Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Preps...

Tonight we ran some errands. Brandon needed a few things and we needed Halloween gear.

At Target we got socks and jeans.

Halloween store to get a costume.

Stoney's market to get a pumpkin.

Kroger's to get candy (way on sale), onions, peppers, salmon, and milk.

The salmon is for me. Onions and peppers for cheese steaks. Milk just cause we needed it.

Brandon carved out his pumpkin without incident. Well, mostly. I wish he would talk to me about his designs first. He had to redo it.

So we are set. Last year I went as Robert Smith from The Cure. This year I think I'll be back to the duster and cowboy hat. Plus I have a beard. :-)

I think the beard will be going away though. Some brown hair, some blond, some GRAY. I'm not ready for gray.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The TRUTH is....

A friend of mine walked into a meeting she had called with several other high ranking government peers and said, "There are no virgins here right?" Her point was it was a meeting to get down to business and stop squabbling.

Another friend of mine recently sent me an email from some out-laws of hers. They were all up in arms because they found some information that said doesn't always do very thorough checking of their facts. They made the point that was slanted towards liberal views.

Ok, there are no virgins here right?

Do you honestly expect to get the "TRUTH" {cue Angelic "ahhhhh"} from a website, news channel, or news paper?

Do you honestly believe everything you read just because it came from someone that says they investigated it?

Mythbusters gets it wrong sometimes. Stephen Hawking gets it wrong sometimes. Einstein wasn't always right either.

Do YOU tell the truth all the time? Are you right all the time?

The X-Files got this right "Trust No One", but the Truth is not out there.

If you are a conservative then you listen to news sources that take the conservative side. Liberals vice versa. Do you want to hear the Truth? Of course not. You WANT to hear that what you believe is Truth. No one wants to be told that what they think or believe is wrong. That would be absurd.

There aren't as many absolutes as we sometimes think there are. When you read something, hear something, or see something, do not disengage your brain. You are no lemming. Avoid the mob mentality and weigh the facts and information for yourself.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fears...another milestone...

My son is currently participating in a program called AVID. He is in Sixth Grade. Friday they scheduled a field trip to Christopher Newport University. They got to tour the campus including dining facilities, dorms, classrooms, library, and gym. A freshman gave them the tour and was very patient with the crazy questions the sixth graders asked him. We learned about the tree everyone climbs on campus, we learned about the hippy area, we learned about the academic buildings and programs, we learned about campus safety, and so much more. On the bus, I learned a few things too. It is somewhat fun to just sit and listen to what these kids talk about, what they find important, how they manipulate their parents, etc. One kid said "So you pulled the old 'I don't have money for food' trick to get your dad to meet you at Busch Gardens, sweet." These kids have cell phones galore. They take lots of pictures and videos. One such video taken at the end of the night, if I can get it I'll post it here, is of my son battling a host of upper classmen with a light saber on the steps of the Globe Theater. On the bus it became legendary and was reverently referred to as the "Brandon Video."

The fear I refer to is of letting my son ride a roller coaster by himself. This roller coaster was Appollo's Chariot. 210' high with parabolic curves to induce weightlessness. My son was talking the whole time about how he wanted to hold his hands up. He didn't want to ride with me because he knew I would hold them down. He is right. With six people we couldn't all ride together, and he took advantage of that to jump in another line. I let him, though I was nervous the whole time. They ended up two trains behind my group so I got to ride, and then watch him get on by himself, and disappear 210' up into night. He was just fine. It is very hard letting go.

When we got there we ate. The six of us were very hungry. We went to Italy. Delicious. We rode Appollo's first, then the Big Bad Wolf, Dark Castle, Dragon Land (for little kids but they wanted it), and the Loch Ness Monster last. I got them all snacks after the last one because it was nearly time to go. The ended the visit with the light saber duels at the Globe, and then had a raucous ride home, fueled by the sugar I gave them I am sure.

It appears....

That my son's iPod Nano has recovered from the event we will now call "The Washing". It is syncing, updating, charging, playing, and displaying. He is very excited. One less item on the Christmas list.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


It was dark. It was cold. It was windy.

