Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It's a little bit funny....

I had a strange after-effect of my last post. I had to be in the correct mood to write it, as it dredged up some unpleasant memories. However, after writing it, I've been oddly peaceful the last two days. It's as if putting that stuff down in words released a lot of the emotions tied to the memories. Case in point: shortly after finishing the post, Grasshopper called out for something from bed (as he usually does 2-3 times a night). Most nights I get very annoyed as he's impinging on "my" time. However, that night, I just asked him what he wanted and reminded him that this was my "rest" time so he needed to go to sleep. He accepted that explanation and settled down. Now in the last two days, I haven't yelled at the kids and am taking things more in stride.

Mind you, I've still been disciplining the kids for the same things. I just don't yell about it. I state the rules, the consequences for breaking them, and then enforce the consequence if necessary. And I don't listen to the kids when the bitch. It's been kind of liberating. So I shall continue to try this approach. I've been quite relaxed the last couple of days and it's been nice.

In a totally unrelated issue, the Wife has decided to become a Longaberger consultant to earn some extra income for things like karate lessons. So if you're into great looking baskets made by hand in the U S of A, then email me. I'll give you the Wife's new business email address and please order through her. There's a big sale for September so she can get you some deals.

Also, today Maverick earned his yellow belt! He's quite pleased with himself, as he should be. He's been working hard and is really taking to it. He likes it a lot.

Lastly, I'm sure some of you recognize the song line the title of the post comes from. What you don't know is that Funny was my nickname for a while as a kid. One of the people I hung out with always thought of me when he heard that line, so he would sing it whenever he saw me. Not really sure why it struck him that way, but given my eventual desire to be different, it was probably an appropriate nickname.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Troubled Years

I know many of you have been waiting for this post. I've been hesitant to write it, as unlike my other posts, this one dwells on the negative. A bit of background before I get to the meat of the post.

After I left the Navy, we returned home to Rochester. We moved in with my parents temporarily until we got settled again. It took me about 6 months to find a job and a little less time for the Wife to find one. As pay rates are better here than in Virginia Beach, the Wife got a job at around her old pay, perhaps a little more. I, on the other hand, had to take a job at about 65% of my former salary. However, we found a house within our new income range, a modest ranch. Our combined income was enough to maintain our new standard of living.

Along came Maverick. We had to put him in daycare since we couldn't make it on one income (a common problem for couples). Shortly after Maverick was born, I accepted a new job at significantly more pay. Then along came Grasshopper. Again, we couldn't afford to live on one income, so 2 kids in full time daycare. Cost: $13,000 per year. Yes, you read that right.

We looked at our finances and discovered we had two choices: 1: the Wife could quit her job, saving us daycare costs, which would result in us going into debt VERY quickly. 2. She could keep her job and we'd go into debt slowly. So we really had no choice but to choose option 2. For the first time in our marriage, we carried credit card debt. That was only getting bigger as time went on.

Then, around 1999, I got laid off from my job. Talk about tough times. I decided to change careers (again) and get into IT. I finally found a job, but again, at a lower pay than my previous job in management. I also forgot to mention that the Wife had lost her job back in 1998 and found out she was pregnant with Grasshopper a few weeks later. Luckily, she found a job within a few months.

So you can see the financial background we were dealing with. Top that off with the stress of having small kids. Maverick screamed his head off the first six months of his life with gas bubbles in his tummy until we switched his formula to soy and the problem went away. Overnight. Even though our pediatrician advised us not to switch. But that's another story. Then by the time he was two he would have tantrums that would leave him on the ground screaming his head off for 30 to 45 mintues. For things like not getting the tape in the VCR fast enough. Let's not even talk about the potty training issues with Grasshopper.

So how did this affect our relationship? It was probably the closest to divorce we ever came. There were many times each of us was ready to throw the other out of the house. Any little thing would get us mad at each other, especially when it came to dealing with the kids. One of us would get all mad, which would make the other mad, and on the cycle went. And the screaming that went on!

