Granddad and the Past

Perfect Fit by Clues on GroovesharkGranddad and I don’t talk much about the past, though I want to at some point. I’d like to get as much of his story as possible. Most of the time, we talk about current events – the lost airliner, Russia and Putin, how he likes Obama and wishes Barbara Walters had retired a long time ago to make way for a younger woman. Things like that. But there have been serendipitous moments in which I’ve learned something new about him and his past.

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Rural Planning

I guess this is the post to piss off my liberal friends.

I’ve lived in a number of places – small towns, mid-size cities and Austin (the largest city in which I’ve lived, which isn’t very large). I’ve seen the businesses and the opportunities in such towns. Let me stress this: I’ve lived in them; not just visited for a bit. With my knowledge of the economic geography of these various areas, I found it amusing during last year’s holidays when people protested those having to work and the low pay they received (an issue that hasn’t completely faded), especially at certain big-box stores. Continue reading

Granddad: Censored

UPDATED: 19 APR 2014

I’ve spoken with my grandfather. He is fine with the posts continuing as is. Enjoy. 

Some of my family members believe my writing about my grandfather should be relegated to my personal (paper? memory? Doogie Howser?) journal. They’ve asked that I censor myself on this blog.

I won’t go that far. I will password-protect the posts, however. So, future posts about my grandfather will be password-protected. If you’re interested in reading them, you can e-mail me for the password for each as it appears. Other posts will appear as normal.

Apparently, the 1st Amendment is only sacred to conservatives when protesting (with automatic weapons in hand) our black president and holding up pictures of fetuses on street corners. When it comes to discussing one’s loved ones’ daily struggles to improve, censorship is better.

I apologize this isn’t Tuesdays with Morrie. This Is Real Life.

A Near-Real-Time Granddad Experience

[A disclaimer that should have been included in the previous posts on my grandfather as well: I love him. These are just the daily frustrations and comical happenings we experience together. Sure, some of this sounds harsh, but it's mostly meant to just show loving, but truthful, aspects of helping one's grandfather overcome his own resistance to getting well. Everything I do is out of love, including chronicling these tales for future reference. Seriously, this stuff is funny.]

My mom calls around eight to tell me my grandfather wants to cancel his physical and occupational therapy visits for the day. His bowels are acting up, according to him. Somewhere between diarrhea and constipation (which I think is called “normal” for the rest of us). He also has an eye appointment with the dumbass who nearly killed him during the initial retina surgery.

When Misty (who is legitimately feeling ill but who will still work from home in the afternoon) and I arrive at my parents’ house, my grandfather is in the bathroom — his walker in the hallway, a 15-foot oxygen cord trailing through the bathroom from the walker basket that holds the tank and to his nostrils on the raised toilet seat. He flushes. Misty looks at me with surprise from the coffeemaker where she’s brewing our morning cups. “He flushed,” she says. It’s something he’s recently started doing. Before, brown or yellow, he’d let it mellow. Continue reading

More Granddad

I feel a little bad for being so hard on my grandfather in yesterday’s post — especially since earlier in the day he’d expressed his appreciation for my being around for him, even though he gives me a lot of bullshit (his words). It’s important I make clear here that I love my grandfather. I do. In some ways, we’re probably too alike, and being around him has given me reason to question some of my own perspectives on living. But that doesn’t wash away everything. Like when he tells me or my mom that he wishes we were in his place, so we’d know what it felt like. Continue reading

My Grandfather

Misty has encouraged me to write about my experiences with my grandfather. I’ve been resistant. Something in me just isn’t quite ready. But I’m going to try to begin getting some of it out anyway. Sometimes I may seem disjointed and incoherent. When that occurs, I will clarify myself in the comments (and possibly edit this post) or another post, if brought to my attention.

The basic story — the elevator pitch I give to every doctor, nurse, therapist, friend, family member and any other interested party — with slightly more detail is this:

My grandfather lost the month of January. He can’t even remember it. Continue reading

Moral Education

It appears the Texas State Board of Education has taken up work with Russian textbook reviewers:

A Russian news site,, also reported last week that a popular series of math textbooks would be dropped from an official list of recommended educational texts because it used too many non-Russian fairy tale and other characters in its illustrations.

“What do we see from the first pages? Gnomes, Snow White — these are representatives of a foreign-language culture,” an expert of the Russian Academy of Education, Lyubov Ulyakhina, told the site in a question-and-answer interview. “Here’s some monkey, Little Red Riding Hood,” Ms. Ulyakhina continued, “of 119 characters drawn here only nine are related to Russian culture. Sorry — no patriotism — this is not funny; this is our mentality.”

Definitely sounds familiar.

Keeping with the education theme (and my regular bashing of my Sunday The New York Times), I wanted to point out the op-ed by Keith Robinson, an assistant professor of sociology at UT, and Angel L. Harris, a professor of sociology and African and African-American studies at Duke, entitled, “Parental Involvement Is Overrated.” They claim their research shows that controlling for socioeconomic and other factors, parental involvement in schools plays little to no role in student achievement. This, of course, is contrary to what we all consider common-sense – something that no study could find otherwise. Continue reading


I don’t know that I’ve ever told the story of how Misty and I met and what she went through – and goes through – before and after our wedding. People may be able to piece together parts in one area of the picture, but few have seen behind the curtain and know the extent to which she helped me, and suffered while doing so. You won’t learn specifics from this entry either, but, hopefully, you will better understand the gravity of what Misty did for me through my expressions of appreciation. Continue reading

Christian Mocha: $6.66

I’m sitting at Rooster’s Roasters, an overtly Christian coffeeshop in Cedar Park, Texas. The total cost of my order – a 20-ounce, quadruple-shot mocha (my recent usual) – came out to $6.66. The girl behind the counter said, “That’s an awful number! Especially for this shop.” I had thought the same thing and said that number should be deleted from their system altogether. She was happy to add my tip to the total. When she brought my drink to me, I christened it the Evil Mocha.

For my friends, it would seem a little odd to find me frequenting a Christian-owned coffeeshop with pictures of Jesus and boards with quotes from the Bible extolling the virtue of hard work hanging about. But it isn’t weird to me. Most American businesses are Christian-owned. This one just happens to be blatant about it. And, who knows? Maybe they’re a nonprofit that donates their funds not just to a church but to other community-building efforts? More power to them.

Now, I was once told by a divinity school graduate that if you see a fish-looking symbol of Christ at a mechanic’s shop, prepare to be screwed. Doesn’t seem to apply so much to coffeeshops. Continue reading

’90s Bloggin’

Misty and I have recently been listening to a bunch of alternative ’90s music on Pandora. We’re living without stereo or cable/satellite TV, so everything must be Roku-ed, Chromecasted or caught from the air. It’s not a bad life.

The music of my late-teens early twenties puts me in a reflective mood. I’m only 33, but the songs harken back to a time that — looking back now — I was severely depressed but nonetheless offered at least another twenty years of opportunities. In hindsight, we can all see avenues not taken. The cliché metaphor of path’s in a wood diverging and the one not taken — except lives continue to converge and diverge. They are so bound up in choices made and unmade that it can ultimately be hard to see where they start. At which divergence did I choose the path I imagine? Does this imaginary scenario stem from this or that or another imaginary premise? Which choices depend on which previous choices? Somehow, I doubt I’m the only one to which this occurs when listening to music from certain periods of life.

These are reflective questions. The ultimate question is the one confronting us as I write and you read: How do we feel about our lives now? Continue reading