Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sorry... I Know It's Late and I'm Blogwhoring... but I just can't stop watching this!...

I thought I was strong.

I thought I could wait.

But I am weak.

Very, very weak...

Not a montage... lovingly stitched by Brandilyne.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ain't Life Grand?

I sat down thinking I'd create a sort of "informational" blog to assist those who are planning to come to MY HOMETOWN this Christmas. But then I started getting all schmoopy.

Grand Rapids. It's where I live and work. I guess I'll have to go back a few years to give this narrative a proper lift off.

When I moved to this place 16 years ago the downtown area was mostly just a series of rundown buildings with the exception of a very small triangle in the very center of the town which included the Federal Building, the Main Post Office, a hospital, two bank headquarters, a performing arts hall a library and of course the Amway Grand Hotel, which even in those days was a city unto itself. There was a cobblestone "mall" which I assume in it's day was probably the bustling town center. But the first time I visited it I found only a very out of date department store, a single shoe store and I think there may have been a coffee shop. But the turn of events these past few days have made me stop to remember how much things have changed.

Anyway, coming downtown was always pretty scary. Even though I had to bring my girls in 4 to 5 nights a week (but only to the outskirts) for their ballet lessons. And then for years I only had to venture into the "heart" of downtown a couple of times a year. For the three week run of "The Nutcracker" each December and then again for the Grand Rapids Ballet's offering every spring and fall. The performances were always held in the DeVos Hall, and over the years of being a ballet mom I really began to feel at home in that place. As I speak I can picture the stagedoor leading into the backstage area... with the "STAR" dressing room to the right, directly across from the bulletin board and the table where flowers were always placed for the performers... the double doors to the left that entered into the wings of the stage and the many dressing rooms and rehearsal rooms on the floors above.

...But most of all I remember all those nooks and crannies and secret corridors that I'd have to sneak through to get from watching the performances from the house back to the dressing rooms backstage where I could help "quick change" little girls from their mouse costumes into their little angel outfits. But I digress...

And then my kids grew up and moved on and it was a long, long time before I ever ventured downtown again.

Then three years ago my company relocated my department to their building right smack dab in the center of town. Which coincided, coincidentally, almost precisely with the emergence of Clay. And the city had changed. Except it’s not really a city… it’s still a town... which is what is so COOL about it... a town which now has just about anything and everything one would ever want a city/town to offer… including Clay on December 19th! Heh.

For three years now I have parked in the (newish) VanAndel Arena parking lot just south of town to catch the shuttle to work… because parking in actual downtown is reeeeely expensive. And there has not been a day gone by when I haven’t looked up at that arena and thought "Someday Clay… someday." (BTW… every single one of the AI tours has performed there, with the exception of 2…)

My typical day consists of resting cheek in hand and staring out my window at the marquee of the new DeVos Convention Center, which scrolls the announcements of all the coming attractions for "the Place" which includes the convention center itself, DeVos Performance Hall and the Van Andel Arena, and saying "Someday Clay… someday."

My typical lunch hour consists of sitting in the plaza right outside my office building reading a book while intermittently glancing up at the windows of the Amway Grand Hotel wondering which window it will be that "someday" he will eventually gaze out of.

OK… so well anyway… the rest is history.

~ And Now For The Informational Part ~

Grand Rapids is really a great place to visit. But I’m suspecting anyone coming in December won’t really have much time to explore and appreciate the incredibleness of this town. So I’ll keep it simple.

The Amway Grand is of course the place to stay if you feel you can afford it and is definitely within reason especially if you can bunk with someone else… or two. It’s right next door to the venue and almost completely attached. There are tons of restaurants, shops, ornate lobbies... and a Starbucks.

Down the street is The Courtyard Marriott which is a beautiful new hotel. The bottom 5 floors are the hotel with about 20 floors of apartments above. And who knows, I guess it’s possible that Clay could stay here too. From what I understand, there is now an indoor "skyway" that will take you a short ten minute walk up the street to DeVos Hall.

Directly across the street from the Marriott is The B.O.B. which I would probably suggest for any of the before or after concert gatherings. There are tons of options there. Any suggestions? Or… there’s a T.G.I.F. right next door.

If you find yourself with any extra time on your hands here are some sites you might want to take in.

With the exception of "The Garden’s" these are all located right downtown. And then there’s the Monroe Mall, which is also right there and which still has the cobblestones… but a "few" more quaint shops than there used to be.

What To Expect

The Weather: It will be cold probably in the 20’s to 40’s and if it’s snowing it will be slushy. Dress warm and hope for a crisp and sunny winter’s day and a clear night.

Driving: It’s fairly easy to get around downtown and not congested at all unless it’s during the rush hour. The streets are mostly one way, so beware of that.

Parking: It’s expensive any way you look at it and, as always, it’s cheapest if you don’t plan to go in and out.

Amenities: Sparkling Christmastree lined streets and a romantic carriage ride if you want one. *g*

And then, of course... Clay! Geesh, with all that pimpin' going on... I almost forgot about HIM! Heh

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Thousand Different... Distractions.

I am a patient person... really I am... and I was raised to appreciate the rewards that come with delayed gratification. In fact I sometimes I delay things absolutely forever... just for schnicks. I am a true believer in the fact that it's sometimes much "better to wait." But I am also a control freak... and in most cases prefer my delays when and where I want them. Because there are other times when I just want it NOW! This is one of those times.

We've been teased mercilessly, but in a good way. The foreplay has been ingeniously rendered... but though my resolve has been weaken'd, I'm still plenty strong to last it out.

It's all about distraction...

Is This The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships?"

I figured that if I read Doctor Faustus from beginning to end that by the time I was finished we'd probably have lift off. I didn't get too far into it... but I was STILL able to find lots of distractions...

