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...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 22 of 365

The concert last night was quite fun. We saw the Old 97s at the Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas. The show began with Murry, the bass player, doing a solo set. He began sort of slow, and it seemed like he kind of lost a fair chunk of the crowd with a couple of ballads. He played a couple of songs people recognized, though, and managed to bring most of them back.

When Rhett came on stage and started playing his solo set, the crowd became really energized. He was all over the place, and as he mentioned himself, he didn’t have a single slow or quiet song in his set. It was all energy for the next half hour.

The whole band played for a couple of hours. They’re playing three more shows, and they said that they’re trying to not play any songs more than once except for “Time Bomb,” which is their set closer. So that means that this particular show wasn’t a “greatest hits” kind of thing, and I didn’t really know many of the songs. I’m sure I’ve heard a few of them before, but the only two I really knew were “Barrier Reef” and “Time Bomb.” Nevertheless, it was a really fun, really energetic show, and the girlfriend and I both had a lot of fun. It would have been nicer if the crowd wasn’t quite so close, but such is life.

The girlfriend was really happy with her birthday present, and that’s the thing that matters most…

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Weeks #4-6

Week #4: I didn’t really do a whole lot, but I did go to Hobby Lobby and picked up some stuff for my train layout.

Week #5: The girlfriend and I went to a hockey game, which the Stars managed to win. After the game, we went to a hobby store and to Ikea. We spent a bit more money at both than expected, but it was still worth it, I think.

Week #6: The weekend after Christmas. We did all the regular Christmas stuff on Thursday and Friday, which I kind of count as the weekend because it was time off work. In any case, we also went out and did a bunch of after-Christmas shopping on Saturday, although neither of us found as many good deals as we would have liked. And tonight, Sunday, we’re going to a concert down in Dallas for her birthday.

6 weeks in a row, and going strong…

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Daily Journal: Day 21 of 365

It’s a cold, clear Sunday. For the most part, it’s been a lazy sort of day, but that’s not at all unusual for a weekend. The girlfriend’s friend Jason was here last night, but he left for home in Austin an hour or so ago. The girlfriend and I are going to the Old 97s concert in Dallas this evening. It’s one of her favorite bands, and it’ll be my first time seeing them. I’ll have to review the show tomorrow, because it will be well after midnight by the time we get home, despite the somewhat early start to the show. Right now I’m just watching football, nibbling on Christmas leftovers and sweets, and waiting for halftime, when I’m going to take a shower. I should do more today, but I’m just feeling lazy again. Sigh…

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 20 of 365

It was cold again this morning, with snow still on the ground out in the back yard. Fortunately the roads were all pretty clear, though. There were just a couple of slick areas still left where the sun hasn’t hit for the past couple of days. It was fortunate because we were going to go do some shopping this morning.

The girlfriend had a whole little list of stores we wanted to go to. We started at Hobby Lobby, mostly so she could look for good deals on wrapping paper and such, which we figured they’d likely have at very good prices. Unfortunately, things seem to have been picked over pretty well already, so she just got a few little things. I didn’t find anything I really wanted. There were actually quite a few things I wouldn’t have minded getting, but I just figured that I could live without more kitchen stuff. We already have a shortage of cabinet space, and I should use more of the stuff I already have without buying more.

After Hobby Lobby, it was off to the mall. She had a bunch of stores to go to, but I just headed off to Barnes & Noble, so I didn’t throw off her shopping mojo. They had a lot of stuff in the discount section of B&N, but I once again decided that most of the stuff I could live without. I did buy the unabridged Conan the Barbarian, which includes most of the short stories originally done by Robert E. Howard. It doesn’t have most of the novel series, which were completed by other authors from notes and manuscripts begun by Howard but left incomplete at his death. I probably could have lived without that, too, but I gave away all of my Conan novels when I moved down here to Texas, and I sometimes miss the shallow swordplay-and-sorcery fantasy that I used to have in my collection.

Next stop was Hastings, where we found a couple of DVD collections of Christmas shows at steep discounts. She got the Charlie Brown holiday collection, and I got a collection of the old animated classics including Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. We’ll definitely have Christmas shows to watch next year. I also got a Christmas swing CD, which wound up being only 25 cents. We thought about going back and getting more once we found out how cheap things were, but we decided to move on.

Old Navy had jeans on sale for $15, but I couldn’t find a pair that fit me and didn’t look way too big. So I settled for getting a few T-shirts, also on sale, and the girlfriend got some sweaters and some wrapping paper. We cut the trip short after that because we were both tired and hungry.

Once at home, I turned on the brisket, filling the house with a lovely smoky beefy aroma. It took a while to finish, but it was well worth the wait. Her friend Jason came up for her birthday, and we had dinner and watched some TV with him. Now he’s off to bed, and I’m about to head the same way…

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 19 of 365

It’s Christmas Day. I just finished smoking a brisket for the girlfriend’s birthday tomorrow. The smoking process didn’t go as well as I would have liked, but I think I got enough of the smoke flavor into the beast. We’re going to pour some cola over it and bake it low and slow in the oven tomorrow to finish cooking it. Hopefully it’ll come out tasting delicious, but I guess we’ll see…

We got up a little later than we wanted this morning, which seems to be a pretty familiar situation for us. The girlfriend made corn casserole and cookies to take over to her aunt and uncle’s place for Christmas. She didn’t want to roll out the cookie dough in the fridge, mostly because of the hassle of rolling them out, cutting them, and trying to get the cut out dough off the counter without demolishing the shapes. So she made some cookies with chocolate, peanut butter, and butterscotch chips as well as pecans and almonds. They were pretty good, but we wound up leaving most of them over at her aunt and uncle’s.

