Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Houston & the Arts Marketing Conference

Although it's been eons since I posted, I find myself with free time as I sit in the hotel lobby at Hilton Americas-Houston waiting for my Super Shuttle to pick me up and take me to the airport. You see, dear reader, I have been in Houston for the past five days absorbing arts marketing tactics. I was fortunate enough to attend this conference and, truth be told, it has been amazing!

Americans for the Arts hosts the annual National Arts Marketing Project: in short, it's a conference for arts professionals to come and share their proven techniques in marketing, fundraising, development, audience segmentation, Web 2.0 practices, branding, community outreach, pricing, and so on. Leaders from across the country get together to bounce ideas off each other and teach emerging leaders what works and what doesn't. Organizations represented this year include (this is only a list from memory...there are hundreds) Steppenwolf, Arena Stage, Alley Theatre, George Street Playhouse, Wilma, Yale Rep; various (and hugely sought after) consultants provided plenary discussions included Alan Brown, Patricia Martin, Ed Keller; amazing vendors of innovative software consisted of Tessitura, TheatreMania, Patron Mail, Ovation and, my absolute new favorite (and hopefully future software provider) Easy-Ware Systems. My brain has been working overtime and I couldn't be happier.

Last year's conference was in Miami, Florida. It was my first experience with the NAMP conference and, upon returning back to the theatre, I was ENERGIZED and raring to apply what I learned immediately. Now, it's common, I'm told, for one to want to make everything happen instantaneously: it's not possible. There is just TOO MUCH great information to absorb and far too much work involved in applying what has been learned and to do so effectively in a short amount of time. Although I did deploy various techniques immediately, I had to wear blinders so as not to be disappointed that everything couldn't happen at once. It was advised and I'm glad I took baby steps: I would likely have felt defeated if something I couldn't pay proper attention to failed. Well, rest assured, I was not defeated.

I'm anxious to return home to combine my notes from last year with the copious notes I took over the past few days. I'm curious to see what, if any, duplications there are for, you see, I think I added to my arsenal: not only will my organization benefit from everything I learned from last year's conference...I will be even more prepared and "dangerous" with what I took away from this year's. If I sound excited it's because I truly, truly am.

OK. Enough. Let me briefly tell you a little about Houston: It is a wonderfully comfortable and artistic BIG city. I'd never been to Texas before so, when I arrived, I expected to see a lot of big hair, cowboy boots, stetson hats, and hear a deep southern drawl. That's not the case here in Houston. It is an arts mecca with a much more cosmopolitan, artistic feel than I expected. Although I've been in Houston for five days, I've met more non-Texas-born people living here than not. It reminds me of New York or Los Angeles: many of those shaping and growing the community are not actually FROM the community. Yes, they live here now but many of them came from elsewhere. It is reasonable to think that this city is a hub for the creative class. I mean, it is the fourth largest city in the United States. I just didn't expect it.

While here I saw a performance of "Always...Patsy Cline" at Stages Repertory Theatre (it was WONDERFUL) and a performance of "Secret Order" at Alley Theatre (WOW!). The NAMP conference also held their opening reception at the Museum of Fine Art where attendees were treated to lots of Tex-Mex food, wine, a tour of the museum and the musical and dance talents of amazing local artists. Across the street from the hotel (and RIGHT in the middle of the city; surrounded by the convention center, the Minute Maid baseball stadium, the Toyota Center, and many other major attractions I can't presently name) is a PUBLIC PARK designed in part by local artists. It can be compared to a small version of Central Park but with more art installations. Local people were spending time at this park every single day. Let me say that again, EVERY SINGLE DAY. The city turned (what looks like) a whole city block into a commune. A place in the heart of the fourth largest city in the US where, surrounded by art and beautiful gardens, families walk, talk, picnic, play and SPEND the city. My 16th floor room overlooked this "Discovery Park" and I have to say I people watched from my window more than I watched television. It made me very happy.

I am very, very happy to be returning home. To my family; to the cold; to my home; and to return to work. To have a job I increasingly love, and be anxious to utilize what I learned over an intense five day conference is mind-blowing to many reading this post, I know! Nothing pleases me more however than to think that, in whatever small way it might be, I may eventually contribute to the overall betterment of my arts organization and, in turn, hopefully increase awareness of the Arts in Buffalo. I'm aware that it is a lofty goal but one that, because of my passion and what I learned at this NAMP conference, one that I hope is inevitable.

