Friday, December 22, 2006

School Vouchers

I am reading articles about a proposal to make school vouchers available in TX to parents of children with autism. Let me say first that I am 100% for a school voucher program. That being said, I understand many of the fears that parents have about what could happen to the level of services currently being offered by schools.

A voucher program will work if it is allowed to work. If implemented by the legislature, it must be left alone and market forces must be allowed to take over and mold the program. If this is not done and government sets hurdles around every corner the program is destined for failure. The only way that a voucher program will be successful is if it is run as a business. This will never happen as the public education unions will not allow it.

If I, as a parent of two children with autism, have the choice of where to educate my children, this will mean that I have the choice to have them educated in the private sector at a school that will accept my voucher. This means that the public education system no longer has control over the education that my sons receive. On the surface this is not a big deal. Where this becomes a larger issue is that, if vouchers are offered for children with autism, it will not be long before they are made available to children with other issues and, ultimately, to all children. This means that teachers at underperforming schools (and teachers who are underperforming) will have to raise their levels of performance.

Unions will never allow their members to be told that they have to improve their level of performance. That's not their goal. Holding teachers accountable for their actions makes too much sense. If that were to occur, the next logical step would be performance based pay. Heaven forbid that we begin to operate our schools as any logical business and require performance from the workers there.

Let me stop in the middle of this rant and throw in the qualifier that, even if offered vouchers, I would not move my children from their current educational setting. We have the great fortune of being in a school district and at a school where both the administration and educators understand autism and do a FANTASTIC job with my sons! I am blessed with the good fortune of being at a school that provides my boys with education that is not available in many other places, including those with more dollars and resources.

Okay. That's enough. Time to go workout.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Next Nobel Prize...

Here is some research that is in line for the next Nobel Prize. No one else need apply because this one has it in the bag. I can sleep better tonight now that I know that Tinkie Winkie is the true culprit that bears the responsibility for my sons' autism. And to think that all this time I was falsely blaming it on something else. How silly of me!

Source: Cornell University
Date: October 17, 2006

Early Childhood TV Viewing May Trigger Autism, Data Analysis Suggests

A series of data sets analyzed in a paper by economists at Cornell University and Indiana University-Purdue University suggest a connection between early childhood television viewing and the onset of autism. And the authors urge further investigation and research by experts in the field.

In a paper to be presented at a conference of the National Bureau of Economic Research, Oct. 20, in Cambridge, Mass., the authors reviewed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey on TV viewership rates among children and compared it with data from the National Climactic Data Center, which looks at the amount of precipitation communities receive. This analysis showed that children from rainy counties watch more television. When autism rates were then compared between rainy and drier counties, the relationship between high precipitation and levels
of autism was positive.

"We tested our hypothesis using existing, well-known data," said Michael Waldman, a professor of economics at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management and a co-author of the research paper. "The analysis shows that early childhood television viewing could be an environmental trigger for the onset of autism and strongly points to the need for more research by experts in the field of autism."

Thirty years ago, it was estimated that roughly one in 2,500 children had autism, while today some estimate that number to have increased more than tenfold, to as high as one in 166. At the same time, television viewing has increased dramatically due to easy access to cable and satellite television, more traditional broadcast offerings and the market penetration of VCRs and DVDs.

Because there are no large data sets that track whether children who watch a lot of TV when they are young are more likely to develop autism, the authors examined the connection between autism and two factors that generally increase the amount of TV that young children watch: precipitation and access to cable TV. They find that current school-aged children who live in California, Oregon, and Washington counties that received large amounts of rain and snow when the children were young are more likely to be diagnosed with autism. Furthermore, children who grew up in California and Pennsylvania counties during the 1970s and 80s with high cable subscription rates were also more likely to be diagnosed with autism. These analyses control for differences between counties in income, population, and demographic mix - other factors that may influence the autism rate - and also examine changes in county autism rates over time as well as differences at a point in time.

"Our analysis is not definitive, but it certainly raises questions that seem to have gone unasked in autism research to date," added Sean Nicholson, an associate professor of policy analysis and management in Cornell's College of Human Ecology. "The medical community is increasingly convinced that something is happening in the environment that triggers an underlying biological or genetic predisposition toward autism, and these findings strongly support the need for taking a closer look at early childhood television viewing."

Waldman and Nicholson were joined by Nodir Adilov, a professor of economics at Indiana University-Purdue University, in their research.

Copyright C 1995-2006 ScienceDaily LLC - All rights reserved -

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Don't Hurt The Feelings of The Losing Team

I found this ridiculous story this morning. It seems that Connecticut has decided to legislate the margin of victory for football games. They don't want the losing team to have its feelings hurt or for them to be humiliated. While I don't agree with the idea of running up the score, and I have been on teams that have been blown out (42-4 in a basketball game), you can't put a limit on a margin of victory.

Doing so causes more harm to the participants than allowing them to try their best and come up short. If you lose to a superior team, this SHOULD motivate you to try harder. If it doesn't, perhaps you should look for something else to spend your time on. Striving for mediocrity is not a goal that we should set for our children. Nor should we set limits on how bad they lose a contest. This does not prepare our children for what faces them in the real world. (It might in a socialist society where production doesn't matter but it doesn't in a capitalist one. I'd better stop here before I go off on a rant and forget the purpose of this post. I'll try and finish this thread tomorrow.)

