Sunday, January 30

family dinner 2005

Well, the annual dinner with the parents occurred this evening. As I mentioned yesterday, we did an Italian theme this year. For appetizers, I made an antipasto tray consisting of prosciutto, soppressatta, genoa salami, capacola, marinated fresh mozzarella, provolone, giardiniera, green olives, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red bell peppers and parmesan crisps. Drinks were served, of course. The options were vodka and squirt or homemade wine (Carmenere/Malbec and Symphony).

For the main course, we had Italian stuffed chicken breasts, herbed orzo, roasted asparagus, and a herb/mesclun salad. Amaretto-chocolate pudding with raspberries and whipped cream was for dessert. I haven't eaten in hours and I'm still stuffed (and I didn't even have dessert. of course, I could've easily made a meal just from the antipasto).

A good time was had by all. It's kind of nice to get together this way once a year without something else hanging over our heads (like birthdays, holidays, weddings, etc.) Next year, I'm thinking of pushing the dinner back to later in the year, say March. As I mentioned yesterday, the tradition started because of the Thanksgiving turkey that Brian's employer gives out every year. But, we'll probably be able to use that up from now on because we've put ourselves into the holiday hosting rotation. Anyway, we had the dinner in January because I didn't want to hold onto that turkey forever. But January is so close to the holidays that it would be nicer, I think, to have it a little later in the year. We'll see.

Saturday, January 29

the past few days

Nothing noteworthy has been going on recently, so that explains my lack of posts.

I did manage to do what no one thought could be done--fatten up Brian a little bit (enough to make him go buy an exercise bike this week and actually use the thing every day). Middle age=middle tire? Good thing we're heading off the rest of the middle age crisis by buying his motorcycle this year.

Jacob had some excitement yesterday. I got a note from his friend Jake's mom (Jake goes to daycare with Jacob). They wanted to invite him over for a playdate soon. So, I called her last night and the date has been set for next Saturday. Both boys are ecstatic. I have to assume they're going to get along just fine seeing that they've been playing together at daycare for over two years now, so this could end up being a regular thing for the two of them.

Today, I'm just doing my usual Saturday work--washing clothes and straightening up around the house. Plus, I'm cooking like a fiend. Tomorrow is our annual "Dinner with the Parents" night. Every year at some point after the holidays, we have our parents over for dinner. This tradition started because Brian's employer gives out a ridiculously large turkey every year at Thanksgiving, so we had everyone over in order to eat the turkey. This year, we had Christmas dinner at our place, so we ate the turkey then. But, the tradition lives on. This year, we're having an Italian feast. More details to follow tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 26

vonage

We took the plunge and signed up for a VOIP (voice over IP) provider on December 11. Goodbye, landline! We went with Vonage. I read some good reviews about them and they seem to be the most popular provider, so that clinched our decision.

So far I've been happy with the quality of the connection. We're paying half of what we had to pay with Verizon, but we get unlimited minutes. Of course, if your internet connection is down, you have no phone, but that's what cell phones are for, right?

The one bad thing about the process was trying to transfer our current number to the new service. It was a major headache which involved at least four hours of my time (either on the phone or sending emails). If you factor in my bitching, my hours might be up to 24. Just ask Brian. Had I known it was going to be such a pain in the ass, I might have opted to just get a new number. But, after almost a week with no one being able to access our phone number, finally, our number got transferred last night. So everything is good in the world again. From reading a forum I found on the subject, I knew there was a good possibility that we were going to run into issues with the number transfer, so at least I was mentally prepared for it.

If anyone's interested in this service, let me know and I'll refer you. We would get two free months out of the deal and you'd get one month free. I definitely have some tips for you before you sign up, though. Email me for details.

I feel like such a techno-geek. Embracing the latest technologies and all...

