Saturday, December 29, 2007

The in-laws have left the building

I love my in-laws. And I'm being serious, not sarcastic. But I also love when they go home! And they left just an hour or so ago after a six day visit. Which felt like a day and a half too long.

Grandpa's constant criticizing teasing of the kids about what foods they don't like to eat.

Grandma's allergic reactions to our dog.

Grandpa's outbursts every time someone in another car did any little thing the he perceived as poor driving.

Grandma's many criticisms questions about our house. (Did you know it would be this color when you painted? Do you really like this carpet? Did you think about putting the couch against that wall?)

They can be fun to be around. We put together puzzles. We played Scattergories and Spinners. We went out to dinner and a movie. But for some reason, everyone seemed to be struggling to be on their best behavior this year.

And now they are on their way home. We have our house back. And almost immediately, all five of us went to different rooms for some peace and tranquility. We've had enough "together" time...and now we just need some quiet time.

So if you call today, we might not answer the phone. We'll be enjoying the quiet.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

That was then...this is now

It is 48 hours since we opened our gifts on Christmas morning. And I'm very aware of how different my Christmas has become.

A few years back, much of Christmas day and the days following would have been filled with assembling toys, helping kids figure out how to use toys, putting stickers and decals on toys, and playing with the kids and their toys.

Now, 48 hours since they opened their gifts, and the only times I've seen the kids have been at meals.

Son20, gleeful over two new games for his Xbox, has barely left his room. I'm sure there is some carpel tunnel stuff going on with that game controller. He has his headphone on, talking with other players around the globe, and barely aware of anything else. Oh sure, he has invited both siblings in to watch and to play. And he even told us how awesome the games were. But other than that, he hasn't been visible.

Son17 got a portable DVD player and some DVD's to watch. Other than checking with us about how to recharge the battery, we haven't talked with him much. For a while he sat in the same room with his headphones on and giggled at The Simpson's Christmas...but eventually we sent him to a different room so we could talk over the laughter.

And Daughter14...got a new iPod. She has shown up for meals...with her ear buds firmly in place. Other than that, it is as if she were abducted by aliens.

And don't get me wrong...our kids got other things. Books, clothes, etc. Things they had requested. But the electronic gadgetry was shining so brightly that those other items got lost in the glow.

Do I miss spending time putting together things? Playing with things? Swearing at the things that don't go together easily? Sure. I miss those days. But it sure feels more relaxing this way. And it even means I get to pay attention to my gifts! That never happened when the kids were young!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A greeting of the season


A Blessed Yule and Happy Solstice to all!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A blanket of serenity

We had our first big snow on Thursday. The forecast said 3-6 inches. We got 13.5. It was beautiful and yet, since I had to get home from work in it, travel back to the airport to get my wife, and then get home safely late that night, it was not a snow that I could enjoy. It just added to the stress of the day.

But last night and today we've had a few more inches of snow and sleet. Church was canceled. My family is all safe at home. And we are able to just sit inside near the fire and enjoy a very relaxing day. The first such day in two weeks.

I was outside early this morning with the dog. A mix of snow and sleet was falling. And it was so peaceful. The world was quiet and a blanket of pristine snow covered everything. I enjoy the beauty. I enjoy the quiet. I enjoy having my family safe at home.

If you have snow or ice today, I hope you can enjoy it!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Deeply felt gratitude

I've gotten so many wonderful comments and e-mails in response to my last posting. I am so thankful for all the kind words of support. My wife finally made it home last night...our little family is all together again...and in spite of sadness that will be with us for a long time, we are looking forward to a nice, quiet holiday season together.

I'll be visiting you very soon...cause I've missed you!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A sad and unplanned absence

Generally I try to write some entertaining stories about my life. Not that my life is always entertaining, but who wants to read about the boring parts!

This particular entry is not fun.

Some of you have written and asked where I've been. I've been taking a break from the blog and from many aspects of my life the last 10 days or so...and not for a good reason. My 16-year-old niece died ten days ago. She was the youngest child of my wife's only sister.

She was injured in a sledding accident. She was transported by lifestar to a trauma center where all efforts were made to help her. But she never regained consciousness. And she passed away in the early hours of Sunday, December 2.

There is nothing that can prepare us for losing a young person in such a sudden and tragic way. I've gone through feelings of profound sadness, shock, anger, and total exhaustion - mentally, physically, and emotionally.

My sister-in-law lives just outside Salt Lake City. So we gathered our kids and flew there to be with them. We were there for the formal events surrounding her death - the viewing and the funeral. Our two sons and I were asked to be pall bearers. It was a very sad task, but also a real honor to help lay her to rest. It seems just doing something was helpful to us.

And that was true for the extra days we were there. The time to just be with extended family was nurturing. But there was always that sense of just wanting to do something...wanting to find some way to be helpful. Cooking. Shopping. Anything that could be done just to keep our hands and minds a bit distracted helped us through the days and nights.

My wife is still in Salt Lake with her sister so that she can help as they begin to sort through my niece's things.

I'm back at work. The kids are back at school. And we are slowly returning to the normal aspects of our lives. And there is much comfort in just fitting in to those things again. And that includes writing in my corner. I'm glad to be back.

For my niece's family, the road back to "normal" will be very long and difficult. My love and prayers go out to them.

Kristy was a wonderful young woman. We loved her very much. And she will be missed.


Friday, November 16, 2007

I got my eye on you!

Supervising teenagers is a dangerous and challenging profession. Without any help from others, they are genetically driven to do stupid and dangerous things. And they certainly won't take much advice from anyone who just might...might...have some clue about how life works.

But before I go off on a tangent about teenagers (okay, MY teenagers...not just teenagers in general), let me get to the point of this. Which is not just about supervising teens. It is more about supervising teens who are dating.

So far, in our house, that has been our oldest son...Son20. Now that he is 20, we pretty much just hope that we've taught him well enough that he won't do every stupid thing he thinks of. And we know he has plenty of condoms. And the girl he dates is pleasant and mostly polite and they seem to treat each other with respect and affection.

But he wasn't always 20. There were the girls he dated when he was going through high school. And along the way, there were all the rules about how one light must be on when the two of you are watching TV...you can't both lay down on the couch under the blanket to watch TV...you can't take the girls to your room even if they really do want to play Nintendo...etc...etc...etc. And for the most part, he is a good kid and listened.

But it may be different when Daughter14 finally starts to date. It might be time to break out the intimidation stick and beat a couple boys with the stern looks and threatening presence. The problem is, I just don't have it in me. I'm pretty thin...so I don't look very threatening. And I have some concern that my stern look really looks more like I might have a bit of gas. So we might have to think outside the box on this one.

Like the first girl Son20 dated. Her parents were nice and polite. But for some reason, the kids always preferred to get together at our house to watch TV rather than go to her house. It wasn't until after they broke up that Son20 revealed the reason. It seems when they would watch TV at her house, the rule was the door to the family must stay open. Well, no problem there. But just around the corner from the family room door, in the living room, her dad would take that opportunity to clean his gun. Every time. It was the cleanest gun in Connecticut, without a doubt.

It was also the two most intimidated kids on the east coast!

I don't own a gun. Not a real one anyway. But I'm sure I've got that Nerf pistol around here somewhere!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wanna catch a movie?

A couple of days ago I got an e-mail invitation from Dorky Dad's Facebook page. He invited me to check out our movie compatibility. How could I resist? I mean, if we only lived about 1300 miles closer together, we might even be able to catch a movie together. Just two good blogger buddies hanging out at the cinema.

But then I took the little quiz. Oops!

While we scored as "casual buddies", it seems clear that if we tried to choose a comedy we would both enjoy, the entire outing would end in a war of raisinetes and goobers. On the other hand, we do seem pretty compatible on the...uhhh...love stuff. But I don't think I'm driving 1300 miles just so Dorky Dad and I can share a box of kleenex while we sniff our way through The Way We Were.

