still Tuesday to me...not much to report, really

went to work. on a break i saw the same golden eagle (at least i'm pretty sure it was the same one) i saw during a break the other day at work. didn't get a shot of it this time, but here's the one from last time:


but back to today. i got paid last weeks' check. i'm about a week behind now, and won't get paid tomorrow (regular payday). need to be all current by payday next week; crossing my fingers that it happens. without 2 checks next week the mortgage payment won't happen. not my favorite scenario to contemplate, so i'll move on:

talked to Loren on the way to the bank after work. cell phones are addictive on commutes. nice to have something to do to pass the time though. at least when i stay as late as i did today the traffic's not too bad on the way home.

watched the Suns beat down the Mavericks to tie the Western Finals series at 2-2. incidentally, i think the refs took Nowitski out of that game. just my opinion. maybe the league really wants these series to go the full 7 games as much as possible. certainly can't hurt the revenue stream. but what do i know, i just watch a lot of basketball- never had to officiate a game. after basketball i watched a movie (Daredevil, a lot better than the criticism it received but not on par with say Spider Man 2 or Batman Begins). waiting for Superman Returns to come out....saw one shot from the film during a preview in the theater before X-Men: The Last Stand the other day, an extreme closeup in slow motion of a bullet crushed under its own force against Superman's open eyeball- pretty cool. but back to today: did laundry. updated the site and posted this and i'm OUT.


OK, so technically it's the 30th now

but as far as i'm concerned, it's still Loren's birthday....i'm still up.

Loren had a friend over at his mom's Sunday night, they stayed up practically all night (not surprisingly) and Loren kinda paid the price this afternoon when he pretty much ran out of gas. he dozed off a couple times at his mom's, and though i talked to him this morning and wished him a Happy one, i didn't get ahold of him again until late in the afternoon. he wanted to come and see me today, though his mom didn't want to drive him. i told him not to feel pressured to come, but i'd come get him if he wanted to, and in the end his mom met me halfway. i took him out to KFC and we got some chicken to go and came home. we ate and he opened his presents- all but one, which would have been difficult to open since i haven't yet gotten it. i was planning on saving one for his party next weekend so i haven't rushed out for it yet. we were a little rushed since he came so late, so we really only had time to eat and do that- but he had a good time and so did i.

a happy newly-teen-ager opening a present:

and, like always, i always like to look at the other things that happen to show up in pictures. in this one, two things that caught my eye were:

the Pistons had just taken the lead with 3:22 left in the 3rd quarter and :14 on the shot clock, in game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat. for the truly curious, the Heat came back to win it and the series went to 3-1. do or die for the Pistons now.

and lastly- the poster that i made for Loren for his 9th birthday party (incidentally the only one he's ever had at my house) has now been on the wall for fully 4 years:

but back to the story. after dinner and presents i took him back to his mom's, and headed back home. i watched a movie (Tristan + Isolde....pretty good movie) and now you're right up to the second on what's happening with my life. and now you are again. and again. actually....you're not. for that to be true this site would have to update as i type. as far as i know that's not possible; it's certainly not possible with the facilities available to me. and even if it were, i'd have to assume that you were reading at the same speed i was typing, without so much as the tiniest waiver in your concentration. so let me rephrase that: you're now up to date with everything that might be considered vaguely important, irrespective of the unremarkable experiences i deem too mundane to warrant publishing an account of.

speaking of which (catch the segue?) back to work tomorrow. at least it's a short week.


Mavericks by a nose at the end of the 3rd

and i figured what the heck...during the commercial break i might as well post a couple shots i took today.

my new moat:

one of the first two roses to bloom this year on my rose tree:

back to the game. go Suns!

and another three weeks go by

without any posts. let's see if i can fill in the gap...

on the 12th i took in the Cirque du Soleil show Varekai over in Redmond's Marymoor Park. that was a fun show, and the first time i can remember actually going out with both my sisters since my whole family spent the evening at a nightclub in Edmonds on Nichole's 21st birthday- ancient history. Loren was with us, and he really enjoyed it. the two of us met up with Nichole's family at their place before the show, and we all met Melissa at Red Robin in Bellevue, for a little pre-show dinner. the Sargent boys seemed pretty happy to see Loren, as it's been a while, and Loren always likes seeing his cousins. Cole was a bottomless well of hugs for Loren at dinner- much to Melissa's amusement. good times.

