Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Marriage Equality in the U.S.

I was working this morning and not checking on Facebook--because I'm not allowed to use it on work machines during work hours and stuff like that. So, while I knew that the Supreme Court was going to heard arguments about the California law banning gay marriage today, I hadn't been keeping up with it.

And so this is my way of saying that I didn't change my Facebook icon to the equality symbol. And its not that I don't care or that I am opposed to equality in general (or gay marriage in specifics). I'm just saying that I was doing other things.

And to further elucidate my views of gay marriage, I'll just let John Green talk. He made this video last year and reposted it on Tumblr today.

And I think that captures my position on the topic as well as anything I might say about it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

An Interlude Before Dinner

Reviewing the day . . . and spending a bit of time complaining about work, how to look at the right thing when videoing, and generally not doing a good enough job with things.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Only Cemetery in New York

So, tonight I was watching Spiderman (the Tobey Maguire version) with Sarah and Grace. Well, to be more truthful, I had been watching The Walking Dead upstairs and they were watching it downstairs. But I got done with my episode at 10 pm (The girls are on spring break, so don't judge me . . . they don't have school tomorrow.) and came downstairs during the last fifteen minutes of the movie.

You remember those last fifteen minutes, right? The Green Goblin gives Spidey the ultimatum between the car of New York kids or Mary Jane on the precipice of the George Washington Bridge. Spidey somehow manages--with the post-September 11th help of New Yorkers everywhere--to save everyone and then he and Gobby face off in the ruins of a stone church yard or something. Monologues are said, blows are exchanged, and Green Goblin/Mr. Osbourne are impaled on the sharp end of the Goblin Wing.

After Spiderman delivers the dead body to Franco, we dissolve to the grave-side service of one of New York's most wealthy businessman. (Remember that Norman Osbourne is a tycoon's tycoon. The OsCorp building has HIS name on it. And remember also that no one but Peter knows that Norman was the Green Goblin . . . at least no one still alive.) So, when you bury someone that important in New York, it's probably in a pretty swanky cemetery, right?

This photo doesn't tell us much. But given what we know about the Osbournes our thoughts on the subject must be sound right? After Harry Osbourne thanks God for Peter, echoing the words of his psychotic dad, Peter decides to think about how his new role as Spiderman is affecting the lives of these around him. And this naturally--since he's surrounded by death right now--makes him think of Uncle Ben.

I''m sorry I let you die Uncle Ben. I know that with great power comes great responsibility. You taught me that. Wait . . . hold on. Peter, how did you get here to Uncle Ben's grave? Weren't you just at the Osbourne funeral?

Oh, and here comes Mary Jane, right as I'm talking to Uncle Ben's head stone. Wait, hang on. How did YOU get here MJ? And why are we wearing the same clothes that we were wearing at Norman Osbourne's funeral? Wait, you mean billionaire corporate mogul Norman Osbourne was born in the same cemetery as semi-penniless handy man Ben Parker? How does that make even a little bit of sense?

See ya later Mary Jane. I've got to have some strong words with Aunt May about where all that money is hidden.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The New Normal

It's weird that you think something is only your problem until you start talking about it. Then you find several people undergoing the same thing. In the last week, I've learned of four separate people going through the same thing that is happening to me. That is comforting and frustrating at the same time.

I've been trying to adjust to some new things here in my life. Most significantly, my eyesight has gotten worse suddenly. About a week ago I was sitting at home after work and I realized I was having trouble seeing the computer screen clearly through my right eye. (You may remember from the past that my right eye is the same one that a.) causes me to have double vision and b.) had to have an artificial lens placed in it about two years ago because of a developing cataract.)

Normally, I tend to ride out medical problems that aren't hugely problematic and hope things improve. But even I knew that something like this wasn't right. I at first thought that my artificial lens was failing or becoming cloudy or something. So, the next day I called my optometrist to schedule an appointment. I described the symptoms as best I could--looking through a haze of some sort, kind of like a web of stuff that quickly appeared. I got an appointment for the next day from when I was making the phone call. But Lynda did some Internet searching of her own and believed that it was more serious than that and suggested (well, she went ahead and scheduled) an immediate appointment for that same afternoon.