But the fun thing about this Facebook movie compatibility test was that it also let me compare my score to any other friends who had taken the quiz. Again, how could I resist?

And who would I match up with best? Jessica from Oh The Joys!

It looks like we could spend a fun evening at the movies and not have any difficulty at all in finding a movie we would both enjoy. Sounds good to me!

So Jessica, just let me know when you're free and I'll meet you in the lobby.

I'll be the one in the Park Ranger outfit. ;)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Let me be your hero!

I know, I've not written for a while. Bad blogger! But I've had to write so much for work that I was tired of writing. I wasn't totally absent. I've tried to visit your sites now and then. But sometimes leaving a comment was even more typing than I could manage. And some of you have written just to check on me...and I'm greatly appreciate that!

But while things at work left me not wanting to write, it didn't entirely stop me from having some fun. No way. I definitely needed some recreation and the kids have provided it. They have totally sucked me in and now I'm addicted.

That's right...I'm a Guitar Hero!

The kids have been playing this thing for months. Guitar Hero I and II. And of course, Rocks the 80's. I've watched from time to time...but it didn't have that much appeal. Until the finally talked me into trying just one song. They finally put that cherry red Gibson SG in my hands...and I was a rock star.

OMG! How is it possible to have that much fun without really playing the music? I don't know...but I did! Single player mode or multi-player mode. Choose your level and off you go, rocking the house with some awesomely hot licks. Iron Man. I Love Rock and Roll. Killer Queen. Free Bird. I can play them all!

Okay, so I mostly play on the Easy or Medium level while the kids are doing Expert, Career Mode, etc. Big deal. I can always play when they aren't around!

I don't own any leather pants and it has been years since I've had long hair. But don't let that stop you! Go ahead, throw your keys and your undies. Well, gentlemen, you can hang on to your undies! But you can still stand on your chair, hold up your lighters (or in these days, your cell phones), and enjoy the show!

But I promise to take a bit of time from my concert tour to write a bit more often in the future.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action on the Environment

Blog Action Day and many of us are writing about our contribution to the environment. But more than my contribution, I'm mostly reminded of how much I don't do.

Oh sure, I drive a small car that gets good mileage, but I've never given any thought to car pooling. And we recycle our glass and paper and plastic, and yet we still contribute far too much to the landfill. So sometimes I feel like our efforts won't really make a lot of difference.

But one of our choices has proven me wrong. I've written before about our membership in a local farm that engages in Community Supported Agriculture. We just completed our second year of membership. And it has been a fantastic experience. We consistently get far more produce for our money than we would ever get at the supermarket. Everything we get is fresh picked. It is all grown organically. And we are supporting a local farmer. I feel really good about this and the food is awesome! We eat fresh produce every day for the entire summer and our freezer is packed with frozen veggies and tomato sauce and salsa. We'll be eating food from the farm all winter.

And the support of the farm has been a good thing. The membership in the farm has grown every year. This farm had been a community supported farm for several years before we joined, but in our first year, there were 50 members. This year, it increased to 85...and he turned away close to 40 more. But the support of the local community has allowed him to purchase extra farmland and next year he'll be able to provide food to nearly 125 families in the area.

Local. No fuel or pollution to transport it. Organic. No fertilizers or pesticides in the earth. It tastes fantastic. And I actually get to meet and know the farmer that grows food for my family.

This is one contribution to the environment that I really do think makes a big difference.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Still in my corner...

I began blogging one year ago. In that time I've written 127 posts (this makes 128). I've had a lot of fun thinking about topics. I've become a little more tuned in to the little details of my day as I ponder whether or not something would make good blog material. I've had a chance to try to write creatively in both serious and humorous posts. And I've had a blast.

But that is not the best part of this experience. The totally unexpected aspect of this has been building a community with other bloggers.

See, I never expected anyone to really read this thing! I'm not writing about anything deep or thought-provoking. And there are certainly more creative folks out there. So I expected to write for my own fun and that would be it.

But people did read. Many of you read more than once, even! And you keep coming back. While I've only written 127 posts, I've had just over 12,000 visitors!!! And you've left several thousand comments. Some of you know quite a bit about me and my family by now. And that is awesome.

And I've come to read your blogs. I feel like I "know" many of you now and I look forward to each new item you share. And I still open up my browser and read your posts and leave my comments with a certain sense of awe that you are in Alaska, Canada, Tennessee, Australia, Texas, France, the Philippines, California, Minnesota, South Carolina, England, and yes, even here in Connecticut.

Your posts, your comments, our visits back and forth have connected me with people that I would never meet in real life. Some of those visits have been short. Some of us have traded comments and read about each other a whole bunch of times over the past year. And in some cases, the posts and comments have turned into conversations via e-mail, giving us time to share even more.

When I started this thing, I wondered if I would stick with it. Would I run out of things to say? Would I get bored talking about my own life - which frankly, isn't that fascinating. Would I just get distracted and forget. But none of those things happened. I'm still here in my corner and I'm looking forward to Post #129!

And I'm looking forward to more conversations with you.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

In honor of me? Aw, shucks.

I gotta give a shout out to the wonderful folks at Sam Adams Brewery. I mean, how often does a big corporation take time to recognize one individual customer? It simply does not happen.

And yet, they did it. They created a brew just for me.


It surprised me that they did it. Yes, I only drink Sam Adams. But no, I don't drink a lot. So the CEO isn't buying a new yacht based on what I spend.

And yet, they must have done this in my honor. They named it after this month. And my birthday is later this month. Coincidence? I think not. I'm taking full credit for the existence of this tasty seasonal beverage.

Oh I'm sure some of you will say...nay, nay Em...it is in honor of the Oktoberfest festival in Munich. Sure, Oktoberfest is the world's largest fair, drawing more than six million people every year. And yes, they serve a special beer at the festival which is brewed only by select Munich brewers specifically for the festival and served in their giant beer tents. And yes, the entire festival kicks off when the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg. But that is way over there in Germany. With their special beer. In the tents.

This is here...with a different special beer...in my house. In the month of my birthday.

Synchronicity.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I'm not really complaining...but...

Almost 5:00 on Saturday afternoon, October 6. This just isn't typical!

I love warm weather. But I also love the fall. If this keeps up, we'll be Trick or Treating with sunscreen! I think I'm ready for a touch of New England fall.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Birthday time at our house!

It is official. Daughter13 is now Daughter14. Today is the big day. In fact, just about an hour ago would have been the official moment - 14 years since she entered the world.

We've opened the presents. We've been out to dinner. And in just a little while we'll have the cake (with blue frosting, her favorite color!). And throughout the evening she'll talk on the phone with various relatives near and far.

She is actually having her party with friends a couple of weeks from now. They are all going bowling...which really involves a little bowling and a lot of eating cheese fries from the snack bar.

By the way, for those of you who congratulated her on her smart move of sending her wish list to me via e-mail...the strategy was a big success. She scored everything on the list!

Happy birthday, cutie. We love you!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Work, Retreat, Breaking & Entering

Ten days since my last post! I've been around to visit just a few of you in that time, but not many. So what has kept me away?

Work. Things have just been crazy at work. Going in early. Staying late. Not even time to visit a couple of blogs on my lunch break. Why so busy? My assistant has been out for almost a week with some viral/plague/influenza/ebola thing. Apparently it is going around as numerous staff have been out. A few tried to show up to work, but quickly gave up and went back home to lie on their couch and die. For those who merely coughed up a lung but avoided the Grim Reaper, they are slowly returning to work. My assistant made it back today, but going up a flight of stairs nearly pushed him over into the great beyond.

Retreat. I've mentioned before that I'm on the Policy Board for our church. And this past weekend was our leadership retreat. A couple of days of workshops ranging from really good to "can I kill myself now?" What made it a retreat and not just a workshop? Cause we went somewhere else. We retreated. We retreated all the way to a neighboring town and had our meetings in their church. A long weekend, but not bad.

