December 31, 2005


Can any of you help me to add an item to outlook that will pop up every day instead of just one day? I really am unfamiliar with the non-email parts of this program, but I know a lot of you use this at work and might have the answer.


Posted by Andy at 10:55 PM to the Computers category | Comments (4)


I'm sitting here in my basement flipping through channels after watching the Terps roll over a pre-conference season team and I've just happened to stop briefly on the "Kristi Yamaguchi Friends and Family" skating special. Seems like a pleasant and harmless way to end out the holiday for a young family still off work, and it is, but just as the show started, the camera panned around and wound up resting on a big McCormick logo printed in the ice smack in the center of the arena. I hate this sort of thing, and it is absolutely everywhere as you all know.

This sort of advertising cheapens the entire concept of harmless family tv. First off, this logo takes the place of pretty artwork that otherwise could be featured, such as a snowy gingerbread house or something fitting the theme of friends and family, and more importantly it makes me feel like some sort of corporate shill just for having watched for five minutes. The same could be said for sporting events or just about anything else these days, but there is something particularly offensive about such a crass advertising display in the context of such a harmless family show.

If I happen to be in a supermarket over the next few weeks and have a choice between a McCormick product and a competitor's item of similar quality, you can bet I'm going with the competitor. Happy New Year McCormick.

Posted by Andy at 04:21 PM to the General category & Politics category | Comments (4)

December 30, 2005

My Card Line is Complete

I just finished the final bookmark design to complete my line of cards, bookmarks and bag designs, and now I need a name for the whole set. The only thing I've been able to think up is "God in Nature", but surely someone can do better than that. I want to get a name soon so I can copyright everything as a set for eventual Ebaying or site sales.

So, what's a good name for my line? You can view many of the designs in this post on the overall family section of this site if you are not familiar with the theme of my work.

Posted by Andy at 12:06 AM to the General category | Comments (5)

December 28, 2005

Stock Reports

Like most if not all of you, I have money in stocks managed by a couple companies. They seem to do a reasonable job (I haven't lost any money since I've kept any kind of track), but I cannot grasp why they send so much paper to my house. They send bi-weekly reports, quarterly reports with glossy color paper, duplicate envelopes... you name it, they send it. Doesn't that kind of thing cost a lot of money? Heck, I know it does through my printing work. I have opted to receive internet reports from one, but I still get stuff from them on a lesser scale, again on top quality paper.

I have to wonder how much more my stocks could make if they spent their money investing rather than printing. Most of the information I receive is essentially over my head unless I want to do serious research into the operations of these companies, and I imagine most customers don't even open the packaging in the first place. I tend to have a little more faith in corporations than many I know, but this paper investment seems like a frivolous expense and a bad business practice as well. I plan to send some angry email about this in the near future.

Do any of you have the same experience or issues?

Posted by Andy at 12:29 AM to the General category | Comments (7)

December 26, 2005

Merry Arbor Day!

Shoot, that's not right. I keep mixing holidays up...

We all had a pretty nice day here at Rancho Mosmillero, starting with a nice breakfast here and ending with dinner next door at Aunt Mary's as usual. Thanks guys for hosting us for dinner and for the gift certificates which, with any luck, I'll be able to blow on my friends tomorrow to some degree at least.

I've been sitting here watching James Bond movies since dinner, but I'm pretty sure it's time to wrap things up and head to bed, because mom just came into the kitchen, took my water bottle and turned the light off all without noticing I was there. Moms and sleep medications just don't mix it seems.

Merry Christmas everybody.

Posted by Andy at 01:17 AM to the General category | Comments (0)

December 24, 2005

Sleep Meds Strike Back

Under the advice of my doctor, I have been trying out taking my sleep medication twice per night, once just before bed and again after several hours of sleep. Well, it's really not going well at all. I feel like I haven't slept in days again and my mind is wrapped in a foggy haze, which was my concern at the outset. I just wish I didn't have to feel this way on Christmas Eve. If you read this and can give me a distraction or even just a lift, give me a buzz or leave a comment.

Posted by Andy at 07:12 PM to the Health category | Comments (0)

December 22, 2005

100 Things About Me

I got the idea for this post from another personal blog I stumbled upon with a little Firefox plugin called, shockingly, StumbleUpon. I found this woman's post to be engaging and informative, and decided then and there to start my own. Over the past two months I have added little bits and pieces to this post, and now it is finally ready for my adoring public*!

