Ruthven´s Random Ramblings
You stay classy, Internet
14 March 2011 @ 03:47 pm - Well ...
So, this thing's still here, huh? Maybe I should start updating it.

Or maybe not?
12 October 2010 @ 07:57 am - Anniversary
In 12 days, G and I will have been married for a year. Sure, there have been ups and downs, and there are times that we drive each other crazy, but I can honestly say I've never been happier. It's weird, because it feels like I have my fairy tale ending ... but really, it's just the beginning.


We pretty much agreed we didn't want to exchange gifts or anything. Our anniversary is next Sunday. Saturday night we're having a fancy dinner out, and staying at the local "wedding hotel." Just a Courtyard, but it's the memories that are the important part. But ... I couldn't help but go against the no-gifts thing.

Since before the wedding, when we converse via text message, the messages are often in haiku form. Weird, I know, but we enjoy it. We decided a while ago to back these things up before deleting them from our phones, so I have a record of most--if not all--of our haiku texts. Now, traditionally, the first anniversary is the paper anniversary.

You probably see where I'm going here.

Sure, I could've just printed the things out, stapled them, whatever, but that's just not my style. Over the last week, I've formatted them all nice, created a cover, and put them into paperback book format. Yes, for our anniversary I've published Haiku Text: A Journey Through Text Messages.

I ordered it yesterday, and was so excited, I really had to restrain myself from just telling my wife. This has happened before: I've already given her two gifts I'd intended for Christmas. I realized this morning that I could just babble about it on here, one of my last wife-free domains (unless she stalks me, I guess). Thank you for listening :)
7 September 2010 @ 08:32 am - Bizzay
On the plus side, I just came out of a three-day weekend with a bit of extra time. On the minus side, I took some enjoyable detours during said weekend, rather than accomplishing everything that needed to be accomplished.

Saturday was mostly the lost day. G and I decided to head out to Highland Orchards for some raspberry and apple picking. It was a beautiful day (as was the entire weekend), so we figured outdoor activity was prudent. Had a great time, got a great haul of raspberries, and about a half dozen apples. This did kill most of the day, but I hacked away a bit at the spare room, and got up a few more decorations for the annual pirate party.

Sunday morning saw an early start, and we headed out to a CPA for an initial financial advising consultation. Despite being forced to feel like a grown-up, the meeting went well, we really liked the CPA, and are now developing a vague plan for going forward. Goal one: buy a house. Goal two: retire. May take a while.

In the afternoon, we trekked down to Kreutz Creek Winery for MB and S's wedding. Another beautiful day, perfect for an outdoor wedding, and the setting really was great. The reception was thoroughly enjoyable with lots of mutual friends. Really just a great day.

Yesterday, we got a slow start, and then decided to head to Valley Forge for a short hike. That probably took a couple of hours, but was fun, and I got a little exercise for a change (trying to get better with that lately). From there, we dove head-first into the spare room. Within a few hours, we'd emptied a few boxes, found the bottom of the closet, and were nose-deep in allergies. We spent the rest of the evening struggling to breathe.

I'll poke my head back into the room this evening, and hopefully, it won't be too much more to get under control. Because in addition to getting that in order, I have to finish decorating, we still have to buy foodstuffs and a bit more booze, and I have some costume tweaking to do (my Jack Sparrow will make its triumphant return this year).

This doesn't take into account the vacation we're leaving for a week from today (AKA "The Great Northeast Journey" -- stops in Vermont, Montréal, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and the Finger Lakes region), as the planning on that isn't quite complete (need to pare down the lists for Toronto and the Finger Lakes).

Lots of stuff to do ... but for the most part, all good!
26 August 2010 @ 08:25 am - Well, Looky Here!
Looks like the firewall's been updated again, and LJ is no longer blocked. What does that mean for you, the reading public?

