New Year, New Post

Well, it’s January–that magical time of year where blogs come alive again after months (if not years) of dormancy. Such is not *my* case, of course.

 

I’ve set some goals for this year. Not resolutions–those tend to be so vague and nebulous. “I’m going to be a better person!” Oh yah? In what areas? How? What are your short-term goals? Your long-term goals? No … not me. I’m setting actual goals, like “fix the landing in the front room.” Plan: remove the tile and carpet, sand the wood flooring underneath, and stain.

 

Another goal I had was to replace the sliding glass door rollers on our back door. Guess what? ALREADY DONE! And my wife and kids sing my praises every time we let the dogs in or out. No more wrestling with the door to get it to slide on its track. Gone are the days of having to lift THE ENTIRE DOOR by the handle (note to self: tighten door handle …) to get it to move even a few inches. No no … that door slides like Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk. That’s right–my door is the 80s dance moves of slide. And I made that happen.

 

Other goals: replace the leaking garbage disposal. It only leaks when we run it. There’s no reason *why* it leaks … it just does. It’s stupid, yet our reality. For now, we have a bowl placed under the sink to catch any dripping water. It’s a stop-gap until I can replace it. A very weak stop-gap, but a stop-gap nonetheless.

 

There’s also the *tiny* goal of finding funds to get both me AND my wife to Kenya with 100 Humanitarians this time around. June should be an interesting month. I don’t know how it’s all gonna work out, but I just know that it is. I have an idea how it’s gonna work, but we’ll see. There will be much ubering and lyfting in my future in addition to the regular 40-hour work week. There will be photo packages available. There will be tie-dyed shirts available (to that one ginger in New England, I *swear* your shirts are coming!!)

 

On the hilarious side, I just learned that I can go through my entire driving history with Uber and challenge any cancelled rides. So far, I’ve made an extra $70. Ha ha ha ha!!! That’s gas money for the month almost! I’ll take that.

Post-Kenya Blues

So, I’ve been back from Kenya about a month. It’s definitely a hard re-entry, going from the US to Kenya and back to the US. The lifestyle over there is almost nothing like it is over here.

 

I believe that there’s a difference between poverty and destitution. When you’re destitute, you have *nothing*–no money, no hope, no happiness. Poverty is an absence of money. And while many of the Kenyans I met live in the poorest of poverty-ridden areas I’ve ever seen, they are by no means destitute. Their smiles and warmth prove that. There was not one village that we visited where we weren’t greeted with kindness, immediate love and acceptance, generosity, and open arms.

 

My favorite constellation is Orion. In our neck of the woods, Orion begins to rise in the late summer with his right shoulder poking above the horizon in the early morning hours. As time marches on into winter, he features prominently in the southern sky, standing straight up with his sword held high. As winter turns to spring, Orion goes to bed in the early evenings of late April/early May, resting on his right shoulder.

 

Interestingly, Kenya sits on the equator, which means the position of the constellations shift dramatically from our perspective. In Kenya, Orion rises similarly to how he rises in my area, but things change once he gets about 10 degrees above the eastern horizon: his position doesn’t shift. He continues to march straight north. If you want to see Orion in late November/early December, you have to crane your neck and look straight up. And I mean STRAIGHT up.

 

In my analytical yet symbolic mind, I see this as Orion guarding the entire Kenyan sky–not just the southern portion, as he does from our position. From his position of 90 degrees off the horizon, he can protect the whole night sky. At least from mid-November through late December. 🙂

 

It’s an interesting parallel, I think. There’s much to protect in Kenya. There are the obvious endangered species, such as the elephant, rhino, or cheetah, but then there’s the not-at-all obvious to the typical, western-cultured mind. The Maasai culture is eroding quickly. Their culture is beautiful. Their dancing, their jewelry, their singing, their warrior mentality … there’s almost nothing about their culture that isn’t incredibly wonderful. There are a couple of horrific aspects (See: FGM. See also: early marriage.), but those points are quickly being eradicated by the newest generations of Maasai.

