Saturday, December 13, 2008

the day after

i tried to reach the stbx on friday afternoon. some of the elements of the arrangements require that i outline them to her. i wrote a script for the call and passed it by my lawyer who made a few adjustments

couldn't reach her

i was in a store with daughter looking for a birthday gift for her friend when the stbx called. i told her i was in a store and would call her back in 30 seconds. i went out to my vehicle and called her back

i began to read the script

she interupted


she didn't let me finish what i was going to say

she said "[cadbury], i'm in a very emotional state right now, so if you're going to say mean things to me or things that will put more pressure on me please don't."

i started read the script again

she says "before you do that i have just one question, just one question... whn i'm better, will you let me..."

i cut her off "the answer is yes. utterly yes. when you are better. when you've worked this through. that's all i've ever wanted."

she kept interrupting me as i tried to get through the script and threw me off. she's always been able to do that to me. lobbing shit out of no-where - the exact words that she knows i will have no choice but to respond to. i managed to get the salient points out of my mouth. i then cut off her babbling as i didn't want to talk and she had her lawyer on hold (call waiting).

the call took about 5 minutes

she called me a little while later while daughter and i were still out at another store.

she started babbling about shit. i tried to keep her to the key points that i am prepared to discuss with her - visitation, sunday's concert (daughter), and christmas. she went all over the map.

some key takeaways:

1) she never threatened suicide. when i pointed out that she had told daughter "the only thing keeping me from suicide is you being here". she said "oh. i guess i did say that. nbut that's how i really felt at the time."

2) after i told her daughter was on prozac and under psychiatric care (not just a counselor) daughter isn't really all that concerned about the stbx. daughter isn't really that concerned about the suicide threats or discussion. she isn't that concerned about her mother. daughter is projecting daughter's guilt about daughter's bad decisions surrounding sexuality and daughter's expression of it.

if that makes no sense... the stbx brought up an incident in which daughter was "molested" by another girl of the same age at a sleepover when daughter was about 9 (the girl stuck her fingers up there on daughter).

the stbx said "daughter has made a number of poor choices in engaging in sexual activities. i think she, like everyone, has guilt about those poor choices. i think daughter has done some things she's not proud of - things that are beyond what she's able to handle at her age. and that she's just using the suicide thing with me as a way of projecting that guilt she feels about her own poor choices. so if she needs psychiatric help i think that's why."

i was pretty flabbergasted by this statement.

she went on to tell me how the only thing that she ever asked son for was to not smoke dope in the house and to go to school. and that was uncontrollable. she did nothing else with him - left him alone to do his own thing totally. total freedom

she asked if she could call the kids to tell them she loved them.

i smelled lawyer trick. i said she could, but that she should do it sooner than later - right now - so that she didn't upset daughter while she was at her friends in a short while. that she should refrain from one of her big emotional rambles and keep it short for now.

she asked me if she shouldn't phone, and if thought it wasn't best. i told her that i would provide maximum access that wouldn't upset or rattle the kids. that she should phone.

that's her testing - our laws call for maximum access for both parents

i told her i would talk to her on saturday about picking up the dance outfit, and on monday about visitation

she called the kids, and that was the end

Friday, December 12, 2008

friday's the day

on friday my lawyer will be filing papers with the stbx's lawyer

i am filing for sole custody of my daughter - my son at age 17 has already chosen

daughter, while torn at one level, is ok with it

i asked her whether she wanted to arrange a visit with her mother on monday night (her mother works 'til 9pm) after she is off work

daughter said "i don't want her to get the idea that i want to see her"

for all the ambivalence and fear about her mother's reaction, when it comes right down to it she wants to escape her mother as much as either son or i...

tomorrow is supposed to be switchover day

i will call the stbx and tell her that daughter will not be coming over and yet one more time that the stbx should be looking at counseling

i will warn her about calling the kids - that she is enjoined from unsupervised contact with them - that calling them (or me) repeatedly will constitute harassment

more later - i just don't have it in me to write a swack of stuff

there is so much going on between all of us and the swirl and chaos is all encompassing


"i don't want to set the world on fire
i just want to light a flame in your heart"

Sunday, December 07, 2008


my ex assaulted me when i tried to pick up my daughter (friday was switchover day)

she struck me in the head and chest with her fists and lunged at and shoved me

in front of the kids


she had been in an altercation with my daughter earlier in the day when stbx pretended to be going to leave the house "I'm just leaving. i'm leaving and you and your father can live in this house with [Smitten] and i'll just disappear - you'll never see me again. you've made your choices. now live with them."

high drama

then she turned to leave

and daughter grabbed her and they scuffled

high drama - all aimed at pressuring my daughter to stay with stbx full time. to move two provinces away with the stbx.

stbx had pressured daughter into agreeing to move. but that wasn't enough. in almost the exact scenario i had to deal with the night i left the stbx, agreeing to "stay" wasn't good enough. she had to have more. so it wasn't enough to have daughter agree to move, but daughter had to immediately agree to stay full time with stbx - and start immediately. because stbx has to have it now - and have it all.

there are only her needs - and no-one else's

once again, stbx overplayed her hand. she took her eye off the ball of the eventual goal of having daughter move with her and got greedy - and in doing so she will have likely lost her endgame.


i explained to my kids that my decision to report the incident to the police is not motivated out of malice or revenge. that i was not out to "get" their mother or punish her. that i would not be going all "hardcore" on her. that my intent is to see if i can get their mother the help she needs through the courts and family services. get my children the intervention and support they need. force a few of my ideas on counselling and healthy options on the whole scenario (oddly - my ideas mirror public policy in this province... who'd 'a' thunk it?)

son says that he wishes that i would go hardcore. wishes that i would turn the screws hard. he says that he believes she is a sociopath and that her public fuck-upedness is a cover for a devious, manipulating, and malicious interior. he says he believes that she is "evil" (yes - that word).

daughter and i disagreed with son. we think she's just fucked up.


i explained to the kids that i had been thinking through the implications for a day. and that i had made my choice based on stepping back for a moment and thinking about all those papers and manuals i had written about how to deal with relationship violence. that if it wasn't me and it wasn't our family. if i was a woman and not a man - what would i say should be done.

and the answer was immediate.

i had to report it.


i thought about what my children witnessed - and the reports i have read over the years about children witnessing family violence

and now it's happened to mine

if my daughter was ever assaulted by a boyfriend or husband (or wife, if she goes fully that way) she will have at least one moment of modeling that has to do with being resolute and not caving in


my daughter said that she had been considering committing suicide earlier friday. that Alex - the friend of son's that is still staying at the house - came in and saw her and said "[Daughter] - what the fuck? Don't do that."

daughter says she blames herself for the scenario in which her mother would leave or abandon her.

i am still trying to extract some details about the situation, but have had difficulty because the kids have had friends around constantly since the incident.

if my daughter is moving toward suicidal thoughts i need to keep her away from the stbx

i am seeing social services and may lawyers on monday - until the stbx is in treatment i am going to try to keep daughter full-time until she is more stable.

we'll see if i can get around the stbx's lies and poor me story

a huge chunk of me believes that by the end of this, i will be the one in jail... from her lies

but my head prevails - i have to see this through

luckily i have a some aces in the sleeve

Alex and my son

and my daughter

and Chris - the guy who used to live there last year

all can provide proof of the stbx's whackedness

and because this is the police and assault and the domestic violence unit, this will alter daughter's behaviours and propensity to cover for her mother

daughter doesn't want to move away. she doesn't want to go with her mother - and even though she may actually love her mother - or may be even more stockholm syndrome than me

i think that given the proper cover and the proper "i couldn't lie" defense for why she told the truth - daughter will spill the beans


i think i am going to puke now...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

the mildest thing

my last post is probably the mildest thing that happened yesterday...

this afternoon i will be going to the police station to file a complaint of assault and battery against the stbx.

