Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ho Ho Ho

Did you get what you wanted? I didn't, but then I really can't. So I settled for some gift cards, a 20-pack of races at G-Force, and time with family. Oh, and I won my white-elephant gift (Chinese auction / Yankee Swap), so I have yet another RC car.

Alastair racked up! Poor little guy's so worn out from Christmas that he's still napping after 2.5 hours. Win!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas @ 9 Months

Today is Christmas. Today is the 25th. Which means it's another month-iversary of Amanda's death. We're at 9 now, and my emotions have been all over the place recently.

Amanda was really big on Christmas. This and Halloween were here ab-fave holidays. Decorating, listening to silly music, the electricity in the air, and watching the mirth of a child shredding wrapping paper were things I know she looked forward to every year. And while I've felt lost in preparing for this day, there have been times when I could swear she was standing right behind me this week.

Alastair really started talking about her a lot a couple days ago, and hit me with a big discussion of death last night. He asked me if she would be here today, and we both started crying. Then we got into what death means (again), and I told him (again) that everything dies, that all animals and even the kitties will die. "Even Vivienne?!" "Yes, even Vivienne." Flood-gates: open.

He sobbed openly at the prospect of Vivienne dying, and we laid on the floor for about 10 minutes just talking about life and getting old and trying to stanch the flood of tears. I tell ya: losing a parent may be pretty bad, but losing that cat? End. Of. The. World.

But we opened gifts today, and all was well. He got a Leapster, a bunch of cars, some Lego's, a Geo-Trax train, and other oddments, and is in absolute heaven. I'm sure Amanda was watching him today, and I'm sure she couldn't be prouder of her little man. I just hope she's proud of me, too. I'm tryin'.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Into the Breach!

Last night I went, for the first time ever, to William & Mary's Yule Log ceremony. They've been doing it for almost 80 years, with a brief pause for WWII, and it's become firmly rooted in the annual student life.

The president of the college reads a Christmas book (this year it was "The Grinch") while dressed as Santa, there's singing, and the yule log is marched into the Wren Building where it is placed into the big fireplace. The students are each given a piece of a holly branch, into which they place all their cares of the year. They then process into the building and cast the branch into the fire.

I had a lot to cast off this year, so it sounded like a great idea.

Vivian and I got there a few minutes late, so the story was almost over, but we discovered to our grateful surprise that we had wandered into the right side of the Wren Courtyard to have easy access to the front of the line. And that's when it got ugly.

As soon as the great doors were opened, a crushing force of probably 2000 people began heaving from the right, and as we were on the left, we nearly got toppled. And trampled.

A voice cried out from behind us, "Into the breach!" And a force from behind pushed us forward just as hard as the previous push to the left.

And then it stopped. We'd moved all of 5 feet. There was confusion all around, though somehow visible was a clear line of force coming at a diagonal from the center of the courtyard. Tall bodies were at incorrect angles.

Then it came again. And again. Time and again a force from the right would be followed by a force from behind, and each time we could have lifted our feet without falling, it was so crushing. And then the tide would ebb.

After about 6 or 7 surges, we finally got to the steps. By this time, the group around us had become a cohesive unit, working to secure our position while turning strong backs to the advancing crowd. We struggled to keep the pressure off the women, continue to advance, and even swapped places to provide the best cover for each other.

Two or three more strong surges were necessary to get up the 5 steps and through the door, and even then Vivian had to pull me bodily through the throng and into...a big empty room.

Ok, seriously? We just did battle with 2000 people, left men behind, and all for an empty room? It took a minute to absorb the new surroundings, but we soon realized that the small throng in front of us were waiting patiently to reach the great fireplace.

When we did get there, probably less than a minute later, we realized why it was so hard to get in: each person or group of people was posing for up to 20 seconds for their friends to take pictures of them standing in front of the fireplace.

Really, people? In 20 years, you're telling me you're going to look back at that picture and say, "Wow, that really brings back memories."? Because you're standing in a big empty room with a twig, smiling like an idiot. Move the fuck over.

But I really did enjoy the experience. I missed out on it during college, being way too self-absorbed and above such stuff. And I feel like I really was able to throw some of my craptastic year away.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rosenham Experiment, anew

Just in time for the holidays, my first bout of soul-crushing depression in a while. Thanks, brain, and fuck you, too!

To celebrate, I've written a short story (don't you worry: I may hate myself sometimes, but I'm not dumb enough to turn this story into fact. Seriously. No, I mean it.):

Load, rack, bite, pray, squeeze, end.

Did you like it? It's not as epic as Hemingway's "Baby Shoes", but it clocks in at one word fewer.

Anyway, I've not been very nice to Alastair these last few days. He's been sick, so I've been home with him, but that notwithstanding, he's continued to poop his pants, each time justifying it by telling me that either he was too busy to go to the bathroom, or he didn't want to bother me.

My responses have not made me proud, and it's weighing on my soul. We go through hours on end of perfect angel child, then he craps himself--but "just a little bit", which in his mind is perfectly acceptable because some of the adults in his life have been inconsistent in their responses.

But he's sick, too, so maybe he's not in such great control of his faculties. And that makes me inconsistent, which he uses to his advantage because he's really fucking smart.

I honestly don't know how other single parents do it. I keep thinking we're through with this, then that we're just around the corner from being through, then just being angry all the time. I love my boy, but sometimes he drives me nuts.

In other boy news, we put his tree up in his room yesterday. Fancy battery-op LED lights, and a bunch of Alastair-specific ornaments. He loves it.

And I've pretty much made up my mind that he's getting a LeapPad/Leapster/WhateverTheHeckIt'sCalled this year. I'll get him the system, one game, and the recharger for Christmas, then a couple more games for his birthday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Today marks 8 months, and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday, and the one with the most tradition in my family.

For decades, my great aunt held Thanksgiving dinner in her house. Their sprawling quasi-basement/bar area easily held 30 or more people, year after year, and we (my dad and I) only missed it once, when I was in college. It was a tradition that Amanda fell into easily, as her family had no strong tradition for the holiday, and it was something we were excited to pass down to Alastair.

But then my great aunt had a hip replacement. And her daughter convinced her to sell the house. And that year we were uninvited. I was devastated, and it really upset Amanda to see me like that.

Well, the un-invitation caused ripples in the family (turns out we weren't the only ones), and we were surreptitiously re-invited the next year by my grandmother. We went, taking Alastair (he was 10 months old), and had a nice time, though it was clear that we were not expected.

The following year Amanda and I decided we didn't need the heartache, and like the big trouper she was, she suggested we try forging our own tradition. We baked a turkey, we made all manner of fixin's, and we had a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner at home. A new tradition was born!

And then she got sick.

No turkey making, no trip to Greensboro. We spent the day out of town with her parents, and it was nice, but cancer is a gloomy bitch and tends to overshadow even the nicest of days.

This year we (Alastair and I) were officially re-invited to Greensboro Thanksgiving. And we were excited about it. (Ok, I was excited about it.) But now I'm fighting a cold, and our accommodations fell through. So I should be glum, but I am not (well, ok, maybe just a little bit).


Because the future is no longer just a giant black spot. That's all I could see in April and May. I tried surrounding myself with shiny objects: new car, new PS3, new fancy gaming chair, pretty young ladies. But none of it mattered. I cooked, I cleaned, I cared for my boy, and I distracted myself. Normal stuff, I guess.

I also had no concern for whether I lived or died, which made my track weekends much more interesting.

But now I see in color again. The tones are still muted, and the lighting's a bit dim, but it's there. And I can see that it's vibrant and beautiful.

For all of my family and friends, who have helped make the last two years bearable, I give thanks. For my beautiful boy, I give thanks. For the 15 years, the love, the joy, and even the sorrow of my dearest, I give thanks. And for the future, the opportunity that it holds, the new paths yet to be discovered, I give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

'Manda Moment

I just had the best Amanda moment. I was watching the news, and they were reporting on an attempted burglary where the homeowner shot at the perps as they entered the house. He hit one, and that dude's in jail.

Bored by this, I turned off the TV, which takes about 5 seconds to complete. The last thing I heard was a woman--evidently a neighbor--saying "I just hope this sends a clear message that he was tired..."

Instantly I heard Amanda guffawing at that out-of-context gem. And then repeating in her most absurd South Side drawl, "Yeah, I shot his ass. I was real tired."

And just writing that I still can't stop laughing.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Introductory Martial Arts Class

Last night, Alastair and I went to a free introductory martial arts class.  We had gotten a card at a Halloween festival and I figured it would be something he'd enjoy doing.  Amanda and I had also talked a lot about getting him involved in martial arts, both for the dexterity/agility and the self-discipline elements.

As the date approached, though, Alastair got less and less excited about it.  I looked online and found that parents were encouraged to take the class right along with the children, and that got him really excited again.

But it was a lie.

When we got there, we spent a few minutes watching the prior class finish their lesson.  It was kind of fun to watch, but I didn't see any particular rigor applied to the style or the movements.  It seemed a little hokey, to me.

When it was our turn, Alastair was called first.  He and another little boy sat at the very front of the class, closest to the teacher.  I was placed at the very back of the class, just about as far from him as possible.  The teacher then told him that if she caught him looking for me, it would be a sign of disrespect to her.  Um, uh oh.  This might not end well...

But he was pretty good.  He didn't sit still, because he can't, but he did the moves, the kicks, the punches, and seemed to enjoy it.  He didn't enjoy the discipline, though, and had to be told a couple of times to face forward.  And he REALLY didn't enjoy the fact that we weren't doing it together.  He didn't cry, but he was very confused.

