mono as in one or me. rail as in to vent or complain. thus monorail.


what i'm looking for

what i'm remembering
what i'm eating
who i'm looking like
what i'm coveting

what i'm reading
me vs mla's top 100

me vs afi's top 100

what i'm hearing

The Net
what you're wanting


page me

MONORAIL: MONTHLY VIEW [current]   [random]
KIDS (permalink) 08.31.2010
the agitator
anthony regressed in his potty training. out of fear of him not being able to go to pre-school, marty panicked. she agreed that every time he went pee or poop on the toilet he'd get twenty minutes of computer time. this plan turned the tide, saved the day and was working famously.

on saturday i passed by the kitchen and heard bella "encouraging" anthony to drink a large glass of water. he resisted saying he wasn't thirsty. she then countered in a sing-songy voice that if he drank a bunch of water, he'd have to go pee more which would mean extra computer time. after a pause of contemplation, i heard the glass get lifted off the counter followed by bella saying a conspiratorial, "good boy anthony."

sure, as a parent, there are plenty of perks to having older siblings around your younger ones. but subjecting younger siblings to the equivalent of a fraternity hazing rituals so you can draft on their extra minutes of does take a few marbles out of the good deeds jar.

PHOTO, KIDS (permalink) 08.30.2010
when anthony elects to do something, he's full in.
a picture of anfer and i from our neighborhood's fourth of july party someone just recently passed on.

WEB (permalink) 08.27.2010
and they released a collective sigh at seeing things righted again
multiple people expressed relief at thursday's post. based on what went down on monday, tuesday and wednesday, they feared i had gone mad or simple or both and that i was going to do nothing but stand and lecture and preach in judging and pedantic ways. but then i returned to poop and called it feces and bms and turds and it was big and in smears and cudgels and being yelled about.

you never have to worry about me straying too far from what you've come to expect around here. i'm boringly consistent. and genetically incapable of carrying on an adult conversation for more than seven minutes. and i'm also expert at surrounding myself with like-minded people. when i told a new friend that i've never burped the first thing she said in reply was, "so that must mean you fart a lot". i'm a magnet and insatiable for such things so you never need to question the questionable stock or caliber of what you will find amongst the stacks here.

HYGIENE, KIDS (permalink) 08.26.2010
getting there.
we're potty training anthony in preparation of him starting school in the next few weeks. this means we hear funny things get shouted in the house. funny things like ...


following this call you'll see marty alertly moving towards the noise. on this particular occasion, she charged around the corner to find anthony standing in front of the toilet peering and pointing into the bowl. when he saw marty coming he excitedly re-announced that he had pooped. as she approached she saw a small turd on the floor between his legs as well as a chocolate smear on the back of his calf (presumably where the floor turd grazed his skin on the way down).

marty pessimistically assumed this dropping on the floor was what anthony was celebrating but as she got to him she spied resting in the bottom of the bowl an artifact that looked like it was left by my college roommate and not our little blonde human. what was in the commode was huge and surely explained why this pebble-sized cudgel on the floor went so unnoticed (as well as the smear on the leg). when you're dealing with bm's of this magnitude, a little shrapnel like that is just the cost of doing business.

HEALTH, PERSONAL, KIDS, LIFE (permalink) 08.25.2010
PART 3 : a powerful alchemy
if you haven't read PART 1 or PART 2, you should do so before reading this.

there is a reason i thought to share my personal values at this time. two fridays ago bella and i were to spend the day together. this father-daughter event was to celebrate her successful completion of another year of school. in the past, this ritual took place on the last day of classes but now that she and alex attend the same school i couldn't take them both out individually. bella was kind enough to give the day to alex as it was his first full school year.

