Sunday, April 30, 2006

What a Weekend

It's been a bit of a crazy weekend. The Wife had some surprises for me on my birthday. It started with a call from one of my co-workers wishing me a happy birthday. It appears the Wife splashed my face and age in the morning newspaper. I then got a call from the operator stating the Wife was in the lobby. She brought me balloons and cookies. And she made me put a Happy 40th Birthday poster on my office door.

I had lunch with a friend from my last job. It was nice catching up, however, we talked shop most of lunch. And when we left, she said we need to do it again and talk about the kids and music and stuff. I had to mention it would have been perfect conversation over the previous hour! I then had cake back at work. It was a shared cake, as one of the other guys in my department also had a birthday last week but was sick a few days, so we did one cake instead of two.

The evening was unexciting. Additionally, the Wife came down with a sinus infection on Thursday so has been pretty down for the count this weekend. She slept about half of Saturday and is finally starting to feel better today. I did go to my Mom's yesterday for dinner and more cake, and got to buy some clothes with the money she gave me. So all in all it's been a decent weekend. Today was the usual church thing. We did get outside with the boys today since it was about 70. Got to enjoy the good weather while you can.

This week is going to be crazy. The boys have baseball and soccer starting tomorrow. Plus now both boys will be in karate. AND, Grasshopper's first communion is Saturday. So the summer insanity now begins. Thankfully Sunday evening Mass is done for the season next Sunday so I may actually get a day of rest. But I'm not counting on it.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gas prices suck

I'm sure you're all aware of rising gas prices. It's a little on my brain right now as there's been plenty of reports in the news about it. I also was looking at our monthly budget in preperation for a financial review and saw what we're paying. Over $200 a month just for gas! Damn.

This review of gas prices the President is calling for is ridiculous. They looked at this last time and did nothing. Even his "offer" of putting less fuel in the strategic reserve is a joke because this has never significantly affected gas prices. They only reason Republicans are calling for hearings is to look like they're doing something during an election year. Oil companies are making record profits and prices are still going up! How much money is enough money.

When I was watching a report on the news about it last night and I had a great thought. You've probably all seen the email about everyone not buying gas for a day and costing oil companies tons of money. It doesn't really work cause if you don't buy it today you'll still need to fill your tank at some point. No, my thought was the real way to hit them hard is to sell your stock in the companies. When they're stock prices fall, their income will go WAY down. The funny thing was, the report I was watching alluded to the fact that high gas prices actually help consumers because 41% of retirement funds invest in oil stocks. Fat comfort now to know that these bloated companies might get you a better return on your retirement. Still, it cemented the fact this was the best way to hit their pocketbook. Either that or everyone should stop driving for a month.

I also saw a report that a group is praying for divine intervention to bring down gas prices. While I beleive in prayer for many things, I'm not sure what that might accomplish. Do we bring down the Wrath of God on the refineries? Won't that make gas prices go up more? Or do we pray that bad things happen to the people that run the companies? Is that really Christian? Maybe I should pray God gives me a big raise or that I strike the lottery so I can actually afford to drive.

Now, on to a compeltely unrelated note, I read Brittany Spears is "100% pregnant". So I have to ask, how are you like 75% pregnant? Can you be many 37% pregnant? And what if you're only 98% pregnant? Someone has to think about these questions. Cause if you're only 37% pregnant, how much of a kid will you have? And what if they're twins? Imagine having 18.5% of a kid. Do you end up with Mini-Me?

