Monday, February 28, 2011

Living below your means

Today was graduation day for our small group study of Seven Steps to Becoming Financially Free: A Catholic Guide to Managing Your Money.  If anyone needed such a course it was me. They say a fool and his money are soon parted.  So that explains the echo in my wallet.

Now that I've graduated am I financially free of all my debts and money woes?  Ha!  I am a much better steward of our finances than I used to be and that's really what it's all about.  I'd recommend this course to everyone - especially if you're getting married or looking to buy a home, if you're in any kind of debt or even if you're a billionaire. 

Here's what hit me tonight:  If you want to be truly financially free, "you've got to live below your means."  Woah!  If anything we're living in a culture that preaches quite the opposite... or at the very least that you've got to live within your means.  Even if you're more than just poor in spirit, you can still apply it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Painting over the Enterprise

There were a lot of reasons we bought the house we now call our home.  The price was right, it had a  nice big yard and was located in a great neighborhood in a quiet cul de sac (that's French for "bottom of the bag" -- sounds better in French).  These are all the good reasons.

Then there's the other reason.  One of the kid's rooms had a mural of the starship Enterprise flying through the galaxy on the wall.  And at the time I thought that was a sure sign that this was most certainly the house to buy.  In retrospect I wonder if the real estate agent didn't paint that up there after doing some research on me.  Anyway I was sold and soon the house was too.

I knew I was going to have to paint over that mural since it was no Sistine Chapel and my wife was no Star Trek fan (at the time).  And since the painting depicted outer space, it was mostly black.  Gallons of primer and white paint later, it was Star Trek III all over again, the Enterprise was no more.  They also had wallpaper trim in the same room that I had to remove... so, yeah, I really was crying... just like at the end of Star Trek III... and II... and IV... and VI and even V* (*because it was so bad).

I was under the impression that white was a very good color for a room and that the room was ready to go for the new bundle of joy we're expecting.  Then my wife informed me that since Teresa's room was painted a color, that "we" should paint the new baby's room too just to be fair.  One simple fact I've learned: the pregnant wife is always right.  I just finished putting on the second coat of lullaby green.

The other night Teresa was watching Disney's Peter Pan and I couldn't help but notice first line, "All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again." (Incidentally this line has been cited as the inspiration behind the same theme in Battlestar Galactica.)  I wonder if this offspring of ours might also take a liking to Star Trek and if the Enterprise NCC 1701-A might don that wall again someday.  And that child of mine better like it because we'll sell the house before I paint over something like that again...
Chekov: Course heading, Captain?

Kirk: Second star to the right... and straight on till morning.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Most good things...

There's an old saying, "All good things must come to an end".  And tonight a very good thing is coming to an end for me.  It's my last night as a broadcast technician in Master Control.  No, it's not my day job but it's been my weekend/holiday job for the past few years.  This entry, in a sense, is a eulogy for Master Control and the N.O.T. as we know it.

What is the N.O.T., you ask?  Well, N.O.T. is short for Network Operations Team.  This team of people largely goes unnoticed because it does its job of keeping the network up and running 24/7 very, very well.  A big part of this team is the broadcast techs - a.k.a. satellite techs.

I was very blessed to enlist in the N.O.T. in September of 2008.  My godson Alex signed on a few weeks prior and said the Ops Manager, Marty, was looking for another recruit.  Marty took me out to lunch one afternoon to interview me for the position.  Over Chinese cuisine we discovered we were both very fluent in tech and geekspeak.  And though, at the time, Marty had a big prejudice against Macheads, he hired me anyway.  Truly an equal opportunity employer! (I'd like to take a little credit for Marty becoming a proud owner of an iPad and I'll take all the blame for putting Apple decals on his car and office window.)

Although everyone who works as a broadcast tech is really trained by everyone else who works there, I owe learning the ropes (or cables) to Denver and Charlie.  I sat in with them my first two shifts.  I knew these guys from afar from my day job but really got to know them better in the Master Control.  Now I'm still not sure what Cinco de Denver is, but I hope to one day.

