Monday, January 28, 2008

A Rant

Anyone that has ever read Garfield knows that Mondays suck. Some more than others. Today sucked. I got on the train this morning and started to sit down in my usual seat when I was suddenly hit by a horrible stench. I looked around for the pile of human feces that was the source of the stench but I found nothing. I couldn't looked around a bit more but gave up and just decided to get out at the next stop and change cars. That's when I saw the big pile of dried vomit next to the opposite door. Thankfully, we quickly arrived at the next stop and I got into a car that was not polluted by horrible smells but was polluted by the sound of three fat women talking loudly about how their boss is stupid and they outsmart him at every turn. That must be one dumb motherfucker. Even my iPhone couldn't drown out their cackling.

I got to work and discovered I had a 9 am meeting. I quickly got some breakfast. Oatmeal. Possibly the worst oatmeal I've ever eaten. I couldn't even finish it. After not finishing my breakfast I set out for my early meeting only to arrive at exactly 9 o'clock to see no one else in the room. I sat there for a few minutes before walking around to see where the other potential attendees were. There was no one to be found. As I got back to the meeting room one of the attendees said that she would be in in a second. She arrived at 9:15 am. No one else had arrived. Eventually, we were able to hold the meeting but it did not start until 9:20 am. Awesome.

Thankfully, I didn't have any more meetings in the morning and managed to get some shit done. Of course, I was interrupted about a thousand times by someone coming over to tell me a stupid story about the weekend.

I got to work out at lunch, so that was good.

I had back to back to back meetings in the afternoon and they all ran long and we spent a lot of time talking in circles. Typical meetings.

I came home and looked in the fridge for something to eat. Dee and I brought home leftovers from my parents' house. We spent the weekend there. Unfortunately, the leftovers offered no promise and we need to go to the grocery so I had some Gardetto's Snack Mix.

After finishing dinner, Dee called to tell me that she was almost home from her dress fitting and that she had purchased a Christmas tree. Yes. A Christmas tree. You see, I unceremoniously dumped our old one in the trash. Because it was ugly. Anyway, she needed my help to get it out of her car and into our storage space. She pulled up and I wrestled with the tree in an attempt to get it out of the car. After about five minutes, the tree was finally free of the car and I schlepped it down to our storage area. I opened the compartment and quickly realized that the box would not fit into the storage space. I tried shifting it around in a number of different of ways but to no avail. I had to take the tree out of the box and fit it into the storage space in pieces. Dee came down to see what was taking so long and quickly realized that I was not in good humor. She knows I'm not fond of Christmas decorations and she realized that having to deal with such problems with an unexpected Christmas tree that needs to be jammed into our small storage space was not the best move she could have made. She was right. I was unhappy at best. She tried to apologize by saying, "I love you." I responded by saying, "I'm not ready for that yet." I'm still not sure if I'm ready for that.

Stay tuned for my rant about all the stupid shit that needs to change about planning weddings.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My Train Ride

When I sat down on the train this evening after work, I didn't pay much attention to the people around me. I simply got out my book (Steven Colbert's I Am America (And So Can You!)) and started reading. I decided not to listen to my iPhone because the battery was low and I could be receiving an important phone call at any time. As I began to read, the woman behind me began to nod off. As she slept, she began to snore. Very loudly. In fact, she was snoring so loudly that the guy beside me woke her up and told her she was snoring and disturbing everyone. I was surprised by his boldness. She was not. She promptly went back to sleep and began snoring again - even more loudly than before. Probably in spite. He tolerated her until he got off at Addison.

By the time we got to the Berwyn stop, she abruptly woke up and asked to no one in particular, "Does anyone have the time?" I responded with, "Nap time." She seemed confused by my response, but the riders around me chuckled and seemed relived that someone was willing to acknowledge their suffering at the hands of this snoring demon. Eventually, a nice lady offered up the time between chuckles and everyone was happy.

Until she fell asleep again.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Real Story

When you attend a football game in person your experience of the game is always different from the folks watching the game at home. Prior to the third quarter of the Colts game on Sunday, the NFL honored the Punt, Pass & Kick winners for each of the age groups. As they announced the winners in each division the crowd clapped politely - until the camera put Anna Grant on the big screens. Anna was wearing a Patriots jersey. As soon as the crowd saw this they began to boo. I write "they" because I did not boo her. That's not the point. The point is that I didn't really think anything of it as it was happening because I wasn't surprised. Wear a Pats jersey in the RCA Dome and you're going to get booed.