And finally on an even more unrelated note, tomorrow will be a milestone for me. You may or may not know that the Wife and I are the same age, though she is THREE AND A HALF months older than me. Meaning she turns all "milestone" ages before me. You know, like turning 40. For tomorrow is indeed my birthday. No need to make a huge deal out of it and lobby Congress to make it a national holiday. Simply mail me a check. You can email me for my address or simply use Paypal. I also accept "donations" of any musical equipment that would assist me in rocking out, guitars, amps, basses, drums, you name it. I intend to celebrate my birthday by spending the evening with the Wife pouring over our financial future with our advisor. Exciting, I know. But if I'm REALLY lucky, the Wife won't fall asleep in her chair and we can go to bed at the same time. Then I can fall asleep with a hand on her side so as not to make her throw the covers off due to all of my Italian Heat radiating off on her. Aren't we romantic?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

You can't win sometimes

For those that are unaware, Grasshopper has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, which is an autism spectrum disorder. Because of this, he qualifies for Medicare coverage, which entitles us to certain benefits. He also qualifies for other services through NYS DDSO (don't ask me what it stands for). This provides us with a service coordinator to help us get services for Grasshopper, respite hours (basically 250 hours of free babysitting a year), and reimbursement for expenses related to his needs, including karate (as therapy).

So today the Wife gets a call for our service coordinator (who is totally awesome BTW). It appears the DDSO was reviewing Grasshopper's paperwork and it turns our his IQ is too high to qualify for services! Yes, that's right, I've got a genius autistic son. The service coordinator is arranging for other testing to show that Grasshopper qualifies for services, but what a pain! He already qualifies for services through the school district (like a one to one aid) so it isn't like we're trying to scam anyone.

I realize that these organizations have their procedures, but what a hassle sometime. As the title says, sometimes you just can't win.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Stories from the road

This is the first of my posts about our trip to Detroit and the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village. I could talk about the wonderful time we had a both locations and all the cool things we saw, but I'm going to start with one of the horror stories. Sort of. It is the story of our experience at the hotel.

We stayed at the Best Western Greenfield Inn, better known as the Pink Palace. Because it's painted pink. Duh! Color of the hotel aside, it was actually a nice place to stay. Less than 2 miles from the museum, package deal that included tickets to the museum/village and breakfast, pool and HOT TUB! Very nice place to stay. Overall our stay was nice, but the first night we decided to use the pool, since we got to the hotel too soon for dinner.

The last hotel we stayed, we got the pool all to ourselves (or at least, the Wife and boys did, I was seeing Queen while the swam). We went in this time and another LARGE family was using the pool. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem. Cause you know, they post rules, like no horse playing, diving, throwing balls around, or being obnoxious and rude (ok, that wasn't explicitly stated in the rules, but is understood by polite people). These, of course, were all the rules this family was breaking.

The younger kids insisted on splashing anyone in the pool, something which Grasshopper, you know, being autistic and everything, really hates. And though he asked politely several times not to be spalshed, was ignored. Then there was the throwing of the football while someone tried to catch while jumping in the pool. Or the beach ball. Or best of all, the taking over of the seats.

There were about 20 lounge chairs around the pool and about 6 tables on one end. We placed our stuff on one table and two lounge chairs. We draped our stuff over one of the chairs at the table and the two lounge chairs. So, of course, with all the EMPTY tables around, doesn't someone sit in the chair with our stuff on it? And with 18 other empty lounge chairs, doesn't someone sit on one of the ones we put our stuff on? Is it so hard to go find your own damn chair when there are so many empty ones in the room?

The next time we went to use the pool (just the boys and I since the Wife was disgusted with it) there was a different family of about the same size there, but they were quite polite. No splashing (at least, none more than you would expect), games of Marco Polo, and generally sharing of the stuff there.

I will say the hot tub was totally awesome! After a day walking around Greenfield Village, falling into the hot tub was a little slice of heaven. All the tension and aches just MELTED away. Too bad you can't stay in there more than about 1o minutes. Unless you want hyperthermia. But that's just me.

The other cool thing about the hotel (other than it being pink and everything) was Mr. Mugley. Mr. Mugley was this statue thing in the lobby. The boys thought he was kind of creepy, but that didn't stop them from getting their picture taken with him and talking about it for hours. Here's the pic:

Isn't Mr. Mugley cool?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The decades fly by

Yesterday was Maverick's birthday. He has managed to survive his first decade on this Earth and has turned 10. It's hard to believe it's been 10 years. They go so quickly.

