Sunday, January 8, 2012

Second Verse Same as the First!

I'm back using the laptop again after I had some major problems getting it to start just before I left Utah.  It would turn on, but wouldn't get past the "Welcome" screen.  It also wouldn't shut down (I left it in "shutting down" mode and came back 3 hours later and the "shutting down" screen was still up.  After running the full Checkdisk (CHKDSK), which took like 8 hours, and then startup repair, it finally opened today, though it still has some problems.  I'm hoping the problems are software related and not hardware related.  I already have Windows 7 ready to install, which I hope to do this weekend.  I was thankfully able to get all my important files copied to my desktop (and will eventually copy them again to my external hard drive), so I can start over.  All I need to do now is get the license keys for Microsoft Office programs so I can reinstall them after I add Windows 7.  My laptop is an HP Pavilion tx2000z, a tablet PC, complete with fingerprint reader and touch screen.  I got it in late May or early June 2008, just before I started grad school, so it's coming on 4 years.  My desktop (Dell) is almost 5 years old (got it March 2007) and is definitely showing its age.  All the more reason to get a better job, so I can replace them when that time comes!  While the laptop was out and I wasn't home to use the desktop, I was able to use my iPod Touch to access most of the websites I check the most.  Mobile's great and all, but not all the time, especially for typing!

Another year, another run with This is Kirtland!
My laptop problem is my first major "event" of 2012, which began for me in Utah.  It was the first New Year's for me in Utah since I spent New Year's Eve 2001 in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah.  It was great to be out in Utah with several members of my immediate family, and to have a change in the usual routine for Christmas.  As with any change in the year, I've definitely been reflecting on the past year, as most people do.  2011 overall wasn't a whole lot different than 2010 or 2009 in terms of progress.  That's not to say that nothing good happened in 2011, but it certainly wasn't as eventful in the areas I had hoped for when I looked ahead one year ago.  In many ways I feel stuck in neutral as far as finding that first full-time job and really taking off with life.  I'm still subbing and still at the same house.  There is some hope on the horizon, though, so at this point I'm cautiously optimistic that 2012 will bring some long-awaited progress in my life!  By the end of this year, there will definitely be some changes in any event in terms of employment.  Hopefully those changes will be an improvement over the current circumstances.

Singing the national anthem for the first time at a Major League game
was a total thrill!
The three biggest events of the year for me personally happened almost a month apart and were both unexpected events, or at least somewhat unexpected.  First was my surgery on August 25 to have my gallbladder removed. I had been having abdominal pains every few months and I just attributed it to indigestion.  The days leading up to the surgery, I had very intense abdominal pains that lasted a good 2 days and eliminated my appetite, not to mention made it somewhat painful to take deep breaths.  At first, there was fear of appendicitis, but I wasn't experiencing any of the symptoms.  After seemingly recovering from the stomach pains, I got extreme abdominal pains early in the morning of August 24th, so I had Mom take me to the ER in Ravenna around 5:30 AM.  There it was determined that my gallbladder was in need of removal, so I had surgery scheduled the next day.  It was the first time I've ever checked into a hospital and stayed overnight.  The surgery went well, but the gallbladder was so swollen it was ready to burst, so rather than going laparoscopically, they had to do a traditional incision that is about 7 inches long.  I still have a nice scar from that incision and the staples that were used to close it (and were removed about 2 weeks later).  Paying the whole medical bill is an on-going process, but thankfully I have been able to make steady payments to the myriad of bills!

Pre-surgery picture.  I was in the hospital a total of 4 days and 3 nights

My next biggest surprise was the first of 2011, when the Cleveland Indians called me on March 3 (the day after my birthday) and asked me to sing the national anthem at the game April 5th.  I had been sending audition CDs to the Indians for years, so it was nice to finally hear from them.  Even better was that (in an even bigger surprise), I was asked to sing again at the September 24th game too!  Both performances were great experiences and I hope to be able to sing for the Tribe again in 2012.  I also sang for the Akron Aeros again on Good Friday.  It was fun, but very cold and wet!

 The other somewhat unexpected event of 2011 was that I got a new car.  Actually, I got 2 new cars, well, new to me.  In April, my grandparents bought a brand-new Ford Taurus and subsequently gave me their 2005 Buick LeSabre (the ultimate grandparents car!).  The biggest surprise there was that their new car was red, BRIGHT red, from two people who have owned mostly blue, green, or gray cars the last few decades (the LeSabre is gray).  I knew they had been leaning towards getting a new car, but I didn't even know they were looking until they had already bought the new Taurus.  Well, at that point I tried to sell my existing 1998 Oldsmobile 88 LS (which had a host of problems) and the LeSabre with hopes of using the money to get a newer, smaller car.  Well, I struggled to find anyone willing to buy either car, so I was resigned to just keeping the newer LeSabre and going for a newer (and smaller) car when I finally got a job.  Well, things were going well until my trip to Pennsylvania and New York in August and I ended up having to have the LeSabre shipped back to Ohio after the brake rods rusted through, which happened in New York City on the way back from JFK airport.  All that got the wheels going fast on getting a different car, one that wasn't going to completely bankrupt me by having problem after problem.  With my mom's help, we got the main problems fixed on both cars and tried to sell them on the open market, but that didn't work. The LeSabre was sold to VanDevere Buick in Akron for $7,000 and I traded the Olds in (for a whopping $700) when I got my new car at Park Honda in Akron. I ended up getting a 2008 Honda Civic EX, which so far I have absolutely loved.  It's obviously much smaller than my previous cars (major plus), has great gas mileage, and my most favorite feature is the power moonroof.  I took it on its first major trip in November (to Louisiana and back) and it did pretty well!  

First time in the new car...this was the day AFTER I sang for the Indians
and got horribly sunburned during the game!
My new car right after I brought it home!
I had my share of travels this past year, which I very much enjoyed.  My first trip was to Bowling Green, Ohio, to see Kent State play BG in men's basketball and to visit my friend Michelle.  It's always fun to visit, plus we got to see a great game (and a KSU victory)!  The interesting part of the trip to BG was that I took it during the week (Tuesday) even though I had work the next day at Roosevelt (which also happened to be my 29th birthday).  I got back to Kent around midnight and then went to work ay 7 AM.  Yeah, I was tired, but it was totally worth it.  Other travels included three trips to Nashville (March, August, and November).  The November trip to Nashville was for Thanksgiving and also included a same-day trip to and from Monroe, Louisiana, to visit a friend there.  The most adventurous trip of 2011 was the Ridinger family gathering in the Pocono Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania near the town of Bushkill at the Tree Top Villas. That included three trips into New York City, which was just under 2 hours from where we were staying.  I took a solo trip to Manhattan one day (which included parking in Manhattan for free!), the crazy trip to JFK to drop my sister's friend Natalie off at the airport (the entire trip to and from JFK took like 9 hours or something outrageous because of traffic!), and then a group trip to Manhattan with my dad, sisters, and brother-in-law.  The two sightseeing trips were tons of fun and I enjoyed where we stayed and the time we had with each other.  My other biog trip is what ended 2011: my trip to Utah to visit with my sisters, brother-in-law, and nephew for Christmas and New Years with Mom.  It was a lot of fun, plus I enjoyed being able to see a few of my old friends I don't get to see very much anymore.  Christmas with a 2-year old is rather entertaining as well!
2011 Ridinger family photo
Birthday trip to BG with Michelle!
March 5 game in Kent with Katie!
Christmas morning at Becky & David's
Nate liked the wooden train I got him (Mom found it; I financed it!)

And of course, no year would be complete without another appearance in This is Kirtland! which I did this summer for the 6th year.  2011 was my debut as Lorenzo Snow, a part I thoroughly enjoyed.

After a show, from Brenda Ebie

And lastly, I finally rejoined the Kent Historical Society in October and started putting my love of local history to work. I'm in charge of planning a 90th anniversary of the Davey school building (the original Roosevelt High School), to take place this coming September.  It's been great working with everyone at KHS and having my excitement for local history appreciated! It was enough to get me to start my newest blog, Happenin' History, and share what I'm learning about history even more.  I've learned so much more about Kent's history than I ever imagined (especially the schools).  Joining the Facebook group "You Know you are from Kent if/when...." has been a lot of fun and educational!!  Now, here's to hoping 2012 is a good one!  Oh, and I just noticed that this is my 200th actual post on this blog!  Wow!

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