Bringing Back the 80’s!

I’ve noticed a recent trend in my life that has proven to be disturbing for me. But first, here’s the required backstory:

For probably about a decade or so, I’ve been doing the whole “playoff beard” thing when the NHL playoffs start. That in and of itself isn’t terribly strange – it’s a fairly common practice for people that like hockey. It’s probably a bit strange in central Indiana where I don’t seem to interact with a large quantity of people that like hockey. In fact, this should really hammer that point home – assuming you don’t yet realize this, Jagermeister is the “official shot” of the NHL so they’re really focused on branding and advertising with all things hockey. Once that partnership happened, I was hopeful that I could somehow score swag or tickets or anything from our local Jagermeister representative (I work in the industry) but initially I was told no since we don’t technically have an NHL team in Indiana and the Blackhawks don’t count since that’s one state over. But luckily, the 2019 Winter Classic was held in South Bend, which meant Jager was able to get tickets, majority of which were given out as incentives to our sales team. Once the incentive ended, the vast majority of people that had earned the tickets turned them down because they weren’t hockey fans.

Free tickets + free transportation/parking + free food + free drinks and they were turned down. That’s how relatively unpopular hockey is here.

So back to the story – the playoff beard has been going on for about a decade, but sometime in the last handful of years I decided to go one additional step and include the addition of “hockey hair” (mullet) for the playoffs. My process typically involves getting a relatively nice, short haircut on the first game of the season and then, assuming one of my teams (Hawks / Stars) make it into the playoffs, I get my hair cut into a mullet on the last game of the season and keep that going for as long as my team survives. It makes me look horrible, but it’s relatively good, clean fun for everyone.

But here’s the odd part – people at work, people who obviously don’t know me very well at all (not even remotely, apparently) have started calling me “80’s man” because the consensus seems to be that I’m doing this to try and bring back what was possibly the pinnacle of fashion and style in the 1980’s. If you actually know me, you know there’s not a lot of interpersonal conversation with me. If you work with me, you probably know I have a wife and a daughter, ummm, I play video games, I like hockey (I keep the Hawks and the Stars play schedules up on my wall every season), I ride bikes, and that’s pretty much it. But to make such an egregious assumption about me that is so wrong tells me that I’m doing something wrong in life.

I’m a Man of the Cloth (Diapers)

Way back in the day, when Amanda and I first found out we were pregnant, I made the impetuous decision that we should cloth diaper our baby.  God bless my wife, as she didn’t seem too opposed to the idea (nor too excited, either) but my mom would have none of it.  All I heard was horror stories about rubber pants and uncomfortable babies and how I was a monster on par with all sorts of historic and Biblical figures of evil.  Then I was tasked, rather reasonably, with doing some research and then making a more informed decision instead of one of my world-famous impulsive Eric decisions.  I do love me some proving others wrong, so I hit up the old trusty internet and did some research.  Since I was never familiar with the old rubber-pants scenarios, everything I read was rather encouraging so I shared that information with Amanda and my mom.  Amanda was pretty much on board at this time, and while Mom came a little closer, she was far from sold.

Then, fate intervened when Amanda and my mom went shopping for baby clothes – they came across a store that sold cloth diapers and Mom got her first hands-on experience with them.  I don’t think she was completely sold at this point, but she was at least tentatively on board.  She walked away pleasantly surprised with how far they had come and that they were much better than expected – definitely a step in my direction.

From there, Amanda and I had to determine the division of labor since obviously they will require more work than disposables (since we didn’t want to pay for a cleaning service).  Because I never planned on changing a diaper anyway (read above about me being monstrous and evil) we came to the decision that Amanda would be the primary diaper changer and I would be the primary diaper cleaner.  So that’s pretty much been my job.

Here are some of the discoveries that Amanda and I have made together – first off – we’re not really a big fan of the hybrid style of cloth diaper.  For those of you not in the know, there are typically three options/variations on the cloth diaper – all in one, all in two, and the hybrid/pocket.  The all in one is simple – it’s got an absorbent shell and an absorbent insert.  When the baby goes to the bathroom, you pull the whole diaper off and replace with a new diaper.  This is the least cleaning-intensive and might be a great option if you’re looking for minimal work, but they’re going to cost more and produce a whole lot more laundry.  The all in two is our preferred style – the shell is porous and the insert snaps in with two snaps.  If the baby pees or has a small-to-medium poop, you pop the insert out and replace the insert.  Finally, the hybrid style (which is what we started with because they were the cheapest and most readily available via craigslist) literally has a semi-porous shell with a giant pouch in the middle where you stuff an insert.  The idea here is you can just replace the insert for urine and replace the whole thing for poop.  However, in our experience, more often than not we were replacing the whole thing so we were basically treating it like an all in one with the additional work of stuffing/unstuffing the pocket.

In addition, baby Sophie is quite the heavy wetter.  I feel confident she pees more at night than I do during the day and even with an extra absorbency insert she was still having some leaking.  After some research (Amanda is now a full-time cloth diaper supporter and has Facebook groups and whatever else) we found that the all in one style work best for nighttime heavy wetters so we moved over to those with an extra insert plus the added absorbency of the shell and we’ve been leak free.  But we only use them for night.

We got a sprayer attachment for our toilet that has worked wonders for me.  There is a bucket that fits over the toilet seat and then the sprayer that rests next to the toilet.  I take any poopy diapers, peel the insert out, spray the poop out, then give the shell a quick spray and throw them in the laundry.  Three days a week I do a laundry cycle (with bleach on the first cycle) and no matter how disgusting or smelly or gross Sophie’s poop is, they come out looking clean and fresh with no stains.  Realistically, I probably spend maybe a little over an hour a week between spraying and starting a laundry cycle along with folding the cloth wipes, but it hasn’t been nearly as bad as I expected.

The other bonuses are that her diapers are much cuter than disposables and she’s gotten some compliments.  Plus I brought my mom and Amanda over to the cloth side and so far everyone has been happy with the outcome.  I could easily have doubled-down on a bad bet, but thanks to the insistence of my mother, I hit the Google and did some research and ended up making the right decision for the team.


The Trials and Tribulations of an Audiophile

I was gone and now I’m back.  I had some snags with my old hosting company and, since I also registered my domain through them, I lost control of that as well.  It was a long yet slow and boring process until I was finally saved by IBM Cloud Services, so a very special thank you to them as they literally had no reason to help me out but they did anyway.

Moving on, one of my personal projects that has been eating up a considerable amount of my time and money for the past year or so has been collecting and preparing music.  You see, I am, or at least I’ve convinced myself that I believe that I am, an audiophile.  Because of this, regular digital music and downloaded mp3s just won’t do it for me any longer.

So the entire process was preempted with me ripping every one of my cds as FLAC and then putting them into storage.  I later found out that I was using some improper tags in EAC with the ripping/encoding, so I had to delete all of the old rips and start anew.  So here’s been the process –

Last year for Christmas (Christmas 2016) I received a Cowon Plenue that plays .flac files.  Once I got this, I took every album I own and ripped each one to .flac, one by one, and then put them back into storage (I have a master list so that I know album X is in box Y if I ever need to look for them again).  During this, I realized that I’ve lost some albums through the years and I’ve tracked them down and bought them once more (it’s somewhat tricky for some of these obscure albums I own.)

Then, I copy all of these and convert them back to .wav (my car stereo doesn’t support .flac) and I listen to each album from start to finish while I’m driving around.  I keep detailed notes of each artist, album, and song for editing.  I’m trying to create a master playlist of pure music – so those twenty-second slow fadeouts or lingering distortion have no place.  One of the strangest things I’m editing out is leading silence.  In some ways, it makes sense, as it’s a throwback from the cassette and vinyl era.  But cds are specifically programmed for gaps – I can put three seconds of silence between tracks two and three if I want, so I don’t understand why many of my albums (some were recorded and released even beyond 2000) have a half or full-second of silence before anything starts.

Anyhow, then I take my notes and I edit the tracks to remove songs I don’t like, the aforementioned silence and long fade-outs, and then I re-convert them to .flac.  Because of the back and forth, they’ve lost all of their tagging information, so then I bring all the .flac files and add in the metadata, including album art.  Finally, they get shipped off to my music player.

All of this is an unbelievable amount of work, but it’s totally worth it.  I have a complete playlist that I can listen to from start to finish, without having to worry about skipping songs I don’t like or anything while I’m doing something like cycling or jogging and I want to keep my hands free.  And, at the end of the day, I’m listening to lossless quality music that I thoroughly enjoy.  Plus it feels nice to pay for everything I listen to.

I’m currently, while waiting to buy the remainder of cds I need and while I’m still listening through the initial edit for all of the ones I already own, am doing the same thing with my vinyl collection.  More on that later, maybe.

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