Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Blogging Doldrums

Thursday, December 1st, 2005

I don’t know why I can’t force myself to blog lately. I have been having a very rut-like existence the last few months. I blame being overworked. It’s not as if I don’t have time. Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name) works nights so I have plenty of time to put together thoughtful intelligent blog posts, but I don’t because I just can’t summon the energy. In fact, I want to write one on the president’s speech yesterday (very good, long overdue and an unwelcome surprise to those Dems who have been posturing lately for a drawdown of troops while expecting the Pres to announce one anyway so they could take credit for the “victory”), but I just haven’t been able to summon the will. My apologies to all those visitors I have gotten from Samantha Burns expecting one of her newest Reader Blogs blogroll members to have fun an interesting content. I suck.

Updates on stuff… Da Bears keep winning (I hope they beat the hated Packers Sunday… what an unwelcome black cloud that would be over our otherwise wonderful season). The Sith Taters keep losing. They have been mashed repeatedly losing 5 of the last 6 games with one more game left against the number one Crafty Beavers. What an ignominous end to a season that started so well. Audrey is enjoying being 4 and Madelyn is loving being 2. Quick note on Madelyn that won’t be any fun for non-parents: She pooped in the potty last week. We are all so very proud. I figure over the next 6 months she should be sufficiently potty trained that we will be done with diapers and pull-ups forever.

How bout some funny links to flesh out this post, clear out the ThoughtBucket and make up for some lost Friday Funnies?

Men now have a new Alert System to post in the house to warn others away when a periodic enemy is near.

Just weird stuff: Cat born with two tongues. Does it take him half as long to take a bath? Is he very popular with the lady cats?

Fans of Something*Positive will enjoy this fan movie based on the first year or so of the strip. I don’t think I would have made the same choices in actors that they did, but I would guess that it is a bunch of friends who pitched in and doled out parts where able. Somehow I don’t think there was a big cattle-call audition for this production. It’s quite good and funny though.

Orson Scott Card has a zine! I bought the first issue and it’s pretty good. Definitely worth it if only for the new Enderverse stories in each issue. There is a write-up here. They are also accepting submissions from new authors in the vein of the old Sci-Fi Anthology magazines.

Someone else thinks that Nintendo’s Revolution truly is revolutionary. The article focuses on Genre and the evolution of a genre from easily accessible to all through its entrenchment as a hard-core gamer’s domain only. Nintendo has always been on the cutting edge of new genre formation. The Revolution is no different.

Found a fun little site with some good and (very) bad outtakes of classic shows. The first page is all Star Trek and the next page has some Mork and Mindy and M*A*S*H outtakes among others. The whole site is worth checking out though with clips from some other obscure TV shows including the pilot to the never-picked up M*A*S*H spin-off W*A*L*T*E*R starring everyone’s favorite bespectacled dwarf Radar O’Reilly.

And last, but not least, a good way to get some great deals on eBay is to misspell your search criteria. Check out FatFingers.com. Just type in your search terms and it shifts and doubles letters to find listings from auctioners who can’t use spell-check.

I’m going to see Rent this weekend because it is Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name)’s favorite stage show and she never saw it with the original Broadway cast since we live in Chicago and we can’t afford the airfare. Mean Mr. Mustard quotes a review from Steve Sailer:

The two heterosexual white male characters at the center of “Rent” have all these cool minority friends. Indeed, “Rent” functions as a sensitive liberal man’s wish-fulfillment fantasy about a new and improved form of diversity. Hanging with diverse pals demonstrates your moral superiority over other Caucasians, but, frustratingly for young white social climbers, actual live minorities are seldom content to play their assigned roles as silent props in your fashionable lifestyle. In particular, real black friends might insist on playing their hideous rap music and real gay friends their sissy disco music. In “Rent,” however, the diverse trendsetters all like 1970s white boy guitar rock, thus validating the two straight guys’ hipness quotients.

I’ll let you know what I think after I’ve seen it. I saw the play once about 4 years ago. It was good enough then, but I didn’t get the same emotional punch that Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name) did. Maybe I felt what Steve saw?

A good source for links to while away the time is Linky & Dinky. Subscribe to the newsletter and you’ll see where I crib some of my best links from (shhhh, don’t tell).

This concludes our irregularly scheduled broadcast. Join us next time when we teach poodles how to fly!

