Saturday, January 22, 2011

Intact Internal Thermometer

I went out this morning to walk the dogs and got about 10 feet and thought "this is pretty cold." I spend the next several minutes of the walk trying to decide if it was really as cold as I thought it was, or if I had become a wuss and my internal winter temperature was broken. About 1/4 the way around our block River was clearly starting to get cold, so I turned back. So we got home after a half walk essentially and I checked the temperature. It is 4 degrees, which is about what I was thinking (single digits that is). I was happy to find out that my intenal thermometer is indeed intact, and that I did not wuss out by bringing She-with-little-hair back inside. It is a beautiful morning though, sunny and crisp, with virtually no wind.

In other news... not much.

How about more music reviews?? A quick note first, I listened to a little more Grateful Dead yesterday morning and they grew on me a bit, they have a lot of throw away songs but there were one or two with a great beat and sound.

Band: Pearl Jam
Pre-Existing Knowledge: I knew that they sang "Alive" on Rockband, which is one of my favorite songs to play on there, I love the guitar solo. Also, DH said to me about a month ago that he thought I was a closet Pearl Jam fan becuase how much I liked "Alive" and because I knew all the words to the song about the motorcycle crash (which was madly popular one year at summer camp).
Opinion Now: Turns out I was a closet fan. I love tons of their songs, I like the singer, they have some interesting lyrics, and I love the guitar parts. I sort of want to buy their entire collected works for Rock Band now.

Band: Def Leppard
Pre-Existing Knowledge: Virtually none. I only know of them because they occasionally get mentioned at trivia. Oh, and they can't spell.
Opinion Now: To me, correct or incorrect, their sound is the epitome, or perhaps the archetype of "80s rock". If you had asked me to listen to them 5 years ago, I would have absolutely hated it, but Rock Band has significantly increased my ability to enjoy a wide variety of rock, and while I will not be buying their album or anything, they aren't bad.

Band: Alice in Chains
Pre-Existing Knowledge: I guess the theme of the morning is Rock Band, because my only pre-existing knowledge of this band is that they sing "Man in the Box", which is one of my favorite songs to sing and guitar at the same time on Rock Band.
Opinion Now: I do like their sound, but after listening to about 15 songs, I really feel like they are "one trick ponies". All of their songs sound the same and even share similar word and lyric choices. I have another 15 songs or so to go for them, but I don't see the pattern changing anytime soon. Its another band, like Rammstein, that is good angry music, but I would only want one or two songs of theirs on my play list.

Band: Diana and the Supremes
Pre-Existing Knoledge: I know the name, I knew that they were "classic" and that I probably knew a lot of their music, but I had no idea what it was.
Opinion Now: I recognized about 75% of the songs, this is one of the cases where I just never assigned a name to the music, a frequent problem for me. They are fine, but nothing I would seek out.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Some Reviews

Band: Dave Matthews Band
Pre-Existing Knowledge: I knew they were wildly popular in the 90s. One time someone told me that since I liked BNL I would probably like them, so I listened to one song online and hated it.
Opinion Now: I don't like him (still). I dislike the singing voice, and the instrumental part/music leaves something left to be desired, its just not quite satisfying - you are sort of waiting for something to happen and it never does. There was one song I recognized from the radio on the album I listed to, "Crash Into Me." It is an OK song, but again just not quite satisfying

Band: Grateful Dead
Pre-Existing Knowledge: I knew that they sort of have a cult-like following, some people are madly obsessed with them and you still see their symbols and t-shirts a lot of places, they have that messed up teddy-bear logo. I also knew they had a lot to do with drug culture.
Opinion Now: The music was fine, low key. I don't really understand the obsession, I assume now its all totally the drug thing, their lyrics are packed full of drug references. There is one song that prominently featured "High on Cocaine, Driving that Train."

Band: Rammstein
Pre-Existing Knowledge: I knew a lot about them already, I already knew I liked "Du Hast" (there biggest American Hit) and "Feuer" from the movie XXX.
Opinion Now: I like them, they are super good angry music and its fun trying to translate the lyrics. It is so much easier to sound mad in German than English!!

