Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Goals: Art

So the first of my goals are in what I call the "Art" category.

Well... the first besides not posting scary pictures of myself like in the last entry. Yikes.
I look like a zombie. :)


As you've seen in some previous entries I've linked a few of my drawings that I have on my Deviant Art page. Eventually I want to do something more with some of them - blow 'em up, frame them, sell them as posters, put them on T-shirts. Thinks like that! Suggestions are always appreciated, along with other thoughts and ideas.

On to my goals in Art:
  • Draw MORE - use more than just pens. I think I'm a bit addicted to the permanence of ink, even though usually I would use an eraser a LOT. So why not?
  • Complete AT LEAST one drawing/art piece a month. Since I made this goal in August I've done a good job at this :)
  • Explore more art mediums. Clay, Paints, Carvings, Airbrushing, Foam sculpting (Ooh I want to do things like I linked here)
  • Find my scratchboard tools and do more
  • Study the Masters - in Jr. High I had a horrible art history teacher that turned me WAY off to school art classes. Because of that I think my talents suffered horrible so I never learned a lot of Art basics most people get in school.
  • Have more Art Nights. A while back we had a few nights where we'd just go to a friend's house and paint. (She's a very talented artist check out her Deviantart and Mural sites!) It was a lot of fun. While I'd like to be able to do this with friends - just my wife and I would have a lot of fun as well - so I want to have this scheduled, kind of like a date night, with or without friends. Only it wouldn't be a date when it was with friends. Maybe like a double date... but the kids would be around too so whatever.
  • My wife is a brilliant photographer - but I am not. I want to learn more from her and with her in the realms of photography.
And that's it for my current goals in the realm of Art. Music is next I think.
Any thoughts, comments, suggestions, improvements, etc are always appreciated! :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Before, After, and In-Between! (and art)

So back on this post I talked about me shaving my head and promised pictures.
Took me a while so I didn't feel like putting these pictures down in that post, so here they are!

Yikes those are scary.
Maybe I should have just left the mohawk for a couple of weeks...

Finally - I scanned a new finished drawing - check it out!


So I am not normally a person that talks about politics - especially online.
Basically I think it's pointless because nobody ever convinces anybody and it just gets ugly.

Still, this was interesting to see the results of this OK Cupid test:

You are a

Social Moderate
(43% permissive)

and an...

Economic Moderate
(41% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

I'd probably be even MORE centrist if the questions were phrased differently.
But there you have it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Allergies and/or Sickness are NOT FUN

Jujitsu last night was fun - but the other guy that was there last week wasn't there, so the two of us did more talking than Jujitsu. It was still fun and I did learn some and was able to roll a little bit. I'm still very excited to learn more.

There were three problems which made me a bit hesitant to do too much physically...
1. I had just eaten dinner - REALLY great salmon and salad and green beans - Delicious but too close to the physical activity.
2. Our new 80-90% Vegetarian lifestyle has been giving me some major bubbles in my stomach... NOT fun especially when wrasslin'. Yikes.
3. I had a horrendous allergic outbreak last weekend. Something got to me real bad. Now I THINK that as a result of my allergies my throat was really irritated and this was further exacerbated by the smoke machines, heat, and air quality at the SYTYCD Tour on Tuesday causing me to miss work Wednesday. My throat is still weird, I have this nasty wheezy-type cough, and occasionally feel feverish and dizzy. Those last two are what makes me worry it might NOT be just allergies... but they are usually only late at night as I'm trying to go to bed.

Very annoying.

I brought my soccer stuff to work today (nothing really unique for soccer though... I don't have cleats or shin guards or anything!) but I'm not sure if I will go play or not. I could probably use the sunshine and fresh air!

Yesterday we went to our Credit Union and applied for a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). We are tired of our Credit Cards and want to have more control over our debt, along with a lower payment. Online the rates matched what the lady told us, but the payment threw us off a little, and we need to verify that what we think she said was correct. According to the online listing of loan options, the monthly payment on the HELOC was 1.25% of the balance. For the debts we are looking to 'pay off' with this that would save us approximately $100-150 a month on debt-payments, which is definitely a good thing. But for some reason both my wife and I think the loan helper person at the Credit Union said that the monthly payment was 3.5% of the balance per month. THAT would put us at DOUBLE what we are currently paying per month on Credit Cards and student loans... so that wouldn't make much sense.