Now, I thought that I had done a good job by calling the next day and getting in to see the doctor soon. But it turned out that we were both sort of right in the end. My optometrist diagnosed me with a vitreous tear of the fluid within my right eye. The web of stuff I was seeing through was--in fact--the vitreous fluid that was detaching from the interior lining of the eye and becoming visible. If left untreated, it might escalate into a further, more serious damaging of the retina and result in partial blindness. My condition was not that serious, but the specialist that I went to next did see some minor spots of bleeding where the tear was occurring.

Turns out that this sort of thing happens as people get older. But it doesn't usually happen until that older is defined as 50s or 60s. But given my poor eye health in general, I get to experience it early. And it further turns out that unless the retina gets involved, there isn't much actual treatment that can be done about this. The doctors I have seen this week tell me that eventually the fluid will become more watery and the floaters that are partially obscuring my vision will fade or spread out a bit or drop down more to the bottom and out of my current line of site. But there is no predicting when that will (if?) happen.

I've spoken to several people who also have this condition and they say they've been facing the problem for over a year or more. So this is going to become the new thing for me. I'll just have to get used to it, it seems.

And that has not been easy to adjust to. Throughout my life I've had to accept things about me that I couldn't change. But there were also things that could be diagnosed, treated, and improved. This condition turns out to not be one of them. And I've been struggling to accept that. (It didn't help that I got pretty sick with a bad cold this week and wasn't feeling physically well either. Or it doesn't help that work remains a giant ball of confusion and barely manageable chaos.) All in all, not the best week for me.

And it got me pretty down on myself. And it made me question the future in ways that I normally don't. I began to worry about increased health problems for the future and wondered if I would become a burden on Lynda long before either of us has any right to expect such a thing. Pretty morbid stuff, really.

I'm trying to get over that and focus on positive things. I'm trying to adjust to the new normal--even if it won't be as good as I want it to be. My eyesight is not great right now, but other things are okay. Work isn't the best, but I do have a steady job and a reliable source of income. And the family in general is strong and comparatively great by all measures.

So, I've got to chin up and be happy. Writing this was another step in drawing out that negativity and putting it behind me. I'm going to try not to dwell on it and hopefully that will help me learn to start ignoring it.

Thursday, March 07, 2013


Look carefully; can you see the speck?

This picture doesn't really capture what I was trying to hastily get on my camera phone as I was leaving the office this evening, so I'll augment it with some necessary words.

The black spec you see approximately in the middle of the sky (to the left of the light pole) is a helicopter. And the helicopter flew from the city center, south of the office, right over my head, and then straight toward the new Cabelas outdoor sporting goods super store that had its Grand Opening today in the shopping center behind my office and across the interstate/

Normally, I wouldn't care--because I'm not a big outdoorsman and don't have need for such items that are sold at Cabelas. But judging by the steam, never-ending stream of cars exiting just outside my office window I am in the distinct minority. I was told the country music stars made some sort of appearance there today, as well as outdoor enthusiast celebrities (but why not this guy?) I was even told that people from that TV show Duck Dynasty showed up  . . . which I can't confirm . .  and I don't think I want to anyway.

I can only presume that the helicopter I took a picture of was delivering some famous outdoorsman to finalize the Grand Opening celebrations. (Perhaps you can suggest who YOU think it might have been in the comments?)

So, clearly big doins' were up in my work neighborhood. And everyone for 300 miles around set aside their day to get excited about new consumer possibilities and suchlike.

But I shouldn't judge, I guess. I remember being a kid in a small south Georgia town and getting super excited when the Winn Dixie (grocery store chain) got upgraded and the big draw was a real, live LOBSTER tank!!!! (I specifically rode my bike to go see the lobsters stumbling around in the murky water with those bring yellow rubber bands on their claws. I didn't buy anything, mind you . . . just went to see the lobsters in person.

So, yeah . . . I sort of get it. But also, wait . . . no! I don't get it. It's just a sporting goods store. And there is LOTS more to see and do on a random Thursday in March in Columbus, Ohio than there ever was to do in Tifton, Georgia back in the 1980s.

Go to the Zoo and see actual manatees. Go to the Metropolitan Museum or the Wexner Center museum on the OSU campus! Go to art galleries in the Short North. Try weird ice cream flavors at any of the Jeni's Ice Creams around the area. Set up your folding chair in the Short North and wait for them to open that grilled cheese restaurant Melt. Heck . . . acknowledge that today was an actual sunny day in late winter in the Midwest and it wasn't freezing and walk in any number of parks.

