Swamped!

To say that last few weeks has been busy is an understatement.  I’ve been off my routine and my schedule is suffering because of it.  Nothing for the month of March has been “normal” and for someone like me that relies on routine it’s been that much more difficult.  There has been no opportunity for down time, the time that I take to sit down and write, and it’s starting to make me tired all the time.  I’ve attempted to compensate by trying to go to bed earlier and usually end up being futile in the end.  Adding to the strain is my anti-technology streak that is still continuing despite me knowing it would probably help out to a certain extent.  Something has to change as the pace I’ve kept up just isn’t sustainable over a long period of time.

The wife volunteers at the local fire house and they had their annual banquet over this past weekend.  Our house is no longer the headquarters for the basket raffle items that were all won and I have my Dining Room (soon to be home office) back.  The banquet, which I helped out at on Saturday, went well and made some money.  We’re not sure if this year was better than previous years as no one kept records of the financials.  My wife, the organized person she is, has detailed reports on everything and will preset it at their wrap-up meeting.  She’s made an impression with the fire house and is working on getting a part-time gig approved to do their book-keeping and light accounting work.  It will get her out of her current job, which she hates.

After realizing that I hit my maximum paid-time-off hours after my last paycheck, it was time for me to start taking some days off.  The wife had several that I needed to take because of random half-days and days-off my daughter has with her school.  The American school year really is horrible, but that’s a topic for another day.  We identified several days through June that I submitted for time off.  I added a few of my own, at random, that I’ll figure out what to do when they get closer.  I’ve been itching to get down to Ocean City, NJ for a day and one of those random days before the season starts might be a good time to head down there.  I always liked being down there when it didn’t have hordes of people around.  Some much-needed time off is in my future thankfully.

One more random subject to talk about is my daughter needing to get braces.  She’s counting down the days and it boggles my mind why.  I never had braces and to be honest, never wanted them even if I did need them.  It’s almost like she’s seeing them as a status symbol or a right of passage.  She asked me if they would hurt when she got them on and being blunt, I said of course they would hurt.  Every time she goes in to have them adjusted and tightened, her teeth will ache for a few days until the pressure lets up.  Not being phased about this, she is still excited none the less.  I believe she thinks she will get some special treatment or leniency on the consumption of screen time, but that won’t be the case.  The limits are there for reasons she’s not aware of and that doesn’t change regardless of the situation.

I’m hoping for more time to write in the near future.  See you all Thursday.

Man-Cold and The Shack

ManWithACold

98.7F!  I’m dying!

I missed last Monday’s post.  I was sick with a man-cold and didn’t feel like writing let alone doing anything to be honest.  My wife doesn’t get it, when I’m sick, just leave me alone.  I’m content being miserable by myself and don’t need to be checked or waited on.  For the most part she does just let me be, unless there are things that need to be done and she isn’t able to do them.  Reluctantly I forced myself to push through things when all I wanted to do was just go to bed.  Two nights last week I did just that, in bed by 8pm, in a row.  I was asleep by the time she came up and laid down; not even an explosion next to my head could have gotten me up from my sleep.

Now, more than a week after feeling the start of the man-cold, I’m finally starting to feel better but still not quite 100%.  My back teeth are floating though with all the water I’ve been drinking.  My nose is still blocked at times and things that I can normally dismiss in the office are making me nuts.  When I can hear things around me even with headphones on, either I need new batteries in my noise cancelling headphones or I’m way to focused on the noises around me to care about the music in my ears.  Anyway, I wish it was still the weekend, but my area is getting 14″ of snow according to the last forecast Tuesday into Wednesday so at least I’ll be working from home at least the next two days away from all the people who don’t understand how annoying they actually are to me.

