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Happy Boxing Day

December 26, 2007 at 2:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Christmas festivities went well for the Wilsons. Robbie had a good couple of days, everybody liked their gifts, and all the toys are assembled and working. Of course, getting everything put together required staying up until midnight on Christmas Eve. When Santa’s elves say “assembly required”, they mean it.

Yesterday we went out to Grand Island to visit family. Robbie was a little clingy at times, but he didn’t take long to warm up to everyone. He also discovered that he really likes Tostitos. Robbie got to play with his cousin Ben, who is just a few weeks Robbie’s senior. Unfortunately, Ben wasn’t crazy about sharing his house with so many people, and he took that out on Robbie with a couple whacks to the head. Why do little kids always go for the noggin? Why can’t they slug each other in the arm or something?

Now to get back to the regular routine. That may take me a while.

The Gift of Life (I Hope)

December 24, 2007 at 3:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

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After years of saying “I should”, today I can finally say “I did”. I joined the National Marrow Donor Program Registry. Well, almost, anyway. I still have to complete the tissue typing process. The testing kit should arrive in a couple weeks. It’s as simple as a couple cheek swabs.

So why marrow donation? The idea stems from two events, both of which occurred about ten years ago. The first was the loss of a childhood friend to leukemia, which can sometimes be treated with a bone marrow transplant. The second involved a bizarre series of tests that led doctors to believe that I might have had leukemia. (I didn’t. My test results were just waaaaay on one side of the bell curve. Today, fortunately, those test results come back much closer to average so doctors don’t look at me like I’m quite as much of a freak.)

Included among the barrage of tests was a bone marrow test. It consisted of laying on a table while a surprisingly-large straw was jammed into my pelvis. It didn’t hurt at all, nor was there much discomfort. There was just a little “grinding” that was kind of weird. Afterwards I could walk just fine, and I don’t recall any significant residual pain. Bone marrow donation isn’t much different, so I figured, what the heck.

Now, I’m not telling you this so that you think I’m some sort of hero. I haven’t even done anything yet! Rather, I hope that by posting it I might spur somebody to pursue a donation of their own that they’ve been pondering for a long time. Maybe marrow, or blood, or even cash. It’s always easier to do something when you know others are doing it, too. It’s how we humans work. So if you have been sitting on a donation for far too long, like I was, consider this the “sign” you were waiting for. It’s worth it.

Customer Service Update

December 17, 2007 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Remember how I told you about The Wilsons’ Adventures in Customer Service last week? Here’s a quick update from the JCPenney situation.

We didn’t end up returning our photos because The Missus wanted to be able to send out photos with our holiday [sic] cards. She asked for peoples’ opinions of the photos. Some people said “Oh, those are great!”, while others went with the somewhat more truthful “Those aren’t so bad”. I think they were just being polite.

To add to the situation, The Missus had ordered more prints before we had seen the first batch. We didn’t cancel the additional order because we figured maybe the new batch would be better. The new batch was ready on Friday, but The Missus delayed in picking them up.

On Saturday we finally (!!!) got a call from the manager in regard to our phone calls from the previous weekend. The manager’s excuse for the lengthy delay? He had just seen the note. That’s some nice organization they’ve got going on over there. Anyway, The Missus told him about our problems with the previous batch and asked him to look at the new batch to see if they were any better. He told her, “No, these aren’t very good at all. You can have them for free if you want to come get them. Otherwise I’ll just throw them away.” She is always looking for an excuse to take Robbie on the carousel at Gateway, so she went and got them. They’re just as bad as the first batch.

So there you have it, the conclusion to The Wilsons’ adventures at the JCPenney photography studio. We won’t be going back.

Check Those Outdoor Faucets

December 6, 2007 at 5:10pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Late yesterday afternoon I stepped outside to take out the trash. On my way back in, I noticed something troubling. There was a large icicle hanging from the faucet near the front door. Crap.

I went over to inspect it, and sure enough, it didn’t look good. I’ve never seen an exploded water pipe and I really don’t care to. The Missus called up Biggerstaffs and got an appointment for this morning between 9 and 11. Around 9:20 the truck pulled up. It took the guy some time, but he eventually got it fixed. Hopefully our basement ceiling is safe now. Knock on wood.

So consider this a friendly reminder: go check your outdoor pipes to make sure they aren’t leaking.

Living in My Parents’ Basement

December 6, 2007 at 4:53pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Thanks to Time Warner, I’m temporarily housed in my parents’ basement. On Saturday, The Missus called to cancel basic cable. We had a six-month deal going and the six month mark was only days away. We probably would have extended our subscription had they offered to continue the deal, but they didn’t. No complaints here; it’s their lost revenue.

Unfortunately, the young man who answered the phone at 8:01 a.m. on Saturday apparently was still hungover. As I found out during my 20-minute support call last night, he canceled our Road Runner service in addition to our television service. Grr. That wouldn’t be a huge deal except for the fact that I work from home and I rely on that internet connection for my livelihood. At least the tech support guy and customer service lady I spoke with last night were helpful.