I was strapped down. So was my son. I could just barely reach him to reassure him I was still there. I couldn't see his face. Normally he is so chatty and loud, but now he was quiet.

The day had started off with promise, but rain and cold quenched that. After some deliberations we set off to do exactly what we had wanted to do first thing. I found myself now wishing we hadn't.

I was scared. Afraid. My mind racing through all the ways this could end, all of them bad. I was afraid for me. I was afraid for my son, for I had encouraged him to come along. I told him it would be fine. He believed me. Now I couldn't see him.

We were up high. 205' high, looking down at the ground with nothing underneath us. I knew that if anything happened to my son I would never forgive myself. Then we fell.

Riding the Griffon at Busch Gardens is always exhilarating. Hanging at the top I always feel like I've made a foolish mistake. At the end of the ride I can't wait to go again.

Riding with my son was a whole different experience. I was afraid for him. Was he buckled in right? Was he really big enough? Was he really afraid like I was afraid for him? There was nothing I could do about any of it. I hated that feeling. All the way down the drop I was ready try and snag him if he came loose.

This wasn't his first time on this roller coaster. He had been with his mom at the end of summer. He wouldn't ride it last year, even with me trying to bribe the sense out of him. Now I am thankful.

At the end of the ride, just as we stopped, he said with confidence and youthful vigor, "That is my favorite ride." All was well, and my fears eased...

...until next time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

iPods and other meltdowns...

So it finally happened. My son left something in his laundry he REALLY cared about. His iPod Nano. I was doing laundry Sunday when I heard the odd "Clink, Clank, Clunk" sound in the dryer. Part of me didn't even want to look. I started pulling clothes out to find what it was. I found the head phones first and just groaned. A second later I pulled the iPod. It was locked, which is good. It was wet inside, which is not good. I looked around to see what I had that might work to dry it out. The best I could come up with was a lamp. All of my lightbulbs are low wattage flourescent bulbs. I figured I'll put it over the bulb for a few days and let it thoroughly dry out. It isn't dry yet, but making progress. Maybe Wednesday I'll try and turn it on.

My son had a major meltdown this afternoon. He just didn't want to do his English homework. He cried, he launched himself into the mountainous pile of laundry. He said, "I hate it when you are so UNEMOTIONAL." "YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME," which I'm sure what he really meant to say was "I never listen to you dad." This went on for about 15 minutes. He went to bed, fell asleep, and woke up about two hours later. He's been fine since.

I also saw a quote from Buddha recently. I couldn't remember exactly where, and I couldn't remember enough of the quote to search for it. I took a stab with Google anyway, found another quote that I like, but not what I was looking for, then remembered quite clearly where I saw what I wanted, on facebook, and promptly got it. Here they are so you don't have to search for them:

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

I love the Be HERE, NOW philosophy.

“What you are is what you have been, what you will be is what you do now.”

“If you want to know your past life, look into your present condition; if you want to know your future life, look at your present action."

My instigative nature

Sometimes abbreviations and acronyms lead me into temptation. Honestly, I rarely resist that temptation.

I am an instigator. This can also mean that I am a manipulator. It is true.

I will "SUGGEST" methods and means for others to use for their own or someone else's gain, or for my own entertainment. I lack the ability, or maybe the determination, to employ the power for my personal gain. I don't consider "for my entertainment" my personal gain for some reason.

I'm sure a lot of it comes from growing up with three younger brothers.

Here is a story that happened just over a week ago that highlights this:
You may recall how I went to DC last weekend. I visited with Liz and her two amazing children. Liz has a friend named Kevin that came to take the youngest out for a grand adventure while Liz, her oldest, my son, and I met The Exception and her daughter for lunch and the symphony. Liz was explaining Kevin, who is not a father, that he will have to change her son's diaper at some point. Kevin was about to laugh it off when Liz told him she was quite serious. She said "He has all the same parts as you..." Now Kevin is a young, terrific, involved, inspired, and responsible guy. I'll have to let Liz tell you about the rest of that part of the story.

Early in the evening we meet back up with Kevin and the youngest and the six of us have some Thai food. Kevin relates his adventures, including how a three foot alligator came into the possession of the youngest, while the boys were keeping the wait staff busy bringing replacements for things dropped on the floor. After dinner we had to walk back to the garage that Kevin parked the truck in. We had to navigate through a little multi-level mall.

We were just about to the last escalator that led down to the truck. Liz and I were in the back while Kevin was ahead with the boys. Yes, I am sad to say I corrupted her with my plan. I whispered, "Lets hang back and see how Kevin does with the boys when they see we are not there." Liz, I'm so sorry. Please let Kevin know.

Se we stepped back behind corner and listened. Kevin was trying to call Liz's eldest back to him while trying to coax the younger to step on the escalator and even I don't want to know what mine was doing (mine firmly believes DC is his own personal amusement park / playground / jungle gym). It was audibly obvious that Kevin was in trouble by his increasingly excited exclamations to the diverging children.

We quickly stepped around the corner to see Kevin breathing heavily holding the youngest's hand, and the other two happily bouncing up the other escalator to rejoin the party. Liz's eldest apparently idolized my son (him being 4 and mine being 11) and tried to do everything Brandon did. Again, I'm so sorry Liz, I know your son learned a lot you would have rather he had not.

Kevin quickly told us that he had to sprint back up the escalator to get the youngest, which is why he was breathing heavy, while trying to keep an eye on and issuing verbal instructions to the others.

So we all had a good laugh. All was well. But I tell you this so that you know, I'm an instigator. Beware of anything I may say to you in person, in an email, or on your blog...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Since I was in a posting drought for a while...

I'm going to malign your minds with minuscule mindless minutiae.

My workout Playlist:
Name Artist
Move Along The All-American Rejects
I Believe (Original Mix) Ashley Wallbridge
Into The Ocean Blue October
Hate Me Blue October
I Don't Like Mondays The Boomtown Rats
Happens All the Time Cold
Lovers In Japan Coldplay
Viva La Vida Coldplay
Violet Hill (Album Version) Coldplay
Strawberry Swing Coldplay
Round Here Counting Crows
Mr. Jones Counting Crows
Home Daughtry
Over You Daughtry
If You're Gonna Leave Emerson Hart
I Wish the Best for You Emerson Hart
I Know Emerson Hart
Green Hills Race for California Emerson Hart
Flyin' Emerson Hart
Superman Five for Fighting
100 Years Five for Fighting
How to Save a Life The Fray
Love Remains The Same Gavin Rossdale
Better Than Me Hinder
Lips of an Angel Hinder
Hands Jewel
Mr. Brightside The Killers
Somebody Told Me The Killers
Black Horse and the Cherry Tree (Radio Version) KT Tunstall
Suddenly I See KT Tunstall
I Hope You Dance Lee Ann Womack
Papercut Linkin Park
Runaway Linkin Park
Place for My Head Linkin Park
Pushing Me Away Linkin Park
In The End Linkin Park
What I've Done Linkin Park
Cool Change (24-Bit Digitally Remastered 02) Little River Band
How Mighty Is The Silence Lowen And Navarro
Weight Of The World Lowen And Navarro
Anyway Martina McBride
99 Red Ballons (techno remix) Nena
Flat on the Floor Nickelback
U + Ur Hand P!nk
Who Knew P!nk
Don't Let Me Get Me P!nk
I Write Sins Not Tragedies Panic! At the Disco
Love Bites QED
Hardly a Day QED
Broken Road Rascal Flats
Vapor Trail Rush
Where Do You Go Sister Hazel
This Kind of Love Sister Hazel
Beautiful Thing Sister Hazel
Red Balloon Starling
Mortal Kombat Theme (Techno Remix) techno
Just Be Tiesto
Open Up Your Eyes Tonic
If You Could Only See Tonic
You Wanted More Tonic
I Will Follow U2
Leave The Pieces (Album Version) The Wreckers
Citizen/Soldier 3 Doors Down
It's Not My Time 3 Doors Down
Let Me Be Myself 3 Doors Down
These Days 3 Doors Down
Your Arms Feel Like home 3 Doors Down

Each of these songs has something about it that inspires me, especially when I am exercising. At least running or elliptical, I don't listen when lifting weights.

