Tea …Ouch.

A few weeks ago I was wasting away life wandering the shops and stores at the mall, killing some time while waiting for the line at the new Dave & Busters to subside.   The Apple store, Legoland, Macy’s, Yankee Candles,…  Did you know there’s a place in the food court that sells just grilled cheese sandwiches?

Normally, I’m a coffee guy, like, big time coffee guy. I have a 13 napkin business plan to open the ultimate coffee shop.  I have the cappuccino machine, a french press, coffee grinder, way over the top coffee pot at home and one in my office. I even have a spare backup cappuccino machine…just in case. I started buying green coffee beans and  roasting them at home. But not today..let’s switch it up a little…..

Back to the mall, I was passing Teavana. A specialty tea shop. I decided I wanted to try out some tea.  Made my way thru the busy shop to the back counter where they have the wall o’ tea. The young lady behind the counter asks  what I want and I explain I’m sorta exploring and I’m looking for some suggestions.  She immediately pulls out this massive tin, opens it, and tells me it’s their best green tea.  I notice the price on the side says $20 per.  I figure $10 bucks is enough to gamble on a new tea. OK give me a half.  She them explains they have these really nice tins to keep the tea in.  Two choices small or large.  OK, I’ve bought tea before and it goes super stale in the bags and the tin was only a few extra bucks. Give me the half.

I turn to look at the tea strainers and decide to add one of those to the pile as well.  She has finish loading the tea from the vat into the tin. She rings it all up and I swipe ye’olde credit card without really looking.  My son, who has joined me in the store, of course,  is  touching and poking at all the lovely glass tea sets. So I sign and grab my stuff and get out of there before he breaks something.

About 25 minutes later we stop for a small scoop of ice cream. I suddenly hear the young lady’s voice from the tea shop replay in my head ” that will be $109.38 ” .   Have you ever snarfed ice cream?  I didn’t, but I did choke on the spoonful I had in my mouth. I scramble and rummage through the receipts.  I find it…Holy Tea Bags Batman !!!! I spent $110 bucks on tea.  My wife is gonna kill me…. I hope she’s bought some shoes or something I can gain some leverage on.  Holy S%#t !!!!  I look at the receipt.

8 oz Gyokoro Imperial Green Tea        $80.00

8 oz. Teavanna Tea Tin                          $ 6.00

Cool Touch Tea Strainer                        $16.95

After the heart attack, I figure out that the $20 refers to the unit of sale…2 oz. The half I stated was translated to 1/2 lb by the young woman, who conveniently sold me the 1/2lb. tin.  Funny enough, after questioning my sanity, my wife pointed out some of the comments posted on foursquare about the place feeling like ” a used car lot” and the staff acts accordingly , they just don’t have the yellow and red plaid sports jackets.


The upside of all this is the tea kicks ass.  I’m going back to coffee.

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Inspired by Sally & John

I meet Sally and John a few years back through an industry  networking group. They are Wilson Kelsey Design located north of Boston. I’m a big fan of their Blog. Their sense of style and approach to design resonates with me.  They quite often take lots of photo’s of everyday things in their world and muse on them.  This post was inspired by them.

I have a privacy hedge thing going on one side of my house.  Usually it’s this massive wall of green outside the kitchen windows. In the fall,  to make up for it, we are treated to a massive explosion of vibrant reds, yellows, and orange.  I look forward to the fall just to see this.  I decided to try to capture this foliage, I needed some new PC wallpaper photo’s. As I was taking the photos I thought “I bet this is what John feels like when he’s taking his photo’s” .   This morning I was catching up on my reading and Sally had posted some pics of some of her linen napkins and she shared the story behind how she acquired them.  The photos inspired me to share my photos.

Here’s the full view.

The best part is the lawn becomes littered with a carpet of color.

Thanks Sally and John, you’ve inspired me to take a second look at the details that surround me everyday. Some of it’s very inspiring, like the leaves outside my window.  Some of it is covered with dust…. so I’m off  to find the duster and Pledge.

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Some Changes…..

