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i a m m i k e . o r g
2012 Goals

Since the past year was not exactly ideal, I'm going to be repeating a few of the failed goals... I also have a wedding and honeymoon coming up, which pretty much takes me away from regular life for a month so I need to keep that in mind (mainly with cycling mileage).

  1. Run 1000 miles. That's less than 20 a week. This past week I did over 20 and felt pretty darn good. I think this is the year to get it.
  2. Bike 2500 miles. Yes, despite losing a month, I'm going to step it up here.
  3. Swim 50 miles. Time to get serious.
  4. Compete in a road bike race. Need to keep my fitness up over these winter months.
  5. Bench press 225. Given the amount I've been working out, I think this should be pretty easy.
  6. Go sub-19 in a 5k. I'm going to focus on shorter distances (shorter training) and higher speed as I get back into the groove. This shouldn't be too hard with some track work and base miles over the winter. Sub-18 might be possible, but let's not get carried away.
  7. Read 15 books.
  8. Review 36 spots on Yelp.
  9. Brew my own something. I'm leaning toward cider.
  10. Reach 170lbs.
  11. Write 52 blog posts (from 40). I missed a lot of details on here in the past year, but time has been hard to come by.
  12. Get total Netflix queue down to 200 (currently at 263).

Jan 02 2012 @ 3:33am
i a m m i k e . o r g
2011 - Year In Review

Already that time again? This year seems to have flown. The year was a huge mix of ups and downs and 2012 looks like it'll hold much of the same. The downs, as all of you know, are absolutely shit, but on the other hand, the highs have been some of the best of my life. It was really tough for me during the dropping of the ball last night to look fondly forward to this year, but you can't live with dread or fear... Live each day as if it's a normal one and the next one will be too. I digress...

A look back at my goals, which kind of get a free pass given the curve life was thrown from the start:

  • Run 1000 miles. I was ahead of myself on this. I probably could have done it, but I've instead been running what's comfortable and only now do I feel I'm at a point where I can run almost every day without reaggravating my injuries.
  • Bike 2000 miles. Ungh! Apparently, last month I broke the formula I use in my calculation spreadsheet and thought I had far too many miles left to achieve this (I knew it'd be a tough December to ride). Today, I corrected the error after adding my mileage for the month and came up 23 short. 1977 miles is nothing to scoff at, but... damnit.
  • Visit another country. Did it! Canada was visited as part of our cruise to Alaska. I know, Canada is a weak way to get this, but it was the west coast!
  • Bike 100 miles in a day. I didn't do this. I have no good reason why... I just never did it. I did a number of rides over 60 miles and one over 80 on a whim, but never did the 100.
  • Run a marathon. Like running 1000 miles, this was getting ahead of myself.
  • Run a sub-19 5k. I lost focus on running training this year. I think it would have been possible, but I was too busy riding bikes and swimming and stuff.
  • Compete in a bike race. I did a number of them... Placed 3rd in a team endurance race, and had several other podiums in local mountain bike races. I didn't do the road racing thing, but that was more of not registering for stuff in time / needing to keep a flexible schedule.
  • Get married (it was a joke). I think I did as well as I could. 3.5 months until the big day!
  • Acquire a 3rd regular client for my side business. Did it!
  • Read 12 books. Finished on December 28th.
  • Review 12 spots on Yelp. Did 31 and was part of the "Elite 11" squad. That'll do.
  • Get a certification. Became a Microsoft Partner via 2nd job, but that doesn't really count.
  • Maintain 170lbs. Failure, despite burning the most calories I ever have over the year. I blame this on lifting a lot more weights.

Lots of gray areas up there so I'd say I accomplished around 50%. That's far and away my worst showing ever, but I still think I did alright. Next year? Fewer goals... I think... Maybe.

Notable posts and events (I was bad about blogging regular stuff) over the past year:

Other notable items:

  • Trip tally: NC x 6, Chincoteague, San Antonio, Denver, Alaska, Seattle, Victoria (Canada), NYC, Miami, NJ.
  • Ran 349 miles (up from 279), biked 1977 miles (from 1458), swam 8.5 miles (from 10).
  • Read 12 books (from 10) with 5785 pages (from 1645). Check 'em.
  • Rated 159 Netflix items (only way I can easily calculate how much stuff I've seen over the year)... I track my Netflix stats by month and have some sweet graphs to show you if you're interested.
  • Heather and I now share a 550sqft apartment. It's awesome.

