The Adventures of LatteMan....

About Me


Blogroll Me!

Previous Posts


Add to Google


Powered by Blogger

eXTReMe Tracker

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Halloween Decorations
Originally uploaded by JayMonster.

Regular Post will be below this one later, but I wanted to take this opportunity to say, From our Family to yours, best wishes for a safe and

Happy Halloween!

Now, I feel quite certain that most readers of this blog (I guess that would mean both of you), are already fairly well versed in being careful and attentive parents, but just in case somebody happens to stumble by here by accident, or would like to point somebody clueless towards it, here are some safety precautions to ensure Halloween remains fun and that the only scares are the "trick" kind.

1. Don’t allow children to trick-or-treat alone. Older kids should TAKE A FRIEND and young children should be accompanied by an ADULT.

2. Accompany children to the door of every house they approach.

3. Familiarize yourself with every house you visit and all people from whom your children receive treats.

4. Tell kids NOT to enter any home without permission from their parents or guardians.

5. Tell kids NOT to approach vehicles, occupied or vacant, unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

6. Give children lights to carry – like a glow stick or flashlight -- along with reflective clothing.

7. Make sure that children can see and breathe properly and easily through facial masks.

8. Use only flame-resistant costumes and masks.

9. Warn children NEVER to approach any house that is not well lit.

10. Remind children to make note of suspicious incidents and report them to parents, guardians and/or the proper official.

11. Instruct children to run away, scream, and make a scene if anyone tries to grab them or force them, in any way, to go with them.

12. Inspect all of your children’s treats and dispose of anything that has been tampered with or is not wrapped.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Fridge

Last week the refrigerator deciding that it was going to just up and die. No warning signs, no little problems cropping up first, after 11 years it just decided it was going to work no longer.

So, after the mad dash around to find somebody that could get one to us immediately, and $1,000 later, we have a new stainless steel GE Profile Refrigerator. TheWife is happy in that we finally have a refrigerator that matches the stove. My bank account is of course none to happy about the whole thing. Then there was that one stupid little gotcha that you never expect (not a big thing just annoying).

As any parent with a little one knows, "Refrigerator Space" is at a premium for the displaying of school artwork, good test scores, schedules for things like soccer, dance class, etc.

Well, that shiny new "stainless steel" refrigerator threw us a curveball. The doors aren't actually "stainless steel" but are in fact, "brushed" aluminum. Now for those of you that didn't utter "uh oh" at that last sentence, allow me to point out the obvious pitfall. Aluminum is not magnetic! That means no magnets. That means artwork, schedules, calendars, etc are relegated to the side of the refrigerator.

Not as big a deal as actually having to replace the refrigerator... unless you are the six year old that wants all of your stuff on display.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

This needs to stop

Some ideas sound great on paper. This is one such idea. The premise is simple. Take the cars from "drug dealers" and use the proceeds to help fund the "war on drugs." But when you read stories like how a New Jersey County Seizes Family Cars, it becomes clear how these "good ideas" can go terribly wrong.

Unfortunately this is just the "latest" example that I have seen where overzealous prosecutors elect to "follow the letter" (but not the spirit) of the law, and seize three cars from a family because of the (alleged - remember he hasn't actually been convicted yet of anything) misdeeds of their son. Not one car. Not just the car he was driving (he wasn't even driving at the time, this was after a "raid").

Much like eminent domain (a rant for another day), it is power that needs to be dramatically curbed or stopped, because local government officials do not seem to understand how to wield this power judiciously and more often than not seem to only care about it in the sense of a profit center.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Picture Perfect Thursday VII - "Sharing"

I got a spare
Originally uploaded by JayMonster.

I pointed out an article on how many parents today spend more time with their kids than they did in the past. I have to tell you, for me, it is quite easy because, I can think of nothing I enjoy more now than sharing something with my daughter.

Just look at that picture (and please forgive the blurriness). How can you not enjoy that sheer enthusiasm? You know, most people feel sorry for the children when parents don't spend enough time with them (and they should). But, I also feel sorry for those parents. They are missing out just as much.

Chris over at Rude Cactus, has a very nice post about Legacies. And it got me thinking about how a child can change so much in you. How you see the world around you, and how while you are trying to help that little person grow into the person you wish him/her to be, they that they are in fact actually help you grow as a person as well.

If however, you never take the time to share, then both lose out.

Sure there are times, when I miss having a little more me time, and the chance to do more of the things I used to enjoy doing. But. There of course will come that day that my daughter will be less than enthusiastic about sharing her time with dear old dad. I dread that day of course, but rather than dwelling on what will happen then, I appreciate and savor the time we can share now.

Why is this called "Picture Perfect Thursday"? Well you have to go visit Liz over at This Full House for more details. If you do join in, please let me know)

Sorry I was so late. More on that tomorrow.

Court leans in Correct Direction

(Note: Picture Perfect Thursay has not be pre-empted and will be up later)

Yesterday's decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court left both sides happy and at the same time left both sides upset. It all depends on the point of view. But regardless of how you "interpret" the ruling based on your position, the New Jersey Supreme Court ultimately did (I believe) the correct thing.

