My real and true first musical love -

As a tribute to Kevin DuBrow's passing, (and as I had previously promised) here is the story (and way more that you want to / need to know) behind my real and true first musical love - Quiet Riot
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The time frame... Circa 1981-1984.

Prior to the integration of the Compact Disc as the mainstay music delivery medium in America, music was delivered on vinyl records, cassette tapes, eight-track tapes, and FM Radio.

Somewhere between 5th and 6th grade (around 1981) a dorky young fat kid started noticing the influence of music in his life. By this time, most of the "cool kids" were talking about, singing, and bringing their boom boxes and tapes to school, but since our little chubby friend's priority for spending his money at the time was divided between TI-99/4a cartridges and Dungeon & Dragons modules, there was little room for buying albums or cassettes.

So prey tell, what does one of the minions of young, fat, uncool, D&D playing, Dr. Who fans do when they start "feeling the music"? Well, I'll tell ya'! They sit next to a radio with their handy-dandy mono cassette player/recorder, and hitting the record button when they hear a song they like!

IF (by this point in the story) you need to ask how I know this AND you missed the point that this is really my own life I am writing about THEN I need to point out that you I am trying to be obvious here so GOTO the beginning of this post and start reading it over again.

(That is an insider joke for all the other dorky nerds that wrote their own BASIC programs, and to prove that I am indeed the dorky young fat kid you read about - the only difference between then and now is that I am not young anymore.)
The audio quality of some of my early recorded music was the equivalent to some of the early transatlantic Marconi Broadcasts, but hey.. I got to listen to the music I liked when I wanted to! In addition to the normal "Top 40" hits I recorded off the radio, some of my friends and I enjoyed the odd "TV Theme Songs". The themes to "Dukes of Hazzard" and "Dallas" were among my regular diet of music at this early stage of the game (yet another example of my dorkiness).

Side note - Much of the music I recorded came from 99.5 WLOL radio station. This was the same time the WLOL "Hines and Burglund" morning show was popular here in the Metro area. I think Hines and Burlund is where I got my taste for talk radio, and Shock Jock talk radio like Opie & Anthony and my all time favorite radio show (Yup, I'm plugging them again) The Ron & Fez show on XM Satelite Radio! (Love you guys!)

Growing up, I did have a couple of children's records, and I even had my own Elvis LP or two (which may have been cool around 1977-1980 (the years following his demise)) but somewhere along this time frame, fueled by what I think was my parents feeling of embarrassment (either FOR me (or, as I suspect) BY me), they broke down and bought me my first true "Pop" album - Billy Joel's Glass Houses. The album was pretty good, and was popular at the time . I played it frequently, but since it was bought FOR me (and not by my asking at all), this story will continue.

It was not until sometime in 1983 that Quiet Riot's - Cum on Feel the Noize...

SCREECHING BRAKE NOISES -- Oh my goodness... I never realized (until JUST NOW as I type this) the overtones of the "Cum" in that title.... Did Cum mean then what Cum mean now?? Wow... And I mean wow... Dang, I guess I was pretty naive back then. Thank goodness my parents did not catch on to that one... I would have NEVER been allowed to buy that album!

...that Quiet Riot's Cum on Feel the Noize became a wildly popular hit. Oh, I had my own Marconi quality copy of the song recorded off the radio, but the song (and more so, the STYLE) moved me. It inspired me enough that I felt I needed to spend some of that TI and D&D money on it. It was not long afterwards that I owned my own copy of the "Metal Health" cassette (bought with my own money) and it was being played over and over. From here, my priorities changed - and fast. The Cassette Player was no longer sufficient, and I got my first "boom box" (still mono, but it was upright like a boombox and it had a BUILT IN AM/FM radio so that I could make tapes directly from the radio source! No more Marconi recordings for this chubby little geek!).

Now that you have all useless background behind WHY I went to the concert, I'll share with you the story about the concert...

After having fallen in love with Quiet Riot's Metal Heath album, Quiet Riot followed it up with their Condition Critical album. This was one of the few albums I was in a HUGE hurry to purchase. I believe I may have purchased this on the 2nd day after it "dropped". I was in 8th or 9th grade. By this time my cousin Bob (who I have always been close with) was also into Quiet Riot!

Ask Bob about our wilderness clubhouse (at his family cabin) and the "Quiet Riot" painted (graffiti style) on the wall. That clubhouse is still standing some twenty-three years later - as is our tribute to Quiet Riot... I wonder how many other places in America still have Quiet Riot Graffiti still visible? I'll get some photos of "Oakwood" (the clubhouse) and the graffiti next time I am at the cabin.

When the concert was announced, Bob and I decided we wanted to go. We talked to our parents, and it was decided we could go, but with a chaperone (my mother / Bob's aunt). Also, somewhere along the line, my sister tagged along as well. (Although she never really was the Heavy Metal kind of gal.) My sister, and my cousin Gen (Bob's sister) were big Rick Springfield fans at that time!

Please call me, Please call me, Please call me, Please call me, Please call
me, Please call me, Please call me, Please call me, Please call me, Please call
me, Please call me, Please call me, Please call me, Please call me, Please call
me, Please call me, Please call me, Please call me, Please call me, Please call
me, Please call me.


May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, May I please meet Rick, Dont ask.. They are inside jokes.

Our entourage consisted of myself (an 8th grade boy), Bob (a seventh grade boy), my sister (a sixth grade girl), and our mother/aunt.