DON'T waste time in a bow and camo store waiting for (maybe) dudes in weird beards who aren't even ZZ Top!

Get it together everyone!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Snow Day? No Way!

If only today's snow day had been this threatening.

 The schools were closed today, as the storm predicted over the last few days finally arrived. But it was decidedly nonthreatening. Sure there was some snow--maybe three or four inches. But there wasn't a wind chill problem and the snow was already melting before lunchtime.

I guess it was worse in some of the outlying counties? But to my southern view, this was what northern winter and snow is supposed to look like, right? If something as ordinary as THIS shuts things down, then why is there any tax money for salt trucks, plows, Dual Doppler Street-Level radar, and everything else? Because, wherever I went today . . . this was nothing.

So, the kids got a free day and I split my day between the office and home and it was all rather pointless. I hope that wherever YOU were today, you were threatened and feared for your life and were truly concerned that this might be your last day on earth.

As for me? I'm now more worried that the state of my asphalt driveway is going to be more threatening to my future commutes than anything the weather systems might dream up. And I can only imagine how these lackadaisical standards are going to impact my kids education! Maybe they need to be home schooled by me and my cast off textbook draft manuscript pages that are being scribbled on by Hannah as scrap! (If they are going to be home anyway, then why not just take over? THINK of all the onerous tax money that we could save, right?)

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Doing Chores; Teaching Chores

Everybody has to do chores. It's an inescapable fact of life. If we didn't do chores, the clothes wouldn't get washed, the dishes wouldn't get cleaned, the floors would never be vacuumed, and all that other stuff.

Necessary--but never fun, really.

Unless you have kids. In that case, you can try (and sometimes, depending on the day, the kid, the barometric pressure) to teach your kids how to do a chore and maybe have some fun with it at the same time.

A few weeks ago, I got Hannah to help me wash up after dinner. And it turned the tedium of washing to pots and pans into a fun conversation and some useful parenting opportunities.

I tried this approach tonight with the basket of laundry.

Now, to be fair, I'll point out that I loaded this basket of bed sheets, kitchen towels, and wearable whites this morning before I left the house with Hannah and Grace. I placed the basket in a prominent place, in the transition space between the front hallway and the TV room. By doing this, I guaranteed that both Sarah and Grace would have to pass by it when they got home from school. Secretly, I hoped that either one of them would see it, be so motivated by its presence that they would take up the task and when I got home from work, the folded basket would be waiting to get carried upstairs for bedroom distribution. (I knew that even if the barometric pressure was properly aligned to get the folding done, there was little to no chance that someone would take that extra Gandhi-like step to put it all away.)

When I got home, no one had taken the hint.


The fruits of our labors
So, after dinner, I got Hannah to work on her folding techniques with me. She jumped right in on the towels and showed some impressive dexterity. (Clearly she'd handled small kitchen towels and washcloths before.) Everything was properly squared off and neat. I handled the large bed sheets while she plowed through the washcloths.

Soon we entered into the clothing part of the basket and things got necessarily more challenging. The irregular shapes flummoxed her at first, but after I showed her the proper way* to get it done, she handled herself well.

Hannah wandered in and out, of course, which is the nature of five-year-olds. But if I prompted her, she'd get back into it and do a few more. The biggest problem I faced was that in order to facilitate her involvement, I was sitting on the floor to get this done. And that is NOT a comfortable position for my 41-year-old legs to be in for any length of time. Let's just say that getting back up again when it was over was . . . challenging.

Hannah was a bit confused with how to handle the socks. But I explained that you just put the sock over in their own growing pile to deal with at the end. Then you match up all the pairs and place the sock bundles on the tops of the divided clothing piles.I had thought that matching socks would be where she shined the brightest, but she had already moved off to another room at that point.

When it was all done, the folded piles were placed back into the basket, awaiting transportation upstairs. And, depending on other factors and levels of laziness, there it might stay for days.

* In case you are wondering, there is absolutely a right and a wrong way to fold clothes. (I am convinced that Lynda doesn't do it properly so that I will grow frustrated with her method, thereby ensuring that I handle the bulk of the laundry chores. (You know, kind of like I don't know how to clean the bathrooms effectively.)

