So let's break down the categories and talk about each of them:
Everything is ok on this front. I was happy to get through 2013 without losing a close family member on either side. I mean, my wife and I only have two parents left between us (and a third if you count my stepdad, which I do since he's been there since I was a toddler.)
For my kids, they are spoiled brats, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to break them of that. Maybe it comes with the territory of being young and not needing to worry about where their food comes from, but I also don't like being the villain from the first James Bond movie and denying every frivolous request they make only to have them break down and whine while I (still in Dr. No mode) stand there cold faced or walk away. When they're a bit older, we're definitely going to volunteer with poor people or something so they can see where they will end up if they keep being brats. However, I definitely love them, and we've ended up with a few activities. We're not soccer parents, but somehow we became dance and martial arts parents. My six year old is in ballet and jazz dance classes, and my four year old is in taekwondo. The two year old is basically just being a two year old. I could go on and on about them, but if you wanted to see that you'd just look at my facebook instead.
Outlook on Life
So I've gained a bit of focus, as I mentioned last year, as the result of people dying and other experiences. However, I'm seeing a major area that I'm not quite sure how to deal with yet. It seems like a key to being a happier person is to eliminate sources of negativity from your life. That sounds easy but is actually very difficult. For example, I have a very negative friend who I don't hang out with much anymore. There's a website for people who grew up in the same bad religious experience that I did who set up a forum. I stopped going there because of all the arguing and people repeating the same patterns of self-destruction. I've stopped paying as much attention to politics as I once did. All of that has made a noticeable difference for me. However, there are other sources of negativity that I can't eliminate, and others that may act as a useful counterweight to excessive optimism. However, I still feel like I need to improve in this area further, so we'll see.
Work is going fairly well, and it is interesting to be a part of an organization going from being a small startup to one of the largest companies in our sector. That being said, I have concerns, so I've basically taken a "wait and see" approach with the idea that things may go south. I don't really expect that, but it's a hope for the best and plan for the worst type of thing. Outside of my company, I'm also watching how the whole Mexican privatization of energy thing is going. That could present some opportunities as well.
So I got one of these for Christmas. I got it at a really good price too. I have to confess that part of the reason I preferred that one is because it does look a bit similar to my Les Paul (despite this one having a maple fretboard) so it looks like I have a set. Now all I need is an Ibanez RG that matches or something. In any case, I'm still terrible, so you won't be hearing any recordings of me or anything. It's weird, because let's say a week ago I played AC/DC's "Back in Black" and knocked it out of the park and normally play it well, but then last night I tried and just completely fucked up every aspect of it. It's like my muscle memory sometimes forgets, as well as my timing, etc. What I think is that I have to be mentally relaxed or at least in an optimistic frame of mind for me to be able to play. At this point, I'm very comfortable with a lot of the commonly used chords (although I'm still limited on the variations of B and F since I have trouble laying a finger down all the way across a fret), I've memorized the pentatonic scale and am working on my speed there. I started working on memorizing the diatonic scale but it's being as challenging as the pentatonic was when I first learned that. Either way, I'm making progress.
One other thing to bring up on the guitar front is that I plan to buy myself a tube amp head and speaker cabinet for my birthday in a few months. I'm thinking about the Blackstar Metal 5 watt amp and going cheap on the speakers and getting a Bugera 2x12 cabinet or a Jet City 1x12. I can later upgrade the speaker(s) in either one but that would at least get me started with something to be able to sound better than my cheap modeling amp. Oh, and I probably could spend more money but since this is really to be able to play in my bedroom I don't need to get a 100 watt Marshall or anything.
Apparently I need to keep my eye on eBay more. I'm trying to sell some things, and in pricing some stuff I saw an amazing blunder on the part of someone. First, the item was a fairly rare mail-in promo from Pepsi. I've seen these things new in the box go for thousands of dollars. I have one, but I played with it a lot as a kid but I could still get more than $100 for it without any problem. So this moron on eBay puts a "buy it now" price at a ridiculously low price, and in the summary says something like, "unfortunately the previous owner damaged it by putting Pepsi stickers on it." In any case, hopefully the stuff I am trying to sell goes for a good price so I can load up my Paypal account to secretly buy other things on eBay. Oops, did I say that out loud?