The concert was held at the (now demolished) Met Center. We had tickets on the main stage floor, and about half way back on the left side of the stage (as you face it). As we arrived and started looking for our seats, an elderly male usher approached us. He grabbed my mom's arm and asked her if she was staying for the show. He asked her that if she was staying, if she knew what she was in for. Mom got a chuckle and told her that she was planning on staying. The usher got a very serious face. He said something to the effect of "As the second oldest person at this concert, may I offer you a pair of ear plugs?" My mom to this day still gets a laugh out of the whole deal.

As far as the concert goes, I do not remember a lot of the details. It has been over twenty years. But what I do remember...

- Thinking to myself how much different Quiet Riot sounded live in concert vs on tape.

- The "totally stoned" guy in the next seat who kept bumping into me. His eyes were rolled back into his head, and he was rocking with the music. At one point during the concert he lit a cigarette (pre-smoking ban) and then totally forgot about it. He took no puffs off the darn thing, and kept (nearly) bumping me with it. I remember watching it burn, wondering how long the ash would get before he bumped it enough to drop the ash.

- Another thing about smoking at the concert. The cigarette smoke I smelled at the concert did not smell like any cigarette somke I had smelled before. It had a much "sweeter" and "herbal" smell. Hmmmmm.... I wonder why?

- At one point in the concert - I felt a twinge of fear, anger, frustration, and confusion as I noticed the group behind us actually trying to start my mom's sweatshirt on fire with a lighter. She could not feel it, but they had the lit lighter up against the sweatshirt on my mom was wearing, and laughing. It was so loud, and the crowd was jumping, yelling, screaming, and "banging their heads" that I could not get their attention by yelling. I watched as they tried a couple of times, but then as I leaned over as far as I could towards them - pointing at them, they quickly withdrew the lighter. It was hard concentrating on the rest of the concert after that. I had to keep an eye on the arsonists / "crematorium-ists".

- Almost everyone had lighters for the ballad. On the opposite end of the floor, in the middle of the crowd - someone had a giant "flame thrower" of some sort. It was a tube. When it went off, it shot flames twice as high as the crowds, straight into the air. It gave off a surprising amount of light. I only saw that thing fire off two or maybe three times, and did not see it again. I imagine that the operator of the clandestine flamethrower was ejected, had his flamethrower removed, was arrested, or any combination of the listed possibilities... (Although it was pretty darn cool!)

- Learning just how much bands charge for their "Concert Tee-Shirts". I bought the cheapest one I could find, which had "glow in the dark" paint on it. I bought it "just to fit" and after washing and drying it shrinking it, and realizing that I really did not want to be seen in anything "glow in the dark" (even I have my geek limits!) - It got retired to the bottom of my shirt drawer.

I consider myself a music lover. My musical tastes are all over the board, but in all honestly, my real and true first musical love was Kevin DuBrow and Quiet Riot.

Kevin - may you rest in peace.
Rudy, Frankie and Carlos - thanks!

I dont know how to title this post.

It's either "The End of an Era" or "Man, do I feel Old".

You see, I heard today that Kevin DuBrow (former lead Singer of Quiet Riot) died today.
(AP News Article)

Quiet Riot's Metal Health was the very first album I bought with my own money, and the Condition Critial Tour was the very first concert I ever attended.

(There is a story to be told about this album and the concert, but I have run out of time. I will catch this post up later)

Many years later I purchased (out of nestalgia) the Quiet Riot Greatest Hits CD.

Kevin, I want to thank you for being a memorable and inspirational introduction to music in my life.
May you rest in peace.

More to follow? When exactly would that be??

It has been pointed out to me that I quite frequently use the "More to follow" tagline at the end of many of my posts, only to never get back to them.
These three have been nagging at me more than most - so I spent some time getting them all caught up.
Since most of these posts have already disappeared off the front page, I will provide some links for your viewing convenience.
Oh, and one other thing.  If you know of some other unfinished posts, leave me a message as a comment.  I'll see what I can do. 
(Oh, and Bill - don't even go there.... Pretending you don't know what I mean wont work either!As evening approached....
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When will I catch a break?

Ok.  This will be my last post about my schedule for a while.  I am getting as sick of complaining about it as I can imagine you are with reading about it - and what good does it do anyway?  I had to share this one last story as a perfect example of how it all goes wrong sometimes.
If you recall, Friday through Tuesday was a really bad period as far as my work/home schedule went.  Wednesday allowed for a bit of catch-up - but was still pretty busy.  Thursday night into Friday morning was supposed to be my real opportunity to "recharge" before heading back into two more mornings of 3am - 7am overtime shifts.
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After visiting my in-laws home for Thanksgiving (and after getting off work) , we headed home.  My wife broke out a copy of "Miracle on 34th St" to watch with the kids, and I started cleaning the kitchen, when the phone rang.
On the other end of the phone was Ed (whom I had left a message for earlier in the day). 
Ed of course wished me a happy Thanksgiving, and then went right into scolding me about my recent lack of sleep.  He actually THREATENED me.  I think it went something like "take better care of yourself or I am going to hurt you" - Which is a bit of an oxymoron if you ask me.  (I am considering formal charges on the threat..)
Anyway, after a bit of catch up, the call waiting beeped in, and although not part of the immediate conversation, was in the front row to see how quickly my schedule can change, and bring you down.
It was Jeff on the other end of the phone.  Jeff said he had good news and bad news for me.  The good news was there was some extra overtime available because of a sick-call-in.  The bad news was that if I did not volunteer for it, I was going to be forced to take it anyway.
So, at 9:30 pm, I got word that I would need to be at work at 3am (which means getting up at 1:30am).  Needless to say, I was not prepared for that, and was not ready to just jump into bed and go to sleep.  So, by the time I got off the radio, cleaned up, and got ready for bed and climbed into bed - it was pushing 10:30.
Another night with only three hours of sleep - followed by two more overtime shifts of 3am-7am - which means getting up at 1:30am... 
I only hope I can get to bed before 10:30 for the next two nights.  If not, it will be more of the overtired, stumbling, bumping, "burning the candle at both ends", "sending himself to an early grave" Father of Five...


