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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Breakfast

So, after the gym this morning, I was pretty hungry. I had four eggs, then I also wanted pancakes. So I made some. The box said to use 2 cups of the mix and 1.5 cups of water for 9-10 pancakes. They lied. It only makes two.

I mean, seriously. I might need a refund...

I did learn two things, though:
  1. Use a tad more water next time.
  2. Butter up the pan.
Aside from that, I'd call this a success! Speaking of pancakes, Woot.com is having a Woot-Off today. Some fun deals, some not so good...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Ultimate Stress Relief

Saint (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina
"Pray, hope, and don’t worry! Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer. Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God’s heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips but with your heart. In fact, on certain occasions, you should speak to Him only with your heart."

Pray for us and for the whole world!

Check out my more-serious blog

On Crazy About Truth, I am beginning a series of challenges to Catholics. Take a gander...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jumper

This was the movie I chose as a followup to get me back into my normal spirits. This was fun, but certainly not a great movie. It was well made and well produced, but the story is just kind of silly. There is no real character redemption, and there's also no explanation of the ability. You are just supposed to believe that a guy who happens to be a Jumper just discovers it at a certain point through the right mood / mindset / intention / etc. It was fun -- but suspend your disbelief and don't expect answers. There is a special feature on the disc ("Making an Actor Jump") in which they admit to purposely not explaining everything, and treating the movie as though it was the second in a series, and the first had already explained everything.

In my opinion? Whatever! Bring on the assumptions! That's the beauty of imagination! If your imagination doesn't have room in its corners for superheroes (if not entire worlds dedicated to the fantastic), then it needs work.

I Am Legend

This was a very good movie, as far a movies go. I will say that I'm not into what is essentially a zombie flick, or most apocalyptic movies, so I didn't end with this movie. I had to put in another one to kill the creepy scared-of-the-dark feeling that causes adrenaline rushes as I walk around corners, whether I know what's on the other side or not, all the while preparing to do battle with the devil himself.

The Bachelor Sandwich

I've been making these sandwiches for lunch that are simply awesome. And you use bachelor ingredients, and bachelor-priced ingredients.

You'll need bread, lunch meat, and cheese.

Oh, and bacon. Of course, bacon. :)

The ingredients that I use are all the inexpensive brands that I find at the store that I think would be interesting. I use the Giant-brand Honey Wheat Bread (24 ounce/20 slice loaf), Buddig Deli Cuts lunch meat (16 oz package), Giant Cheese (16 oz block, for variety -- otherwise, if you go for the larger, more economical block, you'll be stuck to variations of Cheddar), and Oscar Mayer bacon (16 oz package).

A couple notes -- I usually end up using 6 slices of lunch meat, 3 slices of cheese (just wide enough to go across the bread), and 2 slices of bacon per sandwich.

So the first thing to do is cook the bacon. I usually have at least 2 (if not 4) of these sandwiches, and use 2 slices of bacon per sandwich, so I'll cook 4-8 slices of bacon (handy, for a 16oz, 1oz/slice pack). Then, put the bacon on the bottom of the sandwich, 3 slices of lunch meat, your cheese, another 3 slices of lunch meat, and the final slice of bread. Put it in the oven to melt the cheese -- I use 200 degrees for 10 minutes. You're done.

There is one extra step for bacon lovers. :) Do not read the next paragraph if you are one of the people who count calories and fat like piggies on your children's toes. Don't say I didn't warn you.

If you want the extra flavor, and don't mind the extra fat, while the bacon grease is hot, toss the bread into the pan where the bacon was. Fry one side of the bread in the bacon grease for anywhere from 5-30 seconds, depending on your taste and how toasty you like your bread. The fried side of the bread slices face the inside of the sandwich. But for the fat-conscious among us, this will introduce a lot of fat into your system, so don't do this if it goes against your conscience, or alternately, if you are already "treated-out" for the day. People trying to put on weight of any kind might be interested in this little delicious tidbit. People trying to lose weight should probably avoid this step. People who are just trying to maintain weight might be interested, assuming that they are of the "treats are OK" mentality...

