Things observed from my most recent trip to see family in Louisiana.
- There is no greater invention than a portable DVD player when traveling with young kids. They still might be loud and whiny at times but the difference in their behavior is like night and day when they can watch cartoons rather than the back of your seat for 9 hours in the car.
- It is just about impossible to get any writing or other work done in a hotel after the kids go down because any time the air shuts off a tap of the keys sounds like Fred Astaire dancing on hardwood. Definitely need to bring a floor fan next time around to keep the white noise going.
That was a pretty frustrating part of the journey (a lack of “work” done in the 1.5-2 hours I had between the kids bedtime and mine).
- Hampton Inn breakfast is a lifesaver in the early morning with two kids who wake up famished each day. Daddy probably looked like a fool groggily loading up 3-4 plates of food, stacked on top of each other and then balancing them on his way back to the room.
- Even kids get tired of fast food after eating a lot of it over the course of a week.
- As nasty as fast food and gas station bathrooms can be for adults, it is ten times worse with a potty-trained young kid. I said “Don’t touch anything” probably a thousand times during each bathroom break only to then have my son touch something anyway out of spite while wearing a big grin on his face.
- 3.5 years old must be the most inquisitive time in a child’s life. Why, What, or How precedes every sentence out of my son’s mouth, whether it makes sense to or not. This is somehow worse when around family he rarely sees.
- Watching your kids dance at weddings with the same lack of caring what other people think of them like you once had is pretty awesome.
- Also, having kids allows you to dance with them with renewed confidence since you are now doing it “for the kids” and it’s ok to be a fool once again.
- Actual conversation at my parent’s house.
Son: “Daddy, can I have ____?”
Me: “No. Not right now.” I go to the kitchen while my son stays in the living room with his grandfather.
Son: “Pappy, can I have ___?”
Pappy (my dad): “Your daddy said no.”
Son: “Yes, but daddy’s not looking right now.”
Sorry for the week or so of silence on the blog but internet access was limited (and for that matter, computer access as a whole) this past week as I went on a mini-vacation of sorts. The primary purpose of the trip was to attend a cousin’s wedding in northern Louisiana and then visit other family in southern Louisiana.
I’ve got quite a few things I could talk about as far as the trip goes, and I may do a post on them next week. However, the main focus of this post was that I spoke at the local library in the town I grew up in.
This was a pretty big deal for me and also a first. My wife did a great job with a couple of posters and a banner displaying each cover of the Blood and Tears series. We also gave the library bookmarks to hand out prior to the event in order to promote it.
The event went pretty well overall. I spent about 15 minutes talking about my path to writing and then another 10 minutes about the Blood and Tears series. I then read a 2,000 word excerpt from the second chapter in Rise and Fall and closed with questions and a quick update on future projects I’m working on. And best of all, I sold a few books in the process (including two copies of each book in the trilogy to the library).
The experience was a good one overall and something I hope to use in the future. Since I have the promotional materials from this event still available, I’m going to try to set up a couple more speaking engagements where I currently live (including libraries) in the hopes of selling a few more books and gaining a few more fans.
Let’s hope the experiences continue to be positive!
The new Black Sabbath album entitled 13 is a pretty good album, but ultimately it falls short of what I expected.
Comparatively speaking, Heaven and Hell (the Dio fronted version of the band) was a much stronger showing than 13.
Surprisingly, the music (and not Ozzy’s voice) is what turns me off in spots. As much as I love Iommi and Butler, it is painfully obvious that old riffs and melodies were recycled or reworked for the album.
End of the Beginning, the first track, is essentially the song Black Sabbath.
The third song, Loner is basically NIB.
Track number four, Zeitgeist is eerily similar to Planet Caravan.
As a result of those jarring similarities, it’s actually hard for me to enjoy those songs at all (even the sections that are more original). And the second track called God is Dead? isn’t a very strong track either.
The album doesn’t really start for me until the fifth song, Age of Reason. The last four songs of the album as well as the three on the bonus disc manage to capture the old Black Sabbath with more original material. The two best songs, in my opinion, are linked below.
Also, I have to say that Ozzy’s voice sounds better than it has in years (close to form of the early 90s).
Damaged Soul - My favorite track and one I’ve listened to quite a bit. Love Iommi’s bluesy guitar work.
After adopting our daughter 19 months ago, my wife and are in the process of now trying to adopt our third child. It is a very exciting and happy time as we look to add to our family.
*steps up on soap box*
But, as with most good things, there are a few, negative, head scratching parts of the process that just make you question people’s reasoning when it comes to such serious matters like finding homes for children.
I read a statistic the other day that said at any given time there are roughly 100,000 children that are in need of a home in the US alone. I’m not sure how many families there are who would be interested in providing a home for those children, but from my own personal experience there are far more than people realize.
However, as with most things in life, money becomes a huge factor.
Adoptions are not cheap and most people we know empty their bank accounts AND borrow money on top of doing so in order to bring just one child into their home. There is something really wrong with that. Perfectly capable parents that are almost begging to adopt a child, can’t in some instances because the price is too high.
Some agencies charges are flat out ridiculous and once you add on legal fees, medical expenses for the mother in some instances, and travel costs, adoption costs can range anywhere from 10-50K depending on a myriad of variables (which unfortunately includes ethnicity).
The government at one point helped with this cost through tax breaks, however last year the laws were changed and the amount of money adoptive parents would receive as a result of their adoption has lessened significantly.
One thing many people don’t realize is that those parents who’ve adopted one child generally would like to adopt more. Agencies know this and will often reach out to those parents with prospective cases. However, both sides find themselves frustrated because you have approved individuals wanting and able to give a child a home, yet cannot afford to do so.
I know people like this. In fact, my wife and I partially fall into this category. 19 months after my daughter’s adoption, we have not built up our savings to what it was prior to her adoption so our budget is lower than it was previously.
As a result, we’ve already had to remove ourselves from consideration of several cases because the agency fees alone were at the top end of our entire adoption budget. And because I have a good job (part of why we’ve been able to save back up what we have these last 19 months), the chances of us qualifying for a grant is pretty much nil.
I bring this up not because I want sympathy, pity, or your money.
I bring this up because we as a society should make up our mind about how important it is to find loving homes for needy children. We need to lower costs and/or provide better tax breaks to those households actively pursuing adoption.
I’d also like to ask that you keep those 100,000 children I mentioned earlier in your thoughts and prayers. I hate to think that some will miss out on a stable home life simply because no one could afford to give it to them.
So, I’ve been seeing a lot of negative reviews about this album and honestly, I don’t understand why. Yes, it isn’t a return to the thrash/speed sound of the early years like Endgame was. However, there is still some speed/thrash on this album while also churning out some slower but still solid hard rock/heavy metal tracks.
Maybe it’s just because I like a band that mixes things up album to album while still staying true to who they are and their sound (They didn’t release a folk album, people!) but I actually like this album a lot.
With each release I’m also slowly starting to agree with Mustaine that Chris might be the best guitarist he’s played with on a Megadeth album.
A few stand out tracks. . .
Dance in the Rain (A good song that gets great at the end….last two minutes reminds me of something that could have been off of Peace Sells)
Forget to Remember
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