Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Why my lady rocks

For those that haven't heard about it, there is a local autistic boy nicknamed J-Mac that's been getting a LOT of attention on the news lately. In a high school basketball game, the team he manages let him play the last few minutes of the last game of the season. The coach hoped he'd just score a basket to make himself feel good. Instead, the scored a record tieing 6 3 pointers and 20 points overall. In just a FEW MINUTES OF PLAY! Here is some of the latest details. I'm sure you can google more on the web.

So anyway, the Wife decided to post about it on one of the autism web sites. Many of the comments were positive. She and I were emailing about it today and here is part of the exchange:

Wife: There is yet another article in today’s newspaper about J-Mac. The news has spread far and wide. Inquiries have come from news organizations in Japan and Spain. How cool is that?!! I’m also attaching 2 quotes. The first is from today’s paper:

“Van Arnold, Hattiesburg (Miss.) American: "Jason McElwain has probably done more to change the perception of autism than any human being in the past 50 years. ... If you haven't seen the tape, call Greece Athena and get a copy, I'm serious. Coaches everywhere should use this as a training tool — especially for the whiners who squander their talents."

The second is from the autism-pdd message board, and it is the ONLY negative comment I have seen about this story. BTW, HFA is short for high functioning autistic:

“I thought it was rather sad. Apparently he is a HFA. How sad that even though his case is so mild, he is treated as "special". I mean it's great that his school is so supportive, it just makes me depressed about my son's future when I see things like this.”

Why shouldn’t he be treated as “special”? Just because his case isn’t as severe as some others doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have difficulties to overcome. Maybe his dentist can’t clean his teeth, either. Yes, he functioned well in a room with a lot of noise and a lot of people. And he’s probably been receiving services for many years, which have probably paid off. In one article, it was mentioned that he didn’t begin talking until he was 5 years old. He’s come a long way, baby!!

Me: I feel bad for that woman. Instead of Jason giving her hope that her kid too can achieve much, he instead makes her wish for a better kid. That's kind of sad really. Isn't the goal to get your kid to function as best they can?

Wife: That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking. And we don’t really know what our children’s potential is. Remember when Jill told me that their goal was to have Grasshopper attend a regular kindergarten class? I cried because that possibility hadn’t even occurred to me. And yet it happened (with an aide. But he was still in a regular classroom). If Jason can do this, what’s Grasshopper’s potential?? And even though the more severely affected kids probably won’t attain anything like that, you never know what they may be capable of. Did Jason’s mom ever think something like this would happen when her son didn’t speak until the age of 5??

It’s a testimony that these autism programs (and I’m assuming here that Jason has had some specifically autism-related services) really can make a difference.

Isn't she the coolest? Not only does she agree with me (so which one of us is properly trained anyway?), but she's trying to give other parents like us hope and preseting a positive attitude. Now you know why I married her. She's a smart lady.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Grasshopper's feeling his oats

A quick little amusing story. Grasshopper was getting ready for bed last night and didn't want to listen to directions from the Wife. So he says, "Leave me alone or I'll use my karate on you!"

I asked him to recite his student creed, the third point of which states something to the effect: I intend to use what I learn only in a defensive manner and not to hurt other people. Once he got to that part he was like "Oh, yeah."

I think the Wife and I are going to have to take up karate to keep from getting beat up by our kid. And Maverick is going to be in a world of hurt soon if he keeps trying to boss Grasshopper around. Move over David Carradine, Grasshopper is going to take over the world soon.


Friday, February 24, 2006

For Lois, the Awful Temptress

Lois left a comment the other day asking about lyrics she'd sent me a while back. She was curious if I'd put it to music. I really haven't had much chance so I hadn't looked at them in a while. But as it happens, on Wednesday, I was home with the boys and we were just hanging. I figured, what the heck, I'll take a few minutes and play around with it. And wouldn't you know it, in less than 10 mintues, I had a song. It seems like every time that woman pokes at me about music, I'm forced to go off and create really good songs. She's an evil woman, she is. She even sent me MORE lyrics to a song she titled Evil Love. Now she'll probably make me finish that one too!

Seriously, though, the lyrics were written shortly after her dad died. You can check Lois' site for the details. What resulted is this, in a very rough form. I need to flesh it out with bass and drums. I must say that singing the last chorus' was giving me some chills. Lois is a wicked excellent writer and I did my best to get the emotions in the lyrics to come out in the vocal. Please make sure you stop by her site and tell her what an outstanding songwriter she is.

