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All Too Human's Journal
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Date:2009-01-01 02:19
Subject:Happy Thanksgiving!
Mood: happy

I have decided that from now on New Year's Eve will be my new Thanksgiving.

Why not? If my Dad can move his birthday to July, what prevents me from arbitrarily rearranging holidays of my own? Chalk it up to sort of inherited family quirkiness if you must. What's wrong with having my Thanksgiving at the point where one year ends and the new year is just beginning? Does anyone dare complain?

Please understand that by celebrating Thanksgiving on New Year's I am not attempting to disrespect that long-standing November holiday. Quite the contrary!

I have always been a fan of the traditional November Thanksgiving. It is an American staple. I look forward to getting together with friends and family, and there is a special place in my heart for turkey and mashed potatoes. Fall is probably my favorite season with its bright orange and red, the sound of crunching leaves beneath your feet and the feel of the cool crisp air.

But I do not think crunching leaves, crisp air, mashed potatoes or even turkey and gravy make a real Thanksgiving.

If Thanksgiving means looking back at the story that is your life and feeling a profound and deep sense of gratitude, then New Year's Eve is probably the best day for me.

For us, New Year's Eve is already two holidays. My wife and I celebrate our 'Meetaversary' on that day because we met four years ago on New Year's Eve.

Four years ago on New Year's Eve I met the woman who would later become my wife, and later still become the mother of our baby boy.

New Year's Eve, Meetaversary, Thanksgiving -- they are the same thing to me; because there is nothing that fills me with such a deep and enduring sense of gratitude as having met my wife.

Curling up next to her I have trouble imagining how lonely, lost and unhappy my life would be if our paths had not crossed that night.

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Date:2008-10-23 18:46
Subject:It's a boy!

Our son was born at 9:59AM on 10/9/8.

He weighted in at 6 lbs 7 oz and was 19 inches long.

We named him Asher Noah. Both he and his mom are doing well.

It is hard to believe that he is already two weeks old. I cannot say how proud I am as a new dad. But most of all, I am proud of my wife.

We celebrated our second wedding anniversary the day before the scheduled C-section. We had dinner. We exchanged small gifts. But none of that compared to the feeling we had twenty-four hours later.

Cards, gifts, words -- they are all symbols of how we feel, but they do not compare to the exhausted sort of happiness we shared the following day. What can you feel other than a deep sense of love and commitment when you see your wife holding your son?

Our son!

I am so proud.

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Date:2008-02-14 07:44
Subject:Every day.

Not to state the obvious...

But I am the luckiest guy in the world.

I love my wife.

So much.

Date:2006-11-06 08:01

Weekend mornings are good, but Saturday mornings are my favorite. Sunday mornings are not too shabby, but they are a little too close to the work week. They smell faintly of Monday, like a jacket you wear out to bars that never seems to lose that lingering smell of smoke.

For me, Saturday morning is far enough from the specter of the work week to still feel relaxing; especially this time of year when the weather is cool and the down-comforter is warm. It sometimes takes a little bit of extra motivation for me to crawl out of bed on a Saturday.

Did you ever wake up on a Saturday morning without any plans and wonder what you were going to do that day?

I have.

Have you ever gone from lounging in bed and wondering about your day to standing in a chapel in Las Vegas making arrangements to get married the next morning?

I have.

I will not be able to do the story justice, but for those of you that may have wondered, our trip to Las Vegas to get married was anything but planned.

The detailsCollapse )

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Date:2006-10-10 08:55

I consider myself to be fairly articulate. So when I say I have no words to describe how happy I am right now, know that there simply are no words.

The grrl and I were married on Sunday.

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Date:2006-09-22 09:57

I typically do not get very political, but this makes me angry.

One way to win an election is to make it more difficult for people who want to vote against you to vote.

Read more...Collapse )

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Date:2006-08-07 15:05
Subject:Congratulations! It's a grill!
Mood: happy

That's right. We've got a grill now!

We've actually been in the house for almost three weeks, and I'm happy to report we have a washer and dryer, TiVo-enabled high-definition satellite TV, high-speed internet, air conditioning and even a shower. Here's to those little victories along the way!

But back to the grill: I now have my very own grill. For the first time in my life I am in charge of my very own steel-wrapped fire-producing outdoor-cooking-utensil and it feels good.

That's right, I'm the proud owner of a stainless-steel BBQ Grillware gas grill.

And if that wasn't birthday gift enough, the grrl also booked us on a last-minute getaway to Toronto. There's a long story about a United Airlines flight that couldn't get us there, but in the end we got a direct flight up through Continental and had a great weekend at a four diamond hotel in Cleveland's northern sister-city.