So here I am, setting up office in the spot I used to sit and play Nintendo for hours on end. Funny, the basement used to seem so much bigger.

Dream World

November 19, 2007 at 2:29pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I am a vivid dreamer. I always have been. I don’t dream every night—or rather, I don’t remember my dreams every morning—but I go in streaks. Right now I’m in the midst of a dream-heavy streak. Last night’s dream selection included:

  1. A day in high school. Unlike my recurring school-related anxiety dream—I didn’t do my homework! I didn’t study for the test! I can’t open my locker!—this one was pretty subdued. My first problem: I couldn’t figure out if it was cool to wear my backpack with one strap or two. I ran into my cousin who happened to be teaching at the school. He told me that everything was going great for him, except he couldn’t get Microsoft Word to retain his contact information. It kept resorting to the default. I was on my way to fix it for him.
  2. A flashback to my days playing video games at the arcade at East Park Plaza. I stood in the arcade with somebody and told them about how there was a time when Street Fighter 2 machines “were all along that wall, and halfway down this row”.
  3. A scary dream in which a fictionalized version of a local building—I won’t say which one—was brought down implosion-style by terrorists. I stood with a couple family members nearby when we heard “pop pop pop pop”. We looked up to see the building collapse on itself, apparently with many people inside. I woke up with my heart racing after that one.
  4. A bizarre dream in which a friend of mine was an astronaut, and he and his crew were showing off NASA’s new spaceship for the first time. It was a giant, ray-shaped ship that could take off and land vertically. We got to tour the ship. It was like a big, multi-level apartment on the inside. In the kitchen, a huge container of spaghetti marinara was waiting for the crew. I spoke with my friend about how I wasn’t crazy about NASA sticking with the crappy space shuttle for so long, and how the agency exceeded my expectations by a mile with this new ship.
  5. An anxiety dream (one of my recurring ones) in which I had a difficult time preparing for an important soccer match because my back was really sore. I awoke to find myself sleeping in a really awkward position that was putting a lot of pressure on my back.

Now that I think about it, I’m impressed I remember so much about those five dreams. Would any of you amateur shrinks care to tell me what these dreams—in isolation or in combination—say about me?

Dancing Man

November 14, 2007 at 2:40pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Robbie’s got the moves, baby:

Oh, that big pile of toys? It should be gone soon. Huzzah! The toy box we’ve been waiting on for months is finally here. Long story. I’m just glad we can de-clutter a little bit.

Watch Out, Bobby Flay

November 5, 2007 at 10:42pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Robbie is quickly advancing in the kitchen. First he simply observed The Missus at work. Then he progressed to assisting her. Today, a new milestone: he created his own recipe. Now, I can’t pretend to replicate the master chef’s work, but here is my best attempt at sharing his recipe with the world.

Chef Robbie’s Graham Cracker Surprise

  1. Gather all of the bowls you can find. Big bowls, little bowls, glass bowls, metal bowls ... get them all out and scatter them across the floor.
  2. Pull a chair across the kitchen and position it near your workspace. You’ll need to be able to reach the countertop, after all.
  3. Place the bowls on the counter. This may require several trips onto and off of the chair.
  4. Once the bowls are on the counter, look around for ingredients within arm’s reach. Grab that box of graham crackers over there.
  5. Empty the contents of the box into one of the bowls.
  6. Open utensils drawer and find a spoon. (I hope you didn’t block the drawer with the chair! If you did, get off the chair and move it out of the way.) Use the spoon to stir the ingredients around the bowl.
  7. Now use the spoon to serve yourself. Bon apetite!

Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

Halloween at Gateway

November 1, 2007 at 4:16pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Wilsons and the Fines had a fine time trick-or-treating at Gateway last night. Here is a video, and inside are a bunch of photos.

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See You at the Mall

October 30, 2007 at 8:21pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

It’s official, the Wilsons will be trick-or-treating at Gateway tomorrow night. I apologize ahead of time to the 8 kids who will find our porch light turned off. You aren’t missing much; it’s not like we would have had good candy for you anyway. The real treat would be if The Missus baked you some tasty desserts. But if she were to do that, some moron parent would call the cops on us:

9-1-1: 9-1-1, what is your emergency?
Psychotic Mother: OHMYGOD SOME WOMAN TRIED TO GIVE MY KID DELICIOUS HOMEMADE FOOD!
9-1-1: She didn’t give your kid pre-wrapped, heavily-processed candy?
PM: NO! IT’S HOMEMADE AND WRAPPED IN SARAN WRAP!
9-1-1: Does it contain a dangerous item, such as a needle?
PM: NO, BUT I’M PRETTY SURE IT HAS SOME TRANS FATS!
9-1-1: The SWAT and HAZMAT teams are on the way, ma’am.

Having one count of “alleged attempted poisoning of trick-or-treaters” on our record would make it darn near impossible for us to adopt again.

If you plan to take your kid(s) to Gateway tomorrow, we would love to say hi. Let me know if you plan to be there.

