Friday, January 12, 2024

The choice is yours.

My high school principal would give us this tidbit to think about every time he did morning announcements over the PA system: "Have a great day, or not, the choice is yours."  I was very much not awake for something so deep.  I think about it from time to time, and usually it makes me think about how something significant in-the-moment can seem so insignificant weeks, months, or years later.  Time really is the great equalizer.

It also makes me think how us millennials grew up with D.A.R.E. (a statistically questionable drug program targeting youth), and the onslaught of media and emphasis about how the youth were going to solve all the problems and pollution issues in of the world. (Captain Planet? Reduce/Reuse/Recycle? Oil bad. Save the animals. Only you can prevent forest fires.)  I feel cynical saying this, but it does seem kind of messed up to put that much responsibility on children, let alone promoting lies just backed by good intentions.  At least Gen X was left alone and forgotten about, being latchkey kids and all.


The other thing it makes me think of is that last 90s 7-UP ad campaign (one) (two) (three) :)


Tuesday, January 2, 2024

2023 Wrapped

 I've fallen way behind on blogging.  Mostly felt like I've lost my "public" voice, or having interesting things to say.  It gets a little tiring yelling into the empty abyss of the internet.

Let's see, where did I leave off?

Tool came out with a new album in later 2019.  Got to see them perform.  Kelc and I went all the way to Anaheim to see Thrice in Dec 2019, playing an entire album as a show.  Then just a handful of weeks later in 2020 we saw them again.   Those were good times.

Spoiler alert.  2020 happened, a virus spread around and totally changed life around the world.  Everyone completely miscalculated the stock market and housing market.  Live shows of any kind didn't exist for a while.  There was a slight lull in the number of cases in the summer of 2020, and we happened to luck out with a trip to South Padre with some friends.  Was it the best idea?  Probably not.  Kelc and I also really leaned into home renovation, along with most everyone else stuck at home all day.

In early 2021, still in the middle of a pandemic, Texas experienced a major snow and ice storm that really put a strain on the grid.  We've been super fortunate at home, rarely losing power or gas.  This year also saw my very first work trip, traveling over 1,000 miles to a testing facility.  I am not one to be enthusiastic about traveling, but I survived.  I actually opted for McDonald's McNuggets on my first night alone in a hotel, forcing myself to eat without any appetite.  This year actually started to show more volatility everywhere, like supply chain issues and market craziness.  I also took a solo trip (about 1,000 miles) to meet the Happy Couple™ at their new place in Atlanta, GA.  We got to check out Piedmont Park, the Botanical Gardens, a puppet museum, an art museum, and a Thrice concert.  Kelc met up halfway through the trip, as she went to Pittsburgh for a football game with family, then flew to Atlanta.  Later in the year, we went to a wedding for one of my cousins.  The social gatherings started to feel a little more normalized, but some people were still not comfortable.

2022 kind of felt like a repeat or do-over of 2019, except having knowledge of a pandemic now.  Time is such a weird construct.  Concerts and shows started back up as venues were starting to figure out protocols, and vaccines were rolling out.  This year, we got to see Tool, Puscifer, Bad Omens, Spiritbox, Sigur Ros, Spiritbox (again), Mastodon, and Ghost. (MJK is pretty sure he's had "the virus" multiple times by this point.)  Kelc's dad also retired, and is working on transitioning into that stage of his life. The home renovation project is still in full swing, and in late summer we got just about everything in the kitchen replaced, most of the house floored, re-textured, and painted.  At work, we did a complete campus move.  My distance to work decreased by a few miles, but the number of traffic lights I sit through increased 12-fold.  Google incorrectly thinks my commute should be quicker.

Then we get to this most recent year, 2023.

Early in the year, Kelc and I took a trip to Hawaii for two reasons: whale watching and a friend's wedding.  We did a ton of sight-seeing and whale watching on Maui, just north of the Lahaina area.  (Later this year, a massive wildfire will totally destroy this area, which really hurts my heart. 😢 )  The place we stayed at in Maui was amazing, even if a little pricey. On the second leg of the trip, we stayed in Honolulu.  This place was not as expensive, nor was it all that amazing.  However, the wedding was on this island (O'ahu), and it was absolutely beautiful.  While here we got to check out the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.  This was a very heavy experience, and not just a quick sight.

We got back to town, and soon after experienced another crazy snow/ice storm sweep through Texas.  Again, we were very fortunate and very thankful for conditions we endured.  We lost a lot more trees parts, and an entire tree came crashing down this time.  Now I have a substantial stack of firewood.

About midway through the year, Kelc had completed her MBA!  Very proud of her for sticking with it through to the end.  I remember doing a full-time job and part-time student work for some Graduate Certificates, and have a hard time being motivated to do that again.  On the way back from her ceremonies and celebrations, we both started to feel like we were getting a sore throat and headache.  Uh oh.  Quick testing when we got home and ... yep, we caught THE bug. 💀 I guess I'm still thankful that it took three years to find us, and at this point the severity totally changed.  Honestly the worst part for me was the brain fog.  I felt physically back to normal in a handful of days, but mentally I felt foggy, and difficult to think things in detail.  Really sucks when your job is based around your brain creating, designing, debugging, and logic.

Over the year, we saw the entertainment aspect of humanity ramped up even more.  Seems like society is ok with inherent risks.  Kelc and I saw Ludovico Einaudi, Spiritbox, the musical Hadestown, and TesseracT finally visiting the US.  (Kelc also has been going to various touring Broadway shows that you are welcome to ask her about.)  Lots of artists have been putting out new music as well.  (Seriously, check out TesseracT.  Definitely one of my favorite bands.  I wish I remember how I first heard about them.)  Kelc and I also took a trip to the Dallas area to meet with some friends.  While there we saw an interactive art exhibit called MeowWolf, and a Harry Potter "Forbidden Forest Experience".

For my work life: Somewhere in the past few years the company lost a fairly large contract of work, surprising quite a few people.  That wasn't fun, but life is a roller-coaster that you just learn to keep riding.  Lots of new people around, new campus, new changes, and sometimes the same old same old.

Looking forward to 2024.  I have three goals I'd like to work on:

  1. Emphasize being thankful. Maybe keeping a log of things I'm thankful for?  I've noticed it's really easy to be critical of just about everything, but being mindful or appreciative of things that are going well often goes unnoticed.
  2. Getting a better grasp on overall health, and getting back to the gym.  Specifically getting my general strength back. (Deadlifts?)  I've been feeling drained and exhausted a lot more lately, not sure why.  Maybe I need to get some tests done, or finally go get a sleep study done.
  3. Finishing the house renovation.  *sigh*
What are your goals?  What new music has you hyped?  Where is your blog?