The red phone was also a great teacher.  That's the phone that rings when something is going nuclear somewhere in the network... or a telemarketer calls trying to sell aluminum siding.  When something goes wrong and that red phone is ringing, Master Control feels more like the bridge of the Enterprise when it's under attack by the Klingons.  Oh, is it turbulent!  There's been many-a-Monday that Alex and I exchanged war stories of what happened in M.C. during our shifts... many-a-time we both thought of resigning --  I think Alex might have even delivered a resignation letter to Marty.  Not sure how Marty convinced him to stay.

Working as a broadcast tech can also be a real workout.  This is especially the case in the Winter Wonderland that is Wisconsin.  You've gotta keep the snow off the satellite dishes unless you want to hear snow on the air.  I remember one shift when I found myself running outside to clean the dishes during a snowstorm, running back in to catch the tone, answering the red phone and then running back outside in between trouble-shooting to clean off the dishes again.  And then there were the days of the old land lord who never had the parking lot plowed on the weekends... so you had to help push the next broadcast tech's car in through the snowy lot and try to shovel your own car out.

So why would anyone do this?  Well, one of the great things about the job was it was more than just a job.  As it says on the top of computer Rack 3, "WE ARE EVANGELIZING".  I'd be very humbled and proud to be working a midnight to 8am shift on Christmas day as a birthday present to Jesus.  But the real gift was to me. The Good Fridays/Holy Saturdays and Easter Sunday shifts just seemed all the holier.  Praying the rosary as we broadcast it or airing the live Mass on Sundays so that the shut-ins and that man in the penitentiary in Oshkosh could hear it -- not your average 9 to 5!

Bottom line: it's amazing to know that the work you've done has saved souls and lives!

Years from now I may not remember what a "Time Immediate" was or what "Tropospheric Ducting" is but I will remember all the cool people I was blessed to work with.  A big thanks and blessings to everyone on the team: Marty, Charles, Gary, Alex, Cyrus, Travis, Denver, Dave, Liz, Josh, Paul and Mat... and, lest we forget, everyone on the other side of the red phone.

I think it goes with the territory that everyone who worked in Master Control is a bit of a sci-fi geek.  I think we all presumed that the day would come when we'd be replaced by a computer or at least taken over by some kind of robot. Well, that day has come.

But I'd like to disagree with the saying "all good things must come to an end".  We're still a part of the New Evangelization and so we offer up our sacrifices for the greater good of the on-going Mission. And although all good things in this world may come to end, in the end, God willing, we'll meet again in heaven and rejoice in knowing one Good Thing will never come to an end.

Que sera, sera.

Ora et Labora.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Man, I can't wait to go to bed!

So, I planned on writing this really elaborate blog entry today and I did write out half of it in long hand but then Teresa woke up and wanted "uppie" all day.  Man, I'm exhausted.  It's exhausting exhausting her.  Baked a cake.  Went swimming.  Uppie all day.  So it's off to bed! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Feeling a little Kirk-like.  As in 3rd Season bloated Kirk.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My debt's days are numbered

Got taxes done.  Credit Card Debt, I'm coming after you hard!  And then I'm gonna thaw* you out of the good coffee mug like my wife asked me to do (*see previous post) and then I'm going to freeze you in some other cheaper container (maybe a yogurt thing if that works) and then I'm going to take that container and freeze it in another container (maybe a cool whip thing) and then, if we have room in the freezer, I might even freeze that container in another container and then I'm going to duct tape the whole thing.

I might even over-pay my balance and then the tables will be turned!  I wonder if that will work.  Needless to say, I'm looking forward to my DOOD (Day Out Of Debt).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Triumph of the Focus

I made it in to work today despite being buried alive under 12' of snow. 

I’m sure you can imagine the inspiring scene.  From out of the depths of the blinding white emerges a solitary green machine built with genuine American ingenuity.  The townspeople run out of their snowbound houses (on snow shoes) cheering to see the 2003 Ford Focus trailblazing a brave path through the abominable frozen fury.  

