Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Price Is Right New Year's Eve













We are at a Price Is Right party for New Year's Eve.

Dogs Chillaxin' Before The Year Ends

Zak and Buddy have the right idea when it comes to the end of the year. Just chill out on the couch with your favorite stuffed animal.

We'll be barreling through the snow and wind down to Warren for a "Price Is Right!" New Year's Eve party. There was discussion of hitting up the all-night skate at Evan's Skateland in the wee hours, followed by breakfast at Friendly's. Time (and alcohol intake) will tell whether that happens.

Monday, December 29, 2008

End Of The Year Blitz

I spent the last weekend of 2008 doing a lot of cleaning. Some of this was born out of the fact that we haven't truly had a free weekend since before August (yes, really) and that I was "nesting" (as Matt likes to call it).

I single-handedly stormed through both bathrooms, the kitchen, living room, dining room, my office, and the dog's room. Laundry was washed, dried, folded and put away. Bedding was washed, dried, and put back on beds. Paperwork in my office was shredded or filed away. Groceries were bought. Some outdoor stuff was taken care of by Matt with the finishing moves coming from me. I made Matt go through his closet while I rummaged through my own for the umpteenth time this year. Two huge bags of clothing were dropped off at a donation site.

There's still some things I need to take care of, like washing the slipcovers on the living room couch, dog's couch, dinette cushion, the dogs' pillows, and the upstairs area rugs. We'll see how that goes over the next few days. I've realized that dog hair creates most of the mess in our house.

In the meantime, for those of you who would like to join in the end of the year organizing, here's a handy list of what paperwork to shred and what to keep.

Linking Moves

I was starting to feel like my right sidebar was getting crowded, so I decided to move my blog link categories, minus my "Blogs I Read Obsessively" to a new page.

You can check out all the blogs I've linked to here. There's some non-blogs in there too.

If you have a blog that fits any of those categories and want to be linked, let me know in comments.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

All Dressed Up In Dreams

"All Dressed Up In Dreams" by The 6ths, always seems to remind of the when I had the misfortune of dating someone who seemed to make a habit of being unavailable or not showing up in general. Such fun teen years. Every time he had an excuse for not showing up, I'd glower and turn this song on. The final straw was when I found out from a reliable source that he was seeing four other girls at the same time including someone I knew from youth orchestra. I confronted him, which was met with some blustering and curt send off where he claimed I could forget about ever hearing from him again. I had the last laugh though when he went out of his way to come up to me at Lilith Faire the following summer to see how I was and to lament the fact that I had cut my long hair into a chin-length layered-do.

This is a more recent performance of the song. Unfortunately, the opening lyrics are cut off but the sound quality is better than the other video I found online.


I was happy
which is not like me at all
for an hour
I was feeling ten feet tall
and I had myself a ball
I was heading for a fall

I got all dressed up in dreams
and I waited by the door
but you never even called
to tell me you don't love me anymore

You're so pretty
everybody falls for you
in this city
it's the only thing to do
so I cried for 16 days
and I cried in 16 ways

I got all dressed up in dreams
and I waited by the door
but you never even called
to tell me you don't love me anymore

you said you'd arrive at 8
but you're 17 days late

I got all dressed up in dreams
and I waited by the door
but you never even called
to tell me you don't love me anymore

so I wander in the rain
as I slowly go insane

I got all dressed up in dreams
and I waited by the door
but you never even called
to tell me you don't love me anymore

2008 Wrap-Up

There's still a few more days left in 2008, but since I had some downtime, why not do it on a the last Sunday of the year? So here's some things about 2008...

1. I played violin. A lot. There was my personal push to perform solo, which I did at the beginning of the year, and then my ensemble playing picked up in June and never let up until a couple weeks ago. In between October 17th and December 14th, I performed 20 times.

2. New York State budget time (in all its forms) has brought with it more than a ton of job uncertainty. I'm ending this year with the assumption that my current job will be dissolved by the end of June (end of our fiscal year), if not sooner.