The drive over was much less harrowing than the drive home last night. There were still a few slick spots, but for the most part, the sun had burned off most of the ice. Between the drive home last night and the drive to Plano this morning, I counted at least 10 accidents or cars off the road. I’m quite sure there were plenty more that we didn’t see. It’ll be a busy day at the body shop on Monday, I’m guessing.

The actual Christmas lunch was fun. Most of the girlfriend’s family was there, as well as a few extended in-law type people who I met for the first time. I don’t remember most of the names, but that’s not really unusual, and I doubt that I’ll see most of those folks again for another year or more anyway. But the company was nice, and the food was good. We brought home a bit of food, but for the most part we decided to pass on leftovers.

On the drive home, we actually watched an accident happen. Two or three cars continued through an intersection right in front of us after our light turned green, and when traffic on our side started going, one lady who was turning across traffic was pretty much forced to stop in the intersection and the car behind her hit her from the rear at a fairly decent clip. The girlfriend thought there must be something wrong with the traffic signal or something, because too many cars were continuing to turn after our light turned green. I’m not so sure, but we’ll never find out. We weren’t effected and were already pretty well turned onto the freeway frontage road by the time the accident happened. It seemed like no one was really injured, and there were plenty of other people around, so we headed on down the road.

Tomorrow, we’re going to do a bunch of shopping. Looks from the girlfriend’s list like it’s probably going to be nearly all day, so I should probably go get some sleep now…

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 18 of 365

Christmas Eve. We went down to the girlfriend’s mom’s house and had dinner with that half of her family. Actually, not the full extended family. It was her mom and stepfather and her brother and sister-in-law and their three sons. Overall, it was a fun time and everyone enjoyed dinner and the gifts they received. It was snowing most of the day, and it was frozen solid on the roads by the time we were leaving, so it took us nearly an hour to get back home, when it usually takes about 15 minutes. It’s pretty late now, and I’ve been up since about six this morning, since the girlfriend had to open at work and then I had to work a half day, too. So, I think it’s just about time for me to head off to sleep. More details on the presents I got and such tomorrow, as well as some snow pictures once I get them off the camera…

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It's been a year and a half, and then some...

I moved down here to Texas last April, that would be April of 2008, and I’ve been paying $65 per month for the storage unit since then. I already have most of the stuff I use regularly out of it, but there’s still a bunch of old computer equipment and musical equipment, as well as just an odd assortment of stuff that I should mostly get rid of. I’ve decided that one of my resolutions for 2010 is to get at least one item out of the unit every month when I go down to pay the bill. It may not clear out the unit by the end of the year, but at least it’ll get me closer…


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 17 of 365

So, snack day went all right at the dealership. Someone asked for the recipe for my stuffed Brussels sprouts, despite the fact that I didn’t think they turned out as well as they did last time. And my sausage bread thing didn’t come out looking like a pinwheel at all, but I sliced it up and it was consumed, mostly by the techs, I think. They’ll eat pretty much anything you put in front of them, it seems.

I had one interesting run today, picking up a lady here in Denton. I didn’t call first, since she had just called the dealership. I was stopped at a guard station when I got to the location. They had me wait while they called the lady. I asked her what kind of place it was, and she just said that it was a government building and that they were a little particular over who comes and goes. I didn’t press her any further about what the place was, and she didn’t offer any more information. The girlfriend thinks that it might be the FEMA office, or it might be some other government agency using the proximity of FEMA as a front. We’re not sure, and there sure wasn’t any kind of plaque or anything advertising what agency ran the place.

I got presents shipped off today, but it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll make it there by Christmas. And, from what the guy at FedEx said, it looks like they don’t have Saturday delivery at Mom’s place, so stuff probably won’t get there until after Irene and Bryan have gone back home. As the girlfriend said, next year we’ll have to make it a priority to get stuff sent off earlier.

Anyway, that’s about all that’s happened today that’s really of a lot of interest. It’s about time to head off to bed. Got up early today to do the final touches on food, so now I’m pretty tired. Should be a short day tomorrow, but it’s still up in the air as far as when they’re going to shut down at work. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

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Daily Journal: Day 16 of 365

Tomorrow is the snack day in the service department at work. I wish I’d done more work on things yesterday or over the weekend, but I actually was busy doing other stuff, so everything got pushed to the last minute. And accordingly, just about everything came out much worse than I would have liked. I gave up on the cookies, since doing them with the cookie cutters is such a major hassle. I think if I do the same ones next time, I’m going to skip the step of chilling them and use the spritz gun instead. Rolled cookies are just a pain the the ass, really. Then the stuffed broccoli didn’t turn out anywhere near as well as it did the last time I did it. I tried a little experiment with the bacon, which I saw on TV a while back. I tried boiling it for a while to cook it, then seeing if I could get it to crisp up in the oven. Unfortunately, boiling makes it much less elastic, which makes it much harder to wrap around the broccoli. So, next time I know to go back to raw bacon. And the final thing, which is still in the oven, was supposed to be sausage and cheese pinwheels. Instead, it looks like they’re going to be something more like a sausage and cheese bread loaf, cut into slices. I think it should still taste all right, but it’s certainly not going to be as pretty as I would have liked. Hopefully it’ll still get eaten tomorrow. I feel like my cooking and baking skills are at a low ebb. But the second loaf will be out soon, and then I can just sleep it off…

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Didn't make it in time for Christmas...