Tuesday, January 25

just got lucky

The wonderful garage that works on my car (Deyarmin's on Goucher Street) fixed my exhaust problem today. They made a new exhaust pipe for the one that fell off my car yesterday. Total cost: around $60. If they would've gotten the part from the Toyota garage, total cost: $585. This is why we don't go to the dealership for service. Needless to say, I love those guys! Plus they squeezed us in today, so that was really nice of them. It is so convenient living two blocks from a reputable garage when you have a vehicle that has 100,000 miles on it.

Monday, January 24

exhausted

Not me, but my car. Brian took it to work today. On his way home, he heard someone with a loud exhaust and thought, "Boy, I'm glad that isn't me." Well, the sound persisted because it was him. Long story short, the exhaust fell off. I don't know if all of the parts are still there or not. I guess I'll find out tomorrow. The garage we take our vehicles to was still open, so he dropped the car off there, but they're not looking at it till the morning. Depending on what the problem is, I may be without a vehicle for a few days again. Damn. I had to take a loan from the Bank of Law to pay for our last repairs and I haven't even replaced that money yet. Here's to hoping this is something minor...

the worst day

Happy Anniversary to me. Today, I celebrated 11 years of working for the same company. It's hard to believe it has been that long. Given that, this article really struck me as funny.

Sunday, January 23

the ruination of a perfectly good weekend

The weekend started off well enough...On Friday, we went out for dinner with Steve and then for a few drinks afterward. When we got home, Brian laid down the vocal pattern for the Rottenstone song we started a few months ago and haven't worked on since. So, we might actually be able to finish this song sometime in the near future.

Saturday was a pretty good day--no practice because of the weather and we caught a movie that we've been wanting to see for a while. And, as a bonus, Brian and his dad ran cable to my tv in the kitchen, so now I get channels other than 6 and 8.

I talked Brian into skipping church today because I didn't want to go out in this crappy weather. Consequently, we all ended up sleeping in until 10am. Boy, did I need that. Brian didn't have practice today either, so he got to work in the shop all day and made good progress on the cherry end table he's building for our living room. I managed to wrap up the yearly update of my cookbook and plot out my garden planting schedule for the spring.

All in all, a good weekend. That is, until the Steelers got the crap beat out of them by the Patriots. I think all the blame has to go on Roethlisberger. He played another horrible game today. Everyone says it's because he is a rookie, but I can't figure out how he was so good early in the season and so bad late in the season. Maybe it was just the pressure of the playoffs. Who knows? I still think the Steelers have finally found "their" quarterback, it's just a shame they couldn't make it to the Superbowl this year. Especially since Bettis is talking retirement. That's one guy who deserves to have a ring. Maybe this will give him the motivation to come back for one more year. The way he played this year certainly shows that he has some more games left in him. I guess this means I'll have to root for the Eagles in the Superbowl. Normally, I don't like them, but that's mostly because of Terrell Owens. Since he's out, it would be kind of cool for them to win the game with out him. I'm kind of spiteful that way. But, if I were betting on the game, I'd go with New England.

Saturday, January 22

the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring

Only one word can describe this film: epic. Not my usual taste in movies, though I did enjoy it. We've had this movie on DVD ever since it came out, but never had three hours in a row to sit down and watch it (long gone are those days)--until tonight. East of Eve practice was cancelled due to the weather so I thought this would give us a good opportunity to start on the trilogy.

There was one part of the movie that cracked me up. One of the Hobbits was inquiring about eating. Here's the quote: "What about second breakfast? What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn't he?" It totally reminded me of Jake--the kid eats constantly. I'm not exaggerating--I have witnesses. I think he might be a Hobbit. He certainly follows their meal schedule and he's just about the right height. He doesn't have hairy feet, though. Maybe that won't occur until he's older.

The Flick Filosopher gave it a big thumbs up.

Friday, January 21

sushi

This evening, Brian and I went out for sushi with our friend Steve. In the past, sushi was never anything I was interested in trying, but I've been reading about it lately and a few of our friends seem to really like it so I've been wanting to try it.

I had planned on going to a Japanese restaurant when we went to Pittsburgh last fall, but the menu looked too intimidating, so I decided it might be better to go with someone who has a little knowledge about the subject. Enter: Steve.

