the hearing

it just struck me how apt the name of that procedure (event?) is. the "hearing". i suppose i made the connection somewhere in the back of my brain before, but i don't remember....

i realized this morning that i hadn't read the Return of Service document as carefully as i should have. i knew i was supposed to send it back to the court, but i forgot on Monday, and though i remembered Tuesday, i was fairly certain it wouldn't get to the courthouse on time through normal snail mail channels, and resolved to take it with me to today's hearing. the Return of Service document informs the court that the party on whom the latest papers (concerning the date, time, reason for, and changes to the hearing) were served has indeed been duly informed, and that all involved in the proceedings are expected to attend, at which point those proceedings actually appear on the docket.

it was good that i got to the court a bit early and filed those papers, as the computer-printed docket did not originally include my case. i think that might have been bad, since i was responsible for moving the hearing date up. however, a handwritten inclusion at the end of the docket was all that was necessary, and things went forward.

i passed Loren's mother on the grounds outside the courtroom, on the way in, and she waved, and i risked violating the restraining order myself by saying "Hello," but i kept walking, in through security, up to the now-familiar court clerks' office (definitely a mixed blessing to know your way around the courthouse), filed the paper i needed to, then headed back outside to wait.

i walked back to my truck, sat down, turned the radio on, then right back off. lit and smoked a cigarette and re-read the complaint Loren's mother filed against me for the umpteenth time. tried to compose myself. i think i've had this on the brain too long because i couldn't really concentrate on my arguments. i was beginning to feel the nerves, 1/2 an hour before the afternoon session of DV court began- not unexpected.

i'm a pretty broke guy, and didn't want to spend the $5 or whatever it would be to park in one of the local lots, or the new Snohomish County Campus parking garage (which, incidentally, i installed some of the signage for, including a bunch of elevator signage that Loren actually helped me put up one day....wonder if there's a blog entry about that....) so i waited as long as i thought wouldn't make me late for court, pulled around the block to a new 90 minute parking space, and crossed my fingers that i wouldn't get a parking ticket or towed. i imagine, in the immediate vicinity of the county courthouse and jail and the municipal police station (all on the same campus, which spreads over a few blocks) that there are plenty of parking enforcement officials. a minor concern for me, at the moment.

but i digress. i parked the 2nd time, walked up to the court house, went through security again, walked around a bit. i noticed (again, though i didn't pay much attention to it the first time) the reproductions of historical documents on the wall, and let my eyes wander around the captions, finally landing on Lincoln's 2nd inaugural address (scroll down for details in a previous post on this page). by the way, if you're new around these parts, the most recent post always appears at the top of this page, and then the progression continues in reverse chronological order, which means if you haven't read for a while you should start at the bottom of the page and work your way up, albeit in a manner that doesn't include reading the sentences backwards, of course. the links to the archives on the right will retrieve everything posted on or between the dates specified; this page will only display a certain number of posts before you have to go to the archives to dig up the previous one. the archives are only created (automatically) when a new month begins. it's possible that the current settings for this blog only allow display of a certain number of posts, and that in the event my posts exceeded that number in the current month, some of those might not appear in an archive yet; in that case i only offer this advice: drop by every once in a while and catch up, or wait a while for the archived version....

but i digress again.

while i was reading the Lincoln address, Jason called me on my cell phone, to let me know he and Melissa were there. i didn't know Jason was coming, and that was cool. Nichole had made plans to carpool with me there, as her boys were going to be babysat in Lake Stevens while she attended the hearing with me, but i'd called her this morning to mention i thought i'd better show up and get the Return of Service document filed, so i called her at the last minute and she agreed to just meet me there- very gracious :)

eventually Melissa and Jason came in. Jason joked that being in court when he wasn't in trouble was a new experience for him. nice that he took a day off from work to come, and lucky too- i'll mention why later.

i realized i ought to check the docket (i'm much too well versed in all this court procedural stuff) and walked over to the courtroom to do that. sure enough, in handwriting on the bottom, there it was. passed Loren's mother and her husband in the hallway, and though we made eye contact, and none of us seemed overtly upset with the others, i played it as safely as i could and didn't speak to them.

i have to admit i'm not feeling as bitter, as i sit here typing with the prospect of seeing Loren sometimes in the near future a reality, as i was a couple days ago. i can be as bitter as the next guy, and i certainly think i have reason enough to hold a grudge, but i'm ultimately more practical than vindictive, and it's just plain better for Loren when the waters are as calm as possible. but like i said, i surpressed my urge to interact, civilly or otherwise.

a few minutes later Nichole arrived, with Cole in tow. he was having a rough day, and she opted not to leave him with the babysitter. she mentioned Cole was a bit disappointed with that until she explained that he'd get to see his aunt and uncles. when she was nearly through security i headed for the courtroom, to be ready when my case was called. Melissa came with me, and we sat quietly and waited. Loren's mom and her husband were already there, and i declined to sit by them, which was fairly common sense i think. the officer in the courtroom subsequently announced to all present that that was indeed necessary, as well as stating that no food or drink were allowed in the courtroom, and no minors under the age of 18. uh oh. a couple moments later, Nichole entered with Cole, carrying his McDonald's happy meal. i told her he and the food weren't allowed, which i should have known, considering the potentially very ugly subject matter present in a courtroom handling domestic violence cases. it didn't even occur to me, but it totally makes sense. Jason offered to watch him in the meantime, so Nichole could be present during the hearing. it was a minor neo-Pelkey exodus to the hallway. i took the few remaining minutes to go greet my nephew, who was quite pleased to hang out with his Uncle Jason. i tried for a hug, but had to settle for a handshake and a nice smile from Cole.

Jason had offered to move my truck if needed, and i gave him my keys. as that ultimately proved necessary, i'm happy to report he therefore triply exceeded the call of duty. thanks again Jason.

i reentered the courtroom, and pretty soon Dad showed up, unexpected, and that was a nice surprise. then the commissioner (proper title for this judge) entered, and all rose, and were seated, and the role call was made, and the docket was underway.

i was quickly pleased with the quiet, relaxed tone the commissioner set for the proceedings, and the patience she showed for clearly explaining what she meant. it was soon apparent that she would limit the discussion in the hearings to matters strictly applicable to charges of domestic violence. that was clearly to my benefit, and i was encouraged. it was probably less than half an hour until my case was called.

Loren's mother and her husband were accompanied by someone, either an attorney or a counselor or someone from DSHS....something. i think the woman only spoke a couple words, and her function never really became apparent to me. i didn't ask questions. i was representing myself. they stood on the right, and i stood alone, on the left of the court facilitator between us.

allow me to take this opportunity to mention the completely irrelevant details that: the court facilitator (a pleasant woman from the court clerks' office) was very attractive. for that matter, the commissioner herself was very easy on the eyes. must have been my day. i noticed the facilitator wore no wedding ring, the other day in the clerks' office, but alas, of all the places you might meet an eligible woman, domestic violence court probably harbors the least chance of success. i didn't so much as glance at the commissioner's hands; i preferred to look her in the eye. but enough of this.

procedure in this hearing allows the petitioner (who made the original complaint) to speak first, then the respondent (the complained-about party) to speak, then the petitioner to have a chance to rebut the respondent's statements. before the arguments in the case were made, the commissioner asked if both parties were ready to proceed. she asked me first, and i answered i would very much like to proceed.