So, I failed the challenge of trying to get the project done in time to send to her for Christmas, but I still want to get it done as soon as I can. Maybe I’ll be able to send it to her for Mother’s Day. Anyway, in consequence of failing the challenge I’d set for myself, I’m not going to drink in 2010. That should help out the budget a little, at least…


Daily Journal: Day 15 of 365

Today was pretty much the average Monday at work. I expected there to be a ton of pick-ups, since there was an entire sheet of take-homes when I got there, but instead it was an almost dead day. The girlfriend’s friend Jason and his new girlfriend got to the apartment while we were still at work. His girlfriend April is a nice young lady, quite smart. She’s a biologist. I’m guessing that she’s going to the University of Texas, but I’m not sure of that. She’s catching the bus back home to Minnesota for Christmas.

The girlfriend made potato and cheese soup for dinner, so no cooking for me today. And, since we had company, I also didn’t do any cookie baking today. I guess I’d better do a bunch of stuff tomorrow, though, because I told all the people at the service department that I was going to make my stuffed Brussels sprouts, cookies, and sausage pinwheels. That’s plenty, methinks.

For now, though, it’s off to bed with me…

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Daily Journal: Day 14 of 365

Today was mostly a cleaning day around the old apartment. I did make a batch of cookie dough, too, but it wound up being a type of dough that needs to be chilled for a couple of hours, and by the time the chilling was done, I really didn’t feel like rolling out the cookies and baking them and such. So now I have a batch of cookie dough in the fridge, which I should roll out and cut tomorrow. I also made dinner tonight. It was pretty simple. I sauteed some scallops in butter and garlic and served them with some Uncle Ben’s rice. It wasn’t bad, and took only about ten minutes.

I managed to get all of the stuff upstairs from the living room, and I even managed to weed through about half a dozen boxes, sorting out the tools and writing utensils and cross stitch stuff from all the rest of the crap. Of course, all the rest of the crap went back into the same boxes, and I still haven’t weeded through all of that. It’s definitely going to be an ongoing process. Who the hell knows how long I’ll be digging through boxes of cables?...

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 13 of 365

Another one of those days when I’ve technically missed the date, but I’m still considering myself to be within the spirit of the thing. I’ve been moving stuff back upstairs in preparation for one of the girlfriend’s friends, who is going to be staying with us on Monday night. He’s bringing his girlfriend, so my girlfriend wants to make sure the place is spic and span. And there’s no time like the present to try to sort through all my boxes of crap and try to get a bit more organized.

We went to the hockey game today. The Stars managed to pull out a 4-3 win against the Red Wings, which I wasn’t expecting at all. We purchased our tickets as part of a special deal, where we get tickets to another game for each game that the Stars win out of the five we bought, so we’re going to have tickets to at least one more game than we were really expecting. That’s kind of a nice little bonus for the day.

After the hockey game, we ate at Chili’s, since I had a gift card for there and we got a coupon for free chips and salsa because Dallas scored more than three goals in the game. The food was decent. I had the pulled pork sandwich. It certainly wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t horrific, either. The girlfriend was quite happy with her burger, and we both thought the chips and salsa were pretty good.

We stopped at Hobbytown USA, mostly because we were at least in the general vicinity. I spent far more money than I should have. I picked up one of each EZ-Track piece that they had which Hobby Lobby doesn’t carry, and it came to about $132 with tax. I should probably cut back a bit on the spending and start working on getting an actual layout planned and built.

After Hobbytown, we headed up to Ikea. We weren’t really expecting to spend much there, but we found that they were clearing out a really nice looking bookshelf that matched our TV table. We also found a bunch of other little things, which added up to a fair amount of money. When we got down to the area where we pick up the furniture, we found out that the bookshelf was apparently sold out, which was a disappointment in one way. Namely, we’re still not going to have that storage for books and such. But, on the other hand, it was nearly $300 that we didn’t spend.

From Ikea, we headed back toward home along the tollway, which we don’t usually take. The girlfriend noticed the Christmas lights on one building blinking in a kind of rhythmic fashion, and she wanted to go see what was up. It turns out that the city of Frisco has a Christmas light show in their square, complete with music on FM radio. Traffic was a mess, but we found a parking place and sat and watched for half an hour or so. I took a bit of video with my camera, but I can’t currently find the cable to download it to the computer and post it. In any case, it was pretty fun, despite nearly being smacked by a car on the way in.

From there, it was home and to work trying to get the place in order. And now, it’s off to get some sleep, because I think I have about thirty more trips up and down the stairs tomorrow…

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 12 of 365

It’s the weekend! We have a hockey game to see tomorrow, and we’re probably going to go to Ikea and Hobbytown USA after the game is over. I stopped at Hobby Lobby today after work and picked up a couple of packs of EZ-Track, since they still had all the train stuff 30% off. After I got home, I went upstairs and snapped almost all the track I have together in the currently vacant bedroom up there. I have two train sets now, both the sort of bargain type. One of them is an old steam engine, the other a modern freight train. I was trying to get the steam train working, but it seems to want to derail at the turnouts, but I had better luck with the freight. I didn’t bother to set up any of the other scenery or anything. I’m going to wait until I get some of the foam insulation sheets from Home Depot after Christmas, then I’ll start really trying to set up a small modular layout. I’m not sure how detailed I’ll get, but I’d like to spend an hour or so every week working on it. We’ll see how it goes…

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 11 of 365

We went shopping on the way home from work today and wound up spending a whole lot more than we’d really expected. It’s about the first time I can recall having a really full shopping cart for nearly a year. The girlfriend is going to make Chex mix, so there were supplies for that, and I’m going to make some snacks for the department’s snack day at work next week, and we just generally wound up getting a bunch of stuff that looked good or was on sale. In fact, we nearly filled the freezer beyond capacity, so it looks like the next week or so should be an interesting week for cooking. Probably have more on that later, but for now, it’s about time to see if I can get some sleep. It’s been a long, long day…

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Daily Journal: Day 10 of 365

