Friday, December 29, 2006

The Gap Widens?

I was reading "The Gap Widens" today and getting more and more frustrated. The article talks about the AFC dominance of the NFC. However, the same thing can be said for baseball. The AL has been dominating the NL for years. Interleague play is extremely one sided and the all Star game has been won by the AL, having only lost twice since 1988, there was the infamous tie in 2002. But during the same timespan the world series only has the AL winning 11 of 18. A majority, but nowhere near the dominance shown in the all-star game. That's because the world series, is a series, played by teams at the end of the season. Football like baseball has really 2 seasons. First you have to get into the playoffs. That can be as ugly as possible, it doesn't even matter if you have a losing record, if you aren't in the playoffs you have no chance to win. Then you get a fresh start. When the playoffs roll around next weekend all of the teams have no wins and no losses. It's time to start over, and only those that can put together a 4 game season will win. The world series in baseball keeps getting won by the wild card. Last year broke a streak by having a division winner win the world series. It was the division winner with the worst record and the one that backed into the playoffs by narrowly squeaking past Cincinnati. It only takes 4 games. An undefeated team can be out just as fast as one that's 8-8, remember the Indianapolis Colts last year?

And to quote:
With their run defense a shambles, and the Colts losing all three of their division road games -- at Tennessee, at Jacksonville and at Houston -- all the hand-wringing in Indianapolis is well-founded.

But it is possible we're all over-dramatizing the state of affairs for Tony Dungy's team, which lost on a last-second 60-yard field goal at Tennessee and a 48-yarder at Houston. The Colts, in other words, were dangerously close to being 13-2 and entering Week 17 in possession of the AFC's No. 1 seed, based on a better conference record than San Diego.

Just a reminder that sometimes when it seems like the sky is falling, it's actually a case of low-level clouds.

Just a few paragraphs before he talks about the Bears

Top-seeded Chicago struggled to beat lightweights Tampa Bay and Detroit (six wins between them) the past two weeks, and is considered a good bet to be the least regarded 14-2 team in league history.

Does anyone else find it strange how the Bears who did happen to win when struggling are considered a poor team, while the Colts are considered a good team that was just unlucky.

The real difference between the two teams is that the Bears are a defensive team that has won with defense, while the Colts are an offensive team that has not been able to keep up with the points their defense gives up. Even in the Colts big wins, they give up lots of points. I'd much rather have a strong defense that can keep the game in reach of my offense, or for themselves, as they did with the Arizona Cardinals game.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Music soothes the savage beast

Jonas was sitting around playing guitar tonight and Jaden either exhausted and ready for bed, or just enjoying the music, started taking his shirt off. Not that I encourage my kids stripping to music, but it was cute.

Still working on the floor

As you can see, we're not done yet. We are still scrubbing some paint from the floor. It looks nice after we put a lot of work into it and it will be done soon. About the only other thing to do is move the kids in and get curtains. Oh yeah, and put up the electrical outlets. Here's a before and after picture of the floor. You don't see me on my hands and knees scrubbing though.

Remodel update Finally

Ok, I've been slacking on posting this because I'm still working on it, but the room is getting close.

Here are some pics to whet your appetite.

Make every home a battery.

I was reading an article titled "Wind energy turns out to have a complication: reliability" It states that the biggest problem with wind is that it doesn't blow when it's needed most. The biggest strain on the energy grid is hot summer days when everyone is running their air conditioners. Of course it's these same days that the wind doesn't blow. The article goes on to suggest a few alternatives none of which are very good. We could create Hydrogen, a clean way to create Hydrogen, is a plus and if there is any surplus green energy, it should be used to create hydrogen, but we are not at that point. Another alternative is pumping air into underground chambers to help power natural gas plants, and turning off Hydro electric plants to allow the hydro power to be used when the wind is not blowing.

My opinion is that they are thinking on the wrong scale. Don't worry about making the central grid more powerful, worry about making the end user more self reliant. We already have Heaters, air conditioners, and water heaters at every house. Why not add a battery pack? Let's make every house self sufficient for 2 or 3 days. A power outage is only a problem because people cannot keep their house heated. The giant storms that have moved through this winter would be almost nothing if the houses all still had the ability to power themselves for a few days.

Then the purpose of the central power grid is to recharge a houses battery. If a battery is dead the house will use power from the grid for the house, then at night the battery can recharge. I'm not talking about giving every house a generator. I'm talking about a battery. The same way that a Prius can be used to power a house, a batter could be used to power a house.

When every house has it's own battery, then solar power can be used to recharge the battery without needing power from the grid. If the battery is fully charged then the house can get power from the grid.

Can you imagine it? No more brown outs. No more blackouts.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Christmas response to remember

Things heard around the house this Christmas. Cool, sweet. All right. That's the one I wanted. This is awesome. I love it.

But if you were Jonas you only had one response. Nice. Sometimes it was short and sweet. nice. Sometimes it was drawn out with lots of attitude. Niiiccceee!!! I thought maybe there was one present he wasn't going to say it for, as he was about to open his last present at the house he said, "can you hand me my present that's shaped like a guitar?" That's when all the suspense and drama I'd been building up for the big present went out of me. I deflated pfbtpfbtpfbtpfbtpfbt.

Then he opened it, "and it is a guitar. nice."

That summed it up for Jonas this Christmas. Nice.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Chrismas season is over

We've opened all of our presents, and undecorated the house. Now it's time to move on. Christmas takes up a big part of peoples lives. We did most of our shopping before Thanksgiving, which means that for close to two months we have had Christmas on our mind. Now it's at least mostly off our mind. No more presents to open, no more decorations or music on the entertainment center. We do still have to deal with the piles and piles of gifts that aren't all opened and put away or together yet, but mostly Christmas is done.

And good. I love Christmas, but the amount of work that we do for the holiday sometimes seems like overkill. Get a tree, decorate it, buy gifts, wrap them, put up lights, make cards and send them (ok, I secretly love doing this because it's another way to say hello to everyone), and have a big party (which is also awesome). But today is the 26th, and we have our tree taken down and the decorations put away. Not that I'm a scrooge. I love the season, maybe it could just be easier in some ways.

I guess I shouldn't complain too much. Christmas was awesome. I had a great time with the family. My cousins Brian, Michael, and Edward came. I got to see some of my 2nd cousins. Football was on. The food was good. Gifts were great. The kids got some amazing things.

My brother went way above the call of duty and got the kids a VSmile video gaming system. This was something that I was completely against for a long time. I didn't want my kids to grow up playing video games, I want them to play with real toys, physcial objects. Things that they have to use their imagination for and things that they have to move to interact with. Basically, I wanted them to grow up like I did. I didn't get a video game system until I was in Junior High, but my parents did have an Atari, and a Collecovisoin prior to that, so I had games to play from a fairly young age. And some games require more imagination than physical toys do. Blocks can only stack. Many different things can be made, but they still just stack. But a video game helps develop problem solving skills. Imagination is used to jump into or onto new things just to see what will happen. Hand eye coordination is developed in order to conquer the newest challenge. Video games aren't all bad. Now we'll never tell the kids to stop cleaning their room and go play the video games (like they do in the commercial), but I think they will be excited.

Ady also got a little laptop that will help her to work on her letter recognition and get into spelling words. My favorite gifts to give were the Baseball gloves that I gave to both Jonas and Ady. The guitar that we gave to Jonas and the Soccer ball we gave to Ady, and the Lauri Berkner CD we gave to Jaden. Clearly I want the kids up and moving around. We even took a trip outside today to play catch. I have a lot of work to do to get the kids to catch.

All in all, Christmas was great. Thank to all of my family and friends for making it that way. I hope your Christmas was as enjoyable as mine.

Friday, December 22, 2006

End of year coming soon

It's almost time for the new year. Take this time to enjoy your family get togethers. Take the time to also review how the year went for you. Sit down and review your goals. Did you meet them? Did you add anything new. Did you get sidetracked from something that you really wanted to do? If you didn't write down any goals for this year prepare to write them down and commit to them for next year. It's ok if you don't accomplish everything you would like. Just having something in mind to accomplish is enough to get you moving forward.

Set your goals and your plans for next year. What do you want to try to accomplish? Are you planning a vacation?

I love this time of year. I enjoy reflecting on my successes and failures, as well as setting goals for the new year. The next week, the last week of the year, is usually my favorite.