before i knew it there were just a few weeks left of summer and bella and i hadn't gone out for her day. marty and i scrambled to find a date. we squeaked it out on the last weekday of summer. bella requested to go to six flags (again) followed by a steak dinner. knowing it was going to be a long day, i went to bed early the night before. when i awoke, i checked the day's weather. 96 degrees. and i was to be out in it all day. add to this i was to spend the day with bella who for the prior week hadn't exactly been a model citizen. marty chalked her vinegar up to the fast approaching school year. i pointed at the late-summer weeks of going to bed after 10pm. whatever the source, times with the girl had been unpredictable and tumultuous, and i was about to navigate those erratic waters on my own, all day long, and in an inhumane heat.

after groaning at weather dot com i pulled up my values document and began my daily review. personal growth - check. value my time - check. care for myself - on it. care for my marriage - check. enjoy my children - uhhh, yeah, sure. equip my children for life - trying as always. professional excellence - got a pass today. be grateful - uhhhm, yes, gratitude, could use more effort here.

i then drifted down to the images, glancing at them in order. i take in the visual. depending on my troubles and/or the day ahead the various images wash over me differently. as i move through them, the first one to give me pause is the bride and her father. this picture always emotes something from me but especially when bella is on my mind and as noted, bella was on my mind today. every time i take this picture in i project to a day in the future when i will be in this man's position. and i'm sure it will seem like just yesterday when i was doing things like dreading taking my nine year old daughter to six flags. and i know whether i show it outwardly or not, i know, i know already, that this is how i will feel on the inside the day bella dedicates her life to someone else, someone else our family doesn't even know at the moment.

i then moved forward. my eyes next paused on the image of randy pausch. if you don't recall, randy pausch was the last lecture guy. the forty-something year old who went to his doctor with flu-like symptoms and was told he had six months to live. and he had three children all under the age of six. he died last year as his doctors predicted. so this is the image i find myself studying in the pre-dawn hours while thinking i don't want to go out for a dedicated day with my daughter because of the heat and because she hasn't been as pleasant as she's capable of in her last week of summer break. i stared at this image, this simple, low-res image of a smiling father holding his three children ... this father holding his three children shortly before he passed away with a cruelly inadequate warning. as i took this image in, i wondered what randy pausch would do to spend another day, a single day, with his daughter. i then wondered what randy pausch's daughter would do to spend one more day with her father.

bella and i went on to have an amazing, friction-free day that included hand-holding and smiling and stories and laughing and closeness and very little worry about the heat.

and this is why i chose, at this time, to share my private ritual with you.

HEALTH, PERSONAL, LIFE (permalink) 08.24.2010
PART 2 : yesterday i left my socks on. today i'm going full monty
if you haven't read PART 1 yet, i'd consider doing so before continuing as this will seem incomplete without it.

yesterday i shared my personal values. something i didn't share was that in addition to the written definition of my values, i also have a set of images that go with them. i'm a visual guy and somewhere along the way i learned that these images had a power to reach me in a different way and added a depth my written words alone lacked which is how the addition of photos to my simple written values came to be.

again, before the share, a few things about the pictures:
  • i use one image per value.
  • like the words, these sometimes change. but i've been pretty happy with the current set for awhile.
  • how it works is these images reside just under the written portion, so every morning i first read through the text posted yesterday and then i take a moment to glance at these photos, reflecting on each as i move through them.
  • aside from two of the images, the actual people in the photos are not the significant part of the story. it is the emotion the image elicits that makes them powerful for me.
  • i don't know who sgt joe hall is. it just seemed like a quintessential photo all family scrapbooks might have. oddly, it is the name in its elderly scrawl across the top that makes this picture not so pedestrian for me, or perhaps it is that it makes it perfectly pedestrian.
  • i reckon some folks might like an explanation for my selection for the professional value. i'm not going to explain. it's not important. it's the picture i have chosen and i have my reasons. were you to do something similar, you'd pick a picture that speaks to you.
  • the equip my children for life one could also possibly use some explanation too. that is one i might one day speak to but i'm not going to today.

unbuttons shirt ... again ...

personal growth
value my time
care for myself
care for my marriage
enjoy my children
equip my children for life
professional excellence
be grateful

now i'm naked, really.

