Wednesday, August 27, 2008

just an amalgamation...

My life just seems to be a mishmash of things these days.

I had to pick up my son last Thursday for a tetanus booster shot. They won't let him into school this year without it. He was apprehensive about it but was trying to be brave. We played solitaire on the phone in the waiting room. When we got tired of that I just slunk down in my chair and closed my eyes. Brandon was not so relaxed. He kept playing with my arms, asking when he was going to be seen, asking if it was going to hurt, etc. At one point he decided to rub my head, then moved his hands to my face where he found a lot of stubble. He exclaimed "You're growing a beard!" I'm not, but it was funny. We weren't the only ones laughing.

While in the examining room he kept trying to make faces and I kept making him laugh so he couldn't. At some point we switched places and I ended up on the examining table. He was hoping I would get the shot. While I'm probably due for a booster, I don't mind shots or giving blood. I spent six years in the Navy and I just learned to accept a needle every other day or so to put something in or take something out.

You should have seen the look on the doctor's face when he walked in and saw me instead of the 11 year old boy he was expecting. :-) I do believe I have stated elsewhere that I like practical jokes.

So Brandon got his shot and was very brave. They gave him some ice cold liquid courage though, and no, not the adult variety. They now numb the spot of the shot with a cold liquid.

We went on to Subway for dinner, then to dodgeball, then I took him back to his Grandparents.


My brother came up Saturday for the East Coast Surfing Championships (ECSC). He skims in an amateur / pro-am capacity. At dinner that night we talked about a lot of things. Something he said was interesting as it has come up in conversation for me lately too. He asked me if I had a bucket list. He said he was camping with a friend and they asked him that. I said not really. Usually if I think I want to do something, I do it. He doesn't either. I should probably tell you some stories about the predicaments my brother and I often find ourselves in. Phrases like "Danger, Cliff area" "Small craft advisory" "Bears won't bother you unless it's been a bad berry year, and it's been a bad berry year" "You will drown before someone gets to you" "I have a bad feeling about this but it's too late" "Why did I let you talk me into this" "How do we get down without dying" and "That's gonna really hurt tomorrow" come to mind. See the picture below as this was one of our favorite "trails" at Snowbird. The one at the boarder cross entrance was better and I wish I had gotten a picture of it...but I didn't want to stop.

We laughed at some of the things we've done. Then he said he really wants to go back to Yosemite. Me too. Here is least I get it, maybe you will too...

Yosemite from the Hoover Wilderness, Eastern Side. I was hiking in the Sierras by myself on day in June 2002. I saw this and it hit me "I have to hike through Yosemite someday". My brother called two weeks later and said he and his wife were going...

We went just after labor day. It is an epic adventure story nearly as funny as Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods". Below is the Hetch Hetchy resevoir. In a day or two (maybe more) I'll write the story out here. My sister in law would tell it a little different...but I'll never forget what she said in the car about our bodily smells on the way to Santa Cruz after our two day ordeal...

And of course the main valley...Unfortunately for you I'm no Ansel...

and just in case you thought I was kidding about the bears...


Friday, August 22, 2008

Internet Access and XKCD

The last few times I have moved, part of my requirement has been that I need high speed Internet access. When selecting a place I look my room, my son's room, and where I'm going to put the computers. At least once I have hooked up Internet before carpets were in and painting was complete. I currently enjoy a fiber connection with 30Mbps download and 5Mbps upload. While I don't always need it there I times I need every 'bit' of it! Even if it is to let my geek friends know MY bandwidth is bigger and better than THEIR bandwidth. :-)

There are too many freakish insights this XKCD guy has into my life.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I was asked to be a guest blogger

On a forum that caters to single parents, Single Mom Seeking.

She asked me to contribute something about special needs children since it is a topic that isn't covered much. I told a little of my story and some of the ways I was looking for and finding help.

You have to understand, I like puzzles...

I like all kinds of puzzles. I love numbers. I love the way I can pull numbers apart and put them back together. I like that there is more than one way to look at math problems. I also love words, and I especially love the way you can put words together or take them apart. While some people say a picture is worth a thousand words, I say a word is word a thousand pictures. When you say a word, all sorts of memories and meanings come to mind. When you put words together, you get to narrow that picture. If you do it right, you've created a picture in people's minds. If you are really good, you've created a masterpiece that people will remember and cherish centuries from now, if not longer.

So if you make fun of me...I might create a picture of what I see. I have many tools to choose from.

So Robin...because you are a friend and were so kind in your comments, email, and phone conversation today, and because you said I couldn't rhyme with 'awesome', I've created something for you...