though all present were repeatedly and specifically instructed by the commissioner (in the previous hearings) to do otherwise from the beginning of the docket, Loren's mother seemed flustered and inclined to talk about things which did not specifically relate to the charge of domestic violence. when asked if she was ready to proceed, she asked for a continuance, to better prepare her case. she said that she was given the impression, on the telephone with the court clerk last Friday (see earlier post), that she had no choice in the decision to move the hearing date forward, and she was therefore unprepared to continue. the commissioner asked her what preparations, specifically relating to the charge of domestic violence, she needed to make. Loren's mother answered that she intended to get a statement from her doctor concerning Loren's weight (!), and before she continued to speak the commissioner interrupted by asking her what this had to do with the charge of domestic violence. a short and somewhat terse conversation ensued, in which Loren's mother grew increasingly frustrated as she (i assume) realized that she was not going to be allowed to raise the issues she intended to in this hearing. the commissioner restated her instructions that the only thing that would be discussed and addressed in this hearing were the specific allegations of domestic violence. eventually Loren's mother was forced to admit that she had no cause relating to the domestic violence allegations that required a continuance, and was compelled to simply provide her account of the incident at her house on the evening of March 17th. this consisted of the majority of the written complaint she filed, and she managed to make a couple fairly unrelated, uncomplimentary (and only marginally accurate) statements about my supposed treatment of Loren, before the commissioner turned to me for my opportunity to speak.

i was very conscious that Loren's mom had been obviously flustered, and attempted to maintain my composure while she spoke. i didn't want to react to what she said in an overt way, as i judged that to be likely interpreted by the commissioner as a lack of respect for Loren's mother, and an attempt to express my opinion out of turn (and as such a lack of respect for the proceedings) and work counter to my purpose. i also wanted to return the respect the commissioner was showing to the litigants. i was very impressed with the manner in which the commissioner ran her courtroom, and to be completely honest i have to say that thus far, in all my dealings with them, the Everett District court system has shown a great deal more respect for me, and has upheld my rights much more, than i initially expected them to. it restores much of my faith in the legal system.

then it was my turn to speak. i realize, as i sit here trying to commit this narrative, that i can't really remember what things i said when, so i'm going to give you the overall gist of them.

Melissa mentioned, after the hearing, that i began with an attempt to preface the events leading up to the incident on the 17th, and the commissioner kind of reminded me that i was to stick to the specific incident in question, and the allegations made against me, and i though i had to compose my thoughts for a moment to continue, i think i was better prepared, and maybe better equipped, to discuss the matter at hand. i can follow instructions ;)

while Loren's mother spoke i'd opened the file i brought containing her complaint, and glancing at the complaint did the trick- i knew what i wanted to say. i said that Loren's mother can have a pretty casual relationship with the truth when it suits her purposes, and that this complaint was a prime example of it. to me, that was golden. i don't know how much weight that statement carried, but it was almost worth the price of admission to have the opportunity to say it. i continued with the fact that all the (extremely) negative things that had gone on between Loren's mother and me in the past had been finished for 10 years, and in the ensuing time, to both of our credit, we'd managed to work toward common purpose more often than not, and that sometimes we had conflicts, but never anything remotely like what used to happen, and that even back in the day, when things were at their worst between us, Loren had never been in danger from either of us.

i said that if you read her complaint you'd think i walked in to Loren's mother's house screaming profanity, but that was simply not the case. i said i'd been in her house for over an hour, which i knew because i'd watched the clock (true) and that i'd greeted Loren, and that his mother and i had made small talk while sitting on couches in the living room, and that Loren's brother had climbed on my back, and i'd talked with him, and Loren was wandering around gathering his things, and during this entire hour I'd tried to be as patient as possible while repeatedly exhorting Loren to get a move on it, and finish getting ready, and that neither Loren's mother nor Loren ever said anything that indicated he wasn't coming to my house. i think that was key to casting a large shadow of doubt on the complaint, the information that i'd been there for quite a while.

i related everything about the ensuing confrontation between Loren me, including that Loren argued he is generally allowed to make up his own mind, and that i'd clearly explained that this time i was making the decision, and it was final, and that he directly disobeyed me when i finally told him to put his shoes on his feet and march, and that when he did so i then clearly explained to him i had the right to enforce my authority and would pick him up and put him in my truck if he didn't do as he was told, before ultimately grabbing two handfuls of his sweatshirt and hauling him to his feet and telling him to march. i mentioned Loren's mother stepping in then, and that she told me to stop yelling, and that i was talking in a stern tone of voice but was definitely not yelling, and that she said i was scaring her and that i answered that if that was true then she got scared too easily and she needed to calm down, and that when she threatened to call the police i told her to go ahead, i hadn't done anything wrong, and that she'd stood with her arms around Loren, kind of rubbing his shoulder, and she kind of pulled him away from me, and it was then that i realized i still had a hand full of his sweatshirt, and let go. and i mentioned that she hadn't been present when Loren and i were arguing, and entered from another room without knowing exactly what had taken place, and immediately undermined my authority. i admitted that she might have had the right to do that since we were in her house, but that i didn't think it was the right thing to do, and that she'd walked him back over to his bed and sat down, with his arm around his shoulders and stroking his arm, and that i'd then repeated everything i'd already told Loren, and that i soon realized the situation wasn't going to resolve the way i wanted it to and decided to leave. i said that i'd then told Loren to come get his stuff out my truck, admitting that my language was less acceptable at the time. for the record, i actually told him, "Come get your shit out of my truck," and was instantly ashamed of myself for the choice of language; there are certainly times when swearing, in conversation, is no big deal, but i think that instance made Loren feel worse than he already did, and that was avoidable, and wrong. i'll be mentioning that to him.

i'm not really sure how much else i got out, and i'm only going to claim this narrative is a 90% accurate description of the hearing. i've thought about the whole incident so much that at this point it's getting hard to differentiate between what i managed to get out in court, and my recollection of the actual event, and the points i envisioned myself making in court the multitude of times i obsessed over it.

i was allowed to speak continuously and uninterrupted for a relatively long time (maybe 7 minutes, if i had to guess?), which i attribute to stating my points concisely (thanks Abe!) and confining those to the issues the court would likely find relevant, maintaining a natural progression of dialogue that didn't run off on tangents (as i'm clearly unable to do in this post); but eventually the commissioner had heard as much as she deemed necessary from me, and asked Loren's mom if it was true that i'd been in her house that long. she answered with more composure this time, and refuted some of what i'd said, but didn't deny i'd been there an hour.

i find it particularly interesting that, in her closing statements, Loren's mother repeated twice that i'd said, "Loren, i can do it the nice way or the mean way." i made no reference in court to the actual language i used when warning Loren i'd use force if necessary to make him comply, and what i actually said to him at the time was, "you can do this the easy way or the hard way". i've been using that phrase since Loren was small, on the rare occasions it's necessary; it mutated into that shorter form from the original, "you can either do this the easy way, and do what i say, or you can do it the hard way, and get a spanking and do what i say."

i wonder if that interpretation ("i/nice/mean" as opposed to "you/easy/hard") was a slip of the tongue on Loren's mother's part, or (i think much less likely, since he's heard it many more times than she has) Loren's interpretation of it in some conversation with her. but i think it most likely that it shows an underlying inclination on Loren's mother's part to think of my use of physical punishment or enforcement as "mean". that's pretty telling, if you ask me. that's really what this whole thing boils down to: she thinks i'm mean to him.

i think it's proper to state here that, on a couple occasions, i've actually admitted to Loren that i've treated him unfairly, or abused my authority (in a minor way) by punishing him too harshly when i was upset about something else, and that i've apologized for that, and pledged to not to repeat my mistake. it's my personal parenting philosophy that if you can't admit fault when you're clearly wrong, you show a lack of respect for your child and risk losing their respect. i think respect from your children has to be first earned, and then expected, and continually justified. i'm happy to say i've been generally successful at learning from my mistakes.

but i digress again. back to wrapping this up.