*The definition of "adoring" is subject to change without notice, and my "public" may or may not consist of a group of 2 people.

  1. I am a "realistic idealist." I was awfully good at attaining ideals till I got sick. Now they tend to get in the way sometimes.
  2. I am Christian, Methodist specifically, and do not take my faith lightly. I probably fit more neatly into the Lutheran church due to the level of formality they tend to choose, but I do not so much fit as a Catholic because I do not believe in the veneration of the virgin Mary as seems to take place within that church to a strong degree. If either of my Catholic priest cousins happen to read this, leave a comment. I'd love to discuss this issue in detail with either or both of you.
  3. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Neurally Mediated Hypotension, both to a degree that prevent my leading a normal life at this time.
  4. I am a political moderate. I relish the opportunity to engage in debate and am not afraid to change my mind for good reasons.
  5. I find it difficult and frustrating to discuss politics with the vast majority of people on a level that has any intellectual merit. This has nothing to do with the intelligence of people really. Somehow, politics just works differently for whatever reason.
  6. My athletic ability should probably be classified as average, or just above average. I am a good or sometimes best player on something like a church team, but am a bit below average on a school sports team. I excel in coordination-oriented athletic activities as opposed to those requiring raw strength, speed, or aggressiveness.
  7. I have, for some reason, never liked almost any kind of popular music. I don't hate it, I just really get nothing out of it.
  8. I don't drink or smoke. I now have good medical reasons for not doing so, but I wouldn't have done either anyway.
  9. I have never had a pack mentality.
  10. I like good food, like cooking, and like trying new dishes.
  11. I am not particularly good at trivia games.
  12. I have savant-like Mario-kart driving abilities.
  13. I do not truly have a favorite song. I like a great many things on different merits, some of which you can listen to in my music category
  14. I am far more open-minded than I appear at a glance.
  15. I love Terps basketball. I like the Ravens, Redskins, and Orioles and watch a healthy amount of tennis, but Terps basketball trumps all the rest.
  16. I am good with arts and crafts, and I don't think my masculinity is threatened by it either.
  17. My favorite show is The Simpsons, but only until 1999. The last 7 years may as well be a different series entirely.
  18. Despite the fact that I'm a pretty conservative guy when it comes to most values, I love the show South Park and watch it regularly.
  19. I would rather invent a silly game and invite people over to play than go to conventional party.
  20. I love being on the water, but I prefer non-motorized means of achieving this goal, such as canoeing.
  21. I am afraid of spiders. Well, the word is really revolted. I don't think they'll hurt me, I am just disgusted by them.
  22. When I started writing on this blog I figured I would rarely update it. Now it's just part of what I do, and I think it has helped me get better at writing through CFS to a limited degree. Actually, I used to be really private, and my health has essentially forced me to open up, so it's something of a circle. I think that's a good thing, but I'm probably still fairly private by most measures.
  23. I am fascinated with the ancient (western) world. There is something incredibly visceral about it, in writing, art, warfare, you name it. I'm sure the ancient east is interesting as well, but I haven't really spent any time looking into it.
  24. I prefer reading fiction that is about something greater than just a story. The Dune series is my favorite line of books. Ender's Game is right up there as well.
  25. I feel intellectually superior more than I would like, and I feel bad about it.
  26. I believe in doing what is right despite personal consequences or even overriding futility, and I back it up regularly.
  27. My favorite kind of ice cream is lemon. Not lemon sherbet, mind you. Lemon ice cream. They are quite different.
  28. I arrive at conclusions by examining logical extremes first and working to the middle. I have a lot of trouble translating my views to others using this method, because most people hear the first logical extreme and then label me without truly listening to the rest.
  29. I hate, and I mean hate slasher-type horror movies.
  30. I believe in basing relationships of all kinds with respect first.
  31. Frustration is one of the most challenging thing I have to deal with, mainly because of my present health situation.
  32. I was never a cool kid, and I never much cared either except for a brief period in 8th grade. I think I am the cool kid in a church setting if such a thing is possible.
  33. My style of humor is typically dry and tends to focus on blowing things out of proportion to the point of absurdity, such as suggesting that someone fail out of school so they can come over and hang out.
  34. I have blue eyes, but my right eye has a little sliver of brown near the top of the iris that you can't see unless you take a close look.