 

It’s the wonderful aspects of the culture that need to be preserved, and they need to be preserved quickly before they’re nothing but a faded memory. As it stands, their elders adhere to strict, orthodox Maasai ways. One generation younger, and they’re dressing in jeans, running their own businesses, making music (See: Lemarti, Jeff Ole Kishau, Thee Stargal). Not that there is anything wrong with dressing in jeans, running your own business or making music … but that’s not what their culture is about. Their culture is about males defending their villages from predators. Their culture is about dress. Their culture is about harvesting. Their culture is squarely *not* western, but it’s quickly becoming westernized, and for the elders, I’m sure it’s disorienting. And that’s just within one generation. Give it another 50 years, and what will be left?! WILL it be here?

 

One of 100 Humanitarian‘s goals is to build a cultural center that will help preserve the Maasai culture through video, audio, spoken language, interviewing elders, and archiving all this culture for their posterity. And ours, if we’re being honest! It’s an incredibly rich history, and we need to capture it. We have 5 acres dedicated for the cultural center. We have a director. We have an architect. What we *don’t* have is the money. Yet. We’re feverishly working to raise funds.

 

Right now, our group has over 1000 members on Facebook. If everyone contributed $100, we could have that cultural center built within one year. At least the first phase of the cultural center would be complete.

 

My wife and I are going over in June. I will probably be going back in November 2017 as well. That’s when we hope to have the ribbon cutting ceremony for phase 1 of the cultural center.

 

I have to go back. There is a feeling over there that you just don’t get over here. I can’t explain it. There’s an actual pull to go back. I’m not going to ignore it. There must be more trips.

 

There *will* be more trips.

Test: Getting ready for Kenya!!

This is just a test to see how the plugin I just added posts to FB.

Talk about blugh … holy crap. I had to update my hosting plan to a whole new server, update .php hosting from 5.2 to 5.4, install the plugin, create a whole new app in FB JUST to allow the plugin to work, and now I’m testing it.

In 3 … 2 … 1 ………

Things For Which I Am Grateful

Two Sundays ago, I woke up with a fever. I decided to do what everyone with a fever does–warm up. My method of achieving comfort involved standing under a steaming stream of flowing hot water … the exact opposite of what I needed. Instead of feeling better, I felt exponentially worse. As the water cascaded down around me, I could feel myself starting to slip into that very special hell reserved for those stupid enough to take a shower with a fever. My muscles fought tooth and nail against whatever oncoming infection was on the offensive. They lost. Badly. I eventually ran out of hot water and was left standing with a level of convulsions typically exhibited by those having a grand mal seizure. It was all I could do to dry off, get dressed, and crawl back into bed. Somehow, I pulled it off. I slept all day. Ended up in some state of delirium where all I could think of was the bass line from Big Data’s “Dangerous.” Not an entirely austere bass line, but catchy enough that I had it playing in my head throughout the entire psychosis that was my Sunday.

 

Then Monday came. My fever of 102.9 from the day before dropped to 100.1. Manageable, but still a fever. I stood up to go to the bathroom, and I felt an immense pressure building in my lower left leg. A panic and dread filled me with a speed rivaled only by light.

 

A quick trip to the ER revealed what I already strongly suspected: cellulitis. This bacterial disease infects the dermal and sub-dermal layers of the skin, and it creates a pain in every individually infected that is the male equivalent of giving birth. Think I’m kidding? Wait until you go through it. I sincerely hope you don’t have to because it’s horrible, but if you do, you’ll understand what I mean when I say the pain is just that intense.

 

I was admitted to the hospital Wednesday afternoon. I wasn’t discharged until Saturday around noon. 8 rounds of IV anti-biotics. More blood samples and tests than I’ve ever seen. Pills galore.

 

And not a penny of health insurance. Oh, this is going to be fun. Lots and lots of fun.

