Archive for October, 2011

So this week in the writer’s workshop, my choice was to talk about something that scared me as a child.

There was only 1 thing I can remember which scared me and that was a movie. I remember it vividly.

I was about 7 or 8 years old and we were in New Jersey visiting my Uncle Chuck and Aunt Joanie. My uncle and my father both enjoyed horror movies, but at home my mother would not let us watch them.

She was quite a bit overprotective.

The problem with watching TV at home was actually my dad. He is the WORST person to allow having control of the remote control. He watches things and just as you start getting into it… BAM! He changes the channel. When a normal person finds a show that catches their attention, the commercials are when they get up and go to the bathroom, get a drink or a snack, etc. My Dad, that was when he would change the channel and somehow he always found good shows or movies on, but now you miss the first one you were watching!

Anyway, I was in New Jersey and my uncle and my dad were watching the original Night of the Living Dead and my cousin and I decided we wanted to watch it.

What was cool was that my Dad and Uncle had no issue with it. It was my mother who flipped when she found out we were watching it and my uncle and Dad told her to chill out and let us watch it.

I was glued to the TV, mainly because I was scared.

I remember lying on the floor in my stomach, holding a pillow. We were watching it on their Console TV, which was a HUGE TV at 19″ and set inside this HUGE cabinet that closed up and looked more like a hope chest than a TV.

All the lights were off except for the glow of the TV and I remember jumping a few times. Each time I did my Dad and uncle would crack up at the reaction of my cousin and me.

Right at the end of the movie, the dead people all get into boats and you see what looks like New York City in the background.

I was too young to understand what it meant, so I asked my dad and he told me that it meant the Living dead were migrating to the city by boat. That bothered me more because we live IN NEW YORK! Grated it was Long Island but to an 8 year old, New York is New York.

I had nightmares about it for years, but never told my mom about them because I wanted to watch more horror movies. So I guess I can say that my Dad and uncle fueled my liking for the occasional horror movie.


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Sunday we had the Christening for my daughter. It was nice and small, but it took us a while to get there!

Now I am not a religious person. In fact, I sort of have it against the church in so many ways. Aside from the molestation charges and porn arrests, regardless that I feel the church is a sham who fabricated their own workings to make it work for them… what I am most against the church is that when I needed my mother the most, she is not here yet day after day in the ER I see horrible people do horrible things to themselves, as well as others, yet they live comfortable lives for years after having the same type of cancer my mother had.

That is also why I wanted to have a christening… for my mother. We were even using the christening gown which my mother used for myself and my sister. Furthermore, it was made by a family friend from my mother’s wedding dress!

Now going to the christening was easy, setting it up… not THAT was a completely different story.

The first church we decided on was a beautiful church which my wife had gone to a couple of times and said she liked it called St. Paul’s.

Ok, no problem. We will just call up the church, talk to the priest/pastor or whatever he is called and set it up, right? Wrong!

My wife calls the church. No answer. Now isn’t that ironic that not only do prayers go unanswered, but so does the phone at the church! Anyway, she leaves a message. A week later she still has not heard back from anyone from the church.

So she tells me this so I call and a secretary picks up. Really? Pastors have secretaries now? I was thinking it was his wife until she tells me she will email the pastor as that is her only communication with him. Now THAT is odd. I learned that priests and church take a vow of poverty yet this priest not only has a secretary but has a computer and an email address?

Anyway, she tells me she will mark it down for September 18th and call us back in a week. She doesn’t call.

Now, this doesn’t surprise me at all, but in the mean time we asked our family to be godparents. We knew who we wanted.. sort of. I had every intention of asking my brother to stand in for my daughter as he had me stand in for his first daughter. My sister wanted my sister but felt it would be weird to have both my brother AND sister as the godparents of our daughter so she opted to ask my cousin Debbie. I thought this was perfect because my daughter was named Megan as that was the name my mother was going to name my sister, before he vetoed it, and her middle name is Joan after my Aunt Joanie… Debbie’s mother.

Then a problem arose. Both my brother and cousin are Catholic as I am. My wife is ½ Jewish but was never raised religious in any way. That was why she looked into religions and churches and since her father was raised Lutheran she felt that was a good fit.

