Friday, September 28, 2012

Here and There.......(and freebies!)

Its 11:00 pm

     What??? A night entry? Yep....sure is! Haven't written this late at night before. At least not on this blog....back when I first started writing at the late Modblog,I did post several times at night. But that was years ago and life has changed a bit.

   Another pleasant day here in SE Michigan,grey hazy day with some late sunshine in the afternoon. I worked outside at my job today so it was pretty nice to be able to enjoy the weather. Am hoping for another  nice day tomorrow as I need to cut the lawn again.
  But first Lori and I are making another trip to Taylor to the Christmas Tree Shop. We held our first Holiday Planning Session last Friday after our weekly family meeting. We went over our holiday plans and gift lists for our families and friends. Its good to do this early so you can plan and budget for each person.

We're already ahead in the game as we both are planning to skip Halloween this year because we both are planning to work it. We'll use last year's decorations that we got for the yard and make small goodies bags for the neighbor children instead of spending the money for the 100 kids we get a year. I am actually looking forward to working a Halloween again for a change...

   Our microwave died last week. It had come with the house but it was already sort of beat up and we had long range plans to replace it. Well being out of work sort makes those plans hard to attain so we merely patched it up and when the door broke about 18 months ago,we replaced it.
  But last week the old timer gave up the ghost and we had to replace it. Lori went shopping for it and amazingly enough found it at one of the toughest places to shop at,ABC Warehouse. Now I have written about this place before,its a slightly slimy place to shop because all the salesman work on commission and they pretty much attack you as soon as you come through the door.
  I really didn't want Lori going there unless I was there,not because I don't trust her judgement (which is far better then mine) but didn't want to have to battle those salesman,who always remind of the movie "Hollywood Shuffle" where these two dudes are reviewing a parody of zombie movies called "Attack of the Killer Pimps". Personally,I think ABC Warehouse used the same clip as a training model for their staffs. Maybe I'm wrong but you be the judge.....
   Despite our dread,Lori was able to find really nice model and the next day after work,I drove down to pick it up. Now this was a heavy duty microwave and it hangs over our stove so we also had to pay to get it installed.

  ABC Warehouse has several freelance contractors who install whatever product you buy from the store and they come over to do just that. I was home when the contractors we got showed was a father and son team. Both were big fellas and while they were very professional,I was half scared one of them would drop from a heart attack. We made small talk and I asked the dad if his business was picking up as I had heard him tell his son that they had to be quick,they had 10 jobs that took them all over the metro Detroit area.
  He said that business seems to picking up...they were getting ready to start a 2nd truck. I commented how that was great news....until the dad explained they used to have FIVE trucks running. That sort of surprised me a bit considering how hot the real estate market has been getting around here. Two small communities close to us,Westland and Garden City,have been hit by a booming market of low cost homes being bought and renovated.

That often means brand new kitchens and appliances,or one would think. This economy is really a puzzle,its either getting better or people are making adjustments to earning less as the power of the labor unions continue to be eroded away. People are spending more now....just not as much. The local news reported that less people in SE Michigan have credit card debit now....they are paying them off quickly and not using them nearly so much. I know that is true with us,we may use the credit card because we don't want to carry large amount of cash....but the card gets paid off with 3-4 days.
   The dad and son finished our install and then left.
So how did I celebrate? By popping my favorite popcorn....Pop Secret! This is by far the best popcorn on the market and I am always on the hunt for coupons and sales. It rarely happens so when it does,I try and stock up because nothing is better on a chilly night then a bag of popcorn and a cold drink...

  Pretty cool.....I was invited to promote my blog on a group page on FB. I joined and whenever I post a new entry,I post a notice on the page. A young couple from Australia has been been reading it because I just got a request to be "mates" (that is Aussie for friends). So yeah,I am pretty jazzed about that and I hope they continue to support the blog here!

  Tomorrow,I will get off my duff and start working on my next last "8 Questions with...." has been my biggest traffic draw as many folks have stopped by to read my interview with cutting edge designer Evon Cassier. Now why has it taken me so long to deliver my new interview? Hell if I know.....but I do have my questions ready and I'll be sending them off.

