Monday, February 29, 2016


I mentioned a while back that Thing Two has been undergoing some testing at school to see how his speech and language are progressing, since it's been a couple of years since they formally assessed him.  Based on some follow-up questions his case manager asked me the other day, I'm getting the very strong feeling that he passed those tests and isn't going to be considered a Special Ed student anymore.  I'll find out for sure next week sometime. I'm surprisingly ambivalent about this, to be honest.  You'd expect cartwheels of joy, but I'm just not feeling that right now.

I didn't want him to be classified to begin with.  We only agreed to put the label on him to get him the help he so desperately needed.  At that time, he was so incredibly far behind the eight ball that I fully expected he'd be classified for the foreseeable future to forever, so the fact that we are even having this conversation six short years later is pretty damned amazing, all things considered.  I'm just concerned that he's in that gray area now where he's smart and functional enough to pass the tests but not yet ready to be free of the assistance he gets at school (speech therapy, aide support, etc.)  The powers that be said when we originally discussed the testing that they would transfer him to a 504 plan if they declassified him to make sure he still gets whatever help he needs, and I'm going to hold them to that if things go the way I'm predicting.  I just hope it turns out to be enough of a safety net.  I don't want them taking that label off until he's actually ready to function without it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

On Books And Covers, Part Whatever

Thinking today about a caching friend of mine.  I'll call him Dan.  One of the smartest people I've ever met, but he hated high school and never did his homework.  He calls that a big mistake in retrospect.  He married his high school sweetheart, dropped out of community college and built pools for a living for decades.  The man is a behemoth, by the way...6'6" and 240 pounds on a body accustomed to hard physical labor and grizzled by years of exposure to the elements.  He's rarely to be seen without a battered hoodie and his size 15 Red Wing steel-toed work boots and if I didn't know him well, he would probably scare the living hell out of me if he popped out of the woods at me when I was hiking.

About fifteen years ago, he and his wife moved back to his hometown to take care of his ailing mother (who has since passed on) and mentally handicapped brother.  He switched jobs when he moved and has since been working for the town's municipal water authority and folding himself into the cab of a snowplow when need be.  Dan's coming up on retirement age, 65 this fall, and the brother is a few years younger, say 60 plus or minus a year or two but mentally maybe 4 or 5.  A good guy, as Dan puts it, but one who needs a lot of taking care of.  I had the opportunity to meet the brother this past weekend, and I'd say that assessment is correct on both counts.

You first lay eyes on the man, all you think is, "Holy SHIT he's big."  He's the quiet type, not much for talking in general, and when he does talk, he talks slowly, so a lot of people underestimate the sheer brainpower hiding under the rough blue-collar exterior.  I think that amuses him.

For whatever reason, people open up to me.  The older I get, the more I'm convinced that I was placed on earth to listen to people who need to talk, and I'm perfectly ok with that as a reason for being.  Because of it, I know the kind and decent man inside the hulking shell, the one I am proud to call my friend and who invariably calls me "kiddo" with a smile on his face.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

As Good As Praise Gets

Yesterday morning I got a call from my best girlfriend.  She was concerned that her teenage daughter (Thing One's age) had been crying that morning and wouldn't tell her why.  She was hoping that Thing One might have told me something that would shed light on the situation, which unfortunately wasn't the case.

Later that afternoon, I'm sitting in the doctor's office (routine appointment) when I get a text from the daughter in question out of the blue.  "Hi, can I get your opinion on something?"  She went on to explain the situation that was bothering her and ask for my thoughts.

Before you ask, yes, she has permission from her mother to text me directly, and yes, I called her mother to fill her in as soon as I had a chance that evening.  But how much more of a compliment can there be from a thirteen year-old girl who is wholly unrelated to me??  I am touched and honored.

