Perseverance Through Catharsis

Regular readers know that try extra hard not to mention too much about my work. This morning - I am going to make a therapeutic rant, and perhaps tie a couple of loose ends together for some readers...

Let me apologize ahead of time for a slightly disturbing, stressful post, and the (perhaps corny or bizarre) way I cope with it all.

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I'm pretty good about dealing with the stress of my job. This morning - it caught up with me just a bit.

This morning, a co-worker and I were talking about one of our "regular customers". This is a person (and I use the term "person" loosely) that we have dealt with (as a subject, suspect or having been arrested) over 250 times in their nearly 30 years of existence.
Yup... TWO-HUNDRED AND FIFTY!
This "subject" has been locked up for several months, and was recently released (yet again) after serving his most recent sentence. We were talking about him because my partner had spotted this person dining at a local eatery, and was surprised to see that they had been released already.

Minutes after we finished that discussion, I answered a 911 call.

A father (it's usually the mother that calls - maybe that is why this one is sticking with me a little more than most)... but I took a phone call from a father who discovered his five month old son not breathing, blue, and cold to the touch just seconds before calling.

(Thankfully) Very few people have to ever hear (let alone have to function, and function to the degree that is expected of me while dealing with) the raw human emotion of such a situation... It literary takes your breath away. (Linda (another 911 dispatcher, and regular here on FOF) may be able to empathize with me a bit here...)

I will let you imagine how very upset he was. (But, don't try too hard.. It's a dark, ugly, hurtful place..)

I had trouble providing him the assistance I would normally provide someone in his circumstance, as he had hung up on me. I called him back wanting to provide him some "pre-arrival medical assistance". When I did, he could hardly talk to me. His voice was a mixture of tears, hyperventilation, and gagging. He was wrought with emotion. I did the best I could for him, but had to move on to the next call.

Sometimes you don't have the opportunity to be able to reflect / cope / adjust / or even transition from something as traumatic as this to the next call. You just (emotionlessly) answer the next phone call like nothing happened.

Forty-one minutes later, the "time of death" was announced on the radio for us to "officially log", and then all the regular notifications that needed to be made were started.

Several minutes after all the required steps were taken, and things started to calm down a bit, I started to reflect on the past hour... The call... The family... The father I talked to... The baby that would not have a opportunity to become a boy, or grow into a man, and then.... the conversation we had prior.... the one about our "regular customer"... and I got pretty upset... I questioned why such a person (who has victimized literary HUNDREDS of people) continues his existence, while this innocent baby passes away.

It's times like these that make my job oh-so-not-worth-it.

I know it's wrong, but I do not know how to not question God on this. I struggle with not passing judgment on my fellow man. My faith has be believe that as a mere mortal, I am unable to grasp the whole picture, and that even though I do not see it, I am to have faith that God has a master plan for all of us. Yet, my mere mortal mind just cannot understand. So, in a vain attempt to cope... I keep trying...

Perhaps this may help clarify to anyone who does not understand why I would listen to the music of "Hatebreed" - just why I do, and what it means to me..

It is cathartic. As in, it brings me catharsis...
Catharsis - a sudden release of emotional tension after an overwhelmingly vicarious experience, resulting in the purging or purification of the emotions.
Let me explain through the use of lyrics to Perseverance...
Perseverance - Continuing in a course of action without regard to discouragement, opposition or previous failure - a persistent determination to adhere to a plan of direction; insistence
BOLD - Lyrics
(Italics - In Parenthesis) - My commentary on what this song or lyric means to me)

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(Links to YouTube Video)

I know your fear of loss
(I deal with "loss" every single day... Even the loss of a child (a fear of mine))
And your struggles with faith
(God, can you please help me understand why you would allow this travesty to occur??)
And how it takes everything that you have to face the day
(Just try and deal with this level of emotions - day in and day out....)
The virtues you possess now bring you eternal pain
(I have learned how to shut my emotions down. Imagine yourself with the "virtue" of being able to show no emotions...)
All you have is contempt for a life you can't obtain
(A life where dirtbag criminals take the place of undeserving innocent babies...)
All your heroes have failed you
(Police, Fire and EMS were unable to bring this baby back...)
Yet you try and prevail
(I'm still here... Hoping the next "baby not breathing" call will end differently...)
Face your torment and dismantle your doubt
(That is what I do to be able to continue doing this job. I face my torment, and I dismantle my doubts)
Refuse this legacy of shame and deceit
(Well, ok.. Not every line has meaning... I DO NOT live with a legacy of same and deceit)
Cause the only real truth in your life that you know is hostility
(Again, a line I am unable to find true applicable meaning for given the situation)

REFRAIN:

Perseverance
(That is what I do... I persevere)
Against all opposition
(I persevere against all the things that try to keep me from doing so... Like emotions)
Crushing all limitations
(I cannot allow limitations... Limits on my coping skills will limit my ability to handle this level of stress)
Pure strength through solitude
(Not many can (or would) do what I do. Few understand what it is like. I deal with this quietly, often alone in my own solitude.)
Discipline and determination
(I deal with the stresses though discipline... Learning to control my emotions - and determination - determination to not let this job eat me alive... Determination to continue to help those in need - even at my own costs.)

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Hence.... Perseverance Through Catharsis.

I am not sure how healthy this coping method is... But it works (99.9% of the time).
I am (usually) able to get past that what tries to bring me down (emotionally).
Tonight, on the way home, you can expect to hear Hatebreed through my car stereo. Then in complete contrast, #3 of 5 and I will be attending a live musical event. I'll talk more about that later.. I do not wish to "taint" that experience with the ugliness of this event. My hopes is that tonight's more melodic content will also help provide a different sort of catharsis.

Now that I have upset everyone, and taken them into the sometimes dark and frightening aspects of my life, I'll get back to my regular schedule of "strength through solitude", and return FOF back to it's normal family oriented , and lighthearted subject matter... Because Humor is another favorite form of catharsis for me!

