Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jeremy vs. Dying: I will not go quietly...

No, I'm not dying in the immediate, or severe sense of being sick or having some sort of disease, but the truth is that we are all dying in a manner of speaking and the part that really wedges itself into your ribs is the fact that death is unavoidable.  YOU WILL DIE!  Someday, somehow, we all die.  It's just a matter of how and when.

Sucks, doesn't it?  Death comes for us all... and as they say, it is the great equalizer.

Steve Jobs died today.  Co-founder of Apple and Pixar Animation... visionary, innovator, one of the worlds richest people... and he's dead.  This man literally changed the world by changing the way the world creates, distributes and consumes information... and he's dead at the age of 56.

Rich or poor.  CEO or janitor... it catches up with you eventually.

So, what can we do?  The answer is simple.  Almost too simple.  So simple that I think that sadly, most people overlook it... the answer is we LIVE!  That's it.

We live.

We carry on.

We create our lives into something that means something... even if only to our loved ones.

We follow our passions and share them with those that surround us.

We give back to the next generation so that they can follow passions of their own.

We teach our children to never ever give up on their dreams.

We take time for ourselves and be selfish.

We fill everyday with as much LIFE as we can muster.

...and when the time comes... when Death stands before you and tells you that it's your turn, you stand your ground with a smile on your face and fire in your eyes and you fight.  You stare the Reaper in the eyes and scream at the top of your lungs that you will not go quietly and you live until your last breath escapes you.

"The key to immortality it first living a life worth remembering"  
~ St. Augustine 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jeremy vs. BSG: Part 1

The most recent incarnation of Battlestar Galactica has been hailed by friends and experts alike as possibly one of the best science fiction television series ever... some have gone even further and declared it one of the best television series of any genre ever produced.  That being the case I suppose I should take a crack at watching it.

I'm four episodes in and here is what I've learned so far:

  1. I was a big fan of the original series as a kid and I'm glad that they put in just enough "fan service" to make me smile, but not so much that I sit and roll my eyes at the TV for forty two minutes.
  2. I want a Viper of my very own!
  3. I'm finding myself really enjoying how the characters are being developed. The writers really put a lot of effort into making sure that the characters are not the usual stock cardboard cutouts that most sci-fi shows rely on.
  4. OK... I get the handheld camera thing, but holy shit does it get annoying in some scenes.  Forgive me for saying so, but sometimes it feels like they hired Michael J. Fox to shoot the show.
  5. Sorry friends, but yes, I too would sell out the entire human race for a chance to do bad things with Tricia Helfer.  *rawr*

Friday, September 23, 2011

When I grow up to be a man...

This was supposed to be just another Friday.  Get the kids off to school, go to work, come home, put the kids to bed, do some chores, watch some TV and then crash out myself.  Never happens that way.  I was sitting at my desk talking to a customer about some issue they were having with their in store point-of-sale system when I started to phase out.  I had already gotten all the of information that I would need to address the issue and he just wouldn't shut up so I started to tune him out.  I looked over at the screen on my tablet and looked at the calendar widget.  One line stood out... "Grandpa passed away..."  There it was in black and white.  I froze in my chair.  Finally the customer let me go and I hung up my phone.  The memories of that day began to creep forward from the recesses of my brain's long term storage.

I had driven to Albany to go to a concert with my friend Chris who had moved out that way a couple of months previous.  I had decided before making the trek from Rochester to Albany that I would stop and visit my grandparents on the way back as it was right on my way home along the New York State Thruway.  It was a Sunday.  I had gotten back to the hotel only a few hours before the bedside phone's ringing woke me up.  I was groggy and a bit incoherent when I picked it up.  It was my mother.  She had called to tell me that my grandfather had passed.  I can't remember much of the conversation that followed.  I hung up the phone; alone in a hotel room I wept.  The pain was almost unbearable.  I didn't understand.  I didn't want to believe it.  I was supposed to be on my way to see him that day and in an instant he was gone from my world and I was left with a hole in my very being.

I drove to my grandparents anyway that day.  I spent the night there and comforted my grandmother as much as I could.

A couple of days after that I stood in front of a crowded room (much as I did a year ago for my father) and spoke of my grandfather.

I attempted to articulate to them how much he meant to me.

I tried to give them my perspective on who he was.... a genius with his hands, a man who could make anything grow, a father, grandfather, husband and son.

A veteran, a scout master, a patriot and a prankster.

A man with no enemies.

A hero to one little boy and an example of true manhood to the man that boy would become.