While both the music and lyrics are what lands a song here most of the time, a few of the trance/techno songs are just the music/beat. Likewise there are probably a couple that the music doesn't do too much, but the lyrics have something inspiring to tell.

Usually the iPod shuffle is on shuffle and the songs play randomly. If I am not in a mood for a song, I just click next and usually the next song or two does the trick.

Lately, I've just been listening to the last four Three Doors Down songs:
It's Not My Time
Let Me Be Myself
These Days
Your Arms Feel Like home

The music, bass line especially, and the lyrics both pick me up as I'm pushing the limits of my legs. A woman I dated a few years ago had a saying "better at 40 than at 20". That is pretty much not going to happen for me and I have no illusions of it. But it's not my time, and I keep going to keep myself active, energized, and healthy (not to mention to keep my eating habits from making me 400 lbs).

Saturday outlook...


It was nice to wake up this morning with open windows, cool air, and the sound of 6am. It was still dark. I couldn't sleep though. Strange dreams.

We were supposed to go to Busch Gardens today. The idea of traipsing about in the rain going from eating place to eating place with an Irish dance show here or there just isn't as appealing as soaring through the fall air over the varying hues of Williamsburg's broad leaf trees on the back of the Griffon. Maybe tonight.

So, workout this morning (done). Chores. Breakfast. Maybe going to Glazenfyre today or maybe just Michaels to get crafts for B and I (like I NEED another mess to clean up).

I'm coughing like crazy, my throat is starting to hurt, my voice comes back sporadically, and I re-injured my rib/oblique at softball Thursday. Yeah yeah "Why did you play?"...Just let me be me. I wasn't coughing last week so healing is going to take longer. I'll be very happy when I can do my ab workouts and pull ups again. Until then I'm cranking up the resistance on the eliptical. I need to get my legs in shape for snowboarding. :-) Roll your eyes if you must, but until you've looked down from the top of an 11,000' mountain, accelerated through whisper quiet powder, cut and curved like you were surfing down a huge white wave, felt the physical-emotional-spiritual adrenaline surge, and collapsed into a cloud of this soft white powder laughing uncontrollably, you just won't understand.

:-) Have a great Saturday!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Still Friday....

Still raining.

Going to get sushi and bring it back.

My neighbor sent me this the other day:
She said she had given her children salad with organic salad dressing on it. They all complained, but the ten year old was missing and didn't hear the fuss. When the ten y.o. got there he took a bite, spat it out and vehemently exclaimed in his outside voice, HEY- WHAT’D YOU POISON THE SALAD WITH, LADY?


I worked out. I was starting to feel hungry.

I messaged a few friends with a simple text: "Sushi?"

Seems everyone has a date. I have an 11 year old. So much for spontaneity. We may still go. We both LOVE sushi. I was looking for some adult company though.

My voice came back some today. I didn't realize how much I HAVE to talk in my job. Now it has gone away again.

I read this article today. While helping out and doing more than just working has helped my son (This could be debatable), it certainly didn't do anything to help or salvage my marriage. In a way it set the stage for her to let go of everything. It really isn't that important, it just leads to the next item...

You see, you may not find it funny, but I did. On the off chance that you MIGHT find it funny, I'll share it with you....

I sent the article to a neighbor this morning. She responded back just a minute ago that she would read it later...that her kids were fighting. I told her, "Give them bats. Survival of the fittest or the fleetest. It's the organic parenting method." I don't think she thinks it is funny. You may not either...but I do! :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

So...I lost my physical voice and here is how people responded....

On facebook Robin says:
"OMG Christmas came early!!!!!!! LOL"

A department head said:
"Well since you can't talk I have some things I want to go over with you." I was there for an hour.

My program manager hasn't let me in his office in two days.

A co-worker, seeing me gesturing forcefully, rapidly moving my mouth, and turning a little red said to everyone in the office, "SHHHH. Mike is yelling."