Here's the story/link:
Coach Could Face Suspension for Blowout

September 19, 2006


Sharp on offense and unrelenting on defense, Bridgeport Central High School’s football team played a terrific game Friday night to win its season opener against its city rival Bassick, 56-0. Now, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference will decide if Bridgeport Central played too well.

Bridgeport Central’s coach, Dave Cadelina, is the first Connecticut high school football coach to face a possible one-game suspension for violating a rule implemented in May that prohibits teams from winning by more than 50 points. Cadelina has appealed his impending suspension, and his case may be heard as early as today by a three-member panel representing the C.I.A.C., which governs high school sports in Connecticut.

“We have had some real blowouts, and in our judgment, there was no reason for it,” said Tony Mosa, the assistant executive director of the C.I.A.C. “There were enough scores in that 50-, 60-point range where we were concerned and thought we needed to do something about it.

“We had one game last year that was 90-0. We felt that kids should not be humiliated, nor should they humiliate others. That’s not what the mission of high school sports should be. If a coach attempts to blow out another team, we regard that as an unsportsmanlike act, just as we would if a coach got in a fight in a game.”

Last season, New London High School, coached by Jack Cochran, defeated Griswold, 90-0, and won four games by 50 or more points. During halftime of what became a 60-0 New London victory over Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech last season, the losing team’s coach, Tim Panteleakos, was suspected of hitting a New London security officer and trying to punch a New London assistant coach. Panteleakos, apparently outraged that Cochran had called a timeout just before halftime, was arrested on a charge of breach of the peace. The charge was later dropped, The Norwich Bulletin reported.

It is widely believed that the rule was directed at Cochran, who built a reputation for championship teams and lopsided victories in previous head-coaching positions at Bloomfield and New Britain. Cochran resigned as New London coach in August after he was charged with breach of the peace for being suspected of punching a rival coach while their teams were taking part in an off-season weight-lifting event.

Against Bassick, a team that has not won since 2001, Bridgeport Central had a 35-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. By the second quarter, Cadelina was already emptying his bench, but Bridgeport Central took a 49-0 lead into halftime. With the starters long removed from the game and with the team no longer passing, Bridgeport scored again, going ahead, 56-0, in the third quarter.

Cadelina could have avoided a suspension had he told his team not to tackle opposing players, allowing them to run into the end zone unimpeded and making the final score closer. He said that never crossed his mind.

“My third-string guys work just as hard as everyone else to get the opportunity to go out there,” he said. “We’re constantly telling them in practice how to tackle, block, execute, and we tell them to go hard to the whistle. What kind of respect would they have for me or the game if we told them to go out there and lay down? On the opposite side, if I were losing by a large margin? Well, there’s not a player I have ever coached that would want the other team to lay down. That makes a mockery of the game.”

The Bassick coach, George Loughrey, said he supported Cadelina.

“He did everything he could not to run up the score on us,” Loughrey said. “I don’t care for this rule. I’m in a league where I have been on the bottom for a long time, and nobody has ever run the score up on my team. We didn’t need this rule. I’m glad he didn’t lay down. That would have embarrassed my kids.”

Cadelina said: “If the intent of this rule is to protect kids from unsportsmanlike conduct from an opposing coach, then I shouldn’t have anything to worry about. I just worry that since I’m the first one, they’ll want to make an example out of me. But I have the opposing coach saying I didn’t do anything wrong, and the referee also said he would try to help me out.”

It will be up to the three-person panel to decide whether Cadelina should be suspended, but Mosa said that Cadelina’s efforts to keep the score down would be considered.

“This certainly is not cut and dried,” Mosa said. “We will encourage both the offending coach and the opposing coach to give us their testimony. We will want to know what the coach did to manage the score. Yes, there is a gray area here.”

Monday, September 11, 2006

More to the J-Mac story

I found this story a couple of weeks ago in the Indianapolis Star. It took me a little while to post it but here it is.

Jason and the Colts: a special success story

August 27, 2006

It lasted only 240 seconds, but the story caught the attention of a nation. Earlier this year a high school senior, diagnosed and living with autism, came off the bench to make what his coach and teammates thought would be a token appearance. Four minutes later, his team and classmates, and later, the world, were astonished. The 5-foot, 6-inch former team manager had scored an unbelievable 20 points, including six three-pointers that tied his school's record.

In that 240 seconds and the widespread media attention that followed, numerous myths about autism were shattered, hopefully forever. We professionals in the treatment of autism and other developmental disabilities cheered loudly. Jason McElwain -- known to many as J-Mac -- had shown the world in an extraordinary public way just what young people with developmental disabilities can do.

As time passed, so did the initial positive fervor over Jason's public achievement. National media coverage on autism subsequently labeled the neuro-disorder as "America's Silent Epidemic," chronicling how the condition profoundly impacts one in every 166 children, including students in Indiana.