I miss you grandpa...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What's in a name?

So, I have decided to change the name of this blog.  I had this idea to create a series of posts where I give myself challenges to tackle.  Everything from watching every episode of a particular television show to this like eating healthy for a week.  My thinking is that is might be a fun way to get a chance to talk about the things that interest me while also breaking down the challenges of life into achievable short term goals.

This will also give my the opportunity to fulfill a very specific challenge that I have placed in front of myself...

At least one hour every day will be spent doing something creative... writing, drawing, practicing guitar... something that will allow me to stretch my creative mind and sharpen my skills.

Most everyone that knows me is aware of my desire to be creative and knows that this is not just something that I want to do, but something that I HAVE to do.

So... stick around, this might actually get interesting!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

O Captain! My Captain!

This past Monday, September 5th 2011, marked the one year anniversary of my father's passing.

Unlike my siblings I did not publicly mark it in anyway.  I cried for a few minutes that morning reliving the pain of kneeling before his ashes knowing that I would, for the remainder of my days, exist in a world where he did not.  His voice would only be in my memory and his image only in the photographs that I now cherish.  I thought of my daughters and how they would grow up with only a vague recollection of him and how my father was robbed of the joy of watching his granddaughters grow up.  I let myself feel all those things again and when it passed I went on with my day.

So, here I am tonight, and again I find myself thinking of him.

One year ago I stood in front of the crowd that had gathered for his memorial and spoke about my father.  I had some notes, but I pretty much improvised.  He would have hated a long somber prepared speech.  I spoke of our relationship.  I told them the truth; my relationship with my father had never been easy, but when it came down to it, I loved my dad and he loved me.  We didn't spend as much time together as I was growing up as either of us would have liked and there were times that I resented it.  Now, being a father myself, I understand.

I spoke to these people, most of whom I did not know, and I told them about the Saturday nights we'd spend when I would visit as a teenager eating hot wings and french fries and watching Cops and Saturday Night Live.  I told them how I reveled in that time we got to spend together and that even though as my siblings got older and they began to join in, ultimately, at the end of the night it would only be my father and I left standing.

There were things that I didn't tell them.  Like, how my proudest moment was watching him play with my oldest daughter, Sophia, as a baby and how she seemed completely at ease with him; as if she knew who he was without having to be told.  She spent her time pulling on his mustache and laughing.  Later that day he pulled me aside and told me how proud he was of me... proud of the man I'd become, proud of the father he knew I would be.  He told me much the same thing again when my youngest daughter, Molly, was born.  He was so proud of being a grandfather.

I wish he would have had more time.  I feel cheated.  Cheated for myself and my daughters.

I still carry a small burning ember of anger and sadness that he is gone, but I have to keep moving forward.

I have to.


I miss you, dad...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

It's like going the wrong way on the escalator...

Sometimes life is like trying to go the wrong way on an escalator....

Yep... that just about sums it up.

So it looks like I've somehow lost 2 months on this blog.  The entire months of March and April were pretty much a blur so I suppose that it doesn't really matter that I didn't write much of it down.

Let's recap, shall we...

Back in March I filed a DBA (Doing Business As) with the Monroe County Clerks office and started planning my technology business.  My unemployment was set to run out in the middle of April and I was starting to get understandably nervous.  At some point early in that month a job opportunity presented itself... yes, a regular old 8 to 5 Monday through Friday gig.  I went through a couple of interviews and low and behold they actually offered it to me.  So, I found myself in a bit of a conundrum.  I wanted to start my business, but here was a job that could provide for me and the girls with a level of consistency that my own small business could not do (at least not right away).

I took the job...

Those of you that are my friends on Facebook already know this, but I think I made the right decision.  The name of the company is Hahn Automotive Warehouse, Inc (link).  They are comparatively small when you look at the environment that I came from.  However, it's not a bad thing.  My first day, many of the people that I was introduced to already knew my name.  As I was being escorted around the building by my new boss I got this strange sense that the people there actually liked their jobs.  A lot of smiling and shaken hands later, I began to wonder if it was a joke being played out for my benefit and that at any moment people would start stressing out and backstabbing each other.  Well, it's been almost a month and I am happy to report that either these people really do like their jobs or this is turning into the most elaborate prank EVER.

All kidding aside it's been a great experience thus far.  Just that fact that I don't dread the end of my weekend and I don't stress out about going to work in the morning is an amazing thing in and of itself.  It's also nice to be getting a real paycheck again.

What's that you say? What about my business?

