surprising, considering the carnival type atmosphere. We walked home after the show and then the girlfriend's friend had to head home to do some work on a school project. The girlfriend and I sat around and destressed for a bit before heading off to bed, looking forward to seeing another entertaining show the next night...

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

The daily rundown, April 25

So I've decided to write a little daily entry on here, in addition to my updates on some of the goals that I do, and possible other entries as I see fit. So, what's happened over the past 24 hours that's really of any interest, even to me?

Yesterday was mostly just a stay-at-home day. After the girlfriend* went to work, I checked my e-mail and such. Nothing very interesting going on. I was going to head up to the market and get a copy of the Denton Record-Chronicle to look through the ads, but I wasn't feeling all that ambitious about it. I did update my resume and such on the website, and it wound up giving me a match for a Systems Admin job in Corinth. I checked the "how to apply" section and it was just an e-mail in your resume type deal. So I wrote a little cover e-mail and sent it to the appropriate address. I probably should have spent a little more time on the intro e-mail, because I think I kind of downplayed my skills and concentrated too much on my shortcomings relative to their job requirements. But, what the hell. The worst they can do is turn me down for the job, which isn't necessarily that horrible.

In between adding stuff on that website and sending off my C.V., I also read through a few days' backlog of e-mail and finished organizing my list. I moved a bunch of stuff down on the list that I'm not going to be able to do right now because the necessary items are stuck somewhere at the back of my storage unit, and it's going to take me a while to dig them out. Also, I moved down some of the long term goals and some of the things that are just going to take money. Can't throw money at any of the goals until I actually have a job, after all.

I did a little bit of organization around the computer room here, but not all that much. I did dig out my cross stitch stuff and did a little work on the 4th day of Christmas, which I'm now way behind schedule on. I don't really know if I'm ever going to be able to get myself caught up on that kind of thing now, but I at least managed to get a little bit of stitching done. I also posted messages to the cross stitch list on and my own little cross stitch forum on StumbleUpon. Thus far, however, no replies to either of those messages. While I was on Tribe, I also updated my profile to indicate my new residence and all.

One thing I found while organizing the room was that I actually did have the battery charger for my camera sitting in one of the boxes over in the closet. I thought that was one of the numerous things buried down in the storage unit, so I wound up ordering one from a few days ago after my camera started telling me the battery was low. Now I either need to deal with having an extra or I need to return the one I ordered. Decisions, decisions... It is nice that I'll be able to take pictures sooner than I expected, though.

As it started getting toward evening, I wandered downstairs and had myself some leftover turkey curry for a lunch/dinner sort of thing, and I turned on the hockey game, Montreal vs. Philadelphia. That was pretty much the end of any productivity for the whole evening for me. My girlfriend got home from work and after changing her clothes joined me to watch hockey and Battlestar Galactica, which is sort of a Friday tradition in the house. Her roommate was sleeping, though, and the friend who usually comes over had an important paper to finish, so it was just the two of us. We finished the evening watching the Stars beat the Sharks in overtime. I'm pulling for the Sharks, because they've always been one of my favorites. Of course, the Stars are the hometown team around here, so I'm sort of the outsider, but that's all right. However this series goes, I'll wind up rooting for the winner to go the rest of the way in the West, at least. If Montreal wins the East, I'll have to go with them to win the Cup, as they've been my favorites for as long as I've been watching hockey.

After the game, we came upstairs and I figured I'd check my e-mail before retiring for the evening. There was one message of particular interest to me. It was from my ex-wife. She had written this: "You need you to close out the joint checking account at [the bank]. As per our divorce agreement we were supposed to close all joint accounts. I think I have given you plenty of time since I discussed this with you. As I am authorized to close this on my own, I am asking you to do this within two weeks or I will do it. I am still liable for this account and would like to remove all ties I have to you. So if I haven't seen evidence of this by May 9th, 2008, I will go to [the bank] and close out that account."

I find it rather interesting that she didn't seem to think that the specifics of our divorce settlement were all that critical when our house sold for over a hundred thousand dollars less than we anticipated and I let her keep 90% of the portion of the profits that I was entitled to by that same settlement. And she didn't seem to feel that need to remove "all ties" to me when she asked me to give that reference so she could get into her new apartment, or when she needed to have some free work done on her computer. But, she is technically right that I should have closed the account earlier. I didn't because it was the account that I had all of my automatic bill deductions linked to, and to which my direct deposit paychecks were posted. But, since I'm now between jobs and such, it seems like it's a good time to do it anyway. And, since she's choosing to be a pissy little bitch, it's a good time to do just like she wants and cut all the ties to her. So, I sent her a similarly terse message saying that I'd do it on Monday, then I sat here and drank a bit before heading off to bed. Not the best night ever, but life goes on...