Suddenly, in a very public arena, Jason's story emerged again, this time close to home. Hoosier parents and professionals dealing with autism were delighted to learn that the Indianapolis Colts had embraced young Jason as a member of its equipment staff. As Colts Coach Tony Dungy explained to The Star: "He wanted to get some football experience and felt we were a good team to come to. We're happy to have him."

Our pride and appreciation for the courage and insight of the Indianapolis Colts in doing this cannot be adequately expressed. When a toddler or young child is diagnosed with autism, the world can seem to cave in for the child's family. Autism, better described as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) because of its complexity, can be unusually difficult to deal with, as in severe cases the child often cannot speak or relate in a normative way to his or her peers, family and community. There exists today no known cure and dealing with autism can be exhausting. Without proper understanding and professional treatment, the pervasive condition can be frightening to family and intensely frustrating to the person with autism.

When the Colts brought in young Jason to be part of their equipment staff, they did far more than a good corporate deed. They celebrated a young man's notable achievement, declaring to the world that people with autism can overcome their personal challenges. It is a celebration to be long savored by parents and professionals alike.

At Damar Services, we build better futures for children and adults facing life's greatest developmental and behavioral challenges. At our southwest Indianapolis campus and in our many community living opportunities in Central Indiana, we treat and support hundreds of children and adults with autism, mental retardation and severe behavioral issues. But regardless of the challenges they face, every child and adult at Damar is regarded as a unique person, deserving of the rights and dignity shared by their peers and community. This focus pays off handsomely, as 90 percent of those we serve experience success and a higher quality of life as they return to their families and communities.

This is why the effort by the Colts is so important. It illustrates and confirms to the world that people with autism and other developmental disabilities should receive a full chance at life. It also confirms that Jason's success represents a validated role model for those who struggle daily with the complexities of autism.
The season may not have begun for the Indianapolis Colts, but in the eyes of Damar Services and the families whom we serve, they are already world-class champions.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More Responsibility

Over the past couple of days I have read and seen many stories on local news and on national news sites about Katrina victims and their plight. I have a great deal of empathy for those individuals and could not imagine having to live through the life changing ordeal that they have.

That said, you don't often hear of those individuals who have, through their own hard work and perserverance, rebuilt their lives and moved on to continue living successful lives. You only hear of those individuals that are complaining that the government, often the federal government, is not doing enough for them. Do you see the difference in the two individuals (or groups) that I just described? Some, "through their own hard work and perserverance", others relying on the government.

I have also heard members of our government wondering why our President cannot push the federal dollars that have been allocated through the state and down to the local levels. Pardon my naivete but once the federal dollars make it to the state level shouldn't it be the state's responsibility to see that they are allocated to the local level?

There are individuals on news programs blaming the feds for not having a development plan for New Orleans, which is preventing some houses from being rebuilt by residents that are ready to rebuild. I applaud homeowners that are ready and willing to rebuild their residences and return to the way of life that they had before the devastation of Katrina and Rita but, again, isn't it the local government's responsibility to develop a plan for the city's future?

Most certainly there were many shortcomings in the federal government's response to the Katrina and Rita disasters. I would offer, though, that the majority of the responsibility, and therefore the blame, lies on state and local goverments for their failure to implement plans of action to get their local residents out.

The attitude that most rang a bell with me was on the Spike Lee documentary on HBO about Katrina. (I think this is where it was. If not, I apologize to all who read this.) A women stated that she was told that if she and her family stayed and rode out the storm that there would be no support from the government and there would be no one to bail her out. She said that she accepted this but still couldn't believe that it took someone as long as it did to come and rescue her.

If you have the warning and make a conscious decision not to heed it, it's your problem, not mine. Accept the responsibility for your actions/decisions. You reap the rewards and suffer the consequences of your actions/decisions. Live your life with that in mind and the opportunities for success are more likely to come. It takes hard work but the reward is well worth it.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Decisions and Responsibility

For some reason, I feel like ranting about government today, so this may be a little sporadic and difficult to read. Here goes...

Our local political heroes (in Austin, TX) believe, in their infinite wisdom, that dogs should eat at the same restaurant that I do. That bothers me. But that's not what really bothers me. I'm torn about our government trying to ram a bicycle helmet law down our collective throat because a former mayor was in an accident on his bike and it saved his life.

Let me preface this by saying that I ALWAYS ride my bike with a helmet. One time in the past 6 years have I gone for a ride without a helmet. I knew when I left the house that I did not have a helmet on; I made a conscious decision to ride without a helmet and assumed all the risks associated with that action. That is the crux of my point; I made a decision and accepted the responsibility for my actions. We do not expect, or require, the general public to accept enough responsibility for their individual actions.

I thankful for the former mayor's good fortune in wearing a helmet when he went out on a ride and the fact that his helmet saved his life when he was struck by a car. However, this does not give him carte blanche to impose his will on the people. If my next door neighbor Joe wants to ride without a helmet and he is of legal age to make that decision AND he is willing to accept responsibility for his actions, more power to you, Joe! Let the wind flow through your hair!

A word of warning to Joe: When and if you are struck by a car and suffer from a traumatic head or brain injury, it is YOUR responsibility, not mine, to provide for your treatment. This is the risk that you assume when you act in a manner that may be unsafe.