it's very sad, but utterly necessary - she does not have any idea of the consequences of her actions

she only wants what she wants when she wants it - with no consideration of the effects on others

she has to be stopped and stopped hard

perhaps the outside intervention of the police and social services will alter this currently unwinnable situation (and by winnable, i mean that my children are safe and not under extreme stress)

she has been telling my daughter that the only thing that keeps her from suicide is my daughter's presence. she's threatened suicide. she's threatened abandonment to pressure daughter into agreeing to move with her to another province. daughter agreed.

daughter and her got into a physical altercation yesterday

there is much more

on monday i will be asking my lawyer's office to file papers to grant me temporary sole custody until there have been interviews and psychiatric assessments all 'round. daughter just woke up - more later

Friday, December 05, 2008

among the more disturbing recent statements

cadbury (text message to daughter's cell phone [yes, i just bought them both cell phones and am paying for their bills]): "when should i come get you? 5?"

daughter texts back: "Um well i'm battling mom so i might be awhile... LOL also i promised i'd eat something here"

son ([in same room as me at apartment] after i read daughter's reply): "yeah, she's probably playing the suicide card again. that's where it sounded she was going to me when i talked to her. i'm going to take a shower."

it was the blase nature of his comment that was the most disturbing... that the stbx's suicide threats would now be normalised and just annoying. the disfunction continues...


son had earlier gotten off a call with her (30 minutes previously) where she had ranted and raved in a most deranged manner (i didn't ask him for any details).

he is attending school every day

his colour is better - even the teachers and principal at the school commented on how much better he looked and how much healthier and rested he seemed (meetings i was attending in order to resurrect son's school standing

he has seen his mom a few times in the last couple of weeks (2 1/2 weeks) since moving out. he still has some clothes there that we haven't pulled out

i overheard him say on his call with her: "I want to retain a relationship with you, and i want it to be a good one - i just can't live with you."

he has cut back on the amount of pot he's smoking - he's slipped up on a couple of the days, but has made an honest effort. i've asked him not to smoke it on sunday, monday, wednesday, or friday up until we finish exercising (m/w/f are exercise days)


BTW - things are better now

my health, my arm, my spirits

dad is ok - and being an asshat (not doing his exercise and such...)

son is good - he's made the break

things are changing for the better

Thursday, November 20, 2008

dad is good (so far), son moved out of stbx's house

dad is fine

surgery went well. six bypasses, no aortic replacement.

as of this time he has the ventilating tube removed, and was conscious. the old bastard must be pretty tough. he was conscious and aware. he knew who he was, where he was, and what had happened.

that is apparently not what usually happens in the first few hours after bypass surgery. we are told there is usually substantial disorientation

all his limbs are functional so there appears to be no stroke.

my brother saw him and talked to him at about 10:30 pm our time - he had just come out of sedation and had the ventilator tube removed

i am happy that things are far better than i had prepared myself to deal with.


son moved out of his mothers last night

he is here full time now

for now - but i expect permanently

more on this tomorrow

Monday, November 17, 2008

dad's surgery is on wednesday/withdrew from classes

as above

the prognosis is much better than i expected/was concerned

thank-you to Sicilian for the information you provided about bypass/replacement surgery

i am still VERY concerned about the possibility of stroke after the fact, as is my sister. my mother and father do not have the same level of concern, saying that the doctor has not mentioned it. i pressed my dad to ask the question specifically, but he hasn't so far.

i call avoidance...


i have put together a plan(s) and sold it to my sister (eldest child/overachiever of the family) to address the potential outcomes:

1) he's fine (normal recovery)
2) he dies
3) he clearly requires institutionalisation
4) he suffers a level of incapacitation that leaves it unclear if he should be in an institution... leaving my mother to care for him - which she can't. she cannot

in regard to instance 4: at my suggestion my sister made initial contact with the priest who is Vicar General of the Diocese and the Archbishop in the event that outside intervention is required to get my dad to agree to going to an institution. he can be a selfish, egotistical, self-centred son-of-a-bitch at times.

very kind many days, but he generally comes first in his world and he really doesn't care whom he inconveniences or puts out.

(i remember one time i was in a briefing with the Premier of the province - he called my cell phone. i skipped the call. he called 3 more times and i finally said i needed to take the call. i told my father "Dad - I'm in a briefing with the Premier." his response: "Oh... Well, I'll only take a minute."

I hung up on him and turned off my cell phone (i generally leave it on at all times so the kids can reach me).


my mom is in pretty rough shape - this si taking a terrible toll on her

she has post polio syndrome

what is post polio? i believe it is fibromyalgia - as do a number of experts in the field. either way it mirrors the fatigue and fog of FM. and the pain and the stress responses.


as noted in the post title, i dropped my classes

more later


thank-you to all of you for your thoughts, wishes and prayers

i mean that in the most heartfelt way


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


dad's going in for open heart surgery on the 17th

quadruple or quintuple bypass

some kind of heart repair something

and likely some kind of aortic replacement (planned but not certain)...

for a dude who's been having TIAs and has massive arterial plaque issues...

the 17th is the last possible date i can pull out of my classes with just a withdrawal and no failure recorded

it is the day i expect my father to die or be permanently disabled from a stroke

hopefully that will not come to pass and the old fart will pull it through

my mother has complained that he seems to think that by sheer force of personality he can overcome his physical condition

i hope he is enough an asshole to prove her right

Monday, November 10, 2008

all in a day

one of my professors just sent me an email recommending i withdraw from his class and take it again next semester
(context: fibromyalgia and family issues)

my dad's angiogram is complete. they are keeping him in hospital to do bypass surgery (how many bypasses, i don't know). for some reason there is a gasterointerologist involved... so maybe there is more than just the heart issues - we just don't know yet

i guess that solves the health insurance while in the U.S. issue - 'cause they're not going anywhere

Saturday, November 08, 2008

where's cadbury?

how much in the way of chunks do i blow as a human being?


how much chunks is life blowing in general?


as i said to my counsellor on thursday "i'd rather be dead right now, but there just wouldn't be any point in it because it wouldn't solve any of my problems..."

don't worry, i'm in no way a danger of doing harm to myself

if nothing else, i know that even were i curled into a little sobbing ball, i'm of better value to my children than their mother

and i haven't been in that curled, sobbing ball publicly yet...

the pain is what has really taken me down. everything else is so much harder to take when i am in such incredible pain. my arm and shoulder are just beyond words in how much pain they have been causing me. please remember - am not a suck about pain - i get my teeth drilled with no anesthetic.

the prescribed drugs don't help. massage doesn't help. physio doesn't help. acupuncture doesn't help. electro-stimulation acupuncture hasn't helped.

the pain and the other crap in life has brought back a massive fibromyalgia attack. it's as bad as its been since 2004 - before i began my exercise and fitness regime and before i left the stbx

the muscle spasms and acute pain (rather than the dull general "bruised" pain of the overall fibro condition) started to spread to other parts of my body

i haven't been able to do my assignments for school because i can't think clearly past the pain. the pain and the fibro fog. i had to ditch one of my midterms because i couldn't think well enough. the assignments and exams are pending - i had registered with the disabilities office and that is helping the profs be able to give me leeway under the rules.

i wasn't able to attend class all week this last week.

the one bright spot is that last week i went to see Lenny Kravitz - which was cool in and of itself - but i decided to get really high for the concert (took a cab home). my arm hurt much less after that. fibromyalgia is one of the conditions that is eligible for medical marijuana in canada. mine is legal - i had some left from a couple of years ago (yeah - it was pretty dry...) and did that.

i called a person i know and got a small amount more - i am desperate and will try anything at this point - anything to make the pain go away

it worked for a couple of days in conjunction with relaxation, but the pain and fog came roaring back on sunday and monday when i went to buckle down into my assignments (because my brain was clear enough of pain to work)

my arm is a bit better now, so it is not quite as excruciating and the spasming has stopped spreading to other parts of my body

my anxiety level has been juiced up to the unreal

on thursday and friday i could barely function without starting to degenerate into tears - other may not have noticed it or known, but that is what was happening inside

the kids were with their mom, and she was being even more of a freak. she has a new schtick because fighting and arguing didn't work. now she goes on rambling rants/talking and crying/weeping jags. the kids say it's worse that fighting with her because at least then they were fighting.

