Monday, March 28, 2005

Spring Has Sprung!

It's about goddamned time.

It's a BEAUTIFUL day here in KC today with a forecast high of about 70 degrees. After the snow crap that fell last week, I was getting real sick of the wintry weather.

Thank god the warm weather is finally here.

But, of course I knew it would be...seeing as how I leave for Arizona on Wednesday and all.

Oh well...I'm going to enjoy it dammit!!!

Here's to daydreaming about golf while working this afternoon.

Until Next Time...

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Friday, March 25, 2005

On A Roll

In recent weeks (and months), I've become increasingly frustrated with how much weight I've gained back of the 35 pounds I'd lost last year.

Now that M is 6 months old, I decided I really needed to start hitting the gym again. So I started playing basketball once a week a few weeks ago and last week, with spring break, I managed to go twice.

Twice a week helped, but once a week definitely wasn't enough. It's hard, though, to make time during the middle of the day to go play ball, so I decided to start going to use the elliptical at night after the kids went to bed.

Last night marked the third night in the row at the gym and I'll be going back today to play ball. Tuesday and last night I used the elliptical for about 25 minutes. On Wednesday, I got there too late to actually get a full 25 minutes in, so I just went to the gym to shoot baskets and run a little bit.

In addition to the exercise, I've been trying hard to eat better. And, with the exception of yesterday's barbecue lunch, I've been doing better.

I've noticed about a 4-5 pound difference on the scale already and really want that trend to continue.

Ultimately? I'd love to lose at least 40 more pounds and probably closer to 50. If I can stick with this routine (which will be tough with travel), I figure in 6 months at an average of 2 pounds per week, I can actually do this.

I figured I ought to post this here so the rest of y'all can keep me motivated.

Until Next Time...

I've already noticed an impact on the scale

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I'm A Dumbass

My apologies if I've used that title before, but it certainly applies tonight.

You see, I learned one of the hazards of listening to your iPod while driving. When you get to your destination and turn the car off, the music is still playing in your head, so you can't follow your normal routine.

Tonight, on my way home from the gym, I stopped at the grocery store. Listening to my iPod, I made my rounds and went to check out. In doing so, I reached into my pocket for my shopper card that's on my key chain. Only problem? Keys weren't there.

Not only did I lock my keys in the car...I locked them in their with the car running. Real smooth.

But check this out for customer service...the store manager had one of the clerks drive me home. It was a little odd, but still a hell of a lot better than waiting for a cab, AAA or a locksmith to show up.

Both the clerk and the manager are going to get a big positive report from me to the store manager tomorrow...not to mention the $10 I gave the kid for driving me home.

Doesn't change the fact that I feel like a dumbass though.

Until Next Time...

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Whaddya Mean It's Tuesday???

It seems I've been a wee bit remiss in updating things around here and for that I deeply apologize to any of you still checking in.

I do have a semi-decent reason for being a slacker. You see...I was in Arkansas.

There.

Isn't that reason enough?

Oh wait...it gets better. I was in Arkansas...

At my in-laws' house...with a sick kid.

Come on now! Can you think of a better way to spend 3-1/2 days than that??? I thought so.

And over the course of our stay in the great state of Arkansas, I had to endure the humiliation of my beloved Jayhawks in the first (FIRST!) round of the NCAA Tournament, followed by the even further destruction of my two gambling brackets with some rather poor predictions (such as Oklahoma winning it all...what was I thinking???).

I'm back now, though. Got my first sale with the new job late last week...the contract should be arriving any day now. I'm very psyched about this and am looking forward to many more.

Actually went to the gym tonight and feel great after doing that. So everything said, I'm in a pretty good mood.

How's everyone else doing? (If you have a blog on my blogroll, you probably don't need to tell me, because I'm heading your way as soon as this entry is done.)

Until Next Time...

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Friday, March 18, 2005

Happy Friday Everyone!

It's been a good day so far.

I found out I got my first sale here at the new job when a client told me the signed contract is in the mail. That's definitely a great feeling.

Then, I took a 90-minute lunch and played four games of pickup basketball. I didn't play great, but I ran the court much better than I have in a while. To me, it's just proof that I need to play more than once a week to get into better shape.

