Monday, June 26, 2006

A Pleasant Adventure

Kendra and I have returned from our trip to Mystic, CT. We arrived on Thursday of last week and came primarily to attend the wedding reception of her brother (Steve) and his new wife (Mary). My father-in-law and his girlfriend were kind enough to allow us to stay in their guest bedroom.

In fact, Kendra's dad (Carl) really took extra steps to ensure that we had a good visit. Like last year when we stayed here, he was more than willing to watch Katy, getting up with her and playing with her so Mom and Dad could relax and actually enjoy a little vacation. Also, for the reception on Saturday, he arranged (ahead of time) for a babysitter to watch Katy after we decided that it was her bedtime and needed to go back to the condo, and even paid for her. All our food, lodging and babysitting needs were met, and easily exceeded my expectations. Carl's girlfriend (Anne) was equally helpful and accomodating. Thanks for the great trip!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Bachelor Party that Almost Wasn't

My good pal Ryan is getting married soon, July 15th of this year. I am his Best Man, and with that honor comes the important responsibility of throwing a bachelor party. Ryan was in town for Memorial Day weekend and we had a good time, but there was a question about whether we would be able to have the party at all.

Initially, the plan was that Ryan and Liannea were going to start the drive on Friday with their dog, stay someplace in-between and finish the drive on Saturday, arriving sometime around noon or so. I planned accordingly, scheduling whirlyball for 4:00-5:00 and coming up with speculative plans for before and after.

Disaster struck, as the doggy got sick and had to be taken to the vet and boarded. Because of that, it was possible that they wouldn't start the drive until Saturday morning meaning that they would arrive sometime in the evening, well after the appointed whirlyball time slot I had available. After waiting around a while, I got a call from Ryan letting me know that they were going to fly out on Saturday and that they would be in some time around 3:30.

4:00 would still be cutting it too close, as 3:30 was just a guess at their arrival time, so I called the whirlyball place on Saturday at noon, as soon as they opened. I was able to easily change the time to 5:00; apparently whirlyball is not the first thing people think of when they are planning their Memorial day weekends (something about grilling or something...)

After whirlyballing, we went to a bar and played trivia and watched the Pistons lose to the Heat. Then, we went to Davey's house and played Texas Hold'em (just for chips, but still fun.)

The interesting thing was the old group re-assembled at the party - Jamie, Jason, David, Me, Ryan - were able to pick up with our relationships and conversations as though not a day had passed since we last got together like this. Heck, I hadn't even really chatted with Jason for a couple of years before I called him up inviting him to the party and we were having a blast with old jokes and new, the same as we ever did.

These are the times that I look back to fondly. For many people, college was the time they made lasting friendships; for me, high school is where I made almost all of the friendships that I hold most dear. I'll have to make more of an effort to see this people more regularly.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Kendra and the Car

My Lexus RX 300 has been leaking oil. More important than that, though, is that there is often blue smoke that comes out the exhaust when I start the car, meaning that the oil is not just leaking outwardly, but that something bad is happening internally. So, this week I began my quest to correct the issue.

Tuesday evening, I looked up a couple of different local mechanics using an on-line, consumer-reviewed database at Wednesday morning, I called these places only to discover that most mechanics are not interested/qualified to work on Lexus/Toyota vehicles. Twice it was suggested that I call the local Toyota dealer.

The Toyota dealer in town mentioned that they could look at the car, but anything involving possible recall issues had to be handled by an actual Lexus dealer. So, I called the nearest Lexus dealership (which was ~45 miles away) in Grand Rapids and set up an appointment with them for Friday at 1:00pm.

Since Kendra's scheduled allowed for more fluctuations, she agreed to take my SUV to the appointment. Apparently, this problem is not at all uncommon for the RX 300. New valve covers are needed for the engine. How much does it cost to purchase new valve covers and have them installed? I do not know, and fortunately do not need to care, since the Lexus, at ~66,000 miles, is still covered by the 70k warranty. So, there is another appointment a week from this Thursday for them to install the new parts.