 

Despite the fact that we don’t have health insurance right now, I’m incredibly optimistic about our future, and really life in general. Some things for which I’m grateful:

 

  • My family is amazing. Supportive, loving, awesome.
  • My friends are equally amazing.
  • Aside from the cellulitis, I’m generally healthy.
  • We have essential oils all over the house that help with our physical and psychological health. This cellulitis is definitely the exception and not the rule.
  • I’ve lost over 42 pounds in the last 3 months. Go grab yourself a bag of rock salt for your driveway or water softener. *That* is how much I’ve lost. Tell me that’s not awesome.
  • My new job is so understanding of everything. They know I’m down for the hard count, and we have this massive, looming deadline that is non-negotiable … but we’re working through it. My manager overnighted all the materials sitting on my desk so I can have them at my disposal here at the house, allowing me to work from home as I can.
  • We have food in the cupboards and a good supply of extra in the basement.
  • Both of our vehicles are running just fine. They need oil changes and fluid checks, but other than that, running just fine. AND they’re both paid off.
  • Our house is getting better and better as we make improvements.
  • We have more music and movies than I care to admit. I collect … so … yah.
  • If it comes down to it, I have some very useful talents like tie-dyeing that I could use to help pay off some of the hospital costs. I would include photography in that list of talents, but it’s more of a hobby than anything else. Could I turn a profit? Maybe … but it’d take a lot more studying, practicing, and research before I even attempt to go that route.
  • And above all–most important to me–I know who I am, and that is a son of a God who loves us and watches over us. I know why I’m here, and where I can go when I die. Do bad things happen to me? Sure. Do I blame God for them? Not at all. Sometimes, the only way to grow is to go through the refiner’s fire and see how you come out. I’ve been through challenges exponentially worse than this, and it was only by clinging to that knowledge of God’s love that my family and I made it through the challenges we have.

 

Like I said, my optimism is pretty high. The first sign of medical bills might kill that, but I’m going to work really hard to make sure it doesn’t. I’d much prefer a positive attitude to a crappy one.

 

Oh well. Onward and upward.

Creativity and How To Earn It

So I’ve been in a rut the last … meh. I dunno. Few months? Years? By education and experience, I’m a technical writer. That’s what it says on my several thousand dollar piece of paper that I earned several years ago. Over the course of the last 4 or 5 years, I’ve noticed that I’m not a fan of “2nd person imperative/3rd person indicative” writing. It leaves 0 room for creativity (unless you want to count the little trade secret of how every writer has his/her “signature” in every document they write. Don’t ask, cuz they’ll never tell what it is.), and it gets rather … tedious. I have a good eye for detail, so it lends itself well to my writing out things like procedures, instructions … we’re talking 100+ steps on how to make a peanut butter sandwich. That’s how I knew I could find a niche in tech writing.

 

Aaaaaand so what? At the end of the day, it doesn’t make me happy. When it’s all said and done, I get bored *super* easily with it. So when this new job came along that *isn’t* tech writing-based, I was super stoked. Beyond excited. Hyped/amped/revved … and so on and so forth. I started late last year, jumped right into it with some white papers (hey, they’re not procedures … anything different is good), and that’s about it. I asked my manager when he would have some time to review what he feels are my specific roles and responsibilities, and that just never happened. So I’ve gone department to department to department (ad nauseum), asking what I can do to help. I have a strong writing and editing background, so I can proofread, format, edit, and whatever else needed. And for a while, there was work coming in.

It’s stopped, and now I’m back to being bored. I *literally* have nothing to do at work. And it sucks. Most people would think, “Dude! You’ve got it easy! You can just surf and do whatever you want?! Don’t look that gift-horse in the mouth!” Except it’s not that simple. By moral code, I have a difficult time knowing that I’m getting paid and not producing anything worthwhile or useful to my employer. So … there’s that dilemma. Yah, I have surfed. To CNN. To Fox News (gotta keep a balance, right)? To some hockey-related websites, football sites, related message boards … and truthfully, it’s not as fun as you’d think. Well, okay … it’s not as fun for me. I’m sure I fall squarely into the overwhelmingly vast minority on this one. That’s fine. I get it.

 

So I’ve been in this rut. Work-wise, blog-wise, life-wise … it’s been a kind of downer. And I’m tired of it. I *have* to get out of it? The question is: how?

 

Right now, my wife is on a hike with one of my daughters. She and some friends are going to this waterfall that I would love to visit, but I have my standards when it comes to photography. I know exactly what shot I would want to get, and sadly, I don’t have the necessary filter right now. I will by Tuesday or Wednesday, but that doesn’t help today.

 

What that *did* help me with, on the other hand, is to come up with a list of things which I enjoy doing and feel that I do relatively well. Things like photography, writing, tie-dyeing, video game playing (when I actually sit down and play, anyway … and if I’m being honest with myself, it’s rather just an escape than any kind of creativity jump-starter) … these are highly marketable skills. Yes, tie-dyeing is a highly marketable skill. People will pay good money for well-patterned shirts.

