Month: April 2013

Finding Simple Solutions To Everyday Problems

I’ve been chugging away at things over here, I know you were dying to know.  I struggled to come up with a title for this blog post, but there it is: finding simple solutions to everyday problem.

The shower rod in the bathroom kept falling down. Apparently the bar wasn’t long enough and the spring-loaded tension bar wasn’t holding it tight enough anymore, so simple solution: I crammed some paper towels in behind one of the non-skid pads, and popped it back up. It’s held pretty well so far.

My other problem that’s been bugging me — my new drummer’s gloves. Yea, they’re awesome, and they save my hands big time.  But I play along to my iPad.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to touch your iPad or iPhone screen with gloves on, but it doesn’t work.  The screens react to something in your fingers – electricity, oil, I don’t know, but something. So the problem arose when I wanted to change tracks.  I’d have to take my glove off, kind of a pain in the ass.

So I decided to find a solution, which I did — I’m bringing my laptop with me, and since there’s not a whole lot of space on the laptop for music, I put my Drum Time playlist on my iPhone, and then connect via a cable.  Apparently you can use the iPhone like a harddrive, which is what I’ve been doing.  When you step back and think about it, it’s kind of obvious.

Work continues on the book.  My buddy continues to edit chapters, and I continue to incorporate his feedback and correction of my overuse of commas. (Sorry, Austin!)  We’ll get through it eventually.

I don’t remember if I posted about it here or not, but I made the decision last week that I’ll be doing an audiobook version of the book as well.  I don’t know why, but it seems like a fun process to go through so why not?  The eBook process has been such a learning experience, I figure why not? Let’s do the whole shebang, right?

I’m having my very first surgery Friday morning, and I’m kind of freaking out about it.  I’ve never had any surgery before, so I’m probably overreacting to things, but that’s how my brain works.  Don’t worry, it’s not as major as the word “surgery” makes it sound.  In short, I’m having two sinus lifts on the upper left side of my jaw, and then they’ll be doing a bone graft.  Due to some freak act of nature part of my upper jaw has deteriorated over the years, and needs to be fixed.  Once that’s all done, they’ll be putting in two dental implants into the newly reconstructed bone.

It sounds a lot more serious than it is, and thanks to America’s crappy health and dental insurance that we have, it’s costing me around $18k out of pocket.  But it has to be done, so it has to be done.

Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I have plenty of ice cream stock piled, and will be taking the weekend to relax.  I made a mistake in scheduling it, though.  Had I looked at a calendar, I’d have known that Iron Man 3 was coming out this weekend, and wouldn’t have booked the surgery for Friday.  Hopefully I’ll feel up to going to see the movie. I suppose time will tell.

The Aftermath

When someone sets off a bomb in any major city, it’s devastating.  When it happens at an event attended by thousands of people, it’s even more devastating.  When it happens in the city that you live in close proximity to, and have lived near and loved your entire life, it hits really close to home.

People have been comparing the bombings at the Boston Marathon to the attacks that happened 12 years ago on the Twin Towers in New York.  While an act of terrorism, I don’t think they’re quite on the same level.  Terrible, yes, but thousands of people died in New York all those years ago.  To say Boston was lucky would downplay the severity of what happened, but it could have been much much worse.

Over the last week I’ve watched and listened as updates came up, first with the bombing, and subsequently with the chase that ensued late Thursday night into Friday.

I’ve never been one to watch the news.  When I was a kid, my parents would put the news on during dinner and I’d sit with my back to it, ignoring it.  But yesterday I spent from 7am to just shy of 9pm watching the news.

Once the second suspect was apprehended (which I saw on Twitter before the news aired it), I shut the TV off and sighed deeply with relief.  I didn’t watch Mayor Menino talk about all the hard work of everyone involved.   I didn’t listen to the State Police Colonel congratulate his entire team.  Once I knew that everything was over, I disconnected.

I saw this morning that they’d taken the second suspect to a local hospital for treatment, but beyond that I don’t know what else has happened.  I don’t think it much matters anymore.  Now that he’s been caught, we’ll get whatever information we can out of him.  But I think that should be for his spotlight.  His fifteen minutes of fame have come and gone, and I don’t think we should pay any more attention to him.

The 65,000+ people who started following him on Twitter in the last 3 days should stop.  I don’t think he’ll be updating anyone on anything from prison, where presumably he’ll be for the next couple of decades.

The real question, though, is why?  I think that’s what we all want to know.

All of the interviews with aunts and uncles and college classmates have led to no answers.  His family has said that they cut ties with the brothers months ago.  Students from UMass Dartmouth (where the younger brother went to school) all said they’d never expect this from him, and that he was a nice and normal guy.

Will we get an answer to why this happened?  I doubt it.  I’m extremely glad that this whole ordeal is over.  I know many people that live in Watertown, and I’m glad they’re all safe and sound.  Am I glad that he was captured alive? Yes, absolutely.  Do I feel like we, as a city and state, would have been sufficed if the police had killed him? No, not even a little.