But we never screamed at each other. You see, we seldom fight. That is, fight in the screaming at each other, wake up the neighbors, throwing things across the room at each other kind of fighting. No, when we get mad at each other, we bascially glare at each other and don't talk to each other for hours to days. Oh, yeah, we could nurse a grudge that long. So who did we take all the anger and frustration out on? You guessed it, the kids. Any little thing could turn into a huge blow out. It could get really ugly.

Now, just so you don't think that our entire household was nothing but anger and misery, there were plenty of wonderful times too. Birthday parties for the boys. We had a wonderful 80th birthday party for the Wife's dad and had her whole family at my place. Christmases were always great. We'd wake up late, open presents, then go to church. We spend Christmas Eve with my family so Christmas Day is always relaxing.

So what turned it all around you ask? I hate to say it, but it was the death of the Wife's dad. Her mom had died the same year she got pregnant with Grasshopper. Her dad died a few year later. We found out that he had quite a bit of money squirreled away. The resulting inheritance was enough to get us out of debt and buy a new house. There's more to it in the details than that, but that was basically it. By the time he passed away, I was working for my current employer and we were doing well from an income perspective. By paying off all of our debt, we were sitting fairly pretty. You have no idea how much stress goes away when you can actually pay your bills.

Since that time, we've still had our fights, and live is not 1oo% peaceful, but overall it's good. In the last few years, our relationship has reached a new sort of level. I think we're gettting to that stage in a marriage where we're more comfortable with each other. We're so busy with the kids, that we don't have too much time for each other, but we just enjoy hanging out, so to speak. At least, I find it comforting just to be around her.

I'll have to post some individual stories for you guys as I think of them, probably from various points in time. I'll finish by saying what I've always said. Through ups and downs, good times and bad, no matter how pissed off I've ever been with the Wife, I'm still crazy about her. Like, madly in love, feel like I'm still 16 when I hold her kind of crazy in love. And that's what keeps me going.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Not what Aimee was looking for

I had fully intended to write the next chapter in the ongoing "Wife" saga, catching everyone up to the present. But now I don't feel like it.

All was going well today until Grasshopper and I butted heads. I had asked him to do something, and he "forgot" because he was watching TV. When he gave me this excuse, I began to say something to him, and before I got two words out, he launched into a series of excuses without even stopping. That's when I lost it.

He has a bad habit of interrupting people and then he won't shut up until he's said whatever it is he has to say. He'll keep interjecting with "But I only wanted to say....". He needs to learn the art of listening and that he doesn't get to say whatever pops into his head the second he thinks it.

I know that he's seven. I know that he's autistic. But that doesn't make it any less annoying or any less an unacceptable behavior. So basically I ain't in the mood to write. And this will be a LONG post.

PLUS, since I had to leave work early to take Grasshopper to the dentist (only on cavity in a tooth about to fall out), I had to put in some time logged into work from home to make up some hours. So I've spent too much time on the computer today and don't want no more. You guys are lucky I'm even posting this.

So I'm off to grab my book and loose myself in the wonderful world of Sci Fi. I promise to write the next chapter in the saga very soon. So unlike Mr. Grasshopper, you must be patient.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Wife - The Navy Years

Right after we graduated college, I got commissioned, and we got married, I began my career as a Naval Officer. I already knew I was going to go to Nuclear Power School, so I managed to scam a late class and got stashed (that is, given a temporary duty assignment) at Naval Reactors in Washington, DC. You want a cool way to start out a marriage? Imagine having no school loans to pay, on your own with the love of your life in the big city, AND making enough money to pay the bills while living decent. That was us. You know you're jealous.

The first two years of our marriage we moved every 6 months. First to DC, then to Orlando, FL for Nuke School, then to Saratoga Springs, NY for Nuke prototype (learning to operate an actual nuclear power plant), THEN to Newport, RI before finally getting to my permanent duty station in Virginia Beach. If you think that's a lot of moving, it is. Luckily the Navy paid for professional movers to pack and unpack us. We got so good we would beat the truck to our next destination by a day, find a place to live and have a lease (with the exception of VA Beach where we bought a house) and tell the movers where to go so it was a door to door move. We would be totally unpacked and settled in the new place within a week. As I said, we were pros.

