Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Milestone

I had no idea I was close to any sort of milestone with the blog, and then I got my little weekly e-mail from Site Meter. As of today, I have had 1000 visits to the blog! Frankly, I'm shocked! And I know, some of you guys have had way more than that, but that's not bad for a new guy!

When I started this, I had no clue that anyone would ever find it and read it. Except for Sara, who promised she would! Thanks, Sara!! But other than that, I figured it would just be for me.

And I still write for my own enjoyment. But I also love the fact that I've gotten to know some of you who read and comment regularly by going and reading your blogs. I have fun sharing bits of my life with you. And I really enjoy reading bits of your life.

I've still got a lot to learn about the blog world. And a lot to learn about exploring my own 'voice' as an blogger/writer. And I'm looking forward to it!

Thanks for making it interesting and fun!

The Power Of The Pick

So everyone knows my kids got Nintendo DS Lites for Christmas. And we bought them cause they asked (begged, pleaded, made promises they can't keep, etc). But I did not truly understand the power!

The first day they played Animal Crossing Wild World and Mario Kart and Bust A Move and Nintendogs. They were happy.

And then came the day after Christmas. They wanted to go online.

Huh? I mean, they had mentioned during one of their scheduled begging sessions that they could play with each other wirelessly. I thought that was a good and sister both preoccupied so I could focus on my own idle pursuits. But no, they didn't mean wirelessly as in...within 20 feet of each other. They meant WIRELESSLY. Talking to the world!!

And they were ready to go. Would I help? Sure...let's get that manual and see what needs to be done. Well, the manual had me take that little plastic toothpick (the technical name is 'stylus'...but we all know it is just a plastic toothpick) and tap the screen a couple of times. That was it! Couldn't be easier. Now they could actually connect to anyone in the world who had a games with them...invite them to come and appear right on their little hand-held game! It was very cool.

I'm now hiding the extra toothpick for myself. I'm quite certain that toothpick contains the power to rule the world!!!

(Insert evil, mad scientist laugh here!)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Living With Extremes

I've mentioned along the way that Son16 has some special needs. Well, in fact, he is diagnosed with four different syndromes. They each play a part in how he (and we) gets through the day. But special days really turn up the thermostat on some of his issues...and Christmas brings two extremes that are hard to deal with in the beginning and a real joy to observe in the end.

The closer we got to Christmas, the more we saw his anxiety begin to peak. This is typical. He just gets so anxious about what gifts he will get. And he can't just ask a few times a day. Oh no. His obsessive-compulsive disorder won't allow for that! He asked dozens...seemingly hundreds of times a day. Over and over we had this conversation this year as he worried about whether or not he would get a Nintendo DS Lite...

Son16: So am I going to get a DS this year?
Me: Now you know I'm not gonna tell you what your gifts are.
Son16: But I just have to know.
Me: I know you want to know, but I'm not gonna give it up.
Son16: Can you just tell me if I'm getting a gift in the electronics category?
Me: Nope. All I can do is promise you that you'll be happy on Christmas morning.
Son16: So that means I am getting one???
Me: No, it means I'm not telling you what you are getting but you'll be happy with the things you get.
Son16: (huffs and puffs and stomps out of the room)

We had that little chat every day...several times every day. And his anxiety level went up every time.

And just when his head was about to explode...Christmas arrived.

And we see the other side of his personality. And let me tell ya, you have not seen unbridled excitement and enthusiasm until you see a kid labeled as 'severe' on the ADHD scale open that gift he has been wanting! Jumping, screaming, dancing, shouting. And the joy doesn't just last for a few minutes. It doesn't wear off as the day goes along. Oh no. Once again, the various syndromes feed on each other and the thrill of the gift lasts for days and days and days! It is fun to see that!

And just in case you are wondering, yes, he got the DS Lite. In fact, to avoid all the bickering, Daughter13 got one, too! And we've barely seen them since Monday morning!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sudoku Madness

My wife has the 'madness'. She loves sudoku puzzles.

It started innocently enough this summer when I was doing a puzzle. She asked me to show her how it worked. We solved one together. She never looked back.

She has now completed approximately 283,000 puzzles (rounded to the nearest 1000). And one of her favorite gifts under the tree yesterday was probably the least expensive. A gift bag filled with books of sudoku puzzles, pre-sharpened pencils, and cap erasers. Pre-sharpened pencils allow the puzzle fanatic to immediately begin solving without that pesky pencil sharpening chore. She liked that. And the pointy corner of cap erasers apparently make it much easier to erase the various little potential numbers in a square. Gotta have that.

And it wasn't long after the shredded gift wrap was whisked away that she was happily sudokuing. (I think I just created a verb! Webster, where are you??)

I couldn't let her top the 300,00 mark without a bit of a challenge, though. No 'easy' books for her. And one 'fiendish' level...just to test her advanced sudoku skills.

Merry Christmas, honey!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Race Is Over

It was a nail-biter from beginning to end! Christmas Prep bolted from the gates for an early lead. That quick start helped Christmas Prep hold the lead going into the first turn. But Father Time, a veteran of the race, never lost focus. Moving onto the backstretch, Christmas Prep stumbled. Father Time, in a relentless and steady pace, caught up and pulled ahead. Finishing the backstretch and moving into the final turn, Father Time pulled farther ahead and seemed to take control of the race. Moving into the home stretch, Father Time never faltered. But the race wasn't over. In a renewed burst of energy and speed, Christmas Prep made a move on the outside and started to close the gap. And with the finish line within reach, Christmas Prep pulled even with Father Time! In a photo finish, it was Christmas Prep by a nose!!!

We made it. Hope you did too! Merry Christmas to all who visit!!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Where the brave dare not go...

Yep, on the Eve of the Eve, we had to go shopping! With all that has been going on in our lives, we just had not finished. And it wasn't like we were missing a little thing here and there. Nope, these were key things we needed for the kids. So off we go to various stores in the area.

And what one word would describe our experience? Waiting. Waiting in line through numerous light changes to get through an intersection. Waiting for a parking place while folks who are leaving fumble for their keys and their cell phone and their seat belt. Waiting for enough room to push our carriage in the aisles of the stores. Waiting in line to check out. Waiting.

Through it all, store employees were in remarkably good spirits. And most shoppers seemed to be in pretty good moods. In fact, only once did we feel enough stress to momentarily 'go to our happy place' in our heads! So the waiting did not turn it into a bad experience.

But don't get me wrong. That does not mean I wanna go again tomorrow!! Not a chance! Our only outing tomorrow will be the Christmas Eve service at our church tomorrow night. Other than that, I'm ready for egg nog, cookies, and hanging out with my wife and kids.

I've been waiting for that for too long!

Friday, December 22, 2006


Today is the first full day of winter. As the earth turns on its axis and brings us into winter, pagans recall the celebrations of our ancestors. The bonfires and the Yule log, said to foretell good luck if it burned for twelve hours. Our ancestors also bring us the tradition of decorating our homes with evergreens as a way of reminding us about the life in nature when much of nature around us seems to die away. Even mistletoe, thought to provide healing and protection, was used in decorations.

We embrace the dark and cold of winter. We gather together with our families and friends around the hearth. It is a time of rekindling relationships and connections with each other.

