Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Bear Necessities

Sometimes it's nice to sleep with your best friend.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Do Re Meme #2

Mamma Loves tagged me with this one:

Three Things That Scare Me:
Plane rides, holiday-themed sweaters, the thought that hair will soon be growing from parts of my body that it never has before.

Three People Who Make Me Laugh: David Sedaris, Ellen Degeneres, my friend Richard.

Three Things I Love: 80's metal, the way my dogs smell after going to the groomer, watching my son play with bubbles in his bath.

Three Things I Hate: Heights, getting sunburn, bouncing checks.

Three Things I Don’t Understand: Golf, Family Values (how ironic that that are conditions placed around them), why DC residents don't have voting rights in congress.

Three Things On My Desk: Pictures of my family, my coffee mug, a fan because it's so freaking hot in my office.

Three Things I’m Doing Right Now: Applying to grad school, painting our guest room, writing job descriptions for two open positions for which I'm hiring.

Three Things I Want To Do Before I Die: Get the freaking MBA, travel to Machu Picchu, see my son become a father.

Three Things I Can Do: Score a baseball game, cook amazing chili, sing a half-way decent baritone.

Three Things I Can’t Do: Proof read, learn people's name quickly, know how to keep things to myself.

Three Things I Think You Should Listen To: Your heart, Aaron Copeland, the sound of the rain when you are falling asleep at night.

Three Things You Should Never Listen To: Reggae, anyone who says lemon cookies are bad for you, any invitation that arrives by mail from a for-profit company (with a made up non-profit name) indicating that your child will only be successful if they attend a program that costs nearly $2000.

Three Things I’d Like To Learn: To become fluent in Spanish, to understand and appreciate politics, to be able to talk intelligently to a mechanic.

Three Favorite Foods: Hamburgers, Mac & cheese, Chocolate Chip cookies.

Three Shows I Watched As A Kid: The Superfriends, Emergency One, Scooby Doo.

Three People I'm Tagging: Phil, Chag and Dan.


Some Like it Hot

My friend Kelly over O for Obsessive at nominated me for Hot Daddy Blogger after my last post.

Seriously, the chance of me even surpassing the two current votes (one from her and one from...well, me) are slim, but hey, it's just nice to be thought of as hot when you're over 40.

Kelly, you rock, girl. Thanks.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sketch Artist

My dear friend, V hooked me up with this latest product that I think you'll enjoy.

We received their holiday card last December and she had these personalized return address labels with caricatures of their whole family. They were totally cool looking and dead-on replicas of the entire family. Honestly, I thought she had them professionally done.

To my excitement, she did them online with a company called VistaPrint. She actually created the caricatures with a simple tool the company had on their web site.

I ended up ordering return address labels for our family and then a notepad for my folks with them and the grand kids; both turned out great.

First you get to choose the types of faces; male, female, child or any type of pet. There are about fifteen different types of shapes and sizes. Then you pick hair style (including facial hair), hair color and skin color.

Overall, some products are reasonable. The labels are great if you order about 200 or more. The notepad was pretty pricey given that it was only 50 sheets, however the designs make it worthwhile. We gave it to my folks as a 'welcome to your new home' gift.

A couple of small inconveniences. The design software only works on Internet Explorer; I couldn't use Firefox. The caricatures also don't have glasses as an accessory, however you can add a yamaka. Weird the choices you get there.

Their promotions are pretty heavy if you sign into their email specials. Seems they have a special every two days. I was hoping to get a trade for my promotion, but when I emailed them to ask, their auto-response said they only deal with customers via the phone. That is slightly limiting as well.

Overall though, the labels are pretty freaking cool. And as you can see, you can add as many family members as you'd like.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Do Re Meme #1

Jasper Chronicles tagged me with this one

What was your biggest surprise when you became a parent: Seeing my partner actually enjoy the role as well. We affectionately called him 'Uncle Larry' for most of the first year. When Corey learned to talk, he began referring to Larry as "Pop-Pop." Not only was a name born, but so was a role. He became so much more engaged in the parenting function. Now when he picks Corey up from day care, there is pride as he tells the story of how all the other kids know him and shout out to Corey when he arrives.

Name some things you vowed you'd never do, but find yourself doing now: Letting him watch as much TV as I do. I grew up on TV and have been weaning myself off it these past few years. This kid can watch the Rescue Heroes movie ten times during a weekend if I let him. Sure I know those cartoon guys are freaking hot, but it really takes a lot of effort to have him not zone out, but I think it's worth it in the long run.

What's the one thing you thought you would do, but actually don't: Punishments. Maybe it's because he lives between two houses. Maybe it's because we don't have him for extended periods of time. Maybe he's just an overall well-mannered kid. I'm not sure, but I'm not complaining either. I guess I just expected more tantrums, more time-outs and more tears. Most times we can ask him to do something... and he does.

For this one...I'm tagging Turtle, Bacchus and Mini Cooper (who doesn't post nearly as much as he should).

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Random Nothings

I'm still here... I swear. I just went through a writing withdrawal after the Chicago trip.