I started this blog just over a year ago for several reason. For the hell of it, to get better at writing, as an outlet for all the various things rattling around in my head. I figured I would gear it around work and my career. It’s a cool industry and there’s always something new and exciting to yap about. But what I discovered was that there are tons of guys who are way ahead of the curve with way more specs and insider knowledge who are throwing it up into the blogosphere.  I’m too busy running and managing the company to stay bleeding edge  with all the tech coming down the line. Fortunately for me there are guys on staff who are all over this stuff….and frankly, they could write till the cows come home about just about any of this stuff.  So I leave it to them.

I looked back at all my topics and realized I’m all over the map with my thoughts. Cigars, Disney, 8-tracks, coffee, management theory…..  So at about one year into my blogging career, I’m making some changes.  I thought long and hard about an appropriate Blog title. I was close with my original title. Things in my world seem to change so fast no matter what I do things appear to blink…sorta like the VCR clock…no matter what you did it went back to blinking.

So hopefully you’ll continue to follow along as I wander thru the world of a coffee fueled, gym challenged, career driven, suburbanite dad. If I could draw this would be a comic strip…. nothing too serious,  just a lighthearted observation of my world.


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New Years in September AKA New Years in June part Deux

Back in June I shared my theory on New Year’s resolutions done on a quarterly basis. Here’s the update.

I happen to write out my yearly goals and have been consistently for the past 5 years.  This year I decided to try it out quarterly, as mentioned a few blogs ago.

It’s interesting to revisit your resolutions and look at them. It’s somewhat profound how some of them seem so ludicrous. What the hell was I thinking when I dreamed that up?  Or yep, crashed and burned on that one … again.  It’s also very interesting to see what things on the list you accomplished and didn’t. It’s amazing to see some goals not become realized until 2 or 3 years later.

Going quarterly is really just a method of breaking larger goals into bite sized steps, no ground breaking theory here, I won’t take credit.  Examining  where you are in life 3/6/9 months out from where you thought you were going versus looking at one year intervals is also a real good way to see what things cause you to fail. Even more revealing is that this quarterly exercise has made it clear on why some goals came to fruition 2 or 3 years later.

So here’s my 2 cents on making this a successful exercise.

Short term goals are easy.  How? Example : I will do my expense reports weekly.  Simply schedule an hour on Friday mornings in your Outlook or Google Calendar as a recurring appointment with a reminder.

Medium range goals , things that may take 6 to 12 months, break them up into 3 or 4 short-term goals, tackle each, move on to the next one. Schedule time to work on these goals, stick to the schedule, slow and steady wins the race.

Long term goals. This is where I have discovered the greatest amount of insight.  Take time to really understand what the long-term goal really is.  Things that are a year or two in length become elusive due to the chaotic world we live in.  That job, project, or habit we are looking to do can disappear in the course of us getting there.  But, if we understand that achieving a certain goal really is having the skills, education, and knowledge that it would take to complete the goal we’re after, it changes dramatically the steps we put in place to meet that goal. Understanding your goals based on the skill set required to perform, achieve, or complete  the desired outcome can sometimes get you a win or completed with your resolutions without accomplishing the original task. You develop those skills in other non resolution related ways. Rewrite goals or change them,  focus on skill sets that will apply to you accomplishing older goals.

Developing and sharpening skills sets to carry out goals make them much easier and more likely if you understand the mechanics required to get there even if life throws you a curve ball or two.

Keep those old resolution lists…. especially the ones with uncompleted goals. Rethink how you can complete your old resolutions  and revisit the skills you have learned since you wrote the original resolution.  Apply those new skill sets and I bet you start knocking off some of the incompletes rather quickly.

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Counter culture to pop culture, just bake for 20 years….

OK I’m a few weeks late to the party with this one….

September 21st, 1991.

Musically a very important date. From a small music scene in Seattle where  alt rock was with twisted with punk, heavy metal, and distortion came the album born out of the sound that had been percolating for most of the late 80’s.

Nevermind would be the album that introduced mainstream to grunge.

Smells like Teen Spirit still gets the crowd fired up everytime, those opening chords still inspire what I like to classify generally as “driving to endanger”.

20 years and it’s as much a part of pop culture as Mickey Mouse, Elvis, and Darth Vader.

Here’s a few of the more interesting (fun) covers of this now classic.

Paul Anka in 2005 on the Late Show with David Letterman


The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain



Of course Weird Al



Muppets…..just because who doesn’t like the Muppets?


and lastly a dubstep/house mix.


And lastly I will NOT post the link to the Miley Cirus cover. I figure the Dubstep version was probably trying enough as is.

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CEDIA and Fun Stuff

Hi Blog readers.   I took the summer off.  Ok, maybe it was I was just completely overwhelmed with crazy biz at work, a few summer backyard construction projects, one hurricane, and about a week or so of hanging with the children.

I just returned from a world-class junket from the beautiful mecca of Indianapolis for an industry conference.  Half of you know what CEDIA is (and I probably saw you there) and for the other half who don’t know it’s where the audio/video/home automation geeks and gurus converge to swap ideas, get training, smooze, see the latest greatest offerings from the fine manufacturers we have the pleasure of dealing with, and stock up on free t-shirts and tweakers. ( Small screw driver one size up from the eyeglass repair kind).

So here’s my CEDIA recap of the cool and interesting things I saw :

Super slick custom theater chair…. by First Impressions Theme Theaters, Inc. for when you want to get on your bad motor scooter and ride  during intermission.

Yup, a turntable… they still make ’em. This one is a work of art.  This is a Clearaudio Innovation. Click here to read a review from some guys who know the deal. For the sum of a nice Honda Accord you too can break out the Zappa albums, dust off the Zepplin, or even crack open that untouched white album you’ve held onto like a gold brick for the last 43 years. Yes, November 22nd, 1968 was the day The White Album was released…

This is a military grade radar enabled camera tracking system ….

The guy explaining the features and capabilities was clearly x-military.  It was unnerving. You swear he had at least 3 kills under his belt within the last year.  This thing can track a man at mile out or maybe it was 7 miles, I was too afraid to blink never mind listen….  it moves like something out of a sci-fi war flick.  If I recall correctly he mentioned the unit could be outfitted with “options”.

OK, I’m exaggerating and taking some poetic license about the guy, he was cool and knew his “stuff”.  This bad Larry is a collaboration effort between ICRealtime and Jetprotect.  It’s a Virtual  Fence Radar Security Solution and it can detect a “breach” with in a 9 mile radius.  Yes, I said 9 miles. I will say if you need top-notch long-range security camera’s or you are an evil super villain looking to outfit your latest secret volcano island hide out with cool gear, this is the real deal.

So that’s my cool stuff from CEDIA report.  Thanks to the fine Folks at Nicky Blaines and Loughmiller’s for top-notch entertainment and adult beverages, check em out if you’re in Indianapolis anytime soon.

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Cigar Shenanigans

I’m a cigar guy. I’ve enjoyed them for the last 20 years. I have my favorites, I like certain ones for special occasions, I have the cheapies for the commute, and I still like to explore new brands occasionally.

I had an incident on a recent fly by to my regular cigar shop. It was a bit disturbing. In a rush, I flew in said “Hey” to the usual crowd of guys who are always hanging out there.  I head for the cheapies. I call them cheapies…$2.95, Nicaraguan filler with a Nicaragua binder, Dominican wrapper.  6 1/2″ length, approximately a 42 ring, usually well constructed and if they are kept humidified properly, they smoke great.

Ah, there they are…

Whoa ! Wait a minute.  The 50% box.   A rare sighting.  This box appears from time to time. Usually loaded with half off product.   $5 to $15 dollar cigars at half off. A bit of rummaging and there are always some good deals in there.

I’m in a rush, so I reach in and grab some that are the right size and look to be the shade wrapper I prefer.  I pay, jump in the car and head off to an appointment 45 minutes away with 30 minutes to get there.

Time to fire one up for the ride.  Hmmm… what’s that? That’s odd.  Is that orange? Maybe Mellon?  OK , maybe I’m imagining things.  I thought that I tasted something. I have  slug of coffee to clear the palate.  Try again, there it is. That’s definitely  some fruit taste going on there.  I check the label. Ohhhh Boy.   Mangolicious.

