Monday, December 31, 2007

Obligatory Year in Review post

So, 2007 is just hours away from ending and I guess it's time for a "year in review" post.

So, 2007...overall, not a bad year. Not as many people that I know died this year as in years past. That's always a plus, and a nice change from the past few years. I traveled a lot less for work than I have in any of the previous seven years and am looking at another year of minimal business travel. It's been nice to be in town a good bit and for large chunks of time and I'm looking forward to that again in the coming year, especially since this will probably be the last year for a while that will happen. Speaking of work, I got another new cubemate and some more real estate and furniture (the only semblance of status available in cubeville). Oh, and a very nice flat screen monitor. Although I had to sticky my dinosaurs to the top of the monitor to keep them from getting knocked off on a regular basis. But, this has the added benefit of not requiring me to move those toys when I rotate the monitor 90 degrees on the odd occasions when things are easier to deal with in portrait orientation.

I'll finish the year up somewhere around 20 pounds lighter with a goal of loosing a bit more in the coming months (we'll see how that goes). I've become even more hard core about my workouts at the gym and have enjoyed the benefits of that time both in my physical strength and endurance and in the friendships that I've build with people at the gym. I even won the balance and functional strength competitions at the gym, which was pretty cool. I also started attending kickboxing class, which I tend to call "percussive therapy" and found that while I'm not very good at hitting things (which is probably not a bad thing), it is a lot of fun and a great stress relief, when practiced in a controlled environment.

I did some travel for fun this year. Spent some family time in Atlanta and got to visit with some friends while there. I got to attend the weddings of two friends from college, and both were great times (one didn't even require a drive of more than 90 minutes). The best week of the year (for the second year running) was spent in Colorado with a bunch of high school kids during the month of June. Great teaching, beautiful scenery, all the mini-golf you can play (and then some), lots of time to hang out with the kids. And I had the least difficulty with the altitude that I've had of any recent trip to Colorado (probably mostly due to my time at the gym). We have some vehicle issues and have to take one student to the emergency room (freak Capture the Flag injury. She's fine.), but it still qualified as the best week of the year. Second best week of the year was my return to Space Camp. There's lots about that trip in the archives on this blog. I met some very cool people, did some stuff I've never done before and had a very enjoyable week. I'll be heading back sometime in the next few years. Anyone want to join me? I also met another cool RUF pastor, Brad Tubbesing, who was kind enough to take me to church and lunch with him before dropping me off at camp.

Rounding out the cause for my using more vacation time than I earned in the year (first time ever, won't be the last), was the week long mission trip to Reynosa, Mexico. This was probably the week when I ate the best, drank the most water (although the week in Colorado would be a close second) and used the most sun screen. It was another good trip. I had more responsibility and learned that I really need to do more delegation (darn control-freak tendencies). I enjoyed organizing English camp, being one of the go-to people for special projects on the construction site and leading small group with the high school girls. And, despite the monotony of it, I did kinda enjoy moving 1000(ish) concrete blocks from one location to another on the construction site. This was due mostly to some of the kids who were at the end of the line with me making up games and giving names to the blocks as we stacked them. I think I will also retained the term "Mary block" for any broken concrete block. (Mary took care of removing all of the cracked blocks to the corner of the site reserved for the bits and pieces of the blocks.)

On the technological and entertainment front, I was introduced to (thanks Jason) and fell in love with Google's rss reader which has enabled me to keep up with more blogs and various other web sites than I'm comfortable admitting I read. I added more podcasts to my ipod including the very good 7th Son Trilogy ,NPRs Car Talk andMur Lafferty's Playing for Keeps podcast novel. I started (occasionally) blogging, expanded my interest in the business of television (and movies, but mostly television) by closely following the issues between the AMPTP and WGA which lead to the Writers' Strike, watched a lot of television on the internet (before the writers' strike. I'm boycotting streaming television programs in protest of the writers not getting paid anything for streaming content, even though the networks are making money through paid advertisements) and got hooked on Quarterlife. I also, finally, started watching Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off series Angel and was less sad about it being the last Whedon written television show I had yet to see once I heard the announcement about the new Whedon show Dollhouse (not coming soon...thanks to, say it with me, The Writers' Strike).