Yee haw, Buffalo, I'm comin' home!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

GEICO is my new bestfriend.

I just saved $929.56/year by switching to GEICO!

I am SO happy!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Carny Jargon.

Jamie and I are going to the Erie County Fair tonight so I thought I'd share with you some of the "carny jargon" I learned.

It's from my How to Be a Proper Carny Rulebook back in the days when I toured with the carnies.

  • Agent - Operator of a joint.
  • Alibi - A technique used where the player has apparently won the game, but is denied a prize when the jointee invents a further, unforeseeable, condition of the game. For example, a player may be disqualified on the grounds of having leaned over a previously undisclosed "foul line."
  • Bally - A free performance intended to attract both tips and visitors to the nearby sideshow.
  • Blow - Cocaine
  • Blow Off - Rush of customers out of an exhibition.
  • Bone yard - Place at which employees stay when not working. (called the bone yard because employees work hard all day long until they're nothing but bones)
  • Burn the lot - To cheat players with little or no attempt to conceal the subterfuge, in the carny's expectation that the same town will not be visited again.
  • Butcher - A carnie that will take every penny from a mark by confusing them and then forcing them to pay
  • Call - The act of yelling out slogans and interacting with passers-by to attract business.
  • Circus "jump" - Term used to describe the need to tear down, drive, set up and work in another town, the very next day.
  • Donniker - Bathroom
  • Flat - A game that is rigged so that you cannot win. Illegal in most states.
  • Flash - To make your joint look ready for business. To make it look "flashy"
  • Forty Miler - A greenie who is willing to travel, but only short distances from their home base. Also used to describe anyone or anything that is perceived to be fake or phony.
  • Gaff - To rig a game so as to make it unwinnable
  • Green Help - Employees hired at a new location that are only temporary (a.k.a. greenies)
  • Hammer-Squash - Used to describe an individual as dumb or stupid (used interchangeably with Larry when used to describe a person).
  • Hey, Rube! - An exclamation used to summon help by a carny in trouble, either from police or disgruntled players. The term was used as the title of a sports column written by Hunter Thompson for in his later years.
  • Ikey Heyman - A wheel of fortune that can be secretly braked by the carny
  • -iz or -erza - Inserted between the syllables of words to serve as a cipher or cryptolect.
  • Key To The Midway - An object a carnival worker will ask a younger customer (or new initiate) for when asked for a free game or prize. The idea is that the 'mooch' will go onto the next game and ask for a "Key To The Midway", only to find out that this new carny has one, but can only give it up for some other far fetched item. Examples of such items include: A cordless extension cord, a solar-powered flash light, an underwater lighter, tack glue, a left handed screwdriver, light bulb grease, purple fuzzy tape, glass hammer etc. The idea is to have fun at the customer's naivety. It's said that the Ferris wheel has been known to be called the key to the midway, as no proper midway should be without one. Others call the Jenny the key, as it's traditionally the first thing encountered when entering the midway. The Ferris wheel is sometimes called the "calling card", a title which can be applied to any high ride which is visible from long distances.
  • The Kitty - Budgeted amount of finance, regulated by the management of a carnival for purchasing food and supplies for its workers. ("We wanted a new tent, but there's no more scratch in the kitty.")
  • Larry - Defective
  • Loc(ation) - Location of a joint or ride as determined by the carnival manager. Usually laid out before set-up.
  • Lot - The Lot is the carnival midway area where the rides & "joints" are set up
  • Lot Lizard - Describes a carny (usually female) who has multiple sexual partners (also carnys) Or one who tends to "sleep-around" or cheat with other carnies on the lot.
  • Mark - A target for swindling, especially one whose gullibility has been demonstrated. Derived from the covert use of chalk to mark the backs of especially ripe targets. The term has entered the popular lexicon, usually as "easy mark."
  • Midway - Center strip of the carnival where the games or rides are located.
  • Money
    - ace ($1)
    - fin ($5)
    - sawbuck/saw ($10)
    - double ($20)
    - half-yard ($50)
    - yard or c-note ($100)
    - large or K ($1000)
  • Mooch - An individual who asks for a free game or prize. It is also used to describe someone who watches others play, but does not play themselves or asks a lot of questions with no intention of playing the game. Sometimes used as an insult between carnies to connote cheapness.
  • New - An insult used by carnies, against carnies (newbie). Used in instances where a carnival worker should know better, with the insulter asking "What are you, new?"
  • The Nut - The sum total (in cash) of a performance, or group of performances. The nut (or kernel) is also sometimes used to refer to the basic operating expense of the joint (including the "patch"). To "make your nut" is to break even, anything beyond that is your profit (or tip).
  • Oats - Stolen money from a concession.
  • Patch money - Money used to induce police officers to turn a blind eye. Also known as juice or ice.
  • Plush - Stuffed animals to be given away as prizes
  • Poke - The Mark's wallet is known as their Poke. When a carnie tries to see how much is in a marks wallet they "Peek their poke"
  • Possum belly (sometimes possum gut) compartment under a truck or trailer
  • Possum belly queen or PBQ - A girl who would have sex in a possum belly.
  • Ride jock (or jockey) - Someone who operates the carnival rides (vs. jointee).
  • Rousty or Roustabout - A temporary or full-time laborer who helps pitch concessions and assemble rides. In the 1930s, American roustabouts would work for a meal and perhaps a tent to share with other workers.
  • Scratch - The revenue from a concession, or money in general.
  • Score - Any scratch won by any means, fair or foul.
  • Sharpie - The opposite of a mark: an experienced player who is wise to traditional carny scams and is skilled at the games themselves.
  • Slough - Tear down your "joint". Get it ready for the road.
  • Slum - Stuff that makes you want to kill the person selling it to you. small cheap "stock"
  • Speak the language - Used as a test to see if someone is really "with it". Many carnies "qualify" outsiders by using the jargon. A string of jargon or carny-talk is spoken to determine if the other person understands. A person who fails the test is said to "not speak the language" indicating "newness". A newbie who is good or looks promising might be said to not speak the language YET, which is more complimentary.
  • Spinning / flying Jenny or Jinny - Carnie slang for merry-go-round.
  • Spring - Open the carnival.
  • Stick Joint - Homemade wooden or metal booth.
  • Stock- Game prizes
  • Straight - A game that is played by the rules
  • Sugar Shack - A concession or food-stand that doubles as a front for drug commerce & trafficking.
  • Store - Can mean any joint, but is usually used to refer to a "straight store" where there's a winner every time. The store is basically selling stock, usually slum, for a handsome profit.
  • Tip - Tip generally has two meanings, depending on who you're talking to and where. Old-timers usually mean the crowd that gathers around a caller or mike-man to hear the spiel before the start of the next show, or the crowd that hangs around a joint, watching others play. A more general meaning is any scratch the agent wins from his game as in "I just won a real nice tip from that last mark".
  • Two-Way Joint - A game that can be quickly converted from a fixed, unwinnable game into a temporarily honest one when police officers come by.
  • With it - A carny, to identify one another, as in "I'm with it", or "Are you with it"? (With the show).