the commissioner then mentioned that she believed there to be other issues than domestic violence involved here, and that she was going to think out of the box and do something a little unconventional. she mentioned that she had knowledge of the issues which rise as children enter their teenage years, and that it's not unusual for divorced families to eventually deviate from a court-ordered parenting plan, or for the child to be given more leeway in determining their course of action as they begin to assert their independence, or for this to cause problems. she said she was going to put this whole thing in her pocket, and reserve the right to rule on it after a future hearing (45 days from now), to take place after all three of us (Loren, his mother and i) attended mediation services designed for divorced parents and their teenagers. she left the original restraining order in place but allowed Loren to contact me at will. as i interpret her ruling, that means i'm still not allowed to see (or call) Loren until the mediation begins. she reaffirmed the court-ordered parenting plan set forth 10 years ago, pending another resolution in mediation, so it's at least somewhat likely that when the mediation begins, the original parenting plan will supercede the restraining order, at least initially, and for the duration of the mediation.

i'm still not overly clear on all that. the commissioner seemed less than patient when i attempted to ascertain exactly what all this meant, so i shut my mouth. i'm going to try to get the ball rolling on the mediation and ask the questions of them, and count myself vindicated that Loren's mother's (unfounded!) allegations against me were, for the moment at least, largely dismissed in favor of addressing the underlying issues causing our disagreements.

i've already contacted the mediators once. i only got an answering machine, or i might know more about how this works, as i imagine they have a fair amount of experience dealing with this court ordered stuff, and that many times this involves restraining orders. Loren's mother is ordered to contact them no later than April 5 (a week from today....yikes, it's late, and i gotta work today!). unfortunately the date the mediation is to begin is obscured on my copy of the order....could be the 11th, but then again it could be the 15th, the 17th? somewhere toward the middle of next month. i fully expect Loren's mother to wait as long as possible to both contact them and begin the mediation process, and don't anticipate seeing Loren until then, though i sincerely hope i'm wrong about that, and would welcome a rapid reponse to all this, on her part, as a sign of positive action toward resolution of our disagreements.

ok. i'm well past out of time, and that's certainly a sufficiently thorough report. time for bed.




irish-austrian cream? belgian coffee?

ok. coffee with irish cream liqueur, which is basically a vanilla latte with a little irish whiskey, and cafe vienna, which is sort of a vanilla latte with cinnamon....both good. what happens when you do something sorta in the middle? this evening i yanked as many ingredients as seemed likely to work well together, and threw together a new concoction. personally, i think this is the best coffee pollution i've made yet; try for yourself and find out:

3 @ 14oz cans of sweetened condensed milk (i used store brand cheap stuff)
1 @ 1 pint carton of heavy whipping cream (store brand again)
about 1/3 cup of honey
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (what the hell...it's nutmeg, should be good....)
1-2 tbsp chocolate syrup (Hershey's, of course...just there to darken it up a little)
1 ever-so-slightly-shy cup of irish whiskey (you can always add more)

blend the hell out of it. the whiskey (which is a bit less than 2/3 water) has a tendency to try to separate a bit otherwise.
yield: about 2 liters (a little less than half a gallon). lasts a couple weeks easily in the fridge.

i used Bushmill's middle of the road offering....i'll prob'ly use around 75% more next time, more if i have enough scratch for some exceptional whiskey.

blend thoroughly. mix about 4-5 parts very strong, very hot coffee (preferably the darkest roasted stuff you can get your hands on) to 1 part of your batch of inf's newest irish-austrian-cream-stuff, and may i suggest both pouring the cream in the cup first, so that it blends nicely on its own, and selecting a particularly good book to settle in with.

you may have surmised i'm still debating what to call this stuff.  for this lexicographic undertaking i chose the spectral endpoints of Vienna and the geographic heart of Ireland, which, in the absence of ready contradictory data, i think as likely as not comprises a complexion as typically Irish as any other Irish locale. be that as it may, i must confess to being sorely tempted to choose the town of Limerick as representative of general Irishity (careful where you utter- and how you pronounce- that last term i just coined)...but as usual, i digress ad nauseum. Vienna and the geographic "heart" of Ireland are approximately equidistant from a rather nondescript spot in the northern portion of Belgium, as the very-high-endurance crow flies.

also, it's entirely possible that the mixological lexicon already includes something named "Belgian Coffee", or for that matter, a differently named beverage sufficiently similar to my potion to render its imminent christening redundant and unnecessary. while that's certainly a time-honored tradition in mixology, i consider it reasonable cause to postpone the official naming ceremony and star-studded gala pending the outcome of additional research, which will likely include locating and scrutinizing a more detailed map of Belgium than i could find in less than 2 minutes on the internet, and a bartender's reference guide. until that time i'm open to suggestions....and though certainly all submissions will be duly noted and considered, i suppose it's not inappropriate to attribute a modicum of preference to suggestions offered by those who've actually brewed up their own batch of the stuff.

incidentally, store-bought Irish cream liqueur runs around 34 proof (i recommend Bailey's or Carolan's if you buy pre-made), so cutting it by 80% with coffee should make a drink that's approximately 8 proof, or about half as strong as average beer, 1/3 as strong as average wine. the recipe above is nowhere near that strong; it's only about 1/7 whiskey, which in my case (or rather, bottle...i'm not rich nor alcoholic enough to buy whiskey by the case!) is 80 proof, so it's probably in the neighborhood of 11-12 proof without the coffee, or about 3 proof with it. for the mathematically disinclined, that's about 1/3 as strong as average beer, 1/4 as strong as average wine.

this all boils down to the fact that this recipe could certainly accommodate more whiskey. i suppose, for that matter, you could eliminate the whiskey altogether, but i only recommend resorting to that unappealing course of action in the event you find your whiskey insufferably poor. and by all means, buy better whiskey next time. but for me personally, in the end, the coffee's the most important ingredient.

coffee is life.

reason prevails

longer post later....but for now, let me just say that things could certainly have gone much worse. the comments made during the hearing were kept quite specifically confined to the serious allegations made against me. i was given a fair amount of time to address those accusations and i think it was obvious that i was attempting to be both open and honest during the hearing. i don't know if my actions in court today made any real difference in the outcome or not, though i'd like to think i handled myself fairly well, despite being very nervous, and that that made a difference. the ducks may have an easy time remaining calm on the surface while paddling like hell underneath, but fighting your own autonomic response system for control is pretty challenging.

thanks very much to my sisters, and Jason, and Dad for coming, and to Mom for suggesting he attend. all offered to come unbidden, and your support is much appreciated. thanks also to Jason for moving my truck before i got a parking ticket, and for the much-needed cigarette on the walk back to where we were now both parked. and thanks to Cole for just adding a little random positive energy into the afternoon!

thanks also to all in my extended family for the relative flood of well wishes (pun intended....or, more precisely, not originally intended, but duly noticed and included). also much appreciated!

while i'm thanking everyone, let me not forget whomever is responsible for the fantastic reproductions of historical documents on the wall of the court building. i had the opportunity, in the time before the hearing, to read in their entirety the four neatly handwritten pages of Lincoln's (relatively short) second inaugural address (click here to read it yourself). it's a particularly clear, concise and well worded speech, with certain themes which struck me as applicable to many people's reasons for being in court on any particular day.

reading it enabled me to focus on something besides my nerves, for a short time, and by sheer happenstance served as an apt reminder of the manner in which i hoped to conduct myself. perhaps someone much brighter than me understood these things when they chose to include it in the design of the building interior.

more later. time to make a phone call.



and fatigue. fatigue and stress.

this is all ridiculous, and unnecessary, and disgusting, and pathetic. and embarrassing. outcast unclean! scarred. damaged.

i suppose there's room enough for me to feel bad for Loren and for myself too.

accusations don't have to be true to be damaging!

it makes me sick to my stomach, to be accused of being dangerous to my own son!

unbelievable is simply not a strong enough word.

surely he can't believe that. i'm his dad! i'd trade my life for his without even thinking.

anyone who's read these pages knows: Loren is everything to me. he's gotta know that.

