General crap

If you can’t tell, I haven’t exactly been busy posting here lately.  I’ve been taking advantage of the short-attention-span-theater that is Twitter and it’s suited me just fine.  So if you need your fix of me – and who doesn’t? – you need to go there to find me.

As things go, I simply haven’t had the time to sit and write anything.  Even writing this is requiring some rebudgeting of time.  Things have just gotten busy.  I have to say that when people said life with kids is time consuming, I didn’t understand that, at least not with only Amanda around.  I realize that when they said “kids,” they literally meant the plural of kids, because what free time we have is not used to sit and write on this site, obviously.  It’s also not used to pull weeds from the front yard, as the letter from our Home Owner’s Association can testify the presence of “weeds that have been allowed to grow to maturity.”  Nor is it used to finish up sprinkler systems that broke last fall.  Or get the dresser I wrote about weeks ago out of the garage so I can park there again.  Whatever.  I’d rather be in with the kids and Alissa, bouncing Danielle on my knees and making her giggle, watching Amanda draw and be a big sister.

I can do a lot of things – not bragging, I just mean I have enough skills to get things done, maybe not perfectly – I’ve kind of felt like one of those “jacks of all trades” for a long time, but I’ve realized recently that a lot of stress is involved in many of these projects I take on.  It hit me not too long ago that despite having the ability to do these things, the tools, etc., when that kind of stress builds up around anything you’re doing, it may just be because it’s just not what you’re suited to doing.  You know, when you have plenty of free time, it’s fine, but when your time is stretched thin, it’s hard to not get a bit stressed out doing to Home Depot three time and Lowe’s once in one weekend . . . and then find out you still have to go back for more stuff to finish off the job.  It’s times like those when I think, “This why people pay others to do this stuff.”  I never got it before – why pay someone to do something you so easily could do yoursef?  I get it now.  I have to finish now – everything’s half-finished and no one could pick up where I am, but in the future, I will seriously consider handing things off to others to do.  Everything else is far too precious to waste all this time doing on tasks I pretty much hate doing.  Am I the last to figure this out?


It was my mom’s birthday, and I didn’t get a chance to e-announce it in any way, so . . . happy birthday, mom!

Even though I’m two full years into allergy treatments, this year’s crop o’ crap is wreaking havoc on my system.  I guess it’s not as bad as it could have been, but, man, this is pretty bad.  When you sit in a building all day and feel okay, then leave and are accosted by the wind, then feel horrible within 15 minutes – headache, achy teeth, sinus congestion, etc. – that’s really bad.  And, again, I’m being treated for this crap with shots designed to train my immune system to fight off the effects.  I can’t imagine how bad off I’d be without that, or my trusty “fexos” (Allegra generic.)

I spent Saturday watching the DVD that comes with Mastodon’s absolutely ruling album, Crack The Skye.  I declare it a MUST SEE for anyone interested in this album.  Do not be cheap and buy the regular edition.  I started watching it before we left for my mom’s birthday, thinking it must be 30 minutes long or so, then had to stop with what I assumed must be 10 minutes left.  Came home later that night and watched another 40 minutes . . . and that’s only the making-of portion, which is followed by a 30 minute track-by-track commentary by the band.  The whole thing is fascinating – humorous, interesting, intriguing, and informative.  Not only do you get to see the album come together, you see why, and with something as dense and weird as this album, it really helps.  What also helps is that, despite their heavy prog-rock leanings, especially here, these guys do not take themselves at all seriously.  They do, however, take their music very seriously, and the difference between a band that can’t separate themselves from their music and a band like this makes all the difference in the world when trying to swallow ridiculous concepts like those fueling this album.

Sunday night, another “nothing TV” night, was filled with Jeff Beck’s great new DVD Performing This Week Live At Ronnie Scott’s.  If you are at all a fan, this is also a must-see.  For a while, guitar-gods operated in dead-serious mode, where not a smile was to be cracked on stage because what they were doing was ART.  Well, not here.  The small stage was filled as much with equipment as it was with exuberant smiles, and it’s all the more fun to watch a great band because of it.  Also amazing was finally getting to see the amazingly young Tal Wilkenfeld, Beck’s 23 year old female bassist who can seriously rip it up.  I point out her gender for one reason: rarity.  Sorry ladies, but this is really unusual.  She’s a tiny, cute little thing, and it’s extremely unusual to find someone in this realm who can seriously hold court with guys like Jeff Beck and especially drummer Vinny Colaiuta.

