Basketball update 7/16/09

July 16, 2009

Jake’s team won last night. We are now 3-1. The kids are having fun. I like the fact that no one kid is dominating and that all are involved. Hopefully, the wins will continue. While winning is not the only thing, its generally more fun to win.

On the other extreme, Josh’s team lost. They have some excellent players but there’s little teamwork and almost no defense. It just shows how playing as a team makes a difference. Great talent, mediocre team.


I think I hate Compusa

July 13, 2009

I went to Compusa last week to fix the kids computer. I’ve been working on it intermittently for a few months, trying to figure out why its overheating. I swapped out most of the parts, added some internal fans, to no avail. It still overheats. But the experience at Compusa has a left a really bad taste in my mouth. They charge $49 to diagnose the computer or $129 to fix the computer. I asked if I could have it diagnosed first and then have that applied to fixing the computer – no, if you diagnose it, its another $129 to fix. I never heard of a diagnosis not being applied against fixing an appliance. Then, they wanted the money up front. I’m paying for a service before its performed. That means if they don’t fix the computer, it will be hard to get my money back.

Two days later called and told me they fixed the computer but that they couldn’t reproduce the problem. Why they would then be able to tell me that they’ve fixed the computer? What did they fix?

This is also a significant difference that I’ve found between hardware and software people. Software developers won’t try to fix a problem until they can reproduce it. Hardware people will often find something to fix and assume they’ve fixed the problem.

In any case, the real issue is Compusa’s policies. To me, its bad business. Its clear that its not about taking care of the customer. Its about the money. Its a store I will avoid in the future.

BTW, the kids found over the weekend that its still overheating. That means I’ve go to go back. This is going to get old very quickly.

Family Update – July ‘09

July 10, 2009

Thursday Samantha went to college orientation. She’s going to go to Palm Beach Community College in the fall. She wants to get a degree in Education. She worked in the spring as a counselor in an after care program and really enjoyed working with kids. We are thrilled that she’s decided to further her education.

Wednesday we won our first game in Jake’s summer basketball season. I’m coaching his team again. After ten straight losses in the spring it was nice to win one. Jake had a solid game – the kids all played well.

Josh has been playing basketball as well. He is on a good team although the teams at his age seem to be less team oriented and more "street". Josh’s focus has changed though, from basketball to music. Josh has been playing guitar for almost two years and his hard work is really starting to pay off. He’s getting quite good. Here’s a link to one of his performances with the School of Rock (Jake is on keyboards). He was asked to be in the main band for the local School of Rock.

Jake also has been getting involved with music playing keyboard but also dabbling in bass and trumpet.

Alec is taking it a little bit easier this summer but he’s no slouch. He went to music camp and performed as both a drummer and debuted as a singer. He seems to be a natural performer.

My band played our third gig. Here’s a representative piece filmed by a very fidgety 12 year old (Jake). If you listen closely you can hear him singing along. Here’s Come Together.

Bridget is busy with Bar Mitzvah planning and Jake is working hard learning his material. It should all “come together” very well. Hope to see our family and friends soon.

I Married an Onion

December 12, 2008
If you know Bridget well, you know she loves onions. On more than one occasion, I’ve kidded around with her and declared “I married an onion”. She would probably eat an onion like an apple. Yesterday, she decided to make French Onion soup. All day long, she had two large pots cooking filled with caramelizing onions. I knew it smelled, but since I was home all day working, I guess I didn’t realize how much.

In the early evening, I took Jake to a music lesson and was sitting in the large rehearsal room at the School of Rock with the musical director, Burny, and Jacob and we hear Susan, the manager, from outside the room stomping in, “Why does this entire school smell like onions?”. Sheepishly, I told her that Bridget was cooking onion soup and incredulously Susan asks, “In here? “. “No”, I told her, “at home” . Burny and Susan walked up to Jake, smelled his shirt and exclaimed, “Oh my god, you guys smell like onions”.
However, it was well worth it, the soup was excellent! We just need to plan better ventilation for the next time.

Mom’s 92nd Birthday

December 7, 2008

Last week was my mom’s 92nd birthday. She’s doing fairly well, as well as someone with advanced Alzheimer’s can do. Physically, she’s fine.