Yes, technically it’s past midnight, so I missed the day, but I was working on getting stuff from the upstairs bedrooms down into the living room so the carpet cleaners can do their magic on the upstairs rooms. They were originally supposed to be here on Friday, but the landlord had a doctor’s appointment, so we moved it up a day. During the furniture-moving phase of the operation, the girlfriend pulled a muscle in her back, so I got to finish up moving the bed and most of the rest of the stuff myself, but that’s all right. At least it’s all done now. Not sure how moving it back upstairs is going to go, since we have to do that by Monday night, when we’ll have company coming to stay. Maybe I’ll have to see if someone from work will help out or something. But for now, it’s off to sleep, methinks…

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 9 of 365

Today wasn’t too bad a day. Work in the morning was pretty routine. When the girlfriend and I got home for lunch, we found that there was a carpet cleaner’s van out front. And, sure enough, there were a bunch of hoses and stuff leading into our living room. So, did the carpet look “as good as new”? No, not really, but it did look an order of magnitude better than it ever has since I’ve lived here.

While we were talking with the carpet guys, the new landlord came by. He had already looked at the leaky garbage disposal and figured out that we needed a new one. He’d also already fixed the countertop which was separating from the cupboards beneath it. And he had purchased a deadbolt for the back door, although he had to do some drilling to get the thing installed. He said that the chimney was actually clean, but the flue was really hard to get open, so maybe we can start using the fireplace tomorrow. We also showed him the lighting problems with the outside lights, and he said he’d get an electrician out to look at it and see if we can get a switch or something.

As we were leaving, he also showed us where he’s going to put a section of fence to give us some privacy on our back patio. And he said that he’d repair the screens and get them re-hung. That means we’ll finally be able to open the windows without flies getting in and the cat getting out. That’ll be nice.

The afternoon at work was pretty good, too. I had enough driving that I stayed busy most of the shift, but not a lot of really difficult-to-find addresses. Between that and pulling up a few cars for customers, it kept me pretty active all shift. And that’s a good day…

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 8 of 365

Today, I started baking Christmas cookies. The batch today only wound up being a couple of dozen, and the girlfriend is going to decorate them tomorrow. I’m not sure that I’ll make any more tomorrow, since the landlord’s carpet guy is supposed to be over during the day to fix the carpet, and who knows how long all that crap is going to take. I need to pick up some more stuff and take apart the TV system so he can do whatever he’s going to do to make the carpet “good as new”.

While driving back to the dealership with an older couple this afternoon, I was reminded again why I should never talk about religion. I really didn’t bring it up at all, and I tried to sort of change the subject, but it wound up with me being invited to their church and them telling me how wonderful it is and how there are all kinds of groups of people there. I really wanted to just tell them to shut up about it because I wasn’t interested in the least, but I didn’t think that would be all that appropriate a thing to say to customers. Oh well…

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 7 of 365

Today was at least a borderline productive day, even though I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to. I woke up fairly early for a weekend and checked the e-mail and such this morning while having my morning coffee. After that, I started taking some boxes upstairs to clear out the living room so the new landlord’s carpet guy can do his magic on Tuesday. I still have a few things that need to go up, and I need to take apart the electronics and get those put away tomorrow, but it’s a lot better than it was.

I also cleaned out Kala’s litter box, which really needed it. Unfortunately, I think all the dust from the kitty litter may have aggravated the girlfriend’s allergies, but her sneezing and snuffling settled down a little once she medicated herself.

On the computer and blogging front, I downloaded a new free HTML editor to use for creating my 2010 New Year’s resolutions page. It’s called PageBreeze, and it seems to be a fairly decent piece of software, although it does seem to be pretty advertising heavy. The company has some commercial software and hosts a system for creating online forms and retrieving the data, so it makes sense that they’d have this kind of adware. It doesn’t detract from the use of the free software, though. I used it to create a page for the resolutions and to revise my homepage and a couple of other pages on the website, to make them look a little sharper, I think.

We made pork chops on the grill for dinner. We haven’t used the grill for a few months now, and the girlfriend was saying that maybe it was kind of a wasted purchase. We just need to find more friends and invite them over more often. Maybe once the repairs are done on the place, or whenever we find a new place to live, we’ll be able to become a bit more sociable…

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Another challenge I'm going to lose...

Looks like there’s no way on earth I’m going to manage to get this thing done in time to get it framed and sent off to Mom for Christmas. Maybe I’ll make it in time for Mother’s Day, though. Just got to keep plugging away on it…

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How many left to go?

I started ripping a bunch of my CDs before the girlfriend and I went on our road trip last month, so we had a little more music to listen to in the car. I’m not sure exactly how close I came to being done, but I’m pretty sure there are at least a couple hundred more CDs left to go, mostly the classical stuff. I accidentally filled the hard drive when I did the bunch before we left, and had to move those off onto the portable. But there’s still plenty of room there, so I guess I’ll try to pull off a CD or two every week until they’re done…

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I'm a silly travel geek...

My girlfriend finds it funny that when we go out traveling around, I usually buy souvenir shot glasses and/or spoons at the typical tourist destinations. Usually it’s spoons, but I probably have around a dozen shot glasses now. Since we almost never use shot glasses, they’re currently just sitting in stacks in the spare bedroom upstairs. I’d like to actually display them, and I’d like to get started doing a little more woodworking, so it’s about time for me to try to build a little rack for them…

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It's been about two years now...