(Updated 11-22-07)

For those of you who have lost sleep over my loss of sleep... Rest easy.

Last night (Tuesday) I went to bed at 9:30 pm, and did not get up until 5:00 am (getting seven and a half hours of sleep). Even though I had doubled, and in some cases more than tripled the amount of sleep I have in any of the past four nights, I came as close to a nervous breakdown as I ever have in my life. It is now just shy of 7:30 pm (Wednesday), and I am crashing hard again... See the problem is that I am still WAY behind on sleep.

At least tonight is not as bad as last night.... Let me explain.

As I had previously referenced somewhere here on the blog, a few days ago our washing machine quit working. It has been out of commission for three days now. Being the skinflint handyman that I am, I planed to repair it myself. I played around with the washer, did some quick research on the web, located what I thought was the problem, and ordered the parts. I called home to tell the Mother of Five the update on the washer, when she filled me in with some news of her own.

The day took a real downward turn from this point on. By the time I got off work, and was heading home I was very tired, even crabbier than I was tired, and was going to have zero patience for my wife, the kids or myself. . I was nodding off, and could hardly stay awake.

When I got home, the house was messy, and my wife was watching the neighbor's children, and the house was in general turmoil and chaos. It was more than I could handle. So I volunteered to take Jonathan (#2 of 5) to his Speech and Occupational Therapy sessions - because, quite frankly - I could escape the chaos and sleep in the waiting room for two hours.

When I arrived, I quickly discovered that I left my MP3 player home. I was >>so<< looking forward to drifting away from the conscious world, blocking out the other parents and children in the waiting room with the aid of Jim Morrison and The Doors. Alas, that was not to be. I did sleep for about an hour, but the noisy waiting room was just a bit too much.

When Jonathan and I got back home, I was going to quickly check e-mail before he and I ate our (late) dinner. My life took another downward step when I could not connect to the internet and the computer stalled out. The Computer flashed some warning about a "serious fatal error". Fearing the worst, I rebooted several times, restarted the software, and tried every trick in the book that I knew. I checked the modem, the Com port(s), and configuration, but I still could not connect, and was unable to determine if it was a software issue or a hardware issue. To make matters worse, I was unable to find my internet provider’s install disk (to try and reinstall the software). By this point, I was starting to really loose all grip on reality.

About the fourth round of going through the reboot and retrying the internet provider software (fighting of tears of hysteria), I was called upstairs to spend time with the family and Molly. I had almost forgotten that this was going to be the last night Molly would be with us. I went upstairs to face that bitter reality.

Our digital camera started giving us problems as we were taking photos of the kids with Molly. (Why not?? Everything else was going my way.) After muddling through this, (thankfully) the evening was quickly drawing to an end.

After getting the little kids to bed, and Ben coming over to see Molly one last time, the Mother of Five started scolding me good. She said I was stumbling, loosing my balance and bumping into things.

It was our last night with Molly, I had a digital camera that I wanted to throw against the wall, a broken washing machine, and now a fried computer. I had enough. Since I know I needed some serious sleep, and I was appearing intoxicated anyway, I decided I had nothing to loose, and poured myself a ‘lil nightcap “to help” (not that I needed it). Afterwards I poured myself into bed, plugged in to The Doors (having missed the opportunity earlier), and was asleep before the Crystal Ship set sail.

A short seven hours later I started "snooze-barring” the alarms (yes, plural) until the last possible minute, got ready and then and headed off to work.

While at work, I got word that washing machine parts came in. I needed more time than I had available to complete the things I needed to get done, so when the opportunity to take a half day off presented itself, I jumped at it!

I went to my parents place, downloaded the software for my Internet access (since I had lost the CD), and headed to Appliance Sales & Service. While at the parts store, I took a quick peek at the “over the stove” microwaves. Our current microwave was on its last legs. (Broken door handle, broken vent cover, cracked door, and a cracked keypad). While looking at what I can not afford the different models, I noticed what I thought was a typo on a sale card. One of the units displayed was marked 200.00 less than all the others (what I paid for our first unit, and what I expected to pay for a replacement)!

I spoke to the salesman and he explained how they had a huge sale earlier in the year, and these units were bought as "door buster" items. After the sale, they had five remaining in the warehouse, and decided to put them back out as a Black Friday door buster. This deal was WAY too good to pass up, so I headed home with my software, the parts for the washing machine, and a new microwave! (Yeah, it’s great and all but it’s just what I needed - another item to add to my list.)

I got home, and loaded up the internet software - voila! That repaired the problem... (I am afraid of a possible (impending) hard drive crash. I will need to back up EVERYTHING tonight - just in case!) So far, so good. It was time to tackle project number two. The washing machine...