Well, it was kind of like that.  What's that?  No, not 12 feet... oh, that was a typo... should have been 12". 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

100th Post or when will he stop already?

One hundred days ago I started a daily blog.  This is that blog.  And this is post #100.

Going triple digits is a pretty big accomplishment, ask any centenarian... and you might have to ask them loudly.  But I can't help but feel this blog is still very young and I'll probably look back at these first 100 entries like I do the finger paintings I did back in college.

So what happened today in The Daily D world?  Woke up.  Got the girls up and went to Mass at SFX.  Did a little food shopping before the looming snowstorm began it's tirade.  Then I spent the day doing dishes and dirtying more dishes with cooking and baking... two of Teresa's favorite things.  We made some amazing Chicken Noodle Soup (would have been epic but I forgot to buy garlic) and some oatmeal cookies.

There's about seven inches of snow on the ground right now.  Boy, am I tired but I want to make another dent in these dishes... at least the metallic ones.

Thanks for all those who've been following The Daily D so far.  A very select group I might add since we're still in the experimental stage.  Let me know what you like.  (From the stats page I've found, the crazier the title, the more hits I get).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Teresa's endless whys

As Teresa loves to sing (ala The Sound of Music), "I am three, going on seventeen..."  Isn't that the truth!  We've been reminiscing when Teresa was just a little baby which really seems more like seventeen years ago than just three.

We love watching our "old" home movies of her when she could barely talk but sure was vocal!

Since then Teresa has gained a good command of the English language.  Of late she's been calling all things into question... the question of why?  Sometimes it's genuine curiosity.  Yesterday during our visit to the Wildlife Sanctuary, Teresa asked why the car in front of us was coming to the Sanctuary.  I told her probably because she likes coming to the Sanctuary.  Teresa's standard follow-up question? Why?  So I flipped the question.  I said, "Probably the same reason you like coming here, why do you like coming here?"  Teresa's answer, "Because I love duckies!"  "Why do you like duckies, Teresa?"  "Because they are so handsome!"  I couldn't follow-up with another why? -- I was laughing too hard.

Then there's the other kind of why that Teresa has been using too often.  The kind that questions our authority as parents.  We'll make a request of Teresa and instead of being obedient, she asks her favorite question, why?  Her follow-up to that is often "No way!"

It's very important to answer both kinds as thoroughly as possible.  Her whys of inquiry as to how things work need good explanations -- especially the really big questions about God.  Albert Einstein once said you really don't know something until you can explain it to your grandmother -- I'd add three-year-old.  If you keep on asking why, why, why; eventually they whys will lead you to God.

When Teresa questions our authority as parents we need to make it clear to her that our role as being her parents.  Not just because I said so but because I said so because I want what's best for you

Friday, February 18, 2011

Much ado about Walker

Some people think there's quite a ruckus in Wisconsin.  Was it inspired by the recent uprising in Egypt?  Probably not since 90% of the news here has been about the Packers winning the Super Bowl.  But it's really no biggie.

It's just unions staging protests against an anti-union bill.  And the unions are doing exactly what they are supposed to do -- stage protests.

Reporters are writing sensationalized headlines -- because that sells papers and keeps people watching.  That's exactly what they are supposed to do.

The Governor made a not-so-funny crack that he readied the National Guard because he knew what he was going to do would have some heavy push-back.  He's a republican and he was really being a jerk but that's why we elected him and he's doing exactly what he's supposed to be doing.

Kids are also skipping school to protest with their teachers - hey, they only got like two snow days this season... and only a half day off to welcome the Packers back, can you blame them?  No, they're kids and they're doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing.

Democrats?  (Had to separate them from the republicans by at least a paragraph or there might be bloodshed.)  They're being jerks too by fleeing the great state of Wisconsin and "fighting to the bitter end".  What's the point of fighting to the bitter end if it's just going to end bitterly?  That sounds terrible.  But they're just doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing.