Oh ... wait ... I forgot; no one's actually reading this :)

At any rate, it means I can inanely babble on here again, should I feel like it. Not sure that I'll feel like it, mind you, but it's nice to know the easy option is open once again!
As my 40th birthday rapidly approaches (less than a month!), I find my health concerns seem to be increasing. But the fact is, I'm mostly quite healthy. As far as actual "diseases," I have one: Acid Reflux Disease (AKA Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD). I also have (sometimes) slightly high cholesterol.

These are both rather common for people my age, or even younger, and pretty easily managed. What makes me unique is my propensity for syndromes.

As a non-medical layman (despite being married to a doctor), my best interpretation of a syndrome is when medical testing eliminates all other possibilities. What's left, is a syndrome.

If you've kept up with this journal (and hey, who hasn't), you know that I was diagnosed a few months ago with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Really no change there, as it's something I've dealt with for years. It's just now I know what it is (and know it's nothing worse), and have ways to manage it. Day-to-day, it just means fiber supplements.

What I never mentioned was that during the litany of tests to narrow things down to IBS, there were some out-of-range liver results (high bilirubin count, or hyperbilirubinemia) in a blood test. They suspected this was nothing, but did another blood test with a full liver workup to be certain. That came out fine, so the determination was syndrome number two: Gilbert Syndrome.

Yesterday, I went to the doctor for my 40-year, 100-thousand-mile checkup. I'm a month away, but made the appointment early because for about six weeks now, I've had a muscle twitching in my lower abdomen ... and it's been slowly driving me crazy(er). I've been doing a lot of online research about it, and it often points to ALS (AKA Lou Gehrig's Disease) ... so my admittedly pessimistic wife started thinking I was dying. Anyway, the doctor was entirely unfazed, and prescribed ... sit-ups. We'll see how that goes.

One possibility as to the cause of the twitches (AKA fasciculations)? Yep, you guessed it ... another syndrome: BFS (Benign Fasciculation Syndrome). It certainly fits better than ALS, as there's no weakness in the twitching muscle at all (in fact, tightening the muscle generally makes the twitching stop). It is, however, possible that the twitching is just that: twitching. We'll see how the sit-ups go.

At this point, the only side-effect of all these syndromes is a huge increase in my medications. A year or so ago, I was taking nothing other than a multivitamin, and that only occasionally. Now, every morning it's pantoprazole (for the reflux), fiber (for the IBS), and a multivitamin. Every evening it's been calcium, magnesium (both self-medicating to hopefully help the twitching), and red yeast rice (suggested to help lower my cholesterol).

But clearly ... I am Syndrome.
25 March 2010 @ 09:10 am - Best Wife Ever
As all husbands should believe, I believe I have the best wife ever. Of course, they're all wrong, because I do.

In my Internet travels* a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across bacon caramel chocolate Easter eggs, which intrigued me, since everything is improved by the addition of bacon. I shared this information with my wife (and pretty much anyone else who would listen, because, hey, exciting bacon news!), along with my notion that I figured they'd be good. Salty bacon, sweet chocolate ... works for chocolate covered pretzels, but again -- bacon!

When I get home yesterday, there's a package on the doorstep. I'm expecting two things I ordered for Gina, so I figure it's one of those. Nope. It's addressed to her, and says "perishable," and it's from some chocolate company I don't recognize. A late birthday gift? Forgetting the bacon-imbued news above, I'm clueless, so I mention the package when I pick her up at the train station.

"Chocolate? I don't know what you're talking about. I have no idea what that can be. There is no chocolate," she says, in mock-mystery. My brain slowly puts things together, and now ... bacon caramel chocolate Easter eggs!!

My Hebrew school teacher would be so proud.

* This particular travel was to the excellent foodie blog Eat Me Daily, in case you were wondering.
11 March 2010 @ 03:10 pm - My type indicator has a first name ...
Recently at work, I was classified into a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator category. It was through a meeting our department had, and I was (unsurprisingly) unique in the group. I found it an interesting exercise, and the results backed up a longstanding quirk in my personality I've often claimed.