But we also we lean toward tomorrow, and the day after. Always leaning toward the light of the longer days.

Blessed Yule.


Okay, the exclamation point makes it seem more profound than it is, but I still feel like I'm finally bouncing back from the doldrums and starting to have some Christmas spirit. Thanks to the folks who left comments or sent e-mail. It was so nice to get support. And nice to know I'm not alone in feeling the stress!

Today is our last day of school (yes, I'm actually posting from work for once....shhhhhh) and then I'll get to be at home with the family for ten days! Lots of relaxation. Lots of time with the kids. Lots of time with my wife. No doubt, plenty of good food and beverage. And all the other goodies that come with a break from work.

As we head into this last weekend leading up to the big day, I hope all of you who were struggling are rebounding! Let's kick some holiday ass!! :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I wish I had a river...

I wish I had a river
That I could skate away on

I think I'm doing this Christmas thing all wrong. I mean, it's supposed to be fun, right? In the movies, folks are practically skipping down the sidewalks as they do their shopping. The first tree they see is the perfect size and shape for their house. Gifts come pre-wrapped. Strangers greet each other with warm holiday wishes. And around every corner there is a jolly Santa, a cup of eggnog, and one more chestnut being roasted.

So why do I feel overwhelmed and exhausted?!?!? Shopping has turned into a series of stores that don't have what I want. Every checkout line is 2.6 miles long. Oh, and here's a tip, get your checkbook out before the cashier is standing there staring at you. Our tree sits half decorated while the kids finish projects and study for tests. And the daily debate over whether we should cook or just suck it up and eat take-out one more time is being won almost daily by the take-out option.

I know, my mother-in-laws recent cancer diagnosis is weighing heavily on us. Every little thing seems like a tremendous burden. Life feels, as my wife describes it, like running underwater. Requiring lots of energy just to slowly move a few steps.

I assume we'll get it all done and have a nice little Christmas. And grandma is all finished with her initial round of chemo and feeling pretty darn good, all things considered. And the kids are patient and understanding. Well, at least understanding. But it's been a very hard week. And it's only half over.

(Pardon the depressing tone. I tend to be more upbeat but I just needed to vent and whine a bit.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

When the students go to the mall...

My profile lists me as a teacher, and I am. But I haven't worked in the classroom for several years. I work in a school for kids with special needs and my current job is technology director and development of professional development activities. But I still get invited to help out in the classrooms now and then. And today was one of those days. I got to go on a field trip to do Christmas shopping with a class. What an interesting experience! Each student had brought a shopping list from home with some gift ideas (suggested by the parents) for members of their family. So we loaded up the vans and off we went!

The main objective of this trip was the mall. But before the mall, we made a stop at Target to try to knock off some ideas at a discount. The student I was assisting had candles on the list for several folks. Of course, he had to sniff EVERY candle in the store. And I don't mean every scent. I mean EVERY CANDLE!! The 3-inch jasmine. The 4-inch jasmine. The 5-inch jasmine. You get the picture. Just knowing what jasmine smelled like was not good enough. Of course, he wanted me to sniff them too and offer guidance! By the time he finally made a choice, my sense of smell was pretty much shut down from too much sniffing!

Its funny to shop with someone who has been carefully taught to pay attention to prices. He clearly had the idea that the cheaper it is, the better off he would be. For example, in addition the candles mentioned above, his list had 'tealights' for grandma. And there were many options. Plenty of little red and green holiday tealights in tiny glass holders. Plenty of various colored and scented tealights. But he spotted the giant bag of 100 white, unscented tealights with just their little tin-cup holders. And 100 candles for only 2 bucks seemed like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! It took a lot of convincing that, while that was quite an irresistible bargain, the other options really were a nicer gift for grandma.

It's also interesting to shop with kids who have limited organizational skills but very strong ideas about where they want to go. My kid had a definite series of stores he wanted to visit in the mall. Of course, we walked past all of them 6 or 8 times in the process of visiting them in the order that existed in his head! But we had plenty of time so I was happy to just tag along.

It was a fun day. We had a nice lunch together. And he'll be able to put a present under the tree for all his family. And with all that walking, I shouldn't have to exercise for a week!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Totally Dumb Questions

Today I visited the friendly periodontist. A nice little follow-up to the broken tooth incident. And the receptionist handed me a bunch of forms to fill out prior to the examination. The usual stuff about insurance and who to call if I keel over in the office. That kind of thing.

And then there was the Health Form. Checking off Yes or No to the typical questions about past diseases, etc. And then we got to the part that made me go...huh?!?! A series of questions...each phrased the same way....with multiple choice answers to circle. For example:

Have you ever knowingly been exposed to [insert various disease here].

And the choices for answers: YES NO DON'T KNOW


If each question asks if I've KNOWINGLY been exposed...aren't the only possible answers either Yes or No? Is it even possible to not know whether or not I knowingly did something?!?!

Who creates these forms???

Monday, December 11, 2006

A different direction

When I started this blog I thought it would be a place for me to record my thoughts, share about my day, try to tap into a tad of creativity, and just enjoy being out here with others. I didn't envision sharing sad news.

But we don't control these things. This past Friday, my mom-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia. She entered the hospital on Saturday for additional tests. And today she began a seven day treatment of chemotherapy. She will get those meds 24/7 for the full seven days. Afterwards, they predict she could be in the hospital as long as 30 to 45 days for recovery, additional tests, etc.

My wife's mom and step-father usually visit at Christmas and we were looking forward to seeing them this year. This unexpected change has certainly shaken us all. We'll be working to find a bit of our Christmas spirit again and enjoy the time with our kids. But it definitely alters many of our plans and hopes about the holidays.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Ultimate Shopping

Son19 and Daughter13 requested some furniture for their rooms as Christmas gifts. Not an entire bedroom set but just a few odds and ends. And they were very clear about what they wanted. They wanted furniture from IKEA.

If you've never had the experience of IKEA, you've missed a rare shopping event. If you get there early enough, they have free coffee and breakfast for 99¢. And that's just to give you the strength for the rest of the day.

The store itself is laid out in a winding maze. You only move in one direction, thus assuring you will pass every item they have for sale. And they have a LOT of items for sale for every room in the house! And many of those items are displayed in 'room' settings so you can see exactly how it will look when you get it home. Assuming you live in very tiny compartments. But it still looks perfect they way they show it off.

And it is all so...modular, clean, ideal. It seems so obvious that this furniture will make your life more organized, less cluttered, better. Suddenly there is the urge for a new coffee table and bookcase. Or a new desk chair. And the kitchen utensils are precisely what I need at home! And look over there at those lamps!

Of course, you can't put this stuff in mere shopping carts. Oh no, only light bulbs and various little baskets go in the cart. Everything else is coded by Aisle Number and Bin Number. You write it down. And as you leave the store you pass through a self-serve warehouse where all the stuff you saw earlier is laid out before you, disassembled and carefully packed in boxes, ready to go home. It is sort of a miracle of marketing combined with self-service on everything from mouse pads to sofas.

And once you've paid, but before you leave the store, they reward you once again with food. Hot dogs, Swedish meatballs, various imported food and drink, all sorts of little treats for the ride home.

