5 April, 2012 11:05 Thursday, Apr 5 2012 

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This is the beret made fer Hannah if she approves. If she would like darker Wednesday, Feb 1 2012 

This is the beret made fer Hannah if she approves. If she would like darker colors let me know. Flying Apple

23 January, 2012 21:08 Monday, Jan 23 2012 

Nuff said

I am an answer to Wednesday, Dec 14 2011 

I am an answer to a question that no one asked.

Review: What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know Saturday, Sep 11 2010 

What My Girlfriend Doesn't KnowWhat My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Until two days ago, I had never heard of a novel written in verse. I picked this up to use in a sample unit plan for one of my English Education classes fully expecting to at least appreciate and hopefully like it. I was blown away by not only how well the story was told, but by the story as well. Amazed would not be too strong a word at all.

It didn’t hurt that I identified with Robin Murphy at all, of course. I graduated from high school in 1991. Up until recently, geeks were the social pariahs of my high school. My son has followed in my footsteps, but has a huge clique of friend. I didn’t have that until my senior year. Like Robin, I was mocked in school pretty much all my life. First I was gawky, then I was fat, then I lost the weight, but was just too much of a geek to fit in. Once I graduated and started college, I found myself in much the same situation of finally fitting in. Due to circumstances mostly under my control, I left college and only recently returned. That feeling of being among friends and peers is still very much a part of what I love about it.

Now that my credentials are in order, I must say that Sonya Sones picked up the feelings that I felt in high school with 100% accuracy. Even when I had a girlfriend, things never went right. I didn’t handle the mocking as well as he did, and the girls didn’t either in a couple of cases. I loved Robin’s reaction to temptation. It was very realistic and matched what I think most anyone might do in his situation.

I am a 38-year-old man (or, as Robin would say, 38 and 5/6) who likes getting emotionally invested in the books I read. I found myself alternately angry, cheering, smiling, and even crying (a lot) while reading this book. In fact, my greatest moment of rage and disappointment came when I reached the last page. I turned back and forth twice to make sure I hadn’t skipped a page. I didn’t want it to end.

Alas, all good reads must end, and this was a very good read.

View all my reviews

The Most Amazing Week Ever! Friday, Aug 27 2010 

Listening to: Sex Bob-Omb – Threshold – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I have a knee condition called patella alta.  In the picture on the right, A is normal and B is me.  A good bit of the

cartilage in my knees are gone.  This causes some awkwardness when I walk.  Due to this, my hips and ankles hurt quite a bit as well.

I gradually dropped a lot of my normal activities over the years.  I took a desk job that I hated.  Sitting at a desk for most of a decade allowed my legs to get even worse over time until I was having cortisone shots in my left hip and taking hydrocodone about once or twice a month when some twist on a step or a long shift at my desk caused a flare-up.

For the last year and a half, I have been back at school completing my teaching degree.  This has required a lot of walking, which has gradually started loosening me up and, according to the doctor, smoothing out the jagged spots in my knee.  It seems that low-impact movement performed for extended periods of time (i.e. stationary bike, treadmill, and light walking) can be beneficial for my condition.

I can’t grow the cartilage back, but the rubbing of the patella (knee cap) against the leg bones essentially sands the troublesome jagged bits down.  Not a pleasant visual, I’ll grant you, but the upshot is that I have more mobility than I have had in ages.

So, I decided to put it to the test last Saturday.  My son and daughter did something that I have not attempted in about 15 years.  We hiked the 1 mile trail up Kennesaw Mountain.  My daughter is nine, so I don’t think she fully understands my problems since I don’t talk about it much.  She ran ahead on the trail and sat down at each rest point to wait for her old dad.  Mocking little imp.  My son kept pace with me. He is fourteen and has understood about my condition for a long time.

We set out and made it .2 miles up before I had to sit down for a pain pill.  I limited myself to one so that I would not get swimmy in the head.  I wanted to have my wits about me.  The experience was worth a small amount of suffering.  I slowed pace a bit on a straight to explain what we were doing on the mountain.

“Remember what I always tell you?  Never tell me that you can’t do something.  You can do anything you set your mind to.  Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.  I have not been up this mountain since before either of you were born.  I am going to walk the whole mile.  It will be one of the most difficult things I have accomplished in recent years, but it will be worth it if it proves my point to you.”

With those words, I had sealed my doom.  I couldn’t back out or my words would be s hollow as my fool head.  That, of course, was half the point of the speech.  It was half for them and half for me.  I used my cane pretty much the entire way and we rested a lot.  Water was imbibed, small boulder climbing was done (by the kids), and much fun was had.

We eventually reached the Georgia Overlook and gun embankment.  I sat down for a while and smiled.  I had accomplished something.  It might not have been grandiose, but it was a start.  My legs hurt, but there was more muscle burn than joint pain.  The pain was there, but it was not as prevalent as normal.

Our spirits did not drop when we realized that there was not transportation back down.  We simply walked back down the mountain road, which is a much easier way than the hiking trail.  On the way down we made note of especially beautiful flowers and berry bushes.  On the road ahead were a doe and her fawn.  We slowed and approached in a non-threatening posture.  The mother spotted us and leapt up the hill.  Her child tagged along behind.  At the top, the mother continued on into the woods, but the baby stayed.

We stood at the base of the embankment looking up at the fawn, who munched the occasional leaf and peered backward over his shoulder as if to say, “Hey.  ‘Sup?”  My daughter edged right up the edge, where I told her to stop, not just for her safety from the steepish climb and the deer’s hooves, but from the poison ivy on the embankment.  The baby played its little game (bite, tug, glance, “‘Sup?”, much) for about two or three minutes.  Finally it realized mom was gone and ambled along after her, still chewing on that last leaf the whole way.  It was the perfect end to the excursion.

We went back home and met up with some friends.  We worked our characters for the Dresden Files RPG that a friend is about to start.  Much fun was had then and the next day when a friend dropped by unexpectedly from out-of-town to drop off a food container we had let him borrow.  He stayed for supper and we played The Pillars of the Earth and Small World. A pleasant surprise, as he is one of our favorite gaming people.

This week was stressful.  I am taking five classes this semester.  A fairly hefty load, at least for me.  I have taken three or four at most before this, but I am trying to graduate Spring 2012.  It has been a good, but worrisome couple of weeks as I try to figure out my due dates and the work I am going to have to put in to get my customary A’s and B’s.

There is an Amtgard group, Shire of Iron Springs, that meets several times a week on the campus green to beat the crap out of each other with boffer swords, polearms, daggers, etc.  While many LARP (Live Action Role-Play) activities are “lightest touch,” these guys go for the gusto, which I appreciate.  Besides, check the pic from the site.  Any LARPer who wears a Green Lantern t-shirt is all right in my book.

So, in the spirit of getting back in shape and trying my legs out, I joined in today.  I played for about 45 minutes before class and about an hour afterward.  It was fun and exhausting, but just what I needed.  I was amazed that my legs were not giving me any trouble.  Some pinches, but nothing too serious.

Then I drove home.  I tried to get out of the car when my knees and hips registered a complaint.  I could almost hear them shout, “Sit back DOWN!”  I, not having any desire to crack my skull on the car frame by falling back into the driver’s seat, spread my arms and stopped my backward descent.  I asserted my inner stubborn mule, which my mother passed onto me, and pushed myself up with my arms.

I have to say, it hurt.  It hurt a lot.  I walked to the front door like I needed a walker.  I was glad it was dark, because I looked sad and pathetic.  I came in, stripped out of my sweaty clothes, and flopped down on the bed.  I refused any pain pills.  I don’t like to take them and I avoid it except in cases, like the Kennesaw Mountain ascent, where they are absolutely necessary.

All in all, I am glad I have taken these steps toward better health.  Sitting here in the bed, I am pretty sure that 75% of the aches and pains are the direct result of muscle tissue damage of the sort I expect after a workout, and boffer fighting is a workout just as much as basketball or soccer.  The other 25% is mostly in my hip.

I am guessing that sitting in the bed with a laptop in my lap isn’t the best thing to do, but I had to get this down.  I am well over 50% joyful for the first time in a while.  I might even hazard a guess that I am hovering a bit over 85-90% joy, as measured on the Snoopy Index.  As a note of interest, I have found that at 100%, I tend to do the Snoopy Dance of Joy™, which is a sight to behold, indeed.

*****************************************************

When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you ’till it seems as if you couldn’t hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that’s just the place and time that the tide’ll turn.”

~ Mr. Avery – Old Town Folks by Harriet Beecher Stowe

What’s Wrong With Me? Friday, Jul 30 2010 

Listening to: The Guild – (Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar (feat. Felicia Day)

I have not written word one that wasn’t required for school, posted to Twitter/Facebook, or posted here in several months.  Before Mom died, it was understandable.  I was busy with Mom, school, the kids, looking for some sort of work, etc.  Well now that Mom has passed, my school is out for a few weeks, my children are returning to school, and I have given the job thing a rest at my wife’s request so that I can increase my class load, it seems that I should have plenty of time to write.  Unfortunately, it isn’t turning out that way.

Since Mom died, I have been in this state of depression that I can’t get out of.  My wife thought it was because I miss Mom, but I had a talk with her the other night and I think I know what’s wrong.  My stress levels have been so high this last year that I have been on constant alert.  Here was an example of my schedule as of a couple months ago:

  • 10am – Fix Mom’s breakfast, which consisted of the food of the day, one cup of coffee with a blop of milk and one and a half teaspoons of sugar, a cup of juice, and her pills.
  • 11am-1pm – Work on homework until 1:30pm.
  • 1pm-2pm – Either fix Mom’s lunch or go to school depending on what day it was.  One of the older children fixed lunch when I had to go to school.
  • 2pm-5:30pm – If not at school, I worked on homework, ran errands, or did other assorted chores.  Take care of whatever Mom needed in between.
  • 5:30pm-6:30pm – If not at school, fix supper.  My wife took care of supper otherwise.
  • 6:30pm-8pm – Relax a bit unless still at school.
  • 8pm-10pm – Drive home from school or work with my wife on anything else that needed to be done, including anything Mom needed.
  • 10pm – Mom’s bedtime meds.
  • After that, it was free time until sleep.

The last week she was alive, the stress levels amped up to eleven.  After the funeral and the main aftermath, my classes started back and the children were out of school.  Plenty to do.  Then classes ended this week.  Suddenly, my schedule is open with nothing to keep my attention.  The routine that I followed with minor tweaks to account for Mom’s or the children’s needs was destroyed.  I have kept to a schedule for three years and not I have copious amounts of free time.

I have come to the conclusion that it is not Mom’s death.  Considering the pain she was in at the end, I consider it a blessing that she went when she did.  I miss her, but she is better off this way.

I think my main problem is that I have never handled drastic change well.  When I got divorced, I fell apart.  Ask anyone who was around at the time.  I was a total mess.  It wasn’t that I wanted my ex-wife back.  I didn’t.  An ex is an ex for a reason.  Or in our case, a multitude of reasons.  I fell apart because my life no longer made sense.  I was alone for the first time in my life.  I missed the hell out of my children.  They were a part of my life since the day they were born and suddenly I had to share them.  I lost my house.  I was laid off from my job.  My car was totaled.  All this happened over the space of a few months.  Yeah, I was a mess.

I am nowhere near that now, but the feeling is similar.  It’s like the difference between having a chocolate bar or a fudge brownie with chocolate chips, a scoop of chocolate-chocolate chip ice cream on top drenched in hot fudge.  It’s all chocolate, but there is a difference in magnitude.  My current depression still has that flavor of huge-life-changiness to it, but it is not heaped up in the bowl.

It just sucks a lot.

*****************************************************

“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching — they are your family.”

~ Harry Dresden – Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

What’s This in the Mail? Thursday, Jul 22 2010 

Listening to: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Even the Losers

Well, apparently I “represent the best of” the Kennesaw State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences.  I just received a letter that I made the Dean’s List for Spring 2010.  My Mom would have been proud.  I pulled that off during a semester where I was financially beaten, was providing my mother with her day-to-day care in the last months of her life, and working through some tough classes.

Mom lived long enough to see my grades at the end of the semester in May and that is enough.  Still I wish she could see how far I have come.  I owe it all to her and my wife for teaming up to talk me into going back in the first place.  In two short years, I should have my teaching certificate.  Starting my first year of teaching at the age of 40 is going to be interesting.  I am also hoping to continue on to get my Master’s and Doctorate.

This is my barbaric yawp of the day: w00t!  I MADE THE DEAN’S LIST!

Yeah, that felt good.  It wasn’t especially barbaric, since it had actual words and all, but I think Whitman would understand.

*****************************************************

“O while I live to be the ruler of life, not a slave,
To meet life as a powerful conqueror,
No fumes, no ennui, no more complaints or scornful criticisms,
To these proud laws of the air, the water and the ground, proving
my interior soul impregnable,
And nothing exterior shall ever take command of me.”

~ Walt Whitman

Resistance is Futile. You will be Assimilated. Thursday, Jul 1 2010 

Listening to: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – The Waiting


AppleLogo

I’ve never been much of a Mac guy until today.  I swapped out my wife’s defective iPod Touch at the Apple store today since the touch screen would intermittently stop functioning.  I walked in and played with the iPad, some laptops, and some desktop models.  Afterward, I approached the counter where a guy checked me into the queue with his iPad.  I played around with an iPad for maybe three minutes before the guy called me back.

apple-ipad-tablet-ebook-420x0 The tech looked at the iPod, deemed it non-functional, and went tot he back of the store.  I figured he would fill out some paperwork, send the iPod off, and call me back (if I was lucky) when the replacement arrived.  I barely had time to text my wife that they were replacing her unit when the guy came back, had me sign and initial a form.   Then he handed me her new iPod Touch and kindly sent me on my way.

I was more than a little boggled.  I spent about a decade in tech support before this and speedy service like that is almost nonexistent.  I came home, set up the new iPod, and told the wife that I wanted to get some Macs at the next upgrade phase.  I am already getting an iPad when I finish my Bachelor’s degree (and aquire the teaching job that will hopefully stem from it), so it’s not much of a stretch.

imovie_main Still, I have been a die-hard Windows guy all my life.  This semester my work has been highly tech-dependent and Windows has let me down far too many times to count.  Windows Movie Maker alone has caused me more grief than I can take.  I played with iMovie today and almost wept bitterly for want of its shiny goodness.  God in heaven, it is slick.

So, I may need to get together some money and pick up a small mini lappy soon.  I just don’t know.  I have hardly been in possession of my current mini lappy a year.  It’s not quite time to upgrade yet.  Alas, it’s not even close to time.  My inner Veruca is in full-on whine mode, though.

veruca_salt

“I want it now!!!”

Going Out With My Honey Sunday, Jun 13 2010 

Listening to: Gary Ray and the Heartwells – Mississippi Streets & Smile


One of the things that my wife and I have not done in a while is go out to a concert.  We have been out on occasion, but it was on rare, carefully planned dating excursions to non-remote locales.  This mostly had to do with the responsibilities involved with taking care of Mom.  I went out to run errands once while my wife was at her office, leaving our then eighteen-year-old daughter to watch Mom for about an hour.  I was about fifteen minutes from the house when Mom’s blood-pressure plummeted and she passed out.  I then received a panicked phone call and I flew back home.

So tonight, I decided that I needed to get out and throw off this funk I have been in for the last three weeks.  I am part of the street team for a local (soon to be world-famous, if I have anything to say about it) band, Gary Ray and the Heartwells.  Since I don’t get out much, most of my work has been pimping them on the web.  A task I must admit I am pretty good at.  There was a street team contest at Reverbnation and I won it by generating the most interest from my various posts,  The prize was an autographed copy of their latest CD, “Livin’ the Dream.”

I have been a fan of Gary’s from his solo days.  I have everything he has ever released, from his days with the rock band Obsession Day to his current band, The Heartwells.  His music has heart and it’s fun, so I love it.  Plus, he’s just a great guy from the few occasions I have had the chance to speak with him.  A lot of artists disappoint you by being jackasses and he honestly likes his fans, which is a valuable trait that I hope he keeps when he hits it big.

So I emailed him back the other day to let him know that I’d be at the show tonight so he could save the shipping of sending the CD to me.  My wife and I saddled up and headed off to Kramer’s in Atlanta for the show.  No cover was an added bonus, but I had cash, so I bought an extra couple of CDs for some friends who wanted a copy but were unable to go.

While I was chatting with Gary, I mentioned two of my favorite songs.  “Smile” is pretty much a universal favorite in my household.  My wife and I love it and I am pretty sure most, if not all, the kids have it on their iPods as well.  It is a song from his solo days and he said he hadn’t played it in a while, but he would give it a try.  The other song was “Mississippi Streets.”  He plays this song using a glass bottle as a slide for his guitar.  Love that song and it is on their latest album, so it was part of the set they were going to play anyway.

The show kicked off and they mixed their own song with some outstanding covers of such songs and “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Copperhead Road.”  When he got to “Smile” he dropped my name as one of his top street team members, so I have some street cred right there.  That’s right, y’all.  I rule.  Don’t forget it.  The song went fine until he started the second verse.  Remember that this is an old song of his from before he formed the band.  I was impressed that they were able to pull it off since I have never heard them play it at all.

Gary looked down off the stage and said, “Ok, you’re gonna have to help me here.  How does it start?”

“I’m headed down I-65!” I shouted.

“Right!” he said and lit right into it.  Mucho street cred for me once again.

So Gary, sorry for requesting such a blast from the past, but I just friggin’ LOVE that song.

After that, he played “Mississippi Streets” and rocked the asses off everyone there.  We stayed until they took a break, a little after midnight, listening to and singing along with the music, watching drunk people dancing, and just having a great time.  I wished the guys a good show and went on home since the A/C in the place was  overpowered by the dancing bodies and the humid June evening.

I know this had nothing to do with writing, which this blog is ostensibly about, but since Mom started to go downhill, I haven’t written anything of note that wasn’t either required by school or a post here.  Part of being me is the therapy I have to go through before I can start back again.  I may as well bring this blog along for the ride, if only so I can have some documentation of these days for future reminiscence.

Thanks for listening.

Well… reading.

You get the idea.

Thanks.

*****************************************************

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.”

~ Truman Capote

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