In case you're wondering, I paired oven-roasted turkey with muenster cheese, and I'm now doing sugar-cured ham with mild cheddar. Both combinations worked quite well with the bacon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Age of Mary

So I just found the coolest website ever. Check it out...

The Age of Mary

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Failure

To all of you who said that I shouldn't get a motorcycle because motorcycles are dangerous, rejoice: I still can't get one.

I signed up to take a riding class. It was Monday, August 25, 2008 through today: three days. I signed up for the class at the Northern Virginia Community College Alexandria campus. I bought a helmet and riding gloves, the only two things that I didn't already have to participate in the class. I did my time and got up early every day (between 4 and 5AM) on the class days and went to bed early (usually around 8PM) to get plenty of sleep. I had my days off completely, so nothing would distract me from my goal of attaining a license.

There was a class on Monday which talked about the joys and the dangers of riding a bike, proper safety, where accidents are likely to occur and how to avoid them, etc. After this, on Tuesday morning, bright and early, there was a written test. I aced it: 100%. Great start.

After the test, they sat us on some bikes (smaller than I'd get) and got us accustomed to them -- how they felt, how they ran, how the gadgets worked, how to inspect them and start them up. Then they showed us how to ride them. While I was nervous at first, it was a lot like riding a bicycle, except that I had to deal with an engine, a clutch, transmission, etc. I learned all the motions pretty quickly, although some of the actions took a lot of repetition.

I asked the instructors how I was doing today -- they told me that I'm doing all right. I was hoping for a better answer, but I've not been doing perfectly. There's a lot of stuff that I have to pay attention to: in a car, it's second nature -- on a bike, I had to think about it.

Anyway, today was the evaluation. Keep in mind that I'd ridden everything in the evaluation before. I'd not made a mistake so bad as to warrant more than, "Do it again." My bike had only fallen once because I misjudged what gear I was in, and I was moving too quickly, but it fell on grass, and no one really noticed except one instructor. Yesterday and today, I was zigging and zagging, turning, swerving, weaving, U-turns, shifting, accelerating in curves, stopping, stopping in curves, etc. all without any major incident. At 95% of the time, the bike was completely under my control, and I was getting significantly better, especially considering that I have never driven a motorcycle before.

Right, so the evaluation. Points will be deducted for mistakes (like putting your foot down, or incorrect braking). You fail automatically if you do one of two things: 1) blatantly disobey the instructors' orders, or 2) drop/fall off the bike. No retries. I knew that I wouldn't disobey the instructors' orders, and I certainly didn't plan on dropping the bike, much less falling off it.

Now we had all just run the U-Turn and swerve exercise. I had made a couple mistakes the first couple of times, but I was really concentrating on doing a good job and doing everything exactly as the instructor told us. By the end of the practice run, both instructors were waving me on, and had no comments or instructions for me. I was good to go.

Out of a class of twelve, there were eight of us left. The first took too long in a break and was dismissed; the second couldn't control his bike and opted to leave (I guess -- I didn't hear it); the third was a no-show this morning; and the fourth was dismissed after falling off her bike one-too-many times. Needless to say, the pressure was on for no one else to fail out.

The very first evaluation comes along, and, naturally, I'm nervous. I want to do it perfectly. I just practiced this same exercise several times. I knew shift my bike into second gear, and how fast I need to be going to perform the U-Turns. I knew how fast I needed to go to execute the swerve well, and how to stop properly without skidding. And then it was my turn.

2 U-turns, and then accelerate to the swerve and brake.

1 U-turn: no problem. Things looked just great. I slowed down, looked into the second U-turn, pushed and accelerated.

The bike slipped out from underneath me quicker than basically anything I've ever experienced. It slipped out so quickly that it threw me and I just had to roll with it. I was completely unhurt. But I'd also completely failed.

Afterwards, I went over to my fellow classmates, most of whom also seemed to be very surprised by this turn of events. The few that I talked to all agreed that there had to have been some mechanical failure on the bike or something on the track. Gary, a long-time rider, told me that it looked like the front tire pressure was low, and when I went into the turn, my rim hit the ground: it's entirely possible, I don't know. They all agreed, though, that I would pass the test easily, and that I should borrow a friend's bike and go to the DMV to get licensed. While I'm fine with that, it is not going to help me at all: I doubt that I can get approved through the VA DMV when my license is from TX.

