Friday, February 22, 2008

Day 365 - 02/21/2008

Well, here we are, one year later. Today's the day I turn 40. Tomorrow will be Day 366, the namesake of this endeavor and the last day I'll be doing daily updates. Starting Saturday, I'll switch from posting daily diatribes (alright, I'm not really posting diatribes, but I liked the alliteration) to posting daily pictures of the world around me. But they may not be daily; they may be every other day or maybe even once a week. I may add text to the post if I'm in the mood, but hopefully the picture will contain everything I'm trying to impart.

You'll also notice that the title of this blog will change. While I will keep the Day 366 part (because I like the way it's a year plus one day -- sort of like putting 11 on your amplifier to make it one louder), I'll change the tag line to something different. No longer am I an average Joe on the path from 39 to 40: I'm an average Joe who is no longer 39!

To celebrate my birthday, I went to work. I was planning on taking it off, but will be going skiing next week and decided I should get some work done. So I went in. That's not to say I didn't go home for lunch (which I did) or leave early to go out to dinner with the family (which I did as well), but I did get some work done. Which I guess is why I go to work.

But before that, I was serenaded by the family. For some reason I got up early and went down to do some work in the office. About 7a I went upstairs to get ready for work and there were M, N and D in bed, lined up like peas in a pod. I barely walked into the room when they broke out singing Happy Birthday to me. It was the perfect start to the day.

For dinner we went to Red Robin, where I got my picture taken with Red (he's now appearing live and in person on Tuesday and Thursday instead of just Tuesday). Upon leaving the house and driving up the street, the D and the kids started singing to me again. This time, instead of Happy Birthday, they sang some songs that sounded like a mix between being made up and being school taught. Regardless, I enjoyed it to no end. After dinner the kids and I played some video games while D looked on. They wanted to play more, but D had to get home for Bunco (and I wanted to get home for dessert). Upon getting home, I had my birthday cake (Mud Pie Brownies, actually) and opened the presents D and the kids got me (a running shirt, an ice scraper and slippers...all of which were on my list!).

After D left for Bunco and the kids got ready for bed, I read them a chapter from Treasure Island. The Hispaniola has left on her voyage and Jim Hawkins has just fallen asleep in the apple barrel. We are now (finally) getting to the good point where we find out who Long John Silver really is. Of course, much to the kids' chagrin, that was the end of the chapter. They'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what Jim learned while he was hiding in that barrel.

Larry called later on and said he'd be over after all. He had a hot date but took a rain check. I'm not sure whether he took it to come over to shoot pool and kill the keg left over from Saturday or he got blown off by his hot date, but, regardless, he came over and we shot pool and tried to kill the keg (we almost succeeded, but it got late and Friday's a work day for both of us).

D arrived right as we were wrapping things up. We ended up chatting it up for a while before calling it quits for the night. All in all, it was a great day, from start to finish.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Day 364 - 02/20/2008

Work was work. I thought I woke up feeling under the weather, but as the day progressed, I improved. I should've gone to bed earlier than I did, but I decided to stay up and read.

For work D made chicken, beans, peaches, a salad and biscuits. The peaches were canned in Illinois a few years back, but they're still as good as the day we worked them up. Before dinner, N and I played some pool until M was done with her homework. Once she was done, she came down and played a game as well. After dinner (and after N was in bed), M went on the treadmill for a mile while I played guitar.

I almost have the strum pattern down for Fall Line, but playing and singing at the same time are both a ways off. Practice is in order.

After M went to bed, D and I got sucked in to Terminator 3: Judgement Day on FX. She doesn't recall seeing it (I don't know when I did, maybe in OKC on one of my many trips?), so I watched it a bit with her before heading upstairs to get some reading in. I'm still reading Rising Tide and was excited to find out recently that I'm almost done. (That doesn't sound right; the book is good, but I want to finish it so I can move to the next one on the list.) I didn't realize it, but the last 100 pages or so are indexes, bibliography and other reference material.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Day 363 - 02/19/2008

M, N and I played a few games of pool tonight after dinner (where N ate three kernels of corn -- without having to be smothered in ketchup!). While he's not progressing as fast as I had hoped in expanding his palate, he's still making positive progress, which is better than the alternative. Both M and N used half-cues (where I took off the base and they used the tops) and both of them seemed to shoot better. They're still learning how to anchor their hands on the table so that the cue is stable when it hits the ball, but given time I'm sure they'll become pretty good. (One thing I've noticed is that N sticks his tongue out when lining up a shot...just like his old man!)