 

Here’s what I realized today: I stayed home from this hike because a) I’m in this funk, b) I wanted to just sit around and watch something on Netflix, and c) I didn’t really want to trudge up this this waterfall if I didn’t have what it takes to get the picture I want to take. Yah, I could take a great shot of the valley below, or get some nice scenic pics … but I can also get those the next time they go up, at which point I’ll have my new filters (thank you, Amazon!).  So I’m at home, writing this blog post and listening to Dream Theater’s Awake CD.

 

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: I don’t *want* to listen to other people’s music, or look at other people’s photos. I want to make my own mark. 20 years ago, I bet these guys in Dream Theater were sitting around thinking, “Man, there’s some excellent music out there, but I bet we could make excellent music too.” And so it is with me: I  *can* take excellent pictures. I *can* make excellent tie-dyed shirts, and they don’t have to be a peace sign, or a smiley face, or a mushroom. 2 years ago, when I had a booth at our town’s festival, I made a ladybug shirt that was just mind-blowing. I’m not saying that to brag: I’m saying that because at that point, NO ONE had actually dyed a ladybug. At least, not one that was posted online that I could find. And it took some work, yah … but the finished product was just amazing.

 

The couple of weekends ago, some friends of ours went on a drive with us to this tiny town in Northern Utah to get some pictures of the night sky, specifically of the galactic center, which after sunset was sitting at about 55-60 degree angle relative to the horizon. I captured a bunch of RAW images, brought them home, and started playing with the RAW editor in Photoshop. And by “started playing with,” I mean for the first time. Ever. I tinkered, looked up some Youtube vids, and did the best I could. And … yah, the images looked okay, but at 100%, something just looked off. Like, WAY off. I couldn’t figure out why all my pictures looked like Picasos.

 

I sent the RAW files to a buddy of mine who’s been shooting in RAW forever. He thought they looked great, with the settings he was using. That made me wonder why mine sucked, which led me to believe that it had to be something in the settings that I had screwed up. After re-opening and re-investigating, sure enough … fixed them, sharpened them, and now they look 100 times better.

 

Now … I told you all that about the picture not to brag, but to prove a point: creativity can be a product of a stream of consciousness that just flows out of you, but as a general rule, if you want to to look its best, you have to go back, re-evaluate, study, learn, fix, and accept that you can get better at anything you want, IF you put in the time.

 

To that end, I have some dye bottles to fill. Lots and lots and lots of bottles …  🙂

To Those Who Suffer from … Well, ANYthing

I read a friend’s blog post today. I won’t divulge the name here; it’s not my place to share. However, it has me doing a lot of introspective soul-searching about who *I* am, and how *I* view life.

 

In short, I consider myself a rather happy person.

 

That is, by no stretch, a bragging point. If anything, I say it with a wipe of my forehead and a whisk of my hand to rid myself of the beading sweat. I say it because I just got lucky in that regard. Now … having said that, I think that I have had my bouts with depression. Nothing long-term or ongoing, but indeed, I’ve felt actual, physical pain from being in a funk. So I have to ask myself: is that what depression is? Was I, at that point, actually depressed?

 

I don’t know. I’m not really in a position to say with any degree of certainty that I was. Or wasn’t. I know what and how I felt, and I hated it. I hated feeling like I hated it. I hated facing the fact that I felt compelled to try to determine what this “funk” was. I hated that I didn’t want to be around anyone, including my wife and kids. I hated the fact that I wanted nothing to do with blogging. Or photography. Or Facebook. Or tie-dyeing. Or … anything.

 

But for as bad as I felt, at no point did I ever consider offing myself … and I think that’s why I feel safe about saying that, even if I was mildly depressed, I wasn’t nearly as badly depressed as I could have been.

 

Which brings me to my point: my friend’s blog post.

 

See, this person has been to the “contemplation” end of depression. This person has put on the brave face in public, and wept furiously when alone. S/he smiled at people, but inwardly frowned the ultimate sad face. Did any of this person’s friends know the depths to which this person had experienced depression? No. Because this person chose to keep it personal. To keep it close. To not expose.