Band: Fleetwood Mac
Pre-Existing Knowledge: Very little, a vague sense about not being sure if they were country or rock.
Opinion Now: I listened to about 40 songs of theirs, and came to the conclusion that their big hits that I did know (without knowing I new - "You Can Go Your Own Way"), is their biggest hit for a reason, because they have a lot of weird stuff, a lot of different sounds. There were couple of other songs I really liked by them, but there were also several songs that I would throw out.

Band: Cat Stevens
Pre-Existing Knowledge: Almost none. If you put a gun to my head I would have guessed Jazz singer.
Opinion Now: Low key, kind of hippie, not bad but nothing to write home over.

Band: Eagle Eye Cherry
Pre-Existing Knowledge: I remembered their hit "Save Tonight" from my high school years, and liked it, but I knew nothing else.
Opinion Now: I like him quite a bit. He has the same quality to his voice that the former singe rof BNL had, and the music while not anything superb has a nice sound and rhythm.

Band: Bush
Pre-Existing Knoweldge: None
Opinion Now: I like them quite a bit, nothing specific sticks out but I would listen to them more.

Band: Brigadoon (OK, not a band, a musical)
Pre-Existing Knowledge: Its a musical, it involves Scotland
Opinion Now: I enjoyed the music, seems like a fun story, would like to see it and am going to see if there is a movie version to add to my netflix queue

Band: The Irish Tenors
Pre-Existing Knowledge: Classical/operatic singing group
Opinion Now: They are quite enjoyable. I especially liked some of the more folksy Irish pieces and learned the origins of some words I did not know before.

Band: Lisa Marie Presley
Pre-Existing Knowledge: The less than popular daughter of Elvis Presley, more famous for being famous than for her musical career.
Opinion Now: There is a reason her music isn't what she is known for.

Band: Bon Jovi
Pre-Existing Knowledge: They recorded "Its My Life", which was madly popular when I was in Germany in High School, and I like that song
Opinion Now: I think I did not get a very representative album, it was VERY country. It was not what I expected at all but I did enjoy it.

Band: Gustav Holst - The Cloud Messanger
Pre-Existing Knowledge: I have hear Holst before, but no particular piece or fact about him stuck out.
Opinion Now: It was a very beautiful piece and I will likely pursue more of his choral work int he future.

Band: Tenacious D
Pre-Existing Knowledge: Jack Black's band, a few songs from Rock Band that I liked playing.
Opinion Now: I like them!! They have a Heavy Rock yet somehow acoustic sound, predictable but highly satisfying, ridiculous lyrics and of course I love Jack Black's craziness.

Band: Rolling Stones
Pre-Existing Knowledge: Epically famous, have a magazine names after them.
Opinion Now: I am holding off judgement. I managed to get an album that was entirely acoustic ("stripped" down).

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK 2011

Today is Martin Luther King Day. I have it off because I am a state employee. It is one of those holiday's where I don't do anything to celebrate and feel guilty for having it off when it is so pointless.
The one MLK related thing I did was listen to an NPR story my dad sent me about the way in which the "I have a Dream" speech is being treated like commercial property and not like a political/religious message that can inspire current leaders. It was pretty interesting. I also spent a very brief ammount of time thinking about why we have the day off and how I think MLK would probably want to celebrated. I honestly did not come up with much, besides perhaps the obvious of doing something to promote civil rights.

But, that sounds like way too much work. So what did I do today? I got up early and made breakfast, did some cleaning, started (and nearly finished) the process of getting all of my songs loaded into Rockband 3. I have had the game for almost three months and have hardly used it for two reasons (1) It did not have all the songs in it yet and (2) It is a very social thing for me and I have not been willing to have people over due to my carpet. Both of these are getting solved this week, because I also had a carpet guy visit my house this weekend and am having new carpet installed in my living room, dining room, family room, and stairs on Wednesday. The price is a steal, seriously. We went out to lunch at City BBQ, and ran some efficient errands.