However, this has suddenly become a huge story. Well, I don't know about the suddenly part because I've been pretty busy this week and haven't kept up much with the news. Today I discovered that people have been writing about it all week and that she will be present for the coin toss at the AFC Championship game this weekend. Good for her. I'm sure bloggers everywhere are having a field day with the heartless Colts fans. As they should. A 14 year old girl who is the best in her division at punting, passing and kicking deserves to be cheered, not booed. Of course, the same thing would have happened in any other stadium. Titans fans would have booed a kid in a Colts jersey. Bears fans would have booed a kid in a Packers jersey. It would have been inappropriate in each case.

Little Anna Grant took it in stride, though. She even smiled as the boos grew louder. In this article, she states that she expected it. The best part of the article is the litany of smug quotes from Robert Kraft, Patriots owner.

I think that the moral of the story is that you should never actually attend an NFL football game because you might miss the real story of the game. Besides, how are you going to know who had a good game and who didn't if you don't have the announcers to tell you?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Colts vs. Chargers

My ears are still ringing. You'd think I had front row seats directly in front of the speakers at a Metallica concert. Nope, I had nearly back row seats for the Colts-Chargers playoff game on Sunday. The final game in the RCA Dome (nee Hoosier Dome). If you don't already know, the Colts lost 28-24. Not exactly the way anyone (except Chargers fans and maybe some Pats fans) wanted the final game in the Dome to end.

The stage was set perfectly. Two good teams battling in a back and forth game and just enough time left at the end for Manning to engineer a game winning touchdown drive as time expired. San Diego punted with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter and the stadium was electric with hope and just waiting to explode when Reggie or Marvin or Dallas or Joseph crossed that goal line. Unfortunately, the Colts weren't able to convert on fourth down and gave the ball back to the Chargers with no timeouts. All the Chargers had to do was kneel down to run out the clock. The tension built up in the crowd never got to explode and we all left feeling unfulfilled.

I've been to two Colts games in the last three years and each time I've been surprisingly impressed with the Colts crowd. Of course, you have to remember that before 2005 the last time I'd been to a Colts game was when Mike Pagel was their quarterback. At that time, the crowd didn't have a whole lot to cheer about so there wasn't much opportunity for me to be impressed by the atmosphere of an NFL game. My, how things have changed in Indianapolis. Since Manning arrived, the Colts faithful have had something to cheer about and they make the most of it.

If you've ever watched a Colts game on TV, you've certainly heard the announcers talk about how loud the stadium gets. What you don't hear them talk about is how quiet the stadium is when the Colts are on offense. As soon as Manning & Co. step onto the field the crowd gets quiet as a mouse and you barely hear people talking. When the offense hits for a big play, the crowd goes nuts but then settles right back down again so that Manning can go through his gyrations and audibles. However, the moment the other team touches the ball the place erupts.

I have never heard anything louder than the RCA Dome on Sunday just after the Colts took a 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter. As soon as the Chargers got into their huddle, the crowd stood up and began to roar. Everyone was clapping, everyone was screaming or whistling. My chest was reverberating with the sound of 57,980 people screaming together in an attempt to will the defense to make a stop. Unfortunately, our best efforts were not enough. The defense couldn't make a stop and the offense couldn't put one last scoring drive together and now the fucking New England Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl.

Not that the Colts would have stopped them without Dwight Freeny.

Check out the pictures here.

Student Athletes

Notre Dame received the 2007 American Football Coaches Association Academic Achievement Award for the seventh time. The award goes to the school with the highest graduation rate among its football players. The Irish share the award this season with Northwestern. Both schools graduated 95% of their players this season.

The graduation rates of the two teams in the BCS Championship game? 51% and 53% to LSU and Ohio St., respectively.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tech Follow Up

Tim's comment on my Technology Tricks post made a great point and reminded me of something that Dee and I have used to keep us organized for the wedding. Tim mentioned that he and his girlfriend used Google Spreadsheets to organize their grocery list and errands for the week. Something I should have thought of for our grocery list since we're already using Google Spreadsheets to organize our wedding. We created our guest list, shower list, bachelorette party list, rehearsal dinner and vendor list in Google Spreadsheets. It's been fantastic since we both always have access to it and can update it whenever we need to. In fact, we've even shared it with our parents so that the could update our guest list with all of those people neither Dee or I know but have to invite anyway. Don't ask, it's a wedding thing.

The point is that Google Doc and Spreadsheets has been immensely helpful with keeping our wedding planning organized and simplified. We even used it to do the mail merge for our wedding invitations. I think that the online document products like Google Docs and Zoho (which I'm told is better than Google) have practically eliminated the need for me to carry around a thumb drive. So long as I have Internet access, I always have access to my documents with Google, so why would I ever need to tote around a tiny thumb drive that I could easily lose?

