So long, 2017. Hello, 2018!

My friend Jade posted her year in review  a few days ago, and it made me realize that my year has actually been quite a bit less busy than some of my previous years.    Some things haven’t changed at all-  things are still great with Amelie, and nothing major has changed for either my family or hers.

I only had two major life changes this year-  We moved to Orlando in May, and I spent the last two months of the year completely unemployed and job hunting like a fiend.  I should have a job starting on 08 January, assuming nothing goes wrong with the paperwork, so I’m looking forward to that.

I don’t do “resolutions” any more, because they fall through way too quickly, but I will give myself a list of suggested “goals” based on the areas that I feel like I was a little bit stagnant this year.

I wrote 21 blog posts in 2017, not counting this one.  If not for my travel posts, it would have been far fewer.    Goal for 2018: Write more.  Even if it’s only one post a week, that’d be better than this year.

I read fourteen books in 2017.  Goal for 2018:  I plan on doing a Goodreads Challenge in 2018 to drastically increase that number.  I’m thinking 52 books is a good goal-  one a week.

We only took two trips out of Florida this year- Los Angeles in June, and New York City in July.  I can’t do much on this one for a little while, because first I need a regular paycheck and the accrual of vacation days.  I’d like to travel some more, but time and money are at a premium.   Goal for 2018:  At the very least, we should do some little trips around here on weekends.  For example, I’ve never been to Bok Tower Gardens, the Citrus Tower, or the Orlando Cat Cafe.  These are all places that I’d like to see, and that don’t require an overnight stay somewhere.

The one area where I feel like we did a lot in 2017 was concerts and show attendance.  During this calendar year, we saw all of the following:   Cabaret, Alan Cumming, The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience featuring Ramin Djawadi, The Flaming Lips, Panic! At the Disco, Neil Diamond, Bastille, The Head and the Heart, The Birthday Massacre, Bob’s Burgers Live In Concert, Queen with Adam Lambert, Kinky Boots, Green Day, Arcade Fire, An Evening with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Love Never Dies, La Nouba, and The Blue Man Group.   Goal for 2018:   Change my concert-going methodology to be more about quality than quantity.  Last year, we grabbed a bunch of show tickets that we didn’t end up using because the event came up and we realized we just didn’t care enough to deal with the crowds-  concerts should be a delight and a treat, not a chore to get through.  I forgot that at some point.

I was crappy at going to the gym this year.  I was strong early in the year, but then we came to Orlando, and I never wanted to leave the apartment.  My parking space is on the sixth floor of the parking structure, and leaving the apartment means I have to loop down all six levels.  It takes a minimum of five minutes just to go from my parking space to the street, and I hate it!  Goal for 2018:   Work out more regularly.  More time on the treadmill, especially.   I’ll be moving to a new apartment in May, so I’ll keep the parking lot nuisance in mind as I search for the next place.

I also slept really poorly in 2017.   I have lost all sense of what day it is, or what time it is.  My apartment has poor sound insulation, so every emergency vehicle, every small-dicked jackhole with more engine noise than brains, every drunken sidewalk fight-  they all keep me awake.  Goal for 2018:  Get better sleep.  Turn off the screens a little earlier each night.  If I do well with the exercise goal, that will help with the sleep goal.

I’ve been trying to eat healthier overall, and I’m better than I used to be.  However, I am terrible about cookies.  If they’re in my house, they’re in my mouth.  The leftover Halloween candy was especially bad-  I ultimately had to put it in a sealed box on a high shelf in the closet, because I would just grab a handful any time I walked past the bowl on the counter.  It’s too easy to snack.  Even worse,   I’ve noticed a definite trend between my sweet tooth and my mood.  It turns out this is not just me- there were lots of articles this year about how there is a link between sugar and depression in men.  This tracks from my own experience- if I have a lot of sugary stuff, such as cookies or candy, then I feel terrible later.  Emotionally, too, not just physically.  Goal for 2018:  Eat fewer cookies and less sweets in general!  I’ve started this already by simply not purchasing them in large amounts.  I try to keep them out of my kitchen, so the temptation isn’t there.