But I don't want to dwell on the actual Navy stuff, though there are many stories I could tell. I want to focus on the Wife. Let me tell you, she was a real trooper and changed a lot in those first few years. In high school, she was the introverted type. In college, she started to come out of her shell. In the Navy, she broke the thing open and stomped on the bits.

First there was all the moving. She got a new job in just about every location we lived, with the exception of Saratoga Springs. The area was just too small. She found a temp assignment in Glens Falls, but that was a bit too far. Actually, Saratoga was hard on her in a few ways, but more on that in a minute. This woman managed to get herself from our apartment in Alexandria to the US Tax Court where she worked on a weekend by car, when she had only ever been there by bus and subway. THEN, she managed to find her way home, not realizing when she set out that you can't just backtrack the way you came in. Granted, she got a little lost and had to double back, but she made it without a map and without a cell phone to call home. All in all it was a idillic time as we worked all week then spent all weekend seeing the sights. We even got to spend our first Christmas Mass together at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (a totally cool church, google thier website) for Midnight Mass.

In Orlando, she bonded with some of the other wives and kept me sane during long hours studying. I had to study at the base because all the materials were confidential. So I'd put in something like 9 hours for class, a few hours before and after class on weekdays studying (usually an hour before and 3 hours after). I'd put in 6 hours Saturday and 8 hours Sunday. It was the equivalent of getting a Masters Degree in Nuclear Engineering in 6 months. Plus she worked! She did a good job taking care of me.

As I said, Saratoga was a little tougher on her. We became very close with a lot of the guys in my class. Including some Navy football players. We had them over for dinner one night and man could they eat! But when I started prototype, it was 12 hour shift work. 12 hour days, with 7 days days, one day off, 7 days nights, 2 days off, then 7 days overnights, 4 days off. Can you say never home? The only time we ever did anything was on the 4 day break. Usually horseback riding lessons or walking around town. Most days I worked there wasn't any time to do anyting. So she was a bit lonely. Luckily it didn't last too long.

Newport was another blast. School was cake. The officer's club was right on the ocean. Several times we had to drive my buddies cars back to their place cause we were the only sober ones. We spent our 2nd anniversary by doing a dinner train thingy. It was a 5 course mean on a train ride up and down the coast. We sat with a couple that had traveled to places like Egypt. It was the coolest dinner date ever. We had some drama during that time too but nothing worth writing about. Still, those first two years were the best. Good pay, no responsibilities but learn, and I was home.

I reported to the USS Bainbridge in September of 1991 and deployed to the Gulf one month later. Welcome to the real Navy! The Wife got a cat the first week we were living there. We went to the Animal Shelter "just to look" and walked away with a cat. And that cat has been her pal (at least as much as a cat can be while trying to kill you) ever since. I've got pictures of the Wife lying on the couch in a fetal position with her feet under her (she said it's comfortable) with the cat asleep on her back. That was the time she grew a lot. Since I was gone for six months, she learned to do a lot of things on her own. Like change the oil on the car, reset breakers (hey, my guy Navy buddy didn't know how to do it!), mow the lawn, you name it. Total solo.

We didn't have kids during this period, mostly because we didn't want to have any right away. By year 3 of my naval career, I knew I was getting out and we didn't want to move with an infant or toddler so we waited until I got out. The other thing I remember most about that time in VA Beach was running off for the weekend. We always loved DC. So I would come home on a Friday and say, "Let's go to DC for the weekend!" We'd pack an overnight bag, leave some extra food and water for the cat, and off we went! No longer!

There are many good memories from those days. Mostly the fun of being together without any one to look after but each other. We both grew up a lot in those 5 years and were very happy. Then I got out, we came home and started over. And that's when things got rocky.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tank refilled

A couple of quick things to mention:

1. The Wife was sitting in the chair in front of the computer today in her work skirt and her legs crossed. The skirt had a slit that went up to her knee and she was showing off some leg and calf. Holy shit what a hotty! I wanted to jump her bones right there but the boys were in the next room. I'm still amazed that I'm married to such a babilicious sex kitten. Rowr!