And there's the problem. The ride home. Suddenly you realize you've got 900 pounds of boxes that you have to fit into your car. Packing them carefully, watching the tires flatten under the weight, it all gets packed away in every crack and crevice.

Too bad there is just no way to see out the rear view mirror on the drive home!

Friday, December 08, 2006

One Possible Solution?

Some of you will recall the broken tooth right before Thanksgiving. And that was the second one in the past couple of months. Well this fella may have found the perfect solution. Seems he tooled his own set of teeth out of stainless steel! Let's see those suckers break!!

A handsome look, don't ya think???

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's Making A Really Bad Noise

That's what I said when I called the garage to schedule some repairs for my wife's car. And I'm not kidding, it was a very LOUD vibrating/banging/zombie-escaping-from-the-crypt kind of noise! And it needed professional help.

Not as if I would have taken care of things had the noise been a wimpy wheeze instead of the ear-shattering noise that it was. I am not mechanically gifted. Motors are a mystery. Hell, toasters are a mystery! So when the car does something it should not do, I call in the pros.

We dropped it off last night so they would have the entire day to disassemble, diagnose, and repair the vehicle. And we were prepared to lose Son16's college tuition, if necessary, to pay for their work.

We arrived today, clutching our checkbook, to get our car. Before looking at the bill, I inquired as to the nature of the noise. The repairman gave me that look. You know the one. The one from our childhood. The one the grownups gave us when they wanted to communicate the sentiment: "You definitely should know better." And then, in one question, he completed the humiliation...

"When was the last time you checked the oil?"

Gulp. Where was that 'manly Tony' when we needed him?!?!

We paid sheepishly for the oil fill up, drove home, and along the way, stopped to buy the family KFC Mashed Potato Bowls to drown our humiliation.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Blogging can't be bad...can it?

I mentioned recently, after going a week without posting while my mom visited, that I really missed this. In only a few weeks I've found that I really enjoy blogging. I like trying to be a bit creative with my posts. I pay a little more attention to routine events of the day just in case I can find a fun angle for a post. And even though I really am doing this for my own creative outlet, I really have enjoyed getting comments and establishing a bit of communication with several other bloggers.

But in addition to exploring this for my own fun, my job as a technology coordinator for a school has given me the chance to create a couple of blogs for our staff. Those blogs have different areas of focus, providing opportunities to share and collaborate on research and other information. This seemed like a perfect solution for staff members who don't always have time to get together for professional development. But then I read this article with this comment:
Our bias toward groups is counterproductive. And the technology of ubiquitous connectedness is making the problem worse. is making us more reliant on group collaboration...and this is a bad thing? He continues with this comment:
As for the Internet and our newfound ability to tap into the masses, a more subtle form of havoc arises. Simply put, when you make it easy for everyone to put in his two cents, with little filtering or accountability, the scum tends to rise to the top.
Scum? Improved communication leads to scum? Blogging won't save the world. It may not solve many problems at work. But can better connection really be a bad thing? I have to disagree with the article. There are a few jobs where you want someone to make a decision without stopping to chat. If I'm on the surgical table, I want a doctor with enough skill and confidence to do the right thing without having to call a meeting. But in many situations, I still believe that collaboration is a good thing. And as our jobs and our lives push us in directions that make face-to-face meetings more difficult, I have to appreciate a technology that makes it this easy to share.

And on a personal level, I really do like this. It may not make me a better person, but I am having fun. And that's a good thing!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The 360 Degree Procedure

It seems the German scientists are on the ball with this one - a condom that fits every man. How so, you ask? What a great question. And the answer...........

(drum roll, please)

It is a SPRAY ON CONDOM. I kid you not. I can't make this stuff up. Go here and see (well, read) for yourself!

Bottom line, the gentleman would insert his penis into the spray can, push the nozzle, and be coated with a with a rubber condom with a procedure described as "once around and from top to bottom a bit like a car wash"

Will it replace the need for an old-fashioned condom? Or just replace the need for a partner?!?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Nerve Test Thingy

A few days ago I mentioned going to the doctor with some discomfort and ending up scheduled for a round of bloodwork and a nerve conduction test.

You would think the bloodwork would be pretty basic. A quick stick and it's done. But not this time. Apparently this lab tech graduated from the Marquis de Sade College of Bloodletting. It hurt when the needle was going in. It hurt while it was in. And it hurt even worse when he pulled it out. And I still managed to walk out without bitch slapping him across the room.

And then came The Nerve Test Thingy. It was weird! First of all I had to walk around the room on tiptoe and then on my heels. No problem there. Then I had to hold my hands out in front of me, close my eyes, and shake my head. No problem again. Then I had to pat my head while rubbing my tummy. Oh, okay, so I made that one up. Let's move on.

The real core of The Nerve Test Thingy was the zapping, the poking, and the vibrating. The doctor had me lay down on the table while he attached all sorts of little devices to my arms and legs to measure response. Then he proceeded to zap me with a little electrical gadget that looked like those battery operated nose hair trimmers. It varied in intensity from a slight tingle to making me jump around the table like those actors when the yell 'clear' and zap them with the paddles! And then he put away that little gadget and poked me with wires (sort of an accupuncture thingy)...and oh yes, that was pleasant. NOT! Finally he touched me here and here and there (no, not THERE!) with a little vibrator. My job was just to let him know what I felt.

I'll get the results of some of this nonsense tomorrow. At the moment I'm not worried about the outcome. I think I'll be just fine. Unless they want more tests. Those things are worse than my original symptoms!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Stages of Recovery

Well mom has flown home. Back to her home in Georgia. And we have entered the first out of three stages of recovery. They are as follows:

Stage 1 - Decompression
This is the stage where each member of our family puts on their comfort clothing - old sweat pants, pajamas, robe, favorite jeans, etc - and retreats to a quiet spot in the house to do something they find enjoyable and relaxing. At the moment, Son16 is upstairs watching TV in our bedroom, Son19 is watching TV in his room, Daughter13 is watching TV in the family room, my wife is in the office on one computer listening to her favorite podcasts, and I'm hiding out with the laptop writing. This stage allows us to bleed off the anxiety and tension and can last from one evening to as much as three or four evenings, depending on the needs of each individual.

Stage 2 - Debriefing
This stage is most notable for the numerous instances where one member of the family approaches another, looks confused, and then utters the phrase "Did she really say (insert bizarre comment here)? What the hell was that?!?!" This is a real healing stage. During my mom's never ending monologue, so many freakish comments and stories poured forth. But in that particular moment, we were trying so hard to appear interested while really meditating on the dust bunny in the corner, that only now do we begin to comprehend some of what was said. And the healing comes in knowing others heard it too...that it is not a stroke-induced memory caused by the pressure of so many words pounding against our brains.

Stage 3 - Celebrating
My good friend, LD, asked today if we would celebrate now that mom was gone. Eventually. But these things must be done in the proper order. If the family went out to dinner tonight, we would sit and mutter while pushing the food around on the plate with our forks. Not until we've passed the healing of Stage 2 can we really move on to the celebration of having our life back to normal. Well, we may not be normal, but we like what we have. And it will be good to get back to that.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Mom Gap

It has been a week since I last posted. I realize I miss it! I've wanted to write. But there just wasn't time. Why? Cause my mom came to visit. She arrived last Tuesday and heads home tomorrow. Nine days.