I check the rest of the cigars. All fruit flavored cigars.  I feel duped. Cigars should not be fruit flavored. It’s just wrong.

Ah, I get it, that’s why they were 50% off. Oh well, mango cigars for the rest of the week.

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I spent Saturday with the Family wandering around Provincetown, MA.  For those of you not from Massachusetts, it’s the town at the very end of Cape Cod.  It’s also the premier gay/lesbian resort haven on the eastern North American coast.  Very much so.

It’s a great place to visit, a summer beach tourist trap to the nth degree. Beaches, tons of restaurants, loads of art shops/galleries, boating, a pirate museum, and loads of other interesting things to see.  Particularly drag shows featuring Cher and Lady Gaga.

We spent some time on the beach.  The hotel behind the beach, geared towards gay men, had some awesome tunes playing at the pool. Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. We walked a half mile long jetty to the dunes where there was lighthouse.  Stopped at some shops, had some ice cream, bought some fudge and candy at the saltwater taffy shop. Basically your text-book day at the beach side town in the summer. Sort of…

We were heading back thru town when we wandered into the middle of  the Tea Dance getting out. (world-famous afternoon dance party at the Boat Slip) About 500 or so big burly men pouring out into the streets.  Did I mention it was Bear week in Ptown?   I didn’t feel unsafe or threatened or worried for my kids  safety, or anything like that. Quite the opposite. It was loud, fun, everyone was laughing, having a grand old-time. But I clearly felt like a minority.  It was really strange to feel that way. I don’t get that too often, being the average, ordinary white guy from suburbia.  It was not my party and it was obvious.  Not that anyone was rude, everyone was very cool.

It stuck with me the feeling of being the odd man out.  I’m not homophobic or anything like that, I’m very secure about my sexuality to not feel threatened by someone else’s sexual preference.  I wondered if many of these men lived their lives with the feeling I briefly felt in their lives  in the world outside of Ptown. It  was not so long ago that being gay was not as accepted as it is today. Even still , we as a society still have  away to go in being tolerant of our differences, not only in sexual preferences, in many other categories as well.  I can’t imagine that feeling if I had felt unsafe or threatened, as many must live with as they deal with prejudices against them.

On top of having a nice day trip with the family, it was a brief moment to see the world in a different way.  I think it’s good to look at things from a different perspective whether it’s  about the various people we cross paths with, maybe different political positions, maybe even the people we work with. You may not agree or change your mind about something, but I bet you have a better grasp on the challenges we face and how manage them.  Changing up your perspective from time to time is a good thing.

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New Years in June

Yep, It’s Fathers Day. Nope, not writing about that. I feel like that’s too easy and predictable.  Well, at least I’ll admit I found the time to write this, because I got a day off from the usual weekend list o’ chores that is mine.  And yes, thank you to my wonderful children, wife, and my mom who made Father’s Day a great day for me.  Love you all.

Where was I? Oh yes, a few holidays back… New Years.  Is it safe to say we’ve all heard of Christmas in July? That was my inspiration for this one.  I decided this year I really needed to figure out how to make my New Years resolutions stick. My plan, simple, let’s make it a quarterly event instead of an annual event. At the beginning of each quarter I would revisit my goals and make a fresh go of it. Those that had stuck, I would update and continue forward. Those that I didn’t get to I’d make another attempt to kick-start again.

April rolled around and happy to report 2 resolutions had stuck. But the big goal I set had did not.  Any guesses about what it was? It was very unique and original.  I was going to start going to the gym/exercising.  Are you shocked?  I know, original.  But over the past 3 years I’ve made a real attempt to get my rather large ass in shape. I’ve had some success in sticking to the gym for 3 to 5 months at a time.  I was doing great last summer. Then I got derailed. Job schedule change, got a bone spur in my heel, then I got a really bad lung cold that lasted 3 month. I was a train wreck thru the winter.