 

To not let on just how bad the hurt had grown.

 

Now … that was this person’s way of dealing with it. Others act and react differently. Ask yourself this : on any given day, how many people do you see who are grumpy, sad, crying, or otherwise engaged in what is so obviously an emotionally/spiritually/psychologically tough time? A few? Dozens? ONE?

 

And here’s the logical follow-up–the one question you must have to ask yourself: what are you doing about it?

 

Do you just … I dunno. Walk by? Obviously turn the other way? Pretend your fiddling with your phone to avoid the awkwardness?

 

What if that person is literally praying for someone to just say hi? Or what if that person has just decided that their life has no meaning, and that their only relief is at the bottom of a ravine after a jump off of a very tall bridge, or at the end of a gun barrel? WHAT IF YOU ARE THE ANSWER TO SOMEONE’S PLEADING?

 

Why would you not try to help? Why would you walk by and not offer someone a shoulder to cry on? Or a listening ear? Or whatever it is they need? Why would you walk away

 

One word: don’t.

 

Don’t just walk away. Don’t turn a “blind” eye.

 

Another word: help.

 

Be that listening ear. Offer that small glimmer of hope. Give that hug.

 

Yes, it may take leaving your comfort zone, but the end result … wouldn’t it be worth knowing that you helped someone? Maybe saved a life?

 

People, all I’m asking is for some common decency. ALL of us have hurt at one point. Some of us have hurt exponentially worse and longer than others. You know how that one small painful experience was for you; imagine living every day like that.

 

Challenge of the week: find someone you don’t know at all and wish them a good day. Or buy his/her coffee/hot chocolate/morning drink. Or smile at everyone for an entire day.

 

Help. Help everyone.

Buffcon 1

As previously mentioned, I’m a hockey fan. Specifically, I bleed blue and gold. Lately, I’ve been bleeding a LOT of blue and gold, as has most of SabreNation cuz the team, as a general whole, sucks. There’s no heart. There’s no grit. There’s no scoring. There’s no defense. There’s no good goaltending. And it’s getting really, really old. So old that talk show hosts are actually excited to see them lose tonight in Winnipeg JUST to see if change will actually happen.

Lots want to blame Darcy Regier, the GM. And that’s fine. I get wanting to pin this on him. He’s the one who assembled this team; he should be held accountable for the on-ice performance. Right?

Except here’s what pisses me off the most. This same team, from Februrary 22, 2011, until the end of the season, were THE BEST team in the NHL. They went on a rampage and got themselves into the playoffs as a 7th place seed, then took Philly to 7 games in the first round.

Off season brought in some great acquisitions in Ville Leino, Christian Ehrhoff, and Robyn Regehr. Our defense AND offense was supposed to be upgraded. And it seemed like everything was going great.

Until November 11th.

Since November 11th, the Sabres have lost 22 games, 4of which were in OT/SO. They now sit in 11th place, 9 points out of 8th, and 3 points from the bottom of the conference. If they had won even half of those games instead of losing, they’d be vying for the top of the conference. Even if they had won just 5 more games, they’d at least be in 6th or 7th. But no … they haven’t. They’ve just about hit rock bottom, and if they lose tonight in Winnipeg, there very well might be some major shake-ups, from the front office down to the janitor (cuz he’s obviously not taking out ALL of the trash). \

So we of SabreNation watch nightly as the team collapses. I’m kind of on the side of WGR’s early morning hosts. There is nothing about this team worth watching right now, OTHER than to see what happens if they end up losing again.

I will wear my jersey with pride, and I will continue to hope that they’ll win and start climbing out of this funk. I don’t expect a miracle, but it starts with one game. Might tonight be that game? Could be. The optimist in me hopes that it is. The realist in me wonders if they can win another game before the All-Star break.

Confessions of a Sabres Hockey Addict

Hi, my name is chris, and i’m a sabres fan. This is my 25th year of following them, and there’s no end in sight. Sometimes … sometimes, I feel like I *need* to walk away. you know … for my sanity, right? And I’ve tried. i tell myself every year, “i will *not* re-order the CI package this time. NO. I will save that money and put it towards a family vacation. Or my girls’ college fund. Or … or SOMEthing!” But no. Every year, I get recharged the $170 to follow a team I literally have dyed in my blood. If you cut me open, I bleed blue and gold. For a period, I bled red and black, but not anymore.

