Fresh Fish


I'm quite proud of myself this week. I managed to get a number of things done that I would have otherwise procrastinated. Some of the many things: I've gotten my doctor's appointments in order and had my blood work done. I've taken my car in to get the cruise control checked(it's not working because of an unrelated problem that's too expensive to bother fixing). I've gotten my new mask for my CPAP machine(hurray!). I also scheduled a vet appointment for my cat this month.

Among all that I've gotten a tighter control over my money. This is going to be the fourth month of working out my budget(the three previous were failures), and I think its going to work this time. If I can keep tight control over my spending it should work out. I'm going to work it out on an excel sheet and tailor it to my needs. My previous budgets were based on a template I picked up but I need something that works specifically for me.

Last week I did complete my financial class and just in time too. I saved the audio classes as well as the forms and Dave Ramsey encouraged me to share them if I wish. If anyone wants a copy, just ask. I've learned a great deal and I'm taking it to heart. I'm confident I can get control of my spending, and manage it. It'll take some work but I can do it.

One of the lessons, in fact the final lesson, talked about something very important, something I'm still grappling with right now. The lesson said that my earnings aren't really mine after all, but really they belong to God. I'm just a manager, or steward, of what I hold. I could become the millionaire I want to be but if I don't give, if I hold it back for myself then I miss the point. I manage this little plot of existence for God...


I wish understanding this would make it easier for me to consider tithing. OISH. It's hard to let go, isn't it?

In other news, I did manage to get my new computer up and running. It's fast, sleek, and most of all it is light on the wallet. In all this hullabaloo I found out my external hard drive also died and is no longer working. I cannot get access at all. In an attempt to recover some of the files that was on it, I took to my mp3 player and found a way to copy files back to my hard drive off of it. Halfway through that process, the mp3 player died too! So now I'm out of a bunch of files, including a lot of my trance music. It is a sad sad day for hard drives.

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On The Mind


So I got into an argument with a friend the other day. The discussion was unfortunately religion. We were talking about what defines a Christian. I stated that all Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God and that he died for our sins. My friend argued that the second part wasn't necessary to call oneself a Christian. I did not understand this at all, and after a great deal of argument, neither of us were satisfied. I get a note the next day that my friend no longer wanted to speak to me, because I said she wasn't a Christian. It was an insult worthy of ending the friendship.

I don't understand why that is. Isn't believing Jesus died on the cross for our sins not necessary to be considered a Christian? And if so, if she doesn't believe it, why would would being called a Christian matter so much? So I languish in silence. I apologized to her and said it was not my intent to insult her but rather to understand her position and to help her understand mine. The apology was neither accepted nor even acknowledged.

On an even brighter note, I did not in fact get promoted at work. I received the rejection letter today. I was, however, drafted into the new commercial position, and my schedule is going to really wonky for the next few months. Why the mix-up? Last week I applied for a national commercial position. This is a pay increase, and much more involved job. I was hoping to hear back from them soon to see if I was accepted. I get a call on Friday from another person asking me if I would accept the commercial position. Enthusiastically I accepted and proceeded to tell a few people that I was promoted. Turns out that no... it was not the national commercial position but the small business commercial position they are also developing at my call center. This is not a pay increase but a lateral move. I feel like an ass telling everyone now.

It also looks like I won't be getting the second job after all, since I called my contact at AVI and it sounded like they were looking for someone to come in on mornings to fill positions, and that she doesn't have any afternoon positions to fill. She will, however, contact her other supervisors in other areas to see if they have anything open and that she'll call me back.

God, I always ask too much. Help me lift my spirits over these depressing days. Please help my friend Dave conquer his depression and help his mom pull through her issues too. Thank you for my prosperity, thank you for my friends(even the ones who won't speak to me anymore), and thank you for my family.

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Demon Candy, Revisited


I decided to share my cultural exchange with my family on Easter. I'm such a nice guy! Few were brave enough to try the Turkish pepper, but those who did were rewarded.

This is my step brother's cousin. He was the first one to pop a Turkish pepper in his mouth. No reaction. He said they weren't bad, and he couldn't even taste the saltiness. What the hell?

Rest assured, my stepsister's reaction confirmed the potency of the Turkish pepper.

My brother was too chicken and only tried the Mentos-flavored candy.

My Dad as well decided to take the tame route and ate one of the marshmallow mushrooms. Pansy!

My stepsister decided the Turkish pepper wasn't torture enough so she tried the death's head candy. Hilarity ensued.

Not content to keep the suffering to herself, she shared the same candy with her father. The same spitting reaction occured!

