Toledo Drum Corps

I’m crashing early tonight, so I’m going to keep it brief.

I don’t think I mentioned it here yet, but I got a new job within Sky Bank. As of today, I’m working in Loan Corrections, and driving 15 or 20 minutes to work across town instead of 30-35 minutes down to BG. So far, I have no complaints… except having to be at work at 7am this morning to unpack my desk and get everything situated. That, plus the fact that there’s very little beginner work coming in for me to work on. I think it’ll be cool once I learn everything I need to know, though. It’ll be a while, I’m sure, since there are so many different functions that Loan Corrections does.

On Saturday night, I headed out to UT’s Glass Bowl to watch the first drumcorps show of the season. Arrived early—was planning to meet Garza and his group at 6:45 by the ticket booth, and arrived at 6:20 instead—and got to schmooze with several people I hadn’t expected to see. A couple techs (instructors) from Northern Aurora, the first corps I marched; a couple alumni; a couple members of the LakeShoremen; and my high school band director. I shit you not. We must have talked for a good ten or 15 minutes or so. Very cool.

Oh, and the nice lady at the Bluecoats souvenir booth recognized me! Sure, she might have gotten help from the “Diana” embroidered on my jacket and the 1997 Bluecoats member shirt I was wearing, but hey. Even if she did cheat with context clues (which I don’t think she did), she gave me the best compliment ever: she told me that she recognized me because I hadn’t changed  much.

Bless you, Souvie Booth Volunteer Lady, bless your pea-pickin’ heart. Little did you know that I gained 50 pounds after I left corps, and only just recently lost it again.

I Need More Toys…

So, after making pretty much an impulse buy on eBay (I didn’t mull it over for two days before bidding, which makes it an impulse buy for me), I’m contemplating buying myself a bigger, more premeditated camera toy: a new case. My current case just doesn’t have enough room for…

+ Minolta X370s (manual focus)
+ 28mm wide angle lens
+ 50mm lens
+ 80-200mm zoom lens
+ 2x teleconverter just purchased on eBay
+ macro filters (lets me get in reeeeal close)
+ polarizer (makes the sky bluer and water less reflective)
+ hotshoe flash
+ fresh and used film
+ various manuals, lens and body caps, notepads, and other accessories

The dilemma has been whether to just keep my current camera bag and pick and choose what I bring on any given shoot (a “shoot” for me being a trip to the Ren Fest, Fort Meigs, the zoo, the Apple Butter Festival, a drumcorps show, or other interesting local flavor) or get a new bag that can hold all my gear but that has the potential to be a touch cumbersome. The jury’s still out for me, I think.

Beth, Erk, other photo-types—any help?

Thunderstorms Lower IQ’s Exponentially. News at 11.

It should NOT take me an hour to get home to Toledo from BG. It should not.

Now, I’ll admit, I gladly drove 50 mph when I could barely see the SUV in front of me even with the wipers on high. But there were several places between the Lucas County line and home where traffic was slowed or stopped for no goddamned good reason.

As I was approaching the corner of Hill and Holland-Sylvania, just about 20 minutes after I would normally be home, I saw Aaron driving the opposite direction. I caught his eye—he was about to turn left onto the road I was on, and I was about to turn right onto the road he was on. We waved to each other, and as he turned left and drove past me, he warned, “Be careful—there’s deep water down Hill,” which was the road he’d just come from. I barely had time to yell “thanks” before he was gone.

And he was right. The most potentially treacherous part of my journey home was the least congested, and I felt perfectly fine going 15 mph or so through the almost-wheel-deep water.

But everyplace else—I-475, Airport and Holland-Sylvania, and my entire trip down Holland-Sylvania—WTF?! Get your heads out of your asses, people. It’s just a thunderstorm.

I’m gonna be old and broke…

I’ve always joked around that I’ll get my student loans paid off just about the time I retire. Sadly, it looks like that’s not far from the truth. When you consider that my education cost just about half of what our house cost, and we’ll have that paid off in another 30 years… If I keep paying $160 toward interest and $15 toward principal, that’s about when I’ll have my student loan paid off, too.

The good news, though, is that I have a pretty good start on my 401(k) plan. Just gotta stay with Sky for another three years to become fully vested and reap the rewards of the sweet, sweet profit sharing.

Not to be a financial evangelist, but considering that Social Security could well be defunct by the time we young’uns retire, I would highly recommend that you—yes, you—enroll in your company’s 401(k) plan, if they have one. It’s worth it to save early—I only put back $50 a month, and I’ve already got a pretty decent chunk of change in my plan. Might even keep Aaron and me sated for an entire month or two of retirement! 🙂

Points to ponder…

So much to say…

…so little motivation to say it.

As I’m generally disinterested in posting today, I’ll keep it (relatively) brief.

Aaron took Friday night off of work, just because. I like having my honey-muffin around.

Saturday night was Mark’s gathering of friends and brohams, at which Aaron and I joined Mark’s friends and UPS co-workers in games of Crokinole and Hearts. Hot dogs were grilled and eaten and low-carb beer was imbibed (though not by me). Overall, a very fun time. It made me realize how much I miss playing cards.