  35. I love taking walks but can't really handle them anymore due to my having NMH. On the plus side, I will like them (and a great many other things) even more when things turn around to any degree.
  36. I think it is reasonable to classify myself as a classical vocal music expert in most circles.
  37. I hate olives. I have tried to like them but it just doesn't work.
  38. I never was really much into having heroes, but I think Pete Sampras counts as one. He set the record for consecutive weeks as the #1 men's tennis player while coping with a blood condition that sapped his stamina.
  39. I formed two clubs in my youth, one in elementary school and the other in middle school.
  40. I am a perfectionist, and I'm not sure why that is not considered a positive trait. I suppose that to me, electing to do a job poorly is much like cooking a chicken half way through and saying that's the only way to do it. Think I'm wrong? Leave a comment with your reasoning.
  41. I feel pretty confident that I handle adversity as well as is humanly possible.
  42. I gain both confidence and frustration from the realization that nobody I know has really seen me at my best, and that most have not seen me anywhere near it.
  43. I like cheese-flavored goldfish crackers better than Cheese-Its or similar products. This little revelation just changed your life, didn't it? Darn right it did.
  44. I have only gotten really angry maybe three times in my life, but when it happens, the look in my eye scares people.
  45. I always used to say I didn't care about things but I think, in truth, that I cared about everything. Maybe it was just a way of handling stress, or a way to dismiss high school music group politics as the garbage they were.
  46. I am an organizer and leader, but in a somewhat atypical way. I think my organizational ability and decisiveness in doing it makes me a leader by default, though some of this has changed since my health problems arose.
  47. I don't lie to people, and I don't avoid the responsibility of telling a hard truth to someone if it needs to happen. I even have a hard time sometimes saying something friendly about something I don't like, such as a musician or band, in the course of ordinary conversation, but I'm working on that.
  48. I love classical recorder music.
  49. It bothers me that I cannot cogently support my arguments and opinions much of the time despite the fact that I know it's not my fault that I am unable to do so during those times.
  50. I am very good at using my physical momentum to my advantage, which has allowed me to continue with sporting activities through CFS problems.
  51. I like learning new skills, and I do my best to master them through whatever means are at my disposal. For instance, I have picked up some decent knife skills from watching the Food Network despite the fact that I can't cook but once or twice a month.
  52. I love the Romano dressing at Pizza Hut. It is the best salad dressing ever.
  53. I built this family website in the hopes it would bring people closer together, and also so I could learn about other family members despite my health problems.
  54. I have a line of Christian note cards. I want to sell them on Ebay or on a business site I'm working on for myself, but I need to wait for my copyright papers to be processed first.
  55. I enjoy nature photography.
  56. I play D&D. That's right, D&D. It's fun, and you would like it too if you gave it a try. I am about to start a new campaign of my own devising based in an ancient Mediterranean-style setting but with magic and the like.
  57. I have gotten a lot of people to play D&D, including Miss New York from a few years back, who also happens to be on the soap, Passions right now.
  58. I seem to possess an unnatural talent at hitting a tennis ball so that it clips the net and falls over the other side. I can't do it on command, but it happens a lot.
  59. My favorite restaurants are the Cheesecake Factory, Listas, and the Cheshire Crab, even though I can't stand the head chef/manager of the last one.
  60. I was really into legos as a kid. I even won some prizes in local competitions. I think my legos are still around somewhere, but I'm not sure. I would love to have them for my kids some day, because they just don't make them the same way anymore.
  61. Mary Poppins is my favorite musical. I suppose it is not technically a musical since it was never performed on a stage, but it still counts.
  62. La Bohème is my favorite opera, partly because I was in it, but mostly because it flows together so brilliantly and passionately.
  63. I love Handel oratorio, but despite that Mendelssohn's Elijah remains my favorite oratorio of them all. Much like La Bohème, Elijah connects each recitative and aria beautifully and tells an epic story in an epic way.
  64. I think I was built for marriage. I have never been remotely afraid of either the commitment or the compromise.
  65. I taught myself how to program in Basic when I was about 11.
  66. I want to sing classical or jazz music professionally. I am pretty sure I could do it, but my health prevents it for now. On the plus side, I still take voice lessons. I feel that anything I can learn now will get a ton better with better health, because I have to fight through so many hurdles to get a good result currently.
  67. I like eggs, but they make me slightly queasy. This only happens if they are served alone, not when they are mixed into things.