Thanks again everyone. Thank you for allowing me to "Persevere through Catharsis" via this blog post....

TEN THOUSAND!

I have hit the TEN THOUSANDTH hit here on FOF!!!

TenK

Dad of Divas, I am not sure why you saw 10k on your page... Unless it does not count your visit in the count, and therefore it was the hit before yours...

Nephews! - Star Wars - Part III

In this, the third and final part of the Nephews! series I deal with some "news" surrounding my sister's twin boys.

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I accept that my sister lives in a far-away, and strange land known as Texas... It is the land of sweltering heat, little or no such thing as "snow", fire ants, high-school football stadiums that rival some smaller NFL Stadiums (like the Minnesota Vikings), AtHomeDaddy (and "The Shirt"), and of course... who could forget the Ewing Family of Southfork Ranch.

You see, over the past couple of days I have been exchanging emails with my sister, and the content of these emails has got me feeling a little blue.

It started out with... (excerpt from email)

The boys have officially been corrupted by Star Wars. Return of the Jedi just happened to be on this evening, and I thought Jonah was going to pass out. He has lived Star Wars vicarious through his friends at school, and I broke down and let him watch it. He is officially obsessed more than he was before.

You see, I too was am a Star Wars Fanatic. I was 8 years old when Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was first released. And as most boys between the ages of 6 and 15, I was hypnotized. I had a cassette recording of the move, and could repeat the dialog of the entire movie word for word. I had seen it (in the theaters) more than 8 times, I had figures, and toy spacecraft, Star Wars Cards (I still have 'em too!), comic books, etc. My friends and I played Star Wars related games (through action figures or in real life) for hours, days, and even years... I always understood there was a "pre" and "post" trilogy story, but I grew up Star Wars was less in the forefront of my mind, and soon became a fond memory. As I became a father, and had boys of my own, Star Wars came back in the limelight with Episodes I, II, and III. I got to re-live the fond memories of my days of Star Wars vicariously through my children!

anakindarthvader

In fact, Episode III is where I first contemplated blogging. I was a heavy Yahoo user back then, and Yahoo had just started up their "360" program.. (Don't ask me what that is...) One of the features of "360" was something new to me called a "Blog". I made one (and only one) post on the Yahoo 360 blog. It was written the day I pulled my boys out of school early so I could take them to see Episode III. It's still sitting there.. all by it's lonesome... Check it out HERE.

Man, can I get off topic and ramble sometimes... If you are still with me... thanks for hanging in there...

So, I replied to my sister with... (excerpt from email)

See... Now this one really hits home, and hard... Damn... No fooling - I am (literally) almost in tears right now... Oh, how I would LOVE to have your boys over and watch Star Wars with them.... Star Wars was (is) so much a part of my life growing up, and now (with the new movies) it was (is) part of my boys growing up...

Oh, how I would LOVE to see your boys faces the first time they actually watch the Star Wars Movies....

Which was replied with... (excerpt from email)

Oh yeah, you would go CRAZY listening to him talk about Star Wars. His favorite character seems to be Darth Vader. This whole Star Wars thing started sometime around Thanksgiving/Christmas last year. A kid in his class has a brother in 8th grade who likes the movies, and thus, little Evan is a walking Star Wars Encyclopedia. So, my son started coming home and telling me that Anakin is really Darth Vader, Yoda is a green guy and a good guy, Oh mom, I wish I could see what a real light saber looks like, Storm "Choopers" wear white armor, there are lots of episodes of Star Wars... and I could go on.

He has been hypothesizing as to why Darth Vader would turn to the dark side, and was very touched when Luke took off Darth's mask, and Darth Vader went to heaven.

He lit up like a Christmas tree when he discovered that like he and "N", Luke and Leia are also twins. He said he had a dream about Darth Vader and the evil emperor last night. "No, mom, it wasn't a nightmare, just a dream that they were in."

Man, this is one of those time where I really miss not having these guys around... We would have "Star Wars Movie Nights" at our house... Since that is not practical, I'll do the next best thing... Guess what "N" and "J" are getting for their birthdays from Uncle Daver !?!?

Nephews - BROKEN - Part II

Now, on to my "nephew news". This first story is less news about my nephew, and more about #4 of 5 who was BROKEN by Uncle "B", Aunt "J" , and Cousin "M" (my nephew) while visiting them for an extended trip!

To clear up any doubt, I have evidence. In the "anonymous" comment dated 05-27-08 at 10:27 pm HERE. Responsibility was accepted for "breaking" her while staying with them!!

"B" & "J"... You owe us another daughter! OH... GOSH.... Wait a second... What was I saying... ANOTHER ONE?!? Um... Never mind. Five is quite enough... "B" & "J"... Consider yourselves off the hook... Free and Clear... Clear and Valid.. Whatever it takes to keep my number at "Five"!

(Wshuuuu.. That was close!)

Here is how it all went down...

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My in-laws were planning a trip to Illinois to visit their son, his wife and their grandson "M".

While visiting her grandma one day, #5 of 5 talked about "M". (She refers to him as "My M....")

The in-laws considered taking #5 of 5 with them on this 4 day visit, to which we agreed to. Not long afterwards we realized it was a holiday weekend (Memorial Day), and since #4 of 5 would be the only one of the five who has not been to Uncle "B" and Aunt "J's" house yet, Grandma and Grandpa asked if she could come too. We asked her if she was interested, and (of course she jumped at the opportunity!), so we agreed.

On the Friday before Memorial Day, Mother-in-law, Father-in-law, #4 and #5 of 5 all headed out "road trip" style for Illinois.

Things had been going well. Our house was UNCANNILY quiet (Hmmm... I smell an "Observation" coming).