We celebrated with Maverick by taking him to a baseball game. The Rochester Red Wings beat the Norfolk Tides. Yeah! We had box seats provided by the Wife's employer so we were about six rows back from the field by the visitor dugout. Awesome seats. And at the end of the game there were fireworks. Awesome way to celebrate a birthday.

We also paid to have Maverick's name put up on the diamond vision screen during the seventh inning stretch. It was funny cause during the sixth inning he remarked that they never put the names of those with birthday's on the board any more. He was quite happy to see his name in lights.

The most amusing moment of the night was the call the Wife got on her cell phone. She didn't recognize the incoming number and the caller left a voice mail. When she checked it, a woman named Stacy was calling to remind Joe that she was breaking up with him and that he shouldn't call her any more. The best part is that the Wife's phone has a voice mail message to the effect "You have reached the Wife's cell phone. She is ignoring your call so leave a message and she might call you back" in my voice. It's a little more polite than that but pretty obvious it isn't Joe's phone. But Stacy left a message anyway, bless her heart. The three of us got much amusement out of it.

I'll be posting our adventures from the week over the next few days. We had good times on our trip and I think my car is finally fixed. Today we're having a kid party for Maverick at an indoor go cart track, so it should be wild. I'm sure I'll have more stories about it Monday. Enjoy your weekend everyone!

UPDATE: I've linked a new interesting political blog, Empires Fall. If you're anti-Bush, you'll like it. Lots of interesting stuff there. Go check it out. Obey!

Friday, April 21, 2006

We're back!

Alright everyone, we're back in town. I'm going to spend the next few days catching up with things at home. Today is Maverick's 10th birthday so we'll be taking him to a baseball game tonight. He's got a kids party tomorrow at an indoor go cart track so that should be fun. I'm also going to be catching up on everyone's blogs over the next few days. In the mean time, here's some additional pictures from our day at Greenfield Village. We took in as much as we could in one day. We really needed two days there to do it justice, but you take what you can get. Stories from vacation and birthdays will be forthcoming.

One quick note, Grasshopper was photographed by a reporter for the newspaper in the area we were staying. He managed to get his picture on the cover of the local section of said paper. Here's the picture. He's quite proud of himself now that he's famous. An he's inherited my modesty about the whole thing. When told he looks great in the picture, he replies, "I know."

Greenfield Village Pictures

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Henry Ford Museum

I've managed to upload our photos of our visit today to the Henry Ford Museum. I had a little scare when I couldn't copy the pictures from the data card to the laptop, but I managed to get them. No stories yet, but we've been having a good time. The boys are making us crazy, especially trying to get them to sleep, but we haven't killed them yet. Hopefully they'll survive the trip. Anyway, enjoy the pics!

Henry Ford Museum Pictures

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Out of the office

I've been negligent in my blog the last few days. Mostly because there hasn't been anything I've wanted to write. There's been a lot I've wanted to say, but just not here. However, I am now over my moody phase but must announce that I may not be around much in the next week. It being Triduum beginning today (for you non Christian types, that's Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) and Easter on Sunday, many family events will be going on. Then we're leaving for vacation on Monday for a few days in Dearborn to visit the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (think I got it right that time). Bottom line is I won't have much time for blogging. I will post pictures when I get back though and will check into some of my absolute fave blogs from time to time.

In other news, most of you know Queen appeared on AI Tuesday. And some of you know that I FUCKING MISSED IT! Yes, I properly programmed the VCR to tape it at the correct time. However, I neglected to change the time on the VCR to daylight savings time. So it started recording after the show ended. I could say I was incredibly pissed, but I was so annoyed at that moment about so many other things, I couldn't get any more aggrevated. The Wife was suprised I didn't go off the deep end.