While the ruling certainly opens the door for gay marriage in New Jersey, it also left the storm door in place for the politicians. New Jersey must according to the ruling (you can view the full ruling here [PDF]), decide how to accomodate the ruling, by either extending the current wording for marriage to include same-sex couples, or to create a Civil Union. (In 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruling was similar and led to Civil Unions in that State.)

That last part about having the the lawmakers decide is what has opponents invogorated, and advocates feeling a bit dispondant over the ruling. From my personal point of view, I really couldn't care less about the "nit-picking" aspect. When TheWife and I got married, we did so outside the Church, in what at least used to be called a "Civil Ceremony" and to some sticklers, "in the eyes of" god we are not married, but by and large the vast majority of people will acknowledge that we are. So, along that same vein, who cares if it is called a "Civil Union" or "Marriage"? Honestly.

In the ruling, the Justices (for the majority of course) pointed out, similar to what I did yesterday, the financial inequalities afforded similar couples, simply because one is same-sex, and that the government has no legitimate reason to deny these rights to gay couples.

So once again, I have something to be proud of in the State of New Jersey, proving that we are far more enlightened than those that still think that exclusionary practices are OK.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

N.J. Court to rule on gay marriage

I have said it before. I love New Jersey. It can be tough sometimes living in the state that is the butt of so many jokes, but I more often than not am willing to defend her to anybody. Tomorrow becomes one of those litmus test days for me on how I feel about my State, as the N.J. court to rule on gay marriage .

I continue to be amazed at how, in a time of such turmoil, and so much wrong in this country that this is an issue that garners so much emotion from people. I mean let us be honest here for just a moment shall we? If the Insurance Companies were stuck paying the policies anyway, and Corporations didn't get away with ripping off or just plain out denying coverage for gay couples, this issue would have been long forgotten.

I still believe that there are enough Christians in the world that understand the message to love even the people that are "different" than you, or at the very least, "judge not, lest thee be judged" that the vocal minority that keep this issue afloat with hate would eventually wither away. It wasn't all that long ago, that "Good Christians" deried interracial marriage as a sin. Today, except for the racists, this "sin" is no longer. The cause was lost, and suddenly it was OK. Enlightenment. I can only hope that this enlightenment can continue.

But unfortunately that is not enough. Businesses, government agencies, insurance companies, and other monies are at stake here. So they stoke the hate to "defend" marriage from people that love each other. Not for any "holy" reason. But to save money. It is all about the money.

I hope that tomorrow that right wins out over "might" and the New Jersey Supreme Court makes the right decision. I love this State, and would hate to feel embarrassed to say that I live in a State with such intolerance.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Two days later, and still recovering

3 hours. You wouldn't think it would be all that difficult to entertain children for three hours would you? We had Pumkins for decorating, crafts, games, toys, prizes, stories and food. At one point we wondered if we had gone overboard. I mean after all, how much can you fit in three hours, right?

Well...ummm... no. Wrong.

It turns out, without a staff in place so that you can wisk them from one activity to another having everything in place so they do not have a momment to pause, a group of 6 girls and two boys can in fact get bored, or out of control, or crazy in a matter of seconds of not being fully entertained.

We finally decided to, despite the slightly wet grass, allow the kids to just cut loose in the yard, and "run it off." This of course was not without its own ways to drive a person to drink. Every child wanted multiple chances to go across the monkey bars. This had two problems. One, the monkey bars on the swingset we have goes across the swings. You can not have one person on the swings, and another going across the monkey bars at the same time. Second, only one child could actually accomplish going across on her own, everyone else needed to "assistance" (OK, lets be honest here, I basically needed to carry them across, but just slowly enough so they could moves their hands from bar to bar so they could pretend to actually be doing it).

Now, to be honest, overall the kids were really good. Well, all but one. Not that this one particular girl was outright "bad" but she was always the one to instigate things, to rile up the others, to be counted on to do the one idiotic stunt (like deciding she was going to start pretending to be a ninja and kicking anyone and anything she could - not to be malicious, but "just because").

TheWife and I tend to disagree on this. I thought this party could have been perfect had this one child not been invited. TheWife thinks I over-react (perhaps it has something to do with this Migraine I developed by the time it was over), and that the girl is a "sweetheart" and we can't just exclude her (even though we have since Pre-School days known that she is ALWAYS this sort of problem.). I think, I do not need to have our events suffer, because she has some uncontrollable need to be the center of attention, even if she winds up being destructive to do it.

Her mother is a very nice lady, and tries very hard to keep her child under control. She threatened and warned her child about her behavior on several occassions, which would work briefly, only to start again.

What do you think? Would you omit a child that has a history of getting out of control?

Overall, despite the issues and pitfalls, everybody had a great time. TheWife thought the party was a huge success, as did LatteGirl who is already thinking about her "next party." Even I, migraine and all, thought things were good, although, I am not sure I can handle a "next party" until pehaps next Halloween.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Halloween Part II

So, I am counting Hersheypark as Part I, and obviously Halloween itself will be Part III, but this weekend, I face Part II, the scariest part of Halloween for me this year. Why is this the scariest? Well, because tomorrow afternoon, I will have seven 1st graders in my home for a Halloween Party. Seven. Seven sugar-filled kids bouncing off the walls in the living room.

What the hell were we thinking.

