Happy 2012!!!

Posted January 1st, 2012 (5:31 pm) || 5 Comments

Well, we now have less than 12 months before the end of the world. Even now rumors of apocalyptic destruction are flying about the delusional half of the new age crowd. If such foretellings are true, the Earth shall be consumed by a black hole, annihilated (somehow) by the solar maximum, or collide with Nibiru. Some also believe 2012 will actually issue in an age of enlightenment and peace in some kind of “Age of Aquarius”. But if you believe all the futurist sci-fi literature, all we can really expect is the total economic collapse America and a possible religious takeover of the government.

2011 was an… interesting year. This has been my first year since becoming unemployed from a full-time permanent job that I’ve not worked or earned any money at all. None. I’ve gotten a few interviews but nothing that’s actually progressed all the up to a pay check. I’ve also received no freelance work. Fortunately DeAnna is still gainfully employed and her job alone can cover the majority of our expenses. I know I can’t expect to receive unemployment benefits forever, and they are really dwindling now, but the supplemental income is helping to make ends meet. Seeing as how I can expect them to run out sometime in February I’m going to expand my job search to part-time and minimum wage positions, as any wage is better than no wage.

Back in October I receive a new smartphone for my birthday. It’s a Samsung T-499, which is kinda low-end, but function and does all those things I want a smartphone to do. I’m actually quite impressed with it. Even without installing any apps it was capable of just about everything I was looking for in a phone. A few apps later and it can now do things I never expected a phone to do (such as roll dice and look up rules for RPGs). I’m gonna have to get DeAnna one of these for her birthday, provided we have the income to afford the extra $35/month T-Mobile wants for 3G service.

Our cat Ember is now over a year old and has spent a full year with us. She is still so tiny. Here is a (blurry) photo of her:


We lost Jared this year. He was old, but not ancient, but very sick. I’ve had Jared since he was a kitten. I adopted him from the Humane Society, almost by accident. I had given a friend a ride so she could adopt a cat of her own, and I had asked to see a black kitten only a month or so old while I was waiting. As it turned out, she could not adopt as her apartment management could not be contacted to confirm they allowed pets, but rather than leaving empty handed she paid for my adoption of the kitten, which I named Jared. That was so long ago. I miss you Jared.

With our loss of Jared, we’ve considered getting a new kitten to keep Ember company, though we wanted to wait until after the new year to look. I’m not sure what we’ll be looking for but as with Ember, I’m sure something will come up and just the right time and will be perfect.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my cousin Mark moved in. His job is going well, though I’m not sure if it’s paying him enough to give him any independence. This coming year I’m hoping he’ll look into getting financial aid and get into school for something better. Any amount of independence won’t happen until after college, but he’ll be working in that direction and will be expanding his network of people he knows here in Phoenix. I’m worried he doesn’t get out enough, but who am I to talk?

Another one of our friends moved up to Seattle just prior to Thanksgiving. It seems that’s really the place to go, as we now know more people living up there than we do locally. Kinda weird since a long time ago DeAnna and I had decided if we were going to move anywhere but here, it’d be to Seattle. It’s comforting to know what once we make the move we’ll already know so many people there.

In the gaming world, my MMO of choice, City of Heroes, went free to play. This thrills me to no end. There are still plenty of perks to having a paid subscription, but it’s good to know if I can’t make the subscription payment for a month or two I can still play. My other MMO of choice (Lord of the Rings Online) went free to play last year, and I’m loving that as well. My new D&D campaign is going surprisingly well, though I’m still aching to actually play something rather than be the GM all the time. One of my players has offered to run, and is interested in taking over as GM for my campaign. I’ve never handed over the reins of my own campaign world before, so I’m a little scared and a lot excited over the idea. Best of all I’ll have a chance to play. I just hope I don’t try to back-seat GM or criticize too much.

Christmas has come and gone, and despite not having a lot of money to go around we managed to get gifts for everyone. Mom was thrilled to get Cowboys & Aliens, and we got Jacob a remote control helicopter (which I immediately broke after opening, but I’ll get him a new one come payday). We got mark an iTunes gift card for use with his iPhone and a 6-pack of Lucky Buddha beer (the bottles are shaped like a Buddha and the beer tastes great!). We did a gift exchange with our D&D group as well, which was awesome. I got Bruno, who is new to the game and who I don’t know that well, a 6-pack of Lucky Buddha beer. DeAnna got Marianne a set of spooky shot glasses. Rob made us an ornament made of copper wire which bears our name (we might keep this up year ’round). Shane got me a t-shirt (Sarcasm: the body’s natural defense against stupid) which actually fits. I’m of a large size and impossible to buy clothing for, and this is the first time anyone has bought me a piece of clothing that fit since I was 12. (Not entirely true, but I’m not counting the t-shirt gifts from my friend who already knew my size because he was the same).

Christmas Eve DeAnna and I took a drive around the neighborhood to take a look at all the decorations once more. Right around midnight some had decorated an entire neighborhood with luminaries. It was incredible! Many of them were still lit and they made the night more magical. I have no idea who was responsible for it, but I thank them for such a grand effort, despite the lateness of the hour it did not go unappreciated.

Well, it’s now the new year, and it’s time to pack up our decorations, and hopefully pack up a few things for a potential move in a few years. Provided the world doesn’t come to an end before then of course.

