Let's Roll! 1.07

Cafepress revealed the new Website design this week. I was concerned, at first, that the navigation was misdirected because I didn't make a sale for the first two days after the change but then my old standby, Big Brother '09, came through for me last night. Americans must not be too worried about the economy because they are still having babies and there is a lot of maternity and children's stuff that sells on that Site. I would assume that now since Halloween and the election are over the Big Brother and Big Sister along with a few of my designs for expectant mothers will be my top sellers until the holiday season.

Speaking of the holiday season, I guess all of the stores now start pushing Christmas sales in October. They might as well include Halloween with Thanksgiving in the holidays. 

This is my first year being involved as a Internet retailer but, from what I gather from more experienced shopkeepers, it is not uncommon to have sales from November 15 to December 31 that equal all the sales from the rest of the year so I'll be ready. Be sure to keep SkeetzTeez in mind when you are looking over your gift giving lists and check back often to see all of the new designs for the Winter! Let's Roll.

Yes-- he's a freak but this 13:41 video was the most anticipated release in the history of MTV and is still regarded as one of the best even though it was premiered over 25 years ago. Sure-- it's a little hokey for today's times. The outfits are dated, the acting is overdone, the special effects are antique and even the dance moves, considered cutting-edge in 1982, are punchlines for modern, comments on pop-culture but, back then, even though most people won't admit it, MJ and this video in particular, was the coolest thing around-- right Cox?

This is too cool and perfect for Halloween. One dude, self-recorded on 64 different tracks. He does all the vocals as well as the instruments and special effects with no assistance from any tools or devices. The guy is a little freaky (I think he's French) with his accent and there is an eerie picture of Michael Jackson in a werewolf getup from his 80s hit video, but this is just too freaking cool to pass up this time of year.

That last one reminded me of this video which has gotten a lot of YouTube hits and been featured on a bunch of nationally syndicated entertainment shows. Again-- kind of freaky but, still, something about it makes you have a hard time not watching it all the way through. Go ahead... try it... See? I guess if you have to be in prison there would be a lot worse ways to spend your time than dancing to 80s hits but the orange jumpsuits look like they would make it hard to get your groove on.

Did you know?
• Thriller was ranked number 20 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of Top 500 Albums of All-Time in 2003
• Several members of the band Toto were involved in the recording and production of the album
• Thriller was released and immediately went to number one on both the US and UK charts-- the first album to do that
• MTV played the almost 14-minute video twice an hour everyday for several weeks after the release to keep up with demand

Happy Halloweenie. Read This. Buy T-shirts. Peace.


What did the Headless Horseman say to Frankenstein?

I guess I was probably like most kids when I say Halloween was one of my favorite holidays-- and why wouldn't it be? You get to dress up in cool costumes, get a bunch of candy, you don't have to visit relatives house that smell funny (the houses, not the relatives) or church and you are, basically, expected to run all over the neighborhood causing havoc. Times, certainly, have changed in the last 30-some-odd years since I last went trick-or-treating. Gone are the days of dads taking the kids in their homemade outfits door-to-door, where they would be asked to tell a joke or sing a song by the friendly neighbor before receiving a generous reward of sweets while the moms waited at home and handed out candy to all the other children coming to their house.

Changes in the social environment and the society's decline in common values make some of the differences between 2008 and, say, 1979 obvious but I don't think they should make that much of a impact on our decision to deprive our children of the fun, Halloween traditions we enjoyed as kids. I still, to this day, have many fond memories of the Autumn holiday from my childhood but it seems that, as I have grown up, Halloween has become more of a matter for adults to be concerned with all of the rules and restrictions put on everyone.

Having a paranoid, over-anxious, very protective parent we had rules that we had to follow went we went out but nothing like they have today. We were told that we could only visit houses of the neighbors my folks knew so there were maybe two or three houses per block that we had to skip. This was to prevent us from walking up to a situation with a kid-napper or other predator that would hurt us, though I really didn't understand the point because my Dad was waiting for us at the street and wouldn't let us get into any trouble.

Today, communities are passing legislation that requires registered sexual offenders to leave off all the outside lights and post signs stating that there is no candy here. I support this initiative, although I don't believe that there is that many more perverts living in today's society than there was in our day, only that we are more aware of them because of the media and the noble efforts of law enforcement. I still think that my mother's rule about knowing your neighbors, however, is a good one but that could be difficult to do now because parents, in most neighborhoods don't know nearly as many people as ours did.

Parent's are not involved as much, altogether, as they used to be. Mine made all of our costumes every year until we were old enough to make our own. Made is the key word here. Kmart had a few cheap costumes (mainly a hard plastic mask with a elastic string and an apron-like thing that tied in the back) but there were not Halloween dedicated stores that popped-up in vacant strip mall spaces the week after Labor Day. 

There were no fancy, expensive, store-bought, fire-resistant, safety-tested outfits for us-- or most of the other kids at that time either. One of the earliest of years I can remember, I was a Christmas tree and my siblings were presents. Another Halloween I was Oscar the Grouch-- made from an old green rug and a plastic trash can with the bottom cut out. I did a couple of years as a headless horseman and a few others as an old stand-by: vampire, mummy, clown, ghost or hobo-- complete with burnt cork beard.

They were not the best disguises but we had fun and learned a lot by building them with our folks. They weren't fire-proof, in fact, many of them were fire hazards and they were not engineered while keeping in mind that we would be traveling from house-to-house on dark streets so I'm surprised that there weren't more serious accidents as we often couldn't either walk or see well. Bad weather meant that we wore turtlenecks and long-johns underneath the costume or clear plastic bags on top of them which really made my brother mad one year because everyone thought he was a cat when they couldn't see his bat wings.

We started making our own costumes by the time we were 11-12 or so. Most of those were things that we thought were cool which, apparently, was Saturday Night Live at the time because I remember dressing as a wild and crazy guy, King Tut and the Blues Brothers. One of our neatest, though was the Conehead outfits we made by cutting a Nerf football in half and putting it over our head with leg of my Mom's nylons. We went out to Trick-or-Treat-- or at least said we were doing that when we were actually out starting trouble-- every year until we were old enough to drive and went to work in the neighborhood Haunted House. We had at least one parent with us until we were 13. That was the age when you were allowed to go it alone but there were still enough adults that we knew on the streets that we couldn't really get away with that much.

There are municipalities in our area that are limiting Trick-or-Treating to children of certain ages and between certain hours. Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about these restrictions. On one hand, I have answered the door at a time that I thought was a little late even for Halloween to a masked bunch of juveniles six-inches taller and 100-pounds heavier than me silently holding their bag out and thought that scene eerily reminded me of a bank hold-up and wondering if they did say anything if the voice would be more baritone than mine and they would be saying Trick-or-Treat or Stick 'em up. Either way I'm handing over enough candy to surely satisfy the young lady and getting the deadbolt back engaged as quickly as possible.

On the other hand, I think the age that they did set (12 I think in this case) was a little young and really leaves nothing for the younger teens to do but sneak out of the house after 9:00, soap our car windows, tepee our trees and hurl the jack-o-lantern that we worked so hard on into the street. Besides, how are the cops going to enforce this policy anyway? Do the children need to bring two forms of identification and pass-through barricaded roadblocks strategically placed in front of the houses handing out mini-Snickers bars? I would think that the boys in blue would have something better to do and I think we are missing an opportunity to encourage parents to get more involved with their kids' activities instead of just letting the man deal with it.