While I have not given up on it by any means, I have put it on the back burner while I get my footing with the day time gig.  I'll be back at it in a few months as a part-time thing.  I still want to make that happen.


Ok... I think we're finally caught up here.  There will be more to come now that I've got myself restarted.

Last thought for tonight...

Real self-improvement cannot be achieved by being better than the person next to you.  It comes from simply being better than you were before.

Chew on that and I will expand on it in my next post.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Blogging Fail... Ego Win! (and other stuff...)

Oops... ok, so unless I start double posting I'm not going to make anywhere near 365 posts on this blog this year.  Oh well.  Win some, lose some, I guess.  It's been almost 2 solid months since my last post, but that doesn't mean that nothing has been going on.  I've been cranking away at my goals and I think I've made some good progress on some of them.

A couple of weeks ago I had what turned out to be an amazing night out.  I was supposed to go and see a friend's band play for the first time out at a bar in Henrietta by the airport.  The show was supposed to start @ 10pm, but when I got there @ 9:30 I found out that they wouldn't be playing.  Apparently the owner of the place was being an asshat and refused to let them play.  I was understandably disappointed.  The bunch of people that had showed up talked it over and it was decided that we would head over to Johnny's Irish Pub up on Culver Road.  For those of you unfamiliar with Johnny's it is definitely a little piece of Ireland right here in Rochester.  Great beer... including perfectly poured Guinness and a bunch of really friendly bartenders.  It was my first time there and it was obvious why they have the reputation that they do.  It was crowded and those of you that know me know that I don't do well with crowds.  I fought through the anxiety and fear and stayed... I wanted to spend time with my friend.  I won't go into great detail about my friend, but I will say that we have been friends for 16 years and her and I share a bond that is completely unique amongst all the people that I know.  The music that night was great and after a couple of beers I was even coaxed out on to the dance floor.  As awkward as it was for me (and I assume for everyone else) to be dancing it was a blast.

Most of the evening the music of light and quickly paced... as most Irish pub music should be.  Then, for one single song they slowed it down and I got to have a moment that I won't ever forget.  It was like a moment that you only see in the movies.  I was sitting on a bar stool taking a break watching my friend dance (she is an amazing and incredibly lively dancer).  There she was, this beautiful woman (those of you that know her can vouch for her beauty) attracting the attention of everyone in the bar and when the band started to play Elvis Presley's "Are You Lonesome Tonight", she stopped, walked across the dance floor, pulled me off my stool and we danced.  She could have had that dance with anyone in that bar (man or woman) and she chose me... it was quite the ego booster.  In 16 years of knowing her this was the very first time we had ever had a slow dance together and it was wonderful.  Now before you get any ideas, we're not involved and have no intention of getting involved.  We are each other's best friend and we got to share a moment of tenderness together.  Considering that both of us are going through some pretty big transitions in our lives right now it was nice to be able to share a moment like that with someone that you can completely trust with no worry of having your heart broken.

From there the night continued and we were the last ones to leave the bar when they were locking up for the night.  I didn't get home until 3:30am... Goal #5 accomplished!


In other news.... I finally filed my DBA with the Monroe County Clerks Office this past week!  I'm one step closer to getting my business off the ground.  The business name I finally decided on is 5/19 Technology Services. I've got my domain name registered for my website and I've started putting together the Facebook page and the Twitter account.  I'm also working on designing a logo and getting some business cards printed up.  I think I may also have a phone number nailed down as well.


One last tidbit...

Those of you that are friends with me on Facebook may have already seen this, but I'm going to repost it here as well.  I put a call out earlier this week for suggestions on what villain I should draw as I have gotten tired of drawing heroes all the time...

Funniest suggestion came from my friend Dennis who suggested Bernie Madoff (can't lie... I laughed hard at that one)

Most obscure was from Erin... she went with General Stryker from the X-Men books.

Ultimately, I went with The Scarecrow from Batman's rogues gallery... as suggested by the owner of Empire Comics (I've been buying comics from this dude for almost 30 years and now he's my friend... life is fun that way)

Here is the final product...

I was pretty happy with the result :-)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Movies, Movies, Movies...

So it looks like goal #10 going to be a cake walk...  So far this year I have already been to the movies 3 times.  Tron, Black Swan and True Grit.  I'm planning on seeing The King's Speech in the next couple of weeks and I'd like to add The Fighter to the list as well.

