Thursday, December 31, 2009

What does this song mean? For my whole life I don't know what this song means. "Should old acquaintance be forgot". Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances or does it mean if we happen to forget them we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot them?

Of course, Sally responds to Harry with "Well may be it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it's about old friends."

Most blogs I read end the year with a big look back at all the things that have made up "the year that was". I've done that in the past also but I'm not going to do much reflecting this year.

2009 was all over the board and for me and, personally, the "downs" outnumbered the "ups".

Dwelling on the changes and the losses of 2009 won't do undo all the downs and it's probably not the most healthy thing to do to dwell on them anyway. The downs were so consuming that the ups went by in a blur. '09 was basically out of control and I felt that I was playing catch up all year - at work and in my personal life. I guess I'm fairly "type A" because the state of chaos we stayed in took quite the toll in the sleep and happiness departments.

2010, though, is looking up. My goals are to make the most of this year, to not to let good opportunities to make good memories slip by, and to let things go when things just seem overwhelming. You can only do so much!

It's funny that we don't really do a whole lot for New Years. It's sort of a non-holiday. It's a good opportunity to stay in and rest up. In fact, we really celebrate at 11PM now since that is the live Eastern time New Years. Watching a tape delay just seems dumb and I've really gotten hooked on the CNN New Years with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper. Kathy typically says something (or some things) that is (are) completely awful and over the top. It's a good way to celebrate watching Anderson Cooper get totally embarrassed.

It almost slipped past me that this was a sort-of milestone New Years since this is the end of a decade. The first big "milestone" New Years I remember is 1979 going into 1980.


We watched Dick Clark (these pics are from CBS footage posted on You Tube) on our floor console Zenith with two big dials and no remote control (Kids today couldn't cope. But, you didn't change channels much with only 4 to choose from!).

1979 to 1980 seemed like a big deal and I really have no idea why. All I knew is that I was getting to stay up really late.


Check out those disco moves!

It ended up that 1980 wasn't much different than 1979. And, 1989 wasn't much different than 1980. The world didn't change a whole lot for those 10 years. But, think of 1990 to 1999 - computers - cell phones - internet - all the TV channels - all in 10 years. 2000 to 2009 has seen technology just take over and there are days where I wonder if that is a good thing or a bad thing. At least it keeps me employed, so I guess it is a good thing!



And here we start another decade. Will there even be blogs in 2020? If there are and carpal tunnel or arthritis hasn't taken over my fingers, I'll still be here typing away about who knows what.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dismantling Christmas

I think everyone we know had a financially "tighter" Christmas this year and we were certainly no exception. But, this seemed to be the best Christmas in quite a while. Everything seemed more meaningful and there were no "throw away gifts". We did the majority of our shopping online this year. Most of that was cutting out Black Friday and cutting out the impulse items. No $5 Barbie dolls that go to the thrift store 3 months later after about 1 hour of play. No buying stuff just because it seemed like good deals when it was really totally unneeded (and ended up at the thrift store!). All in all, we're quite lucky and fortunate to have what we have. It was a good Christmas.

Right after Christmas we started slowly taking stuff down. First, all of the inflatables and yard decor came down. Then, the inside Christmas items all started to disappear back into the totes they call home for 11 months of the year. Finally, the tree and the outside lights came down. Christmas was over. It was fun while it lasted.

Looking around the house, I hate to say that it is kind of a relief to have my normal and un-decorated house back. That may sound "grinchy" but the first decorations go up with Halloween and you just get tired of all the knick-knacks after a while.

First, the Christmas ornaments all came off.


Then, the tree magically came apart into easier-to-move pieces.
 

Then, Sara took a self-pic with my Blackberry while I tried to drag the tree up into the attic.



Finally, the weatherman showed us that the weather here will be a lot more like Saskatchewan and a lot less like normal for the next week or so.



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Twas the night after Christmas

Nothing exciting happening tonight. The holiday went by in a whirlwind. I ate way too much. We've been to the movies twice in two days and stayed up way too late each night.Christmas is a lot of work but this was a good one.

I'm taking a couple of days off the blog to recharge the thinker. And, it's another holiday week coming up which means weird work hours. Christmas is all about the kids. New Years needs to be all about catching up on some rest!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

There are many great traditions out there but aside from watching the 24 hours of "A Christmas Story" over and over, my favorite has to be the last Late Show with David Letterman before Christmas.

Not only do we have the excitement of the Quarterback Challenge (where Dave and Jay Thomas attempt to knock the meatball off the top of the Christmas tree with a football)...





...and Jay Thomas' annual telling of the Lone Ranger story...





...but we also get my favorite part which is Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)".

The one from this year is already online and she was unbelievable. She gets better every year. To think - she first recorded this song in 1963!!