I'm really, really hoping that the weekend is a good one, too, but since I'm heading to the in-laws house in Arkansas, I wouldn't bet a ton of money on that. I'll try to keep an open mind though.

Well...I'm calling it a day a little early today so we can get the van loaded up and get the hell out of here.

Until Next Time...

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

March Suckness

Man...I'm in two pools for the NCAA Tournament and I'm REALLY sucking bad in one of them. I was the only person out of 12 that picked the FAVORITE in the Alabama vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee game. Therefore, I was the only one that picked that game wrong.

In that same pool, I also missed Pittsburgh vs. Pacific. Fortunately, I had Pacific in the other pool. I also picked Iowa to beat Cincinnati and they are currently getting their asses kicked.

The only good thing?

I'm sitting in my office watching the games/CSI commercials.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

NIT Update

This one's for my Missouri friends...they are currently down two to Depaul with 4 minutes to go in the NIT.

Go DePaul!!!

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Book' Em Dan-O

Over the weekend, I finished Dan Brown's first book featuring symbologist Robert Langdon, Angels & Demons.

I liked everything about the book except the part where there was a plane that flew Mach 15...I had a hard time buying that. The DaVinci Code always had a certain sense of believability and really made you think if you're Catholic (and, I suppose, even if you aren't). While Angels & Demons was definitely a fun read and a page-turner, it wasn't quite as good as The DaVinci Code. That being said, I'll almost certainly be picking up some of Brown's earlier works such as The Digital Fortress.

While we're on the topic of books, a friend and former co-worker of mine told me last week that he actually got an agent for his novel. While I'm always hoping for the best of him, I'm really pulling for him now, since he got laid off by my former employer last week. If I get any kind of news that it's going to be published, you'll be hearing more about it from me.

He actually sent me a draft that I started reading today. So far, I like it a lot...probably because the main character is an early-30s white male, but I think others will like it too.

I'm just so impressed that he actually wrote the whole thing in the first place. It's over 300 pages in MS Word, but I'll admit I have no idea how much that translates into in hardback or paperback pages.

Knowing that he can do it, though, has inspired me to try to pick up where I left off with my NaNoWriMo effort in November. I've been thinking more and more about how much I'd enjoy being my own boss and writing would certainly allow me to do that.

Now, if I can just get a Grisham-like advance, I'm set! :)

NCAA Tournament

Tonight, the NCAA tournament officially began with the play-in game between 12-18 Oakland and Alabama A&M (whose record I don't know). Oakland kicked the shit out of them and won the privilege of playing Roy Williams' North Carolina Tar Heels next. Personally? I'm hoping Roy's team becomes the first #1 seed to lose to a #16...but I'm sure as hell not picking it in my bracket.

Speaking of March Madness...have you filled out a bracket yet? If so...who do you have in your Final Four and as the ultimate champion? Post your picks in the comments section.

Until Next Time...



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Monday, March 14, 2005

Spring Break (but not for me)

Yep...it's Spring Break week here in the midwest and, sadly, I can't afford to take the time off. All of the kids' friends seem to be either out of town or have family staying with them. Today, I was going to take the three older ones to the gym with me, but now that's been killed because K's having issues with a crown and has to go to the dentist over the lunch hour.

Last night, we got a babysitter and went to Carabba's for dinner (excellent as always) and then went to Best Buy for a bit before going to see Be Cool. If you ever make a movie and want some guaranteed laughs, get some famous pro wrestler to play a gay bodyguard. The Rock was pretty damned funny in this movie. So was Vince Vaughn, but in a more annoying kind of way.

There was one particular scene with The Rock watching his own music video. The video disturbingly reminded me of the latest Burger King commercial with Darius Rucker from Hootie & The Blowfish. Have you seen that thing? I mean...how desperate does Hootie have to be to agree to that commercial??? It's AWFUL!

Anyway, I strongly recommend Be Cool and it makes me want to go out and rent Get Shorty to watch that again.

Has anyone seen this article about the dominance of white males in the blogosphere? Now, granted, I am a white male, but I certainly don't consider myself to be a dominant force out here in blogland. In fact, when I first read it, I immediately thought that I know more female bloggers than males. Upon further inspection, though, my blogroll actually has 15 male blogs to only 12 female blogs on it.