My general personality type was INTJ, described on the Myers-Briggs website as follows:
Have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. Quickly see patterns in external events and develop long-range explanatory perspectives. When committed, organize a job and carry it through. Skeptical and independent, have high standards of competence and performance – for themselves and others.
Reasonably accurate, as were the detailed descriptions provided in the personalized handout they gave us. The quirk comes with the "J" at the end, where one can either be Judging or Perceiving. I'm a very weak J. They in fact gave a more detailed breakdown with five categories ... I was strongly J in two, and moderately P in the other three.

So what's the personality quirk to which I refer? Well, I have often referred to myself as "the most easygoing uptight person you'll ever meet." Hmm. Well, these test results say I'm "seen as relaxed and easygoing," but "get bored if too little is happening." I "enjoy life best when not rushing through things," yet "rather enjoy the stress of meeting deadlines." I "enjoy looking ahead and planning for the future" while I also "trust that [I] will know what to do when the time arrives."

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am a walking contradiction. But the fun part is, this is no fluke ... I really am firmly entrenched this way. Most of the dichotomies that I see on this paper make perfect sense to me.

So when you see me, if I seem uptight and/or stressed, you probably just don't know me well enough. The "I" part means I'm an introvert, so I'm hard to get to know. But once you know the "soft, squishy" me, you'll realize that yeah, I may be tightly wound ... but I'm very relaxed about it.
15 February 2010 @ 09:20 am - Love Salvages Everything
[Oops ... Just noticed I had posted this as private, when it shouldn't have been. Old news, but in case anyone but me still cares to read it, here 'tis.]

This past weekend could easily have been quite disastrous. Instead, it really wasn't that at all, and actually turned out quite nice.

Gina and I had plans to repeat our Valentine's insanity from last year. We have a special connection to Williamsburg, Virginia (it was our first real vacation together, and I think when we both truly realized we were a perfect match). So, for the only Valentine's Day we'd have as an engaged couple last year, we basically drove down there for dinner. We stopped outside of DC overnight on Friday, overnighted in Williamsburg on Saturday, and drove the whole way back on Sunday. A couple of Embassy Suites hotels with great rates made it a fun and relaxing trip despite the hectic drive.

We planned to repeat that this year, but the snow had a different idea. We canceled all our weekend reservations on Thursday, leaving us with nothing to do on our first Valentine's Day as a married couple.

Plans to salvage the weekend were made Thursday night. We booked a local Embassy Suites (maybe 10 minutes from home) and made reservations at a local restaurant (one that wouldn't have been our first choice, but many were booked). The backup plans were in place ... then fate interfered again.

Problem One: SEPTA (the lovely host of Gina's daily commute) had the train lines running through most of the storm, but during Friday's rush hour, there was a problem with line switching, and Gina got stranded in Philly until things could get fixed.

Problem Two: I took advantage of the extra time I had, and drove down to Target to pick up a prescription that I'd called in on Friday morning. I get there, and they say they didn't get the refill, give them 5-10 minutes. I go back to the counter, and it turns out my insurance won't cover it because I ordered a 90-day supply by mail order. All well and good, except the mail-order pharmacy hadn't shipped the prescription (after nearly two weeks), and I was out of drugs -- nothing life-threatening, just my daily reflux fix, but it was annoying as hell to drive through traffic to go to Target for nothing. (Turned out I found two more pills to get me through the weekend, and I bought an OTC substitute yesterday to last until the mail-order pharmacy gets around to shipping.)

Problem Three: On my way back from Target, Gina finally gets on a train ... which is gonna stop at every single stop between Philly and home. I'm on the road so I tell her I'll text when I get home and figure out where along the line to pick her up. Meantime, I run into the VRC and settle Calypso's final bill. I think the only reason I didn't break down when I got back into my car is I still had to get home and figure out where to pick up Gina. Between the VRC and home, I sit for a good 5 minutes, a mile from home, while an 18-wheeler turns around on my street to back up behind a small shopping center ... I assume he had to unload, but that was ridiculously annoying in the rush.