After getting N in bed (M was in the shower), I headed over to David's for my guitar lesson. So far I've been enjoying getting together with him. I feel I've learned more in the past three weeks or so in terms of the layout of the fretboard than I did in the six months with Gary at Chantilly Music. (That's not to say I didn't learn anything over those six months, it's just that we focused more on chord progressions and strum techniques vs. what David's focusing on.)

My homework for the last week was to work on the blues chord progression and scales for G major and A major. I guess I misunderstood the lesson plan as I completely botched what I was supposed to do (which meant all that torture trying to stretch five frets between my pointer and pinky were for naught...well not really for naught as it helped get my hand stretched out, but it wasn't what I was supposed to do).

Tonight we worked on a couple of songs (both by Jack Johnson): Fall Line and Symbol in My Driveway. Fall Line is a pretty simple strum pattern between the D and G chords, with an A chord (and A fingering) during the bridge. Symbol is also pretty simple as well, but not as straightforward as Fall Line. Symbol starts off with an A, moves to E and then up to D. Basic, right? You'd think so. While I'm sure I'll get it down, I was foundering when I tried to keep up with David (and Jack, via the iPod).

I'm not discouraged, though. As David said, all it takes if five minutes a day to make steady progress. Well, more than that, really, but the point is that if I play five minutes a day, every day of the week, I'll make more progress than if I play an hour one day a week. It's all about building the muscle memory and neurological pathways that are needed to play the song without even trying all that hard.

All in all, I'm glad I finally got on the ball and started taking lessons. It's a shame I didn't commit to this 20 years ago when I first got my gitbox. Of course, I didn't have the expendable income I had then, although I did have the expendable time!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Day 362 - 02/18/2008

Even though it's President's Day, I still went in to work...that's how much of a dedicated employee I am.

Well, that and this is one of the four holidays my company doesn't recognize (MLK Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day are the other three). We do get "floating holidays" so that if we did want to take the day off, we could, but typically no one does. I was planning on it until my boss decided to schedule an all-hands meeting. Oh well, at least I got lunch out of it. And dessert (cannolli and cheesecake!).

I stopped by Costco on the way home and picked up my glasses. It's been over three years since I got my previous glasses and they've been in need of replacement for about the past two. Of course, seeing as I'm a procrastinator and don't like to spend money all that often (well, on glasses anyway), I put it off and put it off and put it off. I went to the eye doctor's last month, though, and since my prescription changed, I thought it was about time to get a new pair, so I did.

Anyway, they came in so I picked them up. New glasses are awesome. The lens is so clear and clean. There's no smudges or scratches that blur your vision. I wish I could wear new glasses every day. I love new glasses; they're the best. (And no, I will not be marrying them, thankyouverymuch.)

D went and got the kids from Fred today and then stopped by Boston Market for dinner, so that's what we had. I also love Boston Market. Their food rocks (especially their chicken). I basically falls off the bone when you look at it.

I didn't get to bed as early as I had wanted to, but it felt good when I did. I'm still a little beat from Saturday night, so I was looking forward to getting some good rest. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be back to normal, just in time to start all over again with my real birthday!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Day 361 - 02/17/2008

So, remember that party I was talking about yesterday? It's really kicking my ass today. As you might imagine, I'm not really feeling the love today even though I slept in until about 1030a. Of course, had I gone to bed at a decent hour that would've been some quality sleep time, but getting to bed around 330a? Not so much. I'm sure it didn't help that I overindulged as well.