So we're kind of on a limited spending budget because we'd like to save up to buy a bigger house in an area with a nicer school. I should get a refund from taxes this year, I will get a bonus although I've been told it's a lower percentage than last year (but my promotion last year put me in a higher bracket so it may be a wash or a slight increase?) I also am able to save up some extra money because of the small promotion, the lack of a car payment as of last fall, and refinancing my current house to lower my payment. However, I do feel like the whole keeping up with credit cards thing is really tough and especially after Christmas it seems like the balances get unreasonably high. I've also bumped up my 401K contribution. The end result is that I feel like we're falling behind, despite the fact that I make really good money. Basically I feel guilty if I make impulse buys, despite the fact that we waste a lot of money in areas that are less symbolic like groceries. In any case, I hope to have enough saved in in the next year or two to buy a house, and to be able to start buying stuff I want again without feeling like an asshole. Also, when my boys are older we won't have a big pre-school fee hanging over our heads.
As an aside to this, my dad's "estate" has finally been settled. I hate being specific, but let's say I have around $2,000 out of it. It's my money and my money alone. I'd like to use it in some way that would serve his memory as well as benefit me. My dad's interests were drinking, womanizing, fishing, camping, drinking, listening to loud music, drinking, having a weird sense of humor, and drinking while listening to loud music on a camping trip while womanizing. While my wife is generally understanding, I'd prefer not to test the waters with the whole womanzing aspects. I do drink, but for some reason I'm immune to the whole "alcoholism" thing. I would like to go camping, but my kids are really too little for me to do it on my own (and my wife will not sleep in a tent, ever.) I don't have that much interest in fishing, but unless I use the money to make a down payment on a boat I don't see a way to use it there as well. So that basically leaves me with the weird sense of humor and music parts. I've considered buying a nicer guitar than what I have once I've settled into more or less having a preference. I won't spend it on a boutique amp, with one exception that I've looked into but never got a response from the guy that makes them. However, my wife suggests that I put the money toward a vacation to Disney World (realistically, it's less than half, but it would be a good chunk toward affording it.) I'm not really sure which is better, so that's why I've created the poll.
So as I mentioned above, I've tried to stay out of having an interest in politics because it's very frustrating and impossible to fix things at this time. I still think things are much worse off than most Americans seem to think, and I'm thinking that the end result is going to involve really bad things happening to a lot of people, although I don't know if within my lifetime or not. It feels like our society is balanced on the pointy end of a needle, and that it's wobbling quite a bit already. I don't know what will happen, how it will happen or when, but I generally don't have a positive feeling about society in general. Maybe it's delusional, but I've put my focus instead on trying to improve things for myself and my family while the rest of the majority out there do their stupid shit. It feels like our society has basically closed itself off to actually getting things accomplished and improving things in general, which to most people seems like a form of social Darwinism but to me feels more like it would be related to the second law of thermodynamics instead. We're fighting over the fumes without realizing that we've actually run out of gas.
I forgot to mention that I may be on set in a scene of a movie this week. Some day I should learn to write a screenplay, because I have a great idea for a western. I should go ahead and detail out the plot sometime because something like this has never been made. To be both clarifying and confusing at the same time, imagine a mashup between Django Unchained and Shanghai Noon. Yeah, that's not really all that much like what I was thinking about, but it's a cool idea too. I can imagine how hilarious it would be for Jamie Fox to mass murder a bunch of rich white people while Jackie Chan is comically fighting Samuel L. Jackson on a ladder that is somehow balanced on the back of a bull running toward a cliff.
Anyway, proofreading and editing is for pansies, so I should get back to work now. I really do work more when I telecommute (thanks weather!) so I should get back to it now instead of ruining my record when working from home.
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