16. October 2014 · Comments Off on Listening to Farnoosh Torabi testing out the #TEDxSpringfield stage. · Categories: fall, Instagram, Massachusetts, Springfield

New Instagram Photo: http://bit.ly/1wNde1G

Today is Monday, the day that we have set aside to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As such, both the kids and I are home. Some people have called this a national day of service, but we’re not performing service today. After a long day on Saturday, and robotics both days for Jake, we’re enjoying some downtime and homework time for the kids. I have Pandora playing in the background on my iPod – a jazz station that is very upbeat, and decided today was a good day to update some long overdue blogs.

We have a new contest at work. It is called the Biggest Winner, fashioned, of course, around the TV show with a similar name. It is not a 1-on-1 competition however. We are on teams of our own choosing, or on assigned teams if we joined as an individual. I am the captain of our four-person team that consists of a husband and wife, a manager in another part of our IT group, and me. All we have done to date is pick a team name, then a captain. I volunteered so I could hold everyone, including myself, accountable. I can’t be a slacker if I have to ask others about their goals, now can I?

Since the first half of the first month of 2010 is past, it’s time for me to get serious on my goals. I have only a few goals, mostly health related. While I remain in good to excellent health, I have a few things within my grasp before I hit 50 in October. Losing the 20 pounds will likely be the most challenging, but I would love to go into my next decade without the stigma of being classified as obese. I certainly don’t feel obese, but according to the standard, I am. My legs, for example, are significantly stronger than most. I can run further and, for the most part, faster than almost everyone I know outside of the running community. Not many obese people can run 4 miles non-stop at 9 miles per hour. So, while I think the standards are not quite right, they are goals for which I will aim. If I lose the 20 lbs., I will be at or just under 200. When I graduated from college, I was at about 180, but was what my wife refers to as too thin. I really didn’t eat much (or have much money to eat, for that matter), and I ran non-stop from early each morning until late each day with my low-pay job. I wasn’t sitting at a desk like I do now, and didn’t have a cafeteria with whatever I really want to eat a few floors down.

I have been eating much better until the past few days. My wife is an excellent cook, and is very conscious of fats, proteins, fiber, and so on, at least 5 days per week. We do splurge at home on occasion, but never two meals in one day. For example, this morning’s relaxed breakfast had the kids playing with breakfast pizzas (including plopping a raw egg for one edition), and Sue and I had waffles. For one, I put a piece of bacon on top of the batter, then flipped the maker over (it’s like the ones you find in many hotels). It was way better than I thought it would be!

 

So tomorrow, I head back to the gym and get serious about getting back in shape. I’ve been doing it right along, so am not starting as a couch potato or anything. But, I will be eating better, working more on my core and not just running, and leading the team at the contest at work. The waffle shown here will be the last one I eat for a while, so I wanted to be sure I would enjoy every last bite. The recipe for this is actually in the book that came with the waffle maker, and is just below the one we used. Since we had cooked bacon for the kids, it was only logical to try it! As Emeril Lagasse says, pork fat rules!

This week has been among the most confusing of my life. I have been dealing with, among other things, living by myself, assisting my wife with Richmond home sale activities, to the best of my ability from afar, managing a home inspection, well inspection, termite inspection, down payments, credit union communications issues, post office challenges, transferring funds, HUD settlements, and an ever increasing work load. It’s really too much. However, I am by myself again this week to deal with this. I’ve not been sleeping well, not eating well, and now am sitting in the dark. What a way to end the most confusing week of my life.

When I went to have the bank check written for the 2nd portion of the down payment on the CT home on Thursday, the bank’s network was down. Of course. It hadn’t been down for over a year. However, I will give all credit due to the credit union. They had every person possible jumping on the situation, trying to figure it out for me. The VP of Operations for the Credit Union walked the process through, wiring the money to the brokerage firm that is managing the sale in CT. No charge for the wire, of course, and everyone babysat the process to get it through. This is the reason why I have been, and will remain, a loyal credit union customer. The fact that my current credit union is literally 3 floors below where I sit helps make it so convenient. We are using them for our mortgage, even if we refinance when the market corrects itself.

