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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Adam Lambert's New Album

I'm not a fan of American Idol. It seems to be more of a popularity contest than it is a talent competition. Half the times I have seen it, I look at the screen and try to figure out in my head how America has picked the season winner. Case in point: Ruben Studdard, that one guy that looks like he's 50...I can't even remember his name now...Taylor something....., and the guy that won this last season. Again, I have no idea what his name is. Maybe it's because they're on season 9 or 10 of a show that wore out it's novelty at season 3. Or maybe it's because the wrong guy won. Last season, I saw a total of ten to fifteen minutes of Idol, but I could have told you that the most talented person there was Adam Lambert. He also had the best chance of coming out of that show and having a multi-platinum, lifelong career.

That brings me to the story I read on Yahoo News last night. His label released the image of his album cover for his debut album yesterday. To be honest, at first I thought it was a joke.



Unfortunately for Adam, it's not. This is easily the worst album cover I have ever seen. It is so over the top, it doesn't even look professional. It looks like a fan made picture that should be in a locker...circa 1981. The only thing that is missing is Ziggy Stardust riding on a Pegasus in the background. I have heard so many good things about this album....unfortunately, I will not be buying it. Consider that an ITunes download for me, thanks. In fact, I don't even know any gay men that are that comfortable with their sexuality to be willing to go into a Walmart and pick this one up. Something tells me this one will be huge on the digital market.

I understand the need to express yourself and be an individual and be comfortable with your sexuality. I'm cool with that. But you also have to understand marketing. Just because you're cool with that, doesn't necessarily mean John Doe in Birmingham, Alabama, is going to feel comfortable walking into a Best Buy and picking up a copy, no matter how much he may like your music. I guess all I can say is, thank god for the internet. LOL

Memos Regarding The Challenger Disaster

As I've related in previous postings, I follow a blog called Letters of Note. At times, the letters that they come across and post literally give me chills and make me ill. Yesterday's letter was a perfect example.

It was an internal memo from an engineer at a company called Morton Thiokol, to their Vice President. Morton Thiokol was the company that made the O rings for the space shuttles at NASA. This memo, dated July 31st, 1985, stated that there were known erosion issues with the primary and secondary O rings Morton Thiokol were supplying to NASA, and, until the issue could be resolved, all future flights should be suspended because there was a risk of "catastrophe of the highest order - loss of human life".

The memo was, in essence, ignored. Less than six months later, on January 28th, 1986, seven astronauts lost their lives when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded over Cape Canaveral, Florida, one minute and 18 seconds into its flight. The investigation into the accident concluded that O ring failure on one of the shuttles rocket boosters caused the explosion, which could have easily been prevented if this memo was taken to heart. Below is a photo of the memo itself followed by the transcript:




Transcript

Morton Thiokol, Inc
Wasatch Division

Interoffice Memo

31 July 1985
2870:FY86:073

TO: R. K. Lund
Vice President, Engineering

CC: B. C. Brinton, A. J. McDonald, L. H. Sayer, J. R. Kapp

FROM: R. M. Boisjoly
Applied Mechanics - Ext. 3525

SUBJECT: SRM O-Ring Erosion/Potential Failure Criticality

This letter is written to insure that management is fully aware of the seriousness of the current O-ring erosion problem in the SRM joints from an engineering standpoint.

The mistakenly accepted position on the joint problem was to fly without fear of failure and to run a series of design evaluations which would ultimately lead to a solution or at least a significant reduction of the erosion problem. This position is now drastically changed as a result of the SRM 16A nozzle joint erosion which eroded a secondary O-ring with the primary O-ring never sealing.

If the same scenario should occur in a field joint (and it could), then it is a jump ball as to the success or failure of the joint because the secondary O-ring cannot respond to the clevis opening rate and may not be capable of pressurization. The result would be a catastrophe of the highest order - loss of human life.

An unofficial team (a memo defining the team and its purpose was never published) with leader was formed on 19 July 1985 and was tasked with solving the problem for both the short and long term. This unofficial team is essentially nonexistent at this time. In my opinion, the team must be officially given the responsibility and the authority to execute the work that needs to be done on a non-interference basis (full time assignment until completed.)

It is my honest and very real fear that if we do not take immediate action to dedicate a team to solve the problem with the field joint having the number one priority, then we stand in jeopardy of losing a flight along with all the launch pad facilities.

(Signed)

R. M. Boisjoly

Concurred by:

(Signed)

J. R. Kapp, Manager
Applied Mechanics

Takes More Talent Than 'Guitar Hero'

I came across this video a couple of days ago on a video game website. A soccer team in the U.K. modified a 'Guitar Hero'-type video game to see if they were able to put their own little spin on it.

Don't get me wrong. I am a huge fan of music based video games. I think they have done an amazing job of getting children interested in music and musical instruments in recent years. If not for games like 'Guitar Hero' and 'RockBand', school music programs would be suffering much more than what they already are. That interest is keeping them funded. I also think that those games are being played to an extent that children are no longer getting exercise. I am guilty of it too. That being said, I would like to see an 8 year old do this on expert and put it up on Youtube:

Two Really Cool Blogs To Check Out

...but still read mine...please.

First up, a blog about the inner workings of all things Disney. The way that Disney kept secrets, they had a history of being locked down tighter than most government agencies. It is amazing how much inside information this blog has about Disney parks and studios, and it's a really interesting read. For example: do you know the story behind all of the tombstones outside the Haunted Mansion? Or, did you know that the cars at the Autopia at Disneyland originally weren't attached to the track?

This blog has a listing of every ride ever created for the Disney parks, every change of design and, in some cases, every change in paint. It even has a list of those rides and exhibits that were designed and planned that, for one reason or another, never came to fruition. You can find the blog, 2719 Hyperion, here.

Secondly, is a blog that I came across as a result of the release of a book of the same name. 1001 Rules For My Unborn Son is one of those ideas that come along that you wish you would have come up with. It is absolutely brilliant. The blog itself is currently up to #401 as of the time of this posting, and it is some of the best advice I have seen. It should have been called, "How Not To Be A Douchebag". There have been a couple of rules that I don't necessarily agree with, such as "Always accept a drinking challenge", but, overall, it is amazing. Along with the rules are quotes from famous authors and celebrities that follow along with the rule of the day, as well as streaming MP3s that are "required listening". The book came out yesterday, and from what I've read so far, it would make the perfect present for the expecting dad. It's the blog I wish I would have been clever enough to come up with.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This Week's Sign Of The Impending Apocalypse

Straight from the manufacturer's website:



That's right....Now available for dogs...IT'S THE SNUGGIE!!!

Now your spouse and children aren't the only members of the family you can torture this holiday season. Now the dog can be included in all the embarrassment and misery that is the Snuggie. At least they were able to corner the pet market before the knock off companies came up with the idea.

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's Official - I'm Disabled

Big sigh of relief! I had my interview on Wednesday morning last week. My case manager told me it would take two to three weeks to reach a decision. They came to a decision and alerted my employer within a matter of about three hours. It was that much of an open and shut case. I knew I had some issues..but damn!! I contacted MetLife today, and they were able to verify that indeed I was approved. I contacted my former(I love saying that) employer's payroll department, and they were able to verify that they were notified by H.R. on Friday to remove me from payroll records. Nice thing about that is that I now have access to all the profit sharing funds that were contributed to my 401k. The "termination" was backdated to 10/16.

I have so many questions now for my case manager now, but he is out of the office on vacation until the 6th of November. Not that big of a deal I guess. I have, at least, the next 2 years off of work. I filled out the necessary paperwork for Social Security online over the weekend. Took a minimum of 10 hours of work. It was ridiculous. I then had to print up and fill out 24 pages of paperwork on top of that. Cost me almost $2.00 just to mail twenty miles. It's been a hectic weekend to put it lightly. Nice thing is, I have no deadlines; no assignments to do over the next 3 to 5 days. Just a therapy appointment on Wednesday. I'm going to bed in fact at 10:35 tonight, and have no reason to get up before 9am tomorrow. Good night.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Dream Of Mine Came True Today

When 'Fantasia 2000' was released on January 1, 2000, I was excited to see it. Honestly, it was an average movie. By Disney standards, it was mediocre. It featured a number of classic pieces, including 'Pomp and Circumstance' and 'Rhapsody in Blue'. By far my favorite piece though, was the last one.