Back in May, when TheWife and I were obviously still in control of our senses, we were wise enough to know that this was probably not a good idea, and had two birthday parties for LatteGirl. One for the family at home, and one for the kids that we held elsewhere. We knew plainly that having that many kids in one place was not good for the long term prospects for our home, furniture, etc.

But LatteGirl flashed us those baby blues, and said please in the sweetest way, and has show more enthusiasm for Halloween this year, other than the standard "can't wait to go trick-o-treating." So we melted. Melted like a Hershey Bar on the dashboard of a car on a hot Florida day.

I'm joking of course. Sort of. I don't mind the party. I am actually looking forward to it. But I am dreading what the aftermath is going to look like. Of course none of that is stoping me from baking cupcakes and cookies and coating things in brightly covered frosting (more sugar) and preparing it for the kids.

We purchased assorted games and crafts, we have music and munchies, will order in pizza, and we have more than enough to keep these little goblins at bay and entertained for the afternoon. I hope.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Eating Crow: IE7 Edition

I have listened for quite some time now from bloggers, and technology pundits, how IE 7 wasn't going to live up to the hype. How it would still not be as good as Firefox.

Now I use Firefox, but I am not particularly in love with it because of its slow speed and rather sluggish performance. Sure there are some tweaks and Themes that help it load a bit faster, but there always seems to be some tradeoff involved.

So, I anxiously awaited the new Internet Explorer. And now it is finally here. I installed it, and after only about 10 minutes with this browser, I am here to say to all those naysayers:

All those things you feared, and mocked in the new IE7 Browser? Not only are they true... it is even worse than that.

IE7 is the most incredible piece of junk I have ever been stuck with. Because of security fixes and the like, and because it is so tied into things such as Outlook, Office, plus other parts of the OS, that I have no choice but to install it, and keep it.

But as my everyday browser? Microsoft has finally done it. They have made me a dedicated Firefox user. And at this point, if what I fear is true, this is only the beginning of the end with my relationship with Microsoft.

In what I can only assume is their idea to get users used to the idea of their stupid new ribbon idea that is set to appear in the Vista version of Office, Microsoft has not only redesigned the layout in a most horrific and unintuitive fashion, but they lock you into it. By default the Menu ribbon is turned off. Turn it on, and it appears BELOW the navigation pane (and relocated back and forward buttons). The command toolbar is on the same row as your tabs. And there is no way to change it! So if you have a lot of tabs open, you are forced to choose between having the toolbar fully visible, or being able to read the tabs which wind up getting small real quick because of the lack of space.

I don't know who did the usability study on this piece of junk, but they should be fired.

Internet Explorer is officially dead to me.

Picture Perfect Thursday VI - "Stuff"

Old Box
Originally uploaded by JayMonster.

As I looked at this box at the Hershey Museum, I couldn't help but be amused. At what? Well, at how perceptions taint things.

My father was born in 1928 right at the beginning of the Depression. Like many people from that time period he developed what could be considered most likely a form of OCD. He became a hoarder, a packrat. Somebody who if he could find some value in something would not throw it away, because that was wasteful.

Right up until his passing, it drove my mother absolutely bonkers. She couldn't understand why he needed to keep so much "junk" in the house. Admittedly I have picked up on some of those frugal tendencies from him, but TheWife never really lets it get quite out of hand the way my mother did. Cleaning up and clearing out some of this old "junk" is still going on now, a little more than two years after his death. There was that much to go through.

You may have noticed, I have put "junk" in quotes each time. Now of course the old adage goes, "One man's junk, is another man's treasure." But I have always thought of that as meaning, what is useless to one person is a valuable item to another. But as I looked at this box in the museum, I realized that it is more than that. That junk/treasure line can be quite blurry, and in some cases downright non-existant when you take perceptions into account.

Now, allow me a quick example. Every year throughout this country, there are millions of garage sales. At those sales are millions (if not billions) of pieces of stemware, glassware, etc. that people try to sell. Usually fairly unsucessfully, because "who wants that junk?" But allow those glasses to get a bit older, and put them on sale as techniques, those glasses that you couldn't sell for a dime a piece at a garage sale, are now hunted after treasures selling for good money. Sure you will say, "But that is because they are old. Antiques. From a gone by era." And you would be correct. However, to reach that stage, they were the 'junk" that somebody just never rid themselves of.

Now to a certain extent money plays a role as well. At least that is what I was thinking as I strolled through the museum. As I looked at old boxes, original chocolate molds, tattered briefcases, and such, I couldn't help but draw some comparisons. I saw, Mr. Hershey much like my father, never throwing anything out. He kept those old molds, and such because he couldn't see the point in throwing them out. Now, one day Mrs. Hershey demands that he start to clear out some space and get rid of that old "junk," but instead of throwing it out, he buys a building, puts it on display, and calls it a museum. People come then (and now) from all over to see Mr. Hershey's old "junk" because now it is not "junk" but "a piece of history preserved in a museum." So how does money come into play? Well, my father certainly could have taken his old stuff and put it on display. But without the notoriaty of being a weathly man like Mr. Hershey, who is going to come see, "some guys pile of junk." In this case, the perception of the value of the items on display, is directly attributable to the affluence of the person that owns them.

