Sunday, July 24, 2011

Things to be Happy About: Part 2

When I first started this blog, I wrote an entry titled "Things to Be Happy About: Part 1."

The "Part 1" assumes a "Part 2." And I'm finally getting around to it. Kind of like George Lucas finally putting out the sequels 30 years after the originals.

The concept for this blog comes from the book titled 14,000 things to be happy about, by Barbara Ann Kipfer. Some of the items in the list are my own, and some of them are from the book, but they happen to make me happy too.

The smell of a good cup of coffee
The smell of unburned tobacco
Snow days
Jobs that allow for snow days
Warm clothes fresh out of the dryer on cold days
Getting all of your old photos scanned into your computer
Caramel Corn
New shoes
Strawberries from your own garden
Raspberries....regardless of the source
Eating sunflower seeds
Chili on a chilly autumn day
Free books
The time 12:34
The time 11:11
Talking like Forest Gump to your wife, Jenny
Cheese sticks
Eating chicken skin (Yes, I said it. No, I don't regret it. Make your own list.)
Surprise love notes in your work bag
Good ventriloquists
A brilliant observation
Finally "getting it"
Getting the inside joke
Party pants
Watching our children succeed
Presidential breaking news announcing "We got him."
Suit coats
The National Register of Historic Places
Weird Al Yankovic videos
Stumbling across an old friend on Facebook
Doing a good deed
The color green
A new shirt
Famous friends
Dark chocolate frosting on graham crackers
Pillow talk
Wildly successful ebay sales
A great find at a garage sale
A new CD by your favorite band
Not setting your alarm
Learning something new from your child
Passing on a family tradition
Creating new traditions
Combination shampoo and body wash
Ibanez guitars
A tin can full of change
Watching favorite childhood movies
New car smell
Rock concerts
Learning a new word
Peanut butter pie
Chocolate mousse pie
Pepperidge Farms chocolate layer cake
Free apps
Going home again
Good grade cards
Funny things kids say
Unexpected money
Overtime pay
Santa Claus
Twist cones
Playing catch
Monkey bread
Clean sheets
Leg lamps
Kraft Easy Cheese
Amish Baby Swiss
Old wavy windows
Potato skins
Deep dish stuffed crust, meat lovers, cheese lovers pizza
Thick sliced pepper bacon
A computer that boots in less than 2 minutes
Sunlight shining through the leaves in a woods
Doing nothing
$400 worth of software obtained legally for $65
The feeling you get when you get a new book
That feeling you get when you first hear about a new book coming soon from your favorite author
That feeling you get when you first hear about a new album coming soon from your favorite band/artist
Digging your elderly neighbor out on a snowy morning, especially when he/she doesn't know about it
Stumbling across deer in the woods
Brach's pink lozenge candies
Canon fire at Civil War reenactments
The back deck overlooking the mountain stream at your room at Zoder's Inn, Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Barbecue ribs with homemade barbecue sauce using a honey and brown sugar base
Cottage cheese
Breakfast for dinner
Water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and cooked in barbecue sauce

So there is my list of more things to be happy about. Will there be a Part 3? How many movies were in the Lord of the Rings trilogy? How many movies were in the Back to the Future trilogy. How many trilogies were in the Star Wars series? If I do it right, I'll return.

In the meantime, what makes you happy?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Van Story (a Cautionary Tale)

I hate lemons.

But I have a new respect for after-market warranties.

Shortly after the youngest son was born, Jenn and I decided that between the strollers, wagons, car seats and diaper bags, we needed a vehicle substantially larger than the Toyota Corolla that we had.

We found a Ford Freestar. I had owned at least 6 Ford vehicles in the past and was dedicated to the brand.  My vehicles had served me well for many, many years…until the Freestar.

We loved our Freestar … at first. It had a DVD player for the kids on the long trips. It had all sorts of storage, and the back seat folded flat into the floor, which is where it usually stayed. Most importantly, I was able to transport my lawn mower and garage sale stuff, and other miscellaneous boxes and large objects at any given time to any given location. The van game me freedom that the Corolla didn’t allow.