* I refer to my girlfriend by that sort of impersonal sounding term not because I feel impersonal, but because she doesn't have her name posted on all of her websites and such like I do. So I don't really think it's my place to go spreading her actual name over the internet. Just so you know...

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Now that I'm here, I just need to get out and mingle...

I wrote to about a dozen different musicians in the D/FW area who had advertised for bass players on Craigslist in the month or so before I moved here. I got responses back from about four of them, saying that I should get in touch when I got down here. Unfortunately, I’ve been so busy trying to find work and just getting my bearings straight and such that I’ve only been in contact with one of them, and that was actually because he sent me a message asking if I’d made it yet.

So, I really need to get back in touch with people, and then I need to get my act together and get myself playing again and start looking for some folks to play with. It’s prime area for it, so the only thing keeping me from it is my own laziness…

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Friday, April 25, 2008

The search goes on...

I’ve sent off a number of resumes and filled out online job applications. A few disappointments, either with jobs already filled or, in one case, with a job that closed the day before I got there to fill out the application. I wish they’d have posted the date the job closed so I didn’t waste my time trying to find the place, but such is life.

I also filled out the forms and such for, which is the Texas government’s job search program. I’ve found a few nice leads from there and submitted applications or resumes, but I have yet to hear back from the employers I’ve sent off to. Not surprising, since they’re jobs that are open until specific dates. I’ll have to wait and see how those go.

On the plus side, my girlfriend came home for lunch today and told me that she had talked to the IT director at her work, a car dealership. She asked if they were planning for any job openings in the department in the near future, and he said that as a matter of fact, he was going to be posting an ad in the paper today. Since I had given her my resume to pass on to him, she did so, and he seemed pretty impressed by the match of what I’d listed and what they were looking for in a prospective employee, so she thinks that I’m probably already in the top tier of candidates for the position. She’s going to bring home and application for me this evening, and I can fill it out and take it in on Monday. That would be nice, because it’s not too bad a commute and such, and I’d probably be able to have lunch and such with my sweetie fairly often. So, here’s hoping, but I’m certainly not going to stop turning in the resumes yet…

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

New Mexico: Another part of my drive-through on the move to Texas...

My first sight upon entering New Mexico on I-40 was construction, slowed traffic, merging into one lane, and all the crud that goes along with that. I was going to stop at the first rest area I came to and message my girlfriend that I’d made it that far at least, but the first rest area I came to was closed for renovation. It seems like there are only about five rest areas on that highway across the entire length of the state, and three of them were closed. One of the others was more like a big parking lot for a casino, so I didn’t stop there. The scenery itself was rather beautiful, although definitely different than what I’m used to in Oregon. Lots of surreal looking rock formations and bluffs, in different shades of reds and browns and such. Aside from the large amounts of construction, I made pretty good time through the state. I fortunately didn’t hit Albuquerque during the rush hour, but even in the slightly post-lunch lull, it was something of a madhouse, and again there was quite a bit of construction going on. Albuquerque looks like it might be a nice city to go back and visit someday, but this time around, I was just trying to make the best time possible, so it was just head through and move on for me.

I finally stopped just a little before I got to Santa Rosa. There had been some clouds building in the sky for a while, and I’m not real familiar with driving a truck, so I was feeling the gusty wind a whole lot more than I was used to. I pulled into one of the few open rest areas that I’d seen and texted my girlfriend to ask her what the weather forecast for that area looked like. She said that it looked like it was just a little line of showers, but it happened to be following along the route that I was taking. I saw that a lot of other trucks and RVs were getting back out on the road, so I figured I’d just head on out and take it slow and easy and do the best I could.

The wind continued and it started raining a lot harder than it had been at the rest area, and by the time I made it to Santa Rosa and stopped for gas, it was beginning to snow. After getting back on the freeway, the snow continued to come down harder, to the point where there was a definite buildup on the windshield where the wipers didn’t reach. Fortunately, it only lasted about half an hour or so, and then it cleared up pretty well, although it continued to drizzle all the way to the Texas border and beyond. I kind of expected to have to deal with heat while I was travelling through both Arizona and New Mexico, but it seems that I had more problems with cold than anything. Still, I’ll go back someday when I’ve got a little more time to stop and check things out.