While this isn’t a goal as such, I need to spend more time on my friends.  I have more friends in Orlando than I had in South Florida, but we never see each other because most of them are incredibly busy.  Friendships need to be fed!   Some of my Orlando friends haven’t even met Amelie because the busyness has taken hold.   This shall not stand!

That’s all of the things that I can think of for a general recap of 2017.   I wish all of you a happy and healthy new year.  And, because this joke never, ever gets old for me, I’ll see you next year!

Do you want to change anything in the new year?  What goals have you set for yourself to do so?

Damn it, Idris!

Editor’s note:  The text of this post was written a few days ago, and at that time I was still furiously job hunting.  I was planning on fleshing this out with a few more humorous references to ways in which Idris Elba makes me feel inadequate before posting it.  Earlier today, however, I received the wonderful news that I finally have a job offer.  Suck it, Idris!  Rather than rewriting the whole thing, I’m just going to post the most recent draft below this line, because it’s just funnier that way.

I am now the same age as Batman, Electra, Black Adam, Heimdall, Judge Dredd, Lex Luthor, Cyborg, Captain Cold, and the Tick.

Or, to put it another way, Ben Afleck, Jennifer Garner, Idris Elba, Dwayne “The Rock Johnson,” Karl Urban, Michael Rosenbaum, Khary Payton, Wentworth Miller, and Peter Serafinowicz were all born in 1972, just like me.

Britney Spears, Nelly Furtado, Lucy Liu, Maria Callas, Stone Phillips, Ray Walston, and Gianni Versace all share my birthday, but from different years.

This is me, at 45.  The one on the left, obviously.  The one on the right is Idris Elba, also 45.


Idris Elba is three months older than me. Every time I see him on a screen, I feel inadequate.

As I start my 45th year, I am unemployed.  My last gig was a contract which ended on the 31st of October, because the  project was nearing completion.  The following five weeks marks the longest period of unemployment I’ve had since I was in high school, not counting those times that I was a full time student.   It’s a strange sensation.

Idris Elba, on the other hand, has more work than he can handle.  He’s not just a stage and film and television actor- that handsome son of a gun is also a DJ and music producer.  I honestly didn’t know this until I started researching him for this post, but Idris Elba has released music under the names DJ Big Driis, Big Driis the Londoner, and 7 Dub.  He DJ’d an NBA All Star Party at the Venetian in Las Vegas in 2007.  He’s featured on a Macklemore and Ryan Lewis album!  Damn it, Idris, we get it!  You’re a triple-threat.

I spent nearly fifteen years at my last company, and I enjoyed the comfort that seniority provided.  I knew my company inside and out, and I knew the people around me incredibly well.  The last time I stared with a new employer, I was in my twenties.  Joining a new company at the bottom rung in an industry flooded by newer college graduates with mad skills makes me feel kind of like this:

Job hunting is exhausting and stressful.    I know that I have a lot to offer potential employers, but I’ve never been good at selling myself.   At times, waves of doubt and low self esteem hit me.

Still, I keep at it. I apply to a minimum of five positions a week, and I do more if there are good postings that week. I’ve been averaging one or two interviews a week, but with no job offers so far.

I think that smug bastard Idris Elba*, in the same position, would already have several job offers.  And a magazine cover.  And possibly a hit single.

I wonder how one applies to be the defender of the Bifrost.

*I have no actual knowledge that Idris Elba is a smug bastard.  From every indication, he’s actually a genuinely nice guy who is entirely unaware of how inferior he makes the rest of us feel.

Things end.

This week, I received a notification that AOL Instant Messenger is ending.    On December 15th of this year, the service that was the biggest part of my social life from the mid-1990s until just a year or two ago will go offline for the last time.

Up until fairly recently, I was always logged into AIM-  if my computer was on, my screen name was active.  At one point, I had collected nearly a dozen screen names-  some were used for work, but most were personal.  AIM was the way that we spoke between departments during my early years at my previous Mr. Company, because nobody had invented Slack yet and “team chats” were a fairly nascent idea.

