How do you stay motivated?

I’m finding lately that I have far less drive than I’m used to.  Is it the winter doldrums? (Even though our weather has been pretty decent this year, and downright awesome compared to this time last year).  Is it monotony?  Should I try to change up my routine?  I like to think I normally carry around a full tank of enthusiasm, but right now, I feel like I need a pit-stop.

As it stands, I get up at 6:30 A.M.  I don’t have to be to work until 8:15 A.M.  I usually make my coffee/breakfast, watch some Mike and Mike on ESPN or watch a show that I DVR’d, and generally ease into my morning.  Head to work, do my thing, and right now am home around 3 P.M.  (That’ll change when track season starts).

What happens after that?  Lately, a whole lot of nothing, except for sporadic exceptions.  Depending on what Nicolette has going on, I might spend some time on the computer, with Netflix, playing some video games, etc.  Earlier last week though I found out that I weigh more than I ever have (168 lbs, not by like 10 pounds or anything, but 3 or so, which turned out maybe to be water-weight as the very next day I weighed 165), and started doing a half-hour of biking on a recumbent bike in the basement with either a book, Hearthstone, or Netflix/YouTube in front of me.  I would do this around 8 P.M., shower around 8:45-9:00, and then chill for the rest of the night before bed.

This does leave less time for doing things around the house.  I have plenty of stuff that needs to get fixed/de-cluttered/sorted/put away, tossed, etc. I guess lately the problem I’m having is fitting all that in.  Not-enough-hours-in-the-day syndrome.  We bought a house that was built in 1937, and I would describe slightly above the level of “fixer-upper”.  So there is a decent-sized list of things on that “To-Do” list.

What’s the solution?

Brainstormed changes:

-Get up earlier, at 5:45 or 6 A.M., and hop right on the bike.  Shower, get coffee/breakfast going by 6:45?  Work, get home, then have the rest of the night to divvy up for the other stuff?  Maybe alternate the morning workout between the bike and some yoga?

-That’s as far as I got when it comes to possible changes. ūüôā

I would probably have to go to bed a little earlier for this change, but as it stands, I’m usually in bed by 11 for the 6:30 alarm.  So, 7.5 hours-ish there.  To get the same amount getting up at 5:45, that means bed would have to be 10:15.

The other worry is, how is this new routine going to make me feel once track starts and I’m not getting home from practice until 5:30-6-ish?  That’s twelve hours awake with little to no sit-down and breathe time.  Do I come home, eat dinner, and then jump into the de-cluttering/fixing mode?  Go by a minute to minute itinerary?  (Kind of takes the fun out of it, no?  “Well, it’s 8:15, have to stop watching this show we DVR’d that has 8 minutes left because this is my laundry time!”)  When do I get to sit down with Nic and just be with her?  It definitely seems like the days shrink pretty quickly…

…and we don’t even have kids yet.  Dear Lord.

Trying to find a balance between work/play/household maintenance seems like a pretty tricky thing.  It’s like balancing spinning plates on sticks.  I could throw my attention into the first two, and then the third ends up falling and breaking.

So what are your secrets?  How do you budget your time in this day where we’re so beholden to the clock?  Share your advice!

Television Show A.D.D.

While Nic and I were at a friend’s house a few weeks ago¬†we found ourselves hanging out and watching the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards. ¬†That spurred a discussion about what television shows we’ve seen and it occurred to me that I have started and not finished many a show. ¬†For some reason, my brain just stopped being interested or was attracted by the latest shiny thing on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, whatever. ¬†So without further ado, I give you the Master List of Shows I’ve Abandoned!