Previous yearly reviews:

I'm looking forward to 2012 with lots of hope. I hope Mom can maintain her positive outlook and stay strong, I hope Emily's follow-up test this week comes back negative, I hope Jade can stay out of the hospital and continue down the path of leading a normal life, and I hope it doesn't rain on our wedding day.

If I learned anything from this past year, it's to live without regret. Say what you need to say, do what you want to do, and don't let anything or anyone get in your way.

Jan 02 2012 @ 3:16am
i a m m i k e . o r g
Ketchup

Have had a million things going on. Some good, some great, some terrible. But I'm here, ready to do some writing, so that's what you're going to get. I apologize for the lack of form... just going with stuff as it comes to mind:

  1. Mom is doing well. We're now 11 months in. She hasn't been eating in hopes that she'll lose weight. She has lost weight, but the doctor wants to murder her and it makes us unhappy to see her eat nothing. It's a losing battle, though, so we've stopped fighting it.
  2. My niece, Emily (2 years), who was diagnosed with cancer in utero, was operated on a year ago to remove her tumor, which was found to have more or less died, and has been living a 100% normal life since, failed a test at her most recent checkup. The test indicates the worst, but there is no certainty until she has a follow-up test before the holidays. Hoping for the best here. I've been wanting to calculate the odds of having two incredibly rare cancers in a family, but haven't gotten around to it.
  3. Emily has started talking fairly well and seems to love chatting it up with Uncle Mighty and Headah. We receive a call from her almost daily, which lasts for 15+ minutes. Katie is to an age that she's disinterested in talking to folks on the phone...
  4. Addie, my newest, still unofficial niece just had her 1st birthday and is now up on two feet and scooting around like a drunken sailor. She's a real gem... It's too easy to gift "one free night of babysitting" to her parents for the holidays, but you get what you get.
  5. Wedding planning is hard. Nobody was joking about that. Regardless, we're doing really well, and are likely ahead of schedule, which rocks given we started with only six months. I'll update our site right after this: collinsandtrolan.ourwedding.com/
  6. My good friend, Chris, and his wife Melissa are moving to Seattle next week. We'll be sad to see them go, but welcome another West Coast destination. Chris' mom and sister put on an outstanding going-away party last night. Still recovering from all the grub.
  7. Work has been pretty exciting with us just releasing an iPhone version of our application. The product is in a really good space and is one-of-a-kind so we're hoping it continues to grow the way it's been going.
  8. Running has been coming back pretty well. I did a nine mile run a few weeks ago through Rock Creek and managed to get a 6:52 in at the end of my run yesterday. I've consistently been doing more than ten miles a week and my hamstrings have been perfectly fine, which leads me to believe 2012 could be a comeback year for me. I've been tacking on some good work at the gym and a light amount of cycling as well. Feeling and looking great :P
  9. Been tremendously busy with video gaming since October with the release of four must-have titles. Heather misses me, but I'm slowly getting through them all and life will soon get back to normal.
  10. Breaking Bad is possibly the best show I've ever seen. It's up there with Lost. It's about a guy who gets cancer and decides to become a drug dealer. Bizarre, yes, but great acting and writing. We're just about done with the 2nd season, have the 3rd waiting for us on Netflix, and then the 4th is currently airing (will likely be on Netflix by the time we get to it). I love watching TV the way we do :)
  11. I was made a member of the Yelp Elite Squad for my contributions over there. That not only gets me online awesome status, but also gets me invited to some "Members Only" events that are around town. Unfortunately, 2011 is over so I need to reapply for 2012 status.
  12. I set a goal of reading a dozen books this year. I started my 12th at the beginning of the month, we're 1/3 through the month, but I'm only 1/6 through the book (it's 600 pages) so I need to get working on that.
  13. Shows, shows, shows... Last Friday we saw A Christmas Carol at Ford's Theater. Outfreakingstanding. Tonight we have a Band of Horses show, Tuesday we have a Beirut show, and Friday we have a Slackers show. Week of shows is upon us! As fun as it'll be, I can't wait for it to be over and get some quality nights at home.

I think that's about it. 2011 isn't closing on all that rosy a note [Emily], but I've been getting a lot done, stayed in good shape, and Heather continues to put up with me.

Dec 11 2011 @ 2:09pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
I'm Still Here!