We'll find out when we hear from the people that really make decisions about the loans. Hopefully this will help us get back on track a bit.

What I really need to do is find a job that pays more than I currently make. We won't be able to get out of our situation otherwise - we don't have any superfluous expenses to get rid of!

I blame our car, which is looking at another $1000 in repairs before we can even sell it... for hopefully around $2000. :(

Thursday, September 25, 2008

SYTYCD Tour 2008

For my beautiful wife's birthday last month I bought her tickets to the So You Think You Can Dance Tour. The show was Tuesday night, we arrived and dealt with ridiculous parking ($10 for parking? Lame) to get there. The place was packed with probably 19 females for every male there.

The show was really quite good - I wish I'd been able to get better seats for my wife, it was wonderful to see how much she enjoyed herself. She really is amazing. Although this really was for my wife - I did enjoy watching both the TV show and this tour with her.

My favorite dancers are Courtney, Twitch, and Gev. Out of all the dancers I think they are the most fun to watch.

The physiques of those dancers is amazing. Makes me feel somewhat chubby! So I got to work on some things. Maybe we should start dancing more. :)

Tonight is my second night of Jiujitsu. Hopefully I can get over my hesitancy and make myself do more. Either way I'm sure I'll be sore!

Monday, September 22, 2008


In general I don't think that I am a very goal oriented person.

I don't keep track of everything I want to accomplish this week and check it off when it's done.

In many ways I do need to improve on having, keeping and achieving my goals, because it is something I feel I should do.

For a long time I've struggled with what exactly I want to DO with my life, because I have actually already accomplished ALL of my goals that I had!

When I was young I had the following goals: (In this approximate order)
  • Graduate from High School (ridiculously easy)
  • Go on a Mission (2 years religious service) - Awesome experience in Russia
  • Get Married (7 years now with the most amazing woman!)
  • Have Children (3 beautiful children Boy 6, Boy 3, Girl 6 months)
  • Graduate from College (Degrees in International Studies and Russian)
And that's it. All done. Now what?? Guess I didn't think through that very well now did I.

So although I am not a big fan of small goals, and I REALLY don't like New Year's Resolutions (If you want to do something why wait until the new year when you can start NOW?), I do think that having goals is a good thing. So I have created a large list of goals that range from very broad to more specific in order to organize what I want to do - and actually move in that direction rather than stagnate where I am.

Currently I have 5 broad categories, and 1 other category that doesn't really fit into those but could involve any or all of them. Each of these categories will get a post on its own in the near future as I gather my thoughts more coherently about them. Those categories are:
  • Physical - Exercise related, along with skills and things/activities I'd like to do. If I had a goal to run a marathon someday (which I don't) I would put it here. My goal of running more IS here as well. I just don't ever aspire to run a marathon.
  • Art - Painting, Drawing, basically anything physically created by me and put into some medium. I want to explore more mediums as well. Some of my more direct goals are in this section involving drawings I have been doing for a while. The pirate flags in previous posts are examples of my 'art' and link to my deviant art page as well.
  • Music - I could possibly combine this with Art, but this is less physical as far as its expression (meaning you can't see or touch it - cuz it definitely involves my body!). I've always been involved with music and want to continue to be involved - increasing my current involvement.
  • Languages - I speak Russian from my 3 years spent there, but I need to keep it up and improve it. I would also like to learn more languages. Pretty simple.
  • Career/Job/Employment goals - This last category is probably one of the most important, but one of my least developed goal categories. I'm still trying to figure out what I really want.
So as you can see - I'm trying real hard to get back on track so I can know where the heck this train is headed! Wherever that is I want it to be a fun and enriching ride - so there you have it.

Have a wonderful day and if you have any goals or ideas for goals that help you - let me know!