So, for the better part of the day we hung out in the family room and relaxed. D and I went to Mass at 530p and afterwards came home and had some breakfast burritos. I should've made us two each, but I still wasn't thinking.

After dinner, we watched The Illusionist. D had read a blurb about it a while back and it came in the mail earlier this week. Both of us were quite surprised with how much we enjoyed it, especially for not having heard a thing about it! In addition to the story, I really enjoyed the soundtrack. The bass and/or cello notes really matched the telling of the story. There are only a few soundtracks to movies that impressed me (Pleasantville, Forrest Gump to name a few), but this will be added to the list.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Day 360 - 02/16/2008

Not only are we now in the 360s as of today, my birthday party was also tonight. I had originally wanted a Mardi Gras party, but with Easter being early this year, it would've had to have been the first weekend in February and would've conflicted with the Super Bowl. A month or so ago D suggested we have an 80s themed party instead. It sounded like fun, so we ran with it.

After running around during the day getting everything done for the party, I headed up to Total Wine to pick up the kegs (because what's an 80s party without kegs?!?) and then to Giant to get a 12-pack of Beast and some Bartles & Jaymes for door prizes. I'm not sure whether it was the choice of beverages I had decided to purchase or whether I looked like a young whipper-snapper, but the cashier carded me. After I showed him my ID, he was taken aback and offered up a (barely audible) "Oh" and he turned and high-tailed it back to the self-checkout station. I got a kick out of that and made sure to share that with everyone at the party later on.

We were hoping everyone would dress in their worst 80s fashions (some did) and bring their worst 80s pictures (some did), but we were also hoping it would be a fun time (it was). We had asked people to bring pictures from the 80s showing them in high fashion (or bad fashion, as the case may be) and most folks brought their pics. We also played a "How well do you think you know M?" game, giving out the Beast as the top prize. I disqualified family members from winning, but as it turned out, only Nina did very well -- she tied with the eventual winner. We also did a trivia game where the contestants had to answer questions about the 80s. Caroline ended up winning that one, although both Charlie and Lori gave her a run for the money (she won the Footloose/Flashdance DVD). Lori didn't go away empty handed though, as she and Chris won 2nd place for best costume; first place went to Molly and Ted. Brian won the breakdancing contest later on (complete with cardboard dance floor) and he gave quite the winning speech.

The party ended up going into the late early morning hours (late as in 3-4a) before we finally called it quits. There's really too much that happened over the course of the evening to summarize here, but suffice it to say, a good time was had by all, especially by yours truly.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Day 359 - 02/15/2008

I was hoping to leave work early today to get things done for the party, but it didn't work out that way. A meeting was scheduled for this afternoon that kept me in the office until 430p or so. I stopped by Costco on the way home (for the second time today) and picked up some stuff for the party tomorrow. As it turned out, the mattress we wanted to get was on sale!

I had arranged for a colleague to help me get it home, but when I came over during lunch, the customer service rep told me they weren't on sale (there was no price tag attached to the mattresses). Oh well, I guess it wasn't meant to be.

I tried calling my colleague, but he wasn't around. Oh well, I thought, maybe I'll come back up with the van and toss it on top. I made a few calls when I got home and was able to get Charlie to help me out. Even better, we used his work van to bring the mattress home, so we didn't have to put it on top of our van!

Before that, however, D and the kids surprised me with my birthday present. She's been wanting me to get a new car for my birthday (the Altima is over 10 years old, but only has 85k miles on it), but I'd rather not go that route. While I'd love to have a new(er) car, I don't relish the thought of having a car payment. So, with that in mind, she did something I never expected: she bought me a pool table!

I was quite surprised when I found out (although she had consulted me with regard to the style, location, etc, I didn't know when it would be delivered). The kids were excited when I got home and I soon found out why when they led me to the basement. We played a few games before I had to get back to focusing on the party. Had it not been for that, I would've been down there all night. (Not to worry, however, I'm sure I'll spend plenty of time in the basement doing my best imitation of Minnesota Fats over the years.)