The end is nigh for music and DVDs at BordersAs I mentioned about a year ago at the old site, Borders is doing away with CDs (and apparently DVDs, too,) and right now is “entertainment armageddon.”  The only upside to this is that good savings are to be had, but I’m sad because Borders had been one of my local stores in years with a reliably eclectic selection.  Not anymore.  (Sorry Chris.)

The music section was already obliterated.  Not much to be had. I found one CD, which was actually for Alissa, and decided to hold onto it for a small Easter gift, so no mentioning it here.  What was stunning was the number of absolutely brand new titles – I mean just-released titles, including the one I picked up.  Things that came out in the past couple of months or weeks when, surely, Borders main offices knew what was going on and knew the plan.  Why bother to stock new titles?  Why spend more money on new stock when you’re just going to fire-sale it shortly?  Or did they truly not know and this is indicative of the other rumors I’ve read about, that Borders itself is in deep, deep trouble and may be sold or file for bankruptcy?

Anyway, I finally picked up a replacement for my ridiculously “defective” Fargo which the equally ridiculously defective Circuit City wouldn’t do anything about last summer.  (Won’t miss you at all, Circuit City.  Good riddance.)  Also grabbed Pat Metheny’s The Way Up Live DVD, because that is just how I roll.  All for $22.

Hooray piracy!And finally, as a Pearl Jam fan, it’s hard not to feel slighted by the decision to include the famous Drop In The Park concert only in the super-expensive “super deluxe” package.  I understand including it on vinyl, but the included mp3 download . . . why couldn’t that have been included for everyone who bought at least the deluxe version?  Many of us didn’t want the box because we don’t have the means to spin vinyl and therefore 75% of the contents are pointless.  Luckily, others felt exactly the same way and “liberated” the mp3s that come with the vinyl for fans like me to hear.  And I thank them.  “Exclusivity” in 2009 is a concept for the birds, despite the many expensive sets that tout that word.  Hooray piracy!

I’m handy, I’m capable, I can do various things with tools, but I have my limits.  I can build things, mostly.  I’m good at getting things put together – a pile of parts, with or without instructions, and at some point in the near future I’ll have a finished thing.  What I’m not so good at, I’m coming to find out, is finishing, and I mean the literal act of finishing something, as in “to give a particular desired surface texture.”  I’m just no good, and I’ll tell you why: I’m impatient.  See, the act of building is satisfying because it is a process that constantly results in verifiable, visual progress.  I need that.  I have to have a sense of progress to feel like something is being accomplished.  With painting, I can’t get that.  Paint is slow.  You paint and you wait, and then you look to see how it came out, and then you paint some more.  And I have no patience for that. (more…)

A day spent Twittering is . . . weird.  It’s entertaining, but definitely requires thinking a bit differently.  If you haven’t noticed, I have a tendency to, ahem, expound at length upon things and this forces me to tighten up considerably.  But the nice thing is that it gives me a route to vent random things in my mind, not that everyone else will understand everything.  But that’s part of the fun, I suppose.

My biggest problem with writing on the site is simply a lack of desire to write.  I am tired, man, and finding time to actually focus on writing pieces about the albums I’m listening to, well, it’s not happening.  I have a some partially-written things that eventually get trashed, but that’s all that comes of it.  I am simply too worn out to strike, as they say, “the iron is hot,” and by the time I get back to it, I have lost most of the interesting things I might have had to say about things.  Even right now, I’m thinking, “Can I end this?  Can I go lay down?”  Yes, yes I can, and I will soon.

And I just stalled right there for about 5 minutes.  Mind went to sleep while I played with a crumb on the desk.  That is the warning sign on the brain that it’s time to hang it up for the day.   So never mind that – I’m done.  I’ve been up for 17 freakin’ hours, man.

I’m not entirely sure why I’m doing this*, but I’ve joined the friggin’ Twitter nation.  You can follow me at I’m still suspicious this whole thing might be stupid.  But bonus points to anyone besides Alissa who can figure out my username without looking it up.

*Something about Josh saying how he was updating his with what he was listening to on the fly, and that seemed kind of cool because I’m a dork like that.  Apparently I don’t have an original thought in my head and just follow the herd.

