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Monthly Archives: December 2009

2010… A Look Ahead…

Published December 31, 2009 - 1 Comment

Well, it’s that time again… time to sit back and come up with a list of half-hearted New Year’s Resolutions, which will no doubt fall by the wayside the longer 2010 drags on…

So, in no particular order of importance…

  • No Coke for You!  This is a repeat offender.  I love my Coke.  There’s no secret there.  I drink the stuff like I breathe air.  As often as possible.  It’s not uncommon for me to crack open a can of God’s sweetest sugary syrup at the start of my day shift… or at 3am when I’m trying to keep my eyes open during a night shift.  Or any time in between.  I understand that it’s bad for me.  It’s empty calories that I don’t really need.  I’ve tried to cut back in the past.  My record was 21 days, set several years ago as a New Year’s Resolution.  I’m hoping to top that in 2010, and perhaps even extend it into 2011.  Yeah right…
  • Lose Some Poundage.  This goes hand in hand with the previously mentioned.  I’m hoping that if I can cut out the empty calories, that it will lead to a slightly less rotund Stephen.  But it’s more than simply removing Coke from my diet.  My eating habits teeter on the edge of dismal at times, which is frustrating, because I do cook meals that are perfectly fine.  Then I get sucked into the fast food hell, which is counter productive to everything else.
  • Read More.  I used to read quite often.  It’s been a long time since I’ve read what I would consider a true read, and not some mindless fluff.  “Oooh… look at the pretty pictures…”  It’s time to get back into the more challenging realm.
  • Travel.  I haven’t enjoyed very much vacation time the last couple of years.  Not only is this my first year to schedule vacation for something other than life commitments, but I also qualify for my 4th week of paid vacation.  I think that I’m well overdue in putting some of that to good use.  Look out, world.  Here I come!
  • Try New Tastes.  I know what I like, and I like what I like.  It does get a little tiresome after a bit, though.  Every once in awhile I tell myself that I need to expand my palate and try new things.  This seems like the perfect time to remind myself of that.
  • Find Fulfillment.  Yeah…  

So there we have it!  I’m sure that there are a few more things that I could put on the list, but that’s all that I can think of off the top of my head.  With roughly 13 hours remaining in 2009, I can’t wait for a fresh start.

Bring it on!

2009… A Look Back at What Was…

Published December 30, 2009 - 1 Comment

When 2008 was winding down, I had high hopes for the year ahead.  2009 was supposed to be a banner year.  It was the year to tie up some administrative ends, and set the stage for amazing things to come. 

On the personal side, I had set 3 major goals.  The first was to finish up that Business degree that had been hanging over my head for the better part of 19 years.  I gave up my summer vacation, and focused on using it “a day here, a day there” from January until April, and successfully tackled the remaining 3 courses.  Not only did I manage to pass all of them, I had the highest marks ever on my transcript.  In May, I received my diploma, which still sits in an envelope on the shelf.  Life hasn’t really changed at all in that department, but was still nice to cross it off my list of things to do.

The second major goal was to finally wipe my personal debt clean.  It’s amazing how easily a series of poor decisions, coupled with some unfortunate circumstances, can cause personal debt to spiral out of control.  The whole “buy now, pay later” thing is an easy trap to fall into.  Well, “later” had finally arrived.  I had set up a repayment plan in 2008, and could have drawn it out for another 5 years, but I was determined to work hard and get this out of the way well before that time.  I made my last payment in the fall of 2009, and have enjoyed the extra cash flow ever since.  More importantly, I’m determined not to repeat the mistakes that landed me in financial quicksand.

The third goal was never realized.  I could only do so much on my own.  Meet me half-way… never happened.

Two outta three ain’t bad.

On the professional side of the house, adding the BBA letters to the end of my name (which I never bothered to do) didn’t make a difference at all.  I knew that they would not.  Not for what I’m currently doing.  I did update my resume and threw it out there, but things haven’t changed.  A couple times I thought that there was going to be a major shake-up, but each time something intervened. So I end the year in the same position that I began it. 

Aside from the 3 major goals, the year was full of ups and downs (as I imagine everyone’s was).  I was extremely fortunate to meet someone who almost single-handedly held my head above water, even when I wasn’t sure that I wanted her to.  Thank you.

I made finally made it to PEI… Twice!  I’ve lived on and off for 6 months at a time in Kingston, traveled 4 day bus rides to California (3 times), yet.. that tiny province only 4 hours away is somewhere that I’d said that I wanted to visit, but never had.  So it was quite a treat to head over there, and get sucked into the tourist trap.  It was even more fun to take the kids over the second time!  The Moo Store (as they call it.. Cows, as it’s formally named) was a huge hit!  Still looking forward to seeing the windmills though!  I’ll be back.

I added some respectable numbers to the blog, and even added another blog to the portfolio.  I have to say that switching from Blogger to WordPress in June was probably the best move I could have made, although I do wish that I hadn’t deleted the original postings.  There are a couple that I distinctly remember, and wish that I could refer to them now. 

I’ve slowly inched closer to a legal separation/divorce state.  There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for the fact that my ex and I are on extremely good terms, but there are some administrative loose ends that are still blowing in the wind.  The house is an obstacle, but I am confident that this will be taken care of in early 2010.

My kids are more comfortable with the way things are now.  2009 was a year for them to kind of settle into the new reality.  That’s not to say that there weren’t some hiccups along the way, and there will continue to be some.  But for the most part, things were generally very nice, and I have many fond memories.

2009 was a great year for shows and movies.  I’ve rediscovered the movie theatre.  It used to be somewhere that I went once or twice a year, but this year I think that I’ve seen close to 10 movies.  Sure, it might not be the best use of money, considering the cost of a night out, but that’s the point.. a night out.   Bon Jovi’s concert in Moncton over the summer was one of the best that I’ve seen, and I certainly enjoyed myself immensely.  Ending the year with the So You Think You Can Dance tour was a nice touch.

On the down side, I lost 2 people who were very close to me.  I know that I’ll always have the memories, but it’s not the same…

I’ve developed an acute awareness of my inner plumbing and how it can break down if not taken care of…

I haven’t been nearly as productive as I thought that I was going to be. 

I still don’t have that damn TV that I’ve been talking about getting! 

All in all, though… it’s been a good year.  I can’t complain (well, I can.. and do.. but it doesn’t change anything)…  I recently referred to it as “the lost year”, and that might seem a little harsh.  That wasn’t entirely accurate.  It’s not so much that the year was lost, but there was a fair amount of lost time.  Those two things can be mutually exclusive.

Here’s to 2010, and all that is has to offer…

Freudian Slip… Batteries Do Not Come in size DD…

Published December 28, 2009 - 1 Comment

No matter how hard you try,when you casually hold up your new electronic device and mention that you’ll have to stop and get some “double D’s”, it’s hard to gracefully recover… especially when it’s a woman you’re speaking to, who looks at you like you’re crazy, but you haven’t yet realized that your tongue and brain are no longer in synch…

Movie Time: Brothers

Published December 27, 2009 - 1 Comment

Had a little bit of time to kill the other day, and figured that maybe we could go see a movie.  It was 3pm.  Not exactly my usual movie-viewing time, and we didn’t have the luxury of waiting around.  If something fit into our schedule, then we’d have to either take it or leave it.  I had hoped that Avatar might available, but it wasn’t.  There was only one movie that was starting at that time, and I couldn’t really place it by the name alone.  Brothers.

It wasn’t until I walked back outside to view the poster that I realized I had seen the movie trailer for this a few times, and that it seemed worth while.

Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal play brothers leading very different lives.  I actually thought that they cast those two quite well.  It wasn’t a stretch to believe that they could be brothers.  Nathalie Portman plays the wife who tries to hold her family together when her husband (Maguire) doesn’t come back from a tour in Afghanistan as planned.  This is sooo not a Padmé Amidala role.  It was quite refreshing to see her acting.

I can remember hearing something about Tobey Maguire having to “decompress” from this role, and I can certainly understand why.  Some not-very-nice things happen to his character, and to be able to pull it off successfully (which I think he did) and then come out of that mental “place” can’t be an easy task.

I don’t think that this is a movie that I necessarily needed to see in the theatre.  It’s not like it required a big screen for visual effects, or anything like that.  But I am glad that I saw it when I did.  It’s not cheery.  It’s probably not going to make you walk out of there laughing.  But it should make you think.  Make you think about what makes a family, what holds two people together, and what people are capable of doing.. the good and the bad..

I wouldn’t rush out to see it before it disappears from the theatre, but keep it in mind when you see it on the shelf of your local movie rental place in a few months.

Happy Boxing Day!

Published December 26, 2009 - 0 Comments

I’ve always thought of Boxing Day as a Canadian holiday only.  My American friends think of December 26th as just another day.  The day after Christmas.  The day before December 27th.  But here in Canada, it’s a national holiday, although no one I asked really seems to know why.  So I looked it up in that great online braindump, Wikipedia.

The name derives from the tradition of giving seasonal gifts, on the day after Christmas, to less wealthy people and social inferiors, which was later extended to various workpeople such as labourers and servants.

Wow.  We made a national holiday based on that

Even better, apparently it’s not unique to the Great While North at all.  In fact, some of the other countries that celebrate Boxing Day include the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Macau. 

Here it’s become equated with Boxing Day sales, something akin to the American’s Black Friday shopping blitz in November.  I don’t bother going anywhere near the stores during the Boxing Day blowout.  I simply don’t have the patience to fight crowds of people for the chance to save a few dollars.  I say “chance” because far too often I’ve heard people complain that the door crasher items shown prominently on the front page of the flyers are available in such ridiculously low quantities that it’s not even a realistic sale item.  You’re not going to get your hands on one of them, so don’t fool yourself!

But that’s another rant for another day.  Instead, kick your feet up, take another sip of your Bailey’s, and enjoy the second paid holiday of the season, if it was originally created to celebrate your social inferiority!  :razz:

Christmas 2009 Winds Down…

Published December 25, 2009 - 0 Comments

I either slept or worked most of what would be considered the 24 hour period that is December 25th.  It was pretty much uneventful, and unexciting.

I did enjoy watching the kids open their gifts, though.  This truly is a time for them.  They’re so full of magical energy.  I’ll be sad to see the day when that wears off. 

It didn’t take long for them to get guck on one of the new netbooks.  I’m beginning to wonder whether I made the right decision with those.  I talked to them, and explained that they aren’t toys, but I’ll be surprised if they were actively listening.  I have a natural upgrade/replacement path in mind, and if they kill off one of those netbooks prior to it being time, then tough.  They’d better learn to take good care of them.

So apart from the 45 mins or so that I was awake with the kids this morning, and the time spent with my parents for a fine prime-rib supper, it’s basically been just another day.  Sad, really.  I guess that’s part of getting older.  Maybe.

Last year was the first Christmas where I truly felt “separated”.  This year felt even more so.  It’s just the nature of what is.  Something tells me that this is the last year that we will do even the little family things.

Christmas 2009 was not the way that I envisioned it.  Christmas 2010 will probably be drastically different as well. 

Only another 365 more days to find out…

Merry Christmas… 2009

Published December 25, 2009 - 1 Comment
Well it’s finally arrived.  December 25th.  Christmas Day.  It’s still a little early, but in a few hours my little rugrats are going to wake up, and run excitedly out to the tree to see if the big guy remembered them this year.  It’s so nice to see the look of sheer joy on their faces.  Priceless.

From my family to yours… wishing you a very Merry Christmas, and all the best for 2010. 

Thanks for reading.

Good Ole AVG Anti-Virus

Published December 23, 2009 - 1 Comment

I’ve been using the free version of AVG Anti-Virus for years… before it became popular.  Now it regularly tops the list of anti-virus software, especially considering that it’s completely and totally free for personal use.  You can’t get much better than that.  I’ve recommended it to anyone and everyone who’s ever asked me what they should use.  Norton?  McAfee?  Nope.  They were good in their day.  Great, even.  But it’s pretty hard to compete with something that is effective, easy to use, and (did I say this already?) free.

So I just plopped down $19.99 for a year’s license of AVG Anti-Virus…

?WHAT?

Yes, it’s true.  I had to reinstall Windows, and was putting all my programs back on, and when it came to AVG, I noticed that they were promoting their professional license option for $19.99 (regular $35).  I compared the two of them closely.  AVG Free does everything that the professional version does.  I think that I have access to their support line now, not that I’ve ever needed it.  So basically, I paid $20 for something that I could have gotten for free.

Why?

It’s an excellent piece of software, and something that I’ve been lucky to have access to for years.  I think that it was a very gutsy call for the company to offer a full version of their software for free, in a market where their competitors generally charge $30 or more.  Unlike many “free for now” models that aim to hook a user with a free product, and then turn it into a paying one (Bluemountain.com e-cards is a great example), AVG has continued to offer it’s free version… well.. forever.

I really don’t have a problem with companies that attempt to entrench their brand, and then move to a newly revised pricing model.  They are businesses, after all.  And businesses can’t survive without money.  Even in the case of BlueMountain, I briefly had a paid membership with them, but closed it after deciding that I wasn’t going to send as many e-cards as I had thought.  So it’s perfectly understandable that companies charge for their products, to be able to continue offering those products.  It doesn’t necessarily mean  that I don’t enjoy a free option over a paid one, but in this case I think that I can throw a little money their way.

It is Christmas, after all.

So You Think You Can Dance Canada Tour in Saint John Last Night

Published December 22, 2009 - 2 Comments

Had you asked me 5 years ago whether I’d ever imagine myself sitting in an arena, watching a group of dancers for 2 hours, I’d say that was crazy talk.  I can’t dance.  I don’t think that I’ll ever dance (although I did inquire about lessons once as a Christmas gift).  It’s just not me.

Yet last night, there I was at Harbour Station, watching the So You Think You Can Dance Canada top 10 tour.  And not only watching, but enjoying it. 

I blame my ex for getting me hooked on the American version of the show back in Season 2.  Since then, I’ve seen most (if not all) episodes of 6 seasons of the American one, and both seasons of the Canadian version.  There’s even a season of So You Think You Can Dance Australia that’s being downloaded for me to watch. 

So what’s the appeal?  Maybe it’s the music.  Maybe it’s the outfits.  Maybe it’s the choreography.  Maybe it’s everything.  I’m not really sure, but for the most part, I find it quite entertaining.

When they announced that the tour would be coming to Saint John, I was definitely interested in picking up some tickets.  And I’ve gotta say… I was not disappointed.  Right from the opening performance it was quite a show.  They performed many of the favourite routines from the season, as well as a couple of original group numbers specifically for the tour. 

I bumped into my ex and 7 year old daughter there.  My daughter was absolutely loving it.  I don’t remember the last time that I’ve seen her so excited about anything.   She will definitely remember that show for a long time.  Which is good, seeing as this was the only NB performance, and I suspect that it will be a few years before they come back to Saint John. 

Great show!

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