Joe's New Blog

Nothing special, this is just my third effort at writing a blog about my life and what goes on in it: Hobbies, cooking, work, maybe the occasional book or DVD review, and so forth. Nothing really noteworthy, but this is sort of a little subset of my world...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 19 of 365

I often forget that the thoughts running through my head are not usually of all that much interest to others. In fact, they're often outright boring. So I guess I should just work on answering the questions asked and not bothering to yammer on about the boring shit that I think about afterward. It would also be good for me to find other people to talk to...

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 18 of 365

I'm in a rather melancholy mood today. I find myself wondering what my life could have been like if I'd taken advantage of any of the opportunities I've been given, if I'd actually worked even a fraction of the time that I've spent sitting around doing nothing, or if I'd actually tried to do something instead of spending all my effort explaining reasons why I wouldn't or couldn't or shouldn't do it.

And rather needless to say after all of that, I really haven't done very much with my day today...

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 17 of 365

Today at work was almost exactly as slow as yesterday. A total of two rides on the driving side, neither of which was even half an hour. I did pay the electric bill and my car loan today, which is good. On the other hand, I didn't really do very much at all with my music, with computer programming, or with trying to find a new job. All of which are bad. So now I'm sitting here, nearly midnight, feeling angry and frustrated with myself again. I don't know how to boost myself out of this rut that I find myself in, over and over again...

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 13 of 365

It's not been a really great day on a personal note today. I seriously upset the better half last night, and I'm not all that sure that we're going to be able to work things out in the long term. I do hope so, though. I don't want to go through the whole separation thing all over again...

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 12 of 365

Very, very early in the morning, I wrote a note back to the guys who practice down in Azle. They sent me a list of about ten cover songs they were working up, and I asked them if they were planning to stay strictly cover, or if there were any plans of creating any new material. I told them that I wouldn't mind driving an hour to play covers and create some new material, but that I wasn't all that interested in driving an hour each way to play in a cover band. Haven't heard back from them yet.

This morning, I got an e-mail back from the first guy who replied to my ad. His place is in Carrollton, and when I originally wrote to him, I mentioned that I didn't have a lot of gear here at the apartment. So he finally wrote back and said that he'd be good with practicing at his place this weekend. It's a little further than I really wanted to go, especially with a couple of other possibilities for the weekend, but I guess I'll see if I can fit him into the schedule.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for my work clothes to dry. Fortunately, they don't seem to care if I show up to work a little late. About the only thing they seem concerned about these days is my not getting any overtime...

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Day 11 of 365

Not too terribly much of interest today. I mentioned to the girlfriend that I still hadn't heard back from the accounting department about my screwed up W-2, so she called them from her phone (the main switchboard). Oddly enough, the same guy who doesn't ever seem to answer the phone picked up for her. And when I talked to him, he asked me how much effect the incorrect entry was going to have on my taxes. I told him that it wouldn't have much monetary effect, but that I couldn't e-file with that entry on the form. So he told me that I should just ignore it. I think I'm going to talk to his boss and see what the corporate policy is on telling employees that they should deliberately falsify their tax returns.

After work today, I talked to the drummer from Pilot Point who e-mailed me in response to my ad. I'm not really sure if I care to join that group, but it was hard to say no to the guy, he talked so damned fast. In any case, he's going to talk to the rest of the members about getting together on Saturday. Maybe I'll be there, maybe I won't.

I also got a response from one of the ads I replied to earlier this week. It looks like the pair of guitarists near Fort Worth are actually near it, but more toward the other side from me. So it would be about an hour's trip each way to get there. And it looks like they're doing a bunch of covers, too.

I guess if I really want to play music with anyone, I'm going to have to start learning some more covers than what I know now. Either that or I'm going to have to start singing my own material. Seems that I could probably find more people if I have songs that are completely ready except for them to step in and play their parts. I don't know if I can manage that side of things, though. Singing out loud is hard for me to do in front of people. Of course, playing covers just doesn't appeal to me much, so I guess maybe singing will be the lesser of two evils...

I didn't do nearly all the stuff I wanted after work, as usual. I did get Kala's litter box cleaned out. Tomorrow morning, I think I'll go upstairs and grab a box of books to take down to Half Price Books after work. Guess I should call them and see how late they're open first, though. Anyway, plenty to do tomorrow...