So, I guess my question is, do you have more male or female blogs on your blogroll?

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Saturday, March 12, 2005

Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Basement

Yeah...sucky title, but it's 10:30 on a Saturday night and I'm here updating my blog, so let that be enough punishment for now.

And, for the record, it was more like a waterfall than a few raindrops. You see, we had some guys come out to the house to "renew" our deck...in other words, powerwash the hell out of the wood on the deck and the playset and then come back in a few days to apply some kind of stain or clear finish or something. Well, after having the powerwasher connected for 2-1/2 straight hours, I came home from the gym after lunch and in stepping into my basement office, I smelled water.

Realizing that couldn't be a good thing, I stuck my head into our unfinished (thank god) storage area to see water gushing from the pipe by the outer wall where the powerwasher was connected. There was a good 1/2 inch of standing water in the entire storage area and also cascading down the shelves right underneath that pipe.

After convincing my neighbor to let the workers connect to his outdoor faucet for the remainder of the job, the plumber came out to show us our pipe that must have burst sometime over the winter. Great.

So yesterday afternoon pretty much ended up being a total waste of a workday as we spent the bulk of it carrying everything out of the storage area and up into the garage.

The floor seems dry now, but it still stinks a bit down there. We'll run a fan tonight and see what kind of difference that makes if any. (There's no carpet or wood on the floor...just concrete.)

Today, we ended up sorting through all the crap that we pulled out of storage and have a lot of trash, a few things for a garage sale and quite a bit to donate to Good Will. (Not the Hunting guy...I figure he has enough stuff.)

Somehow, I still managed to find time to watch KU lose to Oklahoma State today. I can't say I'm surprised or even all that disappointed. It would have been nice to win, but the real thing that matters is the NCAAs. (North Carolina lost too, so that was kind of nice.) As for the Big Dance itself, I'm not expecting great things for the Jayhawks. On the one hand, I think they can beat any team in the country on any given day, but it will take an above average effort. On the flip side, they could also lose to a #15 seed. In other words, anything is possible.

I had originally planned on updating this last night, but ended up falling asleep around 9:30. So much for that idea.

Tomorrow night, K & I have a sitter, so we'll go out for dinner and a movie probably.

Well...I need to head upstairs and catch up on the stuff I've been recording.

Have a good one everyone!

Until Next Time...

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Go Big 8!

After one day of the Big 12 Tournament, there are 8 teams left alive...7 of them are from the old Big Eight. The only non-Big Eight team left is Texas Tech which had a bye today.

Taking it a step further into the Big 12, the North division is 4-1 today, while the South is 0-3.

I realize this has absolutely no impact on anything, but I just felt like enjoying an old school Big Eight moment.

Until Next Time...

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Home Again

Finally got back yesterday from DC where I realized how completely unnecessary it is to have a rental car...even if you do fly into BWI. And did I mention expensive?

Here's the rundown:

Total rental car cost for 3-1/2 days: $180
Total valet parking cost at hotel: $78 (plus tips)
Total cab costs (because I didn't want to pay for parking at the convention center): $45
Total speeding ticket cost (yes, that's two in three weeks): $75

Grand Total: $378 - and that doesn't include the cost of gas to top off the tank and I only drove the thing like 70 miles total...definitely a HUGE waste!

On the plus side of DC, I did get some good leads and got to hang out with several former co-workers that were there. I also had some good meals, although I didn't get to try out the nearby pizza place that had been recommended to me...mainly because lunch was free at the conference and it freaking snowed on Tuesday after being 65 on Monday. Crazy I tell you.

As for meals, had dinner one night at Legal Seafood and then at M & S Grill (that M&S stands for McCormick and Schmick's). Both places were awesome...had lobster and crab ravioli at Legal and the broiled seafood platter at M&S Grill (the crab cake and oysters were AWESOME). Definitely ate well.

Now that I'm back home, though, the workout routine WILL happen again. I went last night after the kids went to bed to ease into the cardio program on the elliptical trainer and then shot a few baskets in the gym. I'm heading back again tonight for more on the elliptical. I've decided that this is far more beneficial than sitting on my ass watching whatever is stored on the DVR. With any luck, I'll re-lose 20 pounds by summer, and hopefully more.

Back to work for me now.

Until Next Time...