However, I did watch it last night. I must say, I was not terribly impressed. I did get a chuckle out of the gray haired dude trying to kick over a mike stand and not being able to. Wimp. Of the three performances I saw, We Will Rock You sucked. Fat Bottomed Girls was an abortion. And Somebody to Love was almost passable, but had no passion whatsoever. They reminded me of the real reason I hate those kind of shows: pop singers cannot sing rock and roll. They always end up sounding like lounge singers.

Basically, if you're going to sing rock and roll, you can't over sing it. This isn't opera where you need a lot of vibrato in your voice. This isn't high school where you need to do vocal gymnastics to impress all the girls. Rock and roll is about putting FEELING into the songs, whether that feeling is anger, sadness, passion, loss, whatever. It's not about putting lots of notes within a measure. Freddie excelled at this. He knew when to hold back, and when to let out all the stops. What most musicians never learn is how to do what the song needs. If a song only needs a few notes for a solo, only put those few notes in, not cram it full of blistering leads. If a song needs a quiet, understated vocal, then you do that, even if you have a 4 octave range.

Call me a musical snob if you like (I certainly feel that way sometimes) but self indulgence when it comes to music makes me crazy. The best musicians know when go crazy and when to stand back. These AI punks don't have a clue.

I'll get off my high horse now.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Great editorial

This editorial from the New York Times is probably the best thing I've read recently about Christianity and politics. It voices many of my opinions on the matter, especially concerning prayer and making a show of your faith in public. Thanks to Miss ESC for posting the link. Hope she doesn't mind that I stole it.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Palm Sunday

As many of you know, today is Palm Sunday. I'm not sure how it is for other Christian families, but in my family, it's a pretty big day. Almost on par with Easter, but not quite.

Our day started fine, actually. Grasshopper didn't complain at all about going to Church, a first in quite a long time. We opted to do the children's liturgy today, mostly to get out of standing up for a LONG time for today's readings. I think we should have stood instead. The last time we did children's liturgy, the kids were attentive and well behaved. Today, the boys (mostly) did not want to listen and were disruptive. The Wife was ready to kill them. The girls were a little giggly, but at least they quieted down when you asked them. The rest of Mass went very well after that.

We had dinner at my Mom's house. As per tradition in my family, we made sure to bring palms to exchange. The Wife doesn't really understand it, as there's no liturgical reason for it. It's an Italian thing. We had the usual HUGE dinner, with homemade green lasagne and prime rib. One of my nephews had a soccer game or something and didn't make it, which resulted in a little less insanity with the kids. Unfortunately, my anti-christ nephew was there and annoyed Grasshopper to no end.

The nicest thing about today was that since I went to my parents, I did not play at the 5 pm Mass as I normally do. That meant that I actually got to relax on a Sunday. We came home around 5 pm and I even got to get a short nap in. I can't remember the last time I got a nap. It was heavenly.

As a final thing, I mentioned on E-Lo's site that I have a killer Fettuccine Alfredo recipe. So I shall post it here for all of you that are fans of good creamy sauces. The reason I love this recipe is that you can prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking so it's quick and easy. Enjoy!

Fettuccine Alfredo

3/4 pound uncooked fettuccine
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
large pinch ground white pepper (black will also do)
large pinch ground nutmeg (secret ingredient)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Cook fettuccine in large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente, 6 to 8 minutes or as desired. Drain well and return to dry pot.

2. While fettuccine is cooking, place butter and cream in 10 inch skillet over medium low heat. Cook, stirring constatnly, until blended and mixture bubbles for 2 mintues. Stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in Parmesan cheese until thoroughly blended and fairly smooth. Return skillet briefly to heat if necessary to completely blend cheese, but don't let sauce bubble or cheese will become lumpy and tough.

3. Pour sauce over fettuccine in pot. Place over low heat. Stirand toss with 2 forks until sauce is slightly thickened and fettuccine evenly coated, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me - updated!

I've got my birthday coming up this month. I've been thinking what I'd like to buy myself as a gift. Now, being that it's a "milestone" birthday, I'd love to get this and this. However, I can't in good conscience spend over $7500 for my birthday present to me (plus, I'm sure the Wife would break them over my head).


