Friday, April 27, 2007

Who's Your Daddy!

Two blogs that I read all the time are Oh, The Joys and Attack of the Redneck Mommy. Both of these women are very funny. Both are great writers. And both have been nominated for the Hottest Mommy Blogger Award. This is a well deserved honor for both of these fine young women. They both have their photos on their blogs. And I'm quite impressed. They both have hair. They have their own teeth - at least in the front. Two eyes. A nice smile. Okay, seriously, I would call these women hot. And they are both moms. And they both blog. So they meet every qualification.

With that in mind, I jumped right over there and voted for both of them. In fact, Redneck Mommy has made a promise that if she wins, she will actually post a naked photo of herself on her blog. So I voted for her more than once. A LOT more than once. But that's just the kind of supportive guy I am.

But here is the surprising part of all this. Oh, The Joys nominated me for...(drum roll, please)...



I know...we're all surprised! I think she was just being nice and making sure some other folks got nominated. And I appreciate that. But Hottest Daddy? Seriously???

Like I pointed out, she has her photo on her blog. More than once. We can see her degree of hotness. I have no photo of myself. Never have. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this is a case where the lack of a photo was worth even more! She was left to draw her conclusions on my hotness quotient based merely on my right wrist.

Though, now that I look at it, it is a mighty handsome looking wrist. Mine is the one coming into the profile photo at about the 4:30 position. And if you look closely, you'll see it has a nice definition. Slender without appearing emaciated. Creamy complexion without being deathly pale. And just enough hair to look manly without even coming close to crossing over into Sasquatch territory. It's not bad for a 50-year-old wrist. In fact, that might be the best looking wrist I've seen all day!

Thanks for the nomination! Oh, The Joys and I are probably the only two votes I'll ever get. And that's okay. I know it is hard to vote for me as being hot without seeing me. Trust me, it would be even harder to vote for me if you did see me!

But just wait for them to come up with a Hottest Wrist Award. That one will be all mine!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Meet The Blogger

Rebecca from Circle of the Muses has passed along this interview meme. It works like this. She sent me five questions of her choosing. I share her questions and my answers here. Rebecca asked some interesting questions. Here they are, along with my answers...

1. Do you share your blog with your family and close friends from REAL life? Or do you keep your blog as a private space?

I debated about that for a while. I eventually told my wife about the blog. And I told her I had hesitations about telling her. She took it all pretty well. She often asks what I write about. She asks about comments I receive. But she has never actually looked at my blog. And no other family knows I blog.

As for friends, the same hesitation exists. Not because I'm writing bad things about them. But I want to write freely without ever having to check myself to see if I'm gonna upset someone. For that reason, only two other people in my real life know. And neither of them are regular readers. One of them told me, it was fun to read, but it was stuff they already knew. So unless I had something new to say, there was no reason to read things they already knew. LOL

2. You stumble upon a genuine 'Genie in a Bottle'. He grants you the obligatory 3 wishes. What are they going to be?

Well, it is hard to avoid the Miss America answers here - world peace, the end of hunger, a cure for cancer, etc. All of those are good things. But that seems too easy here. Rebecca would want me to stretch myself beyond the obvious.

But first, what I would not wish for. Many people assume I would wish for Son17 to not have is disabilities. I don't think I would make that wish. To me, that would imply that he is not a beautiful person just as he is. He has his own integrity. His own personality. His own contributions to make. To wish that he were different feels as if I'm denying the whole person that he is now.

That being said, what would I wish?

I would wish for all three of my kids to have lives filled with love and joy. I want them to be successful in whatever they do.

I would wish that we could all live with less violence - in every form. Less war. Less crime. I guess the events of this past week weigh heavily on me with this one.

And Rebecca, I'm no fool! I would use my last wish to wish for more wishes! Cause I really do want to get in the Miss America things. And winning the lottery. And I would love to have someone else paint my garage doors for me.

3. Do you feel that the media coverage of unspeakable tragedies, such as 9/11 and Virginia Tech, has any kind of helpful or educational value?
Or is it all entirely exploitive?