Movies are something that always played a significant part in my life. Growing up I can remember browsing the HBO schedule every month and making a list of all the movies that month that I wanted to see and then preprogramming our VCR to automatically record them.  There is something a bit obsessive about preprogramming your VCR up to a month in advance... it would take me sometimes up to an hour to get everything set up.  I still have a stack of VHS tapes with movies that I recorded.  Some are over 20 years old.  I just love movies... I always loved going to the movies, renting movies... they were my escape.  I never really watched a whole lot of television when I was a kid.  If I was found sitting in front of the television I was usually watching a movie.

Maybe it's because my earliest childhood memory is being at the movies... It was the summer of my 2nd birthday... 1977.  Star Wars had just come out and my parents took me to the drive-in to see it.  I can still see it in my mind.  My parents in the front seat and me and the dog in the back.  I was wearing what were my favorite feet-pajamas and munching on popcorn.

... and there it was... Star Wars!  I can still remember the thrill of seeing Darth Vader appear through the smoke at the beginning of the movie.  It was awesome.  I'm sure I didn't make it through the whole movie and I'm pretty sure that I didn't see Star Wars all the way through until the 2nd rerelease in 1979.  I still get the chills when I hear the opening fanfare of the score (happens with the Indiana Jones movies and the original Superman film as well).

If you want to read more of my ramblings about movies go to my movie blog over at Armchair Cinema.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Breaking Old Habits...

I managed to bust through Goal #5... I put the call out on my Facebook page on Thursday afternoon to see if anyone wanted to go to the movies with me that night.  I have really wanted to see Black Swan and True Grit, but I don't like to go out to the movies by myself.

I don't know if I was expecting anyone to respond... if nobody did I suppose it would have subconsciously validated how I've been feeling lately.  Maybe I didn't even want anyone to respond.  Well, someone did.  My friend Jessica, a friend from high school who I had reconnected with on Facebook, responded and mentioned that her and her husband Brad, who I also went to high school with, were going to go see Black Swan at The Little Theatre downtown and I was welcome to join them.  They even had an extra ticket that they would give me.  I had no reason to say "no"... yet somehow the fear and doubt started to creep in again.  I hadn't seen them since high school... 18 years! Back then, we knew each other and had many mutual friends, but we didn't really run with the same crowd.  My brain ran in circles, fear and depression started to take hold... a million doubts poured into my head.  Then I thought of my New Year's goals... especially #5:
I will NOT allow depression and fear to keep me at home when I'm invited out by my friends and family.
 So I said nothing and decided to fight through it and go... and I had a great time.  I confirmed for myself that reconnecting with Jessica over the last couple of years on Facebook was not a fluke.  After spending time chatting with them and seeing the movie (and getting a heartfelt hug), any fear and doubt that I had was washed away and I was left with the warmth of rediscovered friendship.

Such a wonderful thing :)


In other goal related news...

I finished up my photo restoration project,  I honest can't wait see the look on my grandmother-in-law's face when she sees it for the first time.

It will be on to my next short term creative project starting this weekend... I wonder what it should be......?


This just makes me want to deal with Goal #4... right NOW!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Planning the Business Plan?

I've been scouring my brain for the better part of today and yesterday in an attempt to clarify what exactly it is that I want to do as a business.  I know that PC repair is going to be a large chunk of it, but I think that in the long run I would like to move away from that into other areas.  Let me make one thing clear before I go too far... I AM NOT LOOKING TO GET RICH.  It's never been about the money for me.  As long as I can live comfortably and give my kids the things that they need to grow up healthy and happy I'm good to go.

Here are some of the things that I want to do and attempt to get paid to do them...

  • PC Repair... this one is a given as I can repair computers in my sleep
  • Residential technology consulting... this one is a bit more complex so let me break down my ideas
    • Home networking design
    • Residential wireless networking security
    • Personal data storage planning
    • Appliance integration
      • I'm sure most of you realize by now that pretty much anything electronic in your home will at some point in the very near future be "intelligent" and internet/network aware. I want to help people integrate these devices into their existing home network infrastructure and help them do it in a way that best suits their personal needs and also maintains the security of their home network.
      • Home Theater is a big one in this category
    • Something I would love to try is working with new home construction companies to design home networks that can be installed right from the beginning... and it would be equally as cool to be able to assist people who are remodeling their existing homes in designing a home network that fits into their remodel.
  • Digital Media Services
    • Digital archiving of photographic prints and negatives 
    • Video to DVD/Digital media conversion... everything from old home movie film to magnetic tape (VHS, 8mm, miniDV)
    • Digital audio conversion from magnetic tape to digital files.
      • All of the above would be done using the same guidelines that are used by the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution.
    • Photographic restoration... this is time consuming and therefore expensive (and sometimes impossible), but I'm sure there is a market for it.
So there is it... the above list is pretty much everything that I would be interested in doing for money.  This of course leads me to 2 important questions/problems...