At one point the instructor was talking about the goals of the class, and they included a citizenship program that students could participate in.  It comprised doing 7 chores around the house every day, and she had one girl stand up and recite some of her chores.  Um, ok, but Alastair already does all of those things:  he cleans up his toys, he takes his dirty clothes to the hamper, he takes his dirty dishes to the counter, and he puts his milk cup in the refrigerator if he's done with it.

Later, the class was going through a range of 16 moves, with the teacher calling the number and the class repeating.  Well, Alastair knows his numbers pretty well, so he started calling the numbers right along with her.  Self-discipline be damned, even the teacher found it funny enough that after a few numbers, she stopped counting and let him lead!

And that was the only positive experience I was able to take away from it.

My back hurts, Alastair was confused, and we got a really late start to bed-time.

I don't think we'll stick with this.  He's just too little for that kind of regimentation, and given what he's been through this year, I think we need to focus on hugs and fun.  Discipline can come a little later.  Besides, he already gets a taste of it at the Little Gym.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


I was lying in bed last night after staying up way too late, as I am wont to do, and my mind was doing its usual refusal to spin down.  And, as usual, my thoughts went to Amanda, what I had with her, what I'll miss about her, and the things she'll never get to see.

But then something different happened.  While I was reminiscing about short walks around the halls of North 6 at MCV (Cletus the IV pole on one side and I on the other), I smiled.  I didn't get upset.  And then I realized that I was not upset, which usually undoes me.  But it didn't.

I was able to happily remember little moments of peace, serenity, and joy in the midst of all the pain.  That's a first.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Know what I hate? When you tie one shoe just slightly tighter than the other. 'Cause then you feel like the other is too loose. Or maybe the first one's too tight, but your perception is all screwed up because comparatively it feels like the second one's about to fall off.

Consider the options:

1. You re-tie the looser shoe. By tying it as tight as the tighter shoe, do you inadvertently over-tighten both, making your feel feel cramped and sending you on a wild goose chase of tying and re-tying your shoes all day long until you give up and go barefoot?

2. You re-tie the tighter shoe. Great: now you have two loose shoes. Nice work, asshat.

3. Suffer silently, wondering when the looser shoe is going to fall off, or if your toes will shrivel and die on the tighter foot.

I've been going with Option 3 for the last 4 hours. It's misery, but I don't want to spend all day bent over my damned shoes. I bet you'd like to think velcro would make it easier, but you'd be wrong. It's infinitely more annoying with velcro, and adjusting will piss off all of your coworkers.

UPDATE: I have now re-tied the loose shoe twice, once way over-tightening it. Then I realized the whole imbalance was due to a wrinkle in my sock. I win at life.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hey, Leukemia, F You

So I've been thinking about what you got vs. what everybody else got.  And you know what?  You got shit.  That's right:  shit.

You got her body.  I got her love.  Alastair got her spirit.  And God got her soul.

You distracted her for a year.  I had her for 15.  God gets her for eternity.  Hell, even Alastair had her longer than you.

You got our tears, but you couldn't even fill a fucking pond with the collective tears of the hundreds who wept for her.  I could fill an ocean with my love.

You got death, where I got life.  I have a beautiful son whom you can't touch (don't test me).

And what do you have to show for it?  Nothing.  I have the memories and the joy, and Alastair looks just like her.

Amanda taught me how to reason critically, how to love, and how to be a good husband and father.  She taught you that you were a chump to be laughed at and made light of.  She taught you that you couldn't stop her.

If ever I worked so hard to gain so little, I'd be humiliated.  So yeah:  joke's on you, leukemia.  Punk.

And the best part?  She's not even sick any more.  Man, you suck.  If I were you, I'd probably go jump off a cliff or something.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I'm getting pretty slack with this blog thing again (but to be fair, so are most of you), but this weekend will mark 7 months, and I'm going to be in the midst of a major system migration at work, so numbing my brain in front of a computer will not be high on my priority list on Sunday.

So where am I these days?  Still struggling at times.  I've started purging again.  Last week I completely filled my dumpster with abandoned crafting materials, clothing that was inappropriate to donate, and random objects that had no particular significance.  In doing so, I stumbled upon some boxes of clothing that I didn't know about, and within one of those boxes was her scent.  Her pre-cancer scent.  Or so I believe.  Was it real, or did I just want to find it so badly that any smell reminding me of her would suffice to fool my brain?

Then a couple of days later I did it all over again, discarding a plethora of skin-care products, her nail polishes, expired medicines, and old sheets.  Once again the dumpster is pretty much full, and it looks like absolutely nothing has changed in the house.

I cry less, and Alastair has really been asking a lot of questions.  He made a new friend a couple of weeks ago and asked if Andy loves Amanda.  I told him that Andy never met Amanda, but that he loves his mommy.  It was a tough conversation to have, and more recently he's been telling me that I'm not allowed to die.  Kid's going through some pretty tough emotions right now.

I overcame one of my stupid mental blocks and decorated the house for Halloween.  Not as all-out as in some years past, but we put out a bunch of skulls, candles, and even a few lights (in his room).

Tomorrow I'm taking the day off to spend with him.  We get far too little time together, so I'm super excited about it.  Then Saturday will be hell-day at work, followed (hopefully) by heavy consumption of alcohol.

Hope everybody has a great weekend.  Go squeeze your kids, your spouses, or your favorite pet.  Except fish.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Understand There Was Music, Too

We went to the Folk Festival this past weekend. Alastair and I were accompanied by Beth and her boy Andy (new friends!), and we spent about 3 hours rolling down hills, eating corn-dogs & funnel cake, petting goats & bunnies, climbing all over a 32-pounder cannon, and wandering around the festival area. Saw a couple of old friends, some ultra-hippies, and Alastair even made a puppet.

I heard some music a couple of times, but we never really stopped long enough to check out any one act. The boys would get restless, and the parents would either move on or give chase. Next year I'm gonna give Alastair a backpack full of bricks to carry. That ought to slow him down a bit.

But it was fun. We came home itchy and tired, but we'd had a great time, and Alastair and Andy really seemed to hit it off quite well.

And then, there was this (oh sweet glorious boy!):

Thanks, Beth, for the awesome pictures!

The Kind of Shit That Keeps Me Up at Night

It's said that breaking a mirror brings 7 years of bad luck. Fair enough, but are there technicalities? Loop-holes? What exactly constitutes a mirror?

For instance, a mirror is generally considered to be glass with silvering affixed to one side. But what if the mirror is plastic, like on some toys, or even like those used to reflect light from a flashlight? If you smash a flashlight, is that 7 years of bad luck?

What about if you scrape the silvering off the back? Does the glass still count? Or does removing the silvering count as breaking the mirror? Does an object cease to be a mirror at some point, or is it grandfathered?

Personally, I get so wrapped up in stuff like this that I don't even like to break mirrored drives on servers. It's called a mirror, and I don't want to mess with that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

6 months.

Rather than just a depression rumination on how I'm feeling, I thought I'd go for a depressing review of what's happened on each end of the year for the last 24 months.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007: We'd just returned from a beach trip with my dad & Randy. Alastair slept nary a wink, which meant we slept nary a wink, but we got to spend some great time together at the B&B, in the hot tub, on the beach, and playing with our little man.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008: Two days after Easter, and 11 days away from hospitalization. Amanda's skin-tone was non-existent, she was unable to climb stairs without being exhausted, and going through heart tests that were revealing nothing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008: The day of my bad review, and the day before my last full day of work at my old job. Also, the day before we learned that Amanda's chances were next to nil. On the 26th, we had a meeting with MCV's transplant team, where we discovered that her transplant, which had been scheduled to start the following Monday morning, was canceled. We then went to Dominion Shooting Range for a Fuck Leukemia party and enjoyed a great night out with friends.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009: The big day of suck. I awoke excited about the prospect of going to Texas on Friday, and set about getting stuff at work ready for my upcoming absence. About two hours into my day, I got a call from Ed saying that things were pretty bad, and that I might want to consider coming out to Texas that day, if possible. I changed my flight information, told my coworkers for the first time what was going on (I didn't want to come to work every day and spend 30 minutes giving updates on her condition), and headed home to pack a bag. On the way to pick up my mother-in-law, Ed called back and told me to get there as soon as possible, because "she's not gonna make it". I spent the next several hours completely numb, and the rest is well documented.

Friday, September 25, 2009: Here I am, crying at my desk. Somehow I've made this all about me again... Alastair is potty-trained, has really been expressive about missing Amanda recently, but seems to be doing all right. I'm a mess, and my baby's still gone.

First LONG car ride since infancy

This weekend was my family's reunion. This occurs every year, but last year we skipped it, and the previous year I have no idea if we went or not. Really don't care.

But this year we decided to go. Reunions in my family are always a mixed bag. They're generally just about exactly two hours long, the food is great, the meeting absolutely unequivocally MANDATORY and boring, and the kids run amok for a while. The running amok is fun, but the meetings make me stabby.

And the whole she-bang, which ends just as unceremoniously as it begins, is over 3 hours away. This would be our first test of Alastair on a long trip, and he did great! I put him in a diaper, just to be sure, but he was a champ and held his bladder for 2.25 hours without complaint.

We got there and he was introduced to his 7-year-old cousin Ryan, with whom he became instant buddies. They ran their mouths through lunch, had lots of fun, then ran off to play with trains. He sang the Boobies song and Doodoo in My Closet. He had a blast.