I needed to rebuild the "Thrust Bearing" in the lower unit. Coming off the success of the computer, I was excited, and I dove right in. Once again - the job went amazingly well. I hit a little snag putting the final retaining clip in place, but once I got it in place, reconnected the supply lines and the drain hose, plugged it in, and turned the machine on - Our washing machine was back to normal, and was going to be put to some hard labor catching up after its three and a half day vacation! (That'll teach it a lesson!)

Could it be possible?? Could I hit a triple?? I ran upstairs and looked at the clock, my wife, and the microwaves... I decided that since everything seemed to be making up for the bad day I had previously, I was going to run with it, and give ‘er a shot! The sheer angles and weights of removing the old, and installing the new microwaves would require a bit of assistance, so before she left for work, I would need the help of my wife.

All things considered, the job went pretty well. It was more involved than I had hoped, and it did not go as smoothly as the two previous jobs (my wife had to leave to get Rebecca from "Batton class", then head off to work), but by 5:30 pm – I had completed (and cleaned up after) all three projects!

Not bad for it being only two hours after my normal “getting home” time.

The successful completion of all three tasks made taking the half day off worth it. By 7:30 (the time I stared this post) I had relaxed quite a bit, and (although still tired) was feeling 200% better than I had just twenty four hours ago.

I plan on being in bed between 9-10pm, and up at 5:30am for work. I work until 3pm, and will have plenty of time to catch up with the Thanksgiving festivities. (Sometimes the Thanksgiving “leftover goodies” are better than the first time around anyway!). After which I will be back home relativly early, and will have time to sit and relax with my wife and children just a wee bit.

So fellow bloggers, friends, family and who ever stumbles across this post...

Have a wonderful, merry, joyous, relaxing, and trouble free Thanksgiving .

A wish from me, to you.

Sleep Depravation

By the time I go to bed tonight (Tuesday - Hopefully around 9 or 10 pm)  I will have had a grand total of 14 hours of sleep since Friday morning.
Yup, 14 hours of sleep in 5 days, and 4 nights.
Friday night / Saturday morning - 2 hours
Saturday night / Sunday morning - 4 hours
Sunday night / Monday morning - 5 hours
Monday night / Tuesday morning - 3 hours
This is a shining example on how NOT to live to a ripe old age.  I wonder how long it will be before I collapse?

FOF Observation #6

As a father of five, you will need to learn how to set aside your own needs to make sure your children have all their needs met first.

After all, who really sees the bottom of your shoes anyway?

Hey, come-on... They are comfortable if nothing else!!

A big step into a much larger world

UPDATED - 11-16-07 @ 1955 hours

Later this afternoon, Ben (One of Five) is going to "Attempt" to get his drivers license.

Due to many reasons (too numerous and complicated to get into here) Ben has had a pretty rough go at life between the ages of 12 until around 17 - but I am proud of a number of things he has accomplished in the past two years. He has come a very, VERY long way, and deserves the good things he has been working towards (like a drivers license).

It's odd you know... I read many "Dad Blogs" (see the "More Fathers" column to the right), and many of them have very young children. I can relate to them because I too have young children at home. But, I have the unique perspective of having five - spread out from preschool to adulthood. (3, 7, 10, 12, and 19).

So, while I am dealing with "stay at home - three year old" issues, I also have the "excited to show me she can add" aspects of a 7 year old, the "just about ready to be interested in girls" 10 and 12 year olds, and the "I don't like it, but I have no say in the matter" aspect of "owning" an adult!

Back to the matter at hand...

Ben has been driving on a permit for just over a year now, and does a pretty good job. I worry about how he is going to "know where to go, and how to get there", yet as I remember back back to when I first got my license, I recall not always "knowing where to go, or how to get there" either... In fact, some times "getting lost" helped teach me a lot about my surroundings, how to get around, and how to get back on track. So - I guess I should give him the benefit of the doubt (and the gift of a Hudson Map!).

What is different with Ben is...

He has insurance money ready to go.
(Our insurance agent's office is only a few miles from the testing site)

He is old enough (just shy of twenty) to OWN a vehicle.

His parents just replaced their older vehicle for a slightly newer model.
(Some thanks can go to Aunt Mary on that one too! - See HERE)

Because of these things, he will (upon the successful completion of his drivers license test) immediately becomes the owner of hail damaged, teal colored, 1994 Ford Escort - with just under 200,000 miles on.

The 'scort you ask? Yes, the 'scort.

The same 'scort you so jokingly (and frequently) mock about all the problems it has? Yup, the very one!

How can you allow your child to drive such a vehicle? Well, quoting above "He has come a very long way, and deserves the good things he has been working towards" - you should know that in the past month that I have owned the Saturn, (knowing he was about to inherit the 'scort) Ben has paid for many of the repairs that made the Escort "questionable". He has replaced the clutch (the biggie), and had some work done on the front end. The mechanic showed him how to replace the thermostat (heat inside the vehicle), and he has plans to replace the worn front end suspension.

If everything goes right - by lunchtime today, Ben will be a licensed driver, and a car owner in one fell swoop! (And no longer dependent on his grandparents or us for transportation!)

Maybe then, he will believe me when I tell him how expensive it is to be a driver and car owner!

Wish us luck!



