Thursday, December 17, 2009

Books on Tape

I am pretty bad about sitting down long enough to read. It's not for a lack of wanting, but I have always had a really tough time with it. For as long as I can remember I have read really slow. It's not that I don't understand the words that I am reading, but just that I tend to think a lot while I am reading - visualizing what is going on in the story - "day dreaming" about what is being said. I find audio books hold my attention a lot. The agency I work for now has a service that we can use that offers free audio books - to borrow anyways. I have been enjoying those lately. In the last few weeks I have gone through 2 books and working on my third. I have gone through the Enron Story and "Always Looking Up" by Michael J Fox. I am working my way through "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama. Question I have lurking, is that do audio books still enable one to be considered "well read"?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sometimes ...

In Life... Sometimes you are the hammer & sometimes you are the nail. I have heard this quote many times, but for some reason it just made me giggle tonight.

This week picked up from a jog to a run at work. I have had a relatively easy transition into the job. I have been working with the agency as a contractor for the last few years. I transitioned into a different division, but the parties involved are about the same. Long story short, the transition has been one of the easier ones that I have made. This past week, I've been asked to start to transition into a lead role for one of our team's "groups". The Customer Liaison Team. This team's principle responsibility is the "odd" requests. This is exactly the niche I have been looking for. I really hate doing the same mundane tasks day after day ~ and trying to keep them interesting. So come Jan 4 (after the Christmas Break) I will be the lead for this team, which I think will be pretty cool.

The house has been busy with tree trimming, cookie making, and just the buzz of Christmas. This has always been my favorite time of year. I love the way the house feels when it's all decorated and lit up. It'll be weird not having the big family get together this year, but we've decided that we'll make other plans instead. We will look to do a couple day outing to a ski resort and do sledding and get the kids some ski lessons. I want to do something fun. Hopefully we can make it up to see Will & Christie too. We missed them at Thanksgiving this year (first time in a LONG time that we weren't there with them).

It's late, I know there is more I want to write about, but it'll have to wait...

Night.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Higher Power...

I believe there is a higher power in this universe, and I know for a fact that it isn’t I.

However, I have yet to find a religion or orthodoxy completely consistent with the way I have my beliefs.

I have had discussions with a lot of my friends; discussing our differences in beliefs. The majority of which rely on their faiths for strength, wisdom, and their moral compass. Their beliefs are genuine and I respect them for that. Our biggest differences are centered on how / what we define as a “higher power”.

I’ve come to accept any condition beyond my control is, in effect, a power greater than me. My beliefs are centered on the belief that man (as a symbol) controls his path and not an omnipotent being with a planned path for me.

My friends have all accepted our differences and we have come to embrace them; understanding. My family is strong. I have a wife, who I have been married to for 13 years. We have our ups and down – but work together to make things work. My kids complete our “circle”. We are bringing up 3 healthy and intelligent kids. All of them have their independent personalities. They differ in their likes, dislikes, wants, and desires. Individually we are all strong. Together we are invincible. It is important to me to impart on the kids that they need to protect their family. They will have their ups and downs in life, and through it all their parents, siblings will be there for them. This brings me to the impasse that we are at with my brother’s family. We have our ups and downs, but seem to be less accepting of our differences. They have a strong family connection through his wife’s family and through their growing connection to their religion. It’s tough to say that we have grown apart. I admit that since our blow out, I have thought everyday about calling. I have done it before, so why not now? It all boils down to the definition of insanity (doing the same actions over and over and expecting a different outcome). Every time we’ve dismissed the issues that transpired between the families and returned to being cordial to each other again, it eventually fissions and another blow out occurs. I’ve decided that I can not handle that stress any more. It isn’t to be mean to anyone. It’s purely selfish for me and my family. I don’t want to handle the stress and don’t want to introduce it into my family circle.