  What will be it about? Here is a hint:

And with that.....its time to post this bad boy......

I still have that free book to offer and also,I have 3 free CDs as drop a comment and the first four folks who do will win.....

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Shorty

Its 12:31 pm

     Its another chilly day here in SE sky mixed in with grey clouds. I have the day off so after I post this,I'm heading out to do some serious housework....lots to be done and not much time to do it.

  Got home last night in time to follow the end of the San Jose State game...they were down 34-31 with just over 2 minutes left before marching down and scoring the winning TD with 50 seconds left. The defense was just ruthless after that and stopped San Diego State cold,sealing a 38-34 win and improving to 3-1 on the year. Now the Spartans travel to play Navy who also won yesterday,41-3 over VMI.

But despite beating the Middies last year at San Jose and this year's team in a somewhat rebuilding year,they will be along with Stanford and BYU,the biggest games the Spartans will play this year. And after seeing San Diego State rush for 300 yards against the Spartans,this will suddenly become a real test for the Spartans. They must establish their own running game to help control the clock,last night they only gained 70 on the ground and that has to improve,the offensive line has to run block much better. And Coach Mac has to use all of his backs,not just Irvin,Eskridge and Lainia.

Busted out another great read from the massive stack of books in my den. The book,The Fighting 69th is the story of the 69th Infantry Regiment (Light) of the New York National Guard. The men of the 69th were the first military unit to arrive on scene after the World Trade Center attacks. This book details the unit from that day to when they landed boots on ground in Iraq. This is a great read and also a subtle reminder on just how unprepared we really were in going to war in Iraq. This is a eye-opener of a book and one I recommend very highly to be read.

I picked up my copy at a local Dollar Tree so it is out there to be had at a good price,if anyone wants my copy,drop a comment below and I'll send it on to you...

Lori is feeling a little better today,she slept well and with a day off upcoming tomorrow,should get some well needed rest. Really hoping she feels better very soon....please keep us in your prayers.

Saw that a old friend the San Jose days is now engaged to be a huge shout-out to Sunny and I hope you have found the man of your dreams!


The above video is again from the crazy adventures of actor Craig Bierko and his beloved rescue dog,Boo.
If this doesn't move you to tears,you just have missed the point. Try looking at the video again and seeing what Craig sees.

Okay,that is all for now....a short entry but I just wanted to post something today.....thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Like a good a medical update.

Its 10:44 am on a Thursday

      A late morning blog........on a chilly day,just what the doctor has ordered!

Just looking at the days that are now flying by....each day getting us closer to October 2nd when Lori and I will venture forth again to Ann Arbor for a check-up and a PET scan. If this results are what we expect,we'll then be given a date to having the chemo port being taken out and needless to say,that will be a huge hurdle for us both. This will be the best sign yet that the remission is be a lasting one and we can fully move on with our lives. Of course I'll let you all know what the results are and when she will have her surgery.

I wonder if we'll be able to keep it and mount it as a trophy......

Last month in our sub-division,we had our annual meeting. Last year,I attended it for the first time with my neighbors,Al and Larry. Out of 280 homes,maybe 25 people showed was a decent meeting and we voted for new officers and discussed some community events along with HOA fees. We voted to raise the dues from 20 bucks a year to 40.00 in order to pay for a better snowplow service. Which would have been awesome had we HAD a winter last year. The fact is we only had one storm with more the 4 inches of snow all of the whole winter. That means we paid for the service but only used it once.
  But we didn't know that was going to happen based on the past years,right?
This year's meeting rolled up and our HOA treasurer,who fought very hard to get people to pay their dues (the dues are all voluntary) and had gotten 84% of folks to pay the 40.00 instead of the 40% who only paid the 20 year before,had proposed to not plow any streets in which less then 80% percent of the homeowners had paid dues.
   So at this year's HOA,we had about 75-80 people show up and were angry about this idea and overwhelmingly voted it down. Where as last year,the meeting was friendly and neighborly,this one was a far cry from that. People were rude,shouting over each other and hostile. What little community we may have had pretty much vanished that day.
  Al and I were talking about this the other day about what defines a community. I mean,I consider Lori and I to have 5 excellent neighbors,one good neighbor and one deadbeat one. When we go on trips,I feel pretty good knowing that our home will have several eyes on it in case something goes wrong and we do the same for them.
  And I have two examples....Lori's car hood is getting nicked up,pieces of paint are being chipped by our roads. Now before it gets too nasty,I decided to have the hood repainted and start budgeting for it. I started by calling Maaco ,they wanted between 300-1,000 for the job and that was the LOWEST estimate!

I asked Al,our neighbor if he would go with me to the local Maaco shop . He agreed but wanted to look at the car first...he had a nice laugh and told me to quit "worrying". He suggested I get a can of touch up paint and do it myself for 10 bucks. Sound advice and I did just that. That saved us a ton of money.
  The second example is our other neighbor "John". I knew John very slightly until one day I discovered we were co-workers. But just we started to get to know each other,he was suddenly and unexpectedly let go from the job. I won't get into details but lets put it this way,he and his new department head didn't get along.And the kicker,his department head may be on that same slope because John had a key skill his department has yet to replace. I know,mumble jumbo....but the fact remains that John is a great guy with a lot of skills. When he found out my lawn mower was having problems,he offered to fix it,he also told me the best place to get parts so I can get it running again.

One side note,John has a dog name Bruschi (as like the Patriots linebacker) except its a female. The dog is all bark and all love. We all enjoy watching her romp around her yard and "talking"to everyone she meets.
The day I brought my lawn mower to John's house,his dog came out all excited and started biting at the front left wheel. Now what was really funny,is that wheel is completely bald and needs to be replaced come next spring,yet somehow she knew that already. It was pretty amazing.
  But that is what being a good neighbor is it Lori and I noticing Al had accidently left his back door open,to Marlene and her son putting away our garbage cans to just talking among ourselves.
  I wonder where that has gone.....

1:05 pm Saturday

    This has turned into a rolling blog entry....its inching closer and closer to fall time. The weather has been cold and damp the past 3 days. The temps are in the 70s now and sliding into the 60s. My friend Michelle in North Dakota said she had a 28 degree who knows,maybe we'll have a real winter after all.
  Lori has been ill the past 3 days with what she thinks is a urinary tract infection. She has felt miserable and has run a fever. Now normally this is a issue that hopefully with the OTC meds she is taking,it would be contained. But not its a major concern and with our appointment being 10 days away,we're wondering if she shouldn't be seen now. We're going to have to take a "wait and see" stance since our last three primary doctors at Oakwood all have left within a year of our becoming patients.

  Today she says she feels much better but you just never know,especially when you are dealing with cancer.
Every little illness takes on a potential danger because of the earlier illness and you can't help but get nervous.
But I'll keep you updated.

  Well I better get this up and running,I have to get ready for work today. I'm closing at the store tonight,with the weather being sort of "ugish" and Michigan playing Norte Dame tonight,we should be sort of quiet. That won't be such a bad thing...
  And lastly.....good luck to the San Jose State Spartans tonight when they play the San Diego State Aztecs. The Spartans,after losing a 20-17 to 21st ranked Stanford,have bounced back to rout UC Davis,45-13 and Colorado State,40-20. The next two weeks are critical to see if the Spartans can go bowling as they tackle SDSU and Navy before taking on Utah State. When those 3 games and the world is a much brighter place!

Anyone catch the new show on NBC called "Revolution"? I thought it was pretty cool myself but was wondering if anyone else had caught it.

Well....thats all I got for now.....I better post more regularly again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Of Hope and Tigers.....

Its 10:39 am

      Ahhh.....Fall is making its way into SE Michigan. Went to work on Saturday morning and was pleasantly surprised at how cool the weather was. The funny thing was there was no warning,it was hot and humid the day before and then crisp and cool as Fall should be. And after a very warm spring and summer,I for one,am ready for some chilly weather.
   Been struggling a bit as of late with my sleep pattern again....I need to find a central bedtime and stay with it,been getting up far to often in the middle of the night and that is not supposed to happen with my CPAP machine. I think a walk around the block or a couple times up and down my street is what being called for. I need to tire myself out after work a lot more.
   My feet may have something to say about that but coming home and then flopping down is not wise or healthy and I need to re-establish my sleep habits.

   Last Sunday saw Lori and I make that rare venture to the movie theater. We went and watched "Hope Springs" with Meryl Streep,Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell. On paper,this looked like a winning trio and  a good movie to watch but in fact,it was the cast was let down by a storyline that seemed forced,especially at the end.

And trying to label this as a "comedy" when it fact,it was a real adult drama with some light touches thrown in   is also misleading. As drama and played straight,this might have been a very good film. But Hollywood just can't handle "real life" and has to force to a "happy ending" into these kind of films and thus ruining it. That said,Lori and I both agreed that Steve Carell stole this movie,it was perhaps my favorite of his so far. We all know he can do comedy but as in a serious role,he was even better. After watching him here,I can't wait for "Looking for a Friend..." when it hits on DVD soon..

  While I haven't been updating my reading list,I have been doing a lot of reading as of Mitch Albom's "Have a Little Faith" was pretty great and stayed local by reading Elmore Leonard's "Killshot" was pretty bland and not one of his best efforts. But the book I'm reading now is called "The Tiger" by John Vaillant and its the true story about a small crack Russian anti-poaching team has to track down a killer tiger in Russia's most rugged territory. While I'm only 30 pages into it,Vaillant's description on how a tiger is built and how it breathtaking. While the lion may be the king of the jungle,the Amur tiger is king no matter where he is. It sure causes me as a cat owner to take a longer look at my own little cat and how he is really built.  

I am reading this book at my job during my breaks,I was trying to read "A Mighty Heart"which was about murdered journalist Daniel Pearl written by his wife but I just found myself put off by the pure shrillness of her writing. I have read (and written) first person accounts of tragedy and can/do respect Mariane Pearl's loss but her book does her husband a real dis-service in my opinion and I just couldn't finish it at the moment. I put it back on my stack and will revisit it again when the time is right.

 I also read the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy,it was okay....not as good as I expected it to by but that maybe more of case of super high expectations then anything else. While the action is pretty good,the background story is really what I missed most both in the film and book....just HOW did Panem get created and what caused the total reshaping of the United States. Maybe that will be covered in the next two books but it is a major flaw in the first book.
Did anyone else who read this find themselves asking the same questions?

    The weight loss battle our store,they have a yearly contest called the Biggest Loser. You pony up 5 bucks,grab a partner and try and to lose as much weight as you can during a 3 month period. We do weigh-ins every week and your progress is charted. My partner is our store's trainer. We started with 12 teams but due to the fact one person is no longer with the company means we're down to 11. When I first started at my store,I weighed 282....(now we'll see who REALLY is reading this!) In the 5 months since,I have lost 22 pounds. I'm at 260 and am looking to get to get to 250 by 1 Nov. What started as a tactic to see if I had been hired in (I knew if they let me play the game,I was "safe") now has really turned into a real race as my partner and I are in 2nd place with 5 weeks to go....another reason why I have to fix my above mentioned sleep patterns,staying up late increases snacking and that will add up to weight gain..just trying to hang on....if we win,we each get 55.00 bucks and that would be really nice to have in time for Christmas.
Going to publish this now because I want my blog to stand on its own.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Its 9:35 am

    Just finished a stretch of 8 days in a row at work. My feet are tired to say the least!

Its overcast here today and the local weather guru is calling for storms later today. We got a little rain from Hurricane Issac yesterday,it barely was enough to water the lawn. I don't know what the hoopla is all about when it comes to hurricanes.....right?

Funny.....somehow I don't quite remember seeing this cloud yesterday......

The summer is winding down here in Michigan,school is back in session,its college football season,its getting darker earlier and hardware/home improvement stores are setting up snow shovels and blowers.
Personally,I can't wait for the chill to hit so that it trigger a visit for some apple cider and freshly made donuts.
 The leaves will drop and I'll be able to enjoy the job of raking them up...which I actually DO enjoy.

I had a birthday since I last wrote....had a great day with Lori as we went down to the Howell outlet mall and shopped for some new shoes for my job. Lori had a gift card from Bath and Body Works plus a coupon of coupons to use,you can get so much more for your dollar at that store when you shop at the outlet. One of the few places you can really see the deep discounts that led to the outlet mall craze back in the day.
  The Howell mall is about 40 miles from our home and it takes about an hour to get there. It was a beautiful sunny day and while there were a lot of back to school shoppers about,it wasn't packed in.

We parked the Rodger and headed in. Finding shoes was the first order of the day and we went into Famous Footwear,this was the best store and had the best prices by far. I scouted out a good pair and asked the salesperson to hold them while we shopped the rest of the mall. I knew we wouldn't find a better price but still....
  We went into the two kitchenware stores,saw zilch and kept moving. The walking of a mall is half the fun,isn't it? The sun was out,it wasn't crowded,we weren't on a schedule...then we landed at

where the greeter at the door was doing her best Katy Perry. Had her weird fashion sense down perfectly. They had a good sale going on and we ended up stocking up on a lot of hand and body soaps....throw in our  coupons and gift card and we got 40.00 worth of items for only 6.00. Well worth it by far....
  Continued the shopping a few shirts from Eddie Bauer for the fall/winter. It seemed sort of weird,like we caught a lot store between seasons because the inventory/selection wasn't the best. Still were able to find some nice stuff...

The never ending search for a nice barn coat continues. When I first moved to Michigan back in 1999,I really didn't have a heavy winter coat as the California winters are nothing compared to here. We went shopping for a coat and ended up at the old Livonia Mall when Mervyn's was still around. We found a beautiful heavy barn coat for 55.00 and that jacket is still with me despite Lori starting to hate it about 5 years ago. Its still in great shape and it fits me very well. But I told her,if we can find another jacket like it,I will gladly trade it in". We are still looking for that replacement. But because I have many heavy sweatshirts and that last winter really never happened,I barely wore my old trusted barn coat.

What I am hoping for is that when I do have to break the coat will be like a new jacket since I barely have worn it the past two years!
  The weather here is still hot and humid and in the 80s...we suspect we are going to get another mild winter so this whole concept of wearing/getting a new coat just may be a moot point.

The new food stamp numbers are out....46.7 million Americans are now using a food stamp card. Wow....and that 10% of Americans went hungry at some point last year. 41% of those who collect food stamps come from households who are actually working a job,the "working poor",so to speak. The rise in the number of folks using food stamps has risen with every president and will continue to costs about 76 BILLION a year right now.....

And with gas prices being jacked to over 4.00 a gallon BEFORE the winter even starts,you can that the social safety net is going to be set to tear even more so if we actually do have a normal winter. and that isn't even factoring in the expected hike in meat and dairy prices brought about by the severe drought nationwide.
  Its why I'm very grateful to be working....and why I'm haven't had much time to blog as of late. I'm currently in the middle of working 15 out of the next 16 days,just wish I was making much more money. But because we are so used to budgeting,we can get by with much less.
   One of Lori's co-workers went food shopping this past week....she spent 500 dollars on food for a family of 5 for two weeks!! And no,they are not rich,both adults are working full-time jobs and Lori hears her complain about money woes all the time. Her co-worker's mother helps out but the point that you would spend 500 bucks on the most expensive things just boggle the mind? How many of you can afford to drop that kind of cash for a 2 week supply of food?
  I made a coupon book for one of my co-workers,a young man who really is trying to do it the right way. He is a very hard worker and a nice person. I knew he was struggling but didn't offer/say anything until I saw that he had quit smoking. He didn't like the habit and he knew he couldn't afford it. Our company has a quit smoking program that he took advantage of and he has quit. When I saw that,that is when I offered to make him a coupon book. Not only did I do that,but I also started to give him the spare coupons we don't use instead of tossing them in the recycle bin.

I'm not writing this as a ego trip but as reminder at what we can do to help each other out. (and yes,we made Lori's co-worker a binder months ago when she asked us to.) Small gestures can really help us all out and in this day and age,isn't that a lot better then sniping at each other?