Monday, June 29, 2015

That time I took dance lessons

About a decade ago, as part of a New Year’s Resolution, I decided to take professional dance lessons. While the euphoria of the New Year was still in the air, I mentioned the idea to several friends and they all jumped on the dance bandwagon. Of course they immediately all disappeared our schedules didn't mesh well enough to take classes together. I decided to take a class anyway, thinking it might be better to do this without knowing anyone in the class.

I found a Studio near my home and a beginner's group class that fit right into my schedule.  Here's the write up of that experience on my commercial blog. Like a lot of my posts on the commercial blog, I  left out some stuff.  Enjoy:

Some personalities have already developed. There's Stripped Shirt Steve. S3 is this older guy -- white hair, I'd guess in his late 40s early 50s. He is with Patty who is quite striking, probably in her early 40s. Our first time dancing together, she managed to let me know she's divorced. [Remember, we are together for less than 60 seconds.]

Last week S3 kept a low profile but last night he decided to be "boyish" by making mock strangling actions behind Christa's back. I guess he didn't realize that she could see what he is doing in the mirror. He would also wander over to the girls side to be with Patty. So when Christa has us line up, there's more delay thanks to S3.

Now I'll make fun of myself. When Christa was demonstrating a turn move, I couldn't see her footwork because these guys in the front row were blocking everyone in the back. She noticed this and had me get up there and dance with her during the next demo. You might think anyone who was in that class should have seen that I can't dance, but it had the opposite effect. People then thought "well the instructor picked him, he must be good" and the next line up, two ladies actually "fought" over getting to dance with me.

Friday, June 26, 2015

A couple of things for the win column

I know some people clean out their friends list periodically to purge the people who they haven't seen in years, like the guy from the photography workshop or the work friends from two jobs ago.  Or someone gets pissed off at someone else's politics or yammering or an off comment on status and boom they are history.

I generally don't unfriend people on FB.  I rely on the block-and-hide features of FB to deal with these people.  I have unfriended a few douchebags and people who aren't friends even in the vaguest sense of the word.  I just don't make a big deal about it by talking about it or posting the vague status update "well got rid of that one amirite!"

Someone I used to know sent a friend request the other day.  I've reached the point where I pretty much am friends with everyone I've ever known who is on FB sans the people who have unfriended me (or vice versa) and a handful of people that I have no desire to be friends with. 

As it happens this person and I were friends but she unfriended me in 2010 (it's possible I unfriended her but I doubt it, see above).  It stung a little because I couldn't think of anything I had possibly done and our last interaction was pleasant enough.  I even helped her get a job at the No-Name Software Company and we share so many mutual friends from that place.  In fact, if she were just purging people, why keep some of the more obscure connections from that place?

UpdateIt turns out she had deleted her previous account and started a new one.  I figured this out because I was cleaning out my friends' list and her old account was still there but with no picture when I clicked, FB told me that the account is no longer active or something like that. 

The (re)friending is because, like her, we are now in the Twin Club.
 A friend I use to know from the catholic social circles has left Chicago for presumably more favorable pastures.  She had a going away party that  I could not attend.  but what is impressive is that she did still invite me, I was among the few of our former enclave, that she did invite.

Someone else from the No-Name Software Company also friended me on FB.  This person isn't friends with anyone else there.  so yay me.

There could be lots of reasons for that and I'm probably overthinking it but sometimes you have to take these little occurrences as a note from the universe that you aren't really as bad as some of your former friends make you feel.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Scenes from Andersonville Sommerfest

A couple weekends ago we decided to take Moose and Squirrel out to their first street festival.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

RIP Debra L. Fink

The following is something I wrote and posted circa January 2000 on what passed for my blog before blogging was what it is today.  I'm cutting and pasting and hope that the content is clear without messing with the formatting.   

On March 24, 1998, Debra L. Fink left home to run some errands. Her parents never saw her again. By midnight Debbie -- 28 -- was dead from a brutal beating to her head and face. Her body had been dumped under evergreen trees next to a used car dealership on Lindbergh Blvd. (Maryland Heights, MO).

According to information gathered in newspaper articles and interviews with friends and family, Debbie met James D. McCollum at a bar she often frequented.  They played a trivial pursuit type video game for a while, and then went bar hopping.  Debbie's parents and local authorities believe McCollum tried to force himself on Debbie. When things didn't go his way, McCollum started beating her. He was picked up on March 29, 1998, charged with first-degree murder and held at St. Louis County Jail without bail.

I first met Debbie at a Pundit staff meeting at NMSU. We were both wanna-be journalists trying to make names for ourselves as writers for an alternative newspaper on an otherwise mainstream Missouri college campus. Naturally, we became friends.

We also joined -- separately -- a co-ed service fraternity patterned after the boy scouts called Alpha Phi Omega.  It was in this organization that I got to know Debbie a little better.

