Monday, January 31, 2011

Music Monday-Eric Clapton "Pretending"

This week for my Music Monday selection I have decided to go back to my roots, which is classic rock and blues.  The man who really turned me on to the Blues was Eric Clapton.  Without a doubt, he is and will always be my favorite guitarist.  When I was learning to play guitar, I would have loved to have been able to play like him. 

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Letter From School

Maya and Miguel LogoImage via WikipediaMost days, I don't particularly care to go to the mailbox.  Usually all we get in the mail is junk mail and bills.  However, yesterday, my wife brought the mail in after she ran a couple of errands.  She had something that brought a mile to my face and made me feel good.  A short note from our son.


Dear Mom and dad,

This week at school I had a good time.

I have been looking up and talking a lot about Maya and Miguel.  The song we are family.

I am looking forward to the next break when I can come and spend some time with you.  I love you.

It was a very pleasant surprise.  It was the first mail that we had received from him.  For those that do not know, Maya and Miguel is a cartoon on PBS Kids.  They have released a couple of CDs of kids singing pop tunes.  My son has all three of their CDs, and one of his favorite songs on it is the old Sister Sledge song "We Are Family."

It is no surprise to me that when my son would have some free internet time during the classroom that he would do searches for Maya & Miguel.  He loves that show and the theme song.  He also really enjoys listening to the music. 

I am also looking forward to the next break so we can spend some time together.  I miss having his smiling face around.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

The Challenger-25 Years Later

Sharon Christa McAuliffe received a preview of...Image via WikipediaIt is always sad when a tragedy strikes the nation.  Even when you have no personal involvement or stake in the event, it is always a somber occasion.  For example, I will always remember how I felt when the 9/11 attacks took place.  When you know or have some connection with those involved in the event, it is that much more sobering.

25 years ago today, NASA experienced one of their worst disasters ever in the Challenger shuttle explosion.  It was an event that was watched live across the country, especially in schools by thousands of school children.  One of those killed in the accident was teacher Christa McAuliffe.

When I was a student at Thomas Johnson Junior High School in Lanham, MD, Christa McAuliffe was one of the teachers there.  I did not have her as one of my teachers, but I did know her.  Several of my friends did have her as a teacher, and all liked her.  So, when she was selected to be the first teacher to fly on a space shuttle mission, we were all proud and anxiously looking forward to her making history.

Needless to say, when we received news that the Challenger had exploded and there were no survivors, we were devastated. The great President Ronald Reagan, addressed the nation after the accident.  His short message captured the anguish of the nation and comforted us.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Still Hate Snow

Coated in ice, power and telephone lines sag a...Image via WikipediaWe had a fairly nasty snow storm blow through the DC area last night.  It was one of those heavy, wet snows that cause a lot of problems with trees breaking and power outages.  We were fairly lucky in our house as the lights flickered a couple times but they never went completely out.  My brother lost his power late yesterday, and it is still out nearly 24 hours later.

It was also one of those storms that cause a lot of havoc on the roadways.  They expected the snow to hit pretty heavy right around the evening rush hour.  Evening rush hours around here are pretty brutal anyway, but add snow and ice and it makes it that much worse.  The local television news programs last night and this morning were full of horror stories about last night's commute.

Once again, I was lucky.  Yesterday at about 2:30, my department head came around and asked everyone if we were packing up to call it a day.  It was about an hour or so before the weather was supposed to hit the area.  I left shortly thereafter and made it home by 4:00 as it started to sleet pretty heavily.  It was a wise move, as the news reported total gridlock on the roads.  There were reports this morning of people taking over 12 hours to get home.  Several people just left their cars on the roads and started walking.

I woke up this morning and called into our office information line.  It said that the office would be opening at 10:00 but liberal leave was in effect.  I got up and started the process of shoveling the sidewalk and digging out the cars.  Our HOA rules require that we shovel the entire walk in front of our homes, which I proceeded to begin.  Then I started working on digging out the cars, starting at the front of them since the snow plows piled several more inches of snow in front of my parking space.

While I was working on digging out the cars, I could hear somebody singing as they were shoveling the sidewalks.  As they got closer, I realized that it was a group of Latino men who worked for the landscape company that plows are complex.  I knew they were Latino, not because they worked for the landscape company, but because they were singing and yelling at each other in Spanish.  It was then that I realized that they were shoveling the sidewalks of our complex, not the walks from the door, but the walks in front of the houses.