We stayed with my cousins Cory and Rebecca, and since they have 3 cats, Alastair was ready to stay there forever.

Sunday, just as quickly as we'd come, it was time to go. But this time we'd make two important changes to our drive: we'd pick up my dad and we'd stop at VIR to watch some racing. VIR was a big hit. They had a Porsche Club of America HPDE on South Course, and motorcycle racing on North Course. Dad got some pictures, which I hope to publish soon, but Alastair loved watching the PCA event. There was, after all, a racing MINI Cooper*! The motorcycles were fun, too, but the noise got to him after a while (at one point he was yelling at each motorcycle to "Stop it! Stop making all that noise!").

30 minutes after we left, we stopped at a gas station, where we took a potty break. After I'd, uh, handled his business, he turned to me and said, "Daddy, I wish Mommy wasn't in Heaven." It broke my heart, but I was so glad to hear him expressing his feelings for her.

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. Alastair finally got sick and tired of riding in the car about 40 minutes from home. I looked back to see him silently weeping. We immediately found a place to let him run around for a few minutes.

And, since he'd been so good, we came home to mac & cheese!

As an aside, it's incredibly challenging to take a young child to a public bathroom. Toilets are not shaped for little people, and I invariably wound up touching things I didn't want to touch. Either he ended up sitting side-saddle on the seat, or I'd suspend him in mid-air with his pants around his ankles, hoping he'd pee in roughly the right direction. But my fave is taking him to a urinal, where he always tells me "Daddy, that tickles!" when I try to help him aim. It's so completely embarrassing, and of course, his doodad is just exactly high enough to clear the porcelain. At the track, in the midst of peeing, he says, "Daddy, I'm getting splashed!" So yeah, we had to take something of an impromptu bath at the sink.

*For the MINI nuts--er, enthusiasts--who still read this, it was none other than Tony Nuzzo's car.

Monday, September 21, 2009

And then, on Friday

I came home and Alastair said, "Daddy, I love you." It took a few minutes, but I realized he'd pronounced the letter "L". Whoa.

So now he can handle every phoneme in the English language. Huzzah!

He's been tossing out L's all weekend. Singing the alphabet, spelling his name, slowly pronouncing his whole name, and professing his love.

And then we watched race cars. More on that later.

I love my boy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

You Sitting Down?

Hold on to something. Something good and stable.

Ok, ready?

Alastair is... potty trained!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Overcoming Fear

I talk a pretty big game. I live and die by VB script, but when it comes to scripting, I feel much more comfortable querying than modifying. I'll pull information from Active Directory all day long, but please don't ask me to batch-mod 1000 users. I'll probably barf in abject terror. What if it goes wrong? The scripts generally run so fast that I can't stop them before they complete. What if I inadvertently disable 100% of user accounts on the domain, or delete an entire OU (I've seen both happen)?

But yesterday I took the plunge. Because of some buffoon's inability to properly code his/her software, I had to remove the dashes and parentheses from all phone numbers in AD. Easy enough to query, not so easy to modify, especially for the timid.

But I found a few tricks, cringed and hyperventilated while testing on a couple of accounts, and then closed my eyes and pressed the "Nuke" button.

Ho. Lee. Shit.

202 instantaneous changes, and no glitches. So I expanded it to all 10-digit numbers (essentially all US phone numbers). Again: no glitches.

So now I'm positively giddy. Today I undertook to change postal addresses in bulk. Every user now has his or her site's mailing address, including international (which meant learning about ISO 3166 A-2 country codes).

I am in nerd heaven right now.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Item not as advertised

Smell is an extremely powerful sense for humans. It, more than sight or hearing, has the ability to evoke memories, to repulse, to seduce, or simply to produce a sense of peace. Every time I smell axle grease, I'm instantly transported back to France, where I spent 37 days backpacking in '97. That smell reminds me of all the train stations in which I spent countless hours, but particularly Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est.

Amanda had a smell, too. I don't know whether it was soap, perfume, lotion, or a combination of the above, but it was hers and hers alone. I knew she was near by that subtle scent, and it brought me instant peace and calm. But that smell is gone. It's not in her clothes, her suitcase, or her bathrobe. It's just gone.

Shortly after her first round of chemo, she changed her bathing habits, using new lotions and abandoning perfumes. Her old stuff either made her gag or wasn't seen as conducive to her health, so she changed it. I can't fault her for it, but her scent changed with it. The new one did not bring peace or calm, and I think to a small extent played a part in our distance during her battle.

But that's not the worst of it: both the old and the new Amanda smells were gone from this house before she died. And I've searched. I've gone through drawers, hunted through baskets of old laundry that never got put away, and dug deep into the coat closet. Gone. Poof.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

5 months

I didn't miss it. I know it was yesterday, but I didn't miss it. I spent 20 minutes of it curled up on the floor crying about it.

I've been allowing my emotions to take more control lately. For so long I've just put the emotion of losing my best friend, lover, and most trusted ally in a box. I've rationalized that since I already knew she was dying, there was no sense being upset about it after the fact. But then my mind started wandering back to the ICU waiting room, when they were extubating her, and how desperate I was to get back to her side.

And every time my mind goes there, my heart just shatters. I miss her so much.

Every day I face challenges, be they insignificant or gargantuan, that would be so much easier to deal with if she were still here.

And more and more I find myself stewing in grief.

But the crying feels really good. It feels pure and cleansing and horribly wonderful. It feels like the first thing I've done to heal me.

And since I've started letting myself cry again, Alastair and I have been getting on better. We've been doing more whimsical fun stuff, like going out for ice cream or buying random new toys or just having 30-minute pillow-fights. And every time we undertake some flight-of-fancy, it's because Amanda has popped into my head and almost told me that it's something we should do.

I feel her presence far more these days than I have in a long while.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Today I drove an armored truck through a nursing home. Then I hunted praying mantis babies, nuked Bolivia, and harpooned exotic whales. And that was all before lunch.

After lunch, I assaulted a group of school-children with a mace. 'Cause nothing's funnier than the screams of the innocent!

I is a bad.

Somewhere along the way, though, I managed to find time to move Alastair's absolute favorite toy--his train table--from the hottest room of the house to the coolest room of the house, fixed the broken pieces, re-arranged his favorite toys to be more accessible, and helped him set up some pillows so that he can be a wild daredevil without fear of smashing his head. Next up will be getting rid of the big shelf in his room and replacing it with a table that he can sit at and color.

You know, because I so evidently hate him.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

We're Poopin!

After just over a month of regression, we're back on track. Alastair and I have been working hard, as have his grandparents and sitters, on getting back to July.

Cajoling, bribery, offerings at the deity of poop, you name it, we've tried it. Friday morning we had a moment that stuck. I told him that he needed to work on telling us when he needed to poop--that if he managed to get through that one day without pooping in his pants, we would go to a birthday party at a bouncy-castle place. 3 minutes later, he pooped in his pants. Not the recent smears, but real honest poop. I cleaned him up, made him poop on the potty, and left for work. But I didn't wave goodbye to him. Oversight or anger--didn't matter.

Last night when I got home, he'd been really good about pooping a little bit throughout the day, and he pooped really well twice for me before bed, each time telling me that he wants me to always wave when I'm leaving.

Today we had no fewer than 3 poop adventures, and we kept the same diaper clean and dry all day long.

And he's been quite proud of himself all day for it. He's been showering me with affection, and while the day wasn't perfect (he was trying to push a little girl this morning with his belly--believing that it wasn't pushing since he wasn't using his hands), our potty times have been flawlessly executed, without acrimony.

There's been no evidence of desire to avoid the potty, no time-wasting once there, and he's just been in a great mood about it.

And this is actually where we were a month ago, before we both got sick and went on vacation. While I loved our vacation, I think the timing of it and our shared illness threw him off. He started hoarding and holding it again, and before long we were back to full-on constipation, in spite of the Miralax.

There's been little further discussion of the Special School, though he did ask me the other day where it is. I told him West Virginia. He said he thought it was in Alaska.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Here's the deal

I have a lot on my mind. But I ain't sharing, because every time I do, people get pissed off. Mad props to the last commenter on the previous post--personally I won't even bother to reply when people don't like what they see. Don't like it? Don't read it.

I'm not in a good place, these days. I'm way too easily distracted, and way too many things are coming together at the same time.

I'm going to be at the track for 4 days in 2 weeks, and I've done nothing to prepare. That makes me testy. I'm also "going native" (shifting employment from contractor to contractee) at almost the same time, going through a major overhaul of our work systems, and still floundering as a single man with a toddler. Summer is coming to an end, and with it my lock on stable overnight child-care. My son and I are still getting over this bizarre summer cold crap.

I've been having fits and struggles with depression. It's like I'm pushing through some unseen envelope of grief right now. Why now? Why not, I suppose. I'm finding grief to be like that one person you should stop being friends with. The one that shows up unannounced, sometimes with friends, drinks all your beer, and simply expects to be allowed to spend the night. But you can't get rid of them, because they've been your friend since forever, and tie you to your happier memories of yesterday. Well, that and they just won't take a damned hint.

Worry No More - or at least less

My friend has gotten good results from her blood test. Turns out she's just crazy. I can handle crazy.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Oh, well.

I've had it my head to undertake two epic masterpieces of blogging today:

1. A Complete History of Chicks I've Made Out With


2. Axial and Sheer Load Output-Shaft Testing: A History with Testing Conditions, Desired v. Achieved Results, and Future Plans

Frankly, though, I think both would be so patently offensive that I've decided to just leave you with the following:

Whee, its raining!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I am SO gonna burn in Hell for this

I am now officially a hypocrite. Just brand an H on my hand and be done with it.

Amanda and I decided before Alastair's birth that we would not lie to him. We would not fall victim to the conventional trappings of child-rearing and get our kid's hopes up over imaginary crap. No Santa Claus, no Easter Bunny, no Great Pumpkin. None of that crap. Because do you remember how you felt when you realized it was all a bunch of BS? Yeah: like your parents were a bunch of liars. Nobody likes a liar.

So we eschewed it. We explained that there is no Santa Claus, but he's kind of a joke that some people tell.

But then came Mr. I-Will-Only-Poop-In-My-Pants and his thereby alluded-to problem. We tried patience. We tried non-patience (a lot). Then we realized he was constipated, so I gave him an enema and he takes Miralax daily.

For a while, things improved. For almost two weeks we had no poop in the pants.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, we had a full reversal. He poops and pees his diapers every single night now. And not after bed, either: we're talking the time between dinner and bed, which is only about 45 minutes.

So Amanda made up a story to scare him. She told him we might have to send him to a SPECIAL SCHOOL if he didn't start pooping in the potty, and only in the potty.

Last week, in frustration, I revived that story. And I elaborated until he sat there in tears, begging not to be sent away.

You see, THE SPECIAL SCHOOL is terribly ominous to a child with an overactive imagination (all the more so because it comes from a daddy with an overactive imagination):

  1. It's always cold.
  2. There are no toys, no stuffed animals, no friends.
  3. All you do--all day long--is sit on the potty.
  4. There are no movies and no TV.
  5. The teachers are all mean.
  6. The food is bad.
  7. You will probably be there thru Christmas, so no presents.
  8. No family can come to visit.
  9. The bus is coming Friday. If he hasn't pooped in his pants by Friday, I won't send him.

Last night, after sobbing over THE SPECIAL SCHOOL for 15 minutes, my son looked at me and said, "I think I need to poop on the potty." And he did.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I am very worried

for a good friend. And she knows it, but I've shied away from even whispering why. But I'm sure she knows exactly why, so I'm done mincing words.

I'm afraid my dear friend may have leukemia. Please please please be wrong. I can't do this again.

But her symptoms are almost exactly the same as Amanda's: heart palpitations, lethargy, dizziness (including a fall). She will be undergoing stress tests, and she is convinced that nothing is wrong--just like Amanda.

I haven't asked about pallor or vision problems, but I will.

She is waiting for the results of blood work. Please pray.

God please just let me be overly sensitive to these symptoms...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Free Gov't Money

Let me see if I've got this straight.

The government offers $1B for old cars during a recession. 7 days later, they run out of money as 250,000 new cars are sold.

The government is surprised at this.

Pretty simple, so far, right?

Except how in the blue hell do they act surprised when they say, "Come and get your free cash!" and people take them up on it? Didn't Hawaii learn the same lesson with their free health care for children? Didn't the feds learn the same lesson with the vouchers for analog-TV converters? Henrico County with the cheap iBooks (if you don't recall, that was a stampede that got national media coverage)?

When are you liberals gonna learn that if you offer something for free, people will swarm and swamp it? You want to bitch about Bush's tax refunds, but there was no swarm to deal with--just a cheque. At least with a tax refund, you know right off the bat how much money is going out. It's pre-capped. With this cock-up, Congress is now looking for more money to fulfill their "obligation" to this goofball program.

Oh, but before you get too excited about bilking the feds, make sure your car fits through the myriad caveats and EPA estimations and re-estimations and re-re-estimations of your MPG.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Daddy/Boy Beach Trip 2009


Picked Alastair up from his grandparents' house just after 1pm and got on the road. Told him to take a nap, and he dropped off instantly. We arrived at the beach around 3:30pm after probably 273 "Are we there yet"s, unpacked the car, and headed to the hotel pool.

It's a salt-water pool, which was interesting. My first fear was that it was just a really disgusting pool that tasted like everyone else's sweat. Thank God that was wrong. Anyway, Little Man enjoyed floating around in the pool, but was terrified of getting his head wet.

After an hour or so, we went down to the beach and he played furiously in the sand. We went out knee-deep into the ocean and he told me which waves he was scared of for probably about 10 minutes (doesn't sound like much fun, but it was super cute).

Then we went to dinner at The Raven, where my dad took me when I was a child.


Headed over to 17th St. Surf Shop for some rash-guards, new flip-flops for me, and a new, less European swimsuit for me. You're welcome, Evelyn.

Then we hit the pool for a bit, then the cool indoor pool "The Lazy River", which has big fake rock formations, grottoes, and an actual current that pulls you along a narrow channel on one side of the pool.

By the time he was ready to go play in the sand, storm clouds were rolling in. The beaches were evacuated, the pools were evacuated, and a little boy had to (shudder!) play with his toys for a while. During the storm, the outside air temp dropped at least 20 degrees, making it impossible for us to go out and play on the beach, or spend more than a couple minutes at the outside pool.

We settled for more time on the Lazy River, which was great because we now had water wings, a floaty ring, AND a boogie board.

We capped the evening off with night-time swimming in the Lazy River, and that little turkey who was terrified of getting his head wet was standing on the side of the pool and leaping out to me. A few times I told him I wouldn't catch him, and he leapt anyway! Full submersion! Over and over again for almost a solid hour.

My kid rocks!


It takes exactly 1 hour to get from the beach to Busch Gardens. It takes exactly 30 minutes to get parked.

We went to the Sesame St. area, which frankly sucked. Alastair was none too pleased that Bert and Ernie did not speak. That weirded him out big time. There was also not a scrap of shade in the Sesame Street area. A few rides, a few climb-on attractions, blazing hot rubber matting everywhere, but no shade. And it was almost100F yesterday!

We watched two people collapse from heat problems, but we did manage to ride a few rides: Oscar's Wiggly Worms (surprisingly nauseating); the sky-car, which might have been Alastair's favorite; a couple of rides in Land of the Dragons; the carousel; and the train. We saw the clydesdales, the wolves, and the eagles. We caught a show in the Fest Haus while eating 23lbs of chocolate cake. I bought him a constable helmet for no good reason at all. We climbed all over the tree-houses in Land of the Dragons (though he did not like skylarking on the rope bridges).

We were in the park for just under 5 hours, and he passed out immediately upon getting on the highway.

It was a great trip. And we are both now sick. With no hot water (the tank broke Friday).

And amazingly, through all the fun, my dumb ass never once remembered to pull out the camera.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

End User License Agreement

Contract terminated: I've exceeded its terms and conditions. While I did seek and accede to the exception, I do ultimately regret it. Principally because after the breach I violated the terms and conditions of the subsequent EULA, leading to a somewhat meaningless initial transgression. Boo.

If you visit the maximum security Prison of Lachrymosity, watch out: the guards and the inmates are equally dangerous and unpredictable.

Friday, July 17, 2009

On Coffee

I grew up hating coffee. Couldn't stand even the smell as a child.

When Amanda and I started dating, 2 "bad" habits of hers made me scoff and mock: smoking and coffee. She eventually stopped smoking, but her need for caffeine was set.

After we graduated from college, I took a 37-day trip across Western Europe. I was all of two days into my trip, sitting in a brasserie in Paris, when it occurred to me that I was denying myself a quintessential element of the Parisian lifestyle. So I ordered an espresso and drank it black. I loved it. Why hadn't anybody told me the stuff was actually good?

So for 35 days of my European adventure, I drank espresso or coffee. I kept this a secret from Amanda until one night of drinking at Avalon. She ordered a cup of coffee, and before she could muck it all up with cream & sugar, I grabbed the cup and took a sip. I had never before (and frankly never again) seen THAT expression on her face. She looked like I'd just pulled back the mask to reveal my secret lizard identity. It was priceless.

A few months later, we moved in together. She started buying coffee, or at least what the supermarkets at the time were calling coffee: Folger's. Ok, that's not coffee. But it was cheap and it got the job done. For the first time, I found myself adding milk & sugar to mask the taste. So we drank that for about a year, and one day I simply sprung for a bag of some better coffee (I don't recall what brand), and was blown away at the difference. I refused to go back to the $3 cans, and Amanda refused to pay for $6 bags. So I made my own independent grocery trips just for coffee.

Then one month after we were married I started hating coffee again. It just tasted horrible. I continued to endure it for a month before I bothered to realize why: the milk had gone quite rancid. And yet we were both drinking it. Ew. So I stopped putting milk & sugar in my coffee and became an instant coffee snob.

I drink my coffee black, and I like to try exciting new flavors. We did cold-brew. We tried burr-grinding. A couple of years ago I started hearing about pure kona. I bought a $25 bag and was astounded at how much different it tasted (it wasn't acrid at all: totally smooth), and frankly had a hard time going back to Starbuck's bags.

So that's the back-story. A year or so I read the story of the Starbuck's CEO's trip to New York. The one where he learned about Clover coffee makers. Apparently there was a local coffee shop with a line out the door. Intrigued, he got in line and had what he considered to be the best cup of coffee in his life. So Starbuck's bought Clover and began deploying what few Clover machines there are into their own stores.

Richmond has a Clover. It's not at Starbuck's: it's at Ellwood Thompson. I've put off trying it for two reasons: 1) I was not too jazzed about paying $4 for a single cup of coffee, and 2) what if it wasn't good?

