Pouring coffee in the dark

One, lets just assume we've gotten past the part of actually making coffee in the dark. There's potential for some insight into this task, but there is much less chance of bodily harm (unless you use a sharp knife to make coffee, which is probably a small subset of the world population and therefore, any insight would just be a waste of my words), so we will just skip to the important part, pouring a cup of that freshly brewed, dark velvety concoction that makes us think we can finally start the day... in the dark. Now why would we be awake at an hour where we would need to pour coffee in the dark? Well, it could be a thousand reasons, you can't sleep, you have an early morning flight, it doesn't really matter, you are here, in the dark and you want coffee. Another assumption not worth insight is that you didn't bang your head on the cabinet door while retrieving a coffee mug and therefore aren't lying on the floor unconscious, so let's move on. You raise the mug up with one hand, grab the coffee pot with the other and start to pour. Your eyes have adjusted slightly to the black that surrounds you, but what this really takes is awareness. So now you basically have two options. Your first option is to pour until you feel the hot liquid overflow onto your hand that is holding the mug. This is dangerous and can lead to a pretty uncomfortable rest of the day as the scalding hot liquid finds your smooth flesh. Your second option is to listen. This takes patience and acute awareness, listen for the sound of the coffee filling up the mug, wait for the precise moment when the sound of pouring coffee echos just the right notes in the mug and then stop. Your mug is full. You go on about your day until you have to pee. Three things just happened here. First, you listened to the sound of the coffee pouring. Listening is a skill we sometimes fail at, it's easy to just let it go in one ear and out the other. Open your ears, shut down your other senses, you are in the dark, you can't see, only your ears to guide you. Next, drink your coffee, consume what you just heard. Sometimes you suck it down fast, other times, it's so hot that you have to let it cool down a bit before you consume it. If you've been lucky enough to have had a coffee tasting class, you should make slurping sounds while you consume (although others might find you strange if you utilize this behavior). Occasionally, you are doing other things (shame on you for multitasking) and put your mug down and forget where it is, only to find it later at room temperature and you promptly resume consumption. Either way, you are taking it in. Lastly, and dependent on your bladder size, you gotta pee! You repeat (let it out) what you heard in your own words (yes, I know, this is stretching it). Sometimes it's right away, other times, it could be a couple of hours. But the important thing is that it's coming out. What a strange analogy for listening skills. Four cups of coffee later, I'm laughing at myself for no apparent reason, and it is not even five o'clock. It's good to laugh, some say it is the best medicine. My dog is snoring. Almost six and my mind is already racing, what's on the plate for today? Seven years I have been in this house, and it is still not exactly the way I want it. Sure, a few years ago I went mad and repainted and redecorated most of the inside. I bought some new furniture and pictures to hang on the wall, but I'm just not finished yet. It does feel like home, my home, and I'm getting there, it's just slow. I've put all of this time, money and energy into the inside, but I've been neglecting the outside. I used to keep a tight leash on the flower beds and grass (and picking up all of the children's toys outside that no matter how many times I tell them, they just will not pick up themselves), but life gets in the way. Oh, and we've had some hot hot hot summers lately, and as much as I used to like hot weather, I no longer enjoy yard work in hot weather. And then Saturday happened! My ritual morning cup of coffee in my favorite rocking chair on the front porch and OUCH! Stupid freaking fire ant bites my foot. I've been battling these nasty creatures for years, but this year has been downright nasty. I blame the mild winter (which has also made fleas and ticks bad this year). With two kids and a dog, I really didn't want to spray all those chemicals around to get rid of the tiny little bastards, so I went on a hunt with the help of Google. A 50/50 mix of Borax and sugar, Splenda (the molecular structure is apparently similar to DDT and will eat away the oil on an ants skin after consumption), burn 'em out (pyro), etc., but I reached my limits. Maybe these "natural" tactics would work, I just no longer had the time to wait and see. There must have been a million ants on the front porch alone. Off to the big box home improvement store we go. Eight gallons of ant killer later (yeah, I ain't playing!), it's time to go to work. My theory was that the (once) Koi pond (now turtle/frog pond) was their source of water, and because of the run off from the rain, the ground also stayed nice and wet. Let's remove their water source, out comes the pond and in goes some dirt leveling. After a good half day of moving all of the rocks I had used for landscaping, I don't think there was a single one that weighed less than nine pounds (if anyone wants some big rocks, they are free, just bring a trailer), I then proceeded to empty 250 gallons of H20 from the pond where I discovered the turtle eggs! Fifteen of them to be precise! I guess Mr. Turtle was really Ms. Turtle and getting lucky! I pulled all of the plants out (including the iris' that came from Ohio, I think 30-ish years ago and have moved with me all over), I now had a big old bed of dirt. Well, if you know me, I sometimes don't do things small, I don't do things easy, I pay attention to detail and now was my chance to start getting the outside "right". This was not going to be a weekend project. Yes, I had a battle with ants to contend to, but those nasty little menaces to society were forcing me to get back in the game and get it right. One more trip to the big box home improvement store and I had a trailer full of top soil and mulch (and a few new plants). Decked out in my best flip flops and a pair of shorts, yeah, no shirt (calm down ladies, I don't exactly have a six pack), I went to work. After about 30 minutes with a pick ax, I was glistening in the bright Carolina sunshine (again ladies, calm down, it wasn't a Vampire glisten like diamonds, it was stinky sweat, hardly a turn on) and determined to get this done. Or so I thought. Or until I realized that I'm not as young as I once was. Or... ah, put the kids to work!!! I kick back in the rocking chair with a great book and they get to have all of the fun (work). Or until I realize that shoveling dirt is only fun for a kid when you aren't supposed to be doing it. And then it was back to manual labor and me sweating and stinking up the air, all the while trying to envision what the end product would look like. And also thinking that this was just the beginning as the rest of the flower beds have potential as well, and potentially more ants, and I'm not giving up, this is a war that I will win! How this ten things went from coffee to ants to yard work is beyond me. Such is the nature of randomness. That's what happens when dinner plans are cancelled and ants invade. Cheers my friends! (And next time you need to pour coffee in the dark, just turn on the light)

Times a changin’

I have been under some pretty crazy stress lately and haven't been writing much, so things change today. I have this tendency to get put on these really strange projects where there is something odd, abnormal, weird going on with technology, or something new, or some strange integration. And I guess I kind of like it, it's always a challenge, but I also take it personally, and it's scary. And walking into unknown spaces is always a risk, but hey, isn't that life? So I've started thinking over the last few weeks (also scary) - and also decided that I really hate salt, or anything salty - and it's time to act (not react). I'm not going to do anything drastic, it's more slow mellow thinking, mostly, because I love my job, I'm doing what I've always wanted to do and I love the challenge and all the awesomely brilliant people I work with, I just want more! So I can't exactly share these new ideas with you now, except for the few that are already public, like my book that (if I'm lucky) might be out in the next few years (I never realized how hard this really is), but I can give you some hints... I've had conversations in the last few days with some really fucking smart people, and I realized that I have this primal desire to continue to learn. The problem I have is that I do not want someone else to dictate what I learn, so I'm ruling out formal education (there's another word I want to preface education with and another to follow the replaced word with once that word is replaced, just cant find either right now, oh well). I have also realized that there is something in my life that seriously bugs the crap out of me. It is to the point where sometimes, I pretty much lose it, and I need to figure out what "it" is! "It" has hurt a few people in my life recently, we are OK now, but I'm starting to put 5 and 5 together and when I get 10 for the answer, I know I'm there. I'm at 7.88627 now, so it is certainly close. It takes a little bit of soul searching, it takes walking away from some things and it takes standing up and facing other things. I'll do it all before I get there. It's kind of strange, when I go back and read things I've posted in the past, and my whole reason for starting this blog... I wanted to learn 10 new things every week and share, but what I've seen, over time, is that I've experienced 10 things every week(ish) and shared. Which then brings to the table, how does knowledge weigh into experience, are they interdependent? I think so, because you should be learning from experience, and if you don't, how can you grow as a person? Is this not the premise that makes us wise old men and women? Is this not the knowledge and experience we then transfer to our children? I know, myself, that I want my children to be better off than I am, not financially (but that's a consideration), but in what they know, how they think, what they believe and how they interact with society and what/how they contribute to the world. We can all make our mark, large or small, this is a world of many, not a world of one. As I'm rambling on, I certainly am thinking, what are my ten things, I mean it is about conforming to the rules I set for myself, but I just don't know what they are tonight, there's so much going on, and changing-every day. So I should leave you with one thing - "Who are YOU and what do YOU want from life?" - Maybe that sounds silly, but this (these) simple question you should sleep on, don't answer me, but answer you, no one has to know, keep it to yourself and sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite!

The Lorax – not your typical movie review

I've never written a movie review, and never plan to, so this is not a movie review. I rarely take my kids to the movie theater, not because that after the tickets, popcorn, candy and sodas you could have made a down payment on new car, but because there's no pause button-and it never fails that one or both will need to go to the restroom (and it's always during a good part of the movie). So, yeah, I'm the "Daddy you never take us to the movies!" guy. Oh, well. I'll wait until it comes out on DVD (yeah, I'm also the "You don't have a Blue-Ray player yet?" guy) (there's hope for me yet, the home theater/play room is getting close to completion). Enough rambling on already... last night, the kids and I sat down to watch The Lorax in the better than movie theater experience kind of way. You know, lights out, big bowl of popcorn, pillows and blankets and the three of us snuggled on the couch (that's the best part, kind of hard to do in theater seats). I can't remember if I read the book when I was little (I've put a lot of years on since then), so I wasn't sure what to expect, but Horton Hears a Who was awesome, so I had high expectations. I quickly learned while the popcorn was popping, that The Lorax was "shortish and oldish and brownish and mossy ... with a voice that was sharpish and bossy," how can you not love Dr. Seuss? I also learned that The Lorax (the book), in 1988, had a little bit of controversial involvement in a small town in California where some thought that the book was "unfair to the logging industry" (see Wikipedia The Lorax). Alright then, enough history and facts, here's my take on The Lorax. 1. The characters, well, I've always loved Dr. Seuss characters, they are fun and original. The Once-ler seems a little shady at first. As the story unfolds though, you realize he's more than that, he's a greedy industrialist bastard that doesn't give two shits about the environment. That is, until his precious supply of Truffula Trees runs out. In your face! But now we have a much larger problem, didn't they teach you about reforestation and Arbor Day in school? Apparently not. It does make you think about all of the industries today that are scraping precious material and life from our planet... fishing, mining, oil (that black gold we just can't seem to get away from), lumber, Alaskan King Crab (that Discovery show we can live without). Hopefully the CEO's of these companies have seen this movie. 2. Thneeds. Yeah, something everyone just has to have. As I sit here writing, I'm looking around the house. I just had to have that plasma TV, I just had to have Diet Caffeine Free Pepsi, this laptop I'm typing on, the list goes on and on. It goes back to the differentiation of want and need. I do need food to cook, clothes on my back-but even buried in these needs are wants, I want a certain brand of rice, I want only name brand designer clothes (not really unless you look at my winter coat collection or cowboy boot collection). It really boils down to marketing, those annoying commercials, the especially annoying ones on the kids channels during our 30 minute TV time before bed, "Daddy, I need that toy!" Well, I actually bet you don't really need that toy, but you can want that toy as much as you please. 3. Political corruption and greed. How did I get that out of The Lorax? Easy, the Mayor of Thneed-Ville. He immediately masks the outside world and fills the city with artificial, "protecting" his happy citizens and then takes advantage of them by selling bottled oxygen. For fear of starting a political frenzy, I'll just leave this one alone. I have my political views and you can have yours, but you can't deny that there is certainly corruption and greed. I'm reading Me the People by Kevin Bleyer right now which tells the tale of our Constitution birth (and Bleyer's quest to rewrite it), even as our country was getting it's feet wet, there was corruption and greed. Enough said, moving on... 4. Truffula Trees, they are just so cool looking. They look soft and fluffy and I want to climb right up in one and take a nap. They remind me of probably my favorite tree, the Mimosa. I like the wispy-ness of the leaves, kid of fanning out like a fern. And my other favorites, the Magnolia for it's grandiose flowers and sweet sweet aroma, and of course, the Weeping Willow, how can you not love this tree? 5. Illumination Entertainment, wow, I'm amazed at the CG work in this film. And they are relatively new, having only recently been formed in 2007, and still a pretty short list of films. Technology sure has changed, CG movies haven't been around for that long and have advanced exponentially. Sure, CG has been around since the 60's, but full feature length CG animated films really only started to take shape in 1995 with Toy Story, although LucasFilm made some pretty good headway in the 80's and a host of other motion picture companies made great advances in probably two of the hardest aspects of CG, human animation, especially facial, and realistic CG water (in movies such as Water World, The Abyss) followed by advances in digital puppetry (RoboCop 2, Terminator 2) in the 90's. Will there be a day when we will not need human actors? Hmm, that might change a lot of the "I need to have that because so and so, the famous actress has one." 6. Audrey, ahhh, she's dreamy (and bundled with Taylor Swift's voice). I wonder what made her want to see a live tree. OK, I wonder why a lot of women want what they want, so next topic. 7. The Lorax, the list would not be complete without (him?). I enjoyed how he kind of picked himself up by the seat of his pants and flew away. I could go on for hours the times I've been in situations and just wanted to pick myself up and "Dear God, make me a bird. So I could fly far. Far far away from here" (Yep, Forrest Gump). 8. Unless. Unless someone cares, the situation will not improve. 9. “When a guy does something stupid once it's because he's a guy, but if he does the same stupid thing twice, that's usually to impress a girl.” This has to be my favorite line in the movie. I wonder if the opposite is true? Wait for it... I think it is. So this past week I took my puppy to the vet. The technician must have had one of these moments as the third time she came in (for no reason) I received, "Can I ask you a question?" Thinking it had something to do with how many months of flea control I wanted to get or something, I said sure. Her question cause a slight jaw drop that bounced off the floor a few times before returning to the proper location. "You are a little goofy looking, but cute, would you be interested in dinner?" Now this doesn't sound totally stupid, but what she doesn't know is that I just don't date, so first stupid thing. I couldn't help myself, I mean, yeah, I could do dinner, so we exchanged numbers, I mean, how can you resist a line like that? So she called and asked about dinner again (second stupid thing), and I couldn't resist the persistence, so it is what it is. But I don't date, so we'll see. 10. You very rarely see something in life that is truly spectacular. And if you do, or when you do, and the moment is over, or it's gone, you question what you witnessed or experienced.  You wonder if it was real, search for it's authenticity. This has nothing to do with any specific aspect of The Lorax, just something that's been sitting in my head for awhile. We've all witnessed or experienced something awesome, rainbows,  the birth of a child, a quiet walk in the park, the power of the ocean, I'm sure you have yours that you are thinking about right now. I used to believe in taking pictures of everything, I no longer do (it's not that I don't take pictures anymore, just not as many, and not for the reason of preserving history, my history is safe inside my head). I used to believe that if I didn't see it, it didn't happen, I no longer believe that. I believe in so much more now. So there you have it, my non movie review of a movie, I'm sure I need all the proper credits listed for legal purposes and all that jazz... just consider them there, I'm tired and think I'll go find dream land. Cheers my friends!

New beginnings

Well, that's a wrap. It's legally over now even though it's been over for more than 3 years. Thank you for the absolutely beautiful children, I will love them forever (and by the way, they look more like me than they do you, see, good things do come out of bad packages!).  I will provide for them everything they need to be successful in life. I will remain civil and border on "yeah, we can still be friends" (for the sake of the kids), but the joy of today just knowing that it's really over, finally, brings tears of happiness to my eyes. I could be an ass and list out the 10 Things I Hate About You, but that's already been done in a movie (which is a fun classic up there with The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful and a gazillion other awesome 80's flicks). So what's next? I don't know, a new book (that was the last chapter in that one), I could be mad that I spent the last some odd number of years with you, but I'm not, I can borrow from Fleetwood Mac and "Pick up the pieces and go home." And the book is coming! Because I can say that I did it! 10 Lines is coming to fruition, I have an illustrator and the rough copy is on it's way. Little nervous about it, but hey, you only live once! "Did she make you cry Make you break down Shatter your illusions of love Is it over now - do you know how Pickup the pieces and go home." Yes, I do know how!

The 10 hardest things to teach children

There's no handbook when they are born, and even if there were, it would need to be different for each child. Some things are easy. Some are hard. 1. Shut the fridge (I don't want the beer to get warm) 2. Close the front door (I'm not trying to cool the world with the air conditioning) 3. Flush the toilet (at least we are out of the diaper stage) 4. Clean your room (or the puppy will take all of your toys) 5. Eat your veggies (drown them in ranch dressing if you have to) 6. Your clothes don't match (wait, that's my fault, mine never do) 7. Use your words (I don't understand pointing) 8. Don't stare at strangers (unless you are people watching, then it's OK, just don't stare long enough for them to notice) 9. A bee will not sting you if you leave it alone (crossing my fingers) 10. Daddy runs out of energy sometimes (let me sleep in from time to time) Now you know, good luck!  

My new home (guest author)

Hi, this is Lola reporting in here after two weeks of potty training and life in my new home. I missed the kids, they have been gone for almost 2 weeks on vacation with their mom. I got to hang out with my new Dad while he worked. I had a lot of fun, but boy, my Dad runs a tight ship. Crate, walk, play, crate, walk, play. I found out I can bark and learned how to chase my tail. I listened to a lot of conference calls that my Dad was on, boy, I'm not sure how he puts up with it sometimes! At least now he is taking breaks from the computer and spending quality play time with me!!! Oh, and guess what? I had a video Skype call with my Dad's friends in Chicago, they have a dog too, I think her name is MP. Anyways, the kids finally came home, I was so excited to see them. My new brother was a little skittish around me at first, I was just so happy to see him, but I finally realized that he didn't like me jumping on him. My new sister is really good at taking me on walks, but oh my gosh, it is soooo hot this week, so we don't spend too long outside. She got me a new toy, a chewy giraffe that I like to play fetch with. They laugh at me when I slide across the floor trying to get it. Well, my Dad got mad at me a couple of times when I had a little accident. I need to get better at telling him that I need to, well, you know, go - I guess I just got excited and forgot! I think I'm doing pretty good though, I even have my own spot in the yard where I get to do my "dirty" business. Anyways, this gets me to my point. My big sister made a schedule for me. I'm not sure what a schedule is, but she must. She must have put a lot of time into it because it's 3 pages long. It has all of these words on it, and some numbers too. She hung it up on the fridge and keeps looking at it all day long. It starts at 6 am! I overheard her telling my Dad that she was setting her alarm for 6, but I woke up a little early and really had to go. My Dad took me out, man did he look rough. I guess people need coffee in the morning before they look good! Oh, yeah, that reminds me, I tried coffee when my Dad wasn't looking one morning, I didn't really like it, but for some reason, I couldn't stop running the rest of the morning. Back to the schedule. It's divided into pages, one for each of morning, afternoon, night. She must be really smart! This is going to be hard, she has my entire day planned out, what I'm doing and when I'm doing it. Crate, walk, play, crate, walk, play. She even has a bed time for me, what if I want to stay up late and watch a movie, or hang out at the camp fire like we did a couple of weekends ago? Maybe if I'm really nice, she will let me, as long as I don't abuse the privilege. Yesterday was weird though, my brother and sister had on their swim suits and then they went to the pool. What happened to my schedule? I just said "oh well" and went to sleep for awhile. I was so excited when they finally came back. We were back on track. But then it all went crazy. It was so hot out that we didn't stay out for as long as the schedule said we would. I spent more time out of my crate and playing. I feel like I messed up her planning. My Dad wasn't helping either, he wasn't paying attention to the schedule at all. We were getting the right order, but way off on the times she had so meticulously planned. Sometimes I had to go when it wasn't time for a walk, and sometimes I was too tired from playing that I just crashed. I think they were tired too. 1. I usually remember not to bite 2. I'm having less accidents 3. I love to play with my big sister and brother 4. My toys are so cool 5. I can't wait for it to cool down outside, I like long walks 6. I feel pretty tech savvy 7. I love my naps 8. I like to dig dig dig 9. I like my new home 10. My new family has a lot of love to give me! Lola

I have a dog

Oh my, I have a dog! I've only thought about adding to my family for 6 months or so. I wanted a rescue and had made contacts over the past few months and just sat and waited for the right little gal to need a home. My kids are old enough now to help with taking care of her and heck, it was Fathers Day weekend, so perfect timing. Here's what I know about puppies after 3 days... 1. They like to chew, a lot (especially network cables) 2. They go potty, a lot 3. The like to cuddle, a lot 4. They like to walk underneath you 5. They can be loud when you are on the phone 6. They have sad little eyes that make you forgive them 7. They are full of energy 8. Yet they like to sleep, a lot 9. They make a mess of toilet paper 10. They are great having around Meet Lola!

Hi, I'm Lola

Sunburned and selfish

What a freakin' awesome weekend, and a 3 day one at that! Just me and the kids, we had the hood to ourselves for a change. It started with a ball game Friday night where my daughter's team is really starting to show that they can play. They still lost, but that's not the point. They are maturing into a pretty good team considering their pre-season practices were mostly rained out and almost all of the girls are first time players. I'm proud of them! In preparation for a long weekend, I let the kids make the decision of what to do, fully aware it would just be the three of us (sort of). It was head to the beach or stay at home and chill, do some gardening and invite Grandma and Grandpa over for a cookout. Stay at home won, which honestly was a little weird considering they are beach babies through and through. So we hung out ALL weekend, and it rocked! And I got a little bit too much sun! And they were nice enough to lather me up with aloe in the evening. And I'm a little sad that it's over, but there's always next time! 1. Digging up plants that we are donating to someone else's yard 2. Flip flops or bare feet, no need for shoes 3. Hot hot hot Carolina sun 4. Grillin' and chillin' 5. Suntan lotion a little too late 6. Bathing suits and running through the sprinkler 7. Catching frogs in the pond 8. Fireflies in the evening 9. Hit a few hundred balls in the back yard (square up those feet, elbow up, bat back) 10. Enjoying spending time together, just the three of us A little blast from the past, last Memorial Day, I was sliding on a wing and a prayer across 100ft of plastic and vegetable oil on a home made slip and slide that ended with bruises for 3 weeks, so here's to keeping it low key!

Line drive

No one ever said life was without pain. No one said life was a bed of roses. Accidents happens, shit happens! Bottom of the 1st, my little lady is playing 3rd base and takes a line drive right in the shin. All is well (and by the way, she took a 25mph pitch in the thigh on Saturday with 5 seconds of tears and kept hitting, my fault) until... her mother! She played the rest of the inning and no one thought any different. Why go into the dugout and make a big deal about getting hit with the ball? The tears started rolling and she sat out the 2nd inning. I love my kids, and I don't like to see them hurt, but it's shake it off and roll with the punches. I don't dramatize shit with them, you fall down, you get hit by a ball, you pick it up, you shake it off and you go on with more vigor than you had before, that's the only way to learn. 1. Knees bent 2. Bat back 3. Elbow up 4. Eye on the ball 5. Commit 6. Swing like you mean it 7. Run 8. Down and ready 9. Play ball 10. It's going to hurt sometimes, but that's OK Spinning the Ultimate Waylon Jennings collection tonight sipping on cheap domestic beer-G'Night my friends!

The register

When my daughter was somewhere between one and two (she was in the walking exploring stage of early life), one rather calm afternoon she was playing by herself in her room and being rather quiet. That should have been the warning. Suddenly, the silence was broken with a screaming cry for help. I ran to her room and what did I find? One little girl stuck in the floor register. She had taken the cover off and managed to wiggle herself down into the vent up to her waist. Now what I should have done was run over and pull her out. What I ended up doing, however, was run to get a camera. The downside is that I cannot locate the picture. Regardless, that day, some 6-7 years ago, I screwed the registers to the floor. Over the years, a few things dropped in there and yesterday we decided to clean it out. Now here's where it gets strange. There were a few items that could have certainly fallen into the depths since the lock down, but most of the items we fished out have me scratching my head. Today's list is a list of "How did that get down there?" The register-where it all started... 1. Some Scrabble letters that unfortunately cannot make a word 2. A handful of plastic fishing worms 3. Beads for making a necklace or bracelet 4. One googly eye 5. Tomorrow, not sure of the origin of this 6. A spork 7. A baby doll sippy cup 8. Hearty Tomato soup from a kitchen playset 9. Leo the lion, I've never seen this guy before 10. A telephone?