i will never never forgive his mother for this.

the courts are predominantly concerned with protecting my son, and i suppose i'm properly thankful that the (inevitably) imperfect system that exists has its heart in the right place. but at the moment i'm mostly just hoping its head is too.

and that exaggerations and lies don't trump the truth.


if i was allowed to talk to my son

i'd be able to see how he's taking all this, and that would be worth a great deal right now. wonder if he knows that none of this court stuff you Faithful Readers read about earlier is his fault. (i think it's safe to assume that if you're reading this, you've read the prior posts too.) but i can't be there for him right now, when he likely needs me- and that truly sucks. i can't even tell anyone to check on him for me, and that's extremely frustrating. i'm sure his mom's doing what she can to comfort him, but that's rather ironic, to say the least. i know it would certainly do me some good to talk to him. i'm crossing my fingers that in about 4 more days i'll get the opportunity to. i wonder if he'll be at the hearing. hmmm. i doubt it. i definitely think he's mature enough for the court to have someone talk to him. they'd likely choose to do that in private, rather than in front of his mother or me. but i can also see how they might not want to involve him. this i shall leave to the wisdom of the court, for the moment....like i have any choice in the matter. but hey, i'm just wingin' it here, what do i know about court procedures? thinking about this is making my head spin a little. tell you this, though: i do know my boy, and he's a smart kid. i'm sure he's turned some of this over in his own mind. if he's learned anything from me, it's to think for himself.

i suppose if you're 12, it's likely a little easier to get distracted from things like this for a while- and if that's true in Loren's case, i'm grateful for that. i'm not sure anyone can really understand quite what this experience is like without going through it, and i don't wish it on anyone....except, of course, people that actually DO treat their kids like crap- they should be horsewhipped.

wonder if it's illegal for me to try to send psychic brain waves, like....attempt to telepathically direct pseudo-meta-hyper-psionic energy through the space-time continuum....or hey, if i believed in a god, i could pray to that god (those gods?...i'm not picky) to snap his/her/their finger(s), or wave their multi-jointed prehensile tails, whatever, and send down a shimmering (or not shimmering....it could be invisible, or flat, dull grey for that matter.....like i said- not picky) wave or beam or bolt or surge thingamajig of spiritual energy from the Great Beyond that reconstituted in Loren's brain as an entire conversation (though i'd settle for an all-encompassing feeling of calm and well-being); but i don't believe in a god, or pray, so that's out anyway.

still....you have to wonder if that would be illegal; i mean, after all, a god would have to be considered a third party, and the conversation thing would likely have to be considered a form of contact, so....i suppose it therefore follows that if i did do that, or i was to bid those of you who DO believe in a god to perform this function for me- and, of course, assuming i'm wrong about the whole existence-of-god thing- that that would also be illegal. but i think it would be me that got in trouble for both me and the god- i doubt they'd have much luck prosecuting him (or her....not picky). so all you True Believers, feel free to pray for something if you will (might i suggest something vaguely along the lines of "a reasonably-beneficial-to-all-involved outcome"), but please don't pray that your particular personification of a Great Spirit delivers any message on my behalf, or we could all be in a lot of trouble.

but then again, on the other hand, it could be argued that that was an 'act of God', like a hurricane or something. just not as messy.

what exactly is the language on the restraining order? let's see....

it says, "Respondent is restrained from coming near and from having any contact whatsoever, in person or through others, by phone, mail, or any means, directly or indirectly, except for mailing or service of process of court documents by a 3rd party or contact by respondent's lawyer(s)..."

hmmm. i suppose that "any means" part precludes the psionic telepathy. and the god(s) thing too. but the "contact whatsoever" part is interesting. what exactly does that mean? does contact necessarily encompass two-way communication? i don't think so, because it also says "by mail", and that's a one-way thing. which kind of brings me to another point i've been thinking of, which is that my employer finally got my wages up to date (yay! and phew!) and since i pay child support for Loren directly to his mother, i wonder if simply sending her the check (with no attached message or anything, of course) would be considered breaking the terms of the restraining order? not gonna risk that. i'll play it safe and have a check in my pocket at the hearing. then i can pass it to the court clerk, who can pass it to the judge (if that's in order), who'd then likely pass it back to the clerk to pass to Loren's mom or something......like asking Susie Watkins out in study hall.

but i digress. obviously you don't have to be there in person, or establish two-way communication, to break the terms of the restraining order. but i think it does sort of imply that the individual 'protected' in the order knows the contact in question is from the respondent. if the respondent sent the petitioner an anonymous message from an unidentifiable location that in no way identified the respondent and didn't reference anything they had in common....say, something that read only "The sun rises in the east," i think it would be hard to call that "contact" (more likely i'd call that "junk mail"), but if the respondent sent it, or caused someone else to send it, i think they'd be found guilty of breaking the terms of the restraining order if they were caught. but is that really "contact"? hmmmm.

i think it's safe to assume that contact doesn't necessarily mean communication, at least not in any conventional sense. just because you don't "get it" doesn't mean there was no contact. do we have to have some sort of mutual understanding for us to communicate? i think we do. but like the last example, if i know when i type BLEEZLEPLORP that it means the word _____, but i only type BLEEZLEPLORP, and though i know what it means you don't, that's not communication, right? no way. but if i send it to you anonymously, written on a sheet of paper, i'd have to consider that contact, though without communication.

so: communication => contact, and therefore it follows that: contact <= communication.

ok. but if i could, say, astrally project my disembodied consciousness into your room, and you couldn't tell i was there, does that constitute contact? i don't think so. i think contact implies interaction in some form or other- some knowledge, or at the very least some suspicion, on the part of the contacted one that they've been contacted. each participant in the contact would have to be aware that they were in the presence of either the person or message, however undecipherable, of the other. now, if i projected myself like that into your room, and i was fully aware that it was impossible for you to detect me, i don't think that would be contact. if i look at you through my magic crystal ball that's not contact. but if i project myself into your room and try but fail to make you aware of my presence, then i suppose i'd be attempting to make contact. and i suppose by the exact language quoted above, that wouldn't be illegal- as long as i failed?

very confusing.

they should make it read "having any, or attempting to have any contact...". that would be much more airtight. maybe i should propose that to the judge? prob'ly not.

oh but wait, i didn't read the whole thing....there's also a part that says, "Respondent is restrained from causing petitioner physical harm, bodily injury, asault, including sexual assault, and from molesting, harassing, threatening, or stalking" the petitioner.

i suppose that looking at you through my magic crystal ball, or projecting my consciousness into your room, could certainly be construed as "stalking".

and now that i read that carefully, isn't "causing petitioner physical harm" and "bodily injury" redundant? guess they really are trying to cover all the bases.

but here's an interesting information-superhighway question (which, i suppose, we should ask the Expert, Al Gore about): if i was to type a message directed at/to Loren's mom on this site, and she was to log on and read it, would that be considered making contact? or harassment? that's certainly debatable. personally, i have a hard time seeing how it could; the website is passive, and users have to resolve the address through their own actions. i think to be guilty of attempting to make contact, i'd have to intend she saw it. i suppose it could be argued that that intention is fundamentally implied by the "directed at/to" in the example, so that would be true. but, let me say to any law enforcement or judicial representatives / agents / actors / participants, or their employees or employees of their subsidiaries, etc., unequivocally for the record: i have no intention of doing that anyway, so it's a moot point, in my case. i bet someone dumb (and deserving) enough to post an actual threat on their site would get arrested- and rightfully so. delivered or not, a threat is a threat. if i threatened you in the newspaper, just because you don't read the newspaper doesn't mean i didn't threaten you. i bet some jackass somewhere's made threats on their blog; there's always some idiot dumb enough to do just about anything. but incidentally, and also for the record, i'm not in the habit of threatening people either, thank you.