I wish I had more rest once I got to the hotel but that didn't happen. It seems the Westin Heavenly Bed just isn't so heavenly for me. I prefer my beds as firm as can be. Gotta a dinning room table you're not using? Perfect for my bedroom. I don't like my beds mushy and let me say that Westin is the king of mushiness.

Add to it that our conference kicked into full gear last Monday morning, just about the time the news was announcing the Virgina Tech nightmare. Most of you know I'm in marketing, well the association I work for represents higher ed. We had three attendees from Virginia Tech at the conference along with 400 other college and university professionals who shared the incomprehensible feelings that campus was going through. It was quite a somber two days as you can imagine.

While out of town, I also had an employee quit. There are no hard feelings; he felt it was time to leave and I understood his need to move on. However, I hate interviewing and hiring. It's not my strong suit... though it's another opportunity to practice skills. (Look at me being so fucking positive.)

In case you were wondering, I have not been nominated for any of the blogger choice awards. Many of you have probably been anxiously looking, so it's a good you are hearing the sad news from me. If they did have the hot-gay-daddy-from-the-DC-area category you might actually see a nomination. It would definitely be a tight race with the other local candidate.

My backlog of products and meme's are starting to pile up like my parent's basement, so look for a number of those coming out soon. I also have a Blogfather's post that has a lot of jumbled words which just aren't funny enough for human consumption. Don't you hate when those pre-posts don't materialize the way you want them to?

If you're watching LOST, I must say that the 2nd half of this season has really picked up. I mean what the fuck is going on with Juliette? I'm still not figuring her out. And the "Paulo Lies" episode...brilliant. I nearly crapped my pants. Not sure if that winter break re-energized them or not, but I'm all for eight weeks off if the shows are going to be this compelling.

This weekend has finally gone back into the 70's. This is my favorite type of weather and favorite time of year. I spent half my day in the yard getting ready for planting. The other half of the day was spent painting. Our guest room has been this green color that worked for a while and then just irritated me. So finally today I primed the room with two coats. Maybe tomorrow I'll get the two coats of paint up. (You'll see before and afters of that project.)

On a funny note, my boss called me in on Friday to ask me a question. "So I was reading your blog" he says, "and I got so confused in one of your stories."

You can only imagine how my mind was racing trying to remember if I had said anything wrong, offensive or of a nature that would have me fired by day's end. I so need to learn to stop telling everyone about this blog.

He went on, "I had gotten through the story of the vasectomy and how you had to masturbate in the bathroom because you work in a cube. It took me a while to wonder why any gay man would get a vasectomy, but hey I'm not always on the cutting edge. Then I reread the story and realized it wasn't you."

Makes the rest of the week pale by comparison, doesn't it?

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Something Wicked This Way Comes

It's 7:00 and Larry's in the next room. I think if given the choice, he'd sleep until 11 AM.

Welcome to the in-laws house.

Yep, we're in Chicago at my parent's new house. I have a three-day conference starting on Sunday so we decided to tie in a trip to my folks. Let's just point out that it was snowing when our plane landed.

SNOWING!?! The week after the Easter bunny arrived, saw his shadow and ended winter, right? Whatever... I fucking hate winter.

Their new house is going well, though it reminded me that the thought of ever moving from our home scares me. We've been in our house for 14 years now and everything is how I like it. (Did you know that I was creature of habit? I pretend to be spontaneous, but in truth, I plan it out way early and just make it look like I'm spur-of-the-moment.)

For being here only 10 days, my folks have done a decent job settling in. Don't go down in the basement however. A family of gypsies could live there for a year and no one would have a clue.

On Thursday, we went downtown and saw Wicked. If you've never seen this show, you really should. It's wonderful. We had seen in it in previews in NYC with Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenowith, but these two women here did an amazing job as well. Well worth the money.

For the most part, we've been shopping, playing games and just chatting...or really listening to my mom. But if you close your eyes, you can almost imagine yourself getting a few words in. It's surreal how many words can come from that little body.

In the weirdest reversal of misfortunes, sleeping habits have all changed. My folks go to bed at midnight or 1 am and wake up mid-morning. I on the other hand, can sleep in until 6:30 am and feel rested. It does provide for some great early morning Internet time, but we're eating breakfasts at 11:30 am. My whole day is practically over by 10:30 in the morning. I feel like going into their room, pulling open the drapes, ripping off the covers and screaming "I wasn't the one who went out all night drinking Lowenbrau and listening to Maiden Lady." (She never could get her facts straight.)

However, the thought of going into my parent's bedroom is creepy. What's worse is that we are sleeping in their old bed. They upgraded to a king-size bed so the guest room inherited the old queen-size one.

Larry teased me the first night. "We're sleeping in the bed your parents had sex in."

I didn't take the bait. "Don't be silly. My parents only had sex twice and the last time was 38 years ago when my brother was born. This bed is only 22 years old. It's not the same one."

Parents having sex. Geez, have you ever heard of something so goofy?


Thursday, April 05, 2007

It's All in the Bag

I'm a marketer; that's what I do for a living. I craft a message that I think will entice people to do something. I present it in a fashion that I think accentuates a need, fear or desire. And then I measure it to see its effectiveness.

