Monday, April 28, 2008

Dateline: Panera Bread, lunch break

1st day at the new job. Still a bit nervous about the details involved with the new job, but INFINITELY impressed with the operation. The people are great, the operation is refined and timed to the last wave of the brakeman's hand on the last train outa town.

The folks are more than happy to help me get acclimated and answer any questions I may have. The main trick will be prying the smoking monkey off my back. I've been wanting to do that for a while with varying success. This being a non-smoking workplace, with no smoking even on the property and NO smoke breaks, it may frazzle my nerves a bit, but it will help me in the long run.

It's made me discover my new best friend... Coffee.

...lots and lots of coffee.

More info on my first day to come, but maybe on MySpace only...

Friday, April 25, 2008

"The Final Countdown!"

I apologize to my non-MySpace friends who have been without my whimsical ponderings for the past couple of weeks. With the new job looming, I've kept any job-related blogs confined to my MySpace blog (grudgingly) because I can lock it down to "friends only". Some of the stuff I tend to post regarding my current place of business, can be construed as - how shall I put it - somewhat unprofessional, hence me desire to leave there. My new place of business (which I have the utmost respect for, given the initial impressions I've gotten) is pretty tech-savvy and might have occasion to read it. Not a wise move to post any grievances regarding your employer for all to see, even if they are your soon-to-be-ex-employer.

Anyway, if you want those blogs, let me know or add me on MySpace. If I can trust that you or my blatherings won't leak to relevant parties and compromise my or my new employer's professional integrity, I may consider sharing my stories and news about my soon-to-be-former employment. As for anything about my new job, I'll be keeping a pretty tight lid on that. It's a very professional place and I don't want to do anything to screw up my new opportunity.

Anyway, on to personal (and safer) topics...

Last night I went with my buddy Chris Rohn and his wife to see the DCI countdown show on the Big Screen. I was going to boycott this one, due to my disfavorable attitude towards the direction DCI has been taking the last 10 years or so, but with a good friend along for the ride, it was worth bending my principles a bit for the social aspect of it.

It was a decent compliation of the top 6 shows of the past 3 years of DCI Finals, as voted on by the fans at I can't say I agreed with the fans' choices entirely (my brain still hurts whenever I see a Cadets show from the past decade or so), but aside from that, it was fun. I still have no idea how Carolina Crown was able to produce so many IMPECCABLY in-tune chords in one show!

There were FAR fewer attendees than most of the DCI events I've been to. Probably due to the limited scope of the event (the past 3 years tends to exclude old-school drum corps afficianados and all but the die-hard drum corps fans) and the increased access to the event at other locations.

Also, the audio was a bit screwed up at the Walled Lake location. At first, it was tinny and soft, but after Chris complained, they cranked up the volume a bit. Still, even after that, the theater only produced the right channel. Chris and I complained to the manager, who was superficially appologetic, but unwilling to offer any kind of reimbursement to resolve the situation.

Meh - lots of other theaters showing the DCI events these days. I've been going to this theater for every DCI Big Screen event I have attended so far - mostly because it was the only one showing it at first. Now that other local theaters have joined the bandwagon (pun sort of intended), I'll just go to the Livonia location from now on. A bit closer to me and hopefully without the apathetic management and better facilities.

I pick up my freshly restored laptop from my friend Chris DeLaney later today. The guy's the network administrator for a local school district and a techno-whiz. He was able not only to wipe my laptop down and re-install XP (not an easy thing, given the Frankenstein nature of Compaq's innards), but he was able to save all my files and charged me a pittance for the work! The guy's a genius and a saint.

Anyway, only about 23,000 seconds to go here! I wonder what fate has in store for me! Could I possibly be blessed yet again? Will I just resume to even-keel? Could I be due for and audit by the Universal Forces of Karmic Balance?

I'll be vigilent, but right now, I'm gonna soak up all the happiness I can and wallow in gratitude for the past week, sure to be regarded as the best week of the year...

...Then again, I have a new job starting up next week. Could even BETTER times lie ahead?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Someone Hand Me A Dictionary...

Vaw-kee-shown... vai-cat-sheen... voi-kay-shin...

Honestly, the concept is so foreign to me, I don't know how to pronounce, much less spell the word.

I haven't had a single, genuine, day of vacation (okay, I can spell it - I'm a sucker for drama) in my entire adult working life. Blockbuster offers vacation pay amounting to roughly a week a year, but I'm usually in such financial dire straits that I just cash out the extra money and work on top of it. To not be at work during normal business hours, be able to do normal business, enjoy a bright sunny day, and NOT have to worry about the money I'm foregoing in the process is something completely new to me. Oh, I've gone on some great trips with the family, usually through the generosity of Sonya's parents, but I spend a lot of the time thinking about the piles of work awaiting me on my return and how to financially recover from a week of no paychecks. Fun, absolutely, but not entirely stress-free.