Breaking & Entering. Let me start by saying I didn't mean to break and enter. I just meant to enter. I was the poor sap in charge of breakfast on Saturday morning for our retreat. So on Friday night, the key was passed over to me so that I could arrive early and get the coffee going. Which is exactly what I did. I unlocked the door, picked up my bags of bagels and danish and coffee supplies, and got about ten steps inside the building when the loudest alarm I've ever heard started to blare. Needless to say, I was surprised! No one had told us there was an alarm!! As I stood frozen in place, wondering what to do, a recorded voice began screaming, even louder than the alarm. I didn't stand around long enough to commit the recording to memory, but it went something like...

EMERGENCY BURGLAR ALERT!!! YOU HAVE ENTERED A PROTECTED AREA!!! PLEASE LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!!!! EMERGENCY BURGLAR ALERT!!! YOU HAVE ENTERED A PROTECTED AREA!!! PLEASE LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!!!! EMERGENCY BURGLAR ALERT!!! YOU HAVE ENTERED A PROTECTED AREA!!! PLEASE LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!!!!


You get the idea. Loud and intimidating.

I backed out of the building, locked the door, and waited for the police to arrive - wondering if the fact that I had a key to the building would protect me from incarceration. I had no phone number to contact anyone from that church. And no one else from my church had arrived yet.

But no cops ever showed up. And eventually the alarm stopped. And when confronted with the possibility of facing multiple indictments of breaking and entering versus facing church folk with no coffee to drink, I decided to try it again.

No problem. No alarm. Apparently it was on some sort of timer and the timer now viewed me as "friend" rather than "foe" because I was coming in the door at the right time. So the coffee got made. I got a couple of extra gray hairs. And a very long and tiring week came to an end.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The B'day List

That was the subject line on the e-mail.

I spend a lot of time at my computer. At work, technology is my job, so I'm almost always looking at my screen, using photoshop, setting up keynote slides, creating training handouts, and checking my 7 different e-mail accounts.

Then I get home...and use the computer a lot there, as well. Blogging. Reading blogs. Browsing web sites. Etc. Etc. Etc.

I'm not saying I ignore my family. You guys know I spend plenty of time doing the family stuff. But still, I love my computer time, as well.

And Daughter13 is no dummy! Her birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks. And she has a list of wants and needs. But she didn't just scribble it out and hand it to me or her mom. And she didn't just tell us about it over dinner.

Nope, she knew just how to put that list where I would be most certain of seeing it and dealing with it.

She e-mailed it to me. With instructions that said I could "print it out when I went shopping".

Now is that a kid who knows how to get things done, or what?!?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Brought to you by the letter P

My friend cs has tagged me with this little meme. It seems simple enough...write about seven words that begin with the letter P. All I have to do is choose seven words and start writing.

Yeah, I know. Seven words that begin with P. I was tempted. What a list of P words that came to mind! P words in the bathroom. P words in the bedroom. Body parts and body functions. All starting with P.

But that would be too easy. Besides, if you read the words chosen by cs, you'll see that she set the bar a little bit higher than the words that first raced around in my brain.

So I've chosen different words to explore - all beginning with the letter P.

Parent. I've got three kids between 13 and 20 years of age. And one of our kids has multiple special needs. So for the past twenty years, one of the most significant aspects of my life has been parenting. And I feel good about my parenting. I'm not great at it but I take it very seriously. I'm not always conventional or predictable. But I have a great time with my kids. And no matter how old they get, I'll always have the pleasure of being their parent.

Partner. There are so many ways to describe my relationship with my wife. Spouses. Lovers. Best friends. Soul mates. Some terms seem more romantic, some seem more practical. And they all imply different aspects of our relationship. And 'partner' is certainly one aspect that is very important. We share in having fun and also in making tough decisions. We share in the challenges of raising a family and making a home. We support each other when money is tight and we celebrate together when things are going well. We are partners - side by side, sharing in all aspects of life.

Pagan. Just a couple of weeks ago, I participated in the Joys & Trials meme. In the comments, a couple of folks asked questions about just what spiritual path I followed. I grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist family. Upon reaching adulthood and moving away from home, I stopped attending church and didn't really even think about religion for many years. When I finally returned to a church, I chose Unitarian Universalism, a church that has no specific doctrine, giving me the opportunity to explore based on my own interests and feelings. And that exploration has led me through a much more liberal perspective on Christianity, some Buddhist study, a lot of reading on Quantum Theology, and paganism. I'll admit, I don't practice any pathway as much as I think I should. But I do seem to have settled into a belief system that is sort of a blending of a few of my original beliefs combined with some of the quantum theories and a lot of paganism. I've sometimes referred to myself as a solitary autodidactic eclectic. Just a fancy way of saying I sort of make it up as I go along. But for me, it has to be that way. There are aspects of different spiritual pathways that are meaningful to me and I incorporate those into my beliefs. But I probably pull the most from paganism. I love the connection to nature, the feelings of mystery, the historical connections to old Celtic practices. The more I really pay attention to my body, the more aware I am of just how much I am influenced by the changing of the seasons and by spending time outdoors. And pagan spirituality reinforces that for me on many levels. I used to think I had to pick a path and stick with it. Sort of the "finding the right way" attitude. Now I know that, for me at least, it will always be a learning process, growing as I grow.

Play. I love to play. I enjoy board games and card games. I love to just be silly. I'm sure everyone in my family would tell you that I rarely act my age. But who says old guys have to act serious? My daughter just told me this week that one of her friends told her that she really liked me and wished her dad was more fun. You just can't beat that kind of review!

Pets. Animals have been a huge part of our family. At the moment, we only have five - one dog, two turtles, and two rabbits. But we've had as many as twenty at a time including dogs, cats, turtles, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and fish. Some of our animals have been entered into the local fairs. We've even had a couple of Grand Champions! And just in case all those animals weren't enough, we've also been a foster family for raising guide dog puppies a couple of times. All those extra paws and claws and fins certainly make our house a fun place to be.

Present. Nope, not like a birthday present (though you can send me a present any time you want!) I'm talking about being present. In the moment. This is my personal challenge - to really be present in the moment. It is so easy to be sitting in the sun or floating in the lake while my brain reviews things I need to do at work. I can go out to dinner with my family and find myself planning things I need to get done on the weekend. And I'm trying to stop that. To learn to really be present in the moment. To embrace each activity as it happens. There will be plenty of time for work when I get to work. Plenty of time for chores and paying bills. My kids are growing up fast and I want to really live in every minute.

Word seven. But cs established a pattern (oh look, another P word!). She chose to only write about six words. That seems perfect (there's another one). So I'm going parrot her lead and do the same (okay, am I trying too hard now?).

But I do need pass this P meme along to another blogger. And to do that, I'm going to the Pole. The North Pole. Well, nearly that far. I'm passing it along to Kati in Alaska. Have fun, Kati! I'm eager to see what you do with the P's!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

OUCH!

After 5 days of healing, it is starting to look pretty good. You should have seen it on the first day. Ugly and oozing. Both cuts are about four inches long. And it hurt!

I'm not bothering to say how it happened because the story is just too mundane. But I think one of these cuts may leave a bit of a scar. So I'll need a not-so-mundane story. I'm torn between wild sex and bear attack. But I'm open to other ideas.

Oh...first time I've ever shaved part of my leg. That was odd. But I do have baby-soft skin. :)

My wife suggested I just go all the way and give my self a little Brazilian styling. She is so funny sometimes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Friendly Wager

Son20 and I both love pro football. We were thrilled to sit through opening weekend. We watched our beloved Patriots. But we also watched every other game we could find - flipping channels when more than one game was on. It was sweet!

And just to make this season a little more fun for us, we have a little wager going. Each week we select who we think will win all the games. The best record for the weekend wins that weekend. The one with the most weekend wins at the end of the season takes the other out to dinner.

And I had a good weekend. I was winning. I was winning right up to the last 22 seconds of the second game on Monday night. The last 22 seconds of the entire weekend of games. And then San Francisco scored a winning touchdown.