My Possum Belly Queen and I are anxious to visit some stick joints and throw a few fins at a number of sugar shacks. If the butchers from the bone yard blow off too many marks or, on that charge, do too much blow, we’ll be happy to suffer some alibis and not win any plush. I hope not to see any mooches asking for the key to the midway because all that does is waste time. Although that normally doesn’t happen with the Greenies, I’m certain that the Lot Lizards will gaff a few straight games for the sake of their Larry Locs.

OK…we’re off to see the carneys.

Monday, August 04, 2008

One Month/Ten Pounds

I have officially been smoke free for 28 days (read: one month). Although I consider it a huge accomplishment, I'm sorta over the whole "I'm proud of myself" thing. Honest. I mean, yes, I did it - but there is only so much back-patting I'm gonna do. I have a bigger problem than smoking now! I'm gaining weight!!!

Ugh. I'm probably eating more. OK, I'm definitely eating more. And doing less. At least I had to walk outside to smoke! Now I just sit on the couch and watch Food Network. Or I lay in bed reading my teenage vampire romance novels.

I am 5'8" and 170lbs. I just looked online and found that the ideal weight for someone my height, age, and gender is 124-164 with an average weight of 161. My BMI is 25.8. The ideal BMI is 19-25.

So, I'm not obese but I definitely need to lose weight and tone up my belly. (Say "belly" like Fat Bastard in Austin Powers..."get in my belleee!") Hmph.

Please share some weight loss tips with me. How can I regain my svelte self (or at least my svelte self image)? I've never had abs and I really don't care about getting abs, so maybe svelte is the wrong word. I just want to get rid of my "belleee".

Friday, August 01, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Me and Katie.

Isn't she a cutie?? She's pregnant. (Not in this! She's pregnant now!!!!)