I wrote this song for my girlfriend after we’d been talking on the web for a while, and I recorded all of the instrumental parts pretty quickly. Unfortunately, though, I’m very self-conscious about how my voice sounds, so I never got around to recording the vocal part(s). It’s been sitting up on one of my MySpace pages for a while, and I have the original recordings and such on one of my other computers, but I really should get down to it and just record the rest of it. I do wish it wasn’t so noisy around this apartment, though, because I really don’t want to have to go down to some project studio and embarrass myself in front of other people…

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 6 of 365

Today I went out and spent a bunch more money than I should have. I went down to Hobby Lobby, expecting to buy a small something for my prospective future train layout, as well as possibly getting some Poly-Fil for the girlfriend’s craft projects if the price wasn’t too bad. When I got there, though, I found out that they had all of their train and diorama supplies on sale. So instead of buying a piece or two of track or something of that nature, I wound up buying another basic train set, a turnout, and three or four pieces of landscaping supplies. On the plus side, I did get the Poly-Fil and a sketch book, for my New Year’s resolution of working my way through my book on drawing. Just a little more money spent than expected was all…

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12/12/2009: Bourbon Chicken

I got this recipe from a recipe mailing list on Yahoo. The girlfriend had to work today, and she asked if I’d mind making dinner. Since this had just been mailed to me, and since I had all the ingredients on hand, this was the choice for the night. I found it rather odd that it was called Bourbon Chicken when it didn’t have any bourbon in it. Not sure where the name came from…

Bourbon Chicken

35 min | 15 min prep


2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce

Heat oil in a large skillet.
Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned.
Remove chicken.
Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium Heat until well mixed and dissolved.
Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve over hot rice and ENJOY.

The girlfriend and I rated it a B-. It’s not a dish we’re likely to make again, but it wasn’t bad. Had kind of a Chinese sort of flavor to it. Almost, but not quite, a sweet and sour flavor, but with some heat from the red chili flakes.

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More surplus junk to get rid of...

Years ago, when I was playing in a band, we played a lot of bar gigs. Several of us noticed that people (especially in the front rows) seemed to stare in an almost hypnotized fashion at all the little lights and such bouncing around in our rack, showing the various levels on the compressors and signal processors and the like. At the time, my employer was a company that manufactured commercial antennas. They decided to have a “garage sale” to clean out some of the surplus equipment from the engineering department, and I thought that the oscilloscopes they had would make interesting additions to our impromptu light show. I bid on them and got them for about $30, if I recall correctly.

Shortly thereafter, the band broke up, and I had a pair of oscilloscopes sitting down in my storage unit. Since I haven’t played in a band for years now, and since I have no other use for these things, I think it’s just about time to part with them. It’s hard for me to part with things, being the pack rat that I am, but I’ve got to draw the line somewhere…

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Daily journal: Day 5 of 365

It was another very quiet day at work. I had one ride, picking up a lady from about three miles away. And today I didn’t even have as many cars to bring up as I had yesterday. So, I wound up spending most of the evening working on creating my list of New Year’s resolutions and getting them organized. Now I just need to get them all typed in, figure out some way of displaying my progress in some kind of organized way, and post the result to the website.

After work, my sweetie and I carpooled home. I did the dishes before she made something for dinner. It was supposed to be sort of a shrimp scampi kind of dish, but it wound up being a sort of thick fish stew with shrimp in it. She didn’t like it very much, but I had my whole bowl. I thought it was pretty decent tasting, although the texture certainly left something to be desired. After having dinner, I vacuumed the bedroom, so hopefully her allergies won’t have so much effect on her.

Now I’m just sitting watching hockey. The Stars just tied their game against the Sharks. We’ll be going to see the Stars play live next weekend, which is nice. If they win, we’ll get tickets to another game. It was kind of a special deal that the Stars had going on. We are at least going to five more games this season, and if they win all five, we could theoretically be going to a total of ten more games. That’d be cool…

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 4 of 365

Today the girlfriend and I watched Julie and Julia, one of the movies on our infamous list. It wound up being a very cute movie. Meryl Streep does an incredibly good job playing Julia Child. I wondered, while watching the movie, how many new food blogs were created by people after watching it. Generally, it’s one of those two thumbs up sorts of movies in our opinion. Well worth the four bucks to rent the DVD, as well as being worth the half hour to get the damned DVD player working with the new TV. First DVD played after getting the hi-def…

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Daily Journal: Day 3 of 365

Today was another bitterly cold day, barely reaching 40 degrees. At least it was sunny, though. Driving at work was fairly uneventful today. I had one short run into Denton and one longer one out to Justin, and that was about it. The lady on the first (Denton) run works at an accounting firm, and I was talking to her about going into the accounting field. I’m still just not really sure what I want to be when I grow up, but I’m seriously looking at accounting. Other options include getting a degree in library science, getting my certification as a DBA and getting back into the computer geek biz, or heading toward a culinary career. I’m just still really uncertain, though. I guess trying to go back to college would be a good starting point, and it would keep the girlfriend from griping at me about not taking any classes this term. That would be a serious bonus…

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

93 drafts to finish

Sometimes, I get to be too much of a perfectionist. Instead of just writing a bit of what’s on my mind and setting it free into the ether, I feel like I have to write a full-blown narrative. And I often get interrupted or distracted and don’t finish the whole entry. So now there are 93 drafts sitting incomplete on Blogger. My goal for the next few months is to try to finish at least one draft per day…

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Daily Journal: Day 2 of 365

I decided earlier today that I’m going to create another list of resolutions for 2010. I’ve done this too many times in the past and not bothered to follow up on things past about a week. With any luck, this time will be a little better. I’m planning to do three lists: daily, weekly, and monthly items. Actually, there might be a fourth list for bi-weekly items, too. Then I’m going to do the whole thing as a set of HTML tables and post them to my website. My goal for the rest of this year is to get that list created and the HTML generated and posted to the website…

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Daily writing: Day 1 of 365

The girlfriend and I slept in later than we should have this morning, and we barely made it to work on time. It was cold and foggy and a generally dreary sort of winter day. It reminded me a lot of winter in Oregon. I don’t think it got over 40 degrees today.