Overall it was a good day, though I have to admit I am really lame and am not quite sure what to do with myself now that I have had an entire free day and have no plans this evening... what a ridiculous problem to have.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Live from Grandma's

Tonight I am broadcasting live from my Grandma's house. She is sitting about three feet to my left reading a TIME magazine. Patriots vs Jets is on the television, and my Uncle Curt is across the counter cooking dinner, beef stew I believe.

Dinner is soon and I just wanted to sign on and cover a few things I have been meaning to mention.

First, in completing my New Years Resolution from 2010, I incidentally read the entire work of Jane Austen. I think that is an additional accomplishment that deserves recognition. I also read Ulysses, which is one of the hardest books known to man. So, go me.

Second, every team I root for in a playoff situation seems to lose. I really really really do not want to see a Bears v Steelers Super Bowl, I couldn't win because at this time I do not want to see either of these teams win. Hopefully New England comes back and breaks my losing streak.

Third, I have not yet decided whether to host a Super Bowl party. I was planning on NOT hosting this year because last year at the end of the night DH said we wished we had not done it and he did not want to do it again because he had seen so little of the game, but then when I asked him about it last night he was all neutral/even for it. A girl can't win. I will ask around and see who all would come and make the decision that way.

Fourth, my latest pet peeve/diatribe is the misuse of the concept of "fair" and "unfair". I think people use it to apply to to many things. Maybe I already mentioned this, but I just wanted to bring it up again. When you use the fairness concept to apply to things that are outside that realm of conception it just is setting yourself up for unhappiness/disappointment. It implies you are "wronged" when bad things happen. Like my Uncle today was talking about how it was unfair that the potatoes looked good but actually had bad frozen spots. OK. That sucks, but it is not a question of fairness, potatoes cannot treat you unfairly, nor can the weather that froze them.

That is all for now, I am being beckoned to make salad.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

LONG Update.... becoming a trend

Another week has gone by.

Monday was the national championship game between Auburn and Oregon. Since it was on ESPN we went to a friends house to watch it. It was a very sloppy game and we stayed up too late.

Tuesday I came home early from work, I just didn't feel like being their and our schedules are very flexible. I was tired from the previous night, so I took a nice nap and then we had a quiet night in.

Wednesday I went to Trivia. I actually helped out with some of the answers, which is not very common. I guessed that Lays Potato Chips were started in 1936, the answer was 1937 (it was a 10 yr range). I deduced that Kiefer Sutherland was not Canadian by use of the pro-Canada commercial that ran during the olympics and featured a lot of big Canadian actors (the group was debating between England and Canada). It was a fun night.

Thursday was another quiet night in.

Friday I came home and cooked Spaghetti. We watched I'm Still Here, the film in which Joaquim Phoenix pretended to retire from acting and try to start a hip hop commercial. This attempt was documented by his brother in law who was supposedly making a documentary, but in actuality Joaquim was acting. Almost no one new this (friends, agents, the general public). The movie is very weird, I would say intense. I actually think people will have one of two reactions. I think a lot of people would just be like "Did I really just waste 2 hrs of my life for that?", but hopefully some other people would be like me and it would make them think about a lot of things. The thoughts lingered and I ended up having a disturbing dream, maybe even a nightmare depending on you definition. It was an existential crisis dream, a failure dream. Any movie that can give me a meaningful/disturbing dream gets 5 stars in my opinion.

Today I went in and got some overtime in, then I ran some errands that turned out to be quite frustrating, including circling looking for a UPS drop box and an hour at a very grumpy post office with poor service and even more ridiculous international rates. Then I stopped by Wendy's and their service seemed so incredibly great after the USPS that I had half a mind to call the manager and compliment them. LOL.