The_Shack

Sad is an understatement

The wife and I got some time to go see a movie yesterday, dropped the daughter off at the grandparents house and then came back to have dinner.  We decided to see The Shack instead of Logan because it was my pick, and I’m not terribly interested in seeing Logan to begin with and can wait until it shows up on Netflix/Hulu.  The movie was profoundly sad and depressing with a very strong emphasis on God without being overtly religious.  In fact, there was one line in the movie that said religion was too much work and all he (character portraying Jesus I assumed) wanted was friends.  A father was saving his son from drowning and while in the water his daughter was taken by a pedophile.  The movie was about his journey from blind hatred to forgiveness to faithful acceptance.  Overall I enjoyed the movie and its message as it didn’t focus on any one religion; it focused on the faith.  Lets just say that the last 45 minutes, the theatre was “dusty” and the “dust” kept getting in my “eyes.”

It’s been a long time since a movie had that kind of impact with me.  The last movie with such impact was Passion of the Christ, which was brutally in your face.  No dust in the air with that one, but I wouldn’t want to see it again.  I’m actually surprised with myself for having seen two movies in as many weeks when for years I’ve said movies are a ripoff and not worth the money.  We used a gift certificate two weeks ago and had free “birthday” coupons for Sunday’s movie outing, so we only paid for food.  Not too bad considering the food is decent and relatively enjoyable.  My movie going, unless we get more gift certificates, won’t be continuing.  A $3k fence installation to start in April is sure to make sure of that.

Have a good week, for those in the northeast, stay safe and don’t get buried in the snow.  As long as you have plenty of bread, milk and eggs, you can make snow day French Toast.  I’ll be working and snow-blowing tomorrow.

As we head into Christmas…

This isn’t my time of year, various posts in my archives all around this time show a common theme. While I generally don’t get excited or drunk on the Christmas spirit, that doesn’t mean I Scrooge on others that do. My approach is to establish clear boundaries with people so they know that I don’t share in their enthusiasm and that, if I were to be forced to get involved, the consequences aren’t pretty. For the most part, everyone in the family knows this and isn’t too bent out of shape anymore (there are still moments). They know I get “that look” at a certain point and it’s a signal to just leave me alone for a while. Counterproductive to a non-introvert, almost frustratingly so, but a necessary moment of time for me.

 

thislook

This is sort of how I look when I get “that look”.  Best to steer clear.

Although I’m Scrooge to most outside observers, I do value the fact that it’s a time set aside every year to be around family that you normally wouldn’t see otherwise. I have my issues with family, we all do, and I do my best to accommodate as best as possible so as not to make my Scrooginess contagious. I focus on Christmas as a time my daughter can enjoy and we have never made it about gifts. Our family uses a modified version of Santa, where my wife and I get the bulk of gifts to help him out and he delivers one special gift to her. We have, the three of us, made Christmas about volunteering at the local department store to wrap gifts for families in need (department store donates gift cards, we wrap what they pick out). As this is the first year we’ve been involved with the local volunteer fire company, we rode around with them to hand out candy canes to the children in the neighborhoods Santa on the fire engine visited. We’ve also made it a family affair to one weekend go nuts with baking cookies that we hand out to family, friends, neighbors, etc. I put my foot down that the Snickerdoodles were NOT to be shared, they’re way too good a batch this year 🙂

 

leglamp

May Santa bless you with many sexy leg lamps to put in the front window, LOL

It’s going to be a rough weekend coming up. Christmas Eve (Saturday) dinner with my family, brother included. Christmas morning (Sunday) just the three of us, then breakfast with my wifes and my parents. Then Christmas Day dinner at my wifes families house, usually chaotic and stressful, but strangely enjoyable. I have consistently taken the day before Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas Day off so that I can prepare (before) and recover (after) that has typically worked quite well. If I don’t get time at the house to myself for at least a few hours, I just head out somewhere that I can. I’m anticipating this year to be a little rough with my parents and brother as they’ve picked up on the distance I’ve created. I can only hope that they respect that Christmas Eve isn’t the appropriate moment to have “that” conversation and it’s left until after the New Year.

 

It’s my wish that everyone who reads this has a wonderful Christmas holiday (or quiet weekend if you don’t celebrate) and that we all take a few moments to review the year behind us and hope for the best for the coming year. I’m heading into the final weeks of 2016 with an optimism that 2017 is going to be a good year and my life will continue improving as I increase the understanding of myself and learn about our political, financial, and governmental systems.

See you on the other side of Christmas (next Monday basically).

Holiday season relief for an introvert

It’s no secret, yup, I’m an introvert. I prefer long stretches of time where it appears to an uninformed person that I may in fact be catatonic and unresponsive to external stimuli. I’ve never drooled on myself and why should I, I’m actually rather quite busy inside my own head. I’m a calm lake, windless night, snowfall silence on the outside. I’m Grand Central Station at rush hour, a mosh pit at an Avenged Sevenfold concert, an erupting volcano on the inside. For someone who isn’t an introvert, it is hard to understand just how busy it is inside our heads and how a common affliction like Misophonia can rattle our thought process like a California earthquake (noise cancelling headphones for the win!). This will be my 40th holiday season on this great planet, 22 of which have been spent as a bonified “adult” in the eyes of the law. I can’t say with honesty that all 22 years I would have described myself as an adult, but I digress. I’m going to share some of my tried and tested methods of relief, ranked in order of effectiveness (at least for me).

Solitude

This is often hard to find during the holiday season as its typically a time when you see family that you normally would never want to see under normal circumstances. I love my family, but taken in all at once, in the same house, with kids added into the mix; its pure torture and a Hoover Dam spill way in terms of an energy drain. Anyway, solitude is the most effective, yet most time-consuming method for me to get back to a comatose exterior and a New York interior. While its first on my list, during the month of December it’s shocking to everyone that you’d rather spend time alone over spending time with that Aunt that makes that one dish you mentioned as “good” 10 years ago and she continues to make because she thinks it your favorite….. A man can only have so many Spinach Parmesan squares before it’s “No sir, I don’t like it.”

Passenger Staring

This is by far the easiest thing to find especially when family is 1-2 hours away from your home. My wife already knows that either I drive TO our destination or FROM our destination, but not both, so she decides upon leaving which it will be. As a passenger, I can slip into a self-imposed hypnotic trance where it feels like I’m looking outside windows that really are my own eyes. The trance doesn’t need to last long to be highly effective, but can be troubling to someone witnessing it as it sometimes appears I don’t blink (but I do.) I’ll get the tap on the leg paired with “Are you okay?” even though I’ve been like this for many years. Making sure I’m alive and dashing the hopes of an insurance payout, LOL. Depending on the time of day, this can be a highly effective recharge.

Toilet Time

I struggled with a title for this section, cut me some slack. Finding a bathroom, whether you have a requirement or not, is always a good way to get in a quick reset. In a house with only one bathroom, this is obviously harder as it almost certainly means you will be interrupted. However, in a house with more than one bathroom, the chances you can get 10-15 minutes of decompression is much more likely. While this isn’t ideal, and similar to plugging in your phone for 30 minutes, it can give you an hour or two more of energy to deal with the holiday party or family get together. The success or failure of this method will be determined by how practiced you are at micro-meditation.

Alcohol

My least favorite and often least effective, it does have an almost guaranteed benefit of making time go faster when it really hasn’t. A mildly intoxicated brain isn’t as sharp or aware of its fatigue (energy drain) and of course it’s called “liquid courage” for a reason. I’m not a drinker, so when I do partake in some bourbon or beer, I make sure to carefully monitor my intake in relation to absorbing foods to ensure that I don’t go too far down the road to drunk. This might not work for others, but for me, it does help when there are a lot of people and things going on around me that demand my observation and sometimes, my interactions. I had a few at my parents house over Thanksgiving before dinner, I’ll most likely have a few at my parents house for Christmas Eve dinner, and I’ll definitely have a few at the family get together planned for after New Years. Other than these few times in the year, I rarely have more than one drink per month, if any.

Last Resort

Throw an angry tantrum and demand that it’s time to go. While this works in 100% of the cases, the residual effects can linger for hours and even days afterward. This method is to be used as a last resort, hence the title, so use at your own risk. There is always the tried and true “I’m not going” demand that, if accepted, could potentially leave you at home with an empty house for several hours, see Solitude.

What works for you to help keep your sanity during the holiday season?

