I’m an Audiophile and I Admit it

That sweet setup you see there? Yeah, that’s not mine. Alright. So you made the decision on tossing your cheap audio system and adopt audiofile excellence: Perfect duplication of recorded audio. Or maybe you might be just curious about the Ideal and wonder if it actually matters to one’s pleasure of, and involvement with, sound that reproduction be better than that of your existing audio system. If that’s the case, how do you learn more? And how does one start in becoming an audiophile? When I first got into my new home, I wanted to do all these repairs but didn’t know where to start. After reading hundreds of air compressor reviews, I decided on a the Rolair JC10 simply mainly because of how quiet it was. That combined with my new Hitachi nail gun allowed me to build my first deck (with a little neighborly help). Shopping for audio components is the same thing.

First, what to do if you’re just trying to learn more about high end audio? There is certainly, simply, no replacement for listening to a great high-end system: In fact, for listening to a lot good high-end models, so that one gets, not just a sense for exactly how good reproduction is, but also pertaining to how different models sound, what different kinds of compromises one might create, and so on. Obviously, if you know someone who has such a technique, you can merely wander over and talk to them. So what to do? My only advice would be to find a high traffic, local high-end store or dealer and visit them. These dealers enjoy dealing with people who will be genuinely interested in getting to know about high-end sound recording; not all, however, but most. And you may find that these shops are extremely different from the particular ‘electronics stores’ such as Best Buy and Frys. Typically, they have a bunch of ‘listening rooms’ where they will setup systems, constructed from components you may be interested in purchasing, and allow you to sit there and pay attention to music for a reasonable time. (If the very first store you check out doesn’t treat you as I’ve just described, tell ’em you’re leaving, say to them why, and check out their nearest competitor.

Tip:  Take with you a couple CDs you normally listen to. This will allow you to see the difference in quality.

Secondly, what should you do if you want to get started with high-end audio? The most important piece of advice I can give is this kind: Find a trusted sales person you already know, and ask them to help you plan your new system. Let them know, from the beginning, if you can do this over occasion. (If they are not willing to help you do so, again, tell them you’re leaving, say to them why, and check out their nearest competitor. )

Tip:  It’s sometimes not necessary to buy all your components at once. Maybe speakers are the weakest point. Upgrade those first. If the problem is the amp, put that at the top of your list.

It is imperative that you remember that the ultimate goal is to increase your enjoyment of music. In my honest opinion, the best way I know when I’m listening to quality components is when I forget I’m doing anything other than listening to music. My friend would tell you it’s just as relaxing as when she’s doing yoga. To be honest, it’s more annoying then when birds hit a window. If you spend the time on selecting quality components with the advice of a good salesperson, the time spent will pay off in the long run.

Yankees Spring Training in Florida

I can remember as a very young tot going to the Yankees games with my grandfather and my father. The entire day that we ventured to the stadium was a big event for my family. That is why I have kept this tradition alive by traveling to see the Yankees play during spring training in Florida. During my trip there were a few epic events that have created more lifetime memories for myself. I had decided to take some time off from freelancing in New York to re-experience some old memories and create some fresher adventures. That’s one of the biggest benefits of working for yourself. You can take a vacation when you feel like it. I am a creative mind who likes excitement and loves a great baseball game.

Florida Baseball

The sun was high and the weather was hotter than my native New York. Which is of course to been expected. I decided to drive down to Tampa, Florida instead of taking a plane flight. Although flying would have been faster, I preferred to make this an adventure. I rented a vacation home from a reputable website. That way, I could live in what I perceive as “luxury and privacy” without spending the extra cash on a traditional hotel room. Also, I think it sounds kind of neat when I recall the events of this trip with my friends. This was to be the vacation of a lifetime. The sun was sizzling and so was my adventurous soul. Yankees here I come!

Yankees in Action

The slap of the baseball after it had been thrown hit the catcher’s mitt. The bases were would be loaded if the batter hit the ball far enough. However to my surprise, the batter bunted the ball for a grounder. He sprinted towards first base without hesitation. Oh My! It was a close call. The umpire yells “safe”! The fans cheer and I’m in the middle of it all in the stands. I look across the field, I see all of my favorite players. This was a moment that I have been saving and waiting for. I was so excited to be there and my voice was growing sore from cheering.

brett-gardnerAfter the game was over a few of the players signed a few balls for the fans. I was a little timid at first but got the courage to ask for an autograph from my favorite player, Brett Gardner. To my astonishment, he signed my ball that I caught during the game. My heart was racing. This was a very exciting moment for me and made my trip worth the drive.

Fun Side Trip

After seeing the Yankees in action, I made a side trip to water ski the next day. Unfortunately. I never water skied a day in my life. So… I decided to get the best life jacket I could find. You, know… for safety. This was a day that I learned to let go and have more fun than was imaginable in New York. At first I felt like a fish out of water. After a few failed attempts, water skiing was become more natural to me. After skiing on the water for a while, I relaxed on the boat. I contemplated on my entire trip and all the new people I met along the way to and in Florida. In many ways I think that I did more than relive old memories. I truly lived! As the sun began to set, we traveled back to shore. I will look back on this as something that has help me to become a better person. If it weren’t for this fantastic adventure I would have always wondered, “What If”?

Your Friendly Wintertime Water Heater Warning

A lot has happened since I last posted. Rent in New York has skyrocketed and I was forced to make the decision to move out of my place. I’ve been looking at apartments a little further away from the hub of the city since other than convenience, I have no real reason to live there working as a freelancer. Well, the greatest thing ever happened a couple months ago. A friend of mine and her husband were planning on traveling the world over the next year. The own a nice (but older) home out in the suburbs. Instead of simply renting it out to a stranger, they agreed to let me stay there for less than what I was paying at my old apartment. I’m talking about having an actual yard, garage, and room to fit more than a couple other people in my place at a time.

The only other stipulation was that I would take care of all the maintenance around the house. Well sure enough, something went wrong in the first few weeks. Once, somebody told me that water is something like 90% more likely to cause damage to a house over fire. It makes total sense because a water leak can arise from a hundred different ways. It could be your dishwasher, frozen pipes, washing machine, heavy rain, roof leak, or a water heater. For me, it was a combination of two. Due to the crazy cold weather streak we’ve been having, a part of a water pipe that leads to the top of the water heater in my un-insulated garage started leaking. I didn’t even notice this until I noticed a big ‘ol pool of water in the garage one morning. Really? A leaking water heater wasn’t something I wanted to deal with right now. I had just finished unpacking the last box and was contemplating “firing” a couple of my clients since I simply took on too many at a time.

Luckily, a local plumber was willing to come out the same day since someone had cancelled. He told me what I kind of suspected, that the leak was due to the cold. After listening to his explanation of how metal has a tendency to expand and contract when cold temperatures hit, I was hit with more bad news. The current water heater was over 15 years old and failure of the tank was imminent. So even though the water heater was leaking from the top and the repair wasn’t too complicated, what’s to say that he wouldn’t have to come back in a couple weeks to replace a failed tank.

I ended up doing some research on what a new water heater would cost. I heard about tankless models but they were really out of my price range. I ended up selecting a new AO Smith 50 gallon model from Home Depot I think. The plumber got it at a slight discount since he was a business and had it installed for me the next day. Even though I had to do without hot water for a couple days (not fun in a New York winter), I feel so much more at ease knowing I won’t be running out of hot water or seeing a flooded garage while I’m staying at the house.

I guess this is a good way of introducing me to home ownership. Once Todd and Sarah get back, I’ll be going back to apartment life. Maybe one day I’ll be the proud owner of my own home but with the home prices here, it would have to be in another part of the state or a different state altogether. Have any crazy water heater stories?

The Downsides of Freelancing as a Graphic Designer

Working at an ad agency is not exactly my dream job. Sure, I’m getting experience, but I am not happy working there, so I thought about making the move to New York before the end of the year. In doing so I have a fair amount of fear that I could make it as a freelance graphic designer. I have a degree in design, but without a job in an advertising or marketing agency, could I make it?

To be a freelance graphic designer I would have to get clients, who would pay me to generate ad copy , brochures and logos. I will have to give out my business card to everyone I meet, and have a winning  portfolio to wow my prospective clients. Networking is a large part of my scheme, I scoured online job boards and really did not think, given the  cost of living in New York that I could afford to work for the pittance those jobs were paying.

I am a confident person, I am sure that I could advise clients on the best designs to reach their target audience. My job is to formulate this design first by hand and then using a CAD program to further flush out the colors, text, style, and layout. It required collaboration with writers who would choose the words and  then I would decide whether the words would be in paragraphs, lists or tables. I could find myself working with advertising people, promotion people, public relations and marketing.

I will have to stay current with what designs are popular, and which were no longer being used. Of, course I know that working in an ad agency, would allow my access to more jobs, but given that I liked working alone and not part of a design team, I thought freelancing would work out better for my temperament.

Creativity had always been one of my strengths, along with time-management, communication, analytical, and artistic ability. As a freelancer I have to be flexible as to the types of jobs I would take. I would be competing with other graphic designers for the available work, instead of the jobs coming to me.

If I could get enough work designing websites for business and individuals that would be a good start. My objective is to design packaging of common products to make them more attractive to the public. There are too many snack foods on the market, making one brand’s packaging look delicious over the others would be a job I would like to attempt.

Books will often languish on the shelves because of a boring book jacket. Designing an exciting one would make the sales of the book soar. People have to notice the book, before they will read it. A vivid book jacket can assist in promoting the book to the public.

Being a freelance graphic designer, as in any freelance pursuit, is not for the faint of heart. You must have enough money, especially, if you are living in New York, to survive until you get a healthy client base. It really only takes a few good clients, and then “word of mouth”, will get you more jobs. I have been working as a graphic designer for two years, and it is time to move on to the greener pastures New York has to offer.. It will take a large “leap of faith”, but I think I am ready to move. There are people I know in NY, but no business contacts yet…


Working with a Nutritionist

Ugh… so TIRED. You know the feeling, right? For the past few months now, I’m just… dragging. (No, I’m not pregnant.) You know how some days are just sooo looong and you’re sooo tiiiired and you can’t get to bed soon enough? Well, that’s been pretty much every day for a while now. I know nothing major has changed in my life, no big stress, no illness, so what gives?

I got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, things change a little as you get older? (Gasp!) And maybe, just maybe, I’ve been not-so-great about always taking care of myself. I’m doing pretty good at not being too much of a workaholic, yay! But I could definitely use an upgrade in my personal health regimen. So here’s my plan, and it’s already going better than I expected.

Food! Duh, food… Who doesn’t love food? I think I love food a little too much, and maybe it needs to love me back. So what do I do when I’m out of my element? I go to a professional. I got hooked up with this nutritionist through a mutual friend and we had our first consultation just last week. And I learned a lot about what foods might love me back a little better.

Tired all the time? Try a little iron. Spinach, beef, kale, beans, dried fruits like raisins and apricots. Hey, I can do that! A little extra effort on my part, and tacos for dinner or spinach salad for lunch is no big deal. Shoot, put the raisins in the salad and I get a twofer! Right on! I’m an artist, I can throw a little ‘design’ work at this whole food thing.

no-sugarShe also told me two other big rules. One, lay off the sugar/refined flour. These foods are literally tiring to your body. Even if you get that little sugar high, you crash after and feel worse than you started. So, that part is maybe not so easy, and I’m working on it, I really am. Two, try to put the right kinds of fats in your diet, so that you’re getting all the nutrients you need. Did you know that almost half the nutrients you need (like vitamins A, D, E, and K!) are fat soluble? If you stick to that low fat diet, you won’t be getting these important vitamins! Holy crap!

So here I am, adding those healthy-fat avocados to my spinach/kale/romaine/leafy green of the day salad, and I have to admit it feels pretty good. I mean, it feels good in my stomach, not like eating three servings of fettucine alfredo for dinner feels…. I can’t say my energy levels have really rebounded a whole lot, but I think there’s a difference, and it’s growing. I think I’ll go ahead and book another appointment with her (check out her work here), see what else I can do to get this apple cart on the right track!

My Favorite Camping Spot

Spring had just settled comfortably over New York, and I was restless. I had just recovered – although in reality not completely so – from a bad cold, and I left my home and the grotesque  mounds of used tissues I had amassed over the past few days, to spend some time in nature.

I took off for my favorite camping grounds at Bear Spring Mountain and with all the energy I could muster tromped through some of the trails the area had to offer. It was wonderful. The sun’s rays made tiny incisions through the morning chill allowing bits of warmth to come down on the back of my neck.

Then, not unlike Newton’s apple, it struck me. I had realized something. I was happy. For the first time in my life, I was completely and unequivocally happy. I was in New York, about 1,000 miles away from my home in South Florida. It was a place that I hadn’t had any interest in visiting, even as a tourist, but here I was, and I honestly had no genuine reason to be displeased with my life.

About four years ago I finished my degree in graphic design in Albany and got a job in the city soon after and decided to make New York my home. It was almost heartbreaking leaving the friends and family I knew my whole life, but I had been determined to make it on my own in the Big Apple. I thought if I could do that; I could then return home happy and successful

I know now that’s how it had always been for me. I barreled through life setting deadlines for myself attempted to bend my reality into some cast iron framework that would ensure my future happiness. My happiness was always on the horizon, on the distant shore of tomorrow and never right in front of me. When I was in school, it was looking four years down the line to graduation, in my career it was getting to a position I wanted in that organization. In past relationships, it was thinking about marriage and what my future with that person would look like years later. I had never enjoyed the moment I was in.

Fast forward to where I’m standing in Bear Spring Mountain staring down a green tunnel of trees with the initials S.S.S. carved into one of them, realizing that I had all of George Washington Burnap’s essentials to happiness: “something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” The new sleeping bag I picked up at Cabela’s is so incredibly comfortable that it reminds me of snuggling up in my Merino wool sleeping sack when I was a little kid.

What I did lack were epic long term plans to which I could devote every waking moment to and thank heaven I did not. Here,  far away from home and in many ways far away from the old me, I don’t care to make plans set any further in the future than returning to my tent and taking a nap.

There are many keys to happiness, but one of them is letting go and giving up that illusion of control. This is not to say you shouldn’t be sensible and do things like save or prepare for significant events like the birth of a child. That would be reckless. What I’m saying is never sacrifice the miracle now on the altar of plans.

Nihilists who believe that existence has no objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value may ultimately be right. But, when it comes down to it; what does that point of view even matter either? I don’t think that the point of life is figuring out what the point of life is. In my mind, there is no greater justification for moment to moment living than that.

8 Reasons Why House of Cards is my Favorite Show

House of Cards is one of Netflix’s better shows; even the officials on Capitol Hill are obsessed with it. So what is it about this dark horse that makes it so great? I believed that it is pure genius on a variety of levels. Here’s my list of 8 reasons why House of Cards is the best show you can watch.

  1. Frank Underwood– Frank Underwood is a southern gentleman with a brilliant mind, loads of charm, and a nearly unscrupulous heart; but somehow he continues to keep television audiences eating out of his hand. Although, he has even been labelled a murderer; Frank Underwood still has the ability to makes you want to root for him and his honest facial expressions and smart-alecky mouth will make you laugh during some of the darkest moments on the show. In other words, Frank Underwood is the perfect bad guy.
  2. Robin Wright – She executes her role perfectly as Frank’s wife Claire Underwood. In fact, it is clear from the very beginning that she is a force to be reckoned with. When paired with her husband, they make an unstoppable duo that is equal parts quiet storm and charm.
  3. Portrays real, albeit twisted love: Frank and Claire will do anything for one another and their relationship is built on a weird sort of deep respect. For example, although sexual infidelity occurs in the marriage, they support almost everything the other is willing to do in order achieve a goal of mutual benefit; even if it boils down to criminal behavior or sexual affairs. They both operate with openness and honesty with each other that leaves me wondering what devious plan will this dynamic duo cook up next?
  4. Satisfies my curiosity about what really goes down in Washington DC– This show gives me a fly on the wall perspective of what happens behind the scenes in Washington DC. I understand perfectly that the show is a fictional one, however, I feel like the cringe-worthy portrayal of the wheeling and dealing is fairly accurate. I’m able to get a front seat and watch as ideas develop and evolve into tools for Frank Underwood’s genius mind to manipulate and use for his personal gain.
  5. I can watch it whenever I want– Because Netflix releases the entire season at once, I can watch my favorite show whenever I’m in the mood for some DC tinged drama.
  6.  Characters I love to hate: The supporting casts of characters on House of Cards are deadly ambitious, complicated, bold, and brash. In fact, it is very possible that some will call your sense of morality into question. For example, would you want a drug and alcohol addicted politician to represent you? Trust me, if you watch this show, that answer isn’t as clear cut as you might think.
  7. The genius snappy one-liners delivered when breaking the fourth wall: When Frank Underwood delivers his insanely creative and succinct one liners, it is as if he is speaking directly to me when he’s breaking the fourth wall. In this way, I feel as if I’m along for the ride, not just watching the action.
  8.  No Fluff: This show is full of gritty realism and displays a version of the political system that pulls no punches, can be a bit extreme, but still highly entertaining.

House of Cards is one of the most brilliant shows on television because of the way it is delivered, its cast of characters, and because this dark, clever, and funny show personifies everything I want in a television drama.

Obamacare Strikes Again

[rant mode ON] I cannot believe how much Obamacare is costing me! I thought it was supposed to be this great thing and help save me money on my insurance. Once again I find out how much it is actually hurting my wallet.

First off my insurance went up. I know that this is not old news, but it did not go up during the last open enrollment period so I figured that I was safe. Not even close, I was paying about $150 a month for really great coverage. But, the plan that I was on was deemed too good for Obamacare. So my company was told to either drop the coverage or pay a fine. Can you believe that? A fine because the insurance is too good! So, my company dropped it of course. Now my insurance is about double what I was paying and for worse coverage.

I never had to pay co-pays and was rarely charged for any in office procedure, you know stuff like wart removal and things like that. Now I am being charged $30 per office visit, unless it is just for a checkup. But if they do anything at the checkup that isn’t considered part of it, I have to pay for that procedure. I just had to pay a $137 office bill because the doctor was concerned about a mole and removed it at my last checkup appointment.  Needless to say I was a bit upset about it.

The only good side is that my generic prescriptions that I was once paying $4 for are now free. Isn’t that great that I am saving a whole $4 a month? I should wave banners in the street for that!

One of the things I definitely took for granted was that my old plan covered chiropractic and even massage therapists for only a $15 copay. My new plan doesn’t cover either of these! If you’ve ever paid out-of-pocket for a chiropractic appointment or even a 30 minute massage, you understand how expensive they are and how quickly multiple appointments can add up. With my chronic lower back pain, I’m now learning about how to massage out a knot using a tennis ball or other self massage tools. This may actually be a good thing in the long run since even at $15 an appointment, it gets spendy really quick. If I can learn how to massage my own back for the cost of a tennis ball, I’d be a happy camper. That combined with my new jade heating pad (it REALLY is the best heating pad for back pain), and I’ll be set… hopefully.

After I found out that my insurance would be going up and that it wasn’t the plan that I was originally on, I decided to go and check the Obamacare website. I typed in all my information, which was the biggest pain. I swear they wanted me to sell my first born child just to get a quote! It shouldn’t be that hard to just get a quote. So, after agreeing to sell my first born I finally got my quote and I about had a heart attack then and there. I found out that I could get my original insurance, yes the one that my company dropped because it was deemed too good by Obamacare standards, for $6000 a year. I was paying $1800 a year originally, and the exchange wants me to pay 3 times as much! Guess I won’t be upgrading my 25″ TV anytime soon or actually getting some really good tools for the garage which are much needed for all the projects I have planned.

This is such a crock! We were promised that we wouldn’t lose our insurance. We were promised that prices would not go up. We were lied to and I expect prices to continue to jack up! And, to keep rubbing salt in our wounds we are still being lied to. Obama keeps changing the rules of his bill. He keeps putting off the implementation of certain parts of it. I thought that was illegal and that the President could not do that, that it takes congressional approval. I could be wrong though. But, with a President who is making up the rules as he goes along, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit that he is breaking his own law!

My Time Management Tips

Being a graphic designer and artist living in New York, I can always find some distraction that will give me inspiration for my next project.  I mean, New York has everything I could ever need or want.  From spending a day at Central Park or taking in the latest play, I could spend all my time just exploring.  The drawback to finding my creative inspiration is not working on projects or meeting deadlines.  Let’s face it, a girl has to eat and my landlord would really like his rent check on time.  Since I am not real fan of the routines, I have learned to manage my time to allow for that moment of spontaneity as well as meeting all the other demands of life. So, here are some of my time management tips that seem to help me stay organized and on top of everything.

Create a Calendar

Creating a calendar is a great way for keeping track of deadlines, appointments and projects.  Since I am a visual person, I create a large calendar out of poster board each month.  I know this style is a little old school, but I like being able to see the deadlines and the days that I can actually do something spontaneous.  By the end of the month, the calendar looks like an art project with all the different colored markers making deadlines and all the projects crossed off. I also have a desk calendar that shows hours of the day.  When I have multiple projects or appointments, I see how much time I have allowed for each task.


I am the queen of the to-do-lists.  I make lists in order to know what items I need to finish first.  I keep the list right by my computer.  Checking my social networks and emails is my morning habit.  By having the list right beside my computer, I know what I need to accomplish that day or what I can push aside until tomorrow.

Allow Extra Time

The last thing, I want is to stress out over a project when a deadline is looming.  So, I always give myself extra time.  I may look at a project and think that will only take a couple hours to complete.  I am usually right in my initial assessments.  However there have been other projects that are more detailed than I original anticipated.  These projects can cause me to stress; the extra time eases that panic of not be able to meet a deadline. I want every project to be the best of my abilities in order to get future referrals.

Learn to Say, “No”

If I have too many tasks to do in one week, I will tell a client that I have to pass on a project.  I want my work to be the best of my abilities.  Learning to say, “No” can be difficult at first but sometimes this has to be done.  By being honest with my clients, many have offered extended deadline which I can work into my current schedule.

Focusing on Me

I cannot be my creative self without getting enough sleep. I have learned to make sleep a priority. I admit I like staying up working until the morning hours.  However, sleep is important to stay focused.

I also allow time just for me; time to be spontaneous and go out exploring New York.   Or just a relaxing night where I sit in my pajamas and catch up on the latest television series. The choices are endless but there should be time just for you.


I Love New York

What a crazy few weeks it’s been for me, and I can’t wait to share my astounding news. I’ve been busy creating some new designs for my portfolio, and I decided to take a break and write this blog; I’m rather excited to show off my work to my clients, who live right here in New York. The appreciation of art is one of the best things about living in New York City, and I can always find a gallery to inspire me to work harder on my designs. It’s great to live in a bustling city that thrives on the passion of its citizens. I’ve been working on this project and I haven’t had the time to update you on my latest news:

I’m working for Tam and Michael, a young couple that own an art gallery. My clients were really relaxed and had a certain flair for color and abstract art; I met them at a gallery on 57th, and after reviewing my artwork and integrity, we agreed that I would make graphics for their website. Of course, as a graphic designer/artist living in NY, my dream is to make money off of what I love. As it turns out, my clients are opening a second gallery on the lower East side and I’m making a logo for the website! It’s somewhere I can submit my paintings and get noticed by an audience, and of course, I want to get noticed! The project is ongoing so I can continue to make graphics and art for their gallery in the future, and Tam is excited to help me get noticed. I’m stoked to get my work out there and get some experience working for a gallery.

The best part about this project is the ability to work from home. New York City’s transportation is great, though, so I can at least walk or take a subway if I need inspiration for the project. Lately, they’ve been doing some renovations in my apartment building so it’s good to get away from the noise. I’m sure they make some less noisy compressors than the one being used, but what do I know. It’s not like I’m going to be researching brands or reading a bunch of Harbor Freight compressor reviews. There’s really great landscape and scenery in NYC; the city has great appreciation for art and nature. You would think a busy place like New York would have no time to slow down and appreciate the finer things in life, but it’s what keeps the people moving. From Broadway, to the galleries, and the busy life of the working human, my project will reflect the heart and soul of NYC: passion! Who are we, as people, without it?