Friday, April 03, 2015

Family Day for the Boy

It's the 8th year that the Boy has been with us.  As usual, Wifey can not correctly remember the date or keep straight the time difference between Texas and China.

Wifey: So this Saturday we'll be celebrating his family day by...
Me: [Sigh] Do you think is Family Day is April 4th?
Wifey: Well, duh, that's date.
Me: [Deep Sigh] How come you can never, ever remember the dates of our kids' Family days?
Wifey: Well then you tell me what the days are!
Me: The rule is it's always a "2".  Her day is two days after my birthday.  His day is 2 days after April Fools.  C'mon we keep going over this at least twice a year!
Wifey: So you're saying it's April 3rd?
Me: Y-E-S!!
Wifey: Hmmmm, I'm not sure.
Me: God god, last time I had to leave out his adoption papers for you to "accidentally" read the document so you are so damn stubborn and refused to believe you are wrong.
Wifey: [MIFFED] Well!  If you say so then!  Anyway, I was right anyway.  If it was April 3rd in China then it was April 4th in Texas.
Me: [counting to 5 to calm down] Okay, once again you have the dates wrong.  China is 12 hours AHEAD of us in Texas. 
Wifey: Whatever, I want to talk about what we're going to do on his family day....Now, what I'm thinking is......

So, here we go with pictures from his family day, which I may or may not have included in my blog when I was in China:

He arrived 2 hours late.  And had to be escorted past us by his nanny.  They couldn't let him mingle with us until the transfer paperwork from the orphanage to the Civil Affairs was completed.  

Besides our group, there was another giant adoptive group who was still processing their pictures and paperwork.  Thus, there was a bit of a wait.  Someone was getting antsy for this long-discussed brother of hers to show up

And then he was handed to us
Of course there would be tears from the boy, but the biggest crier was the Girl.  It suddenly dawned on her that she was no longer the ONLY focus of everyone's attention!

There would crying, moments of calm, and then crying once more.  Finally, she calmed down enough
And then the bus ride back to the hotel.  He was fairly calm

About two days later, he looked completely different:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

You Know How They Say The "Ex" Was Crazy?

Some of you are on FB with me, but some not.  Here is what happened today.  I was working at home, as I do all the time now.  The phone rang and I looked at the caller ID and it wasn't an area code I recognized.  I let it ring through to the answering machine.  I heard someone leave a somewhat rambling message.  You know how drunk people talk, where their words seem to be elongated?  Like they're trying hard to formulate the words, but it's more comical?

I thought, "Drunk dialing?"  But, it was like after 10:30 in the morning.  And then the phone rang 3 more times, each time a short message in succession.  I texted Wifey that she received 4 calls from the same person in a short period (snapshot from the web interface for our VOIP phone service):

And then my wife's chat said, "Hmmm, I wonder if it's my ex.  That name Pro sounds like something he would do."


I went downstairs and listened to the 4 messages.  They lasted from 15 to 30 seconds.  They were very, very hard to understand.  Something about:
  • talked to you last year (didn't happen)
  • your birthday (and he did correctly list her recent birthdate, which is confirmation it was hime)
  • my arrest last September
  • let's talk some more next time
  • and the rest was garbled mumbling

I've talked about him in the past, but here's a summation: 
  • They were together almost 12 years
  • Halfway, about the age range that schizophrenia hits men in their 20's he started acting strangely
  • And it developed into fullblown paranoid schizophrenia.  She had him hospitalized twice.
  • Each time, after they force-fed him meds to be sane, he would say, "That's crazy.  I'm not nuts!" And would throw away his meds
  • After the second time, when he became violent, she had divorce papers waiting for him when she went to go pick him up at the state hospital
  • Since his family feels she didn't give him a "fair shake" they don't talk - thus she can't keep track of where he is
  • I met him once when he tried to sue her over the divorce agreement (in small claims court).  He and she acted as their own counsel.  He refused to tell the judge that he had just come out of the state hospital as part of the reason for contesting the divorce settlement.  And in a 30 minute window, I saw a man go from normal to just gibbering to himself.  
  • He's about 160 pounds soaking wet - I'm not worried about him physically, but with a weapon?  And this is Texas.  Mental risks issues abound!
Back to the caller log, I thought "Pro Thius" was some sort of Latin named business.  But yeah, now that I think about it, it would be him.  His legal name is "Darby" and they just called him Darb for short.  Then one day as he was progressing deeper towards insanity, he proclaimed he wanted to be called B-R-A-D, which is Darb spelled backwards (odd twist).

