Monday, December 08, 2008

Updates and Shit...(Ciii Puter Fund)

All, I will be sending out confirmation e-mails today and tomorrow to confirm receipt of your checks, money, and gold for "Ciii's Computer Fund". I will update everyone on our total tomorrow. The Swede has been working all weekend, so we should have all the stuff that has been sent.
I am NOT going to send e-mails to anyone who said they were sending something if I didn't receive just seems too..."Public Radio Telethon" to me. There are a few people I haven't heard from, but these days, who the heck knows what is going on with people in their "real lives".
Doesn't look like we are going to have the scratch to purchase a new laptop for our boy, so I am going to look on the godsend that is Craigslist, and also considering a giftcard from Dell or Bestbuy.
Again, thanks to everyone who joined me on this little expression of Bloggy-love.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Fine, but Freezing

All. Sorry to worry people. I'm fine. Good Thanksgiving, but very busy.

I'm up in the mountains of PA hunting this week. Loving it, all by my lonesome. I have had nothing of interest to say for a while, I used up my "personal" stuff on the last post. I promise to be a better blogger in the future.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Funk, and Not the George Clinton/James Brown Kind...

Alright, I don't talk about this stuff with people. My wife, a couple close friends, that's it. So, either the anonymous quality of blogging, OR the fact that I feel some kind of responsibility to explain my absence to the people I have grown fond of while motivating me to write this.

I's got the funk. No, not the "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker" funk, the "clinically they call it depression" funk. I've had it since I was a kid. Not everyday, not a general sadness, or "down", nope...for me it was always a three/four times a year thing. I just couldn't get out of bed, or off the couch.

In the old days it could last for up to a week...for 4,5,6 days, I just didn't care about anything or anyone. I would either sleep for 20/22 hours a day, or I couldn't sleep at all. I wouldn't eat anything, and when I DID get hungry it was always for pure sugar...chocolate, washed-down with soda. It sucked.

These days, the funk doesn't come as often...the Swede and I were trying to remember the last one before this week...maybe a year, year and a half ago. It doesn't last as long...this one was 3-4 days, and the can kids break-through. I don't want to participate in anything, but I can get it together for them, to play or cuddle.

Thus my disappearance this week. As James Brown would say, "I got the funk!"

As I was thinking about writing this post, I thought some about why I don't share this people. "What's a matter, afraid you won't look macho anymore?", is what one friend asked me. I laughed.
I've shared this with some of you before. Whenever I hear someone say something like, "Real men don't ______ (cry, eat quiche, hold hands in public, etc.)" I always respond the same way.

"Real men" do whatever the fuck they want.
Growing into a "real man", in my opinion, requires this realization. Macho or "self actualized", soldier or shrink, becoming a man means you have to make decisions based on the values you decide are important in your life. Making decisions based on others' opinions of your actions, that's not "manhood", that's being a teenager...

So, why my hesitancy to share this aspect of my life with even those close to me? For me, I think it's vulnerability.
I wrote before about my dog, Miko. She was a sweet dog, never aggressive towards people or other animals, but she WAS a Pit-bull mix, and it was damn near impossible to tell when she was hurt. A vet once told me, that because of the breeds fighting background, Pit-bulls hide injury to mask vulnerability to possible opponents.
That's what I do. Given my childhood (I debate writing about it all the time, you'll be the first to know if I do.), and past profession, I share the same inherent trait with my late dog. I don't think "the funk" makes me less of a man, but it DOES make me vulnerable at times. So I hide it. Work thinks I'm sick, friends too, unless I "half-reveal" what's going on and tell them it's "family issues".

Like a Pit-bull that's not a fighter, I still don't know how to let people know I am "hurt". Then again, very few dogs have blogs...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Us and Them, or Are We Them?

Quick random thoughts as I sit and watch CNBC this morning. I'm only up because I haven't slept yet. That seems to be happening more and more these days. So I stayed up and did some mid-month sales reports, which only made me more depressed, and removed any trace of a chance that I would sleep.

Tough times were easier when I didn't have a family. I could eat Mac and Cheese, or cheap Taco Bell, live in a dive-apartment, and tough it out. That's not a life I care to share with these guys...

CNBC just reported that CitiGroup announced they will cut 50,000 of their 350,000 employees. That's 1 in 7 people who work for Citi, gone, no more job. The people at CNBC think this is a good thing, because the investors are looking for quick action to raise the stock price. So for the people who invest in Citi this is great, for 50,000 people with husbands, wives, and kids...not so much.

Just before that announcement the CNBC folks were talking about the "problem" with pharmaceutical stocks. You see, many medicines are coming off their protected patent, which will allow them to be made generically. So the fact that many people will be able to get their medication more cheaply, perhaps allowing them to afford medicine AND heat, is a disaster to investors. Hmm.

I'm not an anti-business guy. I have always believed in the "free market" and the fact that capitalism often is the motivation for great change. $3.00+ gasoline, was the motivation needed to drive people away from SUVs to fuel-efficient vehicles. It did, what no environmentalist could do. However, my belief in the system is shaken.

I am beginning to believe we all suffer from the "Wal-mart" effect. Every time Wal-mart is going to open a new store, the local community raises a stink. "Small businesses will be crushed! Wal-mart doesn't take care of its' employees! We don't want a Wal-mart here!" Then the store opens, and is packed. The "Mom & Pop" stores DO go out of business, because the same people who screamed and shouted like the cheaper prices at Wal-mart, and "forget" their protests. "Sure Wal-mart pays their people badly, and has lousy benefits, but WE save a ton of money."

Us and them, but which one are we? If you are a Wal-mart employee, you suffer from the success of the business-model. You don't make enough money, your benefits don't cover you or your prescriptions very well. If you live near a Wal-mart, the business-model is a blessing. Your dollar goes further there, with your insurance covering less and less, the $4.00 prescriptions there can save you tons. Us and Them.

I'm not sure we can save ourselves in this financial disaster with an "Us and Them" mentality. So a bunch of investors have some of their retirement savings back, but 50,000 people wonder how they will survive. A company and its' investors fear for their future, as thousands of others thank God that they can finally get their medications generically. Who is right? Is there a right or wrong? Everybody is worried, struggling to make it through.

I'm not sure that any of this means anything. I haven't slept, remember? I just know I am worried. I have two kids eating their cereal besides me on the couch right now. They don't know that their Daddy works for a company of over 300,000 employees too, or that his division sells to the Auto and Real Estate markets. They don't know that those aren't the markets you would want to be in these days. They don't know that he has been up all night, because when he tries to sleep he sees their faces when he closes his eyes. They don't know about Us and Them.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Ciii Computer Fund

-We now interrupt our normal drivel about politics and children, and stuff, to lend this space to some fund-raising efforts.------

I found this over at Best Buy for 299.99 with free shipping. (as of right now) It comes with a monitor, so our boy can just plug and post. Until we see what Wal-mart is offering for Black Friday it is the best out there that I could find.

Again, thanks all, for jumping on board with this. I am new to the blogging world, and Ciii was one of the first blogs, by someone I didn't know, that I really dug. I am doing this for selfish reasons, I want to hear about the Goat and Tater, and quite frankly can't afford to lose one of my most loyal

For those of you that are regular readers who don't also read Ciii's blog "The Goat and Tater", he was laid-off yesterday, and posts from a work computer. None at home. Sooo, the loyalists of his blog are taking up a collection to buy him an inexpensive desktop, so we can keep hearing about our blog-friend and his exploits. (Believe me, just the stories about his mispent youth are worth it!)

I am taking up the collection, and anyone who wants to donate to the cause/person, can e-mail me at with how much you'd like to contribute. Once we have about $300 pledged, I will e-mail everyone the address to the bank where my wife works, and everyone can send their checks. (My banker wife won't hear of anyone sending cash, it makes her ears bleed.) I will place the order through Best Buy, or Wal-mart, etc., and CC every single donor.

I will update this post as e-mails come in, so everyone can track how much we have pledged.

Again, thanks guys. Now back to our regularly scheduled program....

(This only includes people who e-mailed me, not those who commented on Ciii's blog)
Total Pledged: $40 (as of 11/15/2008)

Total Pledged: $155 (Half way, later on 11/15/2008!!)

Total Pledged: $180 (Niiice. Still 11/15/2008)

Total Pledged: $200 (Only $100 left. 11/15/2008)

Total Pledged: $260 (So Close...Let's do this! 11/19/2008)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Open Letter to a Podiatrist, "Please Help My Son!"

Dear Dr. Smith,

(In the interest of full disclosure, I feel like I must apologize for snickering when I wrote doctor above. I mean, I know you went to Podiatric Medical School, and earned the title Dr, but come on, feet? So, what happens if you're on an airplane, someone collapses, and the pilot asks, "Is there a Doctor on board?" Do you just remain seated and sip your drink, or do you run forward to clip the patients' toe-nails and work on their corns until "real" medical help arrives? Just wondering...)

Now on to my problem. My son is 14 months old, and we think he has a congenital defect, or perhaps an inherited genetic disorder, that has always been present, but now has become a problem tearing our family apart. We are at wits end, and you are our last hope. (Obi-wan. Ha, just kidding, this is serious.)

You see, my son, is constitutionally incapable of keeping shoes and socks on his feet. No matter how many times we "reapply" them, minutes later he is barefoot.
We, as a family, believe in footwear. We have neighbors, who run around barefoot all summer, soles of their feet blackened, like an impending storm, by seasons end. Not us. Sure, we may go sock-less sometimes, or run barefoot on some nice grass, but for the most part...we like the shoes.

At first, it happened slowly. My son would be wearing socks in the house, and would give it his infant-all to pull them off. Since he always grabbed them by the toe, as often as not, he achieved a "half-on, half-off" look, socks flapping in the breeze when we picked him up. Sometimes, he would get them off, and we then learned he didn't like socks on his feet, but LOVED socks in his mouth.

Overtime, it got much, much worse.

Now that he is walking, we try to keep socks on him when we are home, to avoid his feet looking like the "above-mentioned" neighbors. It doesn't work. My wife and I would often accuse one another of not putting socks on the little guy, only to discover, to our shame, the tiny little pieces of evidence that we were wrong, under a couch cushion, or under a pile of toys on the floor. Many a night we would hold each other and cry, begging apology of the other for our hurtful accusations.

Then came the shoes, oh God, the shoes. When we leave the house, as responsible parents, we put both socks and shoes on the little fella'. We tuck him in the car seat, start the car, and by the time we have pulled out of the driveway, my poor afflicted son has removed at least one shoe, and has a sock in his mouth, eyes pleading with us for help with his problem.

We fear for our four year-old daughter. We hate to think about all the times she has been left to her own devices, beside the car in the parking-lot of our destination, as we search through "floor-Cheerios" and McDonald's toys for a lost sock or shoe. Must she get struck by a rogue shopping cart, or a car driven by one of those people who circle the parking-lot constantly until a space opens near the door, before the medical community will take this "condition" seriously?

Yes, we have sought help from the medical community before. The people at St. Judes Children's Hospital are just mean. Apparently, they only treat real children's' diseases like cancer and diabetes. While those conditions may be more serious, was a restraining order, instructing me not to call them, or appear in the same city as the hospital, really necessary?

Also, in desperation, we reached out to the church... Having been raised Catholic, I figured there had to be a Patron Saint we could implore for help. I mean, geez, they have a Patron Saint for everything. I looked forward to praying to a "Saint Sebastian of the Shoes", or maybe someone with slightly broader responsibilities, like a "Saint Carl of Sandals and Assorted Footwear". Nothin'. That's right, apparently Pope's through the ages, have never considered my son's disease worth of a saint. *sigh*

Doctor (hee, hee), please don't think that I have only gone outside the home for help either. I have tried to solve this dilemma myself, in fact I DID solve it. I solved it the way any red-blooded American man would have. Duct tape.

What did I care if people looked at my boy oddly, his little feet wrapped in gray? The shoes and socks stayed on, and he amused himself with desperately trying to get the tape off. It would have been the perfect solution, but, it turns out, feet need blood-flow. How was I supposed to know? I haven't been to Podiatric Medical School.

I STILL think involving Child Protective Services was overkill, I mean they saved his toes. Why involve the authorities? (Also, I don't know if you have kids, but babies are wusses. When he wore shorts and we took the tape off at night, you would think we were taking off like 4 or 5 layers of skin! It was never more So, once my wife started talking to me again, I apologized and tried to rethink the problem. Apparently, she didn't like the staple nor glue-gun solutions, so here we are.

I know this may not seem like a pressing problem, to a man who deals with such serious issues as "fallen arches" and "rough heels" everyday, but we are desperate. Any research you could do, to discover if any other families are being torn apart by this nightmare, would be appreciated. Thank you.



P.S.: I know it's a little "North" of your expertise, but do you have any idea how to get a kid's skin to grow back on the legs? Just askin'.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Ciii, over at The Goat and Tater wrote this yesterday. It's maybe the most touching post, remembering the birth of a child, I have ever read. I really dig the way this guy writes. I've been thinking about it all day, and contrasting his experience to mine and the way The Monkey took over my life...

Ciii wrote that he was in love the moment he saw his daughter. Me, not so much. I had never been around babies before, and I remember the moment the doctors and nurses left The Swede and me alone with our new baby for the first time. I thought they had made a mistake...did they know they had left this little human behind with us?! We had entered the hospital 10 hours before, with some of the stuff we needed for a baby, but damn, we didn't come in parents! What made them think we were capable of being parents now?

Babies don't do much...they don't smile, or laugh, right away. They're hard to have a good talk with...and what's up with the whole "hold the head" thing? Even a puppy or kitten isn't so helpless it needs someone to help it not damage it's little spine when it's head falls forward or back. So for a while...I wondered.

Had I made a mistake? Maybe I didn't like kids, even my own...this wasn't the best time to be figuring this out, I was scared. What if I didn't grow fonder of her? What if I never developed the feelings for her that The Swede seemed to have the instant they met? Why couldn't I smell that scent the Swede did, every time she smelled her little head?


Then little things changed... Instead of her screaming the moment her mother passed her to me, she began to tuck her head into my neck, and hold on with her little hands. She began to smile at me, and laugh. She would laugh at my funny faces, and the stuffed animal "shows" I would put on for her. Oh, that laugh. Like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes every time she laughed, the deep baby belly laugh. Like Miracle-Gro for my love.

We started to go out together...everywhere. I would take her to the store, to get videos, to get gas...we were suddenly inseparable, I didn't want to be anywhere without her. We would listen to music in the car and she would "dance", bouncing up and down and back and forth with the beat. I would reach back, behind my seat, and grab her little feet...again, the laugh, punctuated with squeals.
We would "talk". I would mimic her little noises, and she would repeat them, smiling as I played Mockingbird to her sounds.

She'd done it. She had answered my questions. Hell, she answered questions I hadn't thought to ask, about everything...every mistake I had made in my life, every turn I had taken...led me to her.
I've told everyone I know, that having a child is like wiping the "slate of life" clean.

You get to be anything you want to see reflected back in those eyes. She doesn't care what kind of man I was in my 20's, the paths I started down that led the wrong way. She only sees who I am today, and will remember me for who I become in the future.

So I didn't fall in love with my Monkey at first, she wormed her way into my heart, and made it her own. People like to say that little girls wrap their Daddy's around their fingers, but you want to know the truth? We're like pythons, we wrap ourselves around their little fingers, and hold on with all the strength we can muster.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Award (I haven't gotten my money yet though)

Well, I am honored. Laggin of "Under The Roof of a Great House" presented me with an award.

Now, I'm not entirely clear as to what blog-awards mean, but I am looking forward to getting my check for it in the mail.

There are two criteria for accepting this award. First, listing 6 things that make me happy today.

1) The Kids. I am working from home today, while the Swede is at a company training. I hate mornings, but these two are pretty damn cute in their PJ's.

2) The Job. These days, still having a job should make us all happy.

3) Coffee. Oh God, I love coffee...I mean, I fuckin' LOVE coffee!

4) Coffee. Did I mention I love coffee. Hey, I was up at 7:15, coffee gets two mentions.

5) Cold weather. It is going to be really cold here for a couple days, so perhaps the allergies, that have plagued the Monkey and I all year, will finally subside.

6) This whole blogging thing. A year ago, I found an old friend who had a blog, and I didn't even know what that met. I read, I joined, I commented, I started this thing. I like my job, but it doesn't require much thought. Blogging allows me to be creative, discuss the stuff I like, and write. Thanks to DCD and Laggin who pulled me into all of this, kickin' and screaming.

Now, the second part of the award, says I have to give it away. So I shall.

1) DCD at Dana's Brain. She started me on all this, so blame her.

2) Carolyn at Carolynonline. Hers was the first blog I read after Dana's, then I stole her blogroll.

3) Ciii at The Goat and Tater. I have to talk to my Mom, 'cause this guy may be my long-lost, more talented, brother. He writes about his kids the way my heart feels about mine.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Stuff That Works

There's a great Guy Clark song titled "Stuff That Works", where he sings about the things in his life he loves and is grateful for. I had one of those nights...

We've had health issues in my extended family. I work for a large company and my division sells to the Auto Industry, which is suffering greatly this days. So I worry about money, and my job on a regular basis. The Swede works on the weekends, so we feel like we rarely see each other. The kids have differing nighttime issues, one is hard to get to sleep, the other hard to keep asleep.
You know, I have all the same daily stresses that most everyone else has, and sometimes it makes me forget what is really important.

Tonight I was reminded of the "Stuff That Works".

It began with these guys...

I wrote about these guys before. The cat is Riley and the dog, Daisy, and obviously, they like each other.
We had a great evening, the kids were in good spirits, and went to bed with no problems. The Swede and I got in some good cuddling time before she went to bed. I was watching TV in my newish (April) house, the bills were paid, and I looked over at the couch. The animals were wrapped around each other, in perfect contentment.
Later, I went upstairs to check on the sleepers. Scratch was on his side in his crib, his arm wrapped around this stuffed monkey. The Swede was tucked in, with the cat at her feet. The Monkey was in her room, fast asleep with her best friend, Daisy, curled up beside her. I, was in a place I never dared hope for...
Sometimes I forget. I let the "little" and "not so little" things overshadow the true gifts I have in my life.
I live in a house of love. I mean this in a literal way, everyone in this home expresses their love. The Swede and I used to joke that we had the cuddliest animals ever, but it turns out it must be us, because the kids are the same way. All of us love to be cuddled up next to one another, and we usually are.
My kids and wife are healthy, happy, and safe. We all eat well, have a nice house, medical care when we need it, and have each other. It's more than enough.
Sometimes I forget, but sometimes, I remember to be grateful for the "Stuff That Works".

Friday, November 07, 2008

Prop 8, Religion, and Government (Updated, Oops)

(Debate rule #1: Clearly frame your argument in the first paragraph. Thanks to DCD, and her comments, it's come to my attention that my first couple of paragraphs make it seem as if I was advocating compromise on the Gay Marriage debate. Nothing could be farther from the truth! I just forgot "rule #1".
In fact, I cannot believe that we are having any debate at all, in the United States of America, about giving equal rights to all Americans in 2008. The point I was trying to make(badly), was that this is a Civil Rights issue. The rights that come under the term "marriage" whether they be legal or monetary, have to be available to EVERYONE! The problem is, that the term "marriage" is a religious one, so the post below was trying to make the point that we need to remove religion from this issue.
Again, I can't believe that in America in 2008, we are having legislative action taken due to religion. This was my point: If you remove the religious term "marriage" out of what is actually an Equal Rights issue, I believe you would find almost no support for legislation such as Prop 8.)

What the hell? I've discussed Gun Control, Politics and Religion here. Why not throw out my belief about homosexual marriage. I am not trying to change any minds here. These are my thoughts on this topic.

First of all, I have read a bunch of blogs that express shock that the citizens of California passed Prop 8, revoking the right of homosexuals to marry in the state. I agree, in principle, with the outrage, but I think that the fight is taking the wrong tack.

When the founding fathers wrote our Constitution, to include the separation of church and state, many believe this was to keep church out of government. I believe they did it to keep government out of church. Remember, these men were rising up against England, and more specifically the King of England. A king who descended from another king, who decided he would tell the people of England what religion they would be a part of. The pilgrims didn't leave England because the church had too much power over government, they left because the government had become the church. So I do not believe, constitutionally, that our government can tell the Conservative Christians, nor anyone that is a part of an organized religion that believes homosexuality is wrong, that they MUST accept homosexuals.

The government CAN, however, keep anyone from discriminating against another due to their race, religion, gender, or sexual preference. IMO, this should not include marriage, because marriage shouldn't be the purview of the government to begin with! None of us should be "married" by the government, marriage is a religious practice NOT a governmental right!

I believe that if you asked many of the people in California who voted for Prop 8 if they wanted to discriminate against homosexuals, they would say no. They voted yes, because they were defending their religions' definition of marriage as they understand it.
Many people don't realize that "marriage" allows a person to make important legal decisions for their partner at the end of their lives. That "marriage" allows a couple to share insurance benefits, pass on property in the event of death, and avoid the "death" tax. They may realize that "marriage" carries some income tax benefits, but they see denying homosexuals that, as a small price to pay to protect their religious views.

IMO we need to reshape this entire issue, by removing the government from the marriage game all together. All long-term couples should be able to apply for the status of "civil union", and that union should carry the same rights for everyone. Taxes, insurance, and legal rights should come with the "civil union", and instead of divorce, a couple that splits would "dissolve" that union. The legal battles at the end of the relationship would remain the same. I believe no legislation such as Prop 8 would survive for long, if the word marriage were not involved, but instead people needed to vote directly for discrimination.

Once marriage is removed from government, then, a couple can get married within their church. If you believe that God "hates the sin" of homosexuality, stay in your prejudiced church with everyone who shares your view. If you are a homosexual couple, you can find one of the many liberal churches that are inclusive and get married there. This way the government is not involved in marriage at all. The Conservative Christians can believe that the marriages by the inclusive churches are false in the eyes of God, and revel in their knowledge that they are members of the "true" church.

I choose to believe that, if indeed there is a Supreme Being (I've called it F.U.E. in the past. Formless Universal Entity) out there, and it did have a hand in creating all of this, that FUE would not create something only to punish it for its' creation. I abhor the hatred I see pouring forth from so many people, hidden in the guise of "religion", but I don't believe we can legislate love.

We can, however, legislate equality.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Why Not Let Sam Say It?

We have fufilled our promise to the world.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union..."

Not perfect, but striving to always improve who and what we are.

Hello world, we're back!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A New America

This, my friends, marks a huge turning point in our country's history.

I, for one, am proud to have been a part of it, and to have been witness to it.

God Bless America!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lawyers, Guns and Money

(Ok, this post has nothing to do with Lawyers or Money. Except: the person who talked me into blogging (Laggin) is a lawyer, and still seems strangely human; and I have no money. Nope, this post is about guns and gun control and is sure to piss off anyone who reads it. So, it was nice having you here...take care.)

This post is going to make everyone on both sides of the gun control issue mad. If you are anti-guns, you are going to read this, and think I am on my way to Montana to join my militia brethren. If you are a card-carrying NRA member, you are going to read the same thing, and think I am a left-wing mouthpiece, ready to board the UN helicopters to help take away your guns. Neither is correct, but whatever... So why write a post that is going to stir everybody up?

The Swede and I have great friends who happen to be a lesbian couple. They told us once, that they watch Gay Pride parades on TV and cringe. They said that every time a parade is covered on television, the cameras only show the "dykes on bikes" and transvestites. They(TV) never cover the hundreds of long-term couples, parents, and everyday citizens that happen to be gay. So the folks that have a prejudice against gays, get to look at the TV and have their preconceptions of all gays confirmed. Well, in the past couple weeks, gun-owners have been represented by the worst of us, yet again.

A couple of weeks ago, an eight-year-old child was killed, when the Uzi machine gun he was firing at an event in Massachusetts, went out of his control and shot him in the head. (I had to read that sentence again to make myself believe what I was writing.) I have since heard gun advocates say this was a "tragic accident", while defending the organizations right to hand machine guns to kids.

Also, I was shooting at a local range last week and had a great conversation with the man working behind the counter. He was friendly, and very talkative. After I bought my targets, got my lane assignment, and bullshitted with him for a while, I was walking towards the range and heard him get into a political discussion with the person behind me. As they discussed the upcoming elections, he brought up Obama, and the old rhetoric about how Obama was going to take away all our guns. Then he said this, "I hope if he gets elected, someone shoots the bastard." I turned in shock to see the customer laugh nervously and ask for targets. As I walked into the range, pissed, because I wasn't going to be able to shoot there anymore, (and of course it is the range 5 minutes from my house, and dirt cheap...goddammit) I saw an Obama/Biden campaign sign that someone had used as a target. WTF!

I am a gun owner. I did not grow up in a "gun" family, in fact my mother is just a little left of Karl Marx, and my father is afraid of guns. I became a "gun person" in the military, taught myself how to hunt in adulthood, and have owned guns for the last 13 years. I do believe the Supreme Court was correct in its' decision that the Second Amendment is an individual right. I also, just wish some "gun people" should shut up!

Before I talk about why I think that anti-gun advocates are misdirected in many cases, can I please talk about fanatics? I've written before about how I believe "all or nothing" thinking is our society's biggest problem. This certainly is true in the gun debate. Can we seriously not agree that an eight-year-old should NOT be shooting a fully automatic weapon? Really? If my kids want to hunt with me, I plan on letting them, and teaching them to shoot. That does not mean they can shoot anything they want. Why is common-sense an attack on the Second Amendment? If you let your child drive go-carts, or battery-powered cars that doesn't mean you should let them operate an actual car...
"You can't tell me how to raise my children!", the NRA-lovin' folks will scream. We already do, idiot. You are required to put your infant in a car-seat when you drive, you have to put them in school (or prove you are home-schooling them), and they can't drive until they are 16 years old. Common sense.
I don't know at what age a child should be allowed to start to learn firearms, but I do know that the learning process shouldn't include an automatic assault rifle at the age of eight!

"Slippery slope." That's the argument that the NRA will make, and in a sense, they're right. There are no groups out there that advocate a common sense approach to firearms. Either, they are groups that believe in restrictions on firearms that they hope will lead to having no weapons left, except for rifles and shotguns for hunting, ala Europe; or the NRA, who believes that any restriction of any firearms is an attack on the Second Amendment. *sigh* Once again, fanatics on both sides, shaping the debate.

Now I need to interject one political comment here. I am Independent, and will be voting for Obama AND some Republican candidates for other offices. I often shake my head at the rhetoric on both sides...BUT there is a difference in my head shaking. "Liberals" (I don't know exactly what that means, BTW.) may advocate things I don't agree with, but they almost always do so with the best of intentions. How can I get bent out of shape at the call for "gun-control" when the purpose is to reduce crime and specifically deaths by gun? I may disagree with the means by which they propose to get to that end, but I can't argue with the goal itself. I have often told my (very liberal) brother, that if there was an electromagnet that could be placed above the US, and it could suck up the millions (?billion?) of guns that are already here, I would surrender mine. It can't happen. So it begs the question: Who are gun laws affecting?

My biggest issues with anti-gun advocates is the very premise on which they base their efforts. Gun "laws" by very definition, affect only those who willing obey the law. The problem is, that the people who commit homicide with a firearm, are already willing to break the most serious law our society has. A person willing to take the life of another human being, is not going to be deterred by increasing the penalty for possession of an illegal firearm. So, the only people affected by stricter gun laws, are law-abiding citizens who choose to own a firearm for recreational or self-defense purposes. It's like passing a law that nobody is allowed to lift weights and grow stronger, so the only people who get bigger and stronger are people who break the law. WTF?

"The police. The police protect us", is the cry of anti-gun advocates. I'm sorry, but I WAS the police for most of the 90's, and I can count on one-hand the number of crimes I prevented. Most police responses occur during or after the commission of a crime. Not the police's fault, they can't be everywhere at once.
I was once told by a rape-counselor I worked with while in Law Enforcement, "I have yet to meet a women who was sexually assaulted, who is against carrying guns." Whether you choose to own a gun or not, they ARE great physical equalizers. A women, who might not be a physical match for a male attacker, is able to defend herself (regardless of size difference) with a firearm.

"Why do you need a gun? Are you afraid? Do you walk around expecting to be attacked?" No, but I wear my seatbelt every time I get in my car, and I don't expect to be in an accident either. I am stealing this story from an e-mail I received sometime ago, author unknown:
A sheriff for a fairly "liberal" community, attended a formal dinner party in town. He was seated next to an older, very liberal, woman at his table. As he sat down, the woman caught sight of the firearm he was wearing concealed under his jacket. "Sheriff", she asked with condescension, "I see you are wearing your gun. Are you expecting trouble at this dinner party?" "No Ma'am." he responded, "If I were expecting trouble, I would have brought the shotgun."

Yes, I have a license to carry a gun, concealed on my person, and yes I carry a gun. When I am asked why I carry the gun to _____(the store, the gas station, movies, etc.), I respond as above. I choose to carry, so trying to figure out when to carry is like trying to figure out when I wear my seatbelt. Either wear it or don't. Trying to predict when you will need it is ridiculous.

So I like guns. I must be a NRA-lovin' nut case, right? No. I no longer am a member of the NRA, because I don't like fanatics. I believe I have the right to own and carry a gun, but I can't believe how easy it is to do both. I have to prove to somebody, that I know how to drive my car, they test me. Why is it that such a suggestion, in regards to guns, makes the NRA crazy? Is having guns in the hands of people with no training, doing me (as a responsible, trained firearm owner) any favors? We are riddled with stories of people who accidentally shoot themselves while cleaning their guns, or children getting killed or injured when they find an unsecured firearm. The first, should NEVER occur if a person is trained properly. It is like working on your cars' engine while the car is running...stupid.
The second, may occur no matter what, just like homes with pools WILL have tragic drownings, but education and training could dramatically reduce such incidents with firearms.

So why then, is the NRA against any common-sense laws requiring training and testing for gun ownership? "Slippery slope" again, but that allows for no dialogue. I believe that it is the responsibility of law-abiding gun owners/collectors/enthusiasts to work to make the ownership of firearms safer. Unlike people who "just don't like guns", we can help to shape laws and create requirements that make sense and could actually make a difference.
For those individuals that don't choose to own a firearm, it still is within your best interest to try and understand those that do. Work with them to ensure that others who join the legion of firearms owners, do so with proper training and discussion of the severity of that decision.
As in most things within our society, I believe trying to understand the point of view of those that don't agree with us, could go a long way to making compromises we ALL can accept.

(Again, sorry for the length. I am just tired of being represented by people who don't speak for me.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Princess and The Rat

Happy Halloween Everybody! Here are some pics of our neighborhood outing.

I considered making "Rat" the boy's nickname from now on. I decided the name carries so many negative connotations, it would be a cruel moniker to put on the lad so early.

"Seriously! A rat?! My first costume is a fuckin' rat?!"

Was there any doubt what the Monkey would be? Of course she was a Princess. What you may not know, is Daddy tells "Princess Amelia" stories at night. Nary a prince in sight. Only Princess Amelia and her trusty steed "Bob". (Gotta undo that "knight in shining armor" crap somehow.)

"Prince who? Tell him I'll call him back. I'm fighting skeletons."

"Ugh. So much candy to carry, my shoulder is sore."

Scratch, who is not allowed candy yet, was understandably unimpressed with the whole experience.

"Yeaaaa. Me in a rat suit. I swear, I am going to kill you while you sleep...get me out of this thing."

"Fine! I'll take the damn thing off myself you jackasses!"

"I'll just hide the candy wrappers back here..."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

One Year Ago Today...

In a blogesphere where people discuss the loss of spouses, or God forbid, children, the loss of a dog seems minor. It still hurt like hell...

This is my blog namesake, Miko. I held her as she took her last breath a year ago today. She was my best friend for 12 years, and saw me through a lot. She still holds the record for my longest relationship with a female, who wasn't my mother.

She wasn't classically beautiful, her head was too small for her body, and only one ear stood up (unless she heard something, then number two sprang to life). She wouldn't have won any dog-shows, but she was smarter than any dog I have ever met. She could be directed with only your hand and listened to every command. Well, almost any command, she did teach herself to open the sliding glass door in my old apartment in Virginia. This way, she could let herself out when the neighborhood dogs were out and playing.

I met her in 1995 when I was still in the military. She was 11 weeks old and with 5 of her brothers and sisters. I walked into the room and it was a flurry of little furry bodies, playing and yipping. Then, like someone blew a whistle, they all piled together and went to sleep. I didn't know there REALLY was such a thing as a dog-pile, but there they were, a little hill of cuteness. I picked each one up, and they woke up and licked my face, or tried to rejoin the pile. Not her. I picked her up, she opened one eye, decided she was safe with me, and went back to sleep in my hands. I was hooked.

Miko helped me pick the Swede. Although, she didn't know it was going to lead to losing her spot on my bed. She may have rethought it, had she known. My roommate was dating a girl, who had a friend in from Sweden, and who joined them at our apartment to go hiking.

The Swede entered my apartment and was greeted, as everyone always was, by 80 lbs of fur. She immediately got down on the floor with Miko and started to play tug-of-war with Miko's rope. (On a side note. Miko was a German Shepard/Rotty/Pitbull mix, and keeping toys was tough. She chewed through everything I EVER bought her. The rope seemed to last the longest. She never chewed anything but her toys BTW.) A minute later Miko was on the floor with her legs in the air, and a tall blond rubbing her belly. Miko looked at me, and I swear I heard a voice in my head saying, "This one might be a keeper Dad!” They remained friends until the end.

Miko only barked once. Always. If she heard a noise outside, or someone at the door, one deep bark alerted us, and let the person outside know she was there. She passed this on to Daisy, the Cocker Spaniel we got when Miko was 6. In fact, she trained Daisy in everything. We didn't do much, the little one just copied Miko.

Miko had a cat. That's how my friends put it. "Jamie has a dog named Miko, and Miko has a cat named Riley." It was true. The women I was with in the 90's got a kitten when Miko was 8 months old. When we split, I took my dog, and my dog begged me to give her the cat. You see, Riley worshiped Miko. He cleaned her face and ears almost every night. Slept with her, wrapped inside her legs, and feared nothing when she was around. Every time we moved, Riley would hide until Miko found him. Then he would come out and stand underneath her, filled with the knowledge "his" dog would protect him.

She did protect him. Once a neighbors' dog was in our house and ran towards Riley. Riley didn't move, and gave the dog a 'Dude, I wouldn't do that if I were you' look. Out of nowhere there was a black flash, and the neighbors’ dog was hip-checked into the wall, and pinned to the ground by Miko's teeth. She didn't bite it, but it knew she could have. I swear this next part is true...Riley walked up to the now-helpless dog and stood over it for a minute. 'I told you.’ he seemed to say, and turned with the flick of his tail and sauntered off.

Miko didn't like the Monkey (this was one of the great disappointments of my life). She was old when the baby came, and her hips were already hurting her. She would whine when the Monkey would crawl/walk towards her, and scramble to her feet to avoid the strange little human. She used to look at me, as if to say, "Dad! A cat, a woman, and a puppy. They weren't enough?" Still, she knew the Monkey was important to us.

6 months before she died, the Swede and Monkey took Miko and Daisy to the dogpark. (You know, big fenced field where the pups can run.) A women and her Husky were there. The women paid no attention to my clan, but her dog did. It rushed over to the Monkey and jumped up on her, knocking her down. The Swede swatted it off, and looked for its owner. Nothing. As the Husky came back towards the Monkey, Miko struck (less of a flash this time, her hips were really bad). Miko hit the dog at a full limpy run, catching it around the neck. This time she DID bite. The Husky yelped, tore away from her, and ran back to its owner, who was finally coming to control her animal. The women started to say something, but Miko had planted herself between my family and the women (and dog), and growled. The Swede said she had never heard her make a noise like that before. The Swede told the women that the sign said "Control Your Dog At All Times", and she was a jackass. Apparently, a growling Miko and screaming Swede convince people to shut up.

The medicine finally couldn't stop the pain in her hips anymore. I took her to the veterinarian for the last time, October 30, 2007. I held her head, and looked in her eyes as the Dr gave her the shot. For a minute, nothing happened, then she took a deep breath...once, twice...and she was gone.

I miss you big girl, thanks for loving me for all those years.

(Sorry this was so long. I have a million more stories about her, my fingers got tired.)

My Daughter is a Pornographer

My MIL found my four-year old daughter taking pictures of her vagina today. We are raising Hugh Hefner, and Daddy ain't happy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the lady parts. I spent the majority of my “tween” and early teen years trying to find a picture of them. (That’s right son, back when Daddy was a kid, we had to look at something called magazines. Pictures on paper, I know, it seems so primitive. Cable? It was new, and your Grandmother didn’t like new, but even if we’d had it, there was no Cinemax then.) In my youth, the most valuable friend you could have, was a kid who’s father got Playboy.

After that, I spent my teen years, oh hell, I spent ALL my years trying to get women to give me access to their "lady parts". The vagina brought me my children. I love the vagina.

Except…when you have a daughter, things change.

I spent the first month of the Monkeys life terrified of cleaning “down there”. (If you don’t have a daughter, here’s the thing, sometimes the poop in the diaper…gets in “there”.) How did I clean it out? “How do I get it , what do I do?” I’d ask the Swede. She laughed at me, and said “You have to clean it out. What did you think, it was self-cleaning?” Noooo, I just don’t far do I pursue the poo, what if I push it deeper? These things frightened me. With time, I got over it.

Then it got worse.

One day, when I was changing the Monkey, she got the most blissful smile on her face. I was touched, she loved me. Nope. She loved TOUCHING herself! I had a 6 month old who had discovered the joy of “self-pleasure”. I tried to distract her, but apparently stuffed animals are no match for “self-love”. I was mortified. I got over it.

So today, my daughter is taking pictures with her mothers’ camera. She loves the camera, and she takes great pics. My MIL notices that the Monkey has gone behind the couch, and is taking pictures of something back there. She goes to share the joy of photography with her grandchild, and finds the Monkey with the camera in her PJ bottoms, TAKING PICTURES of her v-jay-jay! The Monkey smiles at her, and offers to share her new pictures, Grandma declines. Apparently, there is something that can shock even Swedish folk.

So, we have deleted the pictures, lest we be caught up in INTERPOL’s next child-porn sweep, and spoken to the Monkey about why it might not be the best idea to take pictures of your “private areas”. She nodded and said she understood.

I haven’t gotten over this one yet.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Its A Boy!!

So, for the past year, since the birth of Scratch, I have had innumerable people say something like, "I bet you're happy it's a boy, huh Dad?". As if, somehow the Monkey was less than perfect for me, because she was a girl. Like I longed for the day the Swede would bear me an heir. This is for them...

First of all, my four-year old girl will kick the ass of your four-year old boy...hell, I'd put my money on her if your kid is younger than seven. Since she was able to crawl she has loved to wrestle with me. I am 6'2" and go about 240, she doesn't, nor has she ever, but she loves to bang heads on the floor. She knew how to turn her hips and shoulder into a straight right-hand, behind a left jab since she was two.

The Monkey gets hurt...a lot. She likes to run and jump, and doesn't always look where she is going or correctly ascertain the height of what she is jumping from. She rarely cries when she gets hurt. We usually find out what happened when we notice the bruises at bath time. If she is crying after a fall...she is HURT.

The Monkey loves to fish with me, or her uncle, or her grandfather. She has loved to go out in the boat since she was about 2 1/2. She handles worms, she picks out her own minnow, and she reels in her own fish before asking, "Can I touch it?" She has already asked if she can come hunting with me someday...

The Monkey loves bugs, toads, construction sites, Barbie, and Disney Princesses. If they made a "Back-Hoe Barbie", the Monkey's head would explode. She asked for a Remote-Controlled car for her birthday, after she saw one near her favorite playground.

Scratch is a boy. He makes a one-year old version of "Vroom-Vroom" when he pushes anything with wheels. He enjoys head butting things, people, pets, and occasionally the wall. He also likes to put his head on my shoulder when I rock him before bed. Then he puts his arm over my shoulder, and rubs my cheek with his little hand. Every time, it makes me love him a little more.

So no, jackasses, I wasn't "relieved" or "thrilled" Scratch was a boy. I was, both of those things, that he was healthy. You see, I expose my kids to the things I love AND things I don't know jack about. I don't decide, beforehand, if it is a Girl thing or a macho Boy thing. If Scratch had been a girl, she would have gone fishing too, AND she would totally be able to kick your little boy's ass...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Monkey Dreams and Daddy

(The picture is apropos of nothing; it's just my favorite picture of The Monkey to date. My folks have a lake house in the Pocono’s, and we were there about a year and a half ago. The Monkey was still in her PJ's, the morning sun was coming through the picture window, and she made a fort out of the pillows of the big chair in the living room. My SIL got down on the floor and took the pic. That is a happy Monkey.)

The Monkey had a nightmare tonight. So she came downstairs to get her hero, her safety net. To my amazement, that is me... When she is with me, nothing scares her. She can jump tall buildings in a single bound, take on all comers...because Daddy has her back. It still humbles me. I am not worthy.

I followed her back upstairs, and tucked her back in. I cast my "magic spell" to assure only good dreams. This involves taking a Kleenex out of the box and holding it by the corners, then I delicately bring it down over her head and down her face while whispering, "I banish all bad dreams. Tonight you will only have happy dreams, with doggies, princesses (Freakin' Disney), and beautiful rainbows". Then repeat. The spell changes based on what new delight is occupying The Monkeys time and energy that week.

She smiles, and gives me a kiss. Then nestles down into the covers. I climb in bed and lay down behind her. It's a comforter-coated Monkey, nothing but blond hair and a little arm outside the covers. She scooches closer, closes her eyes and says, "I love you sooo much Daddy. I'm going to keep you forever." I rub her arm and tell her I'm not going anywhere.

She trusts me. Like no person ever has. Nothing can hurt her while I am there. I notice her bent arm is the same length as my hand, as I rub it, and silently make her a promise. "Nothing WILL ever hurt you while I am around sweet Monk."

Now I just have to figure out how to follow her everywhere until I die.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Please, Please, Please, Stop Talking Now!

I know I was going to write another one about religion, but watching CNN over the last couple of days has me ready to shoot the TV. (It was good enough for Elvis...)

When did politics become throwing every bullshit catch phrase against the wall, and seeing if anything sticks with people too stupid to realize it is bullshit?

Maybe I know the answer. True confession time. I voted for Bush in 2000. Yep, blame me. I TOLD you I was an Independent who had voted both Democrat and Republican. ALTHOUGH I stand by the vote, given what I knew at the time. Dems and Rep from the state of Texas claimed, as Governor, Bush had brought the two sides together like nobody ever had. He claimed to want to minimize US military involvement around the world, etc, etc. In short, I was bamboozled OR a really dumb alien pod replaced Bush.

Anyway, the answer to my question above may be the Iraq war. After months of telling us we were going in because of the risk of WMD's, none were found. SOOOOOOO, we went to bed one night having gone into Iraq for WMDs and woke up the next morning having gone into Iraq to bring Democracy to the Middle East region. What the fuck? They decided if they pretended that's why we went, that ALL of us would forget the past year? Most surprising, SOME of us did! "Oh, that's right...we went to Iraq to bring democracy. I'm getting very, very sleepy...".

So now, apparently, that's how we run campaigns. If McCain or Palin accuse Obama of leading us to Socialism, ONE MORE FUCKIN' TIME, I am going to lose my mind.

During the past eight years of a Republican Administration, with 6 of those years having a Republican controlled House and Senate, we created the LARGEST EVER government agency in our history, The Department of Homeland Security. We just spent over ONE TRILLION DOLLARS to bail out businesses that supposedly were free-market.

Not allowing equal distribution of windfall profits, while spreading the cost of failure across the entire tax-paying population of the country isn't Socialism. IT'S FUCKING STUPID SOCIALISM!!! For 3 years we have heard the CEO's of Oil Companies testifying that taxing their record profits, while the price of gasoline tripled, would be unfair in a free-market economy. Alright boys, now that we have paid over 1 Trillion dollars proving that we ain't in a free-market, pony the fuck up.

However, the idiots are listening to McCain/Palin, as if none of this happened. I keep seeing interviews with people voting for McCain, who keep saying they are worried Obama will lead us to Socialism.

One of the interviewees was a farmer. A FUCKING FARMER, WORRIED ABOUT SOCIALISM?!?! AREN'T YOU GETTING MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT TO NOT GROW SHIT?! WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT IS MORON!!!! You don't want socialism, Farmer Brown? Great, give us back the money you have received for the last 20 years to keep your field empty, so the government could regulate grain prices.

You Democrats aren't without blame either kids. Didn't Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid lead the charge for "throwing the Republican bums out" in the last election? They were going to start bring the boys home from Iraq, restoring our civil rights, blah, blah, blah. They ain't done shit. Oh, they whine about why they can't do shit, it's always someone else's fault. So they tell us we need to vote Democrat, because they aren't to blame for any of the last 8 years, nor the last 3 months. Huh?

All of them keep telling us they will get to the bottom of what happened to create this economic disaster. What?! Like you all weren't a part of it? During the WorldCom/Enron days, we were told that you would get to the bottom of that too...and create transparency in corporations so it could never happen again. You were ALL there. Nancy Pelosi joined the Congress in 1987. Harry Reid the Senate in 1987. Biden has been in the Senate since 1973! McCain in '87 as well. BUT NOW THEY ARE ALL GOING TO INVESTIGATE HOW "THEY" LET THIS HAPPEN. "They"! What fucking "they". "They" is all of you!

So is it a matter of who is wrong’(er)(est)? Great. That's what the Founding Fathers hoped for, a decision between a bunch of piles of steaming shit.

How about this. How about an admission that all of you in our Government have made a big ole mess of everything? Ask for a clean slate, because you can't point out what a fuck-up the opposition is, without admitting you are his/her equal in that department. Tell us what you want to do to rectify all these problems. (Here's where it gets radical.) Then actually do it!

How we got here, is much less important than how we fucking get out. We Americans, all learned not to call each other names in kindergarten, we are teaching our kids the same now. Stop by, if you need a refresher, then shut the fuck up, and do something. Please...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Politics, Religion and Money #2

(All right, let's ride this SOB off the rails. Time for religion kids!)

I call myself an Agnostic. I think that may be wrong. I DO believe that there is something out there. I just don't have any freakin' idea what that is. There is something beyond our comprehension, and that may be the only for sure comment I make this whole post. No matter what you believe, there is no beginning to this whole thing...I mean life, the universe,

If you believe the science (which I tend to), and the theory of the Big Bang, you still have no beginning. So there was a hot, dense "initial state" that exploded (presumably with a BIG bang) and the universe was formed and continues to expand to this day... Fine. Where did the matter come from? What did it exist in prior to the bang?

If you believe that God created the whole thing (which I don't think has to be mutual exclusive to the above scientific explanation)...fine. Where did God come from? Where did he/she/it exist?

See, no matter what, there is something beyond our understanding as humans. We know that everything has a beginning and an end. Even the long, long, term stuff. Mountains. The sun. George Hamilton's tan. They all are going to end, and they all started somewhere. SOMETHING didn't. Something doesn't have a beginning, I don't know if it has an end, but it didn't have a beginning as we understand it...that is why I believe in something. It is bigger than my puny understanding, and I respect that.

Either on Laggin's or Ciii's site recently, I spoke of an analogy that sums up, for me, Organized Religion's attempt to define Spirituality and the something. If you teach a child to count from 1 to 10, and then to write out those numbers, he will recognize the numbers when he sees them. This does NOT mean he can do math. Hand him a Calculus book, and he will recognize the numbers, and from his limited knowledge base, believes he understands the book. He doesn't, but it is cute to listen to him try to explain it.

I believe this explains Organized Religion's (lets call it OR now) attempts to explain the something . Many humans recognize there is something out there. There have been many "special ones" through the ages that seem to grasp it, and even to teach about it. Humanity listens, recognizes the numbers, and tries to explain the Calculus book (*poof* OR). The problem is, it isn't that cute when we do it.

A quick aside. I am writing about religion, but I don't care for most atheists either. They are as annoying in their certainty as any fanatical religious believer. When there are so many things in the universe we don't understand, they are still SURE that there is no something. That kind of closed-minded certainty is, IMHO, what causes issues in all things.

Atheists love to blame OR for all of the problems of the world. They claim religion is at the heart of all the wars and fighting in the world. Ummm, the two largest losses of life, due to war or fighting, WWII and Stalin's "cleansing" of the Soviet Union, were caused by, not so much on that argument.

Let's face it, we are not THAT much more evolved than other animals. Animals fight. They fight for food/water (We humans add stuff to the mix, but mark my words if animals had stuff they would fight over it. Come on, if a pack of wolves had a boat, you telling me they wouldn't fight other wolves (not to mention bears) to keep it?), territory, pack order, and breeding rights. We humans fight for the same things, we would fight if there were no OR, we just like to use OR to justify our fighting sometimes.

So, atheists use their certainty of a lack of something (Bill Maher I am talking about you.) to shake their heads in condescension at all the idiots who believe. They do what all the religious fanatics I can't stand do; use their belief to establish their superiority over those that "don't get it".

All right, enough Miko, people have shit to do. Next time, why people make their God a Son of a Bitch...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Politics, Religion, and Money

I've been reading a bunch of blogs tonight. Scratch couldn't sleep. We don't know if it is a molar coming in, the 2 shots he got yesterday, or if he is just becoming like his old man. I brought him downstairs with me, we cuddled, we wrestled, he spread Cheerios around the room like some modern-day, General Mills-sponsored, Johnny Appleseed...all in all, just two dudes rockin' the night.

I read a bunch of old archives about politics, the "bail-out" and, unfortunately, a few posts or comments by "religious" folks spreading their judgment of others. As I read, I had a running internal dialogue of responses. I commented a couple times, but I always feel badly when I write too much in the "comments" section. Oh, I still do it, but I feel badly...

Soooo, why not write out some of my own opinions on my own blog? Since the blog is new, and I have just a handful of readers, why not alienate those few? How better, than with the two unholy topics of conversation, politics and religion? I threw in money, because some of what the campaigns are talking about leads straight to Wall St.

If any of you stick around after reading my opinionated drivel, PLEASE, PLEASE, comment with your own opinions. (Feel free to leave HUGE comments. I only feel badly when I do it, I love reading others.) The one thing I strive for myself, is an open-mind. I am a registered Independent, and have voted for both parties. I like to change my mind, because it means I learned something I didn't know, discovered it rang true with me, and superseded an ignorant belief.

Ignorance has a bad rap these days, but it isn't a dirty word, it only means something you don't know. Ig'nant, now ig'nant is different. Ig'nant means holding on to a belief in the face of knowledge to the contrary, but you can't be ig'nant if you are just don't know enough.

The one thing I am going to try hard not to do, is to call people names. I was with my Father the other day. MY FATHER THE MINISTER. John McCain came on TV, and Dad immediately said, "He's an asshole." What the fuck?!

McCain is not the politician I loved in 2000. I still believe he was taken aside by someone in the RNC after 2000, and told that if he ever wanted to be the Republican nominee, he had to play ball. No more going against the party in public, no more maverick.

HOWEVER, John McCain was a Navy pilot whose father was a Navy Admiral. If anyone could have avoided Vietnam, the son of an Admiral was that guy. JM requested a combat assignment. The enemy captured him in 1967 after his plane was shot down. The North Vietnamese would not treat his broken shoulders or other injuries UNTIL they learned who his father was, some weeks after his capture. That means he was tortured and his bones were allowed to set incorrectly (and probably excruciatingly) during that time. About half a year after capture, McCain’s father was put in charge of all Naval Ops in Vietnam, and JM's captors offered to let him go, to garner favor with the old man. JM REFUSED TO BE SET FREE UNLESS THE MEN WHO HAD BEEN CAPTURED BEFORE HIM WERE ALSO RELEASED! The N. Vietnamese refused, and JM spent the next 4 1/2 years in a POW camp, because he wouldn't allow his release to break the spirit of other American military men or be used to discredit the military by allowing a "privileged" soldier to have special treatment.

I am voting for Obama, for a number of reasons, but mostly because I believe we need an entirely new direction for our country’s leadership. I do not agree with John McCain’s choice of Vice President, his methods during this campaign, or many of his proposals. I will not, however, sit quietly when I hear people call him an asshole. I told my father the same info I wrote above, and let him know that the guy in that story deserves respect. Not agreement, but definitely respect.

Enough for today, stay tuned for alienation and the righteous anger of the masses. (Well, as many masses as a guy with 5-6 readers can muster.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Holding Hands with The Monkey

So Miko no feel so good. I got a cold a couple of days ago, and it has now settled in my chest. (As I get older that seems to happen, EVERY damn time. Why no chest colds when I was younger?)

So the fam decided that they were going to the Pumpkin Patch Saturday, with the Swedes...

I did mention that my In-laws arrived from Sweden on Friday, and are staying for three (3) weeks, didn't I? (Yes, I wrote out, AND showed the numeral for three to make sure you heard me. In-laws, in my house, for three weeks...sigh.)

Daddy decided to stay home and take a nap, as I am the biggest, whiniest, wussiest, sick person ever. I tend to take to my bed (how Victorian that sounds, "I'm sorry sir, the Prince has taken to his bed, overcome by the vapors I'm afraid."), drink tea(that's how I know I'm really sick, don't touch the crap healthy), and call my wife up to the room every two minutes for more: tea, Gatorade, soda, tissues, medicine, head rubs, etc.

I took my nap, and they did this:

Upon their return, the first thing the Monkey did was come upstairs to check on me. She threw off her jacket and asked me, "Daddy, I know your sick, do you want cuddles?".

She climbs into bed with me, and I warned her not to get too close so she doesn't get sick. She gets under the covers on the Swede's side, and puts out her hand, "We can hold hands though, right Daddy?". So we did. I held her little hand, and she told me she was sorry I was sick, and to tell you the truth, I never felt better.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's My Party, and I'll Cheat If I Want To

I'm sure this is cheating, but what the hell, it's my damn blog.

For the last 3-4 months we have been dealing with some family crises here in Miko's world. We found out my father had esophageal cancer, then two weeks after that, found out my MIL in Sweden had a recurrence of breast cancer. (I know, right? I guess we're riding the Grandparents hard and puttin' em away wet.)

Anyway, I discovered this ethereal world of the "World Web Internet Computers and Such", can be pretty cool. A bunch of people I had never met, from the group blog I joined, would check in on Dads status with some regularity. I wrote the following for them, 'cause updating individually would have busted the 'puter. I like the way it came out, so I am copying it here. If you have already read it again!

To catch you up on the back-story (imagine this scrolling across the screen a la Star Wars). We found out about 3 months ago my father had a tumor in his esophagus. The good news is he was scheduled for an endoscopy due to a long history of Acid Reflux, so the tumor was found before symptoms showed. Usually, once the symptoms (cough that won't go away, trouble swallowing) appear, there is little medicine can do to save the patient. Dad was seen by two of the top cancer hospitals in the world (Foxchase in Philly and Sloan in NYC) and the course of treatment was set at 1 week of chemo/radiation (in-patient), 3 weeks of radiation (out-patient), another round of both (in-patient), then a month of recuperation and finally a major thoracic surgery at Sloan to remove a piece of his esophagus. The expectation is this would completely cure him.

(OK, all caught up? Stay with me, 'cause this fucker is about to go off the rails, plus I get some funny one-liners in soon...)

Dad checks into the hospital on Monday, August 25th to begin his 1st round of Chemo and radiation. (That's right, I said August 25th and he is scheduled to get out tomorrow on October 3rd, it's called foreshadowing...see what I'm doing here?) That week was what you'd expect; he was tired and a little sick to his stomach. My daughter got to visit, and when I was visiting him, walking around the hallways of the Oncology ward, he told me that while she was there, the hospital brought in a women to play the harp. I stopped him with my arm, right in front of the nurses station, and asked "Dad, this is important. Were you the only one who could see the lady with the harp?" The nurses heard, and one spit her soda on the floor, and the others laughed out loud. Dad laughed so hard it caused a coughing fit. Walk over. Seriously though, a harp? On the Oncology floor? WTF?!

Saturday Dad is released, goes home, and promptly keels over unconscious that night. My stepmother couldn't wake him up, calls the ambulance, and they can't get a blood pressure. Not good. Unfortunately for Dad, they live in Podunk, it's Labor Day weekend, and the ambulance took him to the nearest hospital...Podunk Memorial. There, it is determined his kidneys have failed. We knew we were in trouble when one of the nurses said she had never seen the IV port that the Philly hospital had placed in Dad's vein for the chemo, and another nurse commented WHILE PLACING THE IV BAG, that she had never given anyone that much IV before and she wondered if it would cause Congestive Heart Failure. What? You say this to the patient and his wife?

Apparently, the doc at Philly had heard stories of Podunk Memorial, because he arrived at his office at 9am the Tuesday after Labor Day, and had written the orders to have Dad transferred to Philly by ambulance by 9:15am. Thank God.

In Philly it is determined that one of the drugs in the Chemo had caused Dad's kidneys to totally shut down, and the other drug had caused him to have Diabetes. I researched these drugs, and you have to scroll to the very bottom of the data sheets to find the "Extremely Rare, but Serious Side-Effects" line. That's right he got two drugs and contracted the rarest of side-effects from both. Over that week, he was given Dialysis to help the kidneys rest, and Insulin to treat the Diabetes, and Dad was wondering if we weren't going in the wrong direction.

Now, if a patient, especially a patient in his 60's is in the hospital for a long period of time, they give them Heparin (a blood thinner) to reduce the risk of blood clots. If you look up Heparin, it has very few side-effects, but at the bottom of the page, way down the bottom, is a paragraph titled "Extremely Rare, but Serious Side Effects". Yep, third medicine, third time. Turns out Heparin can do its job TOO well, lowing the Red-blood-Cell Platelets to the point where the White-blood Cells can clot. It has a long technical name, and the old boy got it. We are all called to the hospital, yet again, and told he would receive a blood transfusion the next day (Saturday). To which I comment to the doctor, "So he should have HIV by next Friday?". My brother and Dad laughed...the doctor not so much.

Three weeks pass, things get better. The drive to the hospital starts to run on Auto-pilot, and hospital coffee sucks. However, the kidneys come back, the radiation isn't causing any major problems. Hell, we're cooler than the other side of the pillow. We're like Jamie Lee Curtis after she kills old Mikey Myers, relieved that it's over. “Look behind you! He’s sitting up!”

Last week Round 2 of Chemo started on Tuesday, NOT the same drugs, totally different drugs. Very few side-effects, but down there at the bottom of the page...sigh.

I'm in Maine on business on Thursday. My territory runs from Maryland to Maine, so Portland is AS FAR FROM HOME AS I CAN GO ON BUSINESS. I'm an idiot. I get a call from my step-mom, crying. Dad's jaw hurt, that raised alarms with his Oncology nurse who ordered an EKG. EKG not normal, heart problems, Dad is moved to the Cardiac Intensive Care unit. The new Chemo drug has damaged his heart, causing Congestive Heart Failure.

I start driving the car, like I stole it, back from Maine. Only took 8 hours. The following day my uncle goes to the hospital to be with my step-mom, my wife goes to work, and I go to the Bus Station to pick up by brother and his wife who are coming in from NYC. My uncle calls, says, "I know you were going to come tomorrow, but I think both of you boys should come tonight." I call the wife, she comes home, we go to the hospital, not too worried, my uncle can be a little melodramatic.
Nope, not melodrama. Dad's heart went into A-fib. In laymen’s terms, the top portion of the heart was beating way to fast trying to pump blood, but since it was out of sync with the bottom, it was actually not moving any blood through the body. Medication didn't work, they had to put him under and shock the heart. The doctor asked my SM and uncle to come in and say goodbye, 'cause the shocking turns off the heart, they expect it to turn back on with the next know.

All right, I'm done. Hope you didn't pour coffee before starting this, because it's cold now. Dad's heart has improved with the discontinuation of the medicines, it appears the damage isn't permanent, and he will be released tomorrow. He can finally get out of the hospital bed for the first time in over 5 weeks. Now all we have to do is make it through the surgery. That's supposed to be the hard part of all this...

I'm not as funny as you think...

OK, so because of some extremely flattering words from Laggin (Under the Roof, over in my Blogroll, if you are frightened by strong women, don't visit!) on her site, and an e-mail from my old friend DCD(Dana's Brain, she's new too, but damn you'd never know to read her), here I go, into the abyss.

You see, two years ago I didn't know what a blog was. Well, I knew, but I didn't before you have sex for the first time. You know what it is, and that it's good, but...holy hell, you don't know.

Anyhoo, I found an old friend by mistake (DCD's brother, in fact) and he had a blog, and I hung around like the stray cat you fed, once, and now won't leave the back steps. Eventually, he and his friends invited me to join the blog, 'cause to be honest, me just hanging around was making everyone uncomfortable... From there, I read DCD's blog, then Carolyn's (same deal man, if funny chicks make you nervous, stay away), then I just bogarted Carolyn's Blogroll, and poof! I was addicted. So here I am.

This thing is gonna be about whatever goes through my head at any given moment, and that usually involves the The Monkey and Scratch. They are 4 and 1 respectively, and...they...well, you know. They do things that make me laugh out loud, and things that make me lose my fuckin' mind.

Oh! I will also be posting about the Swede. We've been married for a while, and she IS from Sweden, and is 6 years younger, and used to play on the Jr-Pro Golf Tour in Sweden. (Yeah, that's right boys, younger, Swedish, and plays golf. The Trifecta.) I've no idea, before you ask, I ain't that great...I think she may be a little off.

Thanks for reading, I'm sure you will find that you grow tired of me soon, but at least you tried...