As an adult and an artist, I got into Halloween for a while. In college I made a great costume for me and G-money that we took on the contest circuit and won some prizes. We were each a giant roll of toilet paper and we had a big air-brushed replica Charmin wrapper that went around the two of us. We did that for a few years and then lost it somewhere. Other years I got a lot of use out of monk, priest and Chippendale outfits and hooked up with friends to do the Village People and Scooby Doo and friends (I was Freddy Jones). I won a contest as Ozzy Ozborne the year after his show premiered on MTV and dressed as Tanya Harding, complete with lead pipe and Rollerblades when she was in the news, but didn't really care for the drag thing (unlike Cox, who seemed to be wearing a wig, lipstick and fake boobs every year). My favorite adult costume, though, would have to be the Hanson Brothers-- it's fairly simple, a little obscure yet most people know who they are and I get to where my blades again.

I have lost some interest in Halloween in recent years. We used to go to parties but they seem to be more about the party and less about the holiday now. The outfits that adults are wearing are all about shock value instead of creativity and that has taken some of the fun out of it. Since I now have M3S, I want to make the focus on him and make it fun again. 

MLW and I have talked about what we are going to do Friday night. Our neighborhood is full of old folks so it is not a good place to go out. By the time I get home from work it will be almost six and, even though daylight savings time is still going on, it will be getting dark and the kids will be heading out. This makes it hard to get out and go anywhere good and since MLW has to work early Saturday morning, we don't want to be out too late either. It may sound horrible but we were almost hoping for rain so we can Trick-or-Treat at the mall but the weather is supposed to be beautiful.

I think it is time to suck it up, put my money where my mouth is, quit trying to make excuses and do exactly what M3S wants to do... eat a taco and watch his TV. I guess we can save worrying about Trick-or-Treating until next year. Maybe then he can remember-- and understand, the punchline to his Halloween riddle...

Bolts! Why didn't I think of that?

Happy Halloweenie! Read this. Buy T-shirts. Peace.


Monday Morning Quarterback 1.09

Back to the Monday Morning Quarterback thing after a full three-days of pushing my Squidoo lens promoting public awareness of Chiropractic Stroke. If you didn't get a chance to read it you definitely should-- especially if someone you care about visits a Chiropractor. The story generated over 100 hits on the blog from 37 unique visitors who, hopefully, forwarded it on to others that will read it soon and forward it... and so on, and so on, and so on.

I am encouraged that it did so well but I am still looking for ways to take the Site viral. Anything that any readers can do would be tremendously helpful as I am only one person with a job and a family and hoses that need to be taken into the garage before we get our first freeze of the season tonight. SkeetzTeez is doing pretty decent too. Looks like it is going to be our biggest month yet:

Top five keywords that resulted in visits to SkeetzTeez or SkeetzTeez Blog:

Top five designs sold at SkeetzTeez:

I couldn't figure out the run on Charlestown Chiefs T-shirts until I realized that they were selling in threes-- the kids are buying them to dress as the Hanson Brothers for Halloween; every time I think the McCain/Palin design is done, I sell another one; and I don't understand how trivia often makes it on the search list as I don't have anything directly relating to the subject. Maybe I should! Notes from the weekend:

• Since when did all suspects become Persons of Interest? Would you be more willing to turn yourself in if you were named a person of interest rather than the suspect-- whether you were guilty or not? To me, they are one in the same.
• Did I miss when they moved the end Daylight Savings Time? I thought it was always before Halloween. 
• What ever happened to taking things you found around the house and making your Halloween costume? You have to spend a fortune on something the kids are going to wear, if your lucky, a couple of hours.
• Have you seen the adults' costumes available? They are either too gross or too revealing. The women's outfits look like hussies, harlots, hookers or whores.
• Do 11-year-olds need to bring two forms of identification? A local municipality passed legislation limited trick-or-treaters to 12 and under between the hours of 5:30 and 8:00. That should open up the streets for vandalism for all the 14-year-olds after 9:00.
• How is that working for you?
• Why does no one use the word hussy anymore... or harlot, for that matter?
• Isn't it about time that we can vote over the Web? The Internet has made the gathering of information, in almost every form, many times easier for both the gatherer and the provider. Why can't they come up with a way to vote in general elections that way too?
• Do you think the media, not the advertisements but through polls and such, influence the elections? I tend to think hearing poll results can make a difference how people vote or, even more notably, deter them to vote altogether because they assume that the race has already been decided and their candidate has either won-- and doesn't need the extra vote, or lost-- and
the vote is wasted.
• When is this season going to end? Looks like the World Series is going to drag on for, at least, another day or two because of rain, of all things. Get your Old Time Baseball T-shirt while you can before I switch it over to the Old Time Football Design.
• Who would've guessed? Our Fantasy Football team defeated the guys in first place this week, climbed out of the cellar and are only three-and-a-half games out of the lead halfway through the season.
• What should we name our new baby boy? Vote over there somewhere ------->

That's all for me tonight. I work-out and diet for good health but, because of the regimen, I am too tired to enjoy it.


It Only Seems Fair

It's time to take a break from the regularly-scheduled, fun-filled, witty insight usually provided on this forum to allow me to address an issue that is very important to me. I have been working on this post for some time now but have saved it until today because I wanted to make sure I got my point across without sounding like a whining fool. I have scheduled this article to publish on a Friday afternoon so most readers will have a chance to spend a few minutes reading over it in the next three days and, if they choose to do so, take action upon it.

I have been having fun writing this blog for the last-- let's see... how long has it been?-- three months or so. I started writing to, primarily, promote my cafepress shop, SkeetzTeez-- which I started after recovering from the stroke to explore some different creative outlets. I have found that the blog was something else artistic that I could do, too, that in many ways was even more creative. There are tons of other designers out there and, although there stuff isn't quite as cool as mine, we are basically all selling the same designs on the same merchandise while I can do my own thing with the blog... in my own style.

It's hard for an artist of any kind to get enough challenge and creative stimulus in the corporate environment. There is just not enough opportunity to act on an imaginative impulse when you are restricted by client branding standards, industry principles and business etiquette. In addition, after the life changing event that I experienced (the doctors said I took a life-inventory), I was questioning my value and the value of everything I did. I made a promise to myself that I was not going to do anything that didn't mean... something.

As I got back into my regular routine and further away from the life-and-death situation, however, my commitment to my new ideals got weaker, but the search for inspiration with the additional projects that I was involved with was paying off. It was easier to accept the medial tasks, administrative responsibilities and office politics at work all day because in the evenings and on the weekend I was able to get my fill of, what I would consider, more creative projects-- producing designs that I thought other people would like.

It's not quite fine art but at least it is art for it's own sake instead of art trying to sell something else for somebody I don't even know and, I'm sure, could care less about me. I can feel, somewhat, better for that. Additional benefits include all of the things I'm learning about business, marketing and the Internet and we can't forget that my sales have been pretty strong and I hope to turn a few bucks over the gift-giving season.

Although my brain attack was the driving factor behind all of this, as I have written on many occasions, I didn't want my blog, or anything else that I was doing to be all about the stroke. Information that I have come upon recently, though, has made me rethink this.

People under the age of 45-50 that visit a chiropractor for neck adjustments are 3-9 times more likely to have a stroke than people who don't get chiropractic treatment. Several studies support similar findings with only the factors of age and how much more common incidents of severe events occurring differing. 