So what is a visit from mom like? I wanna say...take the bizarre behavior of Mork, take away every ounce of humor, and add 50 years of being absolutely certain that your view is the ONLY view of things in the world. And that might be selling the visit as better than it is.

Nine days of listening to rambles about people and things we don't know. We don't respond. But she doesn't need a response. In fact, any response just slows the flow of the monologue.

Nine days of answering the same "yes/no" questions. Any attempt to provide more information is met with a bored 'uh huh' or is just interrupted by the next question or monologue.

Nine days, sadly, of tolerating her deeply seated racist views of the world. We cringe. We redirect the monologue. My wife even confronted her directly on some of her comments...even relying on the old standbys of 'do unto others' and 'kindness is a virtue', along with 'the inherent worth and dignity of all people'. Surprisingly, that was met with 'the bible never told me I had to be nice to everyone'. Hmmm.

Nine days. Just about five days too long.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I never expected this!

So I turned 50 last month. Not such a big deal. I don't feel old. Don't look old (so I'm told by reliable sources). So I wasn't really worried. Oh, getting the bifocals - pardon me, graduated lenses - made me feel a little old. But that seemed to be the only real sign of aging.

And then I broke a tooth. Could happen to anybody, right? But I wasn't eating cashew nuts or nachos or chewy taffy. Oh no. I broke a huge hunk off of a tooth eating a glazed donut. A fresh one. Soft. Should not have broken a tooth, right? Dentist managed to repair without much discomfort.

Then I went to the doctor due to some discomfort. That led to some simple tests in the office. Not being satisfied, I'm now lined up for blood work, a session of nerve conduction testing, and a return to the doctor. Oh...and get this. The doctor actually used the phrase "a person of your age". OUCH! Totally unnecessary, dear doctor.

And last night, eating a pizza with a soft crust, I broke another freaking tooth!! Not the same one...but the same position on the opposite side! Of course the dentist was all booked up today. I whined on the phone about eating Thanksgiving dinner with a broken tooth and earned their sympathy. They worked me into the schedule and all is well - as long as I avoid hard food, sticky food, cold food, and hot food. And get this...he actually used the phrase "when people get to be your age". Is this a conspiracy?!?

So I feel a little like I'm falling apart overnight. And I'm not loving that feeling. But I know I've had enough of that 'person of your age' shit! I'm just NOT that old!

Monday, November 20, 2006

This is a 'must have'

Things are gearing up for the big feast. My wife has already baked lots of pumpkin bread and cranberry bread. We've planned our appetizers. And the actual meal is planned. Not too much work in the planning stages cause we stick with pretty traditional fare - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, etc. And all the shopping is done and the ingredients are awaiting us in the cupboard.

I've also had some time to engage in one of my favorite pre-holiday pastimes - watching The Food Network. Every cook who ever had a show gets their own holiday special. And then they all come together for The Food Network cook-off or holiday luncheon or whatever they call it. And from the shows I've seen so far, it seems that this year a huge focus is on the mighty cranberry. That tiny red fruit waiting to burst forth on our holiday table and bring us delightful goodness. No longer shall it be just a side dish. Oh no! It is time to heat up your cranberries with some various juices and liqueurs, throw in some diced mango, stir in some crushed nuts, and serve it all up as a feast for the eyes and the palate.

Good for them. But there is one thing that I absolutely must have to make my Thanksgiving meal complete...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Don't look, Mom!

When Son16 was about 5 years old, he was outside playing on the driveway one warm summer day when he dashed into the house, told his mom, "Don't look out the window, okay?", and then dashed back outside. Now, my wife is a very smart woman. So she did what any smart parent would do. She ran directly to the window, did not pass GO and did not collect $200. And she arrived at the window just in time to watch young Son whip it out and pee all over the driveway!

When you make the decision to have kids there is just no way to predict what types of rules you might have to make up. But 'thou shalt not pee in our yard' has been a standard guideline for our kids since that day.

Leaves From Afar

Look at the size of this leaf!

Yesterday I did a final leaf cleaning around the yard. And found numerous specimens of this gigantic size. Scary. I know there was nothing this big hanging over my head in the summer. That would not look like leaf cover. That would look like a tree filled with patio umbrellas! The only explanation I can find that makes sense...aliens. Someone from another planet is dumping his/her/its fallen leaves in my yard! That would certainly explain why I keep raking but never finish.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Hey, ladies!

Yesterday, Son16 had one of his regular check-ups with the specialist who prescribes meds related to his disabilities. And they always do a variety of tests to check therapeutic levels, impact of side effects, etc. Height, weight, blood tests, naming the states in reverse alphabetical order. Anyway, yesterday they tested his Body Mass Index. At dinner he was sharing this story and informed the family that he scored a 21 and 21 was 'desirable'. We nearly peed ourselves laughing over that one.

Hey, ladies, I've got a BMI of 21...wanna hang out?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Where's that remote?

Television is battling for ratings. Prime time shows are breaking out their very best to get us to tune in and watch. And I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for television. I love it. My guilty pleasure is that some nights I’m watching one show while taping two others at the same time. Oh, I know, just get TiVo, you say. But that costs money. I can still press the ‘record’ button on the VCR for free. But this isn’t about my finger exercises, this is about ‘my shows’ and the stupid networks that want us to watch.
LOST. This is a must-see. The layers of character development alone make it worth viewing. Combine that with the actual plot lines and it makes a show I love to watch.

Same with CSI. And I mean the real CSI, not the spin-offs in Miami and New York. Those do nothing for me. But the original is hard to beat. Great characters. Great stories. Just enough humor thrown in to give it a wry twist.

And for the best humor of the week there is Boston Legal. The oddest bunch of folks with bizarre story lines. This is a great show to brighten things up in the middle of the week.

I also enjoy a couple of the fall reality shows. Survivor is still good, though getting a bit tired. And Amazing Race still keeps me rooting for certain teams to do well. And I love watching the “I’m too good for home cooking” chefs on Top Chef bitch and moan cause they are asked to cook a meatloaf.

What else? Two And A Half Men makes me laugh. What About Brian is the new Thirtysomething. And I enjoyed Thirtysomething. Standoff, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and Jericho are all fun to watch. And when it is in season (whenever that is, hard to keep up with seasons these days), Monk is a real pleasure.

Can’t forget late night viewing. The day is not complete without The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Gotta get my news somewhere! ☺

BUT…here is my rant for the day. If the networks want us to watch, why do they keep screwing around with the schedules?!?! Let’s take Boston Legal.
It should have been on last night. But no, some new game show was on. It should be on next Tuesday, but some awards show is on. And it should have been on last week. And the week before. But no! The last new episode aired on Halloween. And according to their website, it won’t be on next week either. In fact, the next new episode will be on a Sunday rather than a Tuesday. Talk about messed up! And they wonder why people don’t watch! We lose track. We forget. We tape the wrong things. And good shows lose out. Which means the viewers lose out. And we end up with more and more shows where we watch other people win money cause it is cheaper to give away money than produce a good quality show that can’t hold on to viewers cause the networks are lame about the whole process.

Okay, rant is done. And LOST won’t be on again till February. Maybe The Food Network has something on….