Well, yesterday I decided to try it. Though the first few sips were quite intriguing, I quickly realized that I didn't like it. Was it the specific brew? I'd never had Ethiopian Yergacheffe, but somehow there was an undertone that tended more toward the brewing process. I managed to finish 75% of the cup before realizing there was heavy sediment at the bottom, which is a big turn-off for me, and one of the reasons I can't deal with permanent metal filters.

So there you have it: I don't like the fabled Clover coffee. Which is a good thing, because I don't think my budget can handle an additional $20/week habit.

And no, I will not be traveling to SE Asia to try civet coffee. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Impossibly High

I've decided to set the bar impossibly high in my next (?) SO: she must have similar taste in music. Amanda and I had just-divergent-enough tastes that we actually rarely played music in the house. Her faves were Tori Amos (duh), which I could take--the early stuff was good; Ben Folds, which made my teeth hurt; Everclear, oh dear; and a random smattering of Christian bands, which she knew not to play while I was in the house. I, conversely, was not allowed to play Primus or Dream Theater while she was home. Fair enough.

Music, however, has always been my solace, and the correctly chosen album or song can either amplify a mood, alter it altogether, or ruin my freakin' day.

Since she died, I've begun to devolve into my college-years music Nazi self. Perhaps not so harsh as I once was, I have nonetheless once again found myself judging others for their plebeian tastes. This does not bode well for dating.

If you know a woman who occasionally says, "Ooh, you like Primus, Curve, and Madonna, too?!", send her my way. Must also like beer. Bonus points if she hates Kevin Smith movies and only likes early Radiohead. No freaks.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

New Music, Round 2

A week or so ago, I ordered 3 new CD's. I'd done so well the first time around, I figured I still had the juju. Yeah, maybe not.

In order of current preference:

1. Metric - Fantasies

This took a couple of listens. I really like thrashing guitars and discordant melodies, neither of which were delivered on this album. But there's a lot of catchy hooks in their songs, making them easy to want to sing along with (of course, I do not sing along; nope, not me). But the more I listen to it, the more it grows on me. The slow songs are too slow for my taste, but I still find my toe bopping along.

So this one has been on repeat more than the other two, and I think I like it a little more with each listen. Not too bad (especially since I can't freakin' stand the recent shoe-gazing tripe coming out of studios these days, i.e., the Shins, the Yeah Yeah Whatevers, and the rest of 'em).

2. Silversun Pickups - Carnavas

I'd read a fair amount about the guitar rigs after a few listens to Swoon. I had correctly surmised the lead guitarist uses a Big Muff distortion pedal, and I kept encountering inquiries about a song from Carnavas: Lazy Eye. Evidently it's a good one, so I bought the album. Talk about a difference between two albums from the same band. This one is much less aggressive, and that caused it to spend a week on the floor. I gave it another listen yesterday, and it's not bad, it's just different in a direction that I wouldn't have expected. Frankly I don't think the instruments are played as well on this album. There are some strange, almost off-beat notes that feel forced in a couple of places. All in all, it's not bad, just...I don't know...weird? Meh. Yeah, that sums it up: meh.

3. The Mars Volta - Octahedron

Ok, I liked Amputecture. I do not like Octahedron. It's still painfully avant garde, but that's frankly boring at this point.


I've also pulled out some of Amanda's last purchases, and I can't handle them. Feist does little to nothing for me, and Arcade Fire is just plain dreadful. I remember watching them on SNL with her and wondering why she thought that was good. Sheesh.


Finally, in Amos-family music news, Alastair has now begun to be hyper-aware of lyrics. Oh, dear. One of his favorite albums as a baby was Scissor Sisters Ta-Dah! Uh, yeah... "Daddy, he said 'fuck'!" "Yes, he did, but you don't have to repeat it."

Monday, July 06, 2009

Holiday Boy

With apologies to other parents, I have the best little boy ever.

Alastair came home from Grammy's house on Thursday afternoon, just in time to hop in the car for the 100-minute drive to Irvington. He was fabulous in the car, and super excited about seeing the parade, the fireworks, and going to the public playground. He ate well, played well, and even went to bed without any fuss or muss.

Friday morning, Irvington had their July 3 (ID-1) parade. My dad's house is the 2nd house on the right side of the parade, so we get started and finished early. Alastair ate it up, watching the neat old cars, the few floats, the Shriners in their little cars (by FAR the hit of the parade), the Army trucks, and the godawful loud fire trucks. He stuffed his face with Tootsie Rolls, Now&Laters, and other candy, and when it was over we trudged up to the town commons, where everybody in town was gathered with the parade vehicles. We'd scored tickets for hotdogs, and he plowed through his and a bag of Sun Chips like a machine. He then proceeded to play to his heart's delight for almost 90 minutes on the playground before we finally walked back to the house for a nap.

2.5 hours later, he was up and ready for some ice cream at The Local. Then it was back to the playground for almost another hour before heading to Kilmarnock for their monthly First Friday walkabout. There he met up with a group of 5 girls, with whom he was instantly infatuated, and their dad offered to take him for a while. For 45 minutes, I let my child be karted around by strangers.* When he came back, he was in absolute boy heaven. They'd taken him to a bouncy castle, and he had managed to convince one of the girls to go in with him. Score!

Later still, when we went to dinner, we discovered those same 5 girls were seated only 2 tables away. They fawned over him before leaving, and his evening ended with pure joy.

Saturday was the Farmer's Market, and he & I walked up with Dad & Randy. We bought a really cool fish painting for his wall, and shared a cinnamon roll. We also spent at least another hour at the playground before walking back, this time taking time to examine the cornfield.

After lunch & a nap, we once again headed over to the Local, but this time for juice and a cookie. He'd never had fruit punch before, and LOVED it. Another hour at the playground, and it was time to head back to the house to prepare for dinner and fireworks at the Tides Inn.

Since dinner was at 6:30, and the fireworks would be after 9, we had plenty of time to kill. He ate everything like a champ, including rock fish, crab imperial, beef terayaki, and a whole slice of key lime pie.

To kill the intervening 90 minutes, we headed down to the dock. We watched with gleeful fascination as the jellyfish swam underfoot, marveled at the yachts, and identified buoys in the creek. Then he told me that he wanted to go on one of the boats. I asked him which one, and he pointed at the one with the astoundingly gorgeous girl on the back deck. Uh, yeah buddy: good choice! I made him ask if he could come aboard, and we got to tour the most beautiful sailboat I've ever been on. Good job, Alastair!

Then he ran around with about 20 other kids on a croquet pitch while waiting for the sky to darken, and was a super champ about the fireworks. Ah, his glorious face! I had as much fun watching his smile as watching the fireworks.

Sunday morning, he was even a champ about being stuck in traffic for over 45 minutes.

To cap his exciting weekend, I took him over to his friend Kaden's house for a cook-in (it was raining). He played to his heart's delight for a couple hours, got to sit in a real fire truck, wear a real fireman's helmet, and ate terribly.

My little boy is a good little boy. Amanda, if you have Internet access, you should be very proud.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Today I began The Purge. I've had it in mind to take some of Amanda's favorite shirts, books, and oddments, and put them into her big steamer trunk. This plan had not yet been implemented because it meant two things:

1. I'd have to clear out the crawl-space to find the trunk.
2. I'd have to decide what to put back into the crawl-space. Or, read differently, what to throw away.

The third implied portion of that scenario is deciding what's important enough to go into the trunk, which bears heavily on items 1 and 2. So it's a suck/suck situation, but one that has to be started at some point.

Today was that point. I pulled out box upon box of her old things: baskets of old t-shirts that I'll probably discard because they were, after all, in storage; boxes of her writings; boxes of her schoolwork; boxes of randomia, and boxes full of magazines. And that was just one side of the crawl-space--turns out the trunk was on the other side. Grrr...

So anyway, I kept it together for the most part, but I did break down in tears when trying to preserve all of her actual creative writings. Amanda was deeply secretive about her creativity, and often either left her work unsigned, or signed it A.P. Liddell. It's pretty tough, though, to decide to keep something if it has no name on it. Was it for a class? Was it someone else's writing that she just printed out? For all the world I wish she could have left me better instructions on what to do with all of it.

But then I was left with the realization that her secret nature would truly have wanted it all destroyed. I can't do that. What I did do was to dispose of all her college works except for her Theatre 407 (Direction) materials. I didn't even open the high school boxes, but was able to clean out enough space from the college & work boxes to at least boil all that stuff down to one box.

So I've done something that seems unthinkable: I've boiled 17 years of education down to 2 boxes, neatly tucked away in the attic. It makes a lump rise in my throat just to write that. I mean, this was my wife. She represents 15 years of my life, and I've just put 17 of hers into 2 boxes that will probably never be seen again. How freakin' horrid!

But to have not done it would be equally unthinkable. I can't live in a house full of ghosts, and these things, absent the woman, have no real significance other than as space-fillers. And we is well outta space, lemme tell ya.

The emotional roller coaster left me unable to concentrate on the task of filling the steamer trunk. I did at least pull it out and take a quick glance through its contents. The good news is that it's less than 50% full, so deciding which of its contents to keep shouldn't be quite so daunting. But that will have to wait for another day. Maybe with some darvon.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Dear World: Seriously?!

So I pick a day to go off the airwaves, to pay respect and tribute to my wife, and this is how you repay me? Dead celebs, corporate intrigue, friends battling life's darker issues? Not cool. NOT COOL.

So yeah, everybody knows by now that Farrah Fawcett died. I think it's great that Ryan finally proposed to her, and that she died surrounded by love. That's terrible, but awesome at the same time. It made me sad for Amanda, too, that I wasn't at her side more during her final days.

But then came the news. You know, The News. Michael Jackson has died. Somehow, Farrah's death slipped completely off the radar in favor of a retarded man-child paederast's passing. I've seen people say his death strikes closer to home because Farrah was "before their time". Really? What has Michael Jackson contributed to the world since the early 80's? Child molestation charges, baby-dangling, hospital-masks, mosquito-net hats, and a pet chimp named Bubbles. Farrah wasn't before your time, she just wasn't crazy with a capital Q. Qrazy. (Here's a challenge for everyone: name 5 crimes that society abhors more than child-rape. Too hard? Ok, try naming just one.)

But yesterday wasn't done with me yet. No sir. No, I got pulled squarely into corporate intrigue yesterday, and it made me queasy. In fact I had to leave for a while and settle my brain. I had to assist in the firing of a VIP. Buh. I hate firings, and not just because I've been on both sides of the desk. I hate firings implicitly. A decade ago, I worked very hard to make a case against a coworker who was genuinely damaging business. When I succeeded, I didn't sleep well for several days. He was a jerk, but I'm just not cut out for HR stuff.

And then I read Boo's blog. Sweetie, I'm so sorry to read what you're going through. I'm sorry I haven't kept up with your life. Please feel free to call me; Amanda's friends are my friends.

And then I read Prisco's blog. And if I do make it out for Parissa's marathon, I'm going to find you and have a drink with you, sir. Congrats on the loss--cause you know that just finishing the race first doesn't mean you win, right? I can certainly relate to the hollowness of your victory, but do not lay down arms. Take a lesson from Parissa and use the energy that you created for this endeavor to push your fellow bibliophiles into new arenas. I think Pajiba has genuinely grown and benefitted from the experience.

I read everybody else's blogs, too, and my heart goes out to everyone. I love you all, my friends.

Edit/Update: Forgot to mention that I've found a word that rivals "facetiously" in pure awesomeness. "Abstemious", and yes, it does have an adverb form. Found this little gem while watching the surprisingly good 1984 movie "The Bounty", featuring Anthony Hopkins, Mel Gibson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson, and Laurence Olivier.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

3 months

Tomorrow, June 25, will mark 3 months since Amanda's death. There's not a lot to say about it, so I'm going to take the day to say nothing. No blog, no facebook, no car fora, no random Pajiba comments.

Tomorrow will be my Internet moment of silence.

Why you should run far far away

1. I pathologically count:
a. stairs (Sunday night at Legend, upon realizing that I'd lost count of the stairs while going down, I almost had to go back up)
b. letters
c. syllables

2. I compulsively reorganize letters into BABBABAB | BABABBAB structure, where A represents vowels and B consonants. If there are not enough of a given letter type in a given phrase, I will insert random strings to make the arrangement (those strings are inherently variable, but once assigned, cannot be used to simultaneously express vowels and consonants).

3. I get unduly excited about exotic words.

4. I apparently have an aversion to odd numbers, particularly primes. I cannot leave the AC on 73, even though it is more comfortable than 72 or 74. I cannot leave the car stereo on 43, either, though it is just right. I look at those numbers and get all angsty.

5. I am fascinated that there's a relationship between cubes of numbers that can be roughly expressed as the sums of cubes, divided by 6 and subtracting 1, is equal to the base number.

6. I completely understand the scientific method, but my frenetic tendencies prevent me from ever successfully using it. Thus, what should take 30 seconds to fix usually takes me days, because half-way through implementing the fix I've come up with at least 5 other ways to go about it. Each of those ways, once conceived, must obviously be thoroughly explored.

7. I think "facetiously" is the best word in the English language. I'll let you figure out why.

8. Palindromes get me very excited. Numerical or alphabetical: it doesn't matter.

9. I see number strings as representations of completely unrelated things. E.g., 232, no matter where I see it, is the guitar fingering for D-major.

10. I remember numbers. All numbers. Especially numbers I've been forced to read out loud.

11. I have a binary clock.

12. Can't end on a prime number, even if it is palindromatic. Although I am giggling to myself that coincidence put my binary clock at #11.

Monday, June 22, 2009

We're fine are you?

Last week was bad. But looking back at it, it shouldn't have been. I got to listen to new music*, got my Alabamapink shirt (mine fits fine!), and played with my boy. I was blue.


Then the weekend came, and it was smacktacular. Alastair and I had cinnamon rolls and maple-link sausages for special breakfast. And it was awesome. He was super lovey in the afternoon, and didn't want me to go when I dropped him off at his grandparents' house. Such a sweetie.

Saturday night rocked its socks off. Maybe more on that later, but suffice it to say that there was much drinking, 3 bars, and a party. I didn't get to bed until almost 4am, and I was D*R*U*N*K (I metabolize alcohol very slowly, and generally if I drink to get drunk--which I didn't--it hits me like 3 bags of hammers right about the time I get home). Sunday morning, 4.5 hours later, I was H*U*N*G. Buh.

Sunday was the autocross. I think it was my 4th for the year, and I posted 7th place with a very poor performance. The guy who won, and by a very large margin, hosted the party we went to Saturday night (Did I say 'we'? Hmmm...). When we left the party, he was so hammered that he was trying to eat to soak up the alcohol. Though he, too, felt like boiled poo on Sunday, he still got out there and showed us how it's done. Damn, Brent: we're sorry to see you go.

Then I took my dad & Randy out to dinner--Father's Day and all, came home to watch the F1 race, and passed out.

I'm looking forward to picking up my boy this afternoon, and maybe getting out to the cul-de-sac for some Jr F1 racing. Jenson Button's got nothing on my boy.

*Rarely do I buy 4 albums and wind up liking more than 1 or 2 of them.

1. Lady Sovereign - Public Warning

This one's been in heavy rotation on the iPod. I'd heard "Love Me or Hate Me" and "Random" on mix CD's that Amanda received from the Pajibites. And Susan, too, I think. Anyway, freakin' hilarious. I love it. Perfect party vibe, and great for getting the spirits up when feeling blue. I don't think you can be unhappy when listening to this album. Unless you don't like it. Can't help you there.

2. Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You

I've given this a couple of listens, and while it's great up to track 8 "F*** You", it falls a little flat near the end. Still superb, and a great follow-up to Alright, Still. Somehow her emotion conveys perfectly into her music, and listening to this album is more like watching actors than listening to a singer. Weird, but I really like it. And "F*** You" is the greatest song ever.

3. Silversun Pickups - Swoon

This took a couple of listens, but is now probably the album I've listened to the most of any new music purchase since college. It's a little dark, extremely depressing, but also not depressing at all. It's that album you listen to when you're feeling blue, because it amplifies all your emotions.

At once evocative of both Smashing Pumpkins and Lush (with just the right amount of Curve tossed in for good measure), it perfectly combines my favorite musical influences of the mid 90's without being overly burdened by nostalgia. My first listen made me look up the members of the band, expecting to find the names James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin, D'arcy, and maybe Miki Berenyi. Except they're all old now, and decidedly not cool.

This album is the first in several years to make me want to tune my guitar. I freakin' love it. Texture that doesn't fall into lock-step with vocals until it needs to, a wall of distortion and ambiance, and what can only (ONLY) be a Big Muff pedal. It can't be anything else. Oh God I'm going to have to listen to it right now.

4. Franz Ferdinand - Tonight

This one isn't resonating with me. I really liked their first album. It was different, had that FF beat that's so unmistakable, and just ripped. The second album fell flat, and though there are a few good songs on this latest album, it just feels like more rehashing. Though the techno breakdown near the end of the album gives me hope that they're going to start exploring some new areas in the future.

I think I just need to listen to it a couple more times, but so far it's only ok.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Genius level conversation:

Me: Real numbers desk, how can I help you?
Other Guy: Hi, yes. Um, what's 1/0?
Me: Um, undefined.
OG: Yes, but what is it?
Me: UNDEFINED. It's insolvable.
OG: Oh. But, um, if you could solve it, what would it be.
Me: Dude, no: it's undefined.
OG: What about 1/(1-1)?
Me: Seriously?
OG: All right, then, I have one other question. What is the square root of -1?
Me: Dude.

Emended for Daniel PickyPants.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 a frustrating mess

If Amanda were here, she would tell you that I'm generally an upbeat guy, but that every once in a while, I get lost in a gloomy funk. What makes my funks dangerous is that they spiral inward on themselves, rather like a maelstrom. When I get sucked in, I realize it, which makes me introspective, which makes me gloomier. Rinse, repeat. I can go days without speaking, only to emerge fresh, clean and happy a week or so later.

I've found that my periods of soul-crushing depression tend to follow closely behind my moments of greatest exultation. And, in the course of the subsequential introspection, I have discerned the reason (it's pretty obvious): the person with whom I'd most like to share my greatest triumphs is gone.

It started yesterday, but today everything hurts. I found myself standing in the corner of my office right after lunch. I felt simultaneously 3' tall and 10' tall, detached from reality, and wondering what to do, if anything. Coffee helped, but the music I chose to listen to on the way to get coffee only further amplified the pain, as it was music that we enjoyed together in the waning days of Amanda's good health.

There are a few memories from my 33 years that I try very hard not to allow into my conscious thoughts. They will put me into a 7 - 10 day cycle of depression that leaves me a hollow shell. But Amanda's illness and death do not constitute a simple single memory that I can put on a shelf in a carefully sealed mental box. They represent only the terminus of a 15 year bright-spot of my life.

So what to do? I certainly can't go home like this. But I can't not go home, either. I can put on a brave face for Alastair, but he's pretty clever and sees right through me. So maybe we'll cuddle up tonight and watch a movie.

Monday, June 15, 2009

MazdaDrivers June DE at VIR Grand East

Man oh man was this weekend fun. First off, special thanks to Archie and Diana Dann. Diana for lending me her husband for the weekend, and Archie for being pit-monkey and comrade-in-arms at the track.

This weekend was the best I've had thus far. I did have two offs, but I've cleaned up segments of the track that have bugged me thus far, and gained a ton of confidence in both myself and the car.

Saturday I started with the Novice group. I went out in the first session and was passed a few times as I tried to re-orient myself to driving at the limit. In the second session, we started to reel in the big boys, and in the 3rd and 4th sessions, we were maybe passed once while reeling in everything on track. I had a number of near disasters, but caught the car going around each time, wrestled it into submission, and kept the nose pointed in roughly the right direction. At one point we even took T6 in the Patriot Course completely sideways, but she tracked out perfectly and my instructor did a happy dance (I have it on film).

The second day we started in Novice, but my instructor went and had me bumped up to the Intermediate group. He felt I had a good grasp on taking the track at speed, and that the skill-level of the other cars made it dangerous for me to be held up by them. The first session in Intermediate, it became clear that we were reeling in cars there, too. A train of AWD cars passed me at one point, but that was it.

As the day wore on, I started putting a lot more pressure on the other cars in my group, setting them up for passes at Oak Tree, South Bend, and Bitch. We had just reeled in a 'Vette at Bitch, gotten the point, and were trying to pass when I had my first off of the event. The guy saw me round the turn, stuck his arm out the window, and didn't immediately lift. That meant we were drag racing for the next turn, which is a rise, a blind crest, and a steep off-camber downhill left turn. I had just cleared his front bumper before the braking zone, tried to swing out to track-right just to open up the turn a little bit, and when I steered into the left-hander, the back end came around. Into the grass we went, fortunately forward and not sideways.

Then in the last session I tried to compress my braking zone in Bitch, only to be rewarded with a lock-up and skid off into the grass. Again, no damage, but I have a nicely flat-spotted tire for the effort.

I changed absolutely nothing about the setup of the car, but made some big strides in cleaning up my line. Surprisingly, we found that the car rounds T1 faster if I turn in too early and with too much speed. The back end floats out, and careful application of 100% throttle tucks the nose down to the apex, allowing a 5mph boost at track-out. Score! We used the same principal at Left Hook, T11, Roller Coaster, and Hog Pen, each time gaining somewhere between 3 and 5mph at track-out. I'm confident that having used this approach on Full Course, I would have dropped at least 1.5 seconds.

Then we got exit speeds of 92mph at South Bend by doing a gentle brake followed immediately by full throttle before even turning. Yummy!

The real winner, though, in terms of dropping lap times, was the highly unstable slide-your-butt-around approach to T11 and Oak tree. Less braking, more steering, and the car is extremely upset going into the braking zone for Oak Tree. I'd wrestle the car down to the turn-in gator, turn the wheel and apply throttle, and the back end would step out again for Oak Tree. The resulting exit speed was 5 - 7mph higher, but my entire time through 11 & 12 was at least a full second, if not two seconds quicker. Wow. Cars that kept consistent distance on previous laps would suddenly be right in front of me. It's how we caught a few Vettes and Mustangs, and we even had enough speed to give 'em trouble on the drag race up the back straight!

Neither my instructor nor I had ever driven the Patriot Course elements of the track, and we were both learning and teaching each other throughout the event. I had a couple of times when the car was just about completely sideways, and while I did have both of my offs in that segment, I did feel by Sunday afternoon that I had a pretty good handle on how to get through there quickly:
  • T1 (Bitch): Track left, brake hard just before the 3 marker. Turn in @ 50% throttle, lift, turn in further, 100% throttle to scoot the rear out, and slide to the outside gator. Look for the roof of the building at the south paddock and drive straight for it.
  • T3: Track right, brake hard as soon as the track rises. Complete braking at the crest and turn hard to the left.
  • T4: Hug the gator just a hair too long, then throttle and turn back to the right.
  • T5: Ride over the gator and point to the center of the track.
  • T6: Brake, lift & turn, throttle. Kick out rear and slide to the outside gator. Point just to the right of the phone pole.
  • T7: Move across from track left just slightly and apply brakes just before the crest. Turn toward the left-hand gator. Rear will jump over the gator. Countersteer and 50% throttle. Rear will jump over next gator. Countersteer again and roll on throttle. 100% throttle and consistent steering input thru T8
  • T8: Aim for the back side of the gator.
  • T9: Back-side of gator, but shift to 4th when car settles.
  • T10: Back out of throttle to 90% Pray (with the right god behind you, you can stay at 100%, but be prepared for a very exciting drift through the next two turns).
  • T11 & T12: Constant radius arc. 100% throttle throughout.
  • T12A: Does not exist. Ride the gator and go straight through the black asphalt. Do not brake for Roller Coaster until you can see the outside gator. And even that might be too early.
Sadly my instructor stuffed his Porsche 944 / LS1 into the tirewall at track-out from Bitch, but it didn't do much damage.

Mazda Drivers Spring DE at VIR Grand East from Adrian Amos on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And now that the toddler news is out of the way

I had a pretty deep discussion last night about my feelings toward Amanda, moving on socially, and where I am emotionally right now. I got a little choked up a couple of times, but I'm starting to think that maybe I simply haven't allowed myself to be carried away by the emotions. I certainly did for the first week, but I've rationalized all my feelings into submission.

I miss Amanda every single day. There's a large picture of her on my desk at home, the same picture is also in our dining room. She watches me every night as I work/play on the computer, and occasionally I find myself muttering to "her".

But I don't experience anger, denial, shock, or bargaining. Those, I've decided, are tilting at windmills. Being angry isn't going to bring her back, and I can bargain with God all day long, but he's not going to turn an urn full of ashes back into my wife. Ain't gonna happen. And frankly, if it did, ew...

I'm never really alone, because I have Alastair. But loneliness & depression are the only real suffering I experience, and not even all that often. When he's with me, and we're having fun, that is where I am: in the moment with him. When he's not with me, like at his grandparents' house, then I'm left alone with a head full of demons.

I've chosen to replace or augment those demons with racing, tinkering, and partying. Is that fair? Certainly the tinkering gives me a quiet opportunity for reflection while keeping me physically occupied, and that's a combination that has worked very well for me. Racing is just pure distraction of the most joyful form, and partying usually means alcohol. And, uh, pretty ladies.

When I'm not doing one of those three things, though, I'm generally lost. It takes me almost an hour to get ready for bed, because that's a mundane task that forces me to wallow in my alone-ness. The same is true with house-work, which usually piles up to the point of being nigh insurmountable.

But back to the point: my grieving process feels like I'm doing it wrong. Not to me, mind you, but to the experience of being me, if that makes any sense. Everyone tells me I need therapy, but I don't feel like I need therapy. But the fact that I don't feel like I need it is making me question whether or not I do. Because everyone says I do. With me?

Just like everyone says to wait a year before making any big changes. But I've already bought a car and gotten rid of a lot of her clothes. That, to me, feels like the right thing to do. I didn't like her car; couldn't drive it without wandering all over the road, and certainly couldn't park it. Why should I keep something that makes me unhappy, even dissociated from memories of her? But that's "the wrong thing to do", which gives me pause: should I have done it?

And last, I'm ready to go out with people, have fun, and experience joy. I'm told this is wrong, that it's too soon. But it doesn't feel too soon. I had a year to come to grips with Amanda's disease. A year. A year to grieve before she died, to be angry with God, to bargain for my life instead of hers, and all that stuff that's normal. I completed that process, so shouldn't I get a pass to the next stage? I tested out of Grieving 101.

I never managed to finish reading even the first of the grief counseling books. At some point I realized that I was no longer experiencing what was written, and I felt guilty about continuing to read them. I felt like if I was going to read them, I needed to regress and continue to feel the acute pain that was mentioned on the pages. But who wants to do that? Pain is good for the soul, but so is joy.

I've joined a couple of groups on Facebook for young widows & widowers, and joined the petition to add "Widowed" as a relationship status, and what I've learned from just glancing through some of the discussions on those group pages is that each grief is experienced uniquely. There are people who have been widowed for years and still refuse to even consider dating, and there are people who were seriously romantically involved after only a couple of months. Those who went through disease seem to have moved on more quickly, and those who lost their spouses to accidents take a very long time. Not as a rule, but just in general.

So it feels weird to me that I'm ok. Because I'm not "supposed to be" ok. Either I'm breaking the unwritten rules, or I need counseling, or I'm just a big creep who doesn't miss his wife. Or maybe I just need to be ok because I'm 33, have a little boy who needs as much joy as he can find, and there's just too much to live for.

Either way, if you don't like my grieving process, try your own way. When the time comes, I promise to support you in any way that I can. But please try not to judge me until you've been where I am (and I hope you never ever come here). There are no rules for grieving, only nebulous suggestions.

F1 Toddler

And he loves it. 5mph is really surprisingly fast. I was also surprised at how easy it would be to really hot-rod this thing. Yeah, the turning radius is crap, but it's restricted only by a couple of plastic tabs that could be ground off, and there is actually a spot to mount a 2nd gearbox, which would take it from 4x1 to 4x2 drive. Might make it tougher to turn, but would really help it get up the driveway.

And there seems to be enough space to mount a 2nd battery. Score! 2 gearboxes and 2 batteries should be enough to propel this puppy to almost 9mph. When he's older, of course.