It was their interpretation of 'The Firebird Suite' by Igor Stravinsky. It featured an animation style so similar to Miyazaki, that many people thought he actually animated the segment. Needless to say, Miyazaki was not happy. In fact, he called the movie, "Disney's worst animated film: A technical prowess devoid of any feeling". The piece focuses on only two characters, a sprite and an elk, the sprite is completing her duty of awaking the springtime flowers and plants along the hillside and accidentally awakens a Firebird(volcano), which destroys all the life on the life on the hill and seemingly kills the sprite....you'll have to watch the rest to find out what happens next:



I remember seeing this in the theater and being so sad that I would never have a child to share this with, unaware that technology would eventually catch up and allow us to be able to see this in digital quality on big screen televisions. Today, my little girl saw it for the first time. She sat on my lap as I narrated the story to her. At the end of the video, she was headed out the back door to go play. She jumped out of my lap, ran to the TV, touched the screen and smiled, as if to say goodbye. Then she ran outside. It made me get choked up. She liked it. A dream of mine came true. That doesn't happen too often anymore.

Soundtrack of My Life 10/25/09 - Sting 'Fragile'

Depending on the phase of my life, I either absolutely love Sting, or absolutely loathe him. At the moment, I'm sort of in between. I've been thinking a lot about life...and health...and death lately. And, for some reason, this song came to mind.

'Fragile' was originally written about the assassination of John Lennon. The following video was recorded at a concert that was supposed to be telecast live worldwide. That ill-fated performance was scheduled to take place on the evening of September 11th 2001. Due to the events of that morning, Sting decided to perform this single song in memory of the victims of that day's terrorist attacks, then cut the live feed. This version of 'Fragile', I believe, later went on to win a Grammy for live performance.

I've Been Approved For Long Term Disability - I Think?

MetLife called me on 10/21/09, and did a phone interview with me regarding the Tourette's and the PTSD. The interview was scheduled to last 20 minutes, and ended up lasting and hour and ten minutes. My case manager told me that it would take the clinicians approximately two to three weeks to make their decision and let me know.

I go to my mailbox yesterday and I have a letter from my employer. I think, nothing new. I get two or three needless letters a week from them. I open this one up and the first thing I see is a pamphlet explaining my rights as a terminated employee. It is a letter from Human Resources saying that they received notification from MetLife on 10/21/09 that my claim for long term was approved. Don't get me wrong, I am super super excited, but something doesn't seem right. A two to three week approval process shortened to one day? If this is correct, I am shocked at how quickly it was able to go through and am absolutely thrilled that I don't have to go through this anymore with them. But something tells me that this letter was sent out prematurely. I have to wait until tomorrow to see if, indeed, this is true or not.

Wish me luck.

eta...I also have 12 pages of medical information and job history to fill out for the Social Security Administration today....might need more luck with that.

I'm At A Loss

Last week was pretty damn rough. Tuesday, we thought the baby had a UTI, and took her into the doctor. Turns out, she only had a yeast infection, but a nasty one. Wednesday, my wife had outpatient surgery at her dermatologist's office to remove two cysts on her scalp she's had since childhood. She was in so much pain afterward she almost passed out and was practically vomiting. Within 48 hours she had swelling on her forehead that was the size of an orange. The same day, my daughter developed what appeared to be a cold. It looked like it was getting better and now it's coming back with a cough. We're hoping it's not H1N1.

We're all sitting around in the living room yesterday, trying to do our best to recover from the previous week, when my wife gets a phone call. It's my mother in law. She's freaking out. Something had happened to Sandy, her best friend.

We had all met Sandy at the same time, at a farmer's market in Chandler. My wife and mother in law were tending a booth when she came up and had a couple of questions about what she needed to do to get a space of her own. My mother in law instantly connected with her. They became friends almost instantly. Over the course of the coming year, they practically became sisters. They either saw each other every day or talked on the phone. She got mom the job she has now. In fact, the only reason my wife is a Scentsy rep because she knew she would be working under her.

She was a few years older than mom, but you couldn't really tell. Blond hair. Glasses. Running her ass off every time I saw her, but always trying to smile. And the way that she interacted with my daughter, she gave off that "cool grandma" vibe. Just an all around good person.

She was in Casa Grande yesterday, doing a farmer's market in a Safeway parking lot. She had been doing this particular one for about a month now. She called mom at 2:45 yesterday afternoon to say hi and see how things were going. Sandy had just walked away from her booth and was going inside the Safeway to use the restroom. When she got inside the store, she said "I'll call you right back.", and hung up the phone. The phone rang back a couple of minutes later. It was coming from Sandy's cell. This time when mom answered, a man was on the other end. He said that a lady had passed out inside the store and they didn't know who she was. Mom told them where to find Marv, her husband outside. Sandy had had a heart attack.

After a few minutes, my wife and I started to think, regardless of how major or how minor the heart attack may be, there was no way she was going to be in any condition to pack her stuff up and bring it home. So we started making plans to go to Casa Grande to go get it. She usually packed everything up in her Mini Cooper, so getting it all in one car shouldn't be a problem. Between myself, my wife, mom and dad, we arranged to have me stay home with the baby, and mom and the wife head the 60 miles South to Casa Grande to pack up the stuff and bring it home. Mom and dad were at the sister in law's house at the time and we were all going to me at mom and dad's house.

We left our house, and were about a mile away when we got a call from dad. Just seeing that it was from dad, we knew the news was the worst. Mom was hysterical in the background. They had just received the phone call that Sandy had passed away. She had a massive heart attack. She apparently had died at the scene. We were at a loss. I felt so sorry for mom. Sandy was her only friend here in Arizona. I especially felt sorry for Marv. Although I had never met him, I was sort of seeing the situation through his eyes. Sandy had just quit smoking the month before. She was a month away from her 65th birthday. He was laid off from his job 2 weeks ago, and they were planning on traveling the country together in their RV.

We had no idea the farmer's market was in the Safeway parking lot. The way that Sandy had described it in the past, it was across the street from Safeway, in a park or another parking lot. We knew she had Scentsy products with her, and she usually brought hundreds of handmade products to sell. Dad had said that they were too shaken up to go to Casa Grande, and I don't blame them. I started thinking though. What if all of her stuff gets stolen? Knowing how those Scentsy reps are, they've probably already looted the booth. They're like rabid hyena soccer moms. For Marv though, what if everything Sandy had made is there in that booth? I'm sure he would want something there to remember her by. We had to go to Casa Grande.

It was a nice drive. Even though the baby was sick, you could tell she enjoyed getting out of the house. We eventually found the Safeway there but no lot across the street. There was a trailer outside the Safeway selling Cokes and hotdogs. We asked them if they knew where the farmer's market was, and they said it was there in the parking lot. We asked if they knew about the lady that had the heart attack, and they said that her things were packed up and placed in the manager's office. Sandy had packed up so much stuff, that neither our car, or mom and dad's pickup, could carry it alone. We would have to come back with two vehicles.

The manager came out to talk to us in the parking lot. He was a body builder type wearing a Cardinals jersey. He was continuously choked up. He was unbelievably respectful and courteous. I really think that this was the first time that something like this had happened on his watch and he was freaking out a bit. He kept saying how hard they tried to revive her and how they tried CPR. We were almost comforting him as much as he was trying to comfort us. He explained that as soon as everything had happened, he sent employees out to the parking lot to pack up her things, take down her canopy, and bring it into the store. It is currently locked inside the manager's office. One of the assistant managers was even talking about selling hotdogs and Cokes at the store to raise money for the family. I was really impressed.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to take anything back with us, but we were able to verify that it was safe. We stopped to grab a pizza for mom, dad and Marv on the way home and met them at Sandy and Marv's house. Marv was so ill he refused to even accept the pizza at first. We explained that eventually he would get hungry, and if he wouldn't eat it, family and friends would be there that would. Mom, dad and the rest of us went to their place to try to relax for a few.

