Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You don't always know all you think you do...There is probably more going on behind the scenes than you know....

I've been guilty of this many times. I walk around thinking I know what is going on, all the ins and outs, and then WHAM, someone hits me with a whole new perspective. Usually it is something that is plainly visible, but somehow I totally overlooked it. One more world view down the drain.

You need to read THIS.

My son is being evaluated for Asperger's. Probably he does not have it, but we are looking into it. He is DIFFERENT from many other children. I've been dealing with many issues for seven years now. I've had many PROFESSIONALS give me MANY OPINIONS, but still no real answers. I read books, I implement strategies, I watch them fail, I try again and again and again and things fail to get better. I have MANY people trying to give me suggestions on how to fix the problems and they snort in disbelief when I tell them that I've done it and it didn't work. Usually the response is that I didn't do it right or long enough.

What has been working? Accepting that my son is different and that I need to find more creative ways to understand him and figuring out how to meet his unique needs. This year he has been with advanced and gifted students in school and this has been his best year yet. His main hangups have come at daycare and there are many reasons for this.

What do you do with a child that doesn't FIT? Isn't learning disabled, physically disabled, etc? A child that most likely is gifted in many areas? A child that neurologically has difficulty dealing with stimulus or reading social situations? These children belong. They belong in school, they belong in society, but they get shunned and abused because they don't really FIT into our defined categories. There are no special school programs for them in public schools, and there are very few private schools for them and most are prohibitively expensive.

What those kids and that teacher need is a lesson in being different. There are programs that do this. There are ways to do this.

My son came home a few months ago and said "Dad, when the kids at school are talking to me I just want to scream. They aren't being annoying, they aren't being mean, they are just talking normally, but I want to cover my ears and scream." Sensory Input Disorders. Imagine if you put one or two hearing aids in your ears, turned them up, and walked into an elementary school classroom or a cafeteria. How long could you hold out? Have you ever spent any time in either? I don't know if this is what my son is experiencing, but it is my best guess.

Should school just be for children that are all alike? Send the DIFFERENT kids to some other school?

I don't know if I have any answers to this, but I can tell you that voting a kid out of class is the last thing he or his parents need. If you have a concern about a child in one of your children's classes maybe you should contact the parents and talk about what is happening. Maybe you can help out a struggling parent(s) in some way. Maybe you just might learn something that can make you and your child better world citizens. It is easier with children that have visible signs of some handicap, and harder when the child looks totally normal but behaves very oddly.

If you are a parent that has a special needs child you should try and find a group of parents with similar children. It is EXTREMELY helpful to know you are not alone. Try If you can't find a group, start one and let your school and doctor's know about it. You may be surprised at how many other parents are looking for support and understanding.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Today is set aside for remembering.

Last night Sister Hazel played the Star Spangled Banner in remembrance of those that have protected this country in the past and the present.

We may not always agree with the course our government takes. We may not ever get all the answers we want. We do have the power to effect change when we do not like what we see, and that power was not won without the sacrifice of those that we remember today.

Our world is not perfect. There is no Utopia. There never has been. We will most likely always have conflict though. Today is the day that we remember those that fell in those conflicts, and we remember WHY they fell and WHAT was learned so that hopefully we do not have to enter into those conflicts again.

We need to remember not just what has happened abroad, but the people, mistakes, and lessons learned at home day to day. We have people that go out in harms way locally every day. Whether it be crimes, fires, or traffic stops, some of those people won't come home today. Some didn't come home yesterday. There are many civilians working behind the scenes right now to help keep our soldiers and citizens safe around the world. Quite possibly you'll never hear about them or how they made a difference, but remember them today as well.

Remember the people that took extra time out of their lives to help you when you needed it.

Remember what you can do today to help the world too. You may not be able to change the world, but you can change your space. A hug or a kind word. Picking up some trash. Lending a hand to someone that needs it. Sharing a smile. Commit a truly selfless act just because you can.

Memorial Day....

It's been a busy weekend so far, but not too busy.

Friday was sushi and Indiana Jones. I didn't like the Indiana Jones movie so much. It was mostly entertaining.

Saturday I helped my aunt move. I just learned last week that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The move was pretty uneventful. I got a little sunburned. They have a nice house about an hour from me now on a fairly big plot of land surrounded by farms.

Sunday I started to learn how to play "I don't like Mondays" by the Boomtown Rats. I'm also learning "100 years" by Five for Fighting. I went to a party at a friend's house (Robin from Meetin) in Williamsburg. We had a great time with some great people! I got in the pool. I think I'm still cold from that. Later I went to see Sister Hazel at 31st Street. They were awesome. Robin met me down there too. Robin is a great and talented musician. My lack of knowledge in many areas cracks her up all the time. Music is one of them. I know SOME things, but there are huge holes in my music knowledge. :-)

So no plans for Monday other than to enjoy the day and get ready for the week. I hope everyone has a great and safe memorial day!

Friday, May 23, 2008

A cool change...

As I got into my truck this afternoon to come home, this song by the Little River Band came on. The first two lines really struck me and that is precisely what I am looking for right now. Not alone like a hermit, just not a relationship. There are a lot of reasons from many sources, the culmination of which is I need a "Cool Change". My mom used to listen the Little River Band a lot when I was younger, and the song is very familiar to me, it just has a different meaning for me at this point.

If there's one thing in my life that's missing
It's the time I spend alone
Sailing on the cool and bright clear waters
There's lots of those friendly people
Showin me ways to go
And I never want to lose your inspiration

Time for
a cool change...
I know that it's time
for a cool change
Now that my life
is so pre-arranged
I know that it's time
for a cool change

Well I was born in the sign of water
And it's there that I feel my best
The albatross and the whales
they are my brothers
It's kind of a special feeling
When you're out on the sea alone
Starin' at the full moon
like a lover

Time for
a cool change...
I know that it's time
for a cool change
Now that my life
is so prearranged
I know that it's time
for a cool change

Well I've never been romantic
And sometimes I don't care
I know it may sound selfish
But let me breathe the air

If there's one thing in my life that's missing
It's the time that I spend alone
Sailing on the cool and bright clear waters
It's kind of a special feeling
When you're out on the sea alone
Staring at the full moon like a lover

Time for
a cool change...
I know that it's time
for a cool change
Now that my life is so prearranged
I know that it's time
for a cool change

Someone did this slideshow....

Thursday, May 22, 2008


...Is almost here. And here is a taste. Just a sliver.

Tonight we went down to 31st Street to hear BUTTER. They are a great local band that plays a lot of cover songs from today, the 90's, the 80's, and even the 70's disco scene. :-) They even have some original stuff to boot. It was warm and sunny on the beach with a slight breeze. I brought my son and a neighbor boy down with me. They listened for a few minutes and then headed for the sand.

A nice relaxing way to end a day!

More of this is coming soon. Virginia Beach has several stages and the restaurants and bars keep them booked all summer long.

Sister Hazel is coming Sunday night on the bigger stage at 31st Street. :-)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

TV, advertising, and stuff....

I don't watch TV. Ever. There are a couple of reasons behind this and it may not be what you think.

But first let me ask you...Are your views on TV in general good or bad and why do you feel that way?

I do think that there are great programs on TV. Prime time mainstream and specialty channels (ie history, animal planet, nickelodeon, etc.).

So why don't I watch it?

When I was in the Navy (A long time ago) I was in submarines and I went on one deployment. We were gone a little over four months. During that time we watched movies, but nothing else. No TV. We got news from a printed roll of paper every so often. Nothing else. When I got back I was overwhelmed with....ADVERTISING. Bombarded. It was crushing to see ads EVERYWHERE. We get desensitized to it, but trust me, we live in advertising OVERLOAD. It's on most of our clothing, every visible surface everywhere. Every few seconds of TV. OMG...enough already. So for that reason I don't watch TV. I just cannot take it. I buy seasons of stuff on DVD, or buy it and download it (usually through itunes). It is easy. No fast forwarding through commercials, etc. Just play. Just relax. Just be entertained.

Another reason that I don't watch TV is SCHEDULING. I don't plan my life around TV shows. OK, some people would say I don't PLAN my life at all. However, I do live my life. My entertainment is just that, mine. I would rather be out with friends doing stuff. I would rather be doing something with my son. And when the day is done, nothing left to do, no one left to call or email, etc, I can lay down and read a book or watch a show or two. If I have other free time, I can decide to watch something. If something comes up, I can stop it and pick it up again later, no problem. No tivo, no DVR, no time limits, no sifting through schedules, etc.

For my job I use the Internet to bring news to me. I have generic news sites like CNN and Google news, but for information security stuff I read some specialty sites and blogs. Sometimes even the advertising there drives me nuts. I also use Google Reader for blogs and other things on a daily basis.

All that being said...the two hardest things you can ask me are where I'm from and anything about pop culture. The first is a long complicate answer in timeline format that gets emotionally conflicted, and the second I am just totally clueless. People will start talking to me about some show or person and I just give them a completely blank stare. Then they say something like "You have seen such and such right?" I answer "No." Then they look at me like I have two heads. Then they ask something like "Do you live in a cave?" To which I respond "No. I live outside of it." Or a friend once told me "Mike, you're in your own cave." Which is probably true.

