Nothing Special, Really

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Christmas Recap in Bullets

Thursday, Dec 18th:

- Fell on my ass walking back from the bar. Mostly blame the ice. Partially blame the beer. Need to finish packing for flight tomorrow.

Friday, Dec 19th:

- Walk a mile+ on icy sidewalks with luggage to bus tunnel downtown to head to airport. City is shut down due to snow, and this wasn't even the worse they'd see.

- Get into Burbank about 90 minutes late after delay in Oakland. What a shitty airport. Both of them.

- Get my fill of potato balls at Cuban bakery in Burbank. Awesome as always.

Saturday, Dec 20th:

- Wake up early for trip to Disneyland with friends. First time there in almost 20 years. Wac is meeting me there; haven't seen her in almost a week.

- Get in most of the rides we wanted to, including Indiana Jones at the last moment. Star Tours is horribly outdated.

- Too tired to fall asleep, shoot the shit with Nick until 2am.

Sunday, Dec 21st:

- Head to sports bar with Nick to catch football games. Fantasy teams still not doing well. $120 down the drain this year.

- Buzzed enough to think surprising Kristin at work is funny. Probably just looked like a big dork.

- Domino's Pizza for dinner. Haven't had the D since diabetes diagnosis. Reminds me I'm not missing much.

Monday, Dec 22nd:

- Wake up at 10am, then again at 1pm. Different state, same sleep schedule

- Walk to In N Out for lunch. How I missed you, double-double.

- Get my first run in of the trip, a 4.2 miler. Much easier than anticipated.

Tuesday, Dec 23rd:

- Take the train from Burbank to LA, then to Ontario.

- Catch up with Wac again, try not to catch her cold.

- Fuddruckers is dinner for the first time in years. Hands down, still the best onion rings around.

Wednesday, Dec 24th:

- Get up early enough to make a couple batches of salsa for the dinner. Lots of pressure, making salsa for a Latino family.

- Finally dawns on me that Wac's dad is drunk. Was wondering why he was so funny all of a sudden.

- Time to open gifts. Many shirts from my parents, some slippers and a Best Buy gift card from Wac's parents. Secret Santa gift is a beanie with ear flaps.

Thursday, Dec 25th:

- Phone is dying, send out mass text messages to non-family. Hate to do it but best way of communicating considering phone.

- Call family for Christmas. Sorry Laurie, haven't entered your number yet & didn't show when you called since phone was turned off. I owe you a call.

- Watch a couple Holiday classics: Nacho Libre & There Will Be Blood.

- Head over to Wac's sister's place to stay. Take on her BIL at Guitar Hero. Last year he could beat me on Medium. This year, my Expert skills slay him. He is humbled.

Friday, Dec 26th:

- Take a shopping trip to Ontario Mills Mall. Stop by In N Out, Starbucks, and Best Buy on the way. We had gift cards for all these places but either forgot them or, in the case of Best Buy, didn't want to use them.

- Stop by Virgin Megastore's going out of business sale. 50%-70% off their outrageously high prices isn't much of a deal.

- Wac picks me up some sweet running shirts at Nike Outlet store. Thanks!

Saturday, Dec 27th:

- BIL's family shows up unexpectedly, for me at least. Awkward moment is diffused by focusing on Guitar Hero.

- Celebrate Wac's cousin's husband's birthday with dinner at Applebee's. A burger in a quesadilla is a ridiculous idea and only sort of tasty. Head to Best Buy again to buy nothing again.

Sunday, Dec 28th:

- Catch some football scores, enough to confirm that I sucked at Fantasy Football this year.

-Try to run 6.5 miles. Made it 4 miles on a pretty tough course before calling it quits due to toe injury. Toe still kinda hurts as I write this.

- Head to Wac's parents again for some tamales. Step away for a bit for more shopping. Noticing a pattern here yet?

- Dinner is Little Caesar's for the first time in eons. Crazy bread wasn't as good as I remembered but pizza was actually pretty awesome, especially for price.

Monday, Dec 29th:

- The long journey home. We say our goodbyes then head to Wac's parents for a ride to the airport. Get to the airport way too early, but a necessity as her parents are often slow getting ready. This time, they were ready.