Thursday before I went to learn some jiu jitsu I shaved my head. Buzzed it real short with a number 1 attachment on our hair trimmer.


Basically it was time for a change. Funny that with all the OTHER changes that have been happening (diet, home improvements, no Mt. Dew) I need ANOTHER change... but there you have it. Plus it is REALLY easy to get ready in the morning now because I don't have to figure out what to do with my hair. I did take some before and after pictures - so once I get them I will put them up for your enjoyment. Basically so you can laugh at me. :)

One benefit of having less hair is that the rest of me looks bigger. So now I look a little bit more 'buff'. Since my hair grows so fast it won't be long 'til my head looks huge and the rest of me looks tiny.

I posted the pictures in the most recent entry HERE. Scary!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Holy cow!

Tomorrow is an important day!!


So - Don't forget!


Ahoy! Avast and away me hearties! Aye!

Remember that today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!!

Arr me hearties! Look lively now for there be much to be done t' day!
In case ye be havin a harrrd time figgerin out how to be talkin like a swarthy pirate, here be a little tip from the slightly annoying Cap'n Slappy and Ol' Chumbucket.

Ye're to be findin more tips here.

I don't understand t' people that have a hard time with takin' one day out o' t' whole year t' talk like a pirate. Be it really that hard or humiliatin'? Maybe humiliatin' - but aye it's most definitely not hard! And you'll get over t' humiliatin' part.

And really me friends - even Google has made it easier t' be searchin the internets fer pirates!

In non pirate news - last night I had t' opportunity to try out some crazy fightin arrts with some friends. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Let me tell you those Brazilian folk can be mighty mean when you are trying to loot and pillage. Arm Bars and Rear Naked Chokes are NOT fun whilst tryin to haul a load of booty back to t' ship! Methinks I'll be visitin' them some more so I can learn some of that craziness. I definitely be best at using the Kimura right now... But I need more practice! I have a goal to learn martial arts of some sort. So this is helping that goal yay!

Until next time - remember: Don't be a scurvy lubber or cowardly bilge rat! Say Aye-aye to Cap'n Blade (Tomorrow I'll be the Warlord again, no worries!) and enjoy the day when you can plunder all the booty you desire and drink some grog (i.e. Root Beer) until ye pass out and wake up in a non-piratey manner tomorrow!!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Caffeine & Sugar

I love Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper.

I have also stopped drinking all caffeinated sodas... since September 5th. Almost two weeks! It has been hard, but not THAT hard to not drink caffeine. I'm tired, but at the same time I'm sleeping better. My headaches haven't improved too much - but then again, at only two weeks who knows.

An interesting thing to note... I don't have a lot of weight to lose, I could lose 15 pounds, but then I'd be really skinny. But lately I've been going UP instead of maintaining or down. Last night I was about 173 on WiiFit, today in our corporate gym I stepped on and was almost 178! Granted, that was with jeans, polo, big fat wallet (unfortunately NOT fat with cash!), keys, etc.

I think I want to get down to about 165... about what I was when I got married.

It's funny, but when I was 165 lbs I wanted to be 175. Now that I am 175 I want to be back down...

Guess I'd better start running!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Someday I'll come up with more interesting post titles...

But for now, I'm in a bit of a rush since I have an all day meeting starting soon!

I finished Shaman's Crossing and am 3/4ths of the way through Forest Mage the second book in the Soldier Son Trilogy. Really good stuff. I probably would have finished it last night, but I made myself stop and go to sleep.

I seriously doubt I would have been able to get up this morning if I hadn't finally exercised some self-control!

The more I do Wii Fit, the more I like it! It's fun, it's fast, and before you know it you're sweating, panting, and wondering where the past 30+ minutes have gone! I don't think I would have as hard a time if I ONLY did the balance games, but throwing those in between yoga, strength and aerobics is great. We've unlocked quite a few more workouts and games, and all of us are healthier (Although the new less-meat/no dairy diet we're doing is helping with that as well!).

We are trying hard to help our kids whine less and be happier. It really is an amazing change in myself lately in that I have been CHOOSING to be HAPPY and it WORKS. We have more power over our thoughts and feelings than we think we do. Sure everybody has tough times, things don't always go our way - but the happier we are, the easier these problems are to deal with!

