Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections 23 of 23

Editor's Note: With this, my 1000th post on this blog, I have written 62 posts in 31 days. Now, back to the special windy 1000th post....

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

I was sober. I made it through another year without a drop of alcohol. I am proud of myself. However, I am also aware of pride as a weakness. I am aware that there is a constant need to keep myself in check. Officially, I haven't drank since 12/31/10 so today, actually, is my two year anniversary. I join a long list of people that I know that do not drink, such as my brother-in-law Mark, not because they can't, but because they choose to not do so. There are also celebrities I think about, such as Metallica's James Hetfield, that are also living a sober life. Editor's Note: See the video at the bottom of this post.

This is where I am in my life. Sure, drinking had a lot of fun times. The bottom-line, though, is that being sober is in line with the priorities in my life, which include being the best husband, father, son, and Christian I can be. When I drank, I failed miserably in being those roles. That's what it all boils down to.

My sobriety is something I cherish like a prized possession. I have no intention to ever give it up or to relinquish the feeling I have with being sober. Life is a precious thing. I watch my mother, who has dementia, and I realize that. I learn about an idiot that brings guns to an elementary school and murders 20 kids, all with their entire life ahead of them, as well as six teachers in Newtown, CT. My life is not about avenging their deaths or anything like that, but it IS about learning from those deaths that I am not in control and I am not in charge of my destiny - God is. And when I give myself to God, I sin less frequently, and I live a better life.

I have made a list of the 20 incidents where I was an idiot when I was drunk. The list, which I will not include here, ranges from 1988, when I first drank, through the 90s, when I was young, out-of-control, unfocused, and dumb, through August of 2010. And that list of 20? That didn't include the time I got drunk on Christmas Eve eve with JR and KK in 1990 and acted like an ass. I have the cassette tape (and MP3 file of it) to prove my assertion. It doesn't include the time I drove when I should not have driven home from CR to North Liberty in 1995 when I would go over to the bar across from my employer (at the time) with my manager (at the time) and try to solve all the employer's issues. It doesn't include the time that Keith, Jim, and Len came over and I pushed Miller Lite tallboys at them while playing euchre, oblivious to what I looked like as well as oblivious to the fact that they still had to drive home.

In summary, that list of 20 doesn't include the majority of times when I was flat-out embarrassing to those I care about and those that care about me, including family, friends, and even strangers that I have never seen again. I was "that guy" that was too drunk for his own good. I was "that guy" who made people uncomfortable. I was "that guy" that overstepped the unwritten line of acceptable and unacceptable. One other example is that when Karen threw me a surprise party for my 39th birthday, my friends got up and "roasted" me. I can think of at least three different stories that were told that night where it involved me being too drunk to take responsibility for my actions - one involving a canoe, one involving when I was supposed to be watching my children, and one when I passed out at a concert and slept during Sevendust. That's a long list of incidents where I made poor decisions and, in a sense, I hurt the people I love. That's when it made me realize that only I can control whether I drink or not. And, 2 years ago today, I stopped.

I have never made the bold proclamation that I will never drink again. I have no intention, right now, to ever drink again, but I've never come out and said it. Until now.

I have no intention of EVER drinking again.

My priorities are Karen, Megan, and Alex. I don't know if I ever really acted like they were until I stopped drinking. Emotionally, I hurt all three of them by not being sober over the years. After them, come the rest of my family and my friends, followed by my passions for music, writing, and drums. I am a happier person when I am sober.

One of the negatives, if there is one, is that I may be more boring as a sober person. Today is New Year's Eve and I am not eager to go out and party. Frankly, I would be content to sit on the couch and rent the movie "Ted" and watch it with Karen. Megan is having friends over and they are going to watch movies in the basement. Alex is going to a friend's house. Last year, Karen and I went out to eat and then to the Riverside casino. Since we were just there a few weeks ago and also at the Isle of Capri in Waterloo, I've had my quota for the casino and watching dealers and machines take my money. That, of course, doesn't mean I won't go because I know Karen would like to go.

As for 2013, it looks to be an exciting year. January is filling up fast with a trip to Moline, IL, to see the Harlem Globetrotters, a possible concert on 2/1 (3 Days Grace/ShineDown/POD), Mark's band's "final" gig in February with a stay at the casino, another concert that same weekend (Sevendust), and then Megan going to Orlando, FL, with the band in April. After all that, it will be summer again and we will probably fill our days and nights with Alex's last baseball season in the Babe Ruth league, camping in Elkader, and enjoying family time. Also, Father Walter Helms is retiring and we will get a new pastor at Saint Thomas More. That will be exciting. In November, the four of us are going to NCYC, Megan and Alex as participants, Karen and I as chaperones, in Indianapolis, IN. Then it will be Christmas again.

Throughout all of those events, I plan to keep drumming with Matthew, Joe, and Brian Guitar as well as drumming at Saint Thomas More masses when we are in town. I plan to continue writing for Dailyvault.com and listening to some great music along the way. I also hope that there are bands that schedule concerts near Iowa that creep into the schedule. I would love to also see the Metallica 3-D movie when it is released sometime in the summer.

At work, without getting into gory details, there is a lot of excitement for beta releases of a new version of the system I document. There is also a lot of anticipation regarding changes to the way in which I do my work. Instead of copying and pasting to update our manuals, we are inching towards a single source with tags for each customer and a template that controls our formatting. The days of using Ctrl+B to make text bold or manually changing the font of the headings in the documents are ending. There is a lot of work to be done and I am happy to say that I am going to probably shoulder a lot of it. And that makes me extremely proud and fortunate to work for the company I call my employer.

