Apr 30, 2007
But, that gave me an opportunity to save you from a rambling Navy answer, it has been edited for brevity so good for you...
1. One of the things you and I share is being the parents of intelligent and spirited children. Do you have a particular story about your son that you’d like to share?
I saved this question for last, because I wanted to put a lot of thought into it. There are a couple of stories that come to mind, that tell a lot about who Skyler is.
First of all, everyone needs to know a little more about Skyler. The reason he has Cerebral Palsy is that he was born 3 months premature, and only weighed 1 pound 15 ounces. Sometime either in utero or during birth, he had a brain hemorrhage that affected his motor control area of his brain. He thinks a bit different than the rest of us, but is pretty much a typical kid. But he can't control any of his muscles the right way. He has limited use of his left arm, but that is about it. So, he is in a chair, and talks through a speech communications device called a Dynavox.
When he was in grade school, there was a speech therapist that was working with him that he didn't get along with. They just butted heads all the time. She had him on a page on his Dynavox of things around the house. She would right a sentence on the white board, leaving out a word that she wanted him to say. She wrote "I sit in a _____". expecting Skyler to hit the button that would say chair. Skyler got off of that page of his Dynavox and was looking for another page. She got mad at him for going off and being distracted. Eventually, after they argued with each other, he found the button that said "wheelchair". He was just trying to tell her what he really sat in, and she kept directing him back to his page of household items. He is stubborn enough that when he knows he is right, he isn't going to just go along with what you are thinking. We are happy he has a strong will, but it can be tough when he has his mind set on something!
A second story about Skyler is that now he is an adolescent, people tend to forget that inside that body that doesn't work is a sixteen year old male, with the same thoughts and drives as any other kid! We have a friend that is 2 years older than Skyler that is really nice to him, and has been coming over to sit with him on occasion while we go to a movie or something. She has long, pretty hair and one of Skylers little quirks has been that when he likes someone, he tries to reach over and touch their hair. It is a sign of affection for him. A awhile back she came over and was sitting next to Skyler and he was reaching over to touch her, but was touching her hair on her chest. She just said he really likes to touch my hair, it is so sweet, and I was thinking he is so not touching your hair - he is coping a feel!
I didn't know whether to be mad or proud!
2. You’ve mentioned in passing being in the military when you were younger. My friends who were or are in the military have stories of higher-ups that could have been re-written as a Dilbert or an episode of The Office. Do you have any examples of this?
More than I can even put into words! In the Navy, there seems to be a distrust between the officers and the enlisted types (like myself). They are quite certain that if we are not kept busy with assorted jobs, that we will all sneak off to get high, and then blow up the ship. The Chief of our division had us do 2 things constantly; paint things that didn't need painting, and clean the head (the bathroom). Most everybody seemed to just go along with it, but I was the one always questioning things. As I mentioned in one of my blog entries, when sent out to re-paint a bridge wing that was painted recently, I kept asking if we had received a batch of defective paint, and who should we contact to notify of the problem. The chief just said his same old "shut the fuck up, you got a bad attitude". But, now I have a skill that I use in real life, I am a master toilet cleaner...
There was one junior officer who got it though, and I have to tell you a story about him. He was 23 years old, just a hair older than most of the guys in the division. He came in and introduced himself to us, and immediately asked all the E-5 and above people to leave for a few minutes. This effectively separated the division into 2 groups, the career people and the rest of us. Then he said, OK, here is the deal. You guys are the ones who are going to make me or break me. If you work hard for me, play the game and make me look good, I will get you the max amount of liberty (time off the ship) that I can. Do we have a deal? Then he said don't ever mention this to anyone, and let the rest of the division back in.
We worked our butt off for that guy, because he "got it".
3. I gather from your blog that you’ve worked in the tech industry for a while. I worked in it briefly, at the height of the tech boom (1998). I felt like I was living in a Dilbert cartoon. Do you think that the tech industry somehow brings on especially silly organizational behavior?
I think all large corporations seem to have their share of Dilbert-like behavior, but high tech lends itself to it the most. Scott Adams, who writes Dilbert got his start by drawing cartoons while he was an ISDN programmer at Pac-Bell in southern Cal. All of his co-workers really liked it, and had his drawings on their cube walls. His manager at the time recognized the morale aspect of it and let it go. Then, Scott got a new manager, who told everybody to take down the cartoons. Thus was born the pointy-haired manager of Dilbert fame. He left his job shortly after and turned to writing Dilbert full-time and the rest is history.