2. Our cat is about 15 years old. Today when the Wife got home with the boys, Grasshopper announced "Mom, there's a dead baby mouse in the house!" She wasn't sure she head him right so she asked him to repeat it and he said the same thing. Sure enough, there was a dead mouse on the hardwood floor. We have no idea how it got in the house but we can only surmise that our cat caught it and left it there. It seems the old girl still has some skills even at that advanced age. After the Wife got home, the cat sat by the front door meowing to go out (which we never let her). We're pretty sure she wanted to go hunt some more.

3. Faith on Fire had a practice tonight to get ready for our gig tomorrow. You know how I've been feeling about the group lately. Our drummer later used an analogy that summed it up for me. He said people have "faith tanks". Sometimes your faith tank gets low and needs to be refilled to keep you going a few more miles. Well, playing music with those guys refilled my faith tank. They really wanted to do one of my new songs and we started playing around with the arrangement, colaborating like a real group! It was very refreshing and recharged my spirit. Serra told me to just ask God and he would give me the answer. Looks like I got the reply pretty quickly.

I'm off now to fill out paperwork to sign the boys up for morning day care during the school year. I really hate filling out paperwork.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Not feeling the love

I don't normally talk about work. But I was a little frustrated yesterday and feeling very disrespected. We recently merged with another company and have been discussing integrating our IT structures. In many ways, our company is ahead of the one we merged with, both in the operating system we're running on the desktop and the security features we've enabled. For our servers, we're also very far ahead of them in security and configuration. To be fair to them, they are ahead of us in other areas, such as some of the newer applications they're running that would work better for us.

Yesterday, there was a big meeting off site for all IT managers to discuss our new corporate culture, get to know each other, and try to brainstorm ideas to move the organization forward. The titles we give our "managers" are different than those our sister company uses. My counterpart is a "manager". I and my server counterpart at our company are "supervisors". Well, you need to be a "manager" to go to this. So guess who was not invited? That's right, the two of us. Our counterparts are there and we are not. Because we're "supervisors" and over there "supervisors" don't actually have any supervisory responsibility. Normally I don't get hung up on titles, but I was pissed about this. I was really annoyed most of the day.

However, one of my peers in another area (outside of IT, who probably in the org chart is higher up on the food chain than me), made me feel a hell of a lot better. I did some minor things to help her and her team out. You should have seen the praise she was heaping on me. I usually just let it roll off me, as it's just me doing my job, but it was nice to be appreciated.

I thought about it today as I had to see this person again on some othe issues and she told me how happy she was that I was involved. My normal mode of operation is to take care of the correct people in the organization. I know which teams are critical to the business, and as long as you treat me with respect, then I'll do everything I can to hook you up. As I always say, it's about reciprocity. Not that I expect favors for just doing my job well, but it is nice for the people you go out of your way for to acknowledge it and say thanks.

I think I and my team earned a good reputation at my company with the people we support. Our feedback is very positive and our users are very understanding when we can't resolve thier issues right away. I'm thinking that this is the best way for me to get ahead in the company. Cause I'm pretty confident that the right people consider my a "go to" guy to get things done. And when conversations start happening between the two companies and people start making comparisons of the level of service they get, people will know the kind of work I do. Cause one thing I will not do is kiss anyone's ass or go on about myself in front of my boss or the CIO. I don't play that game.

HOWEVER, I am thinking of going to our HR department to point out that this disparity in titles between the two organizations may be causeing some friction or at least confusion. You know, confidentially. And being that I've hooked up the HR department many times in the past and have a excellent working relationship with the particular manager I'd need to speak to, I think they'll at least listen and take my suggestion seriously.

And THAT'S one of the reasons you always take care of the HR staff. Cause you never know when you might need a favor.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Good News/Bad News

Whether the news is good or bad depends on how you "voted" in my survey about replacing my "homosexually pink" guitar. I spent last week going to local guitar stores, and I played dozens of guitars. I played flying V's, I played all kinds of strat style guitars, I played a Hamer guitar, I played a Gretsch Chet Atkins style guitar (think Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats). I played actual strats. I even played an Epiphone SG.