We're just about to start Phase II in the new house which involves some hard-core wall-busting remodeling of the entire kitchen, so until that is complete I will have more than ample opportunity to work my magic with meat and flame just outside the house.


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Date:2006-06-14 06:29

Well, things sure do move fast. I have not journaled in a while and so much has happened.

We got the house, got the keys, got married and I guess have 2.5 kids on the way. Oh, and we're getting a puppy or something. What the hell's a Labradoodle?

Okay, well actually only the first part is true. We got the house and that is enough for now.

We picked up keys the end of May and have been working on the place ever since. We expected to do a complete tear out on the bathroom, strip all the floors down to the slab and repaint all walls and ceilings.

The bathroom is the most important thing to get done, so that has been the priority. Plumbing, however, has been slowing things down quite a bit.

Plumbing ProblemsCollapse )

The fun part is our apartment lease runs out on the 21st of June, so we are very likely going to need to stay in an extended stay hotel for a while or move into another apartment short-term.

While we wrestle with the bathroom, the rest of the house is coming along well. The new driveway, garage floor and sidewalk block were poured yesterday. They look incredible.

We ended up having to put fifteen thousand dollars of our own money in an escrow to guarantee we would fix the city violations (not part of the loan). Having the concrete done should release some of that escrow, but the earliest the city inspector can look at the property again is the 23rd, so we probably will not be able to tap money from the escrow until July.

When there's a little more time I'll see if I can't get some pictures posted.

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Date:2006-05-12 13:02
Subject:Almost there....

The loan has been approved.

Now there are just a few remaining hurdles to get over.

The current city inspection is set to expire in just a few days, so I will need the city inspector to go over the house one more time. She shouldn't find anything amiss with the house, and actually (because some work has been done) there is a very slim chance that she will lower the escrow requirement.

I suppose she could also increase it, but I really can't imagine that she would.

Outside of that I just need to get insurance on the house. I hope to have that set up before Monday if possible.

Again, I can't wait for the first bar-bar-que....

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Date:2006-05-05 11:54
Subject:Almost there..
Mood: determined

Bid, counter, counter-counter, accepted.

Almost there. Doing the financing dance right now. Looks like I won't be able to use the 203(k) loan, which means I front quite a bit of cash up front out of my own pocket in addition to the downpayment on the mortgage.

Financing a property that needs work is apparently a pain.

The city wants a fairly sizable escrow to ensure I fix up the property, but the bank is deciding whether or not they want to inflate that escrow again. I could understand the need to do that if it was the bank's money in the escrow (as a part of the mortgage), but it is not: so I'm not really certain why it is even an issue.

I'm getting bids on the work over the weekend. Hopefully I can show that what seems to be over twice the cost of repairs in the escrow is dramaticly unnecessary when compared to the contract bids I have received to do the work.

Repair cost * 1.5 = City escrow requirment * 1.5 = Bank escrow requirement? That's 2.25 times the cost of the repairs. Err... Why?

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Date:2006-04-17 08:52
Subject:203(k) is good m'kay...

Has anyone ever heard of this?

FHA 203k loan?

It seems almost too good to be true, but it is a fantastic idea.

I’ve been looking at buying a house that needs a bit of work, but it becomes problematic because you need to pony up cash for the downpayment, then (in some cities) put money in an escrow account equal to the repairs that need done; then outlay the money to do the repairs.

Only after the repairs are complete and inspected can you retrieve your money from the escrow. In short: you need the downpayment and (temporarily) twice the cost of the repairs. For a house that needs tens of thousands of dollars of work, that money adds up fast.

Sounds expensive, but it is what I want to do. It is good for the street, good for the community, and in the end you should have a house that has been redone exactly as you want it (and hopefully is worth more than you put into it).

I assumed the bank would only loan me money based on the net worth of the house at the time of purchase and that the rest of the cash would be cash I would have to scare up other ways.

The way I understand this 203(k) program, I can buy a depressed house that needs work and finance both the purchase price of the house and the cost of the repairs.

What a fantastic federal program to allow people to improve the homes in a community without all of the up-front out-of-pocket expense!

Has anyone ever heard of this or used this before?

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Date:2006-03-27 21:38
Mood: happy

Is there anything better than the woman you love falling asleep with her head on your lap?

Nope. Nothing comes to mind. Nothing at all.

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Date:2006-03-07 15:05

It may be a bit late to post about it, but I had a fantastic Valentine's day. The grrl and I went to see "I love you, you're perfect now change" down at the Carousel Dinner Theatre in the Akron area.

We were off a bit to one side of the stage on the balcony, but we had our own private two-person table.