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It has begun!

No waiting till the day after Thanksgiving for us! Oh no. My wife and I did our first Christmas shopping today! Oh I know…some folks feel the whole holiday thing starts way too early. So do I. But if you can’t beat ‘em...join ‘em! Better yet, go ahead and get there before they do!! And that was our plan. We would get in some early shopping while the shelves were full, the crowds were slim, parking was available in the same county as the store, and discount prices were all around. And for the most part, it worked. We even had time for some good Chinese food for lunch.

The only problem? We still have about a hundred more trips to go. The crowds will be ridiculously large. Shelves will be bare. “Merry Christmas” will turn into “get the hell out of my way!” And the spirit of Christmas will teeter on the brink of extinction.

We’ll get through it. We always do. Our traditions and fun times will save us. But knocking off some of this shopping while it was a bit easier was definitely a smart way to get things started.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Giant Snowball of Blogs

It starts as just one little flake. Then it picks up a few more. Before long, it is a snowball. It keeps rolling downhill picking up more and more snow. A bigger ball. A freaking giant ball. And passes the 'ball' phase totally and we're talking avalanche.

I'm talking about the blogs I read. Is is just me, or does everyone have more bookmarked than you can possibly read? I've got a few of my favorites right here on this page. And those are just a few of my faves. I've got more faves. Then I've got the 'read when I have extra time' blogs. They are interesting but maybe don't post as often. Then there are the blogs I saved cause they had one or two really awesome posts that made me laugh till I I keep going back hoping for another one of those posts. And then, there are blogs I read for a while and just don't any longer. Just too many. And the list got even longer when I started to blog! It is like a separate little world that self-perpetuates!

So tonight I thought I would clean up my bookmarks. I got rid of the ones I haven't looked at for at least a month or so. And the ones who haven't updated in a month or so. Plus a few others for various reasons. And two things were noted.

First, I felt guilty about every one. Almost like I was dumping a friend. But they don't know. So it felt secretive and and sneaky. I know...weird, huh.

Second, I still have a LOT of blogs left on my list. Thank god LOST is going on haitus for a while. Maybe I'll use that hour on Wednesday to catch up on blog reading.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Report Card

It's been a long and busy week with all the election stuff going on. And while everyone in my house was excited about the overall outcome, that was not the biggest thrill of the week.

I've not mentioned this on here yet, but Son16 has multiple cognitive/learning/social disabilities. But with a lot of hard work and some great teachers, he is in the tenth grade and still attending all regular classes and doing the full load of work expected of a tenth grader. Oh sure, he has a wonderful resource teacher who he gets to see a 2-3 times each week. And he gets to type most things rather than write them. But overall, he is expected to do the work just like the other kids.

We're proud of his progress but we also hold our breath every day. And yesterday, when he brought home his report card, we made sure we were sitting down before opening it.

Then we opened it. And what to our wondering eyes should appear??? FOUR "A's"!! That's right...FOUR. Let's say that together, shall we?





That would be "4" for those who prefer their numbers as numbers. Or "IV" for the Romans in the crowd.

Oh yes, there were a couple of "B's" on the page. Even a "C" in algebra. But an "A" in science and language arts. "A" in Aviation (not flying, just designing). Even a "B+" in Latin!

Who would have thought report card day would be my best day of the week?!?!?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Man vs. Nature

We have a lot of wonderful trees in our yard. Different sizes. Different kinds. And right behind our house is a big patch of woods, so looking out our windows we see nature everywhere. And on one side of our property there is a stream surrounded by more trees. In the spring everything is glowing green as new leaves bud on the branches. In the summer it is lush with a cooling shade. And it reaches it's peak in the fall when it explodes in reds, yellows, browns, golds, and oranges. Just beautiful.

And then those leaves fall. And fall. And fall. A carpet of leaves. Piles of leaves. Leaves from our trees. Leaves blowing in from the woods. Leaves blowing from the stream. And the battle begins. The leaves trying to cluster in the gardens, on the deck, against the house. While I try to put them back in the woods or pile them near the street for the giant leaf-sucking truck. Choosing the right time to rake is more of an art than a science. Clearing the yard too soon just means I'll have to do it over and over. Too late and I run the risk of an early snow that turns them into a thick, heavy, wet clump that is almost impossible to move. (I speak from experience having used the snow shovel one year to 'rake' the leaves!)

My Magic 8 Ball told me this was the weekend. Working along with Son19, two rakes, a pitchfork, a hand-held blower, and the big 5 horsepower blower, it took us seven hours to turn that thick carpet of leaves into The Great Leafy Mountain Range - mounds of leaves all along the edges of the yard and in the woods. Well, to almost accomplish the task. Some leaves will blow back in the yard and need to be cleaned up. And there is still one large tree in the back that hasn't dropped any leaves yet. Maybe by Turkey Day. But most of it is done.

Anyone got some Ben Gay?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Signs of the Time

One of my favorite blogs to read on local politics is My Left Nutmeg. On their front page they feature this Welcome To Connecticut sign. I love it. And I thought it might be my favorite sign about little Bush. Until Winston showed us this!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Midterm Madness and Mayhem - Part 2

There are awards for everything. The Country Music Awards. The Tony Awards. The Darwin Awards. The People's Choice Awards. The Hasty Pudding Awards. The Best Awards Awards. So tonight I present the Midterm Madness and Mayhem Awards. For the most part, these awards are just for candidates in the great Nutmeg state cause that is what I know best. But I'm sure you've got your own award winners right where you live.

Our first award tonight is The Most Over-Used Euphemism Award. And it goes to Joe Lieberman. He has told us over and over and over and over just how he can 'reach across the aisle' to get things done. That is his way of saying, if George Bush wants it done, I'm abandoning my party and voting Republican.

Next up, The Biggest Waste of Experience Award is awarded to Rob Simmons. Mr. Simmons has stressed his years of military and intelligence experience. And yet, he never seemed to use that when making decisions. He was bamboozled by the WMD argument. He supported the rush to war. He sees no way out of the war. So apparently his years of experience mean nothing.

The 'Nothing More Than Feelings' Award
goes to our highest ranking politician in the state, Governor M. Jodi Rell. In her short term as governor, both good and bad things have happened. Ethics violations in government - including her former boss being sent to prison. Men being put to death in the death chamber. Child abuse. High gas prices. And the list goes on. And on every occasion, Governor Rell simply seemed incapable of taking decisive action, taking a stand, or setting progressive policy. But she never hesitates to tell us how she feels. She feels badly/ashamed/proud/angry/sad/etc. She always has feelings. But never really any ideas.

The Total Truth In Advertising Award
is presented to Alan Schlesinger, Republican candidate for US Senate. His TV commercials have been perfectly true and accurate. What's the catch? He has NO advertising. He has NO money. His own party nominated him and then abandoned him to support Joe Lieberman's independent bid for Senate.

Susan Bysiewicz, State Treasurer, wins The Exploited Children Award. Her commercials start with her kids, focus on her kids, and end with her kids. "Our mom...." That's cool. She has handsome kids. But what does that have to do with being Treasurer??

One of our double award winners, Joe Lieberman, picks up The Slushie Award. He has a remarkable amount of petty cash funds that he can't account for. Well over $300,000. If you aren't sure how that stacks up to other candidates, check out this chart at Connecticut Blog.