  68. I am a good table tennis player.
  69. When I go out to eat, I like to get a cherry coke with my meal, but only if they mix it in-house as opposed to using "Cherry Coke" from a bottle.
  70. I like to know where people stand when it comes to relationships of any kind, and I imagine there is pretty much no question about where I stand from others' viewpoints.
  71. I think Keanu Reeves is a terrible actor. Wait, this one might not count, because everybody thinks this, right?
  72. When I face a setback, my instinct is to try to counteract it by doing something positive.
  73. I have never at any point in my life been tempted by drugs of any kind. In fact, I have never even been offered drugs of any kind. I think people can just tell what I'm about and choose not to bother.
  74. I have liked computer games since I was a kid playing Commodore 64 games at my friend G.B.'s house. These days I play them quite a lot in order to stay busy when I don't feel well. My preferences tend toward roleplaying and strategy games, but despite that, my favorite games of all time are Commodore Soccer and Mariokart 64.
  75. I watch the movie White Christmas every holiday season at least once, and I seem to be able to find it without even looking ahead some of the time.
  76. I live on the water in Pasadena, MD. I love the safety, scenery and general friendliness of the area, but otherwise Pasadena isn't where I ideally belong.
  77. I often assume teaching roles for all sorts of things, but at the same time I would be unlikely to take a position as a classroom-style teacher.
  78. Despite the fact that I face the most adversity out of the people I happen to know, I am always the last person to give up on anything and am usually the first to try again.
  79. I want to learn how to dance. I don't much care about the club kind of dancing, but I love other "ballroom" types and have had enough experience with choreography to think I might enjoy swing dancing too.
  80. I haven't played basketball for a while due to a lack of participants, but when I did I was always the guy who would make shots more when people tried to distract me with a cheap yell or push. There's something really satisfying about seeing a shot go through the basket when your back is flat on the court.
  81. When given the choice, I tend to pick even numbers over odd ones.
  82. I love to go outside when everyone is asleep and look at the sky. I'm definitely a night person.
  83. You may often encounter me with some form of beard, but here's the truth of it - I hate having one. I only have a beard when I am too tired to shave. It even bothers me when people comment on it any way at all, because it calls attention to my being too tired to get rid of it.
  84. What a lot of people don't realize is that the reason I can't do a lot of activities is not because of an immediate difficulty, but rather the repercussions of that activity the next day and beyond. This can easily escalate into a snowball effect that can do me long-term or even permanent harm. So, when I can do something like play tennis but not get on the roof and clean out the gutter, it is not because I physically am incapable of getting up there, it is because of the price of doing so the next day. Tennis happens to have a far lower price attached to it than most daily activities. It still has a price, as does everything, but it is low enough to make the reward worth attaining.
  85. I see a sort of physical manifestation of my faith in God through nature.
  86. I have never really doubted my Christian faith. I question it on an intellectual level, but my actual core faith has never truly been shaken.
  87. I can't get enough cream of broccoli soup.
  88. I am fiercely and most often permanently loyal.
  89. I am a fully sanctioned and government licensed healthologist. What, you want to see my credentials? Well, you can't. They're at the dry cleaners.
  90. I cannot recall having ever changed my hairstyle.
  91. I only started watching a lot of tv when my health situation entered the scene.
  92. I don't change the way I act around different people.
  93. There are few things better than a freshly formatted and "cleanly-installed" computer. Since you will now never speak to me again, I shall take this moment to say how much our relationship has meant to me. I will miss you all.
  94. I can scat, and I dare say I am rather good at it. I would like to pursue training in order to expand my flexibility with more modern jazz forms, but that is unlikely to happen. Ah well.
  95. I am sometimes too curious about how people's minds work for my own good.
  96. I used to be the "nickname guy", meaning that I used to give everyone nicknames, and they would stick. My powers have faded over the years, but I still have a bit of a niche in specific situations.
  97. I am competitive, in a reasonable way I think.
  98. I'm a really religious person, but looking back, I don't think I have ever really gotten much out of a sermon. I get a ton out of reading though, so I suppose that's ok.
  99. I wear contact lenses. I really need to get a new pair of glasses for those emergency times, since the only pair I have is my first pair from '92 or something.
  100. I whistle and hum all the time, and music is always running through my head.
Posted by Andy at 11:16 PM to the 100 Things category | Comments (10)