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 10 of 365

Work today was just the usual. Not too terribly busy, but I had enough driving to keep me from sitting around being totally bored.

Unfortunately, around the time I was heading out to lunch, I got a phone call from the guitarist I was supposed to play with this evening. He had to clean out the storage space we were going to use for practicing, and it was apparently in a little worse shape than he recalled. So we're going to try to reschedule for sometime later in the week.

In other music news, I got another response to my ad today. This one was from a guy in Pilot Point (half an hour away) looking for a bass player for their country band. He sent me a list of the tunes they were playing today: nineteen cover songs, of which I think I've played maybe two of them once or twice. I haven't replied to him yet. The whole reason I put up an ad trying to form a band is because I don't really want to be the one person walking into the room not knowing any of the material. And that, of course, would be the exact position I'd be in. Plus I don't particularly care to drive an hour round trip, unload all my gear, and play a couple dozen songs that I don't know and/or don't particularly care about.

I did do a little work on cleaning up the right-hand keyboard part on Joey's song, but I need to work harder on getting that done. I was very gung-ho about getting some musical stuff done today while I was filing at work, but as usual, I wound up not having the motivation once I actually got home.

I did do a couple of things when I got home, though. I took the recycling down to the drop-off, which is the first time that's been done in well over a month. And I emptied the dishwasher. Unfortunately, after that I pretty much just sat around and watched hockey. I still haven't cleaned Kala's litter box, which I meant to do this weekend. And I would really like to clean out some of the crap in the upstairs room so I can have a quasi-studio set up pretty much all the time. I know that I've tried that before, and it doesn't always work for me, but at least it'll be better than the situation is now, where I don't even get my instruments out of their cases because I don't want the dog to chew on them, and I'm too lazy to put them back away when I'm done. I really need to work on getting my shit together...

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 9 of 365

I've received three replies to the ad I placed on Craigslist looking for musicians. I've talked to two of them, and the third I sent an e-mail back to but haven't heard anything else back from. I'll give him a call tomorrow. Tomorrow evening, I'm going to play bass with Morris, who is a primarily psychedelic guitarist here in Denton. On Sunday, I'm tentatively meeting with Richard, who seems to be a jam-band type guitarist from somewhere down toward Fort Worth. I'm not sure if he's the same Richard that Joey tried to get in touch with before. If so, it might wind up being one of those things that never winds up working out. I guess I'll see what happens later in the week.

Aside from the musical stuff, I didn't do all that much this evening. I vacuumed the upstairs bedroom, which was pretty encrusted with cat hair. And I emptied the dishwasher when I got home. Aside from that, it was mostly hockey. I really need to finish working on the tracks that Joey and I recorded. A project for tomorrow...

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 8 of 365

It's been a drizzly, wintry sort of day today. We took Ernie down to his puppy class this morning. It was all right, but he was really wanting to go play with the other puppies a lot more than usual. I was starting to get rather annoyed with him by the end of the class. Now he's just lying in my dirty clothes next to the side of the bed, sleeping peacefully like some kind of darling little angel. I know better, though. Little demon-dog...

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home and picked up a few little things that we needed. I got a frozen lasagna for lunch. It wasn't all that great, but it wasn't awful, either. I really need to start cooking more often again, but my heart just really hasn't been in that, like so many other things recently...

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 7 of 365

It was a long and fairly boring day today. I got up early to go to work, which is never a great way to begin a weekend. Work itself was slow. I think it was the slowest Saturday that I've worked at the dealership. Not that I've worked all that many of them, but of the four hours I was there, I think I spent almost two full hours just sitting around doing nothing. Of course that doesn't make any of the service advisors all that happy, because they're paid on commission. Oh well.

After work, it was back home. I really haven't had much of a productive afternoon or evening. I did vacuum the upstairs hallway, but I didn't clean the bedroom or clean Kala's litter box like I should have. I also put together the dresser that the girlfriend picked up for me at Ikea. It's a little smaller than she expected, but I guess I'll be able to make do.

Mostly this evening was spent watching hockey. The playoffs are in full swing, and it seems like it's going to be a pretty tight playoff season this year. Seven of the series are tied at one game apiece, and the other series has only had one game played so far. But even in that series, it was the lower seeded team that won the game. So it seems that there's a fair amount of parity in the league now. That's a good thing, of course.