I had the benefit of being spoon fed the details of Debbie's death. First I heard that a friend had attended Debbie's funeral. Well, that could mean she died of some sickness. But I investigated and got an email paraphrasing the details. So I knew she had been killed. Then I asked a friend at a Springfield newspaper to look into the matter. And I got the knowledge that I can never unknow. Debbie's parents didn't have this luxury. They went from thinking their daughter had gone off on one of her usual rebellious tirades to finding out she had been taken from this earth in a most unnatural manner.

It would be so easy to hate McCollum. Create a demon in my mind's eye and label him Jim. But that won't bring Debbie back. In the press release, it says that Jim surrendered without incident, which is journalismese for "he really wasn't a bad guy except for this beating a girl to death thing." Jim McCollum didn't wake up that March 24th morning with the intention of beating a person to death. That doesn't exonerate him from his crime, but it should provide some perspective.

Debbie wrote me once, asking if she could maybe visit me in Chicago. I wrote back that it probably wasn't a good idea. At the time, life at home had become hell.  I think that was the last time I ever heard from her. I always thought I'd run into her at a friend's wedding or some type of NMSU/APO reunion and have a chance to explain and reestablish our friendship. Now, thanks to my own shortcomings, and a guy I never met named Jim McCollum, I never will.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What to do with a wedding ring

 I wanted to flesh this out more before publishing, but I also want it out of my drafts folder.  I figure I can always expound on it later:

Once upon a time there was a land beyond the Lake that was populated by two tribes of people.  The first were the Rigardo, who believed that when you are married you wear your wedding ring all the time, rarely if ever taking it off.

The second tribe was the Inflexo.  They also believed in the sanctity of marriage.  They believed that the ring you wore was so sacred that yo would protect it at any costs.  If you were working in the field you should put the ring in your pocket or leave it in your locker drawer.

Obviously, the ring is a metaphor for some component of a Belief System and the two tribes represent opposing viewpoints of the My Way is the Only Right Way camps. 

Superheroes, Aliases and whatnot

When I was growing up, it seemed that a superheros secret identity was known only to a trusted few.  If someone new found out the identity, it was an unusual one-off situation, like a special guest star playing the part of Cousin Roy or a former sweet heart who meets a tragic end or they go away.  Sometimes it was contained in the classic amnesia trope.

Nowadays it feels like more people know the secret identity of a superhero (Arrow, Flash, Smallville — maybe it’s a CW thing) than can feasibly be sustainable.

Icarus at Star Wars Anonymous.

Over at Cribchatter, I've met a few people IRL.  We use our real identities in person but in our correspondence we still use the aliases.

The blogger at Star Wars Anonymous  and I are on a real name basis too.  She actually uses her first name on her blog and there might be references to her maiden name.

Over at Chicago Now there are a few bloggers that started out with aliases but have switched to their real name.  The thinking is that people are more likely to engage with a blogger that uses a real name than an alias and empirical evidence seems to support that.

I write under an alias in order to protect my day job in Corporate America.  Now I have no delusions that someone with a pulse and half a brain couldn't figure out my identity.  I certainly haven't taken NSA level safeguards to protect it.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Weekends of Hell

All this sleep deprivation now is in anticipation of walking over you later
So the good news is that Moose & Squirrel are finally sleeping through the night.  At least when they aren't teething or sick or anything out of the ordinary.  The bad news is that they are waking up much earlier than they should.

They are almost 9 months old now and just a few months ago, they would still get up in the middle of the night wanting a bottle or losing a pacifier or wanting to know the score of the Blackhawks game before they would go back to sleep. On a very rare occasion, I'd be able to get up before the twins did and go for a quick treadmill run.  Now that they are sleeping through the night but getting up earlier, there is no exercise option and my weight is showing it.

After dealing with the kids, often times Nightingale and/or I couldn't fall back asleep and we'd literally be awake until just before the time we needed to get up for work, at which time we'd finally drift back to sleep and hate everything when the alarm went off.

My mom is the only living relative in the Tri-state area that can help us with Moose & Squirrel.  Therefore she typically comes over in the evening to help us.  This was a godsend during some of the rougher nights over the last few months although not as much help as it should have been.  For one thing, Nightingale still wakes up even when my mom gets to the kids.  Then she has a tough time getting back to sleep.  Or sometimes I do.  Also, it is quite the a toll on my mom because of her age, she is zonked after too many consecutive nights.

Typically, my mom stays during the week and goes home on the weekends.  This doesn't make a lot of sense because 1) we need more help on the weekends than in the two hours before bedtime, even when they weren't sleeping through the night, 2) my mom is retired so her weekend can be any two days of the week. 