Didn't want to make it a month without an update... Things have been a bit of a whirlwind as of late between work, 2nd work, wedding planning, holidays, and a lot of video games.

I'll try to come up with a meaningful update in the coming days, but rest assured that I'm alive, well, and around.

Dec 02 2011 @ 7:52pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
No Love For Drugs

Disclosure: I haven't had a prescription drug in a decade. I haven't gone to the doctor for an ailment other than physical (destroyed hamstrings) in that same period. I rarely get sick, and if I do, I let my body repair naturally...  I do use over-the-counter stuff from time to time, but only if absolutely necessary for proper sleep or daily function. Typically, a medicine will expire before I've used a fraction of it... This plan has worked pretty well for me.

The thought of drugs and/or going to the "doctor" makes me sick (hell yeah, pun!). Sure, now and again someone comes down with a malady that cannot otherwise be handled naturally (think: brain cancer), but more often than not, when someone has the most minor of aches, pains, fevers, etc., they're making an appointment with the "doctor" and likely coming home with a brownish-orange bottle of chemicals.

Did you know 100k Americans die each year due to prescription drugs? At 4% of all deaths, that's a pretty high number for something that's supposed to be helping us. One could argue more than that would die without them, but I've been unable to find any literature to back that up.

How did we get to rely so heavily on prescription drugs? It's a vicious cycle, actually. Pharmaceutical companies have lots of money. They can afford big-time, effective marketing (see: the bevy of ads on TV, which tell you exactly what you need to ask your doctor for if you have an ailment). The doctors read all about these drugs in periodicals that are more or less funded by these pharmaceutical companies and their ad dollars. Editors know that if they print a piece against drugs, of which many exist, they will lose those ad dollars... They don't want that... So they don't print the negative, the doctors don't read the negative (they only have so much time for study; the major journals are likely all they get to), and all they have to go on now is heavily lobbied writing. They then prescribe based on what they've read, and the drug companies get even more money.

Do you know what the best drug for the human body is? Itself. Always has been and always will be.

You'll likely noted I've quoted the word "doctor" above. The reason for this is that most doctors aren't educated in nutrition and/or natural healing. The stats are quite sad, in my opinion.

Eat better, sleep more, put less refined crap in your body, and maybe you too can avoid the doctor's office and those magic pills that could very well kill you.

Next time you have a sore throat, please don't go reaching for the phone. Pop some vitamins, drink some water, get some rest, and feel better about not pumping your body full of foreign substances.

"Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food." - Hippocrates.

Nov 03 2011 @ 4:28pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
I Funded A Loan on Kiva

If you haven't heard of Kiva before, go here and read about it. I selected an auto mechanic from Kenya, Harison Ochar Kimori, as my man. As you can read below in "Common Questions," that means very little, but it somehow makes me sleep better knowing I didn't just give money to a faceless organization [when in actuality I kind of did... I don't know, it's better, okay?].

Kiva has been around for quite a few years now and has seemingly done a fairly good job at what they do. There have been 1/4 of a million dollars in loans funded since 2005. I think they initially targeted female entrepreneurs only, but have since added males. Regardless, 80% of the loans are to female entrepreneurs in the developing world. That's cool given how difficult it can be to be a woman in other nations...

I loaned a few hundred bucks and will be repaid in 15 payments starting in January. If all goes well, I'll likely turn that money around and fund another loan. It's a long time to wait, but what I did is fairly out of the ordinary; most folks give $25 here and there and have many loans outstanding at any one time. I wanted all my eggs in one basket to further enhance that connection I have to the loan.

Common Questions
Q: What is the return on your investment?
A: Nothing more than "it feels good" to enable somebody to support themselves and their family. In fact, the best potential outcome is a 0% return. However, 1% of all loans default. That's not to say they default for the full amount, but they default at some point. Therefore, it's safe to assume the return on my lending will be somewhere between 0 to -1%. If my lending follows the trend, over the course of my lending, I will lose my initial capital after 100 loans.

Q: Isn't that stupid? To loan money just to lose it?
A: I donate all the time. This is a miniscule amount to be "donating," and has the upside of me having a better idea of where my money [kind of] went.

Q: How do you know the money is going to the right person?
A: It isn't, really. The person has already been given their loan via a microfinancing group in their country. I am enabling that microfinancing institution to grant a loan to someone else and/or stay afloat.