(looks around)

shhh..... come over here....closer.....closer.......ok, is the Wife around? No....ok, listen close..


I may be able to get my hand on this:

Now, you may ask yourself, just what is the difference between this guitar and my Baby (Yamaha SBG20000). One the surface, they may look the same. However, a close examination reveals striking differences. First, the 1300TS is all black, not black with white binding. Also, and more importantly, the 1300TS has a double locking tremelo system.

I'm sure by now you're thinking to yourself, "what the hell is that?". Well, in layman's terms, it's a whammy bar that stays in tune no matter how much you use it. My NEON PINK Ibanez has one. The advantage of this guitar is that it's got the power, shape, and setup like my Baby, and the tremelo system of my Pink Gal so I get the best of both worlds.

As you can see, this guitar is TOTALLY different than any of my others. Plus, they're getting hard to find. So if the price is right, who knows, perhaps I'll add a cool axe to my collection. Or perhaps the Wife will make me sleep outside. I'm not sure which way it would fall out.

Update: Thanks to Miss ESC, I've linked pictures to my current guitars above. Did I mention my pink guitar before? The shockingly pink one? The one the Wife first looked at and went "What the hell is that thing?" She still shakes her head when I play it. But the chicks dig it.

Request from Jay


As a favor to my blogger pal Jay, she has requested some assistance with a "condition" her husband encounters in cold weather. You can get full details on her blog. I sympathize with him, being a man and all, but I must admit I don't encounter that problem often. Of course, I keep my home at a normal temperature.

So good luck to Jay in curing her husband's "ailment".

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Just waiting - Updated!

This morning I'm sitting waiting in the dentist's office. Maverick is having 4 baby teeth removed. They're in the way of his permanent teeth coming in. It's nice having a laptop in that I can catch up on some work stuff while not in the office, but you can only do so much. I'm pretty much caught up on whatever I can do and now I get to just wait until he's done.

Maverick was a little anxious about the extractions since he doesn't want his mouth to hurt, but he's being a trooper. Unfortunately, he'll probably need a lot of dentistry in the coming years. He's already had the top jaw widened and has braces on the front two teeth to close them up. Hopefully we knock most of this out of the way in the next year or so and he can have an eaiser time of it in high school.

I'll be staying home until about lunch today then the Wife comes home to take the second shift, as it were. There's no way I'd let him go back to school after something like this. Besides, they're giving him the nitrous gas and I'm sure it will take the rest of the day for it to wear off.

I'll post an update on how he's doing after we get home.

Update: I got Maverick home a little while ago. He's a bit groggy and is mellowing out in front of the TV right now. The novacaine has not yet worn off. He says he feels fine. The procedure only took about half an hour, as the top two teeth basically had no roots. We did get all 4 teeth, perhaps I'll take a picture and morbidly post it for all of you. Aren't I sweet?

All in all the extractions went well and Maverick is feeling as well as can be expected. He's a tough kid.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Appliance Heaven

We got the new front loading washer and dryer hooked up yesterday. My brother came by with a helper and got them in our laundry room and I got them hooked up. The Wife LOVES them. She's ignored all other chores today to do laundry.

And in a totally need to be blogged moment, after everything was hooked up, the Wife got the first load going. And SHE SAT AND WATCHED THE MACHINE WASH THE CLOTHES. Not only that, she called the boys over. I should have gotten a picture. Imagine a 39-again year old woman and two boys sitting on the floor of the laundry room, fighting with each other to be able to look in the door of the washing machine to watch the clothes tumble in one direction, then the other. It was classic!

On a completely seperate note, since Grasshopper is making his first communion this year, it was suggested we make different kinds of bread to commemorate Jesus giving of Himself. So today we made soft pretzels! And they are totally yummy! I added some wheat flour to them and they are just awesome! Grasshopper helped mix it, knead the dough, and roll out the dough and shape into pretzels. A great time and a yummy treat.

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend!