Sunday, December 30, 2007

Year In Review

2007 was a fun and challenging year for me. My new job got even busier and my performance schedule got pretty crazy at times but I managed to fit some sleep in when I could. On top of all that I spent a lot of time with Dee planning the wedding. Below are some highlights from my year:

Super Bowl Champs!
Even though it was the 2006 season, the Indianapolis Colts started their playoff run in 2007. After limping into the playoffs with what looked like the worst run defense in the history of the NFL, the Colts went into Baltimore on January 13th and beat the Ravens 15-6. The next week, they faced the Patriots in the RCA Dome and fell behind 21-3 before coming back to win 38-34. For the first time since they were in Baltimore, the Colts found themselves in the Super Bowl against the Bears. Devin Hester tried to make it interesting by returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but the Colts battled back and claimed the Lombardi Trophy by winning 29-17.

I was in Indianapolis watching the game with my brother and a host of other Colts fans. We jumped up and down. We screamed. We partied in the streets.

Vacation
Dee and I were feeling pretty burnt out at the beginning of the year and decided that we needed a vacation. Fortunately, Dee has a friend in Florida who lives right on the beach so we booked a flight and got away for a few days. It was a needed break for both of us and as a bonus we got to meet with Dee's friend.

Jerkology
Once Dee and I got back from our vacation, I put the finishing touches on the script for Jerkology. In April we had our first read-through and began rehearsing. This was the first show I had ever written and directed. Overall, I would call it a success because it was well-received by the audiences and the actors had a good time performing it. It wasn't a perfect show, but I learned a lot about how to put together a sketch show and I'm excited to do another one next year.

Providence Improv Festival
For the first time in about two years, I traveled with pH to an out-of-town festival in Providence, Rhode Island. The festival was scheduled for the end of June so the weather was beautiful and the people were extremely friendly. We did two really fun shows and the crowds loved us. I should go on these trips more often.

Kinda Promotion
The CIO at my company retired mid-year and the new CIO decided to do some restructuring. He decided to move me over to the Project Management Office. Now I can officially be called a Project Manager (my previous title was Implementation Coordinator). They also moved my cube to one by the window. Big time. Unfortunately, there was no raise - at least not yet.


And the lowlights:

Notre Dame Football
The Irish started off 2007 by losing in the Sugar Bowl to LSU. They hung around for the first half, then got blown out in the second. An ugly way to end a pretty good season for the Irish. The game was the last for most of Notre Dame's starters - including their quarterback, starting running back, leading wide receivers and most of the linemen. This meant that the 2007 season would rest heavily upon the shoulders of freshmen and sophomores since there were only about five juniors and seniors total left on the roster. Everyone knows that the Irish only won three games and looked absolutely terrible in nearly every single one of their losses. The only upside was that they finished strong by winning their final two games and did show some signs of progress.

Door County
At the end of October, Dee and I decided that we needed to get out of the city for a few days. We thought Door County sounded like a good idea. We were wrong. Maybe we went too late into the season because a lot of stuff was closed, but even if everything was open it still would have been pretty lame. I was imagining something more like the quaint little section of Colorado Springs that my roommates and I stumbled upon while camping on spring break in college. Unfortunately, it was more like visiting my hometown if it was next to a big lake. My hometown is great if you want to sit around and watch TV. We didn't really want to sit around and watch TV.

Pulling My Groin
Oh man, pulling your groin really hurts. I mean really bad. When it happened, I curled up in a little ball and dropped like a rock. I was fine so long as I was curled up in a ball. As soon as I tried to move, the pain came roaring back. I hobbled around for a while and eventually got back to walking normally but I wasn't able to do a full cardio workout until last week. I pulled my groin on November 10. I still have slight pain occasionally, but I'm pretty much back to normal. If you were thinking of pulling your groin in 2008, I strongly recommend against it.

That was my year. Some good, some bad. Mostly good. Hopefully, 2008 will be even better. I think it will be so long as I don't pull any muscles.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas

This year I wasn't able to make it back to Indiana for the holidays, so Dee and I spent Christmas with her family. On Monday, we went to her Nana's retirement home for what they called dinner and what we thought of as lunch. We arrived around 12:30pm because "dinner" was to be at 1pm.

We drove over with Dee's parents and found that her aunt and uncle had already arrived. At this point the party was in full swing. Soon the food arrived (Nana ordered from some Italian place) and we sat down for a nice little "dinner" - at 1pm. After dinner we did a White Elephant gift exchange. Dee and I managed to get rid of a cookie jar in the shape of Grimace and this horrible angel statue thing that she and her mom bought last year at Christmas to put in our house. I've hated that thing forever and have repeatedly tried to throw it out. In return, Dee got a bag of body lotion, body wash and a loofah and I got a "Bridget in the Buff" puzzle. Bridget is a plus-size woman with dirty feet who is posing nude for the puzzle. Everybody wins in a White Elephant.

We headed back to Dee's parents' place to spend the night and inquired about dinner plans on the ride home. Dee's parents were shocked that we might be hungry again since we had already had dinner. I reminded them that we ate at one o'clock which is lunch for normal humans. When Dee asked her mom what she was planning to have for dinner she replied, "I was just going to have some nuts." I informed her that nuts would not sate my hunger. We ordered a pizza. Delicious and satisfying. Eventually, Dee's parents wandered off to bed and Dee and I sat on the couch and watched Bloodsport and one of those dumbest criminal videos shows before we hit the sack. Before I closed my eyes, I read the first few chapters of Steve
Martin's new book Born Standing Up. (What the hell? Blogger doesn't offer an underline function? I'm totally editing the HTML. I win, Blogger.)

The next morning we woke up and opened gifts with Dee's parents. We got a set of four place settings of our everyday plates - which we desperately needed - and I got some nice leather gloves. Dee got a new pair of boots. Leather goods and plates. I had already given Dee one of her presents - a new North Face winter coat - and saved one for Christmas. She was very excited by the second gift - a super soft robe from Brookstone. I bought her a super soft blanket from there last year and it's probably the best gift I've ever given her based on how much she uses it. She's like Linus with that thing. Now she has a robe to match. Dee gave me the new Steve Martin book and an argyle sweater on Christmas Eve and she saved Guitar Hero III for Christmas. That's a pretty good haul, I'd say.

Soon we had to clean up because the rest of the family was coming over for "dinner." We got cleaned up and set up the dining tables and chairs and had the Christmas music going while Dee's mom worked on a delicious dinner. We had lasagna, pork, green beans, cheesy bacon mashed potatoes, apple pudding and sauerkraut. I didn't have any sauerkraut. The rest was delightful, however. After dinner there was another round of gifts for everyone. Dee and I mostly got checks and stuff from our registry. The registry makes gift buying pretty easy for us.

Once everyone started to leave, Dee and I did some dishes and then packed our things up to make our way home. We were both pretty exhausted from the day with her family and couldn't wait to get back to our bed. When we finally settled in to sleep, we realized that we had packed ourselves full of rich food that wasn't settling very well. We both squirmed around for a while and eventually fell asleep with visions of our offices dancing in our heads for we both had to work on Wednesday.

At some point in there, we also watched A Christmas Story. Doesn't everyone?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dinnertime

Last night I decided to experiment a little bit in the kitchen. I've had an ahi tuna steak in the freezer for a while and I thought it was time to defrost it and see what I could make. I had looked up some recipes on the Internet but none of them were exactly what I was looking for or I didn't have all of the necessary ingredients. So I improvised.

After thawing out the tuna, I mixed some black pepper, chili powder and paprika on a plate and dipped the tuna in the spices. In the meantime, I had a pan on the stove on high heat. While I waited for the pan to heat up, I gathered ingredients together for a spicy mustard sauce. I didn't have any mustard powder, so I mixed some Dijon mustard with a little bit of white vinegar to thin it out. The mixture was still a little too spicy for me, so I put in a bit of lemon juice in the hopes of cutting the spice. Surprisingly, it worked. (Keep in mind, I know next to nothing about cooking.) Once the pan was ready, I put in a little oil and seared the tuna on each side for about 30 seconds. After searing the tuna I cut it into thin slices, arranged it on a plate and drizzled the mustard mixture (I won't call it a sauce) on top. It looked like this:


And this:

If I only had some nice looking plates to put this on, it might actually be impressive. By the way, it was delicious. Next time, I'll have the ingredients to make a proper sauce for the tuna, though. I think it could only be better with a proper sauce.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Logos in Sports

As most of you probably don't know, I read a blog every day called Uni Watch. Basically, it's a place where you can find any information on the minutiae of uniforms in just about every sport. I've always found sports uniforms interesting and wondered if anyone else ever felt the same way. Fortunately, someone does. His name is Paul Lukas and he posts about uniforms every day. On Thursday, he posted about one of his favorite - and often controversial - topics: logo creep. He despises the fact that apparel companies like Nike, Reebok and Adidas are plastering their logos all over team uniforms. I agree with him 100% and he made a fantastic argument against logo creep on Thursday. Give it a read.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Eggnog Party

Since I went all bah-humbug on your ass on Tuesday, I'll share something that I absolutely love about the Christmas season. Eggnog. Man, that shit is delicious. With rum, without rum - I don't care. I'll drink it down either way. I wish I could get eggnog all year 'round.

In fact, I'm having an eggnog party right now. My fiancée is at a party with her friends doing their yearly Christmas gift exchange party. Meanwhile, I'm at home having my own party. An eggnog party. I poured some eggnog in an over-sized coffee mug, sliced off a little rum and dropped it right in and mixed it up. Delicious. So now I'm just sitting here with my good buddies Bryant Gumbel, Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk watching the Steelers-Rams on the NFL Network. On second thought, I think I'm going to fire up my iTunes and keep the game on mute which means I won't be enjoying the company of Bryant, Deion and Marshall. Now it's just an eggnog party of one - but it's a rockin' eggnog party. A rockin' and delicious eggnog party.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fight Clubbed

Remember in Fight Club when they replaced all of the regular flight safety brochures with other flight safety brochures with pictures of flames and screaming people on them?

As I was sitting on the Red Line train tonight after work, I noticed that someone had tampered with the safety procedures sign posted by the door. This is the second time I've seen this in the past month or so. I snapped a few quick pictures. Unfortunately they are not of the best quality because I was on a moving train. Anyway, here are the pictures.

Here is what the safety procedures sign is supposed to look like:


In all of the examples I've seen, the top item on the poster has been left untouched. It's the last three that the "vandals" have tampered with. The picture below covered the "Move to another car" item.


The adapted "Remain on train" image:


Here are a few of the "Exit as instructed" overlays:


And finally, the "Danger, high voltage" changes:


Obviously, they had the most fun with the "Exit as instructed" portion of the poster, though I do enjoy the final photo quite a bit. Keep your eye out the next time you're on the train and see if your safety poster has been tampered with.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Decorations

Get ready, I'm about to go all bah-humbug on your ass.

I hate holiday decorations. I'm not just talking about Christmas decorations. I'm talking about any holiday decorations. Why? I don't see the point. Why should I buy a bunch of chintzy shit every time some damn holiday rolls around and put it up in my place only to take it down a few weeks later? It seems ridiculous. I can't justify it.

Everyone tells me that decorations put them in the mood for the season. A ceramic pumpkin puts you in the Halloween mood? A cut-out turkey with a movable head makes you want to give thanks? Car sales make you want to celebrate our dead Presidents? Okay, car sales aren't decorations, but you get my point.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting here staring at our Christmas tree. Every time I see it, I think about what a pain in the ass it was to get set up (it's artificial - and fiber optic, but that's for another post). I think about how it has forced us to rearrange our furniture and how it is in my way every time I want to do laundry. I think about how I'm going to have to decorate that thing instead of doing something I actually enjoy. I think about what a pain in the ass that thing is going to be to take down. I also think about how no one besides me and Dee is going to see it. So what is the point? I don't know. I just don't know.

I'm not saying that I hate people who love decorating for holidays or that I hate their decorations, it's just that I don't see the point. The only time I could justify putting up any decorations is during Christmas when you have children. I suppose it's nice for them to have a place for their gifts to gather during the season.

Bottom line: holiday decorations are a pain in my ass

Monday, December 17, 2007

Random Thoughts

No, I'm not participating in the writers' strike. I'm just lazy.

Man, I am busy. I don't mean the "gettin'" kind of busy. I'm even too busy for that. Between the holidays and the wedding and the weather, I've barely had time to think. All of the changes at work have made things a bit more hectic as well. It all adds up to me being pretty freaking tired and completely missing a bunch of fun things to post about. I'll do that now.

-How about that Mitchell Report? It's basically the equivalent of US magazine for steroids. A whole lot of "he said this, he said that" stuff. Not much evidence except for the expanding head of Barry Bonds and the unlikely resurgence of Roger Clements. Not to mention Brady Anderson suddenly hitting 500 home runs in one season after hitting only 2 up to that point in his career.

-Aside from the steroids, Sammy Sosa still thought he needed more of an edge with a corked bat.

-Now I'm just slinging unfounded accusations.

-Guess what? Baseball is still boring.

-Our Christmas tree is really ugly.

-Did you realize that they're playing basketball already? Didn't anyone tell them it's still football season?

-Is Kobe Bryant still playing for the Charlotte Hornets?

-The Patriots are going to win every one of their regular season games. Unfortunately, I don't think the Colts are going to be healthy enough to beat them in the playoffs.

-Remember how Bill Belicheck cheated in the very first game of the season? Why wasn't that game forfeited by the Patriots? I'm going to keep asking this question.

-There's nothing quite as entertaining as seeing a bunch of your workmates get wasted at the company holiday party.

-Especially if you're getting wasted, too.

-The Atlanta Falcons fans deserve everything they've gotten this season. I mean, they've been living large for so long they need to be knocked off their perch.

-I got my passport today. Look out Paraguay!

-The winter weather kept me from seeing my adorable niece and nephew. Stupid weather.

-There are a whole lot of stupid traditions and rules that go along with every single little thing you do when planning a wedding. Who do I talk to to fix this?

-I'm pretty sure our upstairs neighbors re-enact the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade every night at 10pm.

-For the first time in four weeks, I felt good enough to do some cardio. A groin pull is a nasty injury.

-The Bears are going to get whipped tonight so long as the Vikings remember to not kick it to Hester.

-However, they'll look much better than the Vikings.

-Time for my weekly steroid injection. Later.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

St. Nicholas

I left my shoes outside my bedroom door for Saint Nicholas last night and he left me some delicious candy treats. Thank you, Saint Nick!

Train Rides & Crosswords

Every morning before I get on the train to go to work, I pick up a RedEye so that I can do the crossword puzzle. It's usually not very hard and I have it done by the time the Red Line heads underground.

Today, the guy standing next to my seat saw my progress on the crossword and was very impressed. Sure, he was missing a few teeth and smelled like booze, but he was so impressed that he asked me if he could have it after I completed it. He wanted to take it home to his wife and convince her that he did it so that "he could get some laughs." He then added, "It will be even more funny because my wife will say, 'You can't even read." I had no choice but to give him the paper. Who am I to deny a couple a good laugh in the morning?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Thoughts on the BCS

Here is the current BCS bowl lineup:

BCS National Championship Game
Jan. 7, New Orleans
No. 1 Ohio State (11-1) vs. No. 2 LSU (11-2)

Orange Bowl
Jan. 3, Miami
Virginia Tech (11-2) vs. Kansas (11-1)

Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 2, Tempe, Ariz.
Oklahoma (11-2) vs. West Virginia (10-2)

Sugar Bowl
Jan. 1, New Orleans
Georgia (10-2) vs. Hawaii (12-0)

Rose Bowl
Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.
USC (10-2) vs. Illinois (9-3)

College football fans everywhere are going nuts and calling for the system to be trashed. Of course, that's nothing new for college football fans because they've been calling for the system (BCS or not) to be trashed ever since I can remember. Did the BCS fail us?

The BCS was created for the sole reason of guaranteeing a matchup between the number one and number two teams in the nation. The BCS did that. There are plenty of people who can make arguments for other teams to be in the National Championship game, but I think that LSU and Ohio St. have the strongest cases for being in the title game. I'll spare you the reasoning since you can go to any sports news site and get the reasoning there.

I may not like the rest of the matchups or the fact that Missouri got left out, but the BCS isn't meant to put all of the best teams in the nation in those bowls. All it is meant to do is to create a National Championship game with the top two teams and then let the rest of the bowls choose the matchups they think can make the most money. That's exactly what happened.

Even so, here are the things I like and dislike about these BCS matchups:

-Illinois in the Rose Bowl? Ugh. By the way, they are the first three loss team to get a BCS bowl bid. Not even Notre Dame has pulled that off.

-Is there anyone outside of Georgia rooting for the Bulldogs? There would be nothing better than a Hawaii upset in this game.

-LSU and Ohio St. are the last two teams ND has faced in bowl games. I don't know what it means, but it's an interesting coincidence.

-Missouri beat two of the teams that received BCS bids (Kansas and Illinois) but is not in a BCS game because they lost to another BCS team (Oklahoma) twice.

-Do I think the BCS is flawed? Yes. Do I think we need a playoff? No. Plus one game? Maybe. I like the controversy, debates and the fact that you can end all of the debate if you just take care of business (and play a reasonable schedule).

-Ten of the twelve teams Notre Dame played this year are going to bowl games. The only two teams not going? Stanford and Duke.

-A team I hate is going to win the National Championship again this year. Charlie can't get the Irish back on track soon enough.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Crock Pot

One of the many gifts that Dee and I received at our shower was a crock pot. I had a crock pot once before but never used it so I gave it away. I was never quite sold on the idea of registering for one but everyone told us that we needed it and that we would never buy one for ourselves. I knew that was true, and it was pretty darn easy to scan the bar code so we did.

Today we decided to put our new crock pot to work. We took about a pound and a half of ground beef and mixed it with some onions and bread crumbs (and a few other things) and molded it into a nice loaf and dropped it into the crock pot for about four hours. We timed it to be done around dinner time and it was. I wasn't sure what to expect but it certainly did smell good. We sliced off a couple pieces and it was juicy and delicious. We didn't even need to drown it in ketchup like you usually do with meatloaf. It was a successful and satisfying dinner and I'm looking forward to the next time that we decide to slow cook ourselves a delicious meal.