Sunday, December 06, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015

To all those we know, don’t know, don’t care and can’t seem to purge from a mailing list that just seems to continually grow like a fungus.  Here in the wilderness of Ohio the Carters are flourishing as we embrace all the new technological marvels like wi-fi, blu-tooth and even electricity.  It has been a year of highs and lows, so time to get into it.
Overall for the clan things have been relatively stable. No family trips this year, as these are getting much more difficult to do with the kids all spreading out and living their own lives. Mike and Diane flew out to see his parents and sister in Colorado before Thanksgiving and we did enjoy that.
Mike continues to attempt to tell these computer thingies what to do – and enjoys it because at least computers do what you tell them, unlike children. Nothing always does what you want it do, but you take what you can get. He is still dabbling a little in home brewing, though he found it sad that his Kegerator was actually empty for most of the year. He continues to play with toy soldiers, organizing events both locally and a little further out, such as the national championships in Chicago and a big tournament in Nashville.
Diane had a bit more excitement this year, going under the knife for a gastric sleeve procedure, and so far has managed to lose over 40 lbs. Her sewing and quilting have continued to invade more of the house, recently taking over another room as she acquired a huge quilting frame with long-arm machine. I’m not quite sure what that means, but it was ten feet wide and required an entire rainy afternoon to bring it up from Cincinnati. She has also become very involved in some local dog rescue operations, doing many dog transports to help them get to their furever homes.
Becky has gone back to being a freelance sign language interpreter full time (because who needs a stable, steady job anyway?  FREEDOM!!!)  She has been doing a lot of work in Rochester with the Mayo clinic (and her step-father keeps wondering why they need a clinic for mayonnaise?) and she and Eric are looking at moving out of the cities so that they will be closer. She continues to play volleyball, and has even started coaching her old team.
Jon continues to work at the call center, and finally managed to get a new apartment with his brother Erik and another roommate. And though he doesn’t remember, it is actually in the same complex that he lived in about 25 years ago, just around the corner from their former apartment in Centerville.
Katie is still enjoying the great northwest in Oregon. She and Sam have postponed their wedding plans (though they are still on). She continues to sell her dragon sculptures, and has even started working with a shop that wants to carry them. Her health has improved, and things continue to look up.
Erik graduated as everyone expected, and then went and got a job, a fancy job, smacking at a keyboard at the same company as his father (who was told that Erik interviewed better than he did!). He and Isolde (Z) broke off their relationship a few months after graduation, and so he is now figuring out
how to deal with life after college with a good job and even a little money in his pocket after student loan payments.
Matt continues to matriculate (in public even) at Miami of Ohio, getting into a program this upcoming spring to do an internship down in Cincinnati. He changed his major and is doing much better now that he moved out of the engineering program. He also managed to find a sweet geek girl to hook up with, and so far Megan has managed to even meet his brothers and parents without running away screaming in fear.
One of the sad lows of the year was when we had to help Scout cross the Rainbow Bridge back in June.  He was diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year as well as heart issues, and the consensus was that he would not have been able to survive the surgery to attempt to remove the tumor. So we just kept him comfortable and happy. Once he started to suffer we let him go.
Fate of course always surprises you, and only two weeks after Scout passed Diane gets a call from one of the rescue organizations she works with. A stray puppy was found collapsed in the heat, and when they took him to the vet he tested positive for Parvovirus, so he could not be around any other dogs. They knew that we did not have a dog in our home at the time, so asked if we could foster him. When we picked him up he was so sick he couldn’t even move, eat or drink. We did notice in the car that he had a very long, thin tail, and Mike said that it looked like when he grew up and was happy that tail was going to whip around – at which Diane and he instantly knew his name should be Devo. Suffice to say we failed as a foster family, as we could not give him up.  Nursed back from the brink, his is a very happy and healthy addition to our family. 
We did discuss the idea of getting a second dog to play with and be a little more sociable than Scout was. Again Fate intervened – we took Devo to the dog park for the first time once he hit six months old, and there was no one else there. We then looked back at the car – and there was another dog up on the car looking in the window. He had obviously been well taken care of before – was clean and not even hungry. He, however, was not chipped or fixed and no one claimed him, so Tip also joined our home. He unfortunately turned out to have heartworms, so he is undergoing treatment for that.  However we have decided that two is definitely enough.
So 2015 had its highs and lows and ups and downs.  But it isn’t the ‘normal’ days that make the memories, it is the best and the worst, and what does not kill us makes us stronger.
May love and laughter light your days,
And warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
Wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
With joy that long endures
May all life’s passing seasons

Bring the best to you and yours!

