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PERSONAL (permalink) 01.29.2009
the art of choice
i've recently completed my annual hyrum review. this would be the process i spoke of on my reading page in january of last year (at the bottom of this page). a core facet of a hyrum-review (what the process has come to be called in my home) is to create a list of your core values or priorities. the importance of this, in addition to simply knowing what your core values are, is to help you structure your days. for example, lets say a college buddy calls you up and invites you to play golf on saturday. when you look at your calendar you were scheduled to take your son to the park and work on his baseball skills. after a long week of work, a smack-talking golf outing seems more appealing than a tee-ball lesson for a five year old and is what a parent, a father, a man is inclined to choose given the option. but, odds are, deep down, your relationship with your son is of more importance to you than your relationship with old college pals and your golf handicap. so knowing your core values plays a role in making decisions throughout the year when 'conflicts' in time management arise.

to set your values you are to lock yourself away for a long weekend and smoke peyote or sleep in a pilates pose and reach deep inside yourself to discover what is truly most important to you. the reason this is a bit of a thing is you are meant to remove all the noise, static and distractions of daily life so you can get serious about the matter. once your values are set it is recommended you look at them every day to keep yourself pointed in the right direction. additionally, you should revisit the list every year or so to tune it to life's changes. in the last several years the one thing i seem to routinely change deals with my expectations for myself as a father. the rest of the items remain pretty static. this year, i changed the father blurb to:

this experience is tragically temporary. do not take my time with my children for granted. they will be gone soon. too soon. create an environment they want to be part of so they may cherish their memories of their father, family and home.

after seven years, i think i'm finally getting to the meat of that one. the credit for this progress goes to marty. in the last few years marty has on a few occasions described people she has met as people who don't seem to enjoy their children. every time i've heard her say that it's made me disproportionately sad. i reckon there's a root for that but i'm less interested in that than i am in making sure it doesn't happen to me.

if you're interested in what a list of values might look like, mine are shared below. some folks consider these quite private but that's not exactly how i roll. so if you'd like to enjoy learning about what makes troy tick read on. if you could care less, click through my brother.

do not deprive myself of my life experience through poor, selfish and gluttonous behaviors. stay healthy. stay fit. stay away from doctors and hospitals through wise living.

always remember my luck in finding marty. she is the one. cherish her. make her feel special. work to make her dreams come true.

this experience is tragically temporary. they will be gone soon. too soon. do not take my time with my children for granted. create an environment they want to be part of so they may cherish their memories of their father, family and home.

treat my children with respect. treat them as i would treat another adult i respect. be consistent. be patient. be kind. be just. don't spoil them to the point of ill-preparing them for the world they will one day enter.

there are limited minutes in our lives. the clock is ticking. use each day to achieve things that matter. leave a mark.

make my professional contributions be of consequence and import. never let my role be questioned or compromised. control my experience through excellence.

expand and exercise my mind. read every day. be curious.

i have those values printed out and taped onto the back of my PDA. i read them everyday on my way home from work. i find that this forty second review helps me get my head straight before i move from my serene and orderly office to my chaotic and bursting home. if hyrum has taught me anything, it is that often the little things that make the biggest difference. the key is to know what you're looking for.

HEALTH (permalink) 01.28.2009
for our next patient
monday night i became sick quite suddenly. because of a meeting i briefly went to work tuesday morning. i then came home, went directly to my room, got in bed and went to sleep.

the kids had a snow day and were home from school on tuesday. marty invited a bunch of ladies and their kids over to play. i would occasionally get pulled from sleep because of screaming or laughing or loud running down the hallway. one time i stirred from sleep because of talking, close-by talking. i opened my eyes and lifted my head. standing around my bed were ten to twelve kids all eight years old or younger. they were all staring at me intently like i were a classmate's curious show and tell bauble. bella was standing next to my head talking to all the children like she was leading a group of medical interns on rounds. she was saying:

this is my father. he got diarrhea last night and it kept him up most of the night. diarrhea makes you have to use the restroom a lot. so today he is tired. this is why he is sleeping now and not at work.

of course when she said the word diarrhea, a few of the kids standing around the bed screwed up their faces and said "eeewww" and took a step back. if i were them i would have found my mom and asked to go home.

KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 01.27.2009
early jump
is today a school day?

yes it is.

ah dammit.

from his tone and the easy way it rolled from his five year old mouth, you'd think he had to take an obnoxious client to lunch or deliver bad news to a subordinate on this day.

and these are still coming from marty's camp. when i become the source of their swears i'm confident calls home from school with threats of detention will be part of the discussion.

KIDS, SOCIETY (permalink) 01.26.2009
outsmarting your children isn't as easy as it looks
in dating you have something called hand. the notion of hand was probably best handled and described by seinfeld and team. if you haven't heard the term it pertains to the battle for influence between a dating couple. i believe it is an abbreviated phrase for 'having the upper hand'.

in the world of parenting, hand is replaced by something called currency. as a parent it is always your job to know what your child's currency is. currency in this context refers to any object or event your child especially loves. with this knowledge, the theory goes, you're able to influence your child's behavior instead of beating them with a switch.

but, children also have their own currency. a child's currency is what they can do to sway the behavior of their parent. such currencies for children include looking cute, acting sad, throwing a tantrum, making lofty promises, embarrassing their parent or saying they hate the parent. these are all antics done in the hopes of causing a parent to buckle. as an aside, all child-currency has an inflated value in public. and the more public, the greater its rate. children who understand this principle of micro-macro-economics can often be a handful and are known as children who wield their currency with great expertise, getting the absolute most for their money.

the other night alex and i got into a row at bedtime. i wanted him to go to sleep. he wanted to invent things to delay his going to sleep. after threatening his currency he stood for a few moments and then turned to me and shouted, "FINE. THEN I WILL GO TO BED WITH NO STRAWBERRIES AND NO BOOKS!" after this outburst he scaled his ladder and threw himself into his bed and was asleep moments later. this would be an example of me using my currency with greater alacrity than he used his. while one may be inclined to gloat, i suggest your do not because we all have the occasional weak outing. like the time i threatened to take bella's play horses from her for a week. without a hint of emotion she suggested i take them for two weeks and offered to throw in all of her dolls for added measure. that was a solid counter-move on bella's part and easily trumped my dated notion of her currency. then there was this time when alex got me all twisted up:

alex if you don't put that stuff away like i've asked i'm going to take away your transformers toy.

i have a transformers toy?

uhhm. well yes. i mean, i thought you did?

can i see it?

i don't know. i'm not sure where it is right now.

what does it look like?

i don't think i know that either. maybe we should pick another toy.

ok. but if you see my transformers toy, can you show it to me?

uhhm. yeah. sure.

in reproduction, there are two kinds of impotence. there's the physical kind that doesn't allow you to have children and then there's the emotional kind that happens after you have children. the research isn't entirely conclusive as to which of the two is more psychologically crippling to the male esteem.

MUSIC (permalink) 01.23.2009
dancing has always been one of the most peculiar human behaviors to me.

SPORTS (permalink) 01.22.2009
a super bowl prediction and theory
let me first say that i grew up a steelers fan. let me next say i'm still a steelers fan. let me add that i've never rooted against the steelers or ever doubted their ability to win a game. all that said i think the vastly superior steelers are going to lose the super bowl to the just burgeoning cardinals.

here's the deal.

three years ago the head coach of the steelers announced his retirement. rumored and favored to take the spot was the steelers offensive coordinator, a man named ken whisenhunt. whisenhunt had been with the steelers for five years and was responsible for the offense which had just won them the super bowl the year before. when it came time to name a successor to bill cowher, for reasons never made public, the steelers decided to go with someone other than whisenhunt. whisenhunt immediately quit and went on to become the head coach of the arizona cardinals.