The morning shift was uneventful. I didn’t have much filing to do, and I had everything done about two hours into my 4-1/2 hour shift. Fortunately I had a little list of orders to try to find during the middle, so I wasn’t totally bored all morning.

We drove home for lunch, which was pretty uneventful. Back to work, and it was pretty much right onto the road. I had a total of three runs today, one take-home and two pick-ups. The first was just to the north end of Denton, but the second was a bit of a pain. It was a pick-up in Flower Mound, so I took the little back route that Art, the morning driver, had shown me on my second day. That all was fine until I got about halfway there, and the road was closed to through traffic. So I wound up detouring about 20 minutes out of the way from where I would have been. And there was more construction on the way, so after picking the lady up, I had to head south and head through downtown Lewisville to make it to the freeway. By the time I’d hit the freeway, it was just about rush hour, and it took about 45 minutes to get back to the dealership. The lady wasn’t upset or anything, but it was kind of a pain nevertheless. Fortunately, the last run was just down the road about five minutes from the dealership. That lady seemed like she would have been kind of fun to go to a party with. She was older, but seemed like the sort who always has fun wherever she goes.

After the last run, I just had to hang out about half an hour before it was time to head home. Some lady called to say that she’d be there to pick up her rental a little after 7:00, but fortunately I don’t have to deal with that. It became even more fortunate when the lady called back again at about 6:50 and said that she was still half an hour away. Hopefully she finally made it. I know that Vickie, the gal who was running rentals tonight, was pretty pissed about the whole issue.

We stopped and got gas on the way home. I didn’t realize I had the 10-cent per gallon bonus at Kroger, but I was pleasantly surprised that the gas was going to be cheaper than I’d expected. We decided not to stop at the grocery store for coffee, since I already have enough for tomorrow. Instead, we just drove home and the girlfriend started making spaghetti for dinner. I started watching Monday Night Football. Dinner was good, the game was decent, and now it’s about time to call it a night…

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

This is hard for me...

I’ve never been the most social person in the world, and now that I’m not in school any more and I don’t work with people a whole lot, I hardly know where to begin making friends. I’m not a church-going person, and I don’t really belong to any sort of social clubs or anything of that nature, so most of the people I meet are just kind of one-time deals, either the folks who I give rides to at work or servers at restaurants and the like. And it’s just really tough to walk up to someone you don’t really even know and try to get friendly with them. So, I guess I’ll keep plugging along trying to get the band thing going and see if I can meet other musicians through Craisglist and such, and maybe I’ll get more friends that way…

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Week #3

This is the third weekend since I kind of re-entered the 43Things universe. And yes, I did get out of the house and do something today. I went down to the city landfill and dropped off the old TV which quit working a while ago, and then the girlfriend and I did a bunch of shopping.

We stopped at Hobby Lobby, where I picked up an N-scale railroad turnout and some beading stuff for my sister for Christmas. Then to the mall. I got some new shoes and some long-sleeved shirts for work. The girlfriend found a couple of things to get for Christmas presents for her sister in law, so we got those. And then I got a couple of books at Barnes & Noble with the gift card which the girlfriend’s mom got me for my birthday. I got a Mapsco atlas of the county, which is also mostly for work use, and the two-volume complete Sherlock Holmes. The girlfriend was wondering if I had any Sherlock Holmes after reading a new Holmes story which was authorized by Doyle’s estate. I didn’t previously have much except on my computer, but now I do.

After the mall, we went across the street to Party City to try to find something for her nephews. She’s got one, Oliver, who simply loves to dress up in costumes. When we went over to their place a month or so ago, he must have changed outfits three or four times in the couple of hours we were there. There was a ninja costume and his karate outfit, as well as the regular clothes he was wearing when we showed up. So, the girlfriend wanted to get him something else to mix it up a little. She was looking for a pirate outfit, and we found one for his little brother, but not really anything for him. But when we talked to the checkers, one of the young ladies said we could go back to the storeroom where they keep all the old Halloween costumes from last season and she would show us some of the costumes they had there. We found a neat little Star Wars outfit for him. It’s Jango Fett, complete with mask, and we’re pretty sure he’s going to dig it.

After Party City, we were going to head to Petsmart and Michael’s, but I wanted to eat first. I was thinking Mexican food, but we discussed it and decided that we’d just go to the Long John Silver’s that reopened recently on the Loop. So, we went there and got our greasy food at the drive-through, but by the time we were done with that, we were pretty much getting tired and decided to head back home. We’re going to probably go back out tomorrow and continue the Christmas shopping…

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Plugging along...

Unfortunately, I still have quite a bit to go, and it’s a very large piece of work. My mom really likes ancient Egypt, so I’m doing a design I found of King Tut’s mask. It was originally going to be a birthday present (Nov. 2), but that came and went, and now I’m just hoping for Christmas. Guess I’d best step it up…

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Only 6 months later...

The girlfriend and I went on vacation to Boston back in late March. I took about 4000 pictures on the trip, but I managed to weed them down quite a bit by taking out the blurry shots, nearly identical pictures, and shots that just didn’t turn out all that well. I was originally writing up my blog entries, incorporating the good pictures, but I did what I usually end up doing and got sort of bored with it along the way and stopped keeping up. Now I need to finish that and put it all together in a CD, so I can send a copy off to my mom for Christmas, as well as keeping it around to send off to whoever else might want to see it. Guess I should get hopping…

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Finally back on my horse...

So, I haven’t updated anything on here for quite a long time, but I figured I’d crawl out from under my rock and get myself doing things again.