And I was...just no one could hear me.

Stick figures are for kids?

I love Kevin Smith's movies. I love his Q&A sessions titled "An Evening with Kevin Smith", and "An Evening with Kevin Smith, Evening Harder." He has a new movie called "Zach and Miri make a Porno."

There have been some problems getting it promoted...understandably.

CNN ran this Article.

Here is an excerpt I would like to draw your attention to:

Diane Levin, an education professor specializing in child development at Boston's Wheelock College, said the posters at city bus stops send a message to children that working in the porn industry is an acceptable occupation.

"It's drawing attention to a movie which is mainstreaming and normalizing pornography, saying if you need money, this is what you do," said Levin, co-author of "So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids."

The stick-figure images are especially appealing to youngsters, since "stick figures are something for children," she said.

Now, all I am saying is that Diane has obviously never seen XKCD.

It's simple, and it's all about me anyway....

I'm a-political. I don't feel like I'm electing a leader or a President. I feel like I am electing a political party, neither one of which I like very much. Yes, there are more than just the big two, but we know that the election will come down to democrat or republican. Why? Is it because our parents were one or the other? Our friends from college were die hard this or that? Two parties that tend to be polar opposites for most everything, but my life and world view isn't that simple. I disagree with both parties about a lot of things. It isn't even that I think they are WRONG, but quite the contrary, I think they are CORRECT. I see their point of view. I agree with their solution. However, it isn't the best solution for MY point of view. So for me, voting isn't a matter of picking who I LIKE or who I think will do the best job it is choosing the most correct answer for whatever issue ranks highest on my list on election day.

The hardest part is discerning the truth.

Republican and Democrat supporters alike will deluge you with information that is "factual" from "authoritative" sources. The information may not be true, it is just what someone else believes is true. Statistics never lie, it is just the people interpreting them may not be asking the most correct questions. Douglas Adams summarized it best when he wrote the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything is 42. The problem is that we don't know the actual question.

These people give you half truths. They tell you so and so voted this way on this, this, and this, thereby limiting your rights, taxing you more, and generally making your life a living hell. They don't really tell you the whole story about the other items that would have been affected by the vote that could have potentially done all the above to an even greater degree. You wouldn't know unless it was your job to monitor every action congress takes and then poll them why they voted one way or the other.

What irks me right now? What is my biggest issue that I would like to see resolved? You got this far, you must want to know...

Taxes on single parents. As I sit here and think about it, there are reasons for it...but I don't have to like them. To be honest, I've been pouring over the IRS tax brackets and it just makes my head hurt. I really wish the tax system could be made a little less complex.

I also wish that I could go to any doctor I wanted regardless of my insurance provider, and pay the same amount. I have one therapist in this area that does the work my son needs and my insurance company won't pay for it.

Well at least I can still blog...

But I absolutely cannot talk. My voice is completely gone. I cannot ever remember having completely lost it before.

I am also growing a beard, but not sure how long that will last.

Working out has me feeling great though, but I either pulled a muscle, cracked a rib, or both last week so I may be limited to aerobic stuff until that heals completely.

:-) It is going to be fun at work today. I just get to smile and be eye candy I suppose.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Little things and perspectives...

My son and I were talking recently about how people respond to different circumstances. We talked about Albert Camus's "The Stranger" (Along with The Cure's song Killing an Arab) and the way the different perspectives were portrayed between foreigner and native Arab. We talked about the Zazou's of France during World War II and the Pet Shop Boys song "In the Night" and how their perspective was different from the Nazi occupation and the French resistance.

We talked about how people see the same event in many different ways. We talked about his responses to stressful situations and what he does and what I do.

He thought about this for a second and then said, "My mom has the screaming gene."

And she does.


My son came home with a mark, "Passing a note in class that hit the teacher". Positively puzzled about how something like that could occur, I asked him about it. He was vague and evasive in his answer. I just let it go as I could see I wasn't going to get anywhere with it.

A few other things happened that I didn't know about, but culminated with me coming to the school this past Friday afternoon to discuss the issues with the guidance counselors.