I'm still in shock (to say the very least) at what happened. I don't know. I ran the exercise several times -- I'd never slipped or experienced any indication of the sort. It was as though I had hit an oil patch or some sand: my traction just went up in smoke. It was too fast for me to react to and catch myself. Had I caught myself, there would have been points deducted, but I would have passed with a few points deducted, but there wasn't time to think. One second, I'm looking through the U-Turn and am accelerating, and the next, I've lost everything. I've lost my money, I've lost any chance of getting a motorcycle license before the summer is over, and, most importantly, I've lost my confidence. According to my version of my life's script, I'm supposed to have a motorcycle license now. I'm not supposed to have a bike yet -- I may not ever get a bike according to my version of life's script; that's still being written. But now I've lost it all. And in losing my self-confidence, I've also lost my self-respect. And that is going to take me a while to get back.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Follow up on the car

Well, Bryan, Ben and I went to check out the 1993 Mustang. It was a beautiful car in the pictures, but when we went to go check it out, there were little imperfections all over it. The top looked like the canvas was coming off the frame. The seals around the windows weren't all that great. The trunk was clean but tiny. The engine was wide open but full of old parts. I fired it up, and fell in love with roar of the V8, but putting it in gear was scary. There was a rattling that came straight from the transmission when it was in gear. The top was slow in moving, slow enough that Ben offered to help move it along. The most that the car was worth was $4000. They were asking $5900.

Needless to say, I didn't end up getting it. But it sounded beeeeeeeeeeeeeooooooootiful.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cars

Well, I think the Nissan has about had it. I tried replacing the alternator, but I'd need to get underneath the car to take off the exhaust manifold (I think that's what it's called), and looking at the front of the engine, it's got a pretty bad oil leak, too. It's probably inexpensive to fix myself -- it looks like all I need to do is replace the seals on the top of the engine. I think the parts cost for that would be around $50, and then I'd spend maybe 2 hours fixing it. But even if I do that, the mechanic had said that I'd need a valve job done on the car. I don't know what that is, but he quoted me $1200. And I know that after I do that, I'll need to redo the suspension on the car, as well as fix up the body damage. If I had a garage, I'd be working on it now. The problem is that I have neither a garage, nor the right tools to do half of the work that it needs. With all this in mind, I'm going to go look at some new-to-me cars today. Hopefully, I can get something not too expensive ($10K or less -- preferably $5K). Needless to say, I think that this puts a motorcycle on hold, unless I can get a replacement car for less than $5K.

In any case, that's all that's been going on for me. Thanks to Alex and Ashley S., I've been able to get into the office a three times this week, and I worked from home Thursday and Friday. I'm getting used to that. It's actually far less distracting, as long as I have music on. It's good to be in the office for social reasons, but on days when I need to focus and get a lot done, I can sometimes actually work better at home. I just set up everything to keep me motivated and the music changes as I'm working. I tend to make a lot of progress when I've got choral or classical playing, but on my tired days, that will knock me right out, so I'll throw on something a little more upbeat. And thanks to the XM radio I got for Christmas, if my CDs no longer cut it, I've got about 70 stations of "ad free" radio from which to choose.

"Ad free", huh? It's roughly $10/month, and by "ad free" they mean no non-XM-sponsored commercials. There are still commercials on a few channels. Eric W. and I were both working from home one day, and he pointed out how many commercials there were on one channel. I forget which station it was, but as I listened to it, I began to notice them. It was the same ten commercials over and over again. We made fun of one of them. It was a commercial for a guy telling parents that with his simple tactics, you can get your children to respect you again. We both chimed in about the benefits of spanking or other forms of discipline. :)

Anywho, on that note, I'm out. Bryan S. is coming by today to take a look at a car with me today. It's a 1993 Ford Mustang, and since this is a series of car with which he is very familiar, he was very gracious in agreeing to drive an hour out to my place to help me out. There is another Mustang that I'm considering, but I prefer the 1993, as there is less computer operation and therefore more work that I can do on it myself. Whether I actually get either car is still up in the air, but there's another guy out at Leesburg Toyota who is looking through his inventory to see if he can find anything in my price range, too. In any case, we'll see what happens. There are a couple others that I'm considering, but these are newer-to-new cars -- and I really don't think want to spend that much (about $15K)...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

There are days...