The opposite of course also is at play at times, and it is the affluence of the buyer that give the item its perceived value. Case in point, clothing. Go to a Salvation Army, Goodwill Store or other thrift shop. You can find things like 1980's style designer jeans, and maybe a suit or two from the 1950's that was donated when somebody passed away (or in the case of my father, 1970's sport jackets). Tags on these items will offer you to purchase them at prices ranging from a quarter to maybe, just maybe $5 (if it is a particularly good item). Now go to a "vintage clothing" store and look for those same items. "Rare, hard to find, 80's Pop Era Jeans" will sell for $50 or more.

As I thought about this, besides amusing in a way, I found it comforting. Because, as we sorted through that old stuff that my father kept all those years, some of... yes was junk. Not even close to that junk/antique line. But some of it. Some of it without any real "value" are like bits and pieces of his life. In a way, a sort of museum piece dedicated and always linked to him. And for me, that perception, makes them completely priceless.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The other side

I enjoyed bragging yesterday about how Parents spend more time with their kids today than they did 40 years ago. But as Barry correctly pointed out, there are still problems. Problems that seem to start in the teen years, where I don't know why, but parents seem to lose control over their kids, and the parents seem out of touch.

There has been plenty of blame going on in the news, with the "dangers" of MySpace, so much so that places have actually taken to trying to ban it. Of course, plenty has been offered in the way of blaming the Internet for teen smoking. To prove their point, The American Cancer Society enlisted kids 11-15, according to this article, to go and buy cigarettes online. And of course the kids were able to get them because the site did not "verify their age." Back in August, this article points out that kids as young as 14 according to the study cited have purchased alcohol online. I will return to that age verification in a momment.

The latest today, is article about how Teenagers are turning to the Internet to buy Prescription Drugs. At least in this article the examples they give are teenagers that are 18 and 19 years old, so in theory at least, the parents can be given some benefit of the doubt because the kids could have possibly already had their own credit cards, and were of legal age. But of course despite the examples given, what the article is hinting at is again that underage teens are acquiring these items via the Internet.

Now wait a minute and think about that. Underage kids buying things on the Internet. (See I told you I would get back to it). How exactly does an underage kid go about purchasing something on the Internet like cigarettes or Prescription drugs? After all, they would need a credit card to complete their transactions. The Credit Card companies don't (generally, unless a mistake is made, but that usually only happens in TV sitcoms) give credit cards to minors. They are not of legal age to enter into the contract for a credit card. So are they using Mom and Dad's Credit cards? Hmmm. Maybe if the parents were paying attention. You think?

Somewhere along the line these parents seem to want to abdicate responsibility for raising their kids to legislators. Well we need to stop the sale of Prescription Drugs on the Internet because 11 year old Tommy is buying Xanax. Well, dumbass don't give a credit card (or don't leave it where he can get it) to you underage kid. And maybe it might be a good idea to take a look at the bill every so often and see what the hell is on there.

I don't know if this was nationwide or not, but around here, one television station use to run a PSA every evening. "It's 10PM, do you know where your child is?" I used to think it was a stupid ad (especially when I was a teen), but you know what? Most of the time, (hey I'm not perfect, and sure I fibbed once or a dozen times) my parents did know where I was.

Nobody is going to raise your child for you. You can legislate the world away. Even as a teen (and probably especially as a teen), your parenting skills and guidance are needed. It is easy to stay in your child's life when they are young, they really can't stray all that far away from you. But as they get older, their needs for you don't diminsh... they just change.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What we already knew

Just read some parent blogs today, and one thing is actually quite clear. We, the "parents of today" spend more time with our kids than our parents did. I knew this, and you knew this. Only maybe the radicals that think a "woman's place is in the home" didn't think this was true. Because how could parents that both work, spend more time with their kids than the good old 50's model Stay-At-Home Mom did? They refused to believe it. But a new study in the New York times confirms what many parents today already knew, Married and Single Parents Spending More Time With Children, Study Finds.

So how could this be? Well we can take partial credit because parents today tend to be more involved in their children's lives by choice. But honesty dictates that I also admit there is a bit of "fear factor" that is involved that guilts us into it as well. We worry about, predators and crime, and careless people and tend to watch our children like hawks today more than ever before, not always necessarily because we want to, but because we feel as if we have no other choice.

When I was groing up, perhaps maybe my first year on Little League, my parents drove me to most (if not all) of my practices and games. But from then on, until game day, I was usually on my own. Hop on my bike, with my glove dangling from my bat which was over my shoulder, as I would ride across town to the park.

I can't even imagine such a thing today. Heck I can't even imagine my wife dropping my daughter off at practice, leaving and then returning to pick her up. Nope. She is there the entire time. (Why not me taking/picking up for practice is a whole other story for a whole other day. Suffice it to say that my wife thinks I am "too competetive" for the little kids, and I tend to agree).

But, as the story points out, it is certainly not all about the guilt and worry. Men and women both spend considerably more time with their kids than in the past. We spend more time getting involved in their activities, and trying to nurture them, rather than the old, "go out and play, and I don't want to see you back in this house until I call you for dinner"

So, overall I guess on a whole, we are not as horrible as Focus on Family and others would lead you to believe. Turns out that we can work and spend time with the kids. And despite baseless claims to the contrary. We are doing it. So grab a drink. Sit back. And Relax. Moms... Dads... This [insert beverage of choice] is for you.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hershey - Round 2

Reality. Man what a gyp that is. So we are back after spending "3 Days" in Hershey PA once again. The major hilights of this trip include the fact that I remembered to take pictures, and the fact that I managed to not break the camera this time.