3. Matt and I revamped our spending habits and some of how we handled our finances. We're going into 2009 in slightly better shape than we were a year ago at this point, but it's still not great.

4. Matt painted the living room and I made a room off our living room my office. The next room we hope to tackle is the dining room.

5. Amazingly, I lost weight somewhere in between June and October (6 pounds). I managed to keep most of it off so far despite all the good holiday food. I credit a lunchtime exercise class I took this Fall. Between April 2007 and now, I've lost about 13 pounds.

6. Collectively, Matt and I attended 3 weddings with him going to a fourth wedding without me due to a prior obligation. So far, we have 3 weddings we know we're definitely invited to in 2009.

As I've said in previous years, I'm not one for New Year's resolutions. I have ideas of what I hope to keep doing and what else I'd like to accomplish but I don't feel a need to write it down in a resolution format. One thing I do need to do a better job at is saying "no" more. I would have experienced a lot less stress in my life if I had said "no" more frequently this past year.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Flutie Flakes at Wegmans

Look what Wegmans has for sale! I feel like I stepped back into the 1990s when I saw these.

Honest Scrap

Tara tagged me for the "Honest Scrap Award."

So, what does this award mean? It means – “leftovers, fragments, discarded material, and many times truth and honesty is discarded material, considered fragments and left over.” We tell it like it is and let the scraps fall where they may.

The honorees are to:
a) first list 10 honest things about yourself - and make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep!
b) pass the award on to 7 bloggers that you feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap.

1. While I'm totally attached to my computer, some of my best writings came to life in my spiral notebook while I was drinking coffee at a coffee shop.

2. I'm not a fan of talking to people on the phone. I'd rather text message or instant message. It gives me a moment to put my thoughts together.

3. As much as I talk about my love of coffee and coffee-related things, I'll choose a cuppa hot black tea with milk over a cup of coffee almost 100% of the time.

4. I have a long memory. This is good and bad depending on whether you're on my own personal "naughty or nice" list.

5. I will admit I'm like my mom in a lot of ways, but there are times when I find myself acting like my dad in freaky ways (like both of us choosing to wear navy slacks, black shoes, shade of blue sweaters for Christmas).

6. I lay awake at night and worry about what I'd do if certain people in my life died.

7. I believe in ghosts.

8. Even though I've played violin for over 22 years, my classical music knowledge is beyond poor. I wouldn't recognize most famous violin concertos if I heard them.

9. I love mysteries, especially British/UK mysteries, but have never read Agatha Christie.

10. I like say I'm a "realistic Democrat," meaning I'm a fiscal conservative with socially liberal views. Balance the budget and legalize gay marriage.

Tags? You're it. I'm feeling lazy today.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Buddy Wishes You A Merry Christmas!

Buddy says Merry Christmas as he waits hopefully for some turkey or anything that I might have on my plate. I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Protecting the Sweeties

Last night, I made the first six batches of peanut brittle. Per annual requirement, at least one batch refused to un-stick from the pan, resulting in me pounding away at it with a spatula while bits of hardened candy and cashews flew about me, getting in my hair, on my clothes, and on the floor where the dogs waited patiently to gobble up these sugary bits.

Knowing how much the dogs enjoy peanut brittle, Buddy in particular, I was extra cautious with where I placed the pans to cool. Our laundry is on the first floor off the kitchen and has bi-fold doors. It was rather handy to slide each cookie sheet of peanut brittle onto a cooling pad and close the doors. I did have concerns that the dogs would become smart in their quest to get more peanut brittle, so I devised an elaborate safety precaution that you will see pictured below:


In keeping with the holidays, it's gold ribbon usually used for present wrapping. It's worked so far. I plan to make at least 3 more batches of brittle tonight, divide them up for my family, wrap presents, and other assorted bits so I can sleep in on Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Office Picture

Pam tagged me for this one.

Rules
  1. Take a picture of yourself.. riiiiiight.. NOW!
  2. DO NOT change your clothes. DO NOT fix your hair.. Just take a picture.
  3. Post that picture with NO editing.
  4. Post these instructions with your picture.
  5. Tag 10 people to do this!