Goto PART 3

HEALTH, PERSONAL, LIFE (permalink) 08.23.2010
PART 1 : please allow me to undress before you
for the last few years, i've been posting my daily and weekly regiment. this is the schedule i created to help me meet my personal goals. to be truthful, there have only been a handful of times where i've come close to a perfect week. but to be truthful again, hitting my marks or not, my weeks prove far more fruitful trying to adhere to this plan than if i entered life's fray without it.

it occurred to me very recently that i have never shared the counterpart to that schedule. this would be a list of the things that i, in long periods of contemplation, have come to know are important to me. some folks would call them my values. without this list also in hand, the schedule would be rather pointless and the same would be true the other way around.

before i share, a few things about my list:
  • i've been working on this document for about thirteen years. that would be three years longer than i've spent producing all of the content for this website.
  • there is no other block of text that i have ever spent anything near this amount of time and effort on.
  • the list does see edits but changes at this late point are usually fairly minor and have more of a nuanced effect rather than massive shifts in thought.
  • without this list, it is very possible my life would be in a complete shambles.
  • i read this document just about every morning.
  • i sometimes read this document twice in a day.
  • the most i've ever looked at this document in one day is five times. and it wasn't the day that was trying, it was me trying not to wreck something i'd later regret.
  • the red text is what i read if i only have a minute or two for my morning review.
  • i would liken this text to a daily chiropractic adjustment for my mind and soul.
unbuttons shirt ... the list:

personal growth
employ the collegiate spirit of continued growth, expansion, and improvement. live introspectively but do not compare myself to others. only compare myself to how i was last week, last month, last year. recognize and eliminate the bad. recognize and nurture the positive.

value my time
there are limited minutes in our lives. the clock is ticking. use each day to achieve things that matter. ritualize the things deemed vital. leave a mark. avoid the typical and unnecessary regrets.

care for myself
do not deprive myself of life experiences through poor, selfish and gluttonous behaviors. stay healthy. stay fit. stay away from doctors and hospitals through wise living. do not go down behind something i can control.

care for my marriage
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 relationship is the only up-close, intimate partnership my children will see first-hand so marty and i are teaching them, the primary ones teaching them, how to be part of a loving, respectful and healthy relationship built from friendship, adoration, and love.

marty is who i will be eating breakfast with and sharing porch-time with long after the children have moved on. it is vital i never stop nurturing and caring for the relationship thus keeping the friendship not only in tact but vibrant.

enjoy my children
this experience is tragically temporary. they will be gone soon. too soon. do not take my time with my children for granted. when i spend time with my children, actively BE WITH my children. do not squander these moments, i can never get them back and will forever regret not doing more with the relationships.

create an environment my children want to be part of so they cherish the memories of their father, family, home, and childhood.

equip my children for life
treat my children as i would treat another adult i respect. be even-tempered. be consistent. be patient. be just. don't spoil them to the point of ill-preparing them for the world they will one day enter. remember, you're raising adults, not children.

professional excellence
make my professional contributions be thoughtful and of consequence. never let my role be questioned or compromised. control my experience. remember my fortune in being employed and show my employers and clients this respect and gratitude daily. be consistent. be timely. be reliable. be conscientious.

be grateful
be grateful for the quiet fortunes in my life that i did nothing to create, earn or attain but benefit from daily (e.g. birth, health, family, locale).

pants dropped...

Goto PART 2

MUSIC, VIDEO (permalink) 08.20.2010
get ready to tap a foot, drum a finger and hum a song all day.
in the crazed event you haven't been keeping up with pomplamoose, they have new stuff to enjoy (videos below).

and believe it or not i can appreciate more than the completely hypnotic nataly.

in fact, i use jack as an example in a class i teach of the good sorts of things that can happen when you live your life through your passions. he is every bit as inspirational to me as any high-brow, often touted personality.