Also, I have attached two more - the one from 1995 and the one from 2006. She has been doing this every year on the final Late Night / Late Show before Christmas(except for the writers strike year) since 1986.








I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Christmas Eve Webcam is off!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and shared part of our Christmas Eve with us!

The Christmas Eve Webcam is LIVE!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!

Welcome to our Christmas Eve get-together. This is the third year we have streamed live video. I was inspired by Randall who has been streaming his Christmas Open House live for several years. It's a good way to those far away from us to stop by, check in, and say "Hi".

Comments are open on the blog so click right below here where it says "comments" and let us know you stopped in!

One note - don't hit CHAT as that is off and it seems to stop your video. Just refresh the page if that happens.

If you see a frantic game of Uno or the dog tearing up a box of Kleenex, these things are totally normal around here!






If you are seeing this post on Facebook and can't see the cam, come to the blog at http://iusedtobebrilliant.com/ to see the cam!

Charlie Brown's Christmas Updated

The cam will be on later as we tear into gifts and have our annual fight to the death Uno card game match. Until then, here is a nifty clip I found on the internets. Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Cam Test

I am testing the live video cam that we'll try to have on for some of our holiday get-togethers. This is merely a test!

The chat is disabled - don't hit that or you will have to refresh the page to get the cam going again!

If the stream is off, you will see Alex the Dog instead!

The video is on for Christmas Eve in a new entry!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An appreciation: The House Foundation


Top Row (l-r) Mike Bohan, Gerry House, Al Voecks
Bottom Row (l-r) Richard Falklen, Duncan Stewart

There are familiar aspects of the towns we live in that seem like they will never change. These things bring comfort. They are part of who we are. For some, that might be an old theater or a park or maybe a sports team or the old high school.

For me, it has been a radio show.

That show is called The House Foundation and Wednesday morning it sadly changes with the loss of two of the members due to what the some say are budget cuts and others say is just the result of management's desire to see change.

Breaking up a team that has been together for the best part of 29 years seems strange to me especially since they are always #1 or #2 and have won award after award after award.

I guess someone just understands the industry better than I do.

For me and thousands and thousands of others, they've been there through our good times and our bad times and we've all gotten to know them pretty well along the way. They made unbearable mornings bearable. They made us laugh. They made us think. They included us as part of the conversation. That is a rarity on radio that today seems filled with talk show screamers or endless, human-less playlists.

And, once you spend four hours a morning with someone for so long, they become part of an extended sort of family. I many times talked to people about what had happened on the show and was always amazed at how many others were also faithful listeners.

To Al Voecks and Duncan Stewart - thanks for always being there. My mornings won't be the same without you.

Merry Christmas - from Jimmy Fallon



I need to go on the Horatio Sanz diet. Wow!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Murmurs

I spent way too much time working today. I decided I was going to install a wiki on our documentation server with the hopes of moving our stuff over to a wiki at the start of the year. Easier said than done! It's not that the wiki install itself was bad - it's that I inherited a server with completely goofed up permissions that took forever to fix.

But, it's up and ready to work on. Half the battle is over. Maybe the rest of the week will not have 12 hour days.

I did learn that Microsoft programmers could use a proofreader today:



I also remembered why the new Walmart logo seems vaguely familiar.



I'm a big fan of Zayre history. It rolls right off the tongue. Zaaaayyyrrreee. My grandmother shopped at the Zayre here quite a lot. It was the ultimate 70's store.

And, as you can tell from this commercial, the Zayre store in 1984 looks a lot like the Kmart stores still do in 2009!!:

Friday, December 18, 2009

School Christmas Party!

Yes - the kids are now out of school until Tuesday, January 5th. It's that time of year where I say to myself stuff like "Christmas is such a festive time of year" and "Will I make it to January 5th with my sanity intact?"

Here are some random pics from today's festivities:

Lindsay with one of mom's chocolate-covered strawberries. It was a massive sugar fest all morning.


This pretty much sums up how I feel all through the holidays.


Lindsay's class is getting ready for the distribution of the presents.


Sara is getting ready to fight it out to get a good gift.


Sara got one of the Junie B. Jones books she doesn't have and she made this abstract popsicle-stick reindeer head. We should eBay it.





Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And the stones in the road fly out from beneath our wheels

So, I have been slacking on the blog for a while now and that is due to most of my concentration and energy being spent on getting my office closed up. For the last four months I have been going through hundreds of pieces of equipment - dividing up the good and the bad. For the last week I have been working on my last batch of PC's and laptops - trying to get as much good equipment configured and upgraded as possible so these items could find new homes.

It has been a very hectic last few months and a grueling last few weeks. Being even more stressed than usual at Christmas has really been a drag.

