Friday, September 6, 2013

Raised Right

I see lots of Facebook "memes" (I put that in quotes because people think they are memes, but aren't even close) that lecture people on "growing up right".  You know what I am talking about...

I drank from the water hose as a kid.
I went and played outside as a kid.
My mom beat the shit out of me as a kid.

I would like to say that I grew up right.  My mom taught me life lessons along the vein of "I accept people the way they are".  Sure, it frustrates me from time to time that my kids don't play outside even 1% of how much I did as a kid.  I also remember when the Nintendo came out...I wouldn't have gone outside for 5 minutes if I had owned one of those things.  In fact, I can remember going over to a friend's house and sitting in a room with 10 other 5th graders watching someone play Super Mario Bros.

Probably the best thing my mom ever did for me was refuse to buy me a video game system.  Mostly was because we couldn't afford it, but she also didn't want me spending all of my time indoors.  But there were kids who did stay indoors...and they turned out fine.  The second best thing my parents did for me was to buy a computer...and I spent a lot of time on it, and it shaped who I am and made me good at what I do.

You have to just trust that your kids will be who they are.  You can guide them, but forcing them to do something they hate will only generate resentment.  The number one thing you can do for your kids is to just be there.  Be there when they need you, and be there when they don't.  Trust but verify.  Keep them out of trouble with your presence.  Ask them question after question about their life, their loves, their problems.  You may not get much out of them, but they will remember when they are older that you talked to them and genuinely cared.

That is all it takes!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ocwen = Trouble

For the last several years, the wife and I have owned a rental property. Not because we are real estate moguls, mind you, but because when we bought our current house, we were so upside down on that house that the only choice was to become landlords.

Anyway, we finally sold the house this week, and are relieved to no longer be landlords.  But here is some advice:  If your mortgage statement goes to a company named Ocwen, be careful.  Not saying that they will try to screw you, but if you need anything done (such as payoff letters, statements, etc.) give them an extra 5 days or so...because you will call them, and get someone in Bangladesh who has no authority to do anything.

So give it a few extra days if you can.  Just a short, public service announcement.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's been such a long time...

Wow, it has been a while.  Life sure moves fast.  If you don't stop every once in a while, you might miss it.

Close enough, Simone.

We love movies.  Often, we will just randomly pick a movie and watch it, but what we love to do is show the kids movies from our childhood and hope that they will like them.  So far, the favorite in the clubhouse is Son in Law, with Pauly Shore. The kids loved that movie. So far, the worst movie we have watched would have to be Malibu's Most Wanted with Jamie Kennedy.  Universally disliked by all.  We also have a tendency to go on actor kicks, albeit unintentionally most of the time.  For example, we will watch the Lion King and then watch Wargames, which has the same actor in it (see above for a clue, if you missed it).

Well, another school year concludes today.  As of this afternoon, I will have a 5th grader and a senior in high school.  Yep, Chandler graduates next year.  This blur that keeps blowing past me is life, and I don't know where it goes.

I miss the heck out of my dad.  It has been almost three months.  The hardest part is coping with baseball season.  The Cubs have been pretty bad this year, but I sure do get sad when good things happen and I don't have anyone to really share it with.  I miss hearing the joy in his voice when we talked about baseball, and he was one of the only people that I could really talk at that level with without going crazy.  It is like there is this whole fountain of discussion bubbling up inside of me, and I can't get rid of it because I don't have him around to talk about it with.

If you are reading this, I implore you to find me and add me to your circles on Google Plus.  It really is so much better than Facebook, but I miss the interaction sometimes.  I need people on there to talk to!  The ads and app notifications on the book have just gotten to be too much for me to handle.  Not to mention the pages that people start that are just Reddit sharing machines.  That ain't cool.

Pretty good movie alert:  Jack Reacher.  Sure, it wasn't the best movie, but I am a sucker for movies that have a great investigator, and that is Cruise's character in this one.  Fun movie with some pretty good action, but I love the whodunit aspect and how he goes about investigating it.

Horrible movie alert:  Killing Them Softly  If you want to be bored out of your mind, give it a watch.  There is almost no plot.  Two guys rob a poker game, and they get shot for it.  Yep, that is it.  Sad part is, it was based on a book.  Insomnia cure, right there!

Enjoy your summer.  Spend time with your kids, because before you know it, they will be looking for jobs and rolling their eyes at you every 5 minutes.  My kids have become Liz Lemon, and yours will too....

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Where to begin?

It's funny, all the little twists and turns that life takes.  Things can change so quickly, and it really makes you examine the word forever.  We use that word a lot, and it really takes something life changing to appreciate what power that word has, and how often we misuse it.