I have to admit that I wound up a bit disappointed this time, but to some extent I guess my expectations were a bit too high coming off of our spring trip there. First of all, in case anybody but me didn't know it (fortunately TheWife did), PA in October is cold. Not freezing, but cold. This makes taking a six year old to the Amusement Park... in costume... at night (it is not open during the day in October, only at night for their "Hersheypark in the Dark") is a challenge.

LatteGirl of course did not want to be all "bundled up" because then "nobody would get to see her costume." Once we got past that battle, we headed over to the park, where it was "too cold" so we actually wound up spending more time "getting ready," waiting for the shuttle, and riding the shuttle to and from the park, than we actually spent in the park.

They made a big deal out of "Treatville" which was where kids 13 and under could go "Trick or Treating." They of course put this at the far end of the park, so you had to walk clear across the park to get there, only to be greated by a rather long line. When you finally made it through, you walked the path that would normally have been for the water rides, to gather about 7 or 8 pieces of candy. To me it was annoying. To TheWife is was not worth freezing over. For LatteGirl it was the best thing in the entire world. You must admire their ability to find the good in everything.

Armed with my camera, I got to take some pictures of LatteGirl with the Hershey Characters, which were donning "costumes" of their own. (Yea, so that probably doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense if you don't already know what I am talking about, so you will have to wait until tomorrow, when I get the pictures up into Flickr.) Taking the pictures, and her big smile made the trip all worthwhile to me.

TheWife. Ah, TheWife. In order to make the trip worthwhile to her, LatteGirl and I once again shipped her off to the Hershey Hotel for a Cocoa Massage. If (when) we go again, I am going to have to see if I can get TheWife to take us along (we usually send her off for some "Mommy time" alone) to the Hotel. We will still give her the time to herself, but I really want to get a look at this hotel. You see, the Hershey Lodge is where we stay because it is advertised as a "family" location. It is by no means cheap, but certainly looks that way when you see that a stay at the Hershey Hotel is twice the price. I just need to see for myself what could possibly make this place worth twice as much.

I think the one thing that left me a bit disappointed was that we did not get to do as many "new" things as well did last time. Of course everything was new last time. This time we had to do some repeats at the beheast of LatteGirl, and we promised ourselves that we would not miss this museum this time (We attempted to go on our return day last time and it did not open until too late in the day for us to hang around). When we got done with the "must dos" we were left with precious little time (and even less energy) to do much else.

Of couse that is the problem with any three day "vacation." Day One you spend on travel and arrival, and in places such as this check in time is not until 4PM, so by the time you get your room, get your stuff put away, and maybe have dinner. It is night time and half the time you will decide to "turn in early" so you can get an early start the next day. The last day of course checkout time is like, what 4AM? (OK, so it is at 11 am, but still it feels way to early) and you really have to pack up everything as soon as everybody gets showered and dressed, leaving little time to do much after having breakfast except perhaps spending some money in the gift shop for all the people that expect something when you go away.

So out of that you have one solid day. A day, I admit that LatteGirl and I made the best of (OK, TheWife too, but she spent time in the spa). After breakfast, and shipping Mom on her merry way, we strolled the grounds, looking at (and photographing) the Geese and Ducks, then climbing some trees (she does not really "climb" as much as she has me "place" her on branches in trees that are easy enough for her to stand on), then some miniture golf,and swimming before we met back with Mom for some lunch. On to the Museum, then Chocolate Work (that is the simulated "factory tour" that they have rather than actually taking people through the actual factory), shopping in the chocolate store (of course), return for dinner, getting costumed and on to Hersheypark.

When I look over that list it is hard to say what I could have changed to have not been disappointed this time. I mean heck from the time I was there in April to now they installed wireless internet in all the rooms, which I was thrilled to see but still managed to keep myself so busy that I never had an opportunity to actually use it. I guess without the "newness" it can never live up to that first time... at least for me.

LatteGirl still gives it her highest praises. She has even started working on us for a return trip. When she and TheWife made their trip to Sesame Place this year we noted that this would probably be the last year for that excursion since she was pretty much outgrowing Sesame Street. So she brought that back up already saying that this could "replace" her trip to Sesame Place, so that we "could come back every year FOREVER."

I don't think we will be coming back every year, but I am sure we will be back. Maybe next time we just need to try to find more than three days. And never again in October.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Picture Perfect Thursday V - "Nightmares"

Originally uploaded by JayMonster.

Like many people, I was to say the least unnerved on September 11th. It was 4 years before I set foot back in New York.

Becoming unnerved at the sound of an airplane can be a difficult think to overcome when you live not all that far from a major International Airport (In my case, Newark Liberty).

In a way it was quite odd. Those few days after September 11th, I remember how spooky it felt to not have the sounds of planes around. Nobody taking off, nobody landing. In the evening I can almost always see a tiny string of lights in the sky, the planes that are circling the area that lining up for their turn to land. But not on those days.

Then flights resumed, and I became consumed with anxiety. I nervously watched many planes taking off and landing. Watching for any sign that things were amiss. Is that plane flying too low? Too slow? Too Fast? Does it look like it is banking correctly? (As if I had any way of really knowing).

Not long after (and forgotten by most outside this area) was a second incident that occurred over Long Island. Immediately at the time of the accident, it was feared terrorism, but that was quickly deemed an accident, so most people just turned away and said, "Thank God it was an accident, and not terrorists." Of course that fact didn't make the people in the plane, or the people on the ground that the plane landed on (and their homes) any less dead or devestated from the events. After that, I never allowed LatteGirl far from me when I was home. Just in case something came raining down from the skys and we needed to evacuate the house. I often allowed her to fall asleep on the sofa in the living room, because I didn't want her to be upstairs all alone at night while I was downstairs. Only when I was ready to go up for the evening would I put her to bed.

It got worse after the company I was working for closed up shop the following January. I had less to keep me distracted. Plus now I was home more, with those "flying gas cans" circling all day long. Topping that off were funerals, or more precisely memorial services for people I knew. People that had their services put off, with the hopes of finding a body, or even part of one to put in a box. But by this time, recovery efforts were for the most part over, and the greiving went on without them. I attended several. Several more than I wanted to, but less than I perhaps should have. I avoided some, because I just couldn't handle attending them all. I made excuses, sent condolences, but had to just save some sanity.

Several years of anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medication got me through and somewhat back to normal. As normal, as normal can be for me anyway.

In 2005, I found myself back in New York City. I managed to keep my wits, but everyday I had to remind myself that those were events of the past, and that I needed to move on. Fortunately my anxiety never really got the best of me, and by the end I didn't really realize how much that stress was actually still with me.

That is until I left there earlier this year. As much as I was disappointed at losing the position, I don't think I was ever quite as relieved leaving a job, as I was when I finished packing up the last of my things, and left the 42nd floor that day.

Which of course brings us to yesterday's events. No, it wasn't a terrorist attack. By the time, I had gotten wind of the story, it had already been deemed an accident. But that uncomfortable feeling returned. And last night, as the rain fell, I caught myself straining to listen against the background noise of the drops hitting the house, listening for the sound of a plane, that wasn't flying "quite right."

I amazed myself, when I was able to fall asleep and stay asleep last night (without any outside assistance thank you very much). But I guess, if you live out your nightmares in your head during the day, there is not much left for your unconscience can do to you once you fall asleep.

The funny thing. I am not afraid to fly. We are planning on going to Disney World next spring, and the thought of getting on that plane doesn't scare me in the least. I just don't want to be under one of them.

(Why is this called "Picture Perfect Thursday"? Well you have to go visit Liz over at This Full House for more details. If you do join in, please let me know)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Book I would have written

At first glance, "Brainless" looks like a book I could have enjoyed writing. If only I could find somebody that would actually pay my expenses to write a book (Hey, unlike Ms. Coulter, I would have facts to back things up... and research costs money). However, when Joe Maguire wrote the book, he certainly didn't think it was going to cost him his day job at Reuters. As a matter of fact, he even got "conditional approval" to write the book from his bosses. But now that the book is done Reuters has decided to fire him over the book.

Now, I am not one to often go and buy a book soon after it comes out. Why? Honestly, I don't know. But I suspect it has to do with me being cheap and waiting for it to go on sale, or to pick up a copy on eBay's

However, this one I think I need to go and get now. I will review it when I am done, and see if it lives up to my anticipations (the "Lies" part). The Lunacy part is just obvious. I mean if you just go over to Joe's Blog and read her quotes, it becomes quickly clear how far "out there" she is. (In case you don't feel like clicking over, I will share my "favorite")

"I think [women] should be armed but should not [be allowed to] vote."
-- Ann Coulter on Politically Incorrect, 2/26/01

Of course if you had followed my suggestions in the past and stopped over at Sweet Jesus I Hate Bill O'Reilly, you are now thinking, as I am, that the second book in the series, "Brainless: The Lies and Lunacy of Bill O'Reilly" practically writes itself. Oh wait, I forgot... that would probably be considered plaguirism, since Bill put his own lunacy in print with his pathetic "Culture Warrior."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Un-Weekend

The weekend did not turn out as planned, and my quest for an over abundance of Apple Cider, Hay Rides and such had to be put off until next weekend.

Can you hear the disappointment? Actually TheWife and LatteGirl did wind up having an excursion without me yesterday, since it seemed like the whole world was off yesterday... except me, and after this weekend, I really needed to make some money yesterday.

This weekend became (somehow) about shopping. Shopping for winter clothes, shopping for "vacation clothes" (We are going away for a 3 day weekend. Does that really necessitate a separate shopping trip?), shopping for additional Halloween decorations (I think this one was to placate me). So this weekend became, in a word... Expensive.

Now I probably could have limited the damage somewhat by taking a bit harder line with budgets, but I am admittedly feeling the guilt of LatteGirl being stuck in a uniform all week long at school. So when she picks out a Coat and Snowsuit from L.L. Bean, I don't think twice about getting it for her. Could I find something similar, elsewhere for less. Most likely. But since we have taken away her ability to choose clothing for such a majority of the time now because of school, I figure if that is what she wants, then the least I can do, is provide her with the ability to choose her coat and such, that do meet her 'style.' When she wants to take a trip to the mall so she any Mommy can get her a few new dresses, I say 'OK.' Note how I don't even get invited to the mall... this way they just give me the tab later, without me spoiling the fun of reminding them of how much we have spent "so far" during the trip. This is usually (but not always) more about how long we have been at the mall, and not really so much about how much we have spent. But I guess either way, I am encroaching on their girl time fun. So I am left behind, to pray that the Credit Cards don't burst into flames before they decide to return.