- Didn't realize plane stopped in Vegas until we were at the gate. We seriously debated the option of just getting off in Vegas and catching another flight some other time. If we had more money we probably would have.

- Have to take a $40 cab ride from airport home. Our friends are great but understandably unwilling to pick us up on a Monday night at Midnight.

- Arrive home to find the apartment and cats in surprisingly good condition, aside from the fucking claw marks they put on my brand new poker table. Still totally usable but would've like to at least get one game in before they start to destroy it.

Happy New Year everyone.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All I Want To Know Is...

Why does swiss cheese taste like ass when it's cold and solid, but tastes so awesome when it's melted?

I guess it'll always be one of life's great mysteries.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Suns Talk

I haven't seen a single Suns game this year. I don't have cable or enough money to camp out at the bar across the way when the game is on. So I haven't been able to witness the Suns struggles firsthand or second hand. All I know about this season in in the numbers: stats, standings & scores.

Suffice to say, this season isn't what Suns fans are used to. No 130 point games, no fast breaks at every opportunity, no Seven Seconds Or Less offense. Personally, I've been fine with that. As fun and enjoyable as those teams were to watch, I don't know if they were ever championship quality teams. Move past Robert Horry's body check, past Joe Johnson's broken face, past Amare's knee and Raja's ankle, beyond the "only ifs" and the "woulda, coulda, shouldas". We were certainly close, but during those years, I don't know if we ever get past San Antonio. And last year, with Shaq or Marion, I don't think we get past LA or Boston.

We've certainly made some changes, the biggest being Marion for Shaq. I support the idea of the trade more than the results. Our low-post defense was getting killed in the playoffs, so we shipped off Marion who, as much as I miss him sometimes, is nothing more than the ultimate role player just past his prime, but with the attitude of a superstar. I don't know if I completely blame him; we were certainly paying him superstar money. But we had to make a trade, and he was our most tradeable asset (Nash and Amare were staying, and no one was taking Barbosa or Diaw last year). We get the low post defender in Shaq, who has been better than expected this year, but we get an even bigger ego. I'm not yet sure what's worse: an unhappy Marion or a dominant ego in Shaq. We got more than a center, we got a center of attention, and that's surely been a distraction.

As for D'Antoni for Porter, there's probably so much behind closed doors stuff going on there, it's pointless commenting. I do like Terry Porter as a coach, and I certainly don't envy his job: trying to turn a ballclub suited for D'Antoni's style into a more defensive minded club yet maintain expectations for a championship. I don't know that our problems this year have been all his fault; I support the move towards becoming a bit more defensive oriented but I don't know that we had the right lineup to support the change offensively.

And it's for that reason I absolutely LOVE the trade for Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley.

First, J-Rich is a huge upgrade over Bell. Much has been made about losing Bell's defense. He's still a top notch defender but he's not the lockdown defender he once was. More importantly, he was one dimensional offensively. He was great in D'Antoni's spread the floor and bomb away offense, but when we're not spreading the floor, we need someone outside who can drive to the basket as well as launch threes. J-Rich can do that.

As for Diaw, he's certainly a talented ball player, but I don't know if there's an offense in the NBA that caters to his style. He's great at distributing the ball, but most teams aren't looking for a 6-10 passing forward. Plus, his lack of aggression offensively was downright infuriating. He was awesome in 2006 when Amare was out, and we thought he was just scratching the surface as a player. Instead, it looks like he overachieved, and the past two seasons are more in line with what should be expected of him. And if that's the case, we just got a very similar player in Dudley: a smart role player who can hit the outside jumper and play post defense in a pinch. And he's MUCH cheaper.

I don't know if this trade is enough to get us past LA and Boston again, but for the first time this season, I'm excited about watching the Suns, enough that I may start rummaging through the couch for beer money. They're certainly not the Suns we've known the past couple of years, but at the same time, they're no longer the Suns we've come to know this year either.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


In most parts of our apartment, you wouldn't know it's Christmas. The bedroom is still littered with clothes, the cats still poop in the closet (in litter boxes, mind you), and the dishes need to be washed, again.