We got the Valentine's day package that came with champagne, dessert and an appetizer. There is something magical about a good cheese plate, some bubbly wine and choclate. Then again, perhaps it was really just the company. She does look fantastic in her little black dress.

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Date:2006-02-01 15:39
Subject:2005 -- What a year...

2005 -- what a year!

So many things have happened over the last year that I don't know where to begin.

Let's start with the really big stuff...

I'm in a relationship. Well, more to the point perhaps: I'm in love. I am a certified geek, but I've met my grrl...

Well I suppose I can say it has been a while since we 'met'. In fact, the grrl and I already celebrated our one year 'Meetaversary'.

When I was a kid I always imagined that someday I would retire from the work-a-day world and write. I think that I have a long way to go, because as hard as I try to find them, I keep stumbling over my words here. I would like to believe it is the nature of the emotion rather than an indication of my ineptitude at prose; but I can honestly say that I am still unable to capture in words the feeling I had the first time she curled up next to me. I am a very lucky man.

For most of 2005 the relationship was long-distance. I could bend everyone's ear with stories of Friday night flights and short weekend visits, or count on two hands (or more?) the number of planes that bridged that four hundred mile gap.

But, she's in Cleveland now.

Not that she's all that fond of the city mind you, or if not the city itself, she is not fond of the weather.

Regardless of the city or the weather, I am happy that we are together. Again, I'm a very lucky man.

There is other big news: My sister had a baby. I bought a condo (but don't really live in it). I'm going to be a best-man at sirrobo and snooglewump's wedding. I changed jobs within my company. I'm trying to apply for a patent.

But I suppose those are posts for other days.

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Date:2005-07-14 22:43

I got a phone call today on my cell phone from my sis letting me know that my mom was in an auto accident and was being taken to the hospital. She didn't have any details other than the car was not drivable and that mom was on her way to the ER.

Quite a little scare.

Mom's fine. The hospital was just a precaution. She's a little bruised up, but she'll be just fine.

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Date:2005-07-14 21:54

My roommate just sent me this link:

This is completely addicting. Like a logic puzzle without the words or an old-fashion magic square.

Started with *Sample Problem 5*. Took longer than I expected, but I think I've got the pattern for solving them down quickly now.

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Date:2005-07-01 20:30
Subject:So... What do you want to know?

What do y’all want to know?


I have not posted much of anything in a while.  I’ve been busy and have not even been audiologging much of anything.


This is not to say that I have nothing to talk about, but rather than I have been too busy to really sit down and post anything.

So what do you want to know?

n      I went to Vegas, I could talk about that

n      I just got back from a trip to Microsoft / Seattle

n      I have read a ton of new books (On Intelligence, The Tipping Point, Phi, Confessions of a Tax Collector, Crucial Conversations…)

n      I need to finish a write-up on my concept of what ‘free-will’ means

n      I am working through After Virtue which is thick, good; but a book that will make you think dangerously too much about the nature of Ethics

n      In the next few days I will have finished Freakanomics

n      I am in the process of learning how to patent an idea

n      I found a Podcasted science show (twis.org) that rocks

n      I’m looking for more worthwhile Podcasts

n      Work is still really busy

n      I went the hospital recently with chest pain: the heart is fine (this is likely a torn muscle--still following up)

n      I have dropped 30lbs from the start of the year by avoiding sugar

n      I cook fish nearly every day

n      ….


So what, if anything, do y’all want to know?

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Date:2005-06-30 12:47
Subject:Idea: Is the brain wireless?

Random thought from when I was reading On Intelligence earlier:
(The author of that book believes that the brain solves problems in a very small number of steps using parallel processing--because it is limited by the slow speed of neurons. That made me wonder if *brain waves* were actually waves that other areas of the brain could be receptive to.)
What if cells or collections of nerves in the brain actually have a receptivity to waves of some sort generated elsewhere in the brain? For example alpha waves generated in one area of the brain signal other nerves throughout the brain to raise energy levels, perhaps causing them then to fire.

This has the potential to make thought work closer to light speed rather than the speed of neurons, though some transmission of information would certainly have to travel at that rate.

As an example: if I see a visual image, many parts of my brain light up through a neural feed. If I haven't *thought* of anything yet, but a number of different areas are near-to-fire, an alpha wave pattern generated elsewhere tells all neurons to increase energy levels until the ones that are closest to the potential fire.

This would allow for some level of *fuzzy* thinking and abstract connections between ideas that were not currently directly connected. When the new connected areas fired, a pathway could be strengthened (as has already been documented).

This new pathway (strengthed by additional experience) could indeed become a new combined-idea-thought.

