Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.

February 14th, 2009 3 comments

(quote from winston Churchill, Alternate title for this was “How Not to Ski”)

Matt and I decided we’d head up to Kirkwood on Friday the 13th (yes, yes, I know, I know) to get some good Downhill skiing in.  We ended up heading up with Matt’s soccer buddy, Sep (who has a Subaru Forrest All-Wheel Drive.

Rough Start
Even before we got to any level of elevation, traffic went to stop-and-go for 30 minutes, and when we got to the front of it all, a CHP Officer was stopping and talking to every vehicle.

“Chains or All wheel drive?” he said.
Sep: “Yeah, the forrester is All wheel Drive”
“Okay, you can go ahead, but be careful, bad roads at elevation…” said the officer.
(he was not kidding)

2000 feet: When Trees Attack
Another slowdown and crawl as the road curved up ahead.  As we neared the front of the line, we saw something on the road.  Capable cars (even with AWD/Chains) were turning around.  It turned out that a large tree had JUST fallen onto and completely accross the road. Arrrrrgh……  We ended up being the first car in line, sitting there…., waiting, wondering…”Do we call it? Wait it out a bit?  See how quickly they can move it?”  Sep got out of the car and carefuly tip-toed to where the tree was blocking the road.  He hadn’t planned on walking around in the snow, so he was wearing sandals.  He looked around, but after a short while tip-toed back to the car and got back in.
“There’s no one up there.  On both sides of the tree, cars are backing up, but there aren’t any emergency vehicles or personnel” he said in frustration.  Approximiately 15-20 minutes later, a large tow-truck and an AT&T Service truck pulled out on the left.  One man got out of each vehicle and starting looking over the fallen tree.  After around 15 minutes, they had the tree carefully hooked up to the tow truck.  He started to pull the tree, but due to the direction he had chosen to move the tree, his rear tires ended up starting to spin as they began moving into deeper unpacked snow.  Shortly there after, a police woman knocked on our driver’s window.

The officer said “Hey there, if you turn around, and go back down a few hundred yards, there’s a street that is in good condition, and you can get around this mess”.

We followed her instructions, and we were again on our way.  Due to the tree, we didn’t see any other cars for quite some time.

As we began to start gaining in elevation, the road conditions very quickly worsened.  The snow was falling harder now, and the layers of packed snow and ice were not consistent.  This lead to constantly changing conditions.  Sep did his best to keep the car moving at appropriate speeds, but at one point, his front left tire started to grab in some of the deeper unpacked snow.  The Forrester started to quickly turn to the left.  Sep tried to countersteer but it wasn’t enough.  He got off throttle (lifted) and then hit the brakes, but this just worsened the loss of control.  The car continued to spin counterclockwise, and slide to the other side of the road.  We came so very close to hitting the driver’s side snow back on the other side of the road, but Sep managed to keep on very very very light throttle, and spun it around enough that we ended slowing enough, to end up pointing the wrong way and not in the snow bank.  Sep kept on throttle as none of us wanted to end up outside pushing the car out of thick heavy snow on the side of the road.  It was at this point that we saw the white SUV behind us who had slowly stopped and whose occupants were probably inside either laughing at us, shaking their heads or cursing…most likely some combination.

Sep continued to swing the car around in front of the white SUV, but ended up on the passenger side shoulder (there was no shoulder) in fairly deep unpacked snow, but fortunately, keeping a slight amount of throttle engaged, he managed to get it back on the road in the right direction.  It was a…scary..experience to say the least.

6800 Feet
We continued up, but the conditions worsened even more.  At around 6800 feet, there was only one and a half lanes of actualy drivable road.  The Downhill Half of that space had already started to accumulate several inches of fresh unpacked snow and looked quite treacherous.

7400 Feet: Point of No Return
At around 7400 feet, now fairly close to the resort, a CHP officer in a white suv caught up to us and told us that they had just closed the pass (meaining, the phsical gates up beffore the resort were now closed).

So, we now had to turn around, and head back down….

To say the least, we were all pretty heart-broken.  We all pondered whether we should believe the CHP officer, give it a go anyways, but in the end, we decided that even though it was regretful, that we should still head back down.  Shortly after we had decided to head back down, I noticed that Sep was driving extremely slowly, even more slowly than he had to.  Turned out he was hoping that one of us would make the stronger case that we should go up the mountain anyway.  Meanwhile, Matt was working to guilt Sep into going up.  When I was asked, I told the two of them that even though I really wanted to ski, there were too many negatives to going up the mountain, and too many signs on the way up to ignore.  I did however say, that even with my concerns, if the two of them wanted to try, I would support the idea (with some concern).

Long after we had mostly come to terms with the decision to retreat, Sep finally got a call from the other car with his other friends in it.  Turns out, right around where we had been, there had been an avalanche and three cars were at least partially submerged in the snow.  That easily could have been us.  After that, there were no doubts from anyone in our car that we had made the right decision.  Just time to grieve over the loss of the day (sigh).  In all, we started driving around 630am.  We turned back around 11am.  Stopped for lunch on the way back, but it was like 9 hours of driving for NOTHING (argh).