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Monday, March 07, 2005

Good Morning America

Live from the nation's capital, it's yours truly.

I abandoned 70 degree temperatures in Kansas to come here last night. So far, it's not too bad...supposed to be in the 50s here today. I can deal with that. It's going to get crappy from there, though.

Technically, I flew into Baltimore at BWI. It was cheaper and it gave me an excuse to rent a car to have at my disposal in case I decide to head up to Baltimore one evening to see my uncle and his family (including teenage triplets). Upon further review though, I doubt I'll make it up there so it's probably not worth it to keep the car.

When I checked into the hotel, they told me it's $26/day to freaking park. Geez. If I can figure out a way to get back to the airport on Wednesday, this thing's going back.

Until Next Time...

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Random Thoughts and Observations from 10,000 Feet

After reading the first 50 pages of Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, I decided now was a great time to take full advantage of some free time to craft a lengthier entry…not that size matters or anything.

I started to call this Random Ramblings, but decided it sounded too much like Bill Simmons’ “Ramblings” columns over at ESPN.com’s Page 2. I don’t do these types of entries very often, but I need to come up with a catchy title for when I do.

Please post your suggestions in the Comments section.

First things first, happy anniversary to K. Fifteen years ago today we had our very first date. I was a freshman at KU and had just turned 19. She was a junior and getting ready to turn 21. I decided I wanted to make dinner for her that night. It was nothing fancy…just hamburgers grilled outside. Only problem was I had to make three trips to Kwik Shop to get things we didn’t have…while she was there. It’s a miracle she continued to go out with me after that. Anyway…happy anniversary, Baby.

One of the hazards of being in sales for a living is that you have to travel quite a bit. If you’re single or married with no kids, this might not be a big deal. But, when you’ve got four kids at home, frequent trips can create understandable frustration for a spouse who is forced to become a single parent for days at a time. The worst part, though, is the incredible guilt trips that the little Play By Players (heretofore known as PBPers) start laying on me the moment they find out I have an upcoming trip. I’ve finally resigned myself to telling them later and later so that a) I don’t have to hear the guilt trips for as long and b) they don’t worry about it as much. Occasionally, I’ll break down and offer bribes in the form of presents from my destination city if they are on their best behavior while I’m gone. This trip has been one of those trips. Unfortunately, I just can’t afford to get them all something every time that I go out of town. This month, for instance, I was out this week, will be leaving again on Sunday for four days, and it now seems that I may be going somewhere for at least a couple of days each of the next two weeks. Based on today’s gift expenditures totaling nearly $100, you can see how that’s just not practical. They don’t always have to be expensive gifts, but when you’re in the land of the Mouse, it’s tough to get anything on the cheap. Any tips from other bloggers out there on cheap or free gifts to bring back for kiddos ranging from age 5-8 (and a 5-month-old if you can think of anything appropriate for her).

Staying on the business travel topic…for those of you that have a spouse who travels for business on a regular basis, I want to let you in on a little secret….it’s not the big vacation for us that you might think it is. This week I was at a “resort hotel” in Orlando for a conference. In this case, I was at the conference from 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 or 7 in the evening. The first night we went to a Thai place in a strip mall for dinner and came straight back to the hotel for the rest of the night where we catch up on e-mails and phone calls that we’d missed over the course of the day. Yesterday, I didn’t even leave the hotel property and ate in the average hotel restaurant. Today, I did finally get to go out and find souvenirs for the kids and ate lunch at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant. Those are all the things I got to do this week. What didn’t I get to do? Eat meals with my kids. Wake up next to my wife. Kiss my kids good night and put them to bed. See my kids at all. Believe me, if I could make the income I want to make in sales without traveling to conferences and visiting clients, I would do it in a heartbeat.

(OK…I’m realizing that I’m sounds like a pissed off person and that’s really not the case…it was really meant as more of a public service announcement to try to help people realize that business travel isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. (I forgot to mention the 45-minute+ wait in security lines.) Anyway…we know it’s hard on our spouses when we’re gone, but try to remember that we’d much rather be at home with you than spending our nights alone in a hotel room.)

