Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Move along... nothing to see here

My blog has moved to my new blog over at Click here to visit the new place....

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

About books

The very lovely and talented Debra over at deblog and book-blog is sponsoring a contest to win a free book! All you have to do is answer a bunch of questions about books and then tag three people before September 30th. Now that I host a bunch of blogs I have plenty of people to tag! Ha ha! Now my evil plot can finally be revealed!

The book is an autographed copy of John Shors's historical novel Beneath a Marble Sky. Click on the book to read Debra's review.

1. What are you reading now?

The Good Soldier Švejk and His Fortunes in the World War by Jaroslav Hašek. Hašek is one of the most famous Czech writers other than Kafka, of course. A friend in the Czech Republic had mentioned the book to me. Hašek was sort of an odd bird and it would be worth reading a biography about him if someone would write one! ;)

2. What's the best book you've read this year?

This hasn't been a great year for reading but I would probably say 1776 by David mcCullough even though parts of it felt like it was written by a committee and could have used some editing for grammar!

3. What's your favorite work of historical fiction?

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. This really was a book that I could not put down. It is not anything like Follet's regular genre which is spy novels. This story takes place in the 12th century and involves the building of a cathedral. Sounds dull? It isn't! Almost 1,000 pages and when I was done I wished it hadn't ended.

4. Pick a random book from your shelves and write down its first sentence. Does it make you want to read more?

"On the first day of Februray 1328 King Charles IV of France, third son of King Philip the Handsome and last of the Capetian dynasty, lay dying."

Pretty good first sentence for a book about the Hundred Years War (by Desmond Seward) and it does make me want to read more.

5. Have you ever read a book and wished that you'd written it? What was it?

Yes! Lots of books. I wish I was an historian so I could write like Shelby Foote. Or that I could write novels like Umberto Eco.

6. What book on your shelves do you wish you'd never bought?

Genius by James Gleick. But only because I feel guilty about never reading it.

7. Have you ever bought someone a book for BAFAB?

Yes. I bought a book for Beth but I can't recall what it was! Maybe it was To Kill a Mockingbird. I bought it for her but I can't remember when.

8. What book do you really wish someone would buy you for BAFAB?

non-fiction: Redemption by Nicholas Lemann
fiction: The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.

9. Go to and leave a comment mentioning your post. Remember to include your permalink in the comment.


10. Tag three people.

I tag Stephanie, Amy, and Ali. Maybe this will get Ali to blog!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Another blog

I have been blogging on my web site since I installed blogging software that integrates with my forum. I'm not sure if I should be repeating my entries here or if I will abandon this blog. Or maybe keep them separate? The thing I like about the blog on my site is that I completely control the software. Plus it lets me host blogs for my members which is really cool. This shows the flexibility of the new forum software that I am using now, phpbb2.

My new blog.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Does it hurt?

It was her knee this time. And the answer is, "no, it didn't while in recovery" and "yes, it does now".

Michel in recovery

The surgery went very well and Michel is feeling better than she has in a long time. We should be home in about an hour.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The house is too quiet

Mikey isn't home. And the house is way too quiet. He is away at camp until Sunday. No therapists. No aides. Just Beth bouncing around the family room playing Dance, Dance Revolution and Michel and me trying to figure out what to do with ourselves.

On Tuesday, we took Mikey to his school to meet the bus to go up to the camp. They use these big buses with fancy seating and ceiling mounted DVD players etc. like you take when you go to Atlantic City. Last year when we took him to the bus, we couldn't get him on. He was crying and kicking and we finally decided to just drive him up to the camp. This year he was a trooper. He didn't want to get out the car when we arrived at the school so I had to carry him but he didn't cry at all when I carried him on the bus. He just sat down, crossed his legs, smiled, and looked out the window. He gave me a big kiss goodbye and that was it. We left him on the bus, Michel cried a little, and we went home.

Michel called the camp last night to check on Mikey and they said he had a great day. When they arrived, he didn't want to get off the bus, not because he didn't want to to go to the camp but because he had such a great time on the bus! He was the first up yesterday morning and had everyone outside to play soccer (or as the director who is from Wales calls it, football) by 7 AM. He even ate in the cafeteria without any trouble, sitting with the rest of the campers. The director told Michel that she sees a lot of growth and maturity in Mikey since last year.

I miss my little guy, even though a little break is good for everyone, especially since tomorrow Michel is having surgery on her knee. Yep, that's right. I'll blog more about the surgery tomorrow.

Monday, August 21, 2006

On my iPod...

Here Comes Your Man by The Pixies. Stupid song (according to Beth) on my iPod: I Melt with You by Modern English.

An off day...

Yesterday was a bad day for me. Every once in awhile I get these days where my pulse or blood pressure drops and I'm just not myself. I spent a lot of the day confused about what exactly was going on and drifting in and out, if that makes any sense. Apparently I said something that really upset Michel and she slept on the couch. The weird part is that I have no memory of this whatsoever. I remember trying to get Mikey to sleep (he didn't fall asleep until 2 hours after his bed time) and I remember Michel being annoyed at me about something but then it's all just a blank. I feel much more myself today although I'm still a bit tired, almost like a mild hangover. For those of you who don't know, I have Vasovagal Syncope, although it has been a year since I actually passed out.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

No more braces!