That good feeling wore off after about two months, when, while driving more than 55 mph, the vehicle would begin to whine. And it got louder when I would turn.

So I turned to the Internet, and the Ford Freestar forums. There, I learned that the likely culprit was something called the wheel hub assembly. I scheduled a service appointment and took it in, complete with print-outs from the forums. When they test-drove it, however, they said they couldn’t hear anything. Typical. They never do.

Things get blurry at this point, because I was getting pretty angry. At some point, they said the bumper-to-bumper after-market warranty that I had purchased, which was supposed to cover everything right down to the floor hooks wouldn't cover whatever was wrong with it and causing the "phantom sound" anyway. So I got indignant and demanded to talk to the service manager. My basic message was this: I have done the diagnostic work for you. I am telling you exactly what it is, and what good is this warranty that your company is selling if you won’t stand behind it? What kind of crap did you sell me?

He buckled and we went for a ride. It finally made the noise, but nobody could tell what wheel it was coming from. His solution was to replace one, and if that didn’t fix it,  then make another appointment and get the other repaired. All I had to pay was the $100 one-time deductible. 

So that got fixed.

Two weeks later, it started making the same noise again, so I called the service manager directly and told him what was going on. He remembered me and got me taken care of quickly, quietly and no charge.

That’s two wheel hub assemblies so far.

Somewhere in there, we also replaced the brakes, one break drum, and the tires at our cost.

Then one day, when I was driving, I noticed that when I turned, it sounded like a couple of acorns were rolling around in the steering column when I turned corners. So I called again. And since I was there, I asked them to please check to see if they could figure out why the steering wheel shook whenever I came to a stop.

The thing that sounded like an acorn was easy. A par had broken off of some sort of controller assembly that controlled all of the blinkers, wipers and cruise control stuff and was rolling around in the steering column.

The shaking steering wheel was another story entirely. That resulted in the replacement of the steering rack (steering column, axles, etc.) all at no cost to me.

We got that work done just in time to take off to spend a week in Florida for Christmas. Everything was going great. We had a lot of fun on that trip. But then we became stranded. In downtown Orlando. At 4:30 p.m. On  New Year’s Eve. With a 2-year-old and Jenn’s parents along for the ride. Suck.

We were driving along fine, and all of a sudden the radio stopped working and the check engine light came on, followed by pretty much every idiot light on the dashboard. No problem, I said, figuring it was just a fuse. I told Jenn to pull in at the nearest gas station and I would change the fuse while we filled the gas tank.

It wasn’t the fuse.

I called AAA, and we waited. And waited. Luckily, there was a McDonald’s within walking distance that had a playground, so that is where Jenn, the baby, and Jenn’s mom spent most of the time waiting.

When the AAA guy finally got there, he determined it was the alternator, and the battery was probably shot, too. When we got the steering rack replaced, the guy told me that the battery wasn’t going to make it through winter, and I wrote that off, figuring they were just trying to get more money from me. After all, when I ran my own load test on it, I got a reading of “good.”

Now, I was kicking myself.

I hopped in the AAA truck and we drove around to two different auto parts stores looking for the correct alternator. One place didn’t have it, and neither did the second place. But the second place had another store on the other side of Orlando that had the part, and they could have it here and installed for us in the morning. I agreed, ordered the part, and made the arrangements.

Our van getting loaded on a flatbed around 8 p.m. on New Year's Eve, 2010
to 20ll in downtown Orlando, Fla. Photo by Jerry Bruns.
We then returned to the gas station and met up again with Jenn, her mom, and the baby. The flat bed showed up, I relinquished my keys to the driver, who was a Turkish Army veteran, or something like that, and prayed that I would see my van some time again. I trusted the driver. I didn’t trust the city.

So we went back to McDonald’s and waited for my brother-in-law to come pick us up and take us back to the condo near Disney World. It was a very, very long night.

We got back to the condo and went to bed. The next day, we packed everything into the in-laws’ camper and the bed of their truck and went out to an orange grove, where they rented a camping spot, and we helped them set that up while we waited for the van to be finished.