I finally posted an ad on Craigslist looking for other musicians to start a band. I also found a couple of ads looking for bassists in or near Fort Worth. That's a little further than I'd really like to go, but I guess I'm not likely to find very much around Denton. I haven't responded to either ad just yet, but I'm going to do so whenever I get up and about tomorrow. I also joined a local Meetup.com group for amateur musicians. Hopefully I'll be able to meet a few people there, and maybe I'll manage to get something together on sort of a regular basis. I guess we'll see how it goes tomorrow.

For tonight, it's off to bed with me now...

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Day 6 of 365

Another fairly boring day of work today. I didn't have a whole hell of a lot of filing to do, so I managed to get a little closer to fully caught up in the file room. And driving was fairly uneventful, too. I had a couple of runs, including one that canceled when I was about 3/4 of the way to their location.

Today was Steven's last day at the dealership. I didn't get the chance to say good bye to him, as he left while I was out on a run. I guess I might hear from him some time in the future, but it wouldn't surprise me a whole lot if I didn't. Seems that I lose track of a lot of friends along the way.

Since I got home today, I've mostly just been sitting around watching hockey. I did put together a corner shelf unit that the girlfriend bought at Ikea today. We always have a bunch of crap over by the doorway, just stacked up on the stairs and the dining room table, and she's hoping that having some shelves over there will help us keep the area organized. She also bought me a three-drawer dresser for my closet, but I haven't put that together yet. I think that'll be a project for tomorrow. There are a lot of little parts to those things, and Ernie was my little helper while I was putting together the shelves. I'm sure that he'd just love to get hold of all the little parts for a dresser...

I've got to work tomorrow morning, so I guess I'll wind it up. Got to go feed the cat and get ready for bed, since I need to be up earlier than usual. We also need to take down the recycling after I get off work, and then I'd like to get some music stuff done. We'll see how the day goes...

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 5 of 365, Morning Addendum

Yesterday evening while I was driving, I met a couple of interesting people. There was one old guy who I had to pick up on the north side of town. His place was kind of a pain in the ass to get to, but it was worth the effort. It seems that he's worked for the State Department for 35 years. He's now retired, but they still sometimes call him in as a consultant. He just recently returned from Tajikistan, or however you spell that one now. I had picked up another person on the way to his place, and he was telling us a bunch of stories about places he'd been and how Denton used to be when he was a kid, 70 years ago or so. He's actually about 80 now. He's one of the ones who I wish lived further away from the dealership so the ride had been longer.

After I'd dropped him off at the service department, I had to drive down to Lewisville to pick someone up. I wasn't really looking forward to that run, because the traffic has been pretty bad for the past week or so. It turns out that the traffic was lighter than I'd expected, and I had a good trip. I was talking to the guy I picked up about how I used to work in IT, and he asked if I did any work on the side. I told him that I wasn't against a little extra work, so he took down my name and number and said he'd give me a call. It'll be nice if I can pick up a little extra cash. I'm not sure if he's wanting me to just work on a personal machine, or if it's company work. He said he works for one of the limo companies down in Dallas, so if it's company work, that could make me some interesting connections that could pay off in the future.

I was a little pissed off after I dropped him off at the dealership at about 6:20. There on the little sign-out board is another pick-up, for Lewisville. So I got to turn back around and drive through the traffic to pick up someone else. It turned out to be about five blocks away from where I'd picked up the last guy. So, with a simple phone call, the girls at the counter could have saved me probably 45 minutes of driving. But I guess I should get used to them not really having much of a clue what I do. Anyway, I got back late, and fuck 'em if I get overtime this week...

Speaking of overtime, I guess I'd better feed Kala and get Ernie put in his kennel, for it's off to work I go...

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 5 of 365

The girlfriend and I both slept in a little late this morning. It was more of an issue for her, because she needed to make up some time at work from when she was late the other day. For me, I just need to get there some time in the morning. They're more concerned that I don't get overtime than they are about me being there at any particular time.

Once I did get to work, it was pretty much the same old boring crap most of the morning. I found out that Steven, one of the porters who I like, is going to be transferring over to the Bridgeport lot beginning this weekend. So it looks like one of the few prospective friends I have around the area is gone. Figures...

I called the guy in accounting who deals with the W-2's and such, but I just got his voicemail. I talked to a couple of other people, and they said it was very unlikely that he'd call me back for a couple of days. So I'm going to call him back tomorrow morning, and every morning until he either answers or calls me back. Just another reason why I'm really not enjoying working at that place any more.