For a couple of good blogs on happiness and exercising check out these:

The Happiness Project - While I don't always like HOW she says what she says, there is a lot to be learned from Gretchen Rubin's posts. Basically I think it makes me look at things in ways I didn't before, so I like her blog.

Caustic Musings - I found Maggie Wang's blog looking for info on the P90X (which I still want to try) and subscribed to because her writings on exercising motivated me. The Financial thoughts are great too!

Friday, September 12, 2008

World of Warcraft

I've been playing the World of Warcraft for almost two years, and enjoyed it immensely.

I even had a blog about some of my experiences and strategies. That blog is actually one of the reasons I wanted to do better with THIS blog, since I don't think I really accomplished what I wanted to do there.

In a week and a half my subscription is up. I wrote about it on the earlier linked blog - you can read about it if you want to.

Basically my family comes first, and I don't have the time or desire to participate in a big portion of the game - group dungeons. It takes a lot of time without interruptions. That doesn't happen much with kids. And that's okay. I'll miss it, but I have a lot of things I want to accomplish.

My goals are some of the focuses of this blog - Exercise, Fun, Reading, and other forms of self improvement in the areas of Art, Music, and more.

I'll post a more in depth look at my goals and hopefully I'll be able to figure out more specifically what I want to do AND how I can do that.

Thanks World of Warcraft for helping me overcome some stress and unwind at the end of the day! I'll miss you, but I'll live, and live well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Random post here...

Just found this amazing site where they build expensive custom tree houses/play houses.


I would like to learn how to do this type of stuff!

Daniels Wood Land

I think my favorite is this Pirate Oasis, but all their Pirate stuff is cool, and their Castle and Fort stuff too!

New Goal: Learn Foam sculpting, airbrushing, and chainsaw carving!

More on the New Diet and Books

Day 6 of the New Diet:
Okay so technically we've really been doing this for a couple weeks now since we basically lived on this diet at my parents house in Denver.
I've noticed today though, that I am HUNGRY! I've even been snacking on Almonds all day! Normally I don't get that hungry throughout the day - barely even thinking about food until I get home and Kakes reminds me I have to eat dinner.
Since we aren't going to be eating all that much meat (We most definitely have not given it up), I have a feeling I am going to need to find a non soy source of protein.

I actually don't like to think about food a lot. It might be strange, but while I enjoy many types of food, I've never really LOOOOOOVED and raved about food, and I don't want to. I think too many people are obsessed with food. I don't want that to be me.

The other side effect of a mostly fruit and vegetable diet? Multiple trips to the bathroom.
Yikes! Hopefully that regulates sooner than later.

I love books. Have I mentioned that?
Specifically Fantasy books are my favorite, but there are many other books I have greatly enjoyed.
I was finally able to get Shaman's Crossing, the first book of Robin Hobb's newest "The Soldier Son Trilogy" from the library. I've had a hold on it for months. I'm only 165 pages into it, but it's doing great at keeping my attention so far! Time-period wise it isn't so much medieval fantasy as an early American Cavalry vs. American Indians Fantasy. As a child I loved Native American lore, so I'm not having a problem with this at all. One thing I loved when I first opened it was the books dedication: "To Caffeine and Sugar, my companions through many a long night of writing." Too bad I've given up Caffeine eh? (6 days and counting! I can do it!) But sugar? NEVER!!!

The reason I'm excited about this is because of her previous Trilogies; The Farseer Trilogy, the Liveship Traders Trilogy, and the Tawny Man Trilogy. This one is brand new and totally unrelated to the other three. Great books. Not my favorites, but they are highly esteemed by me.

I recently finished some GREAT books by Carol Berg, The Bridge of D'Arnath series. These books are about a bridge that connects a magical world and a mundane one, and attempts to destroy and save this bridge. Really good reads all around.