We finally broached this subject with her and suggested that maybe she could come over on the weekends and take a couple days off during the week.  She agreed, but then somehow I inevitably pissed her off by not calling an National Emergency when she was unable to connect to the internet with the iPhone we bought her. #firstworldproblems

So we basically are spending most of our weekends in Survival Mode on Steroids and me hating everything because I cannot deal with many of the home maintenance issues that come up.  Some of the things I need to do are weather specific; either they need to be done when it isn't raining or I don't want to do them when it's summer and 90+ degrees out.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Don't take more than one parking spot

A few weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night, not because of Moose and Squirrel but because this car was on fire just across the street from our house!  I was going to throw on some jeans and use the garden hose to put it out but saw that a police car was already on the scene and could hear a fire truck in the background.

It's still rather disconcerting to wake up to a car on fire.  Either there is some type of mechanical defect that caused this, or it is an act of vandalism, either random or specific.  And they didn't even use the new hydrant!

The exhaustion wore me down to my inner crazy, and all bets of preserving the facade of a fully functioning adult were off. - See more at:
The exhaustion wore me down to my inner crazy, and all bets of preserving the facade of a fully functioning adult were off. - See more at:

Monday, June 8, 2015

Perhaps some day

Around the corner from us is this house which I noticed had an unusual bump out for the attic.  I can only imagine they did that one section in order to make an office or small studio one could stand up in.  perhaps the rest of the attic is devoted to HVAC and not worth the expense of dormering. 

When we first moved into our house, the attic functioned as my office, at least until it got too hot up there in the summertime.  It would make an excellent playroom once the kids are a little older except for the fact that there are plenty of ways they could hurt themselves in the hidden alcoves.  I have no idea why whomever finished the attic didn't include flooring all the way to where the roof meets the floor.

To make our attic more functional, dormering it out would be an option.  However, since the access to it is through our master bedroom, perhaps it is better to simply leave it as extra storage.  When we get older we really aren't gonna want to climb up those stairs just to access a kickass master suite and spa bathroom.

It might just make more sense to find another house that has better layout and functionality.  I've really been leaning that route lately.  While I enjoy and prefer living in the city, I do realize that one can get more house and land outside an urban metropolis. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Today is National Runner's Day

So get out there and run, even if it is just for 5 minutes.  Personally, I didn't even realize* it was Celebrated National Runner's Day but I still got up and ran 3 miles on the treadmill before work in an effort to do the homework before Sunday's test at the Run for the Zoo.

 Alas, my running is getting slower and slower and my knees creakier and creakier.  I think it might be time to stop running altogether.  I know I say that a lot but if I want to be able to chase after Moose & Squirrel and defend them against any Rage Beasts or Mama Bear parents, I need to get healthier.

* I may have seen something in my Facebook feed which put it in my subconscious Todo list.

Over the winter they did some construction work on our water lines underneath our street.  The end result, other than a messed up parkway, is that now there is a fire hydrant living in front of our house.  Think about that, my next door neighbor has lived there for almost 50 years and has had a hydrant in front of his house (presumably) all that time.  And now it has moved 30 ft north.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Post May wrap up

Previous vehicle had some electrical problems
So a few things happened this last month.  I want to point out that now both Nightingale and I have upgraded our vehicles, we are at least getting better gas mileage.  

Driving 25 miles (one way) out to OBT every week reduces my MPG but with a WFH day and not using it over the weekends, I can usually stretch my gas purchases to about every 10 days on average. 

Nightingale only has a 10 mile commute (slight more when factoring in the drop off at daycare) but her Trail Blazer was sucking gas up at a fill up once a week level too.  Now she is able to go longer between fill ups as well.

It's not game changing of course, but just being able to fill up every other week instead of every week is a relief on our very tight pocket book.

When I bought my wedding ring, the nice Polish lady pointed out that while I could get insurance in case it ever gets lost or stolen, it wasn't worth the investment at the price point I purchased at.  She didn't say that to be unkind.  She sincerely meant that whatever I would pay in premiums and deductibles would essentially pay for a  new ring.

Naturally one gets attached to The Ring that was used in ones wedding ceremony and the thought of replacing it wasn't my favorite idea.  On the other hand, I do believe that a ring is just a symbol and the real magic is in the marriage itself.

Finally, about two years ago, almost to the day (meant to post on the anniversary, but again, Moose and Squirrel), we had a flood here at Casa de Icarus.   There is never a good time to have a flood, especially once you learn that your insurance doesn't cover this particular flavor of water works.  But it came at an especially bad time because I had just made a few extra purchases that caused me to carry a balance on my credit cards.

With a lot of robbing Peter to pay Paul and other creative financing, I technically paid off the flood some time ago.  But I still have had the spectre of credit card balances for the last two years.  I was hoping to write that it has been completely paid off but because I splurge on a birthday gift for myself, it will take another month or so.