Sunday, October 25, 2020

Audio Books with Recommendation to Listen to "A Very Punchable Face" by Colin Jost

A few weeks ago while out doing yard work, our neighbors and I started talking. We usually catch up social distancing style keeping our distance while we put yard work on hold. We talk about shows we are watching, recommendations for the other household to watch, etc. Kelly asked if I read very much or listen to podcasts and I told her I go through periods where I read a lot and then go to the other extreme where I do not read much at all. She suggested I should check out audio books and had a recommendation for me.

Normally, I we only listen to audio books when going on trips. Start the audio book as we leave Topeka and drive to where ever we are going with the book playing the whole time. Usually, we get to our destination and then finish the book on our way back to Topeka following the trip. Our most recent trip to Dallas/Houston, we started a book and it was so long that we ended up finishing it when we got back to our home.

I have tried doing podcasts which again I go through periods where I will listen to them and then not listen at all. I know they are what all the cool kids are doing and I enjoy them, but I find that I cannot listen to them at work because you know, I am working, and have to pay attention to the podcast, so it does not really work for me. I have tried to listen at home, but usually watching TV and cannot focus on the podcast.

The recommendation Kelly had for me was A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost. It was excellent! The audio book through the Topeka Public Library is read by Colin Jost, so you can hear his tone while he reads his book. I really enjoyed the experience.

I would listen to the book usually at night when going to bed. Spending anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes listening to one night I listened for a good hour before going to bed. I had told Carrie I had started the book and then proceeded to crack up throughout the book, so I would have to stop the book and fill her in on what was so funny. I won't do that here as I would recommend read, or listening, to the book as it is good! Carrie is on the waiting list to get the audio book too as she heard me laughing so much she wanted to listen to it too. 

I finished the book and immediately checked out Bossypants by Tina Fey. I am early in this book only starting it Friday night, but it sounds like it is going to be another good one. For now, I believe this will be my new thing to listen to books as I get ready for bed as I am enjoying the process.

It is possible that as I listen to audio books that I might go back and revisit podcasts again and try to get into the habit of listening to those again. First though, I will continue on this new audio book listening track. I am so happy that our neighbor told me about the book and started me on this new routine.

Fall Weather with Snow in the Forecast Tonight and Tomorrow

Fall weather is here! Hard to believe it is supposed to snow tonight. It seems that the cold and snow came out of no where. We had been having such nice weather the past few weeks, months, and then snow is in the forecast.

I have heard some "experts" say that they are predicting a bad winter. Lots of snow... cold... and more snow. We will see what happens. The way 2020 has gone so far, I could see us getting a blizzard or two to finish out the year.

Today, I did leaves for the first time this year. I am not sure I did leaves at all last year. Instead, I let the trees in our yard drop all of their leaves and then called to have someone come out and get them. Seemed to work well, but I am sure our neighbors did not like our doing this at all. Back yard had leaves that went over your shoes in most spots of the yard and of course when the wind would blow, it would throw the leaves all over the place in our yard and neighbors yard too. Even with fenced in back yard, the leaves can manage to find their way out of our yard and into other yards.

I probably do the lazy method for doing leaves. I do not like to rake so I usually use the mower to mulch and then go over them again to bag. Yes, causes more trips around the yard to do this method, but less bending over to pick up leaves. For the work today, I have two full bags of leaves. This was only the front yard and both large trees in the front basically have not dropped many of their leaves. The back yard, I decided not to do at all as there are only a few leaves on the ground in the back.

Meanwhile, our neighbor in back of us has already done his yard multiple times to pick up leaves just this past week. I am sure he cringes when he sees our yard, leaves everywhere, and I won't even go into how the yard looks in terms of grass. Oh well!

Now we wait to see what the weather brings tonight through tomorrow. Just how much snow will we get? Always fun with the first one or two snows and drivers in Topeka. Be safe and when we do get our first big snow, I am sure I will post about it here.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Saturday Night Live, Jim Carrey, Weekend update, and Other Discussion

Saturday Night Live has been on the air since 1975. During that time they have had a number of performers doing their skits with focus on whatever is happening currently in the news, the United States, or the world. The last four years, we have seen a lot of Alec Baldwin playing Donald Trump to open the show. The majority of the times when Alec Baldwin opened the show, they were funny skits that made me laugh.

For the 2020-2021 season, we have Jim Carrey playing Joe Biden to open the show which has happened each of the first three episodes. Normally, I like Jim Carrey when he has played roles on SNL, his movies, or even his latest TV show Kidding on Showtime, but so far, I have not enjoyed the opening to the show each of the three times. They were not funny and wonder if someone else could have played Joe Biden instead. The best person to play Joe Biden was Jason Sudeikis, but I have to wonder if they asked him and he was not available.

I certainly watched SNL when I was growing up and through the years. I have gone through stretches where I did not care for the cast, the skits, and did not watch but maybe clips. The past few years, I have been watching the whole thing. Again, sometimes the skits are not funny at all, dumb, or they put in death into the skit which always seemed odd. 

My favorite part of SNL is Weekend Update. Colin Jost and Michael Che are perfect! I enjoy their back-and-forth and their jokes almost always get a laugh out of me. I love how they are always trying to throw the other cast member under the bus with comments about how the other one made a comments about something inappropriate. 

For whatever it is worth, I will continue to watch SNL, likely not laughing at the opening skit, but always looking forward to Weekend Update.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Lot of Happenings and Updates... From September 2019 to October 2020

Augusta Vin Winery


Busy time the past few months... which means no updates from me on here. I will see if I can catch up as I think through what has happened from 2019 to now. My last update was following a trip Carrie and I made to Minnesota to see the Royals play. While a lot has happened since that trip, I will cover some of the happenings briefly. Of course now we are all trying to do the best we can with COVID-19 affecting all aspects of our lives.

The fall semester had me finishing up my second to last class for the Masters of Communication and Leadership. A busy semester in the fall as I started my class after getting back from our trip to Minnesota which required a group project. Overall, the process went well and I enjoyed the course plus it put me one step closer to my final semester and Capstone project to be decided, researched, and written. Ultimately I finished my coursework and graduated spring 2020. However, like everyone else, we did not have a formal graduation and really not much of a celebration. Still planning to hold a party at some point to celebrate my accomplishment.

Tap That Topeka and Sports at Washburn 2019

Tap That Topeka Beer Festival
At the end of September after returning from Minnesota, we attended the 2019 Tap That Topeka. Always a good time, in 2019 we had another wonderful time. Sampled so many great beers and made some wonderful memories. This was our forth time to the beer festival and it is so fun. They moved it to be the evening which is much better so we do not roast in the summer sun. With COVID-19, the event was canceled. It was planned to be July 2020, but the whole event was canceled for safety concerns which was the right choice. Hoping they will have Tap That Topeka in the summer of 2021 and all of this is behind us. More information is available at the Tap That Topeka web site.

Throughout the fall and (part of) spring semester, we were attending sporting events at Washburn. Again this year we had season tickets to Washburn Football. We had a fun time at the games and always fun seeing family and friends at the game. Last year Greg and I decided to split tickets for Washburn basketball games. We made it to a lot of the home games although my class during the fall semester took me away from some games. No football for Washburn of course for the fall 2020 season. We have had some beautiful weather and sitting outside in my back yard, I think of all our great times at Washburn tailgates and football games. Again, hoping fall 2021 is much different and we are back at sporting events. I cannot image being an athlete and not being able to play.

UntitledKing Biscuit Blues Festival 2019

Thinking back to King Biscuit Blues Festival (KBBF) 2019 seems so long ago. Really missed not going this year and had fun sharing pictures, memories with friends and family when it would normally have occurred which would have been October 8 - 10, 2020. So, instead, I will review our time at the KBBF 2019 event.

Javier, Corrie, and Carrie were all able to join this year. We had a large time listening to great music, hanging out with family, and friends. As I recall, the weather was great for the KBBF 2019. 

Thursday Set List KBBF 2019
Thur Set List KBBF 2019
I managed to take pictures and keep them of the set lists for two of the days. The first day had fun artists performing. My favorite from the first day (Thursday) was Ruthie Foster. Much better now that we start a little later (noon) instead of 11 am which we did for a number of years and then finish a little earlier too. We used to get done around midnight each night, but now it is usually 10:30 or 11 depending on how late the last act performs.

I sure hope we can go back next year. I did spend the time it would have been this year (October 8 - 10) listening to lots of blues music. I listened to KBBF playlists I had created in previous years for acts playing each of the previous four years. Made for good memories and spent some time on the patio one nice day listening to songs and remembering the previous years.

The other set list I have is from the Saturday, October 12 list. Kate Brothers are always good and did not disappoint this time either. A good day spent all three days listening to music. Again, hard to believe that we did not have KBBF 2020 this year.

Maple Leaf Festival

As I was reviewing events we did in the end of 2019, I remembered we went to Maple Leaf Festival in Baldwin, KS. We always enjoy our time to the Maple Leaf Festival. We went with Greg, Erin, and Brenda. The weather was perfect although we did not buy a lot, we looked around at a lot of items and enjoyed the outdoors. Another even that because of COVID-19, we were unable to attend Maple Leaf Festival 2020 as it was canceled. Hoping this one will be back in 2021.

Chiefs Football and Champs!

Chiefs Football Game 2019
Jack, Tim, and John at Chiefs Game

What a year to be a Chiefs fan! I had the opportunity to go to a Chiefs game on December 1, 2019 with my brother Tim. Of course, he got perfect seats for us right on the 50 yard line and would not take any money for them... I did buy beers for us during the game though. 

It is still hard to believe that the Chiefs won the Super Bowl but it feels so good when I remember! We were 12 - 4 during the regular season 5 - 3 at home and then 7 - 1 on the road! Wow! Hard to believe that we watched on February 2, 2020. Had little idea what the rest of 2020 would look like for us with a huge SB win for our Chiefs.

I watched the Super Bowl on February 2, 2020 at Greg and Erin's with family and friends. Carrie was sick this day and unable to attend. You might recall that in 2014 when the Kansas City Royals went to the playoffs, Carrie was sick that first day and we had one of the most epic games in Royals baseball to come back, win, and go on to play in the World Series. So, it was probably an omen for Carrie to be sick for the Super Bowl as we did need a miracle to come back and win that game. I recall going into the fourth quarter and we were all pretty sad bunch watching the game. That all quickly changed and game over with Chiefs winning it all. Fun memory to remember and it seems like so long ago with everything going on.

New Years Eve off the Hook

Brenda, Carrie, and John New Years Eve 2019
Brenda, Carrie, and I New Years Eve 2019
For the first time in I do not recall how long, we decided to have a New Years Eve party to finish out 2019. Who knew that it would be the last party we could have for a while. We invited a number of our friends and family to attend. We had a lot of fun to bring in the New Year. 

We did all the normal things on a New Years Eve celebration. Drinks (lots of drinks), food, conversation, and games. We played games with small groups and games with everyone attending. A few of us played games until almost 3 am. I did finally have to stop drinking and say I was going to go to bed... I might have received a little grief from my brother-in-law, Greg, but he did not want the night to end as we were all having so much fun. 

See all the pictures from our New Years Eve 2019 celebration on Flickr.

Wine and Friends Trip to Fredericksburg, TX 2020

During the summer of 2019, Corrie, Javier, Chuck, Melissa, Carrie, and I all had the idea of meeting up in Fredericksburg, Texas in January 2020. We picked out a VRBO place to stay. Had a wonderful time. So much so that we are planning to do so again this year pending any restrictions that might be in place come January 2021. We took a lot of memories from our trip with 111 pictures during our trip. Some great pictures in the group and wonderful memories of spending time with friends in Texas.

We are planning another trip now for January 2021 by going through to make our selections for where to stay. We think we want to stay some place different than we did last time. I expect a lot more pictures and a lot more stories... I will try to record where we go this time around so I can write it here and note our favorites. 

Oh, I did forget to mention that we did sign up for two wine clubs which has been fun getting wine in the mail about every three months. This is the first time we have ever signed up for a wine club and we did two of them while in Texas. We had wine shipped back years ago from California when we visited wine country, but had never signed up for a wine club. So fun! It is obvious we need to drink more wine though as it is starting to collect in our dining room wine cabinets.

Quick Trip to Lincoln, NE

Took a quick weekend trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to see a band with Greg and Erin. This happened on a weekend about a week after we had returned from Texas. A friend of Erin and Greg was the stage manager for Blue Man Group, so we went up to see them and enjoy the town. I had never seen the Blue Man Group and had a really good time. I think we hit just about every brewery and drank a lot of delicious beers. For a quick get away, and again not knowing this would be one of our last get a ways for a few months, it was a lot of fun.

More on Sports, Kansas Basketball, Washburn, and March

When I started this post back in early February, I thought we would be enjoying sports, like usual, throughout the spring season. March Madness was about to begin, Chiefs had won the Super Bowl, and baseball was about to start. Greg and I had our season tickets for Washburn basketball games and still had a few games to attend. The first part of March looked to be a regular start of March Madness with basketball starting.... and then just about the time all the tournaments were starting, everything was canceled. Some games resumed, but eventually all games were canceled and the difficult decision was made by the NCAA to cancel all tournaments including the NCAA Tournament. 

I cannot image what it was like to be an athlete during this past year and then having the season canceled. Essentially going the rest of the spring season without sports and then student athletes, and professional athletes, not knowing what the summer or fall season would look like for sports. We all went about five months without any sports at all. It was difficult for a spectator, but again, I cannot imagine how it felt for athletes not being able to play. 

Here we are now in October and closing fast on the end of 2020... which we are all ready to have end... Sports are happening now but with limited fans, or in the case of baseball, no fans at all. We started seeing sports again in July as cases of COVID-19 began to decline, but now we are seeing cases increase again with our highest single day totals since the pandemic began. We will see where we go from here with sports and hope we can continue to have sports in our lives and everyone one of us stays healthy and safe during these trying times.

COVID-19, Working from Home, and Lack of Exercise

No doubt that COVID-19 rocked all of our lives. It has changed how we live forever and no where is this seen more than in our work lives. We were very busy at work getting everyone ready to work remote for our faculty, staff, and students and eventually everyone in ITS was working from home. We did this for for about three solid months. In June, I started going back full-time with only one other person from my office going in with me. Everyone else and much of the campus was working from home. 

Working from home was fun the first few weeks. Get out of bed, put on a nice shirt, brush my hair, and get ready for the day. No travel time needed and had everything I needed because I was at home. After a about a month of this setup, it started to get old for me. First of all, the first few weeks I sat at our table in our family room basically all day long and my back started hurting so bad I could barely walk. I had to make sure I took breaks in order to get up from the table and at least walk around, go outside to play with Oliver, or basically get away from work. 

I found myself working more at home because I could get up in the morning, start working, and then go into the evening hours continuing to work because it was all right there on-line and ready for me to do any time of the day. We had a lot happening between about end of March to the beginning of June, so there was always something that could be done and always something that needed to be done.

For most of the time working at home, Carrie and I would have an adult beverage at exactly 5 pm every night of the week. It got to the point where I could not wait for 5 pm to happen so we could have our drink. This happened during the week and weekends and often times would not only have a drink but continue to work while I had a beverage. We were eating in a lot with Carrie doing the cooking so things were good. 

Slowly, I noticed that after the first month when I would join an on-line meeting my neck was thicker, rolls in my throat were starting to really show. In June when I finally started going back to work and had to start wearing pants appropriate for work, I found that my regular work pants no longer fit. Yes, I had been eating and drinking with no exercise for so long that I had outgrown my regular work pants. I was left wearing jeans which were a little too big when I first started wearing them back in February and now were a little snug.

As the months progressed through the summer months, Carrie and I started to order more on-line for delivery. Again, not much exercise happening but we had slowed down on having beverages every night starting a 5. We agreed that we would only have beverages on the weekends and not every night of the week. This helped a little as I could get back into my work pants again and did not have to throw them all out and buy new. 

I also started running during this time which was good. I ran for about eight weeks and then I got lazy and basically stopped completely. I have not run in so long at this point, I would have to start over. I could start again as I truly enjoy running, but I have found that my knees are very painful. Hurts to go down the stairs when I get up in the morning and lately my right knee hurts if I kneel and put any weight on my right knee with sharp pains going through my knee. So, not ideal, but I think it is from running. So, I do not plan to run any more. More on this on a future post about exercise plans.

Now in October, we are fully back in the office at least for my area. Other areas of IT are working remotely, but for our area, we need to be on site to install computers, meet with our customers, and keep the campus going as there is on site instruction and work to be done.


Virtual Graduation from Washburn University 2020
Virtual Graduation from Washburn University 2020
I did it! I graduated! Not the ending I, or anyone who graduated in 2020, expected, but it is where we were at at the time. I saw my name scroll across on a virtual graduation. Shared some pictures, texts, and emails with friends who graduated with me. Still hoping to have a party eventually in our back yard to celebrate my accomplishment, but that will wait for another time and might just be a party to have a party.

I graduated with a Masters in Communication and Leadership from Washburn University in May 2020. It took me four years to complete taking only one course each semester. The first year, we were not offered any summer classes, but I believe the other summers we did have summer classes we were able to take which helped speed up the process to graduation. Overall, I really enjoyed the process and the courses. Being all on-line means lots of writing in forums for thoughts and discussions with fellow students; it also meant lots of papers with papers being required in every one of the classes. Sometimes with multiple papers required for one class. 

I think the discussions and papers helped me to understand the content and made some lasting connections with students in my classes. With others being in the classes from Washburn I knew some of them already, but this was not only discussing with them in discussion posts, but often times doing group projects with them too.

I am happy to be done. After I graduated in 1999, I never thought I would go back to school. I am so happy that Washburn University created and approved the Masters of Communication and Leadership as it was exactly what I needed and fit perfectly with my expectations for the program and career. 

Wrap It All Up to End this Post

A lot has happened since my last post as outlined above. I was sidetracked in doing posts to my blog with finishing school, work, and then COVID-19 affecting our lives. I post this to catch up with some of the things that have happened since my last post, as I mentioned, but also to help get me back into the swing of posting on a regular basis. My goal is to post at least once a week from this point forward... might not be long posts, like this one, but at least once a week is my goal. See how it works out and looking forward to regular posts again.

Be safe and connect with your friends and family as often as possible.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Middle of October and Only a Few Months Left in 2020

Where has 2020 gone and where have I been? I look out at my blog as see the last time I posted was September 28, 2019. Wow! Time has flown! I admit, February 2020 through about August 2020 seems like a blur. COVID-19 started and caused a lot of issues with all of our lives. 

Well, this is a short post to say I am going to start posting to my blog again. I am going to set aside time to write mainly because I enjoy doing the updates. Watch for new posts in the coming week and I am planning to be posting on a regular basis on a variety of issues. Who knows, I might even get back to posting about grilling again as that has not been happening much either.

I hope you are staying safe! More posts later and I look forward to hearing from you.