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Adjusting to life in Texas

I've been here in Texas for nearly two weeks now. Unfortunately, I'm still unemployed, which is more my own fault than the fault of anyone or anything else. I just haven't been spending enough time and energy looking for a job. I did originally have something like $800 in my checking account when I got here, but I've purchased some new clothes, update the old wardrobe for the job hunt and such, and I've spent some money on other things, trying to help out with the household and groceries and such around here. So now my little safety net has dwindled to the point of having under $300 in checking and a little under $200 in savings. I definitely need to get myself out there and find something. I went to Lake Dallas to apply for a job they had there which I thought would be a good balance of pay and a relatively short commute, but the job closed on Monday and I didn't show up until Tuesday. Stupid procrastination manages to screw me over yet again. As soon as I finish writing this up, I'm going to head off to the store and pick up some newspapers and look for a few more jobs to apply to either online or in person, if they're close enough for the drive. I'm still not really confident about driving around here, even though the car seems to be doing just fine after its long journey across the country.

And the Kala kitty also seems to be doing just fine after the long trip, too. She's pretty much taken over some little spots here in the house, found her appropriate spots to sleep during the day. She likes sitting next to the open window here in the "computer room" and staring out at the traffic going by and the birds that eat the berries off the tree just outside. She's managed to get outside on a few occasions, escaping through the screens on the downstairs windows, but each time she's pretty much stayed right around the house, which is a good thing. The first time, we didn't even know she'd got out until she showed up outside the kitchen window yowling at the girlfriend as she did the dishes. I think I might need to go down to Home Depot and get some small lumber, maybe 1x2, and some screen and make some kind of barrier that will fit under the window while it's open, which she can't push out easily. Because, quite honestly, if the windows aren't open, it just gets way too hot and stuffy in this place over the course of the day and the evening.

I haven't really been doing very much musically since I've been down here. I did get back in touch with one guitarist who I'd contacted before the move, but he's on-call on his job this week, so we're going to try to get together next week or a bit after and see about jamming. I do need to also reply back to some of the other people I'd sent stuff off to before leaving Oregon, but I'd really like to get a job, get money coming in, and know what my hours will be like before I seriously try to start something in the way of a band. Guess I'd best get out there and start looking now, eh?

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Anyone in the north part of the D/FW Metroplex?

Anyone want to meet up for a cup of coffee or something? I’m in Denton, and I’m not exactly real confident driving around here yet, but if anyone wants to grab lunch or something here in Denton or somewhere else on this end of the metro (Lewisville, Flower Mound, maybe?), it’d be cool.

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Two more off the checklist...

On my journey from Oregon to Texas, I went through the northern parts of Arizona and New Mexico on I-40. And I’m guessing that in the next few months, my girlfriend and I are going to head east and see Arkansas and Louisiana. She’s actually seen both before, but I’m pretty sure she’ll humor me one of these weekends and drive over with me…

Oh, and here’s my map, thanks to the link by Nature Lover. create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

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Selling items, formerly on eBay, now on Craigslist

I decided to switch this goal from eBay to Craigslist simply because I know that I’m horribly lazy about packing and shipping stuff and things like that, and with Craigslist I can either specify that whoever buys the item picks it up, or I can just hand deliver it within a fairly limited area. This goal goes pretty much right along with my “get rid of my clutter” and “organize my storage unit better” goals. I figure that as I take things from the storage unit, I’ll take anything that I don’t really need and offer it for sale on Craigslist. If I can make a few bucks, great. If it doesn’t sell, I’ll offer it for free on the rEcycleDFW list. And then, if no one wants it even for free, it’s off to the recycle bin or the dumpster. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to trim down enough to only have to get a one-bedroom place this time around…

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Another long-term, oft-delayed goal

Now that I’m living in Texas, this would be one of those things that would be even better to accomplish. I’ve seen dozens of job listings where speaking Spanish would at least be a plus, if not required. I guess I should get out those lessons again and have at it. Except for the fact that they’re all packed away in the storage unit at the moment. Well, when I manage to dig them out, I guess I’ll start hitting the books…

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I'm living in a real college town now, but...