I still have the two lift tickets I purchased from Costco since they can be used any day of this season, we just didn’t get to use them.  Hopefully we can work out another day to get back up there (since we still have those tickets).

Mannnnn, ….what a drag.

Categories: Ben Tags:

Opening the Box: Pandora Internet Radio

February 11th, 2009 No comments

I’ve been listening to Pandora Internet Radio for quite some time (recommended by my friend Silvino).  On top of just selecting genres of music you like (such as Dance, Jazz, or whatever), you can give each song it plays a thumbs up and a thumbs down, and over time?  Pandora learns what you like (and increases the likelihood that, when it plays songs that it thinks you will like that.. well.. that you’ll LIKE them.

So, when I look at one of the songs it selected for me recently to like, Pandora listed the following properties:

1. techno roots
2. a repetitive song structure
3. use of tonal harmonies
4. a tight kick sound
5. a synth bass riff
6. a busy bass line
7. heavy drums
8. synth tweaking
9. a highly synthetic sonority
10. trippy soundscapes
11. prevalent use of groove

So, now, thanks to Pandora, when someone asks me what kind of music I like, I now have a very detailed answer!  Thanks Pandora!

By the way, the song it had recommended was from:

Artist: Ferry Corsten
Album: Live at Innercity: Amsterdam RAI
Song Title:

Categories: Ben, Music Tags:

Fear is the mind-killer.

February 9th, 2009 No comments

I don’t know that I have ever been more anxious than I am right now.

Last Quarter, my company did layoffs the day before our company meeting.  Wednesday marks the date of the next company meeting.  SO, if the company follows suit, tomorrow could conceivably mark the next round of layoffs (should they be deemed necessary).

I’m nervous because the work I do is not automated (unlike most of the other kinds of data my department creates).  So, when Joe Bean Counter comes along, and looks at pieces of data created, I will be at the bottom of the list.  And knowing how my company works, that scares the shit out of me.

We just bought a house back in July of 2008.  I know we won’t be able to hold out very long if I can’t find work quickly.

What can I do?  update the resume?  and if it comes to pass, what next?  I understand the state of the economy, and that most companies will be looking to downsize (not hire).  So, that would put me looking for a job with many other tech folks, something i haven’t thought about in quite some time.

I just don’t like this feeling :(

I need to recall my core, I think about things when the chips are down, I know better than this, that if it comes to pass, there will be a reason, and my karma will guide me to something good, maybe something better, and there will be a good reason, and the result will be perfect.  I just find it more and more difficult to remind myself when I see the the things so close to me, my ability to see past the now is reduced, …or maybe I”ve just forgotten and need to remind myself strongly (Matt did attempt to kick my ass at work today, maybe that was it? the kick I needed? (sigh)  …I can hear myself TALKING to myself.. be positive, ..and it will be so, make the best of it, no matter what comes.  I just need to listen.

When we were figuring finances to buy our house, you try to make the best calculations you can, to make sure you’ll have enough money left over each month to do fun things, or to save.  However, we haven’t minded our plan, have eaten out too much (our biggest fault), and as a result of that and cutting it too close to begin with, find ourselves with no ‘fun’ money fairly regularly.  Granted, we haven’t adjusted my income at work for the new numbers (since taxes should be greatly affected), but it’s still enough to stress me out.

My track car sits on the trailer, broken.  And I don’t see any coming hope of getting it fixed (10k?), let alone track days ($500/pop with hotel/food/gas/etc).  That was one my one (large) comfort that I afforded myself, which looks lost and hopeless.  God, I listen to msyelf talk, who is this guy?  Why am I so forelorn? (sigh)  But, this is the conversation I have with myself whenever I think about all of this, ….gone are the days of speed at the racetrack, and here, I have this house..this big expenditure that needs constant tending and care.  I can’t help myself, I constantly wonder, was the house a mistake?  Was this house just too expensive for our finances?

Categories: Ben, General, Introspection Tags:

Thankful For My Friends

December 8th, 2008 No comments

My buddy Silvino and his wife Irina invited Anna and myself over this weekend to watch a top tier boxing bout. It was what I believed was supposed to be this big comeback for De La Hoya, but it didn’t turn out that way. That’s okay though. While I’ve heard the name ‘De La Hoya’ growing up, I’ve never been much into sports. Although, it was good fun watching Pacquiao break through De La Hoya’s defenses. More important to me was just the idea of being able to spend time with friends. I dont do that enough anymore. For some reason this weekend, I really got to thinking about it, ..deeply.

There used to be a time when you didn’t even need a reason to see a friend, it was just good enough, and welcome enough that when a friend dropped by, it was a good thing, a great thing, and went both ways, and while that can’t always be the case, it was mostly the way it was. But, as folks grow older (myself included of course), you get married, somewhere along the line that changes, you and start to think differently. You start to value privacy more, and start to demand and expect it more. Maybe it’s just me, maybe others don’t think this way, and it’s mostly just me that’s thinking this way. I really should explore this idea more, because if it IS just me thinking this way, than I’m blocking my own happiness at tunes (which I can fix).