Son and daughter are smoking drugs all the time... they are missing a pile of school (absences)

Smitten pointed out to me that the new behaviour out of the stbx and the kids reaction is much worse - because now they are subject to the same pressures as before, but don't even get the protection of defending themselves verbally

they are now just taking the emotional drubbing - like the dog in the electrified floor experiment


Learned Helplessness

Psychologist Martin Seligman spent years studying the impact of "controllability" on people and animals which is described n his book, Learned Helplessness: On Depression, Development and Death.

In a typical study matched pairs of dogs were divided into two groups, one where the dog could control what happened and one where it could do nothing. In the first situation, a naive dog was place in a room with an electric grid floor. This first situation was called "controllable" because the room also contained a puzzle. If the dog "solved" the puzzle, the shock stopped. In this example the puzzle was a lever, which when pushed, turned off the shock.

Since the dog had never been in the room before and it had no knowledge of the shock it was about to receive, the dog was relaxed and friendly as it wagged its tail and wiggled its nose. However, when the electric floor was activated, the dog's demeanor changed dramatically. It jumped and yelped as it frantically searched for a way out. In the process the dog accidentally pushed the lever, causing the shock to stop - a powerful negative win. Over the next couple of trials when the dog was put back in the room and the shock turned on, the dog learned very quickly to run to the lever and push it. The dog was highly motivated - albeit avoidance motivation - because the dog learned that it could do something to control its world.

The dog in the "uncontrollable" group was placed in the same room with the electric floor, only this time there was no puzzle and there was nothing that the dog could do to turn off the shock. Just like the first dog, it ran around trying to find a way out. When the dog eventually learned that there was nothing that it could do it gave up, and laying down on the floor, it took the shock. The dog was not motivated because it learned that it was helpless.

Later the second dog that had learned that it was helpless was put into the room with the puzzle but it made no effort to find a way out. Instead the dog just lay on the floor and took the shock. Even when the door was left wide open, the dog did not attempt to escape the shock. The dog could not seem to learn that the conditions had changed and that it was no longer helpless.

To summarize, the second dog "learned" that it was helpless and stopped trying to get away. Its motivation to escape was extinguished or eliminated. In the process, dog exhibited a lot of negative emotions: first yelping and growling, later whimpering, and eventually just remaining motionless. Something happened that interfered with the dog's ability to learn when things changed and when it could do something. In effect, the dog burned out.

Powerlessness at work can affect people in the same way. As you learn that there is nothing you can do you'll probably experience negative emotions, beginning with frustration and anger, later anxiety and guilt, and eventually depression and despair. In the process, motivation declines. When the conditions change you will probably find it hard to learn and continue acting helpless.



also you may wish to read my posts Desperation and Objectivity and Traumatic Bonding


hey, did i mention that my dad has Angina? and is going in for an angiogram and probable angioplasty next week... and probable arterial stent

so he's in not so great shape

they are looking at leaving for the U.S. (Texas for the winter) in the next couple of weeks, but Dad's health insurance for the U.S. is now going to be fucked - they're looking into what can be done on that front.

in canada it's not an issue - you get whatever you need for as long as you need it until you die or don't need it

health insurance - what a fucked up system of health care. have a condition? ok - we won't cover you - because what would be the point of giving people the health care they need - that would just cost money... and health isn't about health it's about profit



i am trying to meet the challenges as head on as i can. i know that i have a big avoidance streak and that has kicked in hard, but my head at least knows that won't work.

i am:

kicking meat and wheat out of my diet (except for my pita on the morning see Cadbury's Healthy Breakfast

going vegan + fish again - on The Diet

taking my vitamins every day - bought some of those old people daily pill boxes and put the daily vitamins into it so that it takes no effort to just slap them into my hand and then swallow - yes - there are moments when opening the 8 or so pill bottles is too much effort to work up the will to do...

going to counselling twice a week. we are working on two things: 1) relaxation therapy; 2) anxiety reconditioning (like brainwashing yourself out of existing anxiety responses)

exercising every day

aggressively working within the system at the university to make sure my difficulties don't screw my life plan

working with the schools to help my kids

took son to the doctor to see if there is any medical intervention that can be done with him

have an appointment for 2 weeks for son (2nd appointment) and one for daughter

(more on that story later)

cleaning my place up to make it a better and less cluttered/messy environment

going through old boxes of papers and things and shredding and discarding

trying to keep my hygiene and deportment up (shaving regulary - making sure i dress reasonably well to look good)

doing fun positive things - movies with friends and kids (comedies), walks in the fresh air when it's nice enough, addressing the positives

trying to take at least one hour every day for self-care - working on my my relaxation and anxiety workbooks and meditation, and finally doing the exercises in my post traumatic stress disorder workbook

blah, blah, blah

more later

Monday, October 20, 2008

slipping over the edge

i'm slipping over the edge

i really am having difficulty coping


my son's depression, school absences, and drug use (pot, salvia)

my daughter's dyed black hair, overuse of makeup, party attendance and drug use (pot, salvia)

my ex's screaming fits on the kids - which they have normalised - and ranting tirades keeping them up late at night and keeping them from going to exercise or doing just about anything

the insane amount of work in my classes

how hard the math and related stuff is

the pain i am still in (shoulder/arm)

that Smitten is so on edge because i am not giving her what she had before in our relationship (mostly because of all the fucked up shit coming from the ex and the kids)

the fact that i am so defensive around her now

my parents deteriorating relationship and my Dad's incessant calls about how my mom is being so hurtful to him

Dad's deteriorating health and mental condition

the change in weather - first snow a couple of weeks ago - temperature freezing overnight, up to about 50F daytime - grey skies

not exercising because of workload and perceived demands for my time from the kids and Smitten

an inability to concentrate

and the roaring return of my fibromyalgia

and so much more...

i'm slipping over the edge

(no - i'm not suicidal - just unable to cope)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

did i see my shadow?

emerging from my hole with a few thoughts

1) i went to the gym last night - first time in about 2 weeks

i left thinking to myself

"Why does any large group of men generally smell like an old gym sock?"

2) my daughter and i were discussing sex and sexuality issues

i really didn't need to know that spanking turns her on

(practice or just fantasy... i dunno)

3) snow sucks

i hate this fucking place

actually i hate the weather. the place is ok

i guess

4) university was never this hard before

but that was social sciences - something i have been schooled in from birth

5) while i see the beauty of math sometimes

i still understand why i hate it so much

maybe i will grow to enjoy it

Friday, October 03, 2008

bra fitting

took my daughter to get a properly fitted bra last saturday

i have bought her underwear and bras before

caught shit from the stbx about the stuff i bought and allowed daughter to pick

daughter wanted more interesting underwear than granny whites - you know - jersey material with a little lace on the bottom - not white - slightly different cut - but nothing out of line

stbx spazzed - and then ended up wearing daughter's underwear... daughter was pissed. yeah - the stbx has baoundary issues... stbx said she didn't remember they were daughter's (bullshit)

i think it's a little greebly to wear someone else's underwear...


daughter wears her bra 24/7 pretty much. says she just feels more comfortable wearing it. i have expressed my concern about it because of linkages between long term 24 hour bra wearing and breast cancer (theorised that it has to do with constriction of lymph nodes under arms, blah, blah...)

but daughter wore this one bra until the elastic came out. she said it was just so much more comfortable than the others.

so when the elastic came out i made an appointment with a specialty/specialist bra/lingerie place in town (hey - my mom orders her special 4 wire steel truss bras there [she's a busty lady]). i have made special orders over the last 27 years at the place for women in my life. it's a good place.

i took daughter there. daughter was worried it would cost too much.

i told her to not listen to her mother's bullshit and that there were better places to get bras than bargain bins.

about an hour later we had one. the ladies there were very pleased that i would bring daughter in (especially at age 12) and took a bunch of time to explain to daughter how everything should fit and be fitted.

as daughter was still awkward about getting fitted and such, while she was in the fitting room i gave some parameters for the bra - i explained to ladies that the bra needed to have a bit of padding to cover up nipple moments when they might show through a T-shirt. the ladies gave me an odd look until i finished my sentence about the fact that she is surrounded by moronic grade 7 boys - they immediately understood why daughter would NOT want to be nipplish around 12 year old boys...

i also explained the 24 hour bra wearing and told them it need to be ultra comfortable and forgiving

it turns out that daughter is now a C cup now instead of the B she thought she was and that is part of the reasons the other bras didn't fit comfortably - and that the way the others fit with daughters build would cause damage to her breast tissue over time.

daughter nearly crapped when the bill for it was over $120.00

while i was a little stunned (i was expecting maybe $80 or $90), i didn't blink. it was an important moment to underline the importance of properly fitting bras to daughter.

she asked me later why i would spend that much and i gave her the lecture about backaches and all the rest. about good shoes and good bras and avoiding pain and suffering.

i reminded her not to let the bra out of her sight around her mother...

we didn't discuss it at all after the ride home, but i believe that it was an important moment for her and the way she views her bra and money

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

unexpected extension

Read Dear Professor

He said (among other things) "The no late assignments rule is for most of the people in the class - the kids - the engineers that never have to take another computer science class after this one and try to to slough the work. We're both adults here - and we understand that life has other things that happen other than the next beer drinking party. I'll give you until I hand all the other assignments back. That should be enough time"


I wasn't expecting that

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dear Professor,

September 30, 2008

Professor H,

My name is [Cadbury]. I am a student in your CS[nnn] class. I am the bald, older, deep-voiced guy who sits near the front on your left as you face the class.

I am writing to you to explain why my first assignment is not being handed in.

I am not asking for any special consideration, or for anything other than a zero mark as befits a missing assignment.

I am, though, asking that when I complete the first assignment, as part of completing the second assignment, that you or your marker review the assignment and advise me of errors, omissions, or style issues and tips that I should be aware of.

I am addressing the missing assignment in the same way I would address an unfinished task in the workplace – straight up with an explanation. I desire your professional respect. However, this letter is as much for myself as it is for you. To codify the reasons for missing the assignment, and as part of addressing and modifying the conditions and reactions that caused the situation.

I am not handing in my assignment because I did not complete it. I did not even complete any of the functions in a manner that would be appropriate to hand in as stand-alone running routines per your marking scheme.

I am 43 years old. I recently took a buyout from my job to return to University for a year (or so) to take the 9 core classes required to get a CS Certificate. I have two children (son 16, daughter 12). I am in the middle of divorce and settlement proceedings. For two years now… as the system and process grind on ad infinitum.

I would say it is a messy divorce, but it isn’t really - from perspective of the potential for messiness that exists surrounding such events. It is your run of the mill breakdown of the lives of four people – two adults –two children – with all the messiness that ordinary emotions and events can produce – messy for me – messy for my children – even if not quite worthy of television or movie drama messiness.

With 25 years in the computer industry I took your admonitions to begin the assignment early seriously. But left the assignment until last Friday to begin, expecting that at my level of coding capability and focus that I would finish over the weekend with Monday for problem solving room. You see, the first assignment from another class (CS[nnn] [electronic circuit design]) occupied my time until last Tuesday, and life occasionally needs to be lived - or at least maintained – in between assignments.

Friday is the day that we do the “switchover” with the kids. Week on, week off joint custody.

On Friday I picked up my kids. It had been a hell of a week for them.

My ex is somewhat unstable (understatement).

Everything is high drama. Minute-to-minute – hour-to-hour – day-to-day.

Last week had more drama than usual.

My children were positively vibrating when I picked them up.

I spent time calming them down from their wound up state. That is, I am afraid, one of my principle functions as a parent. Soothing their shaken state. Making them feel safe (emotionally) and providing a calm stable environment.

Talking. Cooking for them. Love. Watching a movie and debriefing. Taking a walk and hearing them talk about how they feel – sad – angry – distressed – confused – frustrated.

These are some of the tools.


My son and daughter have various behaviours that are typical of being in that stressful environment: depression, task avoidance, skipping school, drug use (soft), and anxiety. After much difficulty (2 years worth) in getting agreement from my ex (both parents consent is required) I do have them both in counselling since last spring in May. And me – for longer than that. My ex feels she doesn’t need counselling because “Everyone has problems – they should just deal with it.”

This last week was more difficult to deal with than most. As an example: For various reasons my ex is trying to get my son to move in permanently with me (but have my daughter remain living with her – hopefully full-time instead of joint custody). But she doesn’t want to be “responsible” or “at fault” for him moving out – so that she can be the permanent victim – and so that daughter will not blame her and hold that as a reason not to choose to stay full-time with her mother. In one of my ex’s raging moments she told my son to pack and leave. Shortly after that, when he actually began packing, she wailed “Don’t you leave me too…!” and engaged him in a 5 hour straight session of intense emotional drama/discussion where she again alternated between telling him to leave and begging him to stay.

If I were the stronger or better person I fantasize about being, I would be able to calm them and then be able to address my own needs and tasks. The one that Gregory Peck always seems to be every time I see To Kill A Mockingbird.

Unfortunately I am not that person.

My children’s emotional turmoil, and my own after-shocks from a 20 year marriage are fully present. My guts churn, sleep and concentration is disrupted, and depending on how bad or how long the intense period has been I will have a fibromyalgia relapse of varying intensity.

And subsequently I did not have the focus required to do my assignment. Or even be able to move much beyond reading your instructions, reading textbooks, online tutorials, and notes, preparing problem solving algorithms and flow charts – and then staring at the screen of my development environment ([name of environment not included in this post to reduce google derived software hits on this post]).

I take my choice to return to University very seriously – as more than a full time job. I devote enormous energy into my assignments and classes.

Unfortunately events and life have a way of interfering with my choices.

I am addressing the various issues with my kids and myself through counselling, stress reduction and relaxation techniques, and medical intervention. But it all takes time and is not easily fixed.

On the academic front, I hope to be able to review my work with you when it is completed.

I have prepared an assignment cover page and note saying that the assignment is undone for submission to your marker so that the marker will be able to record it as such and not worry that there is a misplaced assignment.

Thank-you for your time,

[student number]


addendum for the blog:

there some other factors that knocked me off stride. during late august i had a collision with Smitten. I wrote her a relatively lengthy letter with regard to the issues i saw/felt.

she gave me her response letter on friday morning - she had completed it after a long while. that letter, while honest and frank, really knocked me off stride

the response took a long time because she wanted to do it right, school started for me, she left her job and returned to university as well, and her father died and she was lead on all the arrangements...

yes - shit has happened and i haven't been blogging much

more later

whenever later is...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

up to my ass

i am taking 2 heavy classes right now, and expect to be signing up for two grade 12 correspondence (actually over the internet) math classes in the next few days.

the two computer science classes are an programming class and a circuit design class. one has a substantial workload and the other (circuit design) has a bunch of math stuff that i find quite challenging/difficult. i don't think the same way math nerds do, so the way the prof explains the material doesn't work for me. i have to review the class notes and materials outside of class in order to learn and understand it. i am essentially teaching myself the class - his stuff makes me a little familiar and i get to ask questions, but i just don't like the way he breezes by the material.

i have 3 assignments due before the end of the month. all are relatively difficult.

my arm and shoulder are still pretty bad - today the pain is at least down to a dull ache - the pain has been a siginificant factor in putting me under the gun in terms of understanding my material and doing assignments. the fact that i have constant bad spasms in that quadrant of my body also sees me exhausted by the end of the day.

i will suck at being a blogging buddy for possibly months. i will post when i am able and will try to stay in touch, but i have nothing to spare right now.


Friday, September 12, 2008

more Palin

have i mentioned i do not appreciate Ms. Palin's worldview or politics very much?


""Shortly after taking office in 1996 as mayor of Wasilla, a city of about 7,000 people, Palin asked the city's head librarian about banning books," AP writes. "Later, the librarian was notified by Palin that she was being fired, although Palin backed off under pressure."