Apparently, in the Lutheran religion and many others, one or both godparents must be of the religion of baptism.

We were still waiting for the pastor to call us back so I called him again to find out if this is true since, I know from person experience, anything in the church can be adjusted for the right price.

After the second call gone unanswered and never hearing once from the pastor via phone or email, we decided to look elsewhere.

Where we went was PERFECT! The church was the Wantagh memorial Congregational Church.

My wife was happy and impressed with this choice right away.

First, she called and left a message and the actual pastor called immediately, not a secretary.

She also said she felt very good and comfortable with him. Another plus!

My wife had been christened congregational so having our daughter christened in the same faith seemed perfect.

We met with the pastor and he was the absolute nicest man I think I have ever met. He was down to earth and was not judgmental or cultish as I was thinking.

He said he understood that people are not religious nowadays but did ask that when she is of age, that she attend Congregational Sunday school. That was it! He didn’t care that my godparents, who I know would help us raise our daughter to be good and strong, were not congregational. He didn’t even care whether we “donated” anything monetarily to the church. He just seemed genuinely glad to just baptize our daughter and that we had chosen to do so.

He showed me the church and I loved it. They even have a “quiet room” which is a room of glass within the church with pews for people who happen to have children which may need a distraction in order for them to not disrupt the sermon as well as allow the parent to still hear and participate in the service. I thought that was not only cool, but I felt my mother would have LOVED that idea for me when I was growing up!

The baptism is actually part of the service so he performed his sermon and then performed the Baptism with us and the rest of the parishioners. After everything he held our daughter and then walked with her through the church and they both loved it… until we almost had a little meltdown and then he walked back to us. In actuality, she was upset because she loves being walked around and he stopped walking so she started to become upset. LOL.

I have to say that this is the first time I can ever think of that I have nothing but good feelings and good things to say about a church. And I am so glad my wife and I and our family did it. Another plus is that the pastor, he’s also a blogger!

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I was never an Apple fan. I always felt the tech was overpriced and overhyped. But I have always had a great respect for Steve Jobs. Anything the man touched turned to gold because of his innovativeness, perfectionism and attention to detail of what the public wants.

The first, and only, Apple tech item I own is an iPod Touch 2nd Generation. I use this for everything from running (Nike +) to drug books (I am a Nursing Student).

The way his mind worked and he took the knowledge that digital media was not a fad and made EXTREMELY popular devices around such as the iPod and iPhone is simply amazing. He revolutionized the industry.

About 10 years back tablets were designed. They were different and the technology of the time made them heavier and slower, but once technology evolved enough, he made the iPad tablet PC and it took off! Now everyone wants a tablet. Initially the name iPad was not a good idea but he knew, given enough time, the name would even catch on… and it has.

Apple always thrived when he was at the wheel and now, the future is not so clear.

Steve Jobs was an innovator and true technology legend.

He will be sorely missed, even from us PC fans.

Thank you Steve Jobs for all you did for us!

February 24th, 1955 – October 5th, 2011

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In school I needed to present a speech to my class on multiple occasions. Now I do not have any problems talking in front of people when I need to, but giving a speech is something completely different.

When I read this option my first memory went back to the late 90’s to a vacation and how I Americanized a tradition with a group of people.

In the late 90’s a friend ours was going to get married and invited us to the wedding. I do not like going to weddings alone but since the wedding was going to be held in Sweden there was no WAY I could say no.

So myself and 3 other friends went to Sweden to watch our friends get married.

The place was gorgeous and very low key. It was held in a church that was, I believe, over 500 years old and I was the only person allowed to take pictures because the pastor, who was a woman, did not want flashes and noise happening in the church. However, since I had a digital camera with no noise and I could turn the flash off, she allowed me to take pictures.

Unfortunately, it was my very first digital camera and the technology was so new, the picture quality was not that great. I mean if the pictures were printed out 3 to a page or printed as maybe a 3×5 the largest, the pictures would be acceptable but it was only a 640×480 resolution which translates to about 0.3 megapixels.

Anyway, the reception was gorgeous. It was held at a restaurant which was actually a converted stable! The horse stalls each had a large table in the designed like a booth. The food was great, even the surrounding area was gorgeous.