But, I think I may be dreaming about much simpler times, about days when your best friend lived accross the street, and on a Saturday afternoon, after your chores were done, you were free as long as your parents said you were, to go have fun together and do whatever (within reason).

For now, in simple terms, I value (very highly) the time I DO get to spend with good friends, with Silvino, Irina, Alex, Matt, and of course my wife Anna, and I don’t say it enough.

The quotations below I really should add to my quotes page. They emphasize some of how I view friendship:

Charlotte from “Charlotte’s Web”, E.B. White
“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”

Categories: Ben, Friendship, Introspection Tags:

“Seeing is not always believing.”

December 4th, 2008 2 comments

The title is a Martin Luther King Jr Quote.

I wear glasses.  Not a lot of folks that know me know that.  My vision is spectacular.  So, in every case…, less one, I’m good to go.  Far away (think driving, …racing), I can see perfectly.  However, as objects or text move closer (think reading a computer screen, or a book), one of my eyes, specifically the muscle around it, is lazy (weak! literally).  Who cares?  Well, the point is, … I can see.  I ‘perceive’ well, I ‘notice’ things.  Sometimes, too well, more often than not, I’m perceptive.  I pickup on the things that others don’t.

“What the HELL are you getting at Ben?”

Well (grin), it’s not like I’m a SuperHero, and I have a small weakness (glasses), because I have some SuperSight.  I just have better than average perception when it comes to most things.  It usually leads to me overanalyzing.  Let me give you a current example:  My Race Car. (wow Ben, what a stretch)

Right now, after the wreck, it is sitting, outside, on a trailer, in a trailer storage yard, out in the weather, being beated on by the elements, with a hood 40% open.  Everytime I start to think about getting it out of the elements and into our newly finished garage, this is what happens, I think:

  1. Since I can’t currently get the car to steer straight, I need to figure out some easy way to get the car off the trailer.  The problem there is that since it got smashed in, the front right side near the front right tire is pushed sideways, so it that tire can’t come all the way to center (turned too far right).
  2. Maybe I could get a skinny spare (not standard on my car) and change it on the trailer?  Notice in the pictures that the center of the trailer is …wel, there isn’t one (with this style of trailer).  So, as soon as the car starts to role, it’s going to role right off of being ‘on’ something, and highcenter itself (bad).
  3. Others have suggested furniture style or tire dolly’s underneath one or both front tires, but as you can see in the picture, that won’t work with this style of ramp.
  4. Yet another idea I came up with (which I think is more comical than anything else), just to get it off the trailer, not fully into the garage, is to put McDonald’s style plastic trays underneath the front tires.  Then, maybe hook something up to the front of the car somewhere strong, and pull slowly while someone is in the car.  But, again, this just ‘maybe’ gets it off the trailer.
  5. So, even if we get the car off the trailer, then, with the status of that bumper, will it even fit into the garage w/o first removing the bumper? (it’s in bad shape, and I’m not sure how difficult those bolts holding the bumper on will be).
  6. If I DO manage to get the car into the garage, then what.  We dont’ have the money to fix the car (probably somewhere around 8-10k), and with the state of the economy, my NVIDIA stocks aren’t worth anything right now, so that’s not an option.
  7. Then, there’s my back.  I hurt it when I was in the accident, and my ability to track my car again is still a question mark.
  8. And with all of that, we’re still making payments on the used massive Chevy 2500HD Turbo Diesel Truck that pulls pulled the racecar to the track.
  9. And even more important than any of these things, and especially important to Anna is the Biological WoMD clock of child Construction (of which, the ticking is deafening), and of which the cost is also astronomical (as well).

So, Then I just stress out, probably get a headache, which sometimes leads to a worse headache, and has yet to lead to any action anywhere NEAR me getting near the trailer yard where the car is.  Let alone getting the car into the garage.

Then, I start to think about how working on that car, and driving that car, and seeing that car, and hearing that car, smelling that car, …all of it, all of those things, how they made me feel, how passionate I am about motorsports, and being out on the track, and right now, how I can’t do that, and how my future to be even potentially able to do that is uncertain.  With the additional $1200 we pay now in a mortgage payment per month, it just decreases the liklihood that I’ll ever do it again, even when I want to. (I was going to write ‘if’ I wanted to, but I know better, I want to).

So, …I SEE things (back to the point).  I see much more, much further down the road than I want to, it’s built into me.  While others around me may be grateful for the insight I can bring into their lives, and even at times it may do me a service to be able to see such detail, …other times, it will paralyze me.

But, I have to find a way….I have to.  So, with all of those (#1-8, …probably more), come back to #0 (not listed)…


So, if you’re reading this, just remember, that with everything else, this is on my mind all the time.

………..all the time.

