Friday, August 31, 2007

The Real Mustang

Confession from a Mustang Owner: I have been accused before of having a strange sense of humor, but, considering I am paying child support, have a mortgage and other bills, and am in an employment situation where I would be foolish to make a major purchase, I must state the post below about me buying a new Mustang was bogus

I never expected so many comments and e-mail messages about my purchase. It was purely wishful thinking.

Below is a picture of "The One True Mustang" with my brother's back yard in New Jersey in the background. The Mustang made the trip beautifully, handling like a dream!

"Why do you go around curves at 80 miles and hour??"

"Because I can!"

Liz and Labor Day

Liz, my friend in the UK, asked "when is it? Why is it??" about Labor Day. So, for those global visitors, please click here for the answer!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cruising with Mr. Chris in the Mustang!

Christopher has four days off at college for the Labor Day weekend. He asked if he could come home this weekend (probably wants to see the cat and his friends) so I agreed to pick him up after work. It is about 210 miles round trip, compared to the 1500 miles i did last week going to/from New Jersey, this should be a short jaunt!

I took a rare lunch break at work and went out and took the Mustang through the car wash; it was dirty from the return trip from new Jersey this past weekend, and, since the weather is gorgeous and no rain is in site for five days at least, well, it must be resplendent for its cruise down the highway in the sun to pickup my son!

I sense that the Hot WIng recipe I posted here awhile back will be made this weekend!!!

Bad News - My Dad

With every good thing seems to come something not so good. To make a long story short my Dad is not getting any younger (he is in his 80's) and his health has not been the best, particularly his bad back. For years they have wanted to do surgery, but the procedure was always very risky with no guarantee of success.

Now, the pain has gotten so bad, he basically told me that he's rather die than deal with the pain. There is a new surgical procedure that is much less radical, here, only a four inch incision is made, verse major cutting and such with the other operation.

The downside is that my Dad had had heart problems and he has emphysema and asthma. His doctors have said he can have the surgery, but, there is a chance he may not live through it. If he does, there is a very good chance his quality of life will be vastly improved, so, pray for or send good thoughts his way! He is scheduled for September 18th.

Good News - Scott

Before we left on vacation Scott started showing some slight improvement on his voice. By the time we returned he could talk almost normally! This past Monday they did another 'Nose TV' and sent a camera down his sinuses to look at his vocal chords. The paralyzed one were showing some movement!

The surgical procedure that was supposed to happen yesterday was cancelled, and we will see if Scott gets his full voice back over the next weeks before doing anything else.

Needless to say, all of us, particularly Scott, were very pleased!

I thank those who sent e-mail and well-wishes our way, and for those who prayed for Scott!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Free Dinners are the best!

Tuesday night Scott, Danielle, The X, her parents, and I dined at Braan's Steakhouse and Grille. Last year we went around my birthday and they give you a certificate for your birthday for a free steak dinner. I still had this so I redeemed it and received an 8 ounce sirloin sizzler, a loaded baked potato, and a salad. The steak was tender and grilled to perfection; lightly charred on the outside, pink and juicy inside!

It was similar to the one below, except it was free! I must go back September 7th for my birthday and get another free steak certificate!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tales from the Fridge

After having a shake for breakfast, I did not feel like another for lunch, but, I need to stick to my eating guidelines, so, I went upstairs to the new cafeteria. Well, new to me, it was done over months ago but I rarely visit it.

I made a nice salad for lunch at the salad bar; $2.64 for all you can fit in a bowl and they have tons of stuff though other than veggies I added 2 slices of hard boiled egg, about an ounce of shredded cheese, several slices of pepperoni and a sprinkle of sun flower seeds so I get some protein and carbs. They also have packaged lo cal dressing. I am sure it will taste as good as it looks with fat-free Kraft French dressing! I snagged a picture of it with my webcam, see it in all its delicious glory below!

You know you are dieting when a salad makes you drool!

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Car

I decided finally to say dang the expense, take the plunge, and so I bought a new Mustang. Here's a shot of it below.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Haiku for Tails

Tails brings pain like fire!

Slashing, Cuisinart cat claws!

Purring now she rests.

Tails in a shameless Diet Pepsi plug!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Jersey Road Trip

I can't believe in three days (Friday morning at the crack of dawn, well, before sunrise actually!) Scott, Danielle, and myself will be driving out to New Jersey. While I am not looking forward to the 750 mile drive I am looking forward to seeing my family again!

See the original post from June 25th RIGHT HERE if you think you might want to get together for lunch or dinner one day, drop me an e-mail. A map toot he area where I will be is available plus a meal near the Willowbrook Mall is already being planned at a Chinese Buffet.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Open House at Kettering or Chris Likes Kitty

So, Saturday I awoke at 6:30AM, did my workout on the exercise bike, fed and watered Tails and cleaned her box (note this was now the SECOND day in a row that Scott and Danielle had NOT picked her box as they had agreed to numerous times before getting a cat) and got cleaned up as the X had told me to be ready at 8:30AM SHARP for pickup as she, me, the kids, and Chris' friend Katie were journeying down to the open house, or Family Day, as they called it, at Kettering University.

X called around 8:30 to say there was no sign of Katie yet and had called her and she was not even up, but was now and was on her way. Scott arrived to get some of Chris' Wii accessories and games together, I did a quick scan of work and personal e-mails, and the X arrived around 9 with a very contrite Katie aboard.

We headed out and made the trip in 90 minutes with the X doing 90 most of the way. There were several long stretches of I-69 where it was closed down to one lane. For a bit it looked like we were not going to get there by 10:30AM when registration closed, so I called Chris and asked him to go downstairs and register and pay for us.

Dorms on Right, in distance on Left Campus Central building

We arrived right around 10:30, X dropped us at Campus Central building and we ran in. Chris had indeed been there, been told he did not have to pay, and promptly left, not bothering to pay for us or register us.....that's my boy. After a quick discussion on Danielle should be free (they had heard nothing of kids 13 and under free at the registration desk) they decided she could be admitted gratis, and we were checked in. Debby, aka The X, was hungry so we went into the Continental breakfast only to find it deserted and some warm OJ, water, and a couple of stale dunkin munchkins, as service was over at 10:30. I went to get some cash from the ATM, and then a moment or two later Debby, returning from the rest room, handed me my ATM card which I had left in the machine.

"Didn't you hear that thing beeping?" she queried.

"I sure did!", said I, "I wondered what that racket was about!"

It was good she had heard it though or it would have ate my card....and this is not the first time I have done that though in the past it has been local and the next day I have been able to go to the bank and they have returned the cards.

Debby had wanted to attend a couple of seminars, but we were late for them. Chris walked us up to his dorm (being a little lost on the way, I teased him asking how many times he had spent hours walking around looking for his room), and we finally located it and entered his cell.

I say cell, because the only thing lacking was a set of bars in the small, cramped, and spartan quarters. At least we had found several common rooms in our later wanderings that were spacious, cheery, and with large TVs scattered about plus a nice fireplace area...... back to the size of his room I would go mad in a space that small. How small was it? It was SO small you have to go outside to change your mind!

One of the common areas

So, Chris and Scott began arguing about the Wii, who would get the old one, the split of the accessories, what about that paid downloadable games.....I threatened a couple of times to take the new one and sell it on e-Bay for $100 profit if they did not settle things amicably, and finally they did. Chris also wanted to come home for the rest of the weekend so he could see Kitty and was just a fringe benefit of the arrangement! Debby agreed to drive him back Sunday night with Katie riding shotgun......I get the impression Katie really likes Chris, perhaps more than as a friend, but perhaps Chris is not interested in her that way. he even called another girl on the way home asking if she wanted to hang out with him later when we got back to Grand Rapids.....

We had stopped at one place outside the Campus Center and chatted a bit about fraternities as several frats boys had waved to Chris. Debby reminisced about her time on campus many years ago. During our chat we found out he had been going to some parties at the frat houses and of course the subject of drinking came up. Drinking age is Michigan is 21 so no one on campus should be drinking but we all know how that goes. He claims he has not been drinking and I like to believe my kids and I know he has good sense and upbringing in this area. I also warned him what would happen if I caught him drinking cheap beer like Budweiser........The whole thing reminded me of the movie Animal House......

Debby asked if Chris was going to introduce us to the fray boys and Chris, standing and starting to walk in the other direction said "yea, that's SO going to happen!" which I thought was quite humorous. he wanted to go and get some cash from the ATM because of the game he wanted to pickup so after asking how much he was short I threw him a 20...well, handed him because we were by a ledge with about a 20 foot drop and you know how hungry college kids are for food and money!

SO, anyway, part of the $12/person registration fee was for brunch at noon. After conclusion of the grand tour including his cell, the facilities and grounds he asked us to take him to Walmart as their was a game he wanted to buy.

I must digress for a moment and talk about Flint where this University is located, it is a very beat and run down area. Sort of like the outskirts of Newark, or Detroit. Chris has said you do NOT go walking off the college grounds after dark, and he has hear more police sirens and gunshots at night in one month than he has in all the time (seven years this month in fact) she we came to Michigan. I have never heard gunshots around our homes here. The university and the little bit of shops and housing within a block or two of it are like an oasis. The reason I brought that up is that when we went to Walmart, you could see the kids being watched like hawks by the store staff; more on that later, and you don't see that in the stores by this area.