Just as I was going "off duty" on Monday (Memorial Day), my Mother-in-law called me on my cell phone. She told me that while at the park, #4 of 5 was doing cartwheels, somersaults, (and other such girly gymnastic type activities) down a hill when she apparently came down on her elbow. I was told that the elbow made a noise (described by her Aunt "J" as a "CRACKING sound"). Her elbow quickly started swelling up, and hurting.

CRACKAfter calling me for insurance information (We forgot to send them with a letter of consent, and their insurance cards), I spent thirty AGONIZING minutes on the telephone trying to locate someone anyone from Health Partners who could help me on a holiday...

Someone getting hurt on a holiday (a TRAVEL HOLIDAY) and needing assistance from their insurance company?? Preposterous, Nonsense! It could NEVER happen!

Come on H.P. How about one or two employees regionally who could answer a couple of questions... What would that cost you - a couple of hundred bucks??? It sure would have made my day a little easier!

Hint, Hint... Anyone from Heath Partners listening??

After 30 minutes of hearing crickets finding no one to help me at Health Partners, I called my Mother-in-law back, and told her to take #4 of 5 wherever they needed to, and I would deal with the paper trail later.

I allowed it to go on for so long because my Mother-in-law is an R.N. and could care for #4 of 5 as well as, if not better than most medical staff. I was not worried in the slightest.

They took #4 of 5 to the Emergency room, and after being x-rayed, the E.R. staff was "unable to confirm a break". My Mother in law (the R.N.), and the nurse in the ER also said that it is not unusual for the E.R. to not be able to find a break, but a pediatric orthopedic specialist would most likely find a fracture or a break. They (the two R.N.'s) were confident that the arm was broken, and so the E.R. Splinted her up. We got our local "referral" and made an appointment for the day after the kids got home.

#4 and #5 of 5 returned on Tuesday evening, and on Wednesday morning, Mother of Five and #4 of 5 were off to the orthopedist.

Since I was up at the kids school doing some volunteer work, when Mother of Five and #4 of 5 returned from the doctor, I was able to get the diagnosis. Yup, the R.N.'s were right! Broken. A broken Radius just above the elbow. What made it all better was color of the cast SHE GOT TO PICK OUT!

It was sort of reminiscent of another cast I posted about almost a year ago exactly (May 31st, 2007) in a post titled "The Third Option" (one of my favorite posts!)

So, today #4 of 5 left for school, sharpie marker in hand, ready to have her cast signed by all her friends at school.

Despite all the "injuries" my girls had a GREAT time with their grandparents, Uncle, Aunt, and Cousin! I also understand "M" (their Cousin) had a great time too! I sure hope they will be able to do something like this again sometime!

Nephews! - Intro - Part I

Nephews.  That's what I have... Nephews.  No nieces, just nephews.  I have three of them.  There's my sister's twins "N" and "J" from Texas, and my brother-in-law's son "M".  They live in Illinois.

Within the past two days - there has been "nephew news" going on around in my house.

First, a little about me as a nephew, and my uncles...

I grew up very close to my uncles.  I have one paternal uncle, and three maternal uncles.  Uncles Ron, Vince, and Greg all live close.  I have grown up having a close relationship to them, and truly enjoy their company.  (I could (and should) post about them sometime...)  My other uncle (Dan) lived in rural, northern Maine.  I did not get to see him "frequently" - or talk to him as often as my other uncles.  Perhaps because of that, Uncle Dan held a very special place in my heart.

On a side note, Dan passed away many years ago...  And now (many years later), I find myself in contact (frequently) with my cousins in Maine that I really did have an opportunity to get to know while growing up.  I am finding out how truly wonderful folks they are, and just what I missed out on over the years. 

I mention this because I now am growing up without the opportunity to have any of my nephews living close enough to "hang out" with.  Oh, I don't begrudge my sister, or my brother-in-law for living where they do.  We all have our own paths and destinies to work towards.  I only mention this because there are certain circumstances where having them around would be a lot of fun!

This post got way too long for a single entry.  I am breaking up the long post into a three part series.  Stay tuned for a couple of "Nephew stories" in parts II and III!

Oh, the Dignity.....

WARNING: Opinionated, sleep deprived rant to follow. Please forgive any offense you may take.

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O.K. I do understand needing a job / income.... But having NEVER seen "The Doodlebops" before, and having to sit through an agonizing, frightening, (and frankly DISTURBING) eight minutes of the show (because after 8 minutes I had seen all I could stand before having to turn the channel in sheer terror), a few questions came to mind....

1. How does this pass under the umbrella of "Educational Programing"?

2. How much are these actors/actresses being paid?

3. What is the going rate for basic human dignity?

I guess if you need to put food on the table, and a roof over your head, you may be willing to do just about anything, huh? Maybe even painting your face blue, putting on over sized latex hair, shoes, and giant puffy swollen latex hands - sacrificing your personal dignity - all while bopping around the stage, lip syncing to what is passing as children's educational / motivational music. (sigh....)

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On a semi-related note (kid's television programing)... I would be neglectful to not take this opportunity to mention "Lazy Town" and "Hip-Hop-Harry" as a couple of my (recent) "honorable mentions" for shows that hide behind the deceptive facade of "Educational Television". (Not to mention being among the top dignity crushing rolls an actor can play.)

Speaking of oversized, exaggerated, latex appendages (that you will frequently find on the characters of the aforementioned "television shows" (and I use that term loosely)), let's not forget that freakishly grizzly plasticized nightmare inducing Burger King from the Burger King commercials who (according to the commercials) sits in our beds while we sleep - staring at us - burger in hand, or watches us (using his best "stalker" impersonation) from our backyards through the windows of our homes - with that emotionless gaze of his...

Unlike the Doodlebops, and Lazy Town, whoever is under that Burger King mask (and whoever is in the Hip-Hop-Harry suit) can "pretend" to maintain a shred of their personal dignity, as their true identity is still hidden behind the disturbing mask (and/or bear suit).
(Oh, and SHAME ON YOU for doing it!)