Christmas is coming

It's just about time for Christmas. And beyond the gifts that are a tradition, Christmas time means so much more to me. It's a time when I get to be with family that I rarely see. Cousins and second cousins show up for a gathering. Not as many as there were when I was younger, but some of them still come. Christmas is also a time for remembering. My favorite Aunt died on December 26th several years ago and I still remember her very well. I don't sit around and cry about it, but I use Christmas to reflect on the good times that I had with her.

The gifts are purchased, the plans are made. Everything seems to be ready....

Why is Jaden sick?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Boys room remodel

Well, it's almost done. I'll get a picture up soon. But the boys room is almost done.

It's painted, the carpet's been ripped out, revealing a nice wooden floor, with only a few patch spots. And the trim is done.

The only thing left before moving in furniture is to scrub the paint droppings from the floor. The room must have been painted just before putting carpet on, so now I'm having to scrub off paint that's been on the floor for years. No matter, it's coming up and I got through about a 6ft x 3ft area last night in just an hour. A few more days, and maybe better scrubbing materials, and I'll be done.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas comes early

Last night Erin and I were finishing wrapping the kids presents and she told me not to go into the closet, for the 1500th time, or I would get my presents right now and they wouldn't be wrapped.
I stopped to think about this. That may not be a bad idea. Christmas is really about us watching the kids enjoy their presents. We get each other more expensive and fragile gifts that we don't want the kids to break, hrm....

Ok, let's do that. Let's open our presents tonight, early, then on Christmas we can just focus on the kids, that will be great!!!

So we did. We opened presents early, it was awesome. Instead of wrapping paper everywhere there were plastic shopping bags all over the floor. There was just the two of us and our gifts. It was awesome.

I got an Illinois Hat, a nice simple, large I in the center, with Illinois on the side, it's perfect for me. I don't like extravagant with my hats, and one with the cheif, although it would really support my love of Chief Illiniwik as the Illinois mascot, would not be me. I have a few Illinois T-Shirts that I love to wear, but I always feel funny wearing my Braves, Sox, or Bears hat with it, I just don't like to miss teams. This gift is awesome.

I got two of the most coveted gifts that I wanted to help me make GTD a bigger part of my life a Label maker and a Digital Voice Recorder. Now I can label away and make it easier for me to read the folders in my filing cabinet. My own handwriting has been such a problem reading that I have taken to not labelling anything and when I go to file, I just have to flip through folders until I find the right one. At least I have a good enough memory to get me back to about the same spot. And the digital voice recorder may do more harm than good. There are many times that Erin and I will be out driving and we'll disagree about something, even something that I know I'm wrong about. She'll say, when we get home we'll Google this. My only respite is that she forgets to look it up. Ah, but no more, now we'll be able to remember all of my follies on my new Digital Voice recorder. But it's awesome. Those thoughts that I have while driving 8 hours every other weekend with To an From getting Jonas can now be captured without a fear of driving into a ditch while trying to scratch a word or two to capture it onto the back of my gas receipt. I'm looking forward to it, now I just need to have a thought.

I got a new shirt, it's nice, a long sleeve collar-less polo type shirt.

I got The Matrix 1 and 2. Awesome. No true geek developer should be without the Matrix Trillogy and the Star Wars 6. You should also have Real Genius, War Games, and Hackers. I don't have War Games. But I'll always remember the speak and spell voice saying "Would you like to play a game?" I also don't have Hackers. Ok, maybe this one's not so much for the geek of it, as it is for watching Angelina Jolie run around in tight leather for the whole movie. Mmmm, Angelina Jolie. Anyway, most of the computer talk in Hackers is so laughable as to be the greatest geek comedy ever written. It was perfect casting Penn (from the famed Penn and Teller) to be one of the IT security people during the great Hack scene at the end of the movie. Hacking and protecting are nothing at all like what they showed. But it's interesting to see the visualization of the file system and attacks from the director's point of view. Geeks don't see that way, we see words, lots of words and cryptic text.

Finally I got Cutting boards, and a Cheeseball mix. The Cheeseball mix has showed up at several get togethers this year, and I've just parked myself next to it until the crackers were gone, for some reason it is the absolute most tasty cheeseball mix that I've ever had. I think we'll make it for Christmas that way I can force others to enjoy it and keep myself from eating the entire thing by myself in about 20 minutes. And if you didn't know me, I have a thing for cutting boards. I don't like the giant fancy cutting boards, I just don't like mixing my fruit, and vegetable juices when cutting, I'm often cutting for more than one dish at a time, and I love to cut. Some people are really clever with their knives and they'll hold something in their hand and do all the cutting up in the air. Not me, I'm petrified of slicing another finger that way, too many times I've bled trying to be creative with the knife. No, I like to place everything on a cutting board and cut it. I like small simple cutting boards and I don't want to wait to wash one before cutting the next thing. I'm cutting an onion, green pepper, and apple, I need 3 cutting boards stat. Thank you nurse. I only have 2 at home, and we cut a lot, so if one hasn't been washed it makes cutting for the next meal sometimes a pain. We only had 2. Erin bought me 3 more, a nice simple plastic cutting board with a juice catching ridge. I love it.

Christmas coming early was a great thing. I'm still very excited for the rest of Christmas. And looking forward to enjoying the kids opening their presents.

One quick idea for anyone still looking to buy me something small. I want a small collander. Draining a can of beans in one big enough to hold a watermellon sucks. I have to clean one that big. I don't mind putting it into the dishwasher, but it takes up half of the shelf. I want a smaller collander that will hold a single can of something, those should be nice and cheap.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

London deluding itself

London Provides First Street Recharging Points for Electric Vehicles

I read this article today and laughed. London has some of the worst air in the world. Transportation is the biggest cause of their polution. But they are excited because there are now 750 electic vehicles in the town. And they are putting in 48 free plugins to encourage people to drive electic vehicles. There are 7,172,091 residents in London. 750 vehicles won't make a dent, and neither will the 48 outlets. If they are serious about improving the air quality, they would be removing fees for people who drive these vehicles, and they would be giving tax incentives. Start getting 100,000 cars off the street and maybe there will be some improvement.

I hope that London gets much more serious about this. I hope that other major cities do as well. I was excited when I read montsh ago that the city of New York would "allow" hybrid vehicles to be cabs. I don't understand how a city could prevent a vehicle from being a cab. As long as the car meets the federal guidelines for safety, and the cab company is not overcharging, then anything that's drivable should be able to be a cab.

I'm not a big fan of subsidies, but I do like tax breaks as incentives. I think having a tax break based on Miles per gallon for consumers and possibly even car companies could be a huge incentive for making more efficient vehicles. For years the standard has not gone up, and any improvement has been negated by making vehicles bigger. I would like to see minimum MPG standards go way up, with additional tax breaks offered for getting to even higher levels before they are required. Set the mid/compact car mpg at 40, each, not per fleet. That's something that car companies have gotten away with for too long, then reward 50 MPG with tax breaks.

Let's get serious about fixing the environment.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sign class over, Thank goodness

Last night was the final night for sign language class. I was somewhat looking forward to it. Steve said we could bring our kids and we were going to learn Christmas signs. Awesome, our kids are always wanting to know how to sign things, and holiday signs aren't in our dictionary.

Class started and Steve asked if the few kids that were there could wait out in the hall for 15 minutes. Then he layed into us, again. He said he's disappointed in us and that 3 people dropped the class because of one student. I'm even going to name names. He said the 3 people dropped because of Stephanie. This is a total crock. The past 3 weeks he's been talking about how he's fed up with students not trying to learn and how he doesn't like one of the students named Sandy so he was quitting. He has ranted about just about every student in the class at one point or another, and almost half of ever class has been spent with us watching him sign complaints about his life, his former students and his family. We learn signs when we listen to him complain, but it's tiring.

He started blaming Stephanie for everything and she very politely stood up, started gathering her things and told him. I'm very happy you taught me sign, bye. I looked at Erin and asked if she was ready, she was. We left with Steph. After his last tirade we decided that we would not sit there and put up with it. We are there to learn sign language, not be yelled at.

There is a problem here, and Stephanie is not it. Steph is a very nice, smart woman who loves to sign and has taught both of her boys to do it. She knows more signs than anyone else that was in the class. She had even talked to Steve about her stories maybe dragging on too long, and he told her that she's there to sign, she should just sign. The problem is the teacher. In the past 2 years he hasn't had enough people like him in the first two classes that he's been able to have a sign 3 class. His own teaching style of complaining all the time and backstabbing his students is what causes students to drop his class. A leader takes responsibility for his actions, Steve instead blames the rest of the world for all of his problems.

As it is now, I am soured on sign language class. I would like to take sign 3, but I'm pretty sure that since there hasn't been enough for sign 3 for the past two years that it probably won't change. I do hope that the new teacher is much more teacher like and not just angry deaf guy. There is a group of former students that got tired of Steve that now meet at Panera weekly to practice their signs and pick up on new words. Erin and I are both thinking that going to that will be more beneficial that further book learning at this point. It's not worth the stress and frustration that we have had to go through in the past few weeks to keep attending class.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Kiss

Rather than forwarding an email, I decided to post it on my blog.


A husband and wife go to a counselor after 15 years
of marriage.

The counselor asks them what the problem is and
the wife goes into a tirade; listing every problem they have
ever had in the 15 years they've been married. She goes on
and on and on.

Finally, the counselor gets up, walks around the
desk, embraces the wife and kisses her passionately.
The woman shuts up and sits quietly in a daze.

The counselor turns to the husband and says,
"This is what your wife
needs at least three times a week. Can you do this?
The husband thinks for a moment and replies,
"Well, I can drop her off here on Mondays and
Wednesdays, but on Fridays, I golf."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Getting Things Done

I finished reading the book GTD about 2 weeks ago. This is a great book that could have implications across the county with efficiency and followup. I love the potential that exists in each of us as individuals. Too often progress is not made simply because we aren't ready for it, hopefully this book helps put everyone in the state to be ready to make progress on their projects. GTD itself has gathered a cult following. I'm not an early adopter, but I do plan on being an advocate. This is something that everyone should learn about and try to implement in their own lives. You can find out more about GTD at Wikipedia. It will keep up to date on other sites that are touting the benefits as well.

I am still in the process of slowly doing a brain dump of all the projects I have. I don't have the time needed to be able to just sit and get all of it out at one time. The brain dump is something that is really necessary to fully jump into GTD, but it will take me about a month to get going. I need a few items to help me out, and I've asked for them as Christmas presents, so until after Christmas when I get my new toys, or have to buy them myself, I have to wait.

Since I've finished GTD, I have started keeping track of things better across the board and feel a lot better about many of my projects. The book is sure to mention that using these methods will not reduce the complexity in your life, it will only help you to get a better hold on what you have to do, that way you can still make progress even when your mind is not at 100% efficiency. This is definitely the case. I have had found myself realizing that I have a lot more projects than I ever thought I had, and understanding better why it is that I'm not making as much progress on those projects that I previously knew about. GTD can be done completely with just paper, but I'm a computer nerd, so I've been using Monkey GTD to help me keep track of my projects. I really like the layout a lot, but the tool was a little awkward to start using. I plan on posting a getting started with Monkey GTD on my tech blog in the near future.
A funny thing happened while reading about Getting Things Done, it took me forever to read it. I was constantly having things pop into my head that I realized I hadn't captured somewhere to follow up later, so I would stop reading and start capturing my thoughts. It seemed almost as if the book was drawing out these long held memories and projects that were just waiting to be put on a list, or maybe as I started my mini brain dumps, my mind just became empty enough that it was able to dig into the deeper recesses and pull out the long buried projects from their depths of insignificance.

While reading the book and writing this post over the past few days, I had to think a lot about GTD. I have decided will not be a GTD Site, there are already lots of GTD sites out there and I won't be just another one of them. I am a big supporter, but I'm not going to be a portal to the GTD world. Please, take the time to go and find out more about it yourself. You can get a lot of the information free, but the book is probably still the best way to get started. Everything else is based on the book, so it all makes more sense after reading it. This is something that I recommend everyone, not just technical professionals do. Yes mom, I think you could benefit a lot from organizing your projects better too.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I love sports

I love sports. I identify with the struggle between two teams, two individuals, people trying their hardest to accomplish a goal. It started when I was just a kid growing up. I'd sit around with my dad and watch sports on TV. Anything that was on ESPN, golf, bowling, wrestling, American Gladiators, baseball, basketball, football. As my wife puts it, we're the kind of family that loves sports so much that if dogs were wearing numbers and taking a crap, we'd watch it. Sports grew the bond between me and my dad. That's how we connected. When my asthma kept me from playing I started to coach at only 13. We coached Little League, and later we coached girls softball. I love baseball, all the little things that make a difference. They say football is the game of inches, but baseball is the game of anticipation. Just having the right feel for something and leaning in the right direction can make the difference between making and missing a play. Baseball is the game of millimeters. A round ball hitting a round bat and finding a hole in the field of play somewhere. It's amazing how all the little things come together to make a great game. An individual can shine, but a team can overcome and win. Sports are a metaphor for life, except there's a bonus. Each event has a clear cut end making it easy to identify a success. We can win an inning, game, and season. Life is harder. The boundaries are not defined. Was today a win? Do I have the rules of my tasks, life, projects defined well enough I even know when a win occurs? I have been a goal oriented person for a long time, and have kept lists of things that I want to try to accomplish, then I will work towards them in my free time. Free time is hard to come by, goals aren't being met. Does that mean I'm losing? Or am I just stuck in the a game different than the rules I understand? I couldn't win a baseball game if I showed up in a football uniform and without a glove and bat. I need to know the rules of the game to be able to win. The rules of life are what we make them. We are always winners or losers in our own minds. If you are struggling and not winning, you may be playing the wrong game. Maybe your life has changed and the chance to follow the same rules is gone, come up with a new game. Shift your goals to the things that are now most important to you. Become the person that you want to be in another area of your life. No matter what though, never stop striving to be the best you, that you can be. Sports has taught me that practice and hard work does lead to improvement in everything. I may never be the best, but I can always work to be my best, and that's something that I live by every day.

Baseball thoughts

Ahh! Baseball. The game I love. I sit and reminisce about when I did coach and look forward to when I will again. This time of year is usually quiet for baseball, except for the changing professional teams. Free agency has made it so a team can look completely different every year, and other than the fact that the Chicago White Sox are still in Chicago and called the White Sox, nothing is set in stone. I expected very few changes for them this year. They never quite got it together last year, and my thought was that it was a personality problem somewhere. Maybe they just didn't have the same burning desire in a leader they had the year before. I think their biggest loss was Aaron Rowand. He is a good center fielder, good bat, and good leader. I looked at him as the face of the team that won the world series, it was the "Win or Die Trying" campaign. Last year the face of the team was Jermaine Dye. I like Jermaine Dye, he's solid and consistent. But he's boring and sleepy. I just could never look at him as a leader, that would be like trying to follow Sleepy Floyd (old basketball reference).

I was shocked to read this morning that Freddy Garcia is going to Phily because his contract will be up at the end of the year. Big deal, just work on another deal with him. He's been a great asset to Chicago and was 17-9 last year. Who do we get to replace him? Gavin Floyd with a 4-3 record and a 7.29 ERA. For those non-baseball fan readers, that means that he averages giving up 7.29 runs for every 9 innings (complete game) that he pitches. It's a very bad ERA. The biggest news I expect to hear from the sox is that they have found someone who can play center field and bat .250. That would be huge. Last year Brian Anderson was a big part of the reason we fell apart and lost. He could not hit and get on base to keep a rally going or to drive in runs.

In other news, the Cubs GM Jim Hendryn was hospitalized at the winter meetings. It's probably because he's dizzy with the excitement that he actually has a shot of a winning team with a fighting chance at the playoffs next year. Being part of the Cubs organization he's used to having thrown in the towl already. This year however, the Cubs are driving the market. They are forcing other teams to overpay for players by having jumpoed out early and gotten Soriano. He was the biggest name out there and shockingly the first one signed. Way to go Cubs. I hope for the best for you, that is I hope your fans make it to September with hope.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Turn! Turn! Turn

For the past 6 and half years, I have spent nearly every day at work talking to a good friend of mine. We've talked about everything. He was there for me as I went through my divorce and the birth of both of my kids. Our favorite subjects were usually baseball, food, and commercials. Ok, we talked about work too. He and I were sent to training together, went to baseball games together, it's been great.

Today was his last day. I've been sad today. I know that tomorrow, when I go to work, he won't be there. I won't be able to go talk to him, the only one that I've been able to go talk to about everything.

At least our friendship is not over, just the ease with which I can get to him and talk. To you dear friend. Salut!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Exciting weekend

Thus far, my weekend has been exciting. Everything really started Thursday night. With a very nasty storm coming through central Illinois. It was raining and freezing. Thursday night there were already 4 inch icicles hanging down from each piece of siding. Then after midnight it started snowing on top of everything. I don't have a garage that I can put my car into, so I was stuck with 1/4 inch of ice on my car. I couldn't get into it Friday morning, and had to call into work. Thankfully I still had power, but my lifeline was gone. My Internet connection was down. We spent a lot of the morning calling everyone we knew to make sure that they were OK. At that point most people were without power. At 1 PM we lost power. I don't think there is any insulation in my house of than what we just put into Jonas' room. I think we need to look into fixing that in the future, I don't know how much it will cost, but it got cold in here very fast. The house dropped to 62 by 5, so I went out and spent 40 minutes scraping the car our from under the ice. I broke the ice scraper and hurt my hand doing it. We were taking the kids to stay somewhere that had power, but coming back to brave the freezing house ourselves.

The drive was very interesting. We drove past 10 or 12 downed power lines, lots of downed tree branches and trees, and even a flag pole that had bent in half. There was a viaduct that I drove under that was flooded out. The salt trucks had apparently turned the ice into water, but the drain wasn't working. I almost didn't make it, if I didn't ignore the "water on pavement" signs, I may have been in big trouble.

When we got back home, I saw a truck from the power company down the alley, and went to talk to them. I got to see them connect the power back up to my house. It was 9 PM and we had power again. I was really excited. I was able to get online and check my email. Although it was only 9:30 I felt like it was well after midnight and I went to bed early.

There was big news in my email. OK, there was huge news in my email. The Laurie Berkner band is coming to Chicago. Yikes! Today, we got tickets for the 5 of us. I'm excited, because all 3 kids love her, but she's Jaden's girlfriend. When nothing else will calm him down in the car, or at home, we just turn Laurie Berkner on and he's mesmerized. Erin has a few posts about it, you can read them at "My Kingdom for more Laurie" and "Behold the Power of Laurie"

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No time to kill

I was listening to Clint Black the other day and the song "No time to kill" came on. This song hit me different than it has any other time I've listened to it. By now everybody has probably read the story of living the dash, and this is in the same line of that.

Here is an excerpt from the song that made me stop and think about what I've done with my life, and where I want it to go.

"If I knew 10 years ago would be 10 years from now, would I love tomorrow's yesterday's to make it last somehow
The highest cost of living's dying that's one everybody pays, So have it spent before you get the bill, there's no time to kill"

Here is a link to all of the Lyrics for "No Time to Kill"

What does this song make you think of?

Awesome video of kids singing with Sign Language

I stumbled across this video of kids singing and Signing at the same time today on YouTube. It's pretty neat.

I hope you enjoy it.

Can you spell your name backwards?

We were eating lunch Thanksgiving day, and Ady spelled her name to show off for everyone. She has it down now and can spell A-D-Y-L-Y-N-N. She was very proud. However, Erin's sister had to prod and said, but can she spell it backwards?

She can't. Ady doesn't even understand what spelling her name backwards means. And the last name isn't there yet, but we are very proud that she can spell her first name without hesitation and clearly enough that the bank man could understand her when we opened a savings account for her on Saturday. That was a pretty cool experience. Ady told him her name and spelled the first name and told him our address. She's still working on the phone number.

Friday, Jonas came up to me and said, "Dad, I can spell my name backwards. S-A-O-N-J, no that's not it, S-A-N-O-J". Wow!!!! Are you kidding me? Nobody had asked him to do it, he just overheard the conversation and then set about getting it right in his head. Out of the blue he spelled it backwards. He was very proud of this new talent and showed it off to Grandma and Grandpa, and his mom when she came to pick him up on Sunday. It was awesome. I did try to get him to spell his last name backwards, but he hasn't got that one down yet. It gives us something to look forward too though.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Learning Styles

I've been loving this sign language class, it's really got me focused on learning the signs better than I have learned probably anything. Most of the time that I was in school, I was bored. It's not that I didn't want to learn, but that the information could not come at me fast enough to keep my attention. My mind liked to race 6,000 miles an hour and the teacher only talks so fast. Plus he would have to stop to answer a question about what he just explained. Think about it, even in college it's rare that more than 2 or 3 concepts or thoughts are covered in a class. Do you go around and only have 2 or 3 thoughts an hour? I have a ton, and when I get into a class where it's going slow, my mind takes off and goes in a different direction. Heck, even now, some of the best and most creative ideas I've had, were during a class about something else that was just going to slow for my mind. When I go to a class, I take a notebook. I'm not usually scribbling notes about what is being discussed, I'm writing down thoughts I don't want to lose about completely random subjects that have now got the time to surface while the teacher explains the conept a 3rd way because someone didn't get it the first two times. However, with sign language now, I'm not able to listen in while I write down my thoughts on another subject. If I don't see what's happening, I can't learn anything new, because I can't learn anything in this class by just listening. This has been a big benefit for me. Focused learning. I think back to all my classes that I've had in my life and wonder what they would have been like if they had enough information packed into their hour long sessions, and enough visuals to keep my attention. I feel like my mind needs some kind of 45 minute video packed full of information in graphs, speech, quotes, pictures and scenes being acted out. Something like that could be a very powerful learning tool for me. Until then, I'll have to stick to reading, which is my current fastest form of learning. Reading is great, at about 450 words a minute, I get to read quite a bit. Too bad, I can only read that fast when I'm fully rested, so most of the time I'm closer to 300. 300 words per minute still allow my mind to drift and I get frustrated because I can't remember what I'm reading. I'm not sure if it's that I can't remember because my mind is drifting, or because I'm not rested enough to remember, which is the why I'm reading slow in the first place. My learning style my whole life has just been listening, because school is not setup in such a way as to be fully interactive, it's boring. Sing language though, requires you to watch, and if you repeat the signs as they are being shown, and as others are doing them, then you get muscle memory to aid in remembering.

Have you ever paid attention to your own learning style? What is it that makes it easiest for you to learn? Do you like music or silence? Do you have a special place that you like to be to read or learn anything, or does it matter to you?

Me I like reading, but really like lots of information coming at me at fast speeds. Some programs on PBS are great, as are some of the programs on Discovery and History. The only problem is that it's hard to get into something when every 8 minutes there's a commercial about a bathroom coming on. PBS is better, but when their commercials "fund drives" come on, they stay for 10 minutes. By that point I've given up on whatever I was watching in the first place.

Vegetarian update

We are slowly adopting the vegetarian lifestyle that I mentioned my previous post. We have tried several new recipes, and our cabinet is now full of beans. I think it's a good thing we didn't go right into it all at once. I am enjoying this easing into the new lifestyle. My longest meatless streak so far has been 4 days without meat. We did have turkey on Thanksgiving, and I'm still eating Turkey soup, which is one of my favorite recipes ever. Sunday, I stopped for some McDonald's on the way to take Jonas back to his mom, immediately after I ordered the food he said, "But Dad, you told me we weren't eating hamburger's anymore". I did say that. Well, we'll get to that point. I've really liked the vegetarian meals we've had so far, and I don't feel tired after eating them like I do with meat. I have been hungrier earlier when I'm not eating meat, but I'm countering that with a small healthy snack. Those snack bags of popcorn are great.

A funny thing happened with this whole vegetarian thing. Erin decided that she was goinig to buy the Moosewood cookbook that Keith recommended and she found it for only $5. Only it is the Moosewood Classics Mini Edition. That's right the book is 3.4 x 2.8 inches. From reading the reviews, Erin doesn't appear to be the only one that made that mistake. It gave us a great laugh. We're still going to try some of the recipes in it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Blog fuzz

Blogging has been rough for me lately. I come up with things that I think will be great to write about, but when I get to sit and blog my mind goes into a fuzz and I no longer feel creative. My post turns into rambling. Some of the greatest blogs I read are people with a very creative writing style. I have more of a philisophical mindset then a creative writing mindset. In my head many of my posts start out as being very funny and creative, but even by the time I'm done writing them, I don't feel like they are funny anymore.

Anyone know of any good free creative writing training? I think anyone can learn anything, maybe I can learn to write creatively.

Fat Friday

With Thanksgiving feast barely settled, people are rushing off to the stores. Like ants drawn to a dropped candybar they race for the sales that they hope they will get. Hopefully all will not be for naught. The smart money is on families that split up and go their separate ways for the special deals, but even still, those that are crazy enough to camp out the night before are the ones that will get the extra special buys. At 7:30 last night people were lined up in front of Best Buy already. Their But a computer for $200 or laptop for $400 probably brought them in. And the funny thing is that they'll camp their tonight, get that deal in the morning, and probably nothing else.

I love a good sale, but Black Friday has gotten too crazy. With every store having just a few items that are marked way down to bring in people, they have also created a mad frenzy that causes people to push, shove, cuss, and fight over those few items. I know they can't guarantee more items to please more people, but I would prefer the sales being not so grand, to keep people on a more civil level.

Black Friday should really be renamed to Fat Friday though. People get up and stuff themselves into clothes, and then clog the aisles like fat clogging an artery. Roads are crazy, and nobody is nice as they hurry to the next store hoping to cut off someone on the way to the next great deal.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Week 11 Football Picks

Week 11
SUN, NOV 19Pick
Atlanta at BaltimoreAtlanta
Buffalo at HoustonHouston
Chicago at NY JetsChicago
Cincinnati at New OrleansNew Orleans
Minnesota at MiamiMinnesota
New England at Green BayGreen Bay
Oakland at Kansas CityKansas City
Pittsburgh at ClevelandPittsburgh
St Louis at CarolinaCarolina
Tennessee at PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia
Washington at Tampa BayWashington
Detroit at ArizonaDetroit
Seattle at San FranciscoSeattle
Indianapolis at DallasIndianapolis
San Diego at DenverDenver
MON, NOV 20Pick
NY Giants at JacksonvilleJacksonville

I'm still having a good season making picks. I'm also going to pick for rankings to see how I do against my dad and brother in their league.

Week 10 Football - Results

Week 10
SUN, NOV 12PickResults
Cleveland at AtlantaAtlantaLoss
Green Bay at MinnesotaMinnesotaLoss
Houston at JacksonvilleJacksonvilleLoss
Kansas City at MiamiKansas CityWin
NY Jets at New EnglandNew EnglandLoss
San Diego at CincinnatiSan DiegoWin
San Francisco at DetroitDetroitWin
Washington at PhiledelphiaPhiledelphiaWin
Baltimore at TennesseeBaltimoreWin
Buffalo at IndianapolisIndianapolisWin
Denver at OaklandDenverWin
Dallas at ArizonaDallasWin
New Orleans at PittsburghNew OrleansLoss
St Louis at SeattleSt LouisLoss
Chicago at NY GiantsChicagoWin
MON, NOV 13PickResults
Tampa Bay at CarolinaCarolinaWin

My hot streak is over. I ended up 10-6 which beats both my dad and my brother from their league. I didn't feel like I did well though.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Breakup

We just watched The Breakup. Erin is unhappy that the guy didn't get the girl sin the end. I wonder if she missed the title when we were rentintg it. She's sitting here right now ranting about how she likes the movies where the guy sweeps the girl off her feet. She didn't even want to break up with him, and then he comes to her with flowers and she says, This was all a game, I didn't even want you, because I'm a stupid bitch. WOW!! What a rant.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sign Language Update

I've been sitting on this for a week. I wanted to make sure that I didn't write about something that happened just because I was upset. Now it's been a full week and things are as settled in my head as they probably ever will be. Last week in class Steve, our teacher, blew up. He got frustrated during class and took one of the more advanced students out into the hall and talked to just her for about 5 minutes. He was laughing before he came back in, but he still wasn't himself. Then when class ended he said, "from now on there are new rules, there will be no more food, no writing notes, and no talking" Everyone was floored. I only know this because after the shock wore off we sat around and talked about it. At the time, I had no idea what anyone else's reaction was, becausee I was in so much shock that I couldn't see anything. Everyone tried asking him why he had the sudden change f rules and what the specifics of it were. His only response was that he is getting old and that taking notes makes him have to slow down and wait which is frustrating to him.

Everyone was shocked and pissed. Personally, I can't go to sign class without my pop, and half the class grabs a snack at breaktime and munches on the chips during the second half. And we all were mad about not being able to take notes. Steve complains that the book is wrong all the time and that he'll teach us the right way, ignore the book. But now the new rule is that we are supposed to study the book and practice it for a week, and then get told that we are doing the sign wrong when we get to class.

I stewed about it for a week. Erin was ready to quit the class, I was showing up in class with my notepad and pop and he was going to have to physically kick me out to be rid of me. I practiced the signs for the next unit and practiced arguing against him for my notetaking, which included me calling him a grumpy old man. Thankfully, I never broke down during class and had to call him a grumpy old man. I was ready to fight, it was a bad day, I was going in there and it may have come to throwing punches. Ok, I really didn't think it would ever come to punches, but mentally, I was as charged up as I could possibly be.

Instead, this week, sign language class was quiet. Nobody wanted to press his buttons. We showed up for class 5 minutes early and the students there were all signing and not talking. Everyone was afraid of what he may do when he walked in. Then we started reviewing words and going through the new words. He used the sign "finish" which can mean "just" as in "we are just friends". and I asked if you always sign "finish" when you want to mean 'just". He got into this tirade that the sign has two meanings. Then the next sign was a single handed sign for "finish" and his example was, "The two of you are talking FINISH", as in "shut up". And he pointed right at Erin and I while doing it. Class had lightened up just a bit and here he goes practically accusing us of being the problem. I can sense Erin getting tense next to me, and I'm starting to zone out a little because I'm mad and distancing myself from what may happen. Then class moved on and everything was fine.

Finally it's time for class to end, and Steve stands up and says he has an announcement. He's quitting. December 12 will be his last day. That's the last day for sign 2. He will not be continuing with Sign 3 in January. Currently the school does not have someone lined up to replace him, so I have to wait and see if I even get to continue with sign 3. My anger turned into shock. I'm upset that he's not going to be there to keep teaching, so I can learn more sign language, at the same time, I'm not too upset, because he had changed from the beginning of class to now. He may just be getting to be a grumpy old man, maybe, he is burnt out, maybe he's just being himself now, and I was getting a show at the start, but for whatever reason he's moving on. I'm very hopeful that the school finds another teacher, but on such short notice it's probably going to be very hard. There is a group of people that get together at a restaraunt on Monday nights to practice sign language. Either way, we will probably try going to the practice group on Monday's. The extra practice will be good for us.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Jonas loves numbers

The last time that Jonas was here we were counting a lot. We would count and add and we did a lot of different things with numbers, including addition. I was showing Jonas how to put up a few fingers on one hand and a few more on the other and he could do 2+2 or 4+2, etc. He had a blast. I had meant to blog about it, but completely forgot about it. I have been doing worse at remembering things if I don't write them down right away.

Trish told me that the other night that out of the blue he just said 4+2 is 6. That's awesome. I'm glad that he remembered what we were working on, but even more excited that it happened without being prompted. The human mind is a very funny thing in how it relates one thing to another. I wonder what the trigger for him blurting that out was. I wonder if it was just that he heard the number 2 or 4, or even if he just heard the word "to" or "for" and thought of 4+2. Anyway, it's a pretty amazing thing to see.

Fab 5

I was watching Scrubs on TV tonight and the phone commercial came on. A family of 4 is sitting around a table, and the father asks, "So have you picked your fab 5 yet". The daugher age about 16 says, "I chose Crystal, Jen", then her brother, who's not much younger, says, I chose "I chose Crystal Jen"

The girl looks at her mom and asks "Are you going to do anything?". the father quickly responds with "Maybe you should have uglier friends." while the mom is nodding in agreement.

I laughed so hard. That's friggin awesome.

Planetary Sunblocker

I read an article about a planetary sunblocker that made me think of the Simpson's episode where Mr. Burns built a sunblocker in order to force the residents of Springfield to use more electricity, since he had a monopoly on the energy.

For some reason I can't get over thinking that having a planetary sunblocker will do more of the same thing. It won't help us reduce global warming, instead, it will make us use more of the energy forms that cause global warming, and exacerbate the problem. Instead of spending money researching how to block the sun, we should be spending more money researching how to harness the sun and reduce our dependency on coal, oil, and even nuclear energy. Let's reduce global warming at the source. Recycle, to save water and planetary resources. Cut down on oil dependencies with cars. Cut down on Coal dependency with Hydroelectric, solar, and wind energy. Hydrogen energy is even huge, as long as we find a way to produce the hydrogen without causing more pollution. Forget about the planetary sunblocker, instead focus on what we are doing at the surface.

New baby in the family, kind of.

My Godbrother had a baby. The Godbrother is a rare family relaionship that most people don't know about. Generally because it doesn't show up on most family trees. In my situation however, my parents had some really good friends and were chosen to be the Godparents of Kyle. We were always invited to famliy functions and they were always invited to our family functions. Kyle is one of four kids, and all four of them are like cousins to me. Kyle is my Godbrother. Yesterday his wife gave birth to Ashlynn. I love the name, it's so close to my own daughter's name of Adylynn. Only one letter different. Here's a quote from the Grandma seen here holding my precious GodNiece.

"Daughter of Kyle and Nikki Hampton (granddaughter of Regina and Jim Hampton) was born today, Monday, November 13th at 10:43 a.m. Ashlynn is 8 lbs. 9 oz., 20 1/2 inches. Everyone is doing just fine! Jim and I saw Ashlynn Janelle when she was 1 1/2 hours old. We think she is beautiful and that we are blessed to have our children and grandchild! Take a look at the picture of me and Ashlynn."

At the same time, that family continues to have good news. Kyle's brother Kory asked his girlfriend Corel to marry him and she said yes. It's a long term engagement. He's in the marines and she's going to school for a doctorate; the wedding is being planned for September 2009. I guess that gives me enough time to make sure I can get there.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Youth is so cute!

We were watching "Sky high" on tv the other night, and at the end of it, when the boy and girl were together Ady added "And they lived happliy ever after" Wouldn't it be great if that were the first thought on all of our minds all of the time? Too often we spend our time thinking "and dating ruined their relationship". The blind hope that all is going to be well is an important part of fhaving a good strong positive outlook on life. Things may not always go well, but if you think at least that they can, rather than they won't, there is a huge difference ion how things will turn out in your own mind.

Outcomes, are like everything else, "open to inerpretation". I hope you all have this same kind of positive outlook on life.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Week 10 Football Picks

Week 10
SUN, NOV 12Pick
Cleveland at AtlantaAtlanta
Green Bay at MinnesotaMinnesota
Houston at JacksonvilleJacksonville
Kansas City at MiamiKansas City
NY Jets at New EnglandNew England
San Diego at CincinnatiSan Diego
San Francisco at DetroitDetroit
Washington at PhiledelphiaPhiledelphia
Baltimore at TennesseeBaltimore
Buffalo at IndianapolisIndianapolis
Denver at OaklandDenver
Dallas at ArizonaDallas
New Orleans at PittsburghNew Orleans
St Louis at SeattleSt Louis
Chicago at NY GiantsChicago
MON, NOV 13Pick
Tampa Bay at CarolinaCarolina

Let's see if I can continue my hot streak.

Week 9 Football - Results

Week 9
SUN, NOV 5PickResults
Green Bay at BuffaloGreen BayLoss
Miami at ChicagoChicagoLoss
Atlanta at DetroitDetroitWin
Kansas City at St. LouisKansas CityWin
Houston at NY GiantsNY GiantsWin
New Orleans at Tampa BayNew OrleansWin
Dallas at WashingtonDallasLoss
Tennessee at JacksonvilleJacksonvilleWin
Cincinnati at BaltimoreBaltimoreWin
Minnesota at San FranciscoSan FraciscoWin
Denver at PittsburghDenverWin
Cleveland at San DiegoSan DiegoWin
Indianapolis at New EnglandIndianapolisWin
MON, NOV 6PickResults
Oakland at SeattleSeattleWin

I'm back on my game this week finishing 11-3. When I was chatting with both my dad and brother last weekend I was laughing because I was doing so much better than they were.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sign Language

My mom is a teacher and somehow seems to always get really great links sent to her about teaching. I'm always amazed at the links she passes on to me. Some of them I have stored away for use when the kids get older, because the sites that they are to are really neat and great learning resources, but the kids aren't always ready for them. Last week she sent me one to another Sign language site. I went out to The Deaf Resource Library and looked around. The main page is really just links to a bunch of other deaf resources on the web. For now I'm including a link to the Deaf Resource Library in my links section. I may be adding some of the same links that are already on the Deaf Resource Library to my links if I think that they are great though. There's a lot of new sites in there for me to explore and learn from.

One thing that would be great, even if it's something I have to buy, is an all encompassing dictionary. Yes, I want to know the bad signs, but what I really want is to stop trying to look up how to sign something and not be able to find the words that I want to use in my sign book, or online. I bought the smaller dictionary with only 4,500 words in it when we got one. There was another dictionary that had 8,000 words in it. However, I am still amazed at how many words that I want to use that aren't in my dictionary. I have yet to find a site that has even as many words as are in my small dictionary. So some kind of Oxford ASL dictionary would be awesome.

As for sign language. In general I'm having a blast. I don't know why I seem to enjoy the simple act of communicating with my hands without having to speak. It's slower than talking. Maybe as my understanding increases it will be closer to the same, but I doubt it will ever be faster, there are too many words that need to be spelled out. I'm not sure how far I want to go with my sign language. The 4 classes that are offered at the community college are probably enough to be able to communicate with Bryan as he grows, but I also don't want to be limited. I want to be able to help him grow and learn as well as talk to him. I've thought about continuing on to learn sign language well enough to be an interpreter. This has come up during our sign class several times, because one of the women in my class wants to go that far. Steve told us that there is a 2 year program offered in Peoria. I'm interested in continuing, but at the same time I'm not. There would be more work opportunities, if I were an interpreter, I could go to speaker functions and learn a lot of new things while interpreting. However, I would have to spend a lot of time away from my family, and most likely Erin wouldn't be able to do it with me. So after I learned it, I wouldn't be able to use it with anyone immediately. Continuing to the interpreting level is something that definitely interests me, but I think it's more of a long term goal, than an immediate plan. For now, I'm content to learn through sign 4 at the local community college and be able communicate with deaf people. I need to find some deaf people in the area for me to meet and talk to more regularly though, or I won't be able to retain the information. A skill not used is forgotten, and my mind has more than enough other things to occupy it's time than to remember sign language if nobody is doing it with me. Erin is in the class now, and Aunt Shel and a friend of hers are thinking about taking it in January. I look forward to having my own little hearing group of friends that I can practice with.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Jonas leg update

Yesterday Jonas went back to the doctor to have his leg looked at and get his aircast off. At least that's what I thought. It turns out instead, that the leg is still healing, the bone is filling in and the doctor is very happy with the progress it's making. Diagnosis, it looks good, but he's got 2 more months of wearing the aircast. He still can't do a lot, but he doesn't have to be quite as careful with it anymore.

Now I just wonder if the hospital SNAFU from his first ER visit gets worked out. Since the diagnosis from the ER was not an Emergency Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois is not covering it as an ER trip. I've been on the phone with Blue Cross several times and with the hospital several times. today I was on the phone with both of them. Things are finally moving in what should be my favor, but if the result is not satisfactory, I may have to contact a lawyer or go through some other method. The real problem is that the initial diagnosis was sore ankle, because they didn't even look at his leg where it was broken.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Week 9: Football Picks

Week 9
SUN, NOV 5Pick
Green Bay at BuffaloGreen Bay
Miami at ChicagoChicago
Atlanta at DetroitDetroit
Kansas City at St. LouisKansas City
Houston at NY GiantsNY Giants
New Orleans at Tampa BayNew Orleans
Dallas at WashingtonDallas
Tennessee at JacksonvilleJacksonville
Cincinnati at BaltimoreBaltimore
Minnesota at San FranciscoSan Fracisco
Denver at PittsburghDenver
Cleveland at San DiegoSan Diego
Indianapolis at New EnglandIndianapolis
MON, NOV 6Pick
Oakland at SeattleSeattle

Friday, November 03, 2006

For Ages 3 and up

Erin posted that today Jonas was feeling sick again. They sat around and didn't do much today, but she did tell them that when I got home for the night we would play some games together.

Unfortunately I had to bring home some work with me, so first was dinner, then my work, then finally we got to play a few games before bedtime. First we played Disney Yahtzee Jr. This game is pretty good, because it's just a matching and counting game. By age three every kid should be doing both matching and counting. It also throws in a wild card with Pinochio. personally, I wish they had two versions in the same box. Each person gets 5 turns (which really helps out a lot with the speed of the game), and they get to match their characters on the dice. The standard 3 rolls for Yahtzee apply. If I could have two versions though, I would have 6 categories, and just have the game be straight matching. It's hard for the 3 year old to understand that Pinocchio counts the same as Jasmine and Aladin, but it also count the same as Mowgli and Baloo. We've played Yahtzee Jr. many times in the past, and just know that we have to help both kids with their recognition of Pinocchio as a match for what they are trying to get.

For the second game, Ady chose CareBear Checkers. This is a 3-D checkers game, the board is extremely colorful. It's actually too gaudy for the kids to learn the game of checkers. They couldn't focus on keeping pieces where they belonged. "A piece can only move to a pink square", was hard to reinforce when the response was "There's pink right there". Yes there is, but it's not the pink square. "That's not a pink square." He's right, it's a purple square because it's supposed to be a pink square, but it's on a blue background. AAHHHH!!!!! Jonas finally did get the hint that pieces had to move diagonal only, but he seemed more interested in helping Ady jump his pieces as fast as he could than he did at trying to win. It may just be that he didn't understand the concept of the game yet. I asked him at bedtime tonight, after I read stories, if he liked playing checkers tonight. He told me he didn't like it because he didn't win, and he always wants to win. I had to tell him, that's good that he always wants to win, and that he always does his best, but as long as he is doing his best, even if he doesn't win it's ok.

Personally I was really shocked that checkers said 3 and up. Usually my complaint is the other way, in that games will say 3 and up when a 1 1/2 year old should be able to do it. Checkers though brings in a whole new thought process that other games don't. Even Connect Four has a recommended age of 7. I think that connect 4 is easier than Checkers.

Game night was fun. I had to keep reminding myself that we are doing this for the kids, and not for me to enjoy the games. I sometimes have a hard time putting up with the constant antsyness of the kids. However, after a game night I'm always glad we did it. There are so many good habits to teach to your children during game time, especially sportsmanship, that it's worth the effort.

Week 8: Football picks results

Week 8
SUN, OCT 29PickPick
San Fransico at ChicagoChicagoWin
Atlanta at CincinnatiCincinnatiLoss
Seattle at Kansas CityKansas CityWin
Houston at TennesseeHoustonLoss
Arizona at Green BayArizonaLoss
Tampa Bay at NY GiantsNY GiantsWin
Jacksonville at PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaLoss
Baltimore at New OrleansNew OrleansLoss
St. Louis at San DiegoSan DiegoLoss
Pittsburgh at OaklandPittsburghLoss
Indianapolis at DenverDenverLoss
NY Jets at ClevelandNY JetsLoss
Dallas at CarolinaDallasWin
MON, OCT 30Pick
New England at MinnesotaNew EnglandWin

This is the 2nd week in a row that I've done terrible. There were again a bunch of really close games that could have gone either way. I was wrong with every one of those.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

stupid commercial

I'm watching this crappy show on Lifetime tonight (Lifetime TV for Idiots). And there was a commercial for Rozera or something like that. It's a sleeping pill. At the end of the commercial the side effects are stated, they are "Drowsiness and fatigue". Since when do medications start listing their benefits as side effects. What's next? Coffee may cause extreme alertness?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sign Class on Halloween

Halloween ended up being less trick-or-treating and more of a normal Tuesday sign class for me. Well, it was supposed to be. Ady got sick on Saturday night and still wasn't feeling well on Tuesday, so Erin was staying home with her while I took the boys to class. Before class I took Jonas to the square where they had early halloween and we got a little candy. It was cold, and that made me even more glad that I was going to be inside in class.

I may have learned a few new words in class, but I didn't have a chance to take notes because I was busy keeping an eye on the boys. It was more of a party class where we all sat around and signed stories to each other. The boys were great. Jaden even went to a stranger, which he just doesn't do. You can see the picture of him here with Stephanie. The other picture is my teacher Steve. He looked very funny in his costume.

Jonas was great as Supeman, until we got home after class. While he was getting undressed, he got sick and threw up, on Erin, the dog, his costume and the floor. The dog had it bad and needed a bath today to finish cleaning her up. The floor had it worse. We were unable to get the red stain from the fruit punch Jonas had drank earlier in the night, so we now have a large pink vomit stain on the carpet. Ahhh!!! This wouldn't happen with hardwood floors. Now we'll see how much replacing the carpet in this room will cost. It's too bad that the carpet shampooer and the Oxyclean couldn't get the stain out. All in all halloween was good, but the flu is moving through our family and I seem to be on the edge of getting it.

Jaden on Halloween.

Here's my little bat boy. He's so cute on his first Halloween. The drive from home to sign language class was the first time that he was facing forward also. That was an experience that he seemed to like a lot.

Jonas at Halloween.

It was hard getting Jonas to smile it turned out later that he wasn't feeling well. It was a cold evening for trick-or-treating. The temp on the bank sign said 40 degrees.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

It's halloween and the kids are all slepping. In just a few hours we'll be up and dressed and on our way to sign class. I may take Jonas out for a few stops before going to class, but most likely instead of going door to door, we'll just go to the sign language party.

I was really looking forward to the class meeting all of my kids, but Ady has been sick for a few days and we aren't going to bring her out. Nobody else in the family is having any problems though, so I'm taking the boys to class with me. I'll get some pictures of our halloween night posted when we get back.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Jaden 1 year old

Wow. Jaden has grown recently. Erin took him to the Dr. today for his one year baby checkup and he's now 32 inches long, which puts him in the 90-95 percentile. He's been at the 50th percentile for each of his previous appointments, which is why his weight being at 20 lbs and 12 ounces (20th percentile) is also shocking.

Now I have a tall and thin baby, as you have seen from some of his pictures it's true too, a lot of the baby fat is gone. Now he's walking across the room too. He surprised me yesterday by walking from in the toyroom back into the living room, turned the corner and kept going laughing about it all the way.

I think it's hilarious how all babies hold their arms up over their heads as they learn to walk. I tried walking around like that the other day for a little while and it felt very odd. It made me wonder if we could teach kids to swing their arms, if they would be able to balance themselves earlier.

My next big post will probably be about Halloween. It's coming tomorrow and the kids are coming with us to Sign language class for a party. Too bad there's not a sign for trick or treat, I'll just have to teach them to sign "Give me candy"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ady making her pumpkin

Erin posted the pictures of Jaden and Jonas making the pumpkins on her blog, and I've been meaning to get the pictures of Ady up on mine. Here they are. She had a great time making this pumpkin. She also brought one home from her dad's, but I don't have a picture of it to post right now.

Week 8: Football picks.

Week 8
SUN, OCT 29Pick
San Fransico at ChicagoChicago
Atlanta at CincinnatiCincinnati
Seattle at Kansas CityKansas City
Houston at TennesseeHouston
Arizona at Green BayArizona
Tampa Bay at NY GiantsNY Giants
Jacksonville at PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia
Baltimore at New OrleansNew Orleans
St. Louis at San DiegoSan Diego
Pittsburgh at OaklandPittsburgh
Indianapolis at DenverDenver
NY Jets at ClevelandNY Jets
Dallas at CarolinaDallas
MON, OCT 30Pick
New England at MinnesotaNew England

Week 7 I didn't get to pick until the morning games were over. I picked without having heard
a score and did aweful. But since I didn't pick until games started I decided not to post
anything about it.

This week I made sure I got my picks done before games started. I have a few upsets in here. Just feelings, or picking with my heart, I'm not sure. But the big ones are Denver, Dallas, and Houston.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Don't lie to your kids

I was at McDonald's for lunch one day this week, and a lady and her 4 year old son were looking for a table. The boy kept saying, I want to eat in there, and pointed to the play area. His mom was persistent, "No, there arent' any empty tables in there. No, they are full in there. No there's no place for us to sit." The little boy went right up to the door and got really loud. "No it isn't!!! See that table is empty." Mom then said, let's sit right here and when we're done eating we can go play. I feel bad for this kid. I wasn't there when they went to play, but I doubt that he got to. Mom already had no problem lying to her son, and teaching him that lying is ok. There would have been nothing wrong with her saying, "No, we don't sit in the toy area, we eat out here, then go in there to play" or "I don't like sitting in there to eat, it's too loud for me, but you can go play when we are done eating." Either of these, so long as they are true would have been a better lesson to her son. Instead she taught him if you don't want to do something, lie and do what you want. It's a lesson he'll probably learn, because I doubt it's the last time he's taught it.

World Series thoughts

Last night, I sat at home and watched the world series while I was playing on my computer. I still couldn't understand how Detroit was losing. I thought for sure they would have just stomped on St. Louis. I like St. Louis. I think Pujols is going to be one of those guys that's close to breaking (if not breaking) a lot of records before he retires. Eckstein is my favorite player in baseball. But the Cards are hurt. Pujols has a pulled hamstring. Eckstein just missed time for an oblique. Rolen and Edmunds have been hurt off and on all season. This is a team that should not be winning.

Then it hit me. Eckstein hit's a flyball to right field, the fielder falls down. Next, Shingo bunts and the pitcher throws it over the first baseman's head alloowing the run to score. The announcer mentions "That's the 4th error by Tigers pitching in this series".

Maybe the Cards aren't winning because of Tigers jitters. The Cards may not be destined to win by the Gods. Maybe they are destined to win by the gamblers. This happened once before in history when a team was supposed to win and didn't. That team is now affectionately known as the "Black Sox". Do we have a "No Town" from "MoTown"?

How else can you explain 4 pitching errors, and two outfield blunders that both help Eckstein and give St. Louis the win?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jaden almost 1.

Tonight we went grocery shopping to get the party food for this weekend. Jaden is about to turn 1!!!! I'm vey excited. It's hard to believe it's been a year that he's been alive.
In the past year a lot has happened.
28th. Jaden was born. 6 pounds 7 ounes
29th, his brother and sister went to see the Wiggles with Grandma and Grandpa. We were going to make that a special bonding thing that Erin and I did with the kids, but the doctor decided that Jaden was coming early.
30th. Jaden comes home at 1 PM. He won't eat, acts strange and his temperature drops to 94. We take him to the ER in Clinton (this is the last time we will ever make that mistake), at 7 PM. At 12:30 he gets to Springfield NICU.

4th. We get home from NICU we received a call telling us that Jaden was borderline for Fatty Acid Oxidation disorder. (This ends up being a problem for the next several months)
Thanksgiving. Everybody gets to meet Jaden.

Erin's Birthday!!!
Christmas. It seems like the entire month is spent getting ready for parties. There are so many birthdays in December that even just buying everyone a card costs about $40.

Jonas Birthday.

February: I start complaining that Jaden hasn't rolled over yet.

March: Erin decides our house isn't full of enough stuff, so we go get a dog from Bland Missouri. It's a terribly long day and the dog throws up in the car less than 10 miles down the road. I thought about taking her back. Sometimes I think I should have.

May: Our wedding. Yes, you read correctly, Jaden was born before we were married. I'm not going to get into that. It's a great wedding, everything is beautiful, especially the bride. Oh yeah, and it's frickin cold.

The summer just zooms by. We have Jonas a lot, and I have to work a lot, at this time of night I don't remember much of what happened this summer. Jaden starts crawling some time in the summer.

Sign language class starts.
Jaden starts signing "more" when he wants more food.

October 2006:
Jaden starts walking.
Jaden starts signing "Please" He signs it when he wants something other than food that he can't reach. It's so cute, sign "Please", then reach and grunt, Sign please, then reach and grunt, rinse repeat. It's so cute.

There's a brief recap of what happened in the past year, with me being too tired to really give it the time needed to make it a great post.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Real deaf people

Tonight was the first class for Sign 2. It wasn't quite a normal class. Instead of just having Steve teach us, he brought his good friend Joyce with him. We did learn new words. First we went through and learned how to sign some cities, such as Bloomington, Champaign, Springfield, Peoria, Normal, Chicago, and St. Louis. Then we learned a bunch of words related to Halloween. That was pretty cool. Steve and Joyce were throwing so many words at us that I couldn't write fast enough to capture what I had to do to actually do the signs. I love sign language because I get to move my body to add that extra level of memory to the signs, but if I don't have it written down to study, I will forget it. At break time I told them that they were going way too fast for me. Thankfully after the break they slowed down enough for me to take my notes.

This is the first time that I've ever actually watched two deaf people sign. I've seen interpreters signing with deaf people, but there's a whole new level of signing speed when two deaf people sign. They would both be signing to each other at the same time, and I couldn't follow either one of them. I've often wondered how deaf people can communicate with each other easily, because signing is so much slower than talking, but it's really just that my singing is so much slower than talking. They were both even fingerspelling some things as fast as I can say the whole word, it was awesome.

It just goes to show, that even though I have learned a lot of words, I've got a long way to go in being able to communicate efficiently with deaf people.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Jonas called me this weekend, and was very happy and excited, we had a great 5 minute conversation, it was awesome. His cousin Kyle was there also. I haven't seen Kyle since before the divorce, other than a few pictures Trish has taken with Jonas and Kyle together. Jonas asked Kyle, "Do you want to talk to my daddy?" Then Kyle got on the phone and talked with me for a few minutes. He was such the little man. He told me he knows who I am because he sees pictures, but he doesn't remember that he's seen me before. I've thought about buying him birthday presents, but his mom was really mad because of the divorce, and I haven't because I just don't want to make open any old wounds there. After a few minutes Jonas asked Kyle, "Can I talk to my daddy again?" and Kyle told him, "No, I think he wants to talk to me a little longer".

It was a wonderful phone conversation, I wasn't on the phone 10 minutes total, but I got to talk to two happy little boys. That was a very touching phone call that made my day start great and stay great all day.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Erin and I have been talking about trying to become vegetarians. It's not that we have anything against meat. We don't, in fact, that's going to be difficult for both of us. But we are both trying to eat healthier, and think that switching to vegetarians may help.

I've read a lot about being vegetarian online, and we've gone to the bookstore and looked through some books. This is not something that I'm going to force on anyone, and we do not plan on removing meat from our diets completely until after the new year. With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming there's just too many get togethers to organize and participate in to be able to do it. Also, this is not something that we are going to force on our kids. We do plan on offering them the same healthy meals that we eat, but I don't expect to completely remove hamburgers and lunch meat from their diets.

I have a few concerns about it. Mostly, I'm worried about being able to have enough variety in meals. That's why we are researching things now and getting recipes that we think we will like. We are also planning to start mixing in some of these meals between now and the new year to find ones that we know we will like. Another concern of mine is eating out. It's not something that we do a lot of, but I do probably go out for lunch once a week. I will have to change what I get when I go out for lunch. Also we occasionally go out to eat for dinner, adnt that is almost always some really good chicken or steak. Both of these will go away. I'm not sure what kind of vegetarian meals exist out there for these situations yet, but I'll be paying close attention the next time I'm at a restaraunt.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What I'm thinking about.

I've been thinking about learning styles a lot lately. There are 3 main ones, but a google search tonight linked to a site that was discussing the 16 learning styles. The bigger problem is not so much understanding learning styles, I've been reading about them for almost 2 years now, but I just realized, that none of the articles that I've read talk at all about teaching to learning styles.

How do you teach reading to an auditory learner? How do you teach reading to a kinestetic learner? Hands on reading? Ady is definitely a Visual/kinestetic learner. Jonas is an auditory/visual learner. Those seem to be their strong learning styles. Jonas is more auditory and Ady is more kinistetic. I'm not sure how to do hands on with some things, such as reading. I've read that someone who is a kinestetic learner can sometimes remember things that they read while riding an exercise bike or walking better than they can remember when studying in silence, but that won't help with teaching reading.

Learning styles is something that everyone should be aware of. It doesn't just affect parents who want to homeschool. Adults may have grown up never having been taught the way that they learn best. If someone that you work with just doesn't pick up on new things as easily as you, it may have nothing to do with them being stupid, they may just learn differently and the method that something was presented was not the easiest for them.

Ady being cute, just before bedtime.

Ady is going to be Dora for Halloween, this is her practicing her color anti-coordination.

Football Week 6 Results

Week 6
SUN, OCT 16PickResult
Buffalo at DetroitBuffaloLoss
Carolina at BaltimoreCarolinaWin
Cincinnati at Tampa BayCincinnatiLoss
Houston at DallasDallasWin
N.Y. Giants at AtlantaN.Y. GiantsWin
Philadelhpia at New OrleansPhiladelphiaLoss
Seattle at St. LouisSt. LouisLoss
Tennessee at WashingtonWashingtonLoss
Kansas City at PittsburghPittsburghWin
Miami at N.Y. JetsN.Y. JetsWin
San Diego at San FransicoSan DiegoWin
Oakland at DenverDenverWin
MON, OCT 16PickResult
Chicago at ArizonaChicagoWin

This was a terrible week for me. I lost a St. Louis and New Orleans at the end on long field goals. For the 2nd week in a row Tennessee impressed everyone. Can anyone say Jeff Fisher for coach of the year? Buffalo stuck with the tradition of teams losing the week after they play the Bears. I wouldn't doubt that this is also going to be often the case with Baltimore and Denver's defense this year. I was a terrible 8-5 this week bringing my total up to 65-22. Compared to the ESPN experts, I am several games better than any of them. It's interesting to see them pick, because they are often the same as me, but even though they are all the same as each other it doesn't mean that they are right.