Typical of the Flint area by the University

I must also say a word or two about Kettering and don't get me wrong as it is a highly respected school with partnerships to many, many fortune 500 and other companies for their co-op program. The place, particularly the dorm buildings, is somewhat dilapidated and run down in many areas. Painting some varnish, some masonry repair would all be good things and give this place a much more professional appearance. At least the outsides of the Academic and Engineering buildings looked to be in much better shape, and the grounds were pretty well maintained, lawns cut, bushes trimmed, etc. It is also much smaller than other college campuses I had visited.

Courtyard for one of the Dorm buildings

SO, digression about Flint completed, off we went to Walmart, but, Debby first decided that since she had opened up a bank account a month ago in Flint for Chris and he never picked up his checks or permanent ATM card that we would drive there first because they were only open until noon! SO, gee I am starting too many sentences with SO! SO, we pulled out of the parking lot and the first hint of this upcoming adventure hit when Debby asked Chris "right or Left?" when we got to the corner. "Right!" said Chris..."No Left...Uh Left......", finally we turned left and into town propper we went looking for the bank on the way to Walmart....and looking....and looking, east west, north and south, up and down streets, finally Debby said she would drop us off at Walmart and go look on her own, so drop us she did (after trying to figure out how to even get near Walmart as massive construction was going on.

We entered the store and immediately I noticed the kids (and perhaps me) being shadowed by store personal, security, and undercover shoppers. After several wrong turns of Chris' bat-like navigation sonar we ended up in the video game section. A store person immediately descended on us and got the game Chris wanted, and then walked him to the register to make sure the game was paid for. Since we still had time before Debby would be back, I decided to look at some t-shirts and found two decent ones for $5 each which I bought. We headed outside, avoiding the barriers of bike racks and bikes standing by the doors. The check out girl had told us we could not exit there, I thanked her stating I had been planning on getting out my acetylene torch and burning through the massive barrier for egress. She looked at me quizzically and I decided my joke was not appreciated or perhaps not understood!

Fvvvvvvvvvvvvv <------(Tails did this by walking across the keyboard!)

I celled the X to find out where she was and she said look to your left and I saw her waving as she walked down the parking lot towards us. We head back to the University but first she informed us that our (Tails is now peeking up beyond the edge of the keyboard and swiping at my typing fingers! The volume of her purring is very loud and she is SO fierce as she stalks and attacks my fingers! Ouch!) driving adventure is not done as she deciding to try and find the bank a different way since had not located it after leaving us at Walmart. Well, after assorted groans and teasings, we continued on. A Miracle! She DID finally find it and she and Chris went in. Again the nature of Flint was evident by the NO GUNS logo (for real!) on the bank door and the "Warning Metal Detectors in Use" "Walk Single file, one person at a time" signs on the bank doors. There was also a patrolling security guard that Katie and I remarked was more like a old Charles Bronson's father type figure. Deb and Chris finally emerged (and they could not find Chris' card so he has to call them Monday), we went back to attend the buffet. It should be noted on the way back, instead of taking the way back, to try and save some distance, Debby said "Let's be adventurous!" and she tried to go back the shortest way, and of course got us lost. "Let's be adventurous!" I heard Chris mimic his Mom's voice from the back which got a chuckle from everyone. We were soon back to a street we recognized and continued back to the parking lot at Kettering.

There was a fair amount of food, I had just a small waffle egg, ham, sausage, and cheese sandwich and some Diet Caffeine Free Pepsi. The fare, Chris said, was typical of what they offered every day which had breakfast items, omelets, chicken, pizza, cold cuts, salad bar, burgers, etc. Typical college campus food and not too bade. Debby and Scott took advantage of the make your own waffle station. They were giving out assorted prizes such as Traveled the farthest to get there, Oldest grandparent, Youngest sibling attending, Birthday closest to August 11th. Debby won the birthday one as hers is August 2nd, and Danielle the youngest sibling. Deb got a nice pewter Kettering letter opener which Chris wanted because it was sharp and pointy and Danielle a Kettering Frisbee which she gave to Katie. With the assorted moaning and groaning of Scott, who had stated numerous times over preceding days and many times while there that he did not want to be there, and Chris who really wanted to head home, we headed out, stopping lastly in the Engineering building garage because they were supposed to have some kind of concept car exhibit which turned out to be a single vehicle that was a cross between a go-kart and a car.