And really, isn’t every game like a little mini-vacation? A very stressful, anxiety-ridden vacation, where the kids are in the back seat beating on each other and screaming “MOM! SHE TOUCHED ME!” “DAD!! I WANT A CHEESEBURGER!!!” “ARE WE THERE YET?!” I want to tell them that yes–we’re there! we’ve reached the promised land! we have arrived at nirvana. But the reality is so much colder and darker than anything I want to tell them. They’re young. They do not need to be subjected to this ….. THIS!

The part that worries me the most is that they’re already there. They already have little jerseys. they already know Miller, Roy, Stafford, Vanek, Pominville … all by number. My daughter wants a picture of Roy, bless her gargantuan heart. They get exicted when the Sabres are ahead, and they know daddy is “sad” when they lose.

I mean … it’s just a game, right? It’s just a bunch of people getting paid to play with sticks and a puck. In the end, it doesn’t *really* matter … right?

Right …?

My name is Chris, and I’m a Sabres addict.

So Long, 2011

In all honesty, I’m glad to be leaving this one behind. It’s been a pretty bummer year–especially the last couple of months. But that horse is dead, so I’m not going to beat it anymore. I am MOST EXCITEDLY looking forward to 2012 for any number of reasons. Some great music coming out this year–most notably Rush’s “Clockwork Angels” is due to come out at some point. The first single (Caravan) was released forever ago, along with the “B” track “BU2B.” Cannot wait for the new music.

Also, we’re taking a cross-country trip that’s going to last for 3 weeks. THAT is going to be a lot of fun. Lots of pics, lots of blogging. WHOO!!

But most of all, I’m just excited to be where I am–loving family, great friends, excellent job. I cannot ask for more.

Happy new year, everyone. May your 2012 be the most excellent as possible!

Happy Almost New Year!

Well, December was an incredibly disappointing blogging month. Actually, November and December were incredibly depressing months in general–holidays notwithstanding. I’ll say this much: without the love of family and friends, we would have never survived the ordeal we’ve been put through for the last 2 years. However, we’ve emerged somewhat victorious (depending on your definition), and we are *really* ready to get to 2012 and move on with our collective life.

I think the same could be said for this blog. It’s ready to evolve. Don’t get me wrong–the blog will remain and I will be posting a lot more frequently (“Right. Famous last words there, Hoss.”) Yes, I know I’ve been off for a while now. I apologize. Truth be told, I … just couldn’t. Not from a lack of time, or a lack of desire. I wanted to write! I just … there’s been this huge block, and I couldn’t shake it.

I write this blog for me to share with you. Initially, I thought it would only be about music. And for the most part, that will remain true. There are too many good artists out there making a LOT of great music to ignore. There are also great music apps that are simply mind-bending in their capacity. The Animoog for iPhone is a perfect example. I picked this up the other day, and I’ve been playing with it off and on ever since. More on than off, at that. Anyway, my point is that there are a lot of great things about music that I enjoy and like writing about … but that’s just one part of me.

At first, I always envisioned “frissonic” as being a blog, maybe even a recognizable one in the music blogging community. The more I use the name for logins and such, I myself identifying more and more who I am beyond the music writer. I love photography. I love taking pictures and making HDR pics. I also like movies. I like dining out. I like working on my house. There are a lot of facets to me that go beyond music. I want to start sharing those experiences as well. I’m still in the idea development phase of rolling out a new … something. Not sure what it’s going to be yet. I like a lot of aspects of my friend’s blog, where she picks a theme a day and sticks to it weekly, but there are things I dislike about it too–like feeling like I’m tied to writing about books on Monday, or a movie review on Wednesday … or Thursday House Fixing Tip day. I want to write what I want to write, WHEN I want to write it, ya know? But then again, I look at her site and its success, and I think she has the right idea. I don’t know. I have to believe that there’s a happy medium in there somewhere.
Anyway, my point is this: There will be a new feel to the site after the new year. I will be expanding my writing from just music to more about me and my interests in all their various facets. Won’t that be exciting? 🙂

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