My trip to New York 9/11 Memorial

I spent this past Saturday at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, NY.  It was an experience I won’t soon forget and had a greater impact on me than I had anticipated.  After reviewing all the picture that I took, I selected a few that expressed the most emotion as I walked through the quiet and somber museum.

orig_freeddomtower_oculus

I was in awe of this when I turned the corner off Broadway towards the Museum and Memorial.  In the background, you see the newly constructed and completed Freedom Tower, currently the tallest building in New York City.  In the foreground is the Oculus, a capstone for the underground city of stores and the grand subway station for Lower Manhattan.  I couldn’t get any decent pictures on the inside due to the shear size of the space,  but it was bright and felt like standing inside a dinosaur skeleton.

trident

This is the first thing you see when you walk into the Museum.  One of the few standing tridents of support structure following the collapse of the North Tower.  The small picture to the left shows the location of this steel in reference to the middle picture.  The third picture shows the length of the piece that was on display (I’m 4 stories down from the main level)

orig_tridentbottom

This is the bottom of the trident in the previous picture.  It’s hard to tell, but that steel is two inches thick and the bolts are 1 1/2″ across.  You can see the location showing at bottom:  #1 North

orig_stairwellb_northtower

Once I realized what this stairway was signifying, I had to take a picture of it.  This was Stairwell B where they found the last survivors of the tower collapse.  The bottom flight is almost unrecognizable as steps, but the marble and granite is practically untouched on the top flight evidenced by the smooth left side at the top.

orig_southtowerimpactsteel_bottom

South Tower impact steel.

orig_northtowerimpactsteel

North Tower impact steel

orig_southtowerboxcolumn

This is the South Tower box column cut off at ground level after the excavation of the pit.  It’s hard to tell in this picture, but that steel frame is 5″ thick and this was one of 84 box columns that held up the outer facade of the South Tower.

orig_southtowerfoundation

This is one of the South Tower foundations, I’m not sure which facade this supported.  You can see the box columns clearly in this picture, with the lateral supports on either side holding them in place.  Below the lateral supports are the solid steel plates bolted to the concrete foundation below.  Each steel plate weighed 1 ton (2,000 lbs.) and had foundation pillars that were sunk down various depths to the bedrock below.

orig_northtowerfoundation

This is a similar view from the previous picture but for the North Tower.  This shows a much greater detail of the scale of the steel plates the box columns sat upon.  Again, each box column had 5″ thick steel sides sitting upon a 1 ton steel foundation plate.

orig_northtowerspire

This is a 1/10th section of the North Tower spire that rose up to make the North Tower the tallest building in the world at the time the World Trade Center was completed.  There are remnants of wires and radio equipment strewn in the middle of the spire.

orig_engine3wreckage

One of the hardest displays to walk around and see up close.  The remains of Engine 3, the first engine on the scene after the first plane struck the North Tower.  The front, where the engine would have been, was disintegrated beyond recognition after it was excavated from the scene, where the back of the truck was relatively intact given the devastation around it.

orig_hudsonriverwall

I wish the scale could be better on this picture.  This is the river wall that protected the lower levels of the World Trade Center from the Hudson River literally 100 yards on the other side of the wall.  This wall is a full 8 stories high and I’m standing at the bottom of the exhibit.  It was difficult to grasp the shear scale of some of these things during the tour.

orig_northtowerpool

I spent almost a half hour in this spot much to the disappointment of the people behind me trying to take a picture.  This is the North Tower Pool and the full size of the basin is 1 acre, the exact footprint of where the building used to stand.  The center square is symbolic of never forgetting the tragedies that befell the United States on 9/11/2001.

orig_statueofliberty

We rode past the Statue of Liberty on the ferry ride over to New York from Staten Island.

orig_statenislandferryport

This is the ferry terminal on the New York side.  The sign was rather impressive.

orig_goodtimeendofday

We ended the day at Clinton Castle (no relation) and my daughter, although tired, was still happy we got to see New York today.  We were all ready to head home.  Didn’t stop her from having a goofy grin on her face while I took the picture.

One last thought, and this is a quote on one of the largest walls.  Speaks for itself.

orig_virgilquote

No day shall erase you from the memory of time.  -Virgil