By the way, her response to my suggestion?  "I think that's what my mom would say too."  I gently pointed out to her that there's a reason why her mother is my best friend.  :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Not A Pipe Bomb

Most people who've been on this blog for any length of time know that I'm an avid geocacher.  (See here for a primer on how geocaching works if you're interested.)  It's great exercise, the puzzles are good for keeping my brain non-mushy, and sometimes I come across something either really cool or really funny or both.  The picture below is of a cache container built by a friend of mine and it is way too well-executed not to share!

Note the label on the container clearly indicating that it's a geocache?  Smart move.  :)
Finding this particular container was pretty easy: it's about a foot long and is chained to the inside of a big tree in plain sight.  The trick here is figuring out how to get it open so you can sign the logsheet inside!  When you figure out the number combination to the upper lock (by solving a puzzle on the cache page) it opens to reveal the key to the lower padlock, which is out of sight at the bottom right of the picture.   Once the lower padlock is removed, it's possible to extract the inner container and sign in.   Caches like this one always make me wish I was handier with tools!


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

But What Has He Done *Lately?*

Petunia scored two points in her basketball game last night!  Her first scores ever, and it was two consecutive free throws after being fouled while trying to shoot.  Amazing.  Sadly, I wasn't there, but Himself was watching and texting me like crazy.  She was already asleep when I got home, so I congratulated her right after I woke her up this morning for school.

She looked up from her bed and said, "Dad was pretty excited.  He kept calling me Michael something after the game."

Me: "Michael Jordan, by any chance?"

Her: "Yeah, I think that was it.  Not sure who he is though."

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Bowl

Was wondering what kind of crazy outfit Lady Gaga was going to wear while singing the National Anthem tonight.  Also how badly she was going to butcher the song.  I care much more about the latter than the former, but she seems to go so far out of her way to be outrageous that I figured she'd use the Super Bowl platform to showcase the absolute craziest costume she could think of.  Maybe one composed entirely of live kittens or freshly plucked bat wings or something.  As it happened, she looked beautiful and sang like an's easy to forget what a voice the woman has since she is so into shock value with her appearance most of the time.  

Speaking of singing, Chris Martin looked like he was having such a great time out there on the stage at halftime!  Made me smile just watching.  Bruno Mars and BeyoncĂ© didn't add as much to the show as I hoped they would, but I guess the time and stage space are limited.

Generally speaking, I could care less about pro football or either of the two teams playing this year. I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials (loved the one!) and the halftime show.  Do have to admit that I have a soft spot for Peyton Manning, though.  To the extent that I'm cheering for a team, it's his Broncos.  It would be a nice story for the "old guy" to be able to retire on a Super Bowl win, although said old guy is three years younger than I am!!  Ha.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What A Senseless Waste

A man I knew died today by his own hand.  He left behind a wife and two children around my boys' ages.  He was Thing One's baseball coach for a couple of years way back when but I hadn't seen much of him more recently.

Because this is a small town and word gets around quickly, I decided to talk to Thing One about it preemptively.  By all accounts (spelled out in loving detail in our local paper, bless their sensationalist little hearts) the man made some bad professional decisions.  As I explained to Thing One, sometimes, once people get started making bad decisions and get caught, they get overwhelmed by the consequences they're facing and make one final *really* bad decision.  Looks like that's what happened here.  Guy took a gun and shot himself.  I'm having a hard time shaking the mental picture out of my head.

Assuming the paper got the story right, the situation was pretty bad.  There was going to be fallout, both professional and personal, and you gotta just wonder what the hell he could have been thinking. But the bottom line is that he's gone now and I'm sure his wife and kids are devastated to a degree that I can't even begin to imagine.  Life as they knew it is gone forever.  And for absolutely no good reason, that's the kicker.  Guy does something stupid, guy does something else even stupider, and his family is left behind to pick up the pieces.  Jesus.



Time In A Bottle

Okay, time can slow down now, please. When I was a kid, I remember my mother saying that the days were long but the years were short.  I d...