Today we ventured over to the Dutch store to get our annual collection of chocolate letters for everyone to have at Christmas Dinner. It’s been long enough for me now that this tradition has become a permanent fixture in my Christmas celebration. Much like the mandatory Pisco Sour shot at New Year’s, the chocolate letters are one of the things I look forward to. This year things are a little better during the holidays and we even managed to take mom to the store with us. As the week winds down there are Pierogies to be made and of course, one of my favorites: Borscht soup. There never seems to be enough time to get everything done, but just like weddings, it all falls in to place at the last minute – you just gotta hang on long enough. Here’s me hanging on.
Tag Archives: My Life
The parking lots are starting to get fuller and the media blitz that accompanies Christmas is in full swing. Somehow we are closing in another new year and it’s still a surprise, sort of. The year has been a blur of half baked plans, trips, get-togethers, concerts, tears, laughter and moments of quiet solitude. It’s been a blast. I’m sure that the next 3 weeks will go by quickly but I’m looking forward to trying new things and pushing myself a bit more in 2012. Karen and I will be celebrating 10 years of marriage next year and that’s hard to believe… Well, not really, but it’s still a pretty good milestone.
So yeah, things are on a definite upswing and we’re enjoying it for what its worth. We’ve made an extra effort to remove ourselves from most ‘life equations’ and an even better effort at ‘purposeful living’. What else can you do – right?
I’m looking forward to Christmas celebrations and New Year’s Resolutions; I’ve got some ideas I want to try out for the new year and re-inventing yourself is never easy, but it can be a lot of fun if you embrace it completely. Whether everything turns out to be status quo in 2012 or the planet falls into galactic oblivion, it will find me playing life as loud as I can, for as long I can…
I’ve never been a fan of iTunes. There are various reasons behind this, but I think that it’s mostly due to the DRM controls that Apple has had to put in place to appease the music industry. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of the original product; SoundJam. SoundJam was a lightweight, full featured and extensible music player. Cassidy & Greene’s version of Winamp for the Mac was awesome, but therein lies the problem. It was so good that Apple decided to buy it than to try and compete with it. Of the two products that I loved back then, SoundJam and Audion, SoundJam was picked to become the world’s most recognizable music player of all time.
After the product was bought and development began by some of the original SoundJam developers and Apple’s own development team I had hopes. As it turned out the loyal fans of SoundJam realized that iTunes was a mere shadow of it’s original self and a complete disappointment for those of us who enjoyed the tweaking aspect of the previous version. Ever since, in my opinion, it has gotten worse… bigger, more feature laden, slower and harder to manage your music library. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can’t argue against its success and I can understand its mass market appeal, as well as some of the design choices that Apple made. After all, iTunes is so much more than just a mere mp3 player, but that’s the reason I ultimately abandoned the product and what it it looks like today.
If iTunes were a fighter, it would be overweight and out of shape and that’s sad. So many limitations and not enough time to talk about all of them… Needless to say I’ve been looking for a worthwhile replacement for a LONG time and… behold, I have finally found one. Enter Enqueue.
Now, before you start getting all rebuttals going, I’ll be the first to admit that Enqueue is not for everyone, and that’s okay. I was looking for some specific things and though Enqueue doesn’t have all the features I think it should have, it makes up for it in simplicity and power. The best part about Enqueue is that I can add multiple folders for it to “watch” and it supports most of the music file formats out there, including FLAC, which is the most important. You can create playlists and you can edit tags just like in iTunes, but this app is all about keeping all of your libraries under one roof and playing them without a hiccup.
No more worrying about adding things to iTunes and then removing them when I’m done. No more having to convert files from one format to another and compromising sound quality. I can work and rework my library at the Finder level and Enqueue continues to roll with the punches. This feature alone made a compelling argument due to the heavy rotation of music I trudge through on a weekly basis. I love this product so much that I actually paid for the app… yes, you heard me, ”paid” for it – and that’s a rare thing indeed.
I highly recommend Enqueue for those of you who are just looking for a great music player; not genius, not streaming audio, not the app store or managing an electronic device… Maybe you don’t even realize that you’re putting up with a lot just to hear some great music, so why not find out and see if that’s the case…
And for those of you who are obsessed with the best audio… give Audirvana Free a shot. This player is definitely the ugly step child of MP3 players but the best part about it is that it uses Apple’s Core Audio Engine and for the purest quality of sound, nothing beats Audirvana cranking out your favorite album (FLAC version of course) over a good pair of earphones. Believe me, it’s a difference you can hear and it will definitely put a smile on your face.
Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful and definitely worth all the effort that was put in. All the family favorites were served up with the usual magic that Karen can muster. Now as she has moved on from a mere helper in the kitchen and center piece creator to an integral part of the feast I can’t help but look on in wonder. There is a lot of time and preparation that goes into this Cadillac of seasonal meals and now that I’ve been pulled into it I have a new appreciation. Karen continues to put her own personal spin on the standard fare and her signature style is definitely being stamped on our turkey extravaganza.
Despite all the changes and ups & downs so far, we’re a family again, and that is what this day is all about. My last fleeting thought is hoping that you’re having a fantastic Thanksgiving day as well, wherever you may be celebrating it…
The holiday run has started this year and I’m doing my best to enjoy it. Every year around this time I always feel the subtle discrepancies between fully committing to the spirit of celebration and this rather irritating feeling of excess pressure to ‘get things right’. It isn’t something that I’ve fully resolved in my life yet, though it gets easier to deal with as I get older. Sometimes when I think about the way I feel, I think to myself, “when are you getting over it..?”
I love the actual holidays, it’s just the mean time in between that feels out of place. I know, it doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t – I’ll be the first to admit. It resembles the funny idea behind Valentine’s day, as if some committee you’ve never heard of has decided that there is one day above all others where certain behavior is expected.
I think I feel it more this year because I’m still trying to get past some things and letting go is never easy for me. Where tenacity is a good thing for my job and for puzzle solving in general, overt obsession about things you can’t fix is the worst expression of this you can ask for. All that’s left when the dust settles is frustration.
This year is still “off”, that I can’t deny. Karen and I are trying in a quiet fashion to find our groove again and I’m sure we’ll figure things out soon enough, but this hang time is off putting.
And so the pragmatist in me wants to put its head down and move forward. Forward motion is good. It’ll be Thanksgiving soon enough, then Christmas, New Years and then 2012. The game is afoot, I just don’t know the rules just yet…
With Halloween upon us we continue our yearly traditions of visiting the pumpkin patch and picking a pumpkin for the carving party. This year Karen and I took Teagan to Tanaka Farms and The Great Park to take a ride on the pumpkin balloon. We had a wonderful day with our niece and she got to run around like a madwoman trying to get every activity in before her parents came to pick her up.
Seeing things the way she does always comes as a pleasant surprise and reminds us that remaining young at heart is the key to being happy. Lucky for me, that comes naturally. Lucky for her, we both revel in it. It’s hard to believe that another fall season is in full swing but now it’s time to buckle down and embrace the holidays before the new year begins. Remember people only about a year left if you believe in the galactic alignment… you do, don’t you..?
I will be traveling to Japan for business in 2012. I will not come back home until I’ve had a meal at Jiro’s sushi bar and trained on the tatami at the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo floor. I eagerly await both…
Our maple trees love the change of seasons and this year they get to don their crimson coats for a little longer…