Anyway, the proper method of folding a t-shirt is using the Mirror Symmetry method. You divide the shirt down its vertical axis and match up sleeve to sleeve and the fold the bottom hem of the shirt above or below the neck opening. If you are dealing with a knit shirt (like a polo shirt with a collar), you follow what I call the Gap Method: you fold the sleeves underneath the front of the shirt by tucking/retracting them behind the back panel (like you would tuck turkey wings into themselves). Then you lift up the more horizontally-shaped shirt bundle and crease the bottom half underneath the top. This presents a nice shirt, showing the collar and the button placket, like you are used to seeing at clothing displays.

(In case you are wondering, button-down dress shirts should be folded loosely and set aside, because you want to put them on hangers as quickly as possible to avoid creasing. If you suspect that there will be a substantial delay before the clothes are put away, follow the Gap Method and put these shirts on the top of the finished basket, to avoid the weight of other clothes generating creases and wrinkles. Because no one wants to iron anything.)

Friday, March 01, 2013

Bear Wrestling

So, there was this one time . . .

How'd you get that limp? Are you limping? Why do you walk with a limp? 

These questions came at him frequently when he was young and the people asking them were also young and lacking in tack. They came less frequently in his adult life. People either chose not to ask, made their own silent assumptions, or simply didn't care. 

But he was sure that they noticed. Everyone could notice. Heck, he noticed every time he'd walk alongside a storefront window. His head automatically swiveled to check his gait, to note that familiar hitch in his step and, for just the few seconds of his travels past that window . . . he would try to smooth it out. 

But he never could. 

"Bear wrestling." 

That was his newest answer--ready made for someone who wanted to ask the question. "I got injured wrestling a bear."  

The great part of this answer is that, if it was summertime and he was wearing shorts, this could also explain the surgery scars that were on the back of both legs, running from above the kneecaps to an inch or so below. And if he was wearing sandals, you could see more scars on his left foot, on the ankle. If he was at the pool and barefoot, even more scars were exposed on the tops of the foot and on either side of the ankle. A Frankenfoot, he might eventually think to call it if in an extended conversation and he felt the conversation was getting too deep and a relaxing joke was necessary. 

Even though the surgeries had been decades ago, he believed the scars were still quite visible. (Though he knew, in fact, that they were not.) But his memories of those first post-operative days , when the scarred flesh was still raw and tender. In those days, and within his mind, the scars were angry, bright, and really in your face.

The real reason he had the scars (and the limp) was much less interesting that bear wrestling. The reason was not of his choosing, beyond his control,  and a random fact of life. So, if he was going to be singled out for something he couldn't hide, it was best to make up a good explanation for why he was that way. Let's have some fun, I guess.  

When he was younger, answering the question of the limp was traumatic. It got him upset when people noticed. (No young kid wants to be different.) Back then he told the truth. The boring, ordinary truth. But it was cumbersome and sometimes involved big words that not everyone understood. And really, most people just though he twisted an ankle playing softball the previous weekend. When he started telling them the boring truth, their eyes glazed over because it can just be Too Much. (They were just shootin' the breeze, filling the conversational dead space.) So, he would come up with a story that grabs their attention and makes them want to know more.  

He would LIE! 

He noticed that when he said bear wrestling there was a light in the eyes. And then he would just keep spinning the tale out. How far could he push? Are they going to believe him at all? Halfway? Could he take them to the edge of idiocy before they bail? Could he hold himself together long enough to get them there or was he going to crack? 

Naturally, if it was someone he knew, there was no chance that this was going to work. They already knew that he'd be more likely to cut open his thigh failing to cut up a downed tree limb int the backyard with that blunt hand saw than he was to get within 20 yards of an unfenced bear. (They have already heard the story of how it took him all day to change the doorknob and deadbolt on the front door.) 

In short, they've already got his number.  

But a stranger? Well, first of all, what gives them the right to ask him a personal question like that in the first place? Don't they deserve a fanciful answer? So what was the harm in giving them one. Letting them have a story of their own to carry on down the line to someone else. ("You'll NEVER believe what I heard today," they'd say.)

So, yeah . . . bear wrestling.

But, after a while, he would need to change it up to a new story. I wonder what it would be next time?