Wednesday, January 28, 2009

25 Random Tings About Me...

I recently was tagged on Facebook to do this, and I thought it would make a decent blog entry.
Enjoy. :)

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits or goals about yourself. At the end of your note, choose 25 people to be tagged. You also have to tag the person who tagged you.

1) My dad has always been one of my biggest heroes, but I'm more proud of her now than I have ever been.

2) My sister and I have grown a lot closer over the years, and I think that's aaaawesome.

3) I'm not nearly as lazy and unorganized as everybody thinks.

4) I bite my fingernails...a lot.

5) I don't stress about much. Concerned, perhaps, but not stressed. Think about it - when was the last time you saw me freak out about anything?

6) I smoke. I should stop. I know. But I REALLY don't need more people to tell me how or why I should quit.

7) I have a love/hate relationship with unsolicited advice. I love and appreciate the concern shown by those offering it, but it annoys me, demeans my efforts, and underestimates my ability to handle my own situations. I'm a very proud and independent person. Wanna stay on my good side? Avoid any statement that begins, "What you should do is..."

R!! I'm not perfect, but I'm usually pretty good about putting things back where I got them, taking dishes to the sink, putting ingredients in the fridge when I'm done with them, and keeping my pack-rattish keepsakes to a minimum.

9) I love my car. No matter what I happen to be driving at the time, I love it. It's my Fortess of Solitude. In it, I can listen to MY music, keep MY stuff, and escape the world at large.

10) I'm enough of a beer snob that I won't buy beer from most of the domestic "big bottlers", but rarely have the budget for much better. Labatt Blue is generally as low as I'll go if I'm buying.

11) I LOVE being able to catch up with and re-connect with so many of my friends on Facebook. I just wish I had more time to actually SEE them. I've met a TON of cool people on Facebook and MySpace that, if we lived close, I would probably try and hang with all the time.

12) Regrets, I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention...
...but they're biggies.

13) When I say I'm a Comic Book Geek, the inevitable question follows, "are you Marvel or DC?" I'm neither. I follow some of both, but if I were pin myself down to a favorite publisher, it'd probably be IDW.

14) I have a number of useful talents. Unfortunately, none of them are developed enough to make a good, steady living at. Ideally, I'd love to make a living recording learning tracks, writing drill, arranging music, teaching marching bands/drum corps, and directing a barbershop chorus. Unfortunately most of those are freelance work that require a quiet office to work in.

16) I have an extensive collection of California Raisin figurines and Series 2 Garbage Pail Kids .

17) I have almost every band, barbershop, and drum corps T-shirt I have ever bought/received.

18) I cannot function as a human being until I have had a HOT morning shower.

19) I am a reasonably decent speller, but a piss-poor typist. For example, I proof-read this note 3 times before posting it and still found extra letters. Damn stubby fingers...

20) I blog because it's a great non-invasive way of getting my thoughts and life updates out to those who (for some odd reason) have an interest in my thoughts and my life. No other agenda. Surprisingly, some people even enjoy what I write.

21) I'm a shutterbug. I find art and beauty in nearly everything, that's why I'm SO glad I finally have a camera of my own again. Plus, I want plenty of documentation of the kids to remind me how young they were once.

22) I'm a glutton for digital media. My hunger for movies and music has necessitated the obsolescence of 2 drives so far. I'm hoping my new 500GB drive will be enough for a while.

23) I'm great about forgiving, but not so good at letting go of the past. Generally, I hold on tightly to the good and let go of the bad. (Probably resulting in #5 above)

24) I have a motto: "With true friends, you will NEVER hit rock bottom." It has saved my psyche more than once. I'm very lucky to have many MANY good friends I could call on if I was ever in dire circumstances, and I'm eternally grateful - every day - to be blessed with so many good people in my life.

25) I spend ENTIRELY too much time on Facebook...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Joy, Elation & Confusion

My computer was fixed EXPERTLY by my old friend Ralph last weekend. Vista go bye-bye! He got it all set up with the current drivers and a handful of new programs I absolutely adore. I could drag my kudos to Ralph out for pages, but I have to be at work in 15 min. Suffice it to say, his awesome dial goes up to '11'!

Greatest American Hero. Issue #1. Variant cover...
Been waiting on this one for about 4 months and it finally arrived yesterday!

