Monday, July 2, 2012

This is just cool - 100 guitar licks

I'll come at you with something better this evening, as I know I've not posted in a while, but this is just plain cool and deserves its own post:




Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday update...

Sorry I have not been able to post for several days...

...well, I could have posted, but I just have not :)  And today's post is not going to be very long.  Just a couple of quick observations.

First, tomorrow is the summer solstice, which is cool in that we're halfway through the meteorological year, with the length of daily sunlight starting to shorten as opposed to expand.  For a true-blue fan of the fall and winter, this is excellent news, even though we've still got to go through the freakingest hottest part of the summer before we get there.  Ugh. 

Going to see Prometheus on Friday!  Expectations tempered a little bit with some scattered reviews of the film, but I'm not going to let that psyche me out, as going to the movies is like eating pizza: even when pizza is bad, its still pizza :)

Sold our 13-year old second car on Monday and couldn't be happier to be back to a one-car family, which we were from the summer of 2008 to the winter of 2009 (when the first kiddo came along).  I'll likely post more on this topic in later days. 

OK, well that's all for now.  I'll get something more substantive up tomorrow.

Friday, June 15, 2012

More Tiny House stuff

All kinds of stuff regarding Tiny Houses on YouTube.  Here's a sampling:





Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tiny houses

I saw this video on Yahoo's main page today and had to watch it, even though its kinda a puff piece on a wholesome family "making it work" and all that, because the Tiny House Phenomenon (no not this tiny house :)) is actually a thing and I've been interested in it for the last couple of years:


Indeed, there's something very romantic about the idea of just shedding all of but the most essentially material goods and living a simpler existence.  But enough Thoreau/Emerson/Trancendentalist jibber jabber.  Consider the economic, environmental, and health-oriented bonuses a person or family would accrue if you could, like the family in the video, live such a life.

Sure, you'd have to throw down for open land and, say, $15,000 for the structure (not including labor costs, if any, I'd assume) -- the family in the video says the house cost them $13,000.  Not to mention if you opted to go with solar panels.  And you'd probably have to spend some money on some tiny house-designed furniture and that sort of thing.

But on the flip side, aside from any payments for the land and structure...no more mortgage payments.  Drastically low utility bills (especially if you opted for solar panels).  Drastically low homeowner's insurance.  Huge savings for simply not buying things for which you have room in your Tiny House (clothing, various household items, toys if you have kids, books, big TV's, shit you currently have stacked in closets that you never use). 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Life without cable TV, update #1

Or, more accurately, life without satellite TeeVee, which I canceled exactly two weeks ago today.  Here are the expenditures during that time period for our TeeVee programming:

**  Five $1.99 episodes of Community on iTunes
**  1/2 of a Netflix subscription (approx $9.00)

Everything else we watched we watched over the airwaves (network TeeVee, local news), already paid for (episodes of Mad Men and the Killing on iTunes), borrowed an HBO Go password (Game of Thrones, Girls), or streamed for free online (South Park, Community, Euro 2012 games). 

Getting off of pay-for-it TeeVee is among the best decisions we've made in a long time.

Speed mile, belt loop, and Krugman

I heartily apologize for the three or four of you out there who actually read this little blog of mine for not posting in a week.  No good explanation, really, just kinda slipped my mind.  That being said, with a week having passed without a post, I have several things I'd like to write about or at least mention :)

First, I finished Paul Krugman's book End This Depression Now!, which is not a necessarily a book about psychology, although considering that it was actually about the economy, psychology obviously plays a not-to-small part.  Highly informative and written in a manner so even a macroeconomic neophyte such as myself could understand.  Sufficient to say, when it comes to the economy, we're doing it wrong.

Oh, and did you know that the European Football Championship started last Friday.  Oh my, how I love large international soccer tournaments :)  Obviously, the soccer itself is fantastic but it also reminds me of the HillcrestBlogger Honeymoon/World Cup trip to Germany in 2006 (with a side trip to Prague).  It took a total of about .3 hours after the start of the tournament to make the executive decision that the entire HillcrestBlogger family will be going to the European Championship in 2016, to be held in France.  Already I'm envisioning a 3-week sojourn, starting in London, then Chunnelling to Paris, then up to Copenhagen, before spending several days traveling around the French countryside before finishing the trip in Northern Italy.  But don't hold me to that itinerary, since it is bound to be tweaked over the next four years ;)

As for my week's worth of fitness, I signed up for the Firecracker Fast 5K, ran a mile "sprint" in 10:09, and gained (or lost?) another belt loop!  I also started Gretchen Reynolds' book The First 20 Minutes, which I heard about on Terri Gross's show on NPR and is really an eye opener.  Apparently, I need to incorporate some high intensity interval training, which I have since started to do, in order to really get this body de-flabbed.  In any event, I will recommend that book to anyone who wants to separate the wheat from the chaff regarding what they need to do to become fit. 

Last, I am also going to sell one of our cars (the 13-year old one) this week.  The HillcrestBlog family is going back to being a one-car affair, which we did to great effect prior to our first child.  It is the responsible choice from a environmental, economic, and life-style standpoint.  I'm very excited about it.  I'll be using a combination of public transportation, biking, and walking to get to and from work, which is only about 2.5 miles from my house.  And, with our kids' daycare within very easy walking distance, this is an arrangement we are approaching as a permanent change.  I'm sure I'll be posting about this in much more detail later so I'll not get into the weeds on it today.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Running backward?

No, that header is not meant to be a pithy metaphor.  It is to be taken literally, as in, the guy in this video clip advocates running backward as part of a fitness program.  I'll let him explain:


I think I might try this tomorrow to see how I like it.  I think I'll do it on the track at Scott Field, though, so I don't trip over a dog or bush or buckling sidewalk ;)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Another weekend, another race

As I warned last week, I was going to be competing in the Cheetah Chase 5K last Saturday, which I did, unexpectedly setting a new HillcrestBlogger 5K record time!  OK, OK, true...it was only the second 5K I've ever done, but the course was far hillier and (in my opinion) more challenging.  On the flip side, it was probably 15 degrees cooler than the Riverfest 5K and the sky was completely overcast, both factors of which helped immensely.  Anyway, my time: 37:49:19, shaving 25 seconds off my previous best.  Relatedly, I also paced six seconds better per mile :)  So, hooray for me!  My next race won't be until the Firecracker 5K on Independence Day, so you'll be spared from any running posts for a while, dear and loyal reader.