At some point in there, I got a migraine. We weren’t having fun anymore.

I got anxious…we needed to get home because we had to go to work on Monday, and this was Saturday. We had to drive back to Ohio, get unpacked and settle back in. I called they shop, and the guy said he just started the paperwork and by the time we get there, he would have it done. So we left, got the van, came back to the campground, packed up, got a picture of me hugging a palm tree, and took off for home.

And then we got sick. I was sick, Jenn was sick, we could barely drive we were so sick. I COULDN’T drive. I think I drove maybe 5 hours of that 22 hour trip. It was bad. We had to stop at a strip mall, I don’t even know where we were, and sleep for a few hours. It was miserable.

We finally made it home, and went to work, and got on with life.

Then march came. We traded cars with Kyle (see previous blog entries about Kyle) one Sunday so he could hang out with the youngest son and take him places while he watched him for a couple of hours. When Jenn and I returned home from wherever we went, Jenn hopped in the van and went to a grocery store around the corner. It had started raining and it was really cold outside, so I knew the trip would be quick.

About 20 minutes later, my phone started ringing, which really didn’t surprise me. Jenn can’t leave the house without calling me at least once.

“We’ve got big problems. The car starts but it won’t move.”

I asked her what she meant by that, and she said that she could put it in gear, but it made a whining sound and didn’t move. So I packed up the baby and drove over to meet her. Exactly as she described.

“Should I call my guys,” she asked, referring to the service garage she uses on a regular basis for her company car. They came out and put the van on a flatbed for the second time in three months, and drove away. Luckily, I was able to borrow my grandmother’s car for about a week while they worked on it.

On Monday I got the car and the verdict: The transmission was shot and they were waiting for a call from the warranty company.

I hung up and started to worry. Yes, the warranty was covering it, but it was a 100,000 mile warranty, and the van was at about 86,000 miles. We were getting close to the point where we would have to pay for everything. Not good. And I didn’t want to put my family in harm’s way again. There were way too many break-downs in bad places with bad timing. It was no longer worth the risk.

I was worrying about all of this and trying to figure out how to approach the discussion with Jenn when my phone rang again.  Now, on my phone, I have all of the known numbers labeled. If it’s Jenn, I know it’s Jenn. If it’s mom or dad, my phone says who it is. I even have telemarketer numbers marked as “B.S. Call. Do not answer.”

I looked at my phone, expecting it to be the garage again. Instead, the screen showed the name of a guy I had purchased about four of my past vehicles from.  I picked up the phone, surprised to hear from him for the first time in about four years.

“Hey buddy. I just wanted to call and see how you were doing and let you know where I am working now,” he told me.

“It’s odd that you called at this very instant,” I answered, and explained to him what was going on. I didn’t promise we would seriously consider buying a car because I hadn’t talked to Jenn about anything yet. But I did tell him to start hunting for options and crunching numbers.

Our 2011 Nissan Sentra, purchased right before the earthquake and tsunami 
in Japan. Now these and Hondas are hard to come by.
Long story short, we picked a car, he came up and gave us a quote for trade-in on the van (which was a heck of a lot more than I expected to get for a van up on the rack with the transmission sitting on the floor), and we had purchased the car by the end of the week.

It’s smaller than we would like it to be, but it gets great gas mileage and it’s not a lemon.

That makes us happy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

You can tell a lot about a man by his music

(I'm warning you right now: I use some "bad words" in this blog. Most of them are part of the titles of albums and songs, but not all of them).

I recently started thinking about musical tastes: What I listened to, what I publicly admit that I listen to (up until now, that is), what I listen to when the kids aren't in the car, and what I listen to when the wife isn't in the car.

In those answers I found a wide range of musical styles. But what does that say about a person?