  1. Do I do the PC repair/Technology consulting and Digital Media Services as 2 separate ventures or should I just do them under one umbrella?
  2. Either way... what do I call my company(ies)?
    • If I do them separately I think I would call one "5.19 Technology Services" and the other "5.19 Digital Media" or "5.19 Digital Media Services"
    • Together... I just don't know... maybe "5.19 Digital Services"???
This is where my brain has pretty much been stuck since this morning... 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Keeping the Creative Juices Flowing

I like to consider myself a creative person.  It seems to be when I am in my most zen-like state of being.  I took a lot of art classes in high school and I had intended upon going on to pursue art as a career... my goal was to work as a comic book artist.  Alas, I allowed myself to be talked out of it by people around me.  I put down my pencils and for several years did nothing more than doodle in the margins of my notebooks and meeting notes at work.  Over the past year though I have started to feel the itch again and I've started to rekindle my love of art and I've picked up my pencils again.

For quite a while I was heavily involved in photography and digital imaging.  I loved creating images and then modifying them in Photoshop.  A couple of years ago I was handed two tattered old photographs that belonged to my Grandmother-in-law and was asked if I could somehow restore them.  I said I would try...

The first was relatively easy and I was able to bring it back to life quickly...

The other one was not going to be as easy and it has sat for a couple of years never making past the scanning stage.

With her 90th birthday coming up it was decided that I should make a run at restoring it. In the photo is, of course, her, but along with her are her two older sisters, her older bother and her parents.  Her younger brother had not yet been born.

So here is the original...

...and here is the progress I have made over the last few days...

I've got a couple of more days to finish it.  It's going to be a surprise so hopefully I can make it worthy of it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

This month's reading list... and my scale ran away

So here's this month's reading list...

  • Fiction: The Hobbit
    • It's been a while since I read this one.  The way I see it, with the movie coming out next year I'd better refresh my memory.
  • Non-Fiction: Band of Brothers
  • How-to/Self Help: Starting Your Own Small Business For Dummies
    • This ties directly into Goal #2

In more depressing news...

I stepped on the scale today just so I could get a baseline for my weight... gotta know where you started to see how far you went when it's all over.  Ugh... what a shameful experience that was.  I won't publicly declare the number here, but holy shit did I feel awful about myself.  I half expected my scale to start shouting, "ONE AT A TIME PLEASE!!!"  Ultimately I want to drop 100lbs this year.  Not difficult, it's only 2 pounds a week, but for a guy that has seen his weight do nothing but go up it's a daunting task.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Goals not Resolutions

So here it is... the year 2011... and with the new year always comes a host of resolutions.  Things that I say I'm going to change, but never really do.  This year is different.  This year things have to change.  Whether I like it or not, my life has to change and it is up to me to determine whether or not it changes for the better.

2010 was not what you would call a banner year for me.  Lay offs, financial problems, day care issues, health problems, an impending divorce, and my father dying unexpectedly pretty much sums up my year.  I'm entering 2011 with my life upside down, something occurred to me today... this may be a blessing in disguise.  This year represents what could be a completely fresh start for me.  I can make choices this year that will determine the path I will take for the rest of my life.  That being the case I've decided that in place of the usual meaningless resolutions I will set goals for myself.  Goals that mark a set of personal challenges for me to overcome.

I've publicly declared them on my Facebook page and on Twitter... Here they are again:
  1. I will vastly improve my health this year.
  2. I will be making at least 75% of my income from self employment by year's end. I'm done making other people rich.
  3. I will read 1 each of the following types of books every month: fiction, non-fiction, and how-to/self help.
  4. I will dig my guitars out of the basement and play them again.
  5. I will NOT allow depression and fear to keep me at home when I'm invited out by my friends and family.
  6. I will make time to do something creative EVERY DAY.
  7. I will make an effort to travel to see out of town friends and family this year.
  8. I will spend more time praising those around me and less time judging them... especially my kids.
  9. I will take at least 4 classes of some kind this year. At least one of them will be an art class.
  10. I will make time to go to the movies at least once a month... even if I have to go by myself.
So there they are.  These are the goals that I have set out for myself for the coming year.  If I am able to accomplish these goals I will have done the impossible and reinvented myself and used this forced fresh start to make a positive change in my life and hopefully in the lives of those around me.