Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cooking Day Oct. 2010

The family got together this past weekend for a long over-due cooking day. I was at my sister's house from about 8:30am until 10:30pm with only the briefest of breaks through-out the day. We ended up with enough food for 92 meals -- definitely the most we've made in one day before. I'm still trying to recover, so it will be a long time before we go at it again.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Burning Man 2010

The trip has been over for four and half days now and I finally found the time to go through the photographs. I tried to add captions and comments to the web album, so I hope you can make sense of these images. Burning Man just can't be described. Even though a picture is worth 1,000 words, these pictures don't do the event justice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

KantCon was awesome!

It's hard to recapture all the cool things that happened at KantCon over the weekend. Basically, I went in to this both hopeful and nervous, and I came out exuberant and exhausted. I am really excited about the prospects for next year and I hope I can be just a little more involved and helpful. While I was there, I kept forgetting that I had a camera with me. Even when I did remember it was there, I would pick it up only rarely, so I have very few photos to share. They don't do the experience justice.

For all of you who ignored my spams about this event, I feel sorry for you. You missed out on some serious fun. Maybe next year you will heed my pleas.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Pool Party

So Sandra and Eric finally held a big pool party at their new house over the holiday weekend. Luckily, Jason and Amy were able to come up and attend, so Savannah was there too. I haven't had time to add captions and create an interesting post with description or anything yet, so here are just the raw photos.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


I never really considered myself indecisive, but I have to admit that this whole job situation has really been challenging me. At this point, I do believe that it will be better for me in the long run to go ahead with the new position. Now it is just a matter of timing. How long can I squeeze out some extra money from the old place until I jump ship? Is there even an amount of money that is worth it? These are the questions I ponder while my stomach roils from all the stress.

Change is hard.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I finally have a few minutes to breathe, so I thought I should explain the latest regarding my job situation. Let me start at the beginning. I have stayed at my current job for primarily four reasons (in order of importance): 1) the people, 2) the work, 3) the benefits, and 4) the location. Starting with reason number three, things have been deteriorating. The economic crises has hit the financial industry pretty hard, and my company particularly so. Our benefits have steadily declined and without any raise or bonus for more than a year, this means my salary has effectively decreased as well. So that is one less reason to stay.

Obviously, since I rank people as the most important reason to stay at my job, you can tell how much I value working with a team that I can respect and get along with. As the state of our company became more and more precarious, at first many people were let go and now many are leaving on their own. Over the last four and half years I have had the privilege for working under the best manager I've yet known. Once my boss decided to leave, I knew that things were going to get worse for me. This has all but eliminated another reason to stay. (There are still a few coworkers around that I really like.)

The hammer finally came when the powers that be decided I needed a promotion. So now even reason number two is in jeopardy as I’m forced to be doing a job that I didn’t want and don’t enjoy. Basically, they promoted me along with a few other coworkers so we could take over the work that my manager and one other manager used to be doing. They didn’t ask any of us if we wanted the position or the responsibility. I’ve never made any noises about going into management. I had pretty much assumed I would not enjoy that type of work, and now I know for sure.

The pressure is pretty tough. The responsibility is heavy. The raise (that came with the promotion) is not enough to compensate. Thus, I am updating my resume and reestablishing contact with some references. In the meantime, I hope my friends can be understanding if I’m more frazzled, forgetful and edgy lately.

Monday, May 31, 2010


Well, I got a chance to go meet my new niece briefly this weekend. She kept our hands so busy, we didn't get to take as many pictures as I would have liked. But I have uploaded a few.

Jason promises to have many more online soon. However, I don't think that's going to happen until he gets a full nights sleep in a few months. ;)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

And the big news is...

I'm an aunt!

Please welcome Savannah Joy Ayers to the family. Here she is with my proud baby brother.

More details to come

Monday, May 17, 2010

Struggling to find the words

Things have been quiet on my blog for awhile. This is partly because nothing really exciting has happened lately. (Although I hope to have some big news tomorrow; cross your fingers.) But it is also partly because I am still dealing with the death of Kendall.

I have been struggling with this voice in my head that keeps telling me enough time has passed and I should get on with life already. Well, yes, of course I am getting on with life. But my heart keeps yearning for that part of life that included Kendall, and I hate feeling that big hole left behind. I don't really know what the protocol is for this kind of scenario. I don't want to burden my other friends with what seems like a weakness on my part, but I also am too stubborn to just let go. How often is it appropriate to mention his name? What etiquette should be used to refer to his death? Should I force down my tears? Do I force myself to laugh more?

I don't believe there are any right or wrong answers. Really, it's about finding that balance that is right for me and my circle of friends and family. So this is my open letter to all of you -- I'm still grappling with these questions so if you have a suggestion/preference/comments/anything -- please let me know what you think.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Stop and smell the flowers

Well, it's been awhile since I've posted an update. Mostly it's because I was waiting for life to return to "normal". I think enough time has passed that I'm finally realizing I'm already in a NEW normal. I am certainly not as sad anymore; at least most of the time. Something will pop up every now and then that brings tears to my eyes, but I've come to appreciate those as precious reminders. I still miss my friend Kendall, but at least I know that he will always be a part of my life.

There have been at least three good things that I can specifically point to as direct outcomes of this painful experience. The first thing is that a friend of a friend was considering a similar end, but because of things we've been posting and saying about Kendall, this person was rescued. I don't even know who this person is or the details around the situation, but if even one life can be saved, then that gives me hope for a brighter tomorrow. I can only dream that more people read these posts and find ways to reach out to others around them -- be it to ask for help or to offer help. Strengthening the bonds between us is a lofty goal in and of itself and I'm glad to be even a small part of that.

Another good thing that I have taken away from this experience is a vivid reminder of how blessed I am. I have one of the greatest families on earth and a bunch of really awesome friends. I am still receiving messages and words of encouragement, even when I least expect it. This has strengthened me so much lately and helped me face this ordeal in ways I couldn't have foreseen. I know I wouldn't be the person I am today without this network of love and support behind me, but it is nice to actually feel those bonds so distinctly from time to time.

And finally, as a result of this gloomy ordeal, I have changed some priorities in my life. My friends and family have always been important to me before, but now I have a big urge to give back. When I think about helping and interacting with people, instead of a weighty feeling of responsibility, there is now a sense of joy. I want to keep spreading this closeness and hopefully continue sharing the warmth and love that has been given to me lately. And just as those occasional bouts of tears help me to remember my friend Kendall, I hope they also continue to remind me of all the great friends and family that I have.

Thank you, Kendall, for all the fond memories and all good things you've brought into my life now. I still wish you could have stayed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Life marches on

The emotional carousel is starting to slow down. I do still have flare-ups from time to time, but they are farther apart now and less severe. Yet there is a part of me that doesn't want things to go back to 'normal'. Just like when my grandfather died, there this intensity about life now -- the relative importance of things is in sharp focus for the moment and I don't want to lose that. I don't want to go back to a daily existence where everything blurs and people keep their distance. I haven't really figured out how to maintain that focus or what I should do about it, but I'm hoping I can make it a new 30 day challenge of some sort.

So this is like a warning, or notice to all my friends -- I may be asking to spend more time with you soon.

On a completely unrelated note, I have started taking Tai Chi classes. When I signed up, I thought we would be taught the moves that I've seen groups of people doing together as a sort of exercise. I have since come to learn that Tai Chi also includes a lot of meditation and relaxation exercises that have been somewhat helpful to me in my grief. I am glad that I have this respite to look forward to each Saturday morning.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Still recovering

Well, each day has been a little bit better in some ways; and also worse at some points. Although I have experienced death before, and truly did feel grief for my grandparents, this is the first time that someone I saw on a regular basis has perished. This time, I feel like I'm on a merry-go-round with the stages of grief: As soon as I think I'm finally at 'acceptance', something pops up and I'm back to denial. He can't really be gone!

Yesterday I met his mother and brother for the first time. It was both frustrating and somewhat of a relief that they were asking all of the same questions we have been. Were there any signs? Did he say anything to you? Did anything unusual happen recently? It is such a shame that no one knew Kendall well enough to have insight into his state of mind recently. But at least we are all on the same page in our bereavement, and as selfish as it may sound, it reassures me that there most likely wasn't anything I could have done to help.

Yesterday I also looked for pictures of Kendall. I didn't think I had any, but Justin reminded me that he was at Thanksgiving with my family many times and I often take photos at family gatherings. Sure enough, there he was -- just fourth months ago, hanging out and playing games with us. So the carousel swooped around to depression with that image.

Now I'm just trying to hold it together, waiting for this emotional merry-go-round to stop spinning. Hopefully, when things finally come to a stand-still I can think about my friend without hurting so bad and manage to find a way to remember him in happiness.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In memory

I have received so many words of comfort from family, friends and even coworkers these past two days, that I can't help but to feel better. The biggest thing is that they have helped me to move beyond regrets. Yes there may have been things that I could have done or said, but this was Kendall's decision that only he could understand. Now I'm just to the point where I miss my friend. Kendall taught me to appreciate haiku, so in his honor, I attempted a few stanzas:

geek book collector
Samurai at heart
complex card player

caffeine veined coder
strictly lawful alignment
unique strategist

wry and dark humor
gamer and story teller
beret wearing friend

Friday, March 12, 2010


Another person that I cared about has passed away. This time it wasn't family. It was a friend that I thought I knew pretty well. A friend that has been struggling to find a job for awhile. A friend that evidently didn't see any more hope or reason for living. A friend that I now wish I could have done more for.

This kind of pain is awkward. I am struggling to get my head around it. How can I begin to accept his death when I don't understand why he would take his own life? How do I begin to move on when I keep thinking that I could have shown more appreciation; I could have called more; I could have done SOMETHING that might have made a difference.

One thing is for sure -- I want to try and be a more direct person. Justin is right: when I see a person in need, or in pain, I usually beat around the bush and timidly proffer help. I act standoff-ish in my self-righteous attempt to protect privacy. Well screw that. I care about my friends and I don't want anyone else thinking that there isn't a better answer. I will go to the ends of the earth to help find a better answer.

Kendall: I am so sorry that I couldn't be there for you. I am so sorry that you felt the game was over. You provided some great games for the rest of us. I only hope that you've moved on to a better game. I hope you can find some peace and happiness finally. I'll miss you.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It only comes every 4 years

Well, if you count both summer and winter, it's really every two years. I guess you know that I am talking about the Olympics. I am one of those Olympic junkies. I love watching them. If I had more time, I would watch just about every event. I even love to watch a lot of those background stories -- hearing about the grueling training or whatever obstacle the athlete has had to overcome to make it this far. It's just one of those quirks that I don't apologize for.

Anyway, since I didn't really look ahead on the calendar and pay attention to when the Olympics were versus when I would be working on my next 30 day challenge, things have kind of fallen completely off track. Considering how many hours the Olympics are actually broadcast during each day and how much time I have to watch them each night, it's been difficult to keep up. As it stands, I am usually a day behind -- so be careful when you talk to me, because I don't want to know who won gold yet!

Life should return to normal next week, so I will once again resume some creativity tasks. This particular challenge has had the most interruptions so far, but it has still been rewarding. I have learned a lot about how to formulate a 30 day challenge that works best for me, and I'll be tweaking things in the future accordingly. I'll explain more details about that in an upcoming post.

In the meantime, I'm just enjoying the thrill of victory (yay Evan!) and the agony of defeat (sorry team Canada).

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The missing week

So I am finally sitting down to write an update about my Creativity challenge. This is exactly one week later than I planned to be writing this update. The reason for the delay is nothing more than yet another example of my human frailty -- I got sick again. This time it was just a cold. Well, a cold that felt like a ton of bricks inside my sinuses, like dragging by body around under water, like trying to think with only 3 hours sleep -- that kind of cold. Anyway, while I was 'under the weather', I tried to continue my creativity schedule, but things kind of got jumbled up. I mean, that whole week is kind of blur in my memory already.

Excuses aside, I am back on track. I have done some sewing -- mostly going through my stack of 'to do': the missing-button, the needs-to-be-hemmed, the patch-a-hole, etc. I also got some reading done and of course, when you're sick, what else are you going to do except sit and watch a bunch of TV and movies? But tonight I am writing. Not only this (pretty worthless) update, but I also wrote a letter to a relative and updated our gaming website. Maybe not the most exciting stuff, but this is just a start.

Painting and/or drawing is on the schedule for tomorrow. Maybe I'll post a picture of it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

On the nature of family

After attending my grandad's funeral this week, I came home and have been pondering several contrasting feelings since then. First, there is this sense of a return to normalcy. Coming home and seeing that the familiar things are still the same -- the world continues to move along just as before. Yet, there was a change -- at least inside me -- and so things are not quite the same as before. It's like a strange veil has been pulled down over everything I see. I know things are basically the same, but my interpretation is different. I again remember what is truly important in life. I now have a buffer that softens the impact of problems at work. It's just work after all. I still have my friends, family, and health.

Second, I got the opportunity to visit with some family I haven't seen in a long, long time. Sometimes it seems weird to be with these people you don't really know, trying to hold a conversation; "How've you been?"; "Watcha up to lately?"; etc. Yet, at the same time, you can sit with these people and there is this unspoken understanding; this shared experience that bonds and brings you together. We might not know each other very well, but yet we can come to a place and a time and hug each other closely and know that we get it.

It's that kind of relationship I want to make sure I have with all my close friends. I treat most of them like family already. Yet often I defer to some strange societal preference for privacy and distance. As if the people I choose to hang out with should be treated like customers or professional contacts. Well, I hope to change that. It will be a focus for me in my next 30 day challenge.

Which reminds me, creativity is still in the works. Day 1 kicks off today!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Unexpected

No matter how much you organize and plan, life will still throw you curveballs. I received two this week that has continued to delay my creativity plan. The first curve came with the flu; fever and all. This also has put a pause on my daily exercise routine. But I know that I will get back into the grove and am not worried about that.

The second surprise is that my grandad passed away this weekend. Well, I have to be honest, it wasn't a complete and total surprise. About a week ago, the doctor said to bring all the family home; it was just a matter of time. So as I am trying to recover from a stomach bug, I had to wake up at 3:30am to get to the airport for a 6:00am flight out to be with my relatives in time for the funeral.

This is my paternal grandfather; my dad's dad. I just wanted to take a minute and write a few thoughts -- memories, more or less -- about him. He's the only relative who tried to teach me to fish. He instilled that sense of calm -- waiting on nature to bite -- in everything he did. His golden retriever, Buddy, was the only dog I ever really liked. His skill and love for cards has been inherited by his son, who has tried to pass it on to the rest of us. Playing pinochle with my grandad is one of the family traditions I will always cherish. But what I think I loved most was his laugh -- a sudden burst of joy that would ripple throughout those around him.

We love you Grandaddy; and miss you dearly.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bumpy again

Well, the creativity challenge has had a very rocky start. I knew this week was going to be rough because of the craziness going on at work, but I wanted to see how well I could handle it all. The evidence lies in the two ruined dice bags now laying the trash can –- I tried to do some sewing but my brain was so fried, that I kept forgetting important steps and wound up with scraps.

So, in the end, I am not going to give myself a true ‘day 1’ credit until hopefully tomorrow. As usual with these small set-backs, I will not let myself give up. I have still been trying to do what I can (which is mostly watching TV shows and listening to audio books) until I can really put the full plan into action. Things are starting to finally settle down at the office, so I am hoping that I can follow through with my roleplaying plans for tomorrow.

Cross your fingers

Friday, January 15, 2010

Challenge: creativity

Well it's past time for me to put my next challenge into action. I've been taking a little longer than usual because this plan is kind of complicated. When I asked for some feedback on which item to work on next, I only got two responses. They were both for creativity.

As it so happens, creativity was one that I threw into the list on a whim. Oh, it's definitely something I wanted to improve at some point, but I hadn't really expected it come up so soon. Yet I did include it in the list, so I might as well follow through now rather than later. Besides, this gives me a chance to work on something fun for a change.

At least, I think this will be fun. I have been discovering that it will be a lot of work too. Coming up with a plan to be creative a little bit every day for 30 days is no small thing. Figuring out how I’m going to ‘measure’ and ‘monitor’ isn’t easy either. When do you know you’ve been creative enough?

So I’m going focus on the doing and the output and let you be the judge in the end. Part of the accountability will not only be to post my progress, but to also include at least one ‘creative’ post a week. Now, the version of ‘creative’ in my head may be a little loose at this point – I’m just starting out after all. My goal is to write something a little more meaty than my usual fair of late. Again, hopefully my friends and family will be reading and help me judge after 30 days.

So what is this ‘plan’ you ask? Well, there’s an activity scheduled for each day of the week. Some activities will be concrete – create a drawing, painting; write something – and some activities will be to stimulate. My hope is that I can spend at least 30 minutes on the given activity for any day. That is a lot more time than I’ve put into any challenge so far, but part of me feels that it isn’t enough. Again, I don’t want to stretch myself too far when trying something new, so 30 minutes will have to do.

This is the schedule that will officially start next Monday, 1/18/10:

Planning, reading and relaxation: The week begins with planning the details of the rest of the week based on what has been accomplished so far, and adjusting for normal life schedule shifts. Also, I hope to spend some time this night reading or listening to audio books.
Create: This will hopefully consist of sewing dice bags, painting, drawing, or writing. I may also start working on a costume for Burning Man.
Create: Another night to compliment Tuesday with a different activity. For example, if I sew on Tuesday, then Wednesday I have to draw or write.
Game: I already have DnD every other week on Thursday nights, and this is definitely a fun and creative activity. On off weeks I now have to read something gaming related or work on writing/refining my own adventures.
Celebrate my spouse: This may not sound creative, but I think Justin is a great source of inspiration and it is important to appreciate that aspect of our relationship. Fridays will be a sort of ‘date night’ if you will.
Celebrate friends: Similar to my spouse, having good relationships with friends is a source of inspiration for personal creativity. Again, this day already is scheduled with gaming every other week. So now on off weeks I will try to plan additional activities like movies or dinner out with friends.
Watch: Sunday has always been my day to sort of veg out and drain all the stress from the week. As I discovered when I first started my exercise challenge, I can’t plan anything too involved for this day or it will be doomed for failure. So the idea is to spend some time on Sunday watching movies and/or TV, which will hopefully provide more fuel for the imagination.

So anyone have any last minute comments before I start this adventure in a few days?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Christmas Pictures

Finally posted: Christmas Album.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wheeling and Dealing

One of the great gifts my family received this year for Christmas is a customized game of Monopoly. Now, this is not your city-specific version that you can often find in airport gift shops. No, this is a personally created version -- specialized content printed out on stickers and put onto a normal playing board. Thus, there was an Angela's Avenue property available for me to buy. Plus, one of the Chance card stated that everyone takes a trip to the Robertson theatre, so 'pay Justin and Angie $10 each'. How great is that?

The only difficult part is the fact that Monopoly has been banned from our family for many, many years. This is due to our incessant arguing over when someone can negotiate with someone else and what constitutes a valid negotiation. Well, that's just the tip of the iceberg really.

So we tried to put aside our nit-picking nature and actually played a game together which made us laugh in spite of ourselves. Here's a link so some pictures: Ayersopoly

UPDATE: Link fixed

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Next Challenge?

So my current challenges are still going well. My exercising is practically a real habit at this point. I've caught myself a few mornings, just rolling right into the routine. A big victory! As for the eating slowly, this is taking longer to really sink in. I am starting to notice a difference, but it's not quite where I had hoped to be at this point. I am not going to give up, since I can see things improving. Determination has payed off so far!

So if you like to see charts/graphs, remember you can check up on my progress at Daytum. I'm on day 27 of the eating slow challenge, so it's time to start preparing for a new one. The problem is, I don't know for sure what I want to do next. Here are a few I am considering:

  1. Waking earlier
  2. Thinking positive
  3. Smiling more
  4. Creativity

What would you choose and/or recommend?