Friday (last Friday, March 20, I mean) was our 10th wedding anniversary.  We both took the day off of work.  Amanda went to my parents, as usual, and we got to spend the day together . . . with Danielle.  The logistics of off-loading her to the grandparents for a full day were just too much for right now, since it hasn’t happened yet, so she stayed with us.  And, really, that was our celebration – a day spent like we used to do things, without having to consider nap times or how interested a three year old might be, or putting together a puzzle for the 8 millionth time, or deciding which stuffed animal was which other stuffed animal’s pet.  Not that those are bad things, mind you, it’s just that, sometimes, you have to get away from those things.  There’s house clutter, and there’s mind clutter, and when you drive down the road and see a flat bed truck carrying a smaller flat bed truck and immediately think, “Oh, how cute, he’s got a little friend,” well, that’s mind clutter due to over kid-ization, and it’s time for a little break.

Spaghetti with meat hatAnd so we had a very normal day.  We’re not partiers, if you haven’t noticed.  We took it easy, did some shopping, and ate at this Italian restarant, Bravi, that we have driven by more times than we could count, but thought would be too frou-frou for our decidedly simple tastes.  How wrong we were.  If you’re familiar with Fazoli’s, which is Italian fast-food, this is a big step up from that – but still just a nice “quick eat” restaurant. I got my usual, which is chicken parmigiana, and it came in the entertaining form you see here, which I have named “spaghetti with meat hat.” It tasted good, but the sauce was a little watery. It’s not the kind of thing that anyone that considers themselves even remotely a “foodie” would love. It’s simple, family-style Italian. I get bored eating spaghetti at home; I can’t stand Olive Garden, and we don’t have many other options around here (this being Phoenix, there really aren’t many non-chain restaurants – one of the major downsides to this city.) This will do nicely.

We kept it simple because that’s how we are. I struggled for a bit thinking, “This is our 10th, we should do something,” and then realized that if that was how we were, we would have planned something big long ago. We just aren’t like that. It’s not in our genes. Our planned gift will be a new computer (romantic, isn’t it?) to begin replacing the two old ones in our house. And, of course, there’s the house itself, which I would say is our true anniversary gift. If we get out of this house this year and into something right, that would be a fantastic gift.

I spent the weekend cleaning out Danielle’s soon-to-be room and prepping it for her occupation.  This was a much bigger task than I figured it would be.  When we moved into the house, we had more room than we could imagine we’d ever have use for.  Over the years, we found use for all that room.  And then Amanda came along, and we had to start shoving things here and there, and piling things up in weird places.  And if you have kids, you know how it goes: birthdays and Christmas result in new piles of stuff to find homes for.  Only we ran out of space about, oh, say, 18 months ago, and now our house kind of resembles what might result after a flood has hit and receeded.

The option, obviously, is to get out and find a bigger house.  Luckily, “in this economy,” as they say, finding an affordable, bigger house is pretty easy.  The problems we face, however, are big: selling our house, because no one is buying, and cleaning our house up to the point where someone might not come in and say, “Um, was this the scene of a crime?”  (I often wonder what would happen if we were to get robbed.  The police would arrive and assume that the mess was due to ransacking by burglars.  I’m not sure if I could admit that the mess was just our own self-ransacking over the years.)

And so the third bedroom, formerly Alissa’s computer room – because we are multi-computer family – was emptied out, and in I went with paint, brushes, rollers, and a determination to get it done.  And I got it done, including putting up a ceiling fan, too, all of it by myself.  That’s a lot of work for one weekend, but that’s sometimes how it has to be.  I know how I am: I get started on something, then get distracted with any of many other things that can go on during any weekend, and never get back to the main task.  If it can be accomplished in a weekend, then it must be.

I wound up sore and very tired, but in the end, we now have an essentially finished room – a very yellow finished room.  It’s much more yellow than I’d planned on it being, but that’s how light works – what looks tan-yellow one place under one lighting condition looks sunlight-yellow under LED bulbs, apparently.  It’s a happy color, however, and if you’re going to have a surprise, let it be happy.

What’s an amazing and frustrating fact about all this is that it’s only now, after 9 years in the house, that we’re finally starting to live in and make it ours . . . just as we prepare to leave it.  For the first five years, every wall in the house was white, and then we decorated Amanda’s room, and now Danielle’s, and still leave the rest of the house plain-jane.  We have lived almost as if we were prepared to leave – things remained boxed, hidden away, ready to go.  And, in a way, it feels like we never really committed to it, if you know what I mean, and it shows.  I’ve made a promise that our next house is it.  When we move in, the whole house becomes ours and we make our mark, our presence, made everywhere.  Make, as they say, a house into a home.

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