December 17, 2005

White Christmas

... and now, not a half hour removed from family happenings at Dave and Terry's, I am sitting down to watch White Christmas, which I do every year around this time. What better way to celebrate Christmas than with gratuitous song and dance numbers?

Come to think of it, White Christmas is an incredibly educational film. Here's what I've learned over the years:

  • All women go to bed wearing shiny red lipstick.
  • A woman's waistline measures 3 inches in circumference on average.
  • If I am undergoing some sort of personal crisis and happen to be in a stage company, I can be confident there will be sets and backup dancers on hand designed to help me sing my way through the crisis. If these sets are not immediately available they will be constructed in less than 24 hours.
  • If I want to get married, all I have to do is sing my prospective fianc�e a song and give her a glass of milk. This will work even if I have only known her for a few days, and good relations from the outset are irrelevant.

Are there other choice bits of wisdom you have gleaned from this classic? Enlighten me by leaving a comment.

Posted by Andy at 08:02 PM to the TV and Movies category | Comments (0)

Stocking Stuffers '05

We all just got back from the annual family "stocking stuffers" day held at Dave and Terry's place, and had a really nice time as usual. This year we switched back to a name-drawing system and each purchased a gift for one other family member. I feel this method is vastly superior to our old $1 item for everyone system, which resulted in a lengthy process that I thought got a bit monotonous.

Thank you Dave and Terry for hosting this event. See you all in a week!

Posted by Andy at 07:45 PM to the General category | Comments (0)

December 16, 2005

Elections in Iraq

Others have posted more profound sentiments than I on this matter, but I feel I would be remiss if I failed to mention today's successful elections in Iraq. Congratulations, soldiers and citizens alike, for enduring and fighting against the constant threat of death in order to get us to today. Now the task falls to our Congress to stay committed to the cause long enough to get this new government on its feet, for it is surely worth American blood to affect such profound change in such a troubled area of the world.

Posted by Andy at 12:31 AM to the Politics category | Comments (0)

December 15, 2005

Weather Delay

My appointment with Dr. Shor in Virginia today was cancelled due to inclement weather. I don't mind so much as long as it gets rescheduled before much time passes. The concert and appointment yesterday have me pretty stretched already, and I have used today to rest quite thoroughly. Go rest!

Posted by Andy at 08:33 PM to the Health category | Comments (0)

December 14, 2005

Christmas Concert Aftermath

So, now that I've reviewed the concert itself, let me tell you what happened on the way home... Mom and I took the light rail to the Meyerhoff to avoid parking and all, and on the way home we were burned pretty hard by that decision. Unexpectedly, we had a wait about 10 minutes for the outgoing train from the concert hall, but to the surprise of the few of us on board, the train broke down at Camden Yards. We were thus stuck in the dark for at least a half hour while the conductor tried the various means at his disposal to fix the problem and then call for another train to pick us up. For a while he was unable to open the doors, but eventually we transferred to a train heading for BWI. As a result, we had to disembark in Linthicum and wait standing another 20+ minutes in the cold for the train that would finally take us back to Cromwell Station. We were even offered an opportunity to buy a pocket knife from an unkept fellow during our stopover, at which point mom began praying fervently for a safe conclusion to our evening.

We did finally make it home in one piece, but I am seriously worried about the rest of the week. I have an appointment in Severna Park tomorrow followed by an extremely important appointment with a new doc in Reston Virginia, easily two hours from here. As you all probably know by now, I don't handle car rides well at all, and tonight's debacle could jeopardize won't help that one bit. On Saturday I hope to attend a family Christmas gathering here in Pasadena, but who knows where I will land after today. Say a prayer for me if you read this.

Posted by Andy at 12:42 AM to the General category & Health category | Comments (2)

BSO / Renée Fleming Christmas

Mom and I just got back from a Christmas concert at the Meyerhoff featuring soprano soloist Renée Fleming, the preeminent soprano on the opera scene over the past several years. My friend Jordana met us there as well.