We finally have our new bass housebroken, and our old bass comes, quite unexpectedly, back into town. Not quite sure how to handle this. Lots of issues surrounding Big Dave's personal life can make organizing the quartet stuff tricky. Not impossible, just tricky. On the other hand, he's a great bass, learns quickly, has our more exclusive songs under his belt already, and is generally an all-around great guy. New Dave won't be a poor sport if we have to let him go, I know. He's got another quartet already, and was basically doing us a favor by joining. This is a bit awkward, but will reduce New Dave's stress level a bit and it not like we're telling him "You suck" or anything.

Yes, a bit awkward, but I don't expect problems. the man says... "Time to make the doughnuts..."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bass initiation, and a sad good by to a real hero...

Our first gig with our new bass (New Dave) was Saturday and it couldn't have gone better! We headed out in the heavy snow and bitter cold in our tuxes to sing for a birthday at the Grosse Pointe Club - a very ritzy and exclusive yacht club in one of the richest neighborhoods in the metro area. The wonderful lady that hired us had everything timed to a tee and the small gathering was VERY appreciative and responsive. We started out in the club's bar singing for the patrons. To my great joy and surprise, we were ringing more chords than any group with a band new member has any right to! Our banter (as we almost never script any) was fresh and off-the-cuff, our sound was tight, and the patrons were attentive and smiling.

The small group of close family to the birthday girl was even more engaged, chatting with us, joking, and laughing between songs (which was good, as we weren't sure our set list was long enough to do the whole gig). With all the friendly chit-chat aand occasional breaks as we moved from bar to dining room, we easily made it through the hour and a half engagement nd recieved some WONDERFUL compliments! We were even asked for busniess card a few times, which we were more than happy to provide the well-to-do folks who never seem to flinch at price. ;)

We have rehearsal tonight and plan to work almost exclusively on our show tune, the Flying Sinatra Medley. This one's a bear of an arrangement by Ed Waesche, but has some great transitions, a great tempo, and a KILLER tag. I can't wait to get this one polished up!

On a sadder note, my mom's friend, Charlene Pushman died last Friday. She was a wonderful woman and my mom's roommate for several years. She struggled with her weight, like my mom, but was always more motivaated to do something about it. She was a great driving force in getting my mom to go to the Y and swim, get moving, and always a friendly listening era. She was sweet, but honest, a joy to be around, and - quite simply - saved my mother's life.

A few years back, after she moved out on her own, I got a calll from Charlene at about 11:30 at night. She had just gotten off the phone with my mother and was concerned that she didn't seem particularly lucid. She asked me to go check on her, as my mom only lived a mile from me. When I got there, she was barely conscoius, lips bluue, and gasping for breath - she was havving heart failure. I callled 911 and she spent the next 3 weeks in the ICU at Beaumont. Scariest point of my life, bar none. If Charlene hadn't called me, my mom wouldn't have made it through the night.

I was gooing to take my mother to the viewing last night, as I'm working today durring the funeral. I got to my mom's and she was up, dressed, ready to go, but had just attempted to get down the first step of her hoouse on her new walker with the assistance of her physical therapist and had a lot of trouble. I commended her sincere effort (along with the coroboration of the therapist), had dinner with her, and went to the viewing alone. I shared my condolences with her friends and family and shared my story. They needed to know.

I'll always be indebted to Charlene for my mom's life. She will be sincerely missed.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cold Fusion (or Bonding in the Snow)...

Yesterday, following the 5 inches or so of snow we received the day prior, the kids and I headed to the local sled hill for some winter fun.

I used to LOVE sledding, but now that I'm older, less agile, and generally more fuddy-duddyish, I don't exactly race for my toboggan at the first hint of frost. Getting the kids bundled up properly, freezing my tuckus off, and climbing up what inevitably feels like Mt. Renier is not my cup 'o tea anymore. Still, remembering those days of racing down the slope by the local freeway off-ramp (yea, it was a simpler time), it would be remiss of me not to seize the opportunity to have some great fun with my kids while they are young and I'm still able to.

We stopped by Taco Bell for a bite then headed off to the sled hill right behind their school. It was busy, but not particularly crowded. Liam, of course, took off like a shot and was having a blast. Courtney was eager, but didn't want to go down alone. I went with her on 2 great runs, then let her try by herself. She was reticent, but willing. Of course, her first and only time down by herself, she wiped out and was inconsolable for 5 minutes. After that, she was content to play on the playground the rest of the time.

We were there for about 2 1/2 hours, finally packing it in as it began to get dark. We had an absolute ball. I got a few great shots on my nifty new camera...
Sled Hill 1-11-09 (16)
Sled Hill 1-11-09 (18)
Sled Hill 1-11-09 (7)

...and some video...

I am so blessed to have such great kids and am overjoyed I didn't decide to sit like a bump on a log all day, playing with my new computer or watching TV. Sure, I'd love to live in a warmer climate, but how could I miss out on moments like these!?

Auld Lang Syne and Such...

New Year's Eve was equally peaceful. We had no plans or parties to attend. The kids headed off to Flint with the grandparents, so Sonya and I were free to do as we wished...but had nothing really to do. We got a hold of The Wife's brother and a few friends who had equally little to do, and "organized" an impromptu gathering at our place. We had champagne, drinks, and whatever munchies we happened to have lying around and had a great time just hanging out.

I tried to get some pizza for everyone at about 11:20 pm, but every pizza place was closed by that point. The only pizza left accessible at that point was the last, lonely French bread pizza in 7-11's freezer. I took took off the pepperoni before cooking and served that up (mostly to myself) just after midnight. I punked out about 2 and the rest of the crowd followed about 4ish. A fun, lighthearted evening as had by all. Just right.

On New Year's Day the Wife and I headed to her parents' to have dinner. As we pulled intoo their subdivision, we drove through a HUGE murder of crows, having what seemed to be an international convention in the neighborhood. I went back to try and get some shots of them on my new camera, but as I apparently bear some unrealized resemblance to Ray Bolger, they scattered into the trees as I approached. All I could manage was some distance shots and a short video, in which yoou can hear their 'caw'cophony echoing through the neighborhood.

We had a wonderful afternoon just lazing around, watching movies, munching leftover Christmas cookies, and having dinner. I got a few great shots of the ambiance of the day:
Liam & Brunhilde
Liam & Courtney
Liam & Dad
Christmas Tree

A great start to a new year...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Holiday Recap...

This was, hands down, the most relaxing Christmas I have had in the past decade. No crazy rushing around, no catastrophes, no worries! Usually, my "Holiday Recap" blog is a multi-volume tome of epic length. This time, there is nothing major to report! No Gnus is good Gnus.

Christmas Eve was sooooo peaceful. I spent the first half of the day at work. It was slow, as expected, so most of us spent the morning chatting, munching on goodies, and waiting for 1pm. After that, I made one or two last-minute runs on the way home. Once there, I was able to spend the evening in the quiet company of my family. We cooked, watched TV, and even our good friend Leigh came over to share the evening with us! She's pretty much family by now. We've known "Auntie Leigh" (as the kids have always called her) since high school and her family's Christmas was a bit jumbled this year, so we we MORE than happy to share the festivities with her.

About 9pm we placed goodies for Santa on the faux fireplace Sonya made out of cardboard boxes (it looks great! VERY clever), and the kids hit the hay. Shortly after, Leigh went home, we finished wrapping the kids' stuff and placed the unwrapped gifts from Santa under the tree. We got to bed about midnight, which beats last year when we were crawling into bed, after a major car accident and a trip to the emergency room, at 4:30am.

Christmas Day
True to our traditiions, we woke up, opened gifts, had breakfast, headed to the Wife's parents' place, opened more gifts, and had dinner. Some of my better gifts were a new 500G portable drive from my dad, Family Guy Vol 6 from the wife and kids, a new set of cookware from the in-laws, and a heated seat cover for my icebox of a car (warm tushie, FTW).

The only event of note was, between gifts and dinner at the in-laws, I was playing with my new hard drive and transferring some files from my overstuffed 160G. The computer stut down and wouldn't boot Windows. Having gone through this before and having been given the quick fix solution by my old friend and computer guru Chris, I reset the SATA driver and all was well - for about 20 minuutes. After that, it crashed and I couldn't get it to power on at all. Just a blinking power button. Ugh. No new toy for now, I guess.
The next day, we headed to my grandfather's for my family's half of the Christmas Spirit. The kids and I got there a bit before Sonya, who was running errands. We did our usual: grab pizza, open gifts (money, mostly, for me), catch up, and - as has been tradition most years - leave in time for me to get to work at the video store.