In high-tech, managers seem to think that they are invaluable to the function of the group, when everyone just wants them to get the hell out of the way so they can produce good work.
4. I loved your post about Apollo 8—being space geeks is another thing we share. Hypothetical: You’ve been appointed to head NASA. What do you do in your first two days?
Immediately start trying to get back to the moon! I believe it is in our blood to be explorers, and to try and see what is beyond our own world. The problem with NASA is that it has become too many bureaucrats, and not enough engineers. The people who used to run things day to day were not managers by trade, but some of the brightest engineers who rose to the top.
Did you know there were a lot of the early astronauts who even volunteered for a one-way mission just to get there?
5. You win the lottery today. What are your plans?
When I was working in jobs I really didn't enjoy, it was a fantasy of mine to win the lottery, but still keep coming to work. I would sit in my cube, not doing a lick of work, and see just how long it would take them to fire me. Can you imagine how much fun that would be?
Take "The Office" for example...
boss: Uh yeah, I'm going to need those TPS reports now.
Me: You bet, coming right up. (close down surfing for video clips and start putting my coat on to leave)
boss: We're going to need those now, before you leave.
Me: Oh sorry about that, doesn't fit into my schedule. I have to run down to the auto dealer and pick up a new Porsche, my other new one got dirty. But see you tomorrow!
Thanks for the interview Johnny, it was fun! I am happy to honor any interview requests that come my way to keep this going.
Apr 27, 2007
Apr 26, 2007
Autism Speaks created a music video of the Five for Fighting song "World" which features images of children with autism children and their families.
It is a truly moving video and was the work of their Creative Director and our sponsor, Bill Shea.
The band is generously donating $0.49 to Autism Speaks for each time the video is viewed and the winning charity will receive a special prize (there are several others on the site). When you have a moment, please visit the link below to watch the video and pass it along to your friends and family.
Apr 25, 2007
Early reviews have been excellent.
Apr 24, 2007
It is a bit weird, there is a core group of us that have been meeting at Ballys for a long time and working out together. Then we would meet for coffee and go our separate ways.
I will miss our morning get-togethers, and the peer pressure of getting up at 4:30 to make it to the 5:00 opening. But I will enjoy a bit of sleep in the morning!
Most of all I will miss my friends at coffee...
Apr 23, 2007
Johnny Yen had another great blog about earth day and mentioned the photo taken from Apollo 8 that came to be "the" photo used for the occasion.
I am a serious space program geek, and there is nothing I really like talking about more. I collect books and info about the whole space program, and as soon as it became available picked up the fantastic series that Tom Hanks and Spielberg put together called From the Earth to the Moon.
What a lot of people don't know was that the first trip to leave earth orbit, circle the moon and come back wasn't supposed to be Apollo 8. That was scheduled to come later, but there were numerous problems with the LEM (lander) component. So NASA came to the Apollo 8 crew (Commander Frank Borman, Lovell, and Anders) and asked if they felt they could move the mission up a couple of months.
The attitude around NASA at that point in time was one of go, go, go and of course they said yes. But, the navigation computer wasn't ready, and there had not been enough time to get the capsule or crew ready. So knowing that Lovell was an amateur astronomer and knew how to operate a navigation sextant, they mounted one in the side of the capsule. They did some quick training on star sitings off of our planet (which was all theory) and off they went.
All the way out to the moon, they would take a star siting, work the numbers, then compare it with the numbers that would get spit out of the nav computer. About 2 out of 3 times the nav computer spit out junk, and the other two guys would look at Lovell and ask, well Jim, are you sure?
That is guts...
The window for entry into the moons orbit and get the proper trajectory back to Earth is way small. A matter of a few miles. There is a scene from the old black and white footage of mission control when the went into lunar orbit. There is a big screen with the mission trajectory on it showing the path around the moon. There are two clocks on either side, LOS (loss of signal) and AOS (acquisition of signal). Remember, this is the very first time they were going to be out of touch with the crew in all the space missions. They had a pretty good guess of how it would take to loop around the back side of the moon, so that was what the clocks were for.
