Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Damn holidays

Stupid holidays. All last week I was doing great on my diet (and I know, it isn't a diet, it is a lifestyle change. It is still 'die' with a 't'!), then mom and dad arrived, and it all went to hell in a handbasket. An extra ham and cheese sandwich after we picked them up, a bit too much on Christmas, as expected, and chinese buffet for lunch yesterday. And not having any way to work out on Friday, Sunday or Christmas day (I did count points cleaning out the basement - I definitely broke a sweat and worked my butt off there for several hours). And then today Diane wanted me to go with her to the rec center - where I just can't get as effective a workout as I do at work. An hour there only seems to burn half the calories that I do at work (according to the machine, and who knows how accurate they really are) - but I find I'm not sweating as much or working as hard, so I think it is pretty accurate.

So, for the first time I've gained weight. Only .8 lbs, but it still sucks big time. And I'm worried about this week as well, as we are driving to Pittsburgh tomorrow to meet my sister, and travelling is even worse on the diet. Then New Year's Eve, where we will be drinking heavily.

At least on Thanksgiving I had most of the week to make up for it, unlike Christmas and New Years. *SIGH*

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Last day of the year

at least for work. Yep, I'm off until January 2nd. It will be nice to have some time to not think about this place.

Of course with Mom and Dad coming in on Sunday for a week, I might just 'need' to come in for a while to get a break :-)!

I'm down another pound, for a total of 35.4 since I started. And if you are a fan of Oprah, well then you know what that means. Down 35 and up an inch!

I figure today I'll go work out, then I have to give blood at 2, then try to see if I have time to get any Christmas shopping in, if not then I'll be up and out fairly quickly tomorrow to attempt to avoid at least some of the crowds.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Letter

I thought I would post our Christmas letter here - it was an open letter to our friends. Everyone should have it by now, well except for one person, who I didn't get it sent to until yesterday, because I'm basically an idiot and forgot that I did have her address and have had it for quite some time - sorry about that, but it is in the mail.
December 6th, 2006

Dearest friends, family, in-laws, out-laws, and that one person on our Christmas list that no one remembers but we keep forgetting to remove;

The Ohio branch of the Carter Clan continued to prosper in the past year, or at least the government seems to feel that way when it comes to taxes and college financial aid, assuming that since we have managed to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table that we are rolling in the dough and laughing all the way to the bank. It amazes me to see the annual figures on all the spare money sitting around the house, but perhaps I only need to get my eyes checked so that perhaps I can see a wee bit of it for once.

The biggest event for the family as a whole was a trip to Chicago this summer to attend the national tour of “Spamalot”, the hit musical based on Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Everyone enjoyed the weekend, and the abuse from the waiter at the famed Ed Debevic’s Restaurant was all that we had heard it would be.

Diane and I have continued to attend the seminars that we started last December, unfortunately we were not able to graduate with those we started with because we missed one in July, which we will make up in May. This has been a wonderful voyage of self discovery, and we believe has truly helped the dynamics and relationships within the family. For this opportunity we are truly grateful.

I continue to work at Reynolds and Reynolds, though the company is currently in the process of re-defining itself, after having merged with competitor UCS, based in Houston, and becoming a private corporation. Right now I’m simply along for the ride, waiting to see how things will end up, but it definitely makes for interesting times. One of the highlights of my year was when I took third place in the NACORD National Confrontation Championship held at GenCon in Indianapolis in August. Not only did I win a bronze medal and some figures, but I also earned the admission tickets to GenCon free for the boys and me by building the terrain used for the tournament. In addition, I have lost over 30 pounds so far this year on Weight Watchers.

Diane continues to be a realtor, and has managed to double her sales since last year, even in a very weak housing market in the Dayton area. She earned both a Gold level sales award, as well as a Diamond award for achieving a perfect 100% customer satisfaction rating throughout the year. She has also continued in her volunteering, specifically volunteering me to be the treasurer of the Band Boosters, while she has taken on the role of corresponding secretary sending out the monthly newsletter. She has lost almost 20 pounds also doing Weight Watchers with me, but seems to want to sabotage me more often because of the fact men just lose weight faster than women.