I’m going to have to wait a while before I can try to register for any classes. The first reason is because I really need to find a job so I have some money coming into the coffers, and the other reason is because I need to wait six months so I can become an official resident and not have to pay the much higher non-resident fees. It’s going to be expensive enough as-is, without adding the additional out of state costs to the deal. So, probably around the beginning of fall term I’ll start looking a lot more closely…

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Lions at Dan's Silver Leaf, Saturday, April 19

On my first fully free weekend here in Denton, my girlfriend and I decided to get out of the house and check out something musical here in town. After reading through several descriptions and reviews of bands, we settled on going to Dan’s Silver Leaf and seeing Lions, an Austin-based band that was described in a newspaper review as having a 60s and 70s sort of vibe with a 90s fevor [sic]. We weren’t really sure if that was supposed be “fever” or “fervor,” but we figured it was the latter.

The opening band, whose name I didn’t catch, had a couple of catchy tunes going right after we first came in. They, like Lions, were a quartet, the usual lineup of drums, bass, and two guitars, with one of the guitarists doing what should be called singing, but which was primarily a cross between shouting and screaming to my ears. The singer/guitarist had pretty obviously had a bit much to drink, as my girlfriend leaned over at one point and told me something that he’d said. I told her that I understood what he had said, and she responded with, “Oh, I didn’t know you could translate Drunk that well.” Unfortunately, after the first couple of songs they played after we arrived, they seemed to go into several songs which were just extended jams. It pretty much seemed like they were just holding a public practice. If they could have maintained that catchy energy they had at first, it would have been a pretty decent show. As it was, not something I’d really care to pay to see again.

The headliners, Lions, got their equipment set up very efficiently and started their set only ten minutes or so after the first band left the stage. I could kind of see initially how they could be described a bit as having a 60s and 70s vibe. The girlfriend described them as being something like a cross between Led Zeppelin and Rage Against the Machine. For my part, I thought the 60s/70s part was more like the Who than like Zeppelin. In any case, Lions, too, sort of devolved into something of a jam band after the first few songs, primarily just riffing over a fairly solid rhythm section. They did seem to have a bit more structure to their material than the first band, but they definitely didn’t really cut it for me. Maybe their newly-released EP sounds better, but their live show struck me as little more than really, really loud.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Been a busy couple of weeks...

And I’d definitely say that I’ve been out of the house for the past few. The weekend of the 5th and 6th, I picked up my rental truck from Budget, loaded up the contents of my storage unit, and then spent a fair amount of time loading some of the contents of the house into the little beastie. Not necessarily a fun way to get out of the house, but definitely out and productive, at least.

The weekend of the 12th and 13th, I was mostly doing the exact opposite. I got to Texas in the wee early hours of the morning of the 12th, and we spent a fair amount of the 12th loading stuff from the rental truck into the new storage unit here in Denton. On Sunday, we finished unloading the stuff that was staying here at the house, and I returned the truck to the Budget place here in town. After all the driving across the country and such, I didn’t really have enough energy left to do much else that weekend.

This past weekend, my GF and I drove down to Lewisville after she got off work, so she could feed her mom’s fish and check their mail and such. She was hungry after her day at work, so we stopped at the Sweetwater downtown and had dinner. I had the shrimp and bacon sandwich with fries, which wasn’t bad. She had breaded fried fish of some kind, although I now forget exactly what. She said it was also not bad. Service was okay, and the atmosphere was loud, but not terribly obnoxious. Not the kind of place you’d want to stop to have a quiet conversation, but decent food at a decent price.

After our dinner, we headed over to Dan’s Silverleaf to watch a couple of bands. Those were definitely much louder than the ambiance at the Sweetwater, but I’ll wrote those up under the “Attend 12 Music Events” goal…

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

First time on the job market for quite a while...

I moved to Texas a week or so ago, and I had no job lined up or anything of that nature. So, this last week was sort of my rest and relaxation week, getting myself and my cat acclimated to the new environs and such, and I spent some of that time getting my resume updated and looking through some of the local papers’ want ads. Next week, I really have to get out there, send out a bunch of resumes, fill out those applications, and make sure there’s money coming into the coffers before the safety net runs out. My goal is to either hand deliver five resumes or applications per day, or to send out ten via e-mail or a company’s website, or some mix-and-match combination of the two. And, if I don’t find any decent work after a maximum of two weeks, I will go apply at the temp agencies as well…

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The happy ending to the trip from hell...