This was the first time that I had ever seen the landscaping company shoveling the front walks of the houses.  They usually only do work in the common areas of the complex, and we are responsible for the areas in front of our townhouse.  I was a little perturbed because I had shoveled my walk, and the residents of the houses on each side of me didn't have to bother.  If I had of known they were going to do the shoveling, I could have saved my self an extra 30 minutes of shoveling and concentrated on getting the cars out.  Such is life. 
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Some Good, Some Bad

We are closing in on the second full week of my son being back at school.  On Friday, I had posted about how he had been having a good week in school.  In fact, we found out that our son had been named "Student of the Week" and had his photo placed in the hallway of the school.

When my son first started at the new school, they gave him his own room in the dorm, partly because they thought it would help him to adjust to living in the dorms.  We discovered when we took him back to school  on Monday of last week, that he now had a roommate, which would be another new experience for him.

Anyway, he had been having a pretty good week last week, but I was worried about how his weekend would go because he seemed to have a more difficult time on the weekends.  I had been dreading calling on the weekend because I didn't want to hear bad news.

We didn't get a chance to check in with the school on Saturday, but was able to call the school Sunday evening.  When I spoke to the people in the dorm, they told me that our son had a rough day.  He had spent a lot of the day dropping to the floor and basically not cooperating a whole lot.  There had been a phone call from somebody in the school administration about our son, but that person was gone when we called back.

My wife returned the call to the school administrator on Monday evening to discover that our son's new roommate had bit our son on Saturday morning.  Our son was fine, but they decided to move our son to a different room with a new roommate.  When I called the dorm Monday night, they said he had a rough night since coming back to the dorm from school. 

Fortunately, last night and tonight he has had a better time of it.  He has been a bit more cooperative in the dorm, but he still is not eating in the dorms.  I am hoping that part of his tough time this week was the stress of being bitten.  His new roommate is a kid that was a classmate at another school a few years ago.  I am not sure if my son remembers him, but hopefully they will get along.  Just two weeks from today until his next long weekend home.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Scrubs

Several years ago, when my son was still a baby and drinking nothing but formula, he used to get a lot of ear infections. Often, when he would get them he would throw up a lot. I don't mean just a little bit of spit up. We are talking projectile vomiting and losing the entire content of his stomach. I often was the recipient of said vomit.

One particular night, he was having a really rough time. He had a high fever and had thrown up a couple of times. We called our family doctor and he told us to take him up to the Bowie Health Center. I was in the exam room with my son, and holding him to try to help him calm down. He proceeded to vomit all over my shirt. The Health Center was kind enough to supply me with a surgical scrub top.

I offered to bring it back the next day, but they told me not to worry about it and to keep the top.  I continue to wear it to this day.  I love it.  It is so comfortable to wear.  Usually I wear it when I am lounging around the house and just want something comfortable.  I have also worn the top with a pair of old army pants as part of a Halloween costume back when the TV show M*A*S*H was popular.

My old scrub top is starting to get a little worn, and as I have gotten older, it has gotten a little tighter.  I think it has shrunk.  That is why I was happy to have the opportunity to blog about Blue Sky Scrubs and their line of nursing scrubs.  Blue Sky Scrubs has a wide assortment of stylish scrubs for men, women, and even kids.  They also offer lab coats and other accessories.

So, if you are a medical professional, or you just like the comfort of wearing scrubs, you should check out Blue Sky Scrubs.  The products they offer are a lot more stylish than the thin blue top that I have with a DC General Hospital silk screened on the chest.  When I am ready to buy my next scrubs, I may even go for the scrub pants for a complete ensemble. 

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Music Monday-Dire Straits "Money for Nothing"

I hate censorship of any kind.  I particularly hate it when the censorship is sponsored by the government in response to the ever growing pressure of political correctness.  Earlier this month, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that the Dire Straits song "Money for Nothing," which has been a staple on classic rock stations for 25 years, was "offensive" because of the use of the word "faggot" in the song's lyrics.  The decision is under review, and may be overturned.  Needless to say, I had to make "Money for Nothing" my choice for Music Monday.  Hope you aren't offended.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mailboxes and Pizza Delivery

As I have mentioned here before, I deliver pizza as a part time job on Friday and Saturday nights.  I do not have great eyesight to begin with.  I have worn glasses since about the 4th grade.  During winter time, since it gets dark so early, I have a more difficult time finding some house that I deliver to.