You know, there are days when I wonder why I even have a blog. I hardly ever post to it. Few people read it. Then I realize why: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." --Al Franken, Stuart Smalley in Saturday Night Live, catchphrase

So anyway, it's been a while again, and a lot has happened since. Most recently, my car had a bit of a heart attack, but after undergoing surgery, I think it'll be OK. The distributor and the alternator both went out, and that may not be all. The mechanic fixed the distributor, but charged me so much that I couldn't afford anything else. Thus, I had to pull it out of the shop. I will fix the alternator myself, and hopefully be able to diagnose whatever else is wrong with the car.

With the beginning of Lent, I've decided to take up Holy Transfiguration again as my weekday religious destination. Unfortunately, with the loss of my car, I am stuck at home, with nowhere else to go until it is fixed. So, to all of you whom I would be singing with at any point in the near future, I've not abandoned you -- I'm just stuck.

Aside from that, work has been very busy. 10 hour days are not uncommon, nor is spending the night at the office (although that's far less common than 10 hour days). I'm hoping that comes to a stop soon, as that's a recipe for fried Anthony, and a fried Anthony is a cranky Anthony that no one wants to be around. Heck, I don't even want to be around me when I'm cranky. I'm awful! Plus, I smell awful when I'm fried. Baked in a confection oven, now that's a different story!

OK, that wasn't even remotely amusing.

Previously, I had mentioned an interest in music and composition. That interest is still there, but at best, it's only an interest. I'm too busy now to actually pursue it regularly, no matter how much I want to.

Girls -- who can fathom them? I sure as heck can't. With that said, the priesthood is becoming an ever more tempting option. Don't get me wrong: I love women, and I would probably enjoy being married to one. I just don't really remember why anymore.

And speaking of girls and Lent, a certain young man set me up. The jerk knows me well enough to know that I can't actually turn down a real challenge, even if my first reaction is to say no. Knowing this, he suggested mildly that I give up flirting for Lent. You can imagine my initial reaction of, "What? Give up flirting? You've GOT to be kidding me! No way!" He suggested that if I have to flirt, then I should flirt with only one person. I made a few suggestions, but he said no, I wasn't allowed to flirt with any of them. I could only flirt with Christine. "Why Christine?" I asked, thinking that I already knew the reason. Turns out I was right, I did know the reason: she wouldn't flirt back, and constantly puts me down. His reasoning was this: "When you're married, you can't just flirt all the time." "True," I reasoned back, "but when I'm married I'll be able to focus all my flirting on one lady, and I do intend to flirt with her daily." He couldn't really argue too much with that, but he still stood by what he said: that I should give up flirting for Lent. Naturally, I refused.

The next day, Christine was online, and I told her what this young man had told me. She lauded him on such a wonderful idea, and insisted that it would only be of good use to me. According to her, I flirt to hide who I really am. According to me, who I really am is a superficial flirt, so I'm not really hiding anything. But the more I thought about Lent and my refusal to give up something, the more it bugged me. So I eventually broke and gave it up. And now it's a daily struggle to not flirt. Do you have any idea how much of a problem this is? This is awful! I can't just go around flirting with girls anymore. I have to have serious conversations. This is truly the low point of my life.

And now for something a bit more rebellious (actually, is it really?). I want a motorcycle. And I'm not just dreaming this time. I actually really want a motorcycle. I went to a shop not to long ago to look at them. I sized up a Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic, and a Honda Shadow Sabre. I also ogled a Suzuki, but the only one that they had to show me was the Boulevard M109R in red. It was a stunning bike, but it looked to be designed for one person. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, but having the extra seat would be convenient.

