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Almost the Weekend!

Admittedly, I am still having trouble motivating myself with the “get back on LJ” thing. I got an e-mail that the site had some connectivity issues in April so it extended my paid account by a few days. I now have until June 7th to decide if I want to keep paying.

I haven’t really checked out any alternatives to LJ yet. I kind of feel like at this point it’s LJ or nothing. I like the fact I have a few years’ worth of history built up here, even if there are missing sections. But it’s hard that it’s just not the same place it used to be, and never will be again, no matter how many people like me come back on and say “okay, I’m really going to stay active this time.” For example, take theoffice_us, one of the few communities I retained when I did the big friends list decluttering. There is a specific post created each Thursday night for everyone’s comments related to that night’s episode. It used to be there were hundreds of comments, many posted while the episode aired. For awhile they even had 2 separate posts- an East Coast and West Coast, so people watching 3 hours later wouldn’t have to be subjected to spoilers. This morning I was perusing my friends list, and saw last nights The Office episode discussion post, and it had none, zero comments posted. And this was 12 hours after the episode aired. I did have a question about something from the episode, so I posted it, but so far only one person has responded, and nobody has posted anything else. A few years ago, I either would not have needed to post the question at all because by the time I got to LJ the topic would already have been discussed to death, or if I did bring it up, there would have been a lot more replies, and replies to those replies, etc. It’s just kind of sad.

I am at work, looking out the window and it’s beautiful outside, and, from what I hear, quite warm. Which normally would not be unusual for North Carolina in mid-May, but this has been a weird spring. It’s been raining a lot, and colder than usual. I even wore my jacket to work a few mornings this week, where normally it would have been put away for the season by now. We’re supposed to get rain and thunderstorms later today and throughout tomorrow, which sucks because we have tickets to Charlotte Knights (local AAA Minor League Baseball team) games tonight and tomorrow night. The Pawtucket Red Sox are in town, and I always try to go and catch at least one game when they’re here. So, right now our entire weekend plan hinges on weather, and whether or not the games happen, and if the games end up being re-scheduled. This is going to be about the 3rd weekend in a row with activities impacted by rain, which is getting old.

Writing Class

I finished the writing class I started a few months ago. Some of the assignments/exercises were fun, while others I sort of skipped through. The final assignment was a 500-word piece. The instructor didn’t seem to love it, although I had to edit it down to get under the 500 word limit, and one of her comments was that she would have liked to see more detail. So, I could continue working on that on my own, at least it’s the start of something. Overall, I enjoyed it and thought it was worth the $95, so I signed up for another class from the same provider. The next one starts tomorrow (although it’s asynchronous, and you have about 2 weeks to do each lesson once it goes live), and is called A Writer’s Guide to Descriptive Settings. I think that would be most helpful to me at this point, but I also need to do a lot more writing on my own, in addition to the classes. I am still not keeping up with LJ quite as much as I would like to.

In other news, we booked our airline tickets to & from Seattle for the cruise, so that’s one item to check off the to do list. We still have several other logistics to set in place, including a hotel in Vancouver the night before the cruise, a hotel in Seattle the night after, and our ground transportation between Seattle and Vancouver. So we still have 4 more months, and I’m sure everything will fall into place eventually.

Final Four

The Final Four is over…well, for me anyway! We went to the game, and had a great time, but Syracuse lost. Don’t worry, it all turned out for the best. Last week at work, I tried making arrangements for being out of the office to attend tonight’s championship game, should Syracuse make it. It ended up being a big hassle, and one of the people I needed to talk to was on vacation, so finally I just gave up and decided it wasn’t worth all the trouble. I would just go to Saturday night game, and sell my tickets for Monday. As soon as the Syracuse-Michigan game ended, I got an e-mail saying that my tickets sold, presumably to a Michigan fan. I will be getting back just over half of the money I paid for the whole package of tickets.

It was a very long day. We got up and drove to Georgia on Saturday morning. We went to a wedding that was about 45 minutes on the other side of Atlanta, but we left early enough so we ended up getting there in plenty of time. Then the wedding started 30 minutes late, but we still had time to stay and have a little food & drink before heading back into Atlanta. I thought the traffic getting there would be bad, but there wasn’t really any to speak of. We parked across the street from the Georgia Dome, and went inside with lots of time to spare before the first game (Louisville-Wichita State). For dinner, we had hotdogs. Mine was called the “Big Kid’s Dog”- a hot dog topped with mac & cheese and crushed Fritos. It was just as awesome as it sounds!

