Sunday, September 28, 2008

If They Can Get Batman Right...

I made a cd for my daughter a couple of months ago.

While I was looking for songs, I thought it would be fun to look them up on YouTube. I wanted to see what, or if any videos had been made for these great songs.

What I found was pathetic. Now that I think about it, most of the early MTV videos are dismal too.

I think the world of music videos should do like the world of movies, remakes! There are so many “older” songs that tell wonderful stories; they would make super music videos. Or maybe a music video was made and it just didn’t do the song justice, remake it.

One of the music video stations that still play music could easily make a weekly show out of this idea. Maybe they already have and I’m just out of touch, its not like I’ve watched MTV or VH1 or whatever in the last decade.

Here are four songs I found on YouTube.

A Boy Named Sue- Johnny Cash
Long Tall Glasses- Leo Sayer
Space Oddity- David Bowie
I Don’t Like Mondays- The Boomtown Rats

I really like all four songs but don’t like the video on them. These could be great music videos if done right.

Anybody else have an old favorite (music video) they would like to see made or remade?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Wrath of Mrs. Khan

I was whining about my daughter’s class last week.

The school has started sending the second graders in Mrs. Valasek’s class to a second grade math class. The teacher’s name is Mrs. Khan.

Mrs. Khan has a little problem with germs. On Alissa’s first day in her class she sent her home for coughing in class. She told Alissa that she didn’t want to catch her cold. I think she may have been joking, but Alissa didn’t understand and thought she was mad at her.

So she spent the rest of her school day at work with me, not a cough all day.

The principle of my daughter’s school called us yesterday. He said he had an opening for her in a second grade class if we wanted it. “Why do you say it like that?” I asked. “Its Mrs. Khan’s class,” he replied. “She is a little ...ridged.”

As you may know, we are trying to get Alissa into a different class. But this seemed a little weird. It sounded like the principle wasn’t sure this was a good idea.

We asked the school counselor what she thought about the move. We gave her the low down on Alissa and that we thought she might need a teacher with a little softer touch. She agreed, and we will just continue to wait for a different class to open up.

Feel free to ad-lib a Star Trek 2 line except it is Mrs. Khan instead of (Ricardo Montalban) Khan.

For example- “Math is a dish best served cold.”

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The 100 Million Dollar Question

I was eating lunch with a couple of guys from work. Midway through my Cobb salad one guy says to the other, “Let’s ask Tom.” These are guys are stereo-typical so I’m thinking, “Here it comes, Ginger or Mary Ann, fake ones or real ones, tan lines or not.”

“Tom, if you won 100 million dollars in the lottery, would you stay with your wife?”
“Dude, you didn’t even think about it.”
“I didn’t have to.”
“Did you have to think about it?”
“If she bought the ticket, heck yeah I’d stay with her!”
“Wow, you would have to think about it?”
“I have asked about 10 guys the same question and you are the only guy who answered yes without hesitation, and only one other guy answered yes.”
“Does that make me weird?”
“Blow me.”

It was really disappointing to hear that from one of my friends; not that I was weird, but that he would hesitate when asked that question. I’m not even sure he answered yes.

I really can’t imagine what my life would be like with out my wife in it. I guess I was lucky to find the right person at such a young age. I remember seeing her for the first time when she was sixteen; she looked like she was 20. I thought to myself, “I’m going to marry a girl just like her.” I married her 3 years later and today is our 23rd anniversary. I think I’ll give her a card with a lottery ticket in it and hope that she won’t have any tough decisions to make.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


“Is this Alissa’a Father?”
“Hi this is Rick from Alissa’s soccer league!”
“Cool. When is practice?”
“Well, I’m not her coach, I’m the commissioner of the league.”
“We can’t find a coach for Alissa’s team.”
“And because people often confuse me for David Beckham you think I know how to coach soccer?”

It is true that Rick couldn’t find a coach, but turkey balls actually said, “ I thought maybe because you were older than the other dads you could better manipulate your work schedule.” “Thanks Rick, let me turn up my hearing aid I didn’t catch the last part.”

I got the call 2 nights ago. First practice is tomorrow night. First game is a week from Saturday.

Right now we are team number 48, any ideas for a team name? I bet someone can guess what a bunch of 7 and 8 year old girls are going to name their team.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

As Good As It Gets

It is a school night and I am lying next to my youngest Alissa. It is tough getting her to go to sleep. One thing that seems to work is when I stay with her until she falls asleep, half the time I fall asleep before she does.