Sunday was the Bavarian Festival in Frankenmuth, where the LakeShoremen performed in the annual parade. I left the house at 8am to meet Russ and Barb at their place in Clawson (north of Detroit) at 9:15am. Took another hour and a half to get to Frankenmuth, had lunch, warmups started around 11:30-ish, parade step-off was at 1pm. Overcast all day except when we were marching in the parade. (Go fig.) Impromptu group photo after the parade, post-parade party after that, got to eat bratwurst and meatballs and sausage and all sorts of low-carb yummies. Finally got back home to Toledo at 7:30pm. Fell asleep on the couch by 10:30pm, and was whisked to bed by my honey.

Today, when I got home from work, I tried a new photo transfer technique I read in this month’s Popular Photography & Imaging magazine. After a few paper jams and a few test prints, this was the result:

wax paper inkjet photo transfer: porch swing, 1999

It reminded me of the Polaroid transfer technique Beth was telling me about some time ago. When I have a photo-quality color printer (or even just a color cartridge for our current printer), I’ll have to try this again.

Mr. Jay Falls, English Teacher Extraordinaire

On one of my essays, my eighth-grade English teacher, Mr. Falls, wrote: “Like a world-class athlete, a writer like you should write every day!” (It was something close to that, anyway—I can’t seem to locate A Day in the Life of a 40-Year-Old College Freshman right now. I do still have it somewhere.)

Mr. Falls was a bit of in inspiration to me; at the very least, he was a wake-up call of sorts. I’d been fairly good at writing ever since that experimental creative writing course my school system tried when I was in third grade—the Developmental Writing Program, it was, or DWP. We learned to use adjectives and adverbs and big vocabulary words and our writing as a class became insanely flowery. By eighth grade, though, my writing style had finally begun to gel, and Mr. Falls noticed and encouraged that.

He was the teacher who passed out the list of “Demons” —I forget how many there were. Twenty, or 40. Anyway, they were the two, too, and to; which and witch; who, which, and that; there, their, and they’re; lay and lie; allot and a lot; et cetera. He was also the teacher who read Poe’s The Telltale Heart aloud and with such dramatic fervor that the entire class could practically hear the disembodied heart beating beneath the floorboards. He was the teacher who told us about the girl who chewed gum while playing volleyball and choked and died—and on a team he coached or assisted, I believe. He was the teacher who called me out in front of the class for ordering too advanced of a book (Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451) through the Scholastic Book Club, and made me defend my selection. He was the teacher who told us about the Kent State shootings and made us all cry at the injustice of it all.

He also took me and a group of other decent writers, both from our advanced class and from the “normal” class, to the Power of the Pen contest. In this contest, each student had 40 minutes to write a coherent essay on a topic which wasn’t revealed until the beginning of the time limit. None of us placed, but we all felt like we’d accomplished something just by having been asked to be on the team. —Come to think of it, though, the team did attend the regional competition in Kent; so, we either did better than I recall, or the regional wasn’t an invitational sort of competition.

That regional competition yielded one of the best alliterations I’ve ever come up with, mainly because it was a 20-minute-long collaboration amongst the whole team. We were sitting in the auditorium before the competition, waiting for Mr. Falls to go onstage, collect our folders, and return to pass them out to us. As he proceeded up the stairs with the throng of other middle-school English teachers, he caught a toe on the stage and tripped. Of course, we were all watching him and giggled, saying, “I hope Mr. Falls doesn’t fall!” Which, after some giggly discussion (yes, even the boys giggled), became:

I hope Mr. Falls doesn’t fall through the floor with his folders because of the flab that runs in his family.

And the fact that I can still remember the exact phrase after 15 years should tell you how impressed with ourselves we were.

Anyway… Mr. Falls, wherever you are, here’s to you.

As a side note…

It’s really weird to come across someone’s images folder and surf through it. (Caution: Some adult content. Some disturbing content. Some random content in Italian.)

Growing Up

Aunt Sammie, Michael, and Anne: February 2004

Oh my goodness. My little cousin Michael is an adult now, and has been for some time. He’ll be 20 in October. Wow.

I never had a real sibling growing up, so back then, Michael was the closest thing I had to a brother. He’s eight years younger than me, and has some psychological/behavioral issues—so, although I always loved and respected him, it wasn’t until he was well into his teens that I felt I could connect with him in a “grown-up” way.

Of course, after Mom married my first stepdad, I had two stepsisters and two stepbrothers, but only felt even remotely close to my one stepsister, Dawn, who was two years older than me. And once I was in college, Mom married Gary, at which point I got Philip as a stepbrother. He’s two years younger than Michael, but more socially well-adjusted. (Well, maybe I should just say he’s not autistic like Michael and leave it at that.)

Anyway, I didn’t really have the same kind of relationship with any of my step-siblings like I did with Michael, because I never really lived with them. I only lived with Michael until he was about four, but after Mom married Tom and we moved out, we still came over to visit every Sunday after church, and sometimes during the week. Then, when Mom divorced Tom, we moved back into the same apartment complex and would see or talk to the rest of the family multiple times a week. We were really a close family back then.

Now, look at us. Mom and Gary in Parma, me in Toledo, Sammie with her significant other in South Carolina, Michael nearby in a boys’ home, Memaw dead and gone, and none of us really keeping in touch very much—except when Mom and I talk every now and then, and visit on holidays and special occasions. There’s something kind of sad about that.

But I’ve strayed from my point, which was how much my little cousin Michael has grown. My goodness.

*shakes head*