I finally managed to make it to Texas last Friday, the 11th, in the wee early hours of the morning. The trip itself, in addition to beginning a few days later than I would have liked, was one of those little epics where every little thing that coule go wrong seemed to. But, after three days of driving like a banshee, beating my rental truck like a rented mule, and dealing with a bunch of little crap, I finally rolled into Denton. On Saturday, my girlfriend and I, along with some help from one of her friends, managed to get nearly everything I didn’t immediately need piled out of the truck and into a storage unit. Everything else came out of the truck and the car on Sunday and Monday. I managed to get a little sleep and got the laptop up and running in the earlier part of the week, got my resume updated and a few turned in, and now I’m adjusting to life here in the south.

My cat has already adjusted pretty well, found her favorite places to sleep and birdwatch around the house, and is generally none the worse for wear from the traumatic journey. She actually travelled a lot better than I thought she would, which is the one good thing about the whole trip.

Now I just need to get myself a job, see if I can find some other musicians to play with around here, and get myself settled in my own apartment or house. And life rolls on in a new city and state…

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Once again on hold...

I just moved to Texas, so this goal has to stay on hold, but still is definitely staying on the list. I’m currently staying with my girlfriend, and most of my equipment is in my storage unit, so no real updating will be able to be done at least until I get myself back into the working world and get myself a place to live…

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Arizona: Part of my move to Texas...

Last week, I moved from Oregon to Texas, and part of my journey took me across northern Arizona on Interstate 40 (old Route 66). The scenery is wonderful, and although the trip itself was something of a drag for me (because I was in a rental truck with a cat, towing a car), it’s definitely a trip I would love to make again in a somewhat more leisurely fashion. I didn’t stop very often, because I was trying to finish the trip as quickly as possible, but I did stop at Seligman and spent the night in Winslow. Both nice little towns. It was a lot colder there than I really expected it to be, but at least it didn’t snow.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

I've been working on it, but not hard enough...

I’ve been trying to give stuff away through the Rogue Valley Recyclers groups, which used to be part of FreeCycle. Apparently, FreeCycle has been doing some things that not all of the local admins of their groups have appreciated, and they’ve been losing some of those groups recently. I was looking at the one down in Dallas, since I’ll be moving there this week, and it looks like the FreeCycle list there has also changed over to being an independent group.

Anyway, I gave away a bunch of my sci-fi and fantasy books. I had spent about three days sorting them into related “bite-sized” groups, since I didn’t really expect anyone to take the whole batch of probably three to four hundred books that I was going to give away. Of course, because I did spend all the time sorting them out and getting different authors and subgenres and such grouped up together, I had a lady immediately reply and say that her husband loved sci-fi and fantasy and she’d take all of them, if I didn’t mind. Of course, since I was just trying to get rid of them, I was actually happy to give them to one person, instead of having a bunch of people coming by and saying they wanted everything but that one book that was in the bag. It turns out the lady who took them really did want them all, and her husband is the kind of person who likes to keep the series together and such, so I felt pretty good with her getting them.

I’ve also given away a few other things over the past couple of weeks, but now that the move is pretty imminent, I’m not posting anything else. I don’t want to post stuff and then move out before someone can pick anything up. But, I’m packing all of that stuff separately, and I’ll post it to the Dallas version of the list once I get down there…

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

So, I supposedly didn't make my challenge...

But that was because I screwed up and put the wrong date on it in the first place. Yesterday (the “due date” on the challenge) was actually my official last day of work. That’s despite the fact that I still had a little bit of database stuff that needed to be done, and which I logged in remotely to do this afternoon.

In any case, I picked up the rental truck this morning. Emptying out the storage unit went a hell of a lot quicker than I thought. I guess I must have taken more stuff out of there than I realized, because I had expected to take at least four or five hours loading stuff and weeding through the crap to throw away, but it really only took me about two and a half hours to get everything loaded, and I was taking my time while I did the work.

I drove back to work when I had finished emptying the storage unit, because I didn’t think it was going to be all that pleasant to be driving around trying to find a parking place and such with the trailer dragging along behind me. My former boss was there, along with one or two other people, so I checked to make sure it was okay, then detached the trailer and left it under the awning of the loading dock at the back of the building. Then it was back home.

Parking is a bear in the place, but I finally managed to steal someone’s spot for long enough to get the van parked. Now I’m trying to get everything packed down there, one box at a time. My hand truck’s wheels are flat, and I don’t really feel like driving down to the gas station to fill them at the moment. Maybe tomorrow morning. But, moving is definitely in process…

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