Categories: Ben, Bens M3, Introspection Tags:

When They Turn On You

October 6th, 2008 No comments

I still remember the first time I met Anna’s daughter Cassidy (I call her Anna’s daughter only so that anyone reading this know’s who I am talking about, hell, for all intensive purposes I’m her Dad!).  She came out from taking a bath, just before bedtime at her GrandMa Amber’s, very sweet, full of innocense, with the “That’s not my Dad” look on her face.  Anna and I were getting ready to go out on one of our first official dates in Bakersfield, and Anna’s friend Amber was going to watch Cassidy for us.  Even then, I really don’t think I fully understood how much of a defensive wall I’d be fighting for many years to come.

Cassidy doesn’t want me to be her Dad, because any acceptance of me as her Father, on some level, leads to an acknowledgement that BioDad hasn’t been everything he’s supposed to be.  …And that’s not something that she’s ready to do yet (not suprising really, she’s only 9 10).

Very recently, things have gotten worse.  Even though she is being well cared for, recently started playing the flute, has started having more interaction with her BioDad, she has decided she has justification to not have to remember to do her stuff.  I say stuff since this includes just about everything on the freakin’ planet!  From her morning chores, bringing her homework home, doing her homework, picking up after herself, cleaning herself in the shower…just about everything that she is supposed to be responsible for lately we have to remind her to do.

I went so far as to even get her a planner, so she can check it in the morning, before she leaves school, when she gets home, and before she goes to bed.  I went over how to use it, helped her by showing her examples of how it can work.  But, as I suspected, just like any tool, it’s useless unless you use it (sigh).

I wouldn’t be suprised if there is a link between me being the one to follow-up with her (more than Anna), and also the one to be the ‘bad guy’, and her resistance to taking care of her responsibilities.

The only way I know to influence a child to do what they’re supposed to or what you want them to do is:

  1. Positive Reinforcement
  2. Punishment
  3. Non-Interference (not usually successful on its own)=

Since Cassidy was going to go down to see her Dad for her Birthday, Anna and I hadn’t gone out to get presents for Cassidy.  But, since Troy’s Mom passed away, we suddenly needed to provide.  Anna decided to go pickup presents without me.  When Anna came home from buying gifts and came through the front door alone, Cassidy knew she had been shopping for presents (without me).  When Cassidy opened her presents, she didn’t thank me, she thanked Anna (only), and Anna didn’t correct her (“These are from both Ben and me”).  So, now, I’m the bad guy, AND the presents were from Mom and Mom alone.  Granted, to be objective, I should have gone with Anna to get presents, but Anna didn’t ask if I wanted to go with her, and Cassidy was home, so… wasn’t ideal either way, but at the root of it, Anna should have corrected her.

To me, this just serves to give Cassidy  more justification for her continued lack of responsibility (when I follow-up with her).  I’m talking with Anna about how to best deal with the imbalance (me bad parent, her good parent), because this is getting out of hand.  Right now, Cassidy could give a rat’s ass about me (it’s very apparent to me).  She think’s I don’t do enough around the house, and think’s she can lie her way out of anything.  I’ve spoken to Anna about the imbalance and how the support I’m getting is not enough.  One thing I read online was to put up a chore board (as more of a way to show the kids all of the things that the adults do every day to make sure the world keeps on turning, because they don’t usually know).

When I watched her (Cassidy’s) interaction with her friend McKayla while she was over this weekend, I noticed that she tended to show signs of ‘only child’ (lack of social know-how, and arrogance that comes with the lack of social know-how, didn’t say thank you for the gift she was given by her friend, needed to 1up her friends, I realize some of that comes with the age).  It looks very much like she’s starting to form selfish traits.

Since we moved to Gilroy, she hasn’t been working hard to make new friends, and spend time outside of the house with kids.  Anna reminded her this weekend that even at the old Coniston House, originally, she had to work to make friends.  She didn’t just have friends right off the bat.

If anyone reading this has some well-throught-out ideas about how to deal with a 10yo girl not wanting to do what’s required of her, I’m all ears.

Categories: Anna/Cassidy, General Tags:

The Longer you wait for the future, the shorter it will be

July 9th, 2008 No comments

Several Years ago I first took my old Convertible sports car onto Buttonwillow Raceway.  I realized very quickly that part of me that had been sleeping for most of my life.  Even though the M3 Convertible was really not suited for what I was doing with it, and my driving skills were in their infancy, I had found a second home.

If you have never been up close to a race-car or a bunch of race cars that have just been driving all-out on a racetrack, it’s quite an expereince.  There are some ambient elements that don’t come through with words on a blog.  The sounds and smells are intense.  The sweet odors of freshly burned 100 octane, …and burned up R-Comp Tires (Racing Compound), along with constantly climbing exhaust notes (Each motor and Exhaust design seems to have its own exclusive melody).  You’ll come upon folks that have been doing it for years.  They’ll be the guys trailering their fully race-prepped, non-street-legal cars.  They’ll have boxes of extra gear that they have with them or off-load at the track.  Anything from spare parts, tools, to coolers for drinks on a hot day, sunscreen.  The list goes on.  Always best to be prepared out there.