here's an excerpt from an email i wrote for a friend of mine who asked for a review:
great show. music was pretty good, if a little loud at times for that small a venue (they play live the whole show, backstage, except the vocalists, who are in costume and onstage) and the dancing/acrobatics/costuming/lights/etc. were all great. nothing i've seen before really compares with it for spectacle, it's not a circus in the Ringling Bros. model (but i knew that going in). basically, in this show, they blur the line between musical-theater style storytelling (it follows a theme and loose plot throughout the show, which you can basically follow though the lyrics aren't in English and there's not really dialogue), dance, and acrobatics.

there were times the show was flat hilarious- they break up the whole thing with some basically unrelated hijinks a couple times, which keeps it fresh, and it's fairly long, at maybe 2.5 hours. there's a pretty good intermission in the middle. they do some clowning around in the stands before the real show starts, while people are being seated. seems like they pretty much have it down to a fine art, and it's fun.

worth the money i spent. i got the best seats i could get 4 in a row of (maybe 15 rows back, toward center stage, in a tent that holds about 2,500 seats). most of the show wouldn't suffer much from being farther back, and to a certain extent they play to all areas of the crowd, on a circular stage in a circular tent in an amphitheater-style horseshoe arrangement of seats, but i'd definitely recommend getting as close to center stage as possible.

moving on the remainder of that weekend, i spent some time digging in my yard, doing chores, etc. i've been taking advantage of bouts of decent weather and free time to dig a french drain into my back yard, attempting to alleviate the drainage problem that's been plaguing me since i bought the place (almost six years now!). Loren spent the day on Saturday, and we caught up a little on our Star Trek DVDs, as usual (TNG flavor this time). i think it's definitely doing him some good to have things back to normal. he seems to be making an effort in school. he was definitely struggling in a bunch of classes at the beginning of this quarter, but he's addressed a lot of those problems and brought most of those grades up. i couldn't resist pressuring him a little when i saw things bottom out as low as they did, but he was receptive to what i had to say and responded, so i'm proud of him. he's still stinkin' up his language (writing) class though- that one's definitely going to take a significant effort to change.

Sunday the 14th was Mothers' Day. i got Loren over to his mom's before noon; i made the decision he'd be going. and i made it out to see Mom, which was nice. the other day when i was in Safeway i saw the biggest strawberries i've ever seen in my life, so i picked some up so's to not show up empty-handed. brought my camera with me, and Melissa was kinda enough to take this pic:

2006. - Dad, me and Mom on Mothers' Day

of course, Mom (or was it Dad?) was kind enough to turn the tables on Melissa and get this one:

as you can see, Melissa got a little sun that day. i gather she'd been helping Mom and Dad move a rediculously large pile of rocks out of the big ol' hole my dad put in the yard, widening their driveway. in my book, manual labor from the daughter beats strawberries from the supermarket by the son....but it wasn't a competition ;)

here's another email excerpt, from the following Tuesday, the 16th:
been diggin' a trench in the backyard. three trenches, unless you count this shape: |_| as one trench.... ran into a monster rock today. way too big to pick up- must weigh 180-200 pounds? buried a foot deep. managed to get it free and up out of the trench but it completely ruined my trench line, of course, and it was right in one of the corners (just missed it when i dug the perpendicular trench), so it actually ruined 2 lines. did me in for the day. yesterday i told my folks i was about 3/4 done with 2/3 of the digging (which is a slightly more descriptive way of saying "about half done") but today i'm more like 3/4 done with 2/3 + 1/3 done with the other 1/3, so now i guess i'm about 11/18 done. give or take a little. depends on how deep the whole thing ends up- and if i run into any more boulders. so far i've managed to miss all the concrete i buried last year, which is very very good. that would be a big pain to work through.

most evenings after work find me glued to the NBA playoffs this year; the postseason play's been as good as i've ever seen. i have to say the West has far out-excited the East. kinda rootin' for the Heat at this point, for no other reason than i'd like to see Gary Payton get a ring. i don't think Alonzo Mourning's got one either, so that'd be ok also. problem is, i kinda like the Pistons and they'll have to lose for the Heat to go to the finals....so be it i guess. none of their important guys are nearing the end of their careers. but in the West, the Suns are vying with the Mavericks for the conference title, and i think it's a toss-up who'll take it. i guess i'm sort of rooting for the Suns, to make it a Suns-Heat finals. if i had to put money on it, i'd bet on the Suns in that series, but still going to have to root for the Heat i guess. it all just gets so muddled when your team (the Sonics baby!) doesn't make the playoffs. maybe next year, if they're still in town. the ownership of the Sonics franchise (Howard Schultz of Starbuck's fame et al) want some serious remodeling done to the (recently!) remodeled Key Arena or they want to sell. they asked exactly $1M shy of the highest price ever paid for an NBA franchise....maybe they're somewhat willing to sell, if the price is right, but it doesn't ring convincingly that they just want to get out at any cost. we'll see. the team played well after the trade deadline, the new additions of Chris Wilcox & Earl Watkins especially. both guys stepped in and filled gaps in the team's arsenal, inside game and explosive play from the perimeter, respectively. but enough about the NBA, and back to filling in the remaining 12-day gap in this blog....

the next weekend (May 20-21) was the first weekend Loren spent at my place since all the BS that began in March. we watched a movie i've been waiting a while to watch with him, How'ls Moving Castle, which was every bit as good as i hoped it'd be. once again, Dad nailed Loren's taste to a T. really, that's not very impressive considering he's likely to enjoy anything that's really good- and many things which aren't so good. but he does seem particularly impressed by movies i'd judge be particularly well done.

the weather was nice, so i also enlisted his help with the French drain in the back yard, and he jumped into the task enthusiastically. sometimes hard work is fun- it's a matter of perspective, as with most things. he got out there and sweated behind a shovel and sorted out rocks from what we dug up.

we spent a little time playing ball, and some more time playing chess, and we even got in a game of poker- dealer's choice, like we always play. he sort of steadily lost for a while, but after about an hour of playing he won a couple good hands and got nearly even before losing interest in the game. i think we played for about an hour or so. good times, again.

here's a couple shots i took on Saturday the 20th:

one of a pair of European starling's that's taken up residence in the attic over the den:

not sure if this is the same bird or the other of the mating pair:

and one more, of my favorite strange bird:

i'd been carrying on an email conversation with my uncle Terry about philanthropy in general and Bill Gates' brand of it specifically. this is an excerpt from an email i wrote on the 21st:
Uncle Terry wrote, likely somewhat tongue in cheek, unless i miss my guess:
>Even if all of the richest people impoverished themselves, there would just be a never ending new supply of tragedies to remedied, and unending multitude of excruciatingly poor people forever. in line, always needing help just to get through each day.
this was my response:
i have to agree that the number of people sitting around waiting for (expecting!) the world to help them up seems to keep growing. and as i truly believe in the right of individuals to accumulate (or inherit, or otherwise possess) their fortunes, and to use or hoard them as they see fit, it follows that i can't stomach socialism in principle, let alone in practice. an even playing field (even a predominantly even one) is a difficult enough goal. so, myself, i'm left hoping the silver spoon crowd occasionally tosses a few bones to the little guys; i don't think compelling them to- or attempting to eliminate financial inequities in society in general- is the answer.

living on my quite meager (for this country) income, and struggling to maintain what most here would consider a very modest standard of living, and judging as i do the value of this standard not against a higher standard enjoyed (and often taken for granted) by the richest, but against the lower standard of those multitudes of excruciatingly poor, and feeling a certain degree of shame that i've not used my relatively fortunate position to do even what little i might to help out, i'm not sure i could live with myself if i was in Gates' position and still did nothing.

i'm fairly certain i could exist quite happily indefinitely on about twice the money i make now, adjusted periodically for inflation, and manage to provide for all my needs and many of my wants and still find something left over to spread around a bit. but sitting on tens of billions of dollars is another thing entirely. i'm absolutely certain i couldn't rationalize a purely selfish purpose for that kind of scratch.

what i can't decide is this: is it really possible to desire to help someone less fortunate than yourself for purely altruistic reasons, and not to some degree be motivated by guilt? or putting it another way: is it possible to believe you can and should help someone, without feeling that if you don't help them you've done something wrong? if it's not, and i kind of suspect it's not, than is there any true altruism? isn't everyone who "does the right thing" simply choosing to avoid feeling the shame of doing the wrong thing?

comments directed on that or any other thing can be directed to the email address indicated at the top of the page. forms in triplicate not required.

the next day, the 22nd, i went to traffic court to address two tickets. here's an excerpt from an email i wrote at the time about that:
went to traffic court today, and i'm once again convinced it pays to go put your $.02 in. i was sitting on $235 in traffic tickets, one for 51 mph in a 40 (my speedometer never exceeded 44, i was paying attention since i saw the cop and was pretty sure i was being clocked) and the other for not having a driver's side mirror on my truck. the mirror thing just got dropped since the cop didn't write anything up in his report about it- even though i was going to admit fault for that, and went to court with proof i fixed it. the speeding ticket was reduced to $85. it would've been nicer if the speeding ticket had been dropped and the mirror ticket reduced, but i'll just count myself lucky the other $150 is still in my pocket.

after going to court i went back to work. need to get my hours in order, been a little light on income lately.

on the 24th i got an email from a friend who turned me on to a new web-posted video by a group in Florida, who put out what i'd have to consider a perfect pop song called 'Stay'. here's a link to it: [aforementioned link]. give 'em a listen, it's good stuff.

on the 25th i got a card from my long-time very good friend Shaun, who's recently become a mother! i'm really happy for her, i know she'll be a great mom. Congratulations again Shaun!

this is from an email yesterday; my sister Nichole wrote in response to my troubleshooting a file attachment my aunt Carol sent:
>Lowell - how come you don't have a job in computer nerdy stuff? Or else as an editorial writer. They both seem suited to you.
this was my response:
at one point i was certainly well-qualified enough to have a job working in IT, but for the most part i'm viewed as unqualified at this point. it'd take a leap of faith on the part of a prospective employer to learn i'm actually pretty well qualified to do 90% of the things an IT guy takes care of, but i'm definitely not qualified for any of the higher level stuff, like database management, network administration, etc. not that i wouldn't be able to figure it out- just my skills aren't comparatively as good these days as they were when things weren't so specialized and businesses' computer networks weren't as complex. a couple years of school or half a dozen really good books might fix that, but you need money and time for school and study, and i don't have the money to get a degree. if i had the money though, i have to admit i'd prob'ly be able to make the time. doing just about anything with computers would beat the hell out of what i'm doing now.

as far as writing goes, that would be a hell of a lot of fun, i think i'd really like it. i flatter myself to think i have a little talent with words- at least written ones- but i seriously doubt anyone would consider someone who finished high school with a 1.3 GPA (yes, i totally screwed off my senior year!) as qualified either; certainly in any kind of journalistic capacity or what-have-you. so again: school, to get a degree, to convince someone you're worth the risk. same problem.

but writing fiction or books- that's something else. anyone can do that if they can complete the work and take hundreds of rejection letters until someone bites. i keep thinking someday i'll write a book. i'm pretty sure i could finish at least one. in all my free time....

or maybe i'll just get some really good software and make a hell of an animated movie of my story. singlehandedly, since all my former co-consipirators have completely abandoned any and all creative endeavors.

or i could hit the lottery and start a recording studio; i'd be damn good at that, i know how to run everything and i have a good ear. i actually got trained for that, but i think there's a grand total of 20 people in the Pacific NW who hold actual jobs doing that. i bet more people actually make a living playing music than recording it.

which brings me to my first and greatest love: writing and playing music. i could just get all re-dedicated to finding yet another group, working really hard writing music the likes of which has never been heard, and have my name drop from the lips of enthralled masses worldwide, rabid fans flocking to hear these world-shaking sounds for themselves by the tens of thousands.

but in reality- and this information is real, taken from actual statistics in the music industry- for every 10 guys who pick up an instrument, 1 is actually talented. for every 10 talented guys, 1 is really talented. for every 100 of those really talented guys, 1 gets a record deal. for every 100 record deals, 1 record takes off, and for every 100 records that take off, 1 actually cements a guy's career. that makes it about 10,000,000:1 odds, and realistically, i missed the cut somewhere between the talented guys and the record deal. and i'm not getting any younger or better looking- a little long in the tooth to become a rock star. but never say never, i always say....you just never know. and there are other types of musicians than rock stars.

but there i go dreaming again. i'm allowed to do that in these brief pauses between the unending string of days through which i trudge doggedly, hour after spirit-crushing hour as a mindless automaton.

i'm like Salieri in the movie Amadeus: cursed with the ability to perceive and understand greatness, but lacking any for myself. it's a rather sad thing to expect from yourself, as i did from a very early age, that you'd do something the world would remember you for when you were gone, or at the very least to create something you judged important that would outlast you- to make a mark- and to be rapidly approaching middle age and realize anything you might claim to be proud of really doesn't amount to very much, even by your own standards.

and it's then that you really start to try to learn to be thankful for what you have rather than wanting what you don't.

me, i'm thankful for having a beautiful kid who's a really nice person (to his credit, not mine), with almost limitless potential if i'm any judge. he's still got all his opportunities ahead of him, and i suppose the most important thing i can be doing at the moment is preparing him to grab those chances and make the most of them.

and for our great family, who value me despite my insignificance on any larger scale.

and hey- you never know; once Loren's out in the world i'll have to focus on other things, and maybe i'll find a little greatness of my own.

so that pretty much brings us up to date. Loren was here Friday night, with his brother Phoenix in tow. Phoenix spent the night over here, and we watched another fun movie i've been waiting to see with Loren for a while, called Steamboy. score another one for the dad, they both liked it. they had a good time, and the next day we all went to see X-Men: The Last Stand. that was fun- i'm all for the blockbuster summer movies, the more the better. this one provided a couple shockers i wasn't expecting, which is always a plus, and they gave it a little gotcha at the end, just to keep the door open for more sequels. Hollywood does try to keep their options open on their successful franchises.

Loren left for his mom's after the movie, and i headed home to catch the Heat / Pistons game, #3 in the Eastern Conference finals. which brings us full circle, i believe.

spent a little time this morning brewing up another batch of my latest coffee pollutant, which i've yet to properly name. non-alcoholic, this time....i'm all out of Irish whiskey. doing a little laundry, getting ready to go out and scare up a little birthday largess for m'boy, and getting this blog up to date- which i've now done, so:

a good remainder of the weekend to all, and this blogger is taillights. PEACE :)


Loren returns!

Sunday Loren came over. VERY nice to see m'boy. spent some time talking about all the ins and outs and ups and downs and twists and turns of the last couple months with him. spent some more time cooking and eating a decent steak dinner and watching a little ST:Voyager. i covered most of this stuff in email once already so i'm going to keep this brief: obviously there are still some issues to get worked out, mostly the scheduling of when he's going to be here, but i was very encouraged that he was adamant about not changing the summer schedule (a week here, a week at his mom's). i floated the question of what he'd think about it if things were like that all the time, and he seemed very interested in the idea, but also realized that holidays, etc., can mess up a schedule like that. i have to consider that a show of maturity, that he can recognize the complexity of the issue and consider the effects of changes to his schedule. that's very encouraging. whatever happens from here, i definitely want him to be involved in the decision process, as i've said before, if only to know that his opinion matters, even if ultimately the entire schedule isn't dropped in his lap.

next weekend he and i and Melissa & Nichole go to Cirque du Soleil in Marymoor Park in Redmond, the first Cirque show either Loren or i have seen. should be fun, and the last incarnation of Christmas from 2005.

moving on....

sold the Geo (the one that's been sitting in my yard since the hood flew up and smashed the windshield last year) to my neighbor, for $100. the blue book on the car is $300, and the hood was pretty crumpled, the windshield beyond repair, and it has some relatively minor front end damage from a fender bender i got in before the windshield got broken. i tried to think of as many reasons to nuke the sale as possible, but my neighbor's a handy guy, and mechanically the car is sound, and he's willing to do the work on it, so we had a deal.

the Suns took game 1 of their 2nd round series against the Clippers this evening- pretty good game. looks like the Clippers are going to continue to play strong ball, and give them a run for their money. Suns point guard Steve Nash was presented with the 2005-2006 MVP award before the game, his 2nd, and in consecutive seasons. class act, Nash. Elton Brand continues to impress. hoping Loren gets to see Radmanovic play in at least one more game this season, since he was traded to the Clippers. maybe they'll play one on Saturday while he's here; if not, the Clippers will have to take the Suns and move on, or Loren's out of luck.