The Apollo 8 craft goes around the back, and the LOS clock starts counting up, the AOS clock starts counting down based on their guess of when the can communicate again.
The AOS clock reaches zero and they start calling Apollo 8 this is Houston, over and over and over.
You can see the body language of a bunch of the mission control folks change, shoulders are drooping, some heads are laying down on their consoles, they think that the command module has probably missed and went into the ground on the back side of the moon.
It turns out the were on the extreme outside of the orbit window, and had taken longer than expected to come around. Finally the answer back to mission control that are back and the cheer rivaled the actual landing on the moon.
It really is pretty amazing stuff what they accomplished with less computing power than what we have in a cheap pocket calculator these days.
Apr 22, 2007
Apr 21, 2007
WAYNESBURG, Ky. - Miss America 1944 has a talent that likely has never appeared on a beauty pageant stage: She fired a handgun to shoot out a vehicle's tires and stop an intruder. Venus Ramey, 82, confronted a man on her farm in south-central Kentucky last week after she saw her dog run into a storage building where thieves had previously made off with old farm equipment.
Ramey said the man told her he would leave. "I said, 'Oh, no you won't,' and I shot their tires so they couldn't leave," Ramey said.
She had to balance on her walker as she pulled out a snub-nosed .38-caliber handgun.
You go Venus!!
Apr 20, 2007
Will Friedwald, jazz fan, New York Sun writer and possessor of what may be the largest iTunes music collection in the world (his main library has 172,150 tracks from 11,561 album by 2,935 artists).
Apr 18, 2007
Angry Soccer Mom Accused of Neglect
By Associated Press
Tue Apr 17, 9:08 PM
LINCOLN, Neb. - An angry soccer mom who left her teenage daughter alongside an interstate was ticketed for neglect, Lincoln police said Tuesday. Police spokeswoman Katherine Finnell confirmed this account from police reports:
The 42-year-old Lincoln mom was miffed about her daughter's poor play on Saturday.
On their drive home the girl flubbed the lines her mom had drilled into her on how to improve her game, so the mother slapped her daughter.
The girl told her mom to pull over. The mom did, near the downtown Lincoln exit off Interstate 80.
The mom yelled at the girl to get out. When she did, her mom drove off.
A teammate's parent spotted the girl alongside the interstate, stopped to pick her up, then took her to their home and called police.
Apr 17, 2007
Apr 16, 2007
Here is a story about a local guy who knocked them all off in a single year, AND, skied down each one when he was done climbing!
Some of the peaks are quite easy to ski down, most are really tough, and some I have no fucking clue how he pulled it off...
Apr 15, 2007
Apr 13, 2007
My muse, more or less
By Woody Paige
Denver Post Staff Columnist
Article Launched: 04/13/2007 01:00:00 AM MDT
Kurt Vonnegut is dead.
So he went.
At this point in the story, Kilgore Trout asks this rhetorical question, an aside with a paragraph all to itself:
"What the heck?"
Too bad, you say. What does Vonnegut have to do with sports, you remark. More than you think, I answer, somewhat indignantly.
* * *
Vonnegut was hired in 1954 by a new magazine, to be called "Sports Illustrated." He was told to write an article to accompany a photograph of a thoroughbred horse that had jumped the rail during a race and run wild in the infield. Vonnegut stared at the picture for hours, finally typed something and left without a word.
What he had written was: "The horse jumped the (expletive) fence."
And Vonnegut quit.
Which was good for the world, because the world didn't need another sportswriter, but did need one of the greatest novelists in American history.
And I needed somebody else, other than my dad or the center fielder for the Yankees or a guard for the Celtics, to admire.
A young woman interviewing me the other day for her graduate-school project wanted to know how I developed my writing style.
Replied I: "I copied Kurt Vonnegut.
"For instance, Vonnegut often used one-sentence paragraphs."
Like this one.
And the seven paragraphs above this one and the next one.
I copied Vonnegut's writing style and his humorous approach to serious subjects - he did war, and I do football games - and his distrust of people in power - he, politicians; I, baseball general managers - and his cynicism - "There is only one me, and I am stuck with him" - but I never could copy his brilliance, uniqueness and manipulation of the language.
Nobody else can or will.
Of course, Vonnegut copied Mark Twain as a satirist and essayist and even looked almost exactly like him. Baby boomers adopted Vonnegut when he wrote "Slaughterhouse-Five," a novel about the bombing of Dresden and prisoner of war Billy Pilgrim, who is "unstuck in time" and becomes a successful optometrist, survives a plane crash in Vermont and visits the planet Tralfamadore.
Some of Vonnegut's books were taught in schools, then some of his books were banned by schools. People don't always understand, and often fear, what they read, is what we learn from that.
Generations X and Why? don't read Vonnegut and don't know what they are missing. I made my daughter read him.
Which I thought would be the end of our dear relationship.
Not so. She got it.
Vonnegut came to Denver in 1996 to show two dozen of his sketches at a gallery and to introduce a new short story he had written for the label of a beer bottle. As he might say, most of what I'm telling you is true, except the parts I'm making up.
The owner of a LoDo microbrewery had the grand idea of producing specialty beers with famous authors writing stories for the labels. The brewpub owner, a disheveled sort, worked up the courage to ask Vonnegut to contribute, and he agreed, under the condition that the beer's recipe be the same as his grandfather's, brewed commercially in Indianapolis before Prohibition.
It turned out that the brewpub owner's father lived down the hall from Vonnegut, and was his fraternity brother, when they attended Cornell. (Vonnegut later attended Tennessee, which is my school, and you're thinking I'm making all of this up.)
The secret ingredient in the beer - called "Kurt's Mile High Malt" - was coffee. Vonnegut's story on the label was entitled "Merlin," about a olden knight with an automatic weapon.
Vonnegut documented his Denver visit in his last biographical novel, "Timequake," and told of meeting his friend's son - the brewpub owner.
The barkeep's name: John Hickenlooper.
"Ting-a-ling," as Vonnegut would write.
Hickenlooper knew of my idolization of Vonnegut and invited me and my daughter to spend time(quake) with Vonnegut. My daughter sat on a bus bench with him and talked about colleges, and I later had a beer with him.
Said Vonnegut: "I hear you are a good writer."
Said I: "I copied your style."
In "Slaughterhouse-Five," Billy Pilgrim mused: "Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is 'So it goes."'
Staff writer Woody Paige can be reached at 303-954-1095 or email@example.com.
Apr 12, 2007
Both of our sons were born about the same time, both very premature (Skyler was 3 months early and 1 pound 15 ounces) and both have Cerebral Palsy to about the same extent. We have compared our sons through the years a lot, compared surgeries, medications, seizures, school systems, and life in general. There are conversations that I wouldn’t begin to bring up with my friends who don’t have special needs kids, like how to get a kid to crap when they spend their life in a chair… Stuff that just doesn’t come up in “normal” conversations.
I have experienced the death of way too many children since I started down this road with Skyler, from my online family to the families that I have come to know and love close by. Unfortunately, it is nature’s way with bodies that are not born correctly, broken, significantly boogered up, (take your pick of expression). I think I stopped counting sometime after a dozen or so funerals or notices of death I can remember.
Parents take the death of their children in different ways, just like other parents with typical kids. The only real difference is that most parents don’t expect to bury their children, instead of the other way around. I have seen a lot of anguish, tears, some acceptance of Gods will, and some indifference. But I saw something different with my friends that I had not seen yet, or I guess I didn’t want to admit was hiding there under the surface.
Yeah, they didn’t say the words, but you could pick up on it pretty dang easy. They were so worn down by their life of full care of their son, that you could just feel the weight lifting off of them. Not to say that they didn’t love him to death, just like we love and would do anything for Skyler. But you just knew that they were already considering a future without their son at home forever, all the medical issues, what would happen when they pass away before him if it happened…
It was all unfolding before them, and it brought me back 14 or so years to when Skyler was about 2. I attended a session with a therapist named Robert that was having a group of new dads with special needs kids. It happened that I was the only one to show up that evening, so he and I just sat and chatted for about 3 hours. His son was 16 at the time, had MS, and he asked me how I felt about having Skyler. I was pretty new at this, and said it’s OK, we will be fine, no problems, same old life… Blah blah blah. He listened patiently to me being gungho, and shocked me with his response.
He said, I wish my son would have died.
My first experience with somebody being completely honest with me about what was coming. And now, 14 years later, another completely honest reaction to hit me in face.
I’ll keep trying as hard as I can, but some days you have to be honest with yourself and wonder what would have been.
My apologies to those who might be put off by this, it’s been a week…
Apr 11, 2007
Apr 10, 2007
Apr 8, 2007
What was the best final episode of a TV show that you remember?
Was it MASH, that I believe still holds the record for the most watched show ever? I don't think so, Hawkeye going nuts was a little too much for me.
I have two different favorites, the first one is the final of the Bob Newhart show (second of his series) where he was the Inn Keeper. He arranged, without the knowledge of anybody else on the show, to have an exact replica of the bedroom from his first series made. Suzanne Pleshette (his wife from the first series) was in bed with him, and he woke up and turned on the light to tell her that he had a strange dream, that he was an Inn Keeper. And he had a great looking blonde wife... then he just shut up at that point when she gave him a dirty look. It was great!
My second favorite was the ending of St Elsewhere. Donald Westphall and Daniel Auschlander were the two heads of the hospital, and Donald Westphall had a son with Autism. The scene switched from the hospital to an apartment and was in black and white. Donald came home from a blue collar job carrying a lunch pail, where Danial Auschlander was his father taking care of his son. He asked "grampa" how the day was with his son, and he said same as always, just playing with his toy. Then he asked, do you ever wonder what goes on inside his head all day? He answered we'll probably never know, and the camera zooms in tight to his toy, which is a snowglobe he keeps shaking. As the camera pulls in real tight, you see the the building inside the snowglobe is the hospital, St. Eligius, otherwise known as St Elsewhere. The idea being that the entire series had been made up in the mind of the young boy that had autism.
It was one of those "wow" moments for me...
So what else do all of you consider the best endings for TV shows?
Apr 7, 2007
Mr. John T. Mongan
123 Main Street
Smalltown, California 94123-4567
You've got the grades. You've certainly got the PSAT scores. And now you've got a letter from MIT. Maybe you're surprised. Most students would be.
But you're not most students. And that's exactly why I urge you to consider carefully one of the most selective universities in America.
The level of potential reflected in your performance is a powerful indicator that you might well be an excellent candidate for MIT. It certainly got my attention!
Engineering's not for you? No problem. It may surprise you to learn we offer more than 40 major fields of study, from architecture to brain and cognitive sciences, from economics (perhaps the best program in the country) to writing.
What? Of course, you don't want to be bored. Who does? Life here *is* tough *and* demanding, but it's also *fun*. MIT students are imaginative and creative - inside and outside the classroom.
You're interested in athletics? Great! MIT has more varsity teams - 39 - than almost any other university, and a tremendous intramural program so everybody can participate.
You think we're too expensive? Don't be too sure. We've got surprises for you there, too.
Why not send the enclosed Information Request to find out more about this unique institution? Why not do it right now?
Michael C. Benhke
Director of Admissions
P.S. If you'd like a copy of a fun-filled, fact-filled brochure, "Insight," just check the appropriate box on the form.
May 5, 1994
Michael C. Behnke
MIT Director of Admissions
Office of Admissions, Room 3-108
Cambridge MA 02139-4307
You've got the reputation. You've certainly got the pomposity. And now you've got a letter from John Mongan. Maybe you're surprised. Most universities would be.
But you're not most universities. And that's exactly why I urge you to carefully consider one of the most selective students in America, so selective that he will choose only *one* of the thousands of accredited universities in the country.
The level of pomposity and lack of tact reflected in your letter is a powerful indicator that your august institution might well be a possibility for John Mongan's future education. It certainly got my attention!
Don't want Bio-Chem students? No problem. It may surprise you to learn that my interests cover over 400 fields of study, from semantics to limnology, from object-oriented programming (perhaps one of the youngest professionals in the country) to classical piano.
What? Of course you don't want egotistical jerks. Who does? I *am* self-indulgent *and* over confident, but I'm also amusing. John Mongan is funny and amusing - whether you're laughing with him or at him.
You're interested in athletes? Great! John Mongan has played more sports - 47 - than almost any other student, including oddball favorites such as Orienteering.
You think I can pay for your school? Don't be too sure. I've got surprises for you there, too.
Why not send a guaranteed admission and full scholarship to increase your chance of being selected by John Mongan? Why not do it right now?