Lately, the AIM buddy list is a ghost town-  there are only a handful of people who still connect, and most of those have their screen names configured to mobile devices.  I would venture a guess that at least half of them don’t even realize they’re still signed in- it’s that slow there now.

AOL Instant Messenger is just one more thing in the ever-growing bucket of things from my past that are gone now, things that I miss quite a lot.   AIM and Yahoo Messenger, both removed from heavy usage by their parent companies were one giant part of my life for most of the last twenty years.

So too was LiveJournal, at least from 2002 until around 2011.  The communities there were wonderful, and I made fast friends through those interactions.   I’ve been commenting in recent posts about the process of going through my old LiveJournal to move worthwhile content over here to WordPress while simultaneously preparing to close out the original LJ.  This is for two reasons:  The first is that LiveJournal was purchased by a Russian company a few years back and they have since moved their data from US-based servers to hardware that is actually located in Russia.  The second, and far more personal reason to close out LiveJournal is that it’s a ghost town-  most of my closest LJ friends have since deleted their accounts, and there’s only a handful of people from my list who still frequent the platform.  Posting there in 2005 was like being in a well attended warm and friendly party.  Posting there now is like shouting into an empty factory.

Things change, time passes, and many of the things that I love have faded away.

When I moved to Orlando, there were two restaurants downtown that I really enjoyed:  Frank & Steins, which was a delicious hot-dogs and beer joint, and the Red Mug diner, which was a 24 hour diner at first.

First they cut the Red Mug in half-  they said that the right side would be a new Poke concept restaurant.  Then they cut the 24 hour aspect on weekdays, saying that it was summer hours and you could still go there in the middle of the night on Friday and Saturday nights.   Finally, they said never mind all that other stuff we said, and we’re just closing the place up.

Frank & Steins was closed up to renovate and reopen as a “food hall” concept, but all the super delicious food on the original menu is gone, and my tongue weeps in gustatory grief.

I was going to include Smash Burger in this list, because the one in Oakland Park closed, but I was delighted to find this chain is alive and well in Central Florida.  Smash is one of my top-five favorite burgers, although my brother doesn’t like it so much.

So many of my memories are about food, now that I think about it.  My mental map of my adopted German hometown Regensburg is marked almost entirely by where the food is.    And then there’s the Navajo.

The Navajo sandwich was a Cheesecake Factory staple for years-  chicken, avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a dash of mayonnaise served on this delicious thick sourdough bread, and I would order it more than any other thing in the restaurant.  When I came back from Germany, the Navajo was nowhere to be found.  Gone from the menu, without a trace.    A Google search shows that I am not the only person who laments its absence from the menu.  Someone even set up a Twitter account as the sandwich looking for work, but even that faded out after 2013.

Damn, now I’m hungry.

What thing do you miss that is gone from your past?

A silly post about my t-shirts.

I’m pretty sure that nobody else is going to be even remotely interested in this post, but I’m trying this new thing where I actually put stuff in my blog more than once every two months, so I’m talking about whatever random weird thing is on my mind.  Right now, that thing is t-shirts.

I wear a lot of t-shirts. I always have. While going through my old LiveJournal, I found a post from ten years ago in which I was thinking about my t-shirt collection.

This was my shirts in January of 2007

This made me curious.  I know that the predominant color in my wardrobe was black for a long time, but it’s been ten years since that last count.  I’ve mellowed a bit, and I’m less interested in wearing all black all the time.  Naturally, I was curious to see how the colors had shifted in the last ten years.  To sate my curiosity, I waited for laundry day.  Once everything was clean and hung up, I took a new census.

The result?  I’ve got less than half the white shirts that I had ten years ago, and less than half the black shirts as well.  Almost every other color has a bigger part in my wardrobe than what 34 year old Steven would have worn.  Except that one purple shirt.  I haven’t seen that thing in at least a decade.  Truth be told, I’m pretty astonished even now that I had eighteen white t-shirts back then.

I am very fond of blue shirts, apparently.

January 2007 October 2017
White or off-white: 18 8
Green: 4 4
Brown: 3 4
Yellow, Orange, Gold: 1 2
Blue: 3 15
Red or Maroon: 1 3
Purple: 1 0
Grey: 2 6
Black: 36 15
Long Sleeved Black: 7 4
Note: The 2017 column doesn’t include the seven shirts that I designated as “just for the gym.” I keep those separate.