Anyway, back to the M3 Convertible.  While the M3 Convertible was a great car for freeway cruisin’ or backroads drivin’, it just wasn’t well suited for the track.  And, unfortunately, since my torso was so damned tall, with the top down and my helmet on, the top of my helmet would actually stick out OVER the top of the roofline!  Now, if you don’t understand how bad this could be, look at the picture to the right and imagine the car flipped over upside down.

There were also other problems with the car.  While the car came with basic rollover protection, it did NOT have a true motorsport roll bar, let alone a true 8pt motorsports cage.  No fire safety equipment.  Due to the car being a convertible, the chassis did not have the rigidity that would be required as I became a better driver.  So, even if I wanted to improve things, it became clear that this wasn’t the right car (sad, but true).

So, I sold the car, and eventually ended up with a 1997 M3 Coupe (hardtop).  By this time, I had realized the error of my ways (safety had to come first).   And on June 21st of this year (2008), all of my planning on this currrent car was realized when an idiot driver not paying attention slammed into me at around 80mph at Thunderhill Raceway.

The damage to the car is sad, and while it’s a lot of damage, it’s repairable (back to perfect working order).

Me, however… My MRI shows that my back is in less than perfect condition.  The final finding for the MRI (after a lot of very worrisome details) was this:

Findings: Central and right paracentral disc protrusions L2-L3 through L5-S1, likely compressing the associated nerve roots at L4 and L5 levels.  Moderate foraminal narrowing bilaterally.

Now, if you’ve never had a nerve pinched in your back, this is what happened the evening of june 21st as I was walking back from having dinner with some of my track buddies.  I can’t compare it to child birth pain since I will never experience that, but it was definitely the worst pain I have ever experienced before.  I have had pinched nerves before, but I think due to some swelling in my back due to the collission, the nerve pinching that day was inevitable.  In the past when I’ve had a pinched nerve in my back, I’ve been able to lay down (which I did), then eventually get up (which I did), limped myself up to the hotel room, and woke Anna up so she could move over and let me lay down (my new home for the rest of the evening).

Very late that night, I had go get up to go to the bathroom, and I assumed by then that my back had calmed down.  I should have taken more note that when I slowly moved to a standing position that ther was still considerable pressure on my spine.  Naked, I slowly hobbled to the hotel bathroom, and fearfully planted myself on the toilet.  Just as I had finished a very short round of #2, I felt the spasm start to creep back into my lower back.  Psyhologically speaking, this is horrifying.  The only thing I know to do is lay down flat on the ground, but… I haven’t wiped and if you’re familar with most hotel bathrooms near racetracks, the floorspace in those bathrooms is not exactly well suited to a 6’2″ guy trying to lay completely flat in there.

My back starts to spasm.

I quickly try to move myself into a semi-flat position on the floor, but this ends up prolonging the spasm.  In short, the first position I end up in is… my head is near the edge of the tub and the wall, and my legs are between the toilet and the wall… the wall that leads to the door that goes out of the bathroom.  This is tough to visualize, but in short, I couldn’t get my right leg into a position where the spasm would stop.  I ended up trying to use my arms to help straighten my back, and meanwhile grabbing onto any loose flesh on my body to create pain somewhere else to take my mind away from the spasms piericing up and down my back.  After several nightmarish minutes of pain, my back finally calmed down.  But it wasn’t over.  I still had to get my right leg out that bathroom door to extend it, and to do that, I’d first have to bright the right leg closer to my torso.

This ended up making my back spasm again for several more minutes, but I was able to get the leg out the door (finally).

After my back finally calmed down again, I was able to through several minutes, finally rock myself carefully into a ‘crawling on the floor’ position, and this was the way I came back to bed.

The next morning, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.  I was thinking I might try to drive the truck (with trailer on back with wrecked race car on back, badly loaded), but when simply walking out from the hotel to the truck was enough to make me have to lay down on the 100 degree parking lot black top, I knew that wasn’t going to work.  So, Anna’s first experience of driving this truck with this car on the trailer would be on this day.  I managed my way into the passenger’s seat, and we propped it back as far as it would go.

On the way back, we stopped at a restaurant to grab some lunch.  The walk from where we had to park the truck (because of the trailer) to the restaurant was probably 40 yards.  This time i made it into the place, but by the time I sat down in the booth, I was hurting pretty good.  I had to hold my back straight while eating, which was tough to do in that kind of booth.

Once we got back into town, we brought the trailer and car back to the trailer yard (unsure of the fate of the race car), and covered it up.  We then drove over to the Camino Medical Urgent Care Center.  This sounds like an ER name, but it’s just the name they give to a place you can go without an appointment that is not an emergency.   The Doctor there took some Xrays which came back normal (that’s a good sign at least).  Next, she had me siting upright (I could feel the pressure on my spine), and she performed that standard old knee reflex test with the reflex hammer.

Left Knee: check. (great reaction)
Right Knee….. uh……Right Knee?  Hello?  Hello Right?  Ben to Right Knee?

The right knee was showing little to no reaction.

This greatly concerned the docor since she suspected either nerve damage or swelling around the nerves, the former of which could need immediate care.  So, they ambulanced me over to the Camino Hospital, and Anna followed in the truck (I haven’t been to an emergency room in YEARS).  The two ambulance dudes were great (both very nice guys, friendly, caring).  Once we got over to the ER, and the folks that got me immediately setup in a room realized I wasn’t about to die, I think I was placed pretty low on the totem pole of priorities.  In any event, the doctor eventually did come in and due a simliar kind of test to my knees.  However, when he did, he had me laying flat on my back (no pressure on the spine).  So, this time, the reaction on both knees was normal.  I guess this was good since to me, this at least meant that the nerves were at least partially intact, and it probably just meant that there was swelling in the area from the accident.  They HAD been talking about getting me an MRI before that, but after that, they decided to send me on my way and have me FIRST go see my primary care doctor (what a pita that all was).

They eventually gave me a very painful shot in the butt, and prescriptions for Valium and Vicodin.  I spent the next week mostly on my back, icing, ibuprofening, with a litle pain killer at the beginning.

So, now, I’m up and able to walk around, but its not like it was before the accident.  My back seems fragile and more susceptible to fatigure and pressure.  I have an appointment on july 18th with the Camino Medical Department of Physiatry.

Some folks may ready this and say “See!  Racing cars is a dangerous sport!”, but even now, as I write this, this is not the message I would wish anyone to draw from this.  The reason I’m here today, the reason I’m sitting here typing this blog is because I stuck to a very specific design philosophy when planning out that race-car.

Safety First.

1. I had a Hans Device on at the time of the impact
2. I was in a Racing Seat with Head Protection.
3. I was using properly secured 5-pt Harnesses (seat belts).
4. I had a well built 8-point Roll Cage
5. I started with a car that was known to be well built (good crumple zones)

The part that I’m struggling with is my future.  Doctors will likely tell me:
“Racing is a hazardous sport, and your back isn’t in great shape, we would encourage you to give it up.

My heart tells me
“If you can do it, and you’re physically able, get that car fixed, and get your ass back out there!’.

But, I know, in my heart, that if I take another impact like that, that it may even more severely affect me and the rest of my life (sigh).  At least, I have that feeling (I’m not a doctor).  And that’s where my mind is at.

Categories: Ben, Bens M3, General Tags:


May 22nd, 2008 No comments

Every once in a while, I take a closer look at the many interesting ways I manage to screw my life up and hold those experiences up to a magnifying glass, looking for some crumb of evidence that I’m doing something right, but more often find that I’m not. I just want to make my life better. There are those that look up at the stars and dream and hope. Hope is nice. It is what I hang onto when I’ve done all I can do and everything hangs by it. However, until that moment comes when all of my efforts have been exhausted I usually end-up turning my world upside down. You can’t change others(which I have found to be an ultimate truth in the universe) nor should you try! (unless they come looking for guidance, and sometimes not even then). So, you might as well start fixing things right under your nose.

Lately, I”ve been reflecting a lot about my choice and or willingness of myself to bend to the will of other people; To be the one to change, to ‘give in’ to the things that I am not willing or wasn’t willing to put up with or to be a part of in the first place. Often times during heated discussions and arguments, I’m reminded that I’m not as flexible as I used to be. So, I find myself reflecting on those moments even after much time has passed, looking at the way I acted, the choices I’ve made, and looking for a path through the issue that might have resulted in everyone ending-up happy, or in the very least, happier. Sometimes that is and was possible, and sometimes it wasn’t. The point is, I’m a thinker. I spend a lot of time thinking about people’s feelings, thinking about how the way I acted or didn’t act might have affected their lives.. and hell, my own life too! It doesn’t even matter sometimes if the other person totally screwed up and went off on me like a 5th grader, I still reflect on it, and you still feel it long after their words are gone.

I’ve carried this weight of ‘over thinking about others’ feelings’ on my shoulders for a very long time. I’m not sure why I’ve been carrying it. I think part of it is because I want people to be happy, and I want them to have what they want to have, many times before I have what I want. Its just part of who I am. So, do I bend? Do I give up what I want so they can have what they want? Sometimes… okay, probably more than I should. Well, at least I used to. So, something must have changed at some point.

I know I wasn’t always this way, I wasn’t always as inflexible as I have become. There was a time when I was younger that I used to bend all the time, and what I found was that generally other people would walk all over me, and i would rarely get what I wanted. Even after I took a great college level writing class, and my ability to persuade people increased dramatically, I still found that many folks didn’t want to be persuaded (i.e. words were not enough, even good words and sound reasoning). Some people just want to have their way.

Looking back now, I can see that I made it a mission in my life to stand up to people like that in my own way. It was an active choice, to ‘not’ be a reed in the wind to people like this, to ‘not’ be swayed by people who would not sway, that is unless they decided to become more flexbile in their own views for the issue at hand. It didn’t always mean that straight out Mortal Kombat was necessary, but often times just reflecting back at them their own rigidness would be enough to spark the beginning of change. Sometimes, it would lead to disaster.