been digging a big trench in the back yard, putting in a French drain. actually, at the moment, my trench has about 4" of water in it from a pretty good rain we got on Sunday. the rest of the yard looks pretty dry- i started at the low point in the back of the yard.

just sort of waiting for next weekend to come around. can't wait to spend some more time with m'boy. missed him plenty. he had a good time while he was here, even though we had to spend some of the time discussing unpleasant things, and that was just what the doctor ordered.

out for now. PEACE



the restraining order against me was dropped today. as much as i would like to, i can't call it a vindication because the court commissioner asked Loren's mother if she'd like to continue to pursue the matter, before passing judgment, and Loren's mother declined; ultimately the court never ruled on it.

the court commissioner, having been personally involved in the training of the people who train the mediators at the dispute resolution center she referred us to, was interested in both Loren's mother's and my opinion of the mediation. Loren's mother and i seem to agree that Loren benefitted somewhat from the process. i think Loren appreciated the venue for discussing things he might not feel able to in other circumstances. Loren's benefit notwithstanding, the mediation was a wash. too many topics opened for discussion and no real results.

i waited until this morning before the hearing to fill out the blank parenting plan (visitation schedule, etc.) the dispute resolution center provided. as i suspected, this court room wasn't the place for discussing modifications to the existing court-ordered plan on record, or to enter modifications, so i wasn't surprised when that wasn't brought up. however, filling out the form gave me a chance to think about what the modifications to the existing order should be. it also answered the one question i'd planned on asking in this hearing today before i had the opportunity to ask. that question is: if the court has ordered mediation and/or arbitration as the primary means of dispute resolution between parties, and one of the parties determines the other isn't fulfilling their obligations as defined by the court, what does the other party do? the answer is: notify the other party in writing, by certified mail or other provable means, that mediation or arbitration is necessary to address some conflict, and if that party refuses to participate, a motion of contempt of court is to be filed with the court clerks office.

a lawyer could likely have told me that- but the paperwork the dispute resolution center provided me with for devising a new parenting plan states it clearly, while the actual process for addressing related grievances doesn't appear in the paperwork i received in my divorce. score one for the court for improving their forms in the last 8 years.

so the next question is when i'll get to see Loren. his mother informed me today that he didn't want to come to my place this weekend, but next....but i think since it's already been more than seven weeks since i've seen him, it's past due. i intend to see him before then. i called him today an hour or so after he got out of school, but didn't get through to anyone. a couple calls later i got his mom, and she told me he was in the bathroom. sounds like the same run-around i was getting before all this started. i had her inform him that just "seeing me next weekend" wasn't good enough and i would be calling him back, which i did a couple more times, though no one answered.

well, about 9:00 or so he called me "to tell me goodnight", when he didn't have much time to talk. he may have planned it that way. i asked him how he was and told him i thought next weekend was too far away for seeing him. i asked him if he knew that not calling me had hurt my feelings and he got pretty quiet. i asked him if he knew that not calling me had hurt my feelings, and if this was his intention, and he said it wasn't. i asked him when we'd talk again, and he said tomorrow before school was out, so he'd think about it in school. i told him if we hadn't seen each other in a couple of days i was going to come and see him. he didn't seem overly thrilled with the prospect.

but at least he called me- i'll consider it a step in the right direction.

however, the issue of visitation is still unresolved. as far as the court's concerned, the original parenting plan they put in place is still in force, which in my mind means enforcable. my gut feeling is to make the decisions for him for the moment, and deal with reinstating the visitation schedule with his mom, at least until the ice gets broken. once i've had an opportunity to talk to Loren alone for a while i'll try to get all three of us to sit down and work out the arrangements for the future- which will get submitted to the court this time.

i think it might be a good idea to find out if this restraining order, granted temporarily but ultimately "dismissed without prejudice", goes on my record.

but all this is going to have to wait until after work tomorrow.

thanks to Dad and Melissa for coming out, and everyone that's been in my corner for the last two months- much appreciated.

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