Monday, June 22, 2009

Everyone's Gone...Almost

I wonder what Angie is doing right now? Relaxing in the jet tub with a cold glass of Chablis? Taking a nap? Stretched out on the couch watching Oprah while snacking on bon bons?

I'm not sure what she's doing, but it probably isn't any of the above. If she isn't working hard, she's probably at the computer looking at decorating blogs, connecting on Facebook, or catching up on e-mail.

That's assuming she's not doing anything.

Why would I be wondering this of all days? Because for the entire week, she has three of her very needy family on the road. Dylan and Marissa are at church camps and I am at our Support Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.

This, by itself, would like result in a relaxing week. However, add to the fact that Cassie is going to drama camp for 3 hours a day, and Angie really has some quiet time to enjoy. Given that Justin is likely to be at work or school during much of these days, and I can hear what she is thinking...

"Can you hear that? Silence! How awesome."

Although, knowing Angie, she'll enjoy it for a day or two, and then the silence will start to bother her. She's a real friend to her kids. She genuinely enjoys their company and, by Wednesday, she'll be missing them terribly. She probably will not start to miss me until later because I am much more needy than the kids. That will hit on Thursday or Friday.

By then, the kids will be returning, she'll have to go do Cassie's week end production, and I will be arriving late.

I hope she enjoys the quiet and her week...she'll need to charge her batteries for our family vacation to Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

'Cause I'm needy!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Truth Hurts

Angie came up to my office last night. She asked me what I intended to do that evening with respect to Cassie's second lost tooth since Thursday. Basically, she was looking for a plan for that evening's Tooth Fairy (T.F.) activities.
After explaining to Angie what I had in mind, she let me in on the fact that Cassie had been asking her if the Tooth Fairy is real. Angie thinks that honesty is the best policy in these situations. Me, I prefer to lie my ass off. I think that we should let the kids believe as long as possible because once it's gone, it's gone forever.
Our differences in opinion caused a major battle when Angie decided on her own to let Cassie in on the Easter bunny secret. I was livid when she did. The way I look at it is that I only get one shot at this stuff with Cassie and I want to enjoy it for as long as possible. So, even though the Easter Bunny was gone, I still had Santa and the Tooth, I only have Santa.
After Angie told me about Cassie's questions, I called Cassie up to my office. She sat on the bed with me at my desk. I asked her about her questions and I asked her if she REALLY wanted to know the truth. She said she did. I asked her why it mattered and she told me that some of her friends told her the T.F. wasn't real. I asked her again if she REALLY wanted to know, and again she said yes. So, I went against my better judgement and told her the truth - that mommy and daddy were the T.F.
She clearly didn't believe what I was saying. Had I thought more quickly, I would have told her that I was only kidding and left it at that...but I didn't, I said it again,
"Mommy and Daddy are the Tooth Fairy"
I felt like a monster...I FEEL like a monster. You should have seen her; she looked like someone that just got punched in the stomach. She asked for proof. I told her about her tooth exchanges, including the one that happened two night previous. She asked to see the teeth. I had the first one in my drawer, so I showed her. By then, the truth was starting to sink in and that is when I made my most serious mistake of the evening.
I told her that now that she knew the truth, that the tooth for cash thing was off the table.
By her reaction, you would have thought that I just told her that her best friend, favorite puppy and Joe Jonas were all just killed in a freak accident. She bawled. Not for a couple of minutes, but for a long while.
It seems that her being upset had nothing to do with the actual demise of the T.F., but with the fact that she wasn't going to get cash money anymore. I tried to console her, but she was having none of, what's a good dad to do? I told her to put her tooth under her pillow and we'll see what happens.
She woke up and the world was all well again. She had $2 more than the day before.
That's the cheapest crisis avoidance fee that I have ever paid, and well worth it. In fact, I think she thinks that last night's revelation was nothing more than a dream. Mom told her that she didn't put the money under there, and I said the same. I told her I passed out and never came downstairs to do it.
So, that $2 not only repaired the hurt that she felt, but I think she may actually believe in old T.F again. We'll see - she's got some more loose teeth.

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's OK To Lose

I've posted previously my dislike of California. I should clarify that statement. I dislike the economic liberalism that is the state's government - a liberalism that is manifest in ways that seem to say, 'You are too foolish to protect yourselves, so the state will do it for you.' I hate the thought that the government seems to think they know what's best for me and that I don't have the freedom to live like a jerk if I should choose.

That being said, there are some things about the state that I do like. The state itself is beautiful and contains two of my all-time favorite cities, San Francisco and San Diego. I also have good friends and colleagues there, so it isn't all bad.

Ultimately, however, the state is bankrupt and I can't help but think that it has something to do with the above liberalism. And, just so I can say 'I told you so', the same California left-wing thought process is in charge of our national government, as well (bashing Pelosi could be a future post).

So, if you are still reading through this rant, you are probably asking, "why is he going off on California again?" The answer is because California seems to follow the European way of thinking and something has been occurring in the EU that just seems wrong.

My fear is that I will be seen as a Microsoft apologist, but the EU is so far off base with how it is addressing anti-competitiveness issues with Microsoft that I feel compelled to blog about it. And the same thought process that is pervasive in California is running the show here. The 'we are too stupid to take care of ourselves thought'.

In a nutshell, the EU has been battling Microsoft for years saying that it has unfairly used its market position to stifle competition. The use the whole Windows Media Center vs. Real Player thing as one example. The current battle is Internet Explorer vs. Netscape and other browsers. I won't comment about the ultimate claim, but even if Microsoft has wrongly taken advantage of their position to squeeze out the competition, the EU hasn't handled this case well. They fined Microsoft and stated that IE presents an unfair advantage.

So, what does Microsoft do? They announce that they'll sell Windows without IE.

Now, the EU states that this solution isn't adequate. Yet, Microsoft has addressed the concern that has been communicated by the EU.

But, since the concern wasn't communicated well, the EU has to backtrack. They want Windows to ship with alternatives. Ultimately, the EU got what it wanted, but now that it did, it wants more. This is where I have a problem...

The EU wants Windows to sell with a competitors' products integrated. Does that make sense? Would that be like making Airbus ship planes with Boeing parts? Or Nokia phones ship with Motorola parts? I don't get it. And, I don't get it because there are choices out there. If you don't want to use the MS browser, download Firefox or Safari. Both are available, work really well, and are free. In fact, in the time it took to post this message, I downloaded and installed Safari (I already had Firefox installed). A recent article states that half of eleven million Safari downloads have been on Windows machines, demonstrating that this is exactly what consumers are doing.

Therefore, my message to the EU is, "get off of our desktops." We're not as stupid as you think we are - and even if we were, freedom means that we are allowed to act in ways that might be counter to our well-being. In fact, it is the ultimate freedom that allows participants TO LOSE.

That's what we seem to have lost [pun intended]. At the end of the day, every little leaguer who plays doesn't have to get a trophy. In order to win, someone has to lose. You can't have one without the other. In today's bail-out, hand-out society, it seems that winning has now become a bad word, and that it is wrong to allow anyone to lose. The problem with that, is that you take all motivation to compete away. Look at the 32-hour work week in France, or the socialism that is becoming more and more common in Europe, or in California.

Perhaps the best way to ensure competition isn't to restrict the participants but to ensure that losing is a real possibility.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Dare Ya!

Some marriages are good, some not so much. I would venture a guess, however, that most marriages could stand to improve. Whether it is an unresolved issue or some other nit that continues to bother, we all have areas in which we can get better.

My marriage is no different.

Angie and I have spent an interesting eight plus years together. Some times have been very difficult, some have been heavenly. Ultimately, we are always looking to make them better.

Enter the movie, "Fireproof". I have a link to it on the right side on this website. We watched it a couple of months ago and are soon to start a small group couples study on it. However, it wasn't until I took the dare that things started to change.

I started "The Love Dare" a couple of weeks ago. "The Love Dare" is made up of 40 daily dares that we are to do for our spouse. Some are as easy as being intentional about your greeting. Some are very difficult, like not saying a negative thing to our spouse for an entire day. "The Love Dare" is the premise behind the movie. A marriage that is falling apart due to neglect is saved because one of them learns unconditional love through the dare.

Although I would say that Angie and I aren't in danger of failing anytime soon, our marriage isn't all that it could be...and we both know it. So, I took it upon myself to take the dare. I kept it a secret until one of the dares instructs us to ask our spouse for things that bug them about us. Once I asked her, she knew I was doing it.

I recently completed day nine (I've redone some days due to failing on the first try, and some days I couldn't do that particular day for some reason or another, so nine daily dares have taken a couple of weeks - that's OK, though. Its more about the journey as a whole than each of the tasks). Things have already changed for us. Day seven, in particular, was a real eye-opener. We are instructed to make a list of the good things about our spouse and another list of the bad. The good list took about two minutes and took over the entire page. The bad list took about a half an hour, and I only could think of a handful of items. It wasn't what I expected. What I learned is that I dwell on the few negatives instead of the many positive. All of the dares have a learning opportunity if you let them.

I guess I have been letting them because Angie says she sees a difference. I know we've been closer to each other, kinder to each other, and have enjoyed each other's company more.

I think I'm changing in her eyes, as well...I feel like she's appreciating me more and that I've become easier to love. In fact, if what she posted on Facebook today is any indication, things are excellent.

She wrote, "[Angie] thinks she has an amazing husband! He loves me enough to be who God intended him to be!!! Love you, baby! ;)"

I can't think of kinder words from the most important person to me on the Earth. You want your spouse to say the same?

C'mon, I dare ya!


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Burrito Bleakness

I'm a big guy. You only have to have read this blog a couple of times to know that I am in need of losing serious weight. As such, it should be no surprise to anyone that I enjoy a good meal. Once in a while I have a real hankering for something. Starting yesterday, that hankering focused on a steak burrito from Chipotle.

I think Chipotle (pronounced: chi-POTE-lay) is the most amazing thing wrapped into a sixteen inch flour tortilla.

I was introduced to Chipotle when I ran the security operations center at McAfee. They were a customer and the engineers that worked for me LOVED the place. I think that's why they had to visit the store weekly, in person, to reconfigure the routers. That work could have been done remotely, but then there would have been no steak, chicken, barbacoa, or other meats shoved into a large tortilla with black beans, cilantro rice, guacamole, cheese, lettuce and a selection of salsas ranging from the mild roasted corn to the very hot tomatillo red.

Just typing up the description above makes my mouth water.

However, as I chowed down on my celebratory post colon-/endo- scopy burrito, I shared the experience with Angie and Justin, both of which are not only picky eaters, but have not really been acquainted with Chipotle. As they dissembled their burritos, I knew it was going to be a weird meal. Any experienced Chipotle-aphile knows you never unwrapped the foil around the burrito. The roll it down as you eat so everything stays together.

Next, both of my lunch companions began to open op their burrito. I nearly fell off my chair. Angie's had tomatoes which she does not eat. She was the victim of a poorly placed order. Justin was just looking for the chicken. He didn't care for the rice, the beans, or the roasted corn salsa. I just shook my head and ate in silence. Justin took my silence as though I didn't enjoy my meal. Not at all. I just couldn't understand why they didn't enjoy theirs.

So, I finished my burrito as quickly as possible and departed the scene. I did, however, learn a couple of lessons. The most important is to never eat Chipotle with people that special order from McDonalds. Next time I have a craving, I'll go alone.