KIDS, MOVIES (permalink) 08.19.2010
ahhh shit ...
list of about two straight weeks worth of hannah Montana movies found in my daughter's bedroom which bodes about seven sorts of evil for me.

click to enlarge

KIDS, PHOTO (permalink) 08.18.2010
first day of first and fourth grade

KIDS, PHOTO (permalink) 08.17.2010
i hear four is the year they start wearing clothes
anthony turns four today. when marty asked him what he would like for his birthday dinner, he said, "meat with a bone." at four years of age he's already challenging his father for the title of most manly member of the home.

and i don't know what's more telling. that anthony asked for meat with a bone for his dinner or that i interpreted that as porterhouse or that marty interpreted it as a chicken leg. i guess it's easy to see who pays the bills in our house.

KIDS, PHOTO (permalink) 08.16.2010
beatnik and hollywood
bella and i snuck in our father-daughter day on the last weekday of summer. now that she and alex are going to the same school, and it was alex's first year at the school, bella let him have his day out on the last day of school and said she'd take hers later. later almost didn't happen.

we again went to six flags and then longhorn steakhouse at day's end. my favorite ride was the tidal wave. hers was the tony hawk roller coaster. the best food of the day was the porterhouse, easily, given how famished we were after a day in the ninety degree heat and our sack lunches. the best piece of advice dispensed during the day: always be friendly with bullies but never be their friend. the only problem with the advice was it was bella who dished it to me. we were soaking wet and excitedly walking up to get back on the tidal wave ride. i'm not even sure why the topic came up but she just said it with me trotting behind her and lapping it up like some adolescent fan-boy.

always be friendly with bullies but never be their friend.

always be friendly with bullies but never be their friend? i like that. that's good. where'd you learn that?

horse camp.

TROY (contemplatively)
hmm. can you explain why this is true?

well you don't want to be their friend because then they will expect you to do bully things with them. and you don't want to be their enemy because then they will bully you. so you just act friendly and all (smiley face) 'hey there' and then they'll leave you alone.

you would think on a nine hour father-daughter day outing, the more mature, more experienced, more educated father might be the one delivering sage counsel to the child but i can't honestly be expected to compete with tutelage as insightful as that, can i?

i'm the better for the day. i only hope bella benefitted and enjoyed her time a fraction as much.

TV, VIDEO (permalink) 08.13.2010
hey sonny crocket, where's tubbs?
marty and i finished watching lost last night. it only took us all summer to watch the final two seasons and we didn't finish a day to soon as the kids return to school on monday.

i was able to duck all the series-ending debriefs that happened when the show ended for real but i imagine there were plenty of groaning folks out there who were full of piss, vinegar and angst. i thought the series was exceptionally entertaining and other than when they started the time schism business looking a bit like the Lost version of new caprica, i'd say it is one of the higher caliber dramas ever produced for television. it earned, obviously, huge style points, was way big on creativity and mystery, and developed great, great characters and was just simply good, vibrant storytelling. but for all its mastery and reliability, the one area they proved most reliable and never wavered on was sawyer and his edgy nicknames. i can't recall how many of his quick quips earned a chortle from me but there were several.

and the intertubes, which is surely as reliable as an unsavory sawyer moniker, was good for an homage honoring sawyer's delivery and the writer's creativity.

KIDS (permalink) 08.12.2010
in an alex-centric world, he'd get to carry an empty gatorade bottle everywhere
i've mentioned how our home has only one bathroom.

i've mentioned how bella monopolizes the toilet for long periods, reading.

i've also mentioned how this has forced alex to learn to pee in the bathtub.

what i haven't mentioned is how alex has come to prefer peeing in the tub so much so that even if the toilet is open and the tub is (or is not), he will still pee in the tub. and if you direct him to the toilet, explaining that etiquette dictates that you only pee in the bathtub when the toilet is taken, in addition to being mildly perplexed by this not-well-documented hierarchy, he is always visibly nonplussed about standing before the more functional but less exciting commode.

ART (permalink) 08.11.2010
still keeping my day job but ...
my christmas day rendition of our home on a used etch-a-sketch one of the kids got from santa.

click to enlarge

KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 08.10.2010
a wise man child once said
the piece of advice i've given more than any other in the last six months is this:
if there is one thing my daughter isabella has taught me, it is to never, ever act or make decisions when you're angry. nothing good ever comes of it.
in fact, i dispensed that very bit of advice three times, to three very different people, for three very distinct scenarios just last week. there was even one moment where i could have better used the advice myself.