"When Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, the city billed sexual-assault victims and their insurance companies for the cost of rape kits and forensic examinations,"

“In 2000, Alaska lawmakers learned that rural police agencies had been billing rape victims or their insurance companies $500 to $1,200 for the costs of the forensic medical examinations used to gather evidence. They quickly passed a law prohibiting the practice.

According to the sponsor, Democrat Eric Croft, the law was aimed in part at Wasilla, where now-Gov. Sarah Palin was mayor. When it was signed, Wasilla's police chief expressed displeasure.

“ ‘In the past, we've charged the cost of exams to the victims' insurance company when possible,’ then-chief Charlie Fannon told the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, the local newspaper. ‘I just don't want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer.’ Now that Palin is the Republican nominee for vice president, Democrats such as former Alaska governor Tony Knowles -- who signed the rape-kit bill into law and was defeated by Palin in 2006 -- are raising the issue to question Palin's commitment to women's issues and crime victims. Palin appointed Fannon after firing his predecessor shortly after she took office in 1996.”

More Palin Stories - First Read

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin's rookie year as mayor

i think these articles give some insights into the character of the latest political celebrity...

"She became embroiled in personnel challenges, a thwarted attempt to pack the City Council and a standoff with her local newspaper. Her first months were so contentious and polarizing that critics started talking recall.

Her first months also exposed threads that would later become patterns -- friends become enemies, enemies become friends and questions get raised about why she fired this person or that person."

Palin's rookie year as mayor was turbulent

- The Seattle Times

" Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) -- John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate sent a signal that he would end business as usual and cronyism in government. Her record shows the Alaska governor engaged in some of the same practices she and McCain now condemn.

Palin's office approved a state job for a friend and campaign aide with whom she shared a land investment, financial records and interviews over the past two weeks show. She hired a former lobbyist for a pipeline company to help oversee a multibillion-dollar deal with that same company.

She named a police chief accused of harassment to head the state police. And she sent campaign e-mails on her city hall account while serving as mayor of Wasilla -- conduct for which she later turned in an oil commissioner on ethics charges.

These incidents raise ``some serious questions about her judgment and serious questions about her standards of ethics in public service,'' said James Thurber, director of American University's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies in Washington. Suggesting a real estate investment partner for a job ``may be acceptable in Alaska; it would not be acceptable in Washington, D.C., a place whose norms she wants to change.'' "

Palin's Ethics Scrapes May Undercut Pledge to End Old Politics

- Bloomberg Press

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

carpal tongueal syndrome

what Smitten is afraid i might get

(just thought i'd share the joke)

Monday, September 08, 2008

how cool is that?

Smitten to Cadbury last night:

"Oh my God - with some ups and downs, i think that was a 40 minute long orgasm..."

Cadbury to Smitten:



yes indeed folks, there is a reason that as a teenager i learned to peel a grape using only my lips and tongue (a suggested exercise in the book The Erogenous Man), and learned to do the tongue/lips cherry stem tying trick

(yes - i'm feeling particularly manly today)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

pain and grumpiness

i'm in a lot of pain

my left shoulder and arm have been bugging me since late july and has flaired up into excruciating bursts of pain with excruciating throbbing and muscle spasms in between

it hurts a lot

i have minor surgery and teeth drilled with no anesthetic

not that big a deal...

this fucking hurts

massage, muscle relaxants, more massage hasn't helped

i have an appointment for acupuncture


i got a 63% in my class

fucking bullshit

should've gotten an 80 or 90

i am in discussions with the university's disability office to get extra time to write exams - having a history of not being able to finish exams in the time allotted is not a learning or other disability, but the staffer is sympathetic - once again people who know me and my history (20 plus years of involvement with the university) know i am not bullshitting - and know my ability. we are using my fibromyalgia (and possibly my anxiety diagnosis of a couple of years ago) as the official reason for getting extra time on the exams.

my doctor is sympathetic too - so the doctor's note shouldn't be hard to come by.

i feel comfortable. it's not like i'm asking for more than the chance to prove that i know my stuff - no other consideration - i am just that careful and methodical in my processes

need more time


i have started the fall semester - two classes on campus - two math correspondence

i am energised by each day on compus

so much life

so much enthusiasm and energy

a far cry from the cynicism and grind of the job

i am riding currents of air any time i am out there


when i am not owly and exhausted i will get my vacation photos up and such

it hurts a lot to sit at the computer for very long

this post is very painful, but i wanted to say hi and let you know what's up

see you soon

Friday, August 22, 2008

this is fucking bullshit

i just finished my final

once again the time limit burned me

if i pass (and i have to pass the final to pass the class) it will be a marginal pass

with 30 more minutes (3 hour exam) i would have walked out with an 80 or 90

but no

it's not a test of knowledge, it's a test of how quick you are...

the logic of it all just takes me longer

my work is always good

i am hurting

i am really quite crushed


if i fail, i fail

i will re-do the class and do better next time

i will not complete all the classes in the timeline i set out (1 year), but i will complete my plan, bumps and all

and the future will have to hold whatever it holds

Thursday, August 21, 2008

busy week

assignment was due monday

wrote the quiz i missed - no mark - just got it corrected so i could see my mistakes - quiz mark is now rolled into final - which is now worth 53% of my total mark...

wrote my lab final today - got 88% on the not counting quiz - which included material from the week i wasn't there

got 86% on the lab final - 2nd highest mark in class

final on friday

Monday, August 18, 2008

a couple of pics

some rapids we climbed while on vacation

i will leave it to you to figure out which one is me, and which one is Smitten.

more pics later when i have time to process them more.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

on vacation

gone until next weekend (aug 16-17)

see you

Monday, August 04, 2008


my daughter has begun cutting (also here)

it's not unexpected, but it's still a big deal. and it is taking a lot of brain cycles to deal with.

i need to be doing my assignments and thinking about this is distracting me. i need to be learning a whole weeks work in advance so that i can go on vacation next week. and do an assignment in 4 days instead of 11 days. all while learning the other material - because i have an exam on the day after i get back (18th) - and the assignment is due on that monday as well.

and i have to finish an assignment right now - that is due tomorrow. that life issues have distracted me from. that i do not have the focus to work on. programming takes such effort and discipline to keep your head in the logic of all those instructions...

and being distracted

distracts me

and yes - i'm selfish about it - and i don't fucking care. this is the rest of my life we're talking about here. and my children and my stbx are a fucking black hole that will suck my soul from me without even thinking or even trying.

the class i am doing is the gateway class for all the others and how i do here will indicate how kindly the faculty will be to give me all the waivers i need to get into classes without pre-requisites and simultaneously, blah, blah, blah

and i don't need the distraction


i am dealing with the cutting issue in an appropriate manner

more on that later

daughter told me she had tried it once a long time ago, but she did it again several times recently - my son told me about it


my son cannot wake up

when he is awake he is groggy and listless. and its not just all the dope he smokes... his sleeping patterns are fucked

it took me over 2 hours of harassment to get him out of bed yesterday. 2 hours i could have spent on my assignment

he is depressed beyond description

at least he recognises it

that is something i will have to turn my attention to later

i am worried his lethargy will fuck up our vacation - we are going with smitten and her kids

i expect i will have time to deal with his issues in more detail while on vacation and the couple of weeks at the end of the month...


my stbx, by fucking up my children, is reaching out and stymieing me yet again. she has this way of being able to stop me from doing things by a combination of distraction, diversion, hissy fits, demands, and picky little shit that would stop me dead in my tracks all the time we were married - and now she's doing it again and doesn't even know it

she is a black hole of chaos that pulls everything in its path into the swirl


without going into all the details about the cutting at this point - which i will in a later post - daughter and son and i talked (well, son sort of slumped on the couch and through in occasional interjections and daughter and i talked about feelings and anxiety and and hurt and such).


the stbx knows about the cutting but didn't mention it to me. i have no intention of discussing it with her because she will use it as a way to suck me into her chaos - she has nothing to offer - she won't change and she is the cause. i see no point in wasting my time having any contact with her


i had a pretty good idea of why daughter did it

and i laid out my idea

that she did it to hurt her mother - that by hurting herself she would hurt her mother.

