Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It's ok to feel...

It's been a long time since I've posted here but I've been inspired to jot down some things.  I may eventually go back and fill in some of the blanks regarding what's been going on lately but for now I just wanted to write about this.

Dating and parenting both have its unique set of challenges.  As I've talked with people about their experiences and related some of them to my own, I've realized that they can both produce strong emotions and really make us think differently about things, including ourselves at times.  And how we perceive ourselves can also have an impact on other aspects of our life, the things we do (or don't do), and the people we interact with.
For me, I've had some challenges this year feeling happy and being positive and I've found that when I spend time with others, they can feel that and it can start to bring them down as well if it's like that excessively.

I've been working on steps to try to be more happy, find peace, comfort, joy without it having to depend on another person because that can be unreliable.  If my happiness requires another person, I'll be left depressed.  I was married for 18 years and have 3 awesome daughters who live close and I see regularly but they don't live with me.  The highlight of my week is spending time with them and I really love being a Dad.  But when they're not with me, I enjoy finding and doing things that make me happy because I find that when I do, I'm more equipped to help others find happiness and that...THAT is one thing that brings me joy as well.  Imparting a positive and optimistic outlook, or a funny story, or even a horrible story that's funny now, or a song, or a meme, just something, however small, to help someone feel better inside and maybe, just maybe, get them to crack a smile if they're up to it.  If they're not up to it, then being a comfort, a listening ear or sounding board, some kind of support so they know they're not alone, they have someone to talk to if they want, someone who's willing to give them a hug (I'm a hugger), or hold their hand, caress their back, or just put an arm around them.  It's amazing what you can learn from the character "Sadness" from watching the movie Inside Out.  She was really able to comfort Bing Bong when Joy couldn't because she really understood and she let all of us know that it's ok to be sad sometimes. And that a good memory can also make us feel sad and miss things or people we used to have in our lives.

We also learn that we don't need to be happy all the time and sometimes it's important to have, feel, express, and process other emotions.  They help us heal and also really appreciate more the other positive emotions when we have them.  If we're happy ALL the time, it begins to lose it's value and meaning.  It's one of the reasons I really enjoy days like today when it's raining and cloudy.  It may seem depressing to some, but for me it's a nice change.

Do you feel you need to channel your emotions better?  What would you like to see happen as a result of feeling sadness, or anger, or fear, or other emotions that are not inherently positive?  I believe we are designed to feel them because they all serve a specific purpose for our benefit and / or the benefit of others.  How would you like to view yourself?  What are some things you really appreciate about yourself?  You don't have to answer to me but perhaps just some questions to answer for yourself or to think about.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fridge of the Future

There's an internet enabled device designed for just about every room of the house.  You can even have music streaming to you in the bathroom while you get ready for the day on various devices available today.  But the device for the kitchen either hasn't quite caught on yet or it hasn't been invented.

At its basic functions, some tech savvy cooks might like to be able to search for & follow recipes online.  Someone might want to check e-mails or update their schedules (or Facebook) while waiting for the pasta to soften in the boiling water.  Maybe someone getting ready for work might want to catch the traffic & weather in the morning while they get their breakfast.  Whatever the reason, the desire (and sometimes need) for information and/or entertainment is undeniable.  People will always crave more information and/or entertainment regardless of the method of delivery.

Perhaps an iPad or even an inexpensive laptop with wireless networking functionality could suffice for these basic functions.  And while I'm sure there are some who probably utilize these devices for these purposes in the kitchen, it hasn't widely caught on.  The kitchen has always been a place for storing & preparing food and hasn't traditionally been a place thought of to go to for performing internet or tech related activities.

This is why I think that while the kitchen may not NEED the internet anymore than most other rooms in a home, I do believe there are definitely some ways it could be made very useful especially if these functions are incorporated into a device that just about every kitchen already has...the fridge.  Perhaps you've been to Best Buy or Fry's and seen the fridge that has it's own little tv screen with cable hookup on the door.  To me, getting a cable hookup installed for your fridge right next to the water connection for the ice maker seems a little much.  But since internet connections in our homes have become so commonplace and easy, no additional hardware would be required.

But my idea of this internet enabled fridge would take the concept much further than what you'd typically do on a laptop.  It would have simplistic touch screen menus designed for specific functions making it easy to access the information you frequently visit (recipes, traffic, weather, news, stocks, RSS feeds, e-mail, online music, pictures, etc).  But the coolest feature would be in how it handles the contents of the fridge.  How about if your fridge could keep track of what is in the fridge for you?  Not sure if you have any cream cheese for that bagel?  Or what if you know you have sour cream but you can't find it?  What if the fridge could tell you which shelf to look on to find your desired food product?  What if it could tell you when you're getting low on a particular item, build a shopping list for you, and help you purchase those items?

This is the idea of my fridge of the future.  Just about every item you purchase at a store today has a barcode (produce being the major exception).  (RFID tags would provide much better functionality but are both more expensive and are generally not currently associated with items at the grocery store.)  The fridge can have a built in barcode reader that reads the barcode and first tries to find a match either from barcodes you've previously scanned or matches it finds on an internet database (several already exist).  If it finds no match, you can define the product manually.  When you place it in the fridge, each shelf and drawer will have individual pressure sensors that will measure the weight of each item and keep track of where the last scanned item was placed.  The item gets scanned when it is taken out of the fridge and when it is put back and recognizes the difference in weight to let you know when you are running low on an item.  It would then start building a grocery list for you that you.  You could organize this list into separate lists for different stores or other categories.  You could add/remove items manually.  You could send the list to a shared network printer.  You can even save the list online for viewing from your mobile device.  If you don't want to make a trip to the store, you could place your order online with services like Safeway.com or other similar offerings.

One last feature could be the integration of recipes with the contents of your fridge.  Say you're looking at a recipe and you want to know if you have the required ingredients.  For at least the refrigerated items, it can tell you which items you have & which items you'd still need to purchase.

This is the fridge of the future coming to kitchens and appliance stores...someday.  At least this is my vision anyway, now I just need to find a manufacturer to pitch the idea to.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Corporate partnerships for innovations

Recently there have been ads regarding a cell phone that also has Dolby Digital surround sound which, to me, seems really kind of silly given the size and quality of the speakers they can cram in to cell phones.  Pretty much anyone that wants a halfway decent sound from a portable device either uses headphones (thank you for not forcing us to listen to your "music") or they plug them in to something that is designed to accomodate external input like a set of powered speakers or even a nice sound system.

But I digress, the point of this is that there are companies that make great products & technologies that don't compete with other companies products or technologies where they could join forces to make a great product.  The first one that came to mind was if they can jam some "surround sound" speakers into a phone, why don't they take it a step further and work with a company that has been focused on speaker technology like Bose or Harmon Kardon for example and integrate that into the phone.

Better yet, why not have a cell phone that has worked with Canon or Nikon to finally put a decent camera into a phone.  We typically carry our phones with us everywhere and there's great shots to be had or memories to be recorded anywhere you go.  I can't count the number of times I wished I had my Canon camera with me to take a picture because the quality of most cell phone pictures are typically so horrible and/or the charge you to send the picture off your phone to a computer (if your phone doesn't have a USB cable for data transfer or a memory card or other such technology) that I just choose to not take the picture altogether.

One such product I looked at this week where two or more companies have gotten together to create a neat consumer product is Google Tv.  They've partnered with several other companies to provide content but for the hardware it's either Sony in the form of an internet enabled TV or Blue-Ray player or, probably more accessible and less expensive, the Logitech Revue.   I don't own this technology but it certainly looks interesting and promising with some great potential to be a great consumer media center device.

I think if more companies would work on partnering with other companies on new & different ways to utilize & implement their technologies, the world would see some really interesting and amazing inovations that would go way beyond the entertainment examples I've referenced above.  Just think what could be accomplished in fields of communication, security, health & medical, education, etc.  Honda for example is one such company developing technologies that go beyond their traditional motor vehicle applications.  They have a walking assist technology that is designed to help people with weakened muscles.  And perhaps you've seen Toyota's "Ideas For Good" commercials where they actually advertise how the technologies they develop can be used in other applications with the idea in mind of making the world a better place.  They have a website at http://www.toyota.com/ideas-for-good/ where you can see many other technologies Toyota developed and applied to other uses than what they were originally designed for (making better cars).

Many would agree that the introduction of chocolate and peanut butter many years ago has forever since been a great combination.  We've come a long way since then and some great and even more complex ideas have been mashed together to create some amazing end results with a wide array of uses and applications. Think of how many different fields have benefited from the iPhone for example with doctors able to access patient medical data, or merchants able to use it to swipe your credit card for transactions, or even for consumers to use it as a type of barcode reader to get product information or check prices.  What technologies, products, services, etc would you like to see joined together?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Secret Santa

Everyone has heard of the concept of the Secret Santa.  It's basically where someone anonymously gives you a gift.  For the last few years I have had a Secret Santa and the gift is always the same, always delivered the same, and always presented the same.  This year it was on Thanksgiving day that the gift was delivered.  I should have looked out the window when I heard the dog growling as he usually does when someone approaches the door.  I was home all day except for the couple hours in the morning that I took our turkey to be deep fried (awesome by the way).  The gift was delivered after the guests had departed from our holiday meal but before my brother Chris came home from his time he spent with his wife's family that evening.

The gift is simply this.  A classic red Santa hat delivered in a plain manilla envelope with my first name written largely in big black marker and left on my front porch.  I have always appreciated this gift every year because whoever this person is, they know me well enough to know that usually every year we pull out the holiday items, I can never seem to find the Santa hat I wore the previous year.  Well, as it turns out this year, it seems that all the other hats magically popped up in various places as we opened the different containers.  One was even packed with our Christmas tree.  So now I think we might even have enough for  everyone in my family to wear one.  I've also deduced that it is probably someone who lives close to me as the roads were somewhat snowy & icy this year and since we live on a hill, it's either someone who lives near by or someone really dedicated.  Knowing how much my Mom hates to be on the roads in the snow, I think I can pretty safely eliminate it being a family member.

Besides being a fashionable accessory to wear for the holiday season, it's also a functional item to keep the head and ears warm (assuming it's big enough to cover the ears too).  Whoever my Secret Santa is, I want to thank them for the blessing they bring to my life every year.  I appreciate their kindness and dedication and the time, money, & effort they put in to helping me to feel the holiday spirit.  Thank you Secret Santa.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day 2010

Preface / Looking back: I can't believe it's been since January that I've posted here.  My blog has wilted and all but died.  I don't know if I'm going to get back into the habit of doing regular postings but this one is evidence that I'll post something about a memorable day that I had.  I'll warn you right now, I'm only 3 sentences into this but I know that with the amount of stuff I have on my mind, this will probably be a longer than necessary posting possibly worthy of a table of contents, but I digress.

Morning: I actually got to sleep in.  I got up with the kids the day before around 6:30am and let Mandy sleep.  Since I normally get up for work around 4am it was somewhere around 7ish that my youngest daughter Anna came in to give me the Father's Day gift she made for me.  It was a card she made, a monkey face made of colored foam shapes, and a coaster with her picture in it. It was obvious she made these things at her preschool and that she had help from her teachers.  She gave me a hug and wished me a happy Father's Day.

Next, the older two came in to present their gifts.  Sara had made a card for me and Jennifer had decorated / colored on a cover for a post-it note pad.  Both were detailed for their age and all the gifts from my kids showed they spent time, put thought into it, and was created with the intention of making me feel loved, which I did. (Mission accomplished).  Then, they wanted to take my breakfast order.  So I handed Jennifer the post-it notes and she got a pen.  I tailored my order to something I knew they could handle and delivered my order to Sara, who in turn repeated it back to Jennifer, who then wrote down my order on the notes.  I normally don't do cereal but as it was one of the few things they are capable of making I placed my order as follows:
large bowl of Lucky Charms, regular sized chocolate milk - extra chocloatey, banana, box of raisins, and 2 pieces of toast.  Mom helped by getting the tv tray out and set up by the bed.

Breakfast: First came the cereal in a bowl normally reserved for mixing or small dinner salads.  There was twice as much milk as there was cereal.  Next came the banana followed a few minutes later by the chocolate milk. I was eating the cereal, and as I was slicing up and adding the banana to the bowl, the box of raisins was brought in (Sara was doing most of the delivery while Jennifer was preparing in the kitchen).  I decided to add the raisins to the bowl as well and began to wonder if they forgot about the toast so naturally I inquired of my server who informed me the cook was applying the butter spread.

I finished my awesome breakfast, waited a bit while I watched some of Man Caves on the DIY channel then took my dishes downstairs to the kitchen and intended to inquire about the missing toast and here's what I found:
You can see one piece of the toast buttered and on the plate.  To the left of the plate you see the chocolate syrup, the milk, the butter and behind that is the bread.  On the other side of the sink in the background of the picture is the bowl and cereal box I just brought down and on the counter next to that you can just barely see the other piece of toast.  Two questions: 1. Why is the toast separated like that?  Did they have an argument or some kind of falling out?  Did they repel each other? and 2. Where are my kids, since they're obviously not in the kitchen nor are they on their way to bring me said toast as expected.  I don't know how much time passed between the toast being finished and getting buttered but none of the butter is melted and now the toast is cold and hard.  I turned around to find my kids:
Here they are playing with the large cardboard boxes that our new sectional came in.  I'm sure the boxes came into the kitchen and dragged my daughters out into the living room.  How else would they get so distracted by inanimate objects so as to leave the rest of my breakfast alone and cold on the counter with me waiting upstairs.  (I really didn't mind that much and was already happy with what they'd done so far.)  I sat there for a moment wondering how long it would take for them to not only notice me but to realize that they had forgot my toast.  Jennifer recognized that I was sitting there watching them after a few minutes probably only because I was emphasizing a dramatic sad look on my face (only because I knew I'd be invisible to them if I didn't do something to get their attention besides just stare at them).  She asked what was wrong and I replied with, "What do you think?" and she thought it was because of the mess in the kitchen so she quickly got up and cleaned up the stuff they left out.  When she finished I inquired about the toast again and without missing a beat she just put the other piece on the plate and handed it to me in a nonchalant way saying, "Oh, here you go." and was about to quickly go back to playing when I offered the observation that it was cold and hard.  I think she either didn't hear the last word or didn't understand because her immediate solution was to put the toast in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Anyone who has tried to reheat toasted baked goods will know that doing this for anything longer than 10 seconds or so does nothing more than to make the bread harder.  She set the timer for 30 seconds but I had her pull it out after 15 but it was already too late.  I didn't say anything to my girls who were watching me "enjoy my breakfast" and gnawed down most of it until they left the room back to playing in the boxes and didn't hurt their feelings by tossing it immediately.

Church: All in all it was a great morning really and I even got ready for (and made it on time to) church.  Even though Anna was in rare form with her rambunctiousness, I actually enjoyed church overall more than usual.  After sacrament meeting they handed out little bags with fortune cookies and a few Hershey's kisses accompanied with a couple quotes on paper.  After church while I was doing my calling (counting & recording the donations), I got a "cake pop".  I didn't know what that was at first but it is exactly what it sounds like.  Chocolate cake ball atop a sucker type stick covered in a glaze type frosting that hardens like that magic shell you put on ice cream (probably was the same stuff now that I think about it).  The cake was super moist and delicious it almost felt like it was melting in my mouth.  It was like a donut hole but made of moist cake and even though it was the size of a walnut, it was the best treat I'd had all week.  It was great.

The Roll Over: On the way home from church it was raining, and about 60 degrees.  I know, here we are on Father's Day, June 20th, the day before the official start of summer, and it's cold and raining.  I still have my coat in the car.  On the way up the hill to my house, there's a winding part as the road makes its way up the hill.  As I come around one corner, there's this other vehicle coming down the hill around another corner up ahead and it begins to fishtail and swerve into my lane ahead of me.  It quickly corrects and swerves back into it's own lane just long enough for us to pass each other.  However, still not quite in control, the vehicle swerves back in to my lane right behind me and I watch in my mirror as the vehicle runs off the road into the muddy hillside before toppling over and rolling onto its roof.

I immediately stop, put on my flashers, and get out to help.  Already another car has stopped behind me and I tell them to call 911.  As I approach the upturned vehicle, a young woman about 17 or so is crawling out of the car, now with mud and a little blood on her hands.  I think the blood came as a result of scratching her hand when she crawled out because she was otherwise physically not hurt and nobody else was in the vehicle.  I got into the emergency kit in my car and brought her a towel to wipe her hands off with.  She was obviously very shaken and distraught as one would expect but otherwise not wounded.  Immediately after she crawled out of the vehicle she asked if I could get her purse.  It was stuck to the rear view mirror and so I had to kneel on the wet muddy road to get it out and unhook the strap from the mirror (still in my church clothes with white shirt and tie and khaki pants mind you).  I got her purse but found out later that the stuff she really needed like drivers license, etc. that the police needed were still in the glove box.  I had the back trunk of my car opened and had her sit there while myself and the driver of the car that stopped behind me helped to slow and direct traffic around the accident scene coming up and going down the hill since we knew they couldn't see the accident until they were almost on top of it with the way the corners of the road were.  A third driver stopped and I asked him to be with the driver of the overturned vehicle and to just talk to her take care of her until police arrived.  It was about 20 minutes or so between the accident and police getting the road closed.  I left my cell phone at home since I didn't expect to use it at church so I borrowed a phone from the young woman's mom who arrived on the scene with her sister and I called my wife to let her know where I was, what I was doing and when to expect me.  I was wet from the rain and had mud on the knee of my pants but was otherwise fine and was glad I could be there to help and was happy that these random strangers did the good Samaritan thing like it was the normal thing to do.  They could have drove off and taken the chance that someone else would stop and help but they / we were the first on the scene and this time, we were the someone else.  I was there about 30 minutes or so, the police talked to the driver and she explained what happened.  Then they got my drivers license for ID, asked me what happened and got my phone number, then I went home.

Dinner: I got home, related my experience, and changed my clothes while my wife was making dinner.  She was making a chicken dish in pasta sauce and cheese to be served over noodles with mashed potatoes.  When Mandy asked what I wanted for Father's Day dinner, I thought about it and decided that while a nice piece of beef from the BBQ grill would be nice, I'd have to cook it myself to get it the way I want and I opted not to cook on Father's Day.  I thought since it's Father's Day and I get to pick what I want, I'd pick something I would normally not get.  Since Mandy is gluten intolerant (can't have anything with wheat, rye, or barley) I usually don't get Chinese food which is one thing I enjoy.  So, to prevent having to spend money on Sunday, we placed the order and picked it up after dinner Saturday night.  Have you ever had reheated Chinese food that wasn't just as good as the day before?  No, it's like pizza.  Usually can't go wrong there.  So the order was for 2 dinners but it looked like more.  It's amazing how much food they can cram into those little white boxes.  The order included the following:

Barbecued Pork
Egg Roll
Sub Gum Almond Chicken Chow Mein
Almond Chicken
Deep Fried Prawns
Sweet and Sour Pork
Pork Fried Rice
And there was plenty left over after I got done. Perhaps our exchange student from Hong Kong will enjoy some later. She was gone at dinner time and came in late. I had Mandy invite her Dad over for dinner so she could enjoy Father's Day with her dad too and then later around 7pm my parents were coming over for ice cream and so I could get a haircut.

Dessert & gift exchange: Well, my mom, a licensed beautician by the way, forgot to bring the haircutting supplies over so I didn't get one. She did bring me a Father's Day gift and, since they were going to be in Long Beach, WA on my birthday (July 1st), she brought my birthday present over too. I wanted to wait until my birthday to unwrap the present she brought since I figured I wouldn't have much else to unwrap but she wanted me to open it now. The birthday present was a pillow case she made and embroidered with Winnie The Pooh. The Father's Day gift was a leather encased magnetic money clip. She mentioned she knew I don't carry cash but it could also be used as a bookmark. My brother Scott mentioned it was pretty thick to be used as a bookmark but that's ok since I rarely read paper books anyway. Most of my reading material is either online or downloaded to my iPod Touch. I had a small amount of the peach cobbler my mom made & brought over and was no longer in the mood for the ice cream I picked out at Cold Stone the previous day.

Since it was my Dad's birthday the day before and this was Father's Day, I had wanted to give my Dad a case of Thomas Kemper's variety pack of sodas (great gift by the way) but I learned that he's trying to stay away from sugar because he needs to keep his blood sugar levels down as he's diabetic and trying to improve per Dr's orders. So instead the case went to Chris (whose birthday is the day before my Dad's) and I got my dad an assortment of sugar free candies. Chocolate covered coconut almond (like Almond Joy), peanut butter cups, Applets & Cotlets (a made-in-Washington treat based on Turkish delight), Werthers Originals, and these Dove Chocolate Raspberry candies (which I wouldn't have gotten had I noticed that they were dark chocolate since I know we both don't like dark chocolate). In any case, he'll at least get to sample several sugar free treats and then he'll know what he likes in the future should he want a sugar free treat.

I know I was too blunt when I told my brother Scott that his haircut looked bad (I think I may even have used the word horrible). It was short and spiky and sticked out all over. He said it was the style or something but he's been trying out this "style" now for several months and I'm just not used to it. The biggest thing I didn't understand though was why he was paying $35 to get this look when, as I said before, my mom is a licensed beautician and historically we've always gotten our free haircuts from her. Now for someone like my brother who doesn't have a job, I'd think this would be a really great deal. Heck, it's a great deal even for me who does have a job. I did apologize to him if I offended him or hurt his feelings however he didn't show any signs that was the case. But I told him I was confused as to why, when he didn't have an income, he would pay for a haircut he could be getting for free, instead of getting his own Dad a Father's Day present (or me a birthday present several years in a row). My Dad would of course never make a comment like that and I'm sure I can easily be accused of being too blunt and perhaps even insensitive at times, however my Dad laughed out loud at my comment. My brother on the other hand, unfortunately didn't respond.

Prologue: My parents & brother left around 8:30 and I went to bed around 9pm after hugging my kids and telling them goodnight. So it was a pretty memorable day and a long weekend altogether. In fact the entire week was pretty eventful but so as not to bore you with additional details the highlights included the following:

Mandy's brother & his family visiting from Missouri, having family pictures taken (both at my house and Mandy's mom's house), getting rid of our large couch, getting a new 7 piece Home Theater sectional with 5 rocking recliners, borrowing a pickup truck to get a yard of gravel for a yard project, going to Seattle with the relatives to Ride the Duck around Seattle and into Lake Union, Mandy finishing up her supervisor job with the U.S. Census and spending time at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle to help a family friend through a crisis, spent the night at Mandy's Mom's Friday night, saw Iron Man 2 Saturday morning at Lincoln Center while the rest of the fam. saw Toy Story 3 at Crossroads, and had a birthday celebration dinner at Red Robin for Chris & my Dad Saturday evening. I'm hoping this week will be less eventful but there's already something on the calendar for every day except Wednesday. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hello Two-Thousand Ten

Welcome to the new year 2010 which, as far as I'm concerned, should be pronounced two thousand ten.  I have chosen to reject the "twenty ten" moniker because it just doesn't seem right to follow that type of phrasing until that little digit behind the 2 has a value meaning starting with 2100 and on.  Sure that will be after my lifetime but I'm ok with that, really.

It doesn't take much effort to say two thousand ten and saying twenty ten just feels like the person is just too lazy to add that one extra syllable.

I know Wikipedia has it's own two cents worth to say on the topic stating "Among experts and the general public, there is a debate as to how specific years of the 21st century should be pronounced in English. The year 2010 is pronounced either "twenty ten" or "two thousand (and) ten".[1]

The sequel to the film  2001: A Space Odyssey was called 2010 and though it was released December 1984, I don't recall ever hearing anyone since then refer to it as twenty ten.  If someone were to ask me if I ever saw the movie Twenty Ten, I would reply that there never was one called that but there was one with a similar name called Two Thousand Ten titled as 2010.  

My point in writing this isn't so much as to persuade anyone who reads it to adopt my view as much as it is more just to communicate my perspective.  I mean if you choose to use twenty ten then I won't say I don't know you anymore.  But if you do choose to use two thousand ten, then I think we'll just be closer friends that share a common idea who choose not to acknowledge anyone when they pronounce the year incorrectly.  We may or may not have a motivating desire to correct them every time but in our minds we'll know what they really mean.


  1. ^ Siegel, Robert (2009-11-16). "How Do You Say 2010?"All Things Considered (National Public Radio). Retrieved 2009-11-16.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goodbye 2009

I don't often write blog posts in response to another blog posts.  And the number of blogs I do read can probably be counted on one hand.  However a recent posting I read got me to thinking and I realized that I probably had enough thoughts & comments about this to warrant a blog posting of my own rather than just posting a few lines in response under the original.

As the author of the previously mentioned posting points out, it's been a rough economic year for everyone.  This has brought some unique challenges and obstacles in my workplace that have probably culminated into a large scary monster of negative feelings & emotions within me that all too often carries over into my personal & family life.  Since my office closed back in May, not only do I not get face time with my co-workers & manager who are going through the same career difficulties (absence of a regular quasi-support group), but I also don't have the commute time between work & home that would be roughly an hour or so to unwind and transition from work to family mode.

One of the quotes from the posting I wanted to comment on was this:
"We didn’t send out Christmas cards this year. We handed out few gifts to neighbors. We didn’t hang lights around our home. We didn’t give as much service as we had planned. Home and auto repairs seemed to drop out of nowhere. Our three oldest kids needed glasses and dental work done.
Nothing major. Just many small expenditures that add up over time during a year when my bonus was slashed."

That's kind of how it was around our house too.  Normally I put up our 12ft tall Christmas tree with a 9ft diameter base in our front room with vaulted ceiling.  This year, I only put up the top half.  It still looked great at 6ft tall with the pre-lit white lights and the decorations my wife & kids put on but it felt like a representation of my Christmas spirit this year like it too was only half there.  Our exterior Christmas lights were never put up, and the smaller tree helped hide the fact that there were a smaller number of presents under the tree this year.

As there were no bonuses or raises handed out this year, what we were able to put under the tree basically came from the income my wife was able to provide with the 5 hours a week she works, commission only, for a small non-profit organization.  While I was thankful for that, at the same time I was left frustrated that I couldn't provide for my family like I wanted to...Like I felt like it was my obligation and responsibility to and regardless of how hard I worked through the challenges of layoffs, furlough time, increased issues of customer escalations and unhappy customers and still raising our customer satisfaction scores, there was no monetary thanks from the company.  (Though they still had funds to acquire a portion of Nortel business solutions.)  So we delay the dental work my wife & I need, see how long we can drive with that annoying blinking light on the dashboard of the car (we had it checked, it's minor & ok), and reschedule some of the plans we had slated for this year.

But after reading the blog post further, it made me reflect back on the year and remember some of the more positive highlights and that it's important to have and show gratitude for some of the more simple pleasures like time spent with family.  I was able to take my family to Disneyland this year for a week.  That was awesome.  I spent a few days at the beach 4 times this year, twice in Seaside, OR and twice in Long Beach, WA.  I made new friends working a temp job first at an event in Seattle and then later in the year at another event in Atlanta.  While it was hot in Atlanta, I enjoyed the rare opportunity to visit there and work with such  a great team of people.  This year we also got an addition to the people in our home in the form of a college exchange student from Hong Kong and she has helped us learn and try new things that we probably otherwise would not have done.  And possibly a blessing I keep overlooking is that while there have been stressful challenges at work, I am thankful I have the opportunity to tackle those challenges rather than the unemployment line and job hunting market.

These are only a few of the things that are unique to me this year that I have to be thankful for.  While I'm glad that 2009 brought these wonderful experiences, I hope that 2010 brings better economic times for everyone.  But until then, I hope I can continue to remember what's truly important and show gratitude for what I do have instead of misery & negative attitude I've been giving off for the focus I've been placing on all the things that just don't go right.