Of course, anyone in their right mind would argue to death with me about the dangers of riding a motorcycle, how I can kill myself on one, how I can't afford it, how I don't need it, how it will make me even more of a social outcast than I currently make myself, etc. But you know what? I'm getting older, and the three of the most dangerous things I've ever done all involve work: 1. slipped and fell under a mower -- I still have my toes thanks to steel-toed boots; 2. worked for 36 hours straight in front of a computer, nearly going insane and contemplating quitting; 3. worked at an asphalt plant where the danger of me falling off the shaker and getting run over by a Cat front-end-loader was about as likely as my going deaf or getting killed by my co-workers, some of whom had jail experience. I've ridden roller coasters, the Dive Bomber Alley at Six Flags Over Texas, and I just feel like I'm reaching the end of my prime. Call it an early mid-life crisis. Call it stupidity of youth. Call it whatever you will, but don't deny an old man his dreams.

Oh yeah, and I also want a tattoo. Perhaps 1, perhaps 2. I haven't decided for sure how I want them. But, if I ever get a tattoo, I want a traditional Sacred Heart of Jesus and a traditional Immaculate Heart of Mary. And when I say traditional, I mean just that. I don't want a freaky new-age design. It had better be Michelangelo himself putting that into my skin, or I will freak out and punch the artist and not pay him. That's one of the main reasons why I will probably never get a tattoo -- I want them to be perfect. I don't want to have them ruined by some punk who thinks he's doing me a favor and making me look all bad and like a tough guy by adding a dragon's head around the hearts or something. And, since most tattoo artists are known for experiencing trips and highs, I'll probably not be getting a tattoo any time soon. But you never know. There could be a good Traditional-Latin-Mass Catholic priest available who just happens to be proficient with a needle and ink...

So anyway, yeah. That's about it. I'm hanging in there. If you're reading this blog, you know how to contact me if you so desire. And if you don't desire, that's cool, too. You know who you are, and if I get a messed up tattoo on my body, think about how you might have been the voice that could have stopped me. {wink}

Ciao for now! God Bless!

Oh, and check out my new blog on the side there: "Ramblings of a Crazy Person". It's a different category than this one...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Quotable quotes

I'm on the phone with Lizzie. Her quotable quote this time:

"I've forgotten how much fun history is. It's like reading a racy novel, sometimes."

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It's been awhile again, huh?

Well, dear readers, if there are any of you left (which I doubt), a lot has happened in the past three months. Don't even bother asking me everything. Here's a brief summary of the highlights.

October continued on pretty well. I told you that I went home right? Of course, I did. Then Halloween came and went. I spent about $25 on Halloween candy, and gave about half of it away. I was as generous as I could be, but there came a point when I decided that I actually did want some of it -- Butterfinger, Mounds, Almond Joy, you get my drift? ;)

November was pretty good. Work was really busy, but I can't remember why. Sometime that month, my gym schedule, which had already slacked off from 6 days a week down to 3 went to 1, if I was lucky. Oh, and my twin sister brought #4 into the world -- Zachary Michael.

Oh, and sometime in either October or November, I decided that I want to take classes in acting and music theory & composition. Over the past couple of months, I've decided that I want to pursue music as a side profession, although I still have the most fun when I'm acting.

Two major work-related things happened in December: #1, I messed up my own data, and it was quite a fire drill over about 30 hours straight to rebuild all of the affected data. #2, the following weekend, we had our company party at the Kennedy Center. It was great -- except that I was really tired (still recovering from the week), so I didn't really get into it until about half-way through.

I didn't go to the gym at all in December. I was too busy with work and Christmas choir practices. But the latter was for naught, because JD and I drive down to Texas to visit our respective families for Christmas, and spent three full days there. I arrived at home in Dallas at 9PM on Sunday, and JD picked me up again at about noon on Thursday. It was a lot of fun, although very short -- I got to visit with Emma and Sarah, Kelly P. went Christmas shopping with me on Monday, and Jenny D. and I went to lunch on Wednesday.

On Christmas Eve, Mom and I went to Our Lady of Lebanon in Lewisville for Liturgy. It was quite nice. Emma and Sarah asked me to join them in the choir loft for a couple hymns, and I was more than happy to oblige. My voice wasn't quite up to the task, though. Quite sad. Be sad. Are you sad? If you are, thank you.