Now to my pal Lois, so when are we getting together to record this CD? We've got 3 songs already, a fourth in progress. Six more and we'd have something. I've got a standing offer from my engineer to go to Maine and record. Two week marathon and we'd be done. All expenses paid by you! We could bill ourselves as CK's Gal and the Rocker Guy. Or Lois and That Guy That Plays the Guitar. That's how most people know me anyway. We could sell like a dozen copies of the CD!

And as always, it is a pleasure and an honor to create music with you. You make me stretch my songwriting skills. I normally start with the music, or have a bit of a lyric to go with it. The music and the lyric are always intertwined when I write. I've never written music after the lyrics are complete with no idea as to melody or chord structure. I had no idea how anyone could do it. Now I know. Thanks for making me a better musician. I'm glad I could help you realize your vision.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Need your help

All,

I'm home a few days this week as the boys are off from school with February break. One of the things the Wife and I are working on is picking a color for our two story hallway. We think we have one that would work nicely, but as the Wife puts it, we need someone with taste to tell us if we've picked something nice or if it will end up being tacky and garish. SOOOOO, I figured, why don't I ask my readers? You guys have taste, right? So, here's the background: We have a two story entryway, with stairs that go straight up, turn left, then go to the upstairs hallway. We have two options in painting. But first the colors:


















Here are the colors we're looking to use. The main color will be the red on the right. It's Raspberry Truffle from Benjamin Moore paint. The other color is Interactive Cream from Sherwin Williams (in case any of you wants to look up the color pallates). Below is our hallway. We had 2 options:

Option 1: Go with the red on the wall with the door and the wall facing the door (the walls facing the camera in the first picture). The side walls and the upstairs hallway would be in Interactive cream.

Option 2: Paint all the walls in the hallway red. The upstairs hallway would be Interative cream. In the first picture below, all the walls would be red that you can see, except the wall you see at the very top would be cream.

In both options, all trim would be white.

My concern is that the red is too overpowering a color if we do the entire hallway with it. However, I'm not sure how it would look with half the entryway one color, and half another. Also, is that red a nice inviting color? We want something semi-formal in the entryway, but not too formal, if you know what I mean. Thoughts anyone?





















Thursday, February 16, 2006

While at the dojo...

Unlike Nanner, I don't have any femal sensei eye candy at karate. So since I happen to have my wireless tablet (thank you work for giving me such nice toys) I can type while keeping an eye on Grasshopper as he works his way towards martial arts dominance. I had a couple of miscellaneous things to throw out there so I figured I'd put them in one post.

1. I've finished preparing my taxes. I used Tax Cut and did it myself, so it cost me $20 to do both federal and state returns. I quite generously allowed Bush and Co an interest free loan on a decent chunk of my cash so it is time for them to repay my loan. Since I was so overly generous with Uncle Sam, we will be able to go on the vacation to the Henry Ford Museum the Wife desires. I will probably change my deductions, however so as not to loan such a great sum to our friends in Washington this year.

2. Maverick is already learning how to try and scam us. He came home yesterday with a letter from the bus garage. It appears he and another boy got into a little arguement on the bus last Friday and Maverick hit the other boy on the head with his lunch bag. The boy's mother was a little upset and the school principal had a chat with both of them. When the Wife asked for his side of the story, he promptly said, "What does the paper say? I want to say the same thing." He's already learning to get his story straight and cover his tracks! Nice try kid. His punishment is yet to be decided.

3. I'm a little dissapointed in the slow sales of Voice of the Spirit (link to the right, on sale now, goes to support charity, don't make me beg). Not that I expected to run out of CDs in a week or anything, but I had many people tell me they would definately buy a copy while I was recording and that they were so excited, yet not one of these people has approached me for a copy. I also emailed the pastor of our church to put a note in our weekly bulliten but have yet to hear back. As I said, I'm not making a huge deal out of it, but it is a bit disappointing. I'm going to have to hit up our pastor next time I see him.

That's pretty much it for now. Grasshopper is working with one of the other kids so I have to make sure he doesn't kick the poor boy's ass or something. One of these days I'll have to get his hands and feet registered as lethal weapons.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Posting fool

I'm just a posting fool today. Grasshopper's got a little cough so I'm keeping an ear open to make sure he settles down ok after I gave him a cough suppresant. Anyway, I happened to just check out Cootera's site and it reminded me of a little Valentine's Day story I thought I would share.

