Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful For

My wife. My rock. My companion. She brings home the bacon, and I fry it up in a pan. And yet I still somehow manage to retain custody of my testicles.

My kids. Life would present fewer challenges if they weren't around, but who needs that.

My dogs. The only creatures on the planet who consistently listen to me, and they're always happy when I get home.

My boss. A small business owner, he seems to genuinely care about his employees and his customers.

A small, intimate group of friends. When I was younger, I had a large but shallow group of friends. This left me with little time to reflect, a crazy social calendar and the sense of never quite knowing who I could trust. I'm glad my circle of friends is smaller, but very tried and true.

Change. Going from my last job to this one was very stressful. I was scared about how we'd make ends meet. It took a little bit of adjustment on my part to become comfortable with my new role as house-husband and part-time worker. It required me to be the dependent instead of the provider. But having made that adjustment, I can certainly say that I am enjoying life more now than I think I ever have.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Best Friend is Moving

You heard me right, my best friend is moving. I've got mixed feelings about the whole thing. Before I get into the whole "mixed feelings" aspect of this move, I should give you a little history on our friendship. I've known him for almost thirty years. I met him in sixth grade, and we've been friends pretty much ever since. After high school, I joined the Marine Corps and moved away. By the time I was out of the Corps, he had completed college and moved to another part of the state... just as I was moving back to our hometown.

Since we lived only a couple of hours away from each other, we visited often... every couple of months or so, and circumstances brought me to the city where we both live now, which allows us to see each other all the time. Up until today, he lived either a long walk or short drive away. (Being slightly lazy, it was usually a short drive.) We've shared a lot of good times, and seen each other through many not-so-good times.

That pretty much brings us up to speed, so now I'll talk about the mixed feelings. He's not moving across the country... he's moving across town, so it's not like he's really moving away. He's relocating. It's still a short drive to his place, but I certainly can't walk there anymore. This may seem like a little thing, but in my gut it still feels like he's moving farther away.

The house he lived in until today was a little place, built in the 1930's. During the time he lived there, I helped him essentially gut the place and rebuild it in his image. We completely overhauled the basement, going to the point of jack-hammering out the concrete in the basement floor so we could install drainage tile. We've tiled floors, installed Pergo floors, and knocked out virtually every wall at one point or another. A lot of blood and sweat have been spilled in that old house. I'm sorry to see him sell it.

This sorrow isn't mine alone. He was emotionally attached to that house for very good reason. It's a little house, filled with a lot of love. But the fact is, now that he has two kids the family has outgrown the house. He had planned on adding on to the house, but his wife pushed him to move. That's caused a lot of family strife, and they're moving mainly for the sake of the family. I dislike the rationale (because he felt pushed to move) but I agree with the decision.

I'm happy that he found a place his family will like. The location is definitely better for the kids. Lots of back streets for the kids to learn to ride a bike and play. His wife is kind of hung up on keeping up with the Jones', and I think this will bring her a measure of happiness. But agreeing to move was a bitter pill for my friend to swallow. Fortunately, he's looking at the positive aspects of moving.

The move itself is causing me a little pain. I helped them pack the U-Haul yesterday, and my muscles are telling me that I worked harder than I've worked in a long time -- and I'm helping them unpack today. I'm not looking forward to my aching body tomorrow. Additionally, they have a lot more stuff than they realized, so my garage is acting as a temporary overflow. I just got the thing cleared out so that Mrs. Evan and I could get our cars in the garage, and now it's got more crap in it than I've ever had in there. With the weather turning cold outside, I miss getting into a warm car inside of the garage, but it's a minor inconvenience when compared to the help I'm giving my friend. Hopefully, it'll all be cleared out soon. Yeah, I know I'm helping him out, but I want my garage back.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Hate This Part of Parenting

Disciplining and punishing my kids is my least favorite part of being their dad. I understand that discipline is part of parenting, and I don't shirk this responsibility, but watching my kids suffer is bad enough. Creating that discomfort makes things even worse.

Today, my older daughter was grounded because of her grades. When she entered high school, I told her that I expected all of her grades to be a "C" or better. The session that ended today marks at least the third consecutive term where she's brought home at least one "D."

During this time, I've tried all kinds of shit to encourage better grades. I bribed her by offering a cash incentive for good grades, I took away her cell phone, iPod and computer privileges. I've tried yelling, nagging, offering positive support, and letting her do things her own way. I told her the next thing to go was her social life.