Q: Are there other sites like this?
A: Yes, MicroPlace is pretty much identical, and Lending Club allows you to finance domestic loans and actually make money off of them.

Oct 14 2011 @ 12:55pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
I Was Almost Completely Sold On Spotify

I've been using it (if you want an invite, ask) more and more over the the past couple of months and was ready to tell the world that it is the way, the future, and the answer. Then it finally stopped raining here, I started getting some quality running in, broke out my iPod Shuffle, wanted to listen to all those new tunes I'd discovered on the service, and found a shortcoming.

Due to the lack of interface into the iPod, Spotify is unable to really put songs on the device. Yes, they say the can "sync," but what's really happening is you're turning your iPod into a storage disk and Spotify is copying songs onto it. However, due to licensing and this technological limitation, you can only push songs to it that you actually have "physical" copies of; the ones that you came to Spotify with. Thus, Spotify does nothing for you in this realm.

This is really only an issue with devices that don't run apps as they have their own app, which can properly handle offline playing of their music files. Unfortunately, I have no desire to carry my phone or any such device that can run their app while out on the trail as they're all large, unwieldy, and expensive.

In conclusion, if you're a regular user of a Shuffle, maybe a Nano (I don't know how they handle apps, but know they can run some), or any other pre-iOS device, Spotify does you no good.

Sidenote: I also found a bug with their "sync," which could become a serious nuisance after some time... Sean, if you read this, just ask.

Oct 08 2011 @ 4:38pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
Race: Wilmington YMCA Triathlon

I've been hinting at it for a couple years now, but it has now been done. I was a runner, picked up biking a good bit when I got injured, and have always had a slight ability to swim... Sooooo maybe I should do a triathlon?

I did a good amount of biking again this summer, but running much never made it into the schedule. My hamstrings are healed, but other parts of the lower body (hips, mainly) are still telling me to take it easy. The result? A season of well-rounded training and no focus on any one thing. I'm in good general shape, but not great at anything... seems to be the triathlon way (when not elite)... so I went and signed up for this race, which fell a week before my niece's two birthdays... A great chance to spend some time with the family get a race away from home under the belt. Having the family there was also a big plus... Despite not being able to actually see them (read on... no glasses), it was good to know I had a cheering crew.

I meant to take a look at training programs and put a solid effort into one, but that never happened so I came into the race hoping to just get through it comfortably and have some fun. For the most part, that was a success. I did do a full-length trial of the race a few weeks before, which went just okay, and also practiced my transitions a small amount, but not enough to get really good at them so I'd err on the side of doing things right rather than trying new/fast methods.

Prerace
Up at 4:30, packed the car up (everything set out the night before), ate my typical nutella and peanut butter sandwich, and was off a bit before 5. Arrived 15 minutes later, got an amazing parking spot, setup my transition area, found out that the water temperature had "miraculously" dropped eight degrees in two days (I left my wetsuit at home home when the water was 84 at the time of my departure on Friday morning), hopped on the bus to the swim, sat around for about an hour, realized I was still wearing my glasses, had to check them with my baggage, which I'd get back at the end of the race, and eventually was off.

Swim (1500m, 26:21, 31st of 42 in age group, 2:30 total lost)
A few things going against me here: 1) Swimming is my weakest sport of the three, 2) I only had one saltwater swim under my belt, 3) I had never swam in zero visibility water before, 4) we were wetsuit legal, but I didn't have one... a wetsuit is good for approximately thirty seconds every five minutes. I was not expecting a stellar time out of this 1500m adventure. What I really didn't expect is to lose complete focus only 200m in. I threw away my form, my breathing, and resigned to merely getting through it. I was near last place in my age group as I shuffled stroke types, picked up some speed on my competitors towards the end (my cardio overtook swimming ability), and finally... finished. Had I had a wetsuit, figure around 24:00, which would have been top half of the group. Through this post, I'll add up theoretical time lost due to me being a dummy or not caring to do things the right way.

Transition #1 (2:47, 36th of 42, 4:00 lost)
As swimming to biking is a transition I make fairly regularly, I was pretty set for this. What I wasn't set for was the 1/3 mile run to the transition area, barefoot, with tender/wet feet on a shell and concrete pavement. OUCH! Moving on... GPS on my wristband on the handlebar, helmet on bike... Not much to it. I did opt to wear socks since I haven't been running enough to callus my feet and didn't mount the shoes to the bike since I didn't bother to practice that. Everything went according to plan and I was off. Most folks did this transition in 1:15. I know what I could have done faster, but 1:30 faster? Ungh.