It was a very rough day, and at the end of it, when saying goodbye to mom, I hugged her and told her I loved her. She teared up a bit and told me she loved me. Although I have always known it, it was the first time I had actually heard those words from my mother in law. It was nice to have that validation. It made me smile. It made me cry.

Yesterday taught me two things. One, I'm getting older. As you get older, two things happen: More people that you know die, and those people are made up from the inner rings of those you care about as you get older. Let me explain. Everyone that you will ever know and that everyone you ever care about will ever know fits on the rings of a tree. At age 7, your best friend's great great aunt is on a much further ring out on level of importance, as say your best friend's mom at age 35. Make sense? The older you get, the more death you see, and the more significant those deaths are. As a child you may have a grandparent or two. As you're approaching your mid-thirties and early forties, your grandparents are usually already gone, your aunts and uncles start passing away, and you're preparing yourself for what to do when your folks die. I think that's what made 'Benjamin Button' such a good movie. He was getting younger, but he still had to deal with that horrible part of being an adult.

Secondly, I realized yesterday that my wife and I are good people. Neither of us had ever met Marv, and it occurred to me halfway to Casa Grande yesterday that I was doing this for him, and not for Sandy. I put myself in his shoes, as difficult as that was. Even when it comes to people who claim to be Christians, most of them do not live by the "golden rule". I try to treat others how I would like to be treated. I know that eventually doing good things will bring positive things in life. Call it Karma, whatever. I just know that, especially now, I have to try to set a good example for my daughter. Sure, I didn't HAVE to drive 120 miles round trip, and I didn't HAVE to buy pizza for her family, but it was a nice gesture, and it was was was necessary for the situation yesterday. And I'm proud of myself and my wife for taking that road trip.

Sandy, we will miss you. You treated my wife and I with kindness, and our daughter with love. Thank you.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why Al Franken Will Someday Be The President Of The United States

I'm sure to get a comment on this one. I must say, this one came out of left field for me, too. When I heard he was running for a Senate seat in Minnesota, I didn't think he had a chance. "If he did win", I thought, "he's going to be an embarrassment to the Democratic party". After all, we're talking about a guy who made a living writing for Saturday Night Live. His only face time on the show was in a blond wig, saying, "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me". Let's face it. He didn't exactly scream "future in politics" when you saw him.

After leaving SNL, he became a writer. He was definitely liberal, but came across as a smartass. His books were really humor, and could not be taken seriously. Then he started campaigning. He got to the issues, and all of a sudden he looked like a political contender. I was pleased to see him win his seat, just as much for the fact that he was number 60 as the fact that it gave him a chance to prove his critics wrong. And that is exactly what he did.....

Franken had a way of connecting with the people. When McCain was getting booed by his own constituents, Franken had a way of calming them down and having a civilized conversation with them. Look at how quickly he was able to disarm this heated situation:



He had a talent for playing the "new guy in the Senate/I don't know how things work around here" role. He knew how to lay back and play dumb and set the trap for the person he was questioning. Check out this clip of him questioning a Justice Department official on the constitutionality of the Patriot Act. Let's just say, the Judicial committee is a nightmare spot for him to be in if you're a Republican:



He is a Patriot, and truly cares for the American people. His first attempt at introducing a bill was an attachment on this year's most recent defense spending bill. His attachment was a stipulation that said that we withhold defense contracts from companies or contractors who make their employees sign paperwork as part of their employment agreement that states that if anything tragic happens to them while they are on the job or under employment, they are not allowed to sue the contractor. Rachel Maddow called it the "If you get gang raped on the job, you can't sue us clause". Sounds fair. It was actually introduced due to the story of a female contractor that was drugged and gang raped on her fourth day on the job by her own coworkers. After attempting to reach outside sources for medical help and to reach family members in the States, her employer KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, locked her in a shipping container and shipped her back to the U.S. Shockingly, 3/4 of the Republican Senators voting on this addendum voted NO! Here is video of Franken introducing the bill:



He's not afraid to just come out and bitch slap someone when he feels it necessary. Case in point, this testimony earlier this month regarding health care reform. The person being questioned was testifying that health care reform would result in a rise in bankruptcies from catastrophic medical expenses. Here is Senator Franken's line of questioning to follow. Absolutely brilliant:



And lastly, the man is brilliant. He has been doing this as a party trick for years, but it still shows his level of intelligence. When 50% of American adults cannot find the State of New York on a U.S. map, he should score in the upper 5 percentile of American minds to be able to do this and talk simultaneously:



So, in my opinion, is "Franken in 2016" a possibility? At this point, I don't see any other option for the Democratic party.

Fascinating Video On Dystonia

First off, let me start by saying it's always a good idea, considering the source, to take this with a grain of salt. News magazine shows like Inside Edition and A Current Affair made their reputations by making mountains out of molehills and vice versa. This is, after all, the birthplace of Bill O'Reilly.

The video tells the story of a young woman who, after getting a routine flu shot in August, developed dystonia 10 days later. It is a very interesting video. Unfortunately, all versions of the original video have been tampered with. At about the two minute mark, the audio has been altered to make it sound like they're saying that this SHOULD discourage people from getting the flu shot. This was not the case. Of all the videos and news stories on Youtube I found, Inside Edition actually had the least sensationalizing story available. Other "respected" news agencies were actually questioning whether flu shots were safe. This video focused more on her unusual symptoms, which is what I wanted to share:



The human body is an amazing thing. It works in mysterious, and often, misunderstood ways. This woman's symptoms disappear only while she is running. Mine disappear only when I am singing. I didn't start to notice my Tourette's tics until I was 31. By definition, Tourette's Syndrome must be diagnosed before the patient is 18. It develops in childhood. At this time, clinically, "adult onset Tourette's Syndrome" does not exist.

What I am saying is there is always a precedent. A young woman develops a severe, and extremely rare, neurological condition after a routine flu shot. It may never happen again, and probably won't, but it's possible. Anything is possible. For all we know she could have developed rabies from the flu shot, not likely, but possible. There is always room for a precedent. Never rule out a possibility, and just because something rare happens to an unlucky individual, don't think it's going to happen to you too. The odds of you dying from Swine Flu are far greater than you being diagnosed with dystonia after getting that flu shot. And frankly, I like those odds.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Last Time I "Spoke" To My Mother

I knew this post was coming.

I've been thinking about it and contemplating it for a couple of weeks now and figured it is finally time to go there.

January 6, 2006, I was working in the office of the family business. My mom had just gotten home from the hospital the previous day, after spending 9 weeks practically locked in a room with a mysterious immune system disorder. The two of us got into an argument that started over furniture, of all things, and eventually, before it was over, led to me quitting the family business.

I was the operations manager of their trucking company. I did all of their dispatching, payroll, human resources, etc. I was the business. My father was out of state with a load, and my brother, still asleep at three in the afternoon. It was Thursday(payday), and times tough with the business. We didn't have enough to pay all the drivers. I really left them high and dry. So, in no uncertain terms, by leaving the business, I was also leaving the family. I was getting so tired of living a double life. By that time, I had been out of the church for 10 years, but still had to act like a Witness during the day.

I later found out that my parents had my little brother, who was 26 at the time, take over for my position with the company. They went bankrupt a little more than three months later. They lost their house, their two cars, and their fleet of trucks. He wasn't paying attention with the payroll software and inadvertently overpaid a number of the drivers tens of thousands of dollars.

I didn't speak with my mother again until the day after my daughter was born. I simply sent her an email with a picture of my little girl with her date of birth, name and weight. Two minutes later, I received an email response that simply said "Thank you".

Over the next couple of months, we slowly started exchanging email. I started to fill her in on the information on where I was and how I was now a husband and father. She started to fill me in on how they had all moved to the East Coast to be closer to my nieces during my little brother's custody battle.