actually, i had a conversation about this blog the other night with Loren's mom, when she had a problem with something i wrote. evidently something i wrote hurt her feelings, she felt like i was making fun of her. i told her that i was sorry that it hurt her feelings (true), and that it wasn't my intention to hurt her feelings (also true), but that this blog isn't written for her benefit, but for my own, as sort of a running diary, and i'm well aware that it's available to the public, and everything i've written in here is true. and also that i hadn't written anything in here that i hadn't already said to both Loren and her in person, which was also true. and also that i've never mentioned her by name, so if the reader doesn't know me, there's very little chance they have any idea who/what i'm talking about anyway.

i wonder if that's what prompted her to fly off the handle last weekend....

ever notice that that's a truly strange expression, "fly off the handle". wonder where that one comes from....

i suppose i might feel differently if this was a widely circulated blog or something. but i don't circulate, there's no pushed content here. you gotta WANNA read this thing to check it out. and i've watched the usage stats, and basically [sniff] hardly anyone reads this thing but me anyway. and my sister, evidently, as of today. thanks Sis!

actually, i'm certain the number of people that have loaded this page and just clicked right off it due to finding it extremely boring is greater than the number of people who might actually read it. which is fine. don't like what's on TV? change the channel. more power to ya.

i think i've had too much time sitting around by myself thinking about stuff, i'm getting loopy. must be time for bed. gotta work tomorrow anyway, to make up for time lost when i had to go to court to deal with all this crap i don't deserve. especially considering i'll be missing some more time on Wednesday. time waits for no man, and neither do the bills.

felt good to vent, if you can call it that.....PEACE all


almost forgot

this is worth mentioning: yesterday on my way home from the second trip to the courthouse i saw a teenager on the roof of the single-story at the end of my building, with a skateboard....a couple other teenagers were hanging around watching him, and one was taking his picture. don't know whether the kid on the roof was about to try something stupid, or just posing for a picture up there, and i didn't wait to find out. just stopped my truck in the middle of the road, got out and boomed, "That ain't your house, get off the roof now or I call the cops." took about 10 seconds for the kid to get down and another 10 for them all to disappear quickly. i'm sure i was young and stupid like that once, but i'd have disappeared quickly too. should've taken his picture myself, with the cell phone....might be one of the troublemakers who kicked in one of the doors of the basketball court here, or spray painted graffiti on the building & sidewalk around it, or trashed the once-racquetball-court-which-is-no-more. no one seems to ever catch anybody doing these things. we need security cameras or something, but no one's willing to cough up the collective money it would cost.

and the managers of the apartment buildings in the neighborhood (which are owned by companies which allow those managers to represent their interest in the homeowners' association) want things like a $6000 chain link fence to gaurd against little (presumably unwatched) kids drowning in a tiny stream behind their building. no money for that either....actually, just enough money for that and nothing else. rather see the security cameras in the common areas than pay through the nose for something that might not work to protect children who's parents aren't watching them. not that i don't care about the kids, but that's what parents are for, in my book. don't want your toddler to drown? don't let them wander around unsupervised- that's a good start.

but the buildings are the Section 8 housing (low income housing, think "projects" on a small scale) in the neighborhood, and the kids run around unsupervised much of the time. hate to make generalizations, but in all honesty, a lot of those generalizations exist because they're based on some kind of fact. i know i haven't been impressed with the parenting skills of some of the few parents i've met there (through their children, whom Loren's hung out with from time to time when he's here) though i'm sure there are better ones.

i'm in the position of being judged at the moment myself, and i consider myself to buck the stereotype of many in this position.


it's the bad old days all over again

well, a couple posts ago things took a rather downward trend, and though my resilient nature reasserted itself in the next post, if depressing news is unwelcome, stop reading now. otherwise, come commiserate with me.

Loren was supposed to come for the weekend last weekend, so i headed out from work to pick him up. as usual i was unable to raise anyone on the phone on my way over, so i took my chances. i've been seeing him all too seldom lately, and i wasn't about to take any chance of missing this opportunity. when i got there Loren didn't have his things ready, which is not too unusual. i took a seat on a bench in their living room and talked with his mom about her job search and my work for a while. smalltalk. i talked to Loren's brother Phoenix about whether he'd gained some weight, or grown, because he's sure looking big. they all grow up. Phoenix and i get along pretty well, and he tried to climb up on my back. i asked him please not to, as i was sore from work. then i realized that Loren's younger brother was climbing on me and Loren was kinda wandering around, so i asked Loren, "What, no hugs for the old man?" he's certainly getting older. when he was younger he'd run across the room to see me the moment i showed up, and i'm seeing the independent teenager starting to come out. i'll miss the little guy, but welcome the young man. in any case, the comment was all it took for him to promptly drop himself on me and give me a nice one.

that one's going to have to tide me over for a while.

but back to my story: so Loren sort of puttered around gathering things for a while, kinda dragging his feet, which is also not exactly unusual, and gathered up the things he wanted to bring to my house. it was more than he could carry, so eventually i took some of it out to my truck. i asked him to get it in gear a couple times, and tried to remain patient even though we've discussed many times that he should be ready to leave when it's time to come, so i don't have to wait around for 30-60 minutes for him to get ready, after driving an hour and a half to pick him up, and then drive another half hour home. this time i'd had my fill of waiting when an hour had passed. i finally told him it was time to go, and at this point in his Calvin-and-Hobbes-esque up-and-down-the-stairs-and-all-over-the-house (or is that more like Dennis The Menace?) he kind of just sat there on his bed. i told him i was going to go outside and that i wanted to leave, and if he wanted to come he needed to have his shoes on by the time i turned the truck around in the driveway. this is usually sufficient motivation for him to get it done, but wasn't this time. he was still in the house when i finished, so i went back in, walked to his room and asked him what was wrong. he said he didn't know. i asked him if he just didn't want to come and he said he didn't know. hmmm. thanks for the help. finally i made the decision for both of us. i told him i'd made up my mind, he was coming with me this time.

sometimes i let him choose to break our plans, and, much more rarely, he chooses to stay at (or come to) my house when it's not scheduled, so he countered my decision with, "You always say it's up to me." i told him that was true, but that was a privelege, not a right, and that he only has that privelege when his mother and i give it to him- and this time, i was making the decision myself. he kind of argued for a couple minutes with me, and i suppose at this point it was obvious that he'd made up his mind to stay, but once i'd been forced to make the decision myself i wasn't going to change my mind. he laid back on his bed while he was talking to me, and i told him to get on his feet, and he didn't obey. i told him if i had to pick him up and put him in my truck i had the ability, and the right, and told him to get on his feet. he didn't move. so i told him this is where i enforced my authority, and hauled him up by his shirt onto his feet- and that's when his mother walked in.

she crossed the room quickly and put herself between me and Loren and threatened to call the police, telling me i needed to calm down. that's classic behavior for her- to act as if i'm upset when i'm not. up to this point i really hadn't been upset, but that was enough to do the trick. she hadn't seen what was happening but inserted herself in the situation and countermanded my authority without knowing what was happening. she said i was scaring Loren, which wasn't true. he was a bit surprised i was making him come this time. and i told her she needed to stay out of it. she answered, "You're scaring me." i told her that if that was true, she got scared too easily, because i wasn't doing anything scary. she was getting angrier by the second, likely because i wouldn't back down from her; she may have been trying to intimidate me, but it wasn't working. she threatened to call the police. i told her to go ahead, i hadn't done anything wrong, and again that i thought she should stay out of it, and that i had the right to take Loren with me, and to enforce my authority over him. she told me to stop yelling, though i still hadn't raised my voice. actually, i was making a conscious effort not to inflame the situation. it's really quite impossible to talk to someone, consciously matching their tone and volume with your own, when they keep just telling you to stop yelling. so frustrating! but also nothing new.