Last weekend, the girlfriend and I went to see the Dallas Stars play the New Jersey Devils down at American Airlines Center. It was a good game, although it was a bit more crowded than it has been when we’ve gone before. Dallas gave up the first goal, but then came storming back to a 3-1 first period lead. They gave up the lead over the subsequent two periods, but then scored two to end the game for a 5-3 victory.

On Sunday, we drove over to Tyler to see her dad, who unfortunately has to spend this Thanksgiving in the hospital because of a persistent leg infection. He’s doing better now, thankfully, but it will still be a while before he gets to come home. We’re hoping he’ll be out by Christmas.

This weekend, we have more social events on the schedule than we’ve had for the past couple of months combined. On Thanksgiving, we went down and spent the afternoon with the other side of her family. That was all right. A lot of people who I don’t really know all that well at all, and a few that I’ve never met before. But in general, it was a good meal and nice company, so I can’t complain.

Yesterday, I had to work on my birthday for the first time in almost 20 years. It was a boring day of work, but afterward we went to a party with some of her friends down in Dallas. There were even less people who I knew there than at the Thanksgiving dinner, but we had a good time anyway.

Tonight, we’re going to go celebrate the birthday of one of the members of our book club. We’re going out to eat at a tepanyaki (sp.?) restaurant down in Lewisville, and then go back to their place to play some Wii and enjoy some adult beverages. A good time will hopefully be had by all. We’ll see a bit later, though…

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Save for a down payment...

The landlords have sold the apartment building we live in, so it appears that we probably won’t be having any further repairs done on the place for the foreseeable future. That rather sucks, as there is still a lot of work the old landlords claimed they would do, but which they obviously no longer feel they need to give any thought to. Maybe the new folks will take care of the place better, but I somehow doubt it.

In any case, that makes it a little more pressing that we go ahead and start looking at moving soon. It’ll be a pain, and it’ll be sad to leave all the space in this apartment, but it’ll be nice to actually have our own place, where we don’t have to wait on the whims of landlords to get things done.

With that in mind, I’ve decided that I should try to save up for a down payment, and $10K seems like it should be a decent amount for this area. So that’s the goal…

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Back in the real world...

The girlfriend and I spent most of the day just lounging around and trying to get back into the groove of real life. While sitting around, I was looking at my list of things to do on, and I figured that I did about a quarter of my goal of going to all 50 states. On our vacation, we saw 13 states that I hadn't been to before, not counting DC. Here's my current, up-to-date map of states which I've visited (plus the obligatory verbiage which is the cost of the free map...):

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

My sweetie's phone is screwed up. The battery wouldn't take a charge, just giving a little message that it was unable to charge. So we went to the AT&T store on the loop to see if we could get a new battery for it. They recommended just upgrading the phone, but they wouldn't let her do anything with the account, since she's not the holder and hasn't been added as a user, so she tried calling her stepfather. He had to call their customer service number on his cell phone, and the person on the other end of that conversation evidently didn't have a whole lot of patience for a slow old man who's a bit hard of hearing, so they told him he would need to go to one of their stores. We drove down to Flower Mound to meet him at the store there.

After checking through a few of the available phones, she got her new phone, and after bidding farewell to her stepfather, we drove on looking for a place to eat. We stopped at Rosa's Cafe, which was tolerable Tex-Mex cuisine. Nothing to really write home about, but it also didn't make me want to gag.

After eating lunch, it was a little hard to get out on the road the way we wanted to go because of the traffic, so we took the scenic route home. We stopped to pay the rent and stopped at the bank so I could deposit her half of the rent to cover the check I wrote. Then we stopped at Kroger and did a little shopping and picked up a couple of newspapers so I could look for jobs, but they didn't have the Sunday combo left, and they didn't have the Wednesday Denton Record-Chronicle, so I kind of missed out on the best of the options. I guess I'll wait until Sunday to start doing serious work on job hunting again.

After we got home, she tried to figure out how to do some things with the new phone while I watched some stuff on the tube and downloaded the last bunch of pictures from the camera to the computer. I also started weeding through a bunch of the e-mail that had backed up while we were on vacation. We've been watching some of the usual crap on the tube, reruns of Mythbusters and the like, but we're both getting a little tired and it's about time to head off to bed...

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008


After a couple of months of cherry-picking, just trying to find a perfect job match for my skills and what I wanted to do, I started applying to pretty much anything that I thought I might be able to do with any kind of competence. Oddly, while browsing through all of the clerical and admin assistant jobs in all the local papers, I ran across a programming job right here in Denton. I went ahead and filled out the application and such, and upon getting the interview, I found out that basically most of what they were looking for was exactly the sort of stuff that I’ve been doing for the past ten years: Access and SQL programming, the boring kind of stuff that runs behind the scenes and doesn’t really make anyone stand up and take notice until it isn’t working right. I guess I did all right on the interview, because I got the job, and yesterday (Monday) was my first day of training. Haven’t really done any of the actual work yet, so I have yet to see how that’s going to be. And the one thing they also want me to do is revamp their website, which is currently pretty pathetic. So now I’m spending most of my spare time reading up on ASP.Net programming. We’ll see how that goes. But at least I’m employed again!

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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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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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Monday, March 31, 2008

Time is running out...

Only four more working days left after today. I have my truck reserved already, but I still have so many other little details that I need to get taken care of, and it seems like the more I stress out over stuff, the less efficient I get at taking care of those details. I really don’t like moving at all, and this is the first one of these “all or nothing” sorts of moves that I’ve done, where I pretty much have to take everything with me all at one time. They were always short moves, before, and I could go back and get stuff later, make multiple trips, leave the cat with a friend, and so forth. Not this time, though. Too much stuff to do, and too little time left. Sigh…

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Friday, March 21, 2008

So this isn't going all that quickly...