During a trip to see her family in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he started coming down with paranoid delusions in the car that the government was following them and tracking them. He kept demanding she speed up or slow down or go into hiding at a motel.  Finally in West Texas, she had enough and told him that she was proceeding to Santa Fe without him and he was to make his way back home.

She left him somewhere out there and when she returned home a few days later, he had somehow made his way home.

When Wifey moved in with me, she sold her house.  During his paranoid rages, she would leave her house and drive endlessly through neighborhoods dreaming of a new life without him.  And after her divorce, she bought a house in one of those neighborhoods she dreamt about.  When she sold her house, she agreed to have her mail transferred to a PO Box for a year or two so he couldn't track her.  He would occasionally call her years after the divorce, in some various level of sanity.  And she got a new phone number, which we paid to have unlisted.

Then after 10 years or so, we got lazy and decided that having an unlisted number wasn't worth it anymore.  And the last we heard, he had gotten arrested somewhere in California.  Apparently, being homeless, he had been camping in the state forests.  He started a campfire during a no-burn period and so got arrested (Wifey did a google and found his arrest and sentencing record).  I think he doesn't fight the arrests because: a) he's nuts and b)it's food and shelter for a while.

He gets arrested often, apparently, because these voices tell him he's got to go knock on THAT DOOR at THAT HOUSE and warn those poor people that aliens or the government are watching them.  That leads to a trespassing charge, which they typically drop.   They just want him off their porch.

So the number shows me that it's a Verizon cell phone originally assigned out of Sacramento.  But you know how cell phones are, he could be calling fro outside my house and it would show he's calling from Sacramento.

I'm hoping he's not in Texas.  We haven't had to think about him in 10 or more years.  I guess we cross that bridge as it's needed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Conversations with my mother

My mother is stubborn and thinks she's smarter than everyone else, especially doctors.  Here are snippets of our various conversations we had while we were on Kauai:

Me: So, remember I promised I would take care of you in your old age.  When it gets time, we'll sell everything you own and move you two to Kaui.
Mom: No, I don't think so.
Me: Well, when it comes time.
Mom: In 8 years, your dad will be 80!  And I'll be 76.  Who knows by then!
Me: True.  But you're always worried about being taken care of.  Just know I have a plan.
Mom: We don't know what the future will be. 
Me: True.
Mom: If I die first, then yes you should move your Dad here.
Me: Yeah, he'll be fine.  He'll say, "Great, this is closer to Taiwan"
Mom: [laughing] Yes, your Dad will be easy.
Me: But I won't take his little brother (my uncle)
Mom: [laughing louder] Oh my...your Dad's brother needs so much direction.

Then overnight she is mulling this over (does this for every. single. conversation.)

Mom: I thought about it overnight.  You know your sister she says that now she lives closer to us, she's more willing to take care of us in our old age.
Me: [mumbling under my breath - yeah cause she wants your house when you're gone] Right.
Mom: She says that with all the kids, they can help out taking care of us.
Me: No way.  You can not count on her. C'mon you know that to be true.  You know I'll take care of you.  What makes her all of sudden reliable?
Mom: Well (weekly) you know, she' know, more willing.
Me: Right.  No, she is unreliable and you know it.

So my sister, when she lived 10 miles from my parents, she wouldn't take care of them.  Now that she lives 2 miles from them IN THE RENTAL HOUSE MY PARENTS GAVE THEM, she's now more willing to take care of them in their old age.  Puleeze.  They're just eying the 4 bedroom 4 bath house my parents live in now.