Thanks for reminding me, Tim.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Random Things

All sorts of fun shit going on with me right now. Here's a sampling:

As I mentioned earlier, I wrangled some tickets to this week's Colts game. One of Dee's friends has season tickets - that's where we got our tickets last time we went to a Colts game - and he found better tickets than his regulars. He called up Dee to see if I wanted them. I said yes. Unfortunately, Dee won't be able to go with me because she'll be in Moline with her mom attending a Dancing With the Stars concert (or whatever you call it). Instead, I'll be taking my brother. My favorite part was Drew's tone on his voice mail. He's was shocked that I was able to get playoff tickets in Chicago when he can't even get regular season tickets living in Indy. I'll fill you in on the details of the game when I get back.

I've been good about my resolution to write something every day. Frankly, I think the fact that there's no new TV shows has helped. It's funny that the writer's strike is helping me get more writing done. Some days have been more successful than others, but I've managed to pound a little something out every day. I have a feeling that my weeknights are going to be spent getting out the stubs of ideas while the weekends will be spent fleshing out those ideas. We'll see. I'll keep you updated.

The Sketchfest show I was in went very well. The audience loved it and Dee thought it was the best version of that show that we had ever done (she saw it a few times during the original run). A few of us went out for drinks afterwards to celebrate the good show and my birthday.

I've been busy in the kitchen the past two nights. Last night, I made some baked crusted salmon that Dee and I enjoyed very much. It was a nice change of pace from the crappy food we had been eating over the holidays. Tonight I decided to make some homemade eggnog. I pulled up a recipe from foodnetwork.com and got to work. I enjoyed a cup just before I started typing this. Delicious. So much better than store bought eggnog. If you like eggnog, try it.

I've been reading a book about the Devil. It's called I, Lucifer. It's interesting and clever. Basically, God invites Lucifer to return to Earth as a human to live out his life until the apocalypse. If Lucifer lives a clean life, he can get back into Heaven. If not, a fate worse than Hell. Surprisingly - or maybe not so surprisingly - it is a faith affirming book and has really made me think about the God/Devil dichotomy. I've even had an idea for a sketch thanks to this book. In fact, I'm going to go finish it right now.

My Dad and I had an interesting email exchange about the Presidential candidates. I promised him that I wouldn't reveal the details on my blog, so I won't. However, it was interesting to see that we're both of the same mind on the pros and cons of each of them. Of course, we don't really have much to go on since no one is really saying anything.

I'm sure there's all sorts of other fun stuff happening in my life, but I'm too tired to remember now.

Go Colts!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Go Colts!

I just scored two tickets to the Colts-Chargers game this weekend in Indianapolis. It will be my first NFL Playoff game.

More to come.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Tidbits

Yesterday was my birthday. Forgot to mention that.

Also, you'll see a new widget on the right (unless your reading this in your RSS feed reader). It's a calendar where I can keep track of my resolution to write every day (from www.dontbreakthechain.com). Remember, the resolution isn't to post on this blog every day but to write every day. On the days I've posted here, I've also worked on writing something else. So far, I'm doing well.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Technology Tricks

Everyone has a gadget that they use everyday. iPod, cell phone, PDA, Blackberry, etc. We all use them for what they are intended and they've made us more efficient simply because they exist. However, there are always clever ways that you can use your devices to get more out of them. I certainly don't claim to be an expert at figuring out these clever uses, but I have come up with a few tricks that help me get things done and remember the things I need to remember.

1) Singular Errands
When there is one specific thing that I need to do, I take a picture of it with my camera phone and then set it as the wallpaper. For example, I needed to pick up a new ink cartridge for our printer so I snapped a picture of the cartridge and set it as my background on my iPhone. This helped me in a couple different ways. First, I was constantly reminded that I needed to pick up a cartridge whenever I checked my phone. Second, I knew exactly what kind of cartridge I needed once I got to the store. I've used this from things like ink cartridges to deodorant to milk.

2) Busting Cab Drivers
When I get in a cab I snap a picture of the driver's picture and cab number. I usually make sure he sees me doing this. That way I hopefully won't have to deal with any of his bullshit. In case he still tries to pull some kind of stunt, I've got all the info I need to report him.

3) Notes
I always have my iPhone with me so it only makes sense that when I have an idea and need to jot something down, I open up the notepad and type it in. I tried to do this before on my old cell phones, but the phone keypad typing was a pain in the ass. Now that I have a usable keypad on my iPhone, it's the easiest place to jot something down. I have tried to put my shopping list in the notes as well, but found that simply emailing the grocery list to myself and pulling it up in the document viewer on my iPhone is a much better way handle my shopping.

Those are three of my most used tricks. What cool tricks do you use your technology for? Let me know in the comments. I'm always looking for a new clever way to make my life just a little easier.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Chicago Sketchfest

Tonight I will be performing in Sex, Cubs & Rock and Roll in the Chicago Sketchfest at the Belmont Theater Building. We're listed as pH Productions and we're going on at 8pm on the South Stage. Tickets are only $12 and they usually go fast. Get your tickets and come check us out. Afterwards I'll be going out for drinks with some of my friends to celebrate my birthday (which is on January 6th). Come join us.

P.S. - There is singing and dancing in the show.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Unresolutions

I've already posted about those things that I resolve to do in 2008, but what about those things that I DO NOT want to do in 2008? My unresolutions:

-Don't get divorced.
-Don't start smoking.
-Don't stop being such an awesome dancer.
-Don't stop being alive.
-Don't pull my groin.
-Don't stop being hilarious.
-Don't forget to pay my bills.
-Don't let Dee push me around.
-Don't let those naked pictures get leaked onto the Internet.
-Don't get too frustrated. Guitar Hero III is just a game.
-Don't forget the milk.
-Don't wear a sweater vest.
-Don't overcook the pasta.
-Don't. Just don't.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Goals

People have a love-hate relationship with new year's resolutions. The people that love them are infatuated with the idea of a fresh start and that they can actually make some changes in their life. Those who hate new year's resolutions think that they are all just empty promises that are forgotten by the third week in January.

Typically, I haven't made new year's resolutions because I was either too lazy or thought that changes should occur naturally in the flow of life. When I have made resolutions they have been to0 broad and it has been hard to track my progress. Or I've just completely given up because I forgot about it by the third week of January. This year I'm going to try something a little different. I'm going to set some achievable goals for the next year and set check points every month or so to track my progress and keep focused. These aren't so much resolutions as they are tasks that I can complete that will help me achieve larger goals.

That was way too much buildup for a bunch of new year's resolutions.

New Year's Resolutions:

1) Write every day
Pretty self explanatory. I want to take at least some time every day to write something. Anything. This doesn't mean that I will post on this blog every day, but I can only imagine that I will post more frequently. I'm hoping this will improve my writing skill and increase my creativity as I look to find something to write every day.

To keep track of this, I have a calendar that I will keep with me and I will cross out every day that I write something. Looking at the calendar and keeping the streak going will motivate me and keep me honest.

2) Organize my iTunes
I've got about 20GB of music but I only have five playlists. This means that I tend to listen to my entire library of music on shuffle and skip through the songs I don't want to hear depending upon my mood at the time. Not the most efficient way to make the best of my music collection. I want to set up playlists for my different workouts and for riding on the train (which is where I listen to music the most).

I've set up reminders on my Google Calendar to remind me to reserve time for this on a monthly basis. Add that to the fact that the music on my iPhone is starting to get a little stale, and I think I'll have plenty of new and useful playlists in no time.

3) Re-do the second bedroom
Right now our second bedroom is pretty cramped. We've got a full bed in their along with our desk, filing cabinet and my shelves that are overflowing with books. Plus, the closet isn't as organized as it could be so I have a set of drawers sitting just outside the closet as well. It makes for a cramped and unusable space. Dee and I want to replace the bed with a sleeper sofa and organize the closet. Plus, we need to get more shelves so that all my books can find a place to live. If we do it right, it should be a great place to write, read and relax.

I've set some reminders to schedule trips to the Container Store and to continue to monitor furniture stores online for stuff that would suit that room. This won't happen until after the wedding. Anyone need a full size bed?

4) Write and direct another sketch show
Not much else to say here. Item #1 will be key to making this happen.

5) Take a writing class
Pretty easy. Find a class, sign up and go. This is another one that will wait until after the wedding.

6) Paint the condo
We love our place, but we're getting tired of staring at the white walls. We have an idea of what we want to paint each room, we just need to get Dee's mom in here to confirm that we're on the right track and then get it done.

This one feels like a summertime job. I've set reminders for June to get this started. This will also depend upon our financial situation at the time.

7) Organize my hard drive
This one should be pretty easy to accomplish. Right now I have all of my documents sitting in the Documents folder on my hard drive. I can find what I need quickly thanks to Quicksilver but those times when I know what type of document I'm looking for but don't remember the file name, I have to do a little digging. If everything was in its proper place, I'd be able to find everything I need as quickly as I need to.

I've set an appointment on my calendar to take care of this later this month.

8) Continue to get my finances in order
In 2007, I did a pretty good job of getting my finances organized and managed to save money while continuing to be able to do the things I want. I want to make sure I continue to do those things and take my financial planning to the next level. I won't just be dealing with my finances in 2008 as Dee and I will be married and managing the household finances together. This is the perfect time to take a second look at our retirement plans, savings plans and tax situation.

After the wedding, I've set a reminder to schedule some time with a financial planner to help us create a new strategy and follow it.


Of course, these aren't in the order of importance. They're just in the order they occurred to me as I started thinking about my resolutions towards the end of last year. All of these are pretty doable and with the helpful reminders I set for myself, I think I can get them all done.

Happy 2008!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Do the neutron dance!