Becky is now a senior at St. Kate’s in St. Paul, Minnesota, studying American Sign Language (and no, when deaf people get drunk their hands don’t slur (that’s not funny at all apparently)), and expects to graduate in the spring of 2008. She has started working part time as a Nanny as well for a pair of two year old twin girls, and is really enjoying this job. She is still with Ryan, who is now a police officer for Oakdale, MN, and she even gets to ride along with him occasionally.

Jon graduated this past spring from West Carrollton High School, and had a very productive summer, at least in the area of sleep. He is now a freshman at Bowling Green State University in the education program, though he anticipates changing his major next year. He is enrolled in a nationally acclaimed learning community, “Partners in Context and Community”, and spends every Monday in an actual elementary school in Toledo. We are still hoping he gets the idea that having a job is actually a good thing, and finds one soon.

Katlyn is still enrolled at Cross Creek Manor in the thriving metropolis of La Verkin, Utah. Diane and I have had the opportunity to visit her twice this year, once in April and the second time in October. Unfortunately, she is still fighting the program more than working it, and after fifteen months there she is still at a level 1. We talk to her every other week with Garth, her therapist, and alternate weeks we speak with Kathy, the family representative. All we can do is continue to work our own program toward making a whole and healthy family, and wait until she decides to begin working herself.

Erik is a freshman in West Carrollton High School, where the highlight for him is the marching band. He greatly enjoys being one of the ‘bones, having had a great time in his first year at band camp. In addition, all the marching has helped him to begin to trim down as well, though never as quickly as he would like. He continues to be a straight "A" student, and enjoys school though he rarely finds it challenging.

Matthew is still in Boy Scouts, and recently not only received his First Class rank, but was elected to be the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader for this troop for the coming year. He is quite excited about this, and has even recruited a couple of his friends to join the troop with him. He is in seventh grade at West Carrollton Middle School, and doing well.

Finally, Scout continues to rule the house, striving quite hard to increase his productivity and sleep twenty hours a day. He is a good dog however, and quite the protector of the yard, having caught two rabbits and a woodchuck this summer, defending his family from this horrid varmint invasion.

The entire family is looking forward to having Grandma and Grandpa Carter here for Christmas, as this will be the first time in eighteen years that we have been able to spend Christmas together, and will be my chance to really prove at Christmas dinner that “this bird is definitely juicier than last year!” We plan to top off the year by meeting up with Margaret, Jim, Joseph and Meg, the New Jersey clan, just before the end of the year in Pittsburgh.

As the holiday season is once more upon us, we wish everyone a wonderful Christmas, and a joyous and prosperous New Year. To mix a few of my favorite Irish blessings, May the road rise up to meet you, the sun always be at your back, and may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows your dead.

Mike, Diane, Becky, Jon, Katlyn, Erik, Matthew and Scout

Wiring Finished

Well I finished the wiring last night. It wasn't too bad, I picked up a circuit tester to help. It was funny, the only obvious broken wire wasn't the live circuit, it was to the new stuff. But I fixed it, and all the plugs and the new overhead light with the switch are all hooked up and working, and nothing blew up or caught fire, and no one was electrocuted. Diane should finish the painting today (mainly some touch up, the conduit above the door, and the narrow section between the door and the closet that she missed. Then clean up the mess and have Jon move the furniture back in tomorrow. There are a lot more options for it now as well, since there is now power on three walls (I could have actually run a plug down under the light switch, but it wouldn't have been used for anything other than the vacuum mainly. I figure going from 5 plugs (in the space that normally holds 2) to 10 on three walls, plus the overhead light, is good enough. The paint looks really good as well - Diane does a good job with that. She is also working with Goof-off to remove a lot of the old paint from the wood. While the wood is not in good shape at all, I hate to paint it. Even distressed wood has a nice warm feel with the grain etc.