Things started going well. For the most part, she kept religion out of the conversation. I kept out religion and politics. We had a couple of conversations that were surprisingly candid. She apologized for raising me the way she did. She explained that she did what she thought was right; that she did the best she could. I started to understand my mother.

I realized that all along, she had her issues as well. Looking back, she never really was all that stable mentally. She has always had issues with depression and alcoholism. I would also say that she was probably Bipolar. She needed that church as much as they needed her. It was a family to her. She needed structure, and found it there. Honestly, I think she would probably leave the church if she had the ability to think for herself, but it has been a part of her life for so long she wouldn't know what to do without it.

Occasionally, the crazy phone call or email would come through. I would get the "I'm not feeling right talking to you because you're not a Witness" line every now and then. Sometimes, she would even forget that she said that to me. Other times, she would pursue it. She thought that she would be able to end her communication with me but keep a relationship with my wife and daughter. I had to explain to her that family doesn't work that way. You can't pick and choose who you want to associate with and who you don't. My family is a package deal. It was all or none. She couldn't understand that concept. She didn't think that was fair.

Fast forward to June of this year. I'm at a movie with my wife, daughter, and my wife's nephew from out of town. I start getting text messages from my mom. She tells me that there is something she wants to tell me regarding my ex sister-in-law and an upcoming court hearing for custody. My brother and her have been fighting for those girls for years. My ex sis is OK. She really isn't that good of a mother, but when I wasn't talking to my mom for those three years, we kept in contact and she let me talk to my nieces on a regular basis.

Side note: My nieces have been through pure shit during this whole time. Their dad is an alcoholic, addict, deadbeat. Their mom lets them go to school in winter wearing shorts and sandals. My mom cares more about their well being than their parents. Their parents are in a pissing contest. Both girls are showing signs of serious mental issues already at 7 and 5. One will be pregnant at 14 and a stripper at 16...the other will end up being institutionalized.


My mom starts saying that she really wants to tell me but she doesn't trust me that I won't go and tell my ex sister-in-law. I ask her what would give her that idea. She says, "Because of what happened". "What happened", meaning me leaving the business back in January of 2006. She wants to tell me a secret, but can't trust me with information because of that day. I explain to her that I am actually in a movie theater, and that I will email her later that night.

I actually am so angry, it takes me two days to email her. I first talk to my therapist to see if it's even a good idea to say what I want to say knowing how she will likely take it. There are some things in the response that I intentionally say just to get a point across. For example, I have never, in my 34 years, purposely cursed at my mother. Here is the email in it's entirety:

"sorry i didnt get back to you yesterday.....was sort of a crazy day. about our conversation on wednesday night....the only thing i can say is whatever....

just in the last week, things have gotten to a point with jessi where she cant handle having the dog and the baby in the same room.....at the moment i have both of them crying and she's in bed.....she's lost it.....

i'm crazy on top of it all.....my life is quickly going to shit.....we cant pay our bills...our van will likely be repossessed in the next couple of weeks....we had to do a payday loan so we could buy groceries for the next week...we have $30 in the bank to last us a week and both cars are on empty and i have a therapy appt next tuesday.....

im not getting a paycheck next friday because my short term extension wont be approved until after payroll is sent out.....and jessi's is gonna be short... maybe 800 total....so we're gonna have to do another payday loan next week to pay rent.....

i have my psychiatrist and my Mayo neurologist arguing over treatment because they disagree over what i actually have....in the meantime my ticks are getting worse......and im not able to hold a job of any kind......

so....when it comes to your "moral dilemmas" or your "trust issues" with me.....i really could care....trust me or dont.....talk to me or dont....i just honestly dont have the energy or the ability to care at the moment.....that is at the bottom of my priority list right now.....ive got more important things to focus on......

go to www.youtube.com/thedailytwitch to see what's going on in my world....

i love you"

The Youtube link used to link up to an old page of mine that no longer exists. I haven't heard from her since. At this point, the ball is in her court. Since the email was sent out, I have been diagnosed with both Tourette's and PTSD. The van was repossessed. We did make the rent payment, somehow, but have struggled to make each subsequent rent payment. I am at a point in my life where I don't know if I'll ever be able to work again.

So, the email still rings true. To quote a line from Jack Nicholson in 'As Good As It Gets': "Sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up here".

My Original Misdiagnosis

As I had posted earlier, my Tourette's tics had originally started to present themselves back in August of 2006. At the time, I had no idea what was going on. I never would have thought that it was Tourette's Syndrome. I just thought it was a stress related "twitch", and lord knows, I had some stress in my life.

I spoke to my psychiatrist about it, and he prescribed medications that practically made me a zombie.....let me back up a bit.

I've noticed a problem that is prevalent in the modern psychiatric practice these days...laziness. I was mistakenly diagnosed as being rapid cycling bipolar when I was 19. This was primarily because I told the doctor that my mind was racing most days(ADD), and I was depressed on a frequent basis, and that the two bounced back and forth. Looking back, I have never had a manic episode in my life. I have never been bipolar.

I move. I change doctors. My initial consultation with my new doctor is only twenty minutes. I am 24 or 26 now. I tell the doctor that I am still depressed but at 19, I was diagnosed as rapid cycling bipolar. Instantly, without talking to me about my symptoms or my history, he assumes my medication isn't working. He prescribes a NEW mood stabilizer, anti-psychotic, and anti-depressant. This happens until I am 33.

By the time I am 33, I have been on every major psychiatric drug on the market, 90% of which I probably should not have been on. So, I go into my doctor, tell them I'm twitching, the prescribe me another anti-psychotic, or another mood stabilizer. They treat it as a psychological issue for three years, and don't think to look into it as a neurological issue.

In April of this year, I am out on short term disability for depression and anxiety. I'm locking myself in the bathroom at work 5-6 times a day to have a panic attack, and, needless to say, my twitching is getting worse. I am also having an issue controlling my bowels(only in stressful situations), and this worries my primary physician. She sends me to a neurologist to get the nerves in my spine tested to make sure I do not have a condition called Cauda Equina. While at the neurologist, I ask him about my twitching, explain my history, and see if there is anything he can test for.

He immediately rules out Tourette's. You have to have the tics present in childhood for you to be diagnosed as TS. There is no such thing as "Adult Onset" Tourette's Syndrome. He sends me for a CAT Scan, an MRI, and an EEG. All come back normal. He's stumped. So he refers me to the Mayo Clinic.

I arrive at the Mayo Clinic on Cinco de Mayo. I go through my examination, and that day, I am twitching very badly. The doctor also says that because of the time of onset, I can't, by definition, have Tourette's. She asks me about my medication history. I explain to her the list of medications given to me, than in hindsight, were probably in error. Many of those medications were neuroleptics. Neuroleptics cause a neurological condition called Tardive Dyskinesia. That was my diagnosis.

I was thrilled to finally know what I was dealing with. To have a name to it. To know it was something that could be treated with medication and that it wasn't a tumor or something that was going to kill me. And then the next day I went on Youtube.

I pulled up videos of people with the condition. They looked nothing like me. They weren't dealing with anything like what I had. Tardive Dyskinesia affected the mouth and jaw more, making it look like you were chewing really slowly. Watch:



I felt really bad for these people. They were going through hell, but it was a different hell than the one I was in. I had never seen myself tic, and I was really apprehensive about documenting the tics myself, but I decided to record them. I set my wife's laptop up on the coffee table one afternoon, and, when I felt a tic coming, ran over and pushed record. This was the result:



I decided to get a second opinion. I was recommended a doctor by Barrow Neurological Institute. In the 90s, he used to be the director of their cognitive neurology department. Within 30 seconds of seeing me, he said "You have Tourette's". I said, "But I'm 34". He explained that, as a child I must have had it, but the tics were so minor that they were practically unnoticeable. Neurological disorders run in my family. My uncle has Parkinson's. My brother was also diagnosed with Tardive Dyskinesia, but with the information I have now, I'm sure it's also Tourette's Syndrome. Unfortunately, because of family issues, they don't know about my diagnosis. But that is reserved for another post.