My conclusion: None of them sounded any good. The Gretsch was interesting, but not $1500 interesting. The Hamer was not too bad, but not good enough. Plus it was made in China and I couldn't bring myself to buy a Chinese made guitar. I then came home and plugged in my Ibanez (the Pink Monster) and my Yamaha (The Black Beauty) and I finally figured it out. All the guitars I played sounded just as good as the Ibanez. What I've been really looking for is another Yamaha SG. And I haven't found another guitar like it because I haven't been looking for one. Of course, you can't buy them new anymore since Yamaha doesn't make them. So if I want another one, I'll have to look on Ebay. Which I'm not sure I want to do. I hate to spend $1000 on a guitar on the internet only to find I don't like it after I get it. And that's about what I'd have to spend.

So the verdict is I'm keeping the Ibanez. I'm going to try to tweak it a little bit to make it sound more to my liking, which will be cheaper than getting another one. Not to mention I enjoy playing it and love that it's flashy and loud (in every sense of the word).

In other music related goings on, I'm still having a great sense of musical frustration. I think I'm starting to figure out where it's coming from. In other bands I've been in, all the members of the band are equals and all collaborate on the musical direction and in creating the music. I don't get that from this group. It doesn't really feel like a band. Sure, we play together, but I don't see some commitment from all the members. For example, I emailed the group last week to find a day to rehearse for a gig on this Friday. I got NO RESPONSE. Not a one of them said anything as to what day would be good, nothing. Also, I don't see a commitment to learn new music, unless you put the sheet music in front of them and say "Let's do this". Granted, two of the other musicians are teenagers, but is it so hard to take a song I send in an MP3 and learn it?

Perhaps part of it is that some of the musicians are teenagers. They've got their own thing and finding time for the group is tough. Which I get. But the other thing is that we're not doing some of the music I want to do. I've got a heavy side to me that needs to be massaged. I grew up with Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, Metallica, Anthrax, all of the real heavy Heavy Metal bands. We don't do anything like that. And we can if we want. But the few songs I tried to introduce to the group basically fell on deaf ears. So there is my frustration. And it appears everyone is expecting me to carry the load. I have to schedule the practices, create the set lists, bring new music to the group. This wasn't supposed to be my band. And if it was, we'd be doing my music.

So where does that leave me? I'm not sure. I'm just going with the flow right now. It would be nice to get together with a bunch of adult musicians and form a real band, just a cool 4 piece that can totally rock for the Lord. But is that what I want or what the Spirit is moving me to do? We shall see.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Wife - The Wedding and Honeymoon

Before I get into the next part of the saga, thank to everyone for their input on the guitar. I went to Guitar Center tonight and played a bunch of guitars, including the V. I was underwhelmed. I played the V for about a minute before deciding I hated the tone. I found a Schecter that was not bad, but I think I'll wait. I have 3 guitars that the first time I played each of them, I HAD to own them. They were perfect. I've been settling all these years for a backup guitar. I will settle no longer. I will look until I find another perfect guitar, and then sell the "Pink Lad".

Now, on with the story. When last we left off, The Fiance and I were planning our wedding. Once she had the ring, we waited until spring and booked the reception hall. This was over 18 months in advance. Sound too early? We didn't get our preferred date of June 10, 1989. That Saturday and every other Saturday in June were booked already, except for June 3, 1989. So, since we really wanted that party house, we booked the 3rd. And you thought booking a hall that far in advance was nuts. Hah! Silly people.

We then took a break and went on with our lives for about 8 months. After all, with the hall booked, the only other thing to worry about at an early stage was the band. Because we were having a live band. I was willing to compromise or cave on many things. But we WERE NOT having a DJ. It goes against the Rocker Guy Code of Ethics. Luckily, The Fiance agreed with me. We went to hear a band recommended by our caterer and they were fabulous. They had a bunch of old people dancing at a St. Patty's day dance so we figured they'd be good for our crowd as well. AND they were free on our wedding date. In an amusing side note, they asked how we were referred to them. We told them the caterer recommended them and they replied, "Oh, so The Nazi's doing you wedding." Apparently our caterer had a reputation for making sure everything went just so and exactly on time. We didn't have a problem with that.