Thursday was a big a day for Beth. The braces that she has had for the last 2.5 years are gone. Her teeth are nice and straight and beautiful. Even her orthodontist was impressed at what good care Beth took of her teeth while she had the braces on. She had the braces taken off first thing in the morning so I told her she could stay home from camp but she wanted to show everyone. I'll give a shout out to Dr. Michael Katz in Plainview for anyone who is looking for an orthodontist. Beth has a retainer that she is supposed to wear at night that will help keep her teeth straight and she has been very good about wearing it so far. The best part is that Beth can now start high school without braces. How cool is that?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Two months!

I'm not depressed. Really. I'm just drained. I feel like the energy has been sucked out of me. I have been very busy at work and things are crazy at home (Michel needs surgery on her knee... more on that in a future blog entry) and I just feel like I'm worn down. It's not that I'm tired. I have been taking Ambien and have been sleeping great and usually wake up alert. I just feel... drained. I'm not sure how else to describe it. I haven't even felt like doing the things that I normally enjoy. I haven't felt like blogging or reading blogs or even reading. I looked in Bloglines and I had about 2,000 entries from the-deblog that were unread. But I'm starting to feel better. Perhaps now that Michel has a firm diagnosis and I know that her knee will be fixed, I feel better. Or maybe I just have finally got tired of letting things suck the life out of me. Anyway, I have lots of things to catch up on and I'll start by re-starting The Good Soldier Svejk tonight. And I think I'll go to the library tomorrow and see if they have DVD to learn Czech.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Notes from the Cat House

We have always had cats. When Michel and I married she had two cats, Bowie and Bounder. They both lived until they were 18. Cats do pretty well with us because we keep them indoors and take good care of them. Biggles (left) was a cat I found outside a bar when she was a kitten. She was a scrawny little thing covered in fleas (which she gave to the Bowie and Bounder). She was a funny cat and had psychological problems. She once lived in our basement for 3 months because she decided she was terrified of Bowie. We even had her on Prozac for a little while!

Anyway, Biggles was getting old (she was about 18). She had been staying in our bedroom almost all the time lately and didn't seem to be her normal self. And then one day about 6 weeks ago she disappeared and we haven't seen her since. Cats tend to go off by themselves when they are sick so we think Biggles may have sneaked out to find a quiet place to die. Bounder had done that when her kidneys failed but her quiet place was in the basement in Beth's old baby carriage. Anyway, she was an annoying and insane cat but we loved her and will miss her.

We now have four cats. Malibu, Kokie, Inky, and Tuttle. Malibu and Kokie were adopted from the animal shelter a couple of years ago. Malibu was dumped by her previous owners because she has a heart problem and they didn't want to take care of her. She's a grumpy old cat but gets along great with my daughter. Kokie is a younger, long-haired cat who likes to sleep on top of the TV. We got Inky back in November. He is the first male cat we have ever had. We got him as a little kitten from Mikey's Physical Therapist who had found the kittens in her back yard. Inky is the friendliest cat we have ever had. Inky and the dog are best friends and chase each other around the house. The dog likes to clean Inky which means Inky usually smells like a dog. Tuttle is a tiny little kitten that had been left outside of our vet's office. He took care of them until they were old enough to be adopted. Tuttle and her siblings were so tiny they had to be bottle fed. So we now have four cats and a dog. And Michel wants another dog!

Monday, June 12, 2006

What People Are Made Of

I got banned from posting comments on a blog. Why? Why would someone ban me, a perfectly harmless guy? Because I had the nerve to defend four women whose husbands were murdered by terrorists. Let me explain. Dawn Eden has a blog in which she discusses mostly her recent conversion to Catholicism and her hatred of Planned Parenthood. She's a friend of Michel's cousin Kevin so I generally follow her blog. She recently wrote a blog entry that attacked four women whose husbands died on 9/11. These women call themselves The Jersey Girls and try to use whatever notoriety that they have to promote issues and candidates that they believe will reduce the likelihood that others will suffer the way they have. Ann Coulter recently wrote a book in which she attacks these women, mostly because she doesn't like their politics. Ann Coulter is, mostly, a shill for Ann Coulter and has become very wealthy being nasty and cruel. Dawn quotes from Coulter's book and then makes the bizarre claim (one not even Coulter tried to make) that these four widows claim to be non-partisan and apolitical. She then goes on to say that this makes them hypocrites.

It's hard enough to lose someone you love and planned to spend the rest of your life with and then to be told that you are a witch for trying to use his death to prevent the death's of others. But to be told that you are a hypocrite is worse! Coulter is mostly just expressing her twisted opinion. Dawn is actually telling lies. I could not let that stand. I had to comment on Dawn's blog. What I told her was that what she wrote was a serious sin. For that she banned me.

As bad as that was, Dawn then called cousin Kevin to complain about me! Imagine the chutzpah to try to come between family members over something as trivial as a blog! What is especially weird about this is that Dawn writes for the NY Daily News. You would think that someone who writes for a newspaper would have a little spine and would be able to take some criticism. Dawn, apparently, only wants people who agree with her to read her blog.