I actually set a move out date in mid-November. Then another at the end of November. I finally realized that I will always find one more thing to fix - one more piece of equipment I can build out of two bad pieces. I had to just cut the cord and set a date and stick to it.

So, I finally set December 16th as THE move out date.



Today, I shipped that last batch of PC's and laptops out. Tomorrow, I will move out of my office which at this point barely resembles the picture here. Most everything I am keeping (and there is not much) is now in totes either waiting to be given to my co-worker in Knoxville or waiting to be put in storage in my garage until it is needed. The furniture and the rest will either be assigned to another location and end up with the liquidator.

The good news for me, my family, and the people who I pay bills to is that I am still employed and just moving back to my home office. Of course, I will be back on the road again in January (most likely coming to a town near you at some point in 2010) and I rarely saw my office anyway.

I really had this office organized into a nice lab of sorts and I will miss that. I could work on multiple pieces of equipment at once and I do not have near that kind of room at the house. (I do computer support / repair / training / etc. I never really mention that here.)

But, I'm already formulating a plan to get at least a couple of folding tables so I can create a nice little workspace in our remaining area building. Sometimes you just have to tear some stuff apart.

For now, I'm just going to be glad that the only commute I will have when a problem happens at 5AM is to my desk looking out into the backyard.

Music Videos for Wednesday

Here are a couple of Dan Fogelberg songs to mark him being gone two years today. First is one of the many fan-created videos on Youtube for "Same Old Lang Syne". It's one of the more normal ones but just close your eyes and listen unless you are wanting to get that karaoke experience:


And, here is my favorite Dan Fogelberg song - the video appears to have been plucked from VH1 back in ancient times when they still played music videos:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Mumblings


It would only be fair if everything in Wal-Mart China was made in America.

I think we're all still exhausted from the weekend and Monday has whizzed on by also. Now it's already time to go to sleep so we can get right back up tomorrow and do it all again.

I have three days left at the office and it's getting a bit hectic trying to get all of the last minute stuff done. I don't want Thursday to turn into a chaotic mess so I am trying to stay ahead of everything. It didn't help that the repair man that showed up to fix a piece of equipment I need to ship brought the wrong part and won't be back until Wednesday. Unfortunately, I didn't have a stun gun with me to give him a good "adjustment zap".

Now our goal is just to stay healthy and get to the end of the week which is the last day of school for the holiday break.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Finally Friday


I finally hit the "wall of exhaustion" today. I've been rushing to knock out everything that needs to be done before I move out of my office next Thursday plus there was a meeting here this week plus I am slowly losing my battle against this nagging cold that seemed to pop up out of nowhere.

This whole week was a complete blur. We had Lindsay's 7th birthday on Wednesday. I can't say I remember a lot about it. We have her party at the movies tomorrow. I'll try to get some sleep between now and then so I don't snore during the film.

My new inability to sleep is getting downright annoying. I wake up at random times and hardly get back to sleep before the alarm goes off. Maybe I should try to be productive during those times. Maybe I can do some dishes or catch up on all the recorded shows I'm behind on. These are good thoughts I need to keep in mind when I am sitting on the couch in the dark at 3AM like some sort of insomniac zombie.

It sure doesn't feel like Christmas but I am hoping next week will be better. I am a bit ahead of all the move about to happen at work and I am looking forward to settling back in to the home office and stopping the daily commute which adds hours each week. C'mon Thursday!

And that's the way it is - Friday, December 11th, 2009.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Parade

The Christmas Parade was today. It was much warmer this year than it has been the past couple of times we went but I am still cold. I must be getting old.

Here are some of my favorite photos followed by a slideshow of all of the photos I took:

The kids and me without my makeup on.


Me and a very tall shampoo bottle. My new Facebook profile pic.


Lindsay and Shampoo.


The SWAT team. Play music too loud at your holiday party and these are the guys that show up.


Snowbird!


Nothing says Christmas like an inflated woman and a purple superhero.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yes, it's snowing - somewhat

Too bad you have to be up at 3AM to see it. I also doubt we'll get enough to even dust the ground. All I see now are big, wet flakes that are more closely related to a slushee than actual winter snow.

Still, it's a start and this is the earliest in the season that we've seen weather cold enough for this to happen in years. January and February might get pretty interesting around here.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Confuse your dog for Christmas

It appears that L.L. Bean wants you to encourage your dog into playing with a toy that looks like a Christmas tree light and then scold that same dog for wanting to pull the lights off of the tree and play with those also.


Nothing says "holiday fun" like a totally confused canine.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Elf on the Shelf Returns!

He's sneaky - he's creepy - and he's always watching you!


It's Andrew the Elf - he's telling Santa all that you do!


Oh well - it rhymes about as good as the song in the commercial does. It's early and I haven't had my coffee yet!