FAMILY, TRAVEL (permalink) 08.09.2010
red-letter weekend.
this past weekend marty's family gathered at the lake house of one of the in-laws. anthony believed, until we arrived, that the lake of a lake house existed inside the house instead of next to it. he was only partially convinced otherwise upon arrival. this weekend replaced the annual camping trip marty's family used to take before her father passed and the family camper was sold. while there were still blow-up mattresses involved there were now also king-sized beds, private bathrooms, docks with tall water slides, jet-skis, and boats good for fishing, water-skiing and/or giant-raft pulling.

the three-day weekend began with a morning of tubing. on anthony's second round out (with bella and i) a bout of wake turbulence bounced him into the air and out of the raft. seeing him fly out of sight i rolled backwards into the water (navy seal style!) and after twisting and rolling in the waves i came up to spot him bobbing in the water about twenty feet away. i quickly swam to him and and when i arrived he crossed his arms and dejectedly told me, "i no like tubing anymore!" to which i said i understood and we'd take a break, which we did, which was fortunately easy given all of the other equally fun distractions.

the weekend ended with alex becoming an accomplished jet-skier. when he began on day one he didn't want to go more than 10mph, even as a passenger. by the end of the weekend he was charging over waves at more than 40mph. for his last ride, alex insisted on taking his uncle mike out to show him how good he was doing. afterwards, mike commented to me how coordinated alex was at handling the ski (e.g. body lean on banking turns and rooster tails). he added i should hope this zeal never translated to a motorcycle. as for bella, she broke the 30mph mark within five minutes and the 40mph mark about seven seconds after that.

below are a few pictures from the weekend. the anfer picture shows him lazing in the water after going off the dock's water slide. the next two are of alex and bella piloting the jet-skis (and represents what i saw for a very large part of the weekend). the picture of bella ain't so hot but properly framing a shot ain't so easy when, between the chop and erratic accelerations, you're fighting to not get thrown from the seat. and with aleo, it's curious as a passenger to look down and see arms as wispy as his confidently governing something he just began learning days earlier.

thanks aunt chrissy and uncle mike for the invitation, all the effort and the bounty of experiences. my family's sunday dinner table conversation after arriving home was rich and alive with excited retellings and rehashings of the weekend. big and memorable fun.

VIDEO (permalink) 08.06.2010
i can promise you i was not doing this while at the beach.
from kottke:
Guillaume Nery is a world champion free diver; here he is "jumping" from the top of Dean's Blue Hole and falling towards the bottom. No tanks or anything. Insane. According to the info on YouTube, Nery's jump was filmed by free diver Julie Gautier, who was also holding her breath the whole time. Insaner!

KIDS (permalink) 08.05.2010
one of those moments
before leaving for vacation, i had purchased three albums bella had been talking about and put them on my ipod. while we were away i wasn't using my ipod so bella was free to use it for the week. when we returned from vacation i had to reclaim it for work and exercise. not wanting to leave bella without the music she'd been enjoying, i burned the three albums to CD so she could listen to the songs on a home stereo while i and the ipod were at the office.

she was still in bed reading on our first monday morning back when i was ready to leave for work. i came in and sat on the edge of her bed. she glanced at me. i brought my hand around from my back and held the three discs in the air. she held her hand out and took them from me, intrigued. as she flipped through each disc and read the hand-inscribed titles, her face lit up more and more at each successive disc.

thanks dad! now i can listen to them without having to borrow your ipod.

yep. now that i have to take it back for work and exercise, i knew it was going to be a bummer.

you're the best, dad.

and so are you bay.

i try to to be.

me too.

in that last bit (two lines), i do sincerely believe a truer thing has never been said between this father and daughter. fortunately, i think we both do pretty well most days.