Which brings to me one other thought. Why would Ann Coulter make the claim that The Jersey Girls are enjoying their widowhood? "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." The only explanation that comes to my mind is the psychological term, projection. Coulter has probably never loved anyone (other than herself) enough to feel the pain that these women do. Coulter has probably never been so in love that she would give up everything for another. That is probably why she thinks that a few million dollars should make the pain go away... because it would for her.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Buy American?

I was reading the NY Times on Sunday and there was an article about the American automotive industry. The article talked about how GM has lost ground in the automotive sales world. At one time the Impala was the number one car in the world but today that title belongs to a Japanese car, the Toyota Corolla. The article discussed how the US automotive industry has concentrated on SUVs and has lost ground to the Japanese car manufacturers who concentrate their engineering efforts on just a few models and try to make those few models the best that they can. GM spreads their efforts to many car models across several brands thus preventing them from concetrating their engineering efforts. It was all fascinating but the one thing that made me laugh had to do with the definition of American vs. Japanese cars. As it turns out, the number one American passenger car is manufactured in Canada. The number one Japanese passenger car is manufactured in the USA. So which Americans are your car dollars going to? If you buy an "American" car, your money is going to wealthy American executives and if you buy a "Japanese" car, your money is going to middle-class American auto workers.

Monday, June 05, 2006

PocketMod: Better than a PDA

Debra over at Deblog posted about the PocketMod, an incredibly simple and yet useful way to keep notes. The problem with a PDA or even a DayTimer is that they are bulky and hard to carry around. If I run into a co-worker in the hall and she says, "Why don't you join us at our meeting tomorrow at 2:00," the likely response is to ask her to send an email to remind me (and she might forget) or to write it down on a scrap of paper that I will promptly misplace. Or I might be out at lunch and suddenly get the feeling that I am forgetting a meeting but have no way to look it up to see when and where the meeting is being held. The Pocketmod has none of these problems because it is easy to carry around, disposable when you are done with it and best of all, free.

So how does the PocketMod work? Simple. It's as easy to carry and use as a piece of paper because... it is a piece of paper! Simply, it is a piece of paper that is organized by adding components such as a calendar or shopping list to it and then folding it a certain way so that it fits easily in your pocket or wallet. There are components such as day and week planners, diaries, to-do lists, reference cards, food diaries for dieters, and even SuDoku! You simply pick the eight components you want on your page, print it out, fold it, and stick it in your pocket. If you lose it, you can just make another. This thing is so simple that it is brilliant!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Always Wear Seatbelts

My neice, Alexandra, was involved in a car accident this past weekend. She was with some friends driving back to school in Maryland from a weekend in Delaware. It was about 5AM when the driver fell asleep (alcohol was not involved) and let the car (a 1992 Nissan Pathfinder) drift into a drainage ditch along the side of the road. The car flipped and rolled. Alex has a compression fracture of one of her vertebrae and may need surgery to fuse the bones. The driver has severe chest trauma (no air bags) including a broken sternum and had to have his spleen removed. The person sitting next to Alex has a head injury. The young lady who was sitting next to the driver has a bruise on her pinkie. She was the only one wearing her seatbelts.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Good Times are Killing Me

Beth made it home Saturday night but not without mishaps. She was supposed to pull in around 11PM, but the bus broke down in the middle of Vermont. It was actually the other bus that broke down (there were two buses for the trip) but their bus waited for the other bus to get replaced. Yep, they had to wait for the bus company to send a new bus to replace the broken down bus. Meanwhile the kids were out of food and battery power for their iPods and cell phones so there was almost a mutiny. And communication from the chaperones with the parents was non-existent. If Beth hadn't called us we wouldn't have known that the bus was going to be late. In fact, we didn't get an official call about the bus being late until 11:30 PM, a half hour after the bus was supposed to arrive. They finally pulled in a little after 1:30 AM. Beth was tired, hungry, and a little cranky. So we fed her and chased her off to bed. She slept just about all of Sunday with just a 45 minute break to come down and get something to eat. I didn't get to bed until about 3AM Saturday night so I was pretty cranky myself on Sunday. Michel must be a saint to put up with us!

I should add that other than that one of the girls Beth was with got homesick on Saturday and didn't want to do anything, the trip was a major success. They had fun, learned some French, ate lots of good food, danced on a party boat, and shopped, shopped, shopped. So all in all, it was a great trip. Next week she's off to Pennsylvania with her class for two days. This girl travels more than I do!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Perfect Weather

I hope Beth is having the same weather we are.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Quebec City

Beth changed her hair color from purple to turqoise and I was going to put a picture of it on the blog but she ran off to Quebec City! Actually, she left at 6:30 this morning on a school trip to Quebec. This was sponsored by her French class. This is the first time that Beth will be away from us for anything other than overnight so this is a huge deal for for us but especially for Michel because she is the mom. I spoke to Beth earlier today (actually she sent me a text message) and she was in Vermont. The trip is a little over 10 hours by bus. Of course, the buses are those fancy tour buses like the ones you take when you go to Atlantic City. To go on the trip she had to be at the school at 6AM, which means she had to wake up at 5 AM. How excited about the trip is she? I didn't even have to wake her up! She came in and woke me up at 4:55! Anyway, I am sure this is going to be a fantastic time for Beth and will provide her with memories that she will treasure for the rest of her life.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Not So Special Olympics

Before I start I just want to say right up front that I know that everyone's heart is in the right place and I don't mean to sound mean or ungrateful but...