We need to reach an age where people assume responsibility for their own actions and stop relying on the government teet to solve all of our problems. I realize that politicians want us to rely on the them (the government) because this creates job security for them but, at the end of the day, it creates a society of individuals that have limited ability, limited creativity and limited potential.

Cut the cord. Sink or swim. Take a chance and see where that new path takes you. Sometimes it can be fun. It does not take a village to raise a child. It takes parents that are involved in their children's lives.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Blogger's Block?

I suppose that I could say that I've had a block towards what to write about but the truth is that I've lost the time and interest to posting a lot.

Life continues at a frantic pace and, as my time becomes more of a premium, something has to give. This is it.

Anyway, back to whatever this is about. School started for the boys today. Hiro did pretty well; not much changed for him as he is in the same class with many of the same classmates. Ryan had a tougher time; his room was the same but he has a new teacher and they changed the layout of the room totally. He was not pleased! A movie helped a little but he was not totally committed to the room. I heard him voicing his displeasure when I came back to the room to drop of his reinforcers. I feel for the teacher/aides this week. It will be challenging for them.

Today is Sayoko's birthday, so we are taking her out to dinner. Not sure where yet but someplace that offers Chinese. That's what she wants, so Chinese it is.

Tomorrow is my Uncle Al's birthday, so we are going to dinner with him, Aunt Irene and mom. Should be fun! Haven't seen Al & Irene in a long time so I'm looking forward to it.

Training is starting to ramp up again and I'm feeling good about it. I took some time off after the last race and now I am happy about getting back to it. Have to stay focused on it and on the results but I feel faster lately. The break did me some good.

I don't have any races solidly scheduled. Miyo and I have talked about a couple but have not signed up for any. We'll see how that goes.

That's all for now. Later.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Turn the page...

On Monday, my father-in-law lost his battle with small cell lung cancer. He fought the good fight but succombed at ~ 1:21 AM. I was with him when he left. While it was not unexpected as he had been in hospice care for several weeks, it is never an easy thing to accept.

Sam was a great man who was very caring and compassionate. Seeing him die slowly was difficult for me as the man in that bed was not the man that I choose to remember him as. He was a strong and vibrant man that had an opinion about almost everything and would not hesitate to tell you what it was. There were several occasions that we did not agree and argued about the subject. Sam would never apologize for anything but you knew he was over any disagreement when he began talking again. You always knew where you stood.

This week has been difficult for Miyo and her mom. There is some relief that Sam is on to a better place but uncertainty about the future. Sayoko has never lived on her own and does not drive. While she has friends and Miyo and me to depend on, this is a new chapter and a new beginning for her. I know that she'll succeed but worry for her, nonetheless.

The future is full of surprises for her and she'll shine through it all.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Weekend Notes

I had a great weekend this past. We took the boys to Houston to see the Astros play on Saturday night. It was the first major league game that any of the boys had seen. Kian and Aidan were excited to see the game and that was fun. Hiro actually sat through the whole game and watched a good portion of it. Impressive for 6. Ryan even sat through 7 innings! I was real excited about that. We only walked around for 1.5 innings and he was well behaved the whole time.

The hotel was not the best situation as it was not really a kid friendly place. The staff was excellent and the hotel was very nice but it is a business hotel and is designed for the business traveller. As a result, they did not have a lot of accommodations for the boys. I ended sleeping on the floor with Ryan. Not a big deal but my back was a little sore in the morning. Still fun, though!

Sunday was Fathers Day and we had a good day. We drove back to Austin and spent the day at Sam & Sayoko's. Sam's health is rapidly deteriorating but he was in good spirits part of the day. We are trying to get the boys around him as much as possible. Even though he is not interacting with them much, they give him hugs a few times during the day, which is sweet. Ryan is great about that!

Miyo is holding up pretty well most of the time. I'm very proud of her as I know that this is hard for her. She is harboring some resentment toward her dad but that will take some time to work out. (Just my opinion based on observations.)

We are scheduled to go to South Padre with the boys next weekend, which should be fun. Sam's health will dictate the trip; as long as he is well, we will go.

Kian and Aidan leave for Virginia Wednesday morning at 6:30 AM. They are making their annual summer sojourn to their Nana's house and will be gone for about 6-8 weeks. It's longer than I like them to be gone but it's important for them to see that side of the family and summer is the only real time that they can do it. We'll miss them for sure!

Hope everyone else had a great weekend! Especially the other dads out there!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Brief Overview of the Past Few Months...

While I've been away, life has been cruising along at break neck speed. Aidan finished his baseball season with a victory in the post season tournament and a trophy for the championship. Then he was selected to play on a district tournament team that promptly went out and lost their first 2 games in a double-elimination tournament. It was a great season but I secretly glad that it's over.

Kian was participating in an Ultimate Frisbee league. I was happy to see him participate in something that required physical activity, as this is not his strong point. He did pretty well and his team won more than they lost. This was my first exposure to Ultimate and it was interesting. As long as it encourages Kian to be more active, I'll watch him do whatever he pleases (within reason, of course.)

My father-in-law, Sam, was diagnosed with Stage IV small cell lung cancer with brain metastases. Initial rounds of chemo-therapy and radiation treatment for the brain lesions were very effective and raised everyone's spirits. We went through 2 rounds of chemo and 1 round of radiation and were elated to have an open-ended break from treatment.

During the break from treatment, Sam started to have some issues with his vision which took us back to the doctor. Unfortunately, the cancer returned pretty vigorously, a common event with SCLC which is very aggressive, and was causing these issues. A four-day hospital stay ensued followed by numerous consultations with doctors and specialists regarding treatment options. It was decided that, while we could pursue further treatment, it would not increase his time with us. Based upon that, we decided to enjoy the time that we have left.

Sam is home now and we have set up hospice care for him. As of last night, he was in good spirits when engaged and seemed pretty coherent. His body is getting much weaker but still seems strong of mind. The biggest concern is that he has fallen a couple of times when by himself and it has taken him a long time to get the strength to pick himself up. Because of this, we have not left him alone much and follow him from room to room when he gets up to go somewhere.

There are a couple of travel dates coming up that should be fun. This weekend Miyo and I are taking all the boys to Houston to go see the Astros play the Royals. We got a great deal on tickets through work and a great deal on a hotel in downtown Houston (also through work.) It should be a fun trip!

The following weekend we are planning a trip to South Padre Island for an extended weekend. We actually weren't planning this trip but are going to help Sato & Connie. They planned a trip down to the coast with the family and wanted to take Sato's parents (my in-laws-Sato is Miyo's brother) so that Sam could spend more time with Sato and Connie's kids. (Sato and Connie have lived in CA for the past few years and their children are not close to Sam and Sayoko. For that matter, Sato and Connie are not that close to Sam and Sayoko either.)

We are going because Sam stated that he does not want to stay there for a week and would not go if he had to be there the whole time. This resulted in Miyo and I planning to spend the weekend there, going down on Friday and coming back on Monday and bringing Sam and Sayoko back with us. Of course this has created some tension with Sato and Sam because Sato is doing this partly out of guilt to try and re-establish a relationship with his dad but trying to play it off as for the kids and partly for selfish reasons to give his family a vacation. (He is working so hard to spend time with Sam that he has not visited at all this week and is not planning on spending any time with him on Fathers' Day but going to Houston to see Connie's dad.)

Drama is flying around everywhere and I'm trying real hard not to get caught in the middle of it. So far, so good but I think I'm just lucky to this point.

This has gone on long enough. More sometime in the future.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I'm Back, In Case You Missed Anything

While I don't know that anyone actually reads the drivel that I put out, if you do I apologize for not posting for an extended period of time. Much has been happening that I will attempt to detail over the next week. Suffice it to say that I will make an effort to put something down several times a week but make no promises.

If you're out there, thanks for paying attention! Most of the time I don't, so someone has to.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Spring Break is Over!

Now I can rest! This week has been great but boy am I tired! SXSW was this week and Miyo and I got out to see a few bands. None of the big shows as we could not get in to them. I wanted to see Echo & The Bunnymen on Thursday night but I was exhausted. We were out on Wednesday until 3:00 AM and had to be at work at 8:00. (I was late.) Monday was my 42nd b-day, Tuesday we spent a quiet night at home, Wednesday was a 35-mile ride in the morning, dinner with Mom & going out, Thursday was pass out at 9:30 due to exhaustion, Friday was St. Patty's day and more bands, Saturday was work out day with a long run followed by more rest on Sunday.

While that sounds like a lot of rest, I'm getting old and just can't party like I used to. This week it's back to the grind. Aidan has baseball practice on Tuesday, a game on Thursday, then a game on Saturday. Sometime on Saturday we have to go to Waco to pick up some stuff from Grandma's house, then get home and spend time with the kids.

Oh well! Hope all is well for anyone listening!

Monday, March 06, 2006

I'm Behind...

It's March. I've got just over 4 weeks until my 1st race. I have been swimming 2x since my last race, 6 months ago. I'm behind the curve. That's all I can say about that.

On the + side, running is going very well. I did not run over the weekend as my calves are sore but I'll stretch and maybe run tonight. If not, I'll run on Tuesday. It's all good; I feel pretty strong about the run but need to be in better shape. I'll start to kick up the training a notch this week and see how it progresses over the course of the next 7 days. I'm not worried yet.

On to more important things. The Cards opened season this weekend and Aidan played pretty well. We won 7-6 on a final inning comeback. Despite valiant attempts to lose, giving up a 5-1 lead, the team held on strong and came back in the bottom of the 6th to score the game winner with 1 out and men left on. Good job, team! Aidan went 0-1 officially, with one walk. He flied out on his only official AB and was up when the winning run scored on a passed ball. Game #2 tomorrow night @ 5:30 and game 3 on Wednesday. I'll let you know how those go.

We went to a casino night party on Saturday night and had a good time. Got to hang with Moe for a little while and met some of her friends. We are planning on going out with Moe and Mark on Saturday night for a blowout before they head off to Costa Rica. That should be fun!