Now I'm just one week closer to buying a steak dinner.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

While I was away...

Just before school began, I was away from the blogosphere for a while. A little time camping. A few days of working extra hours. And when I got back to this corner, I was surprised and honored to find that three different bloggers had passed along blog awards to me.

Talk about a shock! When I started blogging I really didn't expect anyone to read it. And I certainly never expected anyone to check in on a regular basis. But many of you do and it is more fun than I ever imagined. And to get a pat on the back along the way is just very cool.

Jenster, who has a wonderful blog, tapped me with the Blogger Reflection Award. The award gets passed along to bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Bloggers who, when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy… of knowing them and being blessed by them.

Wow, quite an honor to have Jenster think so highly of some of the things I've written. Thank you!

Now the rules of the award...

1. Copy this set of rules.
2. Reflect on five bloggers and write a least a paragraph about each one.
3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Go leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they’ve been given the award.
5. Put the award icon on your site.

I'll proudly display the icon. And I read more than five blogs that really touch me with their writing. But I'll narrow it down to five for the moment and here they are...

Nancy at Just Thinking... certainly qualifies as a reflective blogger. She writes about her life and family, but she also speaks courageously about her concerns for the world, the environment, and the people that live on the planet.

Wizened Wizard is definitely someone I feel proud to know - at least as much as you can know someone through their blog. She continues to amaze me with her thoughtful writing and her love and respect for nature (and her amazing photos) keep me coming back to her blog day after day.

Radioactive Girl is an inspiration. She has shared openly and bravely about her battles with cancer and the health concerns of her children. Of course that isn't all her blog is about. All of her writing is great to read.

Many people would claim that a seventeen year old kid isn't very reflective. In most cases, I might agree. But there is one seventeen year old who has great insight and writes about it so well, she clearly sets the bar higher for all of us. Theory of Thought definitely earns this blogging award with her writing.

Lastly, one of my newest blogging friends is Darren over at Clare's Dad. For the past year or so, he has been a stay-at-home dad with his pre-school daughter and has written a lot about the joys of sharing that time together. Now, she is off to school and he is off to find a job outside the home. I can't wait to see what happens next.

In addition to the Reflective Blogger Award, two people passed along the Nice Matters Award. This award gets passed to people who are just plain nice. And frankly, that's about a high a compliment as you can get!

The two folks who passed it along to me are pretty darn nice, too! Which explains why they got the award. Tulip Mom is a stay-at-home mom raising her son with Asperger's Syndrome. But she doesn't stop there. She writes about parenting plus a whole bunch of other stuff at her blog. And then there is Dorky Dad. When it comes to writing entertaining blogs, DD is the guru, the Peyton Manning of blogging. If you don't know who Peyton Manning is, he is a pretty decent football player - which is hard to admit for a real New England fan. But it isn't hard to admit that Dorky Dad is a totally rocking blogger. And I would have nominated both of these if they hadn't already been honored.

Fortunately, so that you can stop reading soon, this award has no rules that require me to write individual little paragraphs about my nominees. So let me just say that all five of these folks are super nice. They've all left comments and/or sent e-mail that encouraged me along the way with my blogging. And they all write blogs that I love to visit. So my nominees for the Nice Matters Award are...

Jocelyn at O Mighty Crisis - a great entertainer with her writing
CS at another tangential thinker - great writing with terrific photos
Big Brother - he IS watching...and writing about it.
Whim at The Babblings of Whimsicalnbrainpan - she has been through a lot (you can read all about it) and she is an amazing person
Charlotta (who looks just like Wonder Woman!) and is very supportive to other bloggers.

These are all terrific bloggers and totally deserve recognition for being super nice.

It is an honor to get these awards...but an even bigger honor to shine a little light on some of my favorite bloggers!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The 3 Kinds of People

Son20 started his new year in college last week. One of his courses is Criminal Justice. He anticipated a class with a bunch of political science majors discussing the justice system. He was half right. The other half of the class is apparently populated with people planning to go into a career of law enforcement. That alters the class just a bit, but no problem.

But then they all met the professor. This guy is an ex-military, ex-law enforcement, homeland security-loving, gung-ho kind of a guy. His first comment in the first class was to give the one and only class rule. No sandals. Apparently they "ruin your stance" making it much more difficult to walk a beat later in life.

His next comment was on the seating arrangement in the class. And this is where Son20 learned about the types of people in the world. According to the professor, you can figure out which kind of person you are if you imagine standing in a circle of people when a hand grenade is tossed into the center of the circle. One type of person will run away looking for safety. One type of person will freeze in place from the fear.. And the last type of person will throw themselves on the grenade in an effort to protect others.

Having given that description of the 3 types of people in the world, the professor then said he needed four people who were the "jump on the grenade type" to sit nearest the door. He said if a terrorist entered the class, he was willing to jump in front of him and take the first bullet. But the professor felt it would take up to four additional people to help subdue and disarm the terrorist. So the professor scanned the room and asked if there were four volunteers.

Son20, who just happened to be sitting closest to the door, was the only person who moved. He slowly gathered his books and pencils, stuffed it all in his backpack, stood up and announced to the class (which was still a bit stunned from this opening salvo from the professor)..."I'm pretty sure I'm a runner". And he slowly made his way to the far corner of the room.

Once Son20 made the first move, a few other students shuffled around, basically leaving the corner nearest the door barren. I guess it went a little beyond a typical classroom seating chart to try to group all the grenade jumpers in one corner.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What Girls Wear

I went back-to-school shopping with Daughter13 and my wife a couple of weeks ago. I know, the first thing that pops into your head is "am I insane?" Nope. I actually thought it would be a supportive and helpful thing to do. So we headed to the mall for school clothing.

As we entered the first store, I made my move. I asked what sizes my daughter wore so I could assist in the search. Again you wonder, have I lost my mind? Nope. But I knew if I didn't stake my claim as a "helper" right up front, I would end up sitting in the corner holding the purses. Or worse yet, sent to the food court till the entire event was complete.

As it turns out, Daughter13 was not 100% humiliated to have me helping, so she actually responded to my question. She shrugged. Not being entirely sure what size the shrug indicated, I turned to my wife. She ventured that she wasn't certain, this being our daughter's first time moving up from the girl's department to full-blown adult wear, but she thought we should look for a size 1 in jeans.

One? How can someone who is thirteen years old wear a one?!?! I thought those were for babies. Remember the 1T size? How did we get back to a '1' all over again?

Not wanting to rock the boat, I kept my mouth shut and went to look for jeans in size one. Once a few different pairs of jeans had been located, Daughter13 went to try things on. And guess what? They were too big.

So now what? Turns out there is a size zero. Zero. As in nothing. How freaking small must a pair of jeans be to be a zero?!? But as we scanned the zero pile, the kindly salesperson suggested that those might not fit, either. Nope, she suggested double zero.

Who ever heard of double zero???? And just what the hell are they? Is this like a bra...a double-A cup is bigger than an A cup? Turns out...nothing like a bra. A double zero is smaller than a zero.

Roll that phrase around in your head for a minute. Smaller than a zero. How can that be? How can clothing come in sizes smaller than zero???

So off we went in search of double zero sized jeans. Insane. And as I flipped through racks of size 2 and 3, I couldn't help but wonder....are the teens who wear those sizes giants?!?! Suddenly a 2 seemed gargantuan compared to double zero. Clearly, all reason has been set aside. Numbers on girls' clothing are meaningless.

Fortunately, we did find double zero jeans. Plenty of them. And Daughter13 now has pants to wear.

Then we had to find shirts. To cut a long story short, I'll just say that the lack of logic was consistent. She does not wear double zero shirts. Not even close.

Who made up this system? And on what basis did they choose these numbers? When I need pants, I measure my waist. Thirty-six. So I go to the store and buy size 34 cause I know I'm gonna drop a few pounds soon...right? And then I go home. The numbers and the size actually relate to MY size. Not for girls. Not for women.