Mikey's gym teacher at AHRC thought that Mikey could participate in a couple of events in the Special Olympics. We thought that this was a fantastic idea and would be a lot of fun. It turned out to be a fantastic idea but not a lot of fun.

The school where the Olympics are being held doesn't have a very big parking lot but they arranged to use the parking lot of a corporate park and bus everyone over to the school. This was actually well organized. We get to the school and the bus drops us off. But they drop us off on one side of the school but the path to the track where the events are being held is on the other side of the school. Not a big deal except that Michel's parents are with us and he has a bad heart and chronic bronchitis and she has a bad knee. Then we realize that you have to walk down a huge hill to get down to the field. OK, so here we are at Special Olympics and the field is poorly accesible? Maybe this location wasn't a good choice to hold the events.

Anyway, we get down there and they assign three very nice girls to help with Mikey. They are all high school seniors and they are all volunteers. The only problem is that they have had no training, no explanation of what is expected of them, no idea how to handle a child with autism. They mostly just follow me around. So we get where we are supposed to be with a few minutes to spare before the parade is supposed to start. Michel, Beth, and Michel's parents are waiting in the stands while Mikey, the girls, and I are waiting for the parade into the main area to start. And we wait. And we wait. And if I tell you that Mikey is not good at waiting would you be surprised? We waited for an hour and Mikey is bored, tired (we had to wake him up early to be there on time), and misses his nana and pop-pop. Finally we march in and they want us to stand in the middle of the field and listen to a bunch of local politicians give speeches! At this point I am ready to scream and while Mikey is doing his best to be good this is asking a huge amount from a 9 year old boy.

So Mikey and I just wander off to where we think his event will be. Michel finds us and steers us into the right direction. We get there about the time the National Anthem is playing but they are still not ready for Mikey's first event, the 50 meter dash. I am exhausted because Mikey mostly wants to be carried everywhere plus my back and right knee are killing me. Mikey is tired, bored, and ready to go home. Finally, someone shows up with lists of names on multiple pieces of paper but they are the wrong list and he wants everyone to line up. Mikey sits in the chair next to him and hits him.

The problem appears to be that he has no clue how to handle children with disabilites. He seems to expect a bunch of children with autism to neatly line up and follow his instructions while he looks up names on a bunch of lists. One woman told us that the events she has been to, they just line up all the kids and have them run and worry about names later. They are making this very difficult for the kids by dragging it out and wasting whatever ability to keep themselves under control that they have. Finally we just decide that we have all reached our limit and we call it quits. Mikey gladly went over to nana and gave her a huge hug and then he sat on her lap and put his head on her chest.

Getting out was another problem. Remember the hill we had to walk down to get to the field? Well now we had to walk up that hill. Michel's father made it about half way up and just ran out of gas. There were a lot of EMT's with wheelchairs around so she went to ask if one of them could help him up the hill. Meanwhile Mikey and I kept going and we ended up on a bus heading back to the parking lot. Mikey jumped on the first empty bus but the driver wanted to get back to the parking lot to pick up some people in wheelchairs (it was a wheelchair accessible bus) so were on our way before anyone else caught up to us.

The EMT's deciced that they didn't want to help Michel's father because they were only there for emergencies! So if he had a heart attack walking up the hill they might do something but to prevent him from having a heart attack we were on our own. Jerks! Anyway, Michel's father did manage to walk up the hill by taking his time and stopping a few times to catch his breath.

When we got home we had a nice family party for Mikey's First Olympics. So overall our first Special Olympics experience was less than we were hoping for. Hopefully, next time will be better.

Friday, May 05, 2006


This is what you get when you let a klutz use a hammer.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Modest Mouse

Modest MouseWhen we were out shopping at Tower records on Sunday, I spotted this album by Modest Mouse. I had heard of them from somewhere and had picked up the album to buy it about half a dozen times but never pulled the trigger. I asked Beth if she had ever heard of them and she said they are a good indie group and she had bought one of their songs on iTunes. So I bought the album. It isn't for everyone. They are different and probably would scare off a lot of people. The "hit" song from the album, Float On, is not typical of the songs on the album so if you had heard it on fuse I would recommend listening to a few of their songs on iTunes or Amazon before buying. I am enjoying it and it would be in my CD player except I'm driving the van (Michel is driving the Volvo) so I don't have a CD player! Arghhh!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Shopping with the gang

This time I took Mikey shopping with the girls. It went pretty well.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Flying Saucer!

Mikey and I spotted a UFO while we were waiting for mommy. Do you think we should call NASA?

Mikey gets a haircut

We had a busy day. First we got Mikey a haircut and then we went to music therapy. For the first time ever Mikey was well behaved while getting his hair cut. The woman who cuts his hair was in shock as she usually gets a workout.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Satan's spawn

These little flowers piled on my car are from maple trees. I am very allergic to them. They are everywhere right now and they give me pounding headaches.

The maple tree is very common on Long Island and its reproductive cycle occurs before it produces leaves. At this time of the spring, the maple trees are all covered in yellow flowers so heavily that it looks like the trees have all their leaves. But in fact there are no leaves, just the little yellow flowers pumping out clouds of pollen. The flowers then drop and the leaves start coming in. If my head didn't hurt so much I might actually enjoy it.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

One fish, two fish...

If you recall, two years ago I wrote about the success I had with my fish tank by leaving it alone. I have had continued success with this policy as I haven't had a single fish die in the last two years. But you can't leave it alone forever so a couple of weeks ago I gave it a full cleaning and threw away the old plastic sunken ship and other junk. But keeping in mind what I learned I didn't go overboard with cleaning the filter so that the bacteria would be able to quickly return to do their job.

While we were at the pet store this past weekend (see below), we bought a bunch of new fish since the tank was fairly sparse. The new fish have adapted quickly and all the fish look like they like the tank and are enjoying their home and each other. I also bought a realistic Greek ruin as you can see in the picture. Think of it as the remains of Atlantis, only with lots of bubbles coming out of it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


As I had mentioned in an earlier entry, Beth was going to get her hair dyed purple. That happened this past weekend and it came out great. You can read the entire adventure over at


I really like this picture of Michel. This was taken the day Beth got her hair cut.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Shopping with Mikey

We took Mikey to the pet store. He had a fun time looking at the dogs. Then he threw his coat in the Koi pond. ;-)

Spring Day

All week we had beautiful weather and then it rained all weekend. How typical.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A new car

We picked up our new car last night and we love it. It's a Volvo! When I say "new" I mean new to us. It is actually a certified pre-owned Volvo. I think that means that they certify someone owned it before us. It's a 2003 with 20,000 miles and we paid half of what a new Volvo S60 would have cost us. This is the first time that I ever owned a luxury car. The only problem is that Michel won't let me drive it. Our plan is to drive this car to Atlanta in July for the NDSC conference. Hopefully I won't have to wait until then to get a chance to drive it!

Beth gets a haircut

Beth's hair was so long and straight that it made her face look drawn. Her new shorter style brings out her beauty. Saturday she gets her hair dyed purple.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Birthday Mikey!

Once again it is time for Mikey's Birthday. He turned 9 on Tuesday and what a day it was (more on that below). Anyway, this has been a great year for Mikey. He really has made huge steps forward. Between the new school, the changes in medication, and Mikey's hard work he has become so much more like a 9 year old boy should be.

The summary of my day: I take the day off so I can bring pizza and cupcakes to Mikey's class. So I get ready and I'm out the door. Call the pizza place and run over to the pharmacy to drop off a prescription for Mikey. Over to the bakery. It is packed. They are serving #17 and I'm #39. I forgot Passover starts tomorrow. Forget the cupcakes. Let's get Munchkins from Dunkin' Dounuts. 3 minutes in and out. Super. Off to the pizzaria and then to the school. Phone is ringing. Beth's school. Beth is short of breath... please bring her medication. Run up to Mikey's school because I'm almost there. Mikey sees me and looks mad. Not too bad though as he shoves a couple of things and then races over to the pizza boxes and smiles. Give the digital camera to the teacher and I'm out the door. Stop at home, grab the medicine, and head to Beth's school. Phone again. It's the Vet. The dog has hookworms. Come and get medicine. OK, be right over. Get to the school and sit with Beth while she takes her medicine. Nurse gives me a form to give to the doctor so Beth can bring her medicine to school. You OK, Beth? Yep. I'm off to the vet. Pick up medicine and run home. Have to stop at Starbuck's. Pick up Mikey's medicine from the pharmacy while I'm there. Stop at home and check the website. Wow! Look at all the birthday greetings for Mikey! Fax the form to Beth's doctor. Now off to Mikey's school to bring him to the psychiatrist (wonder if he gives family rates) for followup and to check Mikey's medications. Finish with the psychiatrist and it's off to pick up Beth because she is staying late at school. Phone's ringing. OK, Beth. We're on our way to get you. Off to home, drop off Beth and on to the dentist. Two hours of peace as I get my teeth whitened. Funny, I almost felll asleep in the chair. Home, put Mikey to bed and collapse. What a fun day off!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Who would have guessed?!

You Are 62% Evil
You are very evil. And you're too evil to care. Those who love you probably also fear you. A lot.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Waiting for music therapy

Mikey waiting for music therapy. This was our second Saturday session. He used to go after school during the week but I think he is much more alert and ready to have fun on Saturday. As always, John C. has been just great with him.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Show us your papers

Well, now we know the purpose of the Patriot Act... it is to protect us from grandmothers riding on buses.

The story is a little old but worth repeating for those who missed it.

Deborah Davis lives in Colorado. She is a grandmother with a son fighting in Iraq. Every day she takes the bus to work. The bus happens to go through a federal facility in order to drop off federal employees. When the bus pulls into the facility, a guard comes on the bus and demands to see identification. Ms. Davis doesn't think that American citizens riding on public buses should have to show ID, so she refuses to produce proof of identity. So two guards grab her, handcuff her, and cart her off to the guard station... and then wonder "what now?" What do you do when a harmless grandmother refuses to show you her driver's license. They ended up giving her two tickets for minor infractions and sending her off. Eventually all the charges were dropped but the government refused to do away with the policy. So the end result is that the bus company is going to change the routes so that the buses don't go through the facility. It would make much more sense for the guards to check the ID's of people getting off the bus instead of harassing American citizens who just want to get to work. And does anyone really think that asking people on the bus for ID is making anyone at the federal facility safer?

