Friday, October 17, 2008


New Music

I've encountered a few bands lately that are worth mentioning. I think I discovered them through, which is a great way to find new bands. The problem is that they write the worst reviews in the world. They're completely incomprehensible. And they compare the bands to even more obscure bands. That's great if you're familiar with every band in the world. What? You're not? Then the review eats it.

So here's a quick review of a few albums that hopefully doesn't require the Complete History of Music to interpret.

Muse - Black Holes and Revelations
Sounds like: Oasis/Radiohead combined with The Killers
Verdict: Completely rocks, but some of the songs take a little while to start rocking. Give it time.

Torche - Meanderthal
Sounds like: Black Sabbath or Soundgarden with a more masculine singer (and slightly less talent)
Verdict: Very heavy. If they released this album in the 90's, it would have gone to #1. Then the lead singer would have died of a heroin overdose and everybody today would say, "I wonder what would have happened to these guys if they released that album in 2008 and they didn't become a huge commercial success." I liked it from the get-go. Turn it up to 11

Foxboro Hot Tubs - Stop Drop and Roll!!!
Sounds like: Green Day, but not as punky (rumor is that it IS Green Day)
Verdict: Eh. I prefer Green Day, but they still write catchy hooks. It's basically a more watered-down version. And if there's one thing the world does NOT need, it's a watered-down version of Green Day. It's listenable, but I'm sure it'll be forgotten by this time next year.


Digital Packrat

I've got too many songs on my iPod right now. A month ago, I was over 10,000. That's when I decided that I was being a little obsessive compulsive and cleaned things out a bit. Now I'm at about 9500. Yeah, I'm not good at cleaning (something The Wife can easily attest to).

Here's the problem. I like a lot of music. I like to say that my tastes are eclectic, but that's not true. I really only like rock and/or roll. I have little use for rap or hip hop. I do, however, have an obsession with pop music, especially from the 60's-90's. That's where the problem lies. At one point, I had every song that was in Billboard's top 100 songs for every year from 1970-2007. If you do the math (and I have), that's 3800 songs. And if you listen to all 3800 (and I have), most of them suck. My most recent song-purging was to get rid of the songs that are absolutely unlistenable. Most of those songs are ones that I'd never heard before.

And this is where my OCD kicks in. I need to get rid of the songs that I recollect but don't like. For example, "If Ever You're In My Arms Again" by Peabo Bryson. Who on EARTH needs this song on their iPod? I heard that Peabo's friends saw it on his iPod and kicked his ass. Yet, for some reason, I can't bring myself to delete it. Somewhere in my sick, twisted mind, I have myself convinced that the Ghostbusters are going to stroll into my house and say, "Hey, it's 1984 again! Let's listen to that totally boss 1984 playlist of yours. Wait, what? You don't have 'If Ever You're In My Arms Again'? Alright, boys, pack up the proton accelerators! We're going home!"

That's what kills me. I know that there's nobody alive that wants to hear this song (or about 1000 others), yet I can't delete them for fear that somebody might, someday, want to hear them. Know what I am? I'm a digital packrat.



It's been almost a year since my last post. The problem? I ran out of things to say. I know that might shock some of you. (By "you", I mean "nobody" since I doubt anyone is still checking this dormant blog.)

You see, it's not very exciting being a parent living in the suburbs. Especially since I've been training for triathlons, which really eats into my free time. In the past, I could write about a stupid movie I just saw (don't get me started about "Speed Racer"). But now instead of wasting 2 hours of my life on that, I spend 2 hours biking to the gym, working out, and biking to the train station. Fun!

Speaking of which, I'm getting geared up (literally) to bike to the train this winter. I enjoy riding my bike to the train for 3 reasons:
  1. It's an extra 45-60 minutes of cardio workout a day. And can't we all use a little extra cardio?
  2. It saves me about $5-6 a day between gas (stupid V8 pickup!) and parking. (Note, there's no way to monetize this, but it also saves me the aggravation of having to find loose change b/c the parking lot is $1.50 per day, payable only in cash.)
  3. It doesn't take me any longer to get to/from the train. In fact, with recent construction along Arlington Heights Rd, it's actually FASTER for me ride my bike.

To prep for the winter, I bought some UnderArmour Cold Gear compression clothes (top and bottom). I've been slacking on the training since the Chicago Triathlon, so my body needs a lot of compression. I might need a couple more shirts to compress the rest of my belly though.