sort of a passive-aggressive thing

i felt/deduced this because i found out that at the time her mother found out daughter could have weaseled out of the discussion but chose to have a "confessional" moment with her mother.

the stbx was asking what daughter and son were referring to in a discussion/argument. and son said that daughter could have just blown off their mother's questions, but chose to answer

daughter was trying to tell me she was embarrassed and didn't want to talk about it.

son argued and talked about how she had divulged the information

son didn't realise the significance of that event

in my view daughter wanted the stbx to know

i suggested she was lashing out, but because she is essentially powerless as a 12 year old she hurt herself instead of her target

daughter talked - said a bunch of stuff

again - will discuss later


i'm posting this much now in an effort to clear some of it out of my head so i can get to work on that assigment


it took some pressure and bullying on my part to get her to tell me what she used to cut herself. that is the only point where i pressured her.

an exacto knife from the garage...

i told her that i wasn't going to tell her to stop cutting. that she would make up her own mind. that she was in charge of her own body.

i told her that if she was going to cut herself that i wanted her to sterilise the blade so she didn't get tetanus or hepititus - i went into one of my usual dad lectures in too much detail on the nature of blood borne diseases (explanations with too much detail are a hallmark of my existence)

i didn't want to get into a shoving match on whether she should cut or not - not make it a point of resistance


my time in politics has taught me how to get around issues like this. get around moments when part of the point is to simply disagree and rebel. get her in a weak point - fear of disease

she's a 12 years old girl - disease is greebly...


i was asking her if she wanted to be a person who cuts. did she want to be someone who is so powerless that they have to hurt themselves because they can't stand up for themselves?

i also asked how sexy she thought she'd be with cuts on her arms. and what kind of person would be attracted to her - and used some fucked up teenagers we know from the kids circle as examples

asked if they were the shining examples of human beings she wanted to live with and be around. did she find their cut marks sexy, alluring, or dangerously attractive - or did she disrespect them. even if it did have a level of "toughness" - was it really "tough" to injure yourself. wouldn't it be "tougher" to stand up to the person who was abusing you? wouldn't that be real "toughness"?

again - told her i wasn't telling her to stop

i only wanted her to - demanded that she - have a fully formed rationale as to why she was doing it

even if only for the short endorphin high that cutters get - at least she should know what she was addicted to. and that she should choose it - not just fall into it.

that it was the same reason that i demanded she give me the details about her cutting - that if she was going to do it she had to be able to explain it. why - the motivation the results and the future

just like her brother's pot smoking

that if they were going to indulge in self-destructive or damaging behaviours that they had to be fully real about it

that i would not bitch at them - express concerns and provide guidance - and intervene if they stepped over an edge - but if they were going to do something destructive - they'd better be prepared to explain it and answer ALL the questions. that i would be a miserable dick until they gave me the truth about their actions and motivations.

that if they couldn't tell me to my face why they were doing something - to explain it - that they had better think twice about what they were doing

(for the record, son has an amazing grasp on neuro-chemistry right now - he knows a lot of shit... good research capability in that boy...)


i know how much bitching and moaning and freaking worked with me - how it has worked with my children

this may sound like bad parenting - because i am not shit-fitting on them

but i am fully engaged with them - i am in the shark tank swimming with them. there is no hands off bullshit here people.

i ignored the shit my parents threw at me - hid my activities. my parents were willfully blind in my opinion. i expect my children would do the same.

i am strong enough to actually deal with it. i would rather be in the middle than pat myself on the back as having taken a "tough stand" and the ignore all the signs.

i lived an analogue of what they are going through and are doing

no divorce, no mother who was psycho to the stbx's extent - but some pretty heavy shit (as i know most people have - i know it's called life - and i know that people have to "deal with it" - but i also know there are plenty of fucked up people who dealt with it in unhealthy ways [like my eating, for example])

i cut myself as a teen several times - unlike nowadays i had no idea anyone else ever did such a thing. i once did it pretty hard - an almost suicide attempt. wore a long sleeved shirt for awhile.

i smoked pot and was massively depressed

i slept and slept and stayed out late and avoided life

i can offer guidance and help hold their heads above water

i think of it as being like an alcoholic's anonymous sponsor. i've been there pretty much all the way.

they won't be alone as long as i'm here


i asked her if she wanted be a victim and play the victim - like her mother


the difference between how i viewed her cutting and what she said - and it is good self awareness - and surprising honesty - is that she said she did it to hurt her mother directly. rather than cutting herself in proxy for her mother, she did it as an actual act to elicit guilt from her mother. to hit her the way that the stbx hits her all the time.

guilt and blame and the attempt to get the listener to feel as though they are victimising the stbx

she lays this shit on the kids all the time

daughter said she wanted to make her mother feel like stbx makes daughter feel. to get a taste of it. that's why she did it and told her mother that it was the stbx's fault (daughter di not tell stbx that she did it to hurt her - stbx would then be able to play victim again).

while the situation is dangerous at least we have a point of discussion


the above about guilt tripping her mom came out in the larger discussion

i told her i wouldn't ask her to stop or tell her to stop

i only wanted to know why she cut

what she got out of it

what feelings she felt

she tried to tell me that she just felt better after she did it

that is almost word for word from articles we read together a few weeks ago when she asked me about cutting - some of her friends cut - some of the girls son hangs with cut - it seems to be about as prevalent as bulimia was when i was in high school...

she couldn't describe any more than that

i think she tried it on for size - experimenting

to see if it would make her feel better

saw the scratches she left and realised she could make a deal out of it


here's a couple of unbelievable things - stbx freaks and spazzes on the kids - and the kids complain - and the stbx says "i'm only venting. you shouldn't take it to heart because i'm only venting"

fucking bitch



and the kids say "how can we do that?"

and the kids say "and then if we ignore her, or her ranting, she says we don't care enough to pay attention to her - that we're selfish and unconcerned with her feelings"


daughter says that part of the reason she doesn't want to get mad and rage is because she doesn't want to be like her mom

(part of the reason i didn't want to fight with stbx is because i didn't want to fight like my mom and dad... and the cycle goes on...)


stbx has told the kids to get out several more times


daughter told me her mother has hit her a lot of times - at least 20 times is what she said


i told daughter that we have 3 weeks together

that we were going to do some exercises together. that she would practice asking for what she wants, and practice saying no - and establishing boundaries

that she would say no, or profess her viewpoint more strongly than she normally would, just to get used to challenging others

and that she would then feel less apprehensive about stating her case in other situations


we'll see

i have an assignment to try to get back to now

Saturday, August 02, 2008

11.3 lbs (218.8)

i am a machine man

BTW - i have discovered that i am not doing 8 miles a day. i am doing about 7.13 miles.

i used to do 8 miles with each 900 calorie workout. now, because my burn per minute is up, my mileage is down.

i discovered that when i was watching my stats more closely after that 9.7 mile day

either way

i am a machine man

a machine man

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Two interesting articles related to a recent study on weight loss. I very much recommend reading them - they are not long articles:

55 minutes of daily activity the ticket to weight loss: study

Weight loss: Men have the edge

"Do men really lose more weight and lose it faster than women?

The answer is yes, guys do have an easier time shedding pounds (I'm sorry, ladies). Men, it seems, have both a physiological and psychological edge when it comes to losing weight." - Globe and Mail


The commentary in the articles and in the study itself about the psychological differences in approach were really quite interesting.

Without suggesting her state of mind is in any way a blanket or even widespread representation of how women think - Smitten and I have discussed any number of times how she would not be able to do my regimen for more than a couple of days.

She says she would get bored.

That the idea of getting on a machine (AMT, elliptical, treadmill) and just doing a repetitive action for an hour and a half or two hours straight would de-motivate her almost immediately. She says that she needs more stimulation and change.

We have discussed the psychological differences in our makeup and background when it comes to such things.

She says that if something doesn't make her happy she just doesn't do it.