It feels like I have worked little this week, when I have actually worked a great deal. One of my main co-workers left last Friday after several years on the job. I took over all of her open projects — close to 25 of them. That, in addition to the 18 or so of my own, makes for a really big workload. It’s not that I can’t handle it, but it’s tough right now with all of the things going on (see the first paragraph). Tomorrow, I need to find a place to do some laundry, spend a few hours doing at least the basic laundry, drive 40 minutes to work so I can spend 4 hours or so catching up on my open projects, and spend at least an hour charging my work to various projects. Sunday, I need to pack what I am taking for a few days since my family will be in CT late on Monday, so I will have to get ready for work Tuesday in a hotel in CT. Tomorrow, I need to at least do enough laundry that I can make it through Wednesday or Thursday.

One additional factor is that the laundry service that we have in the office has been closed all week, so I have only a few things left to wear for work without ironing. This will be tough, considering I don’t have an iron! I found a local cleaner this week that has a few items of mine now, so will pick them up tomorrow (hoping that they are ready when promised).

To top it all off, about 3 hours ago, we had a storm rip through Amherst, taking down a tree that landed across all three of the power lines running on my street. So, I am sitting in the dark, with 46% battery, figuring out what I can do until the power comes back on. The rain brought some cooling, but without fans, this is going to be a long, hot night. I think I will conserve energy soon and hit the hay, getting up early enough to start the wealth of tasks ahead of me tomorrow. At least I have an iPod with a few hours of battery remaining!

Life in the hotel continues on. I found a room to rent in Amherst for the months of July and August. The landlords are students at U Mass., Amherst. I did look at another home but it just wasn’t a good fit for me. This week or weekend, I’ll need to purchase sheets, some sort of blanket, pillows, and towels so that I can wash them this weekend and leave the hotel next weekend with clean stuff.

The job is keeping me busier than I care at this point, and it’ll get busier as time goes on. I have not been exercising as much as I should, but laundry is getting in the way. I have just two pair of running shorts, and they are awful when I’m done. Definitely a 1-workout pair of clothes. So, without spend $2.50 on a load of laundry for just workout clothes (and an hour of my time), they just don’t get done as often as I’d like. So, I have a new effort that I am considering. In case you want to try it on your own, you can find the link here:
http://hundredpushups.com
In just 6 weeks, maybe a few more weeks if you need to repeat a couple of weeks, and you can do 100 consecutive pushups. I think that would be a cool goal. For some reason, I think that I’d be really sore for the first two – three weeks, and would be quite tempted to give up since I actually need to be able to type all day long to do my job.

At least my reading is back to something healthy:
click here
I am ready to get back out there and start running again. My goal is to restart, in earnest, when I move to Amherst. The streets are flat, with sidewalks or paths, and lots of others doing the same. The thing that I love about living in a college town is that there are so many more people that are athletically minded. I drove past a 60 year old the other day, biking down a street. His calves were amazing — so muscular! My guess is that he probably bikes everywhere for about 5 months out of the year.

So it’s another night in the hotel, by myself. I really miss my family, and long for the day we can be together again. In a short three weeks, I need to be in a different place, or paying for this one on my own. The $90 per night will eat into savings quickly, so I really need to find a home to buy or a room to rent.

I am in the Philadelphia International Airport right now, heading home. I have been pushing very hard lately, trying to see home after home, trying to get the laundry done, pay the bills, feed myself in a somewhat healthy manner, and trying to get sleep. The sleep has taken a back seat to everything else. I would give anything to have someone else helping with some of it, but it is the path that we have to take right now. Last night, I got about four hours of sleep before heading to the office. That allowed me to leave early to make my flight without taking any time off. It’s the advantage of flex time.

My children don’t know I’m coming, so I expect that it will be a good homecoming. Neither does my dog! I miss him since I haven’t seen him at all in almost 5 weeks. Certainly not as much as I miss the normalcy of life, but he is part of that normal life. Brewster never fails to make me smile, so I expect to spend a good bit of time with him this weekend. Tomorrow night is a party at our local pool. While we didn’t join the pool, we were extended a free membership for the part of the year we were still in town. This was for several reasons, but mostly due to my contribution of time and effort with the web site, the stereo, etc. That took a good bit of time, although has been turned over to someone else to maintain.

Back to the fortune. Last night, after seeing all of the homes in the Connecticut town that I could, I headed back to wash the car (dirty, dirty, dirty), then to get some dinner. Obviously, my choice was Chinese food and the above fortune was in the cookie I received. I laughed when I opened the cookie, knowing that I would be home in about 24 hours. Maybe I need to play the lottery with these numbers.