So, For myself, I would ponder “Is worth it to stand up for a friend when nobody else would, even if it meant some of the other folks you thought were friends would ostracize you, or standby silently, only to not call or message you as often if it all, or even ridicule you publicly for your actions, separating themselves from you.

It is. However, it doesn’t make the suffering any less painful.

This thinking reminds me of my old friend Bob Delaney. He had a girlfriend at the time whose name I now do not recall (blame: topamax/age). She claimed to be able to tell a lot about a person by simply touching them. The very first time I met her, she simply asked to and held my hands, and one of the things she told me was, “Ben, you have a good heart, a very good heart…but bare in mind, due to your compassion and feeling for others, you will endure a difficult and painful life. ”

So, Is this what she was talking about? When I stick up for folks I call friends, and everyone else hangs their heads low, and shuns me for doing it, …is this was she was talking about?

This idea is one that has kept me up at night. When I help those I care about by sticking up for them, and I see friends sit by, …acting indifferent to the suffering of others around them, what am I to do about that?. …However, ya know? it’s not really indifference. They see it…. They see the suffering! They complain about the suffering! Yet, when the time comes for action, to rise up and do something to fix the problem, they sit idley by and hang their heads low, hoping that nobody else will notice their inaction, and that someone else will fix the problem and take the crap that comes with being the one to rock the boat, and not only that, they will attempt to silence the one trying to fix the problem in hopes of claiming the right of the ‘peace-keeper’ and somehow becoming a hero.

These people act like friends, but in every reality, they are something else.

I have good friends, and for those I am very thankful.

I’m left asking myself, what needs to change in me:
-If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
(be more aware of this, e.g. trust your instincts)
-Establish friendships with individuals
(not groups)
-Try to keep to your age group for friendship.
(younger folks are immature just like you were)
-Don’t trust unconditionally, and give full trust more slowly.
(I tend to trust too much too soon)

Other than that, I fully intend to keep on standing up for my friends. It’s just part of who I am, for better or for worse.

Categories: Ben, General, Introspection Tags:

The Guest List

May 19th, 2008 1 comment

(this post started before Anna and I were married) Family. What is a family? How do you deFINE family?? Well, That’s become a very repetitive question for me lately, one that I keep coming back to, even after I’ve answered it, even after I thought I had pretty much nailed it down and secured the defintion into a Jack Bauer style holding cell, and since I’m writing in my blog (Anna, use right hand and secure jaw back to head), something must be not right, ..either about how I defined it, or in how I expected others to act with their definitions of it, or in how they defined it, or (sigh) ..SOMETHING!

Lets start with the activity that I had been building up in my head and heart for a long time, watching those wedding shows with Anna, seeing all of those TV shows growing up, with a room full of people, and both families there, everyone there ready to wish the new couple a prosperous journey as they start a new life together as a married couple, as a family. But!…I already knew our version was going to be different.

My mother hasn’t been a part of my life since my parents divorced (I was 6). I used to really take this personally growing up, to wonder why, try to rationalize, … and when I was nineteen, I sat her down and explained that I was forcefully removing any chip on my shoulder that she had placed there for me by not being a part of my life growing up.

However, after hearing recently from my sister, that she did something similar (10 years later), I’ve realized (many years ago in fact) that it has nothing to do with me, has to do ..had to do with her. Based on the conversations with my sister, my biological mother, Louise, just doesn’t take her responsibilities seriously, even responsibilities of the heart (Family). She has played the largest role in doing damage to every brother and sister that she has tried to parent. At some point, someone nearer to her (I have not been) needed to remove her from power. She just doesn’t ‘do that’ well. It should be like any job, you do it bad enough, you get fired.

What I’m getting at….even with all my ‘after the fact effort’, she had a place in shaping the man I have become …. especially with how I deal with those that hurt me, and in that respect, I have spent many years undoing the damage she imposed all those years ago. I have come to a happy medium, and have found peace with it, choosing who I keep around me, giving the worthwhile folks second chances. I hear that she’s nearly on her death bed, she suffers from diabetes (the bad type), and general bad health from years of being over weight, not exercising, and not taking care of herself (or others for that matter, see also: family). While this saddens me, and it does, it’s not the same as if I had a working relationship with her for years. It’s more like a stranger is on her death bed. And, while I don’t wish anyone ill will, I don’t tend to go out of my way for family that doesn’t tend to do the same. Some may call this a fault, others may totally understand this, but it is my choice to make. Ironically, she is most likely the person that has most shaped me in this regard. …but back to the point…

When it came to if my Mother would be coming to any wedding that Anna and I might have, ……no, …. I would not be inviting her.

Then, there is my Dad.