As I have posted before, the medication has made some things better, some things worse. It is nice to have a name to what is bothering you; to know who it is that you are cursing. It makes it easier to control it, to live with it, and to get the support that you need. My long term disability paperwork is in final review. It should take 2-3 weeks to get an answer. I miss working. I miss being able to communicate face to face with the outside world. I miss being "normal" in a sense. Hell, I'm still getting used to the noises and the movements I make in public myself. But, as they say, all things get better with time.

Hitler Finds Out "Balloon Boy" Was A Hoax

Usually, when it comes to anything, I wouldn't side with a genocidal psychopath, and someone who has a permanent spot in the top 3 as "Worst Human Ever". In this instance, though, I must say that Hitler brings up some very strong points, better than I've heard from Nancy Grace at least. Very funny:



This is the first 'Flight of the Navigator' reference I've heard in 15 years! I used to love that movie! Seriously....FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR?!?! Is that even on Blu-ray?(According to Amazon.com...no) This is easily the best parody video I have seen in years. Wonderful job with the subtitles. I accidentally came across it this morning and liked it so much, immediately viewed it two more times. Just thought I would share.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Somehow This Is Funny To People



According to popular opinion in the world, this seems to be the funniest viral video on the web at the moment. This 4:02 video of a man that is so drunk, he can't even walk the twenty feet required to get to the cooler to buy more beer, has received almost 2.2 million hits, and has been tweaked and remixed to feature a variety of funny or inappropriate soundtracks to go along with the video.

What's even sadder to me than this man falling over shelves, knocking things over, falling and being unable to get up, is that no one assists him. They ignore him. Finally, at about 3:45 into the clip, an older gentleman tries to help him, to no avail. No one knows who this guy is, but most comments on Youtube are along the lines of, "Man, that's hilarious", instead of "I hope that guy is alright".

It's depressing that in today's society, seeing a man fall over himself at 10 in the morning, trying to get more beer brings on laughter, instead of pity. People email their friend with a link of the clip instead of a link to Alcoholics Anonymous. People help their friends out on Friday night by blowing into their State ordered breathalyzer ignition system after going out, instead of helping them check into rehab.

People say that I have a sick sense of humor, but even I have my limits.

Songs That Get Under Your Skin - Unexpected Entry

When Gnarls Barkley released their single 'Crazy' back in May of 2006, I instantly connected to it. From the very first verse, they had a life long fan. With Cee-Lo Green's vocals, and Danger Mouse's arrangements, it was something that had never the likes had never been heard of before on radio. And the video, with the ever changing Rorschach test incorporating the members of the band with various images...spellbinding.

Last night, while searching Youtube for a video for 'Trouble', I came across a cover of 'Crazy' by Ray Lamontagne. It was as if he was the songwriter. Whereas Cee-Lo gave the impression that he had become comfortable with his mental issues, Lamontagne sings the song as if he is not only comfortable, but thrives off the instability. He has been so familiar with this "crazy" for such a long period of time that it is part of him now. He is in control of it. It doesn't control him. It's that kind of vibe that he gives with his vocals, that feeling that it is so much a part of him, that it is ingrained in him, that makes the song almost uncomfortable to listen to. I absolutely loved it. I hope you do to.

Side note: I've looked everywhere. I cannot find a website(ITunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, etc.) where this song is available.

File Under: Oh Dear God!

A Baptist church in Canton, NC, is starting a new tradition this Halloween. They're having a good, old fashioned book burning. OK. So...nothing new. This one is different though. These guys are burning bibles. Yes, you read correctly, BIBLES; probably causing God himself to rest his head in his hands, shake his head, and say "Jesus Christ".

They consider all translations of the bible other than the King James to be inferior, and therefore, satanic. Not only are they burning bibles, but they're also lighting up books by authors such as Billy Graham, the Dalai Lama, and Mother Teresa, CDs of christian music, and many other "satanic" items.

The Associated Press covered the story and interviewed the pastor, one Marc Grizzard. He was nice enough to show up on camera wearing his Sunday best, a white t-shirt and overalls. I honestly do not know if the AP was intentionally making jokes at the pastor's expense, but I did notice something pretty funny in the video. At the :41 mark, the reporter uses the words "spells it out" just as the camera pans over the word "contempory" on the announcement. I think the word he was going for was "contemporary". At this point, I can't even tell if I spelled it correctly, but my spell check hasn't underlined it.

Interesting side point: At the :12-:15 mark in the video, you see the NWT mentioned. That stands for the "New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures" aka The Jehovah's Witness bible. Personally, based on my experience, that translation has been tampered with, primarily with the addition of "God's name" added in places that it was uncalled for or didn't exist. So, Mr. Grizzard, you can burn all of that particular "contempory" translation you would like you. Oh, and could you throw in a couple of Amy Grant CDs in for me? Thanks.

86-Year-Old Vet On Gay Marriage: "What do you think I fought for in Omaha Beach?"

The following is a video of a man named Philip Spooner, a World War II veteran, life long Republican, and father of a gay son. It was filmed on April 22, 2009, as part of testimony for, and against, Maine's marriage equality bill.

Philip spends some time introducing himself, giving his background, which is extensive considering his years of service, and then starts to discuss his beliefs. I just wanted to give this man a hug. I am so happy to see that there are fathers and grandfathers(Republican no less), that are as caring and supportive as he is. It is truly touching. Towards the end of the video, if you look closely, you can see a tear roll off his nose as he is speaking. It's heartbreaking. Thank you Philip.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Am Developing New Tourette's Tics

As mentioned on 10/17/09, I saw my neurologist. He said there was a definite possibility that the word association issues that I have been having, the accents, the stuttering, may all be new forms of tics. My brain may be developing them in order to replace the motor tics that have gone away as a result of the medication.

Today, while eating lunch, I demonstrated a new tic. I started clapping my hands. It was extremely embarrassed, as it had never happened before.

I have no idea what is happening. It is as if you plug up one leak in a dam and the water finds a way to make it's way out of the dam. These tics want to escape my brain, my body, any way they can. It is becoming very frustrating.

I am supposed to be counter balancing my decrease in Topamax. I was taken from 375 to 300mg a day, and was supposed to be taking 10mg of Abilify to help with both minimizing the tics and to help with my PTSD. I can't afford the Abilify. I have been so tired lately, at all times of the day, so I'm not taking my anti-anxiety medication. I am constantly on edge and cranky, and l am starting to get discouraged with my new daily reality.

My long term disability was supposed to be approved or denied the day before yesterday, but I haven't received word yet. I am hoping I can at least get this part of things get this major stress in my life. I will keep you posted.

Soundtrack Of My Life 10/20/2009

Ray Lamontagne. 'Trouble'. Enough Said.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Autobiographical Songs Part V

It seems like from day one of our relationship, my wife and I have been on our own. We have had no one else to count on. Shortly after we met, I lost my family. Hers were in Iowa. We had a number of acquaintances, but no real "friends" to count on, for the most part. Just the two of us, for the better part of four years.

Somehow, we made it. Everyday, our love for each other stronger than the last. We have always been told that we have the perfect relationship...the type of marriage you only see in the movies. We've been together for a little over four years and have never had a fight. We very rarely, if ever, raise our voices around each other. She's into video games. I like to help her pick out clothes. It just works.

The song I am writing about tonight is "our song", 'Chasing Cars' by Snow Patrol. Had we had a "traditional" wedding, this would have been the first dance at our reception. Instead of marrying in Vegas as planned, we got married in our kitchen, the night after Thanksgiving, by our friend Lindsay, with two witnesses in attendance to sign the license. Instead of champagne and wedding cake, we each had a bowl of chocolate chip ice cream.