Today was my first day of my long-overdue paid vacation time from the tuba store, and I gotta tell ya, it was everything I hoped it would be.

I woke up late, took my son on an outing to the video store to grab a flick, went to Steve & Barry's to exchange some pants, went with the family to the zoo in the gorgeous sunshine (pictures on my Flickr page), made my favorite dish for the family (Paula's famous Mac & Cheese casserole) with some fresh corn on the cob, and went to a fun and productive quartet rehearsal, all without having to panic if my check would keep the lights on this week.

Tomorrow I'm taking another one. On the docket (after a brief trip to my new place of business) is a day of some long-overdue chores while Sonya goes sailing with her brother, a little yard work, maybe a trip to the comic store, and then a trip to a hotel in Dundee with an indoor water park (courtesy of Sonya's mom) at which I may or may not spend the night.

Friday, and it subsequent harsh realities of working both jobs, will be here soon enough, but right now it might as well be years away. Seeing as my generation doesn't have a real retirement to look forward to, I'm going to learn to savor every second of these days.

Who'd have thought that the world had so much fun and relaxation to offer on weekdays!

Somebody pass me a mint julep, sunscreen, and a chez lounge...
I could learn to like this concept of "Vay-kay-shun".

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy Days Are Here Again!!!!

Come along and shout it now!
There's no one who can doubt it now!
Let me tell the world about it now!


More money, benefits, and a much better work environment at an extremely WELL-ORGANIZED, reputable and successful company.

I'm REALLY looking forward to this. It's right up my alley and I KNOW I can do very well for them and myself. It's almost hard to believe that this opportunity practically fell from the sky!

I'm not going to blog about my professional life here in any great detail, but if any of my friends have questions, drop me a line! I'll just say that yesterday was one of the best days I've had in a LONG time!

Just TRY and wipe this grin from my face!

Monday, April 14, 2008

No Gnus is....

Well, just no gnus. No word yet, but I'm not panicking. Patience is a virtue, so they say.

I'll be sure to say...well...something when there's something to say. Gonna keep details about my professional life outa this blog for the most part, but I'll let friends know what's up.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pins and needles...

Good things on the horizon. No details yet, but my hopes are high.

Hopefully I'll know more Monday.

EEEEE!!!!!! (shaking with giddy anticipation)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring Feevah, Liam’s Triumph, Radio Playing & My Candy Store

A great weekend – no bones about it.

It all started Saturday morning. It was the Cub Scouts District Pinewood Derby race. Liam, having won his Pack’s Pinewood Derby a couple of months ago, qualified to run the District race. We got up good and early (for a Saturday, anyway) and headed to Berkley High School. Liam and Sonya had been up there the night prior to get him entered and have his car weighed and evaluated.

We get there about 10am and Liam darts to the display table, where all the Wolf Cubs are voting for the “Best In Show” trophy. The kids decide which car they like the best, avoiding voting for themselves. Afterwards we wait a bit for the race to start.

While we’re hanging there, we take a look at the Soapbox Derby car they have set up. Uh-oh, looks like I may have another project to look forward to. Anyway, after he gets all riled up about that, we grab a Krispy Kreme, popcorn and a pop from the local troop’s fund raising table and find a good spot to watch the race from.

Liam’s Killer Whale-shaped car named “Free Willy” did pretty well! Of the 6 or so races he ran, he generally came in 4th of the cars he was pitted against. Unfortunately, as there were about 27 cars entered in his class, he didn’t quite make the ‘top 4’ cut for the finals race. As they are about to announce the winners, we started gathering our stuff. The announcer hands the mic to the contest administrator, and I notice she’s holding a trophy and Liam’s car! Liam had won Best In Show!
Northridge District Pinewood Derby (10)

He was still disappointed that he didn’t make the finals run for performance, but I cheered him up, noting that he now has a trophy for speed in his pack and design in the district! Kudos on all counts! Also, not being one for “performance machines” myself, I personally would have been hoping for the Best In Show trophy.

That managed to cheer him up, so we headed to the comic store to celebrate and let him play some Arch Rivals on Chris’s full-sized arcade machine. I brought along a picture of Liam’s Optimus Prime cake from last week’s Akila Cake Bake, figuring if ANYONE would appreciate it, Chris the Comic Guru would.

