Leisure Time

Daddy Does Home Alone

Wed, 18 January 2012

I’m getting a taste of the single life. For the longest time, Tricia has been the devoted wife while I take many a trip to Chicago or other cities on various business excursions. I have also been known to take my share of guys trips. So, I thought it was only right to encourage my lovely bride to take some time to herself for the first time in almost forever. She left for Florida bright and early Sunday morning. She’s hanging out with one of her close friends and clients, leaving me home alone to pretend what it’s like to be a single parent until Thursday night.

Let me just say, that I have a new appreciation for a great many things. Here are my top 10.

10. My Wife, the Maid. It’s not that I don’t clean up things around the house, I really do. It’s just that when you work with a partner on household stuff, it doesn’t seem nearly as repetitive. You don’t have to pick up the same exact kid mess 3 times. She usually picks it up twice and I’ll get it once.

9. Groceries. You know what? They don’t magically appear. Somebody around here actually goes to the store and buys them. Huh.

8. My Wife, the Bill Payer. These things just keep appearing in the mail. Not that I thought money magically disappeared from my account. Or, did it? hmmm…

7. Executive Chef and Meal Planner. This actually should be my #1. The fact that I married someone who has something on the table every night to delight me, is an absolute treasure. I will forever listen and participate when she says “What should we have for dinner?”. That is one of the more stressful questions, I now realize. Granted she has so much more practice than me that the answer comes more quickly. Still…what a pain!

6.  Chief Bottle Washer. Those darn dishes don’t clean themselves, despite the farcical idea of the “dishwasher”. Shame on whoever invented this “magic device that cleans your dishes”. You rinse every dish anyways – saving them in a special place for days. Then you have a massive pile to unload and put away.

5. Chief Laundry Officer Ditto. Except that my jokes about how I don’t know how to use the washing machine will probably never fly. I’m very good about putting my laundry away. I didn’t realize how much disipline there is in actually getting it to that point.

4. Taxi Driver. The kids and me have to be or want to be in 10 different places per day. Hello car, I really never knew where all your gas went. NOW, I know.

3. Spare Time. There is so very little of it for things like, oh I dunno…blogging, or working out or being a Cubmaster. Clearly running a house with 2 people is far more efficient if anyone has ambition to accomplish anything outside of keeping the home in one piece.

2. Work And… The fact that someone would run a household and have a job, and still have a smile is nothing less than remarkable.  I’ll be just fine, and I’m betting I could last a few weeks. I also know that running the house takes practice, and I’d find ways to be more efficient.  Still, though that kind of multi-tasking is not to be underestimated.

1. My Best Friend. It’s just strange. When you are so used to sharing the hustle and bustle, and talking about it at the end of the day, things can seem very quiet. I have the oddest thoughts. I think about the things that Tricia takes care of, as I go about taking care of them for a week. I think about what it would be like if she weren’t here. Yes, morbid. Of course I would adapt. People do it all the time. But, our life together is soooo much better as two. So much more efficient, so much more interesting. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Let me say, this experience is absolutely awesome. My kids were looking forward to the change in parenting from Tricia being the primary homemaker to me. I’ve done some things differently (like allowing them to do hot tub snow angels as an example), but I do find myself saying the same things that I often think my wife harps on too much. It’s as if all of the practice she has in her role has led her down a certain path. I could see myself there too. I’ve learned a lot this week. I could totally do this. You know what? I don’t really want to. I’ll be happy when she’s home, and I’ll have a different perspective on how great she is at her jobs.

Posted in: Family and Friends, Life, Travel | 1 Comment »

Hurry Up iPhone5, My Patience Has Ended

Tue, 04 October 2011

Listen up Apple. I’m eagerly awaiting your announcement today of the next iPhone that I WILL buy. BUT…I’m putting you on notice. If you ever, EVER, make me resort to a tethered extra battery again to keep my next iPhone functioning for a year, I will quit you and go to Android. Plain and simple. It was bad enough when your iOS update caused my perfectly functioning iPhone 3G to suddenly become slower to render than running AOL via dial-up circa 1996. Then, you had the audacity to ask for $100 for me to replace my 3G with another one just to get a functioning battery while you release 2 better phones to the market. This boy isn’t going to put a drop into an old phone when you go obsoleting it every 6 months. So, I went the alternative route. I bought a Philips backup battery to limp the phone along until the iPhone5. You know, the phone that you always update in June. Except this year, you decided to wait until October. That’s a full 4 more months of aggravation as I tore through more charger cables than I care to admit with my phone and my “phone-pon” (my friends thought it always looked like I had a tampon coming out of my pocket) wearing holes in my pocket.

Kris's Apple iPhone 3G with tethered extra battery

So the glorious launch day has arrived, Apple. All I have to say to you is that this thing better have a decent battery in it (preferably replaceable), and you better think twice before forcing some shiny new iOS onto it before the end of my 2 year contract. Thanks for your time.

Posted in: Computers/Video, Life, Sucks | 4 Comments »

A Campering We Go

Wed, 09 June 2010

In November 2009 we bought a 2006 Forest River Shamrock 21RS from Camping World. Although it is only June 9th, we’ve been pretending it’s Summer since mid April by using our new-to-us camper. So far this year, we’ve been to Fair Haven State Park,  Cedar Point State Park, and a quick little weekender to Webster Park Family Campground. Up to this point, we are having fun and still learning how to do this nutty sport. It’s nutty for the fact that you pay a lot of money to buy a rolling hotel room, where after you use it you have to make the bed and…get this…empty the toilet.  You have no choice once you buy an RV to become an “enthusiast” – meaning you really have to get into the details of how to set up your truck, and “mod” your camper so that it is comfortable, safe, and easy to operate.

It is so worth it though. Our kids absolutely LOVE going camping. They get to hang out with their friends and enjoy freedom that they don’t have any place else. While they are off wearing themselves out at the playground, or riding circles around the campground on their bikes, the adults get to sit down and talk, drink, nap…whatever. I guess you could say that we get to enjoy freedoms that we don’t have any place else too. Plus when all that sweet alone time is over, you get the joy of going to some really enjoyable places as a family, hanging out at the campfire and “blowing the stink off” as we like to say. I’m really looking forward to more campering in 2010.

The day we bought our Shamrock 21RS from Camping World

All setup at Cedar Point State Park. We tow our camper with a 2001 Dodge Durango

Enjoying a zen moment with Tricia and Anna

Posted in: Camping, Life | No Comments »

How to Make Ketchup – Lefty’s Way

Thu, 24 September 2009

The first weekend of September after Labor Day is a perfect time to make ketchup. That’s when my grandpa used to make it too. The tomatoes are ripe and the Farmer’s Markets have them cheap. So, it was the last time I made this recipe back in 1998, the year I got married. Tricia and I went to Dunkirk, NY to help grandpa make his ketchup, and to get those ‘damn pears’ off the tree in the backyard. I took copious notes that day on how to make ketchup Lefty’s Way. It’s a good thing I did because his short-hand recipe didn’t capture all of the details.

Grandpa passed away last year, 10 years after I made my last batch with him. I rescued his ketchup-making equipment from his basement then, and it sat idle until last weekend. The following is a video of our first ketchup odyssey on our own. Enjoy…

Posted in: Family and Friends, Leisure Time, Life | No Comments »

Being the Family Digital Archivist

Mon, 20 July 2009

I have had to take a few steps back to take many steps forward. With all of the new ways to share and consume family memories on Facebook, YouTube, my blog, digital picture frames, etc., there was a whole era of family memories from prior to these tools that that weren’t easily accessible. I have taken some time over the last month and a half to begin to digitize our analog life to make our digital life more fun in the long term.

Family Videos from Mini-DV to DVD
I bought our first video camera in 2001, right before Mason was born. Since then we have captured 25 tapes worth of firsts including the birth and first few years of his sister, Anna. While Mini-DV at the time was the only way to do any digital editing whatsoever, I found that a combination of slow computers and way too much footage just kept me from editing the tapes. We never watched any of the content, because it involved getting out the camera, rewinding the tapes, then doing the old fast forward fun just to get to a little content to show the kids. What was supposedly “Digital” was no easier to use than hooking up a reel to reel film from 40 years ago to project on the wall.

Getting all of the Mini-DV tapes into something digital took a TON of consideration. I briefly checked into having someone do it for me. Wow, was that expensive! The Do-It-Yourselfer in me just couldn’t swallow the thousands it would take to accomplish what I knew I already have the equipment to do, given enough time. I set out to digitize all of the tapes using Firewire into my PC or my ancient Mac. When I plugged in the Firewire cable like I had done many times before, nothing was found. What a disadvantage! Now I would have to find another way. Luckily I had a TV card in my Gateway Media Center PC that also has video input. The only problem is that Windows Movie Maker didn’t recognize the capture card. So, I found a program that would – Roxio Creator 2009.

I went a tape at a time, typically overnight, playing it all the way through to capture the content into the PC. If the computer or Roxio didn’t crash in the process I would have a .mpg file in the morning. In theory, I could have filled up my 1TB external hard drive with all of these files to access any time in the future, or to do all of my editing at once. I have been bitten by a failed MyBook before so I decided to go directly to DVD’s with the content as I went. After a restart, I could open Roxio MyDVD, and import the .mpg of the tape. Next, I would use the Edit Chapters feature to automatically find breaks in the content to set as chapter points, a process that played the entire tape through AGAIN!. Barring any crashes, I then could title the chapters and make a few edits to the simple DVD theme I was using. After all of this work, I could then burn a DVD. This process failed a few times giving me beautiful DVD coasters. I learned to burn a disc image to the hard drive first, which could often take over an hour to encode. The last step would be to burn the disc image to a DVD.

From tape to somewhat edited DVD took no less than 3 hours per tape, and sometimes could take 8 hours if I had to redo more than one failed process. If you do the math, this project took me more than a month of every spare moment of computer time that I had. Do I wish I had all of the files still digitally on a hard drive? Only a little. Ultimately you only watch family movies once in a while. It is actually easier to go find a DVD in a cupboard than it is to worry about managing gigantic 7G files on a hard drive. Do I worry about burning DVDs just as Blue Rays are becoming more prominent in the market? Yes, but all the source content is standard definition anyway, and I’m sure something will be around to play DVD’s for years to come. Now that I’m caught up, I’m hoping we’ll invest in a direct to digital video camera of some kind in the very near future.

Onward to Photos
After all that video work, you’d think I’d be tired of all this archiving. Instead it has only increased my desire to have everything digital. I cringe at all of the photo albums in our basement. Even more fun is looking at photos from our parents and grandparents which are all in boxes and albums scattered everywhere. Again this is something that I know we can pay to have taken care of, but the cost and potential danger of losing photos with a vendor is prohibitive. Instead, I have scoured the internet to find an invaluable tool for scanning old family photos. There is a discontinued Epson scanner (the 3590 Photo) that supports the best family photo archiving companion on the planet, an automatic photo feeder.


I went on Craigslist and found the scanner for about $80, then bought the feeder new from Epson for around $150. We have had this for about 2 weeks now and have been tearing through stacks of family photos 20 at a time. You just load up the machine and walk away. Brilliant! I don’t know why this stuff is discontinued, but I highly recommend it. My goal is to load a good amount of my extended family’s photographic history onto my external hard drive backed up to DVD. This little distraction has taken me from my blogging habit for a bit, but the way I see it, I’m just managing another asset in my digital life.

Posted in: Computers/Video, Life | 4 Comments »

When You Practice Guitar Hero, You Don’t Do Much Else

Tue, 13 January 2009

If there’s one thing I can recommend to increase your productivity in 2009, it is to NOT obtain Guitar Hero World Tour. Over the holidays I drummed until I had blisters and strummed until callouses. In the ensuing 2 weeks of cold weather, I’ve made it my mission at night to play enough GHWT to unlock Ozzy’s Crazy Train. Tonight I completed that mission. The bummer is that I can’t play drums at night because it wakes up the kids. Without my accordion all I can do is play the gee-tawr, and play it I have.

Warming up the sticks

Happy cold weather everyone. What are you up to?

Posted in: Life, Video Games | No Comments »

New to My Christmas List: Accordion Hero

Mon, 01 December 2008

Santa, for the perfect Polish Christmas surprise could you please bring me Accordion Hero? I really hope that the Chicken Dance is one of the songs. Or is that only on Accordion Hero: Wedding Edition?

I can’t take credit for this one, but whoever did it is brilliant

Here’s the trailer for the yet-to-be-released game:

Happy Holidays!

Posted in: Holidays, Life, Video Games | 1 Comment »

Mason and Anna Do HSM3 Jib Jab Style

Wed, 24 September 2008

Mason and Anna just love the Jib Jab movies. Since I’m away on business I thought I’d post one for their must-see Disney movie High School Musical 3.

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Posted in: Life, Movies | 2 Comments »

“24” in 1994. Check out the Old School Internet.

Mon, 11 August 2008

This is a great spoof video showing the show 24 as if it were 1994. It reminds me of how far we’ve come in a very short period of time. I love when the boss picks up the phone and cuts off AOL – priceless. There isn’t any point in trying to explain vinyl records and cassette tapes to my kids anymore. Even the interweb look vastly different than it did before they were born. They’ve never even heard modem tones.

Posted in: Life, TV | No Comments »

Thousand Islands Mini-Vacation

Wed, 30 July 2008

For our 10th anniversary weekend we headed off to Chippewa Bay in the 1000 Islands for a couple days of fun with our friends Marc and Janet and their kids, Mia and Lucas. On Sunday morning we hooked up our boat and left the house at 9:45. We took a really nice drive east on 104 through all of the eastern Lake Ontario fishing towns like Sodus, Pulaski, Oswego, and Mexico. We arrived at around 12:30pm at the public boat launch. There, we left our boat trailer locked up and drove the boat over to the cabin which was less than half a mile away.

Jesse’s Island
The cabin is at the end of a steep road to the water’s edge. On the land where we stayed was the owner’s cabin, and a guest cabin that the 8 of us stayed in. The cabin is on Jesse’s Island, which I would suppose is one of the 1,793 islands that make up the area.

Mia and Anna on Jesse’s Island
Mia and Anna on Jesse’s Island

Here Fishy Fishy
The 2 boats at the dock
I brought the Fish Fry, but the best “yacht” in the place was the pontoon boat
We took the boat out fishing while Marc’s family went on the 24 foot pontoon boat they had rented. We spent a good amount of time out on the water drift fishing with worms. We got tons of small perch. As we peered over to the fishin’ barge we saw Janet hook a nice 3.3 pound walleye, and a small Northern Pike. We knew who we were fishing with the rest of the trip for sure. The pontoon boat worked out much better to get the whole crowd of us to have fishing fun together.

Anna pets a Northern Pike
Anna pets the nice Northern pike lovingly.

Island Hopping
Perhaps the best part of going to the 1000 Islands is island hopping. There was a nice state park right by where we fished every day, so it gave us a chance to explore. The island had a few tent sites and a beautiful picnic shelter. Someday, it might be fun to camp there.
Cedar Island State Park
We parked the boat on shore and poked around the island.

Mason and Anna Go Down the Tubes
On Monday afternoon the weather was kind of crummy and we had been fishing all morning. Rather than sit inside, I thought we could try a water activity. Heck, we were going to get wet anyway. I had purchased an inexpensive tube and tow rope from Dick’s to bring with us on the off chance that I might entice one of the kids to hop in the water and get dragged around by the boat. Sure enough, Anna was game for the adventure, but Mason wasn’t feeling well.

We took out the pontoon boat, hooked up the tube, and I hopped in for a trial run. Anna saw me getting dragged around having a good time, but was a little concerned when I flipped off the tube after doing some tricks. Nonetheless, she hopped into the tube giving me explicit instructions not to go fast or do tricks to flip us off. Well, I had Marc start off really slow. After a while we sped up a bit more, and Anna was having a blast! We talked the whole time together about how much fun we were having. Then I had Marc goose the throttle a bit more so we could get the tube on plane and get my legs out of the water. That’s when Anna had enough. She started to scream like she does on a kiddie coaster, “This is a nightmare!, This is a nightmare!”. I just thought that was priceless. So, we slowed down and congratulated Anna on her first tube ride. (The pictures are still on Marc’s camera). It was awesome!

Mia and Lucas both had their first turn on the tube as well (with Marc and Janet riding along). They both had a blast in their first experiences too. We went in after the first round of tubing to pick up Mason and Tricia. Luckily Mason was feeling better and he wanted to give tubing a whirl. Tricia was the first to take him out. She had the boat up to full speed, and had Mason outside of the wakes! He loved it. Then it was my turn to go out with the boy. I got even more aggressive with it at full speed, and he just never wanted to quit. Nothing beats the smiles that the whole crew had on their faces.

Mason and Tricia Tubing
Tricia takes Mason on his first tube ride

Kris and Mason tubing together
Kris and Mason go outside of the wakes

Tourist Fun
We also had a chance to check out a few spots in the tourist mecca of Alexandria Bay. My favorite, of course is the 1000 Islands Bait Store, the ultimate fishing shop. My kids really liked our scavenger hunt at Mazeland. Mazeland is a labyrinth of bushes that you try to find your way through. You go through it looking for letters that make up the word of the day. If you get the word of the day right, the kids get a prize, and the adults were entered into a drawing for one too. Mason enjoyed the life sized chess board in downtown Alex Bay. When we got back from the trip all he wanted to do was learn to play chess. That is one of his new favorite things.

Krolczyk family at Cedar Island
The Krolczyk clan in their favorite part of the world

Thanks to Marc, Janet and the kids for sharing their yearly family vacation with us. It was a lot of fun.

Posted in: Family and Friends, Fishing, Life, Travel | No Comments »



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from kaboodle

This is my Life as a 37 year old husband and father of two and my Work as Executive Director of Marketing at Bennett International Group in Mconough, GA relocating from home in Rochester, NY.
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