Today, as a result of yet another "D," she's now grounded. She's grounded for the entire next term (but there is a way out). She is required to study for a minimum of two hours, and during the study time there will be no phone privileges. The only exception to this being grounded will be if she wants to attend her church's youth group... and even then, she can only go to youth group if her studying is done.

The early out I mentioned earlier is as follows... if she has all C's or better, she will be conditionally ungrounded after a month. The condition is that she maintains the minimum grade. If any grade falls below a C, she is immediately re-grounded.

Like I said, I really hate meting out punishment, but I hope this gets her to understand how serious I am about the grades. Because if it doesn't, she won't remember what her friends look like by the time she's ungrounded.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm Coming Out

No, I'm not saying that I'm gay... but it's a clever little play on words, isn't it? What I am announcing though, is that as of today, my blog is available for public viewing. After many months of procrastinating, moving old blog posts, and changing names (mostly that procrastinating thing), I am now ready to lift the veil of secrecy and allow the world to experience my brilliance.

It's been a long time coming. And now that I can share my wit and wisdom with the world, I can also start to rehash a few of my previously-stated opinions. (That comment was directed toward you, Paulius.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

All Moved In

Let's see, I started this blog how long ago... a little over six months? That sounds about right. While I wrote new posts in this blog, I also moved old entries from my previous blog, which will remain nameless. Today, I finally got the last of the posts from my old blog moved over here. I still need to update a few links and change a few names, but this brings me one step closer to moving back into the public.

To those of you who are part of the private circle, thanks for hanging in there while I get my house in order.

Recession Resistant

Call me a fortunate son. My last job was as an IT specialist at a manufacturing plant. This company never made much of a profit, even under the best of circumstances... that's the rub of working in a commodity-based business. Their biggest profits were all accounting-based profits... when the price of their raw materials went up, their net worth increased accordingly. Well, now the prices are dropping like a rock. And furthermore, their products are heavily tied to the automotive and housing industries, and we all know how these areas are doing. In other words, I got out just in the nick of time.

Now that the recession is really building a head of steam, I'm even more pleased to be out of there. I'm doing semi-freelance IT work for some very recession-resistant businesses -- doctors, dentists and attorneys. I'm making a much better hourly rate than I made before, I'm working fewer hours, and no night/weekend emergencies. Yeah, I still work the occasional evening or weekend, but it's at my convenience, and it's from home.

To make matters better, my wife's job is also recession-resistant.

And have you noticed the gas prices lately? Man, it's absolutely cool! I filled up my truck's tank yesterday at $1.95 per gallon. To put this in perspective, I drove by a gas station this morning that was closed due to the flood, and it had the price being charged just before the flood... $3.85 per gallon! The price has dropped almost two dollars per gallon in five months. With the price falling that far, that fast, other commodities such as food, plastic, rubber and other petroleum-based products should also drop soon. This would definitely help us recover from our current mess.

It's not all pretty though... my 401k has lost about 50% of its peak value in the last 18 months. Oh well... I guess I had to suffer somewhere, right?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pleased With the Outcome

In case you didn't know, I'm pleased that Obame was elected President. It affirms my belief that Americans have come a long way in the whole race relations thing, it gratifies me that we somehow managed to gain respect global respect in one day, and I am hopeful for what the future holds.

I spent a lot of time watching John Stewart and Stephen Colbert cover the election, and I was greatly amused by the whole show. Colbert struck me with one tongue-in-cheek, amusing, profound question... he asked a black guest "If Obama is elected president, does that mean that racism is over?" We all know that the answer is 'no,' but it was a great question.

I also asked a very close friend of mine, who happens to be black, about his voting. I knew that he'd be voting for Obama -- both because of his race and because of his political inclination -- but my friend surprised me. He said that 60% of his decision was because Obama is black. It just goes to show that I may not pay attention to race (though I am cognizant of it) but minorities still are.

My younger daughter just got home, so I'm going to cut this short and hang out with her.

Monday, November 3, 2008

How Much Does It Matter?

Like it or not, race is a factor in this presidential election. Face it, there will be white people who don't vote for Obama because he's black, and there will be minorities who do vote for him because he's black. I don't agree with either position, but there's nothing I can do to change the facts.

I am curious though, how many people will vote for McCain because he's white, and how many will vote for Obama because he's black. My hope is that one day skin color won't make any difference at all. Unfortunately, I don't think this will happen during my lifetime.