I think it is important for us to know what happens in the world. Timely news coverage is important. But in moments like this, I do believe it goes way over the line. We could get the necessary information with much less coverage than what we saw this week. I think this much coverage begins to create a somewhat mythical figure of the perpetrator. I think this much coverage intrudes on the privacy and grief of the family and friends who lost loved ones. And I think this much coverage begins to minimize the event itself. The media people give these events names, they create graphics, they turn it into a news "event" which I believe takes away for the actual horror and severity of the moment.

4. You are given the opportunity to take 1 journey in a time-machine, back to any place or time in the history of mankind. The only restriction is that you go as an observer only. You are not permitted to alter any of the circumstances. Where will you go, and what will you see?

Wow! This is tough. Just one time in all of history...how to choose? I could witness some of the signatures on the Declaration of Independence. I could witness (if it happened) the resurrection of Jesus. I could witness my own birth. In truth, I'm not a student of history. That was always one of my worst subjects. So I'm sure I'm overlooking some obvious moment in time that I would love to see but I'm just not thinking of at the moment. And it would surely change my choices if I could interact and change events. But just as a witness...this is tough. I think I'll pick something that would just be fun. Not a major event in history. But a fun time to read about...a time that has spawned many books and movies and celebrations. I would drop back and witness a day during the Renaissance period. It would be fun to see the knights and the maidens and the jousting and so forth.

5. In your fondest childhood daydreams, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Ah, never a fireman or policeman for me. As a kid I wanted to grow up to be a performer. An actor or musician would have been okay. But the ultimate performer would have been a magician. I love magic. I've been to see David Copperfield live. I'm in awe of the combined skill and performance ability of good magicians. They must have the skill of their craft. But so much of what they do is interact with the audience, suck them in, make them focus on one thing while something else is happening out of their sight. And to pull off a trick when every person in the room is totally focused on figuring out how you are doing it...that is performing!

Rebecca, thank you for your fun and thoughtful questions! This was fun.

And now, in the spirit of the meme, I will pass it on. So if YOU would like to participate...

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me.
2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your weblog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Just make sure that your email is listed on your blog, or leave it in your comment so I can send you questions.

And I won't try to come up with 5 unique questions for every person who might leave a comment. My brain would get tired. So I'll interview the first couple of folks who express a desire to expose themselves to my probing. Rebecca promised to be nice with her questions. I make no such guarantee. ;)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spring Event, Spring Break, Springtime!

Spring Event...
I mentioned a couple of days ago that it was our anniversary. And so many of you dropped by with good wishes. Thank you so much!

We had a very relaxing day. And we went out to dinner. Nothing really fancy, just some good food in a place where we could relax and talk and enjoy ourselves. And for those of you who like to eat vicariously, I had the ribs with a delightful barbecue sauce and a couple of ice cold Sam Adams.

Spring Break...
Yes, this has been spring break in our neck of the woods. The kids have been home all week. And I even had three days off this week. It has mostly been a week of just doing spring break kinds of things. My wife won the wet t-shirt contest. The kids have mostly just boozed their way through the week. And I've split my time between porn and sleeping.

Okay, just in case child advocates are reading...just kidding!!

It really has been a relaxing week. And a good week. All of us in the house together and no one has been duct taped to the basement floor yet, so we know things are going well.

Springtime!
Seventy-five, people!! That's degrees!! Seventy-five degrees right now! At 7:15 in the evening. A beautiful day. Finally. It seems that spring has arrived and maybe it is here to stay!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Value of Time

Today is a very special day in our house. Today is our 22nd anniversary!

I looked up the traditional and modern anniversary gifts. Twenty-two years is the copper year. So that means the best gift is...a penny?

Trust me, a mountain of pennies would not reflect the value I place on my marriage. I'm a lucky man and I know it! My wife is beautiful and funny and smart and caring. She's a great parent to our kids. And she manages to see through my faults and still love me.

But this isn't just about me or her. There is value in the time itself. The many things we've done together. The things we've shared. We have each become the holder of the other's history. We can teach our kids - maybe one day our grandkids - about the other because we know their stories. We know what makes them special. We've lived much of it with them and we've heard about the rest in long conversations over dinners and late night talks lasting till 3:00 in the morning.

We're not perfect. I write here about some of the fun and interesting things that happen in our family. I don't usually write about bad things. But we have them. We have disagreements just like anyone else. But truthfully, over 22 years, the disagreements come along much less often. It is almost like we've found our groove. Our lives have a momentum and rhythm all their own and it becomes easier to go forward as we add more richness to our shared history.

Our tradition for our anniversary is to avoid the cards and gifts and just spend time together. So no copper bracelets or copper pots or copper jello molds. I have the day off work and we'll spend some time together at home and then go out for a nice dinner. Probably doesn't seem very exciting. But it is comfortable. And it is about us.

I'm so thankful for these twenty-two years. And I'm looking forward to the next twenty-two! And I wouldn't trade this for all the copper in the world!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Just moving you along...

I try to write my own stuff here rather than passing you off to another site. But I read a really interesting piece at washingtonpost.com yesterday that has sparked a lot of discussion around our house. The article begins thusly...
HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L'ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.
So what's the deal here? This street musician just happened to be Joshua Bell, one of the most prominent concert violinist in the world. The violin was his 3.5 million dollar Stradivari.

The experiment - is art and/or culture the same everywhere? Or is something really "art" only in context? Do we need to approach something with a certain mindset to really see it as art?

The experiment was videotaped. Passersby were later interviewed. Bell was interviewed. And the resulting article, written with a nice sense of humor, does a fascinating job of exploring people's reaction (and non-reaction) to an encounter with a world renowned master of his art.

The reporters draw their own conclusions. And discussing the article has certainly led to other conclusions in our house. Is some "art" classist? Are such things as opera and classical music so specialized that only those with easy access (meaning the ability to pay to see these folks) can learn to appreciate it and recognize it as different from just music in general? What would have happened if this had been a professional jazz musician? Or a professional country music artist? Would I have stopped and listened or rushed past with barely a notice?

I just thought it was an interesting experiment and an interesting article. If you wander over to their site, I hope you enjoy it. And I would be curious to know your thoughts.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Under The Weather

Lest the title of this little post mislead you, this is not about being sick. It really is about weather. But again, before you jump to conclusions, this is not about the anticipated rain, wind, and even snow that we are anticipating here in New England over the next 24 hours. On April 15.

Snow. April. Wrong.

But it isn't about that.

No, this is about my mom.

My mom has a fixation on weather. She is the Weather Channel's number one fan. She watches every day. Believes every word. And it dominates her thoughts and her phone conversations with our family.

Mom lives in the south. We live in a small town in Connecticut. Our town is never mentioned on the Weather Channel. New York is. Boston is. Sometimes Providence. So the weather she sees on TV is always reported from a town many miles away. Or even worse, just some general comment about "the northeast". And mom generalizes from that and assumes she knows precisely what is happening at our house.

And eye witness accounts will not persuade her differently.

For example, she never calls and asks "so how's the weather?" No, she already knows how the weather is. Or at least how she thinks it is. So she shapes the conversation accordingly.

Here is a typical phone call:

Mom: So is it raining hard?

Me: No, we don't have any rain.

Mom: But the TV says you do.

Me: Well, they got it wrong cause it's not raining.

Mom: But they say it's raining really hard there.

Me: Trust me, it's not.

Mom: Well I think it is cause they said it was.

How can you argue with that? She believes it because Willy the Weatherman said it was so. We've even gone so far as to instruct the kids to agree with whatever weather scenario she offers because trying to explain the real weather almost encourages her to argue with us. And if she talks to more than one of us during a phone call, she asks each of us about the weather, so even a crack in our solidarity is a foothold for her to wedge her beliefs into our reality.

But it goes deeper than that. It isn't just her total reliance on TV weather that makes this difficult. Oh no. What makes her weather mania particularly interesting and frustrating is that all weather, in her opinion, is bad.

Rain is always a lot of rain. A hot day is always too hot. A simple snowfall is a storm.

Undoubtedly, my mom heard the story of Noah's Ark at a young and impressionable age and it permanently colored her perception of weather events.

If she sees Willy the Weatherman report that the northeast has gotten a few inches of snow, she'll call immediately, with panic in her voice, to ask if we are "iced in". Even though she has visited here in the winter and seen the plows go by and clean the roads even while the snow is still falling, she has visions of us trapped in our home and eventually being forced to kill and eat each other, starting with the smallest and weakest. (Too bad for Daughter13!)

And every weather event is just like that in her head. All are bad. All are extreme. All put us at risk.

Mom called yesterday after having seen the forecast for the northeast. She knows we are expecting some rain today. Some wind. And in some places, even some snow. To be more precise, the real forecast for our town is rain and winds gusting to 35 or 40 MPH. Nothing too serious. But clearly she thinks we are at risk. Had we already gone shopping for extra food? Would we go hide in the basement if the wind started blowing a lot? Wouldn't the combination of the anticipated rain and snow just turn everything into an icy mess?

I tried to reassure her that we would be okay. It was just gonna be some rain. Maybe a bit windy. But we did not need to take survivalist-type precautions. We would be just fine.

My mom clearly thinks I'm crazy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


Today is the big day! Not for me...but for Son16. Today he officially becomes Son17. No party or presents from friends. His social skill deficits really never make that possible. But plenty of attention from the rest of our family. A nice dinner out at the restaurant of his choosing. An ice cream cake. He was very specific about wanting an ice cream cake! LOL And hopefully, he'll enjoy his day.

Happy Birthday, kiddo!!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday!

It is indeed good! What a week it has been. Very busy. So today will be good just because it allows a chance to slow down, have an extra cup of coffee, and relax just a bit.

This week at work was unbelievable. It was a four day week. And yet, it was clear that I still had to get five days worth of work accomplished. I got there early every day. And stayed late a couple of times. And still didn't get quite everything done. Why is it that we can't treat a four day week as just that...a four day week?

The good thing from work this week is that I'm starting to see the results of a series of workshops I've been leading. I've got a group of teachers and clinical staff participating in a 7-part series on Web 2.0 technologies. They've all found good blogs and podcasts to read. They've learned to use iTunes and Bloglines and Google Reader to organize their stuff. And now we've been learning the basics of how to do a little blog. And four of them told me this week that they've decided to take a shot at it! Fantastic! Nothing I'll link to from here cause they are all doing blogs specifically related to their professional interests. But at least they are willing to go for it.

In news other than work stuff, we started the week feeling all nice and spring-like. Rolling up the sleeves on warm afternoons. And then yesterday...SNOW! Looking for 22 degrees tonight and barely getting out of the 30's tomorrow. Just not right!

And you recently read just how challenged I am when it comes to helping Son16 with his algebra homework. Well he had a math test yesterday. He had arranged to get extra help from his math teacher earlier in the week. And he felt pretty prepared. Last night at dinner he reported that he thought he did pretty well. In his words, "I think I did good like an A, a B, or a C. Not bad like a D or F." LOL At least I know where he draws the line between a good grade and a bad grade.

A final note of a more serious nature...

Baron Ectar, The Professor Of All That Is Unnecessary, passed away recently. And I just read about it yesterday. He was a blogger who I enjoyed reading very much. He was a young guy - just 44 - and his passing was very much unexpected. Prayers go out to his family and friends. Even by those of us who only knew him through his writing, he will be missed.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Moment Of Insight

I've mentioned a few times that Son16 has multiple special needs. And kind folks have ask to learn more. And I've promised to write about it. And I will. But for the moment, just a quickie...

It is always interesting when he has one of those moments where he can share what it feels like to be him. And this morning was one of those moments. A brief insight into a disability that is awash in social skill deficits.

The youth group from our church, of which he participates, was going out for brunch. So before we left the house to get him to the church, I was making sure he had plenty of money and telling him which restaurant they were going to visit. And he asked the question:

"Is this the kind of restaurant where you go to the counter and order or the kind where they come to the table?"

I told him it was not a fast food place. It was a regular restaurant where the person would come to the table to take his order.

He breathed a sigh of relief and said that was good because "he hated confrontations".

Huh?

I asked him what that meant? What confrontation was he talking about?

He explained that going up to the counter to order felt very "confrontational" to him because he had to go up and get into their space and tell them what he wanted. He felt more comfortable when they came to the table to ask.

Fascinating! The way the simple act of ordering at a fast food restaurant feels so hard to a kid who processes social interactions differently than the rest of us. He has done it plenty of times but I never realized how he felt every time it happened.

That moment of insight, of learning a bit more about how things are for him, is one more small step in the journey to understanding.