That's all for now. Busy day but I'll try and catch you up throughout the week.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Man to Be Proud Of

I found this link this morning while I was reading some news on a couple of Libertarian sites that I peruse. It is a story of a Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps that had a special salute for his attackers after being injured by an IED. Here is the link:
PC540: Michael Burghardt
and the story:

The Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant in the picture is Michael Burghard, part of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team that is supporting 2nd Brigade 28th Infantry Division (Pennsylvania Army National Guard). I heard the below story first hand last Saturday during a video teleconference between his Brigade Commander and the 28th Infantry Division Commander. I thought that others should hear it as well, as I think it demonstrates the true spirit of most of our troops on the ground.

Leading the fight is Gunnery Sgt Michael Burghardt, known as "Iron Mike" or just "Gunny". He is on his third tour in Iraq. He had become a legend in the bomb disposal world after winning the Bronze Star for disabling 64 IEDs and destroying 1,548 pieces of ordnance during his second tour. Then, on September 19, he got blown up. He had arrived at a chaotic scene after a bomb had killed four US soldiers. He chose not to wear the bulky bomb protection suit. "You can't react to any sniper fire and you get tunnel-vision," he explains. So, protected by just a helmet and standard-issue flak jacket, he began what bomb disposal officers term "the longest walk", stepping gingerly into a 5ft deep and 8ft wide crater. The earth shifted slightly and he saw a Senao base station with a wire leading from it. He cut the wire and used his 7in knife to probe the ground. "I found a piece of red detonating cord between my legs," he says. "That's when I knew I was screwed."

Realizing he had been sucked into a trap, Sgt Burghardt, 35, yelled at everyone to stay back. At that moment, an insurgent, probably watching through binoculars, pressed a button on his mobile phone to detonate the secondary device below the sergeant's feet. "A chill went up the back of my neck and then the bomb exploded," he recalls. "As I was in the air I remember thinking, 'I don't believe they got me.' I was just ticked off they were able to do it. Then I was lying on the road, not able to feel anything from the waist down."

His colleagues cut off his trousers to see how badly he was hurt. None could believe his legs were still there. "My dad's a Vietnam vet who's paralyzed from the waist down," says Sgt Burghardt. "I was lying there thinking I didn't want to be in a wheelchair next to my dad and for him to see me like that. They started to cut away my pants and I felt a real sharp pain and blood trickling down. Then I wiggled my toes and I thought, 'Good, I'm in business.' As a stretcher was brought over, adrenaline and anger kicked in. "I decided to walk to the helicopter. I wasn't going to let my team-mates see me being carried away on a stretcher." He stood and gave the insurgents who had blown him up a one-fingered salute. "I flipped them one. It was like, 'OK, I lost that round but I'll be back next week'."

Copies of a photograph depicting his defiance, taken by Jeff Bundy for the Omaha World-Herald, adorn the walls of homes across America and that of Col John Gronski, the brigade commander in Ramadi, who has hailed the image as an exemplar of the warrior spirit. Sgt Burghardt's injuries — burns and wounds to his legs and buttocks — kept him off duty for nearly a month and could have earned him a ticket home. But, like his father — who was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action in Vietnam — he stayed in Ramadi to engage in the battle against insurgents who are forever coming up with more ingenious ways of killing Americans.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I'm back in the world of the living...

Not too much time to post today but a short note to let anyone who has stumbled across my ramblings that I am still out and about.

I got a new bike helmet for Valentine's Day and I am stoked about it. It might sound silly but I like getting new toys for my bike and this is a great one! It's one more reason to get amped about the upcoming season!

I went last week without working out too much due to issues with my knee and hamstring. Seems I was a little overzealous in some workouts and really stressed the hammy, which put extra pressure on the knee. This week has been short (2-2.5 mile) runs and lots of stretching. It seems to be helping as the soreness is subsiding.

Stretching is something that I do not do enough. I am confirming that all this week as I cannot touch my toes without rolling my shoulders almost all the way forward. Even then, it is hard to pull off. Tomorrow I am going to run 3-4 miles and do another longer run this weekend. Provided that the legs hold up okay, I'll progress with training and continue to pursue the olympic distance for the Cactus Challenge. If not, I'll settle for the sprint with Miyo.

We'll see how it goes and I'll let you know soon.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's been awhile...

Okay, so it's been awhile since I've written anything but life has been travelling along at a pretty brisk pace, so time has been a premium. I don't have much structure today as far as writing goes so this may be another series of random thoughts. Just thought I would forewarn anyone who's looking...

It's Super Bowl weekend! As a Patriots/Cowboys fan, I don't have a dog in this hunt so the only real significance for me is that I get to smoke a briskit and drink more beer this weekend. That, in and of itself, makes it a good weekend! I'm looking forward to it.

Aidan has little league tryouts on Saturday. We are going to the cages Friday night and I hope to get some work in catching as well. He was a catcher for a good part of last year and wants to do that again this year, along with playing in the field. This should be a good year for him and I hope for him to get a lot of experience.

It sounds like Miyo might have to work again this weekend, which would suck. She worked both days last weekend and it proved to be pretty stressful for both of us. Here's to hoping that we can have a normal weekend.

Training is in full swing and I am working on increasing aerobic capacity. I am trying to increase speed through leg turnover at the same time, doing some extended "sprints" on the treadmill once a week and trying to get some work in on the track along with a weekly long run. It's a pretty challenging schedule but so far it seems to be working.

Hiro has been having some gut issues lately. I need to talk to my uncle about moving some $ around so that we can get him to a good clinic and look into some of his issues. I think that it's related to his autism but can't be sure. I look at pictures of him from just 2 years ago and he has put on too much weight. I can't help but think that it has to do with food allergies and that we need to restrict his diet. The same goes for Ryan. The amount of weight that he is carrying can't be healthy.

More on that later. Gotta get back to work...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Random Thoughts...

Probably none of this will make sense but these are some of the random thoughts going through my head at the moment...
I'm hungry.
I am looking forward to getting home and cooking chicken for dinner.
It's a good thing that we ran out of cookies at work or I would be eating them.
I like cookies. And scotch.
I love scotch. Scotch, scotch, scotch. (Thank you, Ron Burgundy.)
Stay classy, San Diego.
Did you know that San Diego means 'a whale's vagina' in German? (Thanks again!)
Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?
Who is Carmen San Diego and who cares that she is lost?
I am looking forward to Aidan's baseball season this year. I don't know where he is playing but it will be fun.
I have to call his old coach and let him know that I will not be coaching with him this season. I just don't have the time. Sorry Coach Ken!
I get my car back this week from the body shop. That rocks!
Workouts are going well but I need to start working on more cardio. I have been letting that slip and I can really tell.
I think that I need to cut weights back to 2x a week from 4x. I need more time for cardio. (I know that I just said that but it's what's in my mind.)
I decided last night that I think my first race will be April 9 @ the Cactus Challenge. I heard that it's a pretty hard race but I have plenty of time to get ready for it.
I need to have a goal race to keep me motivated.
I am so glad that Miyo is home! She was gone too long! The boys really missed her too!
Hiro was SO excited when she came home! It was cute to see him jump up and down and hug her constantly when he saw her.
Our kids are great! I am a lucky man!
Tomorrow I need to make sure that I get in some cardio!
Am I fixating on cardio today, or what? Gotta stop that.

I'm running out of thoughts. I think that putting them all down has slowed my brain down to a more normal pace. That's a good thing!


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Not again...

So, I'm in the car driving to work this morning. I had just dropped off the boys @ school and was following Miyo to the gas station where I was going to put gas in the van. Pulling up to Pecan Street to turn and what do I see immediately in front of me but the side of a truck that decided to pull into the convenience store from the outside lane.

With no time to do anything, I slammed on the brakes and into the side of the truck. I was only traveling at ~10-15 mph, so the impact was not severe. In fact, I don't think the other driver felt it, as he continued driving and peeling the front bumper off the car. He must have heard this, as he stopped his truck. Looking at the truck, there was a small smudge of white paint where I contact his vehicle but no other visible damage. I shouted a few choice words before exiting the car.

Mind you, and I apologize if I haven't mentioned this already, I am in a rental from an accident that occurred just before Christmas. (Which also was not my fault.) So I wreck the rental and have to make 8 phone calls and tell this story 8 times to rental car people, who were very accommodating but frustrating nonetheless. (I can be a little impatient sometimes and don't like having to tell the same story repeatedly.)

Anyway, the guy that I hit was very apologetic and the policeman that came acknowledged that it was not my fault, so that made it better.

Oh well. I hesitate to ask what tomorrow will bring but I'm sure that it will be better. Hope everyone's day started better than mine.

So, I'm in the car driving to work this morning. I had just dropped off the boys @ school and was following Miyo to the gas station where I was going to put gas in the van. Pulling up to Pecan Street to turn and what do I see immediately in front of me but the side of a truck that decided to pull into the convenience store from the outside lane.

With no time to do anything, I slammed on the brakes and into the side of the truck. I was only travelling at ~10-15 mph, so the impact was not severe. In fact, I don't think the other driver felt it, as he continued driving and peeling the front bumper off the car. He must have heard this, as he stopped his truck. Looking at the truck, there was a small smudge of white paint where I contact his vehicle but no other visible damage. I shouted a few choice words before exiting the car.

Mind you, and I apologize if I haven't mentioned this already, I am in a rental from an accident that occurred just before Christmas. (Which also was not my fault.) So I wreck the rental and have to make 8 phone calls and tell this story 8 times to rental car people, who were very accommodating but frustrating none the less. (I can be a little impatient sometimes and don't like having to tell the same story repeatedly.)

Anyway, the guy that I hit was very apologetic and the policeman that came acknowledged that it was not my fault, so that made it better.

Oh well. I hesitate to ask what tomorrow will bring but I'm sure that it will be better. Hope everyone's day started better than mine.


Not again...

So, I'm in the car driving to work this morning. I had just dropped off the boys @ school and was following Miyo to the gas station where I was going to put gas in the van. Pulling up to Pecan Street to turn and what do I see immediately in front of me but the side of a truck that decided to pull into the convenience store from the outside lane.

With no time to do anything, I slammed on the brakes and into the side of the truck. I was only travelling at ~10-15 mph, so the impact was not severe. In fact, I don't think the other driver felt it, as he continued driving and peeling the front bumper off the car. He must have heard this, as he stopped his truck. Looking at the truck, there was a small smudge of white paint where I contact his vehicle but no other visible damage. I shouted a few choice words before exiting the car.

Mind you, and I apologize if I haven't mentioned this already, I am in a rental from an accident that occurred just before Christmas. (Which also was not my fault.) So I wreck the rental and have to make 8 phone calls and tell this story 8 times to rental car people, who were very accommodating but frustrating none the less. (I can be a little impatient sometimes and don't like having to tell the same story repeatedly.)

Anyway, the guy that I hit was very apologetic and the policeman that came acknowledged that it was not my fault, so that made it better.

Oh well. I hesitate to ask what tomorrow will bring but I'm sure that it will be better. Hope everyone's day started better than mine.


Monday, January 09, 2006

80th B-Day Bowling, "free" fish and V.Y.

Sunday we celebrated my uncle's 80th birthday. Thursday was his actual birthday but he did not have room on his busy social calendar, so we booked Sunday afternoon.

Uncle Buddy decided that he wanted to go bowling. Sounded like an odd request to me but, come to find out, he bowls every Thursday in a league and has a 164 average! I thought, there's no way that he can bowl a 164! (I'm lucky to break into the 3-digit scoring range; how can he roll 160+?) Believe it or not, the old guy won the day with a whopping 193 in his second game! Holy crap!

My high score was a 120-something. Miyo rolled a 143 (or something like that.) My cousin rolled a 130-something. The old dude smoked everyone! Whoda thunkit?

Before we went bowling, Miyo went over to a friend's house to pick up some free fish. A co-worker of her's has a Koi pond in his backyard and was going to give us some goldfish that he has in the pond. This seemed like a good idea as Hiro and Ryan really like fish. They stop at the aquarium on the way to class every morning and watch the fish for a little bit. So, we thought, free fish seemed like a good idea. After bowling and dinner, Miyo went to the local pet shop to pick up an aquarium for the fish and a few other things that fish need. (I don't know what those things are but she bought them.) TWO-HUNDRED SEVENTY DOLLARS later, we have some rather expensive free fish!

She is no longer allowed to accept and "free" animals from anyone! (I haven't told her that yet as I just made that decree here, so that may not stand. It's real easy for me to be big and bold on the blog but I will readily admit that she wears the pants most of the time and usually gets what she wants.)

Vince Young announced over the weekend that he is going to forego his senior season and head to the NFL. I'm happy for him and think that he made the right decision. As a Fightin' Texas Aggie fan, I'm thrilled beyond words. Maybe now we have a chance to beat Texas. I'm not holding my breath this year as the addition of Gary Darnell as DC does not instill confidence in me or fear in the hearts of Texas fans. The running joke is that you can call him Gary -arnell because he's go no 'D' in him! (Darnell was the DC @ Texas a few years ago and the defenses that he coached were among the worst in school history! What was Coach Fran thinking?)

Okay, work is getting in the way so I gotta go.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

National Champions, and some other thoughts

Props to the TX Longhorns for laying a beatdown on USC and bringing home the National Championship. Most of Austin is riding high with the win. I am happy for the team but hoping, as an Aggie, that Vince Young decides to cash the paycheck and go to the NFL.

I don't want to see that running all over the supposedly improved Gary Darnell defense that my Ags will run onto the field next year.

We had a good time at the party we attended last night. My aunt invited us to the Longhorn club to watch the game and it was great. The food was very good, the atmosphere was fun and the fans were pretty fun. It was good just to be with that much family watching the game. That said, I was glad to leave at the start of the 4th quarter and watch the end of the game at home. I'm much more comfortable there.

We are going bowling this weekend for my uncle's 80th birthday. Apparently, he bowls in a league and has a 164 average. That should be fun. I can't bowl 164 when the stars are aligned, so I'll be impressed to see him roll.

Yesterday was also Aidan's 11th birthday. Man I'm getting old. He went with his mom, Kian and some friends to watch the game at a local pizza joint. I'm sure that he had a great time with the 'Horns birthday present to him. He's a huge fan and wants to play sports at Texas when he gets older. (I'm a little biased but I believe that he has the talent and athletic ability, if he focuses on it.)

I owe a rant but don't have it in me at the moment, so you'll have to make do with my ramblings.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Welcome to aught-6

2006 is upon us and, for me at least, it came in with more of a wimper than a bang. Ryan, the youngest, decided that he wanted to stay up and party. He proceeded to outlast everyone, finally bowing out @ 3:30 AM. He would have stayed up longer but Dad was ready to throw in the towel. I'd had enough of Dora and Teletubbies for the night and proclaimed the evening done. It was good, though.

Sad though it was, it was kind of inspirational to see Dick Clark on the NYE show. He seems to be making great progress!

Training shifts gears this year. It's time to start working seriously for the Tri season. I have some new strength plans that I am working from this year. This is new for me as most years I start event specific training about now and concentrate on form and technique to improve my performance. This year, I am lifting more and have found a higher level of endurance and improved run times already! It's kind of scary. I'm not used to seeing improvements this early in training but I like it!

Let's hope that the progress continues!

Running late, as usual, so this is short. I think that I'll have a rant tomorrow. I feel one coming on.