now the cardinals suck. the cardinals have always sucked. and they surely sucked when whisenhunt took over. yet, just four games into the job, his former team, the undefeated steelers strolled into the arizona desert only to get their ass handed to them by a one and two team now managed by their former offensive coordinator.

whisenhunt doesn't like pittsburgh. whisenhunt has something to prove. whisenhunt has a fire in his belly that is burning hotter than anyone else at the table. guys like that don't sleep and people who don't sleep are hard to beat. i wish you luck pittsburgh but i also hope you appropriately watch your ass because someone is seriously out to chew it up and eat it twice.

update: i'm aware this story is being glossed over and whisenhunt is saying he holds no angst towards the pittsburgh organization. i'd buy a dell computer before i'd buy that story.

HYGIENE (permalink) 01.21.2009
and light broke over the mountaintop and everyone saw that it would be a good day
i fished my first thing out of the toilet for reuse. it was a pair of tweezers. i saved them for two reasons. first, i didn't think i could successfully flush them down and secondly, we use tweezers a lot in this house. unfortunately, we don't use them for fun things like shaping my chest hair into a bold triangular mass like nic cage had in valley girl (although, if i had more than seven chest hairs spanning my chest, we just might be doing that). we instead use tweezers for splinter extraction and dangly skin removal and dropped screw (in toy) retrieval.

losing a pair of tweezers to the toilet was inevitable because of the way alex uses them while going pee. you see, alex is a nail fetishist. he loves clipping and pruning and detailing his nails. marty or i haven't clipped his nails in over a year. i'm sure 6 in 10 korean nail places would hire him tomorrow if i'd allow it. a couple times a month you'll find alex standing before the toilet, his batman underwear pushed down around his ankles, his wispy thighs leaning against the bowl's rim supporting his weight, his bladder long since emptied, even that lingering hanger-on drop has fallen or dissipated from his penis. he is lost in what he's doing. all his focus is directed at a single fingernail. all of this energy is put towards manipulating the too-large and hard-to-hold clippers to make that next cut just right. when he's shaped and cleaned his last nail he looks up and slowly reorients to his surroundings, coming out of the temporary fog he was standing within.

having watched his ritual more than once it is easy to know it would take just one lapse in thought to loose the clippers or tweezers to the bottom of the bowl. on the positive side, it's impressive it hasn't happened before now. on the down side, in the best of scenarios, you know you have at least one tiny bladder's worth of urine waiting to coat the fallen instrument when it does go in the drink. the most encouraging part of this story is after he asked me to help and after he showed me what happened and after my face sagged at the sight and after i showed him how to fish them out with a bent coat hanger and after we washed them in the sink, alex turned to me and said that he though about just flushing the toilet but knew that was a bad choice and came and got me instead. if that isn't a happy ending to a very long chapter, they just don't exist.

SOCIETY (permalink) 01.20.2009
time to pull the car out of the ditch

four years ago i felt the infrangible website best captured the disbelief in many people after bush-43 was RE-elected. as of late, it was beginning to feel like this reign of terror and error would never be over but finally the day has come. but with it comes bad news too. whatever will jon stewart and company do with all their free time.

KIDS (permalink) 01.15.2009
buckle up, we've got some chop ahead
anthony has transformed from a stout toddler to a crotchety geriatric in just weeks. the way he swaggers about the house, the way he pushes away things he dislikes, the way he scoffs at certain foods, the way he furrows his brow if you misinterpret his grunts and growls, you'd swear this guy is going on 80 instead of six months from three.

the other night a sound stirred from sleep, i lifted myself onto an elbow to look into the hall for the disturbance. as i squinted at the poorly lit corridor anthony came strolling by eating a banana like he was walking through the park on a midday lunch break. i looked at the clock. it was 3:27am.