If I haven't said so on your site yet, I'm not big into Valentine's Day. Trading Valentine's Day cards with the Wife is all I really need. We ususally get something heartfelt. The Wife is quite good an usually nearly makes me cry when she reminds me how much she cares. This year was not exception as her card was very sweet.

One thing I NEVER do is buy roses. I thought about it once early in our marriage. I went to see a florist a few weeks ahead to arrange delivery but he couldn't tell me what the total was going to be. He had no idea what the rate was going to be until Valentine's Day. At the time, a dozen roses was slightly under $10. However, for Valentine's Day he was predicting $40 to $50. Basically I have a problem spending 5 times the going rate just to give the Wife flowers on a special day. I prefer giving flowers for no special reason because I think it means more to do something sweet for the Wife when it's not expected instead of when it is. Besides, it isn't like giving her roses on Valentine's Day is going to get me any action.

Which brings me to my story. I'm reminded of the last time I actually got some action on Valentine's Day. It was Valentine's Day 1998. Why do I remember this date very vividly? Because it just so happens it was the only night I got some action that month. And a few weeks after that, the Wife informed me she was with child. Having no reason to doubt her fidelity to me, I could only conclude that our little "tryst" on Valentine's Day resulted in the blessing of our second child. Yes, that's right, Grasshopper was concieved on Valentine's Day, and born on Halloween. This just goes to show that having sex on a holiday can yeild interesting results. So beware, ladies! Lord only knows what can happen to you if you get a little to amorous on this special "Holiday of LUUUUV".

Don't say I didn't warn you.


For the Love of Miss E.

By command of Miss Lois Lane, I am writing the requiste Ode to the Wife on the Day of the Valentine. First, I would like to direct you to a clip of my favorite song written specifically for the Wife, For the Love Of Miss E. If you want the details about the writing of the song, please refer to my site. If you want to hear the whole thing, then please buy the CD. Link to the right.

So what to write about the Wife. I'm tempted to utilize my usual smart assed wit, however, I shall actually be serious for a moment.

The Wife and I have been together since high school. I usually avoid the "high school sweetheart" moniker as we broke up a few times in the first few years before we finally decided to stay together. I'd love to say it was love at first sight, but alas, it was lust at first site. She had (and still has) the most incredibly long legs, and really nice hips and ass. As a 16 year old, who can resist? Especially when she's wearing heels? Not I.

As time went on, I grew to admire her other assets as well. She is the most beautiful woman I know. I knew I had to marry her when I lost sexual interest in other women. Sure, I still find other women attractive, but I have no desire to sleep with them. It's kind of like admiring art. I like nothing better than to just stare at the Little Lady and run my hands over her smooth skin. Even after all these years, she is still the hottest woman I know.

I don't want to give the impression that it's all sex. It's difficult to describe my feelings for her. Because I simply cannot imagine life without her. Again, I hate those cliches of "soul mate", "other half", etc. I guess the best way to describe it is to simply say she's my wife. A gift from God to be my partner through this life. Certainly I consider myself very blessed that she is the woman I married. While it's not always easy, being married to her is something I treasure. I could live without nearly everything, except for her.

So Happy Valentine's Day to my Wife. Love ya babe.

Happy Lois?


Olympic Spirit

I was going to do a post on the snowboarding halfpipe competition I watched last night. It was the women's event and I thought they were awesome. Between the tricks and the fact these women could give any man a run for their money was just great. Plus I really loved the whole skater punk attitude they brought to the Olympics. It's refreshing to see athletes that are competitive yet a close knit community. Plus having a bit of that ghetto/hip hop attitude at something as "old fashioned" as the Olympics is really cool.

However, I then wathced the pairs figure skating competition. Normally, that sort of thing isn't too interesting to me. Figure skating has become more about jumps and how many triples you can do versus the beauty of the sport. However, the last couple to skate amazed me. Or I should say, the woman of the pair did.

They were a Chinese couple. They were going to try a quad throw, which has never been done. When the attempted it, the girl CRASHED. HARD. On the replay you could see the way her leg buckled and landed funny on her knee. She could barely move around. She went back to the trainers to look at her leg. Now, according to the rules, they could actually start their program again where they left off. I figured there was no way this girl could compete. She looked like she totally messed up her knee and was in a lot of pain. However, this gal toughed it out and finished the program. She did all of her jumps with one minor slip from then on. At the end of the program, the crowd gave them a standing ovation. Hell, I wanted to get up and give her one. It was one of the bravest performances I've ever seen. To top it off, they won the silver medal.