But in one tiny section, right behind me, it's Christmas. Our stockings are hung up on the DVD shelf (yes, we have stockings for the cats too). Our Target-bought X-Mas tree stands next to it, speckles of white lights amidst the red & silver shine of our Target-bought X-Mas ornaments. Underneath, five presents dressed in red wrapping paper, camouflaged by the red tree skirt that once served as a table cloth for a Halloween party. More often than not, Big Kitty can be found under the tree; I'd wrap a bow around him as well if it didn't mean getting the shit clawed out of my hands.

Living off unemployment didn't stop me from splurging on Wac for Christmas this year; for better or worse, it's a quality I picked up from my dad (substitute my Mom for Wac anyways). Perhaps that money was better spent on bills or groceries or something else, but it wasn't going to feel like Christmas for me if there weren't at least a couple presents under the tree. I would have survived without them, and I'm happy that I'll be able to be with her for Christmas, not to mention that I'll get to see my family soon thereafter as well. But I know Christmas will feel a little bit more like normal on Sunday morning (we're celebrating early since she leaves for California that evening) when we're opening gifts, and I get to see the excitement on her face when she opens those presents.

Especially when she opens up the new Guitar Hero game I got her. I think she'll like that one the best.


We ran 5 miles on Sunday. Officially the longest distance I've ran yet. We stopped at the halfway mark to stretch before turning around, so it wasn't consecutive, but I'm beyond the point of considering that to be relevant. There's a reason people say "It's not a race, it's a marathon". In fact, I probably wouldn't have been able to get to the 4 mile mark had I not stopped to stretch.

The last mile was definitely the hardest. I've been really good lately about not letting any self-defeating thoughts creep in during my runs, but that last mile, I really had to talk myself to the end. It seemed like it took forever to get there, but I pushed through. It definitely helps to have Wac there with me. Although a couple of her mile-updates were less helpful than intended, I think it's easier to run with her next to me. It's harder to quit on yourself when you've got someone with you.

I fully expected to be incapacitated the next day, considering that A) we still made trips to Subway and the Apple store before heading home to rest and 2) I could hardly walk the day after my 4 mile run. Surprisingly, I felt almost 100% yesterday (I won't mention the bit of chafing I got as that's probably a bit too much to share for you). Not only am I able to increase my mileage, but I'm recovering better too. Perhaps I might be able to do this half-marathon thing after all.


I got called back to Worksource yesterday for another meeting. For those who aren't in the know, Worksource is the WA version of the federally-mandated employment assistance program that every state has. They're not "Unemployment"; instead, they offer resources to help people who are unemployed. It was mandatory that I attend their first seminar when I got my unemployment benefits, and I had to go back since I got an extension.

I wasn't looking forward to it since it was going to be a three hour waste of my time; I could have stayed home and done something productive like play Minesweeper or sleep. Luckily it didn't take as long as they estimated; it was basically a review session of the initial orientation I attended in June, followed by a one-on-one "consultation" where someone from the staff would help me look for jobs and\or match me up with some possibilities.

As it stands right now, I have over 9 job sites saved as Favorites that I visit on a regular basis, and that doesn't include any of the staffing agencies I check out periodically. If there's a job open in my field, I know about it. I will admit that one of those sites is not the Worksource site, but after playing around with it during the session, it won't be one either, as every job posted on that site I've already found elsewhere. The consultation was of no benefit either; they tried to match me up with a Director-level job; a position I'm in no way qualified for right now. Although it was still a 100 minute waste of my time, it was kind of satisfying knowing that I'm doing a better job at finding a job than someone whose job is to help people find jobs; at least I know that my lack of success hasn't been because I'm not searching well enough.

Sorry, nothing in this section to keep with the "five" theme.


I had my second phone interview with my only job prospect right now, an interview which took place on the FIFTH (a stretch, I know). I definitely feel that it was one of my strongest interviews to date. Of course, it definitely helped that the position is so similar to what I was last doing, which probably made the interview feel a little more natural to me. The interviewer, someone in the same position that I'm applying for, also mentioned that I was one of the most experienced candidates that they're considering. The only concern they might have at this point is my commitment to the position; they may not feel comfortable with someone as career-driven as I am. I feel like I've reassured them that I'm willing to commit to the position as long as needed if the organization is as exceptional as I've heard, but the truth is, it's not a department I want to be in very long. Unless the position is so kush that I'd be a fool to do anything to escape it, I plan on sitting tight no longer than 6 months before I start mentioning advancement; otherwise, I'll start looking elsewhere again. I can only toil around in admin-level positions for so much longer.