There are a lot of reasons for this.  A lot of houses have their house numbers on their garages, with no light on them.  Other houses have dark letters on a dark background (or light on light) making it difficult to read the numbers.  That is why I really appreciate houses that have mailboxes out on the street with clear numbers on them.  It makes it so much easier to find the houses I am looking for.

A nice mailbox is a little way to spruce up the outside of the house.  Mailboxixchange is a great source if you are looking for a new mailbox for your home or business.  They have a wide variety of decorative mailboxes, wall mount mailboxes, and post mounted mailboxes.  Sure mailboxes have a utilitarian function, but that doesn't mean they can't also show a little bit of style.

I currently live in a townhouse complex where we do not have individual mailboxes at our houses.  Instead, we have one centrally located multi-unit mailbox.  While I personally would not need to buy a new mailbox, if our HOA decided that we needed new mailboxes, Mailboxixchange has a variety of multi-unit mailboxes to meet their needs.

If you are looking for a new mailbox to spruce up the outside of your home, you ought to check out Mailboxixchange to see all the mailboxes for sale. You might just be helping out your pizza delivery guy to get your order to you quicker.

Please see my disclosure statement at the bottom of this page.
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Good Week

It is always hard on me when we take our son back to school.  I always worry about how he is doing and how he is adjusting to this change in his life.  Like a lot of autistic kids, whenever his routine is upset he has a hard time. 

Consequently, when he is away at school, I like to call to check up on his progress.  The people at the school and at the dorm are very patient about my calling on a near daily basis.  I get down whenever I hear that he has been having a difficult time.  Weekends seem to be hardest for him.

On the other hand, it gives us a great deal of comfort when we hear that he is doing well.  We took him back to school on Monday, and this has been a week of good news.  On Tuesday night when I called, he was at a social, which is one of his favorite activities in the evenings at the school.

My father in law, is on the Board of Directors of the school, and he was at a meeting at the school yesterday.  He called my wife to let her know that our son was named "Student of the Week" and would have his picture posted on the wall of the school.  Last night, my wife called the school and he had been well behaved.  He was also at another social dancing the night away.

As I said, the weekends have been the hardest for him.  He still isn't eating a whole lot of the food being offered to him.  In the past, he has also stopped drinking fluids.  The good news is that the dorm worker I spoke with on Wednesday said that he has been drinking more.  Hopefully he will continue to make progress and adjust to school.  At least the week thus far has been encouraging.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So Much for Civility

Ever since the shooting in Tucson, the left and the media have been calling for a more civil discourse.  I must have missed the memo where comparing Republicans to Joseph Goebbels and the Nazis is considered "civil discourse" as Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) does here while debating the bill to repeal the health care reform bill.

The bill easily passed the House 245-189.  Speaking of the health care repeal bill, can you tell me what the following list of Congressmen have in common?
  • Ben Chandler (D-KY)
  • Collin Peterson (D-MN)
  • Dan Lipinski (D-IL)
  • Heath Shuler (D-NC)
  • Jason Altmire (D-PA)
  • Jim Matheson (D-UT)
  • John Barrow (D-GA)
  • Larry Kissell (D-NC)
  • Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
  • Tim Holden (D-PA)
Besides the fact that all of these Congressman have a "D" after their name, all are members of the House that voted against the original health care reform bill, and they voted against the repeal bill.  If the original bill was so bad that you felt compelled to vote against it, what has changed that now makes you vote to keep the bill in place?  Doesn't seem logical to me.

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Monday, January 17, 2011


We get a lot from our parents.  Some of it good, some of it not so good.  From my father I picked up my love for sports, word games, and his enlarged prostate.  From my mother, I received her sensitivity and her propensity to worry, and boy, do I worry. I think I also picked up her habit of biting my nails.

The house is empty again tonight because we took our son back to school this morning.  Today wasn't as bad as we had anticipated.  At least it wasn't as bad as some of the previous attempts.  We had a difficult time getting him in the car, but once we did, things went fairly smoothly.