I am however, still without a costume, with 3 days left before we depart to Hershey PA (again). One day is my bowling night, and one night TheWife works the last shift. That leaves either tonight, or stopping somewhere along the way on Friday. The pressure mounting, and I am sure to hear about it (my procrastinating). Of course it is 3 weeks until Halloween, so can not having a costume 3 weeks in advance really be considered procrastinating? When you need it BEFORE Halloween it does? Oh Shut up! I got some shopping to do.

Friday, October 06, 2006

As if you didn't know

Well, I have been talking about it on and off for the past week or two, but the time is here. This weekend we will be off to "the countryside" (better known as 'Western NJ') for our trip for picking some apples and pumpkins, hay rides and petting zoos, and yes... apple cider, entirely too much (in my wife's opinon) apple cider.

It is supposed to be cloudy but with temperatures in the sixties for a change it should be an excellent weekend for it. Last year it was so warm, I was lamenting not wearing shorts (although I was happy I didn't once we hopped onto the tractor for the hayride).

We are heading out on this trip a little earlier than usual this year because next weekend, we decided to take a little weekend excursion out to Hershey PA (yes again... so what?). I mean what better place is there to go around Halloween season than that?

Oh, *&$&&*^%$# I just realized, I still don't have a costume yet! Nothing like waiting 'til the last minute I always say.

Pictures of course to follow. So what is on YOUR weekend agenda?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Picture Perfect Thursday IV - At the Farm

I want all of these
Originally uploaded by JayMonster.

Perhaps it is because I was raised by a man that enjoyed organic gardening. Perhaps since my grandfather was also a gardener, it is just the way I assumed everybody did things.

I have always enjoyed vegetable gardending. And although thanks to the overrun of toys from Little Tykes, and Step 2, and so on, that I have not been able to maintain much space for myself in keeping my own garden, I still have a certain affinity for... (lacking a better term) farm life.

I make no bones about supporting family farms... heck I participated with some wonderful folks this year at Blogathon to raise money for Farm Aid. I prefer shopping at Farmer's Markets whenever possible, and when the cold weather shuts most of the local farms, we gravitate towards places like Whole Foods, shying away from pesticides, Genetically Modified Foods, and the like.

It is a love that I have shared with LatteGirl and one she has really taken to. Despite the allergies she inhereted from me and Asthma from her mom, she has never let this interfere with her enjoyment of going to a farm, seeing the animals, picking fruits, vegetables, and finding just the right pumpkin for Halloween.

It really stuck with me, when the last time we got some fresh apple cider from a local farm, that after drinking some, LatteGirl commented, "It tastes like you are drinking an apple," and followed that up with the million dollar question, "Why don't all apple juices taste like this?" And as I searched for an explaination, it really hit me. Why doesn't it? Why don't we all demand better? Why have we settled for less, and accept it as OK? When I was done, the best I could answer her was, "I don't know."

What I do know is that I am happy that I have been able to share this all with her, and that she gets it.

(Why is this called "Picture Perfect Thursday"? Well you have to go visit Liz over at This Full House for more details. If you do join in, please let me know)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The sound of ID's fizzling out

Despite what many people think at times because of my liberal views, I am not "anti-religion." I am however, anti-radical religion. And it is that sort of radical that attempts to take things like Creationism, rename it Intelligent Design, and try to force it down kids throats as "science." Well, now that a couple of Americans won the Nobel for big-bang study , perhaps the ID people will crawl back under their rocks and stop their shenanigans for a while.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New Jersey law to tax iTunes sales

I don't like Apple (the company) because of their proprietary "own it all" nature. TheWife doesn't care, and currently purchases music from iTunes along with several other companies. I guess it really doesn't matter, and I am sure all downloadable music companies will be involved, but they specifically mention iTunes when in the recent article about New Jersey law to tax iTunes sales.

There are certain things that I agree with. With its $45+ billion dollars in debt, that New Jersey needs to start doing things to whittle that down. And with our property taxes being some of the highest in the country, they need to look elsewhere. Personally I support that if they have to raise taxes, to raise them on non-essentials.

However, Internet sales fall under Inter-State Commerce, which makes it (in most cases) prohibited from taxing. If Gov. Corzine manages to find a way to slip this through, it is going to be a damaging thing. First of course for consumers that will have to pay the taxes. (You can be sure that if this gets through, every State is going to make a beeline to this cashflow. ) But just as importantly to businesses, particularly small one, and even people who sell things on places like eBay, as you will now not only have to work as a tax collector, you will need to know the rates, rules, and proceedures from every State that you sell (or even potentially sell) products to. And that can be a real mess.

I still think Gov. Corzine was a better option than the man he defeated. But 10 months in office, and he has come with some real clunkers that are not endearing him to anybody. I have always assumed that he had long term aspirations on running for President, but if he is going to just keep throwing things out there just to "see what sticks" he won't stand a chance.

Too conceited to 'blog'

Alright, this is a bit old... but it is still one of the 5 "top stories" on the page. If you check out Brian Ross and the Investigative team on the ABC Website, one of the five "prime" stories on the site, is this one. It seems that "blogging" is beneath Mr. Ross because he is a "journalist."

Apparently blogging has become popular enough and important enough that MSNBC, CNN, Faux News, and most other media outlets include blogs in some fashion or another. But apparently that is not good enough for Mr. Ross, that "instead" of a blog, as he describes it:

"It's meant to be our take on the old-fashioned police blotter, where events of note were recorded as they unfolded..."

If Mr. Ross had done some investigation, what he would have found that when you LOG events like this on the WEB, that is called a Web Log, or for short a BLOG. Of course to make this even funnier, when you follow the link to his "blotter" the URL is and is in fact powered by TypePad.

Call it what you want Mr. Conceited Journalist Man Ross. It is a BLOG. Get over it.

Let me beat this Uniform Dead Horse once again

In the past week we have encountered, another spate of school shootings. "Only" one by a student. In light of these events, the United States Secret Service along with the United States Department of Education released (or more correctly re-released, since it is dated 2002) ,

What you will notice (if you can make it through all 99 pages) is the absence of anything related to students wearing uniforms having any bearing in creating a "safe school climate." I mean, unless those uniforms are made of kevlar, they are not going to keep kids safe.

What will keep our kids safe? I wish I could say definitively what could be done. I don't know about anybody else, but these events are every bit as terrorizing (actually probably more so), than alleged plots by al-qada. Events such as these are far more random, and virtually impossible to guard against (with all due respects to the above Secret Service and Department of Education). I mean sure, once again you can read talk about metal detectors in every school. But if the person, like the man that killed those girls in PA, has plans to exact "revenge" and is determined to kill people, do you think an underpaid security guard working a metal detector is going to halt it? Or would that simply be the first victim as the perpertrator enters the school.

I fully expect to see my daughter every day after school. But I am sure that those parents in PA, expected to see their children again as well. I mean after all, that is Amish Country. Crime is so low that many people do not lock their doors, and several towns do not even have a police force. If it can happen there... it can happen anywhere.

Proof positive that it is all rhetoric

Need proof that the GOP and their "cut and run" claims against Democrats is so much rhetoric that they just spout it out, regardless of whether it is true or not?

Well here it is. In a debate for a Congressional Seat from a retiring Congressman, the GOP contender, Peter Roskam decided to invoke the Rovian stategy to claim that his opponent, Tammy Duckworth was an advocate of the "cut and run philosophy."

The problem with that? Tammy Duckworth is a double amputee that lost both legs in Iraq. She served our country proudly, and certainly sacrificed of herself for our country. Roskam, was obviously not thinking when he made this remark, and just following the GOP Guide to "talking points" whether they are real or not.

Monday, October 02, 2006

From Bad to Worse

Everytime I see something new on the Rep. Mark Foley scandal, it gets more and more reprehensible.

OK, the first e-mail came out in the press, and he resigned. It was in poor taste, and certainly questionable. He was right to resign, but I didn't think much about it.

Then I turn around again, and read about the IM conversations that he had, and am now absolutely aghast at the now blatent nature of it. It crossed that line of questionable, and went straight into clearly inappropriate and questionably legal ground (Questionable, only because it the transcription has not been independently verified as yet).

Then I find out that this Virtual Child Molester, was member of the Missing and Exploited Childrens Caucus! The blood is starting to boil.

Come to today, only to find that GOP leaders KNEW about this for some time... and not only did they attempted to sweep it under the rug (par for the course - and I expect no less from either party), but they did not even force him to resign his position on the Missing and Exploited Childrens Caucus! They left him there.

I like the following analogy from this article in USA Today:

Beverly Pepe, 67, of Lake Worth, drew a comparison to the Roman Catholic
Church's scandals. "That's the same as when the church knew about all those
priests molesting the boys, and they just kept moving them from church to
church," she said.

Of course no GOP scandal would be complete without some spin justification from Ann Coulter, Brit Hume and of course Bill O'Reilly. But the best (or worst depending on how you want to look at it) has to come from Newt Gingrich who justified the GOP sitting on the issue and not reacting to the Foley scandal in a timely manner because:

House Republicans would have "been accused of gay bashing" if they had
"overly aggressively reacted" to Foley's allegedly inappropriate email
communications with a 16-year-old male congressional page when House Republicans reportedly first learned of Foley's actions in late 2005.

If this was the plot for a Television Movie. I'd turn it off. After all... who would believe a story line like this?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Jumping the Gun?

Well, we have costumes already for LatteGirl and TheWife, soooooo.... being in the Halloween spirit already, we have already pulled out the Halloween Decorations and started doing up the house.

LatteGirl had declared that "cutesy" is out this year and wants everything to be scary. Which is quite a departure from the norm for her, but I guess is in keeping with her making the switch this year from being one sort of Disney character or another to being a witch!

So... Are we jumping the gun, decorating a full month before Halloween? Seems OK to me, I mean what the heck, stores have had their Halloween stuff out for two weeks already, and by mid October you will probably start seeing Christmas stuff on their shelves.

Policies and Disclosures

My Frappr! Map
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from JayMonster. Make your own badge here.

Apple iTunes USA, LLC




Deal of the Day, Inc.


Creative Commons License
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.