and then the really bad part: Loren heard the word police and went from rather upset to downright distressed. Loren's mom sat him back down on his bed and both his mother and i took the opportunity to ratchet down the tension a notch. i welcomed that- and so did Loren. i repeated to Loren everything i'd already told him, with his mother present, and she basically interjected comments along the way agreeing with me concerning my right to take him with me, but she placed herself beside him and "comforted" him, even though he was in trouble for not doing as he was told, and that effectively negated my authority. she also never quite dropped the accusatory tone, occasionally telling me to stop yelling, though i'd still never raised my voice. i took this as proof that she felt tension in the situation, and tried to keep things as calm as possible. i don't know if she thought she was the only one aware of the tension in the room? regardless, she never disagreed with what i had to say to Loren, but she did offer to exchange weekends so that he stayed there this time and came the next one- but by this point i'd had enough. the last time he was to spend the weekend here it was a flameout too, for other reasons, and i told her i'd already made the decision not to give him the opportunity to decide this time, and that he was coming. the conversation continued for a few minutes, and Loren's mom eventually left the room and stood outside the door, possibly thinking that Loren might be better served if she did step out of it for a bit. but i realized that nothing positive was going to come from this at this point, and i ended it.

i told Loren, if you're not going to come with me when i come for you, then "i'm not going to come here anymore." i think he misunderstood me, because he immediately got really upset again. i tried to clarify what i meant by that, and told him there was nothing stating i had to pick him up from his mom's, and that i did that because he preferred it, but why should i bother when i call and no one answers, or no one's there when i show up, or Loren plain old doesn't come when i arrive? i told him honestly that everything in my life is planned around the time spent with him, and that when he doesn't come when he's supposed to it screws everything up. like i said, i knew there was no positive for anyone involved at this point, and when i'd said my peace it was time for me to go. i told him to come get his stuff out of my truck, and that the next time we talked it would be because he called me, and that i hoped it was soon.

i passed Loren's little brother on the way out, and tousled his hair and told him, "See ya, dude. Be good." i suppose it's at this point that i'd have had to have told him i was going to get drunk, if what Loren's mom wrote in the restraining order statement wasn't truly unbelievable.

Loren dragged his feet some more getting his things out of my truck, i think he was trying to drag the situation out so it might end differently, but there wasn't any way to make things better in that time and place, so i helped the process along by handing some of the things to his mother myself. i told her she'd done nothing to help the situation and i was fed up with things. Loren tried to give me a couple books of his, which he'd originally included in his stuff to bring, that he thought i should read. i told him just to take them, i didn't want them right now. it was obvious this whole incident had left him pretty sad, and i knew if he'd come with me we'd have been able to talk it out and we'd both feel better, but that simply wasn't going to happen now- the conversation would have to take place later. when everything was back in his mother's house i gave him a quick hug. we were both upset and needed it. and told him to call me soon, and he told me he would. i also told his mother in no uncertain terms that the next time she threatened to call the police on me in front of Loren she better do it, or else i would. i hate being threatened, and especially when i'm not doing anything wrong.

since then, my calls over the week went ignored by Loren's mom. i called approximately 12 times over the next 5 days, and never had them answered, with one exception that didn't end with my being able to talk to Loren. one night Loren managed to call immediately before bedtime, the call lasting all of a couple minutes, and he apologized for his behavior Friday night. i told him we'd have to have this conversation in person, it wasn't something to talk about over the phone when he was short on time. i asked him if he'd remembered to turn in his math homework on Monday (we'd planned to do it together over the weekend, and i suspected he hadn't finished it with his mom) and he confirmed that he hadn't. i told him firmly, but gently, to take care of business in school, and even though i was careful about how i handled it, i kind of regret that now, as this was the last opportunity i had to talk to him. it was the right thing to do, but it bothers me that i had to talk to him about school work in light of later developments. the school talk lasted only a few seconds, and i asked him something else (i don't remember what) and he told me his mom wanted him to get off the phone, and said, "Hold on-" then after a moment abruptly said, "My mom says I gotta go, bye" and hung up.

since then my calls haven't been answered or returned. yesterday i was served with a restraining order, which prevents me from talking to him. welcome back to court, folks. like the title says, it's back to the bad old days all over again. for the uninitiated (and you may count yourselves lucky, because it evidently takes only a baseless allegation against you in order for the court to grant them) the temporary order requires a hearing to determine whether or not the order is made 'permanent', which means effective for one year. since Loren's mother named him in the paperwork as one of the protected parties, now i don't get to talk to him at all- which is obviously unacceptable. the allegations in this restraining order are (typically, for Loren's mother) overwhelmingly false, and to a smaller degree blatant exagerrations, but that's enough for the court, especially with our history.

well i was understandably upset about all that, and today i called in to work to let them know i'd be spending the day doing something about it. the first thing i could think of was getting the court date moved up. since the hearing wasn't scheduled for another couple weeks, and therefore two weeks in which Loren and i don't see each other, that seemed a good place to start. there may be more things i can do, and i'm seriously considering hiring a lawyer- though paying for one would certainly require some rather intricate financial maneuvers.

part of the restraining order was illegible, so i called to get a clarification on what it said. i asked if there was anything i could do to expedite the whole process, and it turns out i could go in and file what's called a motion to modify. getting the court date moved required making three phone calls to determine the correct people to talk to, and filling out some minor paperwork, including a reason the date should be moved up. i did that, then it was time to wait for court to be in session, to speak with the court commisioner (judge). she read everything over briefly, and ultimately directed the court clerk to telephone Loren's mother and set up an earlier date. it was obvious, from the one side of the conversation i couldn't help but overhear in the lobby of the court clerks' office, that this surprised Loren's mom and that she was argumentative and displeased. i gathered that Loren's mom said something along the lines of "that won't give me time to prepare" (something, likely a custody modification concerning Loren, to more permanently prevent him from seeing me) but i was pleased the court clerk was more concerned with the judge's decision to allow the court date to be moved up, and told her that since the temporary order prevented the respondent (me) from seeing his child the court had granted me this motion, and it was only a question of finding a time that would work for both parties. score one (a small one) for the respondent, and i suppose that means a miniscule one for father's rights on the whole. let's get this show on the road, i say. i want my day in court, and i want to see my son. after the new date was set up with the clerk it was back to court a second time, to finalize the motion, and then it was back to the court clerks' office for paperwork.

then home to take a nap in the late afternoon, to do something about this throbbing headache that the painkillers didn't touch this morning. it didn't work, i was awakened by a particular dumb sounding heavily-asian-accented telemarketer that hung up on me last night when i asked her to remove me from her calling list. tonight i asked to speak to her manager, and she hung up again. idiots.

actually, sleep is looking pretty good right now.


