Friday, December 12, 2008

I Took Control of My Life, Just as Anyone Can; And I Want Everyone to See It's in the Palm of Your Hand

This blog is still dead with no current plans for resurrection. However, a lot has happened over the past year so I thought I would at least provide an update.

I now live in Portland, Oregon. I love it here. I loved Colorado, too, but this place definitely rocks.

I am not going to Costa Rica as detailed in the previous post. Instead I am going to London. I still very much want to go to Costa Rica, but London was calling, as they say.

That's it. Life is very good. Now back to the lurking.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Knew Just What to Say, Now I Found Out Today That All the Words Had Slipped Away

Hello faithful readers. Sorry it has been awhile since I last put a post up, but I need to take a break from blogging. It has nothing to do with the last post, and since I recognize that the last post was a pretty down note to end on, I figure I should give you all an update.

Things are actually going quite well. I had a great Thanksgiving, which was an extra long weekend for me since I took time off to be with the girls, who were out of school. The mrs. and I sat down and took a good hard look at the budget and our financial situation and we figure that if we stick with it, we can have a significant portion of our debt paid off by March of 2009, and be able to take a trip to Costa Rica to celebrate the accomplishment. So, that is what we are working towards now. I did have an interview for a part-time job, but alas, they gave the position to someone else. While the extra money would have definitely been nice, perhaps it is for the best right now. As SLG pointed out, it is hard to put a price on the time you get to spend with your family.

So with a plan in place and a goal in mind, I face the next year and a half with a lot of hope that we can finally be where we want to be. In the meantime, I have to take a break from posting. Don’t worry, it’s nothing serious. It just needs to be done. Thank you all for stopping by here as I have truly enjoyed your company. Best of luck to you all.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Smells Like Autumn, Smells Like Leaves; You Don’t Know That You’ll Rust and Not Belong So Much

I think I’m depressed. Not the serious clinical put-me-on-24-hour-watch type of depression, but the pre-winter, post vacation blah kind of depression. Don’t get me wrong, life is good. No complaints. But I’m still experiencing a let down of sorts from coming back from Florida. I’m a guy who likes to travel and craves to see the world. However, due to financial and personal reasons, we haven’t been able to go on many big vacations in recent years. I was hoping that this excursion to Florida would somewhat satiate my wanderlust, but instead it just exacerbated it. It’s like I got a small taste of what could be, and then left back with what things really are. To make it worse, we are on the cusp of winter and I really don’t like snow and cold. I think I suffer from seasonal affective disorder because the winter months are especially rough for me. Living in Colorado has certainly helped since it is still actually sunny outside during the winter, but still the short days, long nights, and bitter cold really get to me. I’m serious when I say I could easily see myself as a snow bird during my retirement years spending the winter in a timeshare in some warm local where it never snows. Hey, if I had the money I would be doing it now.

But that’s the problem. I don’t have any money. Well, I take that back. I have money, however, I am currently using that money to pay myself back from the time when I didn’t have any money. You see, faithful readers, a few years back the mrs. and I hit a bit of a financial rough patch, you might say (cue violin music). After enduring several rounds of layoffs, wage cuts, and raise freezes for about a year, my number finally came up at my former employer. That was a few months after my wife got laid off from her job. Since the recent economic downturn hit our area pretty hard, employment around here was fairly scarce (and some would argue that it still is). So, with two mouths under 4 to feed and a mounting pile of bills to pay, we got desperate and moved to Minnesota where I took a good job in a place that absolutely sucked. Talk about enduring a bad winter. Not only was living in MN crappy, but we never sold our house in Colorado which meant that we were paying a mortgage on an empty house and all the complimentary bills that go along with it, on top of the rent for the small 2-bedroom apartment we were renting in MN and all of the bills that goes along with that. Sure, I had a better job, but what’s the point of making more money when all of the extra you make is going to pay for an empty house in a place we would rather be at? We were ready to move back within six months. We figured, hey, if we are going to be broke we might as well at least be in a place we love vs. the frozen wasteland hell that goes by the name Minnesota. So, we moved back into our house and I had the very good fortune of staying with my employer from Minnesota but working out of the Denver branch. I eventually changed divisions working for the (former) Big Boss Lady and that pretty much leads up to the beginning of this blog.

Believe it or not, that’s the short version of the story. The good news is that so far life has been leading us up to a happy ending. I worked down in Denver for about three more years and when I finally got fed up with it, I landed a better job much closer to home. The mrs. also has a good job close to home and the two of us together are slowly climbing out of the big hole we found ourselves in when things took a turn for the worst. It’s been a hard climb out, though, and one of the opportunity costs for us having to pay back our massive debt has been to not take whirlwind trips through Europe, winter vacations in Hawaii, or even trips back to see family. This past Florida trip was the first time my whole family had been together in over 2 years. It’s been even longer for the mrs. side.

So now, there’s the conundrum. The mrs. and I have a budget set that will get us out of debt so we can finally go and do the things we want to do. Unfortunately it is going to take a couple of more years to get there. I believe they call that “delayed gratification.” You save and take care of the more pressing things in your present so you can have the means to enjoy the future. The brain says, “That makes sense.” My heart says, “Screw that! Let’s blow the budget on another big vacation!!!!” Right now the brain is winning only by the slightest margin. The heart is putting up one hell of a fight.

So, what’s a depressed, impatient person to do? The mrs. suggested getting a second job and using those proceeds as extra money outside the budget to use towards another vacation and other weekend getaways. Sounds good. So, that’s what I’m doing now. I’m trying to find a part time evening position that isn’t in fast food or telemarketing. Sounds easy enough, but it’s actually been pretty tough trying to work around my current hours. I need a low-stress job that pays me well to just sit around and play on the computer for my whole shift. You know, kinda like my day job but at night…

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Visions of Good Times That Brought So Much Pleasure Makes Me Want to Go Back Again

Ok, faithful readers, as promised, here is my post-vacation post. We went to Florida. It was awesome. The whole thing pretty much came about from my parents. I guess the company that my father works for had a pretty good year last year and so my dad got a hefty-sized bonus as a result. My mom asked him if he wanted to go to Europe, take a cruise, etc, with the money but instead he decided that he wanted to take all of the grandkids to Disneyworld. Apparently the old man is a softie at heart. So, my parents organized this whole big trip where my family, my sister’s family, my brother, and both my parents would converge on Orlando during the October teaching break (my mom, sister, and brother are all teachers) and do the whole Disney thing, compliments of my dad. The mrs. and I decided that we would go out a few days before the scheduled meet-up and spend some time at the beach to get some much needed R&R. And let me tell ya, as fun as we had being with my family at Disneyworld, our time on the beach was definitely the highlight of our trip. We made no plans and we had no schedules. We literally just went to different beaches up and down the eastern shoreline and enjoyed the ocean. The girls had a blast. They never got bored just running in and out of the waves for hours, or simply making castles in the sand. The mrs. didn’t want to leave. She went from never seeing the ocean before to now trying to figure out how we can buy a beach house. I wouldn’t mind. Summers in the mountains and winters on the beach sounds mighty fine to me.

Anyway, here are some pictures from the trip:

Here is the view from our hotel balcony. We originally had a different room, but I worked my Johnny mojo and got an ocean-view suite on the seventh floor. As much as I love the mountains, I could definitely get used to a view like that every morning.

We went to several beaches during our stay, but this picture is of Sebastian Inlet State Park. This place was pretty nice. The waves were pretty rough for swimming (but apparently world famous for surfing) on the ocean coast, but inside the inlet the waters were much calmer. One of the coolest parts of this beach was that from the jetty pictured above you could see a lot of dolphin jumping in the water. Supposedly you could see manatee as well, but we didn’t spot any that day. We did see a jellyfish though. The girls were fascinated. The mrs. was disgusted. It looked like a big glob of petroleum jelly to me.

We had originally signed up my oldest daughter for surfing lessons before we left so we could give her an experience that she couldn’t get here in landlocked Colorado. However, when we got there the surfing place advised us that the wave conditions were way too rough for a child her age/size. So, I took the lesson instead. I didn’t do too badly, either, for never having been on a surfboard before. I got up the very first time, and a few more times after that, even. And that was in rough conditions. I guess I’m like a total surfer dude, now, bro.

Your choice of captions:

“Just add water”


“Ok, you’ve got the pose down. Now we need to work on that tan…”

And here’s me riding the wave back to shore. That was a lot of fun, and believe it or not, a lot of hard work. To me, the hard part wasn’t trying to stand up on the board; it was trying to paddle out against huge, salty waves crashing in your face just so you could get far enough out to get to that point. I would do it again, though, for sure.

Since we stayed just mile or two south of Cape Canaveral, we were lucky enough to catch a rocket launching one morning. We saw this liftoff right outside our hotel room. That was pretty cool and totally unexpected.

Of all the fun things we did, though, my favorite was just simply being with the mrs. and the girls and watching the waves roll in. With as busy as everyone’s lives are with school, work, lessons, and just about every other obligation that keeps us constantly on the move, it was nice to just relax and spend time together as a family.

