Get Rid Of The Prizes?

nablopomo 2014 logoBlogHer is the official host of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month) and sort of organizes things to motivate bloggers to keep going. There are prompts to elicit blog posts, a (mostly) daily twitter discussion, and more – including prizes.

The only thing is, I think it’s offering up the wrong motivation.

Maybe I would feel differently if I won a prize. Probably not. Whatever. Here is the link to the blogroll for NaBloPoMo, which is pretty extensive. It is this list which BlogHer uses to draw winners from. But there is a major flaw in this system.

The first entry on the blogroll has missed more days than posted a blog entry. The second hasn’t posted anything since November 4. The third blog on the list has participated every day. Not one post in November from the fourth blog on the blogroll. Or the 5th. And so on. Number 9 on the blog roll is a protected blog so you can’t access it. Number 10 on the blogroll hasn’t posted anything since July.

Every other day or so I have gone to this blog roll and checked out a few random blogs. Some of them I comment on – and the first criteria I have for myself to comment is if the blogger is actually posting. Not every day necessarily, but at least participating.

Look, if you miss a day or whatever you should still be eligible for whatever prizes BlogHer wants to give out. If you make a good faith effort to participate in NaBloPoMo you should be rewarded. Unfortunately it is painfully obvious some bloggers sign up just for the promotional aspect of it and the possibility of prizes.

It would be nice if BlogHer had some way of culling the list, rewarding those who participated, especially those who made it through all of NaBloPoMo without missing a day. It would be even better if bloggers wouldn’t sign up if they had no intention of participating. It just makes it tougher for those of us who are.

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The Beach In Maine

Here is another snapshot from our trip this past summer.

mass 2014 07 maine beach 01We have a friend here in Seattle that is from Boston. Every year she goes back for a weeks or so and visits family. She also rents a house in Maine and spends a few days with her kids on the beach. Their vacation overlapped a little with ours, and one day sort of towards the end of our vacation we traveled up to Maine to visit her and spend a day at the beach.

Getting to the beach isn’t something we do very often. In Seattle the weather doesn’t get warm enough for a “true” day at the beach, then again, there aren’t a lot of them around here so what few beaches we have get really crowded – and fast.

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We got to the beach, rented a couple of beach umbrellas and some boogie boards then settled in for a day at the beach. We had brought up some pails and shovels.

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The kids had a great time playing alternately in the water and the sand. There was a short boardwalk where we picked up some lunch. The kids didn’t eat much.

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A lot of the day was spent going back and forth to the water’s edge to make sure the kids were doing alright.

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We spent hours there, mostly just hanging out. The kids would out into the ocean (which was cold) up to their waist, and some would lay on the boogie boards sort of letting the surf carry them in. Some would try to ride the boogie boards like a surf board but that never actually worked. Thankfully.

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Laura and I would alternate sitting under the umbrellas in the shade holding Tevye, who was just a couple of months old at the time and going to the water’s edge to keep an eye on the kids.

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It was a really fun day spent at the beach with friends.

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The only real downer was that somebody had taken August’s flip-flops. Thankfully on the boardwalk one of the stores sold (at significantly increased prices) various wares, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, and of course, flip-flops. We got home and the kids went to bed and slept very well that night.

 

 

 

 

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Music Monday: The Briefs

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to listen to. The previous Friday I had loaded up some Queen onto my phone to listen to on the way to swim lesson. This past Friday I wasn’t in the greatest of moods so I wanted to listen to something with a little bit of “punch” to it.

“Ain’t It The Truth”

 

This band certainly fit that bill.

I first heard about the band from my friend Stephen (the one I have traveled with to see other bands) back in…. well, I don’t know exactly. About 10 years ago. He told me about the band but I never could get out to see them. Then one Bumbershoot festival, I guess 2004, I caught their set.

I was hooked immediately.

“So Stupid”

 

I picked up as much of their music as I could get my hands on. At that point they only had three albums, which were easy enough to collect. Shortly after seeing the band live they would release another album, a compilation of various singles and compilation tracks.

The following year The Briefs would release their final album. I got to see the band one more time as well in a (smallish) club setting. Massively fun. Sadly, the band would break up soon afterwards.

