Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Testing, Testing

Not much to blog about. Christmas was fun and I got a total charge out of The Little One opening all her cool gifts. Other than that, not too much to blog about.

Last night I completed the first phase of my running program. Technically, I'm supposed to run a 5k race, but since its winter and I'm not where I need to be I timed myself on the treadmill.

First, my time sucked. 29:26. Not at all good but then I need to remember that I didn't get out of shape in 5 weeks, so I certainly won't get back in shape in 5 weeks.

So, instead I will focus on the positives. First, I ran quite pain-free. Minor, minor aches of the knees, but that's all. No calf issues that have plagued me in the past. Second, the run wasn't pure torture either. I pushed myself but it didn't feel like hell. So I'm encouraged if not a bit excited to move forward.

The program actually backs off a bit now. My mileage will be down and progressing slightly week-by-week with a "long day" on Sunday that actually starts as walking.

Its nowhere near hard. The hardest part is getting off the couch and into some shorts. That WILL change. But now I'm happy that I've stayed healthy and on track.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

What's that Smell?

8 am this morning:

6 -year-old-from the bathroom: Daddy! Daddy!

Me: What? What honey? As I walked down the hall to the bathroom to see what was the matter.

6-year-old: How come it always smells so good in here after you've been in here.

I smiled. It's just deodorant and a very light cologne. Doesn't matter if it was $200 bottle anyway. To her it means "daddy". To me it means the world.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bonus Baby

I got my Christmas bonus today. Its a bit lower than its been in the past. These times I guess. But I'm still appreciative. Plenty of people get none, right? The casino even gave me $100 that I never expected.

Remember when you were a kid and that month between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed like 5 years? Yet as an adult it seems like you wake up with turkey-breath and realize you forgot to stuff the stocking? Dayam!

To top it off, next year I begin to get paid bi-weekly. I don't like that. I don't like it one bit. I know its the way of the world, but I still haven't adjusted to them changing our payday from Wednesday to Thursday a couple years ago.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Manfred Mann Revisited

I'm in the middle of week 4 of my running program. So far so good. However, I'm not complaining about how easy it is. Its gotten much tougher. I still feel like I'm barely moving but am proud I've stayed on regiment and that I've remained healthy. Injury has been mainly responsible for derailing my training in recent years. I hope I'm over the hurdle.

I googled my name too to find race results since they're available online since about 2001. I found:

11/12/00 - 8k -- 38:31 (7:46 pace)
5/21/00 - 5k -- 21:45 (7 minute pace)
4/8/01 - 5k -- 22:58
5/22/03 - 5mi -- 40:17 (8:04 pace) I remember that race had a HUGE hill and was killer.

Those are recent results. I have run a sub 20 minute 5k that I remember and I've run decent 10ks when I was much younger.

One thing I know. If I do finish the marathon in October, it will be a personal best. I've never gone that far.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Soccer Can Be Exciting

My wife says the soccer game kept her up most of the night. Not the one on TV, but the one in the attic. We have critters.

From time to time we've had mice which I've gotten rid of only to have them return within a year or two. But the soccer match in the attic? These mice are taking performance enhancing drugs. Or. Not. Mice? Perhaps they're bowling. If I hear cheering, pins falling and beer glasses clinking, then I'll be really upset. They should invite their host, right? Either way, they will need to take their extra-curricular activities elsewhere.

When mama's not happy, the house isn't happy.

So I manned up. The job calls for a guy (so I"m told) Went to Lowe's and bought the Havahart traps (I can't snap things necks - doesn't sit well with me - man point deduction I suppose) and am embarking on our little biological experiment. I tediously set the larger-than-necessary trap in case its a squirrel, oppossum, badger, bear or Yeti.

If only Steve Irwin was still with us to help. Anyone have Bindi's number?

Monday, December 15, 2008


We had our first parent-parent-teacher conference last week to review the status of our Little One's first 3 months of school.

Our bright, precocious, hilarious, beautiful, clever, loving, stubborn, independent and fun little girl was not "all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips" to her teacher. We were rather taken aback. Her teacher admitted at the onset that TLO had a difficult week and was even a little sassy. Sassyness is something we see, of course, but never before heard expressed by someone of authority. Plus, her marks were all "at level" on most counts and "below level" on a couple. I, for one, was a bit surprised. I always envisioned any child of mine to be at the upper levels of anything she does being that the Mrs. and I are intelligient as well as diligent with our daughter's progress. I'm not majorly concerned but it is pause for thought at this particular time.

We didn't send her to the town's kindergarten, instead electing to send her to private kindergarten that touts accreditation and through-the-roof praise from all we encountered. There were signs last year (noticed by Mrs. Nouveau) that things weren't pushed as hard as we would have liked. Unfortunately, that left our Little One a bit behind. She entered first grade below the other kids and while making remarkable progress to catch up, isn't quite up to speed yet.

In addition, The Little One struggles to focus. Frequently, easy tasks that should take her mere minutes find her mind wandering off or her eyes and hands being drawn to something else often resulting in mild discipline to get her back on track or at the least a war of will. At school it creates unfinished work which we help her finish at home later on since her teacher will not "babysit" TLO to get the work done, instead electing to have the children independently finish their work. I agree with that method, especially given the fact she has 18 other students at various levels to tend to although it makes for some lengthy nights at the homework table (its actually a bar - is that bad?).

While her lack of focus its not necessarily a disability, it is very frustrating for all concerned and sadly results in so much less time for her to do kid things as she spends over an hour finishing up school based "work stations" before tackling her normally assigned homework as well as her extra reading program work. She's in first grade for crying out loud! I don't remember doing that much work.

Attention Deficit Disorder has been mentioned and her pediatrician feels any and all testing for any services she may require are best handled immediately. Her teacher, however, feels that its still too early and that we simply need a bit more time. My wife agrees with the Pediatrician so we are progressing with the tests (which the teacher needs to assist with) and I feel the teacher feels a bit offended. Perhaps because we're not taking her advice. TLO doesn't exhibit clear-cut signs of ADD though and I think if medication is mentioned we will have to think long and hard about that option. Medicating kids, to me, seems a modern way of being a lazy parent in certain cases. I would just assume handle things without any type of medication unless absolutely necessary. But I'm jumping way ahead at this point. We'll see.

At the beginning of the conference, I asked a few relatively simple questions, or so I thought. The teacher really didn't understand what I was getting at and chose to take a route wherein she interpreted my questions as questioning her. Nothing was further from the truth and in actuality I was seeking ways we could better assist the teacher and my child. She didn't hear me, so again, she came across as mildly offended and offered up a 10 minute, convoluted answer that didn't clearly answer my concerns. TLO has workstations and she brings home unfinished ones. I only wanted to know how often they did the stations. I basically got my answer, so I let it go.

The teacher is a nice lady. I sincerely believe she is doing all she can for our child with her best interests at heart. The mere fact that we don't take her advice 100% of the time in no way impugns her or reflects on our confidence of her as a teacher. It just means we differ on how to proceed. My wife is an administrator in a huge, city-wide day-care system and has also had extensive time in the classroom and I feel that makes her opinions every bit as viable as the first grade teacher's. Furthermore, my wife is one who will always, always, err on the side of caution.

As parents, we are very attentive to TLO's studies and place a premium on her being the best student she can be. At the same time, kids should have time to be kids and by the time we get settled in from school, have a snack, do homework and eat dinner, in addition to her hockey and gymnastics nights her time gets quite pinched during the week.

We are also not "not my kid" type parents. We don't blame others for her issues. If she's acted out, its not her peers fault and if she isn't already up to speed in school its not her teacher's fault. TLO is held accountable for her actions and we, as a family, will all work together to see she can be the best she can be.

Please note: my child has made utterly remarkable strides in three months of school in terms of her reading, writing and math skills. Remarkable strides. She's closing the gap on her peers and I think her teacher is seeing that as am I. But we want to have the some tests done anyway. Hell we pay plenty of taxes. If there's a program out there that will benefit her in the long term, we wish to take advantage of it as soon as possible. Any and all learning disabilities are best solved when tackled early. If there are no issues whatsover (which I think will be the case, actually) then there's no harm, no foul. Right?

Anyway, after the conference and before we got TLO from her after-school program Mrs. N and I talked in the hallway for a good long time and Mrs. N had tears in her eyes. She says all the focus issues TLO has my wife had as a child and she still has them. She says she frequently felt confused and "out of the loop" as a child due to it and hates the thought of our Little One growing up and feeling the same way she did all the time. That said, TLO has an incredible ability to seemingly not pay attention to something then know all the particular details of it afterwards even if it appeared she was up to something else. Its an uncanny multi-taskability.

My thoughts? It could be a LOT worse. My wife is 2 courses short of her Master's in Early Childhood Education. She's a respected administrator and loved by all that know her. She's smart and funny and pretty and the MOST empathetic and compassionate person I've ever known.

If my daughter grows up to be the woman her mother is, then we did one hell of a job. And I told my wife that too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Ladies: I'm sure they're comfortable and warm and all that and while I pretty much hate them with all outfits, please, please don't wear them with a skirt or dress. Okay?

I mean, really. They' you say?........Ugh-ly!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Treating Heat

I post a lot about jobs I've had. Here's another that I thought of as I was posting (sort of) about Triumph last week.

I got hired to work in heat treating factory one summer in college. Basically, I took springs and loaded them into large ovens to cook at a given temperature until a certain time had passed. That was it. As a result, I had a lot of down-time since there were only two ovens and some recipes called for over 2 hours of cooking.

Right out of the gate, I became one of their most valued employees. I don't know, maybe it was because I actually worked when I was there. It seemed many others didn't. Onc group of Einsteins got fired for racing fork lifts and destroying a $15,000 spring machine. Others took 4 beer lunches like the guy that worked in the room next to me who was in his mid 50's and made less money than I did at 19.

Yeah. He was an angry guy. My first day, just to make conversation, I asked him where he went for lunch. He replied, "To the Copper Penny pub for a few beers. Who the fuck wants to know?" I think he thought I was a company spy or something. I was so naive it never occured to me someone would drink during their lunch hour. I'm guessing maybe that's why the med school thing didn't pan out for him.

A few days later my boss walked in my little room and I had it all cleaned up. I perfectly organized and labeled all the bins of excess springs, I meticulously swept every ounce of dust and cleared away cobwebs from the corners and went so far as to create a "desk" out of some heavy cardboard, pallets and crates. It wasn't because I was super-employee but I was just bored sitting around all the time. While cleaning I found a Penthouse magazine which was a big score for a 19 year old in the pre-internet era. There might have been some pictures in it, who could really tell, but it definitely had some really, really cool black and white artwork in a particular section. I'm serious. You can only look at pictures for so long; that is if I was so inclined.

One particular piece, which honestly would be a cheesy velvet painting, I fell in love with and spent a week reproducing it on some card-stock with only number 2 pencils. It took a long time but when it was done, I thought it came out great. I hung it for that summer and bathed in the accolades of visitors to my room. I made sure to take it with me when I left. I was really, really proud of it and wish I had it to this day, but I gave it away to a girlfriend. Stupid me.

Another thing I did was decorate my huge cardboard desk. I would write out what I thought at the time were cool song lyrics,
spontaneous artwork and even a few album covers (remember those?). Aerosmith and Skynyrd are two that come to mind. First in pencil, then I would detail it all out in whatever colored pens I could scrounge up in that old factory. By summer's end I probably had 15 different songs plus some miscellaneous art (including a rather intricate ivy border) and the album covers. I can only imagine how my replacement in September thought about things. I know my boss thought it was cool as he commented on it and he was crazy about how neat I kept the place (I always hated how grungy factories were -- and I never understood why they had to be so). He let me do whatever I wanted since I always hustled and got my work done, even staying late when necessary (something none of my predecessors would do apparently).

I've always been told I have artistic ability and an "eye" and I believe I do. But you know what? It bores me. To sit and draw, or paint, or mold for hours on end to me is totally boring, even if I'm pretty good at it. Waste of talent? Probably. I guess I wish I could transfer it to someone with the passion.

Out of the song lyrics, I only remember one that I did which is a Triumph song I haven't heard in ages, but if my memory serves me it goes like this:

Look in the mirror;
Tell me what do you see?
Do you lie to yourself
Like your lying to me?
Do you like awake angry
To justify your life?
Or do you wake up feeling empty
In the middle of the night?
You wanna think you're special but you know you never can
You're just another ordinary man.

The song goes on and on but that's what I remember and at that time I thought it was the coolest passage and so deep in thought. It didn't hurt that Rik Emmet rips the shit out of his guitar later either. After all these years, I see it's not the work of genius I originally thought, but having said that, I still know the lyrics.

Then again, I know my lines from a 4th grade play still: Perhaps you are right Senior Watson, but just one moment........

I was a Mexican ambassador in a history play. I was the only kid who could do a Mexican accent. I think, at times, my brain is wasting way too much space with stuff I can't use anymore.

Gobble, gobble

I trust everyone had a good Gobble Gobble Day but didn't Gobble Gobble too much? I think I've had enough leftovers at this point.