Now a quick update on my goals--
I did not listen to much music this week because I have had more MP3 Player issues, but I am getting it back up and running today, and will be adding five new albums:

crash by Dave Matthews Band
The Very Best of the Grateful Dead
Diana and the Supremes, #1 Hits
Teasar and the Firecats by Cat Stevens
Stevie Wonder Number Ones

I also watched my first classic movie (of 20). I watched To Kill a Mocking Bird. It was really good. While I had read the book, I did not remember some of the details. That book was seriously groundbreaking, some of the issues it dealt with, and in such an interesting way. The movie was very well put together and well cast. I highly recommend it.

In terms of books, I have three of the recommended books in my possession now, but have not started them because I need to finish up something for book club first. I plan to start The Secret soon. I still have some open recommendation slots if anyone is interested.

Organizationally, I did arrange to get my new carpet. They are coming on Monday to measure and bring samples, installation will be a couple days after that. I did some cleaning in my office to move towards making it a sewing room. The unexpected consequence of this was that I picked up my violin and "fiddled" around a little bit. I think I may end up using it as a music and sewing room. DH and I also did some joint organization, we had a "date" set up this weekend to go through a few trouble spots in the kitchen that were bothering DH. We cleaned out the junk drawer, the upper dry-food cabinets, and the area next to the stove where spices etc tend to get stacked resulting in spills and dog messes (when they steal, lets say, a big jar of paprika off the counter).

Health - made breakfast 4/5 workdays, cooked two dinners at home, exercised once, ate fruits and veggies everyday. I still have not managed to get out a camera. Overall things are going well though.

Other random things
I worked 23 hrs of overtime in the past week. Yay money!
My coworker, who I have been significantly helping with her caseload, resigned to pursue other options, the work was making her way to stressed. It was probably the right choice for everyone.
Looking forward to watching NFL playoffs this afternoon!
Trying to decide whether or not to go to my Gmas tomorrow.
DH is on call, which is kind of stressful, but so it goes.
DH and I have a "date" next weekend to clean out the front closet.

It is really strange for me to have a three day weekend and have nothing planned, makes me feel a bit anti-social. I tried to plan something the last minute but nothing came together, so I guess I will just have to entertain myself.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

More on Music

You may all be sick of music posts. But I am not, and its my blog, so oh well for you. LOL.

I have been trying to come up with a good way to "cover my basis" on this massive music project I am undertaking. I tried to make a list of all musical genres, so I could try to cover them all, but I am just not sure how it breaks down, and I am sure there are types I do not even know about.

I also started compiling a list of groups/artists people think I should know, which has gotten quite lengthy. I think there are probably some obscure groups on it because some people recommend what they like, not what they think is commonly known, which is fine, but I can't sort it out.

I am also taking specific recommendations from friends, like I did with the books, so feel free to put in your recommendation.

I am also looking for a place/way to keep lists of everything that is going on with my "expand my horizons" project that will be easily linked to from my blog and accessible from work. I am not sure what this will be yet or if it even exists, and it is made more complicated by the fact my work blocks more websites everyday (blogspot has been re-blocked by the way)

ANYWAYS. All boring-to-you, but interesting-to-me administrative comments.

CDs being added to my MP3 player this weekend:

The Essential Alice in Chains
Pyromania by Def Leppard
The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac
Greatest Hits - Guns N Roses
Liebe ist fuer Alle da - Rammstein
Rearview Mirror - Pearl Jam
YoYo Ma Plays the music of John Williams - his classical music, not soundtrack work

A quick update on some of my other resolutions. I made breakfast 5 of 6 days this week, worked out twice, ate fruit and veggies everyday, had soda on two days (counting right now), had one home-cooked dinner, and I have washed all of my dishes. I have not started any of my January projects. I have 32/40 recommendations for books, so I should be able to find 8 more victims, but you are welcome to make a recommendation if you have not. I have not started reading them, but I am not worried about it because last year I read 86 unique books (and a bunch of those I read more than once), and the year before that I read over 100 books, so 40 books is easy, which was sort of the point. It leaves room for books I want to read, and it is not as high pressure as the page count goal in 2010. I have not watched any "classic" movies, but I do have To Kill a Mockingbird from Netflix right now, so that should be remedied soon. I have not used my camera, which is perhaps the most glaring failure. I meant to take it with me on the dog walk today and get some dogs-in-snow photos, but I had just woken up from my nap and was a bit groggy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Snowy Evening