This is me at my desk in my office. If you look out the window to my left, you can see the white haze of snow falling.

I tag:
Matt, Len, Nick, Tara, Emma, Ryan, Jennifer (All Things), Jen (14221), Jenny Cisney (I'm about to start singing "27 Jenifers" by Mike Doughty any moment now), and Shannon.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Where's the Thruway?

This is the view from the passenger seat through our windshield while driving on the NYS Thruway near Batavia. Saw three tractor trailers off the road in less than a half mile section. Matt is driving and is determined to make it home bad weather or not.

Addendum: Took us over 3 hours but we made it before the Thruway was closed.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Plates of Colorful Goodness

Cookie decorating done for another year. And the Sabres are winning even. Good night so far.

Admiring The Tree

My parent's Christmas tree. They have so many ornaments that my mom has put out a second (much smaller) tree for years in the living room.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Impromptu Unofficial Surprise Party

Last night turned into something entirely different from what I was expecting. It's not unusual to find me and Matt at Forte on a Thursday night. We got into the habit of going out on Thursdays some years ago when our friends wanted to partake in the wings/beer special over at The Cherry Lounge. Since Forte has $2 pints of Southern Tier on Thursdays, we shifted our gatherings there over the last two years.

Last night, the crowd was pretty light. It was just me and Matt chatting with Nick, who was bartending, and Shannon, who had just finished her bartending shift. I mentioned to Nick that he needed to listen to the Cyndi Lauper/Hives Christmas duet, and it was too bad there wasn't a way to hook my iPod into their sound system, otherwise he could hear it then and there.

"Well we can do that," he replied.

"What? You can play my iPod in here?" I responded somewhat incredulously.

"Absolutely!" he stated.

Without waiting for another word, I grabbed my keys, skated across the frozen streets and sidewalk to our car, got my iPod, and carefully scurried back to the restaurant.

For the next few hours, my iPod provided the soundtrack for the night. Shannon took charge of "spinning" whatever she found that she liked. It was fun to sit back and watch someone choose songs from my playlists and gratifying to hear people say, "This is awesome! This is on your iPod?? I love this song!"

I think my favorite point in the evening was when "Kiss" by Prince came on after a lengthy Smiths/Morrissey set. The bar kinda went nuts. I haven't had that much fun in awhile. It ended up being a late night, but it was worth those few hours I probably should have already been in bed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Guess Who Was Near A Stove For More Than 10 Minutes?

I made dinner tonight. Baked chicken with tomato bruschetta, rigatoni with mostly homemade sauce, peas, and salad.

I melted our meat thermometer because, um.. well.. I put it in the chicken to see if it had reached the proper 160-degree mark. It had not, so I left it in and shut the oven. I checked back and chicken still needed cooking. Five minutes later I checked, and the temperature gauge at the top of the thermometer was starting to melt. I took it out and from that point forward I just eyeballed the chicken, hoping for the best.

Matt says it was all very good and was very appreciative that he didn't have to cook tonight. The kitchen is cleaned, a load of wash done, the dining room picked up, and I'm enjoying a cuppa tea. What I really need is a drink. We'll remedy that soon when we stop by the newly opened Fenton Grill in a little bit tonight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Buffalo News: Paterson To Cut Empire Zone Tax Breaks

Buffalo News: Paterson To Cut Empire Zone Tax Breaks

Well.

The State Legislature would still have to pass this. Seeing as how the current State Senate is led by an apparently anti-business Republican (Skelos) who hates the Empire Zone program, anything is possible.

Still, leadership should change January 1. I honestly expect the worst unless the business community and others lobby successfully. The people who run the EZ program can't lobby themselves. FYI.

Someone I work with jokingly said the other day, "Last business out of New York State, please turn off the light."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hall & Oates on Alan Colmes

I saw part of Hannity & Colmes by mistake once. Either way, this is awesome:


(HT Eriepressible)

Ring Ring.. This Is Your Wake Up Call

*RingRing!*

Julia: "Hello" (pours another cuppa tea)

Julia's Body: "Hi. Wow. You answered."

Julia: "'Sup? You caught me on a break. Working on some things here. Laundry, practicing.. you know. The usual."

Julia's Body: "Yeah, I know. That's why I called actually. I'm a little concerned that you've been pushing it lately."

Julia: "Oh I know. It's been busy you know. I'll give you a break soon."

Julia's Body: "You always say that and then you take on something new. Like the new violin thing this weekend.."

Julia: (interrupts) "Right, right. I'm doing just ten to 15 minutes of holiday music before the Lucia Program at First Lutheran. Then I'm done with violin stuff until January. I promise."

Julia's Body: "Well, it's not just that. I mean, hooray. Performance #20 over a three month period. It's not just that. It's some of the mid-week late nights out with friends. It's the drop off in eating well. It's not dealing with work-related stress. And we won't even begin to discuss the fact that I know you have a bunch of holiday related stress."

Julia: "Um. Yeah. I still need to do some Christmas shopping. And our trip to Rochester before the holidays. I also need to finish that article-slash-review on "The Sounds of The Smiths" for Nick. Oh shoot! Peanut brittle. I think I have more people to make for this year. "

Julia's Body: (sighs) "That's it. Here's a severe warning." (Induces revolt in Julia's sinuses in the form of stuffy head/runny nose/draining) "There. Get some rest and settle the fuck down!"

(Scene)

Went to bed at 8pm last night and got up at 8am. I'm keeping my commitments for this weekend, but I'll be laying low around town for awhile.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Last of Old Man Winter?

Matt with the last of the Old Man Winter on tap at Forte. Not sure if they have any left in stock. Either way it was highly enjoyed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reading List

Before I started doing my news gig which ate up about an hour of my evening time, I used to be a voracious reader. I would plow through a book or two an evening depending on what tickled my fancy at the time. Mostly it was mysteries of the British variety or chick lit back then. For the past 3 years, my literary habits dropped off sharply.

I still dream that I'll make the time in between practicing violin to read full books as opposed to random magazine articles, or just huge swaths of blog posts. I made a list of stuff that sounded good in the emails I get from the Prendergast Library. Here's what I hope to find over the next few months:
  • jPod – Douglas Coupland
  • Then We Came To The End – Joshua Ferris
  • More Than You Know - Beth Gutcheon
  • Kings of Infinite Space – James Hynes
  • Sleeping with Schubert - Bonnie Marson
  • Running In Heels - Anna Maxted
  • Dedication - Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
  • The House At Riverton – Kate Morton
  • Hotel World - Ali Smith
  • The Book of Joe - Jonathan Tropper
  • The Geography of Bliss – Eric Weiner

Monday, December 08, 2008

Lego Living Christmas Tree

Some enterprising soul made a Lego version of our Living Christmas Tree and had it on display in the church hall last night.

The orchestra would be in between the pews and the tree if you're wondering where my seat would be.

Incidentally, last night was not my last performance before the end of 2008. I'm now scheduled to provide music before the Lucia Program at First Lutheran Church in Jamestown this coming Sunday. I plan to do a mix of classical and Christmas tunes. Let's hope my strings hold out until then!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

46 Hours In The Cold For Toys For Tots

Tom at Friendly's is collecting toys and cash for toys for tots all weekend. He is braving the cold outside in support for 46 hours. Come down and donate!

Friday, December 05, 2008

WTF Is Going On In Canada?

Seeing as how I live under two hours from the Canadian border, I generally try to keep tabs on what's happening up there. It's good policy to keep tabs on what's happening around the world in general.

Anyway, so I started seeing rumblings on a few blogs written by Canadians over the past week or so about something going on with Parliament. I've been a little distracted by other stuff in my life, so I didn't quite follow what was going on. Then I saw the headline this morning that Governor General has agreed to let Prime Minister Stephen Harper suspend Parliament until January 26th.

Now, I know almost jackshite about Canada's form of government even after touring Parliament in Ottawa back in 2000. However, I did vaguely recall that the Governor General (GG) represents Queen Elizabeth. Oh yeah, did you forget that the Queen still has a finger on the pulse of Canada?

So anyway, a couple groups of political parties were working to form a coalition that would force a confidence vote on Stephen Harper. Harper is a conservative, or Tory, and the groups opposing him included NDP, the bloc from Quebec that wants the Province to secede from Canada, and the Liberals. If the confidence vote happened, Harper would have gotten a no-vote of confidence, and put the coalition in power with a new Prime Minister being elected. I believe.

But wait now, Harper used a rarely used ploy in asking the GG for permission to suspend Parliament. By doing this, he avoids the whole no-vote of confidence issue until January, at least.

Since I'm probably talking out of my arse on all of this, I'll give the links to what I can find online so you can all educate yourself on the various opinions:

Gen X at 40 - has several posts on the topic and seems to have been following the action diligently.

Western Standard - The top blog for Canada's Top 25 Political Blogs as determined by this guy

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dressed With Lights & Ribbons

Peggy, Shannon, and Kate decorate the Christmas tree at Forte. 'Tis the season.

Buffalo Getting A 24-Hour News Channel

Time Warner Cable has finally announced that Buffalo will be getting its own 24-hour TWC news channel.

After Adelphia got the boot in Buffalo and Time Warner took over, we knew it was only a matter of time before the Queen City got a TWC news channel. Part of that was because we heard that they were from our Time Warner Cable news friends here in Jamestown.

And speaking about that, Chautauqua County is pretty lucky to have at least one tv news station, even if only available through Time Warner, that can report on the area and local sports. Plus, it's a good training ground for reporters looking to get a start in the business. Having worked in radio news, Jamestown is a great place to get experience.

My hope, since the article mentioned that the Buffalo station will be serving Buffalo and Western New York is that Cable 8 News here in Jamestown isn't going away. It will be wait and see for now, I guess.

Feeling Accomplished?

Simple Terms had this meme up and since I was stuck for a blog entry today, I thought I'd ask myself:

What have you done with your life so far?

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyworld
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone's life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Seen Mount Rushmore in person
101. Learned to play an instrument

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Living Christmas Tree - 2008

This picture of the Living Christmas Tree rehearsal was taken from my seat in the pit orchestra. Performances start Friday. It is sounding good so far.

Location: First Covenant Church, Jamestown, NY

Performances:
Friday - 8pm
Saturday - 5pm, 8pm
Sunday - 5pm, 8pm

Tickets are $6 and are available at the church.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

80 Cars Vandalized Downtown

Since Sunday night, about 80 cars have had tires slashed in downtown Jamestown.

I personally know two people who came out to their cars after a rehearsal at The Little Theatre last night to find their tires deflated. At the same time, another group of friends were parked one street over and were not affected at all. Last night's vandalism happened just a small block away from our Police Station.

Leading into the holiday season, when more events are happening in the downtown area, including the annual Holiday Parade that usually draws massive crowds, I imagine there's a good many business owners and others who are worried that people will stay away until the criminals responsible for this spree are caught.

I will admit that I'm worried as well since I will have to park near the area where these incidents have happened every night for the next 6 days.

The best we can do is keep our eyes open for whoever is responsible and hope that JPD catches them before more damage is done.

ADDENDUM: The music aficionados on the AMP started a discussion on this topic. There was hope the culprits had been caught, but not so at this time.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

So we've been in a recession since last December.

I think most people's reaction to that news today was, "Well, duh!"

The months of November and December tend to be unkind for those working for companies that are having financial struggles and operate on a calendar fiscal year. I've known several people over the years who were told just days before the holiday season kicked in that they were being made redundant.

My thoughts are with everyone who has had this happen to them this year, or is concerned that it's in their near future.

A more personal account here (Requires Registration/Friend Request)

Returning To Jedi

If you're not wasting work time taking advantage of today's online shopping deals, here's a great behind the scenes look at Return of the Jedi. There's multiple parts that can be found on this YouTube channel.

Away, Away

We're on a mini-vaca in an area where they're experiencing forest fires (thanks asshole arsonist). It's an area that makes Clift...