Mom: So you have high blood pressure? 
Me: Yeah, taking medication for it.
Mom: I had high blood pressure.  It was like 170
Me: Okay
Mom: So I told your Dad to give me one of his pills he takes to make his urination easier
Me: Ohhhhhkay
Mom: And it dropped my blood pressure down to the 90's
Me: Unhhhh Hunh
Mom: And then the next day my blood pressure was in the 70's.  And I was making a smoothie and I fainted.  I called out to your Dad.  He said that he could barely hear me with the blender running and that when he got to the kitchen he couldn't see me because I was on the floor (behind an island)
Me: So you did go see a doctor right?
Mom: [silence]

The next day:

Me: So did you go see a real doctor and tell him you had high blood pressure?
Mom: Yes.
Me: And did it help?
Mom: Yes it lowered my blood pressure, but sometimes it goes up high again
Me: You know that one pill and one prescription doesn't solve anything right?  You have to report that it doesn't always work and let him adjust.  Right?
Mom: [silence]

Mom thinks she is smarter than all the doctors.  She doctor shops.  She goes to different doctors until she hears what she's looking for from one doctor.

[After busting my butt driving back and forth between two locations handling Wifey and the kids and my parents, as I'm picking up my parents to drop them off at the house to turn around and then go get the kids at a golf course]

Me: Okay, I'm taking you to the house and then I have to turn around and get the family at the golf course.
Mom: So you're taking us to the house?
Me: Yes.
Mom: Then can you stop by a McDonalds?
Me: There are no McDonalds here (nearest one is 25 miles away)
Mom: Oh, how about a Burger King?
Me: No Mom.  This is not a big town.  They don't have fast food here like in the city.
Mom: Oh.

Later the next day:

Mom: So I was thinking that no, we are not willing to move here when we get older
Me: Really?  Why?
Mom: Well when we get old it's too far away from hospitals.  We live right around the corner.  I mean if you can't even get a McDonalds here, then it's too far away to live when you get older.
Me: I thought so.  I knew you would never leave Houston.
Mom: Well we have friends and all our connections.
Me: Okay.  Well you have an option.  Don't say I didn't offer to take care of you in your old age.
Mom: I know!  I'm just saying we'd rather not move.

Fun with Mom.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Kauai 2015

A visual recap of our trip from Kauai.  We just got back last night.  Oh whenever I tell people we're going or coming from Kauai, they get it confused with Hawaii...which is annoying.  Oh another fun fact is that over time, political correctness overtook Hawaii.  The first few times I went to Hawaii (I think we counted and I have been there 11 or 12 times), the name was just Hawaii or Kauai.  Now, it's spelled and pronounced distinctly:  Hawai'i and Kaua'i.  So you say it:

Hawai'i - Huh-Why-e! (very short and distinctive E sound)
Kaua'i - Kuh-Why-e!

I think it was to appease the native Hawaiians grumbling about succeeding from the US (we get that crazy talk all the time from conservatives Texans wanting to succeed from the US as well).


In front of our favorite restaurant Duke's, which sadly I will have to downgrade and give it a bad review on Yelp and Urbanspoon.  Yes it was kitschy and a huge tourist trap.  But the cost, the service, and the portions are all going the wrong direction.

A visit to our lot:

The view from the street:

The backyard is very steep and will most likely never be used by us.

However, I found a friendly builder and he spent an hour talking to me about what can be done with the lot in 8 years.  So, it looks like we took the right chance and ended up with a buildable lot.

Our rental house.  It was very nice.  And the top floor blew my parents away.  But of course, my mother had to make comments.  In a later blog posting.



Another sunrise.  Note the protruding rock on the left side:

We walked up a trail to the top of the rock, where guys were fishing from and took a picture backwards:

And we went for a horseback ride.  There was the ranch heeler.  She wasn't very personable and barked at every car pulling up to the ranch.  But, she didn't bite me and let me pet her.  Her face is about 90% the same as one of my heelers, Abby:

One of the reasons the Girl loves going to Hawaii is she can have a hamburger and white rice and Wifey won't give her (too) much grief over it:

One thing about the Boy is that he is a super sore loser.  He was doing very, very poorly at bowling and started to cry.  Wifey says he does this every-single-time she takes him bowling.  He thinks it's a cinch and then starts rolling gutter ball after gutter ball.  Afterwards, as we were walking i the parking lot, he asked his older sister to give him a piggyback ride as it always cheers him up.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Make it rain, indeed

Today is Wifey's birthday.  I got a card for the kids to sign.  And after they signed it, the Girl said she already made Mommy a card.  Really?  So she showed it to me:

The second page made both of us laugh out loud.  And the shocking thing is, for a girl who loves money, to give her Mom money for her birthday!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

It's RSVP, not an invitation to TMI

Recently, I sent out Evites to different groups of people.  And, two of the responses annoyed me.  The first one was for Wifey's upcoming birthday.  A small dinner party, in the middle of the week, at a Korean restaurant.  I was surprised that Wifey chose that place because she hadn't been there in years.