Bike (12mi, 34:54 [20.6mph], 12th of 42, 7:00 lost)
Very happy to be done with the water and onto the sports I'm comfortable with. I don't have a tri bike (more aerodynamic, geometry saves your running legs better) as I can't even justify the cost of a new road bike to replace my very aged one... It still gets me going pretty well. The best part of being near last place at this point is I was passing people like crazy. I probably picked off at least 50 folks and was only passed by 1. I ended the ride having hit my goal pace on the nose... 21mph. Googling leads me to believe a tri bike is 1-2mph faster. I'll go with 1.5 for my "what could have been" time, which would have saved 3:00.

Transition #2 (2:08, 38th of 42, 8:15 lost)
Not sure where I lost time on this... Park the bike, take off shoes, put on shoes. Left my running shoes tied so I just slipped them on, but I was still near slowest on this. The fastest guys did this in 55 seconds. I don't get it.

Run (3.1mi, 20:33 [6:35/mi], 9th of 42, 8:15 lost)
I guess I can still be categorized a runner based on this placing. Overall, I felt really good. My brain shut off with half a mile left (out of energy), but I managed a heck of a kick right into the finish. Had I not let mile 2 get away from me a little (it's easy to lose focus in the middle miles of a race), a sub-20 would have been possible. No lost time here, but when in running shape, I'd have had a top 5 finish... but I'm not :P

Lessons Learned

  1. Never trust the temperature or the person taking it. ALWAYS bring your wetsuit.
  2. Write yourself a note to put on your swim cap. When leaving for a remote swim, it'll tell you to leave your glasses at your transition spot.
  3. There is a lot of time in transitions.
  4. Among folks who swim, I'm not a very good swimmer (kind of knew this already).

I finished the race in 17th out of 42 in my age group in a total time of 1:26:41. Best case scenario for the shape I'm currently in (if I knew how to transition, wore a wetsuit, had a tri bike), 1:18:30, would have gotten me 8th; it would be too easy to set a goal of 1:25 next year assuming I do another couple of these and figure out what I'm doing. I'm very pleased, feel great, and likely have the bug to do more. I cannot fathom how folks do Ironmans (2.4mi swim, 112mi ride, marathon), but that would be an amazing goal. For now, I'll work on my swimming a bit, get a few more races under my belt, and set a goal of 1:20 next year.

[Full gallery]

Sep 18 2011 @ 4:31pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
She’s Just What I Wanted

I am engaged to be married to Ms. Heather Trolan.

Heather and I first met on a playground at Floris Elementary School about 24 years ago to the day. While she was frolicking around likely climbing the monkey bars and enjoying herself, I was more than likely sitting on the log as punishment. For the next three years, (and then who knows after that) we were in the same class. Mrs. Bell for first and second grades, and Mrs. Williams in third. In both classes I was typically sat next to her because while I was an absolute little devil, she was the perfect little angel... They thought she could neutralize me... Hah... Maybe she did a little? Who knows how I would have turned out if we hadn’t sat together? Regardless, she apparently made a lasting impression on my soul, but I digress... We attended the same middle and high schools, but parted ways for college (she to VCU to be all artsy, me to JMU to be all nerdy). Following college, our paths continued to cross in the most random ways. In October of last year, we just so happened to find ourselves single, living in the same neighborhood, and "looking." As a welcome into the neighborhood, we grabbed a meal at Lost Dog and seem to have hit it off. It wasn’t a date, but I won’t lie when I admit there was some attraction for me. I later pushed her to attending our ten year high school reunion as well. Again, not as an item, but I think at this point the gears were starting to turn. A short bit following the reunion, I came clean to her and asked her on an OFFICIAL date. We grabbed Italian Store and picnicked on the Tidal Basin at night. It was glorious and a sign of things to come. For the past year, we have been nearly inseparable. Her family is amazing, she is amazing, and... I wanted to become a part of both for the rest of my life...