The Sleaziest Politician Award
is given to Nancy Johnson. In this category, there weren't even any other nominees. Her commercials have been vile and untrue. In some cases, they were so ridiculously bizarre and untrue as to be laughable. In other cases, they were so mean-spirited that it was uncomfortable to watch. The result, for the first time, in the last poll, she has fallen behind! Whether it is a response to the polling or just a calculated move to end on a positive note, suddenly all her commercials are quaint and upbeat and never mention her opponent. I truly hope the voters aren't fooled by this 'Grandma Goes To Washington' pitch at the final hour.

The Man On The Corner Award goes to Bill Aman. He is our local representative to the state legislature. And he stands on street corners waving at passing cars more than any politician in history! And he has become such a fixture on the corner that his campaign posters are now life-size cardboard cutouts of Bill waving at cars. So now he can be on lots of corners all the time! (Wonder if he supports cloning?)

The See No Evil Award
goes to our other two-time winner, Governor Rell. While she was Lieutenant Governor, our Governor engaged in enough ethics violations - stealing money, misappropriations of funds, rigged bids for state contracts, etc - that he ended up in prison. Somehow, in all those years, Jodi never saw a thing. She never grew suspicious. She had no clue. She was obviously so uninvolved in goverment that she had no idea what was going on around her. Oh, but when it finally became too obvious and too publicized to ignore, she felt really badly about it all.

This final award does extend beyond state lines. The 'I Can't Believe Anyone Thinks This Way' Award goes to every politician at the national level who voted to support Bush's torture legislation but opposes gay marriage. I don't care how you look at it, I just can't understand how any list of human behaviors would rank torture as a more favorable thing than a loving marriage. And yet, we have a lot of senators who would rather torture someone than let them get married.

Congratulations to all our winners.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Midterm Madness and Mayhem - Part 1

We're just one week away from the elections so it seemed as good a time as any to toss out a thought or two. I'm no political junky but I do try to pay attention to current events. So I've got a few thoughts about this whole midterm muddle.

  1. Every survey tells us that we, as a people, are unhappy about the direction the country is headed. We are angry about Iraq. We got tricked into this war and now there is clearly no plan to get us out. We are unhappy about the economy and the prices we paid for gas this summer. And we are angry that Dick Cheney can shoot a guy in the face with no real consequence while we can't even carry shampoo on an airplane cause that seems dangerous. And yet, I wonder how much will change? We get pissed. We rant and rave. But will we really vote for change? Or will most incumbents slip by with a narrow margin so we can continue on our merry way with no real change?
  2. What if we do elect a whole new slew of politicians? Will it matter? Do any of them give a rat's ass about change - or do they just care about getting elected? The way they alter their positions almost daily as the polls move up and down gives us a hint about what they care about, doesn't it!
  3. I don't know about the politicians where you live. Perhaps they are fine, upstanding characters with integrity and decency and high ideals. But if that's the case, then you don't live here! Some of the commercials on TV here have broken new ground in tastelessness. If the commercials were true, we would be choosing between terrorist supporters, porn producers, idiots, losers and crooks. Okay, some of that may be true. But I'm betting most of it is not. While the commercials have that same bizarre appeal as a car crash - we are repulsed but we can't look away - it seems the quality of them must surely be bad for the political process as a whole.

I will stand in line next Tuesday and cast my vote. I enjoy participating in the process. I like expressing my opinion with my vote. But my track record isn't so good. I usually vote for the one who loses. My values and beliefs are not mainstream. But that won't stop me. I'll be there. I'll pull a lever or scan a document or punch a chad or whatever the hell kind of voting mechanism we get to use this time. And I'll sit at home Tuesday night, watching the returns, and keeping my fingers crossed for just enough victories locally and nationally to maybe make a difference. And I hope I'm not writing next Wednesday about how futile the whole thing is and what a dumb bunch of voters we all are.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Eve of The Eve

All Hallows Eve, Halloween, Samhain. Pumpkins, candy corn, ghosties, ghoulies, goblins, Tarot cards, spirits and trick or treating. Tomorrow is certainly a fun holiday with a lot of variety in how celebrants from around the world observe the day.

The cold, lean months are coming. We gather around home and hearth as the colder weather encourages us to spend more time indoors. Crops have been gathered and fields stand empty until the spring.

And for those of us who celebrate Samhain, it is a spiritual time of the year. This is the time when it is believed the veils between the worlds is at its thinnest. At this time, we honor our ancestors. Ancient customs included setting food out for dead relatives, communication with the dead was thought to be easy, and divination was a particularly potent ritual. Even today, many pagans find ways to honor the dead and to celebrate what they left to us.

The kids will be out trick or treating. We'll pass out the Snickers Fun Size bars and Skittles. Our jack-o-lantern will take a prominent seat on the porch. And a good time will be had by all.

But we'll also pause for a few moments, light a solitary candle on the altar, and give thanks to those who've gone before.

I hope they hear us.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Public Privacy

This little blogging adventure has created an odd paradox. Each entry is public and available to anyone who might find it. Anyone. In the entire world. And yet, in my head, there is the perception of privacy. I suppose that comes from the fact that it is somewhat anonymous. In so many ways, the internet creates this illusion of anonymity and privacy even as we reveal things to strangers. Since my first and last names aren't stuck on each entry, I make the assumption that no one really knows who am I.

But what happens when they do?

I've been totally comfortable knowing that one or two folks have found my blog and read it. I appreciate the comments. I like sharing my thoughts. But it occurs to me that I've not given the URL to a single person I know. Why?

I guess it seems more vulnerable to have someone I know read my thoughts. It feels more intimate. It feels more exposed. And I'm not sure I understand that phenomenon. I'm not writing anything that reveals my deep, dark fantasies. I'm not admitting to heinous crimes. So what makes it feel this way?

Perhaps it isn't what I write, but simply the fact that I'm writing? I've never thought of myself as a writer. I'm not a terribly creative or insightful person. I'm just writing stuff down. And maybe that, in itself, is a little embarrassing.

And maybe out of millions of bloggers, I'm the only one who feels this way. Maybe not.

Maybe it is time to invite a friend to read.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Big Day

Yes, the day has arrived. Fifty years old. Half a century. Daughter13 sweetly asks, "So Dad, does this make you a senior citizen?" Ouch!

Work was fun. My office was draped, filled, covered in black crepe paper streamers. Fans were provided for 'hot flashes'. Photos and other desk items were 'artfully' rearranged or hidden away entirely. Login passwords were changed on my computer (to simulate a loss of memory as I typed in over and over what I thought was my password). Electronic greeting cards filled my Inbox while my desk was piled high with various cards featuring pictures of old men. I got little gifts here and there. One classroom really surprised me with a little party where each student made a small presentation of a card, gift, balloon, or treat. And the staff had a birthday cake at the end of the day.

At home there have been cards, gifts, various phone calls from friends and family, and a trip out to dinner with my wife and the kids. Now all that is left is blowing out the candles (hopefully NOT fifty of the suckers!) and having some coffee and cake before calling it a day and settling down to relax.

Being fifty really doesn't seem so bad. But then, it is only Day One.