The teachers?  Most are still at their posts teaching.  Some are calling in sick because they really are sick others are calling in sick because this bill makes them sick.   But they are all teaching their students a lesson as usual.  Is it a good lesson?  That's for debaters to debate.  But they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing.

And me?  Well, I'm blogging The Daily D like I do just about every day... just like I'm supposed to do.

So you see everything is status quo.  Problem is we're all called to lead lives of heroic virtue -- we're all called to holiness.  Is anybody gonna get that call?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Swan song reprise

There's a saying I like, "tough times never last but tough people do."  And there's a saying I don't like, "It's just business, it's nothing personal."  Thankfully the former is true because the latter is also true.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Frozen liability

Well, as I advance in our 7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free class, I have regrets.  Regrets that I got a credit card when I was in college and maxed it out.  They increased the limit and I rose (my debt) to the occasion.  Rinse and repeat and you're all washed up.  Thankfully I only have one credit card!  It has 5k on it and that has been a real thorn in my side and a pain in my behind trying to pay it down.

I regret not having any classes about finance in high school or grade school for that matter.  I wish they had a Surgeon General's warning on the credit card applications or maybe a mandatory money management course before they'd accept me.

I'm glad Teresa will not walk the same road as I.  She's going to be a good-saver/giver/investor.  She'll know how to balance her checkbook or iCheckpad.  If she uses a credit card, it'll be just for getting the cash rewards.

Last night I froze my little liability.  I took my credit card and put it in a coffee cup filled with water and put it in the freezer.  In a way, I can relate to Jabba the Hutt when he mounted frozen Han Solo on the wall... it's kinda fun and it takes some of the bitterness of losing money over it away.  So in the words of my favorite Hutt, Credit Card, mah bukee, keel-ee calleya ku kah.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A time to clean... a time to get organized... the time is now

We got a baby on the way with an ETA of April 10!  It's time to get this house in order!  At least that's what my wife tells me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Lambeau Valentines

I decided to take today off from work.  For one thing I was running on fumes and needed to recharge my batteries.  For another thing my financial class was today at 6 -- which is right after work and lasts until 8... and today is Valentine's Day.  Have PTO, will take off.

We started the day with exchanging home-made Valentines.  Teresa finally got to try some of the chocolates we picked out for Tracy Lyn at Kaap's.  And I got a Super Bowl champs hoody from the girls.

We decided to beat the Valentine's supper rush and go for lunch at Lambeau... or Curly's Pub to be more precise.  First time there and everything was wonderful -- especially the service and the food.  Can't beat the atmosphere. 

Tracy Lyn had the ROCKWOOD LODGE BURGER (Half-pound burger topped with Wisconsin cheddar cheese, a quarterpound Louisiana hot link and sauerkraut).  Teresa had the mini- corn dogs and fruit platter. (very proud she ate the fruit and chose that over french fries).  I had the BEER CHEESE AND BACON BURGER (half-pound burger topped with thick sliced bacon and beer cheese spread).  Needless to say it was all really good. 

We put Teresa's name on the season tickets waiting list and also entered the Brown County lottery for tix.  Teresa also got a special certificate for her first real visit to Lambeau. 

Got home and found a loaf of cholcolate chip bread from Great Harvest on our garage door nob (my parents!)  Very good and only half a loaf left.

I went to class, got home and made supper.  Teresa had already been fed but must have a second stomach for the amount of food she downed from our plates. 

Tracy Lyn is reading her stories and we'll be blessing her goodnight soon and then it's the season premiere of Star Trek: Voyager Season 2 for me and my Valentine. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A day of rest

Today I'm chillin' and not just because I live in Wisconsin.  It's the Lord's day.  Of course I did work on a design project until 3:30 am but that doesn't count, right?  Good news is it's almost done and while it could have been cooler if I had more artistic license, it's still pretty okay. 

I have another design job on schedule and a few more on the horizon.  That's a good thing and a possible headache.  Getting paid is the real trick... and all too often the word freelancing can be taken to mean FREElancing.

Right now I'm going to read a little and take a snooze. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Not so tired today

After a week of early-to-rise and late-to-bed, sleeping in until 9:30am really helped me bounce back from complete exhaustion. 