On Christmas Day, Mom and I met with Elizabeth and her four chillun's (yes, the new one is as cute as a button). I was in my morning coat (most normal people would wear it to weddings -- I would wear it to weddings and the birthday of the Savior, and most likely His Resurrection, too). Anyway, we went to Mass together, then Mom and I went to her house where we had breakfast and opened round 1 of presents. Later in the evening, Jane and Gilbert came over with Kathy and the two babies. Then we all opened round 2 of presents.

On Wednesday, Mom and I watched Batman Begins. During the rest of my short stay there, we also watched Yours, Mine, and Ours and Evan Almighty.

Thursday came, and Mom and I went to Mass early in the morning. I was expecting Jonathan around 8AM. He was running a few hours late -- this was good thing. Had he been on time, he would have been driving from about 3AM, plus we would also have to contend with Dallas traffic -- even though we're not in Dallas officially, we are near enough. So he actually showed up about noon and we had smooth sailing out of Dallas, and we were both able to stay awake for a while and talk.

The day I got back to VA, I felt like I was beginning to adjust to the TX weather differences, and my asthma (or whatever it is in my lungs) was beginning to open up a little. So, Jonathan and I drove straight back to VA without stopping, arriving at 6:30-7:00 AM. We got back to his place, and I crashed on the couch until about 10AM, when I drove back to my place. I was cold, tired, and my chest was rather congested, although not too badly. I went to the gym after unpacking. I worked out very hard, considering that I hadn't been to the gym in almost 2 months due to life being very busy, and I exhausted my lungs. My body felt like it could keep going, but my congested lungs were screaming for more space to store oxygen, so I was done.

After my shower, I put on a lot of warm clothes, and drive back to my place. I began shivering while getting dressed and didn't stop until I was more than half-way back to my place. As soon as I got out of the car, I began shivering again, and this didn't stop until about ten minutes after I went inside, put my sweaty clothes into the basket, put on my sweats/PJ's, and crawled into bed. It was about 3:30 PM. About 4:30, Eric W. came back to the townhouse, and chit-chatted with me for a bit, then got recalled to work, so he had to take off. I went back to sleep until about 7:30, when he got back. By this point, I was feeling a lot better, although not 100%. I ate some chicken soup and took some Nyquil, and then Eric and I went to the Chipmunks movie. That was really funny. Plus, the music is AWESOME! I love the Chipmunks. :)

Saturday, about noon, Jonathan came by again, but this time, we were going to the English's house in Lancaster, PA. On the way, we picked up Meghan and Mary Beth at Meghan's house in MD. We were all going up there to sing Christmas carols at a Christmas party that the English's were hosting. We arrived at about 4PM, and began practicing about 4:30. We stopped for dinner at 5:30, then continued again after dinner until about 8PM. I was singing bass for almost everything except for 2 pieces where I sang tenor. After we were done singing, I was freezing, so I got my coat and looked like I was in a cassock for the rest of the evening. My voice was pretty much OK, but I was still quite tired, but I couldn't crash yet. About 10:00 PM, I began fading, but I managed to stay half-awake until 11:30, when I went to bed.

Early the next morning, we went to the church early to practice for Mass. I discovered much to my chagrin that my high voice was 95% gone. The only voice I had left was a scratchy low voice -- and I was supposed to sing tenor all through Mass. Well, Paul helped me as much as he could, but I was practically useless. We sang 3 pieces, and my voice got progressively better (it wet from about 5% at the beginning of Mass to 10% for the final piece), and right after the final piece, I lost it entirely. It wasn't even at 5% -- it was at 0%. I had no voice for the next couple hours, and since then I've been gaining a little bit back every day. Today, I'm almost 100%, but my lungs are still interfering -- when I start to sing in my high range, I feel the very strong urge to break into a coughing fit.

On the way back from the English's, Jonathan, Mary Beth and I were talked into staying for a bit at Meghan's house to participate in a Christmas open house/party. I was happy to stay, but with my voice the way it was, I couldn't really talk to people well until much later in the evening when it was a variation on the low voice of the Preview Guy.

And speaking of coughing fits, I've been having them every night. Usually from 3-4PM, anywhere from 30 minutes to a full hour. Last night, I think I coughed twice -- no fits. It was nice to be able to sleep again. Although, I feel another one coming on now, so I question my ability to sleep tonight. Wish me luck. I'm going to try now...