So let it be a lesson to you all: Finnish candy is evil.

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Demon Candy


In the interest of cultural exchange, L33t Soldier and I traded various candies from our respective cultures. I had sent Soldier some sponge candy, peeps, fireballs, jawbreakers, Swedish fish(inside joke), sour warheads, and some other stuff I can't remember as well as two packets of Kool Aid.

What Soldier sent me was a mix of couple fruity things but mostly salmiakki. Apparently, Finnish candy is either salmiakki or some variant of salmiakki. Wikipedia calls it "salty licorice," licorice made with a salt called Ammonium Chloride. However, I know the truth: it's demon candy. The rage and hate that occurs in your mouth could only have been spawned from some vile grotesque monster from Hades. This thread chronicles my experience as I tried every piece.

This was relatively safe. It was a marshmallow mushroom(Hah?). It tasted much like those marshmallow peanuts that often find their way in the bargain bin candy aisles. It was sweet but somewhat bland.

Cola-flavored gummy. This also wasn't bad. The flavor wasn't strong but still sweet, and relatively benign.

This is the turkish pepper. L33t Soldier LOVES these things. This is made from the salmiakki candy I mentioned before. At first, it starts out slightly salty, with a hard licorice shell. The shell isn't strong licorice. The evil part doesn't happen until you bite into the candy, when the salt-bomb explodes on your tongue. THIS BURNS. It wouldn't be bad if it was a licorice burn, but no it's the salt that burns. I proceeded to finish the candy. My torture wasn't over though.

I can only describe this as chewy salt. By now my mouth had recovered from the turkish pepper, so this wasn't as noticeably strong. It didn't taste like licorice, or anything really, just salty.

My mouth was granted relief. This tasted like red licorice here in the States. I liked it.

Another good tasting piece of candy. This was like a chewy apple flavored mentos, but without that waxy texture.

L33t Soldier said this one was called "Rusty Cars." It was red with black. It's a trap. This was more salmiakki with a hint of cherry flavor. Biting into it produced that salty-puckered reaction.

This was probably the best piece of candy with salmiakki in it. It was mostly a fruit flavor with a hint of the salty licorice taste. It was much more palatable this way than any other salmiakki I had.

This was the only thing I didn't have the guts to put in my mouth. It had a picture of a frowning donkey on it(and before you decry bias against democrats) It was some sort of black material covered in a brownish green shell. It smelled like dirt. I gave it a small lick and it tasted like dirty salt. I refused to do anything else with it.

This was another trap. It was a hard piece of candy, with a red color and a black stripe. The black stripe should have warned me. L33t told me it was a slight salmiakki taste. Which was true...until you bite into it. SALT BOMB.

Finally some love. This was a fruity gummy and quite tasty. My taste buds rejoiced.

The skull should have warned me. L33ts warning that it was worse than the Turkish pepper should have warned me. I was expecting another "chewy salt" with this one. No, the first bite into it release yet another salt bomb. By this time my tongue was about to amputate itself.

So what do you get when you mix vile salmiakki and tasty milk chocolate? I strange taste that I don't think I could get used to. It was chocolate, and it was licorice, and it was salt. It wasn't bad in terms of saltiness but it wasn't all that appetizing.

The final piece of this cultural exchange is Tar Lions. That's right- it's made from pine tar. I likened to to a cough drop more than anything, but there's that underlying pine-y taste. Its strange but not wholly unpleasant.

So what about L33t Soldier? He made out the best. He got some good candy from the USA. The most dangerous things he got was some sour candies and some cinnamon fireballs. Big whup. OH yeah, here's a screenshot of his reaction to my reactions. Bastard.

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No Quarter, No retreat


Not much to report lately. I have been(once again) waiting for things to finalize before posting big updates but I can update on a few things.

I'm holding off going to the gym and even holding off getting a second job. I'm applying for a new position at work, one that will increase my pay and hopefully give me a decent position to keep my current schedule. I already submitted my application and I need to wait for the interview. I have a decent idea of what they expect and I plan to meet those expectations(and hopefully exceed them). If I get the job, then I can probably afford the gym. Here's hoping for the best!

Next week I'm getting fitted for a tuxedo for my brother's wedding. It's all really exciting. I'm glad Greg has finally hammered out the details and it should be a fun and busy day. I have to pick up nephew Michael beforehand but I'm still waiting on word if I can keep him until Sunday.

I've worked out most of the details on the trip to Rhode Island, I just need a ride back to the station on Sunday morning. I am planning on taking the train as it's nearly $100 cheaper than flying. It looks like things are gonna be pretty sweet.

Some smaller updates: I made some Easter baskets for some friends. I was forced to set up a Facebook, and it's actually not all that bad because I can control who sees my information. I found a nice replacement for my junky DVDRW drive in my laptop. The recalled part on my car is finally at my local dealer! I can get it fixed! I'm going to have a lot of extra money this month, and I just know where to put it! I miss Ohio. I mean, I miss my friends who happen to live in Ohio.

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A few concerns


Still don't have my computer back. It's still getting its BIOS flashed, but since the guy I took it to doesn't have a stable socket 775 processor, he's being extra careful. I don't mind. I waited all this time, I certainly can wait a little longer.

I was thinking of getting a gym membership, even went so far as to find an all-night gym nearby. But with the Goob's wedding and my brother's wedding both coming up this summer, I need to save as much money as possible, so I'm actually going to be spending my spare time on a second part-time job. If I don't hear from AVI soon I'll be looking elsewhere. I'm also going to be selling some of the junk I have lying around here. I might get a decent price for some of it... I hope.

Working is going somewhat well. There's a shakeup as some of our call center switches to other areas of support. We also switched to a new scheduling system which I still do not have access to, so I'm still trying to secure the necessary days off for the summer's celebrations.

I also need to get with Goob, Chris, and Kyle and see about coordinating our efforts in June. I think we all would appreciate a well ordered plan to pull it off.

Looks like I'm going to be seeing the dentist pretty soon too. Oish.

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Slave to the lender


Just a small update: The car is finally street legal. There is a huge satisfaction seeing the blue NYS inspection sticker in that spot that has been empty for so long. There is even greater satisfaction knowing that I made all those repairs and payments without the use of a credit card. I paid for it with my own hard-earned cash. Just another triumph in my battle to become debt free. The class I'm taking is the best thing I have going for me right now. I just learned about investing and mutual funds and stuff. I learned it in a way that is simple and makes sense. How cool is that?

Dave is back home as well and doing pretty good. I've seen him a few times since then but so far we're keeping to ourselves right now. I'll keep in touch.

I also received news from Goob that he is engaged to be married! It's happening in June and I'm very happy for him! I'm invited as well and the tux is covered. I just need to get myself over there and find lodging if necessary. With the way things are going I should be able to save up for it just fine. It kinda makes my worrying about my brother's wedding costs seem a bit trivial. Congrats Goob!

To the person I talked to on Saturday night- thank you. It's good to know where we stand regarding each other and while I won't hold myself back from other opportunities, you'll always have a special place in my life. You are and always will be important to me.

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I want the Green Windmills please


This weekend has been packed with lots of stuff. My nephew and I did finish cleaning up the apartment, and we even changed things around too. I like the new setup! I can see the tv and the kitchen table is near the desk so I can quickly move from one to the other.

We also visited Dave and played a round of Risk. Dave beat us handily, though we didn't have the rules so we started off with a great deal more armies than we should have. It may have ended up the same way though, with Dave's amazing luck. Tom still thinks Dave should have been born in Vegas.

I can understand why Dave feels he doesn't belong in the section of the hospital that he's in. The other folk in that section had a great deal more problems than Dave displayed. Dave says he can't wait to get out, and is looking forward to being back at his apartment. He is going to have part of his lung removed, but certainly after he returns home for a while. He looks worlds better and we're all hoping for the best.

Sunday was also the night I assembled the computer and found out the motherboard I have needs a BIOS update before I can run the processor in it. There are so many things I should have considered before making the purchases I did. The process and knowledge required to build your own PC were two of the reasons I dropped out of the computer hardware race in the first place. Thankfully, everything is still compatable, but I don't trust myself to do a BIOS update on my own and I plan on leaving it in the hands of someone more knowledgeable than myself. My situation can be likened to putting a beefy v8 320hp engine in a Dodge Neon. The processor is very beefy, and it was even $40 cheaper than the slower processor was originally planning on getting, but it's actually too powerful for my motherboard without that new BIOS update. I still won't be getting all the power out of it that I should but that can wait for a future update.

All in all it's been a good weekend. Hopefully the new machine will be up and running by next weekend. News to look forward to: Part time job!

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Singles Awareness Day


I spent Singles Awareness Day in the car shop, hoping my car passes NYS inspection. Turns out that no, it won't pass. All the safety things pass but the emissions do not. The shop finally pinpointed the last few problems and next week, when I take it in, it'll pass(pray!). "But JR! Haven't you spent enough on that lemon?!" In hindsight, probably. Thing is, I still haven't spent enough on parts in order to waive the emissions, and I still need a car. The only solace I have in all this is that I haven't used any credit to pay for it, and I'll have a care with nearly all new parts in it. :P

One of the steps to keeping a budget is finding out just how much I actually spend on necessities. I've never kept track before and so the budget for January has failed. The budget for February has failed too. However, I've been keeping track of my expenses since the start of February so this will help me shape the budget for March, and hopefully that will work, or at least come close.

I took Miu Miu to the vet on February 15th. Turns out she has some fleas and has developed an allergic reaction to the bites. This caused her to nip at some of her fur, causing bald spots. The vet said this was a common thing, and gave me some flea medicine that'll fix my kitty up for the next three months. I just have to vacuum the apartment regularly(good luck) and administer the medicine once a month. I wish I had a calendar.

I visited Dave. He is in that special section of the hospital until the lung surgery. He talked to someone about his depression and they felt it was necessary to move him to a place where he could be monitored. He's not comfortable there but I think he'll do fine. They are going to remove the lower lobe of his left lung because it is no longer living tissue. It fills up with fluid and could be the cause of more problems down the line. Keep him in your prayers.

I have my nephew over this weekend! What an awesome thing to happen. He's helping me clean up the apartment(again!). I swear I put him to work every time he visits. I did treat him to breakfast at Denny's at 3am on the way home, and we're going to see Dave Sunday afternoon for a nice game of Risk.

It's a little cramped in the apartment right now with my nephew and my sister staying here. My sister says she's going to have the electricity back in her apartment on Tuesday. We did get into an argument Friday. I don't mind helping people out but I feel like I'm being used. I finally get some privacy back and my sister screws up and needs a place to stay again. I really hopes she learns to pay her electric bill(or at least call them if she can't) so this doesn't happen again. I love her to pieces but I'm not always going to be here to catch her when she falls. She needs to learn how to make due with what she's got.

I visited the local hospital to weigh myself. I figured I lost a bunch of weight but it wasn't as much as I expected and I'm still (slightly) above 400lbs. I've figured out what I'm doing wrong. I'm also looking at getting that YMCA membership in a month or so. My insurance will reimburse me but I'll need to pay for it up front first. I also have my dental problem to deal with as well, but I feel that's covered.

I thought this was going to be a fast update but so much is happening lately, I had to spill about it all! I'll be back with more soon, if not tomorrow then Tuesday.

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One foot in the door


I cut up one of my credit cards yesterday. Wow, what a relief. I've been catching up with my financial class and I reached the class on dumping debt. David Ramsey explained why I don't need debt anymore and I can do just fine without a credit score. It made perfect sense so I took the next big step and cut up one of the credit cards. I'm not quite ready to take out the second one(though I'm sure it's coming up soon), but at least I'm one step in. This class I'm taking has given me hope and has kindled a fire in my desire to get rid of this debt with which I've shackled myself. Freedom is near, I can feel it.

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Oops My Bad


So much for making this a daily thing. Actually, I wanted to wait until I had a number of things sorted out before I did an update. Those things have come to pass!

· It was an interesting month. We provided fake calls for a new call center and helped them out a great deal. I didn't make bonus as much as I tried. It was the last month to make the really big bonus and despite my efforts to lower my call time down I ended up only making it worse. Oh well. The new bonus structure is much smaller than before but it's easier to make this time around. Now that it's a new month I also have a new shift. I work much later in the evenings now and I get paid more for it too.

· My car has been giving me trouble for many months now, and only recently did I come close to the 'last straw' marker. Tuesday night on my way home I lost my brakes completely. It steadily got worse and by the time I reached the last intersection before my apartment they wouldn't work at all. Through a combination of the emergency brake and careful shifting into park, I managed to reach home safely. The next day I acquired some brake fluid and limped the car down to the repair shop. Alas they could not get it fixed before work so I and to employ strategic use of personal time to cover for it. Thankfully I used a vacation day on Thursday to continue the repair as well as complete the repair to fix my emissions computer Not only did they fix the brakes and the emissions computer but the car now runs much better than before too. It chugs a little but otherwise the car actually accelerates when it's supposed to! W00t! And the repairs were well under my budget.

· Speaking of budget, my tax return came in and I used it to pay off nine different bills. It left with with enough money for my new computer parts and a good chunk to put into savings as part of the Financial Peace University course I'm taking.

· I'm excited for my new computer parts. It's going to be cheaper than I expected with the mail-in rebates and it'll finally replace my aging clunky laptop.

· I did get to talk to Arche this week but she had to leave and said she'd call back but I must have missed it. It's always a pleasure to hear from her and from what she was telling me she was doing much better than a couple months ago. It makes me very happy to hear she's doing well. I hope she gets her medical issue straightened out but she's a strong woman and I know she'll pull through.

· Speaking of Ohio babes, Digigurl has made her return to Activeworlds after being MIA for a couple weeks. It was great to hear from her as well. Today the Goober Zone followed the Lost in Trancelation show and I got to stay on for it. It was a pleasant surprise as my new schedule usually doesn't allow me to do so Friday nights.

· My sister has been staying with me the last week or so because she lost her electricity. She might have it back up by Monday but who knows. I've been sharing this apartment so often I've almost forgotten what it's like living alone.

· Speaking of houseguests, Dave is doing better in some cases and worse in others. I received a call from his mother that he's been moved to another section of the hospital and doesn't have access to the phone. I plan on seeing him on Monday and hope he's doing better.

That's it for now, but hopefully I'll have some new stuff coming soon. I will still try to post more often!

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Random Stuff


I appreciated your comments on the wedding thing. In fact, over the last few days, my brother has contacted me and is willing to assist financially for the tuxedo, so it won't be so difficult.

My friend Dave is back in the hospital again. He's getting the care he needs, and hopefully he'll be fit and full of vigor when he gets back out. It was a nervous time last week, with his medicine leaving him incoherent and I was worried for his safety. It also came with the news that Dave was exposed to tuberculosis during his last hospital stay, which means that I too was exposed. I've read up on it and so far I haven't had any health issues so I'm hoping I'm clean. I get tested on Feb. 4th to make sure.

Car issues continue to plague me. I'm scheduled to get more work done on Feb. 1st, and hopefully it'll pass inspection. It's back to doing its random dropping speed-while-accelerating thing, much more so after my last repair. If this doesn't fix it, then I'm going to have to see another vehicle.

I stole came up with a delicious recipe yesterday, a pizza lasagna.

Preheat oven to 425ºF.
1 jar(2.5cups) of your favorite spaghetti/pizza sauce
2 cups rotini pasta
1 cup water
1/2 cup mozzerella cheese
2 tablespoons Parmasan cheese
1/4 lb pepperoni
1 cup cooked ground italian sausage

Mix the ingredients into a casserole dish/bread pan. I also cut the pepperoni into smaller pieces. Mix it well, because the pasta needs to soak up the water. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, but at the 30 minute mark, toss some more mozzerella on top. Tastes awesome!

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So my brother is getting married in August. I don't know what to think about that. I barely know the girl and I'm actually kinda surprised. Not too long ago my brother was in England with a girl he really liked, and I don't even know what happened with that. Now he's planning getting married with someone else? Wow.

So the title of my blog this time is what my brother is asking of me. He wants me to be in the wedding, and I want to be a part of it too. However, he and his fiancée want all of us men to wear tuxedos. Now decent clothing has always been expensive for me, and I'm worried about the cost for this. The last time I wore a tuxedo was my high school prom. I remember it being an expensive rental(mostly because I was a big guy). Now I'm almost twice as big. Granted, I'll be much smaller by the time August rolls around, but I'm still going to be a big guy.

Now I've been to weddings but never actually participated in one. Most of those I wore a good suit and tie, and that's what was expected of me. In this case, I don't know what is expected or what to expect. This is not a sarcastic question I'm asking, but is it fair to expect someone to pay for the tuxedo rental? I don't want to sound like I'm dragging my feet- I'm proud of my brother and I hope this thing goes through, but I'm curious as to what others think.

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The Great Plan


Things are actually quite good right now. I am proceeding with my financial classes, and I even have a budget set up. It's not working very well but the professor says that's okay, it won't work just yet. Things start to turn around after the third month so I'm going to stick with it. Speaking of money, I just had some more repairs on the car done and New York State has determined that my diagnostic computer, the one that measures emissions, is faulty and I need a new one in order to pass inspection. Another $400 I don't have.

Dave has acquired his own apartment and is moving out! I'm very glad he's moving out- not just to have my apartment open again- because it's an important step towards healing and becoming self-sufficient again. He even shaved off the beard. We'll still be able to hang out, because his apartment is still in the same building.

My new schedule starting in February is going to be 5pm to 1:30am, and thankfully I still have Saturday and Sunday off. Should be exciting. Anywho, I'm going to have more as the days go by so keep watching this spot.

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