(A picture is worth a thousand words - even better - a picture that includes the very beautiful but blog shy "Mother of Five" - Shhhh... Dont tell her that her pic is posted...)

A little time with Zachary

Due to some recent "discoveries", (and with the help of Zachary's Den Leader / Scoutmaster), it has come to our attention that Zachary's "Weblos" career is need of a little "attention".

So, together Zachary and I have been working on "catching up" on a few of the things he still needs to complete.

A few weeks back (because of our outrageous schedule), we forgot about a planned hike his den was going on. The hike is one of his (incomplete) requirements, and after our recent motivation to get him caught up, and back on track, I felt horrible.

I talked with his Scoutmaster (who I am discovering is a really helpful guy, and due to some recent changes, has taken it upon himself to lead Zachary’s den – a very selfless undertaking!). I made plans to take Zachary out on a hike of our own to fulfill the 3 mile hike requirement.

It was going to work out perfectly. The kids had two days off of school, we were watching the neighbor’s children – getting at least one of seven children that would be in the house that day was going to be beneficial for EVERYONE! (With seven children in the house it was going to be beneficial for my sanity too!)

With a couple of different options available to us, we decided to hike the Rapids Lake Unit of the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge. Ok, I’ll be honest here folks. I chose Rapids Lake, because it is still open to hunting. I thought we could get a “two-fer” in on this hike. We could complete the hiking requirement while (at the same time) get a little bit of squirrel hunting in too. I told Zachary about hunting, and he nearly jumped out of his skin. He had a smile on his face that could light up an auditorium! I called the visitor center to make sure the unit was still open to hunting, and was told to be aware of a small “controlled burn” that scheduled for that day. Dealing with “controlled burns” at work, this worried me little to none, so we packed up for our “hunting-hike”, and headed out.

Upon arrival at the unit, there was a fire truck and several firefighters on scene, and a few trucks from the refuge staff. I parked and headed to the information kiosk in the lot for a map, and a copy of the hunting regulations. A white truck drove up the highway, pulled up into the parking lot and approached us. Inside were two staff members from the refuge. I said hello, and told them of our plans. I acknowledged the “controlled burn”, and of my conversation with the Visitor center. The passenger, a very friendly female – told me of the actual plans for the day’s burn, and was told that the fireline was headed in our direction, and even though I did not want to hunt where the burn was being held, that most of the rest of the day – I would have fire between our location and the parking lot. (As this was being explained to me by the very helpful female, the very quite male driver was discreetly trying to write down my vehicle license plate. (Trying being the operative word because I was able to see what he was doing out of the corner of my eye. What he needed it for, and what he was going to do with it was beyond me – but I let it go because I had nothing to worry about, nor was I going to cause these folks any problems.

As we began parting ways, I flagged down the helpful female staff member, and asked her if there were any areas of the unit that I could access, at least just for hiking and not for hunting. She filled me in on some very new and interesting news!

Just three short weeks ago, the Refuge opened another Visitor Center! I was told it was pretty much empty yet, and there may not even be anyone present at the center, but there were a few paths from the visitor center. This was PERFECT! We left the Rapids Lake unit, and (after gassing up the car) went to visit the new Visitor Center.

We parked quite a distance away, and started hiking down to the center. We arrived and discovered that indeed the new center was locked and un-staffed. Peeking in the windows also verified that (as of now) it was still pretty empty, but I was able to tell that this is going to be a really great place!

We chose a trail, and started our hike.

This visitor center is very close to the Minnesota River, and the trail we choose took us right down to the river’s edge. (You can see the river in the background of this photo!)

The first thing we noticed from the top of the hill, was the clucking of a pheasant off in the weeds at the bottom of the hill. Try as we might, we were unable to locate the yummy little delicacy pheasant hiding from us.

As we continued down the trail, we came across the crumbling rock foundation of two old buildings. They were very interesting, and I can not speak for Zachary, but my imagination was running wild with the “what could this have been”, “who lived here”, “what was life like for these folks”, “how old are these structures”, and a myriad of other intriguing questions. We milled around “inside” (if that is what you can call it), took a few photos, and continued down the trail.

Just past the rock foundations, we found an old abandoned house! Yes, a whole house (and outhouse) boarded up. The day was overcast, and in the woods, the house had a very creepy feeling.

After a short exploration of the house and outhouse, we continued down the path.

There were many fun and unique things to see. It was wonderful watching the gears of Zachary’s brain ticking away, as he rambled on about his theories about why certain trees had fallen the way they did, why (or how) bark was removed from other trees, why there were potholes in the path (and how they got there), how high the water gets during spring flooding… The list goes on and on.

We came upon a small pond, that was skinned over with a thin sheet of ice. We stopped to take a look, and Zachary took the opportunity to see how much force he had to use when throwing rocks at the ice to have them break through. (This was such a “Mayberry” moment!).

After spending time putting holes in the ice, we moved down the path. We hiked until we reached a clearing at the top of a hill. We found a nice spot in the grass, and broke out our “snack”. We had salami sandwiches, a Pepsi, and a little Halloween treat from the treat bags!

We sat, and ate, and visited some more. I honestly have not had Zachary talk to me so much. During “snack time”, Zachary seemed to grill me endlessly about my likes and dislikes when it comes to candy. (Fueled by the Halloween mini-treats we were eating). Zachary was full of questions about what my favorite candy bar was, and my favorite sweet candy (non chocolate), my favorite kind of chocolate, and soda pop.

After snack, I laid down in the grass, and closed my eyes - Listening to Zachary ramble on and on, asking question after question, answering his questions as they came up. It was one of the most relaxing, and enjoyable times I have had in a very long (way too long) of a time. It was fun to give Zachary some undivided attention, and he seemed to gobble it up. At the same time I could (laugh at me if you want - but I could literally) feel some of my recent stress melt away. (Note to self: Do this more often, or at least die trying).

The time had come that we needed to start heading back. Following the Boy Scout Principal of "Leave No Trace" we packed up that which we packed in, and headed back down the trail. We passed all that we came upon on the way in. As we approached it, Zachary wanted to make one more quick "explore" of the abandoned house / outhouse, which (because it was so cool) was A.O.K with me!

Once we finished our second and final "exploration" around the abandoned house, we started back up the hill towards the newly finished Resource Center - we started noticing garbage along side the trail. Continuing on the lesson(s) of "Leave No Trace", and adding my own lesson of "Leave it cleaner that you found it" - we started collecting garbage along the ditches on the way back to the car.

When we arrived at the Resource Center, we ran into the same "friendly female" Ranger we met at the burn site. She remembered us, and asked how we liked the new facility. As we walked through the lot and towards her car, Zachary asked her about the abandoned house. She told us the story of how the previous owner(s) did not want the river front land to be developed, and so when they were ready to move out, they donated the land (and the house) to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife services for the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge!

Side note: I don't know who these people are or if they will ever read these words - but they made an UNBELIEVABLE and long lasting impact on the region. They should know that at least one family thanks them more than they will ever realize for the sacrifice they have made!

We hiked the remainder half mile from the lower parking lot to the upper parking lot (collecting garbage along the way), packed out more garbage than we brought in (in the spirit of "Leave No Trace" and "Leave it cleaner than you found it") and arrived back home just in the nick of time (about an hour longer than we planned).

I cannot say enough just how much I enjoyed this hike with Zachary, and just how needed it was for my mental health, and our father/son relationship.

Zachary has since asked to return to the trail. I am going to HAVE to find a way to fit it in!



Today Ed (Jodi, Ali and their whole extended families) welcomed a new life into the world.

Baby Boy H. (yet to be named) was born this morning at 0645 hours.
Baby Boy H. was just under seven pounds, and about nineteen inches at birth

Mother & Baby are doing fine (from what I am told), and older sister is eager to spend time with her new brother! (Let's see how long that lasts! - Lisa & Sandy, how long did it last when you parents brought Ed home for the first time???)

Well, I'd post a link, or an http here, but Ed is not among the Blogging community... (Although, he has been a guest poster over at Dad's Outdoor Journal - See his post HERE) He is a "label" here on FOF (and one of the most used.... go figure). So, click HERE for all posts labeled "Ed".

Please, feel free to send Ed (and his family) your warmest wishes from the blogging community through my comments. He is a regular reader here at FOF.

Ed - I could not be happier for you. Congratulations on all the good that has come to your life recently. You and your family all deserve it!! It's been a long couple of months for all of you.

Take some time, relax, and enjoy the new baby!


Unearthing some old relics.

Not too long ago, I created a post (well, it was "created for me") called A Missive from Dave ??

For thoes of you who do not know the whole story, you will have to read that posting.

Once you have caught up, and know the backstory behind the "missives", you can and will appreciate this next bit of news a little bit more!

With the help of "the suspect", I have unearthed several older Missives from the long forgotten archives. I will be adding a new missive every once and a while.

I do not recall the specific order these went out, so you will see dates, and or current events mentioned that may not jive with the previous, or the next missive.

All I can say is sit back, buckle in, and enjoy the ride!

(The only dissapointment (to me) is the author of these missives is "blogless".)

Anyway, Enjoy!

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Dear Friends,

As I was surfing the Web the other day, I came across an interesting article. Please read the excerpt below:

Constipation and Your Cat CONSTIPATION AND CATS (normal feline colon)

Constipation is relatively common in cats. While middle-aged and older cats (cats over 8 years) are more susceptible; cats of any age can become constipated. Although there is no absolute rule on the number of bowel movements a cat should have each day, most healthy adult cats have one or two....

Constipation, in and of itself, is not a disease. It is, however, a sign that all is not well within the cat's gastrointestinal tract. And if not attended to promptly, constipation can become a debilitating and serious condition as constipation progresses, the signs become more pronounced. The cat may lose its appetite, become lethargic, look unkempt, begin to crouch and hunch up because of abdominal discomfort, and possibly even vomit.…

Treatment for constipation is two pronged.' first, relieve the constipation from recurring either by removing the cause of the constipation or by medically managing the cat. Relief for the constipated cat can occur naturally through induced defecation with enemas and glycerin infused into the colon, or, if the cat is severely impacted, through manual removal of the hardened feces under anesthesia.

Any cat that has been constipated for several days may also be very dehydrated. So before staring any procedure, your veterinarian may give your cat subcutaneous or intravenous replacement fluids. Dehydration with intravenous fluid may also be necessary to help renurish the colon with electrolytes and fluids…

You may be asking yourself, "Why? Why do I care about this, Dave?"
My answer is that you don't have to care, but know that I do. For the following reasons. -

I am a mammal
I am approaching middle-age
At times, I am lethargic
At times, I have appeared unkempt
At times, I hunch over
I seem to always be thirsty
I eat food
I am omnivorous
I watch and tape "American Idol"

Again, you may ask. "So ... ?"

Most, if not all of you are aware that I recently had surgery and a resulting stay in the hospital. While in the hospital and for several weeks afterwards, I had several types of medications prescribed by my physician, and being the model patient I followed my physician's advice and took my medicine. One should note that some of the medications were Schedule III narcotics and of the opiate family.

If you are like me (and I know I am) you will eat three meals a day with the occasional snack in-between meals. So there I was, eating and lying around. Sleeping a lot. Eating and sleeping. The lack of physical activity just exacerbated the effects of the medication. I just didn't feel "right". Several days later, I was unable to concentrate; I could not find any position - sitting or lying down - which was comfortable. One day I found myself in the bathroom, crying, curled up in a fetal position, rocking back and forth. Was this all because of too much medication, the pain from the surgery, or both? (Afterwards I remember that Jessie Ventura was on TV and I was too weak to change the channel)

This had to stop and stop now. I turned to the Internet for guidance and as everyone knows everything you read and see there is true, really. I read that in an email.

Click click click… typing in as fast as possible into my trusty search engine. Click click clickity- click. Search for; middle age, distress, pain, and crying, licking, lethargy, discomfort ... And there it was. Now I finally had insight into my problem.

The article describing me.
Now I knew.
I am a cat!

First, the dehydration. Hmmm ... what can I drink a lot of?

I found it. In the garage, hidden behind bags and boxes full of my Barry Manilow memorabilia was what I would need to start feeling like "me" again. There they were- eight bottles of Grande Canadian whiskey, standing at attention, undisturbed by my dear wife. Okay, only two were unopened - the others empty but for the old cigar butts from last month's days off.

Fiber. I needed fiber, and lots of it.

I checked throughout the kitchen and in the last cupboard there he was, smiling at me,

The Quaker Oats Quaker.

More fiber. Bread. Lots of whole grain bread.

Clean off the kitchen table and counter tops. I would need a lot of room.

Still, something was missing ... I kept rummaging through the cupboards. Ah ha, what luck! A four-pound bag of dried prunes!

Now I would need to arrange my assembly line to recovery. Three trays of ice, a large tumbler, two-litre bottle of Coke (diet - yuck!), loaf of bread, oatmeal, prunes, knife ... I was ready.

Ten sandwiches were lined up, ready for their mission.

You don't realize how thirsty you can get while eating oatmeal-prune on whole-wheat bread sandwiches. The first four drinks did help. Now on to the second sandwich. Four more drinks to wash it all down. Hey, this is going well, I thought. Three more sandwiches with twelve chasers and I was feeling full, but without much pain.

One hour later.…

The moment of truth had come.

Another hour later…

My legs are asleep. I don't think I can sit for another minute. I don't feel well.

Why isn't this working? I would swear that by now, I would be dilated to at least eight, if not ten centimeters. I made my decision; I would have to induce.

Opening the shower curtain there it was. Installed just two months ago - the Pollenex G-40D Chrome shower head with extension.

(Helpful hint: Run the water for at least 30 seconds on WARM. Then check it again. My mistake was that from where I was sitting, everything was backwards. Enough said)

Yes, there is a happy ending to the story. Everything worked out fine. (Another helpful hint: you can never have too many paper towels and bottles of PineSol)

I was able to replace the broken mirror and towel rack, wet vac, squeegee, wet vac and squeegee all before my wife and children came home.

I have been back to work now for almost two weeks and for nearly all that time, I have felt "normal".

Every once and a while I forget things, like logging off my email.

Thank you for letting me share a small part of my life.

Ooops, gotta go!!!


Keyword Searches

Maybe I am voyeuristic. Maybe I am obsessive compulsive. Maybe I am narcissistic. Maybe I am a hybrid blend of these things, who knows... You see... I have an unhealthy love affair with SiteMeter. What is SiteMeter you ask?

Sitemeter tells me a lot of information about visitors to FOF.

I find myself checking SiteMeter several times a day. I rarely find anything too unusual there, but what I do find, I find very interesting.

I also know, is that I am not alone. Eric is one fellow blogger that does follow his traffic. (He talked about it very briefly once.) Not all the blogers I know follow their "web traffic". In fact, of the blogs listed in "My Blogging Friends" - I think I watch their SiteMeters more than they do!

I have my (and many others') Details page bookmarked for quick and easy reference.

One of my favorite aspects of SiteMeter is the Referral Page. This page tells me (if it's known) which page brought the visitor to my site. I get many referrals from The Ethereal Garage, Many Things Do Not Fly, King of Clubs, and Krystal the Pistol. (I even get an occasional referral from the infrequently updated  JDZ Photography). I expect referrals from these blogs. Many of their readers know me, and I know many of their readers.

Sometimes I find links from fellow "Dad Bloggers" like Stuff in my Brain, JerryChicken, and The Famfare. I think it is amazing how you can find "like minded" folks like these great guys. I check in on their blogs daily, as I can see they do on mine!

Well, I have a daily diet of MANY father bloggers (see the list on the right). Every once and a while, one of these guys posts a list of keywords that someone typed into a search engine (like Google, Yahoo, etc.) to find their site, adding witty comments on how they feel about someone finding their site through any given search. Example 1, Example 2, Example 3. (Sorry Everyone, I know y'all have 'em - It's just that Tales From the Dad Side's came up first. If you have a link to YOUR list(s), please post it as a comment for me!)