AND I think I've realized why I don't blog MORE... As it is already, I write too much in each entry!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wii Fit, Forza, and a New Diet

Wii Fit
For my beautiful wife's birthday - I got her the Wii Fit and tickets to the So You Think You Can Dance Live Tour 2008. It took me FOREVER to find that Wii Fit! For anybody wondering - this is something she WANTED for her birthday, this is not a suggestion or anything like that from me. She is amazing and looks SO good 5 months after having our 3rd child!

This is a game that we will allow our kids to play every day, at least to get the balance test and a few games in. Keeps them aware of their bodies, what they put into it, etc.

The Wii Fit has four types of activities you can do: Aerobics, Yoga, Strength Training, and Balance Games.
- Aerobics is basic hula hoop, running (using the wiimote like a pedometer basically) and step-type aerobics. These workouts get you pretty good, although I'm still getting used to the running ones.
- I was unsure how the Yoga exercises would work out - but they basically concentrate on one pose and do repetitions of that. I haven't unlocked too many activities yet, but you start with some basic single poses. Do them correctly and you really can feel it.
- If you've done a lot of working out, you'll immediately get high scores on the Strength Training workouts. Push-ups with side-planks, leg-extensions, the beginning stuff isn't too hard. I've gotten 100/100, 4 stars on most of the strength training activities, but they are still a good workout.
- Kids will like the Balance Games the best, although sometimes they can be a bit frustrating, but the more you try it, the more fun they become. It's interesting to see what different types of people end up being good at. I'm good at the soccer and tight-rope walking ones, while my wife is really good at the ski ones, even though she's never been skiing!

Overall the Wii Fit is great! I'm excited to see what new activities, exercises and games we unlock as we continue to use this 'game.' One problem is that you have to unlock everything yourself, so something fun your kids might be doing you can't do until you've worked out more. Good motivation, I guess!

Just before Father's day I discovered a really cool workout called Powerstrike Forza. We bought it for $30 from Amazon.com. For $30 it's a good workout, but the DVD leaves much to be desired, mostly in navigating through the program.
Developed by Ilaria Montagnani, "Forza teaches the graceful, empowering skill of Samurai sword training designed to build the body and mind. Everyday warriors will learn how to move and control the speed of a Japanese sword, the queen of all weapons." (from the above link)
It's important to note that this is NOT really Japanese sword training. Many traditional Kendo purists would scoff at the way she does some of the movements. However - it is FUN and it is a great workout! One of the biggest problems for ME in this workout is finding time to find an hour to get the full workout done. Really though, the first half hour is a "warmup" that is pretty amazing. We have done just the first half, then cooled down with some Yoga.
One final thing about Forza... Ilaria's pretty amazing, but her arms and abs kind of scare me. I'm very impressed that she was able to achieve such definition, but it just looks a bit too manly. Then again, maybe I am just jealous!

New Diet
We recently returned from an almost week-long vacation to visit my parents in Denver. One of my younger brothers just got married, so we packed our 3 kids into our small Mitsubishi Galant and miraculously survived an 8 hour drive through the most boring section of Wyoming imaginable. ANYWAY, for the past few years my parents have been experimenting with various diets and food-lifestyles to find what's right for them. A few years ago my dad was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, so basically his pot belly and bad-eating habits throughout his life has not been good.
Currently my parents are basically Vegan in their eating habits, very rarely eating meat or animal products. As we stayed with them my wife really enjoyed the fruit/veggie shakes my mom had for breakfast and the simple meatless dinners. So now we are doing that. I wake up in the morning, grab my shake from the fridge and drink it on the way to work. Very tasty. I've noticed over the past few days that I don't have as much energy as I'm used to. A very big part of that is probably that I have given up my Mt. Dew and Dr. Pepper habit... at least I have for the past 5 days! People I work with don't think I can do it, but I'll show them!!

Watched Howl's Moving Castle with my kids the other day (Borrowed it from my new sister in law) and loved it! I have enjoyed the other Studio Ghibli films I've seen, (Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service) but not as much as I enjoyed this one. As my wife was semi-listening while doing something on her computer, she said "Hey, that sounds like Batman!" Christian Bale voices Howl. Good flick! I may have to add it to my collection.