Date Night at the Art Gallery

Date night at the art gallery to some might sound like a boring, expensive night out.  For my wife and I, taking in an opening of an art show, doing an art crawl or attending a music and arts festival, is just the right fit for our date night. Wichita has a great art scene. Here are some tips for getting the most out of it.

Gallery Events

With 28 art galleries and counting there is often a gallery doing a show featuring one or more artists.  We keep an eye on local art gallery events calendars like the one at the Wichita Eagle’s website.  Most have no cover to attend and offer complimentary refreshments.  Once you find a few you like look them up on your social media channel of choice to get the latest updates. I would also suggest checking out this list of Wichita art galleries from the Go Wichita website.

Final Friday in Wichita

WSU senior Beth Post and WSU alumnus Fred Bohn host an aray of the different art pieces that they have created to show at the Final Friday event in Old Town. via http://www.thesunflower.com/

The Final Friday art crawl is a monthly, must-do event.  Almost all the art galleries in and around downtown Wichita open their doors officially from 7-9 pm, but many of the galleries will stay open later depending on how good the traffic is or how many pieces of art are being sold. If you are lucky, you might get word of a good time at one of the handful of after parties, but that is usually way past our bedtime.

Final Friday Highlights

  • No cover charge
  • Free snacks, wine, beer, non-alcoholic beverages
  • Free live music or other live entertainment
  • Free trolley shuttle from gallery to gallery
  • Great art from local/regional artists

With so much to do you are not likely to be able to take in all the galleries in one evening.  We usually look to see who is showing and where the most live entertainment will be.  The Final Friday Interactive Map at  the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation’s website is quite helpful.

Autumn & Art at Bradley Fair

Autumn is my favorite time of year and I am excited to go to my first Autumn and Art Festival. This is the 5th year for this event and is being held September 12-14 at Bradley Fair.  This event features a total of 96 artists from 21 states (24 from Kansas, 9 from Wichita) and the artwork ranges from paintings to sculptures to handmade jewelry.  I’m sure that we will be bringing home our fair share of the handmade jewelry as my wife loves that stuff. I’m looking forward to the art demonstrations and live music.  There will even be hands-on activities for my son. A family affair for sure!

Since this is my first Autumn and Art, what tips do you have for me and my family to get the most out of this weekend? I hope to see you there too.

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I’m Going to Be a Father

In the beginning…

A little over a year ago, Melissa and I decided to start a family.  Now for many couples this simple involves suspending your birth control of choice and “getting down to business.”  We (mostly her) had to make some difficult choices pertaining to health.

The First Sonogram

You see, Melissa is a type 1 diabetic with a handful of other health concerns, which have nothing to do with diabetes. All those conditions make pregnancy and becoming pregnant, as we later found out, complicated. As for myself, I found that the busy schedule and stress working at the advertising agency did not help matters in terms of “timing” in our baby making. However, as many have told us this happens, just when we thought we would never get pregnant and had pretty much given up, I come home to find in our bathroom a pregnancy test with a post-it note next to it telling me that I am going to become a father.

Who do we tell?

We had decided early on that we would hold off telling people, but quickly found out that was like deciding that we would no longer go to the bathroom.  So, we confided with close friends and family to get us through until the end of the 1st trimester, when it was relatively “safe”.  Having told my mother early meant most of my side of the family knew and having told Melissa’s mother meant that her immediate family knew.  But the 1st trimester came and went faster than we thought and with a tweet, a Facebook update and a few phone calls, we told the world.

A new beginning…

We are the last of much our friends to start a family.  For years I have been told that having children changes everything, that your priorities change.  While our little bundle of joy is still “baking”, we have begun making some deliberate career and lifestyle changes. Melissa, before we found out we were pregnant and after we had given up hope on becoming pregnant, got a new job as an Activities Assistant at an assisted living home that specialized in dementia an alzheimer’s care. This was mostly to help relieve some of the “bread winning” stress from me to help with my end us getting pregnant.   Before the positive pregnancy test, I had been passively  looking at other opportunities but the prospect of the forthcoming addition to our family along with the inherent uncertainty of working at an advertising agency sent me on a journey that ended with becoming the new Online Marketing Manager at TGW.com — The Golf Warehouse.