12 hours of sleep

makes anything a little better. a little coffee, a few consecutive minutes with no demands on my time...i feel almost human again. guess i should try to get something out of this weekend.


today is a good day

for lots of people, but not for me. i don't know if it's human nature, or just my own, or even just my conditioning through circumstances, but it seems normal to me for people to carry a little sadness with them all the time, kinda lurking underneath everything. that's easy enough to get distracted from, or ignore. but there was a time when i was really profoundly sad, for a long time, and all in all that wasn't so long ago. i thought i remembered what that was like, but now i know i was wrong. it felt more like this, and i hate it. in one way, i hope i forget all over again, and soon....and in another way i hope i never do.


sunny sunday

nice day today. mid 60s. still not warm enough to convince me spring has arrived- i'll wait for a solid 70 degree high for that- but an encouraging sign, nonetheless.

work was rather uneventful last week. spent a lot of time running the CNC torch. i'm reminded of the song, "Workin' At The Car Wash Blues" by Jim Croce, in which he laments that a man with his intelligence should be "smokin' on a big cigar", rather than "sittin' here wipin' these cars". grunt work, to say the least. running a machine is certainly not the most stimulating job in the world. it's this blogger's ovbservation that machines generally don't offer much in the way of provacative conversation, nor do they often make profound observations or engage their operators in witty repartee. those with a large need for social interaction would do well to find employment in fields offering more in the way of human contact. as for me, i'm able to basically ignore the lack of social interaction or intellectual challenge, so it amounts to but a minor annoyance. after all, it's not supposed to be fun, that's why they call it "work", right? still....i know some people truly LOVE their careers and find them immensely rewarding. maybe someday i'll be lucky enough to count myself among that group. for the moment, i'm going to count myself lucky to be gainfully employed working for/with decent people whom i genuinely like, earning a sufficient (though certainly modest) income with which i'm generally able to support myself- which is better than some can say.

it's easy to complain- it's another thing to realize the glass is both half empty AND half full, and view your subjective dissatisfaction with a proper amount of realistic objectivity.

since Loren spent the entire weekend last week here, it was his short weekend (what i usually call "his mother's" weekend) this week. Friday his mom took him to a kinesiologist, without telling me beforehand, of course, and the guy ran him through the ringer for a while. the man (i refuse to call this quack a doctor, after the description that follows) did some reflexology type crap with Loren, having him hold his hand up and resist force, tapping him on the head to clear blockages in his nerves (as i understand it). he watched Loren walk and through this simple observatory technique determined that Loren's hips were out of alignment, his left hip being too high and pushed forward- which he "fixed" by having Loren hold up an arm and ramming his shoulder into Loren's ribs. completely scientific procedure, mind. he looked at his skin and eyes and through these observations and more of the pushing-against-his-hands things came to the conclusion that Loren had a "viral and bacterial infection" in his "upper and lower intestines"- which he promptly fixed with more of the same types of physical manipulations, stating that his body would clear these infections in approximately 72 hours, thanks to this treatment. he determined that Loren's "stomach acid was pooled in the back of his stomach" and fixed this by shoving hard on his abdomen, thereby "realigning" Loren's stomach to stand once more upright, in its correct orientation. he also through the same diagnosis techniques determined that Loren's pituitary gland harbored its own infection, and fixed this with more of the tapping on the head crap. in the end he prescribed Loren to take some "extremely rare, extremely powerful" vitamins consisting of a form of plankton harvested from the ocean. the entire visit lasted (i gather) a couple hours, and cost his mom $35. she was ecstatic to finally get this guy's phone number from a friend, as she's been trying to get it "for years".

i asked her why she took him to the "doctor" in the first place- was he sick? was something bothering him? "No- it was just for a checkup." but nevermind- these people will ALWAYS find something wrong, it's what they DO. this guy cracked Loren's back around, and in the end threw so much bullshit on the ground it's a wonder anyone could get out of the office without a shovel. i told Loren's mom that she's NOT to take him to the "doctor" again (or a real doc, for that matter) without informing me PRIOR to the visit, so i can be there. i'd've called this guy out, right then and there, and i told Loren the same thing. i asked Loren some really pointed questions about what the guy did, and how he came to the conclusions he did. i asked him if he really thought anyone could simply look at you and tell whether or not you were infected by viruses or bacteria (he agreed with me that that was extremely unlikely). i also asked him if he thought it was really possible that someone tapping him on his head would accomplish anything in the way of eliminating either viruses or bacteria from your body....by the time i got done talking to him i think he'd managed to think objectively about the whole thing, rather than just swallowing what this guy had to say whole.

it's amazing my son has an basis for reality whatsoever with the amount of bullshit he's exposed to. what a TOTAL waste of time and money, and what a crock of absolute shit!

so anyway....Friday night was relaxing here on the home front. the Star Trek: Voyager DVD hadn't arrived yet, so Loren and i availed ourselves of the opportunity to dive into the Dragonball Z: Captain Ginyu saga over our usual pizza. we spent some time wrestling on the floor. Loren was reluctant at first, but eventually warmed up to the idea- at which point i think he actually surprised himself a little of what he was capable of. he's a strong kid, no doubt about it. he picked me up over his shouder and walked me around the room, no problem. we also arm wrestled a little. i love the physical stuff; and it was the most fun i've had with him in a while. he used to wrestle me all the time when he was little, and he'd go at it totally gung-ho, but lately he's gotten to thinking of himself as more fragile and would complain rather than give it back to me. i think our Friday Night Fight may have given him back a bit of his old confidence. a little swagger never hurt anyone.

Saturday morning Loren had a couple hours to himself, and he spent them mostly playing video games, i think- i was sleepin' so i know not. i got up and we just kicked it around the house for awhile, not doing much of anything but sorta hangin' out. i watched him rack up some tournament victories in DBZ: Budokai 3 (a great PS2 fighting game) and finally hauled my lazy butt into the shower. Loren took off with some friends while i was getting cleaned up, and since i couldn't find him when i was ready, took off to the store while he was out. looked around for him a bit when i got back, but he still wasn't around so i did some dishes, etc. like i said, nothing spectacular this weekend. after he showed back up he decided to check the mail and see if our DVD had arrived, and since it had, we squeezed in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager before he headed back to his mom's. he'd set it up so she came for him this time around- a nice break from driving, which i nearly always do myself. he was in a good mood when he left, and he's been in a good mood the couple times he's called today.

i spent Saturday night watching a couple movies, M. Night Shyamalan's Signs and Frank Miller's Sin City. both were pretty good. really liking Joaquin Phoenix- he's an interesting actor to watch. Mel Gibson is usually a pretty good bet. Signs was not exactly what i expected, and i waited too long to see it- like i have most of Shyamalan's films. i'm getting to be a pretty big fan of Shyamalan's work- he's definitely got a gift. Mickey Rourke was fantastic as Marv in Sin City- he really made the movie for me. i wasn't sure what to expect from that film, but it was a VERY highly stylized production of Frank Miller's graphic novels (which i've never seen). it was really like nothing i've ever seen before. some places it was brilliant, others it was almost campy it was so corny....the three stories in the movie were only very loosely connected, which made for a slightly disjointed experience, and there was a fourth storyline sort of dangled in there, in the opening and closing sequences which didn't connect to either of them (that i could tell)....strange. fun though. worth watching for some of the action sequences alone, or for the cinematography alone- it really looked like a comic, mostly black and white with very spare use of color. Benicio Del Torro was fantastic as a cop (and subsequently a talking corpse). overall it really kinda grabbed me and held me on for the ride. by the time the 2nd movie was over i was definitely ready for the sack.

this morning i restrung my Jackson and spent some time playin' it. felt good. wrists and hands are bothering me from work, so it's actually a little painful to do a lot of the things i used to take for granted in my younger days. sucks to sacrifice your body to make a living. dug into my newest book, King of Foxes, the 2nd in the Conclave of Shadows series by Raymond Feist. fun books, entertaining, not exactly challenging.

back to work tomorrow. if anything interesting happens this evening i'll be back for more posting, but barring that: PEACE OUT


as endeth the weekend, so beginneth the week

this weekend went off without a hitch. nice for a change. spent some actual quality time with m'boy. Friday night was the usual: we watched the Sonics game over pizza (they lost an extremely well played game to another of my favorite teams this year- and my beginning-of-the-season pick to win it all- the Detroit Pistons), then delved into an episode of the second season of ST:TNG. it was a relaxing night, with no surprises.