So I started ring shopping... I’ve always known the ring I wanted to buy. Maybe that’s weird? Maybe not. I like simple. Heather is simple. I like classic. Heather is that too. Is it coincidental that my preferred ring type and the person I ended up giving it to are so so similar? Again, I digress, and apologize for getting a little mushy on you. Based on the experiences of others and my own shopping preferences, I was set on Blue Nile. I knew exactly what I wanted in a diamond and ring and found it. Next up? Sizing. Heather doesn’t wear a ring on her ring finger (duh?) and doesn’t even know her own size. We’re also never at her place so I can’t snoop too well. A gift from the gods, my parents plan a visit and are hoping to sleep at my place. Perfect timing... I’m forced to sleep at her place. On the first night there, I play around in her jewelry, she joins me, I eventually get her to put some rings on her ring finger, she finds one that fits well, I note it, and that’s that. The following morning, she heads to work and I head straight to her jewelry box. I pull out that particular ring, place it on top of some scotch tape, trace the inner diameter with a very skinny sharpie, peel the tape off the desk, back it with another piece of tape, replace the ring, ensure everything is back perfectly, and I now have a transparent ring size tracing... All over the internet are printable PDFs with ring sizes on them... Print one out, place my tape over it, bam... She’s a six. Time to order... I spent a few days hovering over the trigger button and finally clicked it. It would ship overnight in three days. On the third day, however, I receive a phone call that the diamond cannot be located, but they have one that’s $200 cheaper and very similar, but a tiny, tiny bit worse. It may have been similar, but (if you’ve done this before you’d understand) it wasn’t mine and it’s not exactly what I wanted. There did happen to be one that was $1000 more and very similar that I would have been happy with, but they wouldn’t budge on price and I wasn’t giving them an easy up-sell. As I wasn’t pressed for time on all of this, I chose to wait... And wait... and wait... About 10 days after my original order, I receive another phone call to let me know my diamond had been located. How a diamond company loses a diamond, I don’t know... They're the price of cars... A couple days later, I receive my ring and store it away in the closet. I do take it out once or twice a day to marvel, but I’ve got some things to do...

Like ask her Dad... Mr. Trolan is a character. He’s got a great sense of humor and a great mind. He could make this easy on me or he could really throw me on the grill. I was ready for anything, but as he’s just as attached to Mrs. Trolan as I am to Heather, getting him alone is quite the task. Compounding the problem, any time I’m not with Heather, she’s making arrangements to be with them. Ungh. Last Saturday, I had planned to do my typical Reston shop ride with The Bike Lane. It was in my calendar, it would put me in the area of her parents... All I needed to do was NOT go to the shop ride (I ride from my house in Arlington) and go to their house instead, where we were planning on having brunch after my ride anyway. If I left early enough, I’d beat her there, but also risk waking them, which isn’t cool. Whatever, this needs to be done. I arrive early, don’t need to use my excuse that I had a mechanical issue, and am in no questions asked. I’m faced with Mr. Trolan alone for about two minutes, but I’m in my biking gear and refuse to have this conversation in what more or less amounts to a speedo that covers my thighs a little. I hop in the shower, when out, he does the same, I chat with Mrs. Trolan for a bit, Mr. Trolan returns, but Mrs. Trolan refuses to head up to the shower! I tell her she should a couple of times, but no luck. Sigh... Heather arrives about an hour later, we have brunch to celebrate her parents’ 33rd anniversary, and that’s the end of that chance.

The next day, after careful prodding of Heather (we had been planning on laying low for the day), we head to Burke for an annual pig roast put on by the family of the wife of one of Heather’s brother’s best friends, who also attended elementary, middle, and high schools with us. I figured “Oh, a pig roast with a pretty broad invite list... Must be held in a big field or something. Surely, I’ll get a chance to get Mr. Trolan alone.” No, it’s in a big yard, but there are TONS of people in attendance and folks who should not be privy to this conversation (Mrs. Trolan and Heather primarily) are never more than three feet away. Another fail.

I’m now getting antsy and this ring is burning a hole in my... closet? I throw all tact out the window and get in touch with Mr. Trolan the safest way I can... via a Facebook message. I can’t trust calling him because I’ve never done so before and that’d raise alarms. I can’t send an e-mail because he and his wife are very loosey-goosey when it comes to sharing e-mail addresses, the computer, etc. So a Facebook message. He laughs at me, calls me “young man,” but most importantly agrees to meet me for a drink at Jackson’s on Labor Day... He knows what’s up... I have planned the conversation for weeks now, but nothing can prepare you for it. We order some beers, I ask him if he wants to have “this talk” now or wait for the beer. I think he says to wait for the beers, but I go anyway... At this point, emotions are flowing like Niagara Falls, I dump my heart and soul, and it’s over. He’s ecstatic, accepts, and we go on to have a great couple of beers and hours of conversing. Note: Raining while I asked him.