The stupidity continues. I try to get dinner started up before running out. I have the train schedule out, a pot ready to go into the oven, and turn the oven on. Unfortunately, I'm out the door before putting the pot in the oven (this turned out to not really be a problem, but panicked me before getting home). I almost get lost on my way to the train station (which is utterly ridiculous, since the tracks parallel a US highway, to which I can drive in my sleep). I get caught behind another reversing truck at the opposite side of the same shopping center.

Anyway, my point of all that ranting ... I had to sit and think to remember all of it. Once Gina and I were back together and off on our trip that wasn't a trip, it all just melted away. It doesn't always do that at home, since there's always stuff to do at home, but get us out of the house, and life is wonderful.

Which it is, really.
4 February 2010 @ 10:45 am - Not Good
MKF, calypso, callie
I had a big stack of work awaiting me this morning (which was due to me yesterday, and probably dropped off after I left, but that's a rant for another day). I am, however, unable to concentrate today, so I am taking a break and posting on here instead.

Callie may be regressing.

She's seemed pretty much fine since she went off the meds, which is about a year, I think. She's put on a ton of weight, played with us and the other cats,
nuzzled her share of butts, took pretty well to the FURminator we bought for her ... basically just been fat and happy.

Recently, she's taken to sitting on my lap on occasion when we watch TV. New, but nothing out of the ordinary. Last night, I'm blanketed on the couch, watching Lost, and Callie flops down on my lap by my knees. At one point, my legs start cramping up, so I bend my knees to stretch out a bit, and Callie ... well, she basically doesn't move. Comes up with the blanket, then goes back down when I resettle. Didn't think that much of it, but she was really extremely lethargic ... most cats would jump off when jostled that much.

This morning, the real problem -- she wasn't eating. This is a cat who loves her grub. She was up over 15 pounds, and got big after going off the meds. But she just sat by the food dish like a lump. I pulled out her favorite toy, and she just kind of batted at it a little. Then, I had to leave for work and to drop Gina off at the train station.

On the way, Gina expressed her concern, and I ... well, about all I could do was stammer incomplete sentences. I did not deal well when Callie was at the vet weekly. It was very, very emotionally draining to basically have a kitten slowly die in front of you. Her recovery, from everything I was told, was extraordinary. The disease to begin with (inasmuch as "autoimmune hemolytic anemia" is a disease, rather than a symptom) was fairly extraordinary ... seen occasionally in dogs, but my vet was presenting my cat's case at conferences.

I'm not that emotional of a person, and that experience was almost more than I could handle. The thought of going through it again is ... well, more than I can handle. Gina is calling the vet today, but I suspect I'll have to take Callie in (though knowing Gina, and the wonderful person she is, she'll probably try to take off work to go with me).

Meantime, I pray Callie is fine, and this is just a fluke. Because I'm already a wreck again.
2 February 2010 @ 10:05 am - Various Updatitude
This is likely to be a long, rambling, pointless post. Of course, many of them are, but in case you expect this to lead to some sort of insight ... well, you have been warned. Just updating ol' LJ a bit on what I'm doing these days.

What I did yesterday was a whole lotta Rock Band. This was one of the main reasons Gina and I bought a game console, and it has not disappointed. Yesterday, I discovered the "Online Tour" feature, wherein you can join up with others for live online play. I stepped in and did vocals for three other bands ... for some reason, more enjoyable than just pickin' stuff on my own. The best matchup was with three others from three distinct locations; we were doing really well, but I just couldn't take it when they lined up "Livin' on a Prayer" twice in a row. Um, no, I ain't singing that more than once. Next up, I need to link up with friends who have Rock Band to play online with people I know!