During the reception everyone was having a great time talking and dancing. Since we were the Americans who came over everyone was coming to us and talking to us in English the best they could. And their English was great! The schools in other countries make it mandatory to learn English all through High School and I think that should be the case here if it isn’t already. When I went to school we only needed to talk 2 years of a language and most of us took them in 7th & 8th grades.

Well, at an American wedding tapping on the glasses is customary to indicate that we want the bride and groom to kiss. However, in Sweden it means you want to make a speech for the bride and groom and ANYONE can make a speech.

I did not know this, so when I tapped my glass I froze when everyone stopped what they were doing and turned to me, the whole room became quiet and a few people said SPEECH! SPEECH.

I froze! I didn’t know any of these people and I had no IDEA what to say so my speech was plain and simple.

I said “In the US we tap a glass during a wedding reception to ‘say’ we want the bride and groom to kiss. It shows that we approve of the wedding and want them to show affection towards each other throughout their lifetime.”

And then I proceeded to tap my glass as did everyone there who knew English did as well.

The rest of the night all glass tapping (and there was a lot) was for Anne and Rick to kiss and no speeches were made.

And that is how I changed a Swedish wedding custom to American with a group of awesome and nice Swedish people!

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Today was the first day back to work for my wife. I knew it would be a hard day so I decided to do my best to document the day. Here is what happened:

First, I woke up to MJ and her smiles. This was, of course, after my wife was almost ready to go and gave MJ a big crying hug and many kisses.

I know MJ was starting to get hungry but, while I was waiting a little bit, I found out she had what my wife and I have coined a “Code Brown” which is more what we call having to clean up a patient in the ER… but it lets us know what we need to do… and it was NOT pretty!

My wife and I determine the severity of the code by how many wipes it takes to clean it up. The norm is a 2 or 3 wiper… this was a 7 wiper. It was everywhere, even a little on her PJ’s and even a little on her Snugga Bunny. I cleaned it all up and changed her and she was adorable, as always.

After the cleanup I fed her. Erica definitely made sure there was enough formula for me for the day! I personally like to wait for her to become more antsy (which is really just a nice way of saying skoochy) so that she eats more.

It worked!

After eating I put her in her swing for a little while before we decided to have a little story time. I went to find a book and found my wife definitely has either a theme or preference when she picks up books from the library.

She took a nap for about an hour, after a bit of cooing and fussing, but it was a good hour. Then we played a little bit and before I knew it, 4 hours had passed and more feeding. This time she only took about 3-4 ounces and then finished the last 2-3 ounces after a 30ish minute nap.

By that time she had drooled all over her bib and top so we had to change her and then it was time to feed her again, but it was a good feeding and she drank all of her formula!

After a little nap it was time to go to the new Babysitter’s for the first time. This is where I (Daddy) turned into a big baby and had trouble leaving MJ, but he did it and she had a good time.

I found reassurance in the fact that it is only 3 hours a day only 4 days a week so he was happy to know Mommy would be there in 3 hours to pick her up.

I knew for sure the next day, that she had a good time because once she saw the Babysitter, she was all smiley MJ again! MJ made it easier for me to drop her off after that first day because I am sure she likes watching the bigger kids play and the other baby to interact with.

Does this EVER get any easier? Maybe not, but we are becoming better at this and we know that our Baby is happy, healthy and well cared for at all times!

But she is never as happy as when her Mommy is home with her!

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This week’s writer’s workshop was about a Facebook message.

What this message makes me think about is my idiot cousin. It is a sad long story (as most of my posts are long… sorry) but I do think about it often.

Growing up I had a cousin who was exactly 51 weeks older than I am. We grew up together although we lived in different states. He lived in New Jersey and I lived on Long Island, New York.

We had our normal disagreements as family members do growing up, but never anything crazy.

When he was 11 and I was 10, his world was turned upside down. Mine was changed as well. His mother died from a brain aneurysm while at a family function. What happened is she collapsed and was in the hospital for a little over a week and then she passed.

I was there the whole time.

I wasn’t allowed to the wake the first 2 nights because my mother felt I was too young, but the last night of the wake I told her I could… and I wanted to be there for my cousin.