I figure tonight I'll put the towel rings up in our bathroom, and remount a toilet paper holder in the boys bathroom. I don't know if I'll get the access panel for the tub done. (When we had the plumber in to fix the tub / shower, he had to cut a new access panel - so the section of drywall there is in two pieces. I have all the extra from the kitchen now however, so I'll cut one piece to fit in there, then add some trim around it (like it had before), though I need to measure how much I'll need for this. Jon wanted to paint the bathroom as well, which isn't a bad idea, but I don't know if that will get done (and we don't have the paint for it, though it would only take a gallon). I really wish we could replace the tub, but he is supposed to be scrubbing it this week before Mom and Dad get here - it is pretty nasty. But inserts are just too expensive.

Jon is a little upset that we waited to do his room until he was gone. Yet another mistake I can chalk up, along with all the others. One of my characteristics is that I am pretty much able to make do - I live with a lot of stuff that I shouldn't have to. That is just the way I am. Which means that I don't always get off my fat lazy butt to fix things that need it. Even the things that don't cost much, like putting towel rings up in our bathroom, or re-installing the toilet paper holder in the bathroom. Yes, we should have done his room four years ago. But then he is like me, and made do.

Why did we do it now - well we had to empty the room to allow them to patch the ceiling, and it had to be painted after patching - and one thing led to another. Plus for once we had the money - total cost on his room is approaching $800 for the celing repair (which was half of it), plus the conduit (needing 9 5' pieces at $7 each) plus all the corners and accessories for it, and the paint etc. It did run a bit more than I expected, and we normally wouldn't have done it right before Christmas (presents? what presents? What is this shopping you speak of? Why, I have 6 more days!), but the last of my bonus, and the closing Diane just had covered it.

So the next eventual one is to repaint Erik's room, which was actually in the best shape when we bought the house, as it was the previous master bedroom. Then there are all the things we would like to do with the upstairs (like put in more closets, and make the one dormer window a reading nook with pillows. And we would love to put in a gas fireplace in the hearth - it is so weird having the tile and the shelf for a mantle, but having the fireplace sealed up. And we so need a half bath on the main level - but that will be real costly. Oh, and a new, real deck as well. Unfortunately a lot of this stuff I just can't do myself (like adding a room (for the half bath), putting in a gas fireplace (without blowing up the entire house that is). And anymore I don't even know if there will be any bonuses. And no more stock either. So the real estate market will have to really pick up so Diane can pay for these fixes.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Busy weekend

It has been a very hectic weekend, and started early. On Thursday we had the drywall people in, patching the ceiling in Jon's room, and then fixing the kitchen, which required them to put up drywall to cover and seal in the cracked plaster. Both ceilings looked real good.

Of course, they didn't re-hang the light in the kitchen, but that was ok, as we needed to paint the ceiling. Diane actually likes painting, so she did that, and I re-hung the light on Saturday. Had a bit more issues with it than I expected, but it is up and working.

For Jon's room, we painted the celing, then decided to go ahead and do some LONG overdue work there as well. I picked up some plastic conduit, and am running a few more outlets in his room. This is taking much longer than I expected, but at least when it is done he will have more than one plug in the room. Diane is also painting it, and that is going well.

I have all the plugs in, and am working on adding an overhead light as well. Saturday night everything looked good and was working (what was done), but when I turned the power back on last night - none of the plugs worked (in his room or Erik's room next door), though the wall light and Erik's overhead light both worked. So I figure one of the old wires from the wall light down to the wall socket must have broken - arrgh!!!!! Those wires have so little extra, there is nothing at all to work with. Depending on how bad it looks tonight (and of course, it will be dark by the time I get home, and with the circuit turned off - I hope the work lights I have work well!) I'll have to see if I can work with what is there, or will have to re-do it from the light, and if I do that can I do it through the wall, or have to run yet more conduit up the wall (and around the mirror. *sigh* But it should be nice for Mom and Dad next week when they get in.