As for our “lifestyle” we have begun the process of tightening our collective belt and stop living our lives like two single people who share a bank account and more like a family planning for its future.  This is probably the single greatest downfall to waiting over a decade to start a family as we have developed some really bad financial habits over that time, but with new focus in our lives, we are doing what we need to do to provide stability and success for our family.

In short, we are becoming parents. Dare I say (gulp) grown ups!

My Meatless Day

For some time now I have been meaning to do a day where my diet contained no meat.  With the Lenten Season upon us, I decided that now was just a good a time as any and selected Friday as my meatless day.  To be clear, I am not doing this for reasons of faith, but I do intend on exploring how those who do reflect upon “the passion” during this time, but that is for another post, another day.

The primary reason for wanting to do a day without meat is rooted in a revived interest in improving my general wellness.  Sure weight loss is a factor, but I want to be sure that I am living lifestyle that I can do (and tweak) over time. For some, removing meat for their entire diet has yielded great success in loosing weight, as well as a decrease in factors leading to heart disease, and such.  For instance, after a quadruple heart bypass former President Bill Clinton adopted a vegan lifestyle.  He dropped 20 pounds and claims to be in the best health of his life. While this lifestyle has worked for him, I have no intention of totally giving up meat, nor am I to go totally vegan on my day off from meat.

Grass Fed Beef on the New York Hillsidek via http://www.flickr.com/photos/supak/

A secondary reason is environmental.  In short, it takes a lot of resources to make meat.  I have made some attempt to minimize my environmental impact of my meat purchases.  For instance, I pretty much only buy grass fed beef. However, the purchase of any meat product has inherent impact upon the environment. So, reducing my consumption of meat, even for only one day, should provide a positive net impact to the environment.

So, here I am a dedicated, one day a week vegetarian.  Where to begin? Breakfast I guess!  My usual morning meal is a granola/protein bar or a homemade english muffin with egg and turkey sausage.  So, remove the meat and substitute the turkey sausage for a slice of cheese.  For lunch I had a fairly normal lunch at one of my favorite fish restaurants, no problem here. (Update: I have been made aware that this technically makes me a “pescatarian”, but I am counting it just the same.)  Even managed to work in a soy latte in the afternoon.

Then there was dinner.  After my day of withholding meat from my diet, I found myself craving the leftover bierocks at home.  On my way home, it dawned on my that this would violate my self imposed diet for the day.  For years I had heard my catholic friends mention having an “oops” moment from time to time during lent.  I can now empathize.

image

So, I scrounged around the kitchen to piece together a meal. I ended up thawing out some cocktail shrimp and whipping up a tomato bisque that was so flavorful that I did not give those bierocks in the fridge a second thought.  The best part was that my calorie deficient meal had left me room in my diet to accept an impromptu invitation for cocktails.

The next day. I was seriously feeling why the catholics consider a meatless day a day of fasting and the following weigh-in day (Tuesday) I found myself 1/2 pound lighter.  This was a big deal since I had literally been on a weight plateau for 3 weeks.  So, it was a small change and only for one day, but I can see how this might translate into being a difference maker in my quest for better health.

So, are you a full time or part time vegetarian? (update: vegans and pescatarians may apply) Help a guy out!  How do you cope in a world of carnivores and omnivores?  Got any yummy vegetarian recipes?  I’d love to hear what you do or what you think! 

My Personal Prime Time Television Lineup

It’ been almost a year since I cut ties with my subscription television provider and migrated to free television.  I fully expected to have to have to sacrifice content or even watch less television, rather I have actually begun watching more television that I ever have in my adult life.  So much so that I feel that my television viewing has become such a major part of my life that I thought it would be worth writing about. I hope that you think so too.

Below is what I am calling my “personal primetime television lineup“.  While not an exhaustive list of what I watch on a day to day basis, it is a fairly good representation of what you will find on my TiVo Now Playing List throughout this television season, which means primetime is any time.  If you think there is a show that I am missing, let me know in the comments below.

TiVo Now Playing Television

Lie to Me

Recommended by a friend of mine, I got totally hooked on this show just a few weeks ago. I began catching up watching season 1 and season 2 on Netflix Instant and caught up to the mid point of season 3 on Hulu Plus.

I have really enjoyed getting to know the truth seeking duo of Dr. Cal Lightman and Dr. Gillian Foster, as well as the rest of their team.  Cal is basically a human lie detector and Gillian is his business partner, therapist and potential love interest.  From their unconventional way of seeking out the truth to their back and forth at the office there is never a dull moment.  The season finale was a couple weeks ago, but season 2 and 3 can be found on Hulu Plus and seasons 1 and 2 can be found on Netflix Instant. I’ll for sure be tuning in for the next season.  If you have not watched this show I highly recommend you start back at season 1 and work your way forward.

Chuck

Another show of which I am a big fan.  This show has been on life support since the middle of Season 2 and every episode, to me, is icing on a tasty cake.

Part James Bond, part Steve Urkle, Chuck the super spy with a CIA database in his brain saves the world one mission at a time with his love interest (and CIA agent) Sarah Walker and her NSA partner, John Casey. An easy series to get into without seeing many previous episodes, but also extremely easy to catch up on with almost every episode available free online.

Nikita

Recommended to me by my TiVo, I usually watch this show the same night that it airs.

Nikita, a rogue agent of a super secret shadow government agency called Division, is on a mision to avenge the death of the man she fell in love with while deep under cover.  She gets help from Alex, a Division recruit that Nikita trains to resist their training, and few others that pop up along the way including a mercenary and a CIA desk jockey.  Season 1 is just wrapping up with Winter and well worth going back to the beginning if this spy action thriller interests you.

Modern Family

I started watching this show based on comments about it on Twitter.

Modern family features three families that range from the traditional nuclear family to the highly non-traditional. You will laugh so hard at times that you will cry and then you will laugh some more.   Also, I am very happy to see that Ed O’Neill found a home post Married with Children.  It does not matter what episode you begin on, it will always make sense and always be laugh out loud fun.

Fairly Legal

I’ll admit it, I have a little bit of an addition to legal drama, especially ones with a comedic twist.  Stumbled across this one while browsing the library at Amazon Video On Demand.

This half comedy, half legal drama features a character by the name of Kate Reed who is a lawyer turned mediator while grieving over the recent loss of her father. Kate believes that every conflict can be worked out to be a “win/win”.  Her tactics are unconventional and quite entertaining. This series is only a couple episodes old so catching up will be rather easy and is a must watch if you enjoyed other shows like Boston Legal or Outlaw.

Fringe

Recommended by a friend, I have been watching this weekly since the beginning.

Olivia, Peter and Walter (along with a few others) explore the world of “fringe science” while investigating crimes for the FBI when they discover another universe that is an alternative reality to their own that seems to be on a collision course with their own.  Fans of the X-Files will appreciate the graphics between scenes and a story line that any sci-fi lover will enjoy.  Fringe will no doubt be inshrined in the great hall of sci-fi cult classics.  Currently in it’s third season, you are going to have some catching up to do.

CNET – Apple Byte

While not quite an Apple Fanboy, I am definitely Apple-curious and this weekly show, hosted by Brian Tong, from CNET wets my whistle “for all the good and bad from inside the world of Apple”.  This podcast is available on just about every internet connected device and a couple that are not.  If you are a fan of Apple (or are just curious) this is a must watch.

CNET – Buzz Report

This weekly show about “the tech news that everyone is talking about” is hosted by CNET’s Molly Wood.  From “the gadget of the week” to “what’s hot in tech” to “what’s clogging the tubes” (think youtube), this CNET podcast will keep you well informed.  Again, this podcast is available on just about every internet connected device and is one of the most informative tech podcasts on the net.

Geakbeat.TV with Cali Lewis

The sweetheart of tech podcasts, Cali Lewis bring you the tech news that everyone SHOULD be talking about.  You would never know that this show is recorded out a spare bedroom in front of a wall painted to be a green screen.  It rivals anything over at CNET, but on a fraction of the budget.  Again, a must download for all lovers of tech.

The Big Bang Theory

This one was recommended by a friend who is in working on his doctorate. I figured if he can give up his only 30 minutes of free time a week to this show, I could give it a try and it has not let me down.   Now in its fourth season, we follow the lives of 4 nerdy, university researchers and their not so nerdy neighbor who befriends the quirky quartet, trying to fit into their world between shifts at the Cheesecake Factory and acting auditions.  Some of the jokes will not make sense without the context of previous episodes, but most should be able to catch on within just a few episodes so jump into this one at any time.

V – Sesaon 2

Another good sci-fi drama that ABC has kind of sparingly aired only a handfull of episodes at a time, keeping me hungry for more.

This series features Anna, a extra-terrestrial visitor, and her fleet of flying saucers who seem to be here for peaceful purposes.  However, we quickly find out that she and her followers have many ulterior motives. Trying to get to the bottom of Anna’s deceptions is Erica Evans an FBI agent who quickly gets recruited into a V resistance group called the 5th Column that includes others, including a V defector, that have their own concerns about the visitors.  They do a decent job recapping at the beginning of each episode so this should be a series that you can jump into mid-series, but I recommend catching up on this series before watching the current episodes.

Dexter

Always on my todo list, I started watching season 1 and season 2 of Dexter on Netflix Instant.  Currently I am watching Season 3 on Amazon Video On Demand.

It’s really difficult to describe this series without turning off most people.  In short, Dexter is a serial killer.  However he only kills the “bad guys” and lives by a strict moral code that is tuned to execute justice when the regular justice system fails.  Again, you are going to have to take my word for it.  It is not near as bloody as I first expected it to be, but is hardly a family friendly flick.  Like I said, seasons 1 & 2 can be found on Netflix Instant, seasons 3 & 4 can be found on Amazon Video On Demand or on DVD.  Season 5 is currently in reruns on Showtime, but will likely be available on Amazon Video On Demand or DVD when season 6 begins.

The Cape

A series that I just got into, it may end up being my “rainy day” television watching.  With no other “super hero” series on this season, this show fills a special niche in my lineup.

This series features a character by the name of  Vince Faraday, a cop who has been framed for murder, who is taken in by carnival performers who train him in illusion and hand to hand combat resulting in him becoming the super hero known only as “The Cape”.  All episodes are available via Hulu Plus.

Royal Pains

This is series that I routinely watched after Burn Notice back in the subscription television days and continues purchasing via Amazon Video On Demand.

This series features a doctor names Hank who retreats to the Hamptons after being forced out of performing medicine in New York City after being wrongly blamed for a patient’s death.  While in the Hamptons Hank and his brother Ethan discover the lucrative practice of concierge medicine.  Along the way they befriend a physicians assistant and form “HankMed”, a concierge practice that serves the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy of the Hamptons.  Part mystery, part medicine, part sitcom, this series should appeal to a broad audience.  This is one of the rare series that the wife and I watch together.  She likes to call it the “cute doctor show”.  Another show that does a decent job recapping at the beginning of each episodes you should feel free to join this series wherever you please.

PBS Newshour

If you want to know what is going on in the world, you gotta watch this show.  Though about twice as long as the evening news cast on “the big three”, you will actually get the most complete news briefing out there.  I used to be a cable news junkey, and still podcast a couple shows from time to time, but I never got the rich information that I get from this show.  Available nightly on most PBS stations, they also can be podcasted in audio or video and even have an iphone app.

The Daily Show with John Stewart

Once I get informed with the PBS Newshour, I get entertained with John Stewart. Probably one of the shows that I miss from subscription television, I have tried to keep up with this show by viewing via legal, online channels.  Now that this show is available via Hulu Plus, I have it back in my regulars. Though not available live, I still feel okay watching it a day to a week later.  The Daily Show is not really about breaking news, rather about poking fun at the news and the humor has a longer shelf life, assuming that your politics allows for this kind of humor.

$#*! My Dad Says
Bases upon the twitter account of the same name. This sitcom tickles the funny bone every time. I’ve heard people say that the show is not as good as the twitter feed, but the film is never as good as the book. Right?

What do you like?

I’ve shown you my favorites this season.  Think I missed something or am just watching too much television?  Let me know about it in the comments below.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Where exactly did the last year go?  The year 2010 was an amazingly productive year for me personally and professionally and I thought it important to reflect upon last year’s goals before I move forward with my 2011 resolutions.  So in no particular order let’s see how I did in 2010 and see what I can do better in 2011.

Take a trip on a train

We made two voyages via Amtrak in 2010. The first was a day trip from Saint Louis to Jefferson City via the Missouri River Runner.  It was a relaxing, enriching trip that was the perfect distance to sample train travel and gave us a day to explore the Missouri capitol with dining in two yummy local restaurants, a tour of the capitol building and wrapped up the day with a yummy treat from the local dairy.  We even squeezed in some geocaching.

The second trip was just a few weeks ago from Newton it Saint Louis.  We left from Newton on the Southwest Chief (at 3 am), connected with the Missouri River Runner in Kansas city and arrived (exhausted) in just outside of Saint Louis in Kirkwood Missouri.  In short, we did it and enjoyed the experience, but we learned that this mode of transportation may not always be the most efficient way to travel.

If we do another train trip in 2011 I would like to either try another route or see what the Southwest Chief has to offer going west.

Obtain a passport (and plan a trip to see my sister-in-law when they move to Aruba)

Well we got the forms but have not followed through.  This will most certainly be in the 2011 list.

Complete the KDWP Geocaching Contest for a 3rd year

Another resolution falls short.  We actually started the contest and ran out of steam within a few weeks.  Maybe it was this record setting heat or perhaps this was not as important to us as I first thought it would be.  I also wonder if this stifled our goal to “enjoy ‘the great outdoors’ whenever possible”. I believe that the contest made outdoor enjoyment  a chore which cut down on shorter, more frequent outdoor experiences.  This year I will likely forego the contest, but make geocaching a more complimentary activity to the rest of my outdoors adventures.

Achieve my target weight of 175 pounds (currently 191, down from 226 in June 2009)

Oh. So. Close.  I made it 179 pounds. While those who have not seen me in a couple years compliment me on my new look, I still feel out of shape.  That said, the weight loss HAS cured a chronic sleep disorder and made my back injury much more manageable.   This year I will focus on complete wellness, including establishing better nutrition and exercise habits.

Enjoy “the great outdoors” whenever possible

I am sure that I could have done better on this as well, but I am going to give myself a score of “meets expectations”.  I have gotten much better at making simple things like walks by the river or visiting a local park part of my daily routine and out of town travel.

Actively participate in Young Professionals of Wichita and join one of the action teams

I am proud to say that I am a member of the “ambassadors” action team.  I have been working with that group for almost a year and it has been an enriching experience.  I am really looking forward to continuing to help carry out the mission of this great organization.

Do more professional development, attending one webinar a month and two seminars in the year

All in all, I am satisfied with my performance on this goal.  I actually attended four seminars/conference over the year including, AgencySide, Free State Social, OpenCa.mp, and 140 Characters. Each conference provided a unique view into the world that I live and work. This year I will strive to keep looking for a mix of enrichment opportunities and jump on opportunities that are presented to me.

Don’t be afraid to “take ownership” (or at least a share) of a situation where I can add value to the end result

Honestly, I am not sure where I was headed with this one when I wrote it.  I just felt like I passed too often on opportunities to do good things, letting them be someone else’s problem.

There have been good and bad results from my new bullish view on “taking ownership”.  On the positive side I feel like I am contributing more effectively at work and being a better community citizen. On the negative side I am finding myself needing to re-learn what problems are better left to others.  This year I will strive to continue to be an active participant where I can make a difference while finding balance and not committing my self.