This is Helen of Troy.

In classical mythology she is said to have been the most beautiful human to have ever lived.

She was conceived by Leda and fathered by the God Zeus, who on the eve of the mating took on the form of a swan.

Later, after being abducted by Paris, her suiters (which encompassed the entire Greek army) sailed off to Troy to get her back. It is believed that she was the singular cause of the Trojan war.


"Is this the face that launched a thousand ships... and burnt the topless towers of Iliam?

Make me immortal with a kiss!

Here will I dwell...

...for heaven be in these lips."

~Christopher Marlow and "Claymates" everywhere... *g*

If A Picture Paints A Thousand Words (then why can't I paint HIM?)

At times I've thought about enrolling in an art class but never in a thousand years would I ever be able to paint anything as beautiful as this...

Because Heck, I Can't Even Draw Decent Stick Figures...

But I DID find this handy, dandy little tool where you can mess up to your hearts content and then just erase it if you don't like what you see.

I only had to erase that one a thousand times... Anyway, I found it to be an excellent distraction. **hint.. there IS a speed control, but then again, speeding it up would kind of defeat the purpose wouldn't it?...

A Thousand Other Ways To Pass The Time... ok only four... but some good ones.

#1: eLouai's Candybar DollMaker

But to limit the possibilities to only a thousand would be utterly foolhardy...

My next project? The "Pants of Perfection" meets "The Hair"...

#2 The JigZone

#3 Church Sign Generator

Just imagine the hours of fun!...

And last, but definitely not least...

#4 My Heritage Face Recognition (Awww, the really fun part about that one doesn't work anymore!..)

Anyway, hope you've enjoyed these little distractions. But if you've still got some extra time on your hands, please feel free to enjoy these...

>The Stories of A Thousand and One Nights.

It'll take you a while...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Thousand Different...Meanings.

I have to admit that I've been intrigued by the promise of discovering them.

But first, I needed to go back and ponder the idea of "A Thousand Days" not being enough... even with the nights thrown in. I've been stuck on that one. Because well, yeah.. it's obvious. I mean, for somebody who is truly and eternally IN LOVE, this would only amount to about 2.9 years!.. (which is only slightly longer than my second marriage lasted and which, BTW, was plenty "enough" for me... and THEN some!) But generally speaking no... 1000 Days is definitely NOT enough. Not enough at all. Usually not even in the worst case scenario. Did we need him to tell us that???

So anyway, the point being... I just don't get it.

Or at least I didn't until yesterday while simultaneously reading a James Patterson novel while still contemplating the hidden meaning behind the "spinning ball." I don't know what came over me but I suddenly had this urge to google. And it was THEN that I found these...

Because what THAT led me to was even better... which was revisiting an essay I'd read a few years back. And it was only then, in the throws of epiphany, that I suddenly realized how I'd been taking this all too literally...

Read this and then tell me if everything doesn't seem a little more clear.

A Thousand Marbles
author Jeff Davis

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the basement shack with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it.

I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind-he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whoever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles".

I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say. "Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter's dance recital."

He continued, "Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities."

And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles." "You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy- five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years."

"Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now stick with me Tom, I'm getting to the important part."

"It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail", he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy."

"So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away."

"I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight."

"Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast.

This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time."

"It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. 75 year Old Man, this is K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!"

You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. "C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast."

"What brought this on?" she asked with a smile. "Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles."

And so what could any of this mean to me? Well, at this point in my life I'm figuring I've got about the same number of marbles left... even though I am certain my children think I have lost 'em completely. And maybe I have. My marbles that is.

But anyway, I guess I was just thinking about it and wondering if there was any way I could begin dispersing those marbles just a little more equally... I mean, amongst those other things that I hold most precious and dear. I think Clay will understand.

I also wonder, in my most delusional mind of minds, if I may have just taken a stumble into HIS for a brief sec...

At any rate...999 different meanings and marbles left to go.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Clackronyms Got Ya Loony?

A new album will soon upon us! "A Thousand Different Ways!" to be released September 19th! And on it's heels the challenge of no less than 14 new acronmyms to commit to memory.

I know!.. the mere thought of it gives me a migraine. But the fact is that needing to learn them is inevitable!

The mind is a funny thing, however. Much funnier than we sometimes give it credit for. There is so much in there that goes unexercised. Flabby, if you will. Sometimes it's just a matter of overcoming the laziness. For example:

When was the last time you got tired of looking up a phone number that you call EVERY DAY? So finally you said to yourself... "Self... Just take 2 minutes out of your life and memorize the freaking number!" And guess what? I'll bet you never had to look up that number ever, ever again. Am I correct?

Another funny thing about the mind is it's ability to conjur up an image in relation to a series of alphas that have no resemblence to the image itself. Try this one:


See? I'll bet you saw a picture in your mind just then, didn't you?

Now try these:

  • TITN
  • WDC
  • MDYK
  • ISY
  • MOAM
  • BOTW
  • IWCY
So... any pictures there at all??? I thought so! But allow me to remind you just how much time and energy has gone into the ability to see them so easily.

So anyway, I thought I'd try to be proactive and get myself to the gym, as it were...

And so I've created this little tool. And simple as it may seem, it will work for you if you commit yourself to spending just a little time with it each day. And then when September 19th rolls around you will be READY.

Here are the easy instructions:

  1. Click on each picture to make it big and save to your computer.
  2. Print.
  3. Paste them together back to back making sure the grids are aligned. (You can do this by placing the pages back to back and holding them up to the light...)
  4. Laminate for durability.
  5. Cut along the lines.
  6. Oh heck, you know how it works.

~Post Script~

Of course some things are easier to commit to memory than others. For example: With hardly any effort at all I am now seeing this picture in my sleep...