Saturday was a somewhat harried morning, after some confusion about Loren's plans to go to a birthday party for a friend. he and his mother had all week to prepare for it but neglected to, and it sorta got dropped in my lap. i knew about it Friday night, but didn't have the time or the inclination to do anything about it then, so i suppose the resulting chaos the next morning was partially my fault as well. still, a week is much longer than an evening and a morning. after watching the stress level of The Eternal Stress Triangle (Loren's mom - me - Loren) ratchet up for a few, i cut the problem off at the knees, declaring i would take care of everything, and bidding Loren relax, we'd get it all worked out....in 45 minutes. i had him copy the address from the invitation at his mom's (with his mom, over the phone), threw on some clothes, pulled up an internet map for a glance, and we made tracks to the local Target, for the present Loren picked for him, a video game. unfortunately they didn't have it, but in the end i got off a little cheaper. we found a decent birthday card which (appropriately) declared the best part of Loren's gift would be that his friend got to pick it out himself, and we tucked some money in there. the kid evidently made out like a bandit, incidentally, as most of the others invited to the party did the same. i suppose everyone's working against the clock to some extent, or maybe it's just easier on everyone that way, and we're all lazy? i certainly would've preferred to have Loren bring a wrapped present, but that would've precluded Loren showing up at anything remotely near the beginning of the party. so you get the results we got. Loren told me the kid netted $95....a damned respectable haul for a birthday, in my opinion. in any case, Loren had fun, which to me was the most important part of the whole deal. the party was supposed to be over at 3:30 or 4pm, and about 4:15 (not having the number and not being able to get an answer when i called his mom's place) i headed out to pick him up. Loren was supposed to call me about 1/2 an hour before it was over, so i could get some lead time to pick him up....evidently calling me to let me know the party was extended till 5pm wasn't something Loren thought necessary....so i showed up about 4:45 asking if Loren had overstayed his welcome, but 15 minutes before the party let out....so what to do? i told him to enjoy the next 15 or 20 minutes while i went to the store to pick up some dinner.

while i was gone, his mom showed up, thinking he was leaving with her. evidently (and unbeknownst to me at the time i originally showed up to pick him up) she'd already been there once (before me). these people looked at me a little bewildered when i showed up the first time, and i suppose that contributed to it. so while i'm gone at the store, she shows up again, and she's still there when i show back up 15 minutes after the first time. well...which way would Loren head? she was under the impression he was going back to her house, i was under the impression he was coming back with me. he told her he'd planned on coming back with me, and eventually we all got out of those people's driveway. let chaos reign!

the afternoon was pretty much over when we got back, and i started in on dinner (steak, mashed potatoes, broccoli....pretty much Loren's favorites). we ate over a little more Star Trek, and ended up killing the last 3 episodes (fine with me, i get to return the DVD that way, and that left the next night for other things).

Sunday was mostly relaxing. i broke out the blender my folks got me for Christmas and whipped up a (so-so) batch of Irish cream. Loren spent the majority of the afternoon on homework, and i spent some time helping him with it. i think he actually likes doing homework at my house- at least he certainly seems enthusiastic about it while he's doing it. i think he likes the fact that there aren't any distractions and that i'll jump in and help him pretty much whenever he asks...and i've got a pretty good grasp of most of what he's doing so i'm actually able to contribute something to the process. if i end up giving him the answer to something i usually make up another problem like the one he's working on, to make sure he knows the method. and i try to get him to think a little more than he might otherwise about what he's doing, and stress the whole 'neatness counts' thing.

he recently got a zero on one of his language (writing) assignments and he had to make up the paper. under the old system, he would have lost his video games for a week, but i've changed the rules, since they didn't get me the results i was looking for last quarter....which reminds me i still haven't gotten a damn report card....grrrrr. as punishment for failing to complete that assignment i told him (when he first came, Friday night) that he'd be doing some extra work around the house. i basically kept him somewhat busy doing small things all weekend, and he executed those duties conscientiously and with a good attitude, as well as completing the assignment, so he worked his way off the hook. he had a presentation to give in social studies (world geography) today on one of the accomplishments of ancient Greece (his group chose medicine as their topic) and he was in charge of the visual part of the presentation, as well as 1/3 of the oral presentation. he thinks he (and his team) did well, and the assignment is worth a large portion of his overall grade, so i hope they did. he seems basically on top of things, but he's not doing very well in math, and the week he spent out of school sick sorta dropped everything, across the board, as well. most of his grades are steadily improving since he got back to school a couple weeks ago, so i think he's headed in the right direction- for now.

we hit the store for something for dinner...Loren chose frozen lasagna. not the worst choice, and better than some i thought of. the Sonics played the Jazz (they absolutely destroyed them) on Sunday night, so we watched that while it cooked and while we ate. Luke Ridnour was chosen for the US National Basketball team, which means he's likely to play point guard in the Olympics in 2 years- pretty khoul. Loren had his Ridnour jersey on for the game, and Luke had a great game. gotta root (route?...never spelled that out before....) for the hometown boy. it was about the most fun Sonics game i've seen this year- though i have to admit, the Pistons game the other night was damned impressive, and tense right up till the end, which is always thrilling. i was as stunned after that loss as i was after the Steelers got the Super Bowl win this year. we played a game of chess and then i checked out my NBA fantasy stats while Loren devoured some more of the latest book in the series he's been reading. these books have been sitting around for awhile; they were a Christmas present from his Aunt Melissa & Uncle Jason a couple years back, so it's nice to see him finally get into them. once he picked them up, he was sold. before too long though, we dove into our "evening" book, The Wishsong of Shannara by Terry Brooks. it's been a while since we got back to that, and it was the right ticket.

i've been going in to work later in the mornings, which allowed me to take him to school this (Monday, 3/6) morning. that was a nice change of pace, and something i hope to see more of. since he's not in any sports at the moment, the chances of my seeing him during the week are about zero, and if i can squeeze out a little more time with him on Sunday nights, and Monday mornings, when he spends the weekend at my place, you won't find me complaining.

then it was off to work. spent the morning fixing parts punched out slightly wrong by one of our partners...actually, our company is the machining "agent" for another company that does punching work, and we (together) sell these parts to another company, which in turn either repackages them first or just sends them on as-is to a fourth company. basically, my boss payed me to fix as many of the parts that were done (slightly) wrong by the other company that handles the material before we do, and i spent a couple hours in fixing them. we recovered about 2/3 of the parts, which may have almost netted my boss enough to cover my wages for the time. we'd've likely got paid for those parts anyway, since the error wasn't ours and our machining work was good, but since we work so closely with the other company it's just one hand washing the other, a bit...and advances the process of parts going out the door, which is just plain old good for business.

i spent the remainder of the day on the CNC torch, cutting a plethora of steel flatbar into 5-sided figures we casually call triangles (they're roughly triangular shapes) for machining. the technical term for these is 'link sliders', which means about Diddly Squat to me, not having seen how they actually integrate into a finished assembly. we then machine (drill and bore) holes in them, with a diameter tolerance of +/- .001" and send 'em off by the hundreds. the CNC torch is the newest addition to my scope of work, and a welcome change of pace from what i normally do (which gets awfully boring day in and out). always nice to stare at something different for a while. i rather dislike wearing a dust mask all day (due to constantly grinding off the rough edges of the steel pieces) but i dislike blowing black steel dust out my nose (and knowing it's settling in my already-rather-challenged alveoli) even more. would be nice to get some thicker steel scrap and cut out a few more of the bookends i made at my old job with the waterjet company (precis architectural, no longer in business). maybe i can scam some scraps off another guy we do business with, who cuts some other (thicker) material out for us....one of these days.

i spent the evening tonight going over Loren's homework assignments and school day on the phone, and completing the conventionalization of names of files in my digital photo album. that was an undertaking, it required renaming and captioning nearly 500 pictures and video clips. the work had stacked up for a while, and i think i'm finally ready to begin uploading them into online galleries. that'll also take some time, during which i'll likely take more pictures....it's a neverending process. i need my own domain, so i can run some scripting tools and do something really interesting with all this content i've got lying around on disk.

ok i think we're up to date....time to get some quick food and hit the sack. PEACE, all.

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