At that point we'll need to switch the front tires to pneumatic, add a little positive caster, and maybe add a mechanical brake. This could be fun.

After getting it all assembled, we went to Target to pick up some more little plastic orange cones. I will make an autocrosser out of this boy!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I'm such a fool

I just ordered this for Alastair:

Many of you have heard me rant on how ill-prepared our children are when they take the wheel of a car in the big mean world. I think our nanny-state child-safety laws prevent us from experiencing the world from a training perspective, and expect us to simply understand the physics of driving when we climb behind the wheel at 15 3/4 years old. That's retarded. I grew up in the front seat, learned how the car behaved in traffic, with the road, and what to expect when I shifted 3 feet over to the left.

Today's kids are kept in the back seat until they're 10 years old (and sometimes much older). So now Alastair will have a head-start. Even if he doesn't take to racing, performance driving, or anything else, he'll at least know what happens when he pushes the throttle & brake, how much steering input to provide for a tight turn vs. a broad sweeper, and some of the responsibility that comes with driving.

Of course I hope he falls absolutely in love with it and wants to be a champion racer. Now I just need to get him a helmet, fire-suit, gloves, boots, and baby-HANS device.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2 Months

It's a day late, but I just had too many other things on my mind yesterday.

Yesterday marked two months since Amanda's death. I spent a lot of time thinking about her this past weekend, and Alastair has begun to express sadness that she's gone.

Driving down to the track, I was reminded of our trip to Greensboro, NC for Thanksgiving in 2006. On the way back, we needed to stop to feed Alastair. We pulled off the highway and hunted for a remote parking lot where he could nurse, and found one at a local community college. I walked around the car, keeping an eye out for potential ne'er-do-wells, only to find out that we were the ones causing a stir. I couldn't remember if the security guy actually came and talked to me or not, and I really wanted to ask Amanda. But I can't.

I also found myself really wanting to call her and tell her all about the fun I was having, like I used to do at night.

Even last night, when I finished watching the Tivo'ed Indy 500, I really was excited to tell her that Helio had won (she was a big fan since his DWTS win in 2007), but I had to figure that even in the Great Beyond, that race is still a big deal, so she probably already knew.

I'm still wearing my ring, but I did finally empty her last drawer from the dresser.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

PCA Day 3

Porsches need to get the hell out of my way.

I mean, seriously: for an event supposedly dedicated to Porsches driving fast, I've never seen so many rolling chicanes! Most of the guys were nice enough, and I met a bunch of really stand-out folks, but some of them were either clueless, stupid, or just angry to see an orange Mazda in their mirrors.

Fortunately, I was not alone in this opinion, as another Porsche guy in the paddock was griping about the same cars.

Today was out of control! I only ran 3 sessions, beating the weather and getting to see my boy. But what a group of sessions!

First off, I had met up with a guy who flies F-18's for the Navy yesterday, and he and I decided to go play in our first session. We did a little trade-off lead/follow session, experimenting with different lines and braking points, but basically staying together.

We started to do the same in the second session, but then I found a boatload of extra confidence and started REALLY probing the limits. He receded into the background, and I started logging 2:29 laps. That's pretty darned fast, in a Miata.

In the 3rd session, I had agreed to get some from-behind footage of my paddock-mate's yellow Boxster. I followed him for a couple of laps, then took off. Then things turned ugly. I caught a Carrera that simply would not let me pass. He was fast as stink in the straights (and even pointed me by at one point, but without lifting), but I caught him every single time in the turns. I wound up having to get on the brakes coming out of Oak Tree for 3 straight laps before he gave me the pass. Unfortunately, there were only two more laps, and the group of cars I'd wanted to catch up to and play with all session were just pitting in when I got up to them.

I got a little angrier than I needed to, but the session was still killer, with more consistent 2:29 laps, consistent 87 - 90mph apexes through South Bend (even caught it going away from me at one point), and braking for Turn 1 at the 3 marker.

Session stats for today included 1.2G in the turns and 0.99G braking.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

PCA Spring DE @ VIR - Day Two

I'm tired. Really really tired. But there's always tomorrow.

This morning I had to have an obligatory check-ride with my instructor. I had some morning jitters that translated into strange turn-in points, weak braking, and some generally sloppy driving. Undeterred, he maintained that I am ready for solo driving.

My next 3 sessions almost all seemed to involve picking one car with similar lap times and duking it out, lap after lap. In one, I kept a C5 Z06 Corvette behind me all session, despite pointing him by on the back straight (he didn't want it...said I was going too fast through the turns and he didn't want to hold me up!).

In another, I got hooked up with a VW GTI VR6 driven by an F-18 pilot. He could make that car scoot! I gave him the point-by, then caught him and got past him, but then blew a crucial shift in Turn 4 and gave up the battle. A couple laps later, slower traffic in front pushed us back together, and we spent the last few laps playing follow-the-leader.

When we got back to the pits, the he and I chatted for a bit, and we're going to look for each other out there again tomorrow and play.

So far it seems the slowest drivers out here are all driving Porsches. We have a bunch of smokin' fast BMW's in my group, a couple of Corvettes, a few other assorted oddballs, and a bunch of P-cars. There are a few that are consistent, and a couple that are fast, but some are just taking parade laps, and making for some very dangerous situations.

But I'm still having a blast. I've managed to keep the car together, learn a ton, and keep my head straight. Do I have to come home? Do I?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Porsche Club of America Spring DE at VIR - Day One

Today began beautifully, with ambient temps around 58F. Drivers' meeting was quick, classroom session even quicker, and, since I was a good boy and set up my paddock space very carefully the night before, we were out onto the track in no time.

My instructor, Ken Wilkinson, was the first instructor I've ever had who actually drives a Miata. The tips he gave were invaluable, and by the end of the second session, he was ready to sign me off for solo driving.

We rode together one final time, with him quizzing me on what I was looking at at any given moment, what the corner workers were doing (while I'm going 100mph and steering), and generally keeping me on my toes.

Then, for the last session of the day, I was all by my lonesome. We had a bit of a problem with one white Porsche GT3, who apparently was overwhelmed. In the very first turn of the very first lap, he/she began Turn 1 (a right), and just turned left. Into the dirt. When they rejoined, they were unwilling to give faster cars the point-by, resulting in a 70mph train of race cars in the climbing esses. Boo.

Anyway, after about 3 laps of this, things cleared out, and I picked up an E36 M3 to duke it out with for a few laps. I let him by me on the back straight on one lap, and should never have seen him again, but since he didn't seem to be moving away from me, I figured I'd see if I could run him down. Testing the absolute limits of adhesion (and common sense), I caught up to him and passed him within 2 laps. In a Miata! With a restrictor plate!!

But it's clear that this has as much to do with the car's prep this year as with my own personal prep. The new exhaust is forcing me to use 5th gear on both long straights, and I could probably justify using it in the climbing esses. I keep running out of 3rd gear in the "slower" parts of the track, too. Rock on!

Random data points:

Fastest observed speed: 112mph
Highest measured lateral G's: 1.05
Highest measured braking G's: 0.93

Both of those G readings should be higher. I have some experimenting to do tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Meat, meat, & more meat

Churrascaria yummy. Belly not so good. Ugh...

I've eaten at Texas de Brazil 4 times now, and I can never seem to figure out when to stop eating. And then, in spite of the 1/2 lb of salt and 2.3 lbs of meat consumed, I ordered dessert. Damn the torpedoes (and distended bellies)!

I've been waddling around today like a 8.5-month pregnant woman. And then I was treated to lunch at P.F. Chang's! Now I'm well over-due, and my doctor is threatening to induce me.

I did, however, have a great time celebrating with Jeff & Evelyn. The food was freakin' awesome, the wine (a Malbec) was quite tasty, and the evening ended early enough to sit down and watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I think Amanda would have approved.

Tonight I'll spend most of my evening getting ready for a 3-day track event. Woohoo! Hopefully I'll keep my wits about me enough to get some good video of the orange ahamosRACING monster in action.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Today would have been my 9th anniversary.

I'm looking forward to dinner in a couple of hours with Jeff & Evelyn, who celebrate their anniversary tomorrow, and who were introduced by Amanda and me. It's like the love phoenix.

I am sad today, but not nearly as forlorn as I would have expected. For some reason, if I expect to be sad, I'm generally not. It's those random moments when you realize your happiness that it's taken from you.

So lift a glass to Amanda tonight. I will.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I thought I closed that door

Shortly after putting Alastair to bed, I went out the front door to strap the Miata to the trailer (going to VIR on Thursday!). After 3 minutes, I heard wailing and pounding. I turned around to see my son at the front door, crying and pounding on the storm door. I rushed to him and asked him what was wrong, why he was out of bed.

He replied that he couldn't see me from his room, that he'd been looking out the window watching the cars when he heard me open the storm door, and that he had gotten scared. I told him all was well, tucked him back into bed, told him that I'd be outside for a couple of minutes, and left him.

This time I went out the back door. He can't hear the back door, and I figured I'd be safe.

When I came back in, all was quiet, but for some reason the front door was open. I was sure I'd closed it, but there it was: plain as day. Propped open with our door-stop and everything. Oh, well. I closed it and went on with my business.

Then I heard him rummaging around again, so I went to check on him. Turns out when I went back outside, he snuck downstairs to look for me, and having not found me in the house, proceeded to unlock, open, and prop the front door.

What a nut! Thank goodness I noticed (there have been times...). I told him that he can't do that, because that's how bad people get into the house.

Sheesh. Toddlers.