I pretty much just archived my old website and put up a quick and dirty placeholder, but aside from creating a new blog for the site and adding a couple of links to the old site and one of the most popular pages on it, I really haven’t done much at all with this. Oh, and I did add a page for my cross stitch projects, but even that’s not getting updated when I complete all of my projects. Of course, stressing out over my move to Texas hasn’t helped all that much. Maybe once I’m down there, I’ll have a little more free time to get this done. For now, it stays on the list, of course, but it’s definitely slow going at best.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

I do my best to use them every time I shop...

Sometimes I forget to take them back out to the car after I’ve unloaded my groceries, though, so I still occasionally pick up another little plastic one. I’m trying to use up all the old plastic ones that I have sitting in the kitchen. I use them for garbage bags and if I’m delivering anything to people, like now when I’m currently giving away a bunch of books before I move to Texas. Unfortunately, our recycling center doesn’t take them yet, or they didn’t the last time I checked a couple of months ago at least…

Fred Meyer has some very good quality bags which are plenty big enough to carry most of the regular shopping I do. They charge $0.99 for them, but they’ll also replace them free if they ever tear or lose their handles. And, if you just use those, the do give you a 5-cent discount per trip, so after 20 trips or so, they’ve fiscally paid for themselves, not to mention the fact that you’re doing at least a little good for the environment…

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Three weeks, and trying to weed through boxes...

I’ve been trying to go through a couple of boxes of stuff every day and weed out the things that I don’t really have to take to Texas with me. Unfortunately, I’ve been something of a packrat all my life, and now it’s coming back to bite me in the ass. I hate throwing away anything that I think might be useful somewhere down the line, even though I know in the back of my mind that I probably won’t wind up putting things to the use I foresee. I’m just not all that great at following up on all of those little plans that I think up. In any case, I’ve given away a couple of boxes of books and a number of other little things from around the place, but there’s still a lot more to go through. And time continues it’s unrelenting march…

On the plus side, one of the guys at work has a cage for a small dog or cat that he is letting me have, since his cat is no more. I already had a carrier, but this is a regular large cage that she can stand up and pace around in, with room for a small litter pan and food and water. So that’s really a good thing, because I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with her while driving. Now at least I won’t have to stop every hour to see if she needs to use the litter box or is hungry.

So, some things are coming together, some still resist me…

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Getting closer...

Nerves are setting in. Only a little more than three weeks. I’ve given my landlords notice that I’m moving out. But there are still a ton of things that need to get done, people that need to be notified. Crap. Get the power set to cut off; figure out what I need to do with the mail, both returning the keys and getting the forwarding done; car insurance; getting the storage unit both cleaned out and getting the automatic payments stopped on it… And what happens with that tax rebate thingy they’re supposed to be sending out, since I’ll be moving around that same time, but I’ve already filed this year’s taxes under my current address?

Oh, then there are the trivial details of finding a job and a place to live once I’m down there. Aaaargh!

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bowling: Trying to do this once a month this year...

I’m kind of trying to get myself in the habit of going bowling once a month for 2008. So today was the first time, because the weekend I was going to go in January, I came down with strep. Anyway, for not having bowled in nearly a year, I don’t think I did too bad: 114, 146, and 156. Just about a 139 average, which is about where my average used to be…

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Miss Derringer at Johnny B's in Medford, Feb. 1

Last Thursday, I got a message from an unknown party on my MySpace page. That party turned out to be a band from southern California called Miss Derringer. They were going to be playing on Friday at Johnny B’s, which is one of my favorite clubs here in Medford. Since I had nothing better to do, I figured I’d head over and see how they were.

I left home after 9:30, when the show was supposed to start, but by the time I arrive a few minutes later, the opening band was still setting up. The openers were the house band, the Cheatin’ Hearts, who describe themselves on their webpage as “whiskey drinkin’ shoot someone in the face music.” That’s a pretty appropriate description. The band went into a number of boogie-oriented numbers with names like “Tonight I’m Gonna Get Drunk” and “That Woman’s Got Me Drinkin’.” The group is nothing fancy or anything, but it’s good, fun music by nice enough guys.

Miss Derringer describe themselves as “Indie/Country/Gothic” on their webpage. While the guys in the band definitely try to look the “Gothic” part, dressed in their black clothes and sparkly black eyeliner, the music itself reminded me more of what I think Blondie would have sounded like if Debbie Harry was in a fit of clinical depression. I’d describe them as more “Gothic/New Wave” than anything remotely related to country. Overall, the music was performed well and the sound was okay, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I wound up buying a copy of the demo CD by the Cheatin’ Hearts, but the people in Miss Derringer were too busy acting like rock stars with their groupies after their set for me to be able to ask if they had a disc for sale. I probably won’t be attending another of their shows, even if the opportunity arose…

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

First steps...

I gave my notice at work today. I gave them a long time, because I’ve been here for quite a long time (14 years, nearly), and I feel like I should give them plenty of time to find and train someone to replace me. My position is one of those quirky ones that doesn’t have a real job description, and not a whole lot of people know what I really do and how to do it, so it’ll take a while to train someone else.

In any case, when I did this goal as a challenge, I kind of screwed up the date, because April 4, which is when the goal is “due,” is actually going to be my last day of work. I’ll pack up that weekend and do the move itself the following week. But now it’s not a maybe thing, because the job was just about the last tie I had to here…

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Peach and Almond Crisp


This evening’s effort. It came out pretty decent, although it would have been better if (1) I’d actually toasted the almonds first like the recipe calls for, and (2) if the frozen peaches I used were sweeter. The recipe calls for half a cup of orange juice to be added along with the peaches, and I think the next time I do this, I’m going to add about a tablespoon of honey to that orange juice and soak the peaches in it for about half an hour before making the filling.

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