for a bit his nocturnal movements perplexed me. i knew he could get out of his crib but i did not understand how he was getting back in. to clarify, anthony sleeps in a pack and play. for those that know what one is, it may seem like a cruel accommodation, but please remember that he started out on top of a ping pong table. for those not familiar with what a pack and play is, it is a portable playpen and nothing more than a mesh-walled box with a thin plywood base covered with a padded mattress. since the playpen is slightly elevated anthony can easily get out by swinging a leg up on the side and rolling over the top bar. but this same elevation makes getting back in much trickier because the bar is too high for him to pull his body up and over when standing on the outside. one night seeing him head that way, i got out of bed and quietly followed him back to his room. from a distance i watched him. with great confidence and routine he climbed onto a wooden chest which sits a few feet from his crib. once on the top he stood fully upright and after just a flutter of hesitation jumped towards the edge of the crib. his initial grasp was uncertain but he fought his way up and over dropping to the inside and then dropping flat similar to how you or i might fall into bed.

i recently described anthony to someone as being very much like bella but a male version of our determined girl. they put a hand on my shoulder and said, "sorry dude." a more serious and heartfelt condolence could not have been given by this particular person. and i accepted it with an equally serious and wordless grace.

PHOTO (permalink) 01.14.2009
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.
January 2009

QUOTES (permalink) 01.13.2009
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.

HEALTH (permalink) 01.09.2009
dinner, a movie and a digital rectal exam for dessert
from the time i was 27 to 37 i went to the doctor once to twice a year. usually it was for a sinus infection or chest congestion that wasn't going away fast enough. the last time i went to the doctor it was for a ruptured bursa (sp) sack in my knee, an injury i obtained while chasing my kids on the skater ramps at city museum. i waited six weeks before seeing my doctor. i thought the knee would have cleared up given that much time and when it didn't i went in. my doc quickly diagnosed the problem and said that sort of injury takes 6-8 weeks to heal. after serving this diagnosis he started flipping through my chart and asked how old i was. i could tell by the tenor of his voice that he had bad things in mind and i quickly and sternly replied that i was not yet that old. sensing my tone he said i was coming due. next time i said. next time he said. yes, next time i repeated. what i knew and what he did not know was that there would not be a next time.

i've talked about this topic before but i bring it up for two reasons. first, and something i didn't realize until recently, since my doctor threatened me with a gloved and Vaselined playdate i haven't had a day of illness that has required the help of special medicine or professional care. and it's not that i've needed it but have just avoided going in. it just hasn't come to that. and secondly, a doctor i know recently confided to me that there is currently a debate among the medical community on the need or efficacy of this procedure. i happen to know a little bit about another such debate and feel that it is only prudent of me to conduct some research into this matter before allowing additional psychological damage be done to my body or person. i mean, now that i have brought two beautifully uncircumcised boys into this razor-happy society, i've been in the market for a new social-ill to give time to. i think we may have a player.

and when marty asks what i'm waiting for i tell her i'm waiting for technology that will tell them what they need to know while sitting on the other side of the room. when she says that that ain't gonna happen quick enough i tell her i'm then waiting for the spousal training program where she can be trained on what to look for. i'd surely be willing to conduct her breast exams in return. much more than just preventative health care would come from such an insightful and empathetic program.

SOCIETY (permalink) 01.08.2009
troy's home buying advice
i like old houses because they know what they are. new houses are like young children and teenagers. they just never know what to be because they are in a constant state of flux.

a new house is only new for a very short time.

then it's kinda new.

then it was once new.

then it's dated.

then it's tired.

then finally, it is reborn into something both special and unique.

if you start with a new or transitioning house, it won't be officially old until your time is done there and you pass it onto a buyer of another generation. so save yourself from spending your days in a schizophrenic home and just buy an old one from the start. it will promise to always be old for you and you can never have enough stability in a family home.

WEB, PHOTO (permalink) 01.07.2009
now twice as good
here's a little something i slipped into internet waters last week when no one was looking.