Our seats were on the 300 level. Normally I’m a “ticket snob” and like to get good seats for things, but the prices for the 100-level and 200-level seats were just way too far out of my price range. But we were in the first row of Section 305, so we were right there on the rail overlooking the lower level. If you’re going to get 300-level seats, row 1 is the way to go- no heads in front of you, nobody jumping up and blocking your view.

After the Syracuse-Michigan game, we did have a minor mishap, in that we walked out of the dome at a different gate than the one we entered, and ended up spending about a half an hour (or longer) wandering around outside trying to get back to where we were parked.

We had decided earlier in the evening to just drive straight home, rather than using the hotel room we’d reserved. The hotel was near the wedding location (Frank booked it back before the Final Four was even on our radar), about 45 minutes in the opposite direction of home. We drove all the way with no stops, and got home around 4:30AM.

All in all, it was a cool experience, and if Syracuse ever makes the Final Four within driving distance again, I would definitely go. Hopefully, next time Syracuse will win, and I would not have work issues preventing me from going to the championship game!

Opening Day

I didn't have to go to work today, so I am watching Opening Day- Red Sox vs Yankees! As my April Fool's Day joke, I posted a Go Yankees thing on FB....let's see if anyone notices.

In other sports news, Syracuse is going to the Final Four! And so am I! It's in Atlanta, so we got tickets. They will play Michigan on Saturday night, and if they win, the championship is on Monday night. I have tickets to both games, but if we end up not needing the championship tickets, we will try to sell those.

At Work...Sort Of

Besides me, there are 2 people left in my office now. I’m here, but…not really working. I love these non-holiday holidays where there’s hardly anyone here and it’s really quiet. I’m answering the main phone line, but nobody’s really calling, since most people thing we’re closed. I’ll be here until 5, which is fine because Cooper is at day care. No point in leaving early and depriving him of those last few minutes of playtime.

Syracuse won last night, which means they’re going to the Elite 8. The game started around 10PM, so I did not stay up and watch. I’ll get to watch their next game on Saturday. And luckily for me, there are 2 games that day- one at 4:30 and the other at 7:05- and Syracuse is in the early game. We have tickets to the Gay Men’s Chorus “Big Gay Sing” concert that night, so I would have missed the game if they had the later time slot.

So that’s our big plan for the weekend- watch basketball and go to the Gay Men’s Chorus. Sunday is Easter, but that’s pretty much a non-event for us, but that night Game of Thrones returns for season 3, and that’s definitely something to get excited about. I was hoping to get more of the books from the Song of Ice and Fire series read between seasons 2 and 3, but only got around to reading the first book. I liked it, but decided to take a break before getting the second one, and I just keep acquiring other books that I end up reading. I go to the used bookstore a lot and buy about 3-4 books at a time. When I finish those, I bring them back and get credit, buy 3-4 more, and the cycle repeats. And no, I don’t own a Kindle, Nook or any of those new-fangled contraptions. I’m old school like that.

If you're interested in seeing what kind of books I read, click on my "memories" tab, and you'll find lists from the past several years.

How Was My Weekend?

I had a pretty uneventful weekend, but it was enjoyable and relaxing.

Friday we went out to Academy Sports, a new outdoor sporting goods & clothing store that just opened in the area. We got a $10 coupon in the mail, and went to use it. We both needed new raincoats for our Alaska trip, so we each got one, plus I bought a pair of pants that rolls up to become capris, and also zips off to become shorts. From what I am reading, summer weather in Alaska can be pretty unpredictable, the temps can vary a lot, so layers are essential, and it will most likely rain, so things that waterproof and/or dry quickly are good. Plus, we are trying to make sure we limit the luggage to one checked bag each, so we need to pack things that are versatile and lightweight. For dinner we ate at PDQ, which also recently opened, and is located adjacent to Academy Sports. They have a limited menu, but we liked what we ordered (Frank had chicken tenders and I had a turkey burger) and they have a Coke Freestyle machine, which is always a bonus. I had Diet Vanilla Barq’s- it’s nice to have options for diet sodas beyond Diet Coke.