Just goes to show you how much heart some of these athletes put into what they do. It was the agony of defeat turned into the thrill of victory all in 5 minutes. I'm glad I decided to watch.


Friday, February 10, 2006

When "Mature" Women Drink

Normally I wouldn't post something like this, but the Wife gave it to me and found it hysterical, so it is Officially Approved Spousal Content. It is quite funny. However, if might not be totally appropriate for a work environment, so be forwarned and make sure no one is looking:



.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.






















And I swear to God I'm pretty sure the Wife and I know the middle and right hand gals, but we can't place the faces. Moral of the story, if you're drunk, don't let someone take photos as evidence.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

I hate the IRS

All right, I just started getting into preparing my tax return. I figured it should be pretty simple this year as there wasn't anything funky in our incomes so I'm using tax software to save myself a few hundred bucks. However, we had a little wrinkle last year. We had a sitter for the boys over the summer and we did it the legal way. I paid her, gave her a pay stub, and withheld social security and medicare taxes to report the government.

Now, when we looked at this last year, it appeared all we would have to do is submit two forms to the IRS, a W-2 and W-3. Well, it appears it isn't that easy. You see, in order to submit a W-2, I need an employee ID number. In the "old" days, as a household employer, you could simply use your SSN. Nope. Now I have to go throught the hassles of getting the damn employer number. I don't have the "official" number yet so I can't file the W-2 or W-3 (which needed to be filed by Jan 31, oops). So now I'm hung up on all of this damn paperwork, because I paid the sitter about $700 over the limit which you have to report.

And to top it all off, while the sitter was GREAT with the kids last summer, it actually cost me MORE than if I'd placed them in day camp. Not to mention all the fun I'm having with the IRS. No wonder people would rather pay under the table. Forget the employee not having to pay taxes. It's not worth it to me as the "employer" to try and do things the right way. What a major pain in the ass this is! All things considered, I'm pretty sure that day camp is in the cards this summer.

God I hate IRS sometimes (ok, most of the time.)


Update on Developmental unit

The Wife brought Grasshopper to see his developmental pediatrician today. Basically we found out that Maverick's and Grasshopper's doctor will be going to work at one of the local hospitals. When I asked the Wife whether or not the boys would still be his patients, her response was "His priority will be his current patients. He will not take any of their patients until he has taken all of his existing patients who want to come over to 'hospital name'." The doctor did mention we had a really good pediatrician that is knowledgable in these issues. So we'll see what happens.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Greedy Ass Health Care

I had to type this rant at night and post in the morning at work because I have no DSL right now. I shall rant about that on a different day as it isn't the subject of this particular rant.

My subject today is HMOs and how much they can suck. Now, mind you, I work for an HMO, and happen to think our's is pretty decent, but I know a bit about the health care industry and it pisses me off at times when dollars become more important than people.

Case in point, Unity Health System (not the company I work for, BTW), is closing the Pediatric Development Unit they run here in Rochester. I can yell at them all I want because a) I don't work for them, and b) all of this has been in the paper so it's all public information. Plus this is my blog and I'll bitch about them if I want. Fuck them.

You see, Grasshopper and Maverick, both being diagnosed with developmental type disorders, see the specialists at this unit. It is through the Pediatric Developmental Unit that they were diagnosed with PDD NOS and ADHD (respectively). It is also though this unit they get prescribed their medication that keeps us from killng them (and also allows them to be in control enough to function and learn). I cannot say enough good things about the Pedicatric Developmental Unit. Their doctors and nurses are awesome and they have been instrumental in helping our kids.

So what's the problem, you ask? Unity Health, which owns and runs the Pediatric Developmental Unit is closing the unit. Why? They stated in their letter and press release that the unit is losing money and that it didn't fit into their core values/business (can't remember the exact quote and have no internet to get it). The bottom line is that the unit lost $250,000 last year. Unity Health posted a surplus (their not for profit) of $2.5 million. That's right people, the Pediatric Developmental Unit is losing chump change in the world of big business and the company still made money.

Did Unity Health try and address the issue and find ways to make the unit profitable? They stated HMOs weren't reimbursing as much as they used to. Did they ask parents if they could raise co-pays or were willing to make up the difference? Did they even warn anyone it was coming? None of the above. We first found out about it on the local news. Unity Health had mailed out letters to all the patients but I didn't check the mail that day.

