September 18, 2007
ok a full catch-up post

Sit down, grab a drink, kick off your shoes, this is going to be a long one because I think it is time to get caught up with everything that has been going on.

Kids - school is going well. Sebastian is coming along well in his homeschooling and his STAR Test results from the end of last year showed that his language/writing/reading comprehension skills are on the top end of Proficient with his Math skills still below, but higher than they were the last time he was tested. So hopefully this year we will get both areas within proficient. More importantly emotionally he has been far more confident and happy. Keegan is off to a better start than last year, but we are still working through his tantrums when things don't go his way. Madeline is being re-assessed for the GATE program soon at the request of the district GATE program director. We still are unsure as to if we will put her in GATE simply because based on our experience with Keegan we aren't sure the bonuses the program offers are worth the difficulty of having Madeline give up the only school she has ever known as well as all the friends she has made.

Family - My Mom is in the middle of spending 3 weeks with my sister and nieces in San Diego. Haven't seen my Dad in about a month, and we are about do for a trip to Fresno to see Brie's family as it's been a couple months since our last visit there as well. But everyone is doing fine.

Social Life - As I've talked about this before. Brie and I are part of a close-knit group of parents from Madeline's school that throw parties/get togethers every few weeks. Over the last couple weeks we have had a back-to-school swim party and 3 birthday parties. It's about time for Brie and I to host the next one. Though next up is another Birthday party, this one includes a Limo trip for the kids to John's Incredible Pizza. We'll probably end up just using my 40th Birthday for our party. We were bummed that we had to skip on attending Brie's bosses reception at Bambuddha in SF. It sounded like an amazing party and we had planned to stay at a hotel in the city, but with my Mom in SD we just didn't feel comfortable having to find places for the kids and dogs overnight.

Other stuff - We bought a "new to us" auto a couple weeks ago, it's a Honda Certified 2004 black Honda Pilot, fully loaded with saddle leather interior and Surround Sound DVD system with wireless headphones. Not only is it almost triple the Durango's gas mileage and far more spacious inside, but it has this cool dual-zone stereo system where the kids can use either the wireless headphones or plug-in their own headphone into the three jacks in back and watch DVDs while I can still listen to CD, Ipod, Radio up front through the speaker system. It has made our drives a lot quieter!

The reason for the purchase was that the Durango at 8 years and 150,000 miles was suddenly really starting to show it's age. We had realized that this year it was going to need all new tires, a 150,000 major service at the dealer, it was burning through oil (almost a quart a month) and lastly it was looking like a very overused vehicle both inside and out. It was either commit a couple thousand to it this year, or let it go. It might seem like a very easy decision, but it wasn't. The Durango was "my car" and I was very attached to it, it wasn't unlike a great pair of old sneakers, I was at home in that car. It was like a pet in someways and letting it go wasn't easy for me. Yes, the new Honda is super nice, and a better vehicle in almost everyway, but it it just a car to me right now.

It was a long decision that lead us to the Honda Pilot. Brie's Civic is 13 years old and over 175,000 miles. But it had never had even a single mechanical issue outside normal things. So when we started talking about getting a new car we started by thinking the Civic do to age and mileage might be the best to replace first, but in the end, we felt the Durango was the bigger money sink. About a week after we got the Pilot, Brie was driving home and when she got to the driveway the Civic engine stopped running all-together. We are pretty sure the Fuel Pump has gone out, that's about $700 to replace. We don't regret getting the Pilot, but now it looks like we are going to have to go out and buy Brie a new car too. We will keep the Civic and over the next few months fix the fuel pump and go ahead and have the timing belt and water pump replaced as well since that is recommended to be done at 100,000 miles and we never did. Then we will have a third car for emergencies and in-town running around. It will also give us something to give to Sebastian since he is 2 years away from being a licensed driver (eek!). Brie and I have already secured a car loan for her car and this week we will go down and test drive a couple of newer Certified Honda Civics she has picked out. I'm not looking forward to having the new car payments, we have been spoiled over the last 9 months not having any car payments, but the good news is even combined the new payments won't be much more than just the single payment we made for 7 years on the Durango.