So, fast forward to early winter and we picked out invitations. I let The Fiance do most of the picking and provide final selectons for approval. We both agreed on a cute invitation with bears kissing when you closed it. I know, how very cute. But hey, we were young and in love (as opposed to now being old and in love). We also picked out a cool Precious Moments figurine of a bride and groom to top the cake. It ended up being too heavy to top the cake so we displayed it NEXT to the cake. We had a few other details to deal with, like who to invite, responses, who sits where, etc. But all in all it wasn't that stressful. Shortly after getting Officially Engaged, the Fiance found a wonderful off the rack dress at a wedding show that cost all of $138. Yes, you read that correctly. And she looked FABULOUS in it.

So, all preparations are made. It's coming up on the wedding. So what's our schedule look like just before the wedding? Well, many of you know I'm ex-Navy. I joined the Navy because they were kind enough to pay for college. So I owed them some time. Now, remember, we're getting married on June 3, right? So TWO Saturdays before that, we both graduated from college. We're now free and clear for a week before the next event. So we chill for a week. The NEXT Saturday, I was commisioned as an officer in the United States Navy. So then I have to "work" for a week, meaning I show up at the ROTC unit every day and hang out till noon then go home. Then the NEXT Saturday I get married. Pretty exciting couple of weekends, don't you think?

The wedding went off without a hitch. Well, almost without a hitch. My buddy Scott was one of my groomsman and his jacket was too big. We had to wait until after the wedding ceremony to get him one that fit better. That was about it. And he was so upset that he'd ruined our wedding. Too damn funny. The ceremony (a Mass) seemed to go really quick. We chit chatted through the entire thing. Then off to the photographer's place for pictures. The Wife's mom paid for the best guy in town to do our pictures under the theory that you only get married once and you get one shot to get the pictures right. And right she was. They came out BEAUTIFUL. During pictures my brother and the Matron of Honor ran off to get milkshakes. AND DIDN'T BRING US ONE! That's my bro for ya. After that it was off to the reception.

The reception was a blast. The food was great. The band rocked. I danced the whole night to every song. And I don't dance. We were so busy dancing and talking to friends, we got just a bit of our wedding cake (no I didn't smoosh it in her face). And we had this HUGE cookie tray of which we got NONE! Too busy having fun to eat. All in all it was the best reception I'd ever been to (before or since), which is as it should be. We wanted to cut out before the band finished but we were having so much fun we were practically the last to leave! I think about a dozen people were left and we only left cause the band was done playing. Ah, that's what a wedding should be. Many fond memories, like my buddy Scott doing the chicken dance even though he had a hernia. The looke on the Wife's nephew's face as he was vailiantly trying to stay awake (he was like 7 or something). The rearranging of table seating so the "Italians" could sit together and talk Italian with my grandmother. All kinds of stuff like that.

For our honeymoon, we decided to bed and breakfast in Massechusetts. Our first stop was Sturbridge, where we planned to stay about 3 days and explore Old Sturbridge Village. I recall the place we stayed was very nice. Breakfast was AWESOME. I had the hugest Belgian waffles I'd ever seen. We had a nice room with a 4 post bed. And the Village was very cool. But we had two problems. The first problem was that rain was forcast for the whole week. So our original plan of doing a lot of wandering by foot was out. We did the Village and visited a couple of shops, but that was it. And we hadn't anticipated what to do with no TV in the room. After all, it was a Bed and Breakfast and supposed to be rustic. I'm sure you saying to yourself that a newly married couple can find lots of ways to amuse themselves in a room by themselves. Wait, did I mention her period was that week?