Thank You Nana and Papa

October 24, 2007 at 7:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

My mom likes to send Robert cards for all sorts of occasions, and she also likes to include a buck or two for his piggy bank. Inside his Halloween card was a crisp two-dollar bill. Here’s Robert saying thanks:

You’re watching history in this video, by the way. The video captures the first time Robbie said “thank you”.

Tying Shoes

October 24, 2007 at 6:07pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I took this photo today while The Missus and Robbie prepared to go to the grocery store.

Sadie and Robbie sit on the floor in the kitchen. Sadie is tying Robbie's shoes.

If Bad Things Come in Threes, One Person is Still in Trouble

October 24, 2007 at 2:10pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

A few weeks ago, we had to summon an ambulance to a soccer field because a player was knocked unconscious after a free kick (from his own teammate!) smacked him in the head. Fortunately he came to, and his parents opted to refuse an ambulance transport to the hospital. Hopefully they took him on their own.

Last night we had to summon an ambulance again, this time for a broken leg. I didn’t see it—I was on the far side of the field—but apparently it snapped like a twig. The break wasn’t associated with a foul or anything. Nobody seems to have seen it clearly, but one guess is that he may have caught his toe on the turf while kicking the ball.

In any event, that’s two. If it’s true that bad things come in threes, there remains one more ambulance to be summoned this season. But bad news, folks: I only have four more matches on my calendar right now (plus the potential for one or two post-season matches), so if you see me on your game, it could be you. Or heck, it could be me. Time to check up on that referee insurance…

Two-Thirds of the Way to a Full Head of Hair

October 8, 2007 at 1:05pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I want to congratulate The Missus for donating yet another ponytail to Locks of Love, “a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis”. This was The Missus’ fourth donation, putting her well on her way to donating an entire hairpiece (each of which requires 6-10 ponytails). If you have the ability to grow a ponytail measuring at least ten inches, please consider donating it.

Mind Dump

October 4, 2007 at 3:38pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I have way too many things on my mind right now. It’s causing me a bunch of stress (some good, some bad), and I need to get it off my shoulders. So here’s a quick mind dump:

Robert is awesome. I know I’ve said that before. I’ll say it again. (And again.) I really enjoy spending time with him, and I know The Missus does, too. He is gradually beginning to pick up some new words, which is nice. He has always been a vocal and communicative kid, but not much of a verbal kid. To hear him say “buh!” while pointing at birds in the sky is a lot of fun. (But geese waddling on the ground, according to Robert, are most definitely not birds.) He is also finally branching out in his food choices. For so long the poor kid gagged every time something with a funky texture went into his mouth. Now he is able to try a variety of different solid foods and find the ones he likes based on taste, not based on whether or not he upchucks. The biggest surprise so far: he likes onion rings.

Work is going well. I’m busy busy busy. That’s great, but it’s also a source of significant stress. It’s a good stress, though. Working on several different projects for several different “bosses” really taxes the brain. I love it, and if I can keep the money coming in, I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.

The big stressor of the week comes from an incident in a college soccer match on Tuesday. Over 89 minutes into the game—that’s less than a minute left—there was a foul. Then a chest bump. Then a tackle. Then a really hard tackle. When all was said and done, one player from each team was ejected for fighting, and two other players were cautioned (yellow carded) for related offenses. I have very few qualms with how my assistants and I handled the situation. I was positioned exactly where I needed to be positioned on the field. My AR and I quickly identified the offenders and prevented others from joining in. Once everything calmed down, we stepped back and extremely carefully broke down the situation to make sure we “cleaned up” by the book. We reviewed the sanctions with the captains and each of the coaches. All in all, our response was nearly textbook, and I have been told so by the athletic conference commissioner and my referee chapter’s president. So why am I so stressed?

I think it’s just my nature. I don’t like messiness in my soccer matches. Ejections are messy. Ejections for fighting are even messier (harsher penalties). A thousand people could tell me I handled the situation as well as could be expected, and still I would review the situation over and over in my head.

Plus, it’s just plain stressful having to so carefully review the situation and report it to all the people I’ve reported to. First, the other referees and I talked for nearly 30 minutes after the match. I have spoken twice with the athletic conference commissioner. I have filled out forms and written supplemental reports. I’ve sent and received a bunch of e-mails. Goofing up during the administrative phase can be just as damaging to my career and to the teams as if I had goofed up during the match.

One big positive item is that the incident was caught on video, and I now have the video in my possession. I’ve never before seen myself on video in a “crisis” situation. The video is short (some parts of the “clean-up” are edited out) but very helpful. For example, I mis-remembered how the whole thing started. It’s a great lesson in perception, memory, and reality. My positioning on the play was as good as could be expected, given the context of the play at the time. I closed the distance quickly when trouble first started. At the time the last player earned his ejection, I was literally one foot away from the action. I don’t like the way I show cards to players, though. I look too angry, like I’m trying to bop them on the head with the card. I’ll need to change that. Then there’s the injured player laying on the turf in the middle of all the action, sprawled out, not moving. It looks bad on the video, but no way was I going to let trainers come onto the field until I knew the situation had calmed down. The last thing I needed was trainers getting into it with players.

Anyway, that’s enough of that. There’s my mind dump. Time to get back to work!

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