P.S. If you'd like a copy of a fun-filled, fact-filled brochure, "John Mongan: What a Guy!" just ask.
Apr 6, 2007
Our story begins as a young lad growing up in the mountain town of Idaho Springs, Colorado. When you grow up in the mountains, the natural thing to get involved in is skiing. I started in the 4th grade with a school program, loading up the bus with all of our skis and poles on a big rack on the roof, and motoring up to Loveland ski area. I remember it costing 6 dollars a day for the bus trip and the lift ticket/lesson. Pretty amazing, huh?
I loved skiing and my buddies and I all were thrill seekers, in search of more speed, better jumps, and generally trying to kill ourselves in the process. We had a program called "Snow Dodgers" (lame, huh?) that was our ski team, and the coach took a bunch of us up to the top of lift #2. There were about 12 of us, and told us all to stay with him, and took off for the bottom. At the bottom he turned around and myself, my buddy Jim and another kid were standing there with him, so he said you guys are my downhillers. Everyone else did the slalom events. I tried to find a picture, but all I could find was one out of an school album that had been "artyfied" that I think was me:
I tried to be a baseball player for my dad's sake, but I really sucked at it! My dad was a really good player, and pitched softball for Fort Carson while in the Army. That's his war story - he enlisted right at the end of WWII, and wound up being a cook, but really just toured around playing softball against other bases. Good duty if you can get it!
Then came basketball. I think that basketball was my favorite sport growing up. I loved playing, and almost all my best friends growing up played also. The picture is of some tournament we won, and I am second from the left. My best friend Dennis is #23 and another good friend JJ is #11. The other guy was a butthole... I shared an apartment with JJ before I moved in with my now wife, and she couldn't believe the constant stream of women coming through with JJ in da house!
Only 3 things kept me out of the NBA:
1. Lack of size
2. Lack of talent
3. I am white
But I had mad interview skilz!
Interviewer: So tell us about the big win.
Me: Well, We gave it 110% ya know, came to play today, know-what-I-mean?
Interviewer: Do you think you can make it to the playoffs?
Me: Our backs are against the wall, but we just have to take them one game at a time know-what-I-mean?
And so on and so on... Sound familiar?
I played football also, but didn't really enjoy getting my head handed to me on a regular basis. We were just too small, I played wide receiver my first couple of years. I was 150 pounds. I had to move in to tight end because there was another guy who played wide receiver and he was 135 pounds. Getting the picture here? We played a game in December up in Idaho Springs that was 13 below zero. I didn't play again...
The thing that I was probably best at though was long distance running. I ran the 880 (pre-metric days) and the mile.
I always did really good, but I just didn't stay with it. Track came at the end of the school year and Spring was the time when we were all in the mood to party and the heck with training. It's unfortunate, because I might have made something of myself and went to college with running.
I kept running for fun throughout the rest of my life, running on a Navy team, and after I got out. At one point I was doing about 75 to 80 miles a week. I entered a lot of 5K and 10K runs, had some good times and enjoyed it as my main source of exercise. Then one day I helped a friend move. We were unloading a refrigerator from the back of his pickup and as I lifted they pulled outward. I felt the disk rupture as I lifted, and just sort of laid there with pain and then my left leg went numb. From that point forward, running always hurt, and I had to seriously lower my mileage.
But I kept running because I still enjoyed it, and started working out at a club in the mornings doing lots of stuff that was non-impacting. I still go to this day, with a lot of friends I have made through the years. We keep each other motivated, and there is nothing like peer pressure to keep you coming in at 5:00 in the morning!
So what else do I do these days? Well, I bike a bit, rode the MS150 a couple of years ago with some friends. But that is too much saddle time for me, and I enjoyed the beer too much!
I still ski, and really enjoy going up to the National Sports Center for the Disabled with my wife and our son who skis in a sit ski.
And, I also enjoy river rafting a lot, but don't get too many opportunities to go.
That's me front left...
And, even though it is bad for me, I still run. The natural progression in my running life has been like this:
Really competitive, winning a lot.
Really competitive, winning rarely.
Sort of competitive, running for fun.
Not very competitive, running with my son and looking to take on the other fathers with jogging strollers!
Just trying to survive...
But now, I really enjoy just hangin with the boys! So how about the rest of you?