While Liam’s playing his video game, I notice a new addition to Chris’s display cabinet: an original Generation 1 Soundwave Transformer with 3 tapes! It was in very ‘loved’ condition and obviously made some kid very happy for years, but it was pretty intact. Ah, memories. Soundwave was always my favorite. I showed Liam and he fell in love, too. He was disappointed not to walk home with it, but at $40 plus $10 a piece for the tapes, I wasn’t about to buy a collectible version for him. I promise him we’ll look online for later, less collectible versions with all the parts. Heck, *I* may even get one for myself!

The rest of the afternoon was spent just lazing around the house, doing a few chores, and appreciating the warm, sunny springtime weather while Sonya ran some errands: doors open, shades pulled up, tidying up the front lawn of the stray garbage and assorted junk that had laid dormant under the snow for months, etc., then I head to work at Ye Olde Video Store.

After work, the kids had gone with Grandma up to Flint for the night and Sonya was hanging with our good friend Leigh, so I decided to stop by the homestead of my new friend, Bob, and his weekly internet radio broadcast direct from his basement. I bumped into him at a local party store a couple weeks back while on a beer run and commented on his Battlestar Galactica pins on his jacket. We start to gab and I mention my quartet. He mentions his show and while he usually features local DJs and techno/trance stuff, he likes to keep things eclectic. Before you know it, he’s inviting the quartet and me on his show! He hands me a sticker for the website and we part ways.

A couple weeks later, I finally get around to checking out the site and waddya know, my good friend, Chris Rohn (fellow Northern Aurora Drum Corps alumni and local DJ extraordinaire) is a regular and designed the website! I IM him about it, he gives me Bob’s IM and next thing ya know, I’m invited to stop by anytime.

So I pull up to his unassuming suburban pad, let myself in, and head to the basement. There are folks playing Wii, munching, gabbing, and having a grand old time. I’m told to get in the week’s picture for the site and spend the next hour just hangin’ and talkin’. Just before I head out, I manage to get on the air a bit, too.

Bob also gave me a tour of his abode. I gotta say, this guy is my Yoda in the ways of the Geek. Vintage computer systems, collectible toys and a plethora of odds and ends from the 80’s. He is my bachelor doppel gangar. My house would look just like this if I had no one else to worry about. I was quite impressed and had an absolute blast. Keep an ear out Saturdays about 8pm to for the show (or anytime thereafter really, as they archive it on the site for your streaming convenience). It’s great stuff to have on at work (at a low level – they’ll drop the ‘F Bomb’ on occasion) and my quartet may be on next week or sometime else soon.

Sunday, with the kids gone, Sonya and I slept till nearly 1pm. WOW that was nice. We then got up and went to MicroCenter (my candy store) to get a microSD card for her and a cheap $7 headset with a mic for me. We spent WAY too long in there (not that I’m complaining) and left with our respective toys.

When we got home, we proceeded to clean up the backyard, which had been torn apart by her brother’s dogs as they’ve visited the past few months. The grass was torn to shreds, piles of excrement deposited, and gaping holes have been dug throughout. Worst of all, our 10’ inflatable pool has been destroyed. Now, we were the dumbasses who forgot to put it away last season, so we didn’t expect it to truly survive, but the dogs had managed to shed it entirely and it was strewn all over the yard like confetti, along with most anything else we were foolish enough not to put in the shed.

After picking up the tattered remains of our yard, raking it up, stepping down some of the worst of the holes and hills created by the canines, and spreading some grass seed, I grab some pizza just in time for the kids to return home.

After the kids are fed and in bed, I break out my new toy. I’ve been recording multitracks of myself for years with varying degrees of success. Some turn out remarkably well, some not. I now have a great program that allows me to edit the tracks within an inch of their lives, but it takes a LOT of work. I usually clip my tiny condenser mic onto a lamp on the desk, mute the output, and sing along with my headphones while hunched over the desk providing virtually no air support. This usually creates a lot of ambient noise and tuning issues.

Just to test it out, I plug in the new headset and try a simple tag: “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South”. In just a few takes I had something nearing professional quality. I could hardly believe it was me! I had to keep going.

For the next few hours I played around with “Who’s Sorry Now”, a tune from the chorus repertoire we had recently excavated. I did it a few times, as I was learning the other 3 parts on the fly, each time getting better and better.

If you want samples, e-mail me. I’ll probably be doing more of these as time permits and inspired by Paul Ellinger of Chordiology, I may try to do some ‘freestyling’ of more contemporary stuff to help me arrange.

Ohh the fun that awaits!

The weather has finally broken! Ain’t no stoppin’ my good mood!

(What’s that whistle? Sounds like a shoe dropping from a mile high…)