And speaking of family, we eventually had to leave the beach and go meet up with the rest of my family in Disneyworld. As relaxing as the beach was, Disney was the opposite. We were non-stop-go the whole time we were there. But we rode all of the rides, saw all of the parks, and hugged all of the costumed characters walking around. We even got my mom to ride on Space Mountain, no small feat, let me tell ya. Disney is everything you expect it to be. It’s huge, it’s commercial, and there are a lot of people there even in the off-season. But I have to say, though, that they definitely go all out to please. All of the rides were top-notch, the park is extremely clean, and if you are on the plan, the meals are huge. I had a great time and it was good to have the whole family together in one place for the first time in over two years.

It all went by way too quickly. Now I am back at work having slowly adjusted back to the old routine. I need to be rich so I can travel all of the time without the worries of my existing financial obligations. Anyone have any suggestions on how I can become independently wealthy? Thanks.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Well Thanks For the Time, I Needed to Think a Spell

My body may be back at work, but my mind is definitely still here:

More pictures to come once the jet lag wears off and the realization that I have to return to my normal routine sets in...

Friday, October 12, 2007

I Found Out Long Ago, It's a Long Way Down the Holiday Road

I'm going on vacation. In less than two days' time I will be laying on the beach. This will be good.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Please Forgive the Words I Use, My Mind it Tends to Run, Away With the Small Ideas (I Know I'm Not the Only One)

I like American football a lot. I like other sports, but football is the one that I by far follow the most. But this isn’t about football, it’s about baseball. I like baseball, but as I just mentioned, I don’t get all crazy over it. That being said, I have to give it up for the local team, the Colorado Rockies. Ok, I admit it. I haven’t been watching them since the season opened back in April. I haven’t even been watching them up until a week ago. So, yes, I am a bandwagoneer. But you tell me this: if your home team who has only been to the playoffs once in their existence (12 years ago) just won 13 of their past 14 games, pushed a one-game playoff game just to get into the playoffs, then stretched out that game 13 innings to finally break the tie, wouldn’t you be just a little bit excited for them? Yeah, I thought so.

So, I don’t know if they will go far in the playoffs or not. But I do know that it’s pretty cool to see them get in after all of these years. Plus the Rockies’ star player, Todd Helton, once played quarterback for the University of Tennessee, my favorite college football team (he started one game after the regular QB broke his leg. The next game the staff went with a little-known true freshman by the name of Peyton Manning…). You see, it always comes back to football.

I haven’t done any music posts in recent memory, so I figure that it’s about time to do a quick rundown of some new tunes I’ve been listening to lately:

Tegan & Sara. The critically acclaimed sister act. I kept hearing all this hype about their new album, The Con, so I figured I should check it out. I have been avoiding them since they have been featured prominently on Grey’s Anatomy, a show that I’ve never seen, but also prominently highlights musical samplings of acts that suck completely like The Fray and Snow Patrol (yes, I know that The Fray is from Colorado. That doesn’t mean that they still don’t suck). However, Grey’s Anatomy also plays Brandi Carlile, who is super good, so I figured it was worth a shot. I picked up The Con and So Jealous. They’re ok. Not bad, but no Brandi Carlile.

And speaking of Brandi Carlile, she put out an album a few months back called The Story. That gal can sure belt it out. If you dig acoustic/folk rock by really strong female vocalists, then you should for sure check her out. I dig her.

Hmmm… what else. I recently picked up Challengers by The New Pornographers. I dug their old stuff, like Mass Romantic, so I figured this one would be good, too. It is. There are some really good cuts on this album. The title track has been stuck in my head a lot lately. It probably hasn’t helped that it is getting pretty heavy rotation on the local college station as well.

I got the new Iron & Wine. It sounds like Iron & Wine. Not that it’s a bad thing, since I like Iron & Wine. If you like Iron & Wine, you’ll probably like it, too. Boy, wasn’t that a deep analysis…

A few months back I picked up Songs We Sing by a guy named Matt Costa. It has been one of my favorite albums lately. It is kinda single guy folk-guitary. The songs are pretty catchy, though I have to admit a couple are a bit Beatlesque. But, then, who wasn’t influenced by the Fab Four? You gonna knock every band in the past 40 years?

A while back Sass recommended a group called Mother Mother. I took her up on that recommendation and picked up one of their albums. They have a very original sound, that’s for sure. I can honestly say that I have never heard anything like this band before. They aren’t bad, just very hard to describe. You should check them out, even if just for the opportunity to hear something completely different.

I’m sure there is a whole lot more lately that I’ve been listening to, but I can’t think of any more off the top of my head. If you faithful readers have any recommendations for me, please send them my way. I depend on word of mouth to know what the really good stuff is, so let me know if you’ve heard anything good lately.

* Update* I started this post the other day and didn’t finish it. As of the publishing of this post the Rockies are already up one game in the playoffs. Sweet.