It is hard to believe Christmas is only one week away. Of course I have a huge amount of shopping to do, but spending $400 on this room (plus the $1100 for the ceilings) means that I have to wait for payday to get any more presents. It is pretty amazing how quickly the costs run up on these things. However I figure I'll do my shopping Thursday afternoon (I'm taking a half day vacation then, but have to give blood platelettes (apherisis) which will take all friggin' afternoon) and Friday to get it finished.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The one constant is change

Well wait no more you worried weight watchers wannabe's. As of this week the new weight watchers program has rolled out.

So of course my first reaction is "wonderful - so now I get to eat even less food." Of course, as is ususally the case, I was wrong yet again. The new program, so far, isn't so bad, and in fact I get, what I feel at least, is a lot more food than before (the advantage of being a male - one of many that I'll go into someday when I feel like the couch is ever so much more comfortable than the bed with my wife, but I digress). I actually went from 26 pts a day to 33! That is more than I started with 16 weeks ago! And with my usual exercise routine, that is up to 40 points (or a full 2000 calories) a day! I don't know what to do with that much!

Part of it makes sense however, as it seems that whenever I blow my diet on the weekend, I always end up losing more than when I really stick to it. Part of me is thinking that it is due to being right on the edge of eating enough and not - so when I go a bit over I actually end up on the side of eating enough to keep my metabolism up while losing weight, vs. not eating enough and having it slow down for 'starvation' mode.

So when I get home I go on-line to see if that is set up, since my PDA has not changed the amount this week yet, and the new program rolled out Sunday. Turns out there is a little 'assessment' (and you all know how much I like those :-) ) which you have to take - the same as in the book, though most of it is already filled out (i.e. weight, height, age, sex). The only real thing I have to add is my daily activity (which, unfortunately for the amount I get to eat, consists of sitting on my butt for 8-9 hours a day at my desk).

So then I synch up, go into the PDA program and it resets. Again and again. I do a hard reset, delete and reload it, all to no avail. But I did find the backup directory and remove a whole bunch of the restaurant databases (for points values - check out Dotti's Weight Loss Zone for a great listing of food and restaurant points) which I have never heard of - because I had so many files loaded on my PDA that whenever I went to the file manager, it puked because there were too many.

So I sent a message to support, and they are aware of the issue and working on it. But then I went and flipped back from the new on-line tracker to the old one, and everything seems to work (well, I can't access yesterday, but I can track today). So it looks to me like it is a problem with the new on-line tracker, which syncs up the data. So it works for now at least - and with any luck (like I have that :-) ) it will be fixed soon.

We also got the kitchen ceiling redone, so that the cracked plaster won't just fall on our heads. They also patched Jon's room. Diane is painting the ceilings this afternoon - she actually enjoys painting - so she can have it. I've done enough for many lifetimes, thank you.

I hope to make some time this weekend to get back to the life story - the next chapter is 'written', but kind of boring, so I'm working at adding in some humor. If it isn't interesting then it is a bit of a waste to put it up after all. So no 'factual' (like any of this is based on fact - haven't you realized that I'm just a figment of your own warped imagination!) changes, just adding some jokes (at least I think they are a little humorous).

Oh yeah, down another pound. I have to remember to keep pushing water, I think that makes a big difference for me. And now that I have more points, I had better stick to them. I doubt I can still blow it like I was, but then there are so many more points. Wish I had them for Thanksgiving - but Christmas is coming!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Up the Assessement

The times they are a changing! And these sure are interesting times.

The worst part of all these changes is that everything is so completely out of my control. The 'merger' (properly pronounced 'buy-out' as it seems that all the policies are coming from the other company, not ours) was final at the end of October. We got our bonus early, and got money from our restricted stock because of the buyout. Those are about the only good things so far.

Having the company go smoke free was no big deal for me, since I don't smoke anyway. But now they have gone to their recruiting model, which is ony hire entry level people, and promote from within. To do this everyone interviewing must take an assessement test. And they are giving everyone here the 'opportunity' to take it during this week and next. So I did yesterday.

The frustrating point isn't the test, but the fact that they don't let you know your results, and all positions are no longer posted, instead the senior VP's decide who will get them based on these tests. So my career here is now set, though I have no idea what it is set to, and won't ever know until I either get a promotion out of the blue, or lose my job the same way.

In some slightly good news, I actually won a small Confrontation tournament this past Saturday, which surprised me.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Still Tracking

Ok, so it is now fifteen weeks, and I weighed in last night at 219.4, down 33.4 lbs. Not bad, as good as I should expect I guess. Of course I want it to be faster. What surprised me yesterday was when I looked at my driver's license - and right now I'm right were I said I was two years ago for it. Now how accurate that was at the time is something that can never be determined now - but for a few weeks at least I match my license.

We bought some more christmas lights last night, including a couple of the metal lighted deer, to help break up the big blank walls in front of the porch. I like the rope lights - but they only plug into other rope lights. We have four strands on the colums - I may still get some more, I'm not sure.

It is actually nice to want to put up lights again. Last year we barely even got the tree up, and it was even more depressing because there was basically nothing under it. The present for the boys was their trip to see their mom, and Diane and I basically decided not to get each other anything. And Katie was again gone.

This year will be so different. The boys will be here, and Mom and Dad are coming out as well. I hadn't realized it, but this will be our first Christmas together since I moved from Colorado, and Jon was only 10 months old then, so it has been 18 years since I've had Christmas with my parents. We did get stockings for them, and I don't think they ever had them at home even.

It is snowing here, and for the first time I can ever remember in Ohio, I completely agree with everyone calling the city, state, county and everyone else IDIOTS! Never before have I had this much trouble driving in to work. My normal, 15-20 minute drive (depending on how many lights I hit or not) took almost an hour. I know the snow didn't start until very early this morning, but did Kettering bother to watch the weather at all? This wasn't a freak, surprise storm folks. It is December already - we do get a bit of snow. One salt truck was all I saw, and they obviously had not been out long, as there was none for any of the trip in - anywhere!

I had to slow to a crawl on Stroop at Southern, where there is the hill, because an SUV up ahead had it's hazards on and was stopped. And then I stopped, and barely made it up the stupid hill, as the road was a single sheet of ice. It took me five minutes to get up the stupid hill - about two blocks! And the SUV wasn't stopped, they were having the exact same problem I was. And I watched them swerving back and forth half the way to work. In an SUV! Stupid soccer mom in a Rav4 that doesn't know how to drive the thing - thinks its a friggin' station wagon.

It amazed me, I picked up Barenaked Ladies Christmas CD (Barenaked for the Holidays) yesterday, and managed to listen to the entire thing and start over again in the 'short' drive to work. *sigh* At least I won't have to worry about it for another 7 hours or so!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hmm, some cute things

Ok - so I found a few 'interesting' items to add to my blog - like I have nothing else to do. Enjoy.

Your Vocabulary Score: A-

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.

You Are 40% Pure

You're usually the typical girl or guy next door...
But you also have a secret naughty side!

Your Personality Is

Rational (NT)

You are both logical and creative. You are full of ideas.
You are so rational that you analyze everything. This drives people a little crazy!

Intelligence is important to you. You always like to be around smart people.
In fact, you're often a little short with people who don't impress you mentally.

You seem distant to some - but it's usually because you're deep in thought.
Those who understand you best are fellow Rationals.

In love, you tend to approach things with logic. You seek a compatible mate - who is also very intelligent.

At work, you tend to gravitate toward idea building careers - like programming, medicine, or academia.

With others, you are very honest and direct. People often can't take your criticism well.

As far as your looks go, you're coasting on what you were born with. You think fashion is silly.

On weekends, you spend most of your time thinking, experimenting with new ideas, or learning new things.