Me, i have had "eye on the ball"/goal orientation drilled into me for my whole life and anything that i determine that i really want i generally don't let go of until achieved or i get knocked off by an insurmountable external effect.

blah, blah, blah

loss of focus and point in this post

and i have an assignment to finish...

see you

(read the articles - they really are interesting)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

oooooh yaaah! 7.3 lbs

who's kidding who?

i'm the AWESOMO 5000seX

baaay bay


2 hours on the AMT
9.7 miles
40 minutes of weight training

222.8 lbs
(3 years ago the pain of walking 200 feet was almost too much to bear. my body was wracked by convulsions and spasms. and i weighed over 260lbs)

i am the AWESOMO 5000

after a shaky start on my quizzes i am in the groove

a 68% and a 53% on my qizzes left me pretty anxious. i suck at exams. the time limit kills me.

i have the groove on this prof's marking structure now and have come back with an 80% on my mid-term. 10 more minutes would have netted me over 90%.

rejiggering my time allocations on the second quiz would have put me at an 80% too...

my only assignment back so far received a 90.9%. i expect that mark or better on the second assignment.

this is working for me

i still feel like it takes me too long to program, but that is the discipline (and remembered pain) of having to put production software out for public use - not just assignments

by being the brutal keener that i am in this class (i'm really quite honestly excited by it) i'm hoping to get the whole 5% subjective marking room the prof leaves herself in addition to my regular marks


i'm still trying to find how to get around some of the bullshit i now have to go through to deal with the math upgrade

why can't i just work hoard? why does there have to be the crap and the hurdles? why can't the path be clear and i just do it by putting in the time and the effort?

it is this shitty little stuff that saps my spirit

it's bad enough that i have to do my high school math over again - but there has to be a bunch of bullshit in regard to scheduling and getting into it? doesn't seem fair.

why can't i just do the work


well, now that that's off my chest...

i've decided that unless there is some additional obscure fucking rule that will stop me, i'm going to take the math courses by correspondence (actually - technology assisted learning [internet]). that way they won't interfere with my university classes.

so i went down to the department of education to sign up (the province runs a province-wide correspondence school directly from the department) and all the people who actually know what's going on were on vacation. the only person on the entire floor was a summer student - who was asian (i think chinese) and couldn't speak very good english. he wants me to wait until the 18th of august to figure this shit out (when the people are back).


did i mention that the reason i went down in person was because when i phoned i got an unintelligible chinese person on the phone? surprise!!! guess who it was? the only person in the office...

it was almost impossible to understand him - especially when he was unsure of what he was talking about... but i persevered (just for the record, i am not one of those "speak english in MY country" assholes - i have volunteered and worked with many immigrant groups and have taught english as a second language [and literacy] as a volunteer). the language barrier just made it difficult. after we talked a bit and i was able to explain things more, he understood my needs. it turns out he is their summer computer science student... he gave me tips on classes and profs to avoid - that was kind of funny. and both his english improved, and i started to pick up the nuances of his accent.


i'm still having to confirm that my plan will be acceptable to the department of mathematics to get into calculus - it should be - but i don't want to make assumptions

blah, blah, blah

the chinese guy said he would do his best to find out the answer to the questions i am asking as soon as possible. naively, i believe him...

i have to go up to the department and abase myself there to make sure i'm good to go as well

we'll see

Sunday, July 27, 2008

fakin' it

i figured out why i am so intense on succeeding in my class

and why i was so upset by the realisation that i was fucked on my math exam

i want to be real

i want status (not in the climber sense)

i want an objective identifier of competence

i want to be a real computer guy

i want to be a real anything

i was (am) afraid that the computer guys will figure out just how bad i'm faking it

'cause they are trained programmers

i'm a self-taught guy

they know how to do stuff and use language i don't

i don't want to be a drop out anymore. i want to succeed. i want to have an objective measure to hang my hat on.

politics is all about faking it. every single fucking day

you're always afraid someone will suddenly pull the curtain back and reveal you working the machine that creates the wizard... yes - i have some real skills - but they are unquantifiable and always able to be questioned.

i don't want to have my brother's comment of some 20 - 23 years ago - "you're a parasite" - to be echoing in my head. i don't want my wife's fear to stay with me - the fear that if i blow the gig i'm in (fakin' it to be in) that i will be unemployed again.

i want to know that no matter what i do, i have a skill - a skill that is in demand - a skill that is a "hard skill" - a trade, if you will. i don't want to be judged on subjective measures - like i was judged on speech quality, and communications campaigns, and layout and colour. i want to be judged by the fact that i produce running code

as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) says: One of the "founding beliefs" is embodied in an early quote about the IETF from David Clark: "We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code". (click here for the full discussion of "The Tao of IETF")

i am good at programming. i'm careful, methodical, and risk averse (excellent traits in a programmer). my lab instructor says that if he had any room in his marking parameters to give me extra marks he would.

i want to be able to hang my hat on my achievement. i want the identity. i want to be able to say - with no one being able to question it - "i know how to do this. i am a programmer."

the math test - and my expectation of failure - rubbed my nose in my past failures. it also puts me several months off in my timeline and plan - which i now have to re-jigger.

it also means i have to undergo the humiliation of the test - and the humiliation of being assessed - assessed a failure by another human being. i would rather just admit defeat up front than to actually fail or face the burning in my ears as the teacher (who will probably be kind) tells me about my options and the fact that at 42 years of age i'm going back for grade 10 algebra...


i'll suck it up

i will get through this

i will succeed at grade ten algebra - and grade 11 - and grade 12 - and then the real goal: calculus - to get my certificate

i've decided its going to be fun. and/or ritual self-flagellation as i go back and re-do my mistakes

i have told my son: there is no mistake you can make [with his classes] that we can't go back and fix somehow

now it's time for me to believe it about myself

i assume it's either God's punishment for all the time i spent stoned in grades 11 and 12, or it's God making sure my son actually passes his grade 12 math (because i would be re-doing the same course as he will be taking [and doing the same homework] [except he''l be doing it in french (my kids are in french immersion) and me in english]).

or it might be both punishment and renewal for me - and for my kid's benefit

i suppose it's about redemtion

and my God is a redeeming God

Friday, July 25, 2008

me and math

so i started going through all my algebra review stuff.

i remember almost none of it.

i remember the logical structure, but almost none of the methods.

factoring polynomial equations? eeek!!!!!!!

a radical? someone who wears a a Che Guevara t-shirt? something that causes cancer...?


my son started to help me, but he was not in math mode, and had to translate all his notes to english from french (the language he took math in).

i was pretty freaked out.

i have to take a competency exam on monday. it will determine if i have to retake all three years of high school math (3 classes) or just 2.

i am sanguine

even if i have to take all 3 it doesn't matter. it just means my calculus class will have to wait a little longer. and that i will have to wait until fall 2009 to finish my certificate instead of spring 2009.

it will make no difference to getting a job - i could get one now. then i will have a certificate less a calculus class. it won't faze a hiring officer.

it occurred to me that it is potentially God's will that this should happen. son hasn't been doing all his assignments/homework in math and has failed a couple of the classes. he will be redoing them this year. about the time i will be doing essentially the same classes.

perhaps it is God/the fates conspiring to get son to actually do his homework if he and i have to work on it together.

or something

we'll see.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

6.7 lbs and work, work, work


lost 6.7 lbs since July 4th

eating pretty well

still get to drink on weekends

missed exercising yesterday

assignment due today - already handed in a 8 am

started it (reasonably) well in advance. took more time than i thought it would (also spent too much time helping other students...)

i'm a little too thorough compared to the rest of the younger folks in this class. i'm programming for the real world (work world... where i came from) including error correction and such... they are programming to meet the minimum requirements for the course/assignments. their code is brutally sloppy.

the prof likes me, as does the lab instructor - more importantly they respect me.

outside of its intrinsic value, i'm hoping that will be worth a few extra marks (5%?) on the overall course - because i "get it". and have a really good and enthused attitude about the material and their classes.

as always, i don't do as well on exams as assignments. i am too detailed and thorough and don't have enough time to complete... even 20 years ago, in my last iteration of university, when i started asking for extra time to do exams i saw my marks go up 20-30%.