Today was pretty lazy - aside from working 8 hrs.  I got to spend time with my two girls and Baby Pumpkin.  Made good on a promise to Teresa to make some thin and crispy oatmeal cookies we saw on ATK (America's Test Kitchen).  I think they turned out pretty well but that's all hearsay since I had to take off for work before the first batch was out of the oven.

I'm taking Monday and Tuesday off this week.  We'll get the house ready for our new little bundle of joy and celebrate Valentine's Day.  Spoiler Alert to my Wife:  Don't read further if you're my better half.  Teresa and I went on a mission to Kaap's and handpicked a special box of chocolates for Tracy Lyn.  Never like the pre-arranged boxes where there are just too many weird chocolates you end up spitting out.  So these are all the good ones. 

Got a couple economically priced steaks from Festival for Valentine's supper... came to about $5 altogether.  Now I fully expect Teresa to eat most of my steak but that's okay - just gotta stay on a budget.  Mental note: gotta get some steak sauce for Tracy Lyn. 

Tracy Lyn wants to go out to Lambeau for Valentine's lunch.  I kid her that she complained about watching the Packers during the season and now she's so into them.  She admits she's a fair weather fan but who isn't a fan of fair weather?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Still you know what

Busy but busy-good.  Really had a great day and the results speak for themselves... I wish they would blog for me too. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Still busy

Busy and tired.  The saying is "no rest for the weary"... but what about naps?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Not a big post today because I'm too busy... which pretty much sums up my day... so it's a good post.

Monday, February 7, 2011

World Champs

Well, that turned out well for us.  Green Bay Packers are world champs... not sure what other countries we played but it all worked out.

Teresa's temp returned and she ended up sleeping with us.  She felt much better today but now Tracy Lyn isn't well.  So short entry tonight.  Okay.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Soup or bowl? Yes, please!

Excitement is slowly building for the Super Bowl.  Don't get me wrong, excitement will be completely built in time for kickoff.  I just think SB 31 was a little more exciting. 

Maybe I was different then.  Younger... less responsibility.  And I had endured the 80's as being a Packer fan when they really stunk... it all finally paid off! 

Now?  I only watched a couple full games this season... usually I'd watch the first half and listen to the rest on the radio as I did housework.  I'd like to get a jersey but they are way too expensive.  And today at Mass Teresa threw up... so I'm more thinking about that.  

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Good thing Sabbath is tomorrow

Lots of work today.  Not only work at work but I really cleaned up the kitchen good!  A clean environment is a beautiful thing!

Friday, February 4, 2011

We have a winner!

Yeah, it was bound to happen.  And so it did.  I woke up and realized I didn't post yesterday.  I did a test and it turns out I could have covered up the miss by post-dating the entry.  But I decided to come clean.  Fortunately I happened to be the first person to notice the miss and so I emailed myself, "You missed the Daily D!"  I'm pretty psyched about the iTunes gift card! 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blood Money

Finished watching a movie with John and Aaron today called "Blood Money".  Very powerful!  I don't see how anyone could be pro-choice after watching this flick.  I ordered a copy so I can share with my circle.  If you so happen to be in that circle, I'd gladly lend it to you.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hard day's night and day and night.

Today was a very long day.  I was there at the start.  Still doing dishes.  Hit the bed.  Teresa had a nightmare.  Nothing could abate her tears until I asked her if she would like to watch a movie with daddy.  In hindsight I should've said "mommy".   It was 2:30 am

We watched "White Christmas" yet again.  After 40 minutes she was falling asleep.  We went back upstairs and Teresa slept in between us.  10 winks laters I was up for work.  The work of snow blowing us out.  Then showered the re-blew after the plows went through.  Needless to say, it was a caffeinated day.

Hard day's day.  Came home.  Took Teresa to Family night while Tracy Lyn went to the other Y for pre-Natal water aerobics -- not sure why - we're not naming our child Nate.  Drive home tough on car.  Put Teresa to bed.  Blogged.