Happy Birthday Audrey

Sunday, November 20th, 2005

As of 3:40 a.m. this morning, I have been a father for 4 years. That’s actually a little scary to think about.

Sorry for the no posting, work has been hectic, I and other members of my family have been sick, I’ve been pooped, [another excuse], [some flimsy reason], and on top of all that [rationalization]!

I’ve been reading with interest all the hubbub about OSM and its attempted implosion. First the lack of true business plan, then the inscrutable writers’ agreements amd the unfortunate naming choice. I’m sure they got so blinded with the greatness of the OSM vs. MSM parallel that they just plum forgot how to Google it. At any rate, I really don’t care.

Toward the end of October, I celebrated my blogiversary. My Blogspot version of Catastrophic Success was started on 10/28/04. I celebrated by completely missing the date and doing nothing of note. Maybe I’ll celebrate the date I moved into my own space away from blogger with a .gif cake or something… does anyone but me care?

My final fantasy team is in 6th place going into today with a 5-5 record and the toughest part of my schedule ahead for the last 3 games. I don’t foresee a championship in my future.

Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name), Audrey, Madelyn and I will be headed to Cheeseburger in Paradise for Audrey’s birthday lunch in a few minutes, so I’ll wrap up here, but look for a belated Friday Funnies/ThoughtBucket Dump sometime this week….

By the way, Creepiest Moment of the Morning ™: Flipping through channels and there is SecDef Donald Rumsfeld talking to Tim Russert on Meet the Press… then flip up two channels and there he is talking to George Stephanopoulos on This Week… At THE SAME TIME!!!!! I knew there was something wicked in the Bush Administrations stern refusal to discuss cloning… look what happened with the first experiment! TWO RUMMIES! We wouldn’t that to happen with, say, Teddy Kennedy or John Kerry, would we? Thank goodness for Bush’s incalcitrance!

Truth or Dare

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

In a forum I frequent, I was tagged as part of a Truth or Dare game. I volunteered for a Truth and when the question was presented, I struggled a long time for the answer. This is about 4 months overdue. Names have been changed to protect the indecent innocent.
My Truth:
This is another question I’ve used before, and I’d like to hear your take on it. There are moments in time that, without thinking, we are the people we always want to be. When we act and it’s the right thing to do. When you look back in hindsight and you’re proud of yourself for your reaction. Tell us about one of those times.
The simple answer is that the times I am most proud of myself upon reflection are those moment that I share with my daughters playing, rough-housing and being a responsible father by appropriately disciplining them so that they understand that actions and choices have consequences, both good and bad. When my daughters spontaneously and appropriately use please and thank you, display their feelings for each other and use their brains and ample intelligence to solve problems, I know I have done something right. However, as I tell everyone else when they compliment me on my beautiful, intelligent and well-behaved children, I blame Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name) for that. She is the biggest influence on their lives, psyche and development because we are blessed enough that Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name) can be a stay-at-home mother.
The other simple answer is that I am proud of those moments that I am a good husband, when I do the things that a good husband ought to do. When I help around the house instead of sitting on my keister blogging. When I do the dishes before Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name) comes home from work. Every day that I choose to come home from work instead of going out for drinks, or fooling around, or doing anything that would jeopardize my marriage. Those are moments I’m proud of.
One illustration of one of my more recent better moments: Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name)’s grandmother has begun to drastically deteriorate into dementia after breaking her hip in August. She has gone from a very independent woman to a near-child who can’t remember if she has gone to the bathroom, can’t tell if she has to go soon and doesn’t know when she’s finished. Just prior to her breaking her hip, she was all set to move into a Senior Citizen apartment complex. Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name), her parents and I moved all of her stuff into this apartment while she recuperated. Because of the problems with and slowness of her recovery, Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name)’s dad decided to move her to Illinois from Michigan and that she will live with him after she leaves the rehab center. They needed to move all of her things again and on short notice. Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name) had to work that day and they asked me to help. Without hesitation, I agreed to wake up at 4:30 a.m. (no small feat for me), drive 45 minutes to pick them up, then drive two hours to Michigan to pick up a moving van, load it and two hours back, unload it and then drive home. They paid me for gas (and a little more), but I would have done it for free, and offered to many times. This is not heroic, but it is significant. They are family and that’s what you do for family. They insisted on paying me and I feel bad about it.
But those don’t count. Not at all. They are true answers, but simple. Being a good father, a good husband, a good son, and a good son-in-law is very important to me. It’s just part of who I am. I can’t feel proud of doing what I expect myself to do. The fact that I feel proud of doing the dishes or picking up the house is a source of shame for me because it should be so commonplace (it’s not) that there should be no sense of accomplishment. Being a good father is a standard I hold myself to, any deviation from which is another source of shame for its occurrence. Helping out my in-laws when they are in need is no great feat. If I didn’t, I would be ashamed and would be hard-pressed to show my face around them.
Since receiving this question, I have been trying to figure out how to respond to this. I have racked my brain looking for a single moment to highlight here. I still haven’t come up with one. I can think of countless moments that I am not proud of. Many times I have been still when I should have acted, acted when I should have been still, spoken when I should have held my tongue, or hid my tongue behind my teeth when I should have issued forth. I believe most people feel this way.
Since receiving this question, I have been trying to live my life in such a way that I could give an answer. That defeats the spirit of the question since it inherently seeks unthinking virtue, but it has given me an outlook I can be comfortable using to lead my life. Since receiving this question, I began to realize that a lot of my inactivity, exhaustion and irritability is partially due to my job. It is demanding and exacting and I constantly feel as if I am swimming upstream. I pride myself on being able to leave work at work and be home when I am home. In the last year, work has followed me home more often than staying at work. I have job-related moments I am proud of.
One more digression with that thought: I work in the Voice Operations of a major personal insurance corporation. After Katrina hit and devastated the Gulf Coast, much of the area’s voice infrastructure was negatively impacted. This greatly affected our ability to help our insureds in the area. Within 48 hours, we had nearly 100% service from any phone in the area to our call centers to allow our customers to begin the claim process and get their payments to allow them to begin rebuilding their lives, sometimes even before they knew the extent of what they had lost. I had a hand in that and I am tremendously proud of the effort I and my teammates put in, 1000 miles away, to get people back on their feet, faster, I might add than our largest competitor. By a week.
However, I am constantly tired, less amenable than I used to be to being drawn out of my rut and that impacts my family life. 15 hour work days doesn’t leave much time for family or sleep. That’s not who I want to be. I don’t want to be that emotionally-absent father. I began looking outside my company for a new job (same field) that would allow me to work consistent hours and not need to bring work home with me. The first two didn’t pan out, but just when I was about to give up, a position opened up in a support capacity in my company and I jumped at it. Almost immediately. Delay would have cost me, and I made a decision and acted on it. Nothing is guaranteed until I start, but a tentative transition date is December 1. It may fall through, but I evaluated a situation that was impacting myself and my family and took decisive action to correct it as soon as I possibly could. That’s something I’m proud of. I asked myself, “How would I react or act if I wanted to use this to answer [name-deleted]‘s question?” This was the answer I came up with.
I wish I could satisfactorily answer [name-deleted]‘s question. Instead I want to thank her for giving me a valuable life tool, a unique perspective and a new life-path.

Finally!

Friday, July 29th, 2005

With the submission of this post and the closing of this laptop, I will officially begin my long overdue, well-deserved, and desperately needed two weeks of vacation (which includes a trip to the local Geek Mecca – the WizardWorld Comic Convention in Rosemont, IL and a decidedly non-geeky trip to watch Da Bears training camp on my birthday).

Cards and presents can be left at the doorstep and the butler will collect them while I am away.

We have a busy week schedule the first week, but not much planned the second week. Therefore, blogging may pick up upon my return. At the very least ComicCon pictures will be shown. Til then, Ta Ta!

Update on Jessica

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

As of yesterday, Jessica Tucker is home again for the first time in over four months. She’s not out of the woods by any measure, but she is doing very well.

Sorry for the delay.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

BIG Post coming. You’re gonna need a meal or two just to get through it. But not yet. Soon my pets. Soon.

In other news, after a convoluted conversation with my grandmother, I found out very late that my cousin (who is very young) was diagnosed with a very rare disease. Niemann Picks is a very rare genetic disorder that causes severe organ enlargement and malfunctions and eventually death by age three. After finding their web site, and reading the blog (under “status”) I wanted to say how much my heart goes out to them. My uncle and I had a large falling out after the death of my grandfather last year, but I know what it is like to think you are going to lose your baby daughter. They told us that Madelyn probably had bone cancer before they diagnosed the Aneurysmal Bone Cyst. It was a very difficult time for Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name) and me. I can’t imagine going through that for eight months as they have.

Jessica is one of three children in the world who have undergone a new and dangerous procedure to treat this disease. The first little girl who had the procedure died, but Jessica and Anna (the third girl) seem to be responding to it. It is given at the University of Minnesota and Jessica has been up there since February. The procedure sounds similar to one that a schoolmate of mine had to treat MS. The patient is given two full rounds of chemo (in Jessica’s case, I imagine my adult friend had a larger regimen of chemo) to kill the immune system and other diseased cells and is then injected with stem cells (from their own bone marrow, bone marrow transplant or umbilical cord blood) to restart the immune system and/or replace the diseased cells. Jessica had the transplant in early March and seems to be recovering very well – an MRI from the other day showed that her brain displayed normal myelination, a marked improvement. I am very glad that she is doing so well.

However, the procedure is very expensive and Tommy and Julie could use all the help they can get. Please visit http://www.babyjessica.net and consider Buying a Bracelet or donating to the The Jessica Tucker Medical Expense Fund. All donations would be appreciated and religious as they are, prayers you could send their way (if you are religiously inclined) would also be appreciated.

Trick Question

Saturday, June 18th, 2005

So, the other day, Joan posts a test question she gives every man she gets seriously involved with. Joan, sadly, has a past history of rape and sexual assault, so the importance of this question to her should not be underestimated:

“Suppose I was kidnapped. The kidnappers call you and tell you that what they do with me is up to you. You MUST make a choice. They say to you, ‘You have two options. We can put a bullet through her head right now and tell you where to collect her remains. Or, we can all take turns raping her for 48 hours, dump her off somewhere, and you can pick her up alive.’ There is no way of finding me and no hope of saving me from the kidnappers. You have to choose one or the other. So what would you tell them to do with me? Why?”

Of course, I don’t know Joan and I don’t have the context of that personal knowledge to answer it correctly for her. Though, I did answer the question from the perspective of Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name) and me.

“You are brutal! I can’t believe this choice. I really don’t know how to answer it. If I tell them to kill her, I am a murderer, but if I selfishly keep her alive, I have condemned her to a life of fear, shame and she would never forgive me. Could I live knowing that the cost of letting her live meant destroying who she is? Could I continue to live never knowing what may have occurred if she had lived?

In her position, I would rather be dead than used and thrown away. However, that’s a choice I make. I am the only one who can willingly give up my life. It is not right for me to make that choice for her.

In the end though, I would have to be satisfied with knowing that the love of my life was dead, by my intent, if not by my action, because I could never live with that hate she would have for me by choosing my need for her to be alive over protecting her soul. I would tell them to shoot her.

And then I would hunt every last one of them down, beat them to within an inch of their lives, stuff their balls down their throat and put a bullet squarely in their cerebral cortex.”

There is a pretty decent conversation in the comments section about it as people chipped in. Some seemed to feel that I didn’t care enough for Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name) to let her live. I again responded:

“There have been some very good responses here. When I first read this, as I was typing my response, I called over Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name), who has never read your blog, and had her read what I wrote. I hadn’t finished but I was to the point of ‘In the end though, I would have to be satisfied with knowing that the love of my life was dead, by my intent, if not by my action, because I could never live with that hate she would have for me by choosing my need for her to be alive over protecting her soul. I would tell them to shoot her.

I wrote my response from the personal perspective of me and my wife. She nodded at the response I gave, then watched as I typed, ‘and then I would hunt every last one of them down, beat them to within an inch of their lives, stuff their balls down their throat and put a bullet squarely in their cerebral cortex.‘ It was at that point that she patted me on the head, smiled and said, ‘Good boy.’ “

I thought it was quite the thought provoker and Joan updated the post with her dear love Jimmy’s response (obviously a favorable one) along with an explanation of what she is looking for in an answer.

This, of course, begs the question. What would you do?

I DID IT!!!!!

Thursday, June 9th, 2005

Hello Everyone!

Well, Avon Walk 2005 has come and gone. It was just as great as last year, but better. There were more family and friends around this time! Let me start from the beginning. . .

First for the statistics. I raised a total of $2535! The walk this year had over 2400 walkers and hundreds of crew. All told, The Chicago Avon Walk raised over 5.2 million dollars! More money is still coming in, too! I had 0 sunburn, 0 blown knees, and 3 blisters(darn rain). I think I win the most unusual blister award, too. It was under my toenail!

For those of you that did not check my web page, both of my parents were on the crew this year. Mom did medical crew at a couple of different Rest Stops and Dad was on water/ice crew at the Wellness Village. He also was a finish line cheerleader for about 2 hours on Sunday. It was awesome having them around – seeing them throughout the day. We also ended up having our tents near each other which was cool.

My goal for this walk was to complete the entire thing again, but in better time. I did it! I shaved atleast an hour off my time on both days. Because I did it so much quicker on Saturday, Paul and the girls (Miss Jen, Audrey, and Maddy) all got to hang out with us in the Wellness Village for a bit. On Sunday, I figured, “why rush?”, so I hung out with them at the lunch stop for over an hour. The weather during the walk was not as delightful. For pretty much the entire weekend the sun was set to melt. OH MY GOD! The last mile of the entire walk was the hardest. It was right along the lake, with no shade, no wind, and VERY hot! I had to keep telling myself not to give into the heat. But it was worth it. There at the finish line was my entire cheering section rooting for me! For those of you in the Chicago area that remember a down pour on Saturday, yes, I was walking in that too. That torrential down-pour with high winds, thunder, and lightning. Yes, I was in it. Fortunately, I was about 2 miles out from where my mom was – she got hailed on!

There was one VERY cool part of this year’s walk. The Avon Foundation has, during these walks, a thing called a “Connection Ribbon.” This is a Pink Ribbon (almost like a beauty pagent sash) that says “Every Three Minutes.” The ribbon represents the fact every 3 minutes another person is diagnosed with breast cancer. For every 3 minutes during the entirity of the walk, these ribbons are handed out to walkers and crew. All Day and All night because cancer never sleeps. There are only 672 ribbons passed out all weekend. My mom, dad, and myself all got one this year. My dad received one while working. I received one while explaining to Miss Jen what my dad’s ribbon meant. My mom woke up to find one outside her tent. It was touching for all of us to receive one.

Now everything is said and done. My muscles and feet are feeling good and blisters have healed. I am extremely thankful of everyone that has helped me through all this. My parents are signed up to crew next year. I am going to walk again, but haven’t registered yet. (That’s right! I’ll be back for more donations again next year!) My mom and I are also thinking of going out to crew the Denver walk next year. Watch out Desiree! Here we come!

Thanks again to everyone! You all Rock!

Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name)

P.S. To those of you that want to see pic’s or have been promised pic’s, it is going to be a little bit. My camera apparrently did not like the rain and humidity and the pictures are a little hazy. You will get some! Don’t Despair! :)

Visit My Avon Walk Page

6 more days!!!

Sunday, May 29th, 2005

Here it is everybody -

THERE ARE ONLY 6 MORE DAYS UNTIL THE WALK!! That’s it! I’m feeling good about it. I actually can’t wait to get out there behind Soldier Field to see all the people getting ready to head out. As of my last email from Avon just a few days ago, there almost 1100 people walking next weekend!! Watch out Chicago!!

On the topic of fundraising, I am doing well. I am currently $160 short of my $2500 goal. Not too shabby. A big THANK YOU to all of you that have donated to my walk. I appreciate what all of you have done for me. If anyone else is still insterested in making a donation, you have until noon on Friday, June 3rd to either hand me a check or make a donation on my webpage.

That all for now. I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day! Look for one last message from me on Thursday.

Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name)

P.S. Keep crossing fingers and toes for good weather next weekend!

Visit My Avon Walk Page

Note from Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name)

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

My wonderful wife has reached her goal of raising $2000 for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, not that my blog was any assistance in that. At least my friends were able to contribute.

Of course, donations are still welcome through June 3rd.

I will post pictures and the story after she completes the walk. Please consider the donation. It goes to a good cause, and if you don’t want to donate on Mrs. Bixby (Not Her Real Name)’s behalf, you can make a general donation at the Main Page.