Invited were close friends, including her best friend.  I'm not sure, really since we got married, she's still considered her best friend.  Whereas they used to work together over 20 years ago when they first met at the same company, they now see each only 2 or 3 times a year.  And, she now lives at the other end of town.

Now her friend is very....I'm not sure nervous is the word, but unsure of herself.  She is a twin.  And her sister (who lives in the same town) really tells her what to do and when.  So I guess she's just used to "going with the flow".  Many years ago, their mother passed away.  They don't know why she died, it's just that suddenly she started having memory issues, and then physical coordination issues, and got feeble and died.  It's like if one took Alzheimer's and compressed it into 9 months and gave it to her mother.  It was sudden, shocking, and unknown.  And with this family, they are very squeamish, so the did not ask for an autopsy.

Now, her father's health has been failing.  And she is dreading the call, to come from her step-mother, to arrive.

So in response to the dinner invite to join us for Wifey's birthday, her response was a "Maybe" with the following comment:
would love to come, but my Dad is very bad, so I don't want to say yes, for sure! I am living pretty much "on call" these days..but, I will let you know for sure by the [RSVP date]

Okay, but couldn't you just say "Maybe" with "I hope to make it"?  Why leave a message for others to see how your Dad is doing?  Also, she never did get back to me by the cutoff date.  Is she just going to sit in her house, with keys at the ready to drive to Houston?  No, that's an exaggeration, but the D-R-A-M-A of being "on call" - ugh, TMI, TMI, TMI.

Next is our friend Jane.  This is a very, very early "save the date" invite for Steakfest 2015.  She's been to all but one or two that occurred when she had a pre-planned trip.  The thing you have to know about Jane is that she's very personable.  Everyone likes her.  The thing about Jane is that she never wants to be alone.  She always has to have a man in her life.  The advantage of being so personable is that she's got a string of guys from high school who had a crush on her.  After the death of her longtime on-again/off-again boyfriend (motorcycle DUI), she hooked up with a guy from her high school who'd been in love with her all these years.

The thing about this guy, everyone hates him.  Well, that's an exaggeration.  I don't hate him.  But I'm not as close to Jane as others.  Her best friend never, ever quits talking about how much the boyfriend (Kevin) annoys her.  Now the thing about this is, it's not that Kevin is evil.  The dislike is pure bigotry based on his looks and his mannerisms.  You know how there is a saying about someone is a "redneck"?  If you had his picture in the dictionary next to "redneck" it would be Kevin.  He talks with a high pitched nasal voice (it actually hurts to hear him talk).  He talks in a very syrupy Southern accent.  But the most annoying thing is that his voice and mannerisms make him sound stupid.  There, I said it.  They all (except) dislike him because he looks and sounds stupid. 

My perspective is live and let live.  She could have picked anyone and she picked him to be her "man in the house".  She's got to wake up every day next to him, and if that's what she wants, okay.

Now last year, she was dating Kevin.  And for the invite to Steakfest 2014, she RSVP'ed for just 1.  Hmmm, what about Kevin?  I was at a party to celebrate the engagement of friends of ours.  Jane was there with Kevin.  I very carefully went up to Jane, making sure that Kevin was in another room, and asked, "Hey Jane, ummmm, for Steakfest 2014 you only RSVP'ed for 1.  Ummm, I have to make t-shirts soon.  Are you including Kevin?"

She sighed and said, "Ohhh, I don't know.  I'm not sure.  I'll let you know soon okay?"  About 3 weeks passed and no note from Jane.  So I placed the order for t-shirts and assumed Kevin was not joining us.  And then 2 weeks before Steakfest 2014, she sent me a note:

"Is it okay if Kevin joins us for Steakfest 2014?"

I told her no.  T-shirts had been ordered, OTHER PEOPLE had been invited to take the slot that I had held up for her boyfriend.  And, she had 3 weeks.  So, no.