This entry took a different direction than how I originally started it. I guess this an excellent example for why I started this blog. The best and oldest (no age joke intended) friend Matt has a great quote on his site “I learn what I think when I read what I write”.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

12 days of Christmas' get pricier

An interesting Article from CNN Money:

The total cost to buy all of the items named in "The 12 Days of Christmas" song increased by just 0.9% this year to $87,402.81, said PNC Financial Services Group.

Of the 12 items in PNC's annual cost of Christmas study -- which tracks the prices of everything from calling birds to French hens -- three fell from last year while five increased in cost and four remained steady.

"This year's PNC Christmas Price Index again reflects the patterns in the broader economy," said James Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management.

The index got the biggest boost from a surge in the price of gold, which is at a record high near $1,200. That sent the cost of five golden rings up 43% this year.

Declines in bird prices were the main drag, with partridge prices falling by half, and the price of geese down more than a third from last year.

French hens, however, bucked the trend. Prices for the imported poultry jumped 50% to $45 for three.

With the nation's jobless rate above 10%, many of the index's labor related components stagnated. The cost for 10 lords-a-leaping, 11 pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming were all unchanged from last year.

However, an increase in the federal minimum wage helped boost the cost for eight maids-a-milking, the only unskilled laborers in the study, by 11% to $58 from $52.40 in 2008.

And "The 12 Days of Christmas" aren't any cheaper for online shoppers. The cost to buy all 79 items mentioned in one verse of the song from online retailers came to $31,434.85. That's about $10,000 more than the $21,465.56 it would cost to buy all of the items off line.

"In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of shipping costs for birds," Dunigan said.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Family Matters

I've always thought of myself as a family centric person. I am the provider to and the protector of my family. I am a fairly easy going person. I like to have fun, joke, and generally have a good time. Sure, i'll poke fun at my own, but when things get mean spirited and those attacks come against me or my family - I am not so much nice. In recent years, I have noticed that my patience (which many will attest has never been my strong suit) has had a noticeably shorter fuse. So my willingness to deal with B.S. has finite borders. My wife's and my relationship with my brother and his wife have had many ups and downs. I like to feel that there were more ups than not, but that may be a purely from my perspective. There have been a couple falls out this past year. Every time there is a fall out, I feel like I lick my wounds from the "battle" and we have a sudo-make up and go back to being cordial with each other. Pretending like we are okay.

Well no more.

This past Thanksgiving we had the whole family together for the first time in a LONG time. I was really looking forward to having everyone together. Well things were less than smooth. For whatever reason, we found ourselves at odds with My Brother and his wife over many things. We planned to get family pictures done on the Saturday before everyone left. I talked with my brother about the where and when - and it turns out that we "had" to do it his wife's way. I believe the quote was " this is where we are going to be, you all are welcome to join if you like, but this is where we'll be." Crap like that just pisses me off. This is just a sliver of my issues with them, but here is not the place or time for the airing of those grievances. I planned to have my family (wife and kids) not go to the pictures at the "time and place" that was directed to me. My dad really asked that I participate and that he would really appreciate it if we were in the pictures. So for him, and him alone, I sucked it up and went. The photographer that was there was nice. She took some decent shots (shown below). We were all gathering back by the cars and trying to determine where we were going to go next. Tony and his wife wanted to go to a place called Adventure Land (or something to that effect). My sister and my family were looking to take the kids to Chuck-E-Cheese's. Both parties wanted to do what they wanted to do. The next thing i know, Tony's wife flips a switch and starts calling us ungrateful and how she doesn't want anything more to do with us. I am not really sure how we are ungrateful - or what specifically I am supposed to be grateful to her / them for... but at this point I don't really care.

I too am done.

I haven't communicated (through any means) with my brother since the blowout on Saturday. I have made a pact with myself not to speak with them until after the New Year (which new year I honestly haven't decided). The timing sucks since we normally have a few "traditions" like Christmas Tree Hunting that we partake in, but I guess that's just the way the cards had been dealt this time.

It'll be a different Christmas this year. My parents won't be coming out here for the first time in memory and we won't see my brother and his family ~ we will just have to find something special to do as a family. Maybe we'll go to a ski resort or something like that.