Lastly (and I mean that by least important too) - Brie and I are just coming out of some serious drama from within our group of friends playing "City Of Heroes". I had been a member of a Supergroup for the last 8 months (and Brie was a member for 3 months) and we had become good friends with the groups founders/leaders and in that time the group had grown and they had Coalitioned us with other top prestige earning supergroups and when we would play we would all use Ventrillo (conference call like software that would allow up to 100 of us to talk to each other while playing). Then our SG leaders started getting involved with the drama happening within the other SGs and it would filter out amongst the Coalition and ties would be broken. Brie and I had grown very close to several members of one of the Coalition SGs and found ourselves doing our best to stay neutral because we really did know that the drama was actually being fueled by our SG Leaders more than anyone else. It all came to an end last week when, because I was talking to my friends on "Vent" in the "other" SG I was told to decide to choose between the two. Now most of you reading this will find this quiet humorous because you know me. Clearly when I was told to choose I simply responded with a no, if you want me gone then kick me out, but I'm not quitting just so you can say he choose between us. No one tells me what to do. But it gets even funnier. The result of Brie and I being kicked out and subsequently joining the "other" SG was that my old SG leaders started telling lies about me and Brie and being malicious. They called up the leader in my new SG and told them it was in their best interest to kick Brie and I out because "they talk about drug paraphenalia all the time and one of our friends is a NARC and it could get you guys in trouble". Ok, pick yourselves off the floor. I know just how hilarious you all think that is considering I have probably lectured each one of you on my non-tolerance of drug users and my violent reactions to THC the few times in my life I tried to smoke pot. Since then they have tried to come at me from various angles, all very high school. There was the "we kicked you out, oh wait no, you quit and chose sides", the "I saw you talking with them and how could I assume anything other than you must be talking about me", the "we've talked to other people from your former SG and they agree you are no big loss to us", and my favorite, "you guys are the worse misjudgement in character I have made in my life".

Yes, you would be right when you say, wow, those people need psychological help and to get a life, it's just a game we play for fun. But as you have probably read in articles some people use the world of online games to substitute for the fact that their lives are miserable and it's only in-game that they feel their value matches how they see themselves and what they deserve from real life. In the end I reported them in-game for harrassment because it was the only way I felt I could get them to just go away. Over the couple days after they kicked us I would log in to find messages sent to me offline telling me how it was all my fault, or they would approach me under the idea that they wanted to move on from the drama and make our break with them clean, but then they would start attacking me and telling me how it was all my fault. My last communication with them, an email in-game stating that I was formally asking them to never contact me in-game or by phone ever again actually resulted in them calling me 30 seconds after getting it. That's right, after I asked them to never contact me they called me at home. But since then it's all calmed down and my sincerest hope is that they move on and go about their lives and never involve me in any of it again.

The upside, to their rumour mongering is the leader of the SG I was in before them contacted me becuase not if she could believe the things they were saying about me and we finally worked it out between us what had led to my leaving and we both apologized for our roles in the drama, and like mature people we moved on and now we are back to being global friends in-game and we talk everytime we see the other is on. Just like adults do!

Posted by John at 11:00 AM
September 14, 2007

You are The Sun

Happiness, Content, Joy.

The meanings for the Sun are fairly simple and consistent.

Young, healthy, new, fresh. The brain is working, things that were muddled come clear, everything falls into place, and everything seems to go your way.

The Sun is ruled by the Sun, of course. This is the light that comes after the long dark night, Apollo to the Moon's Diana. A positive card, it promises you your day in the sun. Glory, gain, triumph, pleasure, truth, success. As the moon symbolized inspiration from the unconscious, from dreams, this card symbolizes discoveries made fully consciousness and wide awake. You have an understanding and enjoyment of science and math, beautifully constructed music, carefully reasoned philosophy. It is a card of intellect, clarity of mind, and feelings of youthful energy.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Posted by John at 02:28 PM