Thursday, July 09, 2015


This is as close to looking at you as you are going to get (February 2013)
It all started so unexpectedly, as so many true relationships do.  Things in my life were fairly stable, I had a decent job, the kids were healthy and as happy as you could expect 4 children to be in a single father household.  I think it was a Tuesday night, because if I remember correctly that was the night my middle son had his cub scout meetings.  He was a first year webelo at the time, and part of what they did in the spring was to visit various scout troops in order to help them decide which one they would want to join when they crossed over the next February.

I remember my daughter was running around, getting into things, and somehow got a minor burn on her arm from being careless with one of the activities.  And then he came in.

Now it wasn't dramatic or anything, and if you weren't paying attention, you wouldn't have even notices this tiny puppy being carried into the church basement hall where the scout meetings were.  Of course everyone gathered round to hear the story.

The woman holding him said they were down in Kentucky visiting her aging mother, who still lived on the family farm, though she could barely take care of the house, let alone the land.  Well some idiot had a dog who just had pups - he saw this farm and thought 'well farms can always use dogs', so dumped the mother and her litter and drove off.

Of course this grandmother couldn't take care of them, so the family brought them back to West Carrollton.  They had actually managed to successfully given away both the mother and all but this last pup.  Of course the three of my kids with me (my oldest son was at home doing homework) all asked if they could keep him.  I was raised with a dog, and I had not had one since my wife and I split up a few years before (she took our dog in the divorce).

My heart melted, and a new member joined our family that night, appropriately named "Scout".

I had never raised a puppy as an adult before (even the ones my parents got when I was in high school were theirs - I didn't raise or train them).  I admit, I probably made a lot of mistakes with that tiny bundle of fur.  I drove home with him on one arm - so tiny it was nothing to hold him while steering.  As I turned into the apartment complex, I noticed the vet office that was just across from the entrance - not two blocks from our apartment.

I got some puppy chow, water and food dish, collar and leash for him.  I put him in the downstairs half bath for most of his house breaking time - of course had to listen to him cry and whine for hours that first night.  The next day I walked him to the vet - less than two blocks.  Unfortunately I didn't think of car training him, so after his ride home he didn't get into a car again for a year since the vet was so close (like I said, I made some mistakes).  Of course he turned out to be so anemic from the horrible flea infestation he had that the vet was surprised he was alive, but we got that cleared up, all his shots etc, and talked to the vet about getting him fixed - and when we could do that.  A few months later he was fixed.

I remember taking him out morning and evenings to house break him.  Standing in the rain as he did his duty, but finally that was done.

When I bought our house, he loved the fact he now had a yard, even though I did have to stake down the fence in a few places to keep his adventurous spirit contained.  He quickly adapted to his role of protector of the family, and kept us safe from the varmints that would dare to enter his domain.  Two rabbits, a baby possum, four kittens and a woodchuck all succumbed to his protective skills.  A raccoon, bat and the squirrels all evaded him however.

When Diane and I got married and she moved down, Scout immediately became her dog.  We used to joke that he didn't like me at all - as whenever we came home, he would rush to the door and sniff everyone but me.  Yes, sometimes he could be an ass, but we all loved him.

Diane finally got him used to riding in the car, though he never really enjoyed it.  But at least he stopped getting carsick every time.  He did love going to the local dog parks, just to circle around the perimeter and check for new smells, always leaving his little tag to say "I was here".  He never was very social with other dogs though.  It was always funny to watch him, as he would of course sniff their butts, but when they went to sniff them he would move away with this look like "what are you doing with my butt?".  (Very similar to the look Diane said he got when he had gas - he would seem to be surprised by it).

He loved to watch the world out the living room or bedroom windows.  He pretty much took over our old couch, pulling out the stuffing to perfectly fit him in the corner.  We were trained pretty well, so that we gave him his nightly (then daily, then seemingly hourly) treats on schedule.  He would devour a piece of rawhide in a matter of minutes.  And don't ever take off his collar - he hated being 'naked'.  If you took it off for any reason he would freeze (which is the only way we got him in a couple of family pictures :-) ), and then when you put is back on he'd walk off in a huff, ignoring you until he got over being mad (which was usually until you had food).

The past year we could see that he was getting old.  He started having a hard time with the stairs, and of course our house has four levels.  He also was getting lots of various lumps all over.  What started to concern us however was a large lump between his back legs (since he had the lumps that belonged there removed many years ago).  The vet examined him, and then ran some tests, and it turned out it was cancerous.  Unfortunately any treatment was not guaranteed to extend his life any, nor would it be pleasant for him.  In addition due to his older heart, he might not even make it through any surgery.  He didn't know he was sick, so we just decided to keep him happy as long as he wasn't suffering.

Well the lump slowly grew bigger, until it was the size of a softball.  But he didn't seem to even notice it.  Then a couple of weeks ago there were a couple of drops of blood and some fluid seeping from it.  This started to grow bigger, and when we called the vet she said that the tumor was necrotizing, and that was the final stages.  On Tuesday we talked to our vet, we thought it was time.  We found a vet that makes house calls, which we thought would be better since he never liked going to the vet, nor did he want to get in the car at all any more.   We didn't want him scared for his trip over the Rainbow Bridge.  So we scheduled it for Friday, so that they boys could be here to say goodbye.

For me one of the hardest points leading up to the end was the waiting.  Especially as his deterioration rapidly got worse, the necrotic tumor pushing out.  At first I my feelings had been that I was being selfish because I was uncomfortable, but that quickly changed to feeling like we waited too long.  Tuesday night after I got home from work he was noticeably worse.  Wednesday he was much slower moving at all, and spent most of the day sleeping.  I was shocked at how big the tumor had gotten and how much it had pushed out.  Oh, and the smell.  I was getting really worried - he didn't want to move or go out even.  Then this morning he wouldn't even get up when my son and I went to work.  Diane was only able to get him to the landing on the stairs, and it wasn't until I returned home that we got him outside (boy did he have to pee!)  We knew that we had waited too long, so called the vet and he made it out as soon as he could.  We had scheduled it for our convenience, but it was his needs that we needed to take care of now.

When the vet arrived, Scout actually got up to sniff him.  The vet did confirm that with his heart murmur he would not have survived surgery had we tried to remove the cancer.   He went calmly and quietly, and one of the boys did make it in time to say goodbye.  The vet takes care of the cremation so that is one less worry.  There will always be a part of him in the house, because we will never get all the dog hair cleaned up.

Thursday, July 9th at 10:18 am, we said goodbye to my faithful pet, friend and family member.  Unfortunately only one of the boys could be there.  Scout has crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and isn't suffering any more.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why is it that everything today has to do with things either going in or coming out of my ass?

Yes, I have watched South Park.  And now that I'm 50 Cartman's quote from the first episode just seems to be feeling more appropriate.  Routine checkup last week, which meant a referral to a specialist.  Yes, I get the joy of having a camera stuck up where the sun doesn't shine just to take a look and see what is going on up there.

Of course a colonoscopy requires anesthesia, so it is a day off work (though I'm thinking that even on the worst day at my current job I'd rather be working).  But really, it is ok because I really REALLY wouldn't want to be awake for something like this anyway.  My doctor did say it is just a mile anesthesia, if I wanted to I could try to stay awake - but that just isn't on option I want to even consider.

It is actually two weeks away, but I can't stop thinking about it.  I have to avoid Olestra for a week before hand - but the whole warning about "anal seepage" has steered me clear of that forever.   Really, I may be fat but that doesn't mean I want to crap my pants to get thinner.  Then there comes the low fiber diet for a few days, with a liquid diet the day before.  Then comes the "preparation" - basically high powered laxatives (and it just seemed fitting to me that the SNL 40th special had the "Colon Blow" commercial on).  Really looking forward to getting up at 2 am to give my ass the dry heaves.

But what is really intriguing me how does a doctor end up choosing this as their specialty?  Brain surgeon - that is cool.  Obstetrician is another cool one - delivering babies.  I can even see some people that want to be podiatrists - we have all heard of people with a foot fetish, and it beats being a shoe salesman.  But proctologist?  Is this the guy who lost the lottery?  Or is he the last one in his class?  Did he get there late and nothing else was left?  Does anybody really go into medical school thinking "I want to specialize in looking up people's asses all day every day for the rest of my life!".  Now some of us end up in that virtual position. (makes me think of my previous job (I love the one I have now) because there were a lot of people there who actually seemed to spend every day with their heads up their asses).  Some jobs are about as much fun as being up someones butt.  But really choosing this?

Granted it is an effective screening and preventative for colon cancer, and I can see any doctor wanting to help prevent cancer in their patients.  But sticking a camera up peoples butts and then watching it on TV (and does your colon look ten pounds bigger on TV?) just doesn't seem to be the best career option.  Now honestly I haven't even met the doctor yet, and I assume that she (which is actually worse, having a man or woman look up your butt) is very smart and competent, and did great on all her exams in medical school.  And it is a "Digestive" specialty center - so she probably gets to look down peoples throats on occasion as well, which can make it better.

A few years ago, my wife had to go in for an Upper and Lower GI screening - which is putting cameras down your throat and up your butt.  I told her to make sure they did the Upper GI FIRST, and you don't want to piss off that doctor!  Make them mad and when you wake up they'll ask how it tasted smartass!  (Oh, and you know what the difference is between and Oral and Anal thermometer?  The taste!).

So I'm not really worried, but I just had to get some of these jokes out.   And I figure I don't ALWAYS have to bitch here.  (I actually started a happy blog about my gaming hobby (not gambling, or video games - but actual physical games you have to have another person to play with, most involve miniatures.  Because it's all fun and games Until Somebody Loses An Eye.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Getting Cranky in my old age

Maybe this is a better forum for me to rant a bit.  Not that anyone will read it (because who reads a blog that is updated only once a year?).  But at least here when I actually research an opinion it can't be deleted for being too controversial where I had posted it.

I find that I don't tend to write (at all) when I'm in a good mood - happiness is just not much of a muse for me.  When I'm not however, then I get in the mood to rant and rave and become a Tubthumper, and it seems like there is a lot of things that are just pissing me off right now.

I don't want to repeat my facebook post, nor try to recreate the deleted responses here.  But they did make me think (which as my wife will attest to is a VERY dangerous thing).

Whatever happened to the right in our society to be wrong?  I don't mean the right to believe in something that is incorrect.  Unfortunately that is being upheld constantly these days - and even worse being validated by sheer force of will, all evidence and scientific rigor be damned.  No, I mean that we have some how lost the ability to actually be told and accept that we are wrong.

There is no greater learning experience than making a mistake and correcting it.  It is said that wisdom is the ability to make good decisions, and you gain wisdom by making bad decisions.  However you can't correct and learn from (thus gaining wisdom) a bad decision if everyone around you is so busy trying to pump up your self esteem (which cannot be given, but must be earned) that you don't ever see that it is wrong.

The idea that every opinion is valid is in itself an invalid premise, but is being promoted more and more.  Along with this is the notion that we have to respect other peoples beliefs, even if we disagree with them.  I call BULLSHIT on this.  You need to respect people yes.  But you do not need to respect their beliefs, especially when they are flat out wrong.

Children will NEVER learn if they are never corrected when they make a mistake.  If you don't tell little Johnny that when he wrote that 2 + 2 = 3 he was wrong, and the correct answer is 4, he will never learn basic math and eventually grow up to be a budget analyst for the federal government, completely unable to see the basic fact that you cannot balance a budget if you spend more money than you take in.  If you never correct the teenage Jane when she doesn't know the difference between correlation and causation so that she believes because everyone wears coats in the winter (correlation) that by wearing coats, the temperature goes down (causation), she may grow up to be an actress who spouts off absolute uniformed crap from a discredited and debunked fraud on a national stage and pushes a movement that ends up with hundreds of children in the hospital with completely preventable illnesses, and some of these unfortunate kids end up dead.

Not all ideas or beliefs are valid.  The universe DOES NOT revolve around the earth, no matter how much you might believe it does because you think you are the center of all creation.  The earth is not flat, nor is it hollow.  There is no bearded omniscient, omnipotent being living in the sky created everything in six days, and then created it again in a DIFFERENT ORDER in the next chapter of your book, and both of these creations have the earth as the center of existence.  Sorry, but there are no pixies, dragons, elves or vampires (and I for one really wish there were dragons - just so they could eat some of these idiots out there).  People do NOT bend spoons with their minds, magicians do NOT saw their assistants in half, and psychics cannot see the future.

We need to go back to a mindset where you can tell someone they are wrong.  We need to stop this insanity of accepting every inane utterance that comes out of peoples mouths as fact.  Even more so, we need to quickly abandon the idea that there are equal sides to every story, and just because SCIENCE states something doesn't mean that alternates aren't valid.  Guess what - THEY AREN'T VALID.  Neil DeGrasse Tyson made a wonderful quote on Real Time with Bill Maher: "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it".

It is ok to be wrong, provided that you do not refuse to acknowledge when presented with the facts that show you are wrong.  What is not ok is to fight against the facts, insisting that your opinion is correct against all the evidence that shows it is not, and refusing to correct yourself.  Then even worse, spreading your incorrect beliefs and be offended when rational people point out that you are wrong.  Accept that perhaps you are not the omniscient being you think you might be on a given subject - take a look at what the REAL experts in a field have to say about it, and change your mind.  And in doing so, gain at least a tiny bit of wisdom, which this world is in serious need of right now.