I was determined to get back on track. Over the early spring I acquired some work out machines and cleared a space in the garage.  April 1st came and went.  Missed that date….

A few weeks ago I finally realized I was going to need to shift my strategy. I clearly was doing everything I could to make excuses on why I wasn’t dragging my ass 50 yards out to the garage to my newly installed gym.  So I boiled it down to a very simple goal. Show up. And I decided to get a jump on the New Years in July date. That was week 1’s goal. Show up. I dragged my ass out of bed at o’wayto darkthiry and stumbled across the yard to the garage. I managed to do this for  a week. Didn’t get much exercising done, but I showed up.  I played with the music , read the Bowflex machine manual, moved the equipment around, screwed with the internet connection for my streaming music, etc….

Week 2 –

This is pathetic.  Why the hell am I waking up and becoming sleep deprived to hang out in my garage at 5:30 am?  Time to up the ante. Show up and break a sweat.

So I, like millions of others, continue to  wage the war against being overweight. The exercising is the easy part. I feel great when I’m working out, feel great afterwards, and my day is certainly better when I have a work out to start the day. The tough part is the waging of  psychological warfare that needs to happen to get there. I continue to fight the good fight. Not sure if I’m gaining any ground , but each day I show up and break a sweat is a small victory and I’ll take it.  Haven’t lost any weight yet, but I’ll stick to it.

Ohhh, gotta run, the pizza dude just showed up with my large bacon/sausage extra cheese.

New Year’s in June, try it, I highly recommend it…and the Bacon Pizza from Mama Mia’s, both are awesome.

Happy New Years !!!

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Political Pre-season

Please stop and read carefully…. this is not a political pitch, not an endorsement for any candidate or cause, nor a fundraising request for any particular party.

Disclaimer done.  I suffer a rare condition of not being into sports. It’s exasperated by the fact that I live in the Boston market. It’s a fabulous sports town and we have all the major sports teams.  Loads of history and crazy fans.  A top 5 place to be if you’re a sports guy/gal/person.  Not me.  I listen to the sports talk radio during the playoff seasons for 5 minutes a day so I can get by day-to-day. Sorta like learning Spanish before you take a vacation in Barcelona, enough to survive.

Politics is my sport. I’m not a political junkie, more of an enthusiast.  I’m not a supporter of any one team or person.  I like the sport of it as much as I like the issues.  There are a million and one factors that affect the outcome.  It’s the greatest Facebook fan page. We all can hit the “like” button, but the stakes are much higher. In the end intelligence, common sense, and proven track record have very little to do with the outcome.

The debates are like WWE cage matches, the polls are like NASCAR points system, the primaries are like the sweet 16 playoffs, and of course the election is like the Lakers vs the Celtics game 7 meets the Superbowl.

Enough of the metaphors….

The 2012 political pre-season is off to a great start. Lots of quality action.

Here’s run down:

The Birthers made  enough noise with Trump steering that ship to get The President to produce the official document,  fun to watch. In the long runs means nothing other than Trump blew his spotlight way to early. He could have dragged that “I’m running for President” thing out for a while.

Huckabee – out. There was an unexpected surprise. Outsider long shot last time around hung in long past when it was obvious he had no chance.  Out before it started. I guess the pay check at Fox is better than what 1600 Pennsylvania Ave pays.

Palin, the exhibition tour entertainment for the space between the midterm and presidential election. She came into her own. She found her voice, message and a bunch of Teabaggers to make her popular enough for her to get a gig at Fox. Is she as important as they were saying she was?  Seems she’s losing her luster. But she certainly still is the wild card.

Mitt Romney.  A bit on the low-key side of the things , but definitely working it. Republican with the original Obama health care plan.

Lots of noise on the conservative/ Republican front.

The President   Osama= dead,  nuf said, even in my book.

It should a wild ride in a few months as the candidates, networks, pundits, and general rabble rousers head to the streets with their soap boxes.  I’m excited. I love the process. I love  what it all means. I’ve got my civics “geek on” and I’m ready to go for this upcoming political season.

Now if I could only get everyone to refer to the political junkies as political hooligans.

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