WEB (permalink) 08.04.2010
what does troy read
the girl brave enough to tackle my hair, even sent an email requesting the honor of doing so post-larry, is thinking about starting a fashion blog. i told her that one of the very few websites i routinely look in on is, of all things, a style-based site. seeing me every few weeks and knowing how limited and shabby my style sense is, she expressed great shock and then interest in a site that could hold my interest so. here is the email i sent her.

this is the man and blog that for the first time ever made me want to be seriously fashionable.

great, amazing stuff.

and right out of the gate too.

i was initially very skeptical of his motivations and thought he was some device by jCrew or some greater garment industry to plant their baubles and product lines but it seems sincere.

he was offline for a few months but in pulling the link up to send to you see that he is back. this is good and great news.

hope you find it interesting, revealing, and most-of-all, inspiring.

a few of my favorite post of his:
robert evans
dorthea lange
jayne mansfield (that first picture is one of my favorite all-time, ever photos.)

BOOKS (permalink) 08.03.2010
a new BOOK REVIEW was posted today.

SPORTS, HOW-TO, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 08.02.2010
jimmyD put the soul in my stroke
when bella was born i couldn't swim. swim officially that is. i could swim underwater and dog paddle, but no for real strokes. three years ago i set an annual goal for myself to swim a mile. that is with no-stopping, flip-turns and all. at my city pool, which is an olympic-sized pool with 50m lengths, this would mean 18 laps, or 36 lengths. for most pools, it would be 36 laps and/or 72 lengths.

after one summer with much help from marty and by studying other lap swimmers, i learned how to swim freestyle, which some people call the crawl. this was the stroke i chose because it is the style i most coveted when watching other swimmers. at the end of the first year i could swim a 50m length with a reasonable amount of effort and needing several minutes of rest afterwards and before moving to the next length. since two lengths were out of my reach, the 36 i needed were astronomically distant.

i continued working into the next summer. my stroke was improving but i was still very much struggling with the oxygen management. by this time i knew there was something tragically wrong in my technique. i kept practicing thinking that something would click, akin to learning to drive a manual transmission, and i would just figure it out. the click never came in year two. there was a bright spot however in that while on our summer vacation, the fifteen year old son of a family friend taught me how to do flip-turns while we stayed with them for a week. i didn't get the technique truly figured out and working for several weeks but he definitely gave me the tools i needed. so even though at the end of year two i seemed no closer to my goal of eighteen laps, i was invigorated by my ability to do a flip-turn (a skill that was far more daunting than the actual swimming).

this is my third year working on this goal and i 'm calling saturday, july 31, 2010 (@12:30pm) the day i learned to swim, for real, because on this day the click came. it started as every one before it had. i drove to the pool, found an open lane, set my towel and stuff down on a chair, slid into the water, glanced at the pristine blue sky, stared down the 50m lane, got my goggles situated, took several deep breaths, thought about my mechanics, and pushed off just as i had hundreds of times before. but this time was different because this time i reached the other side ... and with plenty left in my tank. no racing against my fading breath. no pulling up. no switching my stroke to an above water option mid-way. i just went and went and went and went and then i saw the painted T at the bottom of the pool and i was there. elation! i rested for a few moments and pushed off back the other way. stroke, stroke, stroke, T. more elation. and i would go on to be elated six more times that day. and eight more the next.

it seems my stroke did not have a pronounced enough body swivel in the water and in addition to being inefficient was causing me to swim 'flat' which was making it hard for me to get good breaths of air. i'm crediting getting over this three year hurdle to a confident-rich, moxy-full kid i've never met named jimmy dshea. he posted a youTube video about the freestyle and stressed the importance of swiveling your body. his emphasis put this in my head and made me more conscious of this mechanic the next time i swam, which was this last saturday.

so while i still haven't yet gotten my mile, i now possess everything i need and plan on making quick work of this next bit. for my next challenge, i'm going to try to become as charismatic as my new and revered swim mentor, jimmy dshea.

< Jul 2010 Monorail Archives

View A Random Post

Current Monorail
Sep 2010 >
Welcome Professional MonoRail TroyScripts Gallery