What are we trying to do to the youth (future) of this great nation - frighten 'em, or "make um more stoopiter"??
(But, hey... At least they can Hip-Hop Dance)

A Little Upgrade

Unbeknownst to me, Mother of Five has been squirreling away some money in order to replace our old patio set. 

old patio set

Well, we had our eye on a set that Home Depot has been selling for the past couple of years, so with Memorial Day quickly approaching, and some extra $$ in bank for it, we decided to make the plunge and pick up the patio set we have been looking at for the past two years. 

new patio set1  new patio set2

This Blog kicked off it's existence with the documentation of building this Deck.   Two years later, we have a new patio set for it! 

We still do not have an umbrella for it, but hey... one thing at a time.  

An Advertisement / Endorsement

weedhoundOn the recommendation from Barb, a co-worker, I picked up a new yard tool.

Folks, may I present to you the Weed-Hound.  The Weed-Hound is made by a company called Hound Dog. 

I know "Weed-Hound" sounds like someone who is so desperate for a different kind of "weed" that he (or she) will come to your yard and pull noxious weeds in order to make a little scratch on the side to buy the more "herbal" type of weed.  But it's not.  I think my new "Weed-Hound" works harder than the aforementioned "weed hound"...

Well, based on the claims made by Barb, by the Weed-Hound" website, and by the packaging attached to the "Weed-Hound", it would seem too good to be true! 

I broke down.  I don't usually fall for the late night infomercials, "as seen on TV", or "RonCo" products, so naturally I was a bit skeptical about this Weed Hound.

Folks, let me be the first to tell you... If you DONT have one of these things yet, and you have a yard to maintain, then for goodness sake, GET ONE!!

I picked this thing up at Home Depot for $19.99, and after it's first use - I would have paid twice as much. 

This thing is as easy as Barb, the website, and the packaging states.  It is simply amazing!  It grabs the dandelions without having to bend over (root and all) and leaves the lawn 90% intact (there is a hole were the root went into the ground).

In fact, I de-dandelioned my entire yard (with a stogie in one hand) in less than 45 minutes.  A neighbor from two doors down came over and mentioned how she was just planning to get her "Weed-Hound" out and de-dandelion her yard, and a third neighbor (behind me) came out with his while neighbor #1 and I were Weed-Hounding!

No exaggeration everyone... This is the best thing in the world for picking weeds!  Give it a try if you are even half-considering it... You wont be disappointed.

What's in your MP3 Player?

As promised in The Joy of (Live) Music, here is the alphabetic list of artists that are currently on my MP3 Player. (all links are to Wikipedia)

What's in your MP3 Player???

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Accept - Russian Roulette

Adam & the Ants - Antics in the Forbidden Zone

Black Flag - The First Four Years

Blue Man Group - The Complex

Blue October - Foiled

Cat Stevens - Cat Stevens Greatest Hits

Dave Rabbit - Radio First Termer - Pirate Radio Show from Jan. 1971 in Vietnam.

Dead Kennedys - Bedtime for Democracy, Frankenchrist. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death, Plastic Surgery Disasters

Dead or Alive - Mad Bad and Dangerous to Know

Depeche Mode - Music for the Masses, Violator

Eminem - The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, The Eminem Show, Encore

Enigma - Love, Sensuality and Devotion

Fiddler on the Roof - (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture)

Fleetwood Mac - Rumors, Tango in the Night, Greatest Hits

Hatebreed - Perserverance, Supremacy, The Rise of Brutality

Insane Clown Posse - Bizaar, Bizzar, Forgotten Freshness Volume One (2 disc set), The Amazing Jeckel Borthers, The Great Milenko, The Riddle Box

Jello Biafra - Grow More Pot - (spoken word)

Joy Division - Permanent

Kid Rock - Devil Without a Cause

Lamb of God - Sacrament

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV, Mothership Disc 1, Mothership Disc 2

Low - The Great Destroyer

Marilyn Manson - Lest we Forget: The Best of Marilyn Manson

Mötley Crüe (Misc Tracks from...) Shout at the Devil, Girls Girls Girls, Dr. Feelgood, Decade of Decadence

New Order - Substance Disc 1, Substance Disc 2, Technique

Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark - The Best of OMD

Pure Moods I

Ravi Shankar - The Sounds of India, Mantram: Chants of India, Visions of Peace: The Art of Ravi Shankar Disc 1, Visions of Peace: The Art of Ravi Shankar Disc 2

Tenacious D - Tenacious D, The Pick of Destiny

The Bloodhound Gang - Use Your Fingers, One Fierce Beer Coaster, Hooray for Boobies, Hefty Fine

The Cure - Bloodflowers, Disintegration, Faith, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Mixed Up, Pornography, The Cure, The Head on the Door, Wild Mood Swings, Wish, Fascination Street (E.P. - re-mixes), Love Song (E.P. - re-mixes), Lullaby (E.P. - re-mixes), Pictures of You (E.P. - re-mixes)

The Dead Milkmen - Beelzebubba

The Doors (Misc Tracks from...) The Doors, Strange Days, L.A. Woman, Best of the Doors Disc 1, Best of the Doors Disc 2

Violent Femmes - 3, Add it up (1981-1993) , New Times, Violent Femmes

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As you can see, some of the selections are played in the MP3 player via headphones ONLY, and are never heard around the house "out loud"... While others...

On my trip to the College of Wilderness Knowledge, I brought along a CD (for in the car) of Creedence Clearwater Revival. I had not listened to that CD in a LONG time - It proved to be a lot of fun!

Seriously folks... I'd love to see a post on your Blog with what's in YOUR MP3 player!!

Belated Mother's Day Gift

mothers day

We (Mother of Five and I) went out on Monday (whilst the kids were in school - and since we both had the morning off) to look for the "as promised" Mother's Day gift that neither of us had the time to go out shopping for on or before Mother's Day.