Its a nice, snowy evening. It snowed about 2 inches between 1pm and 7pm. This unfortunately caused mass chaos in Columbus. It took me an hour to get home, a drive that is normally about 10 minutes, maybe 20 at rush hour. I was supposed to go to a friends house tonight but decided not to venture out to the highway after Dh's report of it's chaos.

I was supposed to go running today, but I didn't because of the snow. Instead of running, I shovelled. As far as I am concerned, shovelling is AT LEAST as good as running when it comes to a work out, especially when you consider the way I run (slowly and not very long) and the way I shovel (vigorously). I even shovelled the neighbor's walk/drive for good measure.

Other news in New Years Resolutions, they are going decently. Its interesting going around and trying to get recommendations on books and music and movies. It is interesting to me how hard it is for people to "get" what I am doing. I have had to answer/rebuff the question "what are you looking for?" or "I don't know what you would like!" or "this site is a great way to find new music you like." I know it may be really novel, but I am not trying to find new music/movies/books that I like. If I do like these things, then thats great, but this is more about expanding what parts of the world (of art in these cases) I am exposed to, like it or not. In the case of the books, it is about taking on new perspectives and trying to see what you can get out of all types of books. In the case of the music and movies, it is about understanding those references and such that people make, knowing what people are talking about when they discuss popular or classic movies and music. Is that so hard to understand?

Maybe I am just a complete nerd.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January Music

I went the library this afternoon and picked up a bunch of random music to put on my MP3 player. The list:

Desireless by Eagle Eye Cherry
Golden State by Bush
The Dark Knight by Hans Zimmer (Soundtrack)
The Pick of Destiny by Tenacious D (Soundtrack... sorta)
Stripped by The Rolling Stones
Amnesiac by Radiohead
Survivor: The Official Soundtrack by Russ Landau and David Vanacore
Casablanca by Max Steiner (Soundtrack)
Brigadoon by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner
We Were Soldiers mixed (soundtrack)
The Very Best of The Irish Tenors
Now What by Lisa Marie Presley
Lost Highway by Bon Jovi
The Cloud Messanger: A Choral Fantasia by Gustav Holst (2 disc set)

I am not sure if this is going to be enough, I have A LOT of music on my MP3 and listen to it for many hours a day, but I have several requests into the library and will add them as they come in, though many of them have LONG wait lists. I think I am 400 something on the wait list for Eminem's newest album, and 40th on the waiting list for some Metallica. Etc

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Resolutions 2011

Ready for a ridiculously complex, and overly ambitious set of New Years goals?
Here they are:

1. Expand my Horizons
A) Read 40 books that have been recommended by other people - I am still taking recommendations. I have about 20 recommendations so far.

B) Watch 20 new "classic" movies - I am also taking recommendations for this, so far I only have two of these picked.

C) Reload my MP3 player with new music at least once a month - I want to completely clean it out of my old music except for my Harry Potter "soundtrack" standbyes that dont really count as music and I use daily

D) Travel to One New Place - Hopefully this will be internationally, but we will see what happens, may just be a new state

E) Try one new experience - restaurant, locale, entertainment - at each "old" place we go (such as Duluth, Kansas, St Louis, Cleveland).

F) Go to 3 concerts/plays/performances in Columbus

2) Take More Pictures - Don't go more than a week without picking up the camera, or in short, make picture taking a habit

3) Healthier Living Habits
A) Make Running a Habit - With or without the dog, lets say 3+ times a week?
B) Make Cooking Breakfast at home a habit
C) Make Portion Control a Habit
D) Remove the Habit of drinking Soda
E) Make eating fruits/vegies a Habit
F) Improve Vitamin compliance -
G) Reduce Fast Food as a Habit

4) Organization (Monthly Goals)
Complete the following tasks each month: (changes possible based on need and life events:)
January - Set up Sewing Room, Take Dry cleaning, Get new carpet
February - Clean basement and streamline Laundry situation
March - Clean out the Red Office and find shelves for all books
April - Clean out and organize garage
May - Plant Veggies, Plant flowers, replant maple tree
June - Trim all outdoor plants, refinish deck
July - Deal with CDs, Videos, and DVDs
August - Organize pictures and scrapbooks
September - Organize recipes
October - clean up garden for winter
November - Rake Leaves
December - decorate for Xmas, get pictures printed

5) Organization 2.0
A) Make a list everytime before going to the Grocery Store
B) Wash dishes as they are used, except during large projects or social occasions
C) Continue use of Chore Chart

In order to track my progress, I will be creating a label for "Goals". Under this label I will try to do a review of every book/movie/travel experience I have, catelogue my completion of monthly tasks, and give periodical updates on how the other goals are going.

Here is to a great New Year!! *TOAST*

To Catch You Up...

Of all the ways I thought I would spend my New Years Eve, sick with sinus yuckiness and a massive headache that would send me to bed by 10pm was not one of them. It was a perfect storm of various headache catalysts, and probably the first time I have not stayed up until midnight since I was a toddler.

I know, I owe you a substantive post before I go off posting about all my goals for 2011, so here it goes.

DH and I spent Christmas with the ILs. We went to St Louis Wednesday before Xmas, where we had a nice evening of opening presents. I practiced their piano and picked up "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", they played the Wii, we all watched some TV and generally enjoyed each other's company.

On Thursday we left for Kansas. We were planning to take two cars, largely because I do not do great in back seats with regards to headaches and car sickness. But the ILs talked me into going in one car by assuring me the front seat. This worked out great for me, but I am not so sure that it worked out for the three (MIL, SIL, and DH) who were crammed in the back seat. I believe one time during the trip, MIL, who is generally very good tempered, made the comment that whoever said the Honda CRV is a five-passenger vehicle should be shot because there is no way that the middle seat in the back should count. Luckily, I was in the front seat, or driving, for the entire trip.

Anyways, Thursday night we arrived in Kansas. We had some trouble getting into Grandpa's house where we were staying because of a lock problem, but DH saved the day with some careful maneuvering of his pocket knife. On Friday we spent the day doing some last minute shopping. In the evening we briefly visited Grandpa in his apt and then headed over to Aunt Barb's house for some fun with Aaron's cousins. It was a lot of fun. We met a ridiculous bulldog named Louis and drank too much. On Christmas we relaxed in the morning, then went for lunch at Grandpa's cafeteria, then back to Barb's house for more good food (Lasagna) and the White Elephant gift exchange. It was a good Christmas.

On Sunday we headed down to Independence KS to see MILs side of the family and celebrate Xmas again. We had the full Christmas dinner this time, with Ham, Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and other yumminess. We did another white elephant exchange. In the evening after everyone had left we played one of the white elephant prizes SIL had won - The "You know your a redneck if ___" board game. It was stupid. It was not very well thought out in terms of goals, and we quickly discovered that Jeff Foxworthy's jokes are not the funniest of possible options.

On Monday we made the trek back to St Louis, stopping in Springfield along the way to eat at Cracker Barrel with our college friend Ben and his girlfriend. It was great seeing them. Back in St Louis we enjoyed another nice evening with Dh's family, and an early bedtime. I think we were all glad to be back in normal sleeping situation.

On Tuesday we made the drive back to Columbus. The puppies were very glad to see us and we got settled in nicely. Unfortunately I was also starting to get sick. We both worked Wednesday and Thursday, and both had yesterday off.

Now it is 2011, a new beginning so to speak. A new beginning as much as each individual chooses to make it one.