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Date:2005-05-19 14:34
Subject:Planes, Trains and Meeting New People

I have decided that I like flying, not because it shortens the time required to travel from /here/ to \there\, but rather because of the people I meet when I fly.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people you loath to sit next to. You know, one of those people that demands your attention and must talk to you throughout the entire flight. In fact, I would say I generally do not start up conversations on planes. When I start talking to people, I like for them to always have the option of leaving.

I tend to sit down with a book at the ready. For all intents and purposes I am prepared to read in silence: leaning back, scanning the pages and letting the author paint pictures in the back of my mind for the next several hours, while the plane glides from one destination to the other.

I read once that the book is an essential travel aid, a fixture to your fellow travel companians that says to them, "Note this book I've got in my hands: I really do not want to talk to you, thanks all the same." It is a neon sign asking for personal space, a sort of leatherbound conversational shield crafted from ink and paper.

Despite all of this, people invariably strike up conversations with me - even, I might add, when they have books of their own. But I've learned not to mind. Life is short, and you meet some rather interesting people on planes: people from completely different worlds.

I spent most of this week in New Jersey on a business trip, but was able to catch a fairly early flight back to Cleveland. In the airport I picked up a copy of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Conversational shield at the ready, I waited a bit for the appropriate row to be called and sat down in a middle seat.

I avoid middle seats when I can, but in this case I bumped up my flight to an earlier one and had limited seating options.

To my left sits a man perhaps a dozen years my senior. He wears a blue business suit and a yamaka. Before the flight lands, I'll learn that he has been an active part of the labor movement his whole life, working to get places to unionize their employess; but now sells bonds. He will show me digital pictures of his children, talk about how he didn't get married until he was fourty years old; and tell me the secret to a perfect marriage. He's visiting Cleveland on business. We will talk about Walmart and the evils of large shops that forbid unions. He will relay a story I already know about the Walmart in Canada that shut down when the employees there started a union. He'll compare this to a spoiled kid who takes his baseball home after striking out while playing with the neighborhood kids; which will cause him to transition into stories about where he grew up and the games he used to play in his parents' backyard. He'll tell me about the dark-haired and seductive woman he met when he was visiting Israel. How passionate they were, how her family offered to let him stay, but how it ultimately didn't work. He'll tell me that sex isn't everything, and that even passion is overrated in the long haul. He'll relate again the simple secret to a perfect marriage, and talk about how he met his wife.

To my right sits a retired fireman in his late fifties wearing a gold dogtag around his neck that reads, "If found drunk return to the New Jersey Pipes and Drums Brigade". For a moment I'll think he smells a bit like whiskey, but then wonder if he really does or if his jovial manner and the dogtags have planted the idea in my head. It is ten-thirty in the morning after all.

Scattered throughout the plane are other members of the Pipes and Drums Brigade, some (I will learn later) about my age and active-duty firemen, others very much retired; but all enroute to Cleveland to perform a concert downtown. They are a constant chatter while the plane sits on the tarmack, bits of conversations leaping from once side of the plane to the other. These were firemen like you would picture them in the movies, loud, brash, laughing and calling each other names. Their New Jersey accents causing them to sound even more musclebound than they really are.

He'll tell me about the band, insist I see them perform on Sunday and shout up the plane to get the exact name of the theatre that they will be performing in. He'll tell me about how he plays the drums, and that smoking two packs a day for so long prevents him from playing the bagpipes. He'll tell me about a golf trip he just got back from and talk about his wife in glowing terms, always refering to her as "My Bride". For some reason this will strike me as comic but endearing: to think of his wife as his bride even still. He'll tell me that his bride is currently in Atlantic City, and talk about how she loves that one-arm'd-bandit. He'll talk about living in New Jersey and show me articles about fires in the paper he's brought onboard, which will get him talking about fires in general. He'll tell me that he's been with the Pipes and Drums Brigade for ten years and point up and down the plane to different members of the troup. He'll talk about concerts they do with the local police in different cities when they are on the "Guns and Hoses" tour.

And somehow, even with all of this, I will work 103 pages through The Tipping Point before the plane sets down in Cleveland.

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Date:2005-04-26 08:44

"There's nothing wrong with Ohio, except for the snow and the rain..."

It is the end of April, but rather than showers we were hit with something like 18 - 21 inches of snow on Sunday. Heavy wet snow on trees that dare to bloom a bit in April means power lines down everywhere.

We have well-water and gas heat (but an electric blower) out at the castle, so since Sunday we've had no power, no water, no heat, and (for the first time I can remember) even no phone.

I spent yesterday at the house, barricaded in by snow, feeding logs into the fire to keep the house warm. I guess I'm lucky that we have a fitness center at work to shower and such.

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