So far, she has been out every day on her new bike (with or without the trailer).

While at the store, #5 of 5 wanted us to "buy her something".

Luckily for me, when I told her the giant box (that contained the trailer) was for her, her eyes grew HUGE, and she was completely satisfied! She set down the Care Bears DVD, and wanted to look at the box that contained "her" bike trailer!

Two Years.

Wow.. Has it been two years already?? Well, I THOUGHT it was two years now... You see I sent myself a reminder email that was "scheduled" to remind me when the "two year" mark was up.

That email arrived while I was away at the College of Wilderness Knowledge. So I was pretty excited to drop a quick note here flaunting my ability to maintain a project / hobby for more that the 1 week I normally do.

Yup folks, I thought it was that time again... Time for my Blogiversasry!!

So then, I started typing...

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I started this little blog two years ago during a vacation from work when I started building my deck.

Two years ago, 295 posts ago, and one deck still at the 95% completed phase..
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HOLD UP?!?!? While researching how many posts I have actually written, I discovered that I was WAY OFF on my "Blogiversary". I missed my Blogiversary by almost a month and a half.

April 2nd.. April 2nd, and NOT May 18th... Just how and why I got those mixed up, I'll never know... I'll chalk it up to being in a hurry (as I almost always am) and not checking my facts (which I almost always do... Check them that is...)

Well, I just walked in the door from the "C.W.K.". I have had #3 of 5 through the shower and checked for woodticks, and now it's time for #2 of 5 to shower and tick-check, followed closely by my shower and tick-check!

I still have to unpack, and get the wonderful (and I am NOT being sarcastic here) smell of campfire from that permeates my dirty clothes that I have piled in my room, outta my room before the Mother of Five gets home... (It's too bad to. My buddy Ed and I have always thought that someone should market a woman's perfume in the sent of "campfire". It would certainly draw men in! It's almost an aphrodisiac! )

Then, since we are ALL home and I have not seen M.O.F. or the girls for three days (of camping) + one day (of packing) for a total of nearly 4 days - we are going to have a family pizza / movie / picnic / party thingie! These are great cuz ('specially after I have not seen the girls for a couple of days) they want to curl up and snuggle with me! Ooooo.. I am looking forward to that one!

(Now, if I could just find a way to get the Mother of Five to want to curl up and snuggle with me too.....)

Anyway, happy belated Blogiversary to me, and don't forget to check back in the next day or so - and find out just how much fun we had at the Boy Scout Camp / College of Wilderness Knowledge!

Here We Go Again... (In a Good Way!)

On Friday, right after I get home from work - #2 and #3 of 5 have another Boy Scout camp out.

They will be attending the "College of Wilderness Knowledge" at the Birch Bend Campground.

Birch Bend Campground (from what I understand) is a "rustic" campground in Northern Minnesota (well, "northern" based on perspective.... The Ethereal Garage wouldn't call this is "Northern" Minnesota... (grin))

EmergPrepThe "College of Wilderness Knowledge" is an "experience" within the campground where a group of former Eagle Scouts (who volunteer their time) host a weekend camp for Scout Troops. They specialize in training current Boy Scouts on certain Merit Badge Topics.

The main focus for our outing this weekend will be the Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge.

The BEST PART of this trip, is that for the first time since becoming Boy Scouts, I am able to volunteer as a parent chaperone for one of the short weekend trips! These guys go on a weekend camp out about once a month, and oh, how I would love to be able to attend more of them!

I spent 4 days at Camp Tomahawk last year (a week-long summer camp) with #2 of 5, and had a great time!

In this case, I will be attending with both #2 and #3 of 5, and (perhaps due to the field in which I work) the topic is one of great interest to me. I am glad to see that the boys are having to learn more about it.

Frankly, the more time the boys spend in the Scout Program, the more pleased I become with it. (I was never a scout, and now, I wish I would have been!)

The next couple of days will be spent packing and preparing for the trip. We leave Friday afternoon, and will not be returning until sometime Sunday afternoon.

Until then... Thanks for stopping by!

The Best of Blogs!

Well, voting has started. Since I nominated myself, (along with several other awesome Dad-Bloggers), It's now time for me to ask you to drop by The Best of Blogs, and place your vote for the BEST DADDY BLOG.

Don't feel obligated to vote for The Life of a Father of Five... When you look at the other candidates, I'm almost embarrassed to in the same list... There are some really hilarious, and some fantastic Dads out there! I am honored to be among you guys!

But, on the other hand... If you do want to send me some "love", I wont be disappointed...

I'd like to wish my competition the best of luck! Fellas, keep up the great work!

The list of nominations for Best Daddy Blog 2008 are as follows...

DIYFather (I think that is the correct link - if it is wrong, let me know!)
The Life of a Father of Five
The King of Clubs
LBSimba (DadStuff)
AtHomeDaddy
BabyDaddy
FatherDad
LiteralDan
DaddysLittleTaxCredits
DadsHouseBlog

Best of luck to you guys! You all deserve to win in my book!

The Joy of (Live) Music

While it is true that much of my "listening time" is spent on the "talk radio circuit" (which I have talked about again, and again...), I do spend time listening to music as well.

I have some pretty eclectic musical tastes.  For those XM Radio subscribers out there who are familiar with The Ron & Fez Show (and my love of it) you will know what I am talking about when I say based on what you know of me from my blog, some of my musical choices may "surprise" many of you.  (I know they surprise many people...) 

One of these days, I'll post an "Artist List" from my Sansa, but for now, I'll summarize this with a list of which artists have been played recently (let's say the past two weeks). 

Eminem - Everyone has heard of Eminem.  I recently converted a few more of my older CD's to MP3 and Eminem was among the CD's - once installed on the Sansa, I have been re-enjoying his CD's.  Think what you want about 'ol "Slim Shady", but he puts out a great beat, and catchy (albeit inappropriate for children's ears) lyrics. 

The Bloodhound Gang - (Remember the 1990's hit The Bad Touch? (YouTube link) "You and me baby aint nothin' but mammals, so let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel")  They speak to the sophomoric moron within me (and I mean that in a POSITIVE way).  I can pretend that I am a  "20 year younger, cool Skateboard Punk" hanging with Bam Margera and crew.  (How old am I again??)  Call me "trailer trash" if you want, but I can not resist the call of The Bloodhound Gang! 

Hatebreed - You probably have not heard of Hatebreed.  They are usually categorized as "Hardcore".  Before you contact Child Protective Services, you need to understand they front a name that sounds much more about "Hate" than what they really are about.  These guys fire out some strong guttural vocals with lyrics that speak of motivation, inspiration, and self reliance.   While some of their lyrics are pretty dark, angry and aggressive, there is a reoccurring theme of "rising above" that which holds you down, or keeps you from achieving your goals.  This is NOT music for "younger kids" here folks, but in all honesty - if any of my kids came home listening to Hatebreed (lets say after age 16) - I would not be all that disappointed. Check out the (text) lyrics for Perseverance and You're Never Alone as a couple of my favorite examples of what I mean.  Listen to a (YouTube) example of Perseverance HERE

Before I frighten all of my regular visitors away for good - I want to remind them that my musical tastes vary WILDLY.  Not only to I listen to the angry, and inappropriate selections above, but I also listen to some very quiet and slow music.  Low (a "slowcore" band that emanates from Duluth, Minnesota), and Enigma are a couple of examples of the mellower music I listen to.

I also have had an interest in instrumental music from the Middle East.  Particularly the Sitar and TablaRavi Shankar is considered one of the (if not "the") leading Indian musician of the modern era and is frequently found being played in my CD or MP3 player.

Back in 2006 I took a step outside of my "closed suburban life" when I attended a live concert with Lisa from Many Things Do Not Fly, hosted by the Indian Music Society Of Minnesota (IMSOM).  The concert headliner was Pandit Nayan Ghosh.  I was (honestly) a little nervous, and not sure what to expect.  The folks at IMSOM are great, and I felt comfortable crossing a perceived "cultural boundary".  By the time the event was over, I was delighted to find it a wonderfully memorable experience, and told myself that I would do this again some time.  (Read an article about the concert from MNDaily HERE). 

At our 20 year High School Reunion, I was talking to an old friend of mine who I have kept in touch with via e-mail.  Dr. Edward (Ted) Ulrich is the Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of St. Thomas.  Dr. Ulrich has a strong interest in, and has been establishing a curriculum for his students and studies in India.   When I heard about this, I told him about the IMSOM event I attended.  He sounded very interested, and I we made arrangements that (if everything worked out) we would try and find an IMSOM event to attend together sometime.

Recently, IMSOM announced that they are hosting another Sitar/Tabla instrumental concert (at the University of St. Thomas none-the-less!).  I got in touch with Lisa and with Dr. Ulrich to see if we could make it a trio this time... Unfortunately, Lisa will be unable to attend... (Watch her blog for some exciting news!  Well... At least I think she'll blog about it.)  Dr. Ulrich on the other hand, has confirmed his availability, and desire to attend! 

Unfortunately for me, the Mother of Five (who I'd love to enjoy a night out with) does not care for the sounds of the sitar/tabla.  So, even though she was asked to join, she declined.  After the last concert I attended, #3 of 5 had expressed an interest in attending, and so I think I will talk to him over the next day or two and see if he still is interested.  I'll venture a guess that he is.  His tastes in music are very similar to mine... (Although I limit his access to my music to (mostly) The Cure, and The Doors....)

This is going to (hopefully) be another memorable event!

Mother's Day - 2008

As a "father of five", I would be neglectful, and downright insulting if I did not take a few moments to thank and acknowledge a few of the most important "mothers" in my life today, on Mother's Day.
 
First, is my mother.  The "Mother of - the Father of Five", a "Mother of Two", and the "Mémère of Seven".  For without her, I would not be here!  Both my sister, and I were some of the luckiest kids.  We really hit the lottery when it came to parents.  I can honestly say that as I think back on my life, I cannot remember a time that I have even been upset at my mother for ANYTHING... (oh, I'm sure there were times when I was little, when she told me "no more candy" or something like that)  I cannot imagine someone as caring, and loving as her.  She always has been, and continues to always be there for me.  Weather it's "Can I make you (or bring you - if I am stuck at work) a sandwich", "Here is ten dollars... Throw it in your gas tank", or "I heard you were sick.  How are you feeling?  Is there anything I can do for you?".  She has been my shining example of what a mother is supposed to be.  Nurturing, Loving, Caring, and always there for you when you need it (and sometimes when you don't know you need it).  Her love for me (and mine for her) is forever part of who I am, and will be with me until (and after) I take my last breath.  Thank you Mom...  Thank you more that you'll ever know, or that I'll ever be able to express!
 
Then, there is my Mother in Law.  The "Mother of - the Mother of Five", a "mother of four" herself, and now the "Grandma of Six".  My mother in law is a wonderful woman who raised my wife (the Mother of Five) into who she is today (not to mention three other siblings into successful, productive, and wonderful people).  I cannot thank her enough for doing such a wonderful job.  She has accepted me into her family from very early on, and has made me feel like NOTHING LESS than part of her family.  She is a pillar of faith, strength, and determination.  She is kind and patient, yet willing & able to stand up strong for what she believes in.  At great sacrifice, she has taken on a "significant challenge" that is causing much un-needed, and un-deserved stress in her life.  Happy Mother's Day Carole.  Thank you for all you have done, and all you continue to do.
 