Music is my life. It moves me, inspires me, drives me, and at times, calms me. It can serve to both focus me and completely distract me, depending on the task, the day, and  the song. I listen to it when I drive, when I work, and when I mow the lawn. I sing it at the top of my lungs (as long as nobody else is home) in the shower, and in the car (even with the kids in the car). I love to listen to The White Stripes, Guns N Roses "Appetite for Destruction" and "Use Your Illusion II" at top volume, and habitually lose my voice trying to sing like Tom Keiffer from Cinderella. Just today, I played the original version of "Cover of Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook, and the cover version of it that Poison did for my oldest son. I do that a lot.

I act like a fool when I play Guitar Hero. Just ask Jenn about my butt-shaking performance of "We Got the Beat" by the Go-Gos.

I have song selections for my different moods, including songs to bring me down, when I am really, really mad. I currently use my phone to listen to music in my car, but I also own a Microsoft Zune and an iPod Mini (thanks to my wife Jenn, who found that sucker just recently at a garage sale. I use it for my audiobooks, and it interfaces with my car. Cool stuff.).

Someone I follow on Twitter just asked how long iTunes would play before repeating a song. His was 11 days. Mine is 76.4 days, covering 20,173 tracks.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE fan of '80s hair metal/arena rock. The crunchier the guitar and the raunchier the lyrics, the happier I am. You can leave your ballad crap and acoustic guitars at home…unless you run your acoustic through a distortion pedal. Then it's a whole different story, and it's all good.

Poison is my Achilles' heel. I catch shit for it all the time, but I just don't care. I became a fan in 1988 on their "Open Up and Say…Ahh."  album. I was in 7th grade, and this album opened so many doors for me. The song "Nothin' But a Good Time" was the hot Cassingle at the time, and i that was soon followed by "Fallen Angel," "Every Rose," and "Your Mama Don't Dance," but maybe not exactly in that order. I invested in an early bootleg copy of their album "Crack a Smile" before Capitol Records realized how great it was, got smart and released it for real.

I also have bootleg copies of live shows on May 30, 1999, in Pine Knob, Mich., and Bret Michaels live at The Bijou in Toledo, OH on Oct. 12, 2003, and at the Downtown Hoedown in Detroit, Mich., on May 16, 2005. I attended every one of those shows, so it was nice to find copies of those shows available online.

The PMRC led me to purchase SO MANY albums featuring
the "Parental Advisory" sticker. Thank you Tipper Gore for
increasing album sales. And thank you to Warrant for
teaching me the "Ode to Tipper Gore."
My first concert was Poison during the "Road Dogs From Hell" tour in support for their album "Flesh and Blood." Warrant opened for them in support of their album "Cherry Pie." Ironically, later this month, I will be attending a Poison/Warrant show at the Toledo Zoo. I can't wait to relive my High School days with Jenn.

My first live performance on tambourine with my cousin, Cathy (Firsdon) Iott in Weston, OH. I later spent a lot of time sitting at the desk on the left learning the lyrics to Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" and the Beastie Boys "Licence to Ill" albums....and reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time....and some aweful short story in fourth grade called "Argyle Socks," which I couldn't for the life of me understand what argyle socks were, despite how much time my dad spent explaining it to me. But I digress.
My second concert performance with my cousin Lisa (both on harmonica) also in Weston, Ohio.
The Bee Gees rocked. Period. Or not.
My earliest musical memory (besides singing "Little Red Caboose" into my Bee Gees portable sing-along radio microphone, or my wireless microphone) involves me riding in my dad's Chevy Blazer in the early 1980s. We were listening to the radio, and I asked him "Can I say a curse word if it's part of a song?" Dad asked me what song (and what word) I meant specifically. I said "Take this Job and Shove It," which I didn't know at the time, was performed by Johnny Paycheck. Dad got a good laugh and almost wrecked the truck in front of Wood County Hospital in Bowling Green, Ohio when I said that. He told me it was alright as long as he never heard me say it outside of a song. It was only a few years later that I found out the punishment for saying such a word when he back-handed me for saying a B-word that almost rhymes with "mustard," and not many years after that when I started dropping the F-bomb in front of him with impunity.