I filed for an extension on my taxes this evening, since I obviously can't file with an incorrect W-2. I still had to send the money, though. I didn't realize that it's just an extension of the time to actually send in the forms, not an extension of the time to pay. We drove down to the post office, but there weren't actually any people working there. Instead, they just had the automated postage machine. I hope that the purchase of the postage before midnight will count well enough to having sent the thing on time, but I don't really know. In any case, all they can really do is slap another fine on me, which shouldn't be all that horrible, considering how little I owe in the grand scheme of things.

More interesting stuff happened today, but I'm tired, so maybe I'll just write an entry "5A" in the morning. Off to feed Kala and go to bed now, though...

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Day 4 of 365

I went to work a little late again today, although not quite as late as yesterday. I drove up to the storage place and paid the month's rent for my unit. I also got out the microphone stands, but I found that I don't have any microphone cables in there. Which means they're probably buried in one of the boxes somewhere around the apartment. Sometimes being a total disorganized mess really sucks. But I guess that'll give me a little incentive to get upstairs and dig through the boxes a bit more thoroughly.

The day at work itself was pretty dull. I didn't have a lot of filing to do, so I managed to get a little more caught up than I've been the past few weeks. I'm still not completely caught up, but it's getting better. Unfortunately, I didn't really say more than a few words to anyone all morning, and I wound up just kind of mulling a bunch of my own negative thoughts around my head. The girlfriend told me the other day that I'm a pessimist, and that's probably a bit too true. I do try to keep a positive outlook, but lately it's been getting more and more difficult. She kept asking me what was wrong when we met up at lunch today. I guess the depression is just written all over my face...

When I got home this evening, I finally started working on my taxes. I guess I should have started earlier, because I found out that there's an error on the W-2 that I got from work. On one of the boxes for putting down contributions to retirement plans and the like, they put the code for "Employer Contributions to your Archer MSA." Since I have no friggin' clue what an Archer MSA even is, I'm guessing they marked it with the wrong code. Especially since the amount they put in that box is the exact same amount that was withheld for my Section 125 Cafeteria Plan. So tomorrow morning, I'm going to have to call the accounting office and see what they can do. I'm still going to file my taxes like normal, only with a little note indicating the problem. Hopefully I won't get audited. It's not that I've ever cheated on my taxes or anything, but it would be a royal pain in the ass trying to find the paperwork from the last few years...

On the plus side, I found out that the amount I owe on my taxes is going to only be about a third to a quarter of what I'd been expecting. So I'll still have a little bit of a cushion left in my savings. I took a full distribution of my old 401(k) from my job in Oregon, and I expected that I'd end up having to pay between five and six thousand dollars in taxes over what's already been withheld. As it turns out, the amount is only going to be about $1500. Still a big chunk of change, but a hell of a lot better than I thought. So, hopefully I'll get the little paperwork error cleared up, and then I can get things paid and move on with life.

For now, I need to go feed the little lady upstairs and then I'm going to head off to bed. No sense exhausting myself even more than I already am...

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 3 of 365

I went down to NCTC today and talked to the admissions office people. NCTC is the North Central Texas College, the local junior college. It turns out that they don't have "non-admitted" students, so I need to go through the whole admissions process. Which honestly isn't all that complicated, and doesn't cost anything in itself, but I do need to get transcripts from all the schools I've attended in the past. I already have an official transcript from high school, which I got as proof of education when I worked at the mental health agency. And even though I have a crappy academic record at my previous college, that shouldn't have any real effect. The lady I talked to said that they don't look at the grades or anything; it's just a matter of whether I've taken and passed some of the basic courses, the English and math and such. The problem I have is that the second school I went to was a vocational college that went out of business. I dropped out before I really had a transcript to speak of, but I also got federal financial aid. So I don't want to just skip it and have it come up because they check the financial aid records. On the other hand, I have no idea how to get hold of the transcript, if there even is such a thing. I guess I'll talk to the admissions people again and see what they have to say about the situation. In any case, I have the application pretty well completed, thanks to a slow evening at work.

Tomorrow, I need to go down to the storage place and pay for my storage unit. While I'm there, I need to see if I can find out where all my microphone cables are. If I can't find them down there, I guess I'll have to dig around the apartment further to try to find them. Or, as a last ditch, I might have to go buy some from the guitar shop down the road. Hopefully it won't come to that.