I spent a lot of time at church doing all sorts of things. I spent some time at home and managed not to kill anything in my lawn that I didn't want dead (although the killing things I do want dead didn't go as well this year. Especially with the summer deluges that defined the weather in June and some technical issues with my lawnmower, the weeds threatened to unionize and take over all of metropolis...starting with my yard.). I spent time with friends and family and friends who are family and family who are friends. I realized, although not enough and not nearly as often as I should, how truly blessed I am in so many ways.

Tonight, I'll celebrate 2007 and look forward to 2008 at the annual Tadpole Family New Years Eve Party (probably not the real name, especially since the family's name isn't really Tadpole, although the nickname continues to spread). Tomorrow I'll watch the Rose Parade, specifically looking for the sky typing in support of the writers' strike and cook up a big batch of "Pot O' Food" which will provide me with dinners a couple of nights a week for the next few months (it's easy to make. One package black beans boiled for a few hours. One package brown rice cooked according to directions on the package, although with chicken bullion added to the water. A couple of pounds of chicken. Some fresh, canned and frozen vegetables. A bunch of leftover veggies and meats and stuff that have been saved in the freezer for the past few months for just this occasion. An eggplant purchased from the "it's cheap because if we don't sell it now, it's going to go bad" section of the Kroger produce section earlier this week. Some garlic and lots of onions. Combine and simmer for a couple of hours. Divide into various containers. Freeze until needed. Defrost. Season with whatever hot sauce or other seasoning seems appropriate at the time. Microwave and enjoy.).

Oh, and maybe in 2008 I'll figure out how to convince Blogger not to add a line break after each of my links.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

But they only have a three second memory

Just discovered another thing I'm not allowed to do...taunt the fish.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Another joy of the holidays

Something else that could only happen over the holidays: Mom, Sar and me all in the office, on three separate computers, surfing the Oriental Trading Company holiday clearance sale pages. The family that surfs together...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Is it a good sign or a bad sign....

that I got excited about the chance to go to the gym with my sister this morning?
The "Power" class was actually pretty fun. I'm able to get a similiar strength training workout in just over half the time of the class when I workout on my own at my own gym and I get to listen to the podcast or music of my choice. But, if you're not as disciplined, like the comraderie of classes or want and instructor guiding you through the exercises, it's not a bad deal.
It took me about half way through the class to figure out more of what amount of weights I needed to be using, so I don't think I'll really be too sore in the coming days. Sarah talked about wanting to go to the gym again on Wednesday, maybe I can go again then.
And, yes, I do know that I definitely qualify as a gym geek (gym rat? fitness geek?) that I really want to go to the gym while I'm "on vacation" with family. But, I'm okay with that. And it makes me feel a bit better about the amount of cookies and such that I'm consuming while I'm here. :)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday, Random Sunday

A few things that wouldn't have been part of my normal conversation but that I found myself saying today:
"Your brother is not a zombie."
"You can't have antics, that's my job." (Followed by elbow in the ribs from mom for the bad pun.)

Random things that make me exceedingly happy and show that my friends and family know me better than I might have thought:
Mom offered up a "slime making" kit...I think it was actually the "mother of all slime" making kits as something I "might like to do with the boys". We're saving it for tomorrow...if Sarah will let us. I had actually been thinking that doing something like this with the kids would be really cool to do while I was here, but hadn't had the time to look up the recipe or procure the ingredients. Mom didn't know that.