Tonight, I'm going to open a new frontier on my quest to make this 39-year old lumpy bag of bones a little bit healthier.  I read about the slow-cadence, muscle-failure-desired weight training program first in AJ Jacob's newest book (very funny, BTW) and subsequently bought the book outlining the workout on Amazon for one cent (plus $4.95, shipping of course).  Given the time constraints of being a twice-over parent nowadays, the one- or two-times per week workout of less than thirty minutes sure sounds too good to be true.  And maybe it is snake oil, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a whirl. After all, if it passes the Lesley Stahl smell-test, its gotta be legit, right? ;)


I'll post tomorrow how the first workout tonight goes. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Today's Big Rain Event!!!


Well, that was a big 'ol dud wasn't it?  I love it when our local forecasters get so breathless about upcoming "events" and then it turns out to be a whole bucketfull of nothing.  Happens all the time during the winter. 

I'll save everyone a lot of time, energy, worry, and amusement by giving you now the Official 2012 HillcrestBlog Summer Forecast!  Here it is:
It is going to be butt-hot from now until late September and then just plain hot until mid-October.  If it rains on you or your house at any point in time, count yourself lucky. 

That's really all the information you need to know, dear reader.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hillcrest home values a solid bet

...at least that is my takeaway after reading the following opinion column from last Friday's New York Times.  Indeed, one of the many reasons I love this neighborhood so is the fact that just about any amenity needed for modern survival is within a relatively easy walking (and certainly, biking) distance.  I simply cannot imagine life living out in some suburb or bedroom community where there is not a very easily reachable small business district in our neighborhood's interior, not to mention the vast number of businesses within a one- to two-mile radius of my front door.  Now, reading that these types of homes and neighborhoods are what are now in demand only solidifies my love of this place. 

Anyway, for your reading pleasure, the column in full, after the jump...

38:15

That's my time from last Saturday's Rock N Stroll 5K :)  Sufficient to say, I did indeed finish, and at the quickest pace and farthest distance I have so far run.  I beat my stated goal of finishing under 39 minutes.  Plus I got a T-shirt, so it was great all around, aside from the humidity, which was a bit on the overdone side.

In case you were wondering, here was my playlist :)

Getchoo by Weezer
Seether by Veruca Salt
Dashboard by Modest Mouse
One Engine by The Decemberists
Simple Song by The Shins
Self Esteem by Offspring
So What'cha Want by The Beastie Boys
Soul Meets Body by Death Cab for Cutie
Verse Chorus Verse by Nirvana
Malibu by Hole
Greater Omaha by The Desaparecidos

Again, heavy on the 1990's alt-rock ;)

Next up, the Cheetah Chase 5K this coming Saturday.


A much more challenging course through the hills of our beloved Hillcrest neighborhood.  Here's the route, which notably does not show the aforementioned hills:


I will be looking to merely finish, not set any speed record on this one, as my test-run of 2.5 miles of the course yesterday left me totally worn out.  On the plus side, the weather this Saturday morning should be much better than it has been lately, so that will help out my fitness and stamina immensely.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pics of my old office circa 2008

I was searching through some old computer files looking for a copy of my soccer league's logo for the new administration (I was President for one two-year terms several years ago) when I came across some pics I apparently took with an old phone camera.  Among them were some pics of my old office on the sixth floor of the Tower Building, when I worked for the Attorney General's Office.  I forgot how much I loved that office, with its large windows and couch, not to mention how I decked it out with some personal touches :)  So I'm going to post three of them here for purely personal reasons.  Since this office, I've inhabited four other offices (within the same agency, mind you) and my current one is really great.  But this one here still remains my all-time favorite.





Thursday, May 24, 2012

Life without cable TV, Day 4 AKA Get rid of your cable: A case in support

Well, the blog post title might be a little misleading, as we actually have not had cable TeeVee (specifically, Comcast) since 2008.  Instead, the HillcrestBlog family recently ended a four-year run of being tethered to satellite TeeVee (two years with Dish Network and then the last two years with Direct TV).  Now, we find ourselves on Day 4 of being off the subscription TeeVee grid, so-to-speak.  Instead, we have chosen to get our TeeVee over the airwaves, just like in the Olden Days before cable entered the picture in the early 1980's, which, along with the cost of $5.99 HD antennae, is free.  We plan on supplementing this with TV shows we buy and download from iTunes, movies and shows we stream from Netflix through our Roku player, and shows we stream directly from other internet sources.  Our intent with this plan is twofold: 1) to save money on entertainment costs, and, to a lesser degree 2) to free ourselves as much as possible from the corporate media, advertising, and marketing that seems to hit you nonstop through conventional TeeVee viewing.

I have not yet really put pen to paper regarding any (if any) monetary savings, so I'm going to use this blog post to do just that.  Also, I'll hopefully show you, dear reader, how this is not only monetarily advantageous, but also very "doable" in the sense that one really doesn't need cable or satellite TeeVee to still watch whatever shows you want to watch.

First things first, though.  You may ask if, after four days, I miss my satellite TeeVee.  Have I suffered any separation anxiety?  The answer is an emphatic no.  I have not missed it, not one bit.


Hillcrest political demographics

Two days ago, we Arkansans went to the polls to vote in our respective Democratic/Republican primaries, as well as the general judicial elections.  I say this to preface the excerpt below, from the Arkansas Times blog.  I offer it without comment, as HillcrestBlog does not engage in overt politicizing.  I simply want to repost it to demonstrate who our neighbors in this fantastic neighborhood are to those readers who do not live here:

The free state of Hillcrest again provided a warm liberal echo chamber against the increasingly cold world in much of the rest of Arkansas. A 91 percent vote for Obama at PH Presbyterian, 937-94 from two precincts that vote there. But we were outdone percentagewise by several, including Greater Archview Baptist, which went for Obama 353-6, or a 98 percent vote.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Last 5K training update

With the Riverfest Rock N Stroll 5K for which I've been training (and blogging about) coming up this Saturday, consider this the last post where I write about my preparatory training.  This, because today's 3.07 mile trek on the Big Dam Bridge across the Arkansas River (and along the northern river bank) was the last full-on run I'll do before Saturday morning*.  I ran this distance in 39 minutes, 7 seconds, at an average pace of 12:44/mile, which I think is a personal best, if the Run Keeper app is to be believed :)  Also, depending on what app you believe, I burned somewhere between 489 and 609 calories. 