And then there is The Mother of Five.  My wife, my partner, and most importantly my best friend.  How can I even begin to fully acknowledge, and appreciate all she is, all she does, and all she has been for me, and for our children?  There is no way that I can begin to do justice to putting words to what she means to me.  Without her I would not be (and I doubt I ever would have EVER been) the Father of FIVE.  (There are days I still shake my head when I say "five".)  But my wife has always "reminded" me how much I would not trade any of my children for anything (which is true), and how God only gives you what you can handle (which I... well...  Um... Let's just say I'll have to "talk to him" about that one when I get the chance! - Grin).  She provides me daily inspiration.  She provides me motivation when I need it most.  She has taught me how to put our children first - above and beyond all else.  She is always making sacrifices for them, and for me.  Particularly in the past five years, I have learned more about parenting, and patience, and faith from her that I even care to think about.  This woman, my wife, the mother of my children has been a gift sent to me by God himself.  She is truly a partner in my life, and I can not imagine my life without her by my side.  Michele... Happy Mother's day.  The more time we spend together, the more I realize how lucky I am.  God truly shone down upon me the day we met.  It's been the best ride of my life ever since!
- - - - - - - -
 
In addition to the three listed above, there are countless other mothers out there that these same words could be written for.  Mothers in general are awe inspiring.  There is NO greater thing in this world than a mother.  The are there for you when you are first born - helpless and vulnerable.  They care for you, nurture you, and raise you.  They watch as you leave the comfort and protection of the homes they have built as you stretch your wings, and head out into the world.  They are ready and waiting to help you when the world gets the best of you.  Mothers are unrecognized for all they do, and deserve more that just "Mother's Day".  Mothers should be cherished, loved, honored, and appreciated all the days of their lives.
 
Happy Mother's day to the three "significant" mothers in my life, and to ALL the mothers around the world.  Happy Mother's day, and thank you for all you do.

Eagle Bluff Observation #2

As promised, back in Our Eagle Bluff Adventure - I wanted to note a couple of observations I made over the weekend.


Before you get started, I want you to know that I have written this post over and over, and for some reason cannot get it to convey the message the way I want it to. This is the closest I have come.


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


Like their father that came before them, my boys are not part of the "popular" crowd. My boys would more likely be categorized in the "geeks & freaks" group. I am ok with this, because (like I said) I too was a "geek and / or freak". The label has negative connotations to it, but in reality, they are just words. As an adult, I wear that label as a badge of honor! Being a bit geeky and a little freaky has gotten me to where I am today. I am happy and healthy. I have a strong faith. I am married to a beautiful woman (both inside and out) who loves me for who I am. I have a loving family, wonderful children, and a successful career. What more could a geek ask for??


Having grown up a "Geeky-Freak", it goes without saying that I was subject to a tad bit of ridicule from the "popular" kids. (Some of the names that were used in "ridicule" later became nicknames that actually ENJOYED having (behind their backs), and I still use to this day!) Name calling and teasing were part of my life. With my boys being in sixth and fifth grades, it is inevitable... and, so now I hear stories about the teasing my boys get from the "popular" kids from time to time.

Case in point. There is one particular "popular" boy that is very athletic. He is very active, and involved in all sports. He is also very talented in that area. This young man is "larger than life", talks a big talk, and is known for putting other kids down when they don't make the "perfect" play, or score for the team as often as he does. He is very critical of others who do not meet his "expectations".


This fella is not a bad kid; he just does not yet understand how his actions come across, and how others perceive him. He is the "top dog" in the school, and considered by many as the "most popular" in the class. Many of the boys strive to be just like him, others strive to avoid him. He is not what I would call a "bully" - just quick to notice (and point out) other's "shortcomings", while not acknowledging his own.

While at Eagle Bluff, this young man was boasting how he could not wait to get to the Tree Tops Ropes Course. Once we arrived and checked out the course from the ground, this young man was boastfully talking about going backwards across the course, faster and better than anyone else.


When the time came for his turn, he quickly donned the required safety gear and made his way to the entrance. He climbed to the first tier, and then slowed as made his way up to the second tier. By this time, he was 30-35 feet off the ground - and was TERRIFIED! No amount of coaching, encouraging and supportive talk could get him to go any further. He sat on the 2nd of the 7 tiers crying while the rest of the class passed him. When all the other kids had all gone by, he finally gave up and made his way back down the course (in front of his whole class).


I bring this up, NOT to point out this young fella's shortcoming, or to rub salt in an otherwise embarrassing wound... (Because, not only did he not go across the course, but I did not get on the course, and #3 of 5 only made it to the first tier before having to sit while the remainder of the class passed him by and have to work his way back to the entrance.) All totaled, there were five of us that did not make it.


I wanted to take this opportunity to talk to my boys, but felt that while we were still at Eagle Bluff, it was not the ideal time.


I later (after we got home) sat my boys down and talked to them about how even the "most popular" guy in class, the guy who "seems" to be able to do anything and get everything - is as human as the rest of us. And how they should NEVER let someone make them feel less important, or less worthy because of something they can or can not do (or do "perfectly").


I went on and further talked to them about how (as good as it might feel to turn this young man's failure back at him) they do not like to be teased by this boy, and why it was just as important to NOT to tease him.


We talked about the "Golden Rule" - "Do onto others as you would want others to do onto you". I live my life by that rule, and I think the world would be a better place if EVERYONE (of every race, creed, color, ethnicity, sexual preference, or "fear of heights") would strive to live their lives by this rule.


They were reminded that "Rising Above" will help make them fair minded, and stronger individuals when they become adults. I was proud to see that my boys had not teased this young man, and grateful for the opportunity for yet another "life lesson teaching" moment with my boys!

FOF Observation #8

The "FOF Observations" is a series of "Perpetual Posts" where I will share with you, my readers, short little "one line" observations that I have made (or will be making) on being the father of a large family. You will be able to access each of the posts in a cohesive list by clicking on the "FOF Observations" link in the "Perpetual Posts" group on the sidebar.