Today, I moved all of my MA-based possessions to the room I am renting for July and August. No real idea of how long I will be here, but at least for the next couple of weeks. After getting my very full Camry unloaded, I took a quick walk down the road. I knew that there was a “conservation area” down the road, but had no idea what that meant specifically. What I found, was a very large, unspoiled area with walking paths that are also bike paths when they are dry. The tree-covered canopy is lovely. The water pictured above runs inside of the area. There is a foot bridge that covers the water and that bridge is maybe a two minute walk from the house. Of course, this picture was taken from that bridge, otherwise I would have gotten quite wet taking it! There are a bunch of black flies there, so I used a bug repellant on my second visit and wasn’t overly bothered at all by the flies.

After one of the most stressful weekends of my life, this was a great way to start to unwind. Now where is that bottle of scotch I bought?

Packing for a short term move is a pain. I do get to figure out just how much stuff can fit in my Camry. If it’s too much for one trip, then I get to add more than an hour to my trip (40 minutes each way plus unpacking the entire first load and packing the second load). Of course, I need to do all of this by noon (or 1 PM for a late checkout). Tomorrow is the first move.

Late on Thursday, we found out that someone wanted to look at our house on Friday. Since the family is here in Mass. with me, we arranged for someone to go to the house and turn on all of the lights. Apparently there was a miscommunications between the prospects and their agent on when to arrive at the house. So, they looked around, talked to neighbors, talked to some more neighbors, and then were finally able to see the house. The talking to the neighbors must have worked since before the day was through, we had an offer for the house that we are accepting. The deal looks like it will go through, so we were in a much better state of mind today when seeing houses with the Mass. realtor. Not many houses in Mass. will work with contingent buyers, so selling the house takes that out of contention.

One very different thing about homes in this area vs. Richmond is that, for the most part, there is little work done to a home before putting it on the market. There were two notable exceptions, and both of them we are interested in. The first home has a weird bedroom configuration, so that we would need to give Jake a smaller bed or be very creative where we put his current one. The other home is higher priced than we want but is an 1850-era farmhouse with almost 11 acres of land. I am afraid of being bound to a home that large and with that much property, knowing almost no one in the area to share it with. It is perfect for entertaining, but will take so much work and money on weekends to maintain that we will be house-poor for a while. I’m not sure that is in our best interest, no matter how much we love the home itself. The homeowners have put tons of money into the property, all excellent investments. So, we will continue to look at properties, and will continue to decide on how much home we can afford.


The past two weeks go down in my life as being life changing. Last Thursday, we had a gathering at the house of many of my friends from work outside the City. These are the people outside of my wife and children that help me define my life these days. They are lifelong friends, all met in the past ten years. Not everyone was there, but many were to help me celebrate. My closest friends made a CD for my trip, to remind me that I always have a home in Richmond.

Friday, I left my job after more than ten years. I packed my last box, turned in my laptop, blackberry, and badge. Then, I made one final trip around the facility to say my goodbyes that I hadn’t previously said. While I still need to send an email to those folks, it was really strange saying goodbye. I went home and packed, then jammed as much as I could in my car.

Early on Saturday, I left the comfort of Richmond and headed north. It was a 12-hour drive, filled with phone calls from friends making sure I was awake and doing alright. At long last, I arrived in the Residence Inn located in West Springfield, Massachusetts – my home away from home for the next 60+ days. My GPS tried to self correct my intentional diversions from major highways, but that’s another story.

Sunday, I found a grocery store, Costco, and drove to my new office to be sure that the Monday commute would work. My GPS worked like a champ this time.

Monday, I started my new position, with a new company, doing things that scare the heck out of me. I am working for a very large company (again), but with many more corporate-based employees at the same building. The building is huge, old, and with the great style attributed to the early 20th century. There should be a picture above.

After a whirlwind week, I have settled into a basic routine. I have started to catch up on my sleep, and really got a chance to recharge yesterday. I was fairly restless last night, in part due to a loud snorer next door and in part due to my 2+ hour nap in the middle of the afternoon yesterday. I was up today at 5:30 AM, and was doing laundry at 6. Not much competition for washers and dryers at 6 AM.

This week, Sue and the kids come up. They will be visiting schools on Thursday and Friday, visiting northern houses with one of our realtors on Sunday, will be visiting CT and southern MA houses with our Realtor on Monday. Thank goodness for the three day Memorial Day weekend next week!