I just saw an article on the front page of MSNBC.com last night that my hometown of Topeka, KS, voted against the repeal of a law that banned discrimination against gays for city jobs. The problem, though? The last I saw (with returns still coming in) that the repeal was rejected by a vote of 51%-49%. That means 49% of the people (or at least the voting people) in Topeka are complete fucking idiots. My god this pisses me off to no end. Now, I’m not all that familiar with how the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) operates, but given the fact that Topeka is also home to Fred Phelps (a notorious anti-gay activist), I would LOVE for GLAAD to start having its annual meeting or convention or whatever they have in Topeka every year until a vote like this starts yielding 80/20 or better results. I realize that Kansas is as about as “red” as a state can be, but I sure hope that the collective people of the state will pull their heads out of their asses and start realizing that a person’s sexual orientation has absolutely ZERO bearing on whether or not he/she is a good person and a productive member of society. It’s like saying that people whose favorite color is orange are going to corrupt our kids. I mean, really, is your gay neighbor across the street anymore of a threat to the morality of your children than the Victoria’s Secret commercials on TV? (I’m starting to think I’ve made that comparison before.) I can only hope that in 30 years, we will look back at this time and realize that the anti-gay sentiment in this country is no better than the racist views held back in the ‘60s. (I realize the racists were much more vocal and physical in their demonstrations of hatred and intolerance, but I hope you understand my general comparison here.)

(Stepping down from the soapbox on that topic.)

Did you know that the iPod Shuffle only works if you remember to plug it in and re-charge it every other day or two?

Staying on that topic for a moment, I now take that thing with me whenever I’m going out to run errands and I’ve already been stopped and asked about it about a half a dozen times. Steve Jobs and the folks over at Apple sure seem to know what they’re doing.

When it comes to the crust on things like cheesecake and key lime pie, what do you prefer – graham cracker or some kind of nut mixture? Not to unfairly bias your response, but I’m firmly on the graham cracker crust side of the equation.

(Just looked back at the parenthetical comment above…have any of you ever actually seen a real soapbox?)

Speeding tickets suck. Oh…you mean you knew that? My bad.

What’s your favorite board game/party game to play?

Watched the Oscars the other night and thought Chris Rock did pretty well considering he was on network television. I missed Sean Penn’s comments, but have heard enough about it to say that he needs to lighten up a little. Sheesh. Does anyone know why E! wasn’t doing it’s typical Red Carpet show before the awards? That can be more entertaining than the actual ceremony sometimes. I can’t really comment on who should’ve won vs. who did win. I don’t think I’ve seen any of the Best Picture nominees, though I would like to see all of them at some point. (I did do a great job at predicting the major category winners in the Oscar Pool I was in, but failed pretty miserably in the other categories. I finished pretty much in the middle of the pack.)

(Holy crap! I’m on my third page in this Word document typing up this entry. You guys must be incredibly bored or kind to still be reading this far. Sadly, I don’t think I’m quite ready to wrap this up yet.)

This conference that I was at this week focused a lot on voluntary benefits available in the workplace such as insurance for long term care, cancer, critical illness, pets, legal services, identity theft, life insurance, short-term disability…stuff like that. I know that I, personally, don’t have any of that coverage except for some additional life insurance. What about you? Does your employer even offer that stuff to you?

I don’t think my friend the Air Force pilot reads this, but I want to apologize if my entry title is completely wrong. I really have no idea how high we are when flying. (High as in altitude, not like Harold and Kumar.) I’m thinking since they call it the Mile High Club, then maybe it’s closer to 6,000 feet. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

I disappointed myself by not even going to workout once while on this trip. Damn, I piss myself off when I miss an opportunity like that. On the plus side, I didn’t eat near as much as I do when I’m at home and have a fridge and pantry available at my disposal. Sadly, I already know I probably won’t workout much while at DC since several of my former co-workers will be at that conference and we’ll probably get together a fair amount.

I spent about $150 on cabs this week…I’m thinking the rental car might have been a better idea.

I find myself strangely unable to change the channel away from Newlyweds and The Ashlee Simpson show. Will someone please just shoot me now? (I have been amused by how many times MTV has to blur out Ashlee’s ass crack.)

I still have three free iTunes songs to download…please post your recommendations in the comments.

And, with that, I think I will bring this ginormous entry to a close now that I’ve crossed into that previously uncharted “fourth-page” territory.

Until Next Time…

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