PERSONAL (permalink) 01.06.2009
working too hard
the passing of marty's father represents the closest person to our children to have died since they've been old enough to absorb things. fact of the matter, ken is the closest person to me that i have known to die. for this reason there was a lot of processing going on in our house over the last few days.

minutes after breaking the news, i sent marty to be with her mother and siblings as this unexpected event fell on their family. this for the most part made me a single, stay at home dad. in between the gatherings and ceremonies i've talked to both bella and alex about what is happening and their thoughts on it all. alex asked about how we would see grandpa again. he asked if grandpa was in heaven. he asked if grandpa was sad. he asked why people were crying. essentially, he asked a bunch of normal and legitimate questions, many of which we talked through together because i didn't know the answers any better than he did.

as for bella, she didn't ask a thing. to a direct question asking her about her questions, she said she had none. while at the wake i asked her if she wanted to go up and say goodbye to grandpa. she said she didn't. when marty later asked her about it, bella said she already did say goodbye. i wasn't really sure how to interpret bella's reticence to talk about it but i gave her space because she didn't seem upset or withdrawn and just kept telling her that if she had questions she could come talk to me. she said she knew this but never asked a single one. the morning of the burial, bella drew this picture while eating breakfast.

after looking at it, i asked her about the third item in the legend. she said that she would have used that mark next to grandpa if he had been murdered but since he wasn't she didn't have to. still curious, i stood for a moment studying the picture in my hand feeling there was a follow-up question i was missing. my eyes focused on her perception of grandpa's face and i saw that he was smiling. i thanked bella for making the picture, told her i thought it was special and walked away. how bella portrayed her grandfather in her drawing tells me she has, like her mother, a healthy understanding of what transpired in this last week. in fact, i think she reached this point far sooner than i had. i would typically say i'm pretty good at not over-thinking a problem but perhaps i'm not as good at it as i like to think i am.

PERSONAL (permalink) 01.05.2009
papa ken

marty's father passed away on new year's eve.

when the phone rang, marty was at the store with alex. after answering the phone, i couldn't understand the caller. i couldn't even tell who the caller was. this was because the caller was sobbing uncontrollably. after placing the voice, it took effort to understand what they were trying to say. twenty minutes later i was the sobbing individual trying to tell my wife her father had just died.

at the hospital, marty's mother described the morning. she said they slept in late. when they woke they sniggled. her word. i don't know if sniggled is a pet name for snuggled or a euphemism for something else. either way it sounded warm and special. they went downstairs for breakfast. she was sitting at the table reading the paper and eating. ken put a cup of coffee in the microwave and came to join her. in her peripheral vision she noticed that the hand he placed on the table when sitting down began to slide across the table top. she looked up already saying, "ken, what are you doing? are you alright?" he collapsed. it was that quick. that immediate.

when we told our children alex was the first to speak, "grandpa? not grandpa. we need grandpa. he's the only one who can fix the trains in the basement when they stop working."

for me, ken was a man who took me into his family without an outward ounce of angst or judgement. and at the time i came to him, i wasn't a young man exactly brimming with potential (i assure you, i was no stranger to overt demonstrations of displeasure from young women's fathers regarding their daughters' taste in men). when i asked ken and nat for their blessing to marry marty, ken explained to me that he was catholic. that he raised his children as catholics. that he educated them in catholic institutions. and that obviously he would prefer that they marry catholics. after a measured pause in which his wife watched him with curiosity, he went on to say that i seemed like a good man who loved his daughter, treated her with respect and made her happy and that he supposed he couldn't really ask for more than that in a husband for her. i learned that he later confided in someone that he thought it was also a plus that marty could 'take me' in a scrap if she ever had to.

papa ken's support for me did not waver in time and he was never anything but a kind, interested and supportive father-in-law to me. in that he was all i ever knew i didn't realize how special his role in my life was until after receiving that mid-morning phone call on the last day of the year, twenty years to the month after i first met him. this is something i will forever be sad i did not tell him.


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