Heather and her brother are very close and she greatly values his opinion. Knowing this and given encouragement from Mr. Trolan, I decide it couldn’t hurt to ask him as well. Unfortunately, Scott is married to Liz, who sits next to Heather at work. Liz can’t know, but like the rest of us, they’re attached at the hip. Scott also works at a place that is a little bit off the radar so I don’t have a work number. Luckily, I spy him on IM, ask him if we can have a quick chat, he accepts, I shoot him a call, spill it all once again (not any easier the second time around), and he gives me the go-ahead. I’M IN THE CLEAR. I feel like a million bucks. Note: Raining while I asked him.

Following this final seal of approval, I’m in the clouds... I can’t wait any longer... I'm going away this weekend, it has been raining all week, I'm going away next weekend for a week, and... this ring only has so much time left on its return policy... I’m not explaining it all correctly, but suffice to say there's a perfect storm brewing and tonight has to be the night. Around 5:15, I come up with a plan... She leaves work at 6 so certain things need to happen and FAST. I run over to her house, grab a handful of nice clothes, nice shoes, and some jewelry, and stuff it in my trunk. I head back to my place, do the same with a set of clothes for myself, I message her, tell her how sick of the rain I am and that we should go recreate our first date on the Tidal Basin with Italian Store anyway. Being awesome, she accepts. I stuff the ring in my camera bag. I spoke with her at 6 and she said I’d see her soon. Around 7 with her not answering her phone, FaceTime, or text messages, I begin to wonder what’s going on. My first assumption is that she noticed things awry and missing in her apartment and blew a gasket. I decide to head over to check on her... She’s fine... Just dealing with bills and being her usual self with phone failure. We hop in the car, I play off the camera bag (not a usual accessory for me) with the idea that the stormy sky plus light pollution might be really awesome. Turns out, it was. We grab our food, head into the city, and miraculously the rain stops. We head to a spot, lay down a tarp and blanket, and I just stand there, frozen. She’s sitting, admiring the view, asking me if I'm going to sit, but I continue on standing. Eventually, she stands with me to give me a hug, I tell her we’re not there to eat sandwiches, drop to one knee, and do it. She’s a mess, I’m a mess... Again, a big blur. She said “Yes” before I even asked her. Once I was through with my bit, I realized I hadn’t even used the magic words OR opened the ring box. Total fail, but in the end I do say the words, she does accept after them, I put the ring on her, and we stand there another 15 minutes before I tell her the next part of my plan... Note: Raining when I asked her.

We hop in the car, head to a public restroom on Hains Point, I show her my trunk full of her clothes and jewelery, we get changed, decide on Obelisk, I call them, they say they can take us as long as we’re on our way, and we are in... A quick drive later, we park, stroll over to the restaurant, and miraculously run into my good friend, Steve, driving home. He asks us how we’re doing... We look at each other, decide to tell him, and do... Funny situation. We proceed to have one of the finest meals of our lives, give her parents a call on the way home, and the night comes to a close.

We currently have no plans, but have discussed some things before... A wedding will likely not be in Northern Virginia, but also not too far away. Smaller rather than larger.

To happiness and the notion that rain is good luck...

Sep 08 2011 @ 3:58pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
Bands I Missed the Boat On

Lately, I've been "down" on new music so I've been spending a little extra time disocvering new stuff. What I discover, often, isn't new at all. The following are the groups I've fallen in love with, but many, many years after everyone (... they're certainly not for everyone) else has:

  • Neutral Milk Hotel - Discovered via Pandora. Haven't released anything in over a decade.
  • Beirut - Discovered via Spotify. Been around since 2006 making more or less the same stuff. Absolutely love it.
  • The Decemberists - Discovered via a coworker. Still making new stuff that I don't particularly enjoy, but their 2007 stuff has been in my regular playlist for a year or two.
  • Death Cab For Cutie - Discovered via Pandora. Still making new stuff that I enjoy, but I like them most circa 2005.

You ever experience this?

And since I've got your attention, I ought to take this time to also share my other favorite bands of the moment that you [possibly] may have not heard of:

Happy listening!

Aug 25 2011 @ 12:45pm

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