I don't condemn those that do like their TV shows and do schedule their time around them. I don't see any problem with that at all. It just isn't me. I love to sit down with a friend(s) and watch a show, etc. When I am by myself (which is most of the time) I just come up with other things to do.

As much as I love to play sports...I don't watch them. I just think that why should I watch some one else do something I love to do when I can just go out with my friends and do it? :-)

~Have a great week~

It's 3am I must be lonely....

I wonder if I'm manic depressive right now. During the week my work leaves me completely mentally exhausted. When I get home in the evenings I know I will feel better if I just get out to the gym or do something. But mostly I just want to crash. During the weekends it seems like I try to make up for it.

Friday after work I came home, napped for a little bit, picked up my son and a Monster energy drink, and thoroughly cleaned the house. I had a baby sitter lined up for my son because I had two softball games starting at 8:45pm. We had two great games which really gets the adrenaline pumping. I hit a home run that nearly landed in the infield of the field behind us. I think I got to sleep around 2am or so. I was up again at 6am...I had coffee and breakfast with the Asperger's support group and that is always helpful and always amazing.

Brandon and I cleaned up the yard from the storms we had this week and mowed the grass. We found another dead squirrel. This one had just died, I surmised, because it hadn't gone into rigor. I think it got attacked either by a cat or the dogs next door and managed to get away under the fence and under our bush.

At 2:30 Brandon and I headed out for my soccer game. I play on a coed adult team on a U-13 field (I think). We warmed up and kicked the ball around for a while until everyone else showed up. We didn't have a keeper so I volunteered. That was fun. I hadn't played goalie since 1980. We have a great defense, thank God. We only had one goal scored against one of my team mates. :-) The game after us was short several players, so I volunteered to play that game defense. At 6'2", I am by far the biggest person out there. Both teams told me I'm like a moving wall. While there is a lot of jostling and things going on around the field, no one runs into me, and if they want to get a ball past me, they have to go to the sidelines. I really feel it in my knees later though. Motrin helps with that. As tired as I was, I totally shutdown at 10pm but was up again at 3am. It's just about 4:30 so I'm going to try and get back to sleep for a while.

I'm going to try and take it easy and slow Sunday. Try.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Signs of desire...

No. Not that kind of desire.

A friend emails an apple Macbook advertisement to me today saying "I think it is a sign from God."

Me: "No. It is not a sign from God. It is an advertisement from Apple."

How change avoidance can hurt everyone...

In the last half hour I have received over 1000 emails. All of them Non-Delivery Reports (NDRs). Fortunately the email service provider I chose for my domain has an amazing spam filter. :-) They all went there. Just a couple made it to my inbox. What is a Non-Delivery Report?

An NDR is a something an email servers sends back to the address listed in the from: field of an email when it cannot deliver the message it received. It is a kind of neighborly thing to do right? The problem is that there is no real authentication done on the email to ensure it was me (or you) that sent it. It's called spoofing.

Starting back in 2002/2003 I configured email servers I worked on not to send NDRs. It was being used as a way of enumerating users of the email server and there was some of what I'm currently seeing going on. Not many people agreed, but maybe they might start doing it now. I'm starting to see this on my account, but I see it at work too. Massive amounts of NDRs pouring in. Get it yet? Ok, hang on.

If I can send a spam message to an email server addressed to a non-existent user and the email server sends back the message to the sender listed in an NDR, then the spammer can send 10 million emails that way. Getting clearer? Users open the NDRs because they may be curious why an email came back undelivered. Spammer mission accomplished, target opened email.

The problem in the past has been that a spammer would need to send these out from their IP address or someone else's, but the volume would be quickly noticed and probably shutdown. With botnets that changes some. Now, spammers can send out a few emails from hundreds of thousands of systems. Getting clearer yet? Keep going...

Any time that someone can get your computer (server or workstation) to send out packets that you didn't intend, then they can use your computer in a network based attack. If I can get 10,000 systems to send out 10000 emails to thousands of email servers that send NDRs and direct them at one recipient, then I've got a bit of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) action going on. This has been done before with pings. It is hard to stop because people treat email as holy oxygen they cannot live without and it comes from hundreds or thousands of sources.

Besides, what is your boss going to say when he cannot get confirmation that an email went through or got rejected? Is anyone going to stand up and say that the email system in use for the past couple of decades was never designed to be reliable in this environment? Is anyone going to say enough with the 90% of all email being spam? Are we ever going to stop ignoring the problem and do something about it?

There are some solutions being worked on. The problem is that there are, of course, two factions that are so diametrically opposed that they will never cooperate. It is worse than Bluray and HD DVD. As for me I see a much simpler solution.


The code is available, tested, and reliable. We use it for web browsing. Why not email? It can authenticate the remote web server the same way our browsers authenticate secure sites we do business with. It will encrypt all data in transit. EASY.

What's the problem? SSL certificates cost over $100 dollars a year (sometimes much more) to obtain and maintain. Why? A trusted certificate authority needs to validate your identity before issuing one. Certificates are tied to host names, so organizations with many mail servers may need to buy multiple certificates. If it was changed to just the domain name then that might be a viable work around. Many individuals run their own mail servers and they don't want to fork over the money, or possibly don't want to go through the hassle.

My spam filter catches them. Not many others do. And apparently most system admins don't really care that their bandwidth, processing, and storage is being used by someone else.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ok, after some over zealous posting, fretting, removing, research, etc. I present to you the funny, intelligent, and thought provoking work of Randall Munroe of

Go there, enjoy...You might not come back. :-)


bumper sticker seen recently

"You don't have to believe everything you think"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I am evil:

I love practical jokes. I love being cynical and sarcastic too. A very recent conversation went something like this:

A friend was having trouble with a slow computer. This friend was getting help from several people. Too many cooks can really kill a computer. :-) My suggestion, like usual, use one of a couple of online virus scanners that I recommend. It is like getting a second opinion from a doctor.

The results were not so good, but it appears recoverable.

I start listing my recommendations:

Me: "You need to do a couple of things. First, make sure the program deleted the files, then empty the recycle bin. Then go to, install the latest patches, and run the scan again."

Friend: "Windows XP sp3"

Me: "Shit. UM Yes. Do it. Some people are having problems with it, we'll know soon if yours will be one or not. I don't think your system fits the profile though. We need to make sure it is fully patched. Also, you're not going to like my next recommendation. No one ever does."

Friend: "What is it?"

Me: "You need to run as a non-privileged account. You see running as....YADAyadayadayada....blah blah blah...waaa waaa waaa...ramble ramble ramble"
{computer/network security/forensics, etc, is what I do for a living, I can talk for days about it}

Friend: {somewhat interrupting} "You've told me this before, a couple of years ago, does anyone ever listen to you or take your advice?"

Me: "No."

Friend: "Doesn't that annoy you?"

Me: "No."

Friend: "Ok, so SP3 is installing. Can I go put my children to bed and call you later?"

Me: "No. Once we start the installation it is very important that you stay on the phone and next to the computer until it is completely done. It may be a couple of hours, but we have to do it."

Friend: {PAUSE}

Friend: {PAUSE}

Friend: "Are you serious?"

Me: "No! Go do whatever you need to. Just reboot when it is done, go back check for more updates, then run the online virus scan again and make sure it is clean. You can call me later or tomorrow or whenever." {Now I'm laughing}

Friend: {LAUGHING}

Who knows, maybe my little jokes like that keep people from taking me seriously? :-)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

things just don't always go as planned....and they didn't warn me Saturday so it's not my fault...mostly....

It started with a conversation at dinner Thursday. Soccer and Ultimate frisbee. Both on Sundays. I mentioned the soccer league to a friend at work and he said they had one in Chesapeake on Saturday afternoons, coed. He said he would send the info to me. So Saturday morning I'm up at my usual 5am for some reason, writing in the blog, doing chores and getting ready for winefest, making a list of stuff and putting things together in a backpack. The emails came in about the games a little after 8am. Basically, be there at the field at 3:30 to get on a team. My calculations were fairly simple, get to winefest, spend a couple of hours sharing a couple of bottles of wine, leave about 2:45, suit up and play soccer, go to dinner with my friend and his family, then share a movie with a another friend. Innocent right? Was planning to sleep in Sunday, which sadly means until around 7am or so, get my son in the afternoon, then play ultimate pickup games in Norfolk near ODU.

So what really happened?

Well, got to winefest and the weather was cold and drizzly. It wasn't crowded. I grabbed two bottles and settled in to talk to folks, take pictures, and stuff. At 2:45 I leave for the soccer field. I get there right on time and find the organizer, Mindy. I get selected for a team, but it isn't my friend's team. So I'm watching the first game and few things occur to me. First, it is nearly a full sized field. Not like the indoor soccer I played in the winter. In fact, I haven't played soccer on a full sized field since I was in fifth grade. Um, 1979 or so. The other thing I see is people limping on the field after being kicked in the shins. They have shin guards on. I don't even own such things. At 6'2", with broad shoulders, I generally rely on the intimidation factor to keep people from kicking me. No one ever tries to run me over either. It worked in indoor soccer. I decided to head to Wal-Mart to get some though. I had time. Or so I thought. It really wouldn't have been a problem, except I spent more time in line than getting there and back. Rebecca writes often about Wal-Mart Navigation in Tulsa, OK I think. She should have been here for this. Aside from the whole calamity of cascading errors at the register for the people in front of me...I didn't really pay attention to street signs on the way out. I didn't run but one or two people off the road going the wrong way getting out. I bent a few other rules on those wide open back country roads out that way too. I made it back in time, but just barely. I'm taking oxygen for the game next week. I need to start running again. I have all the grace of a stampeding elephant out there. Again, my only asset is the fear factor I bring when running straight at someone and it OBVIOUS I cannot stop. I'm going to cause grave damage if YOU don't move. My knees are not used to the quick stops and changes in direction you see. We won. I was not a factor in that at all, but I had serious fun and I loved every minute (even though I was a serious detriment to the team).

What happened after the game was not my fault. I didn't plan it. Nobody warned me, and they should have, because they knew.

"So, are you coming to AJ Gators?" Sure, why not. My friend and his family are trying to get into a monster truck show down on the beach. It isn't likely I'm going to catch up with them for dinner, so I figured I'll have some pub grub type stuff, a beer, and head over to watch a movie as planned. I'm flexible, my son is at his grandparents, so why not? We had a blast at Gators, and it just kept going. I got to talk with a number of other players, got to totally hose up what little German I know with one guy who is from Germany, had a couple of watered down margaritas (I'd rather pay full price and get a real margarita, I don't know why I did it) and helped with a few pitchers of Blue Moon. We were having a blast and it was becoming apparent I wasn't going to make it to the movie, at least not without assistance. The group then decided we needed to sing. So the entourage moved to a bar down the street that does Karaoke. The group decided it was time for a series of serious shots to lubricate the vocal cords. The group sang, danced, laughed, and had serious fun on the way back to sobriety. If I say "the group" then it is like mob mentality and takes the responsibility away from me right? When the lights came on at 2am, we moved to Ihop, talked, ate, etc.

My day started with good intentions, a good plan, at 5am. My day ended when I got back to the house at 4am. Some how, I need to figure out how to fill that last hour with something other than sleep! I did have a blast the whole day though. Made some new friends in the process. The friend that invited me out for soccer...knew about the group that goes to Gators....and he didn't warn me. I was unprepared. I'm going to talk to him at work Monday.

So, three hours after collapsing, I wake up and get moving again. I went back out to Chesapeake to see the family I was supposed to see the night before. We had breakfast, talked, I worked on some viruses on their computers, and played some basketball with my friend (totally ridiculous now, nothing like when we were in high school).

I did have a two hour nap this afternoon, worked on this, and now at 6pm, I'm going to get my son!

I hope you had as much fun this weekend as I did, and that yours was more restful.

Happy Mother's Day.

For the bonus round....I got to spend an hour with my son's great grandparents (his mother's grandparents). They are really amazing people. 90 years old this year. Always nice to see the world from their perspective.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Song currently on repeat....

A close friend gave me a cd recently. There are good songs on it, but this one strikes a strong cord and ends up on repeat while I'm just milling about the house. It is raining right now in Va Beach. The rain, the ocean, and getting away are all strong metaphors for me right now. Some people say a picture is worth a thousand words. It is true, but I also feel that a word, or a phrase can be worth a thousand thoughts, memories, and pictures of it's own. Rain. Ocean. Both bring up DECADES of sensory impressions of sight, sound, smells, touch, tastes, poems, emotions. Both are tied deeply to my earliest memories. I've always lived near an ocean, Pacific and Atlantic. I love to swim in the ocean, like the sea otters and sea lions in Monterey (really, that is what I feel like when I'm out there), making waves into roller coasters, or just floating with extremities fully extended when it is calm.

Into The Ocean
by Blue October

I'm just a normal boy
That sank when I fell overboard
My ship would leave the country
But I'd rather swim ashore

Without a life vest I'd be stuck again
Wish I was much more masculine
Maybe then I could learn to swim
Like 'fourteen miles away'

Now floating up and down
I spin, colliding into sound
Like whales beneath me diving down
I'm sinking to the bottom of my
Everything that freaks me out
The lighthouse beam has just run out
I'm cold as cold as cold can be

I want to swim away but don't know how
Sometimes it feels just like I'm falling in the ocean
Let the waves up take me down
Let the hurricane set in motion... yeah
Let the rain of what I feel right now...come down
Let the rain come down

Where is the coastguard
I keep looking each direction
For a spotlight, give me something
I need something for protection
Maybe flotsam junk will do just fine
the jetsam sunk, I'm left behind
I'm treading for my life believe me
(How can I keep up this breathing)

Not knowing how to think
I scream aloud, begin to sink
My legs and arms are broken down
With envy for the solid ground
I'm reaching for the life within me
How can one man stop his ending
I thought of just your face
Relaxed, and floated into space

I want to swim away but don't know how
Sometimes it feels just like I'm falling in the ocean
Let the waves up take me down
Let the hurricane set in motion... yeah
Let the rain of what I feel right now...come down
Let the rain come down
Let the rain come down

Now waking to the sun
I calculate what I had done
Like jumping from the bow (yeah)
Just to prove I knew how (yeah)
It's midnight's late reminder of
The loss of her, the one I love
My will to quickly end it all
Set front row in my need to fall

Into the ocean, end it all
Into the ocean, end it all
Into the ocean, end it all
into the ocean...end it all

Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)
Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)
Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)

I want to swim away but don't know how
Sometimes it feels just like I'm falling in the ocean
Let the waves up take me down
Let the hurricane set in motion (yeah)
Let the rain of what I feel right now...come down
Let the rain come down
Let the rain come down

Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)
(In to space)
Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)
Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)
Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)
Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)
Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)
(I thought of just your face)
Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)
Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)
Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)
Into the ocean (goodbye) end it all (goodbye)

I lent my son my shuffle for his school trip to DC recently. There is an eclectic mix of music on there as I listen to it while I run or other aerobic exercise. I added Boomtown Rats "I don't like Mondays" recently. My son sings it all the time now. He wants me to get the sheet music to play it on the piano. :-) So do I, but it isn't that easy. The one book I found that has it is no longer in print.

This week, Mother's day, and stuff...

Took the Sangria to Kickball Wednesday night. It was well received. For luck, our kickers were given the sacred fruit from the mix. :-) It was a moral victory as we held the best and highest scoring team to just 6 runs.

Thursday was the World Dinner Tour with Meetin. We went to a Thai restaurant in Norfolk. My son likes some asian foods, but isn't crazy about them. I wasn't sure how he was going to do with this. As it was, he did fine. Chicken Pad Thai for him, and Erawan Pad Thai for me. We both had Thai tea, and we had fried banana's and ice cream for dessert. It was a fun night with friends and a bit of a culinary adventure for him.

Friday I took my son to his mom's parents for the weekend and I helped host a happy hour with meetin afterwards. That was a lot of fun, a great time with friends, and a relaxing way to wind down the week. It's been a good week at work since we got a new engineer to help me out, and there were a number of people gone this week.

Saturday is winefest in Norfolk. It's gonna be a great time. I have a long time friend coming into town this weekend so I'll be having dinner with his family Saturday night.

Sunday is Mother's day. There are a lot of extraordinary Mom's out there and I hope it is a special day for all of you. My mom died from cancer in February 2001. I'll post the following poem every year for Mother's Day. It's written by a person whose comic strip I read everyday. To me it describes how our relationships with our moms may not always be perfect, and we may not always know quite how to express our feelings, but time is always always too short.

by J.D. Frazer

Motherhood, O Gordian Rite,
Chafed with paints of life,
A canvas thick with lighter oils,
Yet stained by Quiet Strife.

Ideal heights, and high ideals,
Make us aim for steeples.
I try, you try, to clutch our bond,
Yet prove we’re different people.

Words, O Words, what they can say,
Real things not just tokens!
Yet sometimes thought departs my mind,
And wrong words become spoken.

A Turn of phrase I cannot quoth,
Nor proffer due salute,
So gifts I give to speak for me,
A poet fallen mute.

Due words I mightn’t ever say,
And you mightn’t always see,
Yet when time arrives to take your hand,
I’ll say time stole you from me.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A couple of things....

Pitcher of Sangria is "aging" in the fridge. Grand Marnier (a cup or so), a bottle of Poizin Zinfandel (which despite the name and skull/crossbones is delicious), 1 cup raspberries, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup blackberries, 8 strawberries (quartered), 2 kiwis sliced and quartered, some apricot halves quartered, 6 tables spoons water and 6 tablespoons raw cane sugar. Boil water and sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolves (er, I went a little longer and it kinda came out like melted hard candy). Combine fruit in a bowl. Put sugar-water, Grand Marnier, Wine, and some apricot juice in a pitcher. Stir. Add fruit, stir more. I sampled some on the way...and a little at the end. I can feel it. I'm a light weight though. I could get used to the Grand Marnier...I'm supposed to let the whole thing sit in the fridge for up to 12 hours, then add 1.5 cups sparkling water. Serve immediately with 1/3 cup fruit in each glass,ice, then pour the liquid over it. It's going to be a good day tomorrow. :-)

There is another thing, hence "A couple of things" but the other I'm having trouble with so not going there right now. It has something to do with Cozumel, Mexico and a travel / diving partner.

This weekend....

Brought a lot of much needed sunshine!

Friday night was the Asperger's kids game night. Brandon was reticent to go, but when he got there he had a blast. A lot of kids with practically no rules. It was awesome. The mother of my best friend from high school was there. She is raising her grandson (an unfortunate series of events) and it was her first meeting. It was interesting to watch and to listen to the parents. They all deal with the same school personnel, they all have the same issues, and yet this group is the first time they have all met.

Saturday I had to drag my son out of bed at 9am so that we could get sandwiches and things together for our hike. We met with two other people from and did a 3 mile hike. The weather was awesome. My son stepped right over a water snake sunning itself on the path. I picked it up so we could all get a closer look at it. Being scared, it defecated, on me. Then it reeked. I washed my hands constantly the rest of the day to get the stench off my hands. One person brought two puppies along...and that was their walk for the week. I may have a picture of the snake in a day or two, waiting for the person with the camera to email them to me.

We also went to go see Iron Man Saturday night. Lots of action, a little too much on the sex side, but it was good and really funny.

Sunday was work day. 10-5 was non-stop raking and mowing, trying to get the backyard into shape. I hadn't raked leaves back there all winter. I paid for that. The patio is cleaned up, sticks are ready to burn, leaves are out front, and the lawn got completely trimmed. I got a fire bowl at Lowes expressly for the purpose of burning the sticks, but I have to remove a branch from a tree before I can really use it. I have to put down some grass seed in a few places. We got some bird feeders, a weed eater/edger (which I desperately needed), and a new patio table. I seriously need to trim some hedges and some branches. I probably need to remove at least one more bush entirely too. Doing so may produce a spot for a nice herb garden. Not that I know the first thing about such a beast, but I know I like fresh basil and mint.

I need to figure out the best way to drive off mosquitoes.

What didn't get done Sunday was making Sangria. I saved some recipes from the local paper. Virginia apparently just repealed a law that forbade the mixing of wine and stronger alcohols. So with some nice non-tannin red wine, some brandy or other spirit, and some fruit, I can now legally concoct a Sangria. I have a shopping list. :-) On my list of things to do is to find a good rum cake recipe too. Now the only thing my son did all day to my complete satisfaction was clear all the papers off the table and get them into the recycle bin...which means I now need to fish out my Sangria recipes.

I need a week off from work and parenting...I really need more than that, but I'll start with a week. :-)

Have a great week!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Frustrations and mountain climbing....

If you have enough mole hills, you have a mountain. Ever played whack a mole? I'm pretty good. I win prizes at Bush Gardens for it. My day to day life is all about whack a mole. I even have moles in my yard, for real. Mole hills every where, whack a mole, whack a mole. At work the moles currently whack us, there are so many.

I've been to the top of the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, The Blue Ridge Mountains, the Smoky Mountains, the White Mountains, and some mountain range near Bergen, Norway. There are still more mountains I would love to see and climb, but there are about 3 million mole hills in the way, and the largest mountain ever I'm still in the process of scaling. I meet a lot of other mountain climbers on the way. Each has a route picked out, and appear to be doing well. I'm struggling. Some say they have the big picture and offer advice, and like the tale of the man, the boy, and the donkey try to take it in only to realize they don't have the big picture, are climbing a different mountain, and are trying for a whole different objective. Mostly I could use a push now and then. I get easily distracted and start sliding backwards or get way off track. It is who I am. I don't need arm chair quarterbacks telling me what I need to do. I don't need criticism. In most cases I really don't need advice as I know where I want to go and how to get there. I need those arm chair people to throw a few blocks, stop a blitz, etc. I need some help whacking a few moles now and then.

One thing I've learned about hiking and climbing is that when you get to the top of one mountain, you look around and realize, rather dishearteningly, that there are a lot of other mountains on the other side. It's a good thing I like to climb mountains.

In 2002 I had to do some installs in Utah. I was going out for a week. My first trip to the Rocky Mountains and I was salivating. I packed up my snowboard and computer gear and flew out with child like anticipation. It was 70 degrees Sunday evening when I landed in Salt Lake City and every ski resort south of Vancouver BC was closed with one possible exception, Snow Bird, who said they may be open the following weekend. While I worked during the week the conditions had changed drastically. Basically a storm system rolled in Monday and kept rolling. It snowed non-stop at Snow Bird and when I got there Friday it was the best snowboarding ever. Deep, fresh powder everywhere. Saturday brought more of the same, only fierce. It was snowing a blizzard at the top of the mountain. Some people came down from the top of the mountain and said it was like a hurricane up there. I've been through hurricanes I thought...It surely can't be like that. So I went up. Traversing the lifts on the way up was very eerie. Each jaunt was less and less populated. When I go the lift to go to the top it was utterly deserted in every sense of the word. I think even the attendants left. It was windy, and visibility was almost about the length of my arm. The sign said experts only, conditions extremely hazardous. I didn't really know what that meant so I kept going. My gloves nearly froze to the bar on the way up. They were crackling so bad I thought they might break, but I was having trouble moving them so no chance of that happening. I was cold. The wind was furious. I couldn't see anything. I didn't know which way to go. I went up, then back down, then back up. I realized I was going to freeze if I didn't do something, so I pointed the board down to where the trees (I think they were trees) seemed most sparse. At points on the way down I found myself in waist to chest high drifts of powder. I didn't just want to go straight down because there are cliffs around...and I couldn't see anything. At one point I saw another person, a person shaped darkened outline sliding past. I shouted "Do you know where you are going? Do you know how to get down?" They answered "NO." And then I started laughing.

Why all of this for this post? I'm in that blizzard right now and can't see a damn thing. I can feel the slope, but can't see the pitfalls so I'm moving slow and cautious. Most of you reading this probably are too. I may not be able to give direction, and if most people are honest then they know they really have no idea how to get me where I want to go too, but I can offer a cup of coffee, a beer, a nice Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti (Purple teeth are funny and the wine is really good), a fleece or a jacket, some conversation, a shovel and some muscle behind it help dig you out of a drift. I have a lot of tools that I have accumulated and can fix most any toy, electrical, or mechanical problem, but I'm horrible with people and relationships. I'm great with improvisation and impulsivity, but terrible at planning. I'm so easily distracted and overwhelmed that I'm a true hazard to myself. :-)

Off to hike....the blog has distracted me enough this morning!!!!

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Testing went well this morning...I think. I spent about 10-15 mins discussing my issues with the assessments versus what I was looking for. I'm not sure how you diagnose neurological and sensory disorders with IQ and ADHD oriented testing...and I let them know that. We should have the results in two weeks.

Today was also the first day of my son's new daycare. It went well by all counts. Once they get used to him, and he to them, things will change. Hopefully he can last long enough to make it to the summer.

Things keep degrading at work too. Hopefully I outlast the issues and things start to turn around. I'm not optimistic. We've essentially drowned at this point...just waiting to be fished out and declared dead.

Mom and Kids in the road...

The other day I was taking my son back to school from a doctor's appointment. There was starting to be a big back up in a major intersection, but I was able to get a view as to what was happening. Apparently a young mother had become disoriented and was wandering about in the intersection, in traffic, with about seven young children in tow. It was creating quite a problem, but fortunately most drivers were aware and taking action not to hit them. A couple of people got out of their cars to stop traffic and get the mom and children out of harms way. Hopefully they are still doing well and got to where they were going. Hopefully the return trip was less eventful. The mother in this case was a Duck, and the children were her clutch of ducklings.

Spring produces so many teachable moments for our own children. Thank goodness my son is rather oblivious to the various pairing and mating rituals of the many animals around the neighborhood here.

This morning my son says "Dad, our bird sounds just like a smoke detector." Me, "No, that is the smoke detector." For some odd reason the ones I use just start chirping for no readily apparent reason. Not alarming, but chirping. New batteries do not help, however I think I solved the mystery. They may have a timer that makes them chirp every couple of months so that you TEST them. Once I tested them and endured their piercing high decimal wail, all seems fine. If I had been smart I would have used them to wake up my son this morning.... :-) Not really, but it wouldn't have worked anyway. I basically have to pull him out of bed, stand him upright, and play puppet master to get him into the bathroom where the light and the promise of hot water normally starts to wake him up.