On Saturday, I take the morning to run some errands. First stop: MicroCenter to FINALLY get myself a decent digital camera. I found a good deal on a Nikon CoolPix in blue. It has everything I need: decent macro setting, SDslot (as opposed to Olympus's bizarre cards), video mode, compact size. I walk out happy with my purchase, even if I don't know when I'll be able to move them to my computer and upload them.
Next stop, the little computer repair shop for a preliminary diagnosis of my ailing computer. They looked at, and the prognosis wasn't good: fried motherboard. That's like terminal Chick Cancer. Not worth repairing, most likely. With a heavy heart I crawl back into my car and call my dad to vent. After all, she got me the computer in the first place, as well as the new hard dive I was so looking forward to and barely got to use. Whenever I'm hit with a Murphy's Law moment (like getting a new computer gadget and having the computer die, for example), she's the first one I dial because she'll help me focus on the irony and humor rather than the tragedy. At the very least I'll get some sympathy and catch up with her a bit. I relayed the symptoms and she confirmed the diagnosis (sigh).

"Well," she says, "you're just going to have to find a deal."

"Yea, but even a deal will take me a while to afford."

"No, you don't understand. Find a deal AND CALLL ME."

(stunned silence)

"Are you sure? That's really not why I called. You just spent a pretty penny on the new hard drive for me already!"
"Of course that's why you called," she said, with a tone of loving patience and good humor.

To be fair, I have a track record of hitting my dad up for occasional bailouts. It's rare, but when I needed my Barbershop Society dues paid so I could go to convention, I called up sheepishly, dropping hints with all the subtlety of the Blitzkrieg. When my brakes needed work last year about this time, I called her. Ironically, that bailout ended in another Murphy's Law moment when 2 weeks later, I got into the aforementioned car crash, totaling my car on Christmas Eve. I hit black ice, which the brakes couldn't have helped with, making it MORE ironic/pitiful.
"Honestly, no it isn't! ....But if you're SURE about this..."
"Go home and do some research."
So after trolling my usual techno-gadget deal sites (,,, I find a good deal on a Dell at I send my dad the link and next thing I know, it's on its way!
Sunday and Monday we just plain 'ol days off. I shouldn't say "plain 'ol" as days off for me are rediculously rare, but regardless, it was nice. I watched Liam make insane progress on his new RipStik.

(I have no idea where he gets his coordination from). We also wentr to my great uncle's Christmas party Monday night, which was nice.
A 5-day Holiday vacation at home. I could get used to this...
Coming Up Next: Auld Lang Syne and such...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

That NEW Gang Of Mine...

Last night was the quartet's first rehearsal with our new bass...yet another Dave. New Dave is the chapter president, has been active in his own quartet for several years, and is going to make a GREAT addition to Coda Honor!

After leaving work, picking up Lou (who's car was in the shop), and congealing at our baritone's house, we exchanged pleasantries. Once we started singing, things just seemed to gel. The nicest part is that New Dave has been in the chorus longer than any of us and has a litany of tunes buried in the bundle of neurons in his noggin. I composed a list of tunes from our usual repertoire and the chorus for us to try out. Of the 26 songs I came up with, at least 20 of them were solid enough to perform in public. A handful of others needed some work before we'd be brave enough to let "real people" hear them. One has officially been retired (unless we get a specific request for it). Yes, Coney Island Baby has been interred next to Heart Of My Heart in the Coda Honor Graveyard, by popular demand.

New Dave still has a half dozen songs he needs to learn from our regular repertoire, including our contest pieces, my arrangement of Rainbow Connection, and Underdog. He also has to learn his part to the chorus tunes he was too busy directing to sing. He's a CRAZY busy guy, with a legal career, teaching responsibilities, his other quartet, and hid duties as chapter president, but I have faith that he'll step up to the plate. In the meantime, we have enough songs under our collective belt to do the gig next week I was surprised to get contacted about a few days ago.

New Dave's personality is a good match for us, his sound is bright, yet bassy, and his learning curve is high. He's no Big Dave, who had to leave the state rather suddenly for several reasons - both personal and professional, but he'll do nicely. We'll all miss Big Dave's caring and gentle demeanor, as well as his great ear and low...low basement, however we wish him nothing but the best in his new endeavors and hope we'll get the chance to sing with him again soon.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Coda Honor 4.0!
(and hire us...a lot)

Coming up next: Holiday Recap!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Backblogged...yet again.

You may wonder why it took so long for the previous post to show up. I wrote most of that the morning of Christmas Eve and had to head to work. I fully intended to finish that up later that day or the next. On Christmas Day, the motherboard on my laptop fried out (just after getting a new 500GB portable drive, too). so I've been relatively incommunicado since.

Thankfully, my dad came (quite unexpectedly) to the rescue! I have a new Dell laptop, and it seems I may remove the first half of my reference when talking about Fucking Vista. More details to come. For now, off to bring home the proverbial bacon...