Can we get back to normal now? No, I don’t think so. At least not right away. It’s going to be a while before we feel safe again, before we can go out at night and not look at people suspiciously.    It’ll be months, if not years, before we don’t have heightened security at public events.  It’ll be years, if not decades, of people talking about what happened on Monday and the events that followed.

We’re Boston.  We’re tough, we’re resilient, we’re hardasses.  Will we let this keep us down? Not a chance.  It’ll just take some time for us to bounce back, get back on our feet, and get back to life as we know it.

The next time you’re out somewhere, and you see a police officer, fire fighter, EMT, or anyone else that could have possibly been involved in any of the horrible things that happened in Boston in the last week — thank them.  Buy them a beer, pay for their dinner, do something nice for them.  They’re the reason we’re safe.  They put their lives on the line every day to keep us that way, and they deserve to know that without them, we’d all be screwed.

Trying to Remember

I do my best to remember things; friends’ birthdays, eating healthy, exercising, etc.

Sometimes it’s just hard, ya know? There’s so much happening in life that things slip through the cracks.  You sit down in the morning and tell yourself that you’ve gotta remember to do something.  It doesn’t matter what that thing is, sometimes no matter how important it is, you forget.

Before you know it, the day’s over, and your list of things you “absolutely can’t forget” is still sitting there, unchecked, staring at you.

I bought myself a set of weights a couple of weeks ago.  They’re on the floor in my office, directly next to where I’m seated for a good portion of the day, staring up at me.  I bought them so they’d be there, and I’d grab them from time to time, do some reps, and tone my arms.

Why? Well, glad you asked.  I was finding that while I was drumming, my arms were getting tired faster and faster, probably because I wasn’t playing as much as I used to, and my muscles strained themselves faster.

So I figured rather than trying to get myself to the gym (which let’s face it, just isn’t going to happen), I’d just have the weights next to my desk, and I’d remember to grab them for 30-45 seconds on a daily basis.

And even that I seem to not remember to do on a daily basis.  My work day ends, I look down at them and remember that I forgot to reach down and grab them.

Granted, some things I just “forget” because I don’t want to deal with them.  For example, I have a task in my task manager for “Pick a new name for the company” with a due date of February 28th.  I have been ignoring it because I flat out don’t want to do it.  No matter what name I pick to replace my existing company name (MJJ Designs) it just doesn’t seem to work.

Imagine trying to pick a screenname for AOL back in the ’90s.  Remember how hard that was?  Multiply that times infinity, and that’s how much pressure there is to pick a new name to replace the one your company’s had for almost ten years.

Which brings me back to the fact that my company will turn ten in August.  I’ve been designing and building websites for my own company for ten years.  That’s an accomplishment of some sort, isn’t it?

It seems like my brain is full of all sorts of things that I really don’t need to remember; the dialog from every episode of Saved by the Bell, every word from Braveheart, a phone number that someone told me to remember twenty years ago.  But I can’t remember to take frozen chicken out of the freezer in the morning to make for dinner.  It’s baffling how the human brain works.

In case you haven’t noticed yet, this post is going nowhere.  Sometimes I write just because I want to write.  Today is one of those days. (I’m also killing time until my Chinese food arrives.)

Some new photos of my drums

As I wrote the title of this post just there, it occurred to me that I’ve never given my drums a name. Weird right? I’ve been playing for over half my life (got my first drums at the ripe ol’ age of 14, so it’s been nearly 20 years now), and I’ve never given a name to my drums.

Anyway, I went through the process of putting new drum heads on them about a month ago. For those that don’t know, the head is the thing you smash with the drumsticks.  Depending on the type of head, you get a different sound.  There’s hundreds of different varieties.  For the technical drummers that may be reading, I went from a coated Ambassador to a Clear Evans 360 on all my toms.

That process, along with doing a full tuning of everything, reinvigorated me to want to play a lot more, which is awesome. I go through these phases where I want to give it all up and stop playing. And then something happens and I’m in love with being a drummer again.

Anywho, here’s some photos that I took after that re-heading of everything for your viewing pleasure.  Click to enlarge any of ’em.

They’ve served me well over the last couple years since I bought these particular Pearl drums, that’s for sure.

It also occurred to me, just now, that you may have no idea what I look like whilst playing said drums. So here’s me in all my drumming glory: headband, wrist bands, and drummer headphones:

Lil' ol' me.

Lil’ ol’ me.

What’s Happening?

I’ve gone a week without blogging, that seems like a lot given how much I’ve been updating the last few months. Why? Glad you asked.  I’ve got a lot going on.  Oh, you want to know what? Okay, fine, I’ll tell you.