I'm Voting Republican

RE: Facebook

I'm slowly but surely becoming obsessed with Facebook.

I never thought that I would be involved with MySpace-type applications but this online "community" is fascinating! I'm able to connect with people I haven't (and likely wouldn't have) seen in a long time. Friends from Milan, Paris,'s wonderful!

That is all.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Inter-cell-e-web-IT World

I've got two websites through work, I monitor four blogs, I'm on Facebook and MySpace, I'm Linkedin, and I have seven e-mail addresses although I only use two. I have 312 contacts in my cellphone and 1,276 contacts in my work e-distribution list (not including students/faculty/staff). There are four phone numbers on my business card...and I can be reached at all four. We have a laptop and a desktop computer at home and I have three computers in my office at work. I'm accountable for 62 accounts. I have to keep 14 distinct passwords memorized.

I only mention this because I'm overwhelmed this Monday morning.

Oh yeah, today marks 3 weeks of not smoking.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii

(CNN) -- A New Zealand judge has made a 9-year-old girl a ward of the court so that her name can be changed from Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii, the country's national news agency reported Thursday.

Family Court Judge Rob Murfitt listed a series of unusual names that New Zealand parents had given their children, and said he was concerned that such strange monikers would create hurdles for them as they grew up.

"It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap," the New Zealand Press Association quoted the judge as saying.

Among the names Murfitt cited: twins named Benson and Hedges -- after a brand of cigarettes; Violence; and Number 16 Bus Shelter.

Some parents had named children after six-cylinder Ford cars, the news agency reported. Do you have a unique name?

The Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages said in a statement that it had rejected names including Fish and Chips, Yeah Detroit, Stallion, Twisty Poi -- a staple food in Polynesian cuisine -- and Sex Fruit.

A lawyer for Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii said the girl is so embarrassed by her name that friends know her as "K."

Last month, a judge in the U.S. state of Illinois allowed a school bus driver to legally change his first name to "In God" and his last name to "We Trust."

But an appeals court in the state of New Mexico ruled against a man -- named Variable -- who wanted to change his name to a two-word phrase that contains a four-letter expletive and expresses opposition to censorship.

Monday, July 21, 2008

RE: Twilight

OK, the first book of the "Twilight Saga" (it's actually called TWILIGHT) is, indeed, a love story. I didn't think I would say this but I read a teenage romance novel.

I have to tell you that it is a GREAT story. I loved it. The final third of the novel totally had me tearing through the pages.

I really really really loved the story and I can't wait to start the second novel...tomorrow (I've been reading for 6 hours straight. I need a break.)

Get the books. They're a light the movie is coming out soon!!

Here fishy, fishy, fishy!

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (AP) -- Ready for the latest in spa pampering? Prepare to dunk your tootsies in a tank of water and let tiny carp nibble away.

Tracy Roberts tests to see if the fish will be interested in nibbling skin off of her hand as well as her toes.

Tracy Roberts tests to see if the fish will be interested in nibbling skin off of her hand as well as her toes.

Fish pedicures are creating something of a splash in the D.C. area, where a northern Virginia spa has been offering them for the past four months. John Ho, who runs the Yvonne Hair and Nails salon with his wife, Yvonne Le, said 5,000 people have taken the plunge so far.

"This is a good treatment for everyone who likes to have nice feet," Ho said.

He said he wanted to come up with something unique while finding a replacement for pedicures that use razors to scrape off dead skin. The razors have fallen out of favor with state regulators because of concerns about whether they're sanitary.

Ho was skeptical at first about the fish, which are called garra rufa but typically known as doctor fish. They were first used in Turkey and have become popular in some Asian countries.

But Ho doubted they would thrive in the warm water needed for a comfortable footbath. And he didn't know if customers would like the idea.

"I know people were a little intimidated at first," Ho said. "But I just said, 'Let's give it a shot.' "

Customers were quickly hooked.

Tracy Roberts, 33, of Rockville, Maryland, heard about it on a local radio show. She said it was "the best pedicure I ever had" and has spread the word to friends and co-workers.

"I'd been an athlete all my life, so I've always had calluses on my feet. This was the first time somebody got rid of my calluses completely," she said.

First time customer KaNin Reese, 32, of Washington, described the tingling sensation created by the toothless fish: "It kind of feels like your foot's asleep," she said.

The fish don't do the job alone. After 15 to 30 minutes in the tank, customers get a standard pedicure, made easier by the soft skin the doctor fish leave behind.

Ho believes his is the only salon in the country to offer the treatment, which costs $35 for 15 minutes and $50 for 30 minutes. The spa has more than 1,000 fish, with about 100 in each individual pedicure tank at any given time.

Dennis Arnold, a podiatrist who four years ago established the International Pedicure Association, said he had never heard of the treatment and doubts it will become widespread.

"I think most people would be afraid of it," he said.

Customer Patsy Fisher, 42, of Crofton, Maryland, admitted she was nervous as she prepared for her first fish pedicure. But her apprehension dissolved into laughter after she put her feet in the tank and the fish swarmed to her toes.

"It's a little ticklish, actually," she said.

Ho said the hot water in which the fish thrive doesn't support much plant or aquatic life, so they learned to feed on whatever food sources were available -- including dead, flaking skin. They leave live skin alone because, without teeth, they can't bite it off.

In addition to offering pedicures, Ho hopes to establish a network of Doctor Fish Massage franchises and is evaluating a full-body fish treatment that, among other things, could treat psoriasis and other skin ailments.

Ho spent a year and about $40,000 getting the pedicures up and running, with a few hiccups along the way.

State regulations make no provision for regulating fish pedicures. But the county health department -- which does regulate pools -- required the salon to switch from a shallow, tiled communal pool that served as many as eight people to individual tanks in which the water is changed for each customer.

The communal pool also presented its own problem: At times the fish would flock to the feet of an individual with a surplus of dead skin, leaving others with a dearth of fish.

"It would sometimes be embarrassing for them but it was also really hilarious," Ho said.


It has been two weeks since I've quit smoking. I am both shocked and proud that I've done it.

I wanted to share some of my symptoms from not smoking. They're not all good but I can't honestly say that any of them are awful.

  • I have a pink tongue again (those of you who smoke will know precisely what I mean.)
  • I have a new found interest in brushing my teeth.
  • I have a new found interest in Listerine mouth antiseptic.
  • I have a new found interest in teeth whitening products.
  • When I take a deep breath, I can actually FEEL the air expanding my lungs - it is a bit painful but in a very good way: like a rusty engine that gets an oil feels so good!
  • My skin and hair have a healthy glow - not a smoky, filmy sheen.
  • I can actually laugh without coughing!
  • I don't have to sit on the porch in the rain...unless I absolutely want to get wet!
  • I can walk to the fourth floor of my building at work and not wheeze or pant. Although it's still not "easy" it's much easier than while I was smoking.
  • I don't wake myself up from coughing.
  • My fingers aren't yellow-tinged.
  • Et cetera, et cetera...
I'm happy. It still doesn't seem "normal" to me. That is one hurdle I'm going to have to overcome. I am anxious for the day when I don't THINK about cigarettes anymore. Although the challenges are becoming fewer and fewer, the urges remain. Well, that's partially untrue: I don't necessarily feel the URGE to smoke but, when I'm bored, I still want a cigarette. It is an URGE but definitely not a TEMPTATION. If I were going to sneak a smoke, I would definitely have the opportunity: I have friends at work who smoke (my assistant smokes), I have family members that smoke, I could always buy cigarettes again - I just don't WANT to smoke. That's the biggest difference.

I tell myself, "Self, this is the longest you've gone in nearly 15 years without smoking a cigarette. If you fall back on your promise to yourself, even once, you'll have to start at the very beginning." Well, I don't want to start at the very beginning - the very beginning SUCKED. I like that it's been two whole weeks without even so much as a PUFF! (By the way, Jamie is also smoke-free for two weeks! I am extremely proud of him! He's quit cold-turkey...without Chantix. His accomplishment is probably even bigger than mine. But I figure quitting is quitting regardless whether a cessation program is used or not.)

OK. I tend to ramble when I don't have a cigarette in my hand. I just wanted to gloat for a few minutes, that's all.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I LOVE Vampires.

I've jumped on the teenage bandwagon and started reading the Twilight Saga. That's is called the Twilight Saga. I'll give you all a moment to laugh out loud.

Are you finished?

I'm sure everyone remembers the hullabaloo that surrounded the Harry Potter books. It was quite the craze. I did read the first five HP books but that was it. I recently found myself with extra time on my hands (oh, today marks 13 days!) since I've quit smoking and I wanted to start reading again. I researched online and found that the new craze was these books on teenage vampires and werewolves. The artwork was strikingly dark and the reviews were intelligent and, mostly, positive. I started to research some more and determined that I would, indeed, buy the first book.