The song is very simple in it's writing style. It's not overly flowery or wordy. That, I think, is what I like about it. It gets to the point. The first verse describes us perfectly:

"We'll do it all
Everything
On our own

We don't need
Anything
Or anyone"

We have been through more drama in the four short years that we have been together, than some couples see in a lifetime. Six, count them, six moves, two of which were long distance. Not to mention the loss of my family. The stress associated with the loss of a job and the subsequent unemployment. Pregnancy and the birth of our baby girl. Then my medical/mental issues came to the forefront. We're now dealing with the consequences associated with that. A couple of months ago we lost the family van. Last Friday, I received the last paycheck from my employer that I'll ever get. My career is over. I am expecting a decision from MetLife within the next 24-48 hours with a decision as to whether my long term disability has been approved. Since I can no longer care for myself, we're discussing the possibility of having my wife quit her job to become a caretaker of sorts. So, her career is so to end as well.

My favorite line from the song is one that has been edited out of the U.S. single and radio versions heard here in the States. It says, "I need your grace to remind me to find my own". Just being in my wife's presence makes me a better person. She makes me want to be a better human being. I am who I am today because of her. I wouldn't care about anyone in this world other than myself if it wasn't for trying to copy her selfless attitude, and I don't thank her enough for that. She is the greatest "human" I have ever personally had the pleasure of knowing, and I'm so happy I have her here to instill her values and morals in my daughter and keep me in check as well. I love you Jessi...I knew it from the moment I first saw your eyes.

It took me forever to find the U.K. version of the song. It includes the extra line. Enjoy.



Here is a pic of the two of us from a much less stressful time. It was taken in a photo booth at the 2007 New Mexico State Fair just weeks before we were married. We were a little more punk then and a little less crazy. The pic is currently on our refrigerator. I still smile every time I get the milk.

Bigotry In The News 10/17/09 - Update

Ceara Sturgis, the young woman in Mississippi whose yearbook picture was pulled because she posed in a tuxedo, has received a ruling from the superintendent of her school board. The school board has decided to uphold their ruling, according to local news sources.

In a statement released Friday to the Copiah County Courier, school Superintendent Ricky Clopton said the district has no intention of reversing its decision. "We have had our legal counsel research the validity of the position of the School District on this matter," he said in the statement. "We are informed by counsel that this exact issue has been litigated in federal court. The decisions of the federal courts completely support the policy of the district in this regard. It is the desire of the Copiah County School District to inform, first, the patrons of the district, and second, all other interested parties, that its position is not arbitrary, capricious or unlawful, but is based upon sound educational policy and legal precedent."

They're treating this as a dress code issue, nothing more, completely ignoring the sexual orientation undertones of the story. Ceara was featured today in USA Today, and currently has a Facebook fan page, which, at the time of this post, is nearing 1100 fans. Good luck in your fight Ceara.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Einstein: God Is Nothing More Than Human Weakness

I've heard people say that Einstein was a religious man. Many people say that it is possible to be a man of faith and a man of science. If Einstein was capable of being a man of faith, and perhaps the greatest mind the world has ever seen, there may be truth to it.

I have been following a blog calledLetters of Note in recent weeks. It features primarily historical letters from historical figures. The letters are mostly entertaining, thought provoking, or historically noteworthy. The following is from their posting from October 7th. It is a letter from Albert Einstein to philosopher Erik Gutkind after reading his book, 'Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt'. The feature that makes this website interesting is that they have a photocopy of the letter itself, followed by the transcript. The transcript reads as follows:

"Princeton, 3. 1. 1954

Dear Mr Gutkind,

Inspired by Brouwer’s repeated suggestion, I read a great deal in your book, and thank you very much for lending it to me ... With regard to the factual attitude to life and to the human community we have a great deal in common. Your personal ideal with its striving for freedom from ego-oriented desires, for making life beautiful and noble, with an emphasis on the purely human element ... unites us as having an “American Attitude.”

Still, without Brouwer’s suggestion I would never have gotten myself to engage intensively with your book because it is written in a language inaccessible to me. The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. ... For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstition. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong ... have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything “chosen” about them.

In general I find it painful that you claim a privileged position and try to defend it by two walls of pride, an external one as a man and an internal one as a Jew. As a man you claim, so to speak, a dispensation from causality otherwise accepted, as a Jew of monotheism. But a limited causality is no longer a causality at all, as our wonderful Spinoza recognized with all incision...

Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, i.e. in our evaluation of human behavior ... I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things.

With friendly thanks and best wishes,

Yours,

A. Einstein"

Apparently, Einstein did see some value in the Bible, but no more than one would see in, say, Aesop's Fables. So, can a man of faith be a man of science? Do science and religion mix? Einstein didn't think so.

A Very Tough Question From A Brave Little Boy

Tyren Scott, a nine year old boy from Paulina, Louisiana, was selected to ask the last question at a public meeting that President Obama was holding in New Orleans on Thursday. Finally, after nine long months, it took a timid fourth grader wearing his Sunday best to publicly ask what every Democrat has been wondering lately: "Why do people hate you? They're supposed to love you, and God is love."

Obama's response:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lady Gaga...The Jury's Still Out

I have to be honest. I am still at a loss when it comes to Lady Gaga. Over the last year I have seen video after video and single after single come out, and I still can't decide whether I like her or not.

She was the musical guest on 'SNL' two weeks ago. I was actually surprised and impressed by her musical ability. She was amazing on the piano and had a SUPERB voice. I just don't get her music. Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe SHE IS the future of pop music and I just don't like what I'm hearing. Then again, I don't see what makes the Black Eyed Peas so special. I'm shocked that they broke the record for the highest number of weeks at number one. It actually depresses me that music is headed in that direction.

Anyway, moving back to Lady Gaga...here is my dilemma. At the moment, I really can't stand her music, but, she is a HUGE supporter of the gay and lesbian community. She spoke up to make things clear before signing on to open for the ill-fated Kanye West tour. She spoke at the National Equality March. She has the potential to be the next Madonna for the gay community. I would love to see her have a long career, and not just become the "flavor of the month". Because of that fact alone, I want to learn to like her. I want to buy her CD just to send some money her way to help her and her cause.

On the other side of things, look at her:



Girl's just crazy. This was at the Video Music Awards last month. I know back in her day, Madonna was "revolutionary" when it came to the fashions she wore. She had the ridiculous cone bras. She was over the top. That was 25 years ago. Things have changed obviously, but damn....

So, I'm torn. What do you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

'Tea And Cake Or Death'

Eddie Izzard is easily one of my favorite comedians. Well, he was, before he went all "Hollywood", starring in 'The Riches' and 'Oceans 12 and 13'. One of my favorite Izzard routines comes from his 'Dressed to Kill' DVD. 'Tea and Cake or Death', a routine about the Church of England, is best when performed by Izzard himself in high heels and drag. A close second would be this interpretation done entirely with Legos:

This Could All Become A Positive Experience

I was trying to fall asleep last night, and I started thinking about everything that has gone on in the last 9 months. I started thinking to myself, "What if this ends up making me a better person. What if I find a purpose in life; figure out what I'm supposed to do."

My lifestyle has changed drastically since I started short term disability in February. My first few weeks, all I did was watch TV and play video games. I had no interests. I had no hobbies. I had no concern for anyone or anything outside of the four walls of my own home. Very quickly, television became boring, and so did checking TMZ.com every 15 minutes. I was starting to realize there was more to life, and I was missing out.

I was restless. Everything and nothing sounded interesting at the same time. One thing was too expensive to try, the other was too boring. One was too time intensive, the other not consuming enough. I was bored, but not enough to be motivated to get off my ass and really try something new.

This whole experience has made me a better father. I have been able to spend so much time with my little girl that I would have never been able to spend otherwise. I am getting to watch my little girl grow up. I wouldn't be able to do that on a 40 hour a week schedule with her in daycare.

With my wife being the knitting and crocheting goddess that she is, I thought it would be a fun idea to learn how to spin my own wool and yarn. I even scheduled myself in to take a class at a local yarn store. By the time the classes came around, I was so on edge with my PTSD, that I had my wife take the class in my place. She was a natural at it(of course).

I started to think of the two things I know most about in life, food and music, and how I could work with them as mediums. I took two years of culinary school back in high school but dropped out due to a lack of hand/eye coordination at the time. I learned a lot in those two years though, especially how different flavors, and scents, go together. I decided to do a little bit of research about how to make soap. Within a week of my first attempt, I made six different food inspired scents. I realized, for the first time in a long time, I was doing something that I enjoyed that didn't involve a computer or TV.

I tried to find things to make out of my old, useless vinyl collection. I made decorative bowls out of the recycled records. I'm starting to make jewelry with them now and learning how to build clocks to put into them. This is fun to me now. I hardly have my TV on anymore.

We used to have a DVR that was so full that we were constantly erasing shows to make room for new ones. The only two shows I watch now are 'Glee' and 'Flash Forward', and I haven't seen 'Flash Forward' in three weeks. I can't watch TV anymore. I cry too much now. This is the first season of 'Grey's Anatomy' that I'm missing. I used to cry for about 15 minutes or so after each sad episode. Now, it would take me three days to recover.

As I said before, I discovered Twitter back in June, and blogging last month. This is either my 59th or 60th blog in 5 weeks. I'm addicted to it. Sure, some of my blogs are a little childish, but hey, it's how I calm down. I love blogging. So much in fact, that I am considering writing a book based upon all the crap that I've dealt with in my life. I haven't even hit 1% of what I've experienced.

I'm discovering myself. For the first time in my life, I have hobbies. I have interests. I care about other people now. I read the news, and see a story about a lesbian girl in Mississippi that isn't allowed to have her yearbook picture printed, and I want to share it with people. I want other people to know about it. When I start feeling better, I want to start volunteering. I've never felt this way before. I've only cared about myself. I have been so selfish in my life and now my outlook on the world is so different. Maybe all this shit that has ruined other parts of my life has completely enriched other parts of my life. It's so hard to explain, but I am so thankful for that aspect of my life right now. I feel so much richer for it.

'Take On Me' In The Dairy Section

Jessi and I were talking about this clip from 'Family Guy' earlier today, and I just couldn't get it out of my head until I posted it. It's funny as all hell and I think of it every time I reach for a gallon of milk or orange juice at the grocery store. Pass it on.

Soundtrack of My Life 10/17/09 Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat 'Lucky'

From the album 'We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things' by Jason Mraz, 'Lucky' was an instant favorite of ours from the moment we first heard it. So far, we've been very lucky in our relationship. We're buddies. We're best of friends, and we couldn't ask for more.

The song just became available yesterday to sing on 'Lips', a karaoke video game that we own. We have been trying for half of the morning to get the harmonies down, and we're doing pretty well. At the moment, our top score is ranked 4th in the world. We're nerds like that. The singing is good therapy for me, so I spend a lot of time playing 'Lips' and 'RockBand'. For those of you that haven't heard the song before, here is the video:

Bigotry In The News 10/17/09

Actually, these were stories from yesterday. By the time I came to writing this blog, it was almost 1am already, so I thought, "What the hell. It can wait till morning".

Top Story: Good 'Ol Boy Justice Of The Peace In Louisiana Refuses To Marry Interracial Couple

Keith Bardwell, Justice of the Peace of Tangipahoa Parish in Southeastern Louisiana, recently refused to marry an interracial couple. His grounds: the effect it would have on their children. Quote via the Huffington Post:

"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."

Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," Bardwell said. "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."


Bardwell has been a justice of the peace since 1975, and admits to rejecting other interracial couples' attempts to get married by referring them to someone else that was willing to marry them. One problem: The Supreme Court ruled in 1967 "that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry."...part of this thing called Civil Rights legislation that popped up in the mid 60s for this very reason.

Needless to say, people across Louisiana, and across the nation, are pissed. The Governor of Louisiana answered questions concerning Bardwell in a press conference yesterday. This man is an elected official. Last time he was elected, he ran unopposed, and he is scheduled to be in office until 2014. The ACLU is planning on filing a lawsuit. Expect to be hearing about this one for some time to come.

Story #2: High School Lesbian Left Out Of Yearbook For Wearing A Tuxedo

Ceara Sturgis is your typical, over achieving high school senior. She gets straight A's, she's goalie of her soccer team, she's active in the local chapter of Students Against Drunk Driving, and even plays trumpet in the school band. She's also an out and proud lesbian student. According to her mother, she isn't comfortable in "girlie" clothes, never has been.

So when it came time for senior pictures to be taken earlier this summer, Ceara had only one idea that came to mind: a tuxedo. It wasn't considered "cross-dressing" to her. It was being herself, and being comfortable in a picture that would speak for the four years she spent in high school.



Last month, Ceara and her mom were notified that the school
was refusing to print the picture in the yearbook. Once again, enter the champions at the ACLU. Neither the school or the school board have made one comment regarding the story, but this has obviously upset the LGBT community. The location? Mississippi. Why do these things always seem to happen in the South?

Update From The Doctor

I went to the neurologist today. He doesn't think that I have any form of degenerative brain disease(Alzheimer's, etc.), but we're going to do quite a bit of blood work to just make sure. Currently, I am on 375mg of Topamax a day. He thinks that quite a few of the problems I am having are due to the high amounts of the Topamax. He feels that the forgetfulness and the fact that I am tired all day are from the drug.

He wants to reduce the Topamax to 300mg a day and mix in 10mg of Abilify a day as well. The Abilify should help things with the PTSD some too. The problems with my word association, my newly discovered accents, and my stuttering in stressful situations, may all be new forms of Tourette's tics manifesting themselves as other forms of tics subside. He said there are dozens of types of vocal tics associated with Tourette's Syndrome that it is impossible to be sure, but it is very likely a possibility. Um....great.

I went to Walmart to pick up the Abilify prescription. My copay was $75.00. Without my insurance, it would have been $487.00. But, $75.00 for a 30 day supply. That's $2.50 a pill. I can't afford that. I can't afford half that. The insurance company, Medco, has a history of gouging their customers on the more expensive medications to force them to use their 90 day supply by mail service. The same medication by mail would be $50 for 90 days, instead of $225 in the store. Meanwhile, I have to wait until Monday to call my doctor. Have him fax a script to Medco. Wait for Medco to mail the package to me. In the meantime, I have no medicine. And, once I get my pills, I have to hope things work with them so I don't end up changing prescriptions and having the pills go to waste.

I am on six other medications, and combined they cost less than $75 a month to maintain, some as little as $4.00. It's no wonder people can't afford health care. I can't afford it, even with insurance. I'm spending between $200 and $250 a month on medical expenses...just for myself, not including my wife or my daughter. That is with insurance. That's an electric bill. That is my cable, car insurance, water, and gas bill combined.

Ok.....I didn't mean for this to turn into a bitchfest about healthcare costs. I'm sorry. Goodnight.

ETA...(10/19/09)After doing some research, the mail order option is $125.00 for 90 days. This is even less viable. So, in the meantime, I am without a necessary medication. I may be able to get it if/when I am finally released from my employer as an employee and my profit sharing fund is sent to me in the form of a check. That will hopefully be at the end of the month.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Have Seen The Future Of Gaming

I have seen the future of gaming. I have seen the hottest video game title of the year. The game people will be trading everything they have into GameStop in order to buy before Christmas morning. That game is 'DJ Hero'.

Jessi and I were at Best Buy this afternoon, and were able to experience a hands-on demo of the game. The demo featured three songs:

'Heard It Through The Grapevine' vs. 'Feel Good Inc.'
'Hollaback Girl' vs. 'Give It To Me'
'Boom Boom Pow' vs. 'Satisfaction'

The mixes are first rate. Just as good, if not better than anything that I've heard in the club. It's no surprise why. Mixes by DJ AM, Z-Trip, and other world class DJs were used by the makers of the game to make it as genuine as possible. If I were able to rip these tracks off as MP3s, the game would be worth it alone just for the music.

The hardware was sturdy and realistic. It looked and acted as a real turntable. Not as big, but life like.

My only complaint, the price. At $120, it's a little pricey when other games out there are selling for $60. You literally can get two other games that are coming out for the Christmas holiday, or another title with a cool peripheral('Tony Hawk's Ride') for the same price.

I must admit, the game is going to do for turntable sales what 'Guitar Hero'/'RockBand' did for guitars. I can't wait to see what DLC they have coming out for this game. I can't wait to see a bunch of little eight year olds wanting to be DJs....only in a perfect world.

A Lovely Greeting Card

Our friend Heather is having her baby shower tomorrow afternoon. She and her boyfriend Adam are expecting a little girl, Teagan Jade, within the next 3-4 weeks. Tonight, my wife and I found the card we are going to give with our present. It reads as follows:

Outside:
SOMEDAY, she'll be a famous pianist
or a high school science teacher.
She'll settle down, marry, have a couple of kids.
Maybe she won't

SOMEDAY, she'll help millions of people
all over the world.
Or maybe she'll travel,
send letters from Africa
or phone you from Rome.
SOMEDAY, she'll be a strong,
confident woman...

Inside:
...but you'll always remember
the first time
you held her in your arms.

SOMEDAY, she'll have
her own hopes and dreams,
not knowing that once upon
a quiet time, you closed your eyes
and dreamed
to have her in your life.

I instantly started crying. Lennon climbed up the cart to hug me. I knew this was "the card".

I didn't get to hold Lennon until the morning after she was born. She was crying in the NICU. Jessi and I were scrubbing in. There were 20 other babies crying in the room with her. Although I had never heard her cry before, I recognized my baby. I told Jessi, "That's Lennon". When we walked into the room, I walked up to her isolette, leaned over, and said, "It's OK, daddy's here". She turned to me and stopped crying. It was the happiest moment of my life. It was more than anything I could have ever imagined.

Sure, sometimes parenting is hard as hell. Sometimes she can be a pain in the ass(I hate to say it...but it's true). But there are times when it's the easiest thing I have ever done. She loves dancing and singing. She howls like a Wild Thing. She is the greatest thing I have ever done.

Heather...Adam...Congratulations. Enjoy this time. Be sure to teach her what is important to you. Communicate with each other. Play fair, and have fun.

Autobiographical Songs Part IV

Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in heaven. Well, not in the traditional sense. They don't consider it to be an option to be their final resting place. They don't believe in hell either.

They believe that when you die, you die....that's it. You become worm food. You lie in the ground. Romantic, isn't it? They believe that soon, god(yes, I am intentionally using a small G), will bring an end to all the evil and wickedness on earth in one big showdown called Armageddon. This is when he will smite all the evil ones with floods, and earthquakes, and lightning bolts shot from his arse. From what I have been taught by my mother, this is the wait awaiting myself and my family for not following god's will.

In October of 2006, My Chemical Romance released 'The Black Parade', an emo powerhouse of an album. Produced by Rob Cavallo, the producer of 'American Idiot', this was a masterpiece of a record from front to back, and easily, the best rock album of the year. Track nine was a little ditty called 'Mama', which actually had a cameo from Liza Minnelli. With the events that were occurring in my life at the time, I especially took pleasure in this track. To this day, I still have a Devilish smile every time I hear it.

Below are the lyrics and the song for those of you who haven't heard it. Enjoy.

Mama, we all go to hell.
Mama, we all go to hell.
I'm writing this letter and wishing you well,
Mama, we all go to hell.

Oh, well, now,
Mama, we're all gonna die.
Mama, we're all gonna die.
Stop asking me questions, I'd hate to see you cry,
Mama, we're all gonna die.

And when we go don't blame us, yeah.
We'll let the fires just bathe us, yeah.
You made us, oh, so famous.
We'll never let you go.
And when you go don't return to me my love.

Mama, we're all full of lies.
Mama, we're meant for the flies.
And right now they're building a coffin your size,
Mama, we're all full of lies.

Well Mother, what the war did to my legs and to my tongue,
You should've raised a baby girl,
I should've been a better son.
If you could coddle the infection
They can amputate at once.
You should've been,
I could have been a better son.

And when we go don't blame us, yeah.
We'll let the fires just bathe us, yeah.
You made us, oh, so famous.
We'll never let you go.

She said: "You ain't no son of mine
For what you've done they're gonna find
A place for you
And just you mind your manners when you go.
And when you go, don't return to me, my love."
That's right.

Mama, we all go to hell.
Mama, we all go to hell.
It's really quite pleasant
Except for the smell,
Mama, we all go to hell.

2 - 3 - 4
Mama! Mama! Mama! Ohhh!
Mama! Mama! Mama! Ma...

[Liza Minelli:] And if you would call me your sweetheart,
I'd maybe then sing you a song

[Gerard Way:] But this shit that I've done with this fuck of a gun,
You would cry out your eyes all along.

We're damned after all.
Through fortune and flame we fall.
And if you can stay then I'll show you the way,
To return from the ashes you call.

We all carry on (We all carry on)
When our brothers in arms are gone (When our brothers in arms are gone)
So raise your glass high
For tomorrow we die,
And return from the ashes you call

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Autobiographical Songs Part III

On January 6, 2006, I quit my job with the family business, and, a couple of weeks later, stopped all communication with my family altogether. This caused major mental and emotional issues to develop since the situation was a long time coming. Instead of walking away from my family, it was more like a "mutual disowning". I was no longer a Jehovah's Witness, and had gotten to the point where I was not going to play along with their requirement of living a double life any longer.

I was hurt and confused. I felt like I had done something wrong. I was grieving the loss of my family, especially my mother. Throughout my life, she had been my best friend and the one that had always been there for me. I had set her up on a pedestal for so many years, and I felt as if I had let her down.

In July of 2006, Blue October released the single, 'Hate Me'. I had heard it on the radio a time or two and instantly thought of my mother. I thought of how much I had let her down, and how disappointed she had to be in me.

Later that next month, Jessi, my girlfriend at the time, and I were watching something on TV. Something came on that reminded me of my mother and I started to cry. I cried about the situation quite a bit during that time, but this time was different. My whole upper body jerked, as if I had been hit with defibrillator paddles but I didn't have a bed behind me to catch my shoulders or head.

"Are you OK?"

"I don't kno..." BAM...It happened again.

"What's going on hun?"

"I have no idea"....BAM.....BAM..BAM BAM...By now I'm hysterically crying and jerking uncontrollably. The tics are coming about once every 2-3 seconds, the next more violent than the last. By now my hands are shaking. I know it has to be stress induced.

Jessi draws a hot bath for me. I'm still crying, ticking, shaking....but now rocking front to back. I keep saying to Jessi, "I fucking hate her. I fucking hate her. How can you do this to your own fucking child?"

"I don't know hun. I don't know."

That was the night that I had my first Tourette's tic. I was diagnosed almost three years later, and then diagnosed with PTSD 5 weeks after that. I have had a total of 5 days without a tic since that night in the bathtub. Needless to say it was a pretty memorable night.

So what does this have to do with the song? That was also the night where the role of "Monster" in my mind was played by my mother instead of by me. I used to think that I was the black sheep, the odd man out. I realized that night that I was the one that finally said no to the years of brainwashing an manipulation and abuse at the hands of my mother. The song initially had a meaning to me of "sorry I'm not who you wanted me to be, so I'll drive as far as I can away from you so I can't hurt you anymore". Then, overnight, it became a "look what you tried to do to me, but I was stronger than you, so I'll drive as far as I can away from you so you can't hurt me anymore with what you consider love".

To be honest, the song still throws up some very bad memories. So many, in fact, that I can't even listen to the song without going into a breakdown. I used to sing it all the time at karaoke, but it's to heavy of a song to sing. Still a damn good song. That being said, I haven't previewed the clip below, so forgive me if it is not complete.



Interesting side note: The "in house" portion of the video, where it follows the lead singer through the house, was filmed in one take. They sped the audio track up during filming 300% to get the slow motion effect. The video was filmed in the house he grew up in as a teenager.

Quick Update

I called my Neurologist and described all the problems I have been having(Alzheimer's like symptoms, talking in accents, stuttering). They moved up my appointment from November 13th to tomorrow at 11am. I will keep you posted.