My infatuation with rock and roll started when I was in elementary school and my neighbor let me listen to Motley Crue's "Shout at the Devil" album, some ZZ Top album, Kiss's album "Animalize," and Quiet Riot. The first two albums I ever bought (or that were bought for me) were Crue's "Theatre of Pain," and Quiet Riot's "Condition Critical." The Quiet Riot cassette was a birthday present. I remember because I wanted their album "Metal Health." Mom and dad told me they got me "Condition Critical" because one of the songs on "Metal Health" had a bad word on it. She was referring to the song "Love's a Bitch," a song I knew well, heard many times, and sang often. Up until that moment, I didn't know "bitch" was a bad word. I learned that from mom.

In sixth grade, they bought me the Beastie Boys "License to Ill" album. I remember following mom through Hearts (or was it Rinks at the time???) on North Main Street in Bowling Green, just pestering her to let me get the album. She let me. Knowing what I know now, there is no way in Hell I would have bought my kid that album at any age. He can buy it for himself and hide it from me. That's some raunchy, disrespectful music. I have it on my phone and on my streaming music through Google Music now. I listen to it often, without Jenn in the car.

Mom and Dad also bought me rap albums by Run DMC (somehow the album title "Raising Hell" was okay with them in that instance), and by The Fat Boys (with glorious song titles such as "Respect Yourself (My Nuts)," which was not a double entendre or oblique reference to anything. It was flat-out blatant and vulgar. I loved it, and I still listen to it occasionally.

Once I started listening to Poison, the entire world of music changed for me. I pushed my old music collection, consisting of the Muppet Movie Soundtrack, and albums from Alabama, Oak Ridge Boys, Statler Brothers, and Kenny Rogers off to the side, and let my world be transformed by electric guitars, long poofy hair, Aqua Net, general debauchery, and songs about sex without consequence.

The Sik Puppyz hand-made poster
(made in the cut-and-paste days of DOS
with no graphics software available) that was
created to advertise a New Year's Evebasement
concert (show info since removed for some
unknown reason). The weather allowed us to
enjoy our first concert record-breaking crowd
attendance of one. And I "performed" with a
horrendous infection from a wisdom tooth
extraction, for which I went in special to my
dentist the next day, which was New Year's
Day. This show earned me the nickname
"Chubby Cheekers."
The Silent Echo logo, designed by
my friend John
For many years, all I listened to was Poison, Def Leppard (specifically the "Hysteria" album), and Bon Jovi (the "New Jersey" album). It eventually led to learning how to play the guitar. I pretty much suck, but I would be a good rhythm guitarist for a garage (and only the garage) band that plays for fun, not for fame.

I was in two bands....Sik Puppyz (back in 1991, before the currently popular and signed version of the band existed, as far as I know), and Silent Echo, a five-piece with my brother, and lots of similar names. In fact, our first names were Andy, Andy, Greg, Greg and Lance.We headlined the High School talent show my junior year. I have the video around somewhere of us performing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me."
Silent Echo featuring from L to R: Me (Greg), Greg, Andy, Andy, and Lance, at the Bobcat Review, at the end of the junior year for me and the two Andy's. The other Greg and Lance joined us in High School the following September. We rocked the joint with a two-song set of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me."
We played a couple of outdoor parties, including one that got the attention of the police department. No arrests, no citations. Awesome.

I don't remember why Sik Puppyz broke up. Silent Echo broke up because of in-fighting, creative differences, and the fact that 3 of us were, at the time, high school seniors focused on getting the hell out of high school and moving on with our lives in college...I'm sorry...College, with a Capital C (Do the Bluto).

Some of my favorite songs to play on guitar are the two I mentioned above, as well as "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne, "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC (the first song I learned on the guitar), "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin, and a rare song by the White Stripes called "Black Jack Davey," which actually is a cover version of a song by Bob Dylan.

I was just getting into the whole rock and roll scene and beginning to understand what it was about when Motley Crue released what I still feel was their best album ever, past or present. "Dr. Feelgood" was a monster force from beginning to end, from guitar work to effects to themes, to lyrics, to artwork. It was a work of genius, only recently approached in brilliance by their album "Saints of Los Angeles," which also is an epic album.

Through the years, I have seen the following bands in concert:

Me and Bret Michaels on the steps
of his tour bus in 2006.
  • Poison (to be 14 or 15 times later this month)
  • Bret Michaels (3 or 4 times. Personally chatted with him and got autographs 3 times between Poison and solo concerts)
  • C.C. DeVille (twice, including going up on stage with him once and getting autographs both times)
  • Warrant (to be 4 times later this month. I'm hoping to meet Joey Allen. I have never seen such melodic, harmonic guitar duo as Joey Allen and Eric Turner. It's amazing to watch.)
  • Lynch Mob
  • Tora Tora
  • Faster Pussycat (in the last 10 years, looking like Nazis. I prefer the "Wake Me When it's Over" days, thank you very much)
  • Cinderella (3 times. They blow Poison out of the water live, by the way)
  • Winger
  • Enuff Z'Nuff
  • Slaughter
  • Me, my brother Lance, and C.C. DeVille onstage in 2007 at
    Alrosa Villa in Columbus, OH. (Yes, the same place Dimebag Darrelll
    and others were killed in Dec., 2004).
  • Dokken
Peter Wolf live at Rally By The River in Toledo, OH. May 27, 2004 on the tour
for his "Long Line" CD. Guitarist Johnny A (right) is amazing.
  • Aerosmith
  • Peter Wolf (twice)
  • J. Geils Band
  • BulletBoys
  • Buckcherry (I think they opened for Aerosmith on the Get a Grip tour)
  • Tim McGraw
  • And others I can't remember.

My CDs signed by various members of Poison. Power to the People (the green one) was ordered special that way. The other 3 were signed in person at various concerts. I can't find my t-shirt (seen in the photo of me, Lance and C.C.) at the current moment. JENN!!!!! Have you seen my shirt?????? I know where it WAS. I don't know where it IS.

(The above two videos were filmed by me in 2009 at sequential evening appearances in Toledo, Ohio)

Jim Croce
A deeply influential musician in my life has been Jim Croce. He died in September, 1973. I was born 11 months later. I LOVE his music. He is a great musician and storyteller, whose life was taken way too soon. I still can't believe that in terms of age, I have outlived him. He is everything I have wanted to be...English major, musician, snarky, and with a very unique world view. I can still visualize my parents' copy of his record "Life and Times," with newspaper articles about his death taped inside the gatefold cover. That had a profound effect on my respect for, interest in, and love for Jim Croce. Check out his albums, "50th Anniversary Collection," "Live: The Final Tour," "Facets," and "Home Recordings," and his DVD "Have You Heard Jim Croce Live,"

I still bathe in the 80s, refusing to grow up. But musically, I have greatly expanded my interests. My current favorites are Aerosmith's albums "Honkin' on Bobo" and Pump (a favorite from beginning to end since it came out), and anything by the White Stripes. If you plan on checking any of these bands out, also be sure to check out the song called "Carolina Drama" by a band called The Raconteurs, featuring White Stripes guitarist/vocalist Jack White. Creepy song. So amazing.

Interesting story about the White Stripes: My first encounter with them was the video you see below. I watched this live on TV. When they first came onstage, I thought to myself "Humpf. A two-piece band. This will be a joke." By the time this performance was over, I was a White Stripes fan for life. I was blown away by what I call my own personal "Jimmy Hendrix moment." I didn't know you could do that with a guitar. It still blows my mind. I just literally got chills thinking about it. Their album "Get Behind Me Satan") got me through my divorce.

In addition to ALL of the bands listed above, here is a sampling of what is in my cloud/on my phone/on my hard drive/in my head.

Amy Winehouse
Avenged Sevenfold
The B-52s
The Bangles
Bellamy Brothers
Big & Rich
Blink 182
Blue Man Group
Bob Seger
Brian Setzer Orchestra
Bruce Springsteen
C&C Music Factory
Cheap Trick
Chuck Berry
Clarence Carter
The Dead Weather
Doctor Hook
Drivin' N' Cryin'
The Eagles
Eddie Rabbit
Every Mother's Nightmare
Faith No More
Fatboy Slim
Five Finger Death Punch
Georgia Satellites
Gorky Park
Great White
Green Day
Guns N Roses
Hot Chocolate
Huey Lewis and the News
Imelda May
Iron Maiden
J. Geils Band
James Bunt
Jane's Addiction
Janis Joplin
Jim Croce
Joan Jett
John Mellencamp
Johnny Cash
Judas Priest
Justin Timberlake
Kid Rock
L.A. Guns
Lil' Jon
Limp Bizkit
Lita Ford
Little Richard
Living Colour
LL Cool J
Marilyn Manson
Neil Diamond
Neil Young
Nine Inch Nails
No Doubt
Ozzy Osbourne
Pearl Jam
Peter Wolf (Whose album "Long Line" got me through a confusing and difficult time in college)
The Proclaimers
The Raconteurs
Rage Against the Machine
Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Rolling Stones
Ronnie Millsap
Roy Clark
Sacred Harp Singers
Sam Kinnison
The Smithereens
Soulja Boy Tell'em
Spin Doctors
Squirrel Nut Zippers
Steve Vai
Stevie Nicks
Sum 41
Ted Nugent
Tennessee Ernie Ford
Theory of a Dead Man
Thin Lizzy
Tom Petty
Tone Loc
The Tractors
Ugly Kid Joe
Van Halen
The White Stripes
White Lion
The Who
Yngwie Malmsteen

Bob...What about him?
That list doesn't include all of the bands. Nor does it include soundtracks, or Veggie Tales albums or Disney compilation discs that are mine, not my kids (though I DO let them listen to those).

I find that list to be as eclectic as your weird uncle Bob, and I'm okay with that. I feel it says I am well-versed, open-minded, and "well-rounded."

But based on what you see here, what bands would you recommend I check out next?

Monday, July 4, 2011

I'm a Lucky Guy

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my Golden List.

Last week, I wrote about my appendectomy.

Since my surgery, some amazing things have happened, making me realize how blessed and lucky I really am.

First and foremost was my sister- and brother-in-law coming through for us at midnight on Friday night to take the two-year-old while we went to the emergency room. Jenn didn't pick him up and bring him home until almost bedtime Sunday night to let me recover. Heidi and Ryan kept him for almost 48 hours, and both Jenn and I needed that!

Laura surprised me with a visit at the hospital.

Some fences were mended...and other fence repairs are in the works.

Mom and dad each made a special effort to make me meals.

Mom helped me get to a doctor's appointment and drop off paperwork, and brought all sorts of fun stuff over to the house.

My mother-in-law called me special from Illinois to check on me.

My friend Kyle went out and got me coffee from Grounds for Thought one night, mowed my lawn, called me, and stopped in to visit.

My grandma sent a coupon and money for me to get lunch one day, which I will save for a day when my doctor tells me I can drive.

My co-workers sent me a total of three (3!) cards and a HUGE bag full of snacks, and a gift card. I'm pretty sure I know who did the shopping, too, because of the kinds of snacks, and how we pick on each other about Starburst.

One co-worker (who I have only recently started talking to outside of the work setting) and her husband bought me a book AND a CD to keep me entertained while I am at home recovering.

Jenn, although she has been on my butt telling me everything I can't or shouldn't be doing, has only been looking out for my best interests. She has done more work around the house that I am comfortable admitting, and her unwavering willingness to help me and take care of me is the best gift ever.

I feel pretty worthless this week, in terms of contributing, and I'm humbled by all of your care, concern and giving. But I have to admit, I have completely enjoyed the pampering, and just lying around reading books and watching movies. So far, I have finished two books, started and finished a third, started a fourth, made some good progress in two more, and am about to start another.

I have also had a chance to write two blogs, edit two upcoming blog entries, and start contemplating yet another one. And I have watched two movies. I'm debating starting a third right now.

Thanks to ALL of you!!