Tonight was tougher than usual; unfortunately these nights seem to be turning into the norm. Alissa’s mood swings are extreme, yelling, screaming, and crying one minute, laughing and singing the next. It is almost impossible to control her when she is on the wrong side of that pendulum.

I have come to the realization that she has bi-polar disorder and possibly reactive attachment disorder too.

How do I know this? From experience. In addition to the bi-polar and reactive attachment disorders, my oldest has also been diagnosed as a sociopath with a borderline personality. Combine that with a lifetime of neglect and abuse from her birthparents and you have one really messed up teenager.

When we adopted the kids we knew we would have problems with the oldest, we just didn’t know it would be this bad. The therapist we were seeing asked us if we had to take Sarah. (This was an option the county made available to us.) I will admit that it has been hard to bond with Sarah, but there was no way we were going to tell her, “We don’t want you, just your little brother and sister.”

So we tried our best to keep these three kids together. Unfortunately, we ended up putting Sarah in a residential treatment school when we couldn’t control her any more.

Sarah is 16 now (17 in January) and she has been gone for 2 years. We keep in touch with weekly phone calls and visits to the school periodically, but we can feel her becoming more distant. She still says that she wants to come home, but the thought of her coming back is frightening; it was that bad before we sent her away.

Is she better? Yes.

Will she be able to handle a public school? No.

Will she ever let us be the parent? Doubtful.

Is it time to bring her home because it probably isn’t going to get any better? Possibly.

Does that scare me shitless? Definitely.

That being said, we don’t want her to turn 18 in this school and then tell her she is on her own. She was dealt a crappy hand and deserves better from the family that she has always wanted, but doesn’t know how to live with. And to be fair, we didn’t know how to live with her either.

We hoped that Alissa, being the youngest (6 months old when we got her), would be less maintenance; this is beginning to look like wishful thinking. We thought most of Sarah’s problems were a result of the years of drug, physical, and sexual abuse from her biological mother. It now looks more like personality disorders passed on by her biological mother and father.

My kids have the same biological mother. Sarah and Alissa have the same biological father. Austin has a different biological father. Austin does not appear to have any of the personality disorders that the girls do; I guess there is something about that combination of DNA between Sarah and Alissa’s biological parents. We only have three of birthmother’s 6 children. Of the remaining 3, one was born retarded and given to the county because she couldn’t care for it. This was also a child from Sarah and Alissa’s father. Another child lives with his birthfather (father #3). And her newest addition (father #4) was born after Sarah, Austin, and Alissa were taken away from her. The county has let her keep this baby.

It is fair to say that I have bonded the most with my youngest Alissa. If you have read my blog with any kind of regularity you probably already know that. It tears me up inside when I see her in a rage that she can’t control. I try to stay calm because I love her and I understand that she can’t help it. I have not been as understanding or fair towards Sarah. It is for this reason that I am probably more willing to let Sarah come home, even when the chances of a happy ending are slim. Sarah knows Alissa is my little girl; I want to at least give her another chance to just be my daughter.

Alissa and I were driving around town the other day. While we were stopped at a signal I turned to look at her. She had her headphones on and was singing some Hannah Montana song. She smiled at me and continued to sing. I thought to myself, “I love this little girl so much, I’m going to write her a poem.” I don’t know where the hell that came from but that thought really popped into my head. Did Sarah ever have a parent feel that way about her? Did she ever have a parent look at her and melt inside like I do when I see Alissa run home to see me after school?

When Sarah does come home I will try to look at her with a different pair of eyes.

Green eyes, red hair
Tiny freckles everywhere
Green eyes, red hair
Born with attitude to spare

Green eyes, red hair
Clean your room and make the bed
Green eyes, red hair
I'll probably cry the day you wed

Green eyes, red hair
I love the girl that drives me mad
Green eyes, red hair
I thank the lord that I'm her dad

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tough Crowd

Those Canadians are a tough crowd.

It is an election year in Canada this year too. I think the voting process in Canada is cool. The campaigning starts about 5 weeks before the election. It seems like we started a year ago here in the US. And instead of two real candidates you get three! These guys don't mess around with slinging mud at one another, they sling shit!

My buddy Nelson is from Grand Prairie and he likes to fill me in on what is happening in Canada from time to time. He shared that with me today. We both agreed that we would vote for Harper just because he ran the ad.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


A couple of weeks ago I was on vacation with my family. This year we rented a van and hauled the kids, the grandma, and the dog up to Donner Lake. Yes, kind of like the Griswolds, except grandma and the dog made it back alive. Grandma took the brunt of most of our jokes but she was a good sport and offered to ride on the roof whenever we needed her to.

The car was full and the mood was tense for the first 90 minutes of the trip, at least it was for me. It takes a lot of effort to get this freight train moving, and I usually don’t relax and settle in until I get to highway 395. This is when my vacation starts, at the junction of interstate 15 and highway 395.

This desert highway is the road to many fond memories in my life.

When I was 8 years old my father woke me up in the middle of the night to pack me into his ‘70 Barracuda for our first father-son fishing trip. He didn’t tell me what we were doing and to try and go to sleep. I slept for a couple of hours but woke up when my dad cranked the 8-track tape player, the group Creedence Cleerwater Revival, the song Travellin’ Band. I think he was excited and wanted me to wake up; I didn’t mind and I like CCR.

My dad told me about our trip. We were going to a place he used to go to when he was a kid, Rock Creek Lake. Rock Creek Lake is about 45 minutes north of Bishop, CA. and about 45 minutes south of Mammoth Mountain. Over the years Sherri and I have caught a ton of fish out of the crystal clear waters at Rock Creek Lake.

It was still dark, and the Cuda was flying. “Slow down dad! Please don’t hit that rabbit!” were thoughts going through my head, but would never say. He never slowed for a single critter, but we managed to avoid them all. I was relieved.

I think we were in Lone Pine when the sun finally came up. I was surprised to see snow on the mountains in the summer; you would never see that in southern California. ”Holy shit! 45 cents a gallon!” my dad bellowed, “We’ll gas up in Bishop.” I think it was 43 cents a gallon in Bishop, much more reasonable.

We stayed 3 days and 2 nights at Rock Creek Lake. Our campsite was next to an outlet creek from the lake. I caught my first fish in the lake and many more just from our campsite. I used worms and salmon eggs, bait that still works for me today. The sun and mosquitoes did a number on me. At the end of 3 days I was sunburned, mosquito bitten, and filthy (no showers), I was ready to go home.

The ride home from RCL is about 5 to 6 hours, an eternity for an 8 year old. I think my dad was shooting for 4 hours, I think the CHP thought those were his intentions too. “Shit! I knew I should have kept it under 90!” my dad whispered as he pulled over. The CHP stood at his window and asked, “Do you know how fast you were going sir?” “95,” my dad replied as he showed him his badge. “Pomona Police? You know sergeant Hannibal?” asked the chippy. “He’s my boss,” said my dad. “Try to keep it under 80 officer Johnson,” the CHP smiled.

The two knuckleheads bullshit for another 20 minutes and probably lost whatever time my dad had saved while speeding down highway 395. I watched my dad’s speed the rest of the way home; he was just under 80, like a good boy. We didn’t talk that much but it was understood that mom wouldn’t know about that little CHP thing.

My father and I made 3 more trips to RCL, all of them before I got married. When he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer I tried to get him to make one more trip. It was literally one of the first things that popped into my mind. One of the first things that I thought would give him and me comfort. He said it was a great idea but he kept putting it off until he was just too sick to do it.

As a teenager I made a couple of trips with my friends, no parents, fun, very fun. Sherri’s family is very familiar with Bishop and places to go along the 395, so the tradition of camping and fishing along that highway continued when I got married. Each trip I would be surprised at how things have changed and haven’t. Each time that pleasant feeling, as I turn off the 15 and head north on to the 395.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Double WTF!!!

WTF in bold letters! WTF in italics!

Last year I was a little disappointed with
Alissa’s teacher. So you can guess how happy I was when we walked over to the school last weekend to see who her new teacher was going to be and found out it was the pickle lady again. But it gets worse.

My daughter’s school has put her in a combination 1st grade/2nd grade class. There are 15 first graders and 5 second graders. I guess the first grade class was short on students and the second grade class had too many students. This was their solution.

The principal let Miss Valasic hand pick the five 2nd graders that would be in her class. We feel so lucky.

Alissa thinks this is great. The other four kids were good friends of hers last year.

I think Miss Valasic handpicked 5 little teacher’s aides.

How much attention are those kids going to get in that class?