Quote of the Day

"It's a blog not a journal." That blurb was posted by an anonymous commenter on a newspaper blog. It's an interesting opinion. Unfortunately, the rest of the internet does not agree.

No better proof than the dictionary. Dictionary.com defines blog as "a journal written on-line and accessible to users of the internet." Merriam-Webster declares blogs are "an online personal journal." Wiktionary states that blogs take "the form of an online journal."

If you do not consider dictionaries as definitive substantiation, take Blogger's description of their own service: "Blogger is a free blog publishing tool from Google for easily sharing your thoughts with the world." The creators of WordPress give their users the following bit of encouragement: "Express yourself."

Everywhere you look, sources tend to coincide. The Online Journalism Review calls blogs a "series of entries to an online journal." New Zealand museums tell us that "Blogs operate much like an on-line daily or weekly journal." FoodInfoQuest propose that blogs are "typically a hybrid of a personal diary and a commentary." And the Parliament of Victoria ruled that blogs are a "web log or online diary."

Still not overwhelming evidence?

Let's check the supreme and absolute source of all knowledge... wikipedia. "Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries."

Blogs are a place where anyone can voice their opinion. It's also a place where we can point out when the opinions of others are wrong. In the case of the nameless person that thinks blogs are not journals, the vast reservoirs of the web dispute your claim. You are incorrect: blogs are journals.


Five for Friday

Fall has arrived and we're heading into my favorite half of the year: autumn and winter. In honor of the changing seasons and the smile it brings to my face, here are five things that have brought me joy today.



And this

We ventured out into the wild (Honeysuckle Beach) to get pictures of our clan. Our photographer let the three kids be themselves and she snapped dozens of candids and poses while the trio ran around with their true selves on proud display.

2. My replacement is fully functional. I spent half of last week mentoring Sam, and he spent this week in OJT. We got his his final bit of system access today so he is ready to do the job without me. I can finally stop being four people.

3. Speaking of work... I'm taking a few days off. Don't call it a vacation, I'll be at home with the kids. But it's a break. And now that I have a backup trained in my place, I walked out of the office today knowing the work was left in good hands.

4. Our waiter at IHOP. First I must disclose that I'm not a fan of IHOP. My brother and I had an unfortunate experience at one of their locations in Seattle and ever since, I've tried my best to avoid eating there. But kids eat free and we promised Zu and Christian that we would take them out for dinner if they behaved during the photo shoot. Free food for them made the decision easy.

The waiter there this evening turned their mediocre grub into an enjoyable experience. He interacted with each of our kids and remembered their names; he was thorough in covering the food options; and his service at our table was prompt, friendly, and courteous. He was the best waiter we've had anywhere in a long time.

5. The cooler weather. I may be strange but I am glad that summer is over. I love this cooler air; it's refreshing, it's calming, and I'm breathing deeper.


Eight Questions

My sister-in-law has a delightful blog in which she dispenses the the wisdom of both a starving artist and a coffee bar barista. It might not be much of a surprise that she earns her living as a barista while waiting for her first novel to finish it's journey into publication.

In a recent post, she completed a meme demanding answers to eight completely random questions. Rather than following the rules requiring her to tag eight bloggers to repeat her feat, she tagged all of her followers. As a loyal follower, and as a blogger who used the word "random" it the name of my blog... I feel it my duty to continue the thread.

If you are compelled to compile your own answers, please leave a note and/or link in the comments so that I can enjoy your little piece of randomness.

* * * * * *

1. If you could have a superpower, what would you have? Why?

This is difficult for me to narrow down as there are three I would pick (if choices were permitted). These are also three wishes I would propose to a genie if genies were real and I happened to rub it's lamp. 1) the ability to imitate any voice, 2) the skill to play any sport at a professional level, 3) the ability to play any song on any instrument by ear. If I had to pick one and only one, I'd select the third option

2. Who is your style icon?

Think Ben and Matt in Good Will Hunting... with Robin Williams beard.

3. What is your favorite quote?

There are so many to choose from, and my favorite probably changes daily. (you can see a good smattering in the "Voices in My Head" section in the sidebar to your right).

Currently, I'm digging this nugget from Fred Rogers: "Life is deep and simple, and what society gives us is shallow and complicated." My all time favorite, I've posted before and you can find it HERE.