Death to Converts

From Karl Keating...

Abdul Rahman is 41 and may not make it to 42. The Afghani converted to Christianity, and that is a crime in a country that operates under Sharia.

Rahman is under arrest in Kabul, and the prosecutor wants him executed for abandoning Islam. Rahman has been told his life will be spared if he converts back to Islam, but so far he has declined the offer. He has a real chance of becoming a martyr for the faith.

As we wait to see what happens to him, it would be a courtesy to have silence from those who keep telling us that Islam is a religion of peace.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

She just gets more and more beautiful

How Mikey sleeps

Here's another one of Mikey. Try this one if you dare. (1) Sit on the bed with your legs crossed as if you were doing yoga. (2) Fall straight ahead until your head is on the bed. (3) Start snoring. I would need surgery if I attempted to sleep that way.

Notice that his pajamas are pulled up over his knees and that he is sleeping on top of his blankets. We put him under the blankets at one point but he won't stay under them.

I started a conversation about sleep positions on and it seems like a lot of our kids like to sleep folded in half.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Shopping with the girls - Part 2

I went shopping with the girls again but this time Michel came too!

It was another shopping day with the girls and Michel was feeling better so she decided to come along. Michel's parents are staying with us so they watched Mikey while we went off on our little adeventure. Beth and Irene are addicted to CD shopping so we went to the same two stores for CDs that we went to last week. We added side trips to a bookstore and to a pet store. The pet store was giving away cats so I was lucky to get out of there without taking a cat home with us. We went to Applebee's for lunch and then to Starbuck's for dessert. After, we brought Irene home with us and the two girls went upstairs to Beth's room and listened to their CDs. Beth had a good day... I like to see her spend time with her friends because sometimes kids with disabled siblings become isolated from their peers. But I don't think there is any chance of that happening with Beth.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Felony Surfing?

Back in October I asked about the ethics of piggy-backing on someone's unencrypted wireless network. A recent issue of WXPNews had an article dealing with just that question. The title caught my eye - Is Your Wireless Web Surfing Breaking the Law? I had some questions about the morality of wireless piggy-backing but the idea that it might be illegal didn't occur to me. The line in the article that caught my eye was: Last summer, a man in Florida was arrested on felony charges of unauthorized use of a wireless network when he sat in a parked car and connected to a WAP in another man's house. The story made big news when it happened but we've been trying to find out, with little luck, what the disposition was. A man was arrested for using someone else's wi-fi? I hope that there is more to this story than that!

Here is a little more detail but I haven't been able to find a resolution to this case - Man charged with wireless trespassing.

In a response to the article, one person wrote, "attaching to [another person's] network is less like trespassing on their property than it is like eating the apples that fell off their tree into your yard." I tend to feel this way too. Anyone who wants to use my unencrypted Wi-Fi network is welcome to it. In fact, I think we need universal, unencrypted Wi-Fi. The ability to access the internet from anywhere with any wireless device would be a huge boon for society. I expect to see it in my lifetime.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My new phone

I finally treated myself and got a new phone with an iPod built in. Michel wanted to get a line on our family plan for her dad. He has prostate cancer so Michel wanted to make sure that he can always get in touch with us if he needs us. So I ordered a new line and got to pick a new phone. So I ordered a Motorola ROKR which is considered old now so I was able to get it a bargain price. The phone only holds 100 songs which is not a lot but I love it. I use it in the car with an adapter to hook it up to my car stereo and at work I use the headphones so I can get work done without being bothered by all the talk around me. There were complaints about this phone because it is a little bulky but I have big, fat fingers so I like a phone with a little "meat" to it.

Of course, nothing is ever easy so Cingular gave me nothing but headaches about getting the order processed. I placed the order over the web and everything seemed to go OK but then I got a note advising me that I had to call them. So I called and after clicking through a dozen prompts I got put on hold and sat waiting for 30 minutes ("due to unusual call volumes...blah blah blah" - if they are so unusual then why is that every time I call I get put on hold forever?). Finally I get a real person and they tell me I have a business account so I have to use the business site. A business account? Whatever. So I go to the business web site to place my order and guess what? You can't add a line to the family plan at the business web site. It tells me that you have to call to add a line. Arghhh! So I call and get put on hold for another 30 minutes. Finally I get a person and they tell me that the phone I want can't be ordered for a business account. Fine, I say, then make the account a non-business account. So they change the account but now they can't take my order because they are the business account person. He transfers me and guess what? Back on hold again. Finally I get a person but they can't get my account information so they advise me to place my order on the web again. So it's back to the Cingular web site where I place my order again.

Everything looks OK but then a couple of days later I get another email telling me that the order can't be placed and I need to fax them a copy of my driver's license and social security card. Now there is zero chance that I will fax those to anyone. Again I call and again I'm back on hold. When I finally get a person they can't help because they can't figure out why the order won't go through and they want to transfer me to someone else. At this point I lose it, tell them that Cingular sucks, and slam down the phone. I have been on hold for at least 2 and a half hours. So I send an email telling them how they suck at customer service. I work in customer service (I'm in IT but I run the customer facing web portal for Symbol) and I would never allow a customer to get this kind of treatment. We have a policy that the customer's problem is your problem and you need to take responsibility and get it fixed. When a customer calls I answer them right away or I get their phone number and call them back with an answer. I don't leave customers on hold. I wrote all this and a lot more in my email and guess what? The person responding fixed everything. They got my order taken care of and sent me a brand new phone instead of a refurbished one. Later, when I had a question about my bill, I skipped calling and went right to email. I got a response back the next day that was clear and accurate. Cingular needs to work on training their people on the phone to be as responsive as the people on the email.

Mikey's new bed

We finally got Mikey a "big boy" bed. We had Mikey in a crib for the longest time, mostly because we were worried about him getting up in the middle of the night and wandering off. But he outgrew the crib so we got him a toddler bed from Ikea but he managed to break it. It had a guard rail and Mikey would sit in the bed and push the guard rail with his feet. The wood cracked and the whole bed came crashing down. So for the last couple of weeks Mikey has been sleeping on his mattress on the floor. I had asked Mikey what kind of bed he wanted, and he ran into his sister's room and pointed to her bed. Saturday, while Mikey was out at his socialization program, Michel and I went off to Ikea to buy Mikey a new bed and mattress (and a new mattress for Beth, too). Even in three separate boxes the thing weighed a ton but I managed to get it upstairs and spent the rest of the day putting it together.

When it was time for Mikey to go to bed, I brought him upstairs and he saw his new bed for the first time. You have heard the expression, "his jaw dropped"? Mikey's jaw dropped and he stared at the bed unbelieving what he saw. Then a huge smile came to his face and he jumped into his new bed. He was thrilled. We were worried that Mikey would fall out of the bed because he rolls around at night all over the place. While we had the mattress on the floor, we would find Mikey by the door or over by the closet, everywhere but on his mattress. So I took his old mattress and put it by the side of his bed. We needn't have worried. Mikey didn't come close to falling out of bed so we stopped using the mattress after the first night.

So now my big boy finally has a big boy bed. Next, a TV for his room. He deserves it!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Shopping with the girls

Michel didn't feel well and Beth and her friend Irene wanted to go shopping so Dad volunteered to take them. We went CD shopping and Beth used a gift certificate she go on Christmas to load up on CDs. I took them to Applebee's for lunch and then we went to Starbuck's for cupcakes (I had a latte). It was fun but those two sure can talk. I don't think there was a moment of silence during the entire outing. In the picture, Irene is on the left and Beth is on the right.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

More snow

March has come in like a lion with sudden cold temperatures (below 20 degrees) and some snow. The weatherman screwed up though. They predicted more snow then what we got so I left work early to work from home. As it turned out, the snow stopped just a little while after I left work.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

High Scool Daze

High School starts for Beth in only a few short months and last night was the parent orientation to Freshman (Freshperson?) year. We got to meet the principal of the school and a couple of the guidance counselors. The idea of my little girl going into High School is a bit shocking. Only four more years to college and then career, marriage, children, etc. My little girl is growing up fast. It is a little sad in two ways. First, Beth is probably not going to appreciate how great high school can be. it is a time of growing up and becoming an adult without having to worry about real adult responsibilities and pressures. But without the ability to look back on it, Beth has nothing to compare it to. "I can't wait until I'm out of school!" Trust me on this one, Beth. You can wait. The second sad thing is that it is unlikely that Mikey will ever have the high school experience. His disability (the autism part of his disability) is simply too profound for him to be integrated into a regular school program. But Mikey will have his own experiences and we can only hope that they are as wonderful for him as we hope high school will be for Beth.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The religion of peace

I hate to say I told you so but... The West and it's belief in justice, freedom, and equality is at war with Islam which believes in injustice, death, and destruction. Fortunately the only people getting killed so far are the rioters. Update: A Catholic priest was murdered in Turkey

The cartoons can be seen at Human Events Online.

Think hard about this... Iran possessing nuclear weapons!

A selection of signs from the protests: "Freedom Go to Hell"; "Be Prepared for the Real Holocaust"; "Europe, You Will Pay; Your 9/11 Is on Its Way"; "Behead Those Who Insult Islam"; "Butcher Those Who Mock Islam"; "Exterminate Those Who Slander Islam"; "Annihilate Those Who Insult Islam"; "As Muslims We Unite & Are Prepared to Fight"; "This Is the Beginning of the End for You Disbelievers."

See Michelle Malkin for more.

Update: I was reading the Sunday NY Times Book Review section when I came across this little gem from someone by the name of Lucy Ellmann (apparently a novelist) in a review of a book, The Thin Place by Kathyrn Davis: "I should declare immediately that I resent and fear Christinaity, not only for its sexism and incitement of violence but for its deadening effect on the imagination." OK, so the religion that led to the modern day world of freedom and justice is "feared and resented"? Apparently Ms. Ellmann is an idiot. If she is looking for a religion to fear and resent she should look at the ruins at the south end of Manhattan or try reading a newspaper (but not the NY Times which has refused to publish the cartoons).

Update: This was in the NY Times editorial section: "The New York Times and much of the rest of the nation's news media have reported on the cartoons but refrained from showing them. That seems a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols, especially since the cartoons are so easy to describe in words." Let's be clear about what hog-wash this is... the NY Times had no trouble with publishing pictures of the painting of the Virgin Mary with elephant dung on her even though most Catholics saw the painting as a "gratuitous assaults on religious symbols". This is about cowardice and the NY Times has demonstrated that it has plenty of that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Invader Zim

Just before Christmas, Nickelodeon was running commercials for the Christmas episode of a show called Invader Zim. The commercials featured the show's Christmas song which ran like this:

Bow down!
Bow down!
Before the power of Santa
Or be crushed!
Be crushed
By his jolly boots of doom!

OK, so how are you supposed to resist that? Anyway, after watching the program I discovered (or should I say our entire family discovered) that Invader Zim is one of the most brilliant TV programs ever made. The concept of the story is rather simple... an Invader named Zim from the Irken Empire is sent to Earth to scout out the planet and report back ahead of the upcoming invasion. That's Zim (with the red eyes) watching TV with his useless robot servant, Gir, in the picture up top. The Irken Empire destroys other planets for fun and in order to get their snacks. Actually the Irken Empire has no intention of invading Earth but the Almighty Tallest (the rulers of the Irken Empire is whoever is the tallest) hate Zim (because he is a screw-up AND he is short) so they sent him to earth to get rid of him. Zim disguises himself as a 6th grader (I told you he is short) and disguises Gir as a dog (that's Gir in his dog suit). Dib is a 6th grader who realizes that the new green student is actually an alien intent on destroying Earth. Gaz is Dib's sister and her major goals in life are to win at video games and annoy Dib. That is the show and madness ensues from episode to episode. Whether it is Zim turning Dib into bologna, ("No one should be this delicious!") or whether it is Dib defeating Zim with water baloons ("Score one for the human race, score nothing for the Zim thingy race!"), every episode is pure nonsense and insanity.

Gir: Oh, I left it at home.
Zim: You left what at home?
Gir: The guidy, chipy, thingy.
Zim: Why would you do that?
Gir: To make room for the cupcake!

Update: Here's The Santa Song.

Beth is sick

This has been a rough month for my daughter. She was dizzy at school and felt completely worn out so she went to the nurse and came home. She stayed home for a couple of days then went back but the same thing happened again. Off to the doctor and the doctor discovers that her spleen is enlarged. Yikes! That might mean mono! Off to the lab for a test, wait a couple of days, and the result is... not mono, in fact the tests reveal nothing of interest. Conclusion? An unspecified viral infection, maybe the same one that Michel has in her middle ear. We were back to the doctor today and things look better so anyway, tomorrow she goes back to school because she has missed enough.

Today was a hectic day. Michel was getting another pain shot so I had to take the morning off. But Mikey's bus was late. So I took Mikey and Michel over to the hospital, dropped Michel off, drove to Mikey's school, dropped him off, then went home, grabbed Beth and took her to the doctor, then went back to pick up Michel, and then took them both home, grabbed a Subway BLT with no "T" for Beth, then drove off to work. I got here at 1pm so I will be going home late tonight.

So how is Michel doing, you ask? Not too good. She thinks her shunt needs to be adjusted because she is not feeling right so she hasn't been back to work for a couple of weeks. And so it goes.

Geek Squad Sucks

So they have cool little cars, impressive commercials, and wear nerdy looking clothes. They still suck. Twice I have gone to Geek Squad with a computer problem and twice I encountered a teenager who knows less about computers than I do. The first time was the disk problem... OK, I really didn't expect them to open up the disk and recover the data but I did expect them to make more than a minimal effort. In fact, the Geek Squad guy did nothing more than what I was able to do myself. He pulled the drive and put it in another PC where it still didn't work. Duh... I told him the disk was fried. I expected a little more like maybe swapping the electronics on the drive and seeing if that might do something. But that would have required some technical know-how and that does not seem to be what geek Squad is about.

OK, how about the second problem which happened last week with my daughter's PC. According to the lights on the back of the PC, the processor failed. So I called Geek Squad on the phone and they said, "Sure, no problem, bring it in, we can fix that." Well, actually after I dragged the PC over there I discovered that if I buy a new processor from Dell they will put it in for me. For $50. They wouldn't even bother checking the computer to make sure it really was the processor or even order the processor themselves. Putting in a processor may sound scary but if you can plug in a toaster without electrocuting yourself, you can put a new processor in a computer. It is about 5 minutes worth of work. So Geek Squad will be happy to put in the processor, with no guarantee that the processor is actually the problem, at the equivalent rate of $600 per hour. Nice work if you can get it.

They will install a hard drive at $40 (after you buy the hard drive). What does installing a new hard drive entail? Open the PC, slide the hard drive into a slot, and plug two cables into the hard drive. Close the PC and start her up. Less that 5 minutes work. They will install a memory chip for $30. Again, less than 5 minutes for you to do it yourself. They will install anti-virus software for $30 plus the cost of the software. Are you telling me that someone might own a computer and not know how to put a disk in their CD player because that is all Geek Squad will do for you. For $170 they will remove any viruses and spyware and add a firewall and some virus protection. $170!!! I cleaned up my sister's PC which was infected with both spyware and viruses without using anything other than some free anti-spyware software and 90-day free version of Norton.

Geek Squad is a rip-off. They charge outrageous amounts for the simplest work but are incapable of doing anything more than what anyone can do with just a little advice or assistance from a random teenager.