My father passed away on Saturday night, March 16th.  While it wasn't a sudden surprise, it wasn't exactly like we planned for it.  My father has always had "health problems", and I put them in quotes because they weren't what you would normally refer to as such.  My dad had beaten cancer three times in his life, only had one kidney, and was generally a medical miracle. We had prepared for his death back in 2005 when he found out he had kidney cancer, but he bounced back from that one, too.

So, when I heard he had gone to the hospital with fluid in his lung, I kind of figured that this would just be another round of visiting him in the hospital, he would get better, and then go about his way. It wasn't in the cards this time, though.  When he got to the hospital, it was determined that he had experienced a minor heart attack the night before.  He then proceeded to have another heart attack while in the hospital.  He basically decided at that point that enough was enough, and told the doctors and nurses not to resuscitate.  He was sent home on hospice and died a few days later at the age of 62.

The point of this post is not to gather sympathy from anyone.  The goal is to really make sure you understand the meaning of the word forever.  I will never get to tell my Dad I love him again.  I will never watch another Cubs' game with him.  He will never read another funny email I forward to him.  I will never like another of his Facebook posts.  The list goes on and on of things that won't be shared by us or anyone who knew him.  Everything reminds me of him at this point in time.  Any time someone says the word "Dad", it gets me just a little bit.  I see pictures of my friends with their dads, and it gives me just a pang of jealousy.  I watch TV and little things remind me of him, and it hurts just a little.

I urge you, if you have someone in your life that you haven't spoken to in a while that you need to, please do it.  They will appreciate it.  Sometimes it is just that one of you needs to make that little bit of effort to break the ice.  I was fortunate.  I didn't leave anything unsaid.  There is not one ounce of regret in my heart about my relationship with my dad, and it certainly made this process easier.  It can happen quickly, and a lot of people don't get the opportunity to sit with their loved ones for an hour and just talk about life.  I got that opportunity, and I will be forever grateful.

There have been so many wonderful people that have made this process as good as it could have been. The list goes on and on, and I am so appreciative at the outpouring of support my family and I have received during this time.  It means the world to us, and it will not be forgotten.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013


So, Tim Brown and Jerry Rice:  You are telling me that a Head Coach of a NFL team, while on the cusp of the greatest achievement one could attain in their field, decided to lose the game on purpose?  Seriously, that might be the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

If you don't have a WaterPik, I highly urge you to get one.  They are fantastic.

I am currently digitizing our home movie library.  Not our DVD Movies, but the home video tapes that we have collected over the past decade and a half.  I have way more than I realized....this could take a while.

Bought myself one of those chin-up bars you put on a doorway.  I am going to be so ripped! (Not really...I will probably give up after three days, but who notices that?)

Zero Dark Thirty: Go see it.  Awesome flick.  Great story, enjoyable sequences...and no extraneous crap to muck up the main narrative.  Every second of the movie is about how they caught and killed Bin Laden.  Who knows how much of it is accurate, but it seems to get the main point down pretty well.  Highly enjoyable.

97% of my web traffic comes from Barry's blog.  Thanks, Barry!

Friday, January 11, 2013

American Taxi Driver Psycho

As is common for me when I need movies to watch, I like to go to the ol' internet and find lists...Top 10 Movies every Guy Should See, or The 30 Movies that mention Elastic Waistbands, etc.

So, I found a list and was intrigued by two movies.  First, American Psycho starring Christian Bale.  Bale plays Patrick Bateman, who works on Wall Street in the late 80's.  He is a pretty typical schmuck, as movies from that time period tend to depict...except that he is a murderous psychopath behind his mask of "normality".  I thought the movie was very well shot, but I was very confused at how the film played out.  I was left with quite a large question mark over my head as to the resolution of the film, and there seem to be a lot of people who agree with that assessment on the interwebs.  Overall, it failed to resonate with me but I plan on reading the book to see if I can gain further clarity.

The second movie I watched was Taxi Driver, a "masterpiece" starring Robert DeNiro and directed by Martin Scorsece.  I have noticed that there seems to be a time period of movies that I don't get, and this falls squarely into that time perieod.  This movie is considered to be one of the greatest of all time, and personally, I thought it was prettty awful.  Maybe I don't "get" older movies, but they tend to fall very flat for me.  I watched Chinatown a few months ago, and can't remember being more bored with a film...until I saw Taxi Driver.  The only interesting part of the movie for me was trying desperately to remember Harvey Keitel's name.  Other than that, I only watched the rest of the film because I was sure that at some point there would be a point to the movie.  Maybe I am wrong...maybe there is something that I missed that was critical to tying the film together, but whatever it was, I missed it big time.  I was confused the whole time as to what the hell was going on, and there really wasn't much of a plot to latch on to.  Was he going to kill Palentine?  Was he trying to date Betsy?  Was he trying to save Iris?  Who knows? I would love to talk to someone who "gets" this movie and have them explain it to me, and why I am so wrong, because lord knows I am not going to come to that realization on my own.

Can one of you help?