Next time I'm waiting in the food court.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Joys & Trials

I was tagged earlier this week by my blogger friend Kati over at Dragonfly's Musings. Kati loves to share about her family - hubby and daughter - plus her thoughts and opinions on a wide variety of topics. I thoroughly enjoy her blog. And when she tagged me with this meme, I was happy to take a shot at it.

The Joys & Trials meme works like this...
  1. You have to use your own belief system for the meme. No fair using someone else’s to make a joke or satire. Being humorous about your own religion is encouraged!
  2. You have to have at least one joy and one trial. More are encouraged. And no, they don’t have to be equal in length, but please be honest.
  3. You have to tag at least one other person. More are appreciated!
  4. Please post these rules!
I liked thinking about this one because it really did give me a chance for some reflection about both the good and the not-so-good of my spirituality. And here is what I came up with...

Joys
  • I like that my spirituality connects me strongly with nature, the cycles of the earth, the changing of the seasons.
  • I like that I have the freedom to make my own decisions and choices about how I view and interact with the divine.
  • I like the sense of mystery and magic.
  • I like that some rituals can be traced back for hundreds of years, and yet, can still be individualized and personalized - making them most special for me while connecting me with the past.
  • I like that my family loves celebrating some of the holidays - particularly Samhain and Yule.
Trials
  • It is a bit lonely to follow a spiritual path when there are no others around who follow the same path.
  • Having grown up in a very rigid and rule-governed religion, there is sometimes a sense of a lack of direction as there is no leader or minister to guide my practice.
  • Having come to this pathway late in life, I often feel there is so much to learn and so little time.
And two of my trials are so similar to what Kati expressed...
  • Holidays can fall at the most inopportune times since they relate to seasons, phases of the moon, etc. It is not always easy to celebrate on a school night. LOL
  • The names chosen by some practicing members can be very off-putting.
And now I get the additional joy of tagging someone else. Sometimes it is hard to decide just who to tag for a meme. But this time it was easy. I'm tagging Wizened Wizard. I've read her blog for the past year and she has amazed me with stories of her life. She continues to lead a life so full of rich experiences and diversity. And I'm really curious to get a peek into how her spirituality - whatever that might be - has played a role in her life.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen...

I present to you, the Class of 2011!!

That's right, Daughter13 is starting her freshman year in high school. Orientation was yesterday. Tryouts for the freshman girl's volleyball team was today. As my wife says, "our little baby is going to high school!"

I know when she got up on Friday she was pretty much the same person as when she went to bed on Thursday night. And yet, in her new shirt and jeans, heading off to high school, she suddenly looked taller. And older. More grown up.

How can that be my little girl?!?!

Damn, they do grow up fast. Sometimes, it seems like it happens overnight.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Re-entry

Twenty days since I last posted. Ten days since I last came to work. Eight days since I even saw my house. Vacation is a marvelous thing!

I swam, boated, walked on the beach, collected shells, played "Go Fish", built campfires, cooked over the open campfire, read good books, slept late, watched a lot of movies, ate a lot of great food, and really enjoyed just hanging out with my family.

And now, back to work. For me, not a bad thing. I love my job and I enjoy the people around me. And for someone who has spent their entire life as either a student or a teacher in some fashion, the beginning of the school year is always an exciting time. A fresh start. New people to meet. New back-to-school clothes. New pencils and folders and notebooks. And the excitement of new projects and new tasks.

And for the first time for me, the return from vacation also brings me back to my blogger friends! I greatly appreciate those of you who sent an e-mail to check up on me during my absence. I can't wait to wander through my bloglines account and find out what has been going on with all you guys! Might take me a while to catch up with that much reading...but that will be fun, too!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Old Friends

Just before starting 7th grade, my family moved to a new town. On the first day of middle school, not knowing anyone in the town, I sat down in homeroom, nervous and uncertain. Almost immediately the kid next to me started talking to me. He didn't introduce himself. He didn't ask questions about who I was or from where I came. He just started a conversation as if we had known each other forever.

He became my best friend, my security, my confidant. Our friendship grew over the years. We went to the same middle school and high school. We attended the same church. We spent a lot of our free time together. He helped me with art projects and I helped him with math. We both hated PE but joined the choir. We traded albums and books. And then high school ended.

No problem. We were roommates all through college. We both were successful debaters. We both loved drama classes. We both worked for the local radio station to earn extra cash. I don't think we ever dated the same girl, but we certainly gave each other feedback about our choices in women.

College ended. He got married and moved to another town in the south. I got married and moved to New England. Initially, we wrote letters (yeah, I'm old enough there was no e-mail!) a few times a month. Then it dwindled to less. We called each other on our birthdays and Christmas. And then not so often. And little by little, our contact became nothing more than a card at Christmas with maybe a note that said "hey, we had a baby" or "notice the new address...we moved". But other than that, the person I was best friends with for a dozen years became barely even a connection.

A few weeks ago I decided to make more meaningful contact with my old friend. I had his e-mail address from the card that came this past Christmas. So I sat down to write a pretty lengthy letter. But what do you include in just one letter? It can't be everything. And our last real exchange of information was more than twenty years ago. He has never seen any of my kids. Had no idea that we had a kid with special needs. Doesn't know about my hobbies or my job. Do I talk about fun stuff or serious stuff? Politics? Spirituality? Or just what TV shows I like?

I did a summary of lots of different things and sent the note on its way.

A couple of days later, I got a great response. He had many questions about my life and shared a lot about his life. And he sent a link to his Facebook page so I could see some photos.

And that was a weird sensation. Even though we have not talked in years, I knew him so well in the past that I still had this feeling that we know each other. So I experienced this odd sense of my world shifting as I looked at photos of a life I've never known. Pictures of his kids that I've never met...who are now adults...some even have kids of their own. There was my middle school buddy holding his grandchild! Photos around the Christmas tree on Christmases I know nothing about in homes I've never visited. Pictures of his parents who I knew so well growing up - now old. It was almost startling to see his life spread out before me and realizing the person I once knew better than anyone else - now I barely know at all.

I wrote my friend about my feelings. The fun of seeing his photos and the weirdness and sadness of realizing I had missed so much of his life. He had similar feelings when viewing the photos I sent him. And we've swapped e-mail several times since then.

I'm not naive. I don't expect us to ever be friends in the way we were as kids. Family and work and paying bills and a million other things make it difficult to stay in touch with someone so far away. But I think we can do better than just being Christmas card buddies. Even at a distance, if we are committed to it, old friends can slowly grow older together.
Can you imagine us
Years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy.
Old friends,
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears


Thanks to Simon & Garfunkel for the lyrics.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I'm a hobnobber!!

My blogger friend CS over at another tangential thinker writes on her blog almost every day. And I read her blog every time she adds to it. Why? Because she shares such wonderful stories of her life and she takes awesome photos that bring her words to life. CS says her credo is "life is weird and unpredictable, but often in a good way." Well, CS isn't weird. But what she might choose to write about or photograph is often unpredictable. And always in a good way!

Why else do I read her? Cause she is a hobnobber, too! That's right, she won the Power Of Schmooze award. And then she turned right around and gave that award to me!


Much like CS, I always thought of schmoozing with a somewhat negative point of view. It seemed like someone being insincere and manipulative. And while some of the definitions of "schmooze" do include the fact that it can be done to flatter or manipulate, that certainly is not all it is meant to be. For example, CS quotes the definition that says "to converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.” And when I checked it out, I also found "to talk intimately and cozily" and "a long and intimate conversation".

I think that sums up blogging for me. My blog, and the many wonderful blogs I read, comprise a long and intimate conversation. Sure, the conversation gets broken up into pieces, shared bit by bit, growing and changing as life unfolds around us. But when I add up all the different things I've read about some of you, I've certainly gained a lot of insight into your lives. And I think I've shared enough that some of you can look right in my window and know whats going on in my house.