So we went out this evening to the Sakura Restaurant in Altoona. Brian and I planned on eating only cooked stuff because who really wants to come down with a case of liver flukes? But we did end up trying one of Steve's tuna rolls, which contained uncooked tuna. Much to my surprise, it was quite delicious. Steve has apparently worked his way up on the sushi ladder--he ate more raw fish for supper than I've eaten cooked fish in the last month. I think it would take me quite a while to be able to stomach something like that.

Jake is staying at my parent's this evening. One one hand, he always looks forward to going there, but when he's a few days away from staying, he always decides that he might miss us too much so it might just be better to stay home. I told him if he stayed home that he would have to go to a restaurant with us and eat raw fish. His response was that while he wasn't interested in eating any raw fish, he sure wouldn't mind watching us do it. Apparently he's seen too many episodes of Fear Factor. I'm sure this evening's meal wouldn't have lived up to his expectations.

Thursday, January 20

exercise your right

And critique last year's Ozzfest. This will help to determine how Ozzfest 2005 goes.

oh my god

I was glad to read that this baby was born by c-section. I just hope the mom didn't buy too many newborn clothes for him.

Wednesday, January 19

personality

What's your type?

I am:

Introverted (I) 77.42% Extroverted (E) 22.58%
Sensing (S) 65.79% Intuitive (N) 34.21%
Thinking (T) 67.65% Feeling (F) 32.35%
Judging (J) 78.13% Perceiving (P) 21.88%

My type is:

ISTJ - "Trustee". Decisiveness in practical affairs. Guardian of time- honored institutions. Dependable. 11.6% of total population.



Duh.

Monday, January 17

old women

This is wrong on so many levels.

Saturday, January 15

nail-biter

I can't believe the Steelers pulled out a win this evening. Their defense played great, but the offense wasn't so hot. Well, I guess the rushing game was pretty good, but the passing game wasn't at all impressive. And there were just too many turnovers at key moments of the game. They're going to have to play a lot better next week if they plan on beating New England or Indianapolis.

But, what an exciting finish. The Jets missed two field goals the last few minutes of the game and this resulted in OT. Of course, they won the toss, so they could've easily won the game, but the Steelers got the ball back and pounded it down the field and won the game with a field goal.

There were two good things about today's game: 1. it wasn't boring and 2. the Steelers won. That's about all you can say about it.

bassist for hire

Last night, unadulterated by alcohol, I recorded the bass line for one of the two East of Eve songs requiring my attention. I had enough problems playing this one sober, so I decided to forgo my usual recording drink. It came out pretty good if I do say so myself. There was this one part I kept screwing up, but thanks to technology, I was able to re-record the goofs and it all sounds good now.

Playing bass is kind of fun especially when I'm playing along with something a little more difficult (i.e. Shawn's guitar parts). Of course, the first day I try to figure out any of his stuff I end up frustrated and am ready to give up music altogether. But, normally by the third day I have things figured out for the most part. Brian has learned to stay out of the room on the first day I'm working on a new song, lest I bite his head off.

Thursday, January 13

caught up on shit

And I mean that quite literally...

My dogs go to the bathroom in the yard. I normally clean up after them every couple of days. In the winter, this usually isn't possible because the snow covers up the deed before I get a chance to clean it up. I suppose I could go out there each time they go out to do their business and clean up after them. But, despite all of the torment it causes me, I'm not quite that motivated.

Normally, I find myself outside at the first thaw of the season (that'd be in February or March) chipping dog shit from the ice like an archaeologist excavating through strata on a dig. It doesn't help that the area that our dogs do their business in is in the coldest spot in all of Upper Yoder--our entire yard can be thawed, yet that one spot is still frozen like a hockey rink. And, as you may recall from the days when there was hockey, a hockey rink is composed of ice. So I'm out there skating in my shoes, a shovel in one hand, a pooper scooper in the other. It is quite a sight. It normally takes me a few weeks until I gain the upper hand on the situation.