I received a miniature remote control helicopter for Christmas from my friends Jason and Sandra. These have been all over the web this year and there have been various times when I was really, really tempted to order one for myself. But I resisted the temptation, especially since I already spent a bunch of money on DVDs for myself (they were great buys). Jason and Sandra didn't know that. Now I have one, along with two sets of pirate AA batteries (Think Geek rocks). I'm very excited.

And other bits that made this a good day:
I also had dinner with Jason and Sandra. Jason's one of my closest friends from Tech. He got married in October. I had met Sandra before tonight but hadn't really gotten to spend a lot of real time hanging out and really talking or seeing she and Jason interact. I got to do that tonight and it was a lot of fun. It generally takes me a long time to really get to know people and to open up to them, but it seems like that wasn't the case with Sandra. I had a really good time tonight and I'm even more happy for Jason that he's found a wonderful woman to spend the rest of his life with. And I look forward to more evenings like this one.

And I got to help Dad out with his Christmas shopping after a present he bought on-line for mom turned out to not be exactly what he thought it would be. There was a store that I knew would have what he did want just a few miles from Jason and Sandra's place. Since I was going there anyway, I volunteered to stop and pick up the item in question. Dad agreed and I found what he was looking for and at roughly the price he was looking to pay.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Things that get me "that look" from my sister

So, I'm in Atlanta (well, Hiram, but close enough) to spend Christmas with the family. I'm enjoying the time off work, chance to get caught up on sleep, play with my nephews and just enjoy hanging out with my family (or my sister's part of the family. Mom and Dad haven't arrived yet.) And, as expected, I've been doing and saying things that get me "that look" from my sister. It's the look that says, "What are you teaching my children?" or "Are you REALLY doing that?" or "How is it that I'm related to you?". The thing is, it's coming from more people than just my sister now. Even my older nephew has picked up on it.

Here's a partial list of actions that have been earning me "that look" from various people.

- Skipping through the Petsmart parking lot holding hands with my nephews - Jerry (Apparently Sarah started skipping too. Jerry doesn't skip in public. Although in the basement, with heavy metal music, while theoretically filling in nail holes...that's possibly another story).
- Claiming that Zambonium, while all natural, is "that cold radioactive element" and should be added to the list of things that shouldn't be put in "all natural" cookies - Sarah. The list also includes arsenic and plutonium, in case you're wondering. Jerry had a hand in that one too.
- Suggesting that polio is the possible cause of the not quite high enough to be a real fever fever. Also, at some point, I think I remarked that typhoid is a cute" virus - Sarah. Although Jerry started it when he suggested that Devin had Ebola.
- Announcing that I was worried that the fish (my brother-in-law has many fish tanks around the house) might be working on perfecting their SCOBA system (self contained, out-of-water breathing aparatus) and might be planning a Christmas Eve mission to eat all the cookies and milk left out for Santa, which would then cause Santa not to leave any presents. - Jason (he's 7 and still into the whole Santa thing, for the presents if nothing else).

I've also had fun quoting random movies/tv shows (normally rather obscure quotes), even though the rest of my family doesn't get them. I've been blaming things on "bunnies or maybe midgets", telling my nephew "don't warn the tadpoles" wheneven one of us lands on the frog pond while playing Balloon Lagoon (I'm not sure I'll ever get the song out of my head) - both Buffy quotes. Assuring Jason that I didn't eat the fish on my flight to Atlanta on Thursday - from the classic movie, Airplane. And I've thrown in my fair share of Battlestar references when talking wtih Jerry about what to name a possible new cat that they're thinking of adopting so that Apollo, the just over one year old kitten has someone to play with.

I've also looked up what frankensence and myrh are on Wikipedia and have almost convinced Devin (he's four) that he's not going to be a wiseman in the play at the Christmas Eve service but rather a wiseguy (I'm gonna get "that look" from my Mom when she realizes that one is my fault. :) ). Although I'm not certain how well that one has stuck with Dev. I never was able to convince him that his favorite color was plaid, although I came close one trip. :)