4. What is the best compliment you've ever received?

The best compliments are often ones that you don't fully believe, and there is one that my wife regularly drops on me. It's not that I don't trust her opinion, but more that her opinion of me is often higher than my self-diagnosis. "You are a good dad."

It means the world to me to hear her say that.

5. What playlist/cd is on your ipod/cd player right now?

So... much...

I've been listening to a lot of Ben Folds lately. And some Stabbing Westward. And Boyce Avenue. And Desperation Band.

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

I'm a night owl. Unfortunately, my daughter is a morning person. And my wife is less of a morning person than I so I am forced to be both.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

Dogs. Without question. I like other people's cats as long as they don't scratch. Or walk on my car after it's been washed. And I refuse to own them.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

Hopefully it's self explanatory, but in case I mistakenly left any room for misinterpretation, lets use the dictionary.

Rants: extravagant speech or declamations.
Raves: enthusiastic or delirious talk
Random: made without aim, reason, or pattern
Thoughts: the result of metal activity.

Point being, I have brain waves that I believe deserve extravagant or enthusiastic expression. It is my own slice of narcissism. However, my proof of functioning grey matter is rarely displayed with any sense of aim, reason, or pattern. It's how I roll. I am also fascinated by alliteration. Therefore: three R's.




If our marriage had a hobby, it would be using small animals or children as a go between for conversation or entertainment (possibly both). We've done it before with one of the dogs. Yesterday was Zu's turn.

Bekah was getting ready for a trip to the grocery store and Zu was prepared to ride along. She was dressed, hair done, pink and brown Airwalks laced up - ready to go. One thing was missing: Bekah insisted our daughter needed to wear socks. I was in the bedroom sorting socks at that moment, so Bekah sent Zu to me with a message.

"Daddy," she said, "Momma said I need socks."
"Go tell Momma she's crazy."

Zu pranced out of the bedroom and a moment later I heard the message delivered with more confidence than three year olds should embody. "Momma, you're crazy."

She returned with Bekah's next line, "I need socks."
"No you don't." I sent her to tell her mom.
She returned, "Yes I do."
"Ask your mommy why."
Seconds later, "Because it's cold out side."
"Tell Momma it's not that cold outside."
"But it's raining." Bekah's rebuttal give through the voice of our daughter. "My feet will get wet."

My next retort took two tries. Zu's first attempt was jumbled and incoherent. But she delivered it with perfect ease on the second try: "Momma, my ancestors didn't wear socks."

Bekah did her best to stifle laughter and sent Zu back to me with one final demand. "Go say, Daddy, you're racist." (in case you didn't know, Zu is 100% Native American)

Zu stomped into the bedroom, placed her fists on her hips and scowled at me.


When I saw Bekah's face on my phone's display early this morning, my first thought was something went wrong. The kids should have all been in school, and I was running though my mental check list of what disasters could have happened in the couple hours since I had left the house.

She only called to inform me that our youngest was a jester. Some time in the middle of the night, he had stripped off his pajamas and peeled away his diaper. When Bekah went into the kids room to wake JJ this morning, she found him laying in his bed, spread eagle, and bare naked.

At least he was comfortable.


Christian and Bekah were talking about our family this afternoon when Christian asked when he would get to see his cousins. Bekah explained that they all lived far away and that it was expensive to travel. She told him that we didn't have the money now to fly out and see the rest of the family.

"How much?" He asked.
Bekah looked up airline prices and gave him an answer, "It would cost a thousand dollars."
"I know where we could get a thousand dollars," Christian said.
Curious, Bekah asked, "Where?"
"We could go on Wipeout." Christian flashed a proud smile.
"Oh, baby, we'd have to win. We don't get the money for being on the show."
"We could do it, Momma," he said. "It's easy. I watched one guy and he almost didn't fall at all. And I know how to do the sucker punch. I wouldn't fall off. I could do it. I'm not sure about the big balls though."

Christian's favorite TV show is Wipeout. I'm not sure if this is my greatest success as a parent, or my biggest failure. If you have no idea what Christian is talking about, CLICK HERE and watch some of the videos. You will either be enlightened, or lose a couple of IQ points.


Five for Friday

Christian started kindergarten this week. This new adventure came with some mixed emotions - none of which involved separation anxiety. Nor did we struggle with the sadness of letting our oldest child go of into the world of education.

Even before Christian's conception, Bekah wanted our kids to attend private schools. She was raised in a convoluted combination of home, public, and private education and she insists the quality of learning was best in private classrooms. I, on the other hand, am a fan of public schools. And so far, public schools have been good for us. Christian attended Fernan Elementary for preschool, and that class was a tremendous blessing.

I'm a product of government funded education and I turned out all right. As Christian prepared for his first day at his elementary school, I was quietly excited. The bizarre school supply list that focused on communal and sanitary supplies left me longing for the days when my parents were packing me off to kindergarten, but it failed to dampen my spirits. His downer of a teacher, however, did what budget cuts and over-crowding could not accomplish: she slaughtered my faith in public schools.

Here are the five reasons Bekah and I were not impressed with Christian's Kindergarten teacher.

1. Rude, snippish... possibly hostile. The school made a mistake and assigned Christian to the wrong class. That glitch was corrected the week before classes, but too late for the scheduled parent/teacher meet and greet. Bekah called as soon as we knew who would be teaching Christian's class and scheduled a meeting. On the Friday before the start of classes, Bekah brought Christian to the class so that he could see where it was and what it looked like while Bekah and the teacher talked. The entire time, the teacher expressed annoyance at the meeting, at my wife's concerns, and toward Christian's disability. When Bekah explained that he would need some adjustments because of Aspergers, the teacher asked how to prevent behaviors.* (note: if I knew how to prevent Aspergers behaviors, I would get rich selling my technique to child psychologists).

2. Oblivious to reality. Not only was she callous to Christian's needs, she initially didn't know anything about PDD-NOS (Christian's official diagnosis), Bekah had to explain it to her. Nor did she show any interest in learning how to work with Asperger children. But her lack of knowledge spanned beyond the realm of neurological disorders. She didn't even know what what on her students's supply lists. Not once, but twice during the parent orientation, she mentioned that she was unaware what was on those lists. The first is when a parent asked where to put the erasers (an item not on the list) and the second when another parent expressed disgust that the supplies were to be shared by all of the students rather than for his child alone. (Why his kid needs dry erase markers and a whole bottle of hand sanitizer, one could only guess.) On each occasion, the teacher specifically stated "I'm sorry, I don't know what is on those lists." Just a thought, but as a teacher, you should probably know what supplies the students in your class are supposed to bring with them on the first day of school.

3. "I'm sure, by the end of the year, I'll love each and every one of your children." Yes, she really said this. By the end of the year? Why so long? Is it because they're finally leaving? Why not by the end of the week, or even by the end of the month? And what if my kid is the one that it takes you a full year to love and appreciate? What will that teach my son? I mean, I know my kid can be challenging, and it might take some time to warm up to his quirkyness... but c'mon. If it takes you 9 months to figure out how to appreciate a child, you should not be teaching kindergarten.

4. Humiliation of parents. I get it. Some parents over-estimate the abilities of their kids. I probably think more highly of Christian than other adults in his life, but that's a part of being a parent. You're supposed to be proud of your kids. Your supposed to brag about them. And your supposed to remember all of the embarrassing things you kid does so that you can bust out the best stories when he brings home his first girlfriend. Thats the circle of life. We know that we exaggerate our kid's capabilities. Do teachers really need to point it out to us? Well, maybe. It might be good for a kindergarten teacher to tell us that kids might not accomplish all that we say they're capable of doing. But when telling us this tough news, there's no need to single out a specific parents with a highly detailed example. That's what Christian's kindergarten teacher did at the parent orientation. She told a story of a kid (whose parents were in the room) that went through the pre-entrance skills testing and could not pass the reading test to the difficulty that they expect students to pass at the end of kindergarten. What made this student special is that the parents told the teacher their kid was capable of reading at the 2nd grade level. "So," she told the group of parents, "just because you think your kids read at the 2nd grade level doesn't mean they can." Way to not only embarrass a student, but to publicly humiliate some parents.**

5. Inappropriate and condescending accusations. On Wednesday (the second day of school) the class colored pictures. The fate of those pictures are a mystery. Some of the kids might have taken them home, some pictures were in cubbies, and inevitably some ended up in the trash can. When Bekah picked Christian up, he wanted to show off his picture. Problem, he couldn't find it, and he was highly distressed. His teacher's reaction: (spoken in a accusatory tone) "Well, that's why I told you to put it in your cubbie." Implication, if you had of followed instruction, you wouldn't have lost your picture. But there's a dilemma. The cubbies were not labeled on the first day of class, and by the time they were labeled on the second day, the labels were printed in tiny fonts - virtually unreadable to 6 year old eyes. So even if he wanted to put the picture in his cubbie, didn't know where to find it. The teacher told Bekah that this was the reason that she didn't give the kids anything important for the first couple of weeks - they're prone to lose things. Unfortunately for that moment (thanks to Christian's Apsergers) any picture he colors is of the utmost importance. He cherishes all of his artistic creations. With a half-hearted search, the teacher picked up a random picture and asked Christian if it was his. No. "Well, Christian," she said with a hint of condemnation, "This is why I told you to write your name on the back." When the picture was found, it had his name on the back. He did write it there, as instructed.

Today was his last day in public kindergarten. He starts private school on Monday.***

* Her reasoning? "There's only one of me."
** The parents in her example were not us. Christian loves math and science. But he struggles at reading. We'd be happy if he recognized the word "the."
*** Ironically, the first kindness Bekah observed was after Bekah informed the teacher that we were pulling Christian out of the class. "Oh," she said, "that's too bad. He's so much fun to have in class, and he's really smart."

ps, Bekah wants me to convey that the teacher not a bad teacher. She's probably not a tyrant. But she probably shouldn't be teaching kindergarten. My guess, she'd be better suited for 5th or 6th grade. She seemed (to me) to be jaded. And kids shouldn't have teachers like that until they've been in school for a few years.


What is irony

It seems many people have trouble defining irony. Much like (and perhaps because of) Alanis Morissette's song Ironic, much of the well-intentioned public confuses things that are inconvenient, unfortunate, or embarrassing as ironic.

Just because it's funny, does not mean that it's ironic. A girl that meets her dream guy then finds out he bats for the other team: embarrassing but not ironic. Dying the day after winning the lottery: unfortunate but not ironic.

Perhaps I can help differentiate the two.

The existence of Mianus Connecticut: unfortunate and hilarious. Not ironic.

The existence of Humble Texas: Ironic. Not particularly funny.

Make sense?


Six for Saturday

Call this five for Friday, a day late with an extra item.

You may or may not have noticed a few changes in the layout around here. (If you haven't that's because you're reading this blog through facebook's notes app. Shame on you, click the link that says "View Original Post," it helps my page views.) To be honest, the change was inspired by the fantastic layout of my wife's new blog. While I'm glad she's entered the blogosphere, I was a bit sheepish over her blog looking better than mine.

Here are (in my opinion) the most improved changes.

1. The background. It needed some color. Grey is still my favorite color, but the grey had to go.
2. Followers. It's back. It disappeared the last time I changed the blog's template and couldn't get the html adding it back to work. I can now be followed. Again. (Speaking of which, you should follow me.)
3. Readability. The black/white text on grey backgrounds: bad idea. What was i thinking?
4. The header. Like it? The snare drum belonged to one of the kids that played in the youth worship band while Bekah and I were youth volunteers. "God Help Us" wasn't the only graffiti written on the drum head; the head also contained the phrase "shut up dork."
5. Refreshed blogroll. I cleaned out some blogs that are no longer active and added a few new links like those belonging to friends and former coworkers (The Sports Nerd & Shmily Face Photography), my wife's wonderful blog (My Special Blessings) and fellow HBOers (A Family Runs Through It & my life's a freak show). Along with some alterations and additions to my list of time killers and the consolidation of my archives, my lists of links should be a happier place.
6. It's still uniquely me. I hope.

As usual, let me know what you think. I'm deeply insecure (which is probably due to being a complete loser in high school) so kind words are always welcome. And if your blog isn't in my blogroll and you think it should be, tell me. I'm not psychic.


The good guys dress in black

Over the next few days, a colleague and I will be conducting interviews. He lamented the fact that we'd be expected to dress a little more formally than our company's business casual dress code. His biggest complaint was that he'd have to wear a tie. He didn't understand why I might see that as an inconvenience as (according to him) I just wore one yesterday for fun. For the record, I've never seen him in a tie.

Making light of the situation, I suggested we go in to the interviews wearing white shirts, black blazers, black ties, and dark Ray Bans - go with the Men In Black look.

"We could," he replied, "but if we did, we'd probably look more like the Blues Brothers."

I said it was a deal as long as he was Dan Aykroyd and I was John Belushi.