In CS' definition it mentions to talk casually "to make a social connection." I do feel connected to many of you. I read about you every day. I know more about some of you than about people I see every day in my life. And I love that about blogging.

So I accept this blogger schmooze award with pride...and thank you, CS!

And I get the honor of passing it along to some folks who use their blogs in the best hobnob fashion by encouraging us to make social connections among the blogosphere and by sharing bits and pieces of their lives with us. So...I present to you...three schmoozers!

Jenster - who says her writing is just the mundane ramblings of a busy homemaker, but who, in reality, shares wonderful stories about her life.

Nancy - who seems like she is thoughtful and soft spoken and who tells us about her day and about her observations and reflections on the world around us.

Charlotta - who admits she has a lotta thoughts and she enjoys sharing them. She has even tried to answer that question that always vexes us males....why do women always go to the bathroom in groups. It just never seemed like something that would require audience participation.

Now in my best schmoozing style, lean over close so I can give you an air kiss on both cheeks, tell you that "you look lovely, dahling", and send you off to have a good weekend!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Feel the vibe!

Some of you (okay, maybe only one or two) have noticed that I’ve become the not-so-good blogger lately. I post less often. I try to read your blogs pretty often, but I’m not very diligent about commenting. So what happened? Did I lose my blog lust? Did I run out of things to say? Did the kids put super glue on the keyboard?

Nay, nay, none of those things happened. Summer happened! And thus, camping and swimming and boating happened. And all of that leads me to the first part of this posting.

Big Brother from Life in the Twilight Zone (actually from Quebec) tagged me with the Good Vibrations meme. So here, in no special order, are five things that get my good vibes going, that make my chakras zing, that put a smile on my face, and make the day worthwhile.

1. Nature. I love doing things outdoors. I’m not a terribly athletic person. Okay, to be honest, I’m not at all athletic! So I’m not out there jogging 20 miles or rock climbing or anything so strenuous. But I do love to be out in the sun, to swim, to go boating. I love to walk at night and look at the moon and the stars. I love a full moon meditation or just sitting in the shade and reading a good book. In fact, if you read my last post, you got a glimpse of my summer. And this is all the fun stuff that has kept me from a lot of blogging lately.

2. My wife. Twenty-two years and I still think she is the best! No matter what we are doing we manage to have a great time doing it together. We talk and laugh a lot. We enjoy spending time together. She is my best friend. And I’m looking forward to at least twenty-two more years of waking up with her every day.

3. My kids. I’ve got three terrific kids. Oh I know, there was the time I tried to sell one of them on ebay. And there was that other time that I put the whole bunch of them out by the curb with the FREE sign. But all parents have those moments, right? But most days I just wouldn’t trade them for anything. Each in their own way they are funny and smart and compassionate and generous and fun to be around. I think I’ll keep ‘em. For now.

4. Books. I love books. Our house is filled with books. We have so many books we ran out of books shelves a long time ago so there are stacks on tables and on the floor. We trade used books. We listen to audio books. I love a good story and love to read. And almost any day that doesn’t seem to be going well can be turned around with a few minutes spent with a great book.

5. My job. I know, not what most people might list as one of their top five. But I love my job. It challenges me. It allows me to learn and to share what I’ve learned with others. I get to work with a lot of great folks. And I get to do a lot of fun, creative things. I enjoy a day off as much as the next person, but I never really mind when it is time to go back to work.

So there are five things that get me into a good vibe. And now I get to pass this along. I think many of you have already done this meme, so I'm only gonna tag a couple of folks. And if they did it and I missed it, I apologize. Feel free to torment me from afar. But for now, let's reach out and tag:
  • Rebecca at Circle of the Muses because I love her writing
  • Barb at My Crazy Life because she is also a great writer...and maybe we'll get an update on her desire for a tattoo
Okay folks, start vibrating!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How do you spell "Perfect"?


I've mentioned a few times that our family enjoys camping. We used to do the tent thing - even sleeping in the tents when Daughter13 was still in a portable crib. But eventually dodging the weather and dragging stuff for a family of five took it's toll. We saved up some money and bought a ten-year-old camper, parked it at a favorite campground, and we've been spending as much of every summer there as we can for the past eight years. My wife and some of the kids practically live there during the summer and I join them on weekends and commute back and forth two or three days a week.

This past weekend was one of those weekends. And it was gorgeous. The weather was absolutely perfect...sunny, warm days, seasonable evenings, no rain in sight. And on a weekend like that, there is time to squeeze in so many fun things with the family.

Both Daughter13 and Son17 enjoy fishing (never fear, we always catch and release!). And while they will gladly fish with a hook and some bait, they have mastered the art of throwing a fresh-water clam in a net and actually catching fish right in their net! It amazes the crowds!




Swimming? Of course! The kids love to swim. My wife and I prefer the more leisurely approach - we float! We grab a couple of tubes, paddle out past all the kids who are splashing and chasing frisbees, and just relax enjoying the water and the sun. And if my scintillating conversation isn't enough to keep her interested, my wife has mastered the art of carrying her book out into the middle of the lake, on the tube, and reading. Without ever getting the book wet!



We took the paddle boat out one day and cruised the lake. A nice, relaxing ride to enjoy the water plants and the water animals! Check out the baby turtle hiding on the lily pad!


















I was even able to convince Daughter13 to jump in a kayak and the two of us went all around the lake the next day enjoying the beauty of an early Sunday morning.







And what weekend of camping would be complete without toasting - and in some cases burning - a bunch of marshmallows over a campfire?!? In this photo, the marshmallows actually are not on fire, the light is just reflection from a slower shutter speed. But we did have a couple of servings of Marshmallow Flambe'.

It was a pretty perfect weekend. How many days is it until next Friday???

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Just eat it!

Your table manners are some cryin' shame
You're playin' with your food, this ain't some kind of game
Now, if you starve to death, you'll just have yourself to blame
Just eat it

Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will know that I love TV...and love a good reality show. Yeah, I know, "good reality" seems like an oxymoron. And even among those of us who just can't get enough, there isn't agreement about which ones to watch and which ones to avoid. But right now, I'm really happy cause the week is filled with reality shows about cooking!

You better listen, better do what you're told
You haven't even touched your tuna casserole

Just eat it


If you can tolerate the yelling and screaming, then you just can't have much more reality show fun than watching Hell's Kitchen. In this one, contestants compete to win a job as a chef in a resort restaurant. And the group of contestants is managed, coached, berated, yelled at, ridiculed, and eventually tossed one by one by Chef Gordon Ramsay. Chef Ramsay is a world-renowned cook with restaurants all over the world, cook books in the book store, and various TV shows in other countries. And he might just have an anger management issue. He throws food, breaks plates, calls people names, and forces the censors to bleep about half of what he says. And a viewer - one with a soft heart and an ounce of compassion - might feel sorry for these poor fools on the show. My heart isn't soft. They knew what they were getting in to. The payoff is huge. And when he humiliates them just one more time because they "can't cook the fucking risotto"...I can't help but laugh as the contestants make up lame excuses, blame each other, and cry for their mommies.

Have some more yogurt, have some more spam
It doesn't matter if it's fresh or canned
Just eat it


Want your cooking competitions to be a bit more civilized? Some high cuisine boiled down to some odd competitions? Take a shot at Top Chef. With a bus load of hosts/judges (Chef Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons from Food and Wine magazine, Padma Lakshmi, and Ted Allen from Queer Eye), this show takes the high road in cooking competitions. The contestants engage in individual and group challenges, usually cooking pretty high quality stuff. Of course, they don't hesitate to throw in the challenge involving snake and eel and cow tongue and other oddities. And there is always at least one standout contestant who just knows he/she is way better than everyone else there. It is such fun to watch that person lose!

Have a big dinner, have a light snack
If you don't like it, you can't send it back
Just eat it


Finally, for a twist on cooking and reality TV...a cooking show about being on a cooking show. The Next Food Network Star is a cooking competition but some of the challenges are more about dealing with the stress of cooking in front of a camera than the actual taste of the food. The fun is watching them not handle that stress very well! And the judges on this show include two staff from the Food Network who are so kind that I want them to be in my family! Very different from Chef Ramsay.

Have some more chicken, have some more pie
It doesn't matter if it's boiled or fried

Just eat it


By the time you watch all three of these each week, you'll be glad you aren't learning to be a chef. You might or might not be hungry, depending on what you've seen cooked. And if you are watching Hell's Kitchen, you might need to grab a beer and decompress.

Have a banana, have a whole bunch
It doesn't matter what you had for lunch

Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it


-------------------------------------------------------------
Lyrics from 'Just Eat It' by Weird Al Yankovic

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

DUDE!

My little blog has been recognized as a hot, rockin' blog. Hard to believe, I know. And yet, I present to you my brand new bit of bling - the Awesome Dude Blogger badge!

Wicked cool, eh?

But while I bask in the glow of the shiny new blogger award, let me give props to the man who passed it along to me, cause he really is the awesomest, dudiest blogger around. His daily writings on light bulbs, refrigerators, lawn sprinklers, and other seemingly mundane elements of life are turned into terrific stories every time he sits down at the keyboard. So my shout out of gratitude goes to Jonathan over at Dorky Dad. Thanks, dude!

And now I get the fun of declaring another guy as a totally Awesome Dude Blogger. And that's easy to do. This guy lives just a short drive north of me. And though we've never met, I've gotten to know him quite a bit through his writings. He entertains with his stories of putting his mechanic's kids through Harvard with his car repairs and his secret interest in Rebecca De Mornay in Risky Business. But mostly he shares stories of his two great kids (Peanut and The Champ) and his lovely bride, Mrs. Joe. Plus he is a fan of the Patriots and the Red Sox - what could be more awesome than that?!?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Above Average Joe. It is an honor to slap this award on him.

And by the way, you can actually choose your bling. You can grab the button above, or you can try the more subtle and dignified style and use this button:


Either way, you also get the chance now to pass along the props and recognize another Awesome Dude Blogger.

Spread the love.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'm not so weird

It seems like every blogger has been tagged with the "8 Weird Things About Me" meme. And now, my new blogger friend Gretchen over at Quantum Leap has tagged me. And I'm more than happy to fess up to a few oddities about myself, but first I want to give a nod to Gretchen. She is a pretty new blogger - just got started in April. And I'm glad I found her pretty quickly. She is a smart and funny mom of two who shares stories of her day along with some inspirational thoughts. She also happens to be addicted to coffee - or the "elixir of the gods" as she calls it. I can certainly identify with that addiction!

So the first rule of the meme is that I must share eight weird things about myself. I don't think of myself as being very weird, but I'm quite certain those who know me would disagree. But they aren't here, so you have to go with what I come up with!

1. I totally love movies - and rarely ever go. There is nothing that compares with settling into a comfy seat in the theater, popcorn and soda in hand, and enjoying a movie. I love the darkness. I love the previews of coming attractions. I love the stupid trivia questions on the screen before the movie begins. And I love the movies. But I just can't justify spending that much money to watch a movie! For my wife and I to attend one movie, we pay more than a full month of Netflix membership in which time we can easily watch a dozen or so movies. And microwave popcorn is so much less expensive.

2. There is at least some part of my body every day that is hard to feel. Or if I do feel it, it is mostly tingly. Never normal. That part might be a toe. A bunch of toes. Even a whole foot. I first wrote about this last November, and I've had a few doctor visits and tests since then. Nothing is better, nothing is worse. What they call idiopathic neuropathy. That basically means it is something to do with my nerves and they don't have a clue. How comforting.

3. I hate being cold. I don't like to swim in water that is even remotely chilly. I don't really enjoy playing in the snow. I went snow skiing once and decided that was an activity for masochists. I DO NOT LIKE COLD. And yet, I love living in New England. And I think winter is a really beautiful season. I like seeing the snow. I just don't want to go outdoors between Halloween and April Fool's Day.

4. I do my own laundry. Okay, that's not so weird. But I do the laundry for the entire family. And not because I find it somehow therapeutic to do laundry. Nope, not at all. But I have very precise rules about how I like it to be done. I'm very particular about the sorting. I have clearly defined ideas about what gets washed in hot, warm and cold. And what gets dried at high, medium, and low. And then there is the folding and hanging. Definite rules about that. Shirts get hung with the second button from the top being done. And for folding....

Ya know, this is sounding less weird and more obsessive compulsive, so we'll leave the laundry for now. :)

5. I like to sleep with the TV on. Not like a nap on the couch. I mean all night. In bed. Listening to the TV. I drift off to sleep listening to The Colbert Report or some other late night show. If I wake up in the night, I can roll over and go back to sleep listening to a re-run of CSI or Star Trek. And as I wake up in the morning, I can flip over to the morning weather or Mike and Mike on ESPN to kick off my day. Now, some readers may be wondering if my wife has filed for divorce after putting up with this stuff? Nay, dear reader. She is the one who got me hooked on it!

6. I collect quotes. I don't have anything to do with them. I don't put them on my blog. I don't print them out and hang them anywhere. But I love a good quote.

7. I'm very competitive. I love games of all sorts...volleyball, Uno, chess, badminton, tennis, poker, dominoes, etc, etc. And I love to win. Oh sure, I've got three kids so I've had to throw a game of Chutes and Ladders now and then. But not too often. Can't go soft on the kids. They had to learn to step it up or get their Garanimal-covered buttocks kicked.

8. I love rules. I live a rule-governed life. It provides order. Reduces anxiety. Allows for accurate predictions. Which is why, it pains me to break the second rule of this meme. I'm supposed to now tag eight people. I just can't. Not because I don't know eight wonderful and weird bloggers. I've read your blogs. I know who you are! But the problem is, most of you have already done this meme. And there is no way any of you have sixteen weird things to share. Well, okay, you do. And maybe you. But that might be all.

So there ya have it. Eight oddities about me, spread out for public viewing and ridicule. All I ask is that you be gentle.

Friday, June 29, 2007

An Artist Retires

Yes, my friends, the world is a slightly duller place this morning. One of our great artists has put away his tools and decided to move in a different direction. I know, it wasn't on the news. You didn't hear anything about it on Entertainment Tonight. And that is why I'm bringing this news to you now.

Which artist, you ask? Son20. That's right, Son20 has stepped away from his work.

For the past two years, Son20 has been employed as a Sandwich Artist. What's that, you ask? (You are very smart and ask such good questions!) A Sandwich Artist is what our local Subway sandwich shops call their employees. Not just employees. And certainly not fast food employees. Oh no. They are artists!

Now you may be asking yourself - since you ask so many intelligent questions - where is the art in making a sandwich? Don't you just scoop on a couple of meatballs, lay on a slice of cheese, and call it a meatball grinder?

Heavens, you would be so wrong! Son20 (then a mere Son of 18) spent two days just learning how to slice the bread correctly. Splitting it to the same depth every time without ever cutting all the way through...and doing it with speed. There was the prep work - learning to stack the deli slices and chopped veggies in such a way as to allow for quick and precise access when the demands of sandwich artistry were at their greatest. There was learning to use the oven to toast each sandwich to the desired degree. So many skills to master.

But the night crew stepped it up. Just learning those skills weren't enough to satisfy the title of Sandwich Artist. Oh no. They mastered The Toss. This required them to step away from the bread once it was sliced and flip the deli meats from a distance, having each slice land, in the folded position, in the proper place on the sandwich. Then there was The Squirt. This required them to apply the correct amount of mayo, mustard, or whatever dressing the customer liked while writing their names with the dressing. Longer names meant faster writing and thinner lines...shorter names required a bolder stroke.

It was all the basic talents combined with these extra artistic measures that really elevated them to the level of Sandwich Artists. They were Cirque du Soliel of the sandwich universe. Blue Man Group in Chicken Ranch with Bacon t-shirts. The Beatles of the...oh...enough huh? Okay.

I'm sure the sandwich world won't suffer for too long. While it was Son20's final night, I'm quite certain that hundreds of new Sandwich Artists around the world were working their virgin night shift. And they will learn. But for now, at least, they are doing the sandwich equivalent of paint-by-numbers while Son20 was creating masterpieces.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Modular Working

Last Thursday, my boss dropped by my office to inform me that I would be getting new office furniture. It was scheduled to arrive sometime in mid-July.

It got there on Friday. Unfortunately for me, I had taken that day off. So when I returned to work yesterday, my desk was gone. The stuff from on top of my desk was gone. The stuff from inside my desk was gone. EVERYTHING from one side of my office was gone!

In an amazingly short period of time, furniture boys had brought in and assembled the new stuff and left me to bring back my things and set up my new space.

So what did I get? A new desk. One of those fancy, modular things with built-in shelves and lots of drawers and file space. Not bad. Previously I just had a desk. I guess you would call it a non-fancy, non-modular desk. With one drawer. And no filing space. I had to leave my office and walk down the hall just to get to the one file drawer I was able to use. So the new stuff is definitely an improvement.

And now I have spent a couple of days doing nothing but putting things in those drawers, on the shelves, on the desk. And what a great opportunity for tossing old crap stuff and organizing things. I've thrown out a lot of old stuff. And I don't do that lightly. I hang on to everything. Just in case. But it seemed like it was time to throw out the manuals for software that we haven't used in ten years. My computer hasn't had a floppy drive for a very long time, but I was still hanging on to those last three blank floppy disks. Just in case. And of course some actual software. Software that has not worked with the last four versions of my operating system. I still had those disks. Just in case. But now...all gone!

So now my office is clean and neat. And modular. And I have no doubt I will just be so much more productive now!

Or at least I can nap in a clean space.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I am NOT buying their products!

Is it just me? This commercial just creeps me out! The less-than-presidential Abraham Lincoln isn't too bad. But a talking beaver? A talking beaver that plays chess! That's disturbing. And what about the guy that never talks? The guy in the deep sea diver suit. What's up with that guy? Is he even aware these other characters exist? He seems unaware. Is that what taking this sleep aid does to him - turn him into a zombie? And we don't even really know if he is a "guy", do we? Maybe "he" is a "she"? Or, even more creepy, an "it"! An alien? A talking orangutan from Planet of the Apes?

This is such an odd combination of characters that it just leaves me with the willies!

Of course, my wife loves these commercials. She thinks they are just soooooo funny. Have I ever mentioned that my adorable wife can be entirely weird at times?

Anyway, if I couldn't sleep, would I take this product? Or would the commercials with their promise of weird dreams just seem so creepy that I would look elsewhere for sleep?

Certainly not here! Cause if the talking beaver and the alien deep sea diver aren't creepy enough, we've got the luna moth. In these commercials, a luna moth quietly flutters in through the window, hovers above the face of the person in bed, and instantly they fall asleep. What the hell is that?!? What did the moth do???

First of all, let's be clear. If a moth or any other flying animal suddenly appeared hovering over my face in the dark, it would NOT help me relax! That surge of adrenaline would keep me awake for days!!!

But not these folks. Sleep comes instantly. Why? Does the hovering moth suck the oxygen away from the person? Does it spray them with some sort of venom or pheromone that induces sleep? Whatever it does to those people, it is a powerful assault that is just too strong to resist.

Again...creepy. Not for me!

Why do these companies think these are images to encourage us to take their sleep aids? Potentially creepy dream scenarios don't make me want to go to sleep! And a moth that somehow puts me under certainly doesn't soothe me. Isn't there a sleep aid that inspires a desire to sleep with the promise of pleasant dreams and soft lullabies? That would be the one for me!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Look Ma, I'm back!

After a long break from the blog, I am back at the keyboard. I know, I know...the excitement is almost more than you can bear. So I'll try to start with a low-key post so you can ease back into the routine of reading stuff coming out of my corner.

First of all, for those of you who worried that I jumped in my new little red car and rode off into the horizon, no such luck. "Little Red" and I have been busy but not going anywhere quite so exciting.

So what has been going on? What has happened since I last wrote?

Son17 had to have an MRI. This came up rather quickly due to elevated prolactin levels in a blood test. This can be a side effect of his medications, but it can lead to some more serious problems. So the MRI was to make certain that no damage was being done to various brain regions. The results were all fine. Nothing to worry about. But the procedure took most of a day. Son17 definitely does not have the ability to lay still for an hour inside that machine. So they had to give him a general anesthetic. So we had to be there early, have little "pre-procedure" meetings with anesthesiologists, nurses, doctors, etc. Have the actual MRI. Then hang around long enough for him to recover and wobble out to the car.

Son19 turned into Son20. Fascinating how my kids' names change every year, huh?

The school year ended for me. Pardon me while I do the dance of joy one more time.......

Okay, I'm back. And while I work year-round, the summer schedule is much less hectic. Since a large part of what I do is professional development with our staff, the end of the year saw all of my different workshop series coming to a close. In the last three weeks of school I led eight different workshops. I was exhausted!

School also ended for the kids. If you could peek into the other room, you could see them doing the dance of joy, as well. Well, truthfully, they aren't dancing. But I do fear they have become permanently attached to the Game Cube.

Daughter13 graduated middle school, so the end of the year took on a special significance for her. A small graduation ceremony in the morning followed by her first official dance that night. After seeing her head off to the bus every day in jeans and a sweatshirt, she surely looked all grown up in her new dress. And yes, a boy did ask her to the dance. He did not pick her up here...since he is only 13 and can't drive. But he did wait for her out front and escort her through a very nice evening. And Daughter13's report on the evening...the DJ was good, the snacks were good, Justin did get her punch, Justin did dress up even though some boys just wore shorts and a t-shirt, and they didn't kiss, they only hugged.

Last but not least, the opening of the camper. We own a camper that stays parked in a campground year round about 45 minutes from our house. As soon as school ends every year, we open it up, clean it up, and get ready for a summer of camping. My wife and the younger kids will live there much of the summer and I'll alternate sleeping at home and commuting to work from the camper during the weeks and will spend all weekends there. Some people have a summer home. We have a summer bed on wheels. But we love it. And today was the day Son20 and I went down to set up the deck, put up the screen porch, hook up all the utilities, air out the camper, and get it ready for some inside cleaning and fun.

And that, my good blogger friends, is what I've been doing while I was missing from the keyboard. But I've surely missed you! Jocelyn and Winston and Barb and Dorky Dad and May and Rebecca and Wizened and Wendz and Liv and Chelle and thethinker and Sheila and Redneck Mommy and .... well, instead of listing more, I'm going to read! I'm sure I've got a lot of catching up to do!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Two weeks and counting...

Two weeks since I wrote my last post. I don't think I've ever skipped that long. And why have I been absent from the keyboard. Because it is the end of the school year and I'm going insane!!!

Tomorrow will be the last day of school where I work. And that last couple of weeks have been hellish. Nothing bad. Just more busy than I've ever been in my life. Going in early. Working late. Bringing work home.

My contract requires me to work a year-round schedule, so I don't get summers off. But I will get a few days off prior to summer school. And every moment off will be heavenly.

And Monday will be the final day of school for the kids. And over the past couple of weeks, they have had 17,000 projects and papers and posters to complete. It was unreal. It makes their study for finals seems almost insignificant in terms of how much time they've invested. The projects just demand so much time and effort and work. And they require parental participation. We don't do their work for them. But it still involves support, encouragement, trips to the store for poster board, cotton balls, craft sand, glue sticks, more ink for the printer for all the photos they've printed for posters.

When Monday evening rolls around, there's a cold beer in the fridge with my name on it!

And then I'll get back to writing and visiting your places. Cause I miss ya!