So, I thought I too would start making a running list of the keywords (or phrases) that people hit my site with too. I got to work, copied, pasted and compiled the most recent list.

Wow... I am amazed at the fun, witty, obscure, profane, corrupt and dirty searches some dad blogs are found. I found out that mine... IS NOT ONE OF THOSE BLOGS. Nope.. It's a pretty boring list to be honest...

Between October 21st and November 5th 2007, FOF was stumbled upon using the following phrases in any number of different search engines.

taking dad for granted
father of five
workbench plans secured to a wall
backwoods cigars
brownsea patch
you know we will have a good time
then dad
krystal the pistol
how to find a new clothes style for myself
myspace homemaker layout
bear axe wood father outdoor
social anxiety
cairn terrier called cookie
Tennessee backwoods cigars
roller skating snowball
third stall
father of five
dollar dance and a cigar at a wedding reception
funny life of a father
life lessons on not taking life for granted
Anthony and Opie Nikki Sixx
pepere shirt
star tribune Jim Adams turkey
life lessons on not
taking things for granted
gagging or dry heaving schatzki's
four father clothing
field museum prenatal development
things for granted in life
what percent of a wardrobe is picked out for
what does b&t clothes
i have failed my family

I will (as time allows) continued to maintain a list of these words and prases. Find them under the Label "Keywords".


FOF Observaton #5

Dont even try it without a van...

Or a bus...

(Check out the "ESP" version
of this photo HERE)

Halloween 2007

In continuing a FOF trend, I started leaving a reply to a post at Many Things Do Not Fly, when I realized that I had rambled on enough to actually be a post of my own. So, as I had done in the past with "Dad Stuff", I'll give credit where it is due, and thank Lisa at "Many Things" for inspiring this post.

Before reading on, be sure to check out her "Happy Damn Halloween" post over at "Many Things". Then, after reading her post, my "reply" (this post) may make a bit more sense.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Man, and I thought it was bad in the "evil" suburbs... That pendulum is returning, and things are changing... Maybe the suburbs may be the better choice after all!

First of all, "way out" where I live, there were a few carloads of kids that infiltrated our neighborhood, but they came (mostly) from the farms. The farm families come to the neighborhoods so they can trick or treat to more than 1 house every mile. I got NO PROBLEMS with that whatsoever. In fact, I welcome them to come to my neighborhood. The farm families have been great to us, and my family (see prior posting) - So, if this is one thing I can do to help out their kids - Come on over!

As I walked with my kids (stressed "walked") through our neighborhood, I cannot think of one vehicle that contained a parent that was "driving alongside" their kids. There were huge GROUPS of parents and kids (up to 25 in one group) - but the parents were socializing, mugs of coffee, coco, or "whatever" in hand, and the kids playing together as they did their "trick or treating".

I'll let you in on one of my dirty little secrets - The quote "Yes Mother of Five, I'll take the kids out trick or treating this year if you want me to" is really just an excuse to break out a big fat cigar to enjoy while I walk the kids around the neighborhood. (Hey, doesn't Dad get a "treat" too?)

Even the teenagers were dressed up "out here". I did not see anyone that was not dressed to one degree or another. Some were more dressed than others, but everyone had some sort of costume, or something that resembled a costume on. So, we had no problems with that either.

Now, if I painted "Halloween in the Suburbs" as all rosy and perfect, it was not. No, not everything came up smelling of roses in blissful suburbia. We too had our problems.

I have a problem with the (late teen-early 20's) moms carrying their "hardly can walk" babies out to "trick or treat". As I walked my children through the neighborhood, we came across a gaggle of these young mothers, (about half a dozen). They were yelling (no, screaming) across the street, and from house to house to each other about what "treats" were being given out at which house so they could decide if it is "worth it" for the rest of the group to visit that house. (They were all talking about going to a house that was giving out "full sized candy-bars" for a third time...) Their kids... Most not even old enough to have teeth, could not even stand on their own if mom put the child down.

For goodness sake people.... Do you think that you have me fooled that the baby you are carrying (because they cannot walk on their own) is going to eat all that candy you have in that bag?? Honestly, those 8 month old babies had bags of candy bigger than my 12 year old had. I'd even feel better if mom and baby dressed in something that went together as a couple... You know.. Bevis and Butthead, Ren and Stimpy, heck even Little Oprhan Annie and Daddy Warbucks (although Metro Dad's Kid is not that young - but it is a perfect example!)... Something... No, ANYTHING that would make it look less like you were using your child to collect candy for yourself.

If you are a mother, it's time to grow up. If you child is too young to walk - stay home and have fun (with your child) giving candy out to all the visiting monsters! (Our littlest, Melissa (age 3 1/2), went to a few houses but had much more fun staying at home filling the visitor's bags with the treats we were giving out!

Then, this morning, I fielded a 9-1-1 call where a homeowner had left a bowl of candy out on their front step for the "trick or treaters". Apparently someone felt that they needed to "trick" this homeowner after they got their "treat". The trickster left (what appeared to be) a snake of human feces in the bowl on top of all the candy. Nice huh? Happy Damn Halloween huh?

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If you have read down to here and are interested in reading more, be sure to click here, click on the "Older Posts" link to your right, or use the "Archive" tool on the right sidebar. Thanks for visiting!