One of these things was a writing assignment from the English teacher about three ways to get kicked out of school. The assignment was to be put in his journal, but he put it in his notebook instead. Another teacher saw he wrote about three ways to get kicked out of school, but there was no heading...and the list was pretty predictable given the imagination of a sixth grader with very little guidance.

All of this came together today when I talked to his English teacher.

It appears that during some testing they finished early. They were given permission to pass notes. My son asked if they could pass them as paper airplanes. The teacher said "No." She then turned to walk out the door. My son has an issue with impulsiveness. He launched the paper airplane. He missed his target...and hit the teacher square in the head. In front of the whole class. She said it took everything she had not to bust out laughing. She turned and asked Brandon to put himself down for a mark for not following directions. He was mad at himself and wrote some disparaging comments in his binder. That coupled with the assignment from the same teacher is what brought me to school early Friday to talk with the guidance counselors.

And that is how patching together several different perspectives makes the whole thing kind of funny and solves a few mysteries. It really is just my son's luck that he would throw the airplane on impulse and hit the teacher. I wouldn't have thought it very funny, but it really helped me feel better that she did.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Catching up...

Hmmm, lets see...

Where did I leave off? Beginning of the school year?

It certainly didn't take long to get the first parent teacher conference. It never does. This one was a little different. 9 to 1. A bunch of teachers, several guidance personnel and myself. While Brandon has made some improvements since then, it probably won't be enough. I've been called in several times. It is readily apparent that they do not want him in the AVID program. It is not a program for children with challenges like my son. However, there are NO programs for children like my son. Most parents I know in this situation are home schooling their children for this very reason. That is not an option for me. While VA Beach TALKS quite a bit about twice exceptional students, they are not DOING anything to provide services for them. They have academies for gifted and advanced students, but very little to teach children at that level that may have behavioral, emotional, and neurological issues that cannot be addressed in the larger groups they teach those children in. If he cannot stay in the AVID program they likely will put him back in the middle school in his district which has even less services. They mentioned that he might be able to stay in the school he is in because of his SOL test scores. There is so much more to say here, but this is the gist of it. It just keeps repeating.

In the evenings there is so much to do with him and around the house. After he goes to bed I'm spending a lot of time catching up on my job.

On the weekends I'm pretty much just decompressing and not doing anything at all...hence why there have been so few posts.

I had a nail in three tires on my car. That pretty much sums up how every thing is going at the moment, punctured and deflating. There are bright moments here and there, but patching and re-inflating seems to be the theme.

This past weekend though...We went to DC. We were invited up by Liz at A Bright Future. On the way up Friday evening I very narrowly avoided being in the middle of a nasty accident near Woodbridge, VA on I-95 Northbound. We arrived safely and fortunately didn't have to drive again until we left Sunday evening. We had a splendid time talking, walking, riding the metro, and seeing museums and other sites while trying to keep three children smiling and entertained. Sunday Liz and I with two of the children met The Exception and her daughter the Diva for lunch and a show with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. The Kennedy Center is HUGE. I'm sure you could land a plane on the terrace. The kids raced around it. They also participated in the magnanimous cacophony they call the Musical Petting Zoo. The kids get to try their hand at all of the orchestra instruments. After the show we went to Chinatown for dinner. Spicy Thai is awesome. I ate way too much, kind of a them for the weekend. Reluctantly we left Sunday night and had an uneventful ride home.

Since then I've been in bed, sick, aching, and feverish...probably strep. The Doctor just looked at me, gave me an anti-biotic, and sent me on my way Monday evening. I've still have fevers off and on Tuesday, but the medicine has taken card of most of it. The hard part is the coughing. I ripped a muscle in my side Wednesday night a week ago. It hurts awfully bad every time I sneeze or cough.

Good news is that I have been working out six days a week for the last three weeks. It has been helping me deal with all the stress recently. Of course, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were out due to torn muscle and travel, but even feeling a bit sick today I managed to get on the elliptical this evening for a 20min aerobic. I figured, I'm sweating anyway...