This year, her response for Steakfest 2015 was to say she and 1 other person was coming and then her comments in the response were:

 should I include [Kevin]? just want to be sure! ;-)
So she is including him, but then in front of everyone she is warning them that he is coming and then asking me if he can come.  C'mon Jane, you're classier than that.

I didn't respond to that.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Cultures, End

I work at a large technology company. And one of the ways to make additional revenue is to file patents. And so, I have filed many patents for the company in my years there. As a result, I sit on a review board which does a preliminary assessment of ideas, called disclosures, and then gives a recommendation if it should be researched further. There are many, many of these types of review boards. Each has their own idiosyncraticies. Some treat each review of a disclosure like a masters oral exam. They make you wait outside the room and then you come in and present your idea and then they ask questions in realtime. Others, only communicate via email. They send their ideas to the other board members, they never discuss in a call and then one member writes up a final decision, representing the entire board. The boards I've been on have always been fairly transparent. We write reviews (if we want) where the inventors can read our remarks and then we meet on the phone to go over our votes and why. When I was coming up, I would submit an idea, and then months later it would be rejected, with no reason given - which is why I'm partial to explaining the reason why I would reject an idea.

This happened many years ago, so everything is a hazy summation.
Three inventors submitted two separate ideas. I read the first one, liked it, and marked it as recommended for further study. The second idea was an idea previously submitted years ago by others, and it was shot down because it wasn't significant or really a better idea than what was out there. I noted this in my recommendation to reject the idea.
About 90 minutes after I hit the submit button on my review, 3 people were at my door wanting to talk to me:
Me: Yes?
Them: Hi, we wanted to talk to you about why you rejected our idea.
Me: Okay. Ummm, you realize that I'm only one of 8 or 9 folks on the review board right? There's still 2 weeks to go before we meet.
Them: Right, but we wanted to talk to you about why you rejected our idea.
Me: Well, I'd rather you wait until the others had a chance to vote. But, okay. What about my review didn't you like?
Them: Well, we disagree that this isn't significant. We think this is a real problem and we offer a better solution.
Me: Well, as I said, I'm only one voter. And I've seen this idea before and I don't think it has value we want to pursue.
Them: Well, we think you misunderstand our idea.
Me: I believe your idea was this: [blah-blah-blah-blah]. Right?
Them: Yeah, that's it.
Me: Well, I've seen it presented before and I still feel it's not worth pursuing.
Them: Well, we think you're wrong.
Me: Let's see...didn't you present another idea?
Them: Yes, we did.
Me: And I thought that idea was good. So...when I agree with you, I'm a genius. But when I disagree with you, 5 minutes later, then I'm an idiot.
Them: We didn't call you an idiot!
Me: Right, but the same judgment that you have no problem with, because it's what you want, you have a problem with because you aren't getting what you want. It comes from the same brain people.
Them: Well obviously, you're not going to change your mind.
Me: Nope.
Them: Well then, can you remove your review?
Me: What?
Them: We don't want the others reading your comments and getting biased against us.
Me: What?!?
Them: You were first and it might affect what others think about when they read our idea.
Me: First off, I'm one of 8 or 9 voters. Second, the reason they don't put their reviews until the day of the meeting is that they don't want people like you guys coming to their offices while they are working and complaining about their review.
Them: Hunh?
Me: Forget it. I'm not changing my vote
Them: Well, is there someone we can protest to?
Me: You're going to go over my head and protest the single, negative vote 2 weeks before the final vote?
Them: We think you're biased against us.
Me: Fine. The attorney's name is [blah-blah-blah]. When you protest to him, be sure to go ahead and protest the first idea I said was good as well.
Them: What?
Me: Nevermind. Go away.
And as they were walking away, they were probably grumbling "Asshole!"
I know as they were walking away, I was grumbling, "Idiots"
When I started this series, I stated that this was a recollection, an opinion piece. When I read the anger or the agreements in the comment section, I am........bemused.
People forget where they are. They are in:
  1. A UT sports blog - biased
  2. A UT sports blog fanpost - unfair and unbalanced
  3. A UT sports blog fanpost written by someone writing under an alias - sketchy
  4. A UT sports blog fanpost written by someone writing under an alias who is a Longhorn Foundation member: v.v. sketchy (it used to be just "v", but the bastards made me double my contribution for better football tickets so now it's "v.v.")
My response is, "Meh, whatever".