I have told my manager that I do not think I have ever woke up in the morning and dreaded going into work. I can't say that (at all) about my previous employer (from 10/10 - 4/11) or even the main employer in my career (10/98 - 10/10), though the 10/98-10/10 employer was very good to me. Without the 12 years there, I would not be where I am professionally or, actually, personally. I would probably, in all honesty, still drink alcohol had I not left there for the 10/10 - 4/11 misguided opportunity. And that word, opportunity, is how I approach my day-to-day living. I have an opportunity each day to live a good life.

I know I only have three followers of this blog and that is really great. For being my follower, I thank you, especially if you've made it to this point in this extensive 1000th post. I seriously debated about whether to go 'all in' on this 1000th post about my sobriety. There are a lot of reasons to keep it all inside of me and to put up a front about what I really think about. I know, over the last 1000 posts, I have done that. I do not know if there will be another 1000 posts on this blog or where my life will lead me.

I will say this. I know that it is God that has determined my path, not me. I know without the turmoil He has put on my path, I would not be where I was. I had to leave the 12 year employer to go through hell to end up where I am, professionally. I had to do all those things drunk in order to see myself for who and what I was and to then have the intelligence to look at myself and make a change. God is in charge. There's a popular quote that says, "If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans."

With that in mind, I do have big plans for which I choose to be as a person and within the realm of what I can reasonably do or not do. For example, I can choose to be sober. I can choose to treat my family with love and kindness. I can choose to be a good friend to those that have always been there in my life for me during the difficult times. I can choose to be a fantastic co-worker and an asset to my employer. The days when I would choose to not be those things or to cloud those things with alcohol - those mistakes will not be repeated.

As I am, this is my 1000th blog post. I don't see a lot of blogs with this longevity. I hope to continue to write on this blog for at least the next year, if not longer. Thanks for reading.

Editor's Note: This is a video of James Hetfield discussing his sobriety, which is extremely relevant to this post.


Reflections 22 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Celebrating 19 years of marriage with Karen. I cherish being with her every day.

Reflections 21 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Reaching my 1 year anniversary at my job as a Senior Technical Writer. I have an awesome boss, excellent co-workers, and a bright future. As the year has progressed, I have been increasingly better at my job, making several key contributions to the department. The next year is going to be exciting and I can't wait.

Reflections 20 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Going to my nephew's 1st Communion and taking three nephews and Alex through a hugely expensive open house in Cedar Falls. To this day, my sister-in-law Susie asks me what I was thinking taking those boys through an open house. She is also asked by my nephews occasionally if they can go through another open house just because I took them through it.

Reflections 19 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Spending 3 hours at my former employer as an instructor, beelining home, changing clothes, and then going to my wife's 25th class reunion. Brad, Mike, Tim, and I played Euchre while the classmates went down to build a float. Later, we left the party at 11:30 and I drove Mike home. The next day, Alex and I took down the play structure and then we put up a volleyball net for Megan's birthday party.

Reflections 18 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Ripping about 50 LPs of polkas and waltzes and big band music to MP3 for my father-in-law's Christmas present. I learned a lot about his attitude in life from listening to the music. That generation didn't have the hatred that is found in today's music.

Reflections 17 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Seeing "The Dark Knight Rises" in the movie theater on opening night and, sad to say, not being shot at while doing so.

In Colorado, on the same night, an idiot opened fire in a theater, killing people that were just out to see a movie.

Reflections 16 of 23

One of the sad moments of 2012 was....

Watching the election results and not seeing a Romney victory.

Reflections 15 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Playing blackjack with my 'blackjack buddy' in Waterloo. I sat down with $20 and walked away with $42.50.

Reflections 14 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Sitting in the backyard in Balltown watching fireworks explode over my head. It was like the whole thing was a grand finale.

Reflections 13 of 23

One of the sad moments of 2012 was....

Going to my former manager's grandson's wake. He was an infant and had a long life ahead of him, but now he's up with the angels.

Reflections 12 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Going to the Iowa Hawkeyes v. Penn State football game in October. Alex and I stayed until it said zeroes on the play clock. We also rode the train to and from the game.

Reflections 11 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Attending Bible Study on Monday nights. We read the book of James. The biggest thing I got out of the sessions was that I should be quick to listen and slow to speak. I try to apply that in my daily living.

Reflections 10 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Spending time with our college friends in February in Waterloo. We saw Karen's brother's band play. That was also the night I played pool with my friend JR and was able to talk to him about life.

Reflections 9 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

The weekends I played drums at Saturday night 5:15 Mass, and then at Sunday morning 11 AM Mass. In November, during Karen's women's weekend away, I rehearsed with Joe, Matthew, and Brian Guitar during the day, played at 5:15 Mass, then played at 11 AM Mass. It was a great weekend. My arms were sore during 5:15 Mass but had recovered by 11 AM Mass. That weekend, Alex and I went to the men's/women's doubleheader at Carver.

Reflections 8 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Starting to play drums in my basement with Matthew, Joe, and Brian Guitar on Friday afternoons in July and August.

Reflections 7 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Going to the Cardinals game in St. Louis on July 3rd.

Reflections 6 of 23

One of the sad moments of 2012 was....

Learning that my co-worker committed suicide.

Reflections 5 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Spending the day with Megan on December 28th

Refections 4 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Spending the day shopping with Karen on December 16th

Reflections 3 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Going to the Iowa Hawkeyes Men's/Women's doubleheader with Alex in November

Reflections 2 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Playing drums at BB King's on Beale Street in Memphis, TN, in March.

Reflections 1 of 23

One of the highlights of 2012 was....

Seeing Bayside in June with Megan at Gabe's Oasis in Iowa City

War Pigs by Government Mule

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Short by 25

I will probably not have an opportunity to reach 25 blog posts by Monday. It is 9:25 AM and we are leaving around 11 for Balltown. We will return tomorrow afternoon/evening. While I am off work on Monday, I am kind of like the Congress, looking ahead to a deadline and wondering where the hell the solutions are to the crisis and unlike the politicians in Washington, I only have myself to blame. Oh well. It was probably unrealistic to complete that many posts in such a short amount of time.

The New Year's Eve Iowa/Indiana men's game on Monday is sold out and I don't have tickets. Alex was disappointed that I didn't secure tickets before they sold out. I didn't really think they would sell out so I'm divided - glad they did, sad I won't be a part of it.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Peeved?

I don't like it when someone I love is mad at me. It sucks. It makes me frustrated as well.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Back to the Conversion

There is a lot I want to accomplish in the next two days. That is all the time I will be home between now and when I return to work. First, I want to make progress on the CD to MP3 conversion that has sat idle while I worked on the LP to MP3 conversion. Second, I need to get the den into shape so that Alex and I can set up the Yamaha electronic drum set in the den. I think the den is where it will be permanently as I have my "real" Ludwig set in the other part of the basement for band rehearsal. Third, on Christmas Eve, Karen backed out of the garage and the garage door came down. It bent the strip across the bottom so I called Gritton this morning to see if they can come out and look at it. I hope that is all resolved before the weekend.

Christmas Season Finishes with a Supernanny

Karen, Megan, and I left Balltown at 6:15 PM last night. Karen drove from Balltown to Dyersville, which is when I took over. Driving home in the dark reminded me of the late night drive from Karen's 25th class reunion. I slipped in a Bayside CD and that made the trip go really fast. We were home shortly after 8.

For Christmas, I received a couple of tools that I think will be helpful in the future. I am not really a tools kind of guy but the two I received will be really useful. One replaces a set of wrenches and the other is for driving stuff into other stuff.

Balltown was good.The LP to MP3 conversion project results were given to my father-in-law and he liked the present. As usual, we played euchre. I won all five games I played, even telling my brother-in-law Mark what he had played incorrectly. It felt like I kind of knew what I was doing.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

It has been a house full of activity today. Suitcases being packed, last-minute groceries being picked up, garbage stickers and a phone charger replacement coming soon, and grabbing Megan from her 10-2 shift at Fareway. In 5 short years, it will be totally different around here. Megan will be a junior in college and Alex will be a freshman in college. That's just the beginning of the changes that are coming for us as a married couple.

I digress.

I'm in serious jeopardy of missing my 1000 posts by 1/1/2013 and my time for writing today is ending. It is nearly 2 now and that's when Megan is off. I have a couple of quick errands (aforementioned phone charger and garbage stickers), then getting ready at 3 for Dad's arrival at 4. Mass is at 7 but we need to be there at 6 (Alex is playing percussion, I am playing the Yamaha electronic set).

Time to go.

Friday, December 21, 2012

30 in 10

There are 10 days left in 2012 and I have 30 posts to make to reach my 1000 post goal. And, actually, it's more like 8 days left since I do not plan to be online Christmas Eve or Christmas Day,

As I said yesterday, it is my last day of working in 2012! YEAH!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blizzard

We are getting slammed with a winter storm. It is very windy and cold outside. I love my job every day, but especially when I can work from home, sit in the den in my basement and do my work. Of course it helps that I am working on tagging content with character styles in a Word doc, which I love doing. In other words, the day flew by because I liked what I wanted to accomplish. My co-worker Sonia worked from home as well. There are 8 people in my department and only 3 braved the weather to come in. The last I heard, this wind will die down at least a bit and I will return to work (the physical building) tomorrow.

I can say that my current employer really supports their employees using technology to get the work done. At previous employers, it was bad politics to work from home.

So glad I am not where I have been.

I work tomorrow, then am off until after the first of the year! I think life is really good when I think about my job/career.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More Politics

Hilary Clinton fainted and suffered a concussion. She's been fighting the flu and I have all the sympathy for her recovery. I have had the flu before and it sucks. She may say things I do not agree with but the flu is seriously a way I understand her.

That said, if she is too sick to testify, then they just need to wait. I want to hear from her. I want to be able to read the transcript or watch her testimony. I want her to say the official position on what happened. With that in mind, I agree with the following:

Gun Control and Liberals

I don't really know what else needs to be said re: this:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Liking this...

Couldn't End on That...

Life is pretty good for me. I work Tue - Friday and then am off all of next week. My time off is going to be well-spent. Starting with 12/27, Brian Guitar, Joe, Matthew, and I are rehearsing from 11-3. I'm planning to take Karen to work Thursday and Friday mainly so that I am up in the morning and not sleeping too late. I'm not exactly sure what I will do on Friday. As I wrote about earlier, life is busy!