The concert was disappointing due to poor balance between soloist and orchestra, and even between the wind instruments and strings within the orchestra. For reasons beyond my reckoning, those in charge had Ms. Fleming stand in line with the first row of violins and the conductor instead of out in front. During the first half of the concert much of her performance was thus overshadowed by the orchestra, especially during several Handel arias which required a more delicate sound.

The balance improved somewhat in the second half, mostly due to the nature of the music, but several all-orchestral pieces suffered from an overpowering wind section. I must admit this surprised me immensely, as a flute was actually the culprit during the Pastoral Symphony from Handel's Messiah, which created the effect of a harmony line appearing to be the melody.

As for the quality of the music beyond balance, it was, for the most part, excellent. I felt Renée made a few unusual artistic decisions here and there, and she was slightly behind in the execution of the run passages in "Rejoice Greatly", a Messiah Christmas classic, but on the whole her expressiveness and sound quality were unsurprisingly beautiful. The audience was treated to a double encore, the last of which was a brilliant a cappella performance of Amazing Grace, easily the highlight of the evening. Had more unaccompanied music been featured in this concert, my overall assessment would likely be entirely different, but unfortunately it was just too difficult to get past the imbalances to really enjoy the music without straining to hear the featured performer.

Posted by Andy at 12:30 AM to the Music category | Comments (0)

December 12, 2005

In the Bleak Mid-winter

Nobody does Christmas like the King's College Choir. Take a moment out of your day and listen to this recording of In the Bleak Mid-winter, composed by Harold Darke.

Posted by Andy at 11:00 PM to the Music category | Comments (0)

December 10, 2005

Carol Sing 2005

Tonight we hosted our third annual Christmas carol singalong. I think it is pretty fair to say that everybody had a good time, at least after getting through the 5 verses of "Good King Wenceslas" near the beginning of the actual singing. Unfortunately, Kevin and I were unable to properly prepare "Pablo the Reindeer" for this year, but somehow everyone managed without, probably because of the great soups and cookies readily available in the kitchen. I can't get enough of that broccoli soup.

Thanks for coming, everyone.

Posted by Andy at 11:39 PM to the General category | Comments (2)

December 09, 2005

Nervous Wreck

I seem to be quite frazzled lately. I really don't have enough days to devote to downtime at this time of year, but when I have had them of late I have been upset about not being able to do anything constructive, which then leads to thinking about the possible bleak future. I've also been fairly well panicked in my dealings with people in the sense that I am concerned that my old tendencies to be too direct or confrontational might be cropping back up. The thing is, everything is probably just fine, but I'm having a hard time buying into it.

There is a silver lining to all this though, which is that this is about as bad as I get, and I'm still able to get through the day alright. I wonder if this has any connection with the nerve tightness I discussed in my last health post? I think it is less likely that than just the general fatigue combined with the heightened activity level, but you never know.

Posted by Andy at 01:24 AM to the Health category | Comments (0)

December 05, 2005


It has been gently snowing since about 2:30 today, and everything is lightly dusted and beautiful. What better time of year to have it happen? I have always loved snow, even when I had to drive in it, and I don't expect that to ever change. You can bet I'll be taking a walk later.

Posted by Andy at 05:47 PM to the General category | Comments (0)

December 02, 2005

Home Cookin' 8

We got back into the cooking groove this week with Roasted Rainbow Pepper Soup". In a word, this soup was bad. It tasted something like stewed tomatoes and the texture was unappealing. We had high hopes going in, because roasted pepper soups have the potential to be great, but no luck here. Ah well, there's always next time.

Posted by Andy at 09:38 PM to the Food category | Comments (0)

December 01, 2005

Nerve Tension

I'm entering the time of year now where nerve and muscle tightness, particularly in the head to hand area, really becomes a problem. During this time of year I frequently experience pretty major problems at social events, particularly concerts that require prolonged sitting without movement in tight confines. I have over the past few years also had serious difficulties at Super Bowl parties held by a friend of mine.

Does anyone have tips for overcoming these issues so that I can go through the next few months with less worry over disastrous outcomes? I already put myself through a pretty extensive stretching routine, but that has never been sufficient come winter.

Posted by Andy at 03:59 PM to the Health category | Comments (2)