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

observation

Perhaps "cow ownership" would help reduce grocery costs.

(This represents a two week (or less) supply.)

Ouch!

FIVE HUNDRED BUCKS ?!?!?!?!

FOF's Checkbook... R.I.P.

If you don't know what I am talking about, click HERE.

At least I don't have to worry about THIS!

13 Months Later

13 months and 5 days after my last dealings with Streptococcal Pharyngitis, I was again brutally ravaged by it's all-too-familiar symptoms.

Just like last year, I utilized the "Minute Clinic" route again, and found myself completely satisfied with the service they and the CVS Pharmacy provided me in my "time of need".

The night before I was diagnosed, I was feeling lousy, and could not sleep. I went to work with a whopping 2 whole hours of (non-consecutive) sleep.

By the time I left work, I felt like a Mac Truck had run me over, backed up over what was left of me, and since that was not quite enough, the hot exhaust pipe was crammed down my throat while the driver revved up the engine spewing hot and dirty exhaust on to the back of my throat.

Imagine my "non-surprise" when the Minute Clinic Dr. told me the step culture came back positive WAY before the five minute testing period had elapsed.

So, here I sit while the Mother of Five takes advantage of my being home. She is going out (with only one of the five) to drain the checkbook do the grocery shopping. I don't quite know what the damages are yet, but she left with lists for Sam's Club, Cub Foods, Walmart and Target (not to mention two fists full of coupons...)

That usually results in the back two seats of our van being taken out and the empty space being used to fill the van to a "view obstructing" level with groceries (You may remember the Father of Five's Observation #5) not to mention an empty bank account.

In the future, I'll let you all know in advance when we do our next major grocery shopping event. It would behoove you to invest in that company's stock. It's bound to show profit spike on that day!

Enough for now... I have to go prepare Old Mother Hubbard's cupboards in anticipation of our new mountain of food.

Keep watching - I was able to start working on a couple of other new posts!

A Couple of Somber Days

Sadly, there was a fatal motorcycle / train accident less than half a mile from our house on Thursday.  Mr. Walter Cobb of Jordan, Minnesota was killed when he lost control of his motorcycle, and veered into the path of an oncoming train.

This left a real impact on me as I drove past the accident site on Friday (the next day), and noticed (what appeared to be) Mr. Cobb's parents.  Their lone car was parked off the side of the road and they were holding each other arm-in-arm and appeared to be crying.  I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child (even at age 36).  I wanted to pull over and comfort them. I wanted to let them know (from one parent to another) that many thoughts and prayers went out for them, and for their son yesterday.  Ultimately I did not.  I allowed them to grieve in they own way.

Thursday was also the "National Day of Prayer". 

#2 and #3 of 5 are heavily involved in our local Boy Scout Troop, and the Troop participated in the city-wide non-denominational prayer service by providing a "Flag Ceremony".  Eight Scouts showed up, and acted as the Color Guards who "presented the Colors", lead the service in the National Anthem, and then at the end of the service "retired the Colors". 

The pastor leading the service is also the local Police Chaplin, and was comforting the Cobb family just prior to the service.  He asked all in attendance keep this young man and his family in mind throughout the evening's service, and a moment of silence held on his behalf. 

A representative of one of the area Synagogues was present and said a short prayer and blew a Shofar.  It was very interesting! 

Coexist1There were prayers for many categories of people - The military, government officials, public safety, business owners, educators, media, parents and families - I am sure there were more, but I am drawing a blank...  It pretty much covered EVERYONE from all religious backgrounds.  It was a very "Coexistent" moment! 

There were many VFW's present, and during a very moving moment, the Church's Pastor acknowledged their presence, and all in attendance applauded these former solders for their great sacrifice. There was also talk of our own fallen Soldier Pfc. Joshua R. Anderson, and the sacrifice of the Anderson family.

Overall, Thursday and Friday were a couple of pretty somber / reflective days.

Oh, oh... I may be in trouble

My birthday was last week. 

2oldgrillAs a combined birthday gift for both myself and my wife (The Mother of Five) my parents gave us a new gas grill. 

I am not sure, but I think this may have been a "self serving" gift because I am not sure they wanted to come over and eat anything that was cooked in our old grill anymore.  The grill is fourteen years old, and was completely rebuilt nine years ago.  The extra little burned, blackened chunks of char broiled "left overs" seasoning that came off the grill was not so bad, it was the rust flakes from a couple of the bad spots on the top grate that I think worried them.

They bought us a very nice (much bigger) grill, that was pre-assembled.  It would have been ok if it was not, assembling items is one of my favorite things to do!  Back in my "Hardware Store" days, I was the primary assembler of bikes, lawnmowers, snow 2newgrillblowers, gas grills, heck... anything that needed assembly - I was the guy!!

Since this grill was already assembled, it was a matter of switching the propane take from on grill to the other, and finding something to grill.  But, because I am the "mechanically interested" fella that I am, I could not resist but to take the instruction manual with me as "reading material"... 

Guys, you know what I am talking about here.. Right??

While reading the manual, I ran across a warning that caught my eye.

Warning

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is crack open a "ice cold one" while I fire up the grill after a long day of yard work!  According to the manual "The use of alcohol, or prescription or non-prescription drugs may impair my ability to properly assemble or safely operate this gill."

Jeez... this has never been a problem with my other grills, but...  Perhaps this grill is different...  Should I risk it?

Thankfully I am not a regular "prescription drug" user. 

"Non-prescription", while intriguing to me, would be cause me problems at work - so I'll "just say no" to these guys..  But alcohol???

Oh-oh... I may be in trouble!  (Thank goodness it does not say anything about tobacco - because I have been known to enjoy a cigar with my beer while firing up the grill!)

Thanks Mom & Dad!  That was a great gift, and will be put to good use!  (You can feel safe to come over and eat BBQ with us again!)

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