Hell, maybe even after FIVE months.

(there, that works better)

Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm Not Dead

I guess I should write something. It's been almost a month now. Then again, I've received very few comments or requests about my blog, so I guess no one's missing it that much. Not that I have much to say these days anyways. This will probably turn into one of those "keeping you up to speed posts." For no specific reason, I haven't been feeling very creative lately.

Job search is still fruitless. I finished as a runner up to yet another job. I think what sucks the most is the jobs I'm finishing runner up in are the ones I want the most. All the lesser jobs I apply for, the ones where I feel like I'm either overqualifed for or would be taking a step back in, I don't even hear from. Maybe they feel the same way. Anyways, I took it pretty well this time because I've been there and got the hint early on. Surprisingly, they followed up with me kinda late and even went as far as to do reference checks on me, yet I still didn't get hired. Thanks for the blue balls though, much appreciated.

I do have a second phone interview tomorrow with another company. It's a company I'd be excited to work for, and the job is nearly identical to the last one I had, which is good and bad. Good because I'm obviously qualified for it, but bad because it's not what I really want to do. Whatever. I've resigned to sucking it up many months ago and being satisfied with any job that keeps me in HR.

A couple people have asked or commented about taking any job at this point. As long as I'm collecting unemployment, I won't consider that an option. I did get some good news this week - my unemployment is now extended until the end of March, and maybe even longer. So until then, I'll only focus on HR jobs. It's what I want to do and it'll be my best chance at maximizing my salary. HR jobs are tough to find this time of year, not to mention during a recession like this, but they're still out there. If this job I'm interviewing for doesn't work out, I don't really expect to find many good opportunities until February at the earliest, as many companies will have their budgets forecasted and may start doing some more hiring again.

Thanksgiving was a week ago, let's talk about that. Wac and I went to a friend's house for turkey dinner and etc. We brought over a shit load of food. I made a couple dishes: some Gorgonzola mashed potatoes and some brown sugar glazed carrots. They were pretty easy. The mashed potatoes were just like regular ones except I added the cheese & some roasted garlic. The carrots were even easier; boil some carrots, melt some brown sugar into some butter, and then add some chopped bacon. Ridiculously good. Wac made some mashed sweet potatoes and a small batch of regular ones for our friend who doesn't like Gorgonzola cheese. Whatever, he's Canadian so he shouldn't even be celebrating. He did make some good stuffing though so he redeemed himself.

Speaking of gravy, the Canadian friend won a $100 bet from his equally drunken friend when he agreed to drink the whole pot of gravy. We didn't use much at dinner so it was pretty full. Silly Canucks.

Other things that have happened...Wac had a birthday, ran another half marathon. I've been doing some dog-sitting for the Canadian friend & his wife. I've been doing some running too, I'm gonna try to do a 5 mile run on Sunday. It's crazy to think that the half-marathon is little over a month away and I've yet to do more than 4 miles. I'm totally not prepared for this run but whatever, fuck it. I'll run\walk it if I have to, whatever it takes to cross that finish line.

For my AZ readers, I still don't yet know how long I'll be in AZ. For sure, I'll be flying in on Saturday the 17th, and most likely leaving Tuesday night. I'll know definitely before Christmas. I'll probably try to plan some kind of meetup on Sunday after the race for anyone interested. I'll send something soon.

Speaking of Christmas, I guess it's that time of year now. We put up our tree last night. It's not much and we won't be enjoying it for very long. Wac leaves next Sunday to go to California for two weeks while her sister has a baby. I was gonna stay in Seattle but her family forked up some money to fly me out there. Since I'm jobless, I leave in two weeks to hang out in CA for a while, with a pit stop in Burbank to see a friend I haven't seen in over two years. Obviously it's been a different kind of Christmas this year, considering everything that's happened, but I've managed to scrounge up some cash to at least get Wac a couple things. It's money that should be going towards a new radiator, but I have no idea when I'll have the rest for it, so I'm gonna try to make Christmas feel as close to normal for us as we can. After so much stress and uncertainty this year, I need at least that.

That's all I got for now. I'll try to pick up the creativity next time.