  • My love, neigh obsession, with Full House has taken a step further.  I’ve now built and have been updating a website lovingly called What The F*#k, Full House?! ( I’ve been pointing out fun bloopers, mishaps, and continuity issues with the show since about a week and a half ago. And it’s fun. Stupid, yes, but fun.
  • I’ve also been spending a lot of time doing some code updates for a website for a fantastic charity that I work with: Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer (  They’re kick-ass, and you should support them.  Not by donating money (though that’s cool, too), but by buying desserts.  What happens is kind of genius: you (the consumer) go to a participating bakery or restaurant and buy a dessert at any point during the week in May.  That bakery or restaurant turns around and gives the money to Boston Bakes. Who then gives it to Dana Farber.  In 2011 they were one of the top donors in terms of percentage of money raised being donated (no operating costs, etc. taken out of the donation money).  It’s pretty awesome, and I’ve been working with them since 2010. (MJJ Designs, my company, built the website, and have been maintaining it ever since.)
  • I started writing a book.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I wrote a book.  It’s done, and has been done for a couple/few weeks now. (I can’t remember when I finished.)  I’ve sent it off to my buddy who does copy-editing to do a first draft proofread for me.  I’ve also been working on the website for the book.  My plan is to self-publish it through iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kindle.  They all take a pretty big cut of the money, but I don’t mind. I’m not doing it for money.  Why am I doing it? I have no idea.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Note: please don’t ask me if you can read it, it’s not ready yet.  When it is, I’ll gladly refer you to where you can buy a copy though.  It’ll be reasonably priced, I promise. And if you ask nicely, and I like you, I’ll probably just give you a copy. 
    Double note: this is also the first time I’m telling anyone, really.  Though indirectly, you should feel special that you know.  I don’t know why I haven’t mentioned it, but now you know.
  • I’ve been planning the rest of my Vegas Vacation slated for the end of June into July.  Probably not the best idea to go out there then, as my skin will cook off of my body. But so what.  I rented a big house just off the strip as it’ll be cheaper than renting multiple hotel rooms for everyone that’s coming.  Should be a great long weekend, and I’m looking forward to it.  I haven’t been on a vacation in five years, and I’d say it’s well deserved at this point in my life.
  • I had brunch with my dad and Megan yesterday, which was interesting.  It was the first time I’d seen him since he moved way out to Fitchburg, which if you’ve never been, is like 49 hours away. (Okay, that may be exaggerating a bit, but it’s still really far away.)
  • I have a ton of to-do tasks in my task manager for this week, and they’re glaring at me right now.  I hate being responsible, I really really do.

There you have it, a nice orderly list of what’s been going on in my life.  Don’t you feel better about yourself?

I Remember

I remember climbing the tree in my Grandmother‘s yard every Sunday when we’d go visit her.

I remember going on my first date to the movies, to see Father of the Bride with my first girlfriend when I was 12.

I remember moving out on my own for the first time.

I remember driving back from Long Island with Leeloo for the first time.

I remember some of the oddest things, but I don’t remember where I was going with this when I started.

Sometimes I get into these reflective moods where I look back on life and remember random things.  Tonight seems to be one of those moods.  The strangest things come to mind, for seemingly no reason at all.

It’s raining tonight, but was beautiful and sunny earlier.  I knew I should have taken a walk at lunch when I had the opportunity.  The sky was beautiful and blue, the sun was out, and everything was just right for an afternoon walk.  Now the sky’s grey, the rain is pouring down and the thunder and lightning are doing their thing.  It’s kind of eerie and beautiful, sure, but it’s not the best for taking a walk.

My day’s over, and what a day it’s been.  For a Monday, I was surprisingly busy, though I suppose that’s not bad.  When I’m busy, the day goes by faster than usual.  The afternoon had its moments where I was bored, as usual, but this morning went by in the blink of an eye.

I’m on the couch now, with Commissioner Gordon (the name I gave my new laptop), typing away, watching Friends.  Yes, I named my laptop Commissioner Gordon. It fits in with all my other electronics: Batman (my iPhone), The Dark Knight (my iPad), and Alfred (my desktop Mac).  It only seemed fitting to name this something similar.

It sounds like the rain is letting up now, but I just looked and it’s not.

Most of my recent round of blogging have been focused, and I’ve had a topic to write about. This is the anomaly, which is why it’s really about nothing.  My mind’s all over the place the last week, and I think it’s coming across here.

There’s a Microsoft Surface commercial on now.  I don’t care whether or not it’s the greatest tablet on the face of the earth – I’d never buy one because this commercial is terrible.  It’s the one where they’re all dancing and clapping their keyboard to their Surface tablets.  It’s really stupid, and doesn’t do anything to sell me one of these devices.  Not that I’d ever buy a non-Apple product again anyway. (Go ahead, make your comments about how they’re overpriced and whatever else you want to say.  They’re better, who cares if they cost more.)

I remember Hurricane Gloria. It was the first time I asked my dad something that he didn’t know the answer to.  The power was out for days, and I asked when it’d come back on, and he didn’t know.

I remember the first time my dad brought home a computer for us.  The concept was baffling, and there wasn’t much you could do with it, but all these years later I’m really glad he did, and taught me so much.

I remember high school, probably a bit too well.  It wasn’t the best experience of my life, for sure.

I still don’t remember where I was going with this, though.