At this point, I think it is safe to say that I am ready for Saturday morning.  I believe that I can complete my primary goal of JUST FINISHING ;) so I'm going to set a secondary goal of finishing at or under 39 minutes. 

*  I do intend to run a steady mile on Friday morning, just to keep the muscles and joints loose, but I'm not going to push it and instead concentrate on getting this big back of old bones recovered in time for Saturday.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Wilco show

I just wanted to post the poster for the show we saw last weekend.  Its pretty sharp :)


Rememberances of a big, action-packed weekend

The weekend of which I speak, of course, is the most recently completed one.  It was alternately or concurrently huge fun, very fast, exhausting, exhilarating, a little bit frustrating, eye-opening, and delicious.  As a point of reference, all of the following occurred:

1.  My wife ran the Dino Dash 5K early Saturday morning and I completed a 2.5 mile run late Saturday morning.  We also walked approximately three miles in downtown Memphis;
2.  We left our kids with an overnight sitter to spend an evening with Just Us for the first time since Lorelei was born in December of 2009;
3.  Cleaned the house and did five loads of laundry;
4.  The kids played in the kiddie pool;
5.  My wife and I drove to and from Memphis within a twenty-two hour time span, during which time we spent a night at the Peabody, saw Wilco at Mud Island, had ribs and catfish and several drinks on Beale Street;
6.  My daughter pooped on the bathroom floor;
7.  I played a soccer game on Sunday afternoon and scored a goal in a 4-1 victory;
8.  Went to the Farmer's Market; and
9.  Dinner with the in-laws Sunday night.

And, really, there were some other little highlights that I'm probably forgetting.  My point being, it was a full enough weekend to last fill up a month's worth of weekends.  At least it seemed like it at the time.

Currently, I'm mentally preparing myself for the Big Race this Saturday morning.  I'm still very sore from my long run on Saturday and my soccer game on Sunday.  I had hoped to get in a 2.8 mile run today, but I don't think my muscles are going to allow it.  Instead, I'm going to knock it out tomorrow morning and then hopefully recover in time to do a short and sweet 1 mile run on Friday morning, just to keep my muscles and joints loose. I think that will get me close enough to be able to complete the 3.1 miles I need to knock out Saturday morning, with all the energy and people and excitement of the race artificially propping me up that last .3 miles :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The importance of sleep

I hope I'm taking a nap when this infographic eventually posts :)  As the father of two small children, I can vouch for the absolute necessity of quality sleep.  Oh, and quantity too!


sleep

Source: http://frugaldad.com

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday night update

It is amazing what I now consider "late".  The kiddos have been down for hours and my wife has been asleep since 9:30 as she prepares to run tomorrow morning's Dino Dash 5K, but I'm still up, enjoying a glass or two of red wine before I hit the hay.  And, really, 10:30 is late for me nowadays with all the up-at-6:30 and being a father and all that jazz.  In The Oldendays (trademarked phrase), 10:30 was nothing.  Now, its the witching hour.  Funny how times have changed. 

But the big news tonight is not that I'm still up at this Ungodly Hour, but that tomorrow night I most CERTAINLY will be, as the wifey and I are headed to Memphis to see Wilco perform on Mud Island, sans kiddos.  They will be in the comfort and companionship of an overnight sitter that we have hired (one of my daughter's daycare teachers to be exact).  Which means, for the FIRST time since mid-December 2009, my wife and I will be able to spend a night ALONE without waking up a dozen times to tend to the needs of our offspring (with a room at the Peabody, no less).  I think I'll be alternately terrified and liberated by this development.  I'll let you four or five readers of this blog know how it goes on Monday.  In the meantime, Kerry Wood of my all-time favorite Chicago Cubs retired today.  If injuries hadn't derailed his career in the late 1990's and 2000's, who know how good he could have been.  Here's the highlight to end all Kerry Wood highlights:


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday morning 5K training

I know my posts have been very -- if not almost exclusively -- running-centric lately and that can get a little tedious.  But the obvious reason is that my Big Goal of 2012 (so far) is so close on the horizon: the Riverfest Rock N' Stroll on May 26, which is only nine days out.  I *promise* to resume to more substantive blogging after I complete that race :)

Meanwhile, I did go for a run just now and while it was not nearly as strong as my Tuesday morning performance, it still improved on my Sunday numbers.  Specifically, I ran 29 minutes straight, bookended by a 5-minute warmup and cooldown.  This means that I covered 2.71 miles in 39 minutes at an overall rate of 14:22/mile.  For some reason my app did not break down my walk rate and run rate like it did on Tuesday.  I think I know why -- my route today included running back over previously run areas -- like when I ran down parts of Kavanaugh and then tracked back.  My Tuesday run, which did break out my separate rates, was more of a "circle", at least until I got to Lookout, which I ran down and back.  Perhaps the GPS on my app got confused.  In any event, my next run I'm going to try and avoid covering the same ground to try and get a more accurate view of my walking-versus-running rates per mile.

Looking forward, I'm going to try a simple distance run on Saturday morning.  I'm thinking 2.5 miles.  After that, I think I'll get a much clearer picture of *exactly* where I am, training-wise.  If I can finish that run with minimal catch-my-breath breaks, I'll feel pretty confident that I'll be able to tack on .64 more miles by the following Saturday, especially if I feel like afterwards like I've still got some gas in the tank.  On Tuesday I think I'll stretch it out to 2.75 or 2.8 miles with a final prep run on Thursday of something short like 1.5 miles, which will give my body a break and some rest prior to Saturday morning's race. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday night music - Alice in Chains

"We Die Young" is one of the songs that circulates on my running playlist.  Its got a great crunch! and wailing chorus. 


But of course you cannot mention Alice in Chains without the band's high point and (probably) best-known song, "Man in a Box", which I learned was actually about the evils of veal.  Who knew?


Best run so far of 2012...

Took an extended lunch break today to knock out Week 8, Day 1 run, which consisted of a 5-minute walk, 28-minute run, and a 5-minute cool down.  And, I'm very excited to say, it was the best run so far of my 2012 5K training :)  I'm not sure what contributed to it (perhaps its just that I'm becoming a better/more accomplished runner, perhaps??), but I did do a couple of things to make it a bit more varied today.  Specifically, I programmed a different playlist (see below) as my former one had started to become stale and predictable after several sessions having used it. 

Second, I took a vastly different course, running instead through upper Hillcrest's hills and then down the length of Lookout Drive (until it terminated its easterly direction and went downhill north -- that's where I turned around :)).  This route included a pretty substantial uphill grade on the northern boundary of Mount St. Mary's school on Hillcrest Avenue and then some rolling hills down Lookout.  The inclusion of the hills was purposeful as I want to start making my routes more challenging and more muscle-burning. 

Now for the encouraging part: despite the increased difficulty in grade and length, I actually bested my average per mile time (which includes the ten minutes of walking) from 14:37 to 13:25 per mile!  And even more encouraging, I checked my GPS app at the end of my 28-minute stretch and was clocking a blistering (for me) running pace of 12:53 minutes per mile!  All in all, I covered 2.84 miles in 38 minutes.  That's just .3 miles from a complete 5K.

So, yeah, I feel pretty damn good about myself today.  I was beginning to have doubts if I was going to be able to get to the point where I could actually complete a 5K from start to finish without walking, and while I've still got some work to do over the next 13 days (which should give me at least 4 more sessions), my hope has been restored.

...

As for my playlist, I went with some more varied artists (and songs I have not listened to in a while) to "surprise" me when they turned up as the next song on my run.

Lightning Crashes by Live (warm-up)
Who Made Who by AC/DC
Immigrant Song (Live) by Led Zeppelin
Ice Cold Ice by Husker Du
Mountain Song by Jane's Addiction
You've Got Another Thing Comin' by Judas Priest
In the Middle by Jimmy Eat World
Lick It Up by KISS
Don't Stop Believin' by Journey
Volunteers by Jefferson Airplane (cool-down)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday night music - Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth was my very first foray into "alternative" music (the term actually meant something in 1989).  The band's album Goo is still a personal favorite. 


But of course, their magnum opus was Daydream Nation, which I didn't discover until about a year later. 


Running update for Monday

Well, yesterday I completed a 27-minute stretch of constant running (OK, I did stop for two or three ten-second breaks to catch my breath).  I ran in the neighborhood and even opted to tackle the gradual big hill on Hillcrest Avenue.  My pace is not great but my goal for the Riverfest 5K is to finish, at whatever time.  Tonight I'm going to up it to 28 minutes.  I think I'm still on track to be able to complete the race on May 26.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

American's billion dollar baby scam

Keeping with the theme of Saturday afternoon infographics that I've found on the internets, here's another one close to HillcrestBlogger's heart.  I'm pleased to say that our family has not succumbed to many of the ill-advised aspects of this type of expensive Babynomics, but its always there, lurking behind every purchase :)


Babies Infographic
Source: frugaldad.com

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thursday's running update

Was dead tired yesterday so didn't get a post up but I did take off from work this morning to, among other errands and responsibilities, complete my 5K training run.  Inching closer and closer...covered 2.52 miles in 36 minutes, which was a 5 minute warm-up walk, 26 minute run, and 5 minute cool down.  I was still pretty sore from Tuesday morning's run and stupidly did not eat anything before hitting the path this morning, so I guess that's the reason it felt like a crappy run.  At least the weather was pretty great.  I think I'll wait until Sunday to do my next one, giving myself an extra day of recovery, since I do not have a soccer game that day. 

Anyway, a better post tomorrow as well as some music clips. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Running update

Eighteen days out from the Riverfest Rock n' Stroll 5K and I think I'm on schedule with my training to make a solid go of completing it in its entirety.  Today I took an extra hour at lunch and completed Week Seven, Day One of my couch-to-5K training, which consisted of a 5-minute warm-up walk, a 20-minute run, a 3-minute walk, another 5-minute run, and then a 5-minute cool-down walk.  This covered 2.6 miles in 38 minutes.  And while I was certainly tired and some of my muscles started to tighten up toward the end (mainly my lower back and quads today), my pulse and breathing were still pretty strong.  I think I could have muscled out another 10 minutes of running, which would have put me in the run-close-to-5K range.  But, since this is a regimented training schedule, I didn't want to get ahead of myself and risk injury or a pulled muscle.

My next run will be a 26-minutes-straight run, with 5-minute warm-up/cool-down walks on either end.  I ran in the neighborhood today, but I think I'll go down to the Arkansas River running path to knock that out  Thursday morning.

Oh, and if you are interested in what was on my playlist, here are the songs that I queued up today, in order:

Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More by Mudhoney
You Know You're Right by Nirvana
The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden
Ocean Size by Jane's Addiction
Locomotive by Guns N' Roses
Too Young to Fall In Love by Motley Crue
Color Me Impressed by The Replacements
Turn on the News by Husker Du (cool-down started during this song)
I Wanna Be Sedated by The Ramones

Yep, all metal, hardcore, punk, and early 90's alternative rock.  What, you expected Chris Isaak's Wicked Game or something? ;)

Monday, May 7, 2012

A follow-up post to the one earlier in the evening

A follow-up post to the one earlier in the evening about the cost of law school.  I actually took pen to paper and accessed my personal account ledger to figure out, to the cent, how much I'll have paid toward my law school students loans from the first payment to the last*.

Drum roll...

My $42,000 juris doctor student loan is going to end up costing me $84,249.69.  Yep, almost double.  Ouch.  The five years I didn't pay a dime toward them while they were on forbearance from May 1998 until February 2004 sure came back to haunt me, as those loans' interest rates really did their trick.  Oh well, live and learn.  It would be easy to get angry about the costs of higher education and the cost of my loan in particular, but I did sign on the dotted line and I have no one to blame but myself for going five years without making a payment.  At least my initial loans were reasonable enough to enable me to pay them off in less than ten years (of the first payment).  That, and I was able to enter the legal profession during a period of economic growth and be fully entrenched in the legal community, with experience and connections, by the time the economy went into the toilet in 2008, so I never had to sweat being unemployed.  People nowadays will have neither and come out of law school with a much more onerous student-loan repayment future.  A bleak future, to say the least, if those loans are piggybacking them from now until the End Times.

Oh, one more thing to consider when I talk about the "cost" of my law degree.  Its what the scam-bloggers (AKA those folks who blog about the law school "scam") refer to as "opportunity cost."  Essentially, the missed salary I should compute from 1995 to 1998, when I was in school, not earning a living.  I really have no idea what my 1995 BA in English would have been worth on the open market back then and what type of job I was even qualified for, but I think it reasonable to estimate that an average 1995 college graduate in Arkansas could command $20,000 per year starting out.  Hell, that may be too low.  But its a nice round number.  So, at the risk of throwing my "true cost" accuracy out the window by using arbitrary numbers, let's say that I missed out on salary from June 1995 until October 1998 (when I got my first attorney job).  That's 40 months.  At $20,000 per year, that's a gross of $66,666.00.  Take 20% of the top for taxes and that leaves a post-tax net of $53,332.00.  So, yeah, I could have expected to have $53,000 in my pocket from June 1995 through October 1998.  And, mind you, I graduated college with ZERO debt.  No credit cards, nothing.

So, while it is true that my law degree likely over the long haul of my career will result in a higher earning potential, the sunk costs are staggering.  $53K in lost initial earnings and $84K in loan payments.  $137,000 total outlay for the privilege of calling myself a lawyer.  Staggering.


* Although I have not paid them off entirely, I was able to accurately determine how much my final bill will be.  You'll just have to trust me on the figures.  They should be fully paid off by this time next year :)

The law school scam...

...at least that's what some people on the internet call it.  And, I think they are right.  Basically, the cost of going to law school has gotten so expensive and the job market has so cratered that it literally is an unwise investment of time, energy, and -- most importantly to most people -- MONEY, to take that career route.

Which is sad, really.  My law degree, earned in 1998, has served me well, even though the degree itself likely cost me somewhere around $70,000 to earn (not to mention the three years of salary I did not earn while pursuing my degree).  Still, even with that big fat debtload, I will have paid if off within nine years (my first student loan payment was February of 2004, five and 1/2 years after graduation) and without it totally crippling my lifestyle and budget.  Not so with today's graduates.  Just take a look here to see what it costs nowadays and just imagine what the resulting student loan payments would do to your budget, dear reader.  That is, if you can even find legal work in this crappy market!

I've come to the conclusion that its just not worth the money to go to law school unless 1) you or whoever is footing the bill is independently wealthy or you get a substantial scholarship.  That's it.  That's the only reason. 

Look at the costs of UALR's law school.  You're looking at about $38,000 in tuition alone to go three years toward a JD.  You know what that equals in repayment-of-loan terms?  Well, if you knock them out in ten years, this calculator suggests that it'll run you at least $54,000, with a starting monthly payment of $455/month.  Again, this is TUITION ALONE.  That means living at home with the parents and eating their food and not needing to take out any additional loan for rent, utilities, groceries, beer money, etc.  If you need to take out another $8,000 in living expenses ($500/month rent over 12 months is $6,000 by itself, remember), you're looking at the cost of a JD at UALR rising to $94,000 to be paid out over ten years at $783/month.  That's almost $10,000/year in student loan repayments, right out of the gate and every year for ten years.

You still think its worth it?  Let's say a recent UALR grad does well for herself and gets a deputy prosecuting attorney gig here in Pulaski County, and say that she starts out at $40,000/year, which I'd guesstimate is about right for a brand-new lawyer.  Well, take 25% of the top for taxes and then the requisite $10,000 in student loan payments a year and all of a sudden she's got to spread $20,000 over the next 12 months, which is $1,666.00 a month, which is ALL she has left per month -- rent/mortgage, utilities, food, clothing, car payment, gasoline, shoes, beer money, credit card payments, whatever.  Its not exactly poverty level, but for a person with a juris doctor degree, its dangerously close, especially if you are supporting a spouse or a family.

If you are taking loans out to go to law school nowadays, you are a fool.  That is sad, but it is the truth. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Beef 101

Here's another infographic that I thought was worth sharing, especially considering that my own diet is so protein-heavy:


Beef Infographic
Source: FrugalDad

Friday, May 4, 2012

RIP Adam Yauch

The fact that 1/3 of the Beastie Boys is now deceased makes me feel very old and very sad.

Rock on, MCA.


Should I even *think* about a THIRD most anticipated movie of the summer?

Let's defy the odds and all conventional wisdom here and -- just bear with me -- assume that I've got Prometheus and Safety Not Guaranteed in the 'ol seen-it movie bank already this summer and the genie in the bottle has granted me a third wish to see yet ANOTHER movie this summer.  I know, far fetched, right?  Well, if lightning were in fact striking for the third time in the same place, I'd see this one, called Looper.  It looks freaking awesome.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Favorite vidoes of the '80's, part III

I owned the cassette for Seven and the Ragged Tiger and listened to it nonstop on my walkman one summer when my family drove down to Disneyworld in, I believe, 1984.  My favorite song on the album at the time was "The Seventh Stranger," but there is no video for that.  But there was one for "The Reflex" and it was awesome.


Oh, what the hell, here's a clip of "The Seventh Stranger" live from 1984:


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Homework

Dear readers, you might have wondered why, of all the widgets I could have put on this page, I have three gasoline-price trackers.  Well, the truth is, peak oil is one of my very favorite topics to think and/or write about (although I have not written on the subject in some time), so I like to track the price of oil on its inevitable, ruinous, and irreversible climb upward.  Now, you may be asking yourself, "why should I care about this in the least (aside from the obvious drain on my checking account)?" 

That's where the "homework" referenced in the blog post's header comes in.  Instead of me explaining it to you, why don't I let YouTube do the work for me? 

Watch these movies/clips and all will be revealed...





The foregoing is just ONE of the infinite reasons why Hillcrest is the best neighborhood in Little Rock.  Walkable, mixed-use, close to the city center, close to the Arkansas River, dense housing.  Would you rather weather the Peak Oil Storm in Hillcrest or in Maumelle?  Or Cabot?  Or Bryant?  Or West Little Rock? 

Quote of the Day

"You don't really have a [brown] recluse problem here [Hillcrest] or fire ants, really.  All the things that bite and sting are out in West Little Rock."

-- Tammy, the best Terminix person in the state, explaining to yours truly about the general lack of spider problems in the neighborhood.  It is unknown whether or not she was aware of the spot-on double entendre of her statement :)

Favorite videos of the 80's, part 2

Because of the dwarf, naturally.

Actually, I had always heard that "The Safety Dance" was about anti-nuclear weapons proliferation, which I thought was puzzling unless it was part of a bomb-you-back-to-midieval-times conceit.  Turns out my puzzlement was well-placed, if you believe the song's entry on Wikipedia:

The writer/performer, Ivan Doroschuk, has explained that "The Safety Dance" is a protest against bouncers stopping dancers pogoing to 1980s New Wave music in clubs when disco was dying and New Wave was up and coming. New Wave dancing, especially pogoing, was different from disco dancing, because it was done individually instead of with partners and involved holding the torso rigid and thrashing about. To uninformed bystanders this could look dangerous, especially if pogoers accidentally bounced into one another (the more deliberately violent evolution of pogoing is slam dancing). The bouncers did not like pogoing so they would tell pogoers to stop or be kicked out of the club. Thus, the song is a protest and a call for freedom of expression. Other lyrics in the song include references to the way pogoing looked to bouncers, especially "And you can act real rude and totally removed/And I can act like an imbecile".

Doroschuk disagrees with two common interpretations of the song. Firstly, he notes it is not a call for safe sex. Doroschuk says that is reading too much into the lyrics. Secondly, he explained that it is not an anti-nuclear protest despite the nuclear imagery at the end of the video. Doroschuk says that he considers Men Without Hats "a punk band with one hit song" and that as such they were "anti-everything".
So there you go.  Anyway, bring on the midieval dwarf!



The case against airlines

If you believe Christopher Steiner, air travel is going to eventually become even more and more expensive even as the numbers of carriers dwindles under the sheer weight of their unsustainable business models.  This, thanks to the theory known as peak oil and the inevitable rise in fuel and gasoline costs.  But check out this infographic and note that we're still in the very early stages of the fallout from peak oil.


flight
Source: http://frugaldad.com

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My favorite music videos of the 80's, part 1

80's nostalgia has been overdone by just about every pop-culture media outlet since the decade ended over twenty years ago.  But not on HillcrestBlog!  So here you go, just because :)

My first exposure to MTV was when I visited my grandparents house in Oklahoma City back in 1983 and there was this *new* cable TeeVee channel that played music videos that we didn't have in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  I'm not sure if "Photograph" was the very first video I saw, but if it wasn't, I *know* I saw it that first night I watched the channel.  Awesome then, awesome now.


SECOND most anticipated movie of this summer

...behind Prometheus, of course.  I figure that out of the three-month summer movie season, I can safely say that all the stars will align with a babysitter, and willing spouse, to see Prometheus.  A second summer movie outing is less than guaranteed (much like safety...in this movie, apparently).  But if it did occur -- ie babysitter, the movie playing at the right time, in the right theater, and all that -- I would want to see this movie. 


Monday, April 30, 2012

The incredible soccer booze ban

Today Manchester City is hosting Manchester United in the English Premier League.  For the uninitiated, that's soccer.  Basically, the title likely hinges upon who wins this match between these two cross-town rivals.  It is a HUGE game, not only in England, but in all of worldwide professional soccer (I think I heard 650 million people will be watching).  But nowhere is it bigger than in the city of Manchester.  How big, you ask?

The city of Manchester is banning alcohol sales prior to the match

Can you imagine a Razorback game so freaking HUGE that the city of Little Rock would ban alcohol sales or consumption at the War Memorial Stadium golf course?  That's a scenario I simply cannot fathom.

And, on top of that, I was in Germany with my wife at the 2006 World Cup and partied with some English in Cologne.  Booze and English football go hand-in-glove.  I remember seeing media reports that the cities where the English were playing in were very literally running out of beer.  Like, the taps and kegs were running dry and the German tourism industry was kinda freaking out because they wanted to make sure there was enough beer for everyone else -- including themselves.  So, I guess my point is, the fact that Manchester has banned alcohol sales prior to the match is pretty freaking remarkable.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

We're all unhealthy fatties now

Myself included, although after topping out at 272 pounds last June 20, I'm down to 244.6 as of this morning. I think with newly dedicating myself to diet and exercise recently that I can get down to 230 by June of this year, which I think would be quite the accomplishment, but still only halfway to what I need to lose from my June 20, 2011, total.

diet
Source: frugaldad.com

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The case for beer

I saw this on another site and it fit so well with the ethos of HillcrestBlog that I had to report it here :)

Beer Infographic
Source: FrugalDad.com

Saturday music videos - Mother Love Bone

I guess we'll just consider this a Grunge Week, why don't we, capping it off with what might be the most influential band of the scene, Mother Love Bone, which was apparently poised to make the big time before the singer, Andrew Wood's, unfortunate death at the hands of heroin (which was likewise unfortunately to be repeated a couple of more times to some well-known tragic figures in the Seattle music scene).  From the ashes of MLB of course sprang Pearl Jam and the one-off, primarily Chris Cornell solo record Temple of the Dog

It is interesting to think what would have happened had Wood not died and if Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament had not made contact with San Diego surfer Edward Vedder, because MLB had some chops and Wood certainly knew how to control a stage.  That being said, we still have this to look back on and enjoy...




Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday music featuring Green River

Keeping with the Grunge theme...

Green River was one of those bands who's influence on the nascent grunge scene likely has to do more with the band's eventual spawn (Mudhoney, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam) than the band's output itself, which is saying a lot about the bands that were to come because Green River held their own with some quality output.  Hear for yourself (disclaimer - YouTube doesn't have any old live clips, so these are unfortunately reunion shows):



Most anticipated movie of the summer

Last summer, it was Moneyball.  2012?

Hands down, considering the fervor in which Aliens is my favorite movie of ALL-TIME!!...


 ...how could it be anything but Prometheus?


My hated student loans

I was fortunate enough to have parents who footed the bill for me to complete my undergraduate degree at the University of Arkansas.  At the time, I had no comprehension what kind of a gift that truly was, to escape with a BA degree in English with zero debt.  That was in May of 1995.  The rip-roaring 90's, when everyone was making boatloads of money and when the Most Important Happening in the World was OJ Simpson.  Why not go to law school, I told myself?

Fast forward to May of 1998.  Twenty-five years old, Juris Doctor degree in hand, pretty significant credit card debt ($10,000??)  and somewhere in the neighborhood of $42,000 in nondischargable student loan debt that, unbeknownst to me, should really be paid back sooner rather than later.  But hey, Clinton was still in office and the tech bubble hadn't burst -- things were still awesomely looking up!  I would be a full-fledged lawyer soon and lawyers made great money with terrific career!

Fast forward to today.  I still am a lawyer and in fact do have a terrific career, although the magnificent riches I imagined as a wide-eyed law school grad never quite materialized.  But I am supremely happy, with a wonderful wife and two fantastic kiddos, a nice, old house in the Greatest Neighborhood in Little Rock.  I even overcame my youthful, idiotic credit card spending frenzy as well as the poor economic and financial choices I made circa 1998-2003 (fun times to be sure, but completely irresponsible!).  My credit card balance now reaches into only the very low hundreds (currently around $250) on the worst days, and I actually have retirement savings and a Roth IRA and all that.

But man, those f*cking student loans.

Thirteen years after walking across that stage at the Walton Arts Center to grab my JD diploma from the meaty hand of Dean Strickland, I still owe just slightly more than $19,000 in student loans.  And while I'm on track to pay these off within the next twelve months due to my wife's and my decision to put everything else on the backburner to aggressively knock them out before next spring (which is only possible after previously knocking out all our other existing debt), it makes me sick to my stomach that I very likely will end up spending close to $70,000 to pay off the original $42,000 note. 

Granted, this is completely my fault given my spendthrift ways when I was a young, single man about town (again, circa 1998-2003 :)), running up consumer debt and not fully addressing -- or, really, appreciating -- the student loan debt that was piling up while I deferred payments for five years while I survived on a salary that started out at $25K/year in 1998 and was only at $43K/year in 2003.  But even while fully culpable for my own foibles, the fact that I could not discharge them in bankruptcy even if I wanted to, allowing them to follow you around well, forever...well, it just infuriates me.  And this doesn't even address what the costs of college and the rules regarding student loans are doing to this generation.  THAT is a crime. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The HillcrestBlog Novel Project

As promised, here's the link to the All-TIME 100 novels (since 1923), all of which I intend to read over the next three years.

That is, if I have not read them already.  Here are the ones that I already have in the plus column:

American Pastoral
Are You There, God?  It's Me, Margaret (yes, this was actually on the list)
Animal Farm
Blood Meridian
The Catcher in the Rye
The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Gatsby
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Lolita
Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Rings
1984
On the Road
Portnoy's Complaint
Slaughterhouse Five
To Kill a Mockingbird
Watchmen (yes, this graphic novel is also on the list)

Seventeen novels in already.  Not too bad, I guess.  Oh, and for those of you (like me) who looked at the list and were, like, ummm...where exactly is One Hundred Years of Solitude or Ulysses?...here's the explanation for those novels' exclusion: 
The parameters: English language novels published anywhere in the world since 1923, the year that TIME Magazine began...
OK.  Fair enough.  One Hundred Years... was written in Spanish and Ulysses was written in 1922.  Problem solved!

One more cursory glance at the novels reveals that there are going to be some doozies:  Infinite JestGravity's Rainbow (tried and failed at least four times to get through that one).  Is three years going to be enough time?

Thursday night music - More from the Grunge Era: Screaming Trees

As I wrote yesterday about recently reading Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge, there was a lot of good music that came out of the scene that maybe didn't get the exposure that was afforded the Big Four (if you have to ask who the Big Four...I guess maybe Big Five, if you're feeling generous, go read yesterday's post).  Screaming Trees was one of those bands.  Sure, they had that Big Hit Single from the Singles movie, but there was a lot more to offer from Mark Lanegan and the boys.

First, the Big Hit Single:

And more...



The daily schedule

I saw this graph on one of the internets today and felt the need to repost it here:


I'm not sure how your daily schedule breaks down, dear reader, but I know that in the HillcrestBlogger household, we would kill for this breakdown. Maybe when our kids get into preschool range... ;)

My favorite show on the TeeVee

Really, this is just an excuse to post a video clip from Game of Thrones ;)


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Overstating it a bit

It is one of the modern tenets of HillcrestBlog to refrain from politics for a variety of reasons.  This is not to say that I do not have political opinions; to the contrary, I am very opinionated.  But that's not the direction I want this blog to take.  If you want some good political bloggage, trust me, its out there, whatever your politics. That being said, I want to shortly discuss something that the current Speaker of the House of Representatives said yesterday in order to make a broader point. 

Specifically, John Boehner of Ohio said this, in relation to the possibility that Barack Obama may be reelected to the Presidency this November:


The president’s economic policies have failed. I would argue they actually have made things worse. And as a result, the president has turned to the politics of envy and division...
America can’t live for four more years with Barack Obama as president. His policies will turn America in a direction that we may never recover from...
It’s sending America down a path that will look a lot like what we see in Europe: A big social welfare state, high unemployment, slow economic growth and a government that is overly large.
If you have a government that can give you everything that you want, you have a government that can take everything that you have.
I excerpted the entire passage from this FOX News interview to give the quote some context, but the specific sentence I'm focusing on I've highlighted in bold print.

"That we may never recover from." 

Seriously?  I mean, does he really mean that? 

Not to get too bogged down in historical analysis, but this nation has recovered from some very trying times.  There's the whole dissolution of the Union thing, a couple of World Wars, a Great Depression, several Presidential assassinations, September 11, 2001 -- you know, really big freaking happenings that tore the fabric of our nation.  But after each one, the nation recovered and moved forward. 

Now, you might be of a mind that President Obama's economic policies are indeed quite destructive.  That is your opinion and you are absolutely entitled to it.  But does Speaker Boehner really believe the fallout from those economic policies would be worse than the Great Depression, where unemployment increased 607% from 1929 to 1932?  Or any worse than the United State's own death toll from World War Two -- 400,000 citizens?  Or the Civil War -- 620,000 military deaths?

I guess what bugs me the most is this use of extreme hyperbole in what should be real-world discussions about real-world issues.  Statements like Boehner's only serve to inflame and exaggerate for the benefit of one's own opinion to the point where you cannot even take it seriously.  And a Presidential Election should be taken seriously, especially when it is being commented on by the person third in the line of succession to the Presidency itself.  If Boehner had said something like "economic policies that will take us several years to recover from," well, OK.  Hell, even if he said "a generation," I would be OK with that.  Whether or not you believe that or not, at least that statement has some real-world tether, because although the United States did in fact emerge from the Great Depression, it did take several years, indeed over a decade. 

Ultimately, the United States is a strong, strong nation -- so strong that any one President's economic policies are not going to doom it, much less forever.  The nation has resisted schism and conquered foes and met challenges far greater than the ones Speaker Boehner portends would be so terrible from our current President.  I just think that, given his position in the government and the fact that he has to know that his statement is demonstrably false, that his comments should reflect that and should avoid the sky-is-falling rhetoric that seems so pervasive during the election season.

And Democrats, if one of you says something similarly over-the-top, shame on you as well.

The 20th Century Canon

A couple of years ago, Time magazine listed its 100 best books of the 20th Century (or, at least since 1923 I think it was -- the year Time first started publishing). I've decided to take each book down, one by one. I'm already well into the teens I think, which I'll post more specifically in a later blog post, but to kickstart this project, I went and checked out the following from the library yesterday:

Light in August by Faulkner
Tropic of Cancer by Miller
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway

I hope to complete the list in three years.

Wednesday night music - Mudhoney

I recently read a book called Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge, which, aside from being very long (500+ pages...for an oral history!), also helped me take a closer look at some of the bands of that scene and that era that for whatever reason evaded the huge spotlight that eventually shone on Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and...ahem...Candlebox.

Mudhoney was one of those bands.  Of course I was familiar with them on the surface, as they had some minor success, but nothing compared to what their contemporaries believed they should have had.  The following songs are evidence that I agree...



See your goal

For the next month, it is finishing this:


Yes, a 5K. 

This overweight almost-39 year old is all-in.  I've paid my money and I'm signed up.  I've been training using what is cutely (and accurately) called a couch-to-5K program and I'm up to week 4, day 2, which involves sixteen minutes of running intermittent with five minutes of walking (bookended by two five-minute warmup/cooldown walks).  By my very loose math and given that I ran about a 12-minute mile last week, I'm up to running 1 and 1/3 miles in about twenty minutes.

Can I triple that number in a month?  The 5K is in slightly more than one month (32 days).  Well, I'm going to give it my best shot. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Here's some Tuesday music for you - Bon Iver

Just recently I discovered Bon Iver, a band (well, a guy named Justin Vernon with his supporting musicians) that has been around for several years and two albums.  Also, too, a Grammy win for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album in 2012.  Well deserved.

These songs are off that same Grammy winner, the self-titled Bon Iver.  Not exactly your hard rockin' stuff, but fantastic nonetheless.  Like a little Shins crossed with Sigur Rós, if you ask me. 







Thoughts on the new Razorback coach

The uniquely named John Smith, new head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.


Good hire, I guess?  Really, when push comes to shove, I suppose I really don't care about who heads the team with the same kind of gusto several of my good friends and family do (also, the chuckleheads and callers on local sports talk radio...thank you, I'll hang up and listen).  There was a time that this was decidedly not the case, where I very much cared about the Head Hog and our sports teams' records and how much respect! we were getting at the national level.  But in recent years, that interest has ceded to the more enjoyable and relaxing position of supporting the teams on game day, hoisting a cold beer when they score a touchdown or sink a three-pointer, but being able to sleep soundly after a win or a loss -- especially after a loss -- and not letting the result affect me one way or the other for the rest of the week, season, or year.

I'm not sure when the change came, whether it is the effect of simply getting older and further and further away from the relative ages of the players themselves (making college sports look in my eyes like more and more of a game that kids play -- Big Business, sure, but still a game), or whether having children just makes everything else so tangential and inconsequential, or for some other reason.  I do know that when I canceled my subscription to the Democrat-Gazette and stopped reading daily dispatches from the practice fields and (thank goodness) Wally Hall's perfectly and pointedly stupid daily Hog Yes-Man/Apologist sports-page column, my compulsive interest almost immediately waned.  Likewise, tuning out sports talk radio was a godsend for disconnecting myself from the rabidity displayed by the overwhelming majority of Hogoholics.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I was well attuned to the circumstances and almost-daily breaking news of Bob Petrino's shocking downfall, as well as the who's-it-gonna be drama surrounding the search for his successor.  I exchanged bits of news I came across with several good friends and enjoyed the speculation and internet rumor-mongering.  How could I not?!  It was an Arkansas Soap Opera of the highest order!  Even the relatively disengaged such as myself could not help but be drawn into the fray of discussion.  But now that the music's over and John L. Smith Has Signed a Ten-Month Contract Only (trademarked phrase), I have no real feelings about it one way or the other.  It could have been him or Jon Gruden or Garrick McGehee or Bud Foster or Bill Freaking Belechick.  Doesn't really matter - I just want the team to do well and play an enjoyable (from my perspective) style of football.

And Hell Yeah I'm excited about the prospects of the team this year, with Tyler Wilson! and Knile Davis! going for the Heisman! and BAMA AND LSU AT HOME! and all that, but I'm perfectly happy not worrying or thinking about it one whit until, oh, I don't know, August the 10th or something like that?  Two weeks prior to the season sounds about right.  It'll be lots of fun for those four months.  But to everything there is a (football) season, and my fan-sense is perfectly happy with enjoying those twelve Saturday afternoons in the fall and leaving it at that.

So, go Hogs and Woo Piggie!  Now, I'll redirect my attention to almost anything else.  Let me know when the first game is.

Six months

That's how long this blog has been dormant.  Almost to the day.  How do I know this?  Well, today I took my son in for his six-month checkup and my last post was the day he was born last October.  Not exactly High Math, that.

During this last six months I've often thought about posting something to the blog but, for whatever reason, just either didn't get around to doing it or got sidetracked by something else (if you have ever lived in 1,350 square feet of house with a wife, a two year old and a newborn, you know this is a very easy thing to have happen to you!).  Or maybe the post I thought about writing was interesting but just not *that interesting* to the point where I felt the urge to get the laptop, try to remember my password, and then opine on it.  The moment by then would surely have passed, I'd tell myself.  Or there are any other number of reasons...but probably just one main one: inertia.  Because the further you get from regularly blogging the harder it gets to return to the fold, exponentially.  It literally requires sitting down and just freaking *making* yourself write something.  And once you do...the blockage has been removed and you remember just how painless it is -- indeed, enjoyable even! :) -- to throw something up on your blog.  Which is what I am experiencing literally while I write this sentence.

And then you think of a hundred things to write about.  And you cannot wait to get started.

See, self?  That was easy.  Welcome back, HillcrestBlogger.