Today, I'm now debating auditioning for another show, despite not being even close to off-book for my current one. The issue, however, is motivation. I've been feeling pretty blah when it's come to getting off-book for my last several shows. I always take care of it in time, and haven't had any problems with performances ... but I seen to always get this feeling of ennui in the middle of the rehearsal process. It's getting to the point that I'm starting to wonder if I'm no longer enjoying theatre. But, I look back on recent shows that have been particularly troublesome (Lend Me a Tenor, The Crucible, The Foreigner), and I'm taking away nothing but good memories. So, somehow I need to figure out why I'm not enjoying things "in the moment," as it were.

I guess the upshot of all this is that I probably will audition tonight. It may be a "this role or nothing" sort of situation, but maybe it'll kick me into gear on theatre things again. I mean, if I do get cast, I'll certainly have my work cut out for me, that's for sure. But ... all in the name of fun, right?
22 January 2010 @ 11:44 am - Chefitude
Apparently, I'm a good husband. Or, so my wife tells me.

I had a fairly crappy day at work yesterday, and was looking for something to cheer myself up last night. I enjoy cooking, so my solution was to cook a wee bit fancier than normal. Of course, of the stuff I make, Gina tends to prefer the simpler things. I used to make a decent, really easy tuna casserole ... but since she has an aversion to canned tuna, I switched it to a crab casserole (with a few other adjustments), which she loves.

So ... I decided to make a fancy crab casserole dinner. Instead of the usual boxed macaroni and cheese base, I went with Barilla elbow macaroni with melted Velveeta (thought about cheddar, but I was afraid that might be too sharp a flavor ... plus, Velveeta melts super-easy). Instead of the usual canned crab, I went with (relatively) fresh Phillips crab meat. I made some other minor adjustments to make the whole casserole a little denser than normal, then baked it in our mini bowls. I mixed up a spicy-sweet sauce, drizzled that on a plate, turned out the casserole on top, then sprinkled with toasted French fried onions.

To add to the meal, I made a seafood bisque (which came out awesome, though I thickened it a bit too much) with some shrimp and the rest of the crab meat, threw in a salad, and bought chocolate eclairs for dessert.

And to make things really special, I shuttled Gina upstairs as soon as she arrived home, and got to work. I set the table all fancy-like (anything is better than normal, as we normally eat in the living room front of the TV), lit a bunch of candles, and cued up some jazz music. Then, all the electric lights off, I walked her downstairs to her special dinner.

The whole thing was accompanied by a bottle of Monkey Boy chardonnay we'd gotten as part of a wedding gift ("corrected" from the Monkey Bay vintner by the gifter).

Turned yesterday from a somewhat crappy day into a wonderful day. I thought maybe I was going over the top ... my wife seemed to think no one (at least no women) would think I did. As long as she enjoyed it -- which she did -- I guess it doesn't really matter to me what anyone else thinks! I just think it's funny that something that was essentially designed to cheer me up is what makes me a good husband!
11 January 2010 @ 08:44 am - Whee!! Electronics!!
The last two weeks have seen my cup runnething over as far as large, expensive electronics that I've wanted to get for a long time. Thankfully, the wife was on the same page as me with this stuff (for the most part), so these were all basically wedding gifts from those who gave us cash. (And, even after all these purchases, we can still put some into savings, which is awesome.)

First up was the Nintendo Wii purchase last weekend. We'd debated a gaming system for a while, and despite Gina's friends steering us towards the PS3, we're not gamers, so a Wii seemed ideal. We got the system, Wii Fit, and Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga last weekend. We've been enjoying it all immensely ... though granted, I'm really the only one playing the Star Wars game (mainly because we've only had one controller).

That was small potatoes.

One of the main reasons we wanted a gaming system was to get Rock Band. However, Rock Band for Wii is extremely difficult to find. I was trolling the Walmart and Target websites all last week, checking in-stock status, faced with mostly "sold out" tags mocking me. On Thursday, I was getting a "limited availability" tag from a Walmart in Delaware ... it switched to a "sold out" when I checked from home, but we headed down anyway, only to find they'd sold their last one on Wednesday. (All was not lost, as we had an awesome dinner on our way home.)