Saturday I didn’t leave the house. That night we watched a silly/dumb movie, Wanderlust, and then the Syracuse game came on around 9:45. They won, which means they move on to the Sweet 16, where they will play 1-seed Indiana. I was just glad they made it past their first 2 games. Being a fan of a team that regularly gets a pretty decent seeding (usually around 5 or higher), means the first two games are simply opportunities to be on the losing side of a big upset. Example- 2005, when they lost as a 4-seed to 13-seed Vermont, which sucks because then you have to hear about it constantly in all the coverage, until some other upset happens and gets the attention. But this year they managed to get through both the games they should have won. And now they are an underdog. Nobody expects them to beat Indiana, but it they do, that would be great. Otherwise, they still had a more successful go at it than Georgetown, Gonzaga, and any other 1 through 4 seed who is already knocked out.

Yesterday was just a very typical Sunday: did laundry, a little bit of cleaning, watched old episodes of Roseanne. I filed my taxes. I don’t know why always I put it off so long. I didn’t owe any money (in fact I’m getting about $600 back), and there’s nothing particularly complicated about them. I used TaxAct, which I’ve been using for about 3 years. It imports my information from last year, so I didn’t need to start from scratch typing in my name, address, DOB, all the basics. All I had to do was input this year’s data where applicable. It hardly took any time, and now I don’t have to worry about it. When I drive home from work, I pass a Liberty Tax Service office, and they always have someone standing outside dressed in a Statue of Liberty costume waving at passersby. Every time I see them, I’m like “Shit, I still have to do my taxes.” Today I’ll I can say “Yay, my taxes are done.” Maybe I’ll even wave back.
One of the most interesting things that happened last year, and I’m sure I would have written about it a lot, if I was using LJ faithfully at the time, was the Democratic National Convention was hosted here in Charlotte. I volunteered for a few things, such organizing/stuffing/counting/schlepping gift bags that were given to delegates, and staffing a welcome table at a hotel where delegates were staying. Our one instruction was anytime someone had a question we were not supposed to say “I don’t know”, we were supposed to find out the answer. Which is all well and good, except we were not given practically no information and there was nobody in the vicinity who knew, either. So, people would come up and ask “What time is the bus leaving for the meeting?” and of course we would have no information on buses or meetings. The second day I ended up giving rides to people just to get away from the questions. I drove one guy to Total Wine so he could stock up on wine & beer, which was pretty funny. Putting the Party in Democratic Party! Another delegate had a bag from NARAL that said “I’m pro-choice and I vote,” and I told her I liked it, and she had an extra one, so she gave it to me! All of the delegates at that hotel were from Ohio, and when I watched the convention on TV, I recognized some of them in crowd shots.

Frank & I also went uptown a couple of times to where the activities were happening. On Labor Day there was a community block-party type thing where the major street was through uptown was closed off and there were booths, concessions, concerts. We got there sort of late in the day because I’d been volunteering at the hotel earlier. We got there just in time for a major downpour of rain. We waited that out, and then walked around to look at everything. We were walking down the street with our friend sirwinterwolf and I saw Dennis Kucinich. I was like “Ohmigod, you guys, it’s Dennis Kucinich!” We went and met him and I got my picture taken with him. He was inviting people to a round-table discussion he was hosting the next day. The last event of the block party was a free concert by James Taylor. He sang about 4 or 5 songs in the rain, and then the rain and wind picked up even more, so they had to shut it down.

The next day we went to the Kucinich Action event, which took place at the university main campus, near where we live, instead of uptown, which is where almost all DNC-related events took. We got there, and it turned out to be about 20 people, plus Dennis Kucinich, and his wife, who is young and surprisingly hot. There was one media person, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Kucinich was about to finish out his career and congress and setting up his own PAC, which is mainly what he talked about. But he went around the room and everyone got to talk about what issues were important to us. It was so cool, getting to interact with a well-known politician in such a small group like that.

Later in the week, we went back uptown a few times and mostly hung out at the MSNBC Experience. MSNBC set up at the Epicenter (an area with restaurants and shops) with an outdoor broadcast studio, and inside they had a lot of fun stuff for fans. They did a bunch of meet and greets. The only one we went to was the Chris Matthews book signing. We each got to meet Chris Matthews, and received a signed copy of his book about John F Kennedy, which I still have not read yet. When we were waiting in line for that, we also saw Ed Rendell (former gov of PA) and got to shake hands with Rev Al Sharpton. Our favorite MSNBC personality, Rachel Maddow, did not come down to Charlotte for the DNC, which was kind of a bummer. We really hoped we’d get to meet her.

On Friday, I was home (I worked from home that week), watching MSNBC and they kept showing them taking apart their temporary stage and everything that had been put up at the Epicenter and it was so sad. All the excitement was over.