Needless to say, this winter's weather has allowed me to avoid my usual winter woes. I mean I'm already two months ahead (given that the snow usually starts to fall in November), so you cannot imagine how happy this makes me. You know what they say, it's the little things in life that count.

60s and sunny

That was the weather today. In Johnstown, of all places. Yes, I'm referring to Johnstown, Pennsylvania. You might want to hold onto your (winter) hats, though. Starting tomorrow, and continuing for the next few weeks, we're going to have some winter-like weather in the region (whoa--for a minute there I think I was channelling Jay Panic and the Accu-never forecast). You know, cold, snowy and all that. But the good news is that January is nearly half over so just how bad can the rest of the winter be? I mean, I think it's only snowed once so far. So, even if we have snow on the ground through April, this winter would be better than most. Alleluia.

Wednesday, January 12

marbled chocolate banana bread

I've always been skeptical of people who eat things like 'banana bread', 'zucchini bread', and 'carrot cake'. I mean, why are they eating these things? Do they think they're healthy because they have fruit/vegetables in them or what? It sure can't be for the taste. I mean, if you want dessert, eat a piece of chocolate cake or something. Really. I guess I can understand the banana thing. I just don't care for bananas in recipes that much so I was never a fan. That is, until I found this recipe. As it turns out, if you add some chocolate to your banana bread, it is quite tasty. Who'd have thought it?

Monday, January 10

exercise! exercise! each and every day

Looks like Brian and I are back on the exercise bandwagon. We started strength training again this evening. I call it 'strength training' rather than 'lifting weights' because we have one of those fancy Nordic Flex Gold machines, so we're not really lifting anything--we're just moving the pulleys, really.

Strength training is something we've done off and on since we moved into our house and bought the machine. Usually, we end up stopping exercising in the summer because there's just too much going on and a lot of it is sort of like exercise--like gardening, landscaping, working on the house, chasing after Jake, etc. Well, it's enough like exercise such that I don't feel bad about not exercising in the summer. Last year, we had the shed to keep us in shape. Once it was done, we were supposed to start exercising again in October. October became November. November became December. And then it was the New Year. I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but I thought it was about time that we got back into our routine. I mean, it's going to be summer before you know it.

Sunday, January 9

what's your score?

Place the state

I scored 98% with an average error of two miles with a time of 380 seconds. Not bad for someone who can't find Main Street in Johnstown, eh?

chiefs game

Brian, Jacob, and I went to a Chiefs game with the Shaffer clan this afternoon. The Chiefs beat the Reading Royals 4-1, so that was good. Not enough fights in today's game, though. There were a few minor skirmishes, but no blood was shed.

It was a nice way to spend the afternoon. And, as a bonus, Brian doesn't have practice this evening.

The three kids ate and ate and ate during the game. It is such a pleasure to take Jake somewhere and he is completely entertained the whole time (thanks to Johnny and Katie for that). I guess that's why people have multiple kids--so that their first kid has someone to play with. Not a good enough argument for me, but I won't object to using other people's children to entertain my child.

mystic river

Last evening was another margarita and a movie night at the Law household. Mystic River was the flick. This has to be the most sad and depressing movie ever. But, the acting was so good that it made it worth watching. I just can't say enough about Sean Penn--he just might be the greatest actor ever. I was blabbering on so much about Naomi Watts in my 21 Grams review that I failed to mention what a good job he did in that movie as well.

And if Sean Penn is the greatest actor, Tim Robbins has to fall in the top 10. His performance in this movie was superb. I've always thought he was good, but this movie confirmed my suspicions.

Here is a brief review from the Filck Filosopher.

Friday, January 7

say it ain't so

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt have split. Who can believe it? Well, I guess we can all believe it. I mean, what Hollywood marriage ever lasts long? Well, besides that guy who ate all of the eggs in Cool Hand Luke and his wife (uhh, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward).

At least we don't have to wonder if they left each other for someone better looking--they are both so purty.

Still, I was pulling for them. I pretty much pull for anyone who gets married--even if I don't have to buy them a gift. But, I just kept thinking that this would never last, so I guess today's announcement isn't all that surprising.

happy birthday, ed

We spent a pleasurable evening at Brian's parent's house, observing his dad's birthday (which is on the 10th). Of course, I define pleasurable as any evening where I get to consume a bunch of citrus-flavored vodka. Yum.

Our niece, Erika, was there. We were hoping Jake would be enticed by that fact and ask to stay the night. Not that we have anything going on tomorrow, but to sleep in would be a nice change of pace (Erika was disappointed, too). Of course, that didn't work out. He just better not complain about not having anyone to play with tomorrow morning! At any rate, he'll be staying there in a few weeks, so they'll be able to hang out then.

Incidentally, today is also Lizzy's observed birthday. We adopted her from the Humane Society of Cambria County on September 7, 2002 and she was approximately eight months old at the time, so we've declared January 7 as her birthdate.

And today is also the Russian Jesus's birthday. Happy Birthday, Russian Jesus.

And tomorrow is Elvis's birthday. Happy Birthday, dead Elvis.

Tuesday, January 4

halftime "show"

Kelly Clarkson, Trace Adkins, and Ashlee Simpson, oh my!

Did you notice the big anarchy A that was on stage? Sid Vicious is rolling over in his grave right now. And just who was running the sound for this thing? I've heard better sound at a Lost Circus show. And what was up with the girls in black cheerleader outfits? Did Ashlee Simpson see the video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" recently and think to herself, "What a great idea--and I'll bet no one's heard of this Nirvana band. I'll have to use it in my set."

Just some things for you to ponder this evening.

Monday, January 3

big. sweet. rip.

The vet called with the results of Ripley's 12-week thyroid test. Everything is great! Her numbers are now exactly where they should be, so she won't have to be tested again for a year. Not only that, but she lost a few pounds since being on the thyroid medication and is acting more like a four year old dog than the seven year old dog she will soon be. You can tell that's she's in a much better mood these days. Hopefully, this will be the last of our trips to the vet until the summer when her annual shots are due.

Saturday, January 1

new year's day 2005

Today we did our standard January 1st stuff. That is, we put away all of the Christmas decorations, disposed of the tree, and had our traditional meal consisting of roast pork, kielbasa, sauerkraut, and dumplings. This was all topped off by a bottle of Kendall-Jackson Riesling. Yum. Not much else to say about today, but can anyone else believe this weather?!? I mean, isn't it supposed to be around -4 right now? I hope my plants don't get tricked into thinking it is spring. I saw some garlic sprouting in my garden today. That can't be good. Unless the temperature stays this way until March, that is. But, I'm not holding my breath on that one...

red dragon

We did another movie and a margarita night for our New Year's Eve celebration. This followed a veritable cooking marathon of making Lasagne Verde al Forno (Baked Spinach Lasagna for my non-Italian readers). I made this for Brian's birthday a few years ago and it was a total pain in the ass, so he helped me out with it yesterday. Of course, when I made it for his birthday, I had the flu, so I had to nap between steps (yes, it takes so long to make that you can take a nap between the steps).

Anyway, Red Dragon was the first book in Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter trilogy. It was originally done in 1986 as a movie entitled Manhunter, but with the success of The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, they decided to redo the movie with Anthony Hopkins in the roll he has become famous for.

I, of course, have read the book before, but this movie made me want to read it again. I also saw the original version of the movie and remembered enjoying it, but I don't recall the details. The remake was just as good as far as I can remember. Unlike the original, this one had an all-star cast: Anthony Hopkins (creepy as usual), Edward Norton (up there on my favorite actors list ever since I saw American History X), Ralph Fiennes (I was having Schindler's List flashbacks whenever he picked up the shotgun), and Harvey Keitel (one of the few movies where he doesn't 'whip it out').

The movie was good enough so that I paused it when it was time for a bathroom break. Even though I knew the plot, I was still on edge the whole movie, so I give it a thumbs up.

Here's the Flick Filosopher's review of the original move. Much still applies.

Happy New Year, everyone!