Now he lived at home with his brother, who was a stuck up, self-center idiot bully, and his sister, who could sometimes be difficult but always did have everyone’s best interests at heart. His father was a good man but took it very hard and immersed himself in work. The first Christmas after my Aunt passed my cousin, only 12 at that time, only received socks and underwear as Christmas presents. I can only imagine the disappointment for a child who was used to receiving just about anything, within reason, as a present and after losing his mother, he felt like he was also losing his Christmas.

His sister was only 16 and his brother was 19 or 20 when this all happened and everyone deals with difficulty and pain in different ways. His sister worked ALL the time. Whenever we would visit, which was every other weekend; she would be working the whole time.

We started staying with each other every summer. I would spend 2-3 weeks over his house in New Jersey and he would spend 2-3 weeks at my house in New York.

We stayed in contact our whole lives and we talked about everything. So you could imagine my surprise and disappointment when he eloped at 24 with a woman from Maine and he never told me about it. I was upset at first but within minutes I was over it because I felt there was a reason for it and if he wanted me to know he would tell me.

As soon as I bought a truck that I felt could make the trip to Maine I went up to visit. I would go up there to visit every few months when I needed to get away or wanted a road trip. His family went up to Maine once to help him move and never visited him there again. He lived in Maine for over 4 years.

After being married for 3 years they were getting divorced and he was going through a very difficult time. I drove from Long Island to Maine every other weekend to help him through the time and talk to him about anything if he needed. Sometimes it was frustrating because he would ask for advice… then do the exact opposite. So I did the only thing I could think of to help him through the difficult time… I introduced him to hiking and backpacking!

We would spend every day hiking all different areas of Maine and at night we would check out restaurants and bars. I knew he needed a distraction from everything which was going on and it worked. He worked his way past it all.

It was during one of these hiking trips we decided to hike a mountain 1000 feet taller every year! That’s why we hiked Mt. Madison, then Mt. Katahdin the following year and then Mt. Mitchell the year after that.

When he moved from Maine to Pennsylvania a year or so later, I drove up to Maine and helped him move his life.

I visited him in Maine and then again in Pennsylvania every couple of months and when I moved to downstate New York, he would come and visit me.

One day my mother called me at work and told me my cousin had died. He was an older cousin whom I had not seen in many years but I told her I would go to the funeral. A few minutes later my cell phone rang but I had left it at home so I didn’t receive the call. So them my office phone rang and it was my cousin Tom. He said his father had a massive heart attack while driving and died. I told him no, it was our cousin and he said no it was his father and he was heading to New Jersey immediately.

I arrived in New Jersey less than an hour after he did.

This time I stayed the entire time he was there. I went to the wake every night and the funeral and left the same time he left.

The next year we hiked Mt. Mitchell in NC. We just jumped in the car and drove down to NC at our own pace. We did a bunch of hiking and found hotels to stay at along the way.

We stayed in close contact talking on the phone at least once a week, but usually more than that.

Then, in 2004 my life was turned upside down. My mother passed away from cancer after only being diagnosed 4 months earlier.

The first person I called was my cousin Tom and he asked me if I wanted him to come down to Long Island. I said yes and he said he would see me tomorrow.

I felt very sad. I felt the only person who may understand what I would be going through was my cousin Tom as he lost both parents.

I waited and waited the next day for him to come. He never showed. I texted him thinking he was lost and he texted back saying he was going to come with his sister on Wednesday, even though on Sunday night he asked me if I wanted him to come down and I said I did.

He did show up Wednesday and he left Thursday.

He came back for the funeral.

That was the last time I heard from him, except from Facebook entries.

I have a wife and daughter, whom he never met.

On one of our hiking trips we said we wanted to be each other’s Best man at our weddings. He didn’t even have the decency to RSVP to the wedding invite.

We never had a fight or disagreement which may have caused him to not speak to me anymore which is what makes it so much worse.

I do miss the cousin I was closer with than my own brother.

I do miss the hikes with him and talks about everything.

I miss going to PA to visit every couple of months.

However, this statement says it all. If he wanted to be part of my life and meet my new family, all he has to do is pick up the phone and apologize and make some effort. But I know that will never happen.

His sister and my family are very close. She is going to be my daughter’s god-mother and she apologizes about him every time we talk about it.