I love my Dad. I have loved him my whole life, and have talked about him with love, …telling people that while I might have been unlucky in the ‘mother department’ growing up, least I had a dad that made up for it, and he did. He is the guy that I have aspired to be for many years. He has been a guiding light for me, about what is right and wrong, how to make good choices in life, you name it. I have many fond memories when I think of my dad. Him, helping me to learn how to play T-Ball, ..helping to coach the team, even if we weren’t often the winning team. Him, helping me with my homework. Him, coming to my band shows (I Played the trumpet, haven’t picked it up in years, until recently when Cassidy started to express interest in music, so I showed it to her). He has been there for me, and while i have played the role of kid (not perfect, making mistakes along the way, etc), I am grateful, and I have shown it. There has been something missing for quite a few years, and I only started to realize it in the last few years. My dad really didn’t have any interest in me, and it showed. Any time we talked, I would ask how things were going with him, and that’s what we would talk about, him, his life, his work, and that was it. It was odd, since he always prized himself on how good a listener he was, and I’m sure, even now, he would argue this point (and that’s okay, I expect that from him, even now).

Now, it’s not fair for me to say that my hands are clean in this matter. I have never been good at calling family on the phone on a regular basis. This comes as what should be a simple thing, but… it isn’t. The reason it isn’t, is because, my sense of ‘family’ has been screwed up for years. But, that story wont’ come around until the next post I think (we’ll see, putting all of that into a tangible, linear story may be more difficult than I think it will, fingers crossed). In any event, I don’t’ expect that Gary understood this, at least, he didn’t take the time to.

In any event, at least as far as the cell phone calls from Gary, about to board his flights, there’s only so much one-sidedness that anyone can take before they become disgusted, and grow weary of the lack of interest from the other party. For me, it took quite a while, probably because I couldn’t help but think of all of the energy and love my Dad has put forth in raising me, I mean… talk about a labor of love. My dad thinks I don’t understand this, and he’s wrong, and again, he’ll argue this with me, and that’s okay, we don’t’ have to agree on this.

I feel that my father, Gary, views me as he did when I was in my teens, and that he still feels the need to guide me as if I was in my teens, and that if I do something that he doesn’t like, that he feels the need to scold me as if I were in my teens, living at home with him.

Kandy, his wife, came to visit several months ago. During this visit, she was the Kandy that I’ve really grown not to like. The one that acts just like her mother does, judgmental, serve me, act interested in my life, but its not important if i’m not interested in your life. I’m not going to go into the full details of her visit, but in short, during her visit, she pushed too far. Once she had gone, I wrote her a letter, and I included my father. In the end, my father wrote me a letter back, and rather than get the introspective answer I was looking for, I got judgmental asshole Gary.

See, during my adult life, Gary and I haven’t argued, or if we did, I don’t remember it. I’m not sure that Gary knew how to respond to me not being thrilled about him and his wife, it certainly didn’t seem that way. In short, the letter back from him made every effort to be ‘blunt’ and cut me to shreads (he knew what he was doing). He knew that I would likely not want to have anything to do with him after this.

He made claims about my life and my behavior (after not having been a part of it for years). Most of it was completely incorrect, and also questioned the way that we parent Cassidy (after having spent minutes with her). so, in short, Gary? you knew it was coming, you knew it was an asshole move to write a letter like that, but…. you still did it. This….. was your move of compassion (they’ve been Buddhist for a while now)

I had a choice before me, forgive, … let it go, and act like everything was okay. Or push away. I chose the latter. I really don’t have space in my life for people that want to act like that. I don’t care who you are. If you want to be an asshole, find some other place to do it. Find someone else to do it with, there are plenty of takers, ….just not me.

So, would my dad and Kandy be coming to the wedding? No, they would not be coming to the wedding.

So, this left me with a really tough decision. My side of the family (some sisters up north), wouldn’t probably not come to any wedding we had in California, and I knew that Anna had plenty of folks that would come to a wedding here. I wanted her to be happy, I wanted her to have a wedding that she wanted, but how do you do that when … when my family is so screwed up.

Anna, this is why it took me so long to get the plan rolling in the first place. I finally worked up the courage to just be completely frank with your, and talk to you about all of the the things here, and how I wasn’t sure what to do about it, but that I knew what I wanted to get married.

I was …so…relieved that you were okay with going downtown and getting married in a civil ceremony. But, even now, when I see commercials that come on tv, that show these lavish weddings, with tons of friends and family members, and people all dressed up, …I can’t help but wonder if did us a true service. I never want to live with regret, …but living with a screwed up family, … a mother that lead me to be know what I am willing to put up with has narrowed my list of friends down to a shorter list. I know what I have is a gift, Anna, Cassidy, they’re both gifts, and I cherish them, … I guess, I just wish things could have been better, but this is one of the things I can’t change. I can’t change that Gary and Kandy have become overly judgemental as they’ve grown older. And I can’t change that name Louise is just a word to me (supposed to mean “mother”).

So, where do I go from here? (sigh) ….

(Bob Seger ) Turn the Page.

Categories: Ben, Family Tags:

Thank you honey!

February 2nd, 2006 7 comments

I just wanted to say thanks to Anna for upgrading me from Spam Ridden B2 BLogger to WordPress. I may actually start posting now that I know I can control the evil spammers! Die Spammers, DIE!

Anyway, thank you honey!

Categories: Anna, General Tags: