Saturday, August 21, 2004

Whine and Wine

I think I'm bi-polar. Well, ok... not really bi-polar, but I've been having some pretty massive mood swings lately. I don't usually show it on the outside, but on the inside, I've been going from feeling pleasantly happy to suddenly quite depressed. I think it has something to do with feeling tired from not getting enough sleep during the week, and horrible nutrition. I get irritable during the work week, which is pretty normal for a tired dad. I just don't want to be that way. I need to start getting to bed at about 9pm every work night, but that's so early!!!! Cheese with my whine, please....

Speaking of wine, I bought a nice bottle of Beringer's White Zinfandel the other day. There IS a difference between the better stuff (Beringer's) and the uber-cheap stuff. Beringer' is probably the best of the store wines. Sometimes I just need to sit down and have a glass. Helps the digestion, you know.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Children.... Argh!

Why do kids hate to do homework? I don't remember hating to DO homework, just remember not having much. Argh.... school starts Monday and I can already tell this year is going to be a battle with Lindsey. I don't want it to be a battle, but I need to figure out what motivates her. She is the most enigmatic teenager I've ever met. Not a bad teenager: in fact, she is a an absolute joy to have around. She's intelligent, well spoken, crazy cute (yeah, yeah, I'm her dad, but I know cute when I see it), and so well behaved.

She just hates school work. Sees no point in it. Thinks it's all stupid. I remember that those were revolutionary, world-shaking concepts when I had them back in high school, too. I was certain no one else had looked at life and schoolwork quite the same way I had. I was on the cutting edge of new thinking.

Sigh... I'm sure about every kid has come to the conclusion that school work has no application in real life, therefore it's stupid to do it. She'll get over it, I'm sure, but I can't just look the other way while she figures things out. That's part of my job, to help her figure things out. Hopefully, she'll let me do that, and not be resentful. I love her so much. I want what every parent wants for their kid: be happy and successful.

I was looking at the KCRA TV website today, and came across this story about a drunken bear.

I thought it was pretty funny.

Also, if you take a visit to the KCRA website, take a look at Deidre Fitzpatrick's daily journal from the 2004 Olympics in Athens. I know she's got an entire TV station to promote her, but she's actually pretty interesting and has some neat behind-the-scene insights.

Minor Change

I felt the need to make a little color change, so I found this simple template and played with it a little bit. I like the color scheme much better, and we all know, if the blog LOOKS good, it must BE good.... lol

I'm gonna tweak it a bit as the days go. It's really fun learning the CSS stuff, and seeing how just one little change can throw the entire site into chaos. Such fun.....

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

It is with profound sadness....

I went to breakfast with my dad this morning, as is my usual Wednesday faire. He just loves getting out of the house, and we talk about everything under the sun. It usually comes around to current events, and we solve the worlds problems. I will miss my dad when he goes. He is 78, legally blind, had a 5-way heart bypass about 6 years ago, and just had his right hip replaced in June. He's being held together with bailing wire and chewing gum, and I know that one day, probably not all that far off, he will shuffle off into eternity as humans have done since Adam and Eve were forced to leave the Garden of Eden. I will be profoundly sad, and miss him greatly, but I will not mourn in the traditional sense. I've gotten to know this man very well, and we've shared a great deal, and I have had the chance to say to him all the things I wanted to say. There will be no regrets for me when he goes. Loss and sadness, yes, and grief. But no regrets.

Which leads me to the 2nd part of my day. Two weeks ago, my daughter Emily took her dog, Bitsie, back to the breeders at Guide Dog's for the Blind (GDB), in San Rafael. Bitsie was a Guide Dog puppy who didn't make it through training. She's been a family dog for the past 8 years or so. Her health was deteriorating rapidly, and the family vet couldn't figure out why. So Emily called GDB to see if she could bring her in, to let their vet's have a look at her. GDB's policy has always been, once a Guide Dog, always a Guide Dog, so they took Bitsie back.

Well, they figured out what was wrong with Bitsie. She had a horrible skin infection, which they took care of with anti-fungal medicines, and anti-biotics. But they did a blood test and found the calcium levels in her blood were very high, which is indicative of possible cancer. They did some more testing and poking and prodding, and low and behold, Bitsie has a large tumor in her belly. So, GDB called Emily back and told her the news: Bitsie is dying. GDB's doctors have fixed the skin problem, and Bitsie is much more comfortable than she was, but the cancer is inoperable, and unstoppable. She has maybe a month or so to live. Emily called me today to go with her to San Rafael to pick Bitsie up, to bring her home to be with family for her remaining time.

Bitsie was SO happy to see Emily when we got there. We talked to the vet, who was really quite compassionate about the whole thing. He was very clear: Bitsie can go at any time. It could be a few days, to a few months, but his best guess is about a month. The medication (prednesone) will help keep her comfortable, and feeling as well as she can. He told us it's up to us to decide when Bitsie should be put to sleep. The vet explained it as a quality of life thing, which I completely understood. At some point we will have to decide when Bitsie's discomfort over-rides any joy she gets out of life. He was having as hard a time telling us as Emily and I were hearing it.

What a tough to thing to decide.

Now, I need to be clear here: Bitsie doesn't live with me. She did up until my x-wife and I separated. She's lived with Emily, her sisters, and their mom & her boyfriend for the past year. They are the ones who will be there, day in and day out, playing with Bitsie and seeing her react. They are the ones who will eventually decide when it's time. I just pray they can all understand and see it as a part of life. A very sad part of life, but life nonetheless.

Bitsie has been such a terrific dog and companion. Her big, loud bark provides a sense of security around the house, even though I don't believe she'd ever bite a soul. She is always happy and playful. All of us who have known that dog will miss her terribly. I'm very, very glad to have her back in her home for her final days. It goes back to what I wrote about my dad above. No regrets. A chance to say the things, or do the things, or play the things, we all wish we could have, after we realize it's too late. With Bitsie, it's not too late.

As a father, I know it's tough on the kids, but what a valuable lesson in life! Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

Baby Baths

I watched my friend Lisa, tonight, give her 4-month old foster baby a bath in the kitchen sink. Now, giving a baby a bath is not usually a very significant event. This bath was quite typical, as baths go. The baby got wet, washed, dried, lotioned up, and dressed. But the reason I mention it is to highlight something I said in my previous entry, about finding something I'm passionate about.

As I watched Lisa bathe the baby, I realized, this is truly FUN for Lisa. I mean, kick-in-the-pants fun. Fun for her the way playing video games is fun for me. I enjoyed giving my kids baths when they were little, but it was something I did because it had to be done. The kids needed baths, so they got baths. Neither exciting, nor dull, just kinda neutral.

But to Lisa, bathing the baby is fun on a par with video games or minature golf. It's like the adult version of playing with dolls. It's fun like I'd be having fun getting out a deck of cards to play poker.

It's funny how different we all are. The things that drive us, and excite us, are so varied. Have you ever noticed how many different flavors of ice cream are in the freezer section? How many different brands and flavors of beer there are? Or coffee? It's fascinating how I can just love the exact same food item that makes the next person ill.

I guess it's variation that makes life interesting. "The spice of life", as they say. Boredom is a killer, in my book. It kills the soul, and tends to make sleep-walkers of us all. Here's to spice and variation and vive la difference!

Monday, August 16, 2004


I sometimes wonder, what is the attraction of blogging? Why do I bother with it? Why does anyone? I could just as easily write in a paper journal, or keep a private journal on my computer with password protections to ensure privacy. Obviously, it's fun to know that someone else is occasionally looking over my shoulder and reading what I've written.

But I think often about THIS space. What should I put in THIS space today? Should I write anything? How honest can I be? How much editing of my life should I do?

I see blogs that are fun, noting events around town and musings on the day's occurrences, with a sprinkle of innocuous personal trivia tossed in. I see blogs that are complete, unfiltered accountings of a person's life. And I see blogs that are vitriolic forums to complain about life, insult people, and generally cause trouble. The entire spectrum is out there, from lovely poetry about being kind to little bunnies, to politics, religion, sports, family, school...... all the way to straight up porn stories written daily to keep the reading public enthralled.

I've seen blogs used as a cry for help; a cry for someone to care and write back and help with some issue. I've seen information IN blogs used against the author in ways I deeply disagree with. In my own workplace, the blogs of some of my co-workers (mostly quite harmless accountings of their own lives and thoughts) are often read by other co-workers in hopes of digging up dirt, or finding some titillating tid-bit of information to use as gossip fodder. It's quite sad, really. I simple word, taken out of context, can send gossip-mongers into a tizzy.

I just wonder sometimes why I do this at all. I do enjoy writing, in almost any form. I enjoy "putting pen to paper", as they used to say. But "writing" has to be meaningful. It has to come from the heart (or a place of passion, at least be fun), or it's meaningless.

Bloggers need to be careful in their writings, to respect the privacy of those that still expect some privacy. We all interact daily with individuals that have colorful, interesting private lives, and we all give away little clues to our inner selves, every day. I know that I need to be careful when talking about my family. My kids are a constant source of activity in my life, and their accomplishments and trials are obviously very important to me. I could write about every silly thing, but in my opinion, that would be a bit invasive. They have an expectation of some privacy regarding things that go on in our home.

So, I will continue doing what I do. I guess I do this mainly as a journal, so that eventually I can look back and recount memories. I need to find what I'm passionate about. What fires me up. What makes me get up and shout. I joke at work about beer a lot, and Jack Daniels being a moving factor (as in, "a fridge with no beer makes me get up and shout!"), because they're easy jokes and an easy laugh. But, in all honesty, alcohol is nearly meaningless in my life. I enjoy a glass of wine now and then. That's about it. It's certainly not what I'm passionate about, although I know some folks that could FILL their blog with their drunken carousings. And that would be fine, because that would be their life.

Hmmm... I'm wandering now. Anyway, I'm gonna strive for appropriate honesty and transparency. We'll see what happens.

Monday Night at Morton's - Ben Stein

I saw Ben Stein in an interview with Chris Matthews on "HardBall". He impressed me as a thinking man with a big heart. My sister sent me an e-mail with this article attatched. This is Ben Stein's last E-Online column, and the reasons he gives are stunning and moving. Take a read. Monday Night at Morton's - 12/20/03 - Page 1 of 3