In addition to paying the storage unit rent, I really need to get off my butt and get my taxes done. I've been procrastinating because of the amount of money I'm going to owe, but I can't procrastinate too much longer. I guess that'll be one of the primary chores for tomorrow, along with unloading the dishwasher.

I'm a little annoyed with the fact that I have to work this Saturday. It was all right working Saturdays when I was getting paid a little overtime for them, but now the management doesn't want to pay any overtime at all. So they want me to come in late one or two days this week to make up for the fact that they're fucking up my weekend. That seems awfully fair. Just another reason to look harder for a new job...

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Daily Journal: Day 2 of 365

Both yesterday and today, I wound up doing very little that I really wanted to get done. Yesterday, I watched the next two episodes of Life on Discovery. I've been enjoying the videography on the show, but it seems that the show is intended for children or something. It reminds me a lot of those Disney nature films they used to show us in grade school. It's got the symphonic music that reflects the expected mood of the audience. The music gets all happy and bouncy when baby animals are playing, or when the prey animal escapes from the predator. When the predator is stalking, tense, dramatic music is used. Overall, the soundtrack is very well done, but a little cliched for my liking. I also don't really care for Oprah Winfrey's narrative style. It's touch to describe, but she seems to be almost breathing too hard at times. I greatly preferred Sigourney Weaver's narration of Planet Earth. I'll still watch the last week's episodes next Sunday, but it's certainly not one of those series that I'll be looking to purchase.

After watching Life, we watched The Informant! The girlfriend and I expected it to be a pretty straightforward comedy based on the previews that we'd seen. Instead, it turned out to be a drama that was based on a true story. It did certainly have it's comedic moments, and they pulled in a number of comedians for various parts, but it definitely wasn't the slapstick sort of movie we'd expected. I won't spoil it for people who haven't seen it before, but if you're expecting a real gut-busting laugh-fest, you're probably going to be disappointed.

I did manage to clean up the left-hand part of the keyboard part that Joey and I had recorded. It shouldn't really take me all that long to clean up the other part, and then I need to record a bass part to the piece. I had planned to do a bit of that stuff today, but I didn't.

Instead, after work today, I went to the grocery store and then took Ernie on a long walk. We walked up to Denton's square. We didn't meet a whole lot of people, but those we did meet seemed to think he was a cute little guy. That's not at all unusual. After we got home, we had the dinner that the girlfriend made. It was Latin pork chops with black beans. They really tasted a little more Indian than Latin, but they were still good. Since dinner, I've been pretty much zoning out and watching some more crap on TV. And now it's late and it's time for bed.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to go down to NCTC and inquire about summer classes...

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Re-trying the whole daily journal thing: 1 of 365

So I pretty much fell behind on doing the daily journals. And I've decided to go ahead and restart the attempt. Today the girlfriend and I went down to Petsmart for Ernie's puppy training class. We really haven't been doing the homework like we should've been doing, but he still got by okay in the class. Today we were just trying to work on coming when called with various distractions and such going on, as well as coming when called and then sitting on command while still coming toward us. We really need to try to work on his training more, while he's still a puppy. The longer we let him go, the harder it's going to be.

Yesterday I went down to Roanoke and played bass a while with Joey, the drummer who I played with a few times before. We mostly worked on a song that he's been trying to write on keyboard. I'd really like to find some other musicians to get together with on a more regular basis. I responded to a couple of Craigslist ads a week or so ago, but I never heard back from any of them. I'm going to try to write up my own ad to post this evening. Another of the many things I should be doing.

We watched "Fantastic Mr. Fox" on DVD this afternoon. The girlfriend rented it after we left Petsmart. It was a pretty cute movie. She said it was far different than the book, which I've never read. Not having any preconceptions of it, I thought it was a pretty good movie, especially for kids.

After that, I watched a baseball game. The Mariners got pretty well crushed by the Rangers. Not really sure how the baseball season's been going so far, as I've only seen the one game and a little bit of a game yesterday. I guess it really shouldn't matter all that much to me, since I have a lot more stuff to do aside from watching baseball all day.

So, on that note, I guess I'll try to clean up the little keyboard recordings that Joey and I did, maybe add some more bass to it, and dump it down to MP3 so I can e-mail it back to him...

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