(Hmmm...I've never hurt there before)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Spit or Sex?

I was reading the new issue of Mother Jones which arrived today...and I just had to comment on this!

Free Teens USA is an organization that calls itself a 'reality-based, abstinence-centered' program for teaching teens about sex. And one of their recommended activities when working with students is to have them spit into a cup, trade cups with another student, and then drink. Students are then told that sex is more intimate than drinking someone else's spit.

Okay. Maybe. Maybe it is more intimate. But if you're doing it right, it is also quite a bit better!

The Random Shoe Phenomenon

I'm sure I'm not the first person to ever make this observation. But the higher than average number of sightings lately makes the question unavoidable.

What is the deal with solitary shoes lying on the road???

I've spotted at least a dozen shoes just lying on the road over the last couple of weeks. A black wing tip. A brown clog. A white sneaker. Always on the edge of the road. And always alone.

How does that happen? An angry couple embroiled in a bitter disagreement over whether the toilet paper roll hangs with the paper going over the top or coming underneath, and suddenly one of them yanks off a shoe and flings it at the head of the other, barely missing. And they watch it fly out the open window. And decide...oh what the hell, we'll just leave it there. Is that it?

Or does someone buy new shoes and just can't wait till they get home to wear them...and in the rush to change simply loses control of one shoe and out it goes?

Backseat lovers flailing and groping and...well...use your imagination.

Perhaps it doesn't even come from a car! A jogger with a blowout? A pedestrian who doesn't realize until much later that they lost a shoe?!?!

A shoe gnome?

I have no working theories. But it is a truly odd occurrence. And there are a lot of folks at home tonight holding one shoe and wondering what to do with it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

You've Got Mail!

It was bound to happen. My invitation to join the AARP arrived in the mail today. Ouch! The big birthday is still a few days away. Do we have to rush things?!?! Besides, while some people calculate and know just how long before they can ditch their job and golf all day, I actually love my job. And I don't golf. And I'm in no hurry to retire!

Okay, I know the AARP isn't just for retired folks. And I mean no disrespect to the organization. I'm sure they do good things for seniors. (Ooo, that's another 'ouch'. Do I have to call myself a 'senior'???) But I can't overlook the humor in the large (obviously) button on their home page to make the text larger. And, as someone who still feels young, I cringe when the top link on their Fun & Games page is Tell Us About Your Grandparenting Activities. Dear god, please let 'grandparenting' be years away!!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Communicating In A Global Society

That's the title of the conference I'm attending today. And while I eat my lunch, I wanted to drop in a thought or two.

While the focus of the conference is on educational uses of technology and how we can use this with our students, I'm also interested in the personal and professional uses of Web 2.0. Even more importantly, I'm thinking about how critical the use of this medium is now - and will become. One statistic from the morning...a UC Berkeley study of 2003. In that year, globally, we generated 5 exabytes of new information. [pausing a moment while you look up 'exabyte'] The stunning part of the research is that only 0.01% of that information ever got printed. The rest is digital. Amazing.

Obviously, not all of that new information is crucial. Just like this little blog. This is good for me and perhaps a few others, but generations from now students and professionals won't be looking at Notes From My Corner as a key source of information. But that drives home the do we know what is important? How do we choose which information has meaning to us as individuals, parents, professionals? Some information is important to all of us - such as the fact that we are down to eight planets now. Some information is important to groups of like-minded or like-interested folks. And some is just good for me because it entertains me, makes me think, or helps me get from Point A to Point B.

Learning how to find it, how to analyze it, how to make that information come to me....that is the new literacy. And the title of the keynote today. Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century was about those skills. I thought, being a geek in general, that I knew a lot of that. Now I know I have a lot more to learn!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Passion of Connection

What is it that makes this whole internet/blogging/wiki/podcast thing so cool? First I'll admit, I'm a geek. I love computers - can't live without my Mac. Love the internet and the fact that so much is waiting at the click of a mouse. And I love browsing web sites, IM's, chat rooms, and all that stuff.

So now that the confession of geekdom is out of the way, what else makes it fun?

It's not the technology, but the connections it makes possible. In little about little, the author comments that he can write about everyday events for him to read in the future. I totally understand that. But I also get embarrassingly excited when someone reads my blog and leaves a comment. The connection with someone I don't even know is fun.

And this week I had an experience that took it to a new level. I watched an online pre-conference keynote video podcast by David Warlick, a well-known educational technology guru. And in his podcast he asked folks to leave comments on his wiki. I did. And then someone in Texas left a comment about my comment. So, of course, I went to check out her blog. And she listed her favorite blogs. Turns out, one of her favorite professional development blogs is also one of mine! So I left her a comment, of course! And she commented on my comment. Video podcast>wiki>my comment>her comment>her blog>mutual blog>my comment>her comment. Now THAT is fun!

The opportunities for learning, exploring, and sharing are exciting. The very fact that I'm in sharing with this person and other folks whom I will never meet is still almost unbelievable. And yet, it is commonplace to my three kids. What astonishes me, they take for granted. Some part of me wishes they shared my awe. But a huge part of me is envious of what opportunities they will have.

Friday, October 20, 2006


I love taking photos with my digital camera. I have all the basic photos of family events and activities, but I also try to grab other shots just to see what sort of things might turn up as I review them. Here was an interesting day...

The drive to work on a gray, rainy, fall morning in early October...

That same afternoon but it looks like an entirely different day. It is sometimes amazing how different one day can be!

I love fall in New England!

(For those worried about me driving while taking photos, no commuters were harmed in the making of this post.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Growing Old(er)

With my fiftieth birthday just days away, I crossed one of those lines in the sand today. I got new glasses. No, not bifocals. Those are so 'old school'. Nope, I got the amazing graduated lenses. When telling me just how amazing they really would be, the doctor assured me that the top part of the lense would allow me to see Uranus with crystal clarity while the bottom portion of the lense would allow me to read the fine print on my watch battery. And somewhere in between, if I held my head nice and straight, the focus would be perfect for looking in the neighbor's window.

Well, I got 'em on right now. Drove home without killing anyone. And I will admit, I can see pretty darn good. But there is obviously some adjustment period here. The obvious, of course, is that people tend to look down when we read so they stick the 'close vision' part along the bottom. Of course, we look down to walk and traverse stairs, too. So that will take some getting used to. But I had been warned. On the other hand, no one had told me that things would seem to 'bend' nearer and farther away as I moved my head from side to side. And at the moment, the laptop screen seems to be just at the right distance to be out of focus unless I find that one tiny sweet spot with my head just slightly tilted to the right and my chin tucked down, just so.

I'll get used to them. And they are better than my old glasses. But the whole thing makes me feel just a tad older than when I got up this morning.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Field Trip

Daughter13 left before the crack of dawn this morning for a class trip to Washington, D.C. While I did nothing today other than go to work and get a hair cut, she travelled over 350 miles, toured Mount Vernon, checked into her hotel, and is, at this very moment, beginning an 'illumination tour' of some of the most prominent landmarks in our nation.

For the next four days, her and 239 other eighth graders will get on and off buses about a hundred times while visiting monuments, memorials, museums, restaurants and gift shops.

