Archive for the 'Personal' Category

The Mother’s Day Gift Conundrum

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Like most people, I find Mother’s Day to be a source of annual consternation: My mom doesn’t need anything, but I can’t let that stop me from getting her something. On top of that, she doesn’t want us spending anything on her since I was out of work so long.

This year, though, I’ve found a nice solution: I’ve discovered that Staples does 24″ by 36″ black and white poster prints for only $2.99!

And as luck would have it, I scanned a lot of my mom’s old family pictures — most of them in black and white, conveniently enough — so it occurred to me to put together a collage of some of those photos and print it out at a mind-boggling two feet by three feet, and the results are seen here.

Also, she recently sent me her favorite picture of my dad, in his Army uniform from WWII, so I scanned it in, fixed all the cracks, creases and holes, and made a huge poster of that one as well.

I think she just might enjoy this more than something she could put on her shelf to gather dust.

3 Days, 3 Birthdays!

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Three of my friends (1 former co-worker, 2 Internet friends, all female) are having birthdays these next three days:

First of all, today is the birthday of Kim Novak of Yay! Kim Blog. Kim was one of my first blogging friends when I first started over 6 years ago, and about the only one from that era that I still keep up with. Bonus points: She’s a fellow Texan! Go wish Kim a great birthday, and listen to some of her great music while you’re there!

Tomorrow (the 29th) is the birthday of one of my newest friends, Debra from Atlanta. I met her in Second Life last summer (where she goes by the name of Stephi), and she’s one of my best friends in that virtual world. Bonus points: We were born just 3 weeks apart!

And finally, on Thursday it’s the birthday of Vickie, a longtime reader and commenter on this here blog, and former co-worker at Chucky’s Madhouse, where she still endures to this day. Bonus points: She’s a fellow Texan too!

Happy Birthday to all my friends!

Update #1: A Death in the Family

Friday, April 10th, 2009

As promised, I’ll start catching up on important developments I haven’t been able to blog about over the past six months, starting with the most recent and the one that’s most affected our lives: The sudden loss of our sweet Molly last week.

Molly, in January 2009

We had gotten Molly almost exactly 5 years earlier and nursed her back to health following two surgeries and a possible lack of nutrition due to being fostered in a house with several other dogs.

Molly was the sweetest puppy you could ever hope to know, and was the perfect big sister, first to Schotzy, and, after he passed away in July 2006, to bratty little Bristol.

Last Wednesday morning she seemed fine, but in the afternoon she was having trouble standing, and by the time I left for my evening shift at work, she had no energy and wouldn’t even stand on her own. She was unresponsive when my wife came home from work, and the vets kept her for observation and did all that they could, but by 7 PM, she was gone.

The vet told us the next day that she had had a tumor on her spleen, and that tumor had ruptured. There was nothing that could be done.

We were devastated, of course, but we loved every minute of the five years we had with Molly, and we’d like to think she felt the same. She’ll be in our hearts forever.

You can help us celebrate her life and honor her memory by checking out Molly’s photo gallery on Flickr.

I think I’ll go cry now …

Our House …

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

… Is a very very very fine house,
With two dogs in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is better
Coz of you …

It’s hard to realize it’s been so long, but we’ve been in this house for 10 years now. In fact, in was ten years ago tonight that we were frantically loading up the last of our possessions from our old house, driving it the two miles to this house, throwing it into the garage, and hurrying back for more. At about this time that night (around 10), our neighbors were helping us pile things in my truck and unload it over here — a favor for which we repaid three of them, Kim, Ann, and Stacy, by taking them out to dinner a couple of weeks later.

As I recall, we finally finished up about 3:30 AM and got to bed about 4, but didn’t get much sleep before we had to get up and go to work.

I wasn’t really sleepy the next day, exactly. I was just so exhausted I was numb … which was kind of a rush in itself.

We had spent the whole month of August making repairs, since the place was a HUD foreclosure and a fixer-upper, and needed all new carpeting. We got just enough work done to put the carpeting in just in time to move in the furniture, then it was a mad dash to transfer the goods.

It was too late that year, but the next spring I got to work on the yard, which had been horribly neglected. Fully half of the front yard was bare (except for ugly weed grass) and riddled with huge cracks. It took a lot of top soil, mulch and sod, but I got those bare expanses filled in, and our across-the-street neighbor later expressed appreciation for my efforts, since he said we probably improved property values by fixing that place up!

Anyway, it’s been ten years, and we still love our little house, with its roofed-over patio and nice shade trees and sloped living room ceiling …

Here’s to another 10 or more!

Hey, Mr. DJ

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been dabbling in Second Life in recent months, and have even been in job discussions with a potential employer smart enough to see Second Life (and the other social networking sites I belong to) as an asset.

What I haven’t mentioned is something that I’ve been angling to do in Second Life, but have encountered lots of foot-dragging and excuse-making.

This past weekend, however, I began getting more aggressive about my endeavors, and finally achieved my goal:

I’m an online DJ!

On Sunday, I was supposed to have a quick test of my connection at one of the many virtual dance clubs in Second Life (an Irish-themed club, at that!), but the scheduled DJ didn’t show up, so I ended up spinning tunes (figure of speech) for about an hour and a half. (Good thing I had already compiled a sizable playlist.)

And they liked me so much they decided to keep me!

Keira, the club manager, offered me the 5-7 (Pacific Time) slot on Thursdays, so I snapped it up. And today she messaged me that she wants me to do a special theme night on the 27th (we’re going to do a hippie night, but with more than just 60s music).

My playlist on Sunday, and pretty much every time I go on, will be a good mix of new music (the more accessible new alternative and indie music, like Panda Bear, LCD Soundsystem, Portishead, Foxboro Hot Tubs, Hem, and one of my personal favorites, The Go! Team), classic rock (mostly album cuts, not the singles that everybody’s sick of), and a few dance floor crowd-pleasers (like “Brick House” and “Jump Around” — I’m certainly not above pandering).

And of course, Weird Al. You can’t DJ in Second Life without Weird Al.

Anyway, it was exciting on Sunday to get back to my college roots, going back to playing DJ. I always enjoyed to take the graveyard shifts during finals week, when I could ignore the formats and play what I wanted. Usually I could count on the Spook to tap on the window about 3 a.m. and help me get the records on. We’d sit around drinking Cokes out of glass bottles and take calls from the few listeners up at those wee hours.

This feels a lot like that, except with technologies the way they are, I can chat with several listeners at once, get instant feedback, and they can shout out comments about the songs and discuss among each other. As a bonus, I can have listeners in all parts of the world.

Of course, this isn’t anything like having a real radio show. For starters, I’ll be DJing for audiences for about 20 or 30 people tops, and sometimes as small as three or four. Also, this job doesn’t pay, except in micro-tips — although at this particular club, all tips go to a charity, Project Children. (I like the donation aspect; I actually feel productive doing something as frivolous as playing music.)

Oh, and another bonus: I have a fan club!

Okay, okay, it’s just a mailing list group, but I’ve got 20 members so far, and they’ll have my DJ tag over their names while they’re dancing to the music I play.

Hey, I’m out of work; I’ll take my ego-boosts where I can find them.

Oh, and I get to play and promote my own original music!

So seriously, if you’re already on Second Life, come by on Thursday. Again, it’ll be at 5-7 Pacific Time (7-9 Texas time), and the name of the club is Nancy Blake’s West of Ireland.

I could use the attendance boost on my first time in my regular slot.

And tell the host you showed up because you heard the DJ is HOT …

Couldn’t hurt …

Birthday Notes

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

First off, thanks to everybody for the birthday greetings! Kim, Pam and Renny were the first to check in, even though I had given them a pass on having to remember anything this week. Then Todn8r commented, then The Spook, 2 days fashionably late, then Gigglechick.

The gang’s all here!

Also, my wonderful ex-co-worker Misty sent me an email and an Amazon gift card, and my former supervisor (Elma, the good one — not Daffy, the blithering idiot) sent me a birthday card AND called me.

As the family goes, I got cards from my mom, my wife’s mom, and my Aunt Lucille.

And then there’s the automated emails I got from the various message boards and other organizations I’m registered with: KDGE-FM, FileFront Network, My Coke Rewards, BuddyTV Forums, SlickDeals.net, Family Tree DNA, Tech Support Guy Forums, and Ubuntu Forums (those Linux folk were the first I heard from).

Of course, it could be said that the robo-greetings don’t mean as much as the personal ones, but seeing them all at once makes for an interesting portrait of my interests.

Plus, it’s better than no greeting at all, which what I got from a lot of the humans I know, almost a whole week after announcing it.

But it was a good birthday, my wife always works hard to make sure of that. We went to see Iron Man (excellent movie, more about that later), and took some pictures of the promotional stuff in the lobby (my wife is seen here with her new special friend), then we went to the Outback Steakhouse (overpriced, but we had a gift card that someone had given her a couple of years ago, and that we wanted to use before it unexpectedly expired, as those things tend to do).

The only downer to the birthday was that I had a bit of a sunburn from our two-day pre-birthday yard sale (pictures of that some other time) that we had with our friends Stephen and Deb. Even my scalp was sunburned, and I hadn’t sunburned in years.

But on the up side of the yard sale: You know how when you have a yard sale with other people, you always end up with each other’s stuff? Well, we mostly refrained from that, with one notable exception. Stephen was getting rid of a slightly defective bike, and since nobody expressed interest, they gave it to me as an early birthday present (don’t worry, we’ll make it up to them).

So: Instead of my nightly power walks, I’ve been cutting my time in half by biking around the neighborhood. Of course, having not been on a bike in something like 18 years, I’ve got a minor case of bike-seat butt, but the bike is easier on my tendonitis.

And lastly, on my birthday night some of my Second Life acquaintances came up with a simulated birthday cake on the dance floor, and the let me win two best-dressed contests, so that was a nice end to the day. I think I’ve got screenshots of that somewhere too.

Anyway, that was this year’s birthday, and thanks to everyone for your wishes!

Just one thing

Monday, May 19th, 2008

It’s my birthday!

More later, but for now, I gotta crash …

“Down-Town, Everything’s Waiting for You … “

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Big old building!There once was a time — it seems a million years ago — I was having to drive in downtown Dallas all the time, finding this office or that, navigating the maze of busy, narrow one-way streets and somehow getting where I needed to be. Visiting friends and relatives would marvel at my calm ability to pilot a car through the urban labyrinth while at the same time avoiding the violent death of everyone in the car.

But, as I said, that was another lifetime, and since then I have enjoyed a peaceful, sheltered existence in the far suburbs. The hazards of the asphalt gauntlet have become but a distant, hazy dream — until today.

Today I found it necessary to brave the city’s gaping maw once more, as I was tasked with one of the seven Holy Quests: Interview for the Job.

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But seriously: Recently a corporate H.R. specialist that we know, the daughter of my wife’s co-worker, was giving me some pointers on how to polish my resume in order to better get a job, or at least an interview.

Her chief recommendation: Make no mention, ever, that I have a blog. If the word “blog” comes up in conversation, I’m supposed to say, “What’s a blog?”

She said something along the lines that not only have blogs never helped anyone get a job, but that merely bringing up the subject of blogs would cause most Human Resources people to accuse me of being a witch or some other kind of creature with unsavory ties to the supernatural.

Okay, maybe that’s not quite what she said, but that’s how I remember it.

I usually try to downplay my blogging on my resume anyway, unless communications skills are somehow part of the job requirement, but either way it hasn’t seemed to help.

The reason I bring this up is because my interview today was for a job in which not only did I not have to hide my five-year track record of blogging, but it was actually an integral part of why they wanted me!

Even more interesting is the fact that the interview was not for a blogging or writing job, but for a corporate job in which social networking played an integral part.

Suddenly all these years of rattling on about trivial stuff, of posting pictures of mundane things, of posting on forums about Lost and Survivor and Elder Scrolls, of playing a wood elf druid, and, more recently, churning out quirky videos and music and dog pictures, have finally reached a critical mass and are considered to be a web presence.

‘Bout freaking time.

As for the interview itself, it was exhilarating to be, for once, elaborating on my blogging techniques and on web theory as it applies to social networks. This was the first time ever in my life that a boss or potential boss was listening to what I knew on the subject and actually understood the words coming out of my mouth.

I’m not sure a work authority figure has ever actually achieved the listening part of that equation with me before, much less tried for understanding.

Whether I actually impressed the interviewer to a sufficient degree is still to be seen, but I’m just thrilled that we were able to have that particular conversation without him looking at me like I just flew in from Mars and said, “Must kill all humans!”

Sometimes the little victories are the sweetest.

Valentine’s Day …

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Except that we didn’t do very much … she was tired after work, and we hate fighting the Valentine’s night crowds, so I just went out and got some food from Mi Casa Tex-Mex …

The important thing is that Valentine’s Day always signals the beginning of …

The St. Patrick’s Day season! Woo-hoo!

So, listen to some nice Irish music, and let’s all start getting into the Blarney spirit!

We’ve only got another 32 days to get ready, ya know!

Cringe Video indeed …

Monday, February 11th, 2008

They’ve been showing this stuff on Attack of the Show lately: CringeVideo has taken some video tapes that were originally on Dallas public access TV and posted them to YouTube — and the ones they posted are pretty bad, like for instance:

The reason I bring this up is because I’m wondering when these shows were originally done — or, more importantly, what date range do these Cringe Video guys have access to?

This matters to me personally because exactly ten years ago, I was doing a segment on a show at that same public access station, and now I’m scared to death that some of those segments will reach the worldwide Internet audience.

Don’t worry, it’s nothing scandalous that would sink a Supreme Court nomination (hey, I have to keep my options open), but I know I was nervous and having to read a lot of my material, because sometimes we didn’t get much notice on what they wanted us to talk about, so there’s plenty for people to make fun of.

Hey, our only thought was that it was good enough for public access, since “nobody would see us”. And it worked for a while: I’ve only personally known one person who actually saw me. A guy that I barely knew, who worked in our production department and had seen me around, stopped me one day and asked me if I had a brother (I don’t), because he had seen either me or my brother on TV.

Ha! That was a truly bizarre, uplifting moment for me, being recognized that went out over the airwaves.

That was, of course, back before I had a blog that was being read in places as remote as Egypt and the Philippines; having my work “out in the wild” was new for me then.

And this same work might soon be “in the wild” once more.

Oh well, at least I wasn’t singing the Numa Numa song …