After Sturbridge, we went up to Marblehead, which is near Salem and spent another 3 days there. Our bed and breakfast overlooked the water. There was a sitting area with rocking chairs that had a fantastic view of the ocean. The first night we found a nice little hole in the wall seafood resteraunt that was just amazing. They had scrod on the menu, which neither of us had heard of before then. We both gave it a try and it was delicious. We wandered around through Salem and did what walking we could when it didn't rain. We also took a day trip to Boston, walked the Freedom Trail and toured the USS Constitution. I must say it was a lot of fun walking in Boston. And, of course, we managed to find a great Italian resteraunt to eat lunch.

Our last week was spent on the cape. I believe the name of the town was Yarmouth Port. From there we went to Provincetown (a little early in the season to see all of the "interesting" people that flock there in the summer) and went whale watching. The Wife got a little seasick when they cut the engines and we were floating on the open ocean. We saw lots of whales and they jumped out of the water and slapped it with their fins and all the other whale tricks you expect to see. The whales came so close to the boat that you could almost reach over the stern and touch them. Coming back, we had the seas at our stern so the Wife felt all better by the time we got back to port.

Our other major sight-seeing trip from there was Martha's Vineyard. By then the weather had cleared and it was nice sunshine (including for our day at Provincetown). It was a blast driving around the Vineyard. We saw the cemetary where John Belushi is buried. We went by Jackie O's place (but didn't see her, damn). We saw two people on mopeds almost crash into the tour bus. All in all a fun day.

We had originally planned two weeks for our honeymoon, but by the middle of the second week we'd done everything we'd wanted to do and were getting bored so we came home a few days early. It was a nice time as it was for both of us the first time we'd gone on a trip together (not counting the 3 days we went to DC alone before the wedding to find a place to live, but that's another sordid story). It was so nice to finally be together in every sense of the word. Ah, young couple in love, that was us.

In my next installment, I'll give you the Navy Years. It was an interesting time for both of us as we did much travelling. I will leave you with a couple of quick pictures. You all better appreciate them because you have no idea how long it took me to get my scanner to work so I could get two lousy JPEG images to post for you! The things I do for you! First, the Girlfriend and I at our Junior Prom, circa 1982:

Now fast forward a little over 7 years to June 3, 1989:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Need an opinion

Ok everyone, I'm looking for some opinions here. I've got the "itch". When my dad had the "itch" he'd come home with a new car. I am not so insane. However, when I get the "itch", I tend to come home with a new guitar. Now, in order not to have that new instrument broken over my head, I cannot bring one home without giving up another one. I'm (somewhat) tempted to sell my pink Ibanez (pictured on the left). It's a good guitar, but it's not quite perfect, like my Yamaha is perfect. I really like the color and the locking tremelo, but it still doesn't quite have the sound I'm looking for.

So, the question becomes, should I sell it and get this:

So what do you guys think? I'd have to play one first to make sure I like it, but I've played Flying V's in the past and am amenable. I already know what the Wife thinks. She'd just be happy to get rid of "that homosexual guitar".

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Rocking for the Rock

Faith on Fire played it's first real gig on Friday. We played at our church Country Fair, which is one of the major fundraising events of the year. We have food and games and a big raffle and it's a pretty good time. We got to play for about an hour over by the beer sales. Great place to position yourself if you're a band.

We did about an hour set. Overall it went well, though we made a few minor mistakes. As they say, it's only rock and roll. The crowd seemed to enjoy the show. I was very sweaty by the end of the hour, so it was a good show for me. And I didn't even break a string.

The rest of the weekend has been pretty mellow. We got all of our "weekend" errands done yesterday, grocery shopping, yardwork, etc. I got a few outdoor projects complete that I've been sitting on for a while. Today, we decided to go to a place called Ridge Road Station. They primarily sell model trains, including the big scale ones. However, the also sell other toys and have a year round Christmas shop. The boys enjoyed looking at trains and Legos. The Wife walked out with a few Christmas ornaments. Worse, she got the two sided poster/catalog of all the glass ornaments that company puts out. Sounds like it could be dangerous for my pocket book.