I also picked up some gloves and a facemask that block the wind. That's pretty key, I've discovered. It's not so much the cold (which is bad), but the wind that just kills you. I still need to pick up some clear "sun"glasses b/c the wind kills your eyes too.

Anyway, if you're in Arlington Heights and you see some crazy dude on his bike this winter, please, whatever you do, don't hit him with your car! It's probably me! (Feel free to hit anyone else with your car.)

(By the way, I'm anxiously awaiting when I'm first going to hear from someone about updating my blog. I'm guessing it'll be at least a month!)

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Someone Call DCFS

Kids really do bring out the best in you. Actual words spoken to The Wife tonight:

"It's hard not to smile when you're threatening to break your child's legs."

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Meaningful Changes

We've been doing a lot of home improvement work around the house. When we bought the house, we knew there was a lot to do. I don't think we realized it would consume 3 full years of our lives (and counting), but we knew it would be a lot. Our most recent project is finishing the basement. It's coming along, but it's a long, slow process.

I'm taking this week off of work for some much-needed "vacation." I never EVER thought I would take a vacation and not go anywhere. But since I have about 14 vacation days left this year and can only roll over 10, I need to use them up. So here I am, vacationing at home. Yay! The plan for this week was to spend some time working on the basement. But after a trip to The Home Depot, The Wife and I changed our minds.

First of all, we've decided to add some insulation to the attic. What we have now is very sparse and results in a very cold second floor in the winter. Home Depot has a deal. If you buy 20 bags of loose insulation, they let you use a free machine to blow it into your attic. We decided to go ahead and do it, but then I had a thought. If we put in all the insulation we're SUPPOSED to, it'll be about 10 inches thick. In other words, you won't be able to see any of the support beams, thus you won't be able to move up there. And that directly conflicts with one of our other home improvement ideas, putting overhead lights in all the bedrooms.

For some reason, there's a real dearth of overhead lights in this house. There's one in the living room (the former dining room), a few in the kitchen, one in the hallway and one in the front hall. That's it. For some reason, we don't have any lamps either. So our house is DARK. It drives me nuts, which I know secretly makes The Wife a little happy.

In the summer, our second floor has virtually NO circulation. So we're going to add a ceiling fan to Luke's room and to our bedroom. We're going to put lights in the other 2 bedrooms. This essentially involves me cutting holes in our ceilings and then spending 6-10 hours in the attic playing with the wiring.

It's been a bit exhausting, but I've gotten 2 of the lights in already. They work GREAT. And they make me SO happy. You flick the lightswitch and you can actually SEE something. It's an incredibly novel concept. The best part about it, though, was that it only cost a couple hundred dollars for all the supplies. It'll take me 10-12 hours, but it'll make a HUGE difference in our lives. Now, that's the type of return I like to get from my home improvement projects.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


And Now, A Special Bonus Post!

Because I'm in a sharing mood today, I thought I'd leave just another random thought I had. I was listening to people talk about learning to play instruments as kids. That's when I realized that my OCD didn't just arise recently.

In fifth grade, we started playing instruments. I picked the saxophone. I was trying to decide between that and the trumpet. I picked the sax because my brothers played the trumpet. Even back then I was trying to distance myself from them....

To make sure we practiced, our music teacher gave us little slips to take home. We were supposed to fill out how many minutes we practiced each day. I vividly remember writing down 180 minutes a day. My music teacher naturally thought I was lying. He called my mom to confirm. I think he could tell by the anguish in her voice that I wasn't lying.

Turns out, all that practice was good for me. I became pretty good at the sax, becoming first chair later in junior high. I'm not terribly creative though, so I had a hard time coming up with solos for jazz band. Music is very mathematical when you're playing other people's music. When you're coming up with your own, it's downright scary. I'm not the most creative person in the world, which drives The Wife nuts whenever I'm playing with Legos and can't build anything other than what's on the box.

Anyway, this need to learn (or master) things is bleeding into work now and I have to learn to repress that urge. I have a project coming up where we're going to be working with a lot of data in Access, which is Office's database program. I don't know Access at all. But I'm supposed to manage someone who does. For some reason, I feel the need to learn Access so that I can do the work myself. They're grooming me to become a manager, which means I'll really stop doing any work myself. I keep telling myself that it's okay to not know everything. But I don't think I'm falling for it.

Speaking of which, we have this piano in our frontroom that's just taunting me. I wonder how The Wife would feel about 180 minutes a day of piano....


Due to Popular Demand

I'm getting really bad at blogging here. It's now been over a month since I last wrote something. And due to popular demand (from one person), I'm now writing something else.

The good news is that the reason I haven't written anything lately is because I've been super busy at work. It's an odd feeling, to be honest. All of my previous jobs have sucked. Some have sucked a little. Some have sucked a lot. Some have sucked big fat donkey balls. But my job right now is awesome, and frankly, I'm a little taken aback.

The biggest problem I have with my job right now is that I don't seem to be able to take a vacation. I get something like 15 vacation days and 2 floating holidays a year. I think I have 12 of those left to use this year. It's not that I don't go anywhere or take time off. It's that I invariably end up doing work while I'm on vacation.

What's scary is that I don't mind doing the work. For once in my life, I'm actually not self-centered. I'm thinking about the team and being client-focused. (God, if my boss could only read that.) And so it's hard for me to just put a project down and go off on a vacation. Of course, having two little kids at home doesn't help. If my option is to work on pensions in my free time or spend some "quality" time with two screaming children, I'm taking Option A.

Anyway, I'm due to take next week off from work and I'm looking forward to it. I don't have anywhere to go or anything to do (besides finish the basement). But it'll probably be my last break from work until April or so. The next 5-6 months are going to be nothing short of insane. But, I'm sorry to say, a good kind of insane (that I'm really looking forward to).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Rollin'... In Style

This weekend, I went up to the family house in Wisconsin. (I assigned it a nickname, but now I can't remember it. Crap.) It was a work weekend. My brother came up with me to help me finish the basement. (My mom also came up to feed us, which was immeasurably wonderful.)

On the way up, we talked about numerous things. One of the things we talked about was the vehicles we drive. As our families are expanding, we're getting bigger and bigger cars. I mentioned that I was thinking about getting a minivan next. My brother scoffed at the idea, saying he'd never get one.

"Sure, they have more room, get better mileage and are more comfortable, but I could never own one." Why not? "Because it's a MINIVAN."

And my brother's not alone in thinking this. Hell, I used to think this. Then 6 months ago, my brother-in-law got married in Sacramento and we rented one. It was GREAT. I fell in love with it. Now I'm actually looking forward to getting one.

And that's when I realized that I've lost all my coolness. I was never that cool to begin with. (After all, I was captain of my math team in high school.) But admitting that I wanted a minivan was just the icing on the cake. Minivans are SO practical, especially after driving impractical cars like a huge-ass pickup truck or a tiny Jeep. And at this point in my life, I'd rather make my life easier than look cool.

The problem is that this thinking leads to polyester pants pulled up to your armpits and cutting the lawn in black socks and sandals.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Finally, a Solution to Mid-East Peace

For millenia, the mid-east has been a hotbed of violence. I guess that's what happens when three major religions start within spitting distance of each other. And as we all know, what makes religion so great is it's "I'm right, you're dead" attitude. But after years of struggle and thousands (millions?) of unnecessary deaths, someone finally came up with a solution. That man is none other than... Bryan Adams.

Yes, the Canadian rock "star" who penned such great hits as "Summer of 69" and "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" has decided to play a concert in the mid-east. I think his intention is that if everyone in the mid-east can just agree on one point (how much Bryan Adams sucks), then maybe that will unite them and end all the fighting.

If I were Canada, I'd be a little concerned. The Jews and Muslims might start teaming up and declare war on our friends up north. "No more Bryan Adams!" Yeah, take that you puck-slapping maple suckers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Time to Change Your Name

It's been a MONTH since my last entry! How does that happen? Oh yeah, I get wicked busy. I have a lot to talk about too. I just reached my first anniversary of work here at Geeks, Inc. I just finished my FAC, which means I'm officially done with all the bullshit that surrounds becoming an actuary. That's a long story that I won't bore you with here. The Wife and I just celebrated our fourth anniversary (by spending that particular night apart).

But that's not what got me out of my slumber. No, today I got an email from someone at corporate headquarters. The email was a rather innocuous one. But what made me have to post an entry on my blog was this person's name: Greathead. I kid you not. All I could think was that this woman must have had a MISERABLE childhood. Unless she married into that name. In which case, you adamantly REFUSE to take your husband's name.

Normally, I have a rule against posting actual people's names in my blog entries, but I think I'm safe here. If someone enters "Greathead" in google, I have a feeling they're going to be inundated with porn sights that are a lot more "relevant" than my goofy little blog.

Anyway, hopefully coming this week: more about my FAC.

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