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Big Spender Drummer Boy?

Posted December 24th, 2010 (4:04 pm) || Comments Off

Come, they told me, pa rum pa pum pum
A newborn King to see, pa rum pa pum pum
Only two bucks’ the fee, pa rum pa pum pum
So we can see the King, pa rum pa pum pum,
Rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum

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GD Holiday Party Pics!

Posted December 22nd, 2010 (7:37 pm) || Comments Off

Err… how about pic? Singular that is. We got the CD with the entirety of the photo shoot, and while that includes all of the final images we’re actually getting prints of, I’m still sorting through it and figuring out which ones I’ll be uploading as is, and which ones I’ll be doing a some additional touch ups on first. For now though, here’s the image we’re getting prints of to send to family and friends:


NOTE: I recolored DeAnna’s tie per her request. The tux rental place suggested we both wear red so as to 1) match, and 2) have the ties show up better at a dimly lit party. As the only purple he had was kind of dark, we agreed.

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Gift Cards – Revisited

Posted December 8th, 2010 (4:57 pm) || 2 Comments

A few years ago, I posted how much I hate Gift Cards. Well, I feel it’s been long enough that I should send out a friendly reminder about how much they suck and why you should never buy one. Ever.

Okay, maybe not ever, but pretty damn close to never.

Gift cards signify an intent to give something, but without any of that thought, effort or care that usually goes into giving someone something. It’s a simply way of saying “I don’t know you well enough or care enough about you to gift anything meaningful, but for some reason feel I should get you something anyway.” They are also a handy way to hand out prizes for contests or parties.

Gift cards remind me of the scene in Dead Poets Society where Todd has receive a desk set for his birthday, the very same desk set he received the prior year. The same desk set he never really liked, likely said as much, and will most like receive again next year. Todd may have well as got a gift card.

Despite how evil and heartless giving gift cards are, I feel I should provide a few instances where it is not really evil or heartless to gift one. First, is when you are gifting to someone long distance. Gift cards fit into an envelope, preferably along with some sort of heartfelt well wishing card, far more easily than most things. In this instance make sure the gift card is for a store you know for certain is of personal interest to the recipient. You department store card will do here. Find a specialty shop you know the recipient has an interest in, or if you know then well enough you are certain they will enjoy once introduced. Also, only do this for children ages 8-18. Any younger and they likely haven’t developed a proper sense of shopping, and any older and you might as well send cash (or a check).

Another instance is when you have already provided a suitable gift (or several) and just want to sweeten the experience a little. Again, this is best suited for children, not adults. Children like getting gifts. It’s fun. Adults like getting gifts too, but tend to appreciate things they’ve personally earned rather than something they picked up with free money (and more easily resent being told where to shop). Two good examples here are stocking stuffers at Christmas, and attaching one to a gift only useful with something else added in, such as a video game console (card can be used to buy the games).

EDIT: I left out restaurants! Gift cards for restaurants (real restaurants, not any place with a drive thru) are “real” gifts. Such things are no different than taking someone out to eat, or otherwise providing a meal for a family that isn’t yours (or just a household that isn’t yours if it really is your family),  only you don’t have to come along. /EDIT

There are a few times when you might think getting a gift card would be okay, but it really isn’t. One such time is when you are part of a random gift exchange. Maybe you are buying a gift and you have no idea who will receive it, or you know who will receive it but you know nothing about them. Sounds like a job for gift cards, right? Wrong! Would you really like to open an envelope at a party and find you’ve been given a piece of plastic which suggests you shop for you own gift? Worse, maybe you hate that store. Instead buy something neutral, or go for the wacky gag gift. A box of fancy chocolates or elegant cookies would do, so would anything “artsy” which could include anything from an original painting to a unique sculpture picked up at a curio shop. If you are at a total loss, get a tiki mask. I swear everyone I know who owns one of of those has  put it up. There is no such thing as a tiki mask collecting dust in the back of a closet.

Once again, it’s the thought that counts; if you don’t do any thinking, your gift doesn’t count for anything.

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Christmas Spirit

Posted December 23rd, 2008 (12:08 pm) || Comments Off

Well, all of the present shopping/making is done and quite a bit has already been wrapped and sits beneath the tree. The rest will be wrapped this evening. Also about half the baking seems to be done, but I’m not entirely certain of the status of all that as I’m only making my cookie bars this year (and haven’t done them yet :( ). The decorations have all been up for quite a while, candles are lit nightly, and we’ve been listening to Christmas music in the car. I’d say it’s just about Christmas!

A friend of mine was recently talking about how she used to have quite a strong family tradition around Christmas time. Traditions of family gatherings, carols, looking at Christmas lights and attending church. Now that she’s grown and has a family of her own, it seems no one wants to do these things any longer and it has her loosing the holiday spirit.

It occurs to me, however, that traditions change as people change. And sometimes a “tradition” isn’t as important as just doing something that kindles that sense of giving spirit in oneself and others. We’ve got a few traditions of our own, but we don’t always do them. Instead we do something else or we simply do without while we make the most of what we’ve already done. And we’re always willing to try something new.

So we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and hope your own traditions, or whatever you do this year, keeps your spirits high.

Merry Christmas everybody!


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