Another thing which is interesting to me, but probably not to anyone else:  In 2007, I had 69 short sleeved shirts and seven long sleeved.  Now I have 57 short sleeved, and four long sleeved.  I feel like I have way more shirts than I did before, even though it’s actually a smaller number.  I wonder why that is.

I’ve also changed my shirt-keeping system over the years-  I kept the shirts folded in a drawer (or, more accurately, a couple of drawers) for years, but Amelie has converted me to the ways of fuzzy hangers.  It’s a lot easier to see ’em all now.

This leads to a fun little aside-  in order to better randomize my shirt-wearing,  I play a little game with Amelie. I count off the shirts from front to center and back to center, and then decide which side will be “heads” and which will be “tails.  Next, I  ask Amelie to choose heads or tails and a number which varies depending on how many shirts are in the laundry hamper already.  It’s usually around 20-23, though.

Much like the shuffle player on iTunes, this “random selection” tends to bring up certain things more frequently than others.    I suspect that probability is warped where funny t-shirts are concerned.

My shirts, resting in their natural habitat.

What color is your favorite t-shirt?


[Ancient Repost] The most dangerous item in the drug store.

I’ve been clearing out an ancient LiveJournal in preparation for deleting the account. While most of the stuff there is utter fluff, a tiny portion of the posts are worth preserving. What follows is one such post. The original was written in April of 2011.

Some time in the past, on an otherwise nondescript day, I was standing in the family planning section of the local Walgreens. I was looking to purchase condoms, because while I’m sterile, I’m not stupid.

The condom section, however, makes me feel stupid. Very, very stupid.

There is far too much variety, you see- there’s latex and lambskin and polyurethane and polyisoprene. There’s regular, large, and magnum. There’s lubricated, non-lubricated, with spermicidal lubricant, with or without a receptacle tip, ribbed for her pleasure, and spiraled for his. There are, and I’m not making this up, currently eighty-three (83) separate varieties of condoms on sale at Walgreens. As if that’s not complicated enough, you also have to figure out which boxes don’t contain condoms at all, but rather contain vibrators of various sizes and shapes.

The reason I bring this up is that there are so many varieties in so many brightly colored boxes that I was standing in front of the row reading boxes and trying to make sense of it for quite some time. After a while, just after I’d picked up a large box of Lifestyles, a small voice said, “Are you ok?”

The source of the voice was a small girl, about five or six years old. Parents nowhere in sight, although we were about twenty feet from the waiting area for the pharmacy, so I’m sure they were over there. I said something in the general vicinity of “yes, I’m ok,” and then she started to ask other questions.

Anyone who’s ever seen me with a very, very small child knows that I can only parse and understand about fourteen percent of what they say. I never developed the little C3PO kid-translation circuit that most grown-ups seem to have, so I have absolutely no idea what she was asking next.

Since I had no clue what the questions were about, I just did a lot of smiling and nodding and hoping that she would go away. After a moment, she said something which seemed like she was about to get her parents to help me- I’m still not sure why, and she toddled off toward the pharmacy to get their attention. I did not at all feel like explaining to another grown human being why I was conversing with a very small female child in the condom aisle of all places. It was at this moment that I did what any other sane human being would do.

I ran.

I ran to the opposite end of the aisle and stood with my back to the “As Seen On TV” end-cap, so that the little kid wouldn’t be able to spot me. I peered around the corner, just to make sure I wasn’t within line of sight of the kid, and then I briskly walked to the front registers, paid for my purchase, and got the hell out of there. I did manage to buy a box of condoms, but I didn’t know until I got home which type I picked up. That sort of thing happened to me the last time I bought condoms, too.

I have this horrible notion that one day, I’m going to have some sort of a heart attack or stroke during one of these rubber-purchasing events, and when they cart off my body, they’ll have to pry the box of rubbers out of my cold dead hands and explain to my family that I appear to have died over the most stressful and dangerous of all of Walgreens’ inventory, the birth control.

So stressful!