I cannot express the degree of relief I feel. It is extraordinarily pleasant to be on the correct side of a close call. The lesson here is to avoid procrastinating; less than 4,000 miles more would have meant this would have come out of my pocket instead of being paid for by Lexus.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Movie Explosion

I like movies. Lately, I have not watched many. This is due to a number of reasons, mostly cost and time. Although, cost is not the primary factor in this equation; I have had several movies on DVD for years without watching them at no cost at all. So, time seems to be the biggest factor. With Katy around, our movie choices are limited; after she goes to bed our time is short enough to make any disagreement about which movie is to be watched a show stopper. There are circumstances that lend themselves to the viewing of movies, however.

This previous Saturday was my pal Ryan's bachelor party. I had some things set for sure (like Whirlyball), but I wanted to leave a number of our events open since Ryan was to be driving in from out of state. One of the things I was considering was for all of us to go see the new "X-Men III" movie. I have "X-men II" on DVD, and had it for years, but had never seen it. Since I didn't want to see them out of order, I watched it on Thursday night (I liked it). Well, plans changed and Ryan didn't get into town until later on Saturday, so that nixed the movie idea. But, seeing "X-Men II" put me into a superhero-movie-viewing mode; after we all finished playing Texas Hold'em at Davey's, Davey and I stayed up and watched "Spiderman II" (which I also liked).

On Sunday, we after lunch, David, Dad, Jenny and I went to see "X-men III" (which I enjoyed, but have mixed feelings about). So, I drastically increased the number of movies I have seen this year in one weekend.

Kendra and I intended to watch some shows or movies on DVD tonight, but found that we were maybe a little too busy to do it. Maybe this weekend? I always forget how much I enjoy watching movies and how they give me a little feel-good lift-me-up.

Obsession as a Good Thing

I find myself spending a great deal of time on things in which those around me cannot see the value. An example of one of these "time-wasting" behaviors would be my devotion to video games. When I start playing a game, I will often play the game non-stop, using all my free time until I complete the story or burn out on the experience. I think this compulsion, this obsession, is a part of me in other areas of my life as well, and it can be used toward my benefit.

If I can convince myself that I am interested in something, I can, occasionally, develop the same sort of obsession with that behavior as I would with one of my games. My latest example of this would be my interest in selling my car. I've meant to sell it for a while now, but the compulsion to do so was lacking. Now that I have convinced myself that I am interested in doing this, I have been spending my time thinking about and acting toward the completion of this goal. I need to get some maintenance done, so yesterday I located several different mechanics that I would call the next day. Today, I called the mechanics and set up an appointment. Since there is the potential that the mechanic (the dealer, actually) might be interested in the purchase of the car, I spent the evening emptying the junk out of the car and thoroughly vacuuming and polishing it. Tomorrow, I intend to call the dealer again and address some other concerns involving my car.

The trick is to complete the task (complete the story) before I burn out on the experience.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The First Time in a Long Time

I recently dug out my old Franklin Planner and printed daily and monthly pages to fit using Microsoft Outlook. I still intend to read the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", which I believe incorporates the use of a planner, but until that time, I have come to try to use my own makeshift system.

I am pleased to say that I had a list of tasks that I had set for myself today and (this is where the title comes into play) actually completed all of them. While I've come close in the past couple weeks, today I actually took care to include only items that I really needed to accomplish mixed with a realistic handful of little things that needed doing.

Part of my success comes from the use of a type of running To Do list that may contain vague or specific tasks. Anything that is not completed can safely be bumped to the next day.

I am hoping that this will be the beginning of a more productive and accomplished Andy.

A Bit of This and That

Often I think of things on which I'd like to comment, going so far as to begin the composition of these elements in my head. Yet, I never seem to ever commit these thoughts to the electronic medium of my website. While many of those thoughts are long lost, I think I will attempt to remedy this by making shorter posts, but more of them. Look for a number of posts in the near future.