On her birthday, last Tuesday, Bridget and I went for a visit and brought a cake for her and the other residents to enjoy. They had a little celebration with the other people that live there and it seems that everyone always loves cake.IMG_3758

Yesterday, we went back to celebrate with the kids. Samantha had to work but my nephew was with us and was happy to tag along. Mom was quieter than usual and its hard to determine whether that was due to medication, being a little overwhelmed by all the people or just a mood. I believe she truly enjoyed having us there. We ate cake, gave her a bunch of gifts. What’s not to like.

Visiting her facility is always like a trip to the “Twilight Zone” and this was no exception. The residents are all Alzheimer’s patients with different manifestations and varying degrees of the disease. I know many of the residents, particularly the people who tend to continuously walk around and will sit with you. Its something that you have to accept when you visit, that there’s a good chance that while your visiting mom, someone else will sit down with you and start talking.

As you can see in the picture, Edna, wandered into our picture. We know Edna because she’s always roaming the IMG_3754hallways and coming over to us. She nice and very harmless, even though we never really know what she’s talking about. Lately, she has been a bit “friendlier”, in that she’ll come over and sit next to me and hold my arm – tightly. Evidently, she likes men. Yesterday, after this picture was taken she took hold of Jacob’s arm and starting walking away with him.  Jacob being respectful and a good sport, didn’t fight and went with her, but looked back at us with a “Please help me” look. I went to his rescue and intervened, freeing him. Sitting back down, Jacob indicated he was now ready to leave. Bridget and I have learned to take these situations in stride. You have to be able to laugh.

We don’t bring the kids to visit that much, its not an easy place to be. But, I make sure to let them know that visiting IMG_3710grandma is a mitzvah and they should understand that in some way that she is not able to communicate, she loves seeing them.

Alec’s got braces

November 11, 2008

Yup. I’ve got three kids with braces. Samantha, my oldest,  also had braces for a few years but she had them off before any of the other kids got them. Fortunately, there’s only one month where I’m paying for all three. Josh’s braces are paid for next month although he won’t be getting them off until the spring.

IMG_3599Alec’s teeth were very misaligned and he was self conscious about it. This was partly due to an accident he had a few years ago where one of his front teeth was pushed back. His dentist was concerned about permanent bone loss and the orthodontist concurred that he needed them sooner rather than later.

The orthodontist told us that we would see a difference in 24 hours and, incredibly, we did. Its amazing what they can do nowadays. Alec has had less discomfort than any of the other kids and keeps saying he’s happy to have braces. He’s a little strange. Usually, the kids want to get braces until they actually get the braces. At that point they are not nearly as much fun. Alec says he likes them because he can already see that his teeth look better.  I give him a lot of credit because I know from personal experience how uncomfortable they are.

Jake’s first concert

September 2, 2008

A few months ago I took Josh to his first concert, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi’s Soul Stew Revival, a very good blues oriented band. It was an outdoor venue and Josh enjoyed the show, although I wouldn’t say he was thrilled with it. It was a little low-key for what Josh was hoping a rock concert would be. If you are not aware, Derek Trucks is a great guitar player, particularly noted for playing slide guitar, and his wife Susan Tedeschi is also a very good guitarist as well as vocalist. In addition to Derek having his own band, he’s one of the guitarist’s in the Allman Brothers Band.

My  two younger boys expressed dismay at their not being asked to go to that concert. Its seems that the older siblings always lower the barriers for the younger ones. For example, Samantha, my oldest daughter never had candy until she was 4, but her younger brothers got to try it at a much younger age. In the same way it appears that Josh had broken the concert barrier and now the others would not be willing to wait until they were 14 to go to a concert.

I started thinking about what would be a good concert for the younger ones to attend. I found a concert I wanted go to and Bridget did not. The band is My Morning Jacket. However, I decided that Alec was still a little too young for this kind of concert.

I took Josh and Jake Friday night to see them at the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Center. In door shows are usually more intense than outdoor venues so I anticipated that it would be a different experience for Josh as well as Jake.

The show turned out much better than I anticipated. The band was excellent. They play a mix of genres but in approach they remind me most of Neil Young’s electric bands, i.e, loud, heavy guitars. Its a very classic rock sound. There was no opening act so the band came on at 8:30 and played almost 2 and 1/2 hours. Jake did get tired about 2/3 of the way through the show. While most of the audience stood for most of the show he sat the last half. Nevertheless, he really liked the music. Josh, thought it was awesome. For me, it was a double bonus, going to a great show and sharing it with the kids.