The other major thing this weekend was buying the Wife a new chair. We redecorated the family room about a year ago and got a nice brown leather couch. The chair we have is an old rocker/recliner that is green cloth. Doesn't really go. So we found a nice cream colored one in leather that does go. And most importantly, the Wife likes it. She's very particular about her chair and it has to fit just right. We've passed up many a comfy looking chair because she sat in it and went "hummf", the sound she makes when she's obviously underwhelmed. We pick it up on Wednesday.

Hopefully sometime this week I'll post another installment of the Wife Saga. We'll see how tired I am after the boys go to bed, which is prime writing time.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Autism Walk

I've finally got the page going for the Autism Walk. It is Sept. 30 this year. Team Grasshopper is once again on the move. We're really looking forward to it.

I hate to hit you up for money twice, but I've got two worthy causes to support, so if it's not too much to ask to go to the well more than once, if you could support us in the Autism Walk as well as helping our The Wife's friend, I would be unbelieveable grateful. The link to our Autism Walk page is here:

Team Grasshopper

Whatever you feel you wish to donate, please do. If you want to make a donation directly to me to give to the Autism Walk, please email me and I'll make arrangements with you. I'll also have a link on my right sidebar until the walk above the link for the Education Fund.

I really feel blessed knowing people like you. May God bless you for all of your generosity both to our family and to a family you don't even know. You have no idea how much I appreciate it and how much it touches me to have friends like you guys.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Need your help, again - UPDATED

UPDATE!!!!! If you haven't read below already, read it first. For those that wish to make a donation via Paypal, I've set up a button to the right that reads Make a Donation. You can send whatever you think may be appropriate for you easily that way. Thanks in again in advance for your generosity.

Before I begin, just some quick blog business. I've linked some new blogs on my roll that I want to acknowledge. In no particular order are, Momcani, Lowa, and The Rambling Muse. Also, I may have given a shout out to her before, but I'll point out Lex. Go read their blogs, they're cool. Plus, they comment here, so that makes them even more cool!

Now, on to the post at hand. I'm asking for a big favor from everyone. I don't like to hit people up for money, unless you offer first, then I'll gladly take it. However, I'm going to ask you guys twice to belly up to the bar, so to speak, both for good causes. I've already mentioned the Walk for Autism Research, but more on that in another post.

This is for a co-worker of The Wife's. She's been through a really tough time lately. Her husband was laid off from his job, and they had to live on one small paycheck for a while, raising 2 girls. It was touch and go for a while, but her husband finally found a good job with benefits. However, in his first week on the new job, he was diagnosed with cancer. And is now out of work getting treated. So while he still has a job, they are again living on one paycheck. They are a proud family that would never ask for anyone to help them. But they are very grateful when others do assist.

Mostly what we've been doing is making dinner for her to take home to the family so she doesn't have to worry about cooking. Other friends are taking the girls to the amusement park and everyone is pitching in. Here's the problem. They live in the City of Rochester. The school district, like a lot of inner cities, isn't very good. In an effort to raise their girls in their Catholic faith and protect them, they've been going to Catholic high school. However, even with tuition assistance, they don't think they can afford to send them this year. It will be the older daughter's senior year and The Wife's co-worker really wants her daughter to graduate from the Catholic school and not have to transfer to the public school for her last year.

SOOOOO, we're working on fund raising efforts to pay the girl's tuition. I'm looking into some sort of fund raising event with the band possibly. We have other ideas as well. HOWEVER, I never did anything with the money I've raised so far from CD sales. I had intended to use it for the music ministry at church, but there's been so much drama there lately that I wanted to wait. I've decided to use the money to help out the girls instead.

So I'm asking anyone that hasn't bought a CD, please do so. 100% of the money will go to the girls tuition fund. If you have one already, please consider buying another one. I wouldn't normally go out here and beg people to buy something I've created. To be serious for a moment, modesty prevents me from bragging too much about myself and my musical ability so I only mention the CD to people that ask about my music and never push for a sale. But now I'm pushing because it isn't for me.

If you would like to make a donation in some other manner, please email me and we can arrange something. This is a case of helping out a fellow Catholic because it's the right thing to do. I ask nothing for myself and need no thanks. It's the least I can do. The Lord bless you in advance.