It really doesn’t take much effort to be in someone’s life and when someone is important, even when they screw up it doesn’t take much to fix it. But it can only be fixed if there is a desire from both sides to fix things.

I still hope one day my phone will ring and it will be Tom saying he is sorry and explaining at least a little why we were close for 35 years and then, after we buried my mother, he just stopped talking to me. But I know that will not happen… but here’s to hoping!

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A couple of weeks ago my wife and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary. Now, I don’t give presents in the traditional sense. For me, I would rather give a non-traditional gift that I know someone would use than to go with the normal, traditional gift which might be used once or twice and then gather dust in a closet somewhere.

The traditional 2nd anniversary gift is cotton. Now I have no idea who was the genius who came up with these things. I mean why give cotton for being married for 2 years. What woman would be happy with something made of cotton, maybe a shirt that may or may not fit? Because, face it, as guys we SUCK at picking out the right size. Even when we go to your closet to find your size on the clothes, it’s usually an OLD pair of something and we STILL buy the wrong size.

I did do the “normal”, traditional gift of sending her flowers. I mean I think that is tradition to send flowers for an anniversary, but for the main gift I bought her a new cell phone.

I looked in T-Mobile’s site and now they offer Android Smartphone’s for the prepaid customers. FINALLY!!! They recognize that most people only use about 25% of their phone features and realize that giving good phones for the prepaid money savers was a good idea!

I looked at the features and there were two phones I liked, the Samsung Dart and the LG Optimus T. I chose the Dart for my wife… and she LOVES IT!

This phone has everything. We took the Sim card from her phone and put it into this phone and everything worked perfectly.

The phone has wi-fi connectivity so we can use the wireless internet wherever we find it so we didn’t need to sign up for a data plan. And we have wireless just about everywhere nowadays, and it is only expanding. We recently went to Pennsylvania and I needed to find an address to something that was NOT in my GPS. So we stopped to change MJ’s diaper and I pulled out my iPod (I had not purchased the phone yet) and jumped online, found the address and went.

What is also GREAT about the wi-fi on this phone, you can use it for calls! This was a HUGE plus for us. My in-laws live in Maine. The cell phone service there is HORRIBLE! But they have wireless in the house. So we can connect to their wi-fi, use wi-fi calling and have perfect service on the wi-fi. It does use the minutes, but I would be using the minutes anyway. So this was a HUGE plus.

It is small and lightweight. Her old phone was a flip phone and closed it was only slightly smaller than the Samsung Dart but the Samsung was much thinner.

The phone is all touch screen, but it has an on-screen full keyboard so she can text easier like she wanted.

It has the Android OS so she can download apps such as Angry Birds and such, most of them free!

The phone has 3G capabilities and a 3.2 megapixel camera. Now most phones have better cameras, but her old phone was a 2 megapixel and Samsung devices take REALLY great pictures. I had a Samsung slider phone with a 2.0 megapixel camera and it took better photos than my friends 5 megapixel Google phone. This phone is no letdown in this department. In low light conditions, the pictures are fuzzy, but all cell phone cameras are like that.

Now, the video is just a standard resolution at 640×480 which was a little bit of a disappointment, but since we always have one of our many cameras with us and they all take HD video, I decided to overlook it.

It also has speakerphone and stereo Bluetooth capability. Right now she doesn’t use Bluetooth, so she doesn’t use the phone in the car, but that can help me get her Christmas presents! So that was a plus.

This phone also has voice control, so we can hit the microphone button and say what we want like “Call Home” and it will dial the house.

Plus it has all the extras and some minor ones that are major for her, such as the ability to put the phone on vibrate right from the opening screen. It has a voice recorder which helps with things related with her job if she uses it, which she probably won’t and most people forget about. Cell phones are so very common now, that if there were a situation which needed to be “monitored” you can just start the phone to record and now there is a copy of the conversation. No one even thinks twice about a phone sitting there in someone’s hand. So, ladies, don’t be afraid to use this function if you are being harassed by someone at work!

I even set it up for her email to come into her phone so she can do a quick check on her emails if she is expecting something.

This phone had Everything and THEN some. So much so that the next day… I ran out and bought one! J

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