Saturday, I find another "limited availability," at a Walmart in East Greenville, PA, about an hour away. Somehow, I convince Gina to try again, since we have other errands we can run while we're out anyway. And, despite expecting defeat ... jackpot! We pick up their last Rockband Wii bundle, and an extra controller. Fun!

Of course, the "other errands" included another electronics purchase that I've been working my way up to for two years -- an HDTV. Glad I waited. Instead of the smaller, crappier one I would've gotten had I jumped immediately, we now have a shiny, flat-screen, 1080p, 40-inch set in our living room. We watched a movie last night, and it looked goooood.

And we're not done yet. Next up, we plan to replace the computer that acts as our media center (it's kinda old, kinda slow, and doesn't work well with online video, despite our fast Internet connection).

All told? Maybe $1500 worth of electronics. We deserve it. And they're fun!
16 December 2009 @ 03:25 pm - Someone call Mike Judge
MKF, calypso, callie
Since she's been fully recovered and off the meds, Calypso has become a sweet, affectionate, big fat cat. Other than occasionally messing with the vertical blinds, she's a very good cat.

Lately, she's taken to over-nuzzling. While I'm cooking in the kitchen, she'll come up and nuzzle my leg. Sitting on the couch, she'll nuzzle my elbow, or practically bury her head in my armpit (which G's always amused with). Most recently, she hops onto the back of the couch and nuzzles the backs of our heads.

Last night, G was getting up from the couch, turned around, and adjusted a pillow or something. Callie jumped up on the table, and proceeded to nuzzle her butt.

Yes, she will now be known as Butt-Nuzzler. Huhhuhhuhhuh. "Butt-Nuzzler."
3 November 2009 @ 12:39 pm - It's Official
I am now a married man!

Everything went ... well, pretty much perfectly! Yeah, the weather was crappy, but it's not like we were having an outdoor ceremony anyway. I had fun, Gina had fun, the guests had fun. The food was great. We blew everyone away on our first dance ... turns out I can dance after all. Everything was just exactly how I would've wanted.

The honeymoon in Disney World was equally awesome. Albeit not perfect over a weeklong stretch, it was still fun, memorable, and enjoyable. Also couldn't have asked for more.

Damned if I'm not happy!
21 September 2009 @ 01:34 pm - Why is there rum left?
My fifth annual Talk Like a Pirate Day party was this past Saturday, and I have mixed feelings about the whole event. I had set construction that day, went for about 2.5 hours before I had to bail to finish setting up the house. I was home around 1:30ish, and spent nearly six hours getting the last bits together ... Gina and I worked our freaking arses off, and I was exhausted by the time people started showing up. The basement and bar were a big hit, though it got very crowded and very warm down there very fast. Gina and I decided we need to have a small "bar party" to take real advantage of the thing.

Anyway, the pirate party was good. Gina and I together were more prepared than I ever was myself. Everything went pretty smoothly, and it seems everyone had a great time. My mixed feelings come about because nearly half the people who replied "yes" ended up not showing. I'm not gonna get into the whole reasoning or anything, but the bottom line is, I just find it rude to say you're coming to a party and change your mind at the last minute ... and that was done en masse. Individual excuses are one thing, but a whole group of people bailed on us.

Yeah, there were still plenty of people there, and they and I had fun. So in reality, it's just the principle of the thing, so it's nothing I can't get over quickly. However, I'm not going to bother sweating over the guest list as much as I do every year if people treat their invitation so cavalierly. We made sure to have plenty of food and alcohol for the amount of people who said they'd show ... I'm just glad I'm working on a show now, so the food (the subset of it that won't spoil) can be used for a cast party in a few weeks.

The really good part? Other than the pirate cleanup we have to do over the next few days, our place is actually (more or less) unpacked! Woot!

Today is 29 December 2014