Change Focus


I don't mean to make light of the situation in CT - there are 20 kids *KIDS* who are dead, thanks to someone who went into the school and shot those kids. They are just starting to have the funerals for these kids who all had so much ahead of them.

Now, personally, I don't feel the need to have a gun. I don't feel like I need to carry it around with me when I go to the mall or to church or to the grocery store. That's me. I know others want to carry one and are trained to do so.

The big debate will be whether teachers should be trained in how to shoot a gun. Whether they should have a gun in a locked closet in their classroom. Whether that would have saved those 20 kids. We are just now starting to hear about the heroics of the teachers. I don't mean to make one teacher above any other teacher when I single out what I heard about the principal. The principal of the school confronted the gunman and was shot. There was a teacher who hid students in a closet and told the gunman the kids were in the gym. The gunman shot the teacher, but those kids that she protected were survivors of this ordeal.

I won't pretend to know the answers. I won't pretend that anything I say or do now will bring those kids and teachers back. I agree that there needs to be something done. We can't live like this. Every day there are all these terrible things happening in our world. Some blame violence in movies and video games.

I could Go All NIght...

This is one of my favorite Big Bang Theory episodes. "That's not my arm."

I'm Lying in bed with a beautiful woman who can quote Yoda...

Desparate?


And some kids react to what you saw above!

WWE Catchup

So the TLC (Tables, Ladders, and Chairs) PPV was last night. The new heel (bad guy) stable is called the Shield. They were in a 3 on 3 match with Kane, Daniel Bryan, and Ryback. Tonight, Ric Flair showed up to announce the WWE wrestler of the year award. It was awarded to John Cena (I wasn't surprised) so, of course, CM Punk came out and got into a verbal sparring match with Flair. Punk is on crutches after having knee surgery so he says, "I could kick your ass with one leg." Flair marched down to the ring and lured Punk in. Punk broke a crutch over Flair's back. Flair then put a thumb in Punk's eye and Punk bailed. Flair put Paul Heyman (the walrus) into a figure four leglock, which is Flair's signature move. When he released Heyman, the Shield appeared in the crowd, like they always do. They came down as Raw went to commercial. As the show resumed, Kane and Daniel Bryan had come down to the ring to help Flair. The Shield got the upper hand and was clearing the announcer table to put Flair through it. About the time that Flair was going to be put through it, Ryback made the save. He demolished the Shield and, with Kane and Daniel Bryan, Flair was hoisted onto the shoulders of Kane and Ryback to the cheers of the live audience. WHAT A WELL-SCRIPTED sequence! It put Flair over as the hero and it made Kane, Bryan, and Ryback as the new dominant current face team.

Republican Tendencies

Birthday Present Recap

The kids gave me a shirt, 4 undershirts, a bag of M&Ms, and gloves. They put each in a paper bag with a handle. On the bottom of the inside of the bag, they wrote a letter. H A M S were the four letters. The four letters were a clue for my other present. What was my other present?
Editor's Note: It's 12/4/2017 and the answer to the question requires additional research.

Cool Drum Solo

Karen bought me a Crush Acrylic snare drum last year. The rest of my drums are Ludwig Vistalites but they are clear like the ones in this ----22 minute ---- video.

Fiscal Cliff Catch-Up

Obama, Boehner close to agreement on 'fiscal cliff'
In pursuit of a compromise, President Obama has offered to slow the growth of Social Security benefits and lowered his demand for new taxes, according to a person familiar with the talks.
But Obama's counteroffer to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) seeks additional stimulus spending and a two-year extension of the federal debt limit, which Republicans have so far opposed.

Blue Man Group

One of the live events that is circling the realm of possibility is to see the Blue Man Group in Cedar Rapids in March.

If I knew they were going to do this medley, I would definitely be there!

Master of Puppets ... again


Just for the record, I do NOT get tired of listening to this song. I have known about its existence for at least 20 years. I didn't get the release on CD until after Karen and I were dating. Karen bought me the Master of Puppets release and Ride the Lightening release on CD in, I think, 1990.

Funny Video about Bayside

Interruptus

I am now off to get ready to go Christmas shopping so I will try to catch up later.

G-n-R Revisited

I really wish I could remember more of the G-n-R concert in Iowa City. I remember bits and pieces.

I remember Brian May opened (this was after Freddie Mercury's death) and had Cozy Powell playing drums. I remember thinking Powell was a much more interesting drummer than Matt Sorum. I also remember there was a banner someone had made that said "May is God" and not really liking that - I believe God has not come back to earth as a human. I recognize Brian May as a talented guitarist - I get it - but I also just fundamentally reject the idea that man is worthy of being worshiped like a God.

As for the G-n-R portion, I do not remember any songs they played except they played "Patience" while sitting on a couch they had brought up from backstage. I don't remember if they were late getting on stage.

I went to this concert with members of Old Stew - James, Stoff, and Shoebox. We walked from Carver Hawkeye Arena, where the concert was held, to the Mill in downtown Iowa City. I was at the Mill last Monday, 12/10/12. It made me think about how far I had walked. I was in disbelief. It seemed to be a short walk back in 1993-ish, but in 2012, wow, it was a long ways!
http://www.hennemusic.com/2012/12/axl-rose-talks-about-guns-n-roses.html

Fist Up Baby, Fist Up!

I like to read articles like this. It makes me feel comfortable. I like the fact that the product, going to concerts, hasn't actually changed. It makes it an event to stay up late. When I would drink at concerts over the last decade, I would sometimes not drink the weekend before because I wanted to "save up" for a 'good time' with my friends at the show. I am really happy to be sober. I like knowing that if I attend all of those live events I wrote about in my previous post, I will do so sober. 
http://www.forbes.com/sites/michelecatalano/2012/12/03/music-for-the-metallica-generation-talking-to-mike-doughty-about-aging-and-music/

FAIL! FAIL! FAIL!

What was that crap about writing a blog post every day?

I have stockpiled some interesting things and while Karen sleeps, I will release the stockpile as separate posts, since that is what they were supposed to be. Not going to number them b/c I'm not sure what the point of that would be.

I do know there are a mere nine days until Christmas! I wish I could reveal what Karen and I are getting the kids this year. I don't think the kids read this blog but I'm sure not going to be responsible for them accidentally finding out about our plans for them prior to 12/25.

Before I get to the purge of stuff I wanted to post, I will summarize some of what has been going on in my life since I last wrote - which is, after all, the purpose of a blog.

Karen, Mark, Susie, and I went to the Isle casino in Waterloo on Saturday night. Mark and I sat at the same blackjack table. I started with $20 and walked away with $42.50. I don't want to believe I know what I am doing because then, I think, I will want to return. I liked hanging out with Mark. It was the longest I've played blackjack at a casino on $20. Mark thinks he's a good luck charm or some bullshit like that.

There are some upcoming live events and concerts that I am trying to work my way into.
  • We received confirmation yesterday that the entire family is going to go see the Harlem Globetrotters in Moline, IL, on Saturday 1/5. It will be Dave, Chris, Emily (?), Rachel (?), Adam (?), Mark, Susie, Jonathan, Tyler, Karen, Megan, Alex, and I. Alex and I are very excited. Karen and I saw them sometime between 1998 and 2010. Alex was a baby but the exact year is fuzzy. We didn't think, at the time, Megan would like it.
  • Next is ShineDown, Three Days Grace, and POD in Moline, IL, on Friday, 2/1. I don't have confirmation that I will get a press pass (aka free ticket), but I'm pretty sure I will get a photo pass. 
  • A couple of weeks later Doro is playing with Sister Sin opening in Waterloo on 2/15. Kevin wants me to go to that show. I am not the biggest fan of either band - can't name a single song from each band - but it may still be worth going to go see them.
  • The next night, Mark's band plays at the Hub in Cedar Falls for what may be their second-to-last gig. Their singer is moving to St. Louis after school is out. My vote is to advertise it as their last gig and then, if a final gig materializes in the spring, advertise it as "Back by Popular Demand, for One Night Only!" I don't know what their marketing budget is. I know our friends Jeff and Karen are planning to go see them as well.
  • The following weekend, 2/23, Sevendust plays in Waterloo with Lacuna Coil opening. I need to spend some time with Lacuna Coil to get more familiar with their music. As for Sevendust, I had a beer with Lajon, the lead singer back in 1998 when they were opening for Megadeth. There was also the night they headlined the Five Seasons Center for a charity concert. Admission was $5 and I drank waaayyyy too much. I saw one of their songs before passing out. I have been sober for nearly two years so I don't see that repeating again. Then, just over a year ago, they were on the bill with Five Finger Death Punch in Waterloo and played an excellent set. I'm anxious to see them again, though, to be honest, I have no clue what their songs are about. I've always thought Lajon needs to sing more clearly - he kind of mumbles.
  • Bon Jovi plays in Des Moines on Sunday, April 14, 2013, but that is only lightly written in pencil on my calendar. I have never, ever, seen them in concert. I have also enjoyed their music since their debut, always considering "She Don't Know Me" to be one of many personal anthems for how I view high school.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Damnit, Put on Your Wet Jeans and Like It!

I called on Saturday to report that our dryer doesn't heat. After my unsatisfactory phone call with them, they sent an email regarding completing a customer survey. If you read carefully, you will figure out from whom this dryer was purchased.

I wrote this:
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Our dryer doesn't work. It will take a week to get a part. In this day and age of overnight delivery, crazy that we have to wait a week. Do you know how much laundry a family of 2 teenagers and 2 adults have? Can you accept not drying your clothes for a week? It's unacceptable. The earliest a tech could come is Thursday, but (ha ha) the part we need can't be ordered at the same time. It's either order a part -or- schedule a tech. Why can't you have the part ordered so that it can arrive by Thursday? Again, this is just crap. I was not happy to have purchased a product from Sears on Saturday. I didn't expect someone to come out on Saturday but I didn't expect to not be able to address the problem until NEXT Saturday. That's a lot of laundry we have to take to the laundromat and dry. I already bought a dryer and I've had it for a year. Why am I paying to use a dryer at a laundromat? That makes no sense. Here's what should have happened. Sears should have ordered the part so that it arrived on Wed. and scheduled the tech for Thur. That's what should have happened
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Then the idiots sent a second email to confirm my Saturday appointment that had a link to a customer survey, this time allowing 2000 characters. I wrote this, which started with the message above as a base.
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Our dryer doesn't work. It will take a week to get a part. In this day and age of overnight delivery, crazy that we have to wait a week. Do you know how much laundry a family of 2 teenagers and 2 adults have? Can you accept not drying your clothes for a week? It's unacceptable. The earliest a tech could come is Thursday, but (ha ha) the part we need can't be ordered at the same time. It's either order a part -or- schedule a tech. Why can't you have the part ordered so that it can arrive by Thursday? Again, this is just crap. I was not happy to have purchased a product from Sears on Saturday. I didn't expect someone to come out on Saturday but I didn't expect to not be able to address the problem until NEXT Saturday. That's a lot of laundry we have to take to the laundromat and dry. I already bought a dryer and I've had it for a year. Why am I paying to use a dryer at a laundromat? That makes no sense. Here's what should have happened. Sears should have ordered the part so that it arrived on Wed. and scheduled the tech for Thur. That's what should have happened. I will not recommend Sears to another soul because of what happened on Saturday. It was poor customer service to say, "You can take a chance on Thursday that the tech can fix it BUT IF HE CAN'T you have to wait another week for a part my computer system will not let me order. There should be some sort of override in the software, requiring Admin-level credentials - meaning a supervisor - should be able to use professional judgment, all in the name of satisfying a customer. You, reading this. What if you couldn't dry your clothes for a week? How much inconvenience would you experience? What if it was a washer that you bought NOT THAT LONG AGO and the only response for your product, which is under warranty, is "too bad" That's like buying a cafeteria plan for a college student and then having that student spend their own money on pizza that isn't part of that plan. It's stupid and wasteful.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chaos

It was chaos at work. Sonia is in India for the next week and Matthew is gone until Monday. All tech writing-related inquires came to me. I don't mind, but it meant I didn't work on what I wanted to work on, which is to audit all [outrageously large number] help text files. I have today, though, and am making good progress on the effort.

Funny

WinZip... ah. It's obsolete now that Windows added support for the .zip file format. I don't need WinZip for anything in my daily job. I used to use it to create .exe files that were placed on a website for clients to download. It was a purchased version... I think.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Disaster Averted

There was an empty space on the wall. A picture should be hung. Not just any picture. A rectangular picture. With three snowmen. The same picture that was hung last Christmas season.

I'm asked. Where is it?

In the basement.

I need it.

Okay.

Days pass.

Did you bring up my picture?

No, I didn't see it downstairs.

It has to be down there. I want it on the wall today.

Okay.

I return to the basement.

I find it! YEAH!!

The moral? Remember where the snowmen are placed at the end of the Christmas season.

Here's the Plan. Kazoos.

So here's the plan. I need 60 blog posts to reach 1000 by 1/1/2013 and there are 30 days left in the year. That means 2 posts a day. I promise to my 3 faithful (?) followers that I will not be satisfied with posting 60 posts of junk.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

11.0

I rear-ended a car this morning...the start of a REALLY bad day! The driver got out of the other car, and he was a DWARF!! He looked up at me and said 'I am NOT Happy! So I said, 'Well, which one ARE you then?' That's how the fight started.

10.0

My wife was standing nude, looking in the bedroom mirror. She was not happy with what she saw and said to me, "I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you to pay me a compliment.' I replied, "Your eyesight's damn near perfect." And then the fight started........

9.0

After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply for Social Security. The woman behind the counter asked me for my driver's License to verify my age. I looked in my pockets and realized I had left my wallet at home. I told the woman that I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later. The woman said, 'Unbutton your shirt'. So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver hair. She said, 'That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me' and she processed my Social Security application. When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the Social Security office. She said, 'You should have dropped your pants. You might have gotten disability too.' And then the fight started...

8.0

My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary. She said, "I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds." I bought her a bathroom scale. And then the fight started......

7.0

Saturday morning I got up early, quietly dressed, made my lunch, and slipped quietly into the garage. I hooked up the boat up to the van and proceeded to back out into a torrential downpour. The wind was blowing 50mph, so I pulled back into the garage, turned on the radio, and discovered that the weather would be bad all day. I went back into the house, quietly undressed, and slipped back into bed. I cuddled up to my wife's back; now with a different anticipation, and whispered, "The weather out there is terrible." My loving wife of 5 years replied, "And, can you believe my stupid husband is out fishing in that?" And that's how the fight started...

6.0

My wife sat down next to me as I was flipping channels. She asked, "What's on TV?" I said, "Dust." And then the fight started...

5.0

When our lawn mower broke and wouldn't run, my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed. But, somehow I always had something else to take care of first, the shed, the boat, making beer. Always something more important to me, finally she thought of a clever way to make her point. When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors. I watched silently for a short time and then went into the house. I was gone only a minute, and when I came out again I handed her a toothbrush. I said, "When you finish cutting the grass, you might as well sweep the driveway." The doctors say I will walk again, but I will always have a limp.

4.0

My wife and I were sitting at a table at her high school reunion, and she kept staring at a drunken man swigging his drink as he sat alone at a nearby table. I asked her, "Do you know him?" "Yes", she sighed, "He's my old boyfriend. I understand he took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear he hasn't been sober since." "My God!" I said, "Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?" And then the fight started...

3.0

I took my wife to a restaurant. The waiter, for some reason, took my order first. "I'll have the rump steak, rare, please." He said,”Aren't you worried about the mad cow?" "Nah, she can order for herself." And that's when the fight started.....

2.0

My wife and I were watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire while we were in bed. I turned to her and said, 'Do you want to have Sex?' 'No,' she answered. I then said, 'Is that your final answer?' She didn't even look at me this time, simply saying, 'Yes..' So I said, "Then I'd like to phone a friend." And that's when the fight started...

1.0



One year, I decided to buy my mother-in-law a cemetery plot as a Christmas gift...
The next year, I didn't buy her a gift.
When she asked me why, I replied,
"Well, you still haven't used the gift I bought you last year!"
And that's how the fight started.....

Nasty



A doctor felt guilty for having sex with a patient so he looked towards his conscience.
His devil side said its ok lots of doctors do it
His angel side said you sick b@$t@rd, you’re a VET!

Announcing! New Feature!

This question was asked, "When your company releases a new version of software, how do you announce its new features?" and this is how I answered it:

I believe there are two audiences that need to receive information about new features.

First, these 'cool' new features need to be defined as cool so that the user that doesn't use the software daily would be impressed. Mike pointed out Marketing should be involved and for these new users, I 100% agree. But I'd go a step further and say it is our job to at least consider, if not to implement, a means for those 'cool' new features to shake down to the everyday user. This should come through as release notes or end-user documentation or a cheat sheet or something.

I'm thinking of a simple example. Say Suzy Clerk has to enter comments on 100 records a day. In version 1.0, Suzy has to select a record and click the Change button. A new screen displays. On this new screen, she clicks Enter Comments. A pop-up window displays. She enters her comments. Three clicks to get to where she does her job.

Now, in version 2.0, she can right-click a record and select Enter Comments. The same pop-up window displays in one click. You just saved Suzy two clicks per record so, net, 200 clicks a day. That's efficiency in the software that Suzy needs to know.

Now, our job is to communicate that we can save her those 200 clicks the first day she uses Version 2.0. If this was only in a Marketing flyer, would Suzy read the marketing info? Maybe. Maybe not. That's what you need to figure out. What if she's a lower level user who doesn't make decisions regarding whether to even upgrade - maybe she just comes in every day and does the task of entering comments every day. She doesn't even know what version of OS she runs - she doesn't care. Maybe Suzy's boss's boss makes the decision whether to upgrade to version 2.0 and that person doesn't have a clue that Suzy Clerk clicks so many clicks a day. What else could Suzy do if she could finish her work in 4 hours instead of 8 (no idea how long it takes to enter 100 comments - this is just for the sake of argument.)

So, I guess, your question has no direct answer and will depend upon how you communicate with the "Suzy Clerk" user so that she doesn't hear about this new functionality at the end of a 5 day work week when she's already clicked 1000 times more than she would otherwise need to, had she known about this new feature. That's when we, as technical communicators, ask, 'what is the best way to let her know?' Does it go in the UI as some sort of message? It may mean working as a collaborative group with QA, Marketing, Development, or someone else.

God is my Buddy

I have been going to Bible Study on Monday nights. We are reading the Book of James and, in a sense, I think I'm getting a lot out of it. The speaker, Jeff Gavins, is easy to relate to when I am watching the DVD. He breaks things down in a manner I find easy to internalize. Our last meeting is next week. It's prompting me to think about other books of the Bible I'd like to read and have a deeper understanding about since it provides the blueprint for life.

Ring of Fire

I don't remember exactly when, but sometime over the last few months, my wedding ring broke in the sense that the ring became an imperfect circle. I took it to the jeweler a week ago and today, I am going to pick it up. I haven't worn my wedding ring for several months so this will be a change for me.

I took my ring to the jeweler where we bought the rings. This jeweler has a program where you bring in your ring every so often and they mark on a sheet of paper that they checked it. Then, if you have issues, they know that they have been checked.

Last night, I began the task of looking for that paperwork. For several years, it was the first file in Karen's file cabinet in the den. Now, of course, when I need it, it was not there. I brought up the first few file folders to the living room and as we watched last week's Survivor, I went through the paperwork that we had accumulated. Got rid of receipts from 2007, 2008, and 2009, but did not find the ring information. The more I think about it, the more I think I moved it to another filing system, which is a black case with a handle. I kind of remember moving our important stuff to that filing system so it could be quickly taken out of the house if there was a fire.

The takeaway form this post is that I am getting my ring back tonight and that I'm unable to find important paperwork. Again.

Alex's Basketball Team

I have neglected to write even a bit about Alex's basketball season.

They won their game last night in OT. Their record is now 3-4-1 (they had a tie). Their final game is tomorrow (Thursday) so they have a chance to stay at .500 for the season. The win last night was exciting. There were some wild shots that went in, all adding to the excitement. I videotaped the game and couldn't resist trying to coach from the stands.

And that's an interesting point. I realized that I missed coaching. It's been two years since I was coaching Alex. I was never a head coach, which I guess is fine. I don't regret being an assistant coach because that was the role I needed to be in to help the kids achieve success.

13 days to go...

Sonia, my co-worker, is on vacation in India until 12/11 and will be back in the office on 12/12, which is 13 days from now. I like working with Sonia. She grounds me in reality as far as what needs to be done. I think she likes working with me because I have a distinct way of stating the opposite of what she says in a way that makes sense. I feel compelled, often, to talk about "who owns the issue?" I believe, and have read, the Garbage Truck Pledge, which asserts that we should own our problems, but not the problems of others. I really try to live that way.Thus, when an issue arises, I ask, "Who owns the issue?" If it is an issue we (Sonia & I) own, fantastic, let's resolve it. If it is an issue we do not own, then I cannot enforce the way 'it should be' upon them. For example, we tell people that an updated PDF is available and it is up to them to upload it to the website. What happens if they don't upload it? Customers may not see the latest version of the documentation. It's my role to tell the "people" that the updated version of the document is ready for them to upload, but it is NOT my role to badger them and hound them until they do it. That's the type of example I am thinking about.