I create test and control groups so that I can tell if my new idea sells more than my original.

I constantly read to see how to say something with less words or more effectively. I look past the ads to see how they are selling it rather than what they are selling. And I always steal from the best.

Four weeks ago, I renewed a magazine subscription. It was earlier than I needed to, but they were offering a free garden bag and garden tools. That it's above; isn't it great?

Yeah, when I saw the picture of it I thought it would be convenient to use in our yard. I love working outside, so it made me feel good to renew early.

Marketing can be dangerous. Your offer has to be right or you actually do more damage than good. Tell a person to log-in to your web site, it had better be easy. Hell, it had better be working. You really want to build a long-term relationship, not go for the single 'kill'.

What is that famous saying.... you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. The single most important guideline to great marketing.

Today I received my garden bag. As you know, I'm a person who believes in sharing great services and products. Backyard Living Magazine was a magazine I used to love. But today, the company abused my relationship. I guess you could say things were "put into perspective". Take a look at my great bag now with a sneaker next to it.

I decided that I would do the favor of recommending they discontinue the promotion... you know, as one marketer to another. After navigating through a four-minute phone tree and then having to verify every detail of my subscription, Andy listened as I explained my disappointed and recommendation.

"Well, some of our readers liked the bag," he said.

"Really," I inquired. "They actually spent four minutes on the phone to say thanks. Seriously, my dog eats out of large food bowl than this."

Andy got defensive. "Well, you need to remember that most of our readers are octogenarians." (Seriously, he actually used that word.)

"Andy, are you saying that it's my fault I'm 40 and that's why I cannot appreciate the clutch bag you just sent me?"

"No, but our average reader does like the bag."

Well Andy, let me help you there. As of next year, I won't be lowering your statistics any longer.

Backyard Living Magazine has a major competitor; Garden Gate Magazine. I also subscribe to them as well. It doesn't take a telephone operator to figure out which magazine I'll be reading next year.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

We Don't Need Another Hero

That one guitar, felt good in his hands
Didn't take long, to understand
Just one guitar, slung way down low
Was his one way ticket, only one way to go

This weekend, I was introduced to a new way of life; a foreign land that I had only read about. I had been part of this world once before...many years earlier before becoming old and jaded. My heart was freer then and I could slow down and savor the joys of new opportunities. I was young...I was innocent...I was... the gamer.

This past weekend, at what should have been a playdate for my son, I was chatting with my friend's husband. They had recently moved into their house and were slowly settling in. Their three year had claimed much of the house with his toys, books and videos. The buzz of battery operated machines occupied much of their new home...including the basement.

He took me down to the room where little kids were forbidden without the company of the big kids. There in the corner, sat a 50" flat-screen, HiDef TV. And next to it sat the machine that has forever taunted me; PlayStation II.

I am a joystick man. Perhaps I should use past tense; I was a joystick man. Atari was my game of choice. I was the master at Asteroids. One time I had played for over 5 hours straight until my brother tripped over the cords when he went to the bathroom. I mean, who can think of peeing at a time like that?

Fast forward to 2007. A plasma TV beckoning me to engage it with the idle Playstation II laying at its feet. The problem; that fucking controller. It has more buttons than an upholstery store. I couldn't embarrass myself with that. I tried to explain my problem. The man just smiled.

He walked to the closet and returned with...the guitar. He said, "We're not going to play golf or racing. We're playing Guitar Heroes."

This is what wet dreams are made of; a chance to jam like Slash or Mick Mars. In seconds, he had the track list up for me to choose which song I was going to grace Springfield, VA with as I magically connected with this instrument.

I looked over as I imagined the smoke filled room packed with screaming fans.

"We're going all fucking out. Sweet Child of Mine, for fucks sake."

He looked over. "Dude, you're standing in the middle of Thomas the Tank Engine set. Relax on the language."

"Okay, sorry" I said aloud, but my mind was saying. "Shut the fuck up and turn the fucker on."

The initial notes rang out as I watched a twenty-something, long-haired, tattooed rocker--the mirror image of me--finely pick the notes. Meanwhile, I began struggling to connect three fingers to green, yellow and blue buttons.

Umm, the song isn't sounding so great. It seems that if one misses the notes on the guitar, they subsequently don't play in the song.

Pretty soon, there is grumbling and boos coming from the TV. "What the fuck is that?" I ask.

"Dude, it's interactive. They are booing you because... well, because...let me put it a way you can understand it... you fucking suck."

The song stops midway and I am booed off stage. Me. The guy who saw Poison three times.

"They aren't going fuck with me. I'm doing it again."

This time I made it through the whole song. Two cuts later, I completed it with a 'good' standing. Then I went on to Cherry Pie and succeeded with that. (OK, I got booed off the first time then too.) Then it was Shout at the Devil followed by Heart Shaped Box.

Nothing could stop me. I was going to jam forever. Fans were grabbing at my pants begging...

"Daddy, move. I wanna play with Thomas."

And that one guitar made his whole life change

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