Well, I went to Borders and was welcomed with a whole TABLE full of Twilight Saga books. (There have been three written so far and another one is due out on August 2nd.) After multiple conversations with strangers (all of whom had read the books already - some twice) I decided that I would buy the first three books. And then came the fun:

Apparently there are stores across the country that will hold midnight release parties for the fourth, and purportedly final, book. It will involve costumes, trivia, and other juvenile things. Well, I signed up to go - and I hadn't even read the first book! It just consumed me so much that I was certain I'd WANT to go.

Needless to say, I am nearly 1/2 way through book one and I am hooked. The writing is seductive and evokes such a sense of mystery that it's difficult to put the book down. Here, instead of my poor description, let me copy and paste what the publisher has to say about TWILIGHT:

Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife -- between desire and danger.

Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.
OK, I have to say that I don't necessarily consider it a "love story". This teenage girl falls in love with the vampire boy...that's all I know so far. But it is extraordinarily intriguing and I encourage all of you "reading for pleasure" people to go out and buy the first book.

Enough rambling, Bella and Edward are calling me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I love Halloween. I'm very happy that Halloween falls on a Friday this year! I'm going to write about Halloween today (my tenth day not smoking, by the way!)

I love Halloween as prior posts (1, 2, 3, 4) will confirm. It is the perfect holiday. Children (and some adults) dress up in costumes; neighbors give free candy to trick-or-treaters; families carve spooky faces into pumpkins; everyone decorates their houses and yards (Halloween is quickly approaching Christmas in regards to the most money spent on decorations/holiday.) It is such a feel-good, time to reminisce. I just wish it lasted longer than one day/evening.

So...I'm already starting to plan my Halloween party. It will not be a grand affair - probably just a single handful of people. I just like to celebrate.

In preparation for this year's festivities, I've ordered this book. I want my Halloween decor to match my shabby chic antique-ish style. (Plus I like to collect strange things.) I found a few of these vintage Halloween decorations at various yard sales and consignment shoppes.

I also like to carve pumpkins but I abhor the "guts" inside those gourds. So, last year, I came across fake, carvable pumpkins called Funkins. You can click on their website HERE. They are (obviously) reusable year after year. Although they're not cheap, I figure Jamie and I can afford 3-4 Funkins/year. (Although I don't like the idea of not supporting our local farmers, I can't possibly risk this happening again!) Moving on...

I like to hand out the BIG candy bars. You know, the full-size not the fun-size. I don't know how in God's name tiny, bite-sized candy bars are more "fun" than the real thing. I mean, c'mon. The first year Jamie and I decided to spend the money on candy, we ended up with about 50 "leftover" pieces. Needless to say, we weren't disappointed. (I buy the candy bars I'D eat...just in case.) Last year, I was more realistic: I only bought 144 pieces. The photo above is only one of four bowls we had prepared.

OK, I have to actually get some work done today (at work, not on this party.) So I'll have to update this whole Halloween-party thing again another time.

If you have any suggestions (or if you want to donate to our candy fund) don't hesitate to leave me a comment below.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Best Giftsite...EVER.

Should anybody want to buy me a gift for any reason or any occasion, please purchase it from THIS website. Go to right this moment.

I want two of everything.

(Oh, and I just ordered this for my nephew - he isn't born yet but it is just too perfect.)

I'm still at it.

It has been 158.75 hours since I've had a cigarette - to break it down even more, I have been smoke-free for 9,527 minutes or 571,500 seconds. I am proud.

Now, I want to say that I am not going to make this a boring blog about my cessation program. Although I will likely update this site with occasional useless smoke-free-information, I will not, I promise, pat myself on the back on a daily basis (at least not in front of everyone.)

I am proud that I haven't had even a puff of a cigarette in almost a week. It's not easy. I just won't bore the hell out of those people who visit my blog.


Friday, July 11, 2008


But I still haven't smoked.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I'm only a LITTLE excited...

Check out their blog HERE.

Day Three: Still Smoke-Free

Well, I figured that I should pick up a hobby. I mean, after all, I need to do something with my extra 2.5 hours/day, right? Jamie takes flying lessons...I need to do something productive too!

I've been researching language-teaching software. My friend Eileen is learning French (she's going to Paris at the end of the month) and she loves it. The only thing is, I'm not going to France so I don't think it's the most practical language for me to least not first. I'm thinking I'll take a crack at Spanish. After all, by the year 2050 more than 1/2 of our country's population will not be white and about 75% of the non-white population will speak Spanish. It makes sense.

I've looked at "Rosetta Stone" and "Tell Me More" software applications primarily. They're both very expensive (but still not as expensive as flying airplanes!!) Have any of you used either software application? If so, what did you think? Is one better than the other?

Give me some advice...or, if you have $400 laying around, I'm more than happy to receive gifts!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I'm not smoking...or sleeping.

I haven't smoked since 11:58 p.m. on July 7th. Yesterday was absolutely successful and today has been as far as not smoking goes.

I mentioned yesterday that there are side effects associated with Chantix (as there are with all/most other drugs.) Let me list those specifically dealing with the pill I'm currently taking:

  • nausea (30%)
  • sleep problems (trouble sleeping, or vivid, unusual, or strange dreams)
  • constipation
  • gas
  • vomiting
OK, so there's nothing on there that is too frightening. I'm currently only suffering one side-effect on that list - sleep problems.

Since I started taking this medicine on July 1st, I've been experiencing "every other day insomnia". I will sleep only every other night. And when I say INSOMNIA, I mean just that. I...can...not...sleep. Now, I know that anxiety is a primary cause for the inability to sleep. I get that (and I'm certain that I'm anxious.) It just sucks, is all.

Last night: I went to bed at 10:30 p.m., tossed for precisely 7.5 waking hours, dozed off at 6 a.m., woke at 8:15 a.m., went to work. I'm exhausted.

But a few days without sleep will not dissuade me. I will not smoke...probably because I'll be veg'd out from my lack of sleep.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My First Smoke-Free Day

I said I would do it and I've done it...for a whole half of a DAY so far!!! I'm very excited.

Now, I know that many of you non-smokers (maybe even some of you smokers) are thinking, "What's the big deal? It can't be too difficult NOT to smoke a cigarette - 'specially if it's only been eight waking hours." Well, you're partially correct. It hasn't been too difficult...just difficult enough. Let me explain:

I would normally have a cigarette first thing in the morning. Before I did anything else I smoked. Then I would shower, get dressed, get in my car and drive to work. On my way, I would normally smoke two cigarettes. Once I arrived, I would make a pot of coffee and ask Jen if she would like to join me for a cigarette - we would smoke. Through the course of the day, I would have a cigarette (on average) about every hour.'s just after 3:00 p.m. and I HAVEN'T HAD A CIGARETTE!!! On a "normal" day I would have already smoked about 10 cigarettes.

So, although it's not TOO difficult, it is still difficult. Keep in mind, please, that I've been smoking for about 14 years. Changing my daily routine (coupled with the fact that nicotine is hugely addictive) is not easy...but I'm doing it and I'm proud of myself.

Chantix seems to be working but pills alone won't make me quit. This is something I've wanted to do for, well, 14 years. I'm excited and I'm going to do it.

I'll try to keep myself occupied by updating y'all daily with my progress (maybe I'll even start blogging about nonsense like I used to.) I mean, after all, I'll have a lot more free time: I figure each cigarette takes about 5-7 minutes to smoke. If I smoked 25 cigarettes per day, I would likely spend 2 1/2 hours smoking...per day. So, I now have more time to do more important work. And blog.

I'm rambling...but doing it smoke-free!!! I'm happy about that!

Saturday, July 05, 2008


OK, I know that the "Fourth of July" is the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence but I am personally hoping that my "Independence Day" will annually be the "Eighth of July". Let me explain:

I can count eight precise times in my life that I've attempted to stop smoking: I've purchased the patch twice; I've received FREE patches in the mail twice; I tried using the nicotine gum; I tried the whole "quitting cold turkey" thing; and I've been prescribed two prescriptions (something generic and the newer Chantix.) My most recently failed attempt was about a year or so ago...with Chantix. It DID decrease my urges to smoke but the side effects (at least I blamed the side effects) got the better of me and I stopped taking the pills and resumed my bad habit.

As the year progressed, I realized that I really, really, really wanted to stop smoking. It is starting to physically effect me; I felt like a slave to the cigarette (I smoked much more because of addiction and less because of habit); I was ostracized by friends/co-workers/family members; It has finally sunk in that I WILL die because of smoking unless I take immediate action; and (probably most the most important reason for my decision) I want to be here for my loved ones...especially my nephew.

So, alas, I asked my doctor to re-prescribe Chantix for me. He did and I started taking it on July 1, 2008. I enrolled in the online help website ( and I've reconfirmed my absolute determination in quitting smoking on Tuesday, July 8. 2008 as recommended by the GETQUIT website (I don't want you to think that I'm just prolonging this for my own benefit - they recommend making one's "quit date" eight days following the start of the prescription.)

Although I hope I don't need it, please wish me luck and encourage me. I am, without a doubt, doing this for selfish reasons but any gentle-nudging you're willing to provide will be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Uncle Joey

OK. I'm back at it and I'm going to try and be more consistent with my blogging.

This post will be brief. I just wanted to direct your attention to my sister and brother-in-law's blog. They're pregnant (well, he's not technically pregnant but you know what I mean) and they're tracking my nephew's progress on the world wide web via THIS blog.

Check it out and leave them a note!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Turn, turn, turn...

OK, I needn't be reminded that I haven't posted in over a month (again) making this only my second or third blog post this year. Let me preface by saying that this is the first full weekend off I've had this year as well.

So very many things have changed and happened in the short 3.5 months in 2008. The most important of which is my sister's pregnancy. That's right!! My little sister, Katie, and her husband, Ben, are expecting their first child in late October! I will officially be an uncle and I couldn't be more excited.

I will undoubtedly be the child's favorite uncle. I am already preparing. I'm reading books, buying things, watching movies about babies. I am very excited!!!

There. Perhaps that will satiate you for another four months (at which time I'm certain I shall have an update.)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Back from the dead.

OK, so I said that I wasn't dead but...I have so much and so little to say right now.

Since 2008 began, I have been extremely busy. I've been so busy that everything I have to tell you will likely bore you to death. So, I've decided to fill this space with a stupid survey I found online (at least I'm posting something.)

45 of the most random things you probably never needed to know about someone
whats your name spelt backwards?:HpesoJ.
What did you do last night?:Watched TV with Jamie.
The last thing you downloaded onto your computer?:My tax software from H&R Block.
Have you ever licked a 9 volt battery?:I think I have.
Last time you swam in a pool?:Las Vegas, 2 years ago.
What are you wearing?:Bathrobe, pajamas, slippers.
How many cars have you owned?:Four.
Type of music you dislike most?:Rap.
Are you registered to vote?:Yes.
Do you have cable?:No, we have Direct TV.
What kind of computer do you use?:eMachines PC.
Ever made a prank phone call?:Yes.
You like anyone right now?:I hate everyone.
Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?:No, I wouldn't.
Furthest place you ever traveled?:In distance? Los Angeles.
What's your favorite comic strip?:Hmm... Family Circle.
Do u know all the words to the national anthem?:Yes.
Shower, morning or night?:Usually the morning.
Best movie you've seen in the past month?:I've not seen any movies in the past month.
Favorite pizza toppings?:Just cheese. Maybe onions, too.
Chips or popcorn?:Neither. Pretzels.
What cell phone provider do you have?:Sprint/Nextel.
Have you ever smoked peanut shells?:What? No!
Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?:I've escorted girls in pageants.
Orange Juice or apple?:Apple juice.
Who were the last people you sat at lunch with?:Jamie.
favorite chocolate bar?:Dove chocolate.
Who is your longest friend and how long?:Wow...I still consider Mike my friend. 12-13 years.
Last time you ate a homegrown tomato?:This past summer, I believe.
Have you ever won a trophy?:Yes. (I really hate yes or no questions.)
Favorite arcade game?:Mrs. Pac-Man
Ever ordered from an infomercial?:Yes - Proactive.
Sprite or 7-UP?:7-Up.
Have you ever had to wear a uniform to school/work?:When I worked at McDonald's.
Last thing you bought at Walgreens?:Probably make-up for the theatre.
Ever thrown up in public?:When I was a child I "threw up" in school.
Would you prefer being a millionaire or finding true love?:I've found true love so I'll take Millionaire.
Do you believe in love at first sight?:Yes.
SPONGEBOB OR JIMMY NEUTRON?:I have no idea what that means.
Did you have long hair as a young kid?:No.
What message is on your voicemail machine?:Shut up.
Where would you like to go right now?:Las Vegas.
Whats the name of your pet?:Jesse and Dodger.
What kind of back pack do you have, and what's in it?:HAHA. I am such a loser.
What do you think about most?:Sleeping.
Take this survey | Find more surveys
Bzoink - The Original Survey Site

I should go to sleep.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I am not dead.


I will post soon.