Two years ago I had the opportunity to go along on this trip as a chaperone with Son16. And having been on this class trip, I know my daughter is going to have a wonderful experience. Oh yes, she'll be exhausted by the time each day ends. But she'll also learn more in four days than she could possibly learn in the classroom. She'll see, experience, and touch part of our history.

I'm no super-patriot, but one can hardly stand at some of the memorials without feeling the history they represent. And it is impossible to tour Arlington Cemetary and walk along the Vietnam Memorial without feeling the impact of how many lives have been lost in violent conflict. And the collections of the Smithsonian are varied and massive enough to impress anyone - even a thirteen year old.

The house is unnaturally quiet. We don't have family close by - no weekends with grandparents - so she has never even been away for more than one night at a time. So there is an oddness to her absence. We miss her. And if she weren't busy laughing and talking and looking and exploring and learning, she might miss us too. But right now the important thing is the laughing and talking and looking and exploring and learning.

Enjoy your trip!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Are you ready for some football?

Okay, confession time. I love to watch pro football. I'm not a sports nut. I don't watch much baseball - only the occasional Red Sox game. Basketball interests me even less. And tennis lost my interest with the retirements of McEnroe and Connors and Bjorg. And I hardly even think of golf or bowling as sports! And that is just the pro level. College sports interests me even less.

But pro football is wonderful. I don't care about the 'controlled violence' aspects. I don't need to glamorize it in any way. I just think these are good athletes in a team sport that requires a nice bit of strategy to be consistently successful. Just enough brawn mixed with just enough brain.

And today was a good day. My favorite team - the Patriots - had a bye this week. But it was good for the other 'local' teams. Jets and Giants both won. Washington and Philadelphia both lost - ultimately a good thing for the Giants in terms of standings. And a couple of games came down to last minute drives and even final plays (some with success and some not).

While the 'meat' of my afternoon was really all about doing some laundry and helping the kids a bit with some homework, the games in the background provide a very pleasant bit of entertainment on a fall afternoon.


I read two blogs today that posed questions about the act of blogging. In Little About Little, the blogger wonders about the etiquette of blogging:
Is there blogging etiquette?
And if there is, who made the rules? I just read my blog and found, much to my delight, comments on several of the entries. It was great. I want to say thank you, and I certainly now will comment more often because I know how it feels to be acknowledged on some level. But it would be interesting and fun to find or formulate an etiquette.
And in Decisions and Revisions, Sara asks about the future of blogging:
will videos replace much of the writing in blogs? Will the attitude be: If you can show it, why bother writing it out?
The first comment got me to thinking about some writing I've done for my job on emergence. At work I've focused on how the unrelated efforts of each individual in the workplace contribute to the success of all of us.

Is the same true in the blogosphere? Will the etiquette of blogging emerge simply as a result of all of us blogging, reading other blogs, and commenting on blogs? I think so. But I think it isn't the etiquette, but rather, the etiquettes. Plural. Blogs are so varied by topic and style. I love some. I'm bored with others. Some are political. Some are porn. Some are funny. And each genre seems to have its own etiquette emerging as a natural by-product of the blogs themselves. And I like that type of etiquette. It comes from the users rather than an authority. And in that way, it is the style that is most pleasing and beneficial to the users of those blogs. And that, in my thinking, will be the etiquette that serves the blogosphere best.

As someone who loves to read and write, Sara's question is more troubling to me. YouTube (GoogleTube?) and other video sites are surely popular and fun. Vlogs are visual and compelling at times. But will that mean the death of the written blog? I hope not! And I have faith that it won't happen. For a couple of reasons. First of all, television and movies and VCR's and DVD's offer high quality entertainment, but it didn't mean the end of the publishing industry. Borders and Barnes & Noble didn't chain their doors. People love a good read. Secondly, some of us love words and love to write. I took a long time for me to start blogging. But I know I would never start videotaping my entries. As the old saying goes, I have a face made for radio. But more importantly, it just doesn't appeal to me in the same way. I like the act of composing and linking and quoting and putting my ideas down on 'paper'. I don't have that same good feeling inside with video. So Sara, as long as there are good blogs out there like your blog, I think the readers and writers of the world will have plenty of good things to read.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

On the radio...

Tonight I heard an ad on the radio for some sort of air filtration system. And they told me the air inside my house was five times dirtier than the air outside. How can this be? I know we don't dust and vacuum as often as we should. But FIVE TIMES?!?!

And then I began to wonder...where do they get these numbers? Did the take an air sample from the house of the guy who lives next to the waste treatment facility? Or the house built on a toxic waste site? Or maybe they went directly to the cave of darkness and sucked an air sample right from satan's boudoir complete with smoke and particles of burning sulfur and brimstone?

But my house? We don't smoke. No one even uses aerosol hairspray or deodorant! It just can't be that dirty in here. It's gotta be safe to breathe...right?


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Merchants, Performers and Cleavage - OH MY!

This past weekend, my wife and I took two of our kids (Daughter13 and Son16) to the local Renaissance Faire. It was a perfect fall day in New England and our first ever visit to the Faire. And we were all entertained. We all enjoyed shopping at the various merchants and returned home with new jewelry, bits and pieces of upcoming Halloween costumes, some excellent incense, and lots of snacks. We enjoyed various performances by troups of jousters, singing executioners, and a bawdy rendition of the story of Samson by the Pope and Cardinal Show (with none other than me playing the part of Samson!). And yes, there was an abundance of buxom wenches all around.

The best part? Watching the kids. Watching them laugh till it hurt as the executioners performed rap songs. Watching them grin from ear to ear as they got their turn throwing axes and trying their hand at archery. And watching them burst into applause as the sword swallower swallowed! Kids are jaded. Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. But then the man SWALLOWED A SWORD! They just don't do that during an assembly at school.

It was a good day as a family. It was a good day to watch kids enjoy being kids.

Monday, October 09, 2006

To Blog, or Not To Blog

The question of the day...should I start my own blog?


Transition. A life change is always a good time to begin something new. Earlier this month, my youngest (Daughter13) became a teenager. That makes me the proud dad of three teenagers. Of course, it also means my hair is turning grey at a faster pace than ever! Later this month, I'll turn fifty. That's right, the big FIVE OH. I'm not freaked out by that. But I'm very aware of where it puts me every time some survey asks me to check off my age group!

Addiction. I read my first blog about a year ago. I was so innocent at the time. And for six months or so, it was a gradual process of finding blogs I really enjoy. It was a casual pleasure. But then I started to need more blogs. And I added RSS feeds so I didn't have to wait around to know the latest posting. Now I find reading (and sometimes commenting) has become part of every day. And I figure, if I'm gonna be playing in the blogosphere anyway, I might as well go ahead and dive in the deep end.

The Geek Factor. I love computers. I love the internet. Creating a blog tweaks the geek deep inside.


Enough already! One estimate is that 75,000 new blogs are created every day. Another estimate put it this way: a new blog is created every second. EVERY SECOND!! Do Google and Wordpress and the others really have servers that big??? And can all those blogs find an audience or do they just add to the muddle? On the other hand, I'm not really writing to find or entertain a particular audience. I'm writing for my own pleasure. If someone comes along, that's cool. If not, that's okay, too.


Transition + Addiction + Geek Factor > The Muddle

So I created my little corner and this is where I'll be.