The Engineering Building

We headed out, forcing the X to make a detour through White Castle....I am sorry, diet or no diet WC cannot be ignored when I have not had it in three years. Chris and I had burgers and I bought shakes for X, Katie, and Danielle, Scott declining because they did not have vanilla. With the windows rolled down as we were in Deb's parents van we headed out. Deb had mentioned she did not want to backtrack into town to get back on i-69. We were right by the entryway to I-75, I asked if this didn't just intersect with I-69 a short distance away, and Deb seemed to think so but was not sure. "Let's be adventurous!" I said, and, after a glance form the X, we were on our way, and soon intersected with I-69. After driving for almost an hour we stopped where I-69 joins I-96 to get gas, I procured a large diet soda, and I drove the rest of the way home, stopping at the X's as that's where Katie's car was. Scott, Chris, and I were dropped at my place where they had to divvy up the Wii accessories and Scott had to move his save games to a memory card as it had been decided Chris would get used Wii as he had bought and downloaded $50 of games .vs. Scott's $10.

Chris LOVED new kitty. Scott left, taking his bike back to his mom's, Chris and I watched some TV, Chris played with Kitty and computer and Wii, around 5:30PM he and I went back t his Mom's where once again I fixed their Internet service and changed the password to something the X could remember. Chris and I stooped at the store and picked him up some snacked and came back here. We alternated playing with Kitty, TV (Monk and Dr. Who), computer, until around 9:30, when his four friends (I had been told one friend would be coming but did not hassle him about it) arrived. they chatted and only stayed around an hour. I went to bed around 12:30AM.

Chris loves the new kitty - and he is smiling! A rare shot indeed!!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Still More Tails Pictures

Still MORE pictures of Tails the Kitty! You may click the pictures for a larger version in a new window.

Here is Tails waving hello!

Here is Tails, and me, her loyal servant.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Tale of Tails Kitty

We have been having much fun with Tails the kitty. Let's face it, we are hers and exist solely to do her bidding! Resistance is futile! We exist to serve her.

Even from afar she summons them to her....My son Chris, away at college now for almost a month, asked me to come and get him so he could come home.....and see the cat......

Click on the pictures below for larger versions; is she not adorable! Can you fight the urge to travel to Michigan to do all she commands.......

Scott has idiopathic vocal chord paralysis

We heard Scott's MRI results. There was no obvious nerve damage present, they want to wait six months in case this was caused by a virus, in the interim they are going to inject a gel in his throat that should force the vocal chord to do some work and improve his voice....the gel will dissolve in about six months, if his voice has returned great, if not more tests, they can't guarantee if it was a virus that he will get full voice, such as for singing, back.

We shall see; he has the surgery August 29th....from that point we'll see if it helps on a temporary basis.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Our Kitty Rulez!

We have a new member at our house, Tails Falco, our new Kitten!!! We picked her up this morning after an hour's ride down to Kalamazoo (and almost a 90 minute ride back because of some construction on the highway.

A picture of here is shown below; she is about 10 weeks old and was abandoned with her litter mates on the side of the road! Happy news though, with our taking her they all found loving homes! What type of heartless creature could abandon nearly new born kittens like that!!!????

Here she is:

Friday, August 03, 2007

Post 300 - Scott's Voice

It's been a rough week, hence no posts. The big issue is my 15 year old son Scott's voice. Over a month ago he got laryngitis and when it did not go away after a week I took him to see a GP. They examined him and said because of his other symptoms, runny nose, raspy throat that it could be caused by a virus and we had to wait 10 days to make sure. So, we waited, and then called back and we had to get a referral to an Ear, Eye, Nose, and Throat specialist which we did. And of course, the quickest appointment was in three weeks.

So, finally, Tuesday, Scott went and got to have the fun filled experience of having a camera shoved up his nose and down his throat, where it was discovered half his vocal chords are paralyzed. The Doctor stated that this could either have been caused by a virus or by a nerve problem.

AND he made the mistake, In My Humble Opinion, of saying in front of Scott, that he might never get his voice back. Scott, was devastated. Scott is a caring sensitive individual, who is very talented. He makes all sorts of comical voices and vocal effects, and had enjoyed singing in the school choir with his excellent voice.

Scott had to go for an MRI yesterday and was injected with a contrasting solution which pretty much took the wind out of him for the whole day. Later on today or Monday we might get the results back from the MRI and find out what can be done. If they say nothing, it will be second opinion time.

The X and I have both talked with Scott and told him not to worry about this until all the tests are in, and I have also broached the worst case scenario, that, he might just have to live with it as others do with whatever their health issues may be, but, he is just 15, and I really think the Doctor should have omitted the information of this being permanent from Scott until we were sure. He is said and depressed about this and it may all just be that he is suffering this needlessly depending on the results of the tests.

So, please say a prayer to whatever deities you believe in or worship that Scott gets his voice back with a minimum of difficulty.