Now we have no idea what we're supposed to do. Unity says that other pediatric units in town will have to absorb the patients. There are 1500 patients to absorb. Of the two other pediatric units in town, one has room for 300 and the other has room for ZERO. So tell me where the fuck these kids are going to be absorbed. There have been many letters to the editor in our local paper bitching about this. We have an appointment for Grasshopper to see his Pediatric specialist this week so maybe we'll find out.

What pisses me off the most is Unity's attidude. It's obvious to me that they don't give a shit about kids with developmental issues. Cause they cost too much to take care of and help. It's not "good business" for them. So what the fuck is good business for them? Healthy people that don't need to see the doctor? What are those parents who are less fortunate than us finanically and have children with even more severe issues than our boys? That's right, not Unity's problem. I've got some words for them but I would be a poor Christian if I used them. I'll just say they suck and I hope they go under. Bastards.


Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Auto Repair Blues

No, the above title is not the name of my lastest smash single, it is my current struggle with my vehicle. My inspection was up in January. So, of course, by the time I could get it to the shop it's the last Saturday of the month. The Check Engine light has been on and the car was stalling intermittently so I figure they can check it out at the same time.So I bring it in and get the "bad news" call from the mechanic. It turns out that the air pump is shot and a bushing is pushing through on the front end. The air pump problem was mostly likely the casue of the stalling issue, I'm also told. The car won't pass inspection unless these are fixed. The damage, a little over $700. So I sigh, and say go ahead.

Fast forward to the end of the day when I pick up the car. The mechanic tells me he can't pass the inpection, because the air pump problem caused the Check Engine light to come on and they won't pass it until it clears. They tried on of their driving the car around type tricks but it didn't work. He recommends I drive it 100 miles at highway speed to clear the computer chip out so it will pass. Well who's got time for that. So I take it to Advanced Auto and have them check the computer code and clear it manually.

Problem is, the check engine light came on again the next day, then mysteriously went out for 2 days. So I figure I'm good, right? Wrong. I take it to the shop to have them finish the inspection (on January 31, mind you) and I get told that there's THREE codes in the computer chip and they won't pass it unless they're cleared. It is again recommended that I drive the car 100 miles at highway speed.

So guess what happens the next day? That's right, the check engine light comes on AGAIN and now stays on. The car is stalling as bad as before and now stalling while I'm braking so I don't know it until I try to accelerate again and realize the car isn't going anywhere.

To top this all off, I looked back at my records and found out that the same shop replaced the same air pump last May. When I called the shop about it, they told me that due to a design flaw, it is very common for the air pump to fill up with water and short out, which is what happened in this case. When I mentioned that a mere 7 months was not a long life for this part, I was told it was warrenteed for only 90 days.

So the bottom line is I'm out over $700, the stalling problem still exists, I can't get the car inspected (which is now overdue) and it's probably going to cost me even more money to get the damn thing fixed. All of which makes this Rocker Guy a very cranky boy.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

So much to blog, so little time

There's so many things I'd like to blog about it's hard to choose. I simply talk about 2 things for now and get to the rest another day.

I must first thank Morgan for the following tidbit. While I did not listen to our Fearless Leader's State of the Union address, we all know it was just a feel good speech to lull us into a false sense of security and prosperity. The article I linked gives the real facts, especially on our economy. As I'm sure most of you know, the economy is decent for those of us with jobs, but barely. This report has many interesting facts, such as the majority of new jobs last year were in health care and service (wait staff, bartenders, etc). If not for the 1.4 million new health care jobs, there would have been a net loss of jobs last year. Manufacturing jobs are being lost at an alarming rate and more concerning still, last year was the first year we imported more Advanced Technology than we've exported. Also, for the first time since the Depression, Americans spent more that they earned, mostly to pay for thier debt. This model the Administration is giving us of spending more money than you make is ruining the country. And he wants to make tax cuts permanent so we can continue to spend more than we earn.

My other topic is music related. As you may recall, I had a somewhat bad music day on Sunday in that I realized my chops were not up to par. I was woefully out of shape as a guitarist. So I've been trying to practice about 30 minutes a night. I must say my chops are returning quickly. I watched the Queensryche Operation:LiveCrime DVD last night and it has inspired me. I'm working out some new scale combinations to try and stretch my playing. I need to work in some play around time to try and write some new material. My best stuff usually comes from just playing around with chords.

So that's all I got for now. Oh, almost forgot, BUY MY CD NOW!!!! Ok, now I'm done.