“My Girl (Wants To Be A Zombie)”

 

What is it about The Briefs that I like so much? I guess it’s how much they harken back to the original 1977 style punk rock. In many ways they remind me of The Damned.

Apparently the band got back together recently and toured. Of course I missed it. Didn’t even know about it until after the fact. Oh well. I still have their music.

“Come Dancing”

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4:30

We have been putting Tevye down in his crib at night. Usually between 8:30 and 9:00 at night he falls asleep after being fed and I try to put him in his crib – most of the time he settles in, sometimes he doesn’t and we have to start the whole process over.

tevye sleeping nov 2014Usually he wakes up sometime between 11:30 and 2 in the morning. Sometimes a little earlier. Sometimes a little later. He isn’t sleeping through the night yet, but he is beginning to sleep more…. regularly I guess is the right word.

Last night I put him down somewhere around 8:30. Laura and I then watched a couple of shows on television and went to bed, knowing it wouldn’t be too long before Tevye would wake up and need to be fed again. But it didn’t happen right away. He didn’t wake up until 4:30 in the morning.

Now, I know that was an anomaly. I know this isn’t going to be a trend, at least not yet. But let’s face it, at six months you take every little victory you can get.

ADDENDUM

The following night he was up at 11, and 1, and 2, then from 3 until about 5. Then up again at 5:30. So, you know, it all balances out.

 

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Waiting

I’m waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish writing his Game Of Thrones/Song Of Fire And Ice series before I start reading it. I’m probably going to wait to watch the series until I read the books.

breaking badWe waited so long to get Netflix. The only reason we finally “broke down” and subscribed was because a friend of ours wanted to watch Breaking Bad with us. We are close to the end (as I type this we have 5 episodes left in the series). He is leaving town for Thanksgiving and hopefully we can finish watching the series before he leaves because we really don’t want to wait to finish.

As I type this on Saturday morning Ciárán is taking his piano lesson. Déla already had hers and August will have his next. I have to sit here because Ciárán needs more guidance. Occasionally I will have to tell him to quite being goofy or to stay on task. These are things the teacher *should* feel free to tell him, but I think because she is in our home as well as probably her personality she doesn’t. That’s fine. I don’t mind too much, but I can’t really do too much while waiting for his lesson to be done.

the dark tower book seven kingI waited for Stephen King to finish writing his Dark Tower series before reading them. I have the first four books, then life sort of got in the way. Now I’m not sure what to do. I probably waited too long to find the same type of edition as the other four. I like to have all my books in a series to be from the same editions. I really hate mixing up hardcover with paperback for example. Then there is the issue of cover art. Oh well. I may wind up simply getting the whole series in one fell swoop in mass-market paperback then selling my larger sized trade paperbacks.

Then again maybe I’ll just get the audio books.

 

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Phamily Foto Phriday 11-21-14

I have quite a bit this week, including a few videos, so let’s jump right into it.

Here is Ciárán learning to dive during swim lessons last Friday:

I love how there’s so much build-up then…

Here is a sort of compilation of other stuff from the same swim lesson. First up is August and Déla racing, twice. Watch for Ciárán being tossed. Then there’s Xavier actually beginning to swim on his own.

The next day, Saturday, Déla had her last gymnastics meet of the season. She did really well. She has advanced quite a bit since the start of the season. Here she is doing a somersault off of the balance beam.

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Again with her floor routine

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and launching through her bar routine.

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This her her vault – a much better view than the first time a few weeks ago.

Then later on in the week it was the last regular gymnastics class for both Déla and Xavier. They always have the kids pose at the end, like it’s the end of their gymnastics routine as they give them a medal or a ribbon or something for participation.

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It appears this was the last week of decent weather for a few months. Might be the last opportunity to ride the horse in front of Fred Meyer without getting rained on.

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Finally here is Xavier trying out some solid food. Not terribly happy about it.

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DVR Appreciation

Here’s the comment I posted on another person’s blog post:

I wouldn’t be able to watch television without my DVR. My kids will watch live television (PBS Kids or Disney Channel) but I never watch television for myself without it being recorded. By the time the kids are in bed chances are I would have missed a show. Or for those nights when there are two shows on at the same time? We are always behind on what we watch. Oh, I smell a blog post.

Because, yeah, we don’t watch live television. Sometimes we’ll watch a show the night after it airs. What did we do before?

television oldBack in the 80s and 90s I had two VCRs for the usual reasons guys in their early 20s have pretty much anything. I would pipe my cable signal directly into the VCR so it would be easy to record stuff on multiple channels at multiple times.

Life was simpler then with one child and fewer commitments. While I always have disliked cable there wasn’t a great alternative for me. Satellite wasn’t able to offer the local stations which I wanted, and sure I could figure out an antenna solution, but having one solution fits my needs. Besides, if cable could provide the local stations why couldn’t satellite?

I was finally able to get rid of cable in 2003 – we were at a home show and some installer of television systems was there trying to get everybody to use his service to upgrade their television experience. While that wasn’t feasible for us I did mention I had always been looking to get satellite, but the deal-breaker was the local station availability. He told me that while in the past a couple of local stations had been available, now all of them would be and my deal breaking requirement for switching to satellite was broken.

Getting rid of cable has made me a much happier television viewer.

directv logoWhen we first got DirecTV we spring for the TiVo service rather than continue with my outdated VCR method of recording shows to watch later. That totally changed the way we watched television. We watched more of it. We were able to record a show on one channel and watch another at the same time or watch one show that was recorded while another show gets recorded. And without the two VCRs there was less equipment under the television, which was nice.

Then a few years later we upgraded to an HD receiver. When that happened we got dropped from TIVo and were given DirecTV’s DVR service. Occasionally it wouldn’t record the right thing, but overall it was just fine. It was still better than having cable.

Being able to press a button and have an entire series get recorded is a major relief for me. I don’t always know when a new season of a show will start, so having it automatically kick in is really nice.

While we are remodeling our house we wound up having to move, if just temporarily. Moving brought about another receiver from DirecTV, an upgrade. Supposedly one that can record 5 shows at once, though I haven’t really had the opportunity to test that out. There’s a lot more hard disc space for storage of shows as well. This is important in my family, as we don’t always get to shows right away. When you have both the kids and parents recording different series, those episodes stack up quick.

Frankly, I don’t know how anybody watches all they want to without having some sort of recording going on. I love my DVR, and I’m a rather satisfied DirecTV customer.

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Preschool Pick-Up

Nobody is consistently on-time for preschool drop off and pick up. How do I know this? I’m the only one there.

clockNobody seems to think it is important to be consistent to drop off and pick up their child on time from preschool. Every day I get there on time, a few minutes early, and while there are always one or two others they are never the same people. Both at drop off and pick up.

Why? Is it not important to establish the behavior and expectation in children that showing up on time is important? By not showing up on time aren’t we sending the message, even if subconsciously, that school – and particularly the teacher’s time, is not important.

Then there’s the case of not arriving on time for picking up your child at the end of the day. Who does this? Why are some people so consistently late to pick up their child? I just don’t get it. If you’re going to be late that often, chances are you know you will be and should be making other arrangements.

Alright, so maybe I’m exaggerating slightly when I say I am the only one who is there on time every day. And by exaggerating I mean there have been a couple of days when I have been late. Usually it is for pick up because I am dealing with an infant who decided 15 minutes before the school day is over to have a massive blow out diaper.

This is, I suppose the flip side of the DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince song.

 

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Judge Not And Be Kind

This was one of the prompts from the official NaBloPoMo headquarters to use. While I am not really needing the prompts as I currently have about 7 or 8 posts in my drafts folders (though some are no more than a headline, at least the idea is there), I saw this one and thought immediately of a story that I wanted to put out there and eventually pass on to my kids and never got around to telling. This seemed like a good opportunity to rectify this situation.

Tell us about one time that you benefitted from the kindness of strangers.

metro bus

Shamelessly stolen from King County’s Facebook page

I don’t remember exactly how old I was. 21, maybe 22. Living on Capitol Hill I would take the bus to my mom’s house up in North City (this was back when it was unincorporated Seattle, before it became officially its own city of Shoreline). I transferred in the University District, as the bus from Capitol Hill ended there and I could get the one route that went relatively close to my mom’s house – though I would still have a 15 or so block walk.

It would be well over another decade before I would learn to drive, so I was dependent on the bus schedule. If I remember correctly this was a Saturday which meant a lighter schedule, so the buses headed up to North City were infrequent. I was already late because I had missed the bus I had planned on getting from Capitol Hill and the one I did get was running late.

Maybe I was going up to babysit my younger brothers. Maybe this actually took place on Sunday and I was headed up for dinner. Whatever. Point is, I was running late and there were fewer buses running.

So I get off the number 7 in the University District and right in front of me is the number 73. And it’s pulling out. I run after it for a couple of blocks and come *THIS* close to catching up to it at the next bus stop. I was frustrated because this meant I would be even later to my mom’s house but also just mad that I wasted all that energy.

That’s when it happened. Some guy who looked like a jock pulls up next to me in his car and offers to give me a lift a couple of bus stops ahead so I can catch the bus.

I was taken aback. Jocks didn’t associate with my kind. Heck, I was the guy jocks would pick on, shove in lockers, tape to poles, dump in trash cans, you get the idea. I dumbly stood there for a second then accepted the offer. The guy said he was headed that direction for a few more blocks anyway, saw me running and nearly catch the bus and commiserated about how he had been in the same spot a couple of times. He drove me about six blocks, just ahead of the bus and I got out, thanked him and he was off.

The whole interaction took less than a minute. And from that day on I have tried to not judge people based solely on their outward appearances.

 

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Music Monday: Lighthouse Records

When I was in the Army (shocking revelation to many) from 1985 – 1989 I spent most of that period stationed in the Monterey Bay area. There were a couple of record stores I would frequent in these musically formative years, but perhaps none other as influential as Lighthouse Records.

On Lighthouse Avenue, the main road going through Pacific Grove, literally adjacent to Monterey, within a sort of inside mall in a small office building, tucked in the back was this record store. And I mean it was small. It had two aisles. The rectangular room was about 12 foot wide by maybe 30 foot long. The walls were lined with racks of records and in the middle was an “island” filled with records. Basically you navigated the store by walking around the center in a counter clockwise manner with the register taking up the final spot by the door on the right before you exit.

Why was this one record store so important in my musical awareness? What was it about this one place that is so indelible that it still sticks with me 25 years later?

dickies great dictationsThe proprietor, an Asian man whose name I can’t remember (but *think* his name was George), would always remember me and my best friend. He would come up with recommendations for us, despite the fact that we only went in together one or two times. Usually we went separately, but he always remembered us both. I remember distinctly one day I was browsing the racks when he came up to me and said “You like punk music, right?” and pulled out the newly released 1989 compilation album by The Dickies – Great Dictations.

“Silent Night”

He was right of course. His recommendations were usually correct. I have since become a fan of the band as documented in other blog posts here.

“The Sounds Of Silence”

One of the other things I distinctly remember about Lighthouse Records was is prolific selection of 12 inch singles. There are a number of great remixes and extended versions of songs that I picked up simply because I was there. I saw a video by New Order on MTV, wound up picking up the 12 inch version of the song, then I picked up the compilation album Substance and, as you may have guessed, became a fan of the band.

“Shellshock” (12 Inch Extended Version)

I picked up a lot of great singles there, usually in the 12 inch format. Eurythmics, New Order, INXS, Big Audio Dynamite, even Dee Dee Ramone’s first solo single released as Dee Dee King, which is a bit of a challenge to listen to, but I won’t ever give it up. It was only ever released on a 12 inch single, not on any album.

Dee Dee King – “Funky Man”

Since leaving the Army in 1989 I have been back to Monterey twice. The first time was a few years later before Laura and got married. We took a trip down the coast and of course stopped overnight in Monterey. One of the various places we went to was Lighthouse Records, and the owner was still there and he still remembered me! I picked up a couple of CDs (he had finally made the conversion from albums) and was glad to see him, and I think he was genuinely glad to see me again.

A few years after this we returned to Monterey, this time with Kyle. Lighthouse Records was gone. We dug around and searched, hoping simply the location had changed, but we couldn’t find it anywhere. This saddened me. Lighthouse Records was an important part of my life and the formation of my musical identity. Wherever you are, and whatever your name was/is, thanks.

 

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