I was seeing a chiropractor twice a week in the couple of months leading up to my stroke. I was being treated for middle- and upper-back pain and part of that treatment included cervical spinal adjustments. For those that have never experienced a procedure like this, it consists of the patient, lying on his or her back on a specially designed table, trying to remain relaxed as the chiropractor gently takes the patient's head with both hands, rolls it around to find the correct position and then, quickly and sharply (some would say violently) snaps the head to one side. Then he repeats the same process on the other side.

Studies of stroke patients reveal a wide spectrum of results that lend credit to both sides of the argument about whether or not this procedure ultimately contributes to the brain attack. In my opinion, as an individual that has been exposed to neck manipulation dozens of times, is that this is, by far, much more traumatic on the physical structure of the cervical spine than the action of shampooing a person's hair in a hairdresser's wash basin. You are more likely, however, to have heard that many believe there is some risk of the gentle, common, salon practice causing a stroke because the cosmetologist community doesn't have the money-- and therefore, the lawyers and the power-- that the chiropractic alliance has to keep it quiet.

I like my chiropractor. He is an acquaintance of my sister and her husband, who set me up with him for an emergency appointment the day before my wedding. Leading up to the big day, my nerves and the stress got to me, my back seized-up and I couldn't move. I credit him for the fact that I had any mobility on one of the most important days of my life. I won't go as far as to definitely blame him for my stroke but I do absolutely believe that snap to my neck caused my stroke.

The way I understand it, there are two arteries, the vertebral arteries, that run straight up the back of the neck and through two holes in the sides of each neck vertebra. When the head turns the artery is kinked and the delicate inner lining can tear. Sometimes the damage is immediate and the patient collapses right there. Sometimes mild symptoms start immediately and progress over the hours after the patient leaves the chiropractor. If the tear is small, it will clot over then, days later, the clot breaks off, travels to the brain and causes a stroke. This is what happened to me and, because of the delay, I didn't associate the two events until months later.

Chiropractors are aware of the risk but claim that it only occurs in one in a million manipulations and there is no more chance of having a stroke after chiropractic treatment as there is after visiting a general practitioner. They pro-actively spin a web of deception, throwing major dollars at propaganda campaigns to defend their position and guerrilla marketing tactics with commentary on common Internet social networks as well as their own underground forums disguised to look like public service announcements. I would not be surprised at all to soon find replies on this post from, so-called, doctors of sport medicine, denying any responsibility for such things by any member of their profession.

The complex system they have established and the massive budgets they have to work with are why I have broken from my "don't talk about the stroke" attitude and decided to write this post. It is why I have taken up the cause to inform as many people as possible about the victim's' side of the story.

Commercials on TV for women's birth control state all the benefits of a particular medication and then take the last few seconds to say something to the effect of, "this drug may cause strokes in some individuals. If you have a history of stroke, high-blood pressure or if you smoke, the risk is greater...". Then I think they go as far as to say, "... and you should not take this medication". I am not asking the chiropractic associations to go that far, but I do think it's only fair that they openly tell their patients that some studies show there is a possibility that the treatment they are going to subject you to may be hazardous to your health. Why are they not held accountable for, professionally, giving the public the information they need to make a well informed-- possibly life-or-death-- decision? 

Shortly after I was well enough to go home and continue with out-patient rehabilitation, I received a call from my Sports Medicine Doctor's Office. They did that from time-to-time if I hadn't been in for several weeks for an adjustment. I still wasn't speaking very well, at the time, but answered the phone, anyway, because I needed the practice. I could tell from the lady's voice on the other end of the line that she had no problem understanding me. Although my speech was a little slurred, as soon as she heard the word stroke, she dropped me like I was hot. I considered it a bit rude at the time, but thought it must have been because of the shock that I young man like me-- so active and full of life-- could be struck down by a horrible event like that. It didn't occur to me until later that it may have been some remote feeling of responsibility or just the mere avoidance of any liability that cut our conversation short. Funny that I never heard from the office again. You would think that, in my physical condition-- and all-- I would need some good therapy.

I have done a lot of research and have found enough evidence to convince myself. Others that have heard my story have thought enough of it that they, too, have discontinued chiropractic visits. I am, now, committed to the cause spreading my story, plus the stories of other victims so those hearing them can have enough information to form an educated opinion, become committed themselves and tell someone else.

I have developed a Squidoo Web Page to provide a resource for stroke survivors and their loved ones as well as chiropractic patients and anyone in the general public that can find it on their heart to care. The page contains video, books and other material related on strokes and stroke recovery. It also includes a list of links with valuable information about chiropractic stroke and a Guestbook to provide feedback. I hope to develop a network of patients, caregivers, doctors and advocates in this community to provide input, encourage discussion and offer support between members.

I hope this project can be a forum for all interested parties to gather and exchange information and bring awareness to the general public and potential patients-- or victims. I am going to get behind this because I think it is important, but as I do, I feel it is also important that it doesn't bother the readers of this blog or individuals in any of the many other networks I have gotten involved in. I will, however, occasionally, ask for your help.

Please take a moment and visit the Strokes and Chiropractor page. Please go through some of the information and see what you think. Please forward this blog entry to anyone that you know that you think would care-- especially anyone that visits the chiropractor (click the envelope with the arrow at the bottom of the story). Please sign the guestbook, leave your comments (click comments below), favorite and bookmark (in the side bar on the right side) the pages, give it a high rating and spread the word about it in anyway that you feel you can. I will never give away any of your personal information to anyone at any price and you may post anonymously if you wish.

If you know me-- even if it is only from this blog-- you know this is important to me and I hope you can tell that I wish no ill will on the people trying to make a living in chiropractic practices. I just want what should only be fair... for patients to be told of the possible consequences of that kind of treatment and be able to make the decision to continue care after knowing all the facts. I wasn't given that opportunity. Hey-- there are people that stroke out and die, right there, on the table! I am so thankful to God that I am blessed with a second chance. I want to do something with that chance... and this is my chance.

I don't expect to gain a thing... except the satisfaction of, maybe, helping one other person to not have to go through the challenges that other victims and I face every day.

I have never been a good public speaker so I can't make an impact on the national talk show circuit. Although I can write a bit, I don't think this story is going to be featured on Google's Blog of the Day. I can carry a tune and throw a decent slider with a Wiffleball but neither of those skills are going to help with this cause. The one thing that I do have going for me, though, is that when I put my mind to something and am willing to put some hard work into it, I can find a way to accomplish most anything. I also am privileged to know the best, most caring people in whole world that I know are going to help... because they have done it before.

Not to pressure you to take action but... what have you got to lose? My hope is that something magical happens and this thing goes viral in the next couple of weeks-- an I tell two friends and they tell two friends and they tell two friends, Pay It Forward, kind of deal. 

If you spread the word, I cannot guarantee you three wishes, a day of good luck for every person you forward the email to or that total strangers will send you money, but you may be able to have the satisfaction of passing the email on to someone in your address book, who emailed it to a guy at work, who told his wife to check out the Site, who mentioned it to a woman at church, who's son had recently been in a car accident and gotten the number of a Sports Medicine Doctor and has his first appointment for evaluation on Monday morning... so he can ask the chiropractor about the risk of being harmed by the procedure he is about to go through and expect an honest answer-- It only seems fair.

Thanks for your help. Peace.

Note to those in the chiropractic profession: I am not a doctor. I am not a writer. I am, however, an individual who had a stroke and I strongly believe that stroke was caused by chiropractic treatment. You have every right to believe something else and every right to dispute me. You have the right to remind the public that you have a diploma and boast about your years of experience. I respect your right to criticize my grammar and even to write that I am a whining fool... but not here-- this is our forum... the individuals that have gone through the experience. 

You can believe that one severe brain injury out of a million-- a statistic that I sincerely believe is grossly understated because incidents like mine that are not included in the stats as the association was not made early enough-- is not enough to worry about. I tend to think that one in a million is way too high when you consider... that could be as many as one person every day in North America. How many manipulations will you complete in your career?


Drive Time

My morning drive to work takes me 23-minutes and 52-seconds on a good day. Considering, however, that there are almost no good days, I'm lucky to make the trip in less than a half-hour or 45-minutes most of the time. I have become wiser in my old age and have just come to accept that there is nothing I can do to reduce the amount of time that I spend on the road and I must try to make the most of the situation.

I take advantage of the opportunity to prepare, mentally, for the day ahead of me. I want to be sure to not be distracted when driving but, because there is less driving and more crawling, very slowly along the highway, I can get away with some minor brain-activity like practicing a speech, memorizing multiplication tables or analyzing the previous night's reality show episode and trying to handicap the odds of each contestant being eliminated off the island, dance floor or stage the next week. On days when the sun is out or when it is raining I can catch up on some reading or get in a game of Texas Hold 'em on my cel phone. If I am lucky enough that there is a fender-bender going the other way, I actually have enough time to do some laps around adjacent cars or take a quick nap before a fellow commuter notices I have dozed off and politely reminds me what we are here for with a friendly toot of his or her horn.

All kidding aside, as seen in yesterday's post, I'm an Excellent Driver, I am a big proponent of eliminating the distractions we all face while trying to operate a motor vehicle. I am also a believer that, although cel phones have received most of the attention, something as simple as glancing away to change the radio station or adjust the climate controls can be distracting enough to cause an accident. 

I am fortunate, though, to own a 2006 Toyota Prius that, for safety's sake more than comfort, has most controls for every system in the car, literally, right at your fingertips. Besides the usual turn signals, lights, windshield wipers and cruise control levers mounted on the steering column, the automakers embedded controls for the heater/air conditioner and, most importantly, the audio system, right on the steering wheel. With the additional features of a LED instrument panel on top of the dashboard, up at the windshield instead of lower on the dash, I rarely have to take my eyes off of front and center, much less, my hands off the wheel.

The radio in the car is important to me because I think I would be more distracted by it not being there. Let me try to explain... when I am by myself, without some kind to mental stimulation, my mind starts to wander. Having a creative imagination, this isn't usually a concern unless, of course, I start to wander into a thought that makes me anxious because, no matter how ridiculous the concept may sound, if my anxiety takes over, it very quickly becomes real to me and I start obsessing about all the negative possibilities until I become overwhelmed with what is going on in my mind and forget about everything else that is going on around me.

So... I listen to the stereo when I drive to work. I often listen to one of three AM talk stations-- one news, one sports and one variety. I'm not sure if my reasons for doing so are because it is just a natural instinct thing that one starts listening to talk radio when they start getting old or if it is a security thing that I know what I am going to get when I listen to these stations: news- mostly bad in this day and age, but they try (mostly unsuccessfully) to put a positive spin on things; sports- mostly bad in this town, but they try (mostly unsuccessfully) to be funny and entertaining; and variety- is a little less predictable depending on the guest and subject of the day could be anything from gossip or fortunetellers to current events and interviews with entertainers or political leaders.

You would think that music stations would be a little more predictable, but I have found that is not the case-- especially during morning drive time. I have a total of 12-pre-set stations that I have programmed on the car stereo. Because I like a very wide variety of music, so I basically have each of those pre-sets on a different genre station-- classic rock, pop, easy listening, R&B, jazz, etc. I even have Christian music and Hip Hop stations programmed in for when MLW is in the car and the Disney Station set for when M3S is with me.

Monday morning, for a change of pace, I felt like listening to one of the twelve music stations instead of the three talk stations, mainly because even the sports guys were discussing the upcoming presidential election. I have heard about enough discussion of our two candidates to last until the 2016 campaign that I would be willing, at this point, to commit my vote to the guy that promises to pull all of the negative advertisements, honestly give their position on the real issues and then shut their trap. But I digress...

In the first 2o-minutes of my commute, I was surprised to find nothing worth listening to. An almost constant cycle through eleven (I just couldn't bring myself to try the Hip-Hop that early in the morning) music channels and I could find no music! I would have even resorted to Worship music or gospel hymns on my wife's or the Jonas Brothers on the kid's favorites, but even they were broadcasting talk-- or should I say static and talk (neither has a very strong signal). Some of the others run big production, syndicated, super-crazy morning shows that you expect a lot of teams of hosts and their wild shenanigans, but a just couldn't believe that no one was playing any thing close to music for such a long period of time.

Granted that I was flipping through all of those channels and about three-quarters of the way through my trip I was frustrated enough to try the scan button to see if I could find anything anywhere else (nothing but the end of a classical tune and something that I think was a Hindu love song) so I could have missed a very, very short song, but it would have had to be timed just perfectly-- nothing else but politics, commercials and political commercials. 

Oh... and Christmas music, of all things! There is a station in this town that has gone to all Holiday music... in October. I expect they will continue with that format through December but, if they are doing it now, they might as well play it all year long!

I was about to give up because it had been a good traffic day and I was almost to work when I came upon the sweet sound of a ringing acoustic guitar chord. It only took a few seconds to recognize the harmonized vocals of Extreme with their 1990 chart-topping hit "No More Words"-- I love that song!

As I pulled into my parking spot on the side of the building, the rock ballad was coming to it's end. I sat there for a few seconds to soak in the last little bit and see if the station would follow that classic with another cool tune. Imagine my astonishment when they went with... an Extreme Two-for! Hole Hearted! Sweet! The only thing that was going to beat that on a Monday A.M. is to get to hear some other obscure one-or-two-hit wonder like Nelson or Zebra!

My morning had gone from worst-to-first and now I could go in and start my work day with a song in my head and a smile on my face. After all of that searching and searching, I stumbled onto a little piece of heaven right here on... the Oldies station? There must be some mistake! If music on the charts when I was old enough to vote is being played on the Oldies Station-- there can be no doubt that I am definitely getting old.

Don't get old. Buy T-shirts. Peace.


I'm an Excellent Driver

Does everyone think to themselves, "I'm an excellent driver?" And if they do, do you think they say it in a voice like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman?  

I've been behind the wheel for 25 years now (for what I figured out to be about 550,000 miles) and I tend to believe I one of the best drivers I have met. If you ask MLW, however, she would say that I drive too fast and aggressively and, I guess, the couple of accidents I have had and several-- okay, more than several-- tickets I have gotten, would go far to back her claim.

I still believe, however, though I may be lacking the patience to score a perfect 100 on my driving test again (written and roadway), my experience and skills are far better than your average individual on the road today. I am not, by any means, trying to instruct anyone how to safely and lawfully operate a motor vehicle, but I will offer up these friendly driving tips that I have picked-up over the years to help you avoid being cursed at by other drivers:
  • Wear sunglasses- I don't mean you should need a pair of fancy Blueblockers or anything. We are not, after all, concern about the health and welfare of your eyes, we just want you to stop squinting and traveling along at a snail's pace. You can still get a pair of cheap sunglasses at the Dollar Store-- and yes... they are only a dollar. This will shield your eyes enough to pick up the pace a little bit without worrying too much about rear-ending the moron in front of you without sunglasses. Note: When the traffic guy on the radio says your driving into the Sun, he doesn't mean your going to drive into the Sun!
  • Use your visor- Similar to the sunglasses, but you don't even have to go out and buy these separately. Most, if not all, cars made in the world after 1963 are equipped with sun visors in both the driver and passenger positions. Other "useful" accessories including mirrors, lights and pockets to hold various other things that you don't need in a car, are sometimes added-on to the visors, but the primary intent of these devices is to shade your eyes from the Sun so you can use both hands to do more important things while you drive-- like driving.
  • Use your blinkers- Does anybody call them directional signals? They're just blinkers, right? Before this invention, sometime before I was born, drivers had to stick their arms out the window and point which way they were going. Pretty silly, huh? Mainly for safety's sake, automakers came up with the bright idea to put a lever on the steering wheel that would flash lights on the car to inform other drivers that you are about to cut them off or "you might want to go around me because I'm trying to make a left onto this busy street and I might be here a while because I can't find a place to squeeze my giant, gas-guzzling minivan in". All it takes is a flick of the pinky but I'm amazed at the number of drivers that are not courteous enough to use the signal.
  • Use of Turn Lanes- Best traffic discovery in the last twenty years-- the "odd" turn lane. You know, if you have a four-lane road (two in each direction) they add that fifth, middle lane to allow cars making a left to get out of the main flow of traffic. Whatever engineer first came up with this idea was brilliant! Dull individuals, however, that use the lane to make the left turn onto the road and then sit there until they are able to merge in, spoil the whole concept by blocking the lane and screwing up traffic in both directions.
  • Drive in the correct lane- While we are on the subject of lane changes... we were on the subject of lane changes, right? I have to be careful with this one because this is where my natural, male aggression shows it's ugly head. There are so many cars on the road now that it is hard to find a two-laner anywhere. Almost all highways (or bi-ways or freeways or interstates or whatever you call them in your part of the world) have, at least three lanes in each direction. I was taught in tenth-grade DE class that each lane on a multi-lane road, had a specific purpose-- the right lane was for entering and exiting the highway; the left lane was for passing; and the middle lane was for regular through travel. It has been a long time and with budget cuts and liability issues most school districts have eliminated Driver Education programs but, it seems to me, that no one is following these guidelines anymore. It seems simple enough: enter the freeway and move to the middle lane until you come to a car moving slower than you, at which time you move one lane left, pass the car and move back to the middle lane. What is so hard about that? A lot of highways I travel on have four or five lanes in each direction which should make it easier and more uniform but, in reality, it just turns into a free-for-all with the faster drivers weaving in-and-out of the slower ones. Someone is going to get hurt.
  • Limit distractions- This is hard and I, sometimes, have trouble with it. Cel phones are a great tool to have but they are one of the biggest causes of traffic problems on the road and studies show that people using them cause more accidents. How many times have you seen a person on their phone distracted enough to have trouble steering or controlling their speed? Believe it or not, if you are trying to talk on the phone and drive at the same time, it is very probable that you are doing the same. Although, cellular phones get most of the press there are many other things that can cause distractions too. Limit eating, shaving, sightseeing, smoking, putting on make-up, doing your hair, scolding the children, changing the radio station, looking for something, talking with passengers or anything else that may distract you from driving and... drive.
  • If you can't drive well... don't drive- This may be the most important thing to keep in mind, but is probably the hardest problem to correct. There are many reasons why an individual would not have the ability to drive well. There is so much discussion about the ability of the elderly and young people to drive that many states are considering legislation to restrict, limit or require addition testing for these drivers. In addition to the obvious person under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we must also look at other conditions like being sleepy or displaying road rage that impact a driver's abilities. The condition that is often overlooked that can be a major factor in a person's ability to drive is fear. My niece shouldn't have been driving for the first five years that she had her license. She was afraid to drive because she thought that she wasn't good at it-- she wasn't really that bad, but her fear overcame her and made her a poor driver. I don't know how many times I have seen a driver on one of those long, flyway, overpasses that take you up, over, and around the congestion of two intersecting super-highways, creeping along the wide, walled, reinforced roadway like one wrong move would have them plummeting off the face of the earth. You've got to respect the road but you can't be afraid of it. 
Once again, I meant this post to go another way and I am running short on time so I will have to get back to the subject another time. Until then... drive safe... and buy T-shirts... or license plate frames. Peace.


What's in Your Name: 2

I have written about names and naming children a couple of times since starting to blog so I won't go into too much depth on the subject today. Because I don't think that we can get out of deciding on a name before we are issued a birth certificate, however, it is probably a good idea to start the grueling task of choosing a name for our Son, now that we know it will be a son. It seems a little unfair that the name we pick in the next 18-weeks will be the one he will be stuck with for his whole life.

I haven't really used the polling feature on this blog to this point, but I think this will be a good opportunity to try it out. I have included our "short list" of names-- some suggested by MLW, M3S or myself and some I am not sure where they came from. You may vote for more than one name in the poll, but you can only vote once... so make it count.

If you would like more background information on what to consider when making your choice, read What's in Your Name? Please keep in mind that we, being the child's parents, are in no way obligated to name our Son the winning name in the poll. After all, some of the names suggested by M3S are cartoon characters and some of them I came up with... and I am not good at this.

Your comments are welcomed but be nice as to not hurt anyones' feelings, huh?

Thanks and buy T-shirts. Peace.


Designs We Like 1.02

This month's Designs We Like: Crossover Blog features at ease tees, a cafepress shop infused with a uplifting Christian message.

There is something special about the innocence and openness of a child. As little time as three-years ago I would've had a different attitude about it but, since being so close to M3S while he has been growing up, it seems that every day I'm filled with amazement at something he does.

I was drawn to this month's Designs We Like entry not because of it's superior artistic techniques or a witty saying, but by the simplicity of how a young lady graphically interprets God's word. This "Hearts Belong" design features eight colorful heart-shaped balloons floating along above the text, "Let your hearts belong to Jesus"-- a reminder that, as Christians, we should reflect Christ in our hearts and live our lives in accordance with the truth of the scriptures. When we are saved, we belong to Christ, and are His.

Though it is obvious that the artwork was done by a child, it is a very talented child with a design sense way beyond her years, making this a great design that is appropriate for individuals of any age. The design is available for imprint on a variety of Men's, Women's and Children's apparel and gift items including T-shirts, outerwear, caps, buttons, bags, mugs and even a little teddy bear. In addition, there is a fine selection of printed materials like greeting cards, calendars and posters that would make for a unique, custom gift for loved ones.

There are also other designs from the same artist in this collection called "Boog's Corner" at the family-friendly cafepress shop, at ease tees, where the father of the talented nine-year old has a large selection of Christian inspired designs ready to be imprinted on over 100 items. With shop sections such as Joyful Noise, Arrows, Vision, Truth and Gospel Magic, you are sure to find something for everyone on your gift list.


Monday Morning Quarterback 1.08

No, you don't have your days mixed up. I'm running the MonAMQB log on Tuesday again because I was off yesterday. We get a floating holiday at work this year that I really don't understand how it is different from any other Personal Time Off which we switched to from Vacation and Sick Days several years ago. There is not a list of days that you must choose from to take your floating holiday on like Columbus Day or your Birthday. I just happened to take those days (a coincidence that they were on the same day this year) because MLW was off and we had a doctor appointment scheduled.

I don't have many notes from the three-day weekend because my mind was trying to get wrapped around the ultrasound on Monday and I wrote about that yesterday. I did have a few things jotted down, though, and I will try to expound on them a little bit as I have the space and time:

• Thanks for all of the birthday greetings. It was nice the way that the baby stuff, sort of, overshadowed the annual reminder of my imminent demise, but also nice for the special wishes.
Facebook is really slick. It's a nice way to keep up with people of different degrees of interest in a mutually acceptable way. Don't understand what I mean? Let me put it more bluntly: You can be friendly with people that you want to and people that you don't care to with a, seemingly, similar amount of effort. Now you get it? How 'bout this: You don't have to contact all of your friends individually-- you can just post a greeting and everyone is responsible to read it at their leisure.
SkeetzTeez has had a terrible dry spell until this weekend, when things picked up a bunch. I did, however, make enough over the last month to order MLW some cool maternity shirts and had some money left in the account to get myself my favorite new, Man on First: Wiffleball t-shirt!
• My shirts are getting more attention when we wear them out in public so I made up cards with the websites listed to hand out when people ask about the designs. M3S is a great model and I even had several people comment on the See Spot Run design on Saturday.
• Thinking of a way I can get talent shots on the cafepress Site. Want to be on the Web? Send me a picture of yourself in something you bought on SkeetzTeez and I will give you something in return. What? I don't know what! But something... good.
• If the Rams can win a couple more, it may be hard for our fantasy team to have a better record at the end of the season. Right now, we're tied.
• It's chili season again! I am signed-up for a couple of cook-offs but I am torn between sticking with my award winning Screaming Mimi recipe which, technically, I should not be able to eat on my new diet or go the more healthy route, modify the good-but-not-good-for-you ingredients, risk that it sucks and be the laughing stock of the competition?
• Do bees die in the winter? M3S loves to go to the farm and watch the beehive that they have in a two-sided glass display case. We go maybe once a month or so but more often this time of year because they have the harvest festival with corn mazes, a petting zoo, pony rides, a pumpkin patch and other fun stuff for the kids but his favorite part is still watching the bees. He is such a smart boy and I just want to find out the answer so I can come up with an explanation before he asks.
• I have started a list of things that M3S says and asks that I will write on in the near future.
• In the simplest terms, I am thankful that I made it to my 43rd Birthday because there was a period of time in the last year when I wasn't sure if I was going to make it and, if I did what kind of shape I would be in.
Iron Man: 3.75/5 stars. Don't Mess with the Zohan: less than 3.0 and it is not a family film.
Visit my Squidoo Lenses if you have any interest in any of the subject matter and make your own if you don't. Each lens is updated at least weekly with fun new stuff. I currently have all of these available for your viewing pleasure:

In closing, I have had a few people say to me recently (most of which I have known for 20 or more years), "I didn't know you could write!" My immediate reaction is to reply, "Well yes, they taught me that in Grade School and I have been doing it ever since," but I don't want to be rude.

Most people can tell a story or joke or about their summer vacation without much of a problem but have a brain freeze when it comes to putting it down on paper. I have found that it is so much easier to write then speak. Part of this may be because of the trouble I was having with my speech but, when you think about it, what is really the difference between speaking and writing? In my opinion it is much easier to write because you have time to think about what you are going to say and you can always erase and redo it you get in trouble.

Fact is, I am having a ball doing this. I sometimes get bored with new projects quickly but I still look forward to taking the 45-minutes to an hour to have my say. I hope anybody reading is enjoying it as half as much as I am. If you know anybody that may be interested in it too, please forward the link on to them and...

Buy T-shirts. Peace.


The Big Question

Today was the big 20-week ultrasound. Any parent knows that this is the test that they are usually able to tell the gender (we say gender instead of sex) of the baby in Mama's tummy. I am writing like I am talking to a three-year-old because, since MLW and I found out that we were expecting our second child, I have been spending most of my time explaining, as best as I could, the whole pregnancy thing to our first-born.

From the moment he could understand that he was going to have a new sibling, he was sure that he wanted to have a little brother. His mother and I were torn between a boy and a girl for several different reasons. When we had this test with the first child, we were both hoping for a daughter. There was a little bit of disappointment even when we heard, "It's a Boy!" I know it sounds weird because expecting parents are always saying, "We don't care as long as the baby is healthy," but I think it's alright to want a healthy baby boy or girl. 

Now that we have had three wonderful years with our Son, we both would want nothing more than to have another boy but it's not that simple. There are so many things to consider when you are talking about raising a boy or a girl and when you add up all of the points for each gender, it makes it hard to have a preference.

MLW wants a daughter because we have a girl's name picked out and, although she won't say so herself, I think she would like to be able to dress up a little girl and do her hair all cute and stuff. On the other hand, she would like another son because she is convinced that all girls grow up to hate their mothers at some time in their life and we don't have to deal with wedding planning.

My opinions are similar in that I think it would be fun to have the All-American family with a boy and a girl. I think it would be great to have a little Daddy's girl and I want to experience as many different things in my life and we are planning on this being our last child so a daughter would be good.

I can't help thinking, though, of how much fun we can have wrestling around with two little boys. We already have all the stuff we need to raise a boy and I would not have to paint any rooms or anything if we have another son. Most importantly, though, is the fact that I don't really think I could handle the tween and teen years with a young lady. I, truly, think that I would lose my mind when she starts dating and stuff.

My wife's OB is a wise lady and has some good stories about her own kids. Her husband was happy when they found out that they were going to have a son because they would save money on toilet paper. I don't really agree with him on that statement but he also said, "With a boy, we only have to worry about one penis..."-- good point.

At this point you are probably thinking, "What is it going to be?" especially if you are one of the individuals that I made read the blog to find out. Well, without coming right out and saying, let me tell you... we did have the ultrasound today and we are all soooooooo happy.

Mama will just have to convince one of her future daughter-in-laws to name her baby girl Anna Bella Sophia because Paulie is going to have his baby brother. Now if I can only explain to him how the doctor's going to get him out of Mama's tummy. While I try to come up with something... buy T-shirts. Peace.


Let's Roll! 1.06

I totally understand how, with the pending economic crisis, individuals may want to think about cutting back on some of the non-critical budget expendiatures. I, myself, am cutting back, limiting the number of times I eat out to once a day (three times on weekend days), flushing the toilet only after going number two (to save on water bills) and shortening my weekly hot stone massage from one-hour to 45-minutes (except for tonight 'cause I am feeling extra tense after the five-day week).

I have expected for sales of T-shirts to fall off at this difficult time. I didn't, however, foresee them falling off the face of the earth or think that I would go for days without seeing a visitor to either the cafepress shop or this blog! What ever happened to window shopping?

I am not trying to make a living selling this stuff so it is not really a problem. I have made enough to pay for my costs for over a year and I have reinvested part of the profits back into gifts for friends and some really cool designed T-shirts for me. I don't need the money but, after doing this for several months now, I have gotten used to and I do need... the attention.

I really miss just knowing somebody is checking out my designs or reading what I have to say. It's not only that I put a lot of work into it but more of it makes me feel good to know that what I do is making somebody-- anybody-- laugh, or feel good, or think.

Okay, I'll stop nagging everyone to buy t-shirts if you promise to check in every once in a while to let me know you still love me. Let's Roll:

I can't explain what good this site does but I did spend more than a few minutes exploring my name and then my family and friends. I will let the site description take it from here:

There are 305,373,985 people in the United States of America. If everyone in the U.S. lined up single file, the line would stretch around the Earth almost 7 times. That's a lot of people.

The U.S. Census Bureau statistics tell us that there are at least 88,799 different last names and 5,163 different first names in common use in the United States. Some names are more common than others.

There are 50,428 people named John Smith in the United States. There are 1,067 people named James Bond, 115 people named Harry Potter , 512 people named George Bush, and 32 people named Emily Dickinson. However, Johnny Cash (39 people) songs aside there are, statistically speaking, very few boys named Sue.

There are 16 other people in the U.S. that share my proper name but there is only one skeetz! What about you? How many people share your name?

Yahoo News: Political Dashboard
You are probably getting sick of all of the presidential election stuff. In a way, I am too, but at the same time it is all kind of exciting. At least exciting enough that I want to check up on the news about it.

This site does a fairly decent job of giving, seemingly, impartial info on the upcoming race, including an interactive electoral map to get up-to-date progress reports of your favorite candidate in the race.

Personally, I am not one that preaches and goes on about how to be a good American and do your civic duty, you need to be involved in the election and supporting one of the parties because, in all honesty, I don't believe one person can make that much of a difference and, ultimately, you are just voting for the lessor of two evils. I do believe, however, that every citizen of the U.S. should vote because it is their right and individuals should be well informed of the issues that effect them so they can make an educated decision.

This is a squidoo lens that, when I originally stumbled on it, made me mad because I was going to create a similar one. As I looked into it further, though, I found that it was really well done.

It includes rules of the game, instructions on how to throw a variety of pitches and video of some guys that know how to play the game pretty well. I mean... they aren't up to the caliber to be able to take on the boys from Ville Maria-- but they aren't bad.

I know I have mentioned this before but Squidoo is really cool for networking or just having fun. Check out all of my lenses and then make your own and...

Buy T-shirts. oops! Peace.


Man on First...

We went to a graduation party in the Summer so, naturally, there were a lot of teenagers there. I'm not the type to sit around and make conversation with people I don't know very well so I grabbed a Wiffle ball and bat and asked my Dad if he thought we could get a game started.

I should have known what we were in for from the condition of the equipment-- still in it's original packaging-- not a scratch on it. Wiffle balls are best used after they have been well broken-in for a season or so. They are made from a space-age polymer that resists cracking even after hundreds of long balls. Incredibly enough, I have seen more shattered storm windows from well hit Wiffle balls than broken Wiffle balls under normal use.

After a few minutes of "sidewalk scuffing" (a proven technique of rubbing the ball on a rough surface, such a concrete, to speed up the aging process) my Dad and I were playing a leisurely game of catch. It didn't take long for us to collect a few spectators, as the only type of people that like making conversation with people they don't know very well more than me, is teenage boys. It didn't take very long for us to have enough people to start a game either because teenage boys find it hard to turn down a challenge-- especially from a guy old enough to be their father and his father.

Two things became, painfully, obvious shortly after the game started. One, they had never played by these rules before. Though we explained all of the rules prior to the first pitch, we had to stop several times to go over them again. It really is very simple: you swing and the catcher catches the ball-- your out; foul tip is an out; a caught fly ball is an out; over that sidewalk on the fly is a home run; any other fair ball is a single. No... you don't run the bases. No... there are no walks (or even balls), doubles or triples.

Now these are not the official rules of Wiffleball. These are the rules I learned from my Dad and he learned from the street when he was a kid in the late 40s and 50s. They are, probably, closer to stick ball rules as that's what they played before the Wiffle ball was invented and easily accessible to everyone. These were our rules when we played in our yard or anywhere else that we had numbers on everyone else.

We ran into many different rules growing up. Many were regional, by neighborhood, but even then, there were sometimes different variations of the game played on the same street. Some gave you three strikes or didn't require the catcher to catch them; some didn't count the foul ball as an out or counted a cleanly caught ground ball as an out. I've seen games played that they try to keep track of balls and strikes and Cox's group used to play with a trash can behind the plate-- if you hit it with the pitch, it's a strike... nonsense!

The Official Wiffleball Website, has the official rules and there are sanctioned leagues out there now that play by there own sets. All-in-all there are some differences, but the one thing all of the rules have in common is... no base running. That is why the phrase "Man on First" was first uttered and why it is one of the most common memories of a man's childhood. 

One of the best things about Wiffleball is that it can be played with as few people as two or three. The game was also developed to be easily played in backyards, side lots, city streets and alleys or even indoors. These two important features didn't allow room for bases, much less, running between them, therefore "man on first" was stated after a single was hit and often between batters and even pitches to remind all the players that there was an invisible "man" on first base and that a dinger would score two, instead of one.

The other thing that I noticed very quickly, is these kids had, not only never been taught how to properly throw a Wiffle Ball, they had probably never seen anyone who has. This was obvious in that, besides watching me pitch like I had two heads, the confident (almost to the point of arrogant) little bastages, literally, couldn't touch any of my stuff with the bat. They would step their cocky punk-arses into the box and then quickly duck back out as the little white ball, that seem to definitely be directed right at their head, curved away, crossed the plate, and landed, gently, into the waiting hands of my Dad-- right down the middle. 

I would let up a bit on the second and third pitch to reassure them that, even if they do catch one in the face, back or nads, it isn't going to hurt them. It's a Wiffle ball, for God's sake. The laws of physics won't allow an object with this light of a mass to accelerate to speeds greater than 23 mph. Then I come in with a riser that looks so inviting as it floats to the plate, tailing in slightly towards the right-handed batter, that the kid can't resist swinging for the fences-- Whiff! (How Wiffleball got it's name.) 

My Dad still moves pretty good for an old guy and there aren't too many that I got past them that he didn't scoop up. I think I saw a little more of a pep in his step, too, when we started to gain a little respect from the juvenile delinquents. The kids were pretty amazed with our skills and even asked us to show us a few tricks. Some of them even listened when we explained how to throw a screwball or slap at the ball with the bat instead of swinging for power.
I feel bad that those little twerps made it through there whole childhoods without playing Wiffleball. What else did they miss out on? 

I learned a lot of lessons growing up from Wiffleball and other games like it. I could go on-and-on about the secret to curving the ball (don't try so hard) or other uses for the Wiffle bat (snipe-hunting, bottle-rocket-launching, sword-fighting) and things like that for hours but I, unfortunately, don't have that time right now. I will find it, though, soon and write about some more fun stuff in future postings. Right now, we will leave it on hold... Man on First. Buy T-shirts. Peace.


They Grow Up So Fast...

My Son told his Mother yesterday, "I hate my job!" He's three and he was as serious as a heart attack. When MLW asked him what job he thought he had, he replied, "You read the book. You should know what I'm talking about!"

It doesn't concern me that he thinks he has a job because, in a way, he does. He's got rules to follow and little chores to do and even when he does something as simple as going poopies, we reward him and tell him, "Good job, Buddy!"

I'm also not worried that he hates his job because, in all reality, none of us like to do most of the things we have to do. I would, however, would have rather he said, "I don't care for my job", just because it sounds nicer than hate.

What I am worried about in this story is that, we think the three-year old is being cute. We don't know where he learned to hate his job or what book he is talking about but the way he is being so serious and acting like such a little man is adorable. The problem is-- he is completely serious, he knows exactly what he is talking about and we better figure out the book he mentioned and re-read it so we can figure out what is going on.

I want M3S to be smarter than his mother and I... I just don't want it to happen before he gets into kindergarten. I get the feeling that he thinks he knows more than the both of us put together already.

I promised myself, way before I had any kids, that I would not be the kind of parent that would, blindly say, my child is smarter (or cuter, or superior, or anything better) than others but, as I learn more and more about him, I am having a harder time keeping that promise.

There was a Mom's magazine in the bathroom with the cover headline, "Is Your Child Gifted?" I didn't want to look but I couldn't resist skimming through the article. M3S, definitely, has some characteristics, like his advanced vocabulary, the tough questions he asks, how quickly he learns things and how easily he relates with older kids and adults, that might be signs that he could fall into that category. The article explained some of the pros and cons of being labeled a gifted child and suggested further testing, but I'm not sure, at all, how I feel about that.

I had the label of a gifted child from a very early age and sincerely believe that it contributed to my anxiety problems. Accelerated learning classes put a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed as a youngster and, ultimately, didn't help that much with college as an art major.

Though I would be very interested to know how smart M3S is, I think it is much more important to have a normal path to adulthood. That is hard enough for a kid, these days, without the extra pressures of trying to be better than everyone else.

It is a little hard for me to accept, but I do acknowledge that times have changed since I was a teenager. I believe, however, that if the kids can have the right values instilled in them, from an early age, they will have the tools available to help make the decisions that will make it easier for them. My Son is only three, though, so I haven't had to put my money where my mouth is yet. I'll give you an update on him in 10-12 years!

This whole thing is a learning experience for me, almost as much as it is him. I hope I haven't turned into one of those parents-- the kid is just so amazing! I am still pretty new to this, being a first time parent, so my obvious bias may be less with the coming of our second baby... unless its a girl! Then, all bets are off! 

We'll see in five more days. Buy T-shirts. Peace.


Thank God It's Tuesday!

As I recall, it was Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats who did the song "I don't like Mondays" in the mid-eighties and in the seventies there was a Disco tune (and movie) declaring "Thank God It's Friday". Both were fine pieces of music in their respected genres and eras but, as a student of pop-culture, I think it was what the lyrics said rather than the whole composition of the songs that made these moderate hits. I, especially, like Geldof and appreciate his humanitarian efforts, but this song, sort of, went the way of Johnny Paycheck's, "Take This Job and Shove-It", as a angry working-man's anthem. Besides... I love Mondays.

I must have heard six or seven people say, "Thank God, It's Friday," or something similar from the time I woke up last Friday until the time I made it to my desk. I don't know why I even noticed the comments as I am pretty non-functioning in that 85-minutes as my body runs on auto-pilot. That day, though, by the third or forth time, I was openly questioning the statements, and by the time I made it to the office I was just waiting for someone to mention it again so I could jump on them and start beating them about the head and torso.

Sadly, though, no one said word one to me that morning and after sitting puzzled about the whole thing for several minutes (that seemed like several hours) I had to bring it up to whoever would listen. Unfortunately (for them), this was the other members of my department-- three very nice, young ladies that didn't want to have anything to do with my rant.

Fridays are pretty much like every other weekday except I am more tired than Thursday-- the day that I'm more tired than every other day of the week. In addition, people tend to be more anxious on Fridays than other days and, in my vast experience with anxiety, I have learn that stress and anxiety produce more stress and anxiety resulting in more stress and anxiety. In my research, I recalled reading a report that more heart attacks occurred on Fridays than any other day of the week but I now am finding conflicting statistics claiming there are more on Saturdays or Mondays.

I just don't understand why most people you ask would say Friday was one of their favorite days of the week and probably their favorite weekday. If you would go further and ask why, I bet most replies would include something about work and before my brain attack, I would have answered the same way. Afterwards, however, I have gained a new perspective of things.

Jobs are a necessary evil. Don't get me wrong! I think you should put 100% (or 110% if you do that) effort into your job and everything else you commit to getting involved in but let's get our priorities straight-- work to live... don't live to work.

I understand that days that you have to do things are not going to be as nice as days when you do but, the fact is, there is always something that's got to be done and never enough time to do it. Make sure that you take some of that time and spend it on the things that are important to you because when you have one of those moments when you realize that we don't have enough time in our life... it is too late to do anything about it.

I'm sure you have heard this before but I think it is worth mentioning again. I don't know of anyone that when asked on their deathbed, "What would you do differently?" that would reply with anything like, "I wish I would have worked a little more."

I think it is a great practice to thank God for Fridays, but we don't often enough remember to thank him for the other days of the week, hours of the day, minutes of the hour or seconds of the minutes.

I've been thinking about this story for several days now and I wasn't really planning on it going this far in this direction or being this preachy, but on Monday morning I had an epiphany, of sorts-- one of many since my as near to death experience that I ever want to experience:

I rolled out of bed and tried to shower and get ready as quietly as possible because MLW works the noon - 8:00 PM shift on Mondays and I really don't want to wake her or M3S who may go to sleep in his own room on most nights, but almost always ends up in our bed by morning. Every other weekday I wake alone because they leave at such a ridiculous hour that I don't even know what time it is, because I've never been up that early.

There is something about those mornings and them just being there-- a peace that is incredibly hard to come by when they are awake. Even though we have a king-size bed I spend half of my night trying to find a little piece of mattress to myself but on Monday mornings, I want nothing more than to crawl back into bed between them-- and most Mondays I do.

At three, my son has become a little less of a Mama's boy, recently, and is hanging out with Dada more but he usually doesn't want to give hugs out too easily. Something amazing happens, though, when he sleeps early in the morning. If I lay by him, very quietly, after a few moments he will, eventually, feel my presence, roll toward me and cuddle up tight wrapping his strong little arms around and "hold me". At the same time, if everything is positioned just right, I can reach out and hold my wife and "the baby in her tummy" without her asking me to do so and without her knowing that I did.

This is why I thank God for Mondays. Since last November 28, I can find a reason to thank Him for every other day of the week, too. I find reasons to thank God for minutes and seconds that I am lucky enough to spend with the people I love. I thank Him that I am still better than most of my friends on the drums at RockBand and that I am able to write every day in this blog if I can find the time.

I asked an old friend that I haven't seen in a very long time if they ever freaked out because they realized that we were adults. We were just kids and next thing you know we are all grown up! I guess it is going to happen whether we are ready or not. I thank God for things like that, too, (and for not reminding me about them too much) and things like work even though they aren't my favorite things.

I lay there in my bed holding my two best friends in the whole world-- my family, that I dreamed that I would have, but never thought I would-- for as long as I can until I have to get up and head to work... the necessary evil that will allow me to be thankful for the things that are really important... like Tuesdays.

Be Thankful. Buy T-shirts. Peace.