In other work-related news, I am working on an audit of all of our help files and whether the help text accurately describes the functionality. It's fun.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

MSNBC Host Crosses the Line

As a Matter of Fact, Yes!

I really like my job. I find it refreshing to come to an employer that allows me to grow as a person, as a writer, as a citizen of our great country, each day. Today, I was tracking down how a change to the system would change the documentation. When I asked questions, I got polite answers. No one has an attitude that is not in parallel with getting work done the right way. I have a co-worker who has the authority to reset user IDs in the system and whenever I ask him to reset a user ID, he is responsive, even though I know he is busy. Sonia, my co-worker, is on vacation in India until mid-December so any emails sent to her get routed to me. When I investigated an email that was sent to me (originally to Sonia), everyone is nice. A co-worker, out of the office until Friday, checked work email and got me in touch with who I can talk to in the meantime.

All that means is that I am in a really good place as far as work/employment goes in this stage of my life. As a matter of fact, yes, I have zero intention of leaving.

Of course, there is more to life than work. At home, things have been pretty good. Karen happens to be home sick with a chest cold. She had a cyst removed from her back and that has allowed me to step up in multiple ways. The laundry, the dishwasher, the laundry, making supper... NOT complaining. I feel like I am contributing more to the family.

Tonight (Tuesday), Alex plays basketball @ SEJH and Megan works 5-8. I took the van to work so Megan could drive the Canyon (truck) to work. Later, the Iowa men's basketball team play West Virginia. I am hoping they win. They are 2-9 in the Big Ten / ACC challenge.

Tomorrow, Karen sees the doc, Alex has basketball practice & religious ed.

Thursday, Alex has his final basketball game.

Friday, we are going to play cards with friends in Ely.

Saturday, Alex and I may go see the Iowa men's swim meet. Megan works 7-1 & 5-10. We'll probably go to 5:15 Mass. I'll probably play drums. It will also be 700 days (1 year, 11 months) of being sober!

Sunday, Megan will go to 11 AM Mass and I'll probably play drums.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Going Bald

There is a day in my future when I will begin to be bald. When that day comes, I want to donate my hair, before being 100% bald, to a charity like this brave cheerleader did.
http://foxnewsinsider.com/2012/11/26/watch-fox-and-friends-talks-to-colts-cheerleader-who-shaved-head-to-raise-money-for-cancer/

I hope, by that time, I am retired and do not have a busy life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cell Number on the Web

I'm not a huge Michael Moore fan at all. I don't claim to really have studied his films at all. I know him mainly as a liberal that likes to make Republicans go into conniption fits. After the election, he posted this on this website: http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/open-letter-president-obama

Why on earth did he include his cell number?!?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Aquiles Priester - Colorblind and Double-bass Grooves



Made My Night

I got a text from Alex the other day, asking if I care that he goes out for swimming. Of course not! I've only been waiting for his entire teenage existence for him to follow in my footsteps.

That said, it's a cautionary tale. He wants to swim a couple of laps to see if he even likes it. I am hoping he says he does.

Let the Recovery Begin

Karen had a procedure done on a cyst on her back. It hurts, I'm told. The recovery is expected to last from now until Christmas.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Upcoming Concert?

I'm not going to travel to Des Moines on my 43rd birthday to see Lamb of God.

Instead, I have my sights set upon another concert. This one is POD / Shine Down / Three Days Grace. It is not until Friday, 2/1/2013, in Moline, IL. I hope I end up going!

I'm choosing one favorite from each band.

ShineDown


Three Days Grace


Three Days Grace


Jaw Dropping Good

This is Aquiles Priester - Some Light To Find My Way:

Punctuate the Sentence

Two quick quips.

  1. On HATT, Sue Heim posted this:
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    One of today's headlines is:
    Son accused of killing mother in court
    No, the son did NOT kill the mother while they were in court. Sigh... He was finally accused of killing her, in their home, three years ago. You can read the full story here: http://www.10news.com/news/son-accused-of-killing-mother-in-court.

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    To which Simon Holt replied:
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    If you haven't seen this before, enjoy...

    -----
    Dear John:
    I want a man who knows what love is all about.
    You are generous, kind, thoughtful.
    People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.
    You have ruined me for other men.
    I yearn for you.
    I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart.
    I can be forever happy.
    Will you let me be yours?
    Gloria

    And now...

    Dear John:
    I want a man who knows what love is.
    All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you.
    Admit to being useless and inferior.
    You have ruined me.
    For other men, I yearn.
    For you, I have no feelings whatsoever.
    When we're apart, I can be forever happy.
    Will you let me be?
    Yours,
    Gloria

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  2. I put in requests to review the new Soundgarden, the 20th anniversary re-issue of Megadeth's "Countdown to Extinction", the second of Green Day's trio of albums (Dos), and a request for a couple of passes to the POD, Three Days Grace, and ShineDown concert on 2/1/13, along with POD's new release. Hopefully, good music coming my way!

7 Years Ago