Anyway, I digress.  Back to the worrying.  When my son is away, I worry.  Not that I don't worry when he is here, I do.  However, when he is away, it brings the worrying up to a whole new level.  So far, he has had a difficult time adjusting to his new living situation.  I worry about him not eating enough or drinking enough fluids. Then I worry about him making friends and having a good time.

Those are the normal things that I think any parent of a special needs child would worry about, especially when they move away for the first time.  However, I tend to worry about other things as well.  Last year, I had a post about a book I read that dealt with the very real possibility of the US being hit by an EMP attack.  I worry about the possibility of being separated from him and not being able to get to him should any kind of disaster strikes.

I know that he is in good hands where he is at.  Still, I am a father, and he is my boy.  Anything that affects him, affect me.  I know I will never stop worrying about my son.  It would be nice to get it down to a more reasonable level.  All this worry can't be good.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Music Monday-Rich Mullins "Ready for the Storm"

Rich Mullins is probably my favorite contemporary Christian artist.  I had heard his songs from other artists and from singing in choirs when I used to go to church.  Sadly, I didn't discover him as an artist until after he passed away in an automobile accident.  To me, his life exemplifies what the Christian life should be.

This particular song is one that he did not write.  I particularly like the little story he tells as he is introducing this song.  I hope you enjoy it too. 

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Robocall Revenge

I hate phone calls that are not from family and friends. The only reason that I have a land line in my house is for those folks. I have thought about switching strictly to my cell phone, but frequently I do not get good coverage when in my house, so we keep our main phone line.

It is a real annoyance for me to have the phone ring and have it not be friend or family.  I am especially annoyed when I pick up the phone and there is a delay in the response from the caller, or worst yet, a robocall. I know I could just let it ring if I do not recognize the number on caller ID, but I just want to stop the ringing.  Besides, in the case of the robocall, I would then hear it when it went to voice mail.

Tuesday night, we had a small snow storm, and several of the local school districts had delayed openings.  The Prince Georges County school system has instituted a policy of robocalling parents to inform them of the delays.  Wednesday morning, some parents were awoken at 4:30 am robocall to inform them of the delay.

One parent, Aaron Titus, jumped out of bed to answer the call, thinking it was some sort of emergency, and wanting to make sure it did not wake up his young children.  He was unable to get back to sleep after receiving the call.  Needless to say, he was annoyed.  However, he decided to exact a bit of revenge by scheduling his own 4:30 am robocall to the school superintendent and other council members.

I particularly like this story and the man's resourcefulness.  PG County is the school district that we live in.  My wife and I have been stirred from our slumber by robocalls from the county, but not as early as 4:30am.  Still, when the phone rings at 5:30 in the morning, my immediate thought is "who the hell is calling this early in the morning, and what is wrong."

Even though my son is registered as a PG County student, since he attends school out of the county he is no longer subject to their delays.  We have since been able to get those early morning robocalls to stop.  If he were still in the county, I still would not want to get an early morning robocall informing me of a delay.  I usually get up early enough to turn on the news to get the info.  I would prefer to get the info I need that way rather than the shrill sound of an early morning phone call waking me earlier than I want. 

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tucson Memorial Service

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 10:  U.S. President B...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeI sat here this evening multitasking.  I was doing a few things on the computer while watching the memorial service in Tucson for those killed and injured in the shooting on Saturday.  By now, most of you probably know that I am not a big fan of President Obama, at least politically speaking.

Tonight I will do something I rarely do.  I thought the President did a nice job tonight.  He did a nice job personalizing each of the victim's stories.  I was glad that he addressed the media and those who immediately sought to place blame on those who are on the other edge of the political spectrum.

All in all, he delivered a positive message without taking sides.  In addition to the general tone of the speech, he delivered the fantastic news that for the first time since the shooting, Congresswoman Giffords opened her eyes.  In particular, he spoke of the youngest victim, Christina Green, and the hopes that we could live up to the youthful idealism of a child.  Would that it would be so.

Speaking of Christina, I was glad to hear that the Arizona legislature passed emergency legislation to make it a criminal offense to protest within 300 feet of the funeral when the vile Westboro Baptist Church had said they would protest at her funeral.  Thankfully, Westboro Baptist has decided against their planned protest in Arizona.  I put those individuals on the same level as the Tucson shooter. 

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Music Monday-Julian Lennon "I Don't Wanna Know"

Originally, I was going to post a different song for Music Monday, however, while looking at some one of my news sites that I frequent, I saw an article about Sean Lennon and his music.  I decided to check out some videos by Sean and his half brother Julian.  I may eventually post a Sean Lennon song, but I came across this video by Julian.  I was familiar with some of his music, but I had not heard this song before, and I really liked it.  I also thought the video was pretty funny.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tragedy in Arizona

GabrielleGiffordsI debated on whether or not to post anything regarding the senseless tragedy that resulted in the death of six people including a nine year old girl, Federal Judge John Roll, and left Arizona Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords in critical condition.  After observing comments and posts on various websites, I feel compelled to do so.

I happened to be on Facebook when I first saw the news yesterday regarding the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords in my News Feed.  I do not recall the first person who posted something about it, though it may have been Congresswoman Michele Bachmann posting her shock at the news.  I visited several different sites over the next couple of hours trying to keep up with the news.

Now, I do not mean for this to be an indictment against all of those who are to the left on the political spectrum, but I was dismayed by the things that I saw.  Every conservative commentator that I saw asked for the prayers and well wishes for Congresswoman Giffords and the other victims.  Sadly, there were those on the left who immediately began placing the blame on the shootings on people like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the TEA Party in general.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident that I have observed.  When Rush Limbaugh was hospitalized with chest pains or whenever Dick Chaney went into the hospitalized with heart problems, the left was quick to demonize and wish ill upon their health.  The same when Glenn Beck announced he had macular dystrophy and could lose his sight.

I remember when the news broke that Harry Reid's wife and daughter were involved in a serious automobile accident.  While Reid is the source of a great deal of angst and anger for conservatives, all of the conservatives commentators and politicians were quick to offer their wishes for a speedy recovery for the Reid family.   We may loathe their actions and policies, but we do not wish ill will on those we disagree with.

Conservatives, in general, believe that the children of politicians should be off limits.  They respect the Obama's wishes to leave Malia and Sasha out of political commentary.  It is a shame that the left can not show the same respect to the kids of Sarah Palin, though since Bristol has put herself out there as a commentator on teen pregnancy and "Dancing with the Stars," that makes her fair game.

I do not own a handgun.  Quite frankly they bother me.  However, I fully support the right of law abiding citizens to own a handgun.  My feeling, and I am sure the feeling of the vast majority of responsible gun owners, is that a weapon should never be pointed towards somebody unless that person has put you in immediate jeopardy of harming you.

There is no way to condone the actions of the shooter in this case.  To say that he was motivated by the current political rhetoric is irresponsible to say the least.  Rhetoric has never led me nor any sane person to take up arms and murder those we disagree with.  This person was a tormented and demented soul who likely would have acted in some sort of irrational way regardless of political rhetoric.

It is easy to try to blame his actions on the right.  I will leave it to Michelle Malkin and others to point out all of the incidents where the left had posted their issues with Congresswoman Giffords.  It has been reported that the gunman had listed Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto as among his favorite books.  Hardly the type of literature that your typical conservative would be reading.

My point is this, the left typically tries to paint conservatives as mean spirited and uncaring.  This is hardly the case.  When an incident like this occurs, conservatives are quick to offer their support and well wishes to those involved, including those they disagree with.  We do not wish continued ill will.  Some on the left however are quick to cast accusations and continued ill wishes on those they disagree with.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Image representing RepairPal as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBaseThese days, especially for me, it is vital to have a reliable automobile.  I have to spend about an hour on the road each morning and evening commuting to and from work.  On Friday and Saturday nights, I use my car to deliver fresh, hot pizza to the local folks.

It is important for me to keep my car maintained and when it needs repaired, have them done as quickly as possible.  I also can't afford to spend too much money when my car needs maintenance, whether it needs a new timing belt or a new water pump.

All too often, I have called a repair shop or been in a garage and wondered whether or not the place was charging me too much to have the work done.  Now I don't have to wonder too much, as I can get a reliable estimate on any repairs or service at  Just put in your zip code, car make and model, and the repair you need, and RepairPal gives you a reasonable estimate.

They offer a lot more than just a good estimate on your repairs for your car.  You can also see ratings and reviews of local repair shops in your area.  They also have a lot of information on most vehicles.  If you are considering buying a used Ford Expedition, you can check out reviews and ratings from other drivers, issues they have had with those vehicles, and any recall notices.

It is really quite a handy website to check out.  Plus they have mobile apps available for iPhone and Android smartphone users.  That way, if you are in a garage and think they are quoting you too much, you can check RepairPal to see if you are being ripped off.  Check them out before you go for your next car repair.

Please see my disclosure statement at the bottom of this blog page. 
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Nothing Ever Goes as Planned

Middle-earImage via WikipediaAs is usually the case, things don't always go as planned.  I woke up this morning feeling a little under the weather, so I decided to take the day off to get a little extra rest.  I woke up around 10am to start burning some DVDs to take out to my son at school when we took his medications and DVD player to him.

Unfortunately, shortly before 2pm, we received a call from the school saying that our son was in the infirmary with a fever, and they thought he might have an ear infection.  We called our doctor to see if we could get an antibiotic prescribed, but they would not call in a prescription without seeing our son. So we scheduled an appointment with our doctor for Saturday morning, and we headed out to the school to pick up our son after only five days of being back at school. 

We walked into the infirmary and saw him lying in bed underneath a blanket.  As soon as he saw us, he perked right up and asked us how many points he earned for being in the infirmary.  My son loves earning points for any time he does anything like go to school.  Then he proceeded to tell me which bridges we would cross on our way back to our house from the Eastern Short back to Bowie.

Monday, we had a terrible time taking him back to school.  He is now home again after only four days back at school when he was scheduled to be there for five weeks.  Granted, he is sick this time, and he needs to see his doctor, but it doesn't make it any easier.  Depending on how he feels, I hope we will be able to take him back to the dorm on Sunday.  If not Sunday, then it will probably be Monday.  Either way, I expect another difficult day.  Wish us luck.
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My New Phone

My Droid IncredibleImage by kjarrett via FlickrBack in November, I received a notice from my wireless phone provider informing me that I was able to upgrade my phone to a newer model.  For the past two years, I had been using a BlackBerry Storm.  I had been fairly happy with the BlackBerry, but there were a few things that had started to bother me about it. 

First, there were a lot of things that I had not been able to do with the BlackBerry browser.  There were a number of websites that I could not access with it, especially some of the paid review sites I had been using that required quick responses to some notifications that I received via email.  A second issue, and an even more important one was that I was having a lot of issues with the memory in my phone.  Frequently, the memory usage of the phone would bog down the whole system and I would have to remove the battery to reset the phone.  It was becoming a major hassle.

I had been debating on whether or not to stick with the BlackBerry format or to switch to a Droid phone.  The more I began to research the differences, the more I began to lean towards a Droid.  Even though I was eligible to upgrade my phone, I thought that I would have to wait until I received either a tax refund or hopefully a bonus from my employer in March.  Thankfully, I woke up one Sunday morning in early December and had received an email from Best Buy informing me that they were having a smartphone sale and that I could upgrade to a HTC Droid Incredible with my current service provide at no cost to me other than extending my contract for two years.

Now, I am all about saving money whenever I can.  Had it not been for the sale, I was looking at having to put out $250-$300 to upgrade my phone.  Needless to say, I jumped all over the free phone.  I have had the new phone for about a month now, and I have to say, that I am quite happy with it's performance.  I no longer have the issues that I was having with the Storm.  I have been able to visit quite a few sites that I was unable to visit on the BlackBerry, and there has been no bogging down of the phone due to running out of memory. 

About the only complaint that I have with the phone is the sensitivity of the touch screen when I am scrolling through my contacts.  There have been several times when I have inadvertently dialed a number by mistake.  Once, I removed my phone from my belt holster to put it on the charger.  After attaching the charger, I noticed that I had accidentally dialed my parents house.  It was almost midnight, and they are usually in bed fairly early.  I hope I was able to disconnect the call before it rang on their end.  Another time, I had my phone in my hand as I was walking through a store.  When I looked at the screen, I had inadvertently activated the camera and had taken three pictures.