In no particular order other than chronological as it pertains to me searching for them on the above apps: (* denotes that a show is still in production, we’re just not caught up, I’m just not caught up, or we or I just don’t care about it anymore….I’m looking at you Grey’s Anatomy…)

  • Parks and Recreation
  • Parenthood
  • Glee
  • Pysch
  • 30 Rock
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Heroes
  • Prison Break
  • Numbers
  • Sons of Anarchy
  • The West Wing
  • Arrested Development (final season)
  • Orange is the New Black*
  • Mad Men
  • Chuck
  • House
  • Portlandia*
  • Pinky Blinders
  • Salem
  • Gotham*
  • Fringe
  • Once*
  • Grey’s Anatomy*
  • Marvel’s Agents of Shield*
  • Agent Carter*
  • Family Guy*
  • Community
  • Vikings
  • American Horror Story*
  • True Blood
  • 24
  • The Sopranos
  • Justified
  • Eastbound and Down
  • Homeland*

That’s a lot of TV time to make up for, huh? ¬†I didn’t count shows that we or I have watched that are just waiting on the next season to either air or show up on those apps. ¬†At first glance, I’d so the most egregious ones that have been abandoned (perhaps temporarily) are Orange is the New Black, Homeland, The Sopranos, Friday Night Land Justified. ¬†Your mileage may vary, of course, but those are the ones I’m upset with myself for either not finishing or not being caught up on.

Some of those would be tough for me to pick back up because it’s been so long that it would require a complete rewatch from the beginning. ¬†In some cases, this means re-watching a lot of episodes.

I definitely just go on spurts. ¬†Recently, plowed through Starz’s (that sounds weird) The White Queen, based on the books by Phillippa Gregory. ¬†I found this and The Tudors incredibly well done and interesting as they look into the intrigue as well as the pomp of English royalty. ¬†Definitely worth a checking-out.

So as I sit here on a lazy Friday during February break, I find myself with time to kill prior to bringing the Jeep in for an appointment at 2. ¬†Maybe I’ll go dust off one of these shows…

Off into the sunset?

th

Those of you that know me likely know that I’m a Denver Broncos fan. ¬†So, for the past few weeks, I’ve been basically out of my gourd over The Super Bowl. ¬†I mean, I saw us barely survive New England, and then I saw Carolina DESTROY Arizona.

“How could we possibly beat this team?”, I asked myself. ¬†If I’m honest, I didn’t think we would. ¬†Cam Newton is a freak of nature.

But the answer was to play our defensive game, and hope Peyton doesn’t hurt us.

It was ugly, and our offense was inept at times, but we managed to come out on top.  I jumped off the couch and shrieked when Von Miller stripped Cam and we recovered in the end-zone.  I was screaming on every sack, every pressure even.  Nothing like being on the edge of your seat every snap of the ball.

As much as the story was the defense, and the dominant play of Von Miller and his fellow pass-rushers who worked to neutralize the league MVP¬†Newton, I just kept saying to myself throughout the game “just win it for Peyton”.

I remember how excited I was when I found out we were signing Manning. ¬†We literally went from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning. ¬†That’s like going from gristle to filet mignon.

From the commercials, to the gesticulating at the line every play, and the overall amazing cerebral game he plays for someone who looks so slight, it was hard not to love him immediately. ¬†He brings a certain gravitas to your team immediately. ¬†I knew we had a chance to win multiple Super Bowls with him at the helm. ¬†(Unless your team’s defense is garbage, and you get smoked 43-8 by the Seahawks). ¬†The bottom line is, my NFL team last won a championship half my life ago, when I was 17. ¬†I’ve been lucky enough to have them win 3 Super Bowls in my lifespan.

So, coming off a statistically awful year that finds him 39 years old, unable to feel his fingertips, and unable to evade many defenders (unless it’s that one play where he falls down and gets right back up to throw the ball), we’re left wondering if he’s going to hang it up and ride off into the sunset as The Sheriff.

I see both sides of it. ¬†There are those that say, you’ve finished on a high note. ¬†You’ve made it to the top of the mountain, you are tied with your brother Eli for career Super Bowl wins, and the top of the mountain is good. ¬†You’ve battled injuries all year, lost your starting job after missing six weeks, got it back, and won it all. ¬†What more is there to prove? ¬†You don’t need money. ¬†You’re set.

On the other hand, there’s the idea that you haven’t lost your passion for the game, for preparing, for practicing, etc. ¬†Who’s to tell you you’re done? ¬†As long as you still have that love, go for it.

My worry is, he’s owed $25 million next year or so, and the Broncos aren’t going to pay that for someone who is aging, declining in skill, etc. ¬†They probably shouldn’t, regardless of the fact that it’s Peyton. ¬†We’ve still got Miller to lock up, and plenty of other free-agents, including the young QB who guided us to success while Peyton was out, Brock Osweiler.

As sad as it is to say, that money is better spent elsewhere, but boy do I appreciate what Peyton has given us.  So long, pardner.

A Pirate’s Life for Me-Black Sails

So it’s been a while… ¬†Hope you’re all still well and not pining for your next dollop of my writing. ¬†(Doubtful)

It’s been busy of late and I haven’t had time to sit down and really get something through the keyboard. ¬†Partly because I’ve been binge-watching the show named above.

black-sails

Think Deadwood, but with pirates. ¬†I was hooked from the first episode. ¬†I’m a big fan of the genre, including Johnny Depp’s take of Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (yes, even the dreadful sequels), but this is altogether a different animal.

It’s gritty, dark at times, over-sexualized at times (but then again, we are talking about pirate life, so maybe the amount of nudity and sex is historically accurate?), but the overall themes of loyalty, ambition, and the Game of Thrones-esque gray area when it comes to the main characters and their moral compasses makes for a great TV show. ¬†There are great characters that you can’t decide if you love or hate, double-crosses, double double-crosses (cue Johnny Depp’s gun and explanation to Orlando Bloom’s surprise look of unfairness in their duel in the blacksmith shop in PotC, “Pirate!”), politics, sea battles and raids, and there’s plenty to love.

The opening credits are some of my favorite of any show I’ve ever watched:

The dissonance of the piano and chanting seems to fit perfectly¬†well with the chaotic life of piracy, and the incredible detail in the sculptures take something that I usually ignore by checking my phone while I wait for the show to come on and turn it into something I’m intently watching. ¬†It’s also a great juxtaposition of the light (society, aristocracy, religion) and darkness (skeletons, blood, prostitution). ¬†The shot at 1:00 is one of my favorites as in the foreground you can see the incredible detail etched into the waves, buildings, and ships. ¬†Don’t even get me started on the amazing detail at 0:25 and in the preview above. ¬†Simply unreal.

I found myself googling “Pirate books” and have now set out to get myself copies of Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. ¬†Surprised I haven’t found a good novel about Blackbeard yet, but I’ll keep looking. ¬†Anyone have any other pirate books that they’ve loved?

Currently seasons 1 and 2 are available if you subscribe to Starz via cable or dish, but I was able to watch by adding it as an add-on subscription for my Amazon Prime Video app on my PS4.

 

Going full nerd

So, I already dropped a hint on being a bit nerdy with my World of Warcraft reference in my last post, but something I discovered today reminded me of a portion of time in my teenagerdom where I dabbled with Dungeons and Dragons, novels of the like, etc.  I even had the dice collection.  (Dusty might still have them somewhere).  s-l500

Like I said…full….nerd.

Funny part of all that, I didn’t really have anyone to play with, so, it was basically me delving into the books and using them to write stories and such. ¬†(Hmmm, looking back, that’s incredibly sad. ¬†I played Dungeons and Dragons with….myself.)

Today, I discovered an article on polygon.com that discussed how there are a group of video-game voice actors started a live stream of their D&D game. ¬†I am embarrassed to admit that I watched their first episode published back in June….all three hours of it.

http://www.polygon.com/features/2016/1/11/10589378/how-the-voices-behind-your-favorite-games-and-shows-are-re-inventing

I’m not going to lie. ¬†This is UBER-NERD territory, but by god is it hilarious to see these people do this and voice-act their characters. ¬†Nicolette will attest to the fact that I am prone to burst out laughter quite a bit, but I’m telling you that I lost it quite a bit with the give and take between the Dungeon Master (NERD ALERT) and the players.

Part of me is A) jealous of the huge amount of creativity that is present in all of these people and B) jealous that I’m not actually AT that game watching these people all do their thing. ¬†(I don’t feel I could contribute as I’m not THAT funny.

I kind of just lost track of time as I was watching this and ended up treating it like I just watched Lord of the Rings or something.

The striking thing about all of this for me is just the sheer imagination that goes into these people fully realizing their characters to life.  The mannerisms, even the unrelated snarky banter that occurs unrelated to what is happening at the time, just make me chuckle.

All that said, you don’t have to check out the three hours, but the huge battle they get in happens to be towards the last 15 minutes or so, and the true skill of the DM deftly handling all seven players is pretty fun to watch.

 

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (by Robin Sloan)

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone‚ÄĒand serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

Lately, a book I can’t put down is a rare thing. ¬†I mostly read only a few minutes before I start nodding off in bed. ¬†For me (before this year’s reading resolution) the hallmark of a book I’m enjoying is if I bring it downstairs to read in the morning with coffee. ¬†(Remember how depressed the books were under my bedside lamp? ¬†This happening probably feels like winning a gold medal in the Olympics or something. ¬†“I’m going downstairs?! ¬†You like me! ¬†You really like me!!”)

Coincidentally, this was the second book in a row I’d read that was about a bookstore. ¬†(Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was the book I read before this). ¬†Of the two though, I enjoyed this one quite a bit more.

It wasn’t a perfect read for me, and doesn’t make it’s way on to a Top 10 list of mine (I imagine I’ll have to compile that for a future blog post), but it was a very, very solid read that seemed to fly right by. ¬†Sloan has a very effortless writing style that had me flipping page after page and then being surprised at how quickly I was progressing through the story.

I could only give it a 4 on Goodreads, but it’s probably closer to a 4.5. ¬†My gripes with it were few and far between. ¬†Overall, a very good book that I would recommend to anyone who was the least bit curious by the synopsis above as I was. ¬†I’m always on the lookout for something that is a bit different than anything I’d read before and this seemed very unique. ¬†I wasn’t disappointed in the least after finishing it.

For further Penumbra reading, there’s also Ajax Penumbra 1969 that Sloan published the year after Bookstore. ¬†It’s basically the title character’s origin story, and I just picked it up on Amazon for my Kindle for $2.99. ¬†I think I’ll pick up something else for now, but I’m looking forward to coming back to this world for sure.

Funny people…vehicles…and caffeine

I like all of those things. ¬†A lot. ¬†If I had to rank them though, it’d be 1. Funny People, 2. Caffeine, 3. Vehicles. ¬†Your mileage may vary.

It wasn’t until a while ago, that I realized that all three together could be a recipe for something that often makes Nicolette and I shriek with glee.

If you’re a fan of Jerry Seinfeld, then you absolutely need to check out Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Short description of the web-show…Jerry picks a vintage car to match his guest, often wears matching Nike Shox to said car, picks up his comedian guest, and they go get coffee. ¬†They run anywhere from 10-20¬†minutes. ¬†Sounds simple, but the fact that they are being recorded from the get go, in the cars, in the coffee shops/diners/restaurants, is really the part that makes it hilarious. ¬†It’s starting it’s third season and has a SLEW of amazing talent that Jerry hangs out with.

Just to name a few:

President Obama (leads of Season 3), David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon (two-part episode), Kevin Hart, Ricky Gervais, Alex Baldwin, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert,  Amy Schumer, Jon Stewart, Aziz Ansari, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Larry David, and a slew of other hilarious people.

Nicolette and I discovered one of our favorite comics from this show, Gad Elmaleh. ¬†He played Jerry’s character in the French version of Bee Movie. ¬†We recently got to see him at Higher Ground. ¬†He’s amazing.

http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/gad-elmaleh-no-lipsticks-for-nuns

Gold, just gold. ¬†(The french fry shop scene kills us! ¬†“The combination of those two moves….I never saw that…)

What this show really made me realize is that comedians have to be incredibly intelligent. ¬†They can take a mundane situation in life and find the exact point within it that makes it comedy. ¬†Not to mention the incredible timing, quick wit, and overt personalities. ¬†It’s great for them to be in this one-on-one situation though and you get to really hear normal conversation from them.

Please do yourself a favor, and binge-watch…now…

…with a cup of coffee, in a car, if possible.