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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in KC

Right around the middle of November every year, my work has an extended staff meeting - one where we all sit on a call and hash out vacation coverage. Every year, this is routine - we all know how much vacation time we have left, we know how much we can carry over into the new year, and everyone wants to use it all up. Some people hadn't taken much vacation all year - you know the type, the workaholics, the guys who only take half a Friday off here or there to take a long weekend away, or those that just forget about having fun until they have to.

Of course, by the time you have to use your vacation, sometimes the only place you can go has snow drifts 3 feet high. Such is the case with me, in where I spend my vacation time not in my usual pilgrimage back to Los Angeles, but instead I'll be spending it in Kansas City and Colorado. Thus comes my first true white Christmas!

It's not that I've never seen snow on or around Christmas before, but this is the first time I a) voluntarily stayed home and b) was unable to go out due to the whole city being shut down. Ever heard of the phrase "not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse?" Yeah, that was yesterday - powerful winds and chilly temps definitely made this a quiet December 25th.

Would I have liked to have been somewhere warmer, somewhere sunnier? Definitely. I operate so much better when I can see sunlight and not have to pile on the layers. It's harder to exercise, to keep moving, and keep motivated. Just gotta stay positive and think warm thoughts!

I'm ready to hunker down and ride out this winter. Stay safe, everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Round 2 of snowboarding

I can't sit down.

Ever gone skiing or snowboarding in the ice? Well, I didn't really think it was going to make much of a difference, but now my tailbone and leg tell me otherwise. Last night, I hit up Snow Creek again with Tara and Kel, expecting my 2nd go-around on the board to be a little faster, a little edgier. Instead, the mountain smacks me down and shows me I ain't all that, and I'm gonna have to EARN that right to shred.

Ow, my bum.

Landing on your tailbone while trying to turn on a snowboard isn't.... pleasant. I still haven't figured out how to control my speed so I end up with some spectacular collisions with the hard surface of the hill.

I ended up doing something to my left leg - I came close to nailing my ankle pretty bad tumbling off a ski lift (why can't they come up with something better than throwing ya off your seat in this day and age?), but then not too much later I took a spill that sent my body in a couple of different directions. My shin/ankle/knee decided to be the first to give and let me know bearing my weight was not gonna be an option anymore that day. Frack!

Now, despite all the above, I came to realize that I needed an attitude makeover. There's no sense getting mad and pissed at myself when trying to learn. All that's going to happen is that I'm going to focus on my anger and not on doing things correctly. Kel pointed out that there's no one to compete against - it's just me and the mountain. I need to dial back the whole thinking I'm invincible mindset and just humble myself through the stages of learning. It's not going to be easy, but if I want to enjoy myself, I need to learn to let things go.

One thing I did learn for sure - Santa Claus is on ski patrol! It seems like jolly ol' Saint Nick takes time off from flying reindeer and checking his naughty and nice list to patch up folks like me in the ski lodge. I should have told him what I wanted for Christmas....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shop shop shop until ya drop...

Christmas shopping. Eh. Not my favorite way to spend a Saturday, but it needs to be done so my fam can get something to enjoy during the holidays.

This Christmas is going to be the first that I haven't spent with most of my immediate family. There has been only one other time in my life where I wasn't in Los Angeles during 12/25, and that was when my mom and Mikey came out to St. Louis for Christmas. I think that's the only time my Mom has ever been out of L.A. for Christmas too - she just has so many ties to her (now passed) parents and siblings in the greater metro area. She's always bouncing around from one family gathering to the next. Well, this year, since my little brother can't get away due to his retail job, I'm going to keep him company and make KC my home roost during the holidays.

Is that such a bad thing? Not really - just means I have to make more of an effort to shop online during this time, sending my gifts weeks early instead of dogging it at the last minute like I always do. My excuse for that is that it didn't make sense to buy gifts while in the Midwest then ship them out - and then when I get to L.A. it's too late to buy online anyway. Yeah what a convenient catch-22! ;-)

I've been thinking about my holiday family experiences. I grew up in a divorced family - I can only vaguely remember a few Christmases before my parents split up. My Dad pretty much immediately remarried and this new family was much more... extravagant. Every year, I'd have to spend Christmas Eve with the big fancy fake Christmas tree that you couldn't touch in the house that 6 kids were in where you couldn't be loud and be around people who treated me with indifference because I couldn't often understand them. Makes me realize that I'm glad I am far removed from being tied to any family traditions... and am free to make my own.

I'm gonna go pull out my teeny tiny tree tonight and put it out for the party I'm having at my place. Deck the halls with zombie brains.... yeah it's game night!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Move over, Snapple, this is the best stuff on Earth.

When I'm thirsty and need a pick-me-up, I'm not reaching for a Gatorade bottle - I'd much rather get a Capri-Sun pouch and guzzle the goodness down.  When I was in elementary school, this was my drink of choice - even though half the fun was trying to figure out how to get the danged straw inside without making the bag burst.  I'd be trying so hard that I'd drive the straw all the way through to the back and leak out half the fruit punch contents all over my school clothes.  If that isn't cool, I don't know what is. :-p

The drink stuck with me all the way through high school, being a lunch favorite and a staple at my volleyball tournaments, which lasted all day and I wasn't the kind to buy from the host school's cafeteria or go out and grab Carl's Jr.  I'm not sure when or even why I stopped having it - I'm sure my mom just stopped getting it and I didn't realize it for a long time.

Not too long ago, I started getting them again.  Sunday night, I hit up the slopes with Kel and Tara, strapping a board to my feet and remembering just how hard snow is when you smack into it at what feels like 50mph.  Snow Creek was awesome, I think it's the perfect introduction into snowboarding - the hills are gentle, the snow wasn't a frozen hunk of ice, and it wasn't crowded.  People of all skill levels were clearly there and stayed out of my way while I relentlessly threw myself down the mountain at breakneck speeds.  Breakneck being trying to get off my butt and fully upright - man, gravity really does have a hard time letting me go.  No wonder I'm such a space nut, free fall snowboarding all the way! ;-)  

When I delivered the Capri-Sun goodness to Kel after riding, she made a comment about my choice of flavors.  Well, I did on purpose select the one with volleyball on the front, the clever cartwheelist correctly caught on to it.  What she didn't know was that I remembered a commercial growing up that has Capri-Sun and snowboarding in it!

The things you remember from childhood....

In any case, the weekend was a blast!  I'll have to post pics of the snowboarding sometime.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Coming up in a few weeks is the Consumer Electronics Show to be held in Las Vegas, NV. Lately, I've been talking with a bunch of companies about their upcoming products and often I'll hear, "Oh, and we're gonna show this off at CES." It seems like nowadays a lot of new technologies are being unfolded at that event.

I'm starting to think that in 2011, I need to take time off to fly to my Dad's place in Henderson and then spend the rest of the time just walking around the exhibit hall. It's HUGE - so huge that the 4 or 5 hotels and exhibit centers it's in doesn't even contain it all - there's even more private booths and suites hosted by the companies with top secret tech.

What's my point writing about this? My gosh, I'm a toy-a-holic. I'm generally restrained when I buy gadgets for myself, but man, I LOVE looking at stuff. This place.... would be totally heaven!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow run

"Get air... and slam it!" There was a commercial in the 80's that I vaguely remember as being from Nike that touted the ability of their shoes to help jump and get air to slam dunk a basketball. I'm pretty sure it was an Air Jordan commercial, man that guy just rocks.

Now, lately, snowboarding's been a pretty heavily discussed topic for me. Next week, I'm hitting up Snow Creek to get my first taste of balancing on a waxed board and holding on for dear life (oh, wait, I'm strapped in, no need to hold on) barreling down the mountain..... err I mean mere bump in the road. It's all in preparation for the trip to Colorado at the end of the month!

Whenever I see videos of the riders grabbing some height.... that commercial floods back to me. Doubly so when I see the dudes crash! Ow.

My balance has been improving lately, so I think I'll be able to handle this. At least snow's a bit soft to fall on... again.... and again... and again!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


For the last couple of weeks (months, actually), one major thought that's been on my mind has been my job and where I'll be in the future as it pertains to my career.

I've been of the mindset that no job is permanent, where if you're not changing jobs every so often, you will become complacent and the tools that keep you valuable to a company will become stagnant and old. I see and hear too many horror stories of people being laid off, or not advancing with the times, to want that to include me.

I was fortunate to find a "career job" right after college. I've stuck with it the past 6 1/2 years, because I have what motivates me to come into work every day and do a good job. But even at my company, I've had to dodge 4 to 5 rounds of layoffs, sometimes two layoffs in a year. To see my best efforts going into a company that is dwindling, to take the relationships I've built with my teams get cut down due to people leaving, and to worry about if I'm next, takes its toll on me. How can I plan for the future with no knowledge of how much I'll get to spend next year? How can I get ahead of the game when I have to continually stop and write down my knowledge, not knowing if someone else needs to take over for me if I have to leave?

I've been working in a field that directly applies to me - helping people with hearing loss use the telephone. So I see the efforts I make helping people like me out. But I'm always tempted to, even in this economy, leave and find a better way of doing things. Maybe I need to get out of this niche field and get into a more mainstream service - biotech, for one example, getting involved in cochlear implants or bionics; space, planning out the trip to Mars or putting together the next space vehicle; or even finance, figuring out how to best predict supply and demand for products and deliver them to the right places on time.

I'm rambling a bit... but it's just because it's on my mind.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Crisscut fries

Nom nom nom!!!!

I love crisscut fries. I grew up on 'em eating at Carl's Jr, a fast food restaurant mostly in the western US. The tasty Western Bacon Cheeseburger and crisscut fries combo meal definitely ranks as one of my top meals, ever. However, I can no longer eat it due to my gluten allergy... which makes me sad!

Actually, I can no longer eat most fast food. The flour in hamburger buns contains gluten. Most fast foods are fried/breaded and that contains gluten. French fries by themselves are usually gluten-free, but are contaminated when fried in oil that has touched other glutened products such as onion rings or fried chicken, etc. To be gluten free means to not have any contact with items that contain gluten, or even contact with items that have TOUCHED gluten-bearing food such as utensils, cutting boards, cooking oil, and even the gloved hands of workers who have touched food. Makes it kind of difficult to eat out.

However, I've found the BEST tasting crisscut fries from Costco. Mmmmmm. Baked, even! Now I can get my crisscut cravings on.... my horse for a halfway decent Western Bacon Cheeseburger, though! ;-)