All in all, though, I am very happy with the phone.  I hope that the few issues that I have had thus far are just a case of me getting used to the new device.  The only other concern I have is that the Incredible, like the Storm, only has a virtual keyboard.  Once with the Storm the screen shorted out and I was unable to view anything on the screen.  I could only receive calls and place voice activated dialing, which did not work very well.  I do have to say that the virtual keyboard on the Incredible is much more responsive, at least to me, than on the Storm, so hopefully it will hold up better.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Tough Day

Monday was an unbelievably draining day.  As I mentioned on Sunday, we were set to take our son back to live at his school on the Eastern Shore.  All day Sunday, he kept telling me, "no school tomorrow, Daddy."  At one point, he said to me, "Daddy has to go to work tomorrow."

His, "Daddy has to go to work tomorrow" comment gave my wife a pretty good idea on how to approach taking him back to school.  She thought it would tip him off if I stayed home from work on a Monday, and that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to get him in the car to head out to school.

So, Monday morning, I headed out to run some errands.  My first stop was to take my car to Jiffy Lube for an oil change.  The next stop was to head to the local shopping center to hang out until my wife was ready to venture out.  She took him for a haircut and then to the mall.  They would go to Barnes & Noble and I would follow them when they went to the car.

It worked like clockwork.  They left Barnes & Noble and headed back to get him in the car, while I walked several feet behind him.  Surprisingly, she was able to get him in the back seat of the car.  He usually sits in front.  With his seat belt on and the child safety locks in place, we headed out to school.

The drive out was fairly uneventful.  There were a few exclamations from him about not wanting to go to school, but for the most part, he sat quietly in the back listening to music.  After we got across the Bay Bridge, he started to protest more loudly that he wanted to go home.  That was intermixed with comments about one of his classmates that he dances with at the school socials.

We got to the school just before 1pm, and that is when the fireworks started.  As soon as we parked the car and opened the door on his side of the car, he wedged himself between the front and back seat on the floor.  This was not one of his run of the mill tantrums.   

As I attempted to coax our son from the car, my wife took his things to his dorm room.  Usually when my son is dropping to the ground, or in this case the floor of the car, that is all he does.  Today there were tears and a look that seemed to be a mix of fear and betrayal.  Needless to say, it tore me up, and tears started to form in my own eyes.

Some of the residential staff came out to try to assist in getting him from the car.  One went back to try to get one of the teachers from his classroom.  One of the teaching assistants came out to try to help.  All told, it took over an hour to get him out of the car, and it took a couple of the male staff to physically remove him from the car.

Once out of the car, he continued to lie on the ground, crying.  It was at this point that his primary teacher showed up.  She was the only person that he responded well to, and he proceeded to stand up and walk into the dorm area with her.  As we pulled away, we saw him walking with his teacher and the aide towards the school building.

We have to go back out to the school next weekend to take him some medications after we get them refilled.  I do not think we are able to go out there for a visit yet.  I think my wife and I have made up our minds to take his portable DVD player out to him so he will have another thing from home to make his transition a little more comfortable.

I am really hoping that he can make it through the next five weeks before his next break.  Having him home for three weeks over Christmas instead of the scheduled 10 days, made today a lot more difficult, at least in my opinion.  So far, he has only been away for two weeks.  These folks are supposed to be the experts in helping these kids to adjust.  As much as I miss him, I really hope they can help him make it through the full five weeks he is to be there.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Music Monday-Tim McGraw "Felt Good on My Lips"

There have been a lot of Tim McGraw songs that I have liked. The past couple of years I could take it or leave it in regards to his music. Some of it I liked, and some of it I pretty much thought "ho-hum."  That being said, I really like his latest effort "Felt Good on My Lips." It has a nice beat, some catchy lyrics, and generally makes me feel good.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Holidays are Officially Over

Transparent version of Image:Nintendo DS Lite ...Image via WikipediaToday is the official last day of the holiday season.  Tomorrow, the work place will return to normal.  For me, that means no holidays until President's Day in February.  We actually have a choice between Martin Luther King's Birthday or President's Day, but to me, King's Birthday is just too close to the New Year holiday.  After President's Day, the next official holiday that my office has off is Memorial Day in May.  It is just another reason for me to pick President's Day as my flex holiday.

In addition to the work place returning to normal, it is also the day that kids return to school.  For most parents, that is a day of relief, but for me it is a day of dread.  I have documented on this blog some of the challenges that my wife and I have faced in the transition of our son to a residential education program.  The two most recent examples of which can be found here and here

Originally, my son was supposed to come home for the Christmas break on December 23rd.  Due to a particularly bad weekend, the head of the program decided to send a few kids home early.  Instead of being home for a 10 day Christmas break, he was home for a full three weeks.  While it was great to have him home, it is just going to make it that much harder to get him to return to school tomorrow morning.  In essence, the whole process has to begin again.

Since the day we brought him home for his early Christmas break, he has been telling us "no school tomorrow."  It is his way of telling us he doesn't want us he doesn't want to go to school.  Part of the problem for him is that he doesn't get to do a lot of the things he likes to do at home.  They requested that we not leave anything of value at the school.  Consequently he doesn't have his computer, DVD player, or video games.  The only thing he has from home is a portable CD player.

He keeps his CD player with him constantly.  It is one of the things that gives him a great deal of pleasure.  When we picked him up three weeks ago, the batteries in his CD player were dead.  We had left a large quantity of batteries with the school for him because we know how much of them he uses.  Unfortunately, the batteries were kept locked up in the residential director's office, and nobody had access to get him fresh batteries.  It made me wonder how long the batteries had been dead and if that contributed to his behavior issues.

I understand the decision to want to keep the batteries in a place where they would be safe.  I do not understand them putting them in a place where nobody else in authority would be able to get them for my son.  I also understand the school not wanting us to leave anything of great value at the school.  We have been very hesitant to let him keep his Nintendo DS or his portable DVD player at school.  Though I do have to wonder if his transition would be easier if he had one or both of those things.

The dorm area seems to be the area where he has the most difficulty.  When in class, the majority of the reports that we get are positive.  They do have some after class activities that he enjoys.  They have weekly socials with music and dancing that he really enjoys.  On the night before he left, they had a karaoke party that he had a great time at.  In fact, he told me he danced with one girl in his class.  He has mentioned her a couple times since he has been home, but he still doesn't seem to like or miss her enough to go back to school.

I am still torn on whether or not we should let him take his DVD player to school.  The dorms have one television that all of the residents use.  Aside from when they put a sporting event on the television, I do not think he ever gets to watch any of the things he likes when he is home.  Things like Wheel of Fortune, Maya & Miguel, and of all things, believe it or not, infomercials.  He has DVDs that I have made for him of all of those things.  Having those to watch in the dorm might help him while he is there, but I would also hate for anything to happen to the DVD player while there.  What would you do?

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Saturday, January 1, 2011


Bowl Championship SeriesImage via WikipediaI am not sure why I chose today's date as the title for this post other than I just like the way it looks. 

January 1st used to be a pretty big deal for me years ago.  Not because it symbolized a new beginning of the year or because it was a time to start working on all those New Year's resolutions.  No, it was a big deal because it was the day that all of the major college bowl games would be played.  At the end of the day, the arguments would begin about which team is #1, and the college football season would be over.

Call me a traditionalist, but the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) has ruined today for me.  Sure, there are still six bowl games being played today, and if I wanted to, I could watch college football from noon until midnight.  Now thanks, to the BCS, the championship game will be drawn out until January 10th.  Plus there is a string of minor bowl games between today and the championship game.  I mean really, the Birmingham Bowl and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl?

The goal for college teams was to play in a major bowl game on January 1st.  The closer to January 1st, the more successful you could consider your season.  The Birmingham Bowl features two very mediocre teams; Pittsburgh (7-5) and Kentucky (6-6).  This is a game that should have been played in mid-December, not January.  Some of the other games between today and the championship game feature equally exciting match ups.

The old system of the traditional bowl games and the polls to determine the national championship was far from perfect, but for some reason, I liked it.  There are not a whole lot of folks that have anything good to say about the current BCS system.  With games scheduled now until January 10th, I don't think they can use the argument of how a playoff system would draw out the season.  A playoff, at the very least, would eliminate meaningless games like the Birmingham Bowl in January. 
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