Limerick for Robin

I know a young lady named Robin,
Whose tongue there is no stoppin',
She thinks she is so awesome,
Like Spring's flowery blossoms,
But if our friendship grew some,
We'd learn fun new songs to hum,
Or Karaoke with some rum,
But since you like to chew gum,
And I think it's rather gruesome,
The next time you want to joke some,
You ought to keep your mouth mum.

:-D Yes, it's totally goofy, but she said I couldn't do it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Summer Dance

Summer Dance

The long days are drawing in,
Cooling the warm summer winds,
Memories of summer friends,
Warm our hearts as summer ends.

Endless sand and sunset swims,
Tasting her amazing lips,
Drinks and laughs with groups of friends,
Hoping that it never ends.

Local bands and ocean surf,
Danced and played for all we’re worth,
Brilliant fireworks on the fourth,
Spirits soaring without a course.

As we move and intertwine,
To a rhythm full of chance,
Some moments stand still in time,
Highlights of the summer dance.

Things you should do...

I'm up way too late.

You need to put in Google Reader or your preferred RSS Feed Reader.

Right now. It will only hurt when you laugh....

Monday's Strip

Friday's Strip
Voting Machines

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I went to see Star Wars Clone Wars tonight as a way to wind down the weekend. Word of advice, you can wait for this to hit the $9.99 and below bin at Target. It won't take long. This is a great example of a "Franchise" that needs to be spun off from its creator. It is past time for this to pass to new talent and for Lucas to just sit back and collect the checks. I am about to give up on the entire thing. It needs to be rescued like Batman The Dark Knight rescued that series. Is all I'm sayin'.

That isn't the strangeness however. I heard a song as I was pulling into my driveway earlier today. Gavin Rossdale's "Love Remains the Same". Something about it really caught my attention. The thing is the radio was still displaying the group and song title of the song before. I had to remember a line, head straight into google, and do a lyric search to find it. While sitting in the theater tonight, I found it is the theme song for the movie "Nights in Rodanthe". It was also played for some other advertisement. The funny thing about the advertising is that I remember the song or commercial, but have no idea what the product is later. :-) The movie looks good, but painful.

Now, Rodanthe is in the Outer Banks in NC. Not very far from me. I've been there. The Outer Banks are beautiful. I am wondering if the movie was actually filmed in the Outer Banks. "A Message in a Bottle" was also supposed to be set in the Outer Banks, but it was obviously not filmed there.

Still, I think that what people do in real life is much more interesting.
Check out Matt Logelin,. See his guest blog post at Single Mom Seeking. If you don't know the story you may want to grab a tissue before you get there.

On really funny note, you need to read the blog I found when "researching" the link on The Hygiene Chronicles blog.

Sarah and the Goon Squad. So, good night, because once you click the last link you are sure to be caught up in paroxysms of laughter so powerful you will not make it back.

Breakfast with my son :-)

This morning my son happened to be in the area and I coordinated with his mom to take him to breakfast. I haven't seen him since June 13th. While he has grown some, changed some, he is still that great little boy. We were very excited to see each other! We just chatted about what he had been doing and what he would be doing over the next week. He hasn't read his book for school yet, go figure. We thumb and arm wrestled while we waited for breakfast. He has always been strong, but he is certainly getting stronger.

While we were eating he says "I found a picture of you with hair." He is grinning from ear to ear. Now, I only shaved my head just over a year ago, when he turned 10, so I know he remembers me hair. I also still have hair, it is just very short, and I keep it that way because it is easier to manage in the summer when I am outside. During the winter, I can wear a hat like Steve.

Now, being equally curious and fearful, I asked what picture he was looking at. I'm not really sure I want to know, but I know he must have found it on the Internet. He says it was of me at Lake Rawlings feeding the fish. He then continues on saying that he can't remember the link to my blog so he searches images for Lake Rawlings. He says, "Then I click on it and there is your whole blog."

I know that he has seen my blog. I know that he has read my blog. I think I now know where the "lake rawlings drowning" keyword searches are coming from.

We had a great breakfast, a great visit, and I can't wait for him to come home in two weeks!


On the way to breakfast I saw a bumper sticker that said:
"It is better to have loved and lost than to live with a PSYCHO for the REST OF YOUR LIFE."


Another bumper sticker later:
"Love is Everything"


Song I heard on the radio just now:

Gavin Rossdale's "Love Remains the Same"

A thousand times I've seen you standing
Gravity like lunar landing
You make me wanna run till I find you
I shut the world away from here
I drift to you, you're all I hear
As everything we know fades to black

Half the time the world is ending
Truth is I am done pretending

I never thought that I
Had anymore to give
You're pushing me so far
Here I am without you
Drink to all that we have lost
Mistakes we have made
Everything will change
But,love remains the same

I find a place where we escape
Take you with me for the space
The city buzz sounds just like a fridge
I walk the streets through seven bars
I have to find just where you are
The faces seem to blur
They're all the same

Half the time the world is ending
Truth is I am done pretending

I never thought that I
Had anymore to give
You're pushing me so far
Here I am without you
Drink to all that we have lost
Mistakes we have made
Everything will change
But love remains the same

So much more to say
So much to be done
Don't you trick me out
We shall overcome
It's all left still to play

We - we could have had the sun
Could have been inside
Instead we're over here

Half the time the world is ending
Truth is I am done pretending
Too much time too long defending
You and I are done pretending

I never thought that I
Had anymore to give
You're pushing me so far
Here I am without you
Drink to all that we have lost
Mistakes we have made
Everything will change
Everything will change

I, oh I,
I wish this could last forever
I, oh I,
as if this could last forever

Love remains the same
Love remains the same

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever love with all I am again.

Friday, August 15, 2008

DC - the rest of the story

Ok, It has been an extremely busy week. Right now it is Friday night and I'm still doing WORK. In between I'm writing this, getting things done around the house, etc. I have a few huge projects to do and I'm reading manuals, digesting information, and formulating plans. When I need a break I jump up and do something else. At least at home I can play music, snack, etc. Currently a song has captured my attention: Sister Hazel's "Truth is".

So let me tell you about my visit with Steve from the Hygiene Chronicles. I was pretty tired Tuesday night, thanks to Liz, but I was very excited about seeing Steve. Steve is a very warm, genuine, and inviting person. I've been reading his blog for a little over a year. He is a great story teller and can really highlight the humor in a situation. Having dinner with him was no different. He conveyed the challenges of parenting a child with three other people. I'm not so sure that doing it solo is harder. Consider that you have to cooperate and coordinate with three other people. I do believe that Corey is one fortunate little boy to have four wonderful people helping to raise him.

While talking to Steve, he mentioned that he doesn't like write with pen and paper. Liz said the same thing the night before and I asked them both the same question, "Are you left handed?" They both reacted with surprise and responded the same way. Yes. I am the same way. Give me a keyboard because if you ask me to write it out on paper it likely is not going to happen. I'm sure there is a scientific study that can tell us why, but for now I'll enjoy the intriguing mystery that connects us.

We talked a bit about the National Zoo. You have to go see the tigers and other big cats really early in the cool mornings. That is when they are most active. The National Zoo also has a giant pacific octopus. That is a WICKED cool thing to see when they feed it. I'm serious, WICKED cool.

Sharing and talking with Steve was over all too soon, so I hope we can do it again before too long. I plan on being back up that way soon, and I plan on taking some trips up there with my son during the fall for the museums and the zoo. While Steve made it clear that they won't watch any of my animals, I'm wondering if that counts for my son. :-)

Now, on my way home from DC I spoke with The Exception. I'm going to call her TE since I haven't asked if I could use her name and I don't see it on her blog. TE is a great listener. I feel like I talked the whole time. We talked some about my work and some about the area down where I live. I was a little wound up so I think I rambled quite a bit. It was a great conversation. It was actually too great of a conversation. I forgot to stop and get gas. The truth is I don't remember the drive at all from the southern end of the HOV on 95 south to Richmond. So, we were rudely interrupted when my car ran out of gas. Luckily I was at an exit with a gas station and only had to walk about 200 yards to get some. We'll have to pick up the conversation at another point in time because I have come to the realization that even with a bluetooth headset, talking while driving is not safe. Besides, there is a question I keep meaning to ask that I forgot while we were on the phone!

One thing about meeting these exceptional people is that it doesn't feel like meeting someone new, but rather a good long time friend. The openness and honesty that they write with makes talking with them very easy. The connections are stronger than I would have expected and really took me by surprise.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Going to DC was supposed to be fun. I was looking forward to it. I was looking forward to the work I was going to be doing. I was looking forward to the metro. I was looking forward to living the DC lifestyle for a few days. I was also trying to meet a few fellow bloggers while I was there. Specifically the authors of A Bright Future, The Hygiene Chronicles, and The Exception.

I read many blogs every day (Thank you Google Reader). All of them, in my opinion, are exceptional. Aside from a few people that I met first and then found out they had a blog, I haven't met any of them. I have emailed some. I have talked to a few. But never met any face to face. In my mind, getting to meet these people is like other people getting to meet their favorite celebrities. I was both excited and nervous. I had no expectations at all other than to have a few beers, some dinner, and to have some good laughs and discussions. I got so much more than that, and I am ever so grateful.

For the first time ever it was hard leaving DC. I quite literally ran out of gas talking to the author of The Exception, the one I didn't get to actually meet.

I now know that with my driving habits, my car will go exactly 392 miles on one tank of gas. Not one foot further. Not even the extra 200 yards required to reach the gas station. :-( I also know that I have a gauge that blocks the view of the warning light. I also know that despite all my claims to the contrary, talking with a bluetooth headset while driving is distracting and not safe. I hope you learn from my mistakes! I hope I learn from them too. :-)

There is so much to say I will take them one at a time.

So, to begin, there is this woman named Liz and she writes a blog called A Bright Future.

I need to emphatically impress upon you that Liz is enthralling. Somehow afternoon turned to twilight, then to evening, and then to night. I had no idea. I didn't care. I'm sure there were people coming and going all around us, but I was so captivated I did not notice. Liz is beautiful, sexy, smart, compassionate, funny, witty, exciting, adventurous, and much more. I could have talked to her all night, and through the next week. I tried. Being there never once felt awkward. It was in no way like meeting someone for the first time, but much more like good friends who were getting together to just talk and have fun. We knew we had limited time, so we launched into subjects unabashedly and segues were innumerable. We covered so much ground that it is all a blur. Stories, thoughts, and ideas came and went like the Perseid meteors. That summer evening was intoxicating and we guzzled it up.

So Liz, thank for a truly remarkable, memorable, and thrilling evening. Maybe next time we'll make up for that one missing beer issue. :-) Hopefully it will be soon!

Right now, I need sleep. More about the trip, the unexpected visitors and outings, and the other two really amazing bloggers tomorrow!

If you think I'm busy at home...

You should see me on a business trip. Since Friday afternoon last week I have been in overdrive. I was preparing to leave on this trip until late into the night. I was up early packing and making sure I had everything. I was up late Saturday with the party. I got into the hotel about 10:30pm Sunday night, but was up past 1am writing a post as a guest blogger! More on that soon.

I was also trying to meet up with a few fellow bloggers in the evenings.

As it was I met two, and I should get to talk to a third this afternoon, but I'll have to write about them later. Amazing left handed people. I'm awestruck, really.

Every single second has been filled since I've been here. I'm exhausted. It isn't over yet. I may call in sick Thursday and just collapse all day. I have loved it though.

Have a great day!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Um, this is a bit scary...

As it came out today, but it very accurately describes my experience looking for my hotel in Alexandria last night with Google Map directions. Now, to be fair, there is a TON of construction going on and nothing is what it says it is. I went here and there, making uturns (some of questionable legality), looking up for landmarks, trying to find street signs, etc. I made it, thanks to the people at the hotel, finally. Any way, here is the cartoon.

Google Maps

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reflections on Saturday - "Life's like an hourglass glued to the table"

A funeral and wedding (sort of), hundreds of miles of highway, Blue Ridge Mountains, windy roller coaster back roads, and a beautiful blue sky with islands of cotton ball clouds. I talked with my friend Robin for a bit, listened to a lot of music, and drove really fast (I was late for the anniversary party). Scary thing is that at points I was in a daze, on autopilot, and when I zoned back it I realized that there were whole sections of the drive I don't remember at all. When I turned south on Interstate 81 I turned off the radio and just enjoyed the mountains and the wind.

At the memorial service for Chuck, I was totally taken aback by how much his brother looks and sounds like him. I shouldn't have been surprised, but I just didn't notice before. I heard a ton of great stories about Chuck. Isn't that what most of would be remembered? In so many ways time just seems to blow by much too fast, an hour glass that is empty too often before it should be that you can't turn back over.

The anniversary party was a lot of fun. BBQ, family, friends, music, volley ball, lots of children, and a Wii projected onto an outdoor screen. I just enjoyed being there. It is so nice being nestled up in the mountains as afternoon fades to twilight and evening, the air cools down, the stars come out, and the dew settles on the grass creating an eclectic ballet of inebriated people trying to walk on a slippery slope in the dark at 1am. :-) My feet are big enough to be skis so no problem for me once I got my balance (until then I was careening and flailing like a giraffe on roller skates).

I get to drive up to DC later this evening to spend the next couple of days working there. There are a few people I'm hoping to meet while I'm up there! But more on that in another post.

Every time I am here in Blacksburg I just don't want to leave. The mountains all look like green comforters that I can just pull over me and go to sleep. That is how relaxed I feel out here. In the fall the leaves make the scenery look like an amazing patchwork quilt. I'm looking out the window of my friend's office at the broad leaf trees blowing in the wind and sunshine...think I need to head outside now!

Hope yours was a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Breakfast Club

Was one of my favorite movies in high school. I was sitting in a theater last week watching commercials (yes, in a theater, as if the tickets didn't cost enough already) and they showed a commercial length modern version of the Breakfast Club. I looked around and quickly realized that I was the only one that got the reference. :-( Damn I'm feeling old.

Physics, Why Matter Matters!

This is a children's book that my son found at a book fair this year. It is written by Dan Green, ISBN:978-0-7534-6214-0. The book is fantastic and the author really does a good job bringing the Physics down to a child's level (as much as it can be). My son read it four times and then carried with him everywhere he went.

Monday, August 04, 2008

There are things you don't want to hear or believe...

In "A Bridge to Terabithia" a boy is told that his close friend had died.  His reaction is of gut wrenching disbelief and denial.  That happened to me this morning.  I got a phone call that a good friend and co-worker of 8 or so years had passed away.  He was just a couple of years older than me.  I really just cannot comprehend it right now.

I always admired Chuck for the way he seemed to live each moment to the fullest.  He always seemed so energetic, upbeat, and optimistic.  He was always happy to have you around and always made you feel welcome and comfortable.  Just about everyone was a friend to Chuck.  He would build you up when you talked to him.  He was fantastic to work with.  Outside of work he was up for just about anything with friends and he definitely loved to surf.  Chuck was always crazy in the best ways. 

Chuck, you are gone way too soon and you are sorely missed.

"Until you forget what you think you know and what you think is possible, you will never know what is truly attainable."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

August and Everything After...

I suppose it is now time for a change in focus and direction. Time to prepare for the upcoming school year. Time to prepare to change my wild and spontaneous summer ways back to the rigid and regimented schedule of school and parental responsibilities. Time to become the full time parent once again, a split focus between work and my son. From September to the middle of June.

I'm excited and stressed about the upcoming year. I'm always the optimist, looking forward to opening doors and pathways for my son as he stretches his wings and adjusts to the ever widening world around him. I'm the veteran pragmatist, knowing that year after year each new experience also brings with it obstacles that I cannot predict. Things that can sink this fragile ship. I never really know how my son is going to respond to the changes. Try as I might, I cannot see the world through his eyes, and our past is fraught with misunderstandings that I wish I could change. Each step forward brings me closer to understanding and being able to help him cope and grow. There are often big steps backward too. While trying to keep things stable for him, I also have to juggle work, insurance, medical bills that insurance doesn't cover, and find a way to continually not be at work so that I can get him to appointments at doctors that only work during the normal work day.

While I can't wait for him to come home, there is an undercurrent of trepidation that is ever present as I prepare to huff and puff non-stop to try and keep this little one just above the tree tops until he can hopefully soar on his own.

The Dartboard

I do like to play darts. It's fun for me. A little skill, a little luck. It is a lot more fun with friends. Even more so at a good pub with good beer and good grub. Add a band or music and I'll definitely be back. I have also found that it is really easy to throw darts at people. Not physically, but verbally. It is very easy to sit on the outside and pick people apart. Putting a painful dart in every wound. Slicing apart comments like an expert surgeon. Or a butcher. Even easier when you know you'll never walk in those shoes. We'll take it further than that, it even feels vindicating when you look down on them from a position of perceived superiority.

What isn't easy is finding ways to help people. To be there, face to face and see the pain, to feel it. It isn't easy to walk into someone's life, their home, and offer a hand and tell them it is there until they don't need it anymore. To literally walk a mile in their shoes.

I have a friend I've known for for about 23 years. They have been through the trials and tribulations that I've been through with my divorce and with my son. Every single step. Much, much, much more than you'll ever read about in this blog. This person and I feel nearly the same way on everything and the ordeal has significantly altered each of our worldviews. There are very few others that really understand, and recently I've been blessed by finding an Asperger's support group in our area where I can be around many other parents that are going through the same thing.

I've learned so much in so many areas. One thing that have learned is that when I have criticized people and their decisions in the past, I have found that when put in their shoes I've made the same decisions. It has been easy for me to say I've done x, y, and z and look down on people with either pity or contempt. What is hard is getting involved, and not to steer them some direction you think they should go, but get involved and let them sort the issues out the way they think they need to be. Many times people need to make mistakes, stumble, and right themselves without constant criticism in order to grow and learn.

"It's easier to be an asshole to words than to people"

God I love XKCD.