Supposedly, the Republicans are looking at Charlotte for their 2016 convention. As long as MSNBC comes back, I’d be fine with it.

Two year Recap

It’s been 2 years since I last regularly posted to my LJ. Obviously, I can’t (and won’t) go back and fill in every little detail of what’s been happening, but I will try to provide a Cliff’s Notes version, just to catch anyone up who’s interested, as well as provide some quick backstory to some few new folks I’ve added recently. After updating my interests list, I used it to seek out people who are still fairly active on here, and have some shared interests.

A lot of things are still the same: Same house, same car, same four cats (just added a dog, as I previously posted about). Same job, although we have changed locations. I am now working at the university’s Center City location, which is right at the edge of uptown Charlotte. I thought the drive would be a pain, but I found an easy route, so it’s not so bad. I still apply for other jobs at the university when something interesting comes open, but thanks to budget cutbacks, there are aren’t a lot of jobs being posted. I’ve had a handful of interviews in various departments, but no job offers.

Frank & I are still together, and he also works at the university, although we very seldom cross paths in our job capacities. We have been on 3 cruises in the past two years, some of which I may write about in a separate entry, and we have one more planned this summer.

I turned 40 last summer! Despite my years of saying that when I turned 40 I was going to do something huge and awesome, like a really big trip, I ended up unable to commit to anything and ended up having a party that was okay, but not really exactly what I wanted. This year I’ll be in Alaska for my birthday, which will hopefully make up for it.

Rather than make this one long post, I think I will add a few “Retro Posts” from things that happened during that time gap.

LJ Maintenance

I finally got around to going through my friends/communities list, did some decluttering, and removed myself from the majority of communities I had joined, including many that are about decluttering! I found that almost all the communities fell into one of two categories: A) a topic that I am no longer interested in or B) haven’t been active in years. In fact, I found several comms that haven’t been active in many, many years, so even when I was more present on LJ 2 or 3 years ago, they had already become ghost towns.

I did find a few new (well, new to me…I’m sure they’ve all been around for years) communities to join that seem interesting, and have posts that are dated from 2013, so that means they haven’t been completely abandoned.

As far as personal journals, the only ones I removed from my friends list were cases of A) the journal no longer exists (duh!), or B) the person has removed me from their own friends list (you can tell by whether there are 2 arrows, or just one). So, this still leaves a lot of friends, but not a lot of people actively using LJ anymore. I decided to leave everyone else on, just in case anyone comes back and start updating again. Sadly, a lot of these people I don’t even remember who they are or why I am friends with them. Mostly likely they are people I met through one of the communities and they seemed cool so I friended them. A small number of these LJ friendships did carry over to Facebook, but most of them did not.

Next up…update my interests list and user icons!

Cooper….a Belated Introduction

Looking back at my last entry, I realize I casually mentioned Cooper going to doggy day care…it didn’t occur to me until later that I never “properly” introduced Cooper here on LiveJournal!

Back in October of 2011, Frank & I were spending the day in Asheville, NC. His cousin Richie (& wife Jane)’s business, Groovy Garbage, was displaying at a craft show there, so we were going to visit with Richie & Jane, and just walk around downtown Asheville, going in all the cool shops there. So, sometime after lunch, we ended up at Mast General Store. A local animal rescue group had set up outside the entrance with puppies for adoption. As we walked by, someone handed Frank a little white & brown terrier mix to hold. He was part of a litter of 7 pups, and needed a home. Frank would not put him down. I tried to talk him out of it, but next thing I knew we were filling out an application form, including references and your vet’s phone number. I figured we’d turn in the app, and they would call us back during the week, giving me a few days to convince Frank we didn’t need a dog (in addition to the four cats we already have). But really, they just skimmed the app- all we had to do was pay the adoption fee and he was ours. We took him home that day- I rode all the way back from Asheville with him in my lap. We had to stop at PetSmart and buy a collar, leash, dog food, bowl- everything! We had not planned to get a dog, so were totally unprepared.

His name at the shelter was Super. While we were waiting for his adoption paperwork to be finished, I said I wouldn’t want my dog’s name to rhyme with “pooper.” And then immediately, I said “But Cooper would be a really cute name.” So, that was it. Before he was even officially ours, we had decided on a name, and never had a second thought. About a year later we found out that when Cooper and his 6 siblings were born at the shelter, they were named Super, Cali, Fragi, Listic, Expi, Allie and Docius.