but no extra time here... just got to learn to time budget better.

getting almost 100% on assignments - little pissy (not the good pissy who hangs with us...;-) errors have knocked me back a few marks

things like losing one mark because while i remembered to increment a rounded up 11.5 inches to 1 foot and then forgot to check if my results moved from 2 to 3 feet... so my answer went from 97 yds, 2 ft, 11.5 in to 97 yds, 3 ft, 0 in



the class is keeping me really busy

i have a midterm on monday (pressure)

i'm feeling a lot of pressure about the class - pressure from myself. i REALLY want to do well. i don't know why i feel such pressure. Smitten says that it is because 1) i didn't do so well the last times i went to university and i want to prove that i can succeed to myself and to others; 2) this first class is the gateway into ALL my other classes and will determine how receptive they are to letting me take some classes simultaneously that should be done successively; 3) the fact that i have built much of my plans for the future on this schooling; 4) the whole launch myself into midair without remaining totally safe and protected is quite a flier for me; 5) the simple desire to do the best i can

but, back to work


BTW - i was yacking with my prof, and she told me that my original prejudices about computer science are still accurate. she is one of only three women instructors in the whole department - there are no tenured female staff in CS.

my class is only about 1/3 women, not 1/2 as stated before. on the first couple of days a bunch of the guys didn't show up

the only reason there are this many women is because they are all in 1st year engineering (and this first year summer class exists to service the engineering faculty's scheduling needs - it is an engineering compulsory course as well as a CS compulsory course.

apparently engineering has a good recruitment structure for attracting women, but a lousy retention structure... apparently the number of women drops dramatically after first year in engineering


i'm having some shitty scheduling issues for the fall and winter. i have to take some remedial math because my high school math marks (26 and 27 fucking years ago) aren't up to the minimum required levels for getting into university calculus

in fact my math didn't meet faculty of science minimums, but i got waivers from the associate dean (whom i taught how to do a bunch of internet stuff about 15 years ago...) and others. the registrars office (or at least one officious bastard in it) got pretty stinky about the requirements and tried to keep me out of the faculty of science and kicked up a fair bit of a fuss.

you see i need to be in the faculty of science to register in all the classes i want to take.

thankfully many of the older faculty came to my rescue. many knew me and with worked with me in several different incarnations. so they told this officious little bastard to get stuffed.

the ironic twist is that part of the registration structure he was using to try to keep me out was actually designed to help students stay in the university by forcing them to have the appropriate pre-requisites and then pushing them into adult education upgrades. since the structure was implemented there have been higher success rates for students in their succeeding classes. grade point averages are up since the plan was implemented

the irony?

i was the driving person behind setting up the forced streaming when i was a student leader about 23 years ago. i have a real problem with the number of people who are forced to drop out of university because they fail a couple of key classes - by forcing higher levels of initial competency, and providing the means to get that competency (on-campus high school upgrade classes) you get better outcomes and less wasted time, resources (and money), and lives.

---- historical interlude ----

at the time the university was looking at changing some of its mandates and policies and was considering being more exclusive - it was trend as part of the neo-conservative movement in the 1980s. this university has been a pioneer in allowing people to come here as adults and without all the minimums - you get to come in with lower marks the older you are (assuming that age brings a little more wisdom and dedication). when the changes that would have drastically reduced the University Entrance Program in favour of higher entrance requirements, i argued that we should do just the opposite. that we should separate ourselves as a university from the snobby institutions by being more accessible - not less.

even the university's motto "As One Who Serves" was officially made english instead of latin to make it more accessible. it pioneered co-op education (cycling work terms) decades ago to allow students field experience as part of their university education (set up with professional supervisors like an apprenticeship) - which was looked down upon as something you would do in "the trades" at the time (it started in engineering - the closest to a trade in a university, i suppose)

it also pioneered special adult education programs for people already in the workforce - setting up schedules that didn't just cater to the traditional 4 year full-time young adult model.

that's why i fought so hard for more additional on-campus daycare. by the early '80s almost half the students on campus were female (an anomaly for the era), but about 73% of them were part-time (because they were working and raising a family). i argued hard for changing class scheduling and structures to fit that very real need. i argued that an analysis by credit hours taken was less valid than an analysis per student.

now there are more women than men on campus, even if the credit hours are less disparate

blah, blah, blah

battles of the past

inclusion, accessibility, equity, fairness, decency



hand up, not a hand out

blah, blah, blah

prairie socialism...


i am still doing the upgrades - so i am not a hypocrite - but am doing them after admission instead of before. the classes are not pre-requisites for any of the classes i want to take now...

anyway, little mister registrar clerk got overruled and i am in the faculty

now i just have to figure out how to get past some of my scheduling conflicts. one of my key classes conflicts with the initial math upgrade class lab...

well, it's no worse than trying to get anything done in politics, i suppose...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

been a long time

not much writing muse at this exact moment

just an update


was going to post one the other night that would have said:



i feel




except my computer died...

or horked a really nasty loogie (sp?) anyway

i am exercising every day and while i am doing it i am as alive as i've ever been (love those endorphin highs). when i'm not i'm pretty good or kind of exhausted from running 8 fucking miles a day

but i am down 3 lbs

only 17 to go...


class is good

more later

lousy first quiz - 30 questions - a couple of fuckups i shoulnd't have made, but exams rattle me

i'm better on delivery

i expect pretty close to - if not - 100% on my first assignment


cleaned my son's betta fish vase today

that was exciting

changed half the water so it didn't die from shock at being taken out of its pollutant filled previous environment


more later

got to go run 8 miles and then go eat a fucking twig and a lettuce leaf

(to make up for all the martinis and red wine i've been swilling - otherwise on diet pretty hardcore, though)


BTW: still reading you all (pretty much daily - check your counter logs), even if not commenting much

Saturday, July 05, 2008

July 4th - Independence Day (pt 2)

i left to exercise at about 6:30pm. on the way - well, not exactly on the way - but while i was in my vehicle i wandered around to take an outside tour of some houses i will be looking at on saturday.

i arrived at the health club by about 7:15pm and did my 2 hours - something over 1400 calories later - something over 8 miles later - something over 100 50lb ab crunches - and more - later, i left. no creaks, no groans - a few sore abs, but nothing else


it was a perfect hot humid night

i had planned on going home

normally this would be my first night with the kids, but they left for calgary with their mother today. i was on my own.

it was a perfect hot humid night

it was 9:18 - the sun wasn't all the way down

i called Smitten and asked her if she wanted to go sit on a deck somewhere - i said i could be ready in 12 minutes (her daughter is out at the lake with her father, and Smitten's son is 13 and likes to be on his own).

Smitten - to my surprise - agreed.

to my surprise i actually managed to get home, shower and change in 12 minutes

7 minutes or so later i was at her house and we were on our way.

we went to a somewhat expensive, but very fun wine bar in the artsy section of town - they have a great front patio/sidewalk cafe(ish) outdoor area.

we drank wine and sangria.

we talked


no-one spazzed on me when i went to exercise

no-one spazzed on me when i wanted to go drink wine and sit outside

no-one told me what to order, or said it would cost too much


we sat until about 11:30pm - roughly the time that i had left 2 years previous - not intentionally - in fact we laughed when we got in my van and it was 11:27pm - the exact minute i had been pulling out of my driveway 2 years previous

we had toasted independence

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for people to dissolve the bands which have connected them with another..."

we toasted the future

when i dropped her off at her house she said "I'll bet that two years ago you never thought that two years in the future you would be dropping your girlfriend off at home after an evening out like this..."

i said "Yes, as a matter of fact I did imagine that in two years I would be dropping off my hot blonde girlfriend after an evening of drinking wine on an outdoor patio on a perfect summer evening... yes... yes I did."


i came home

as i hadn't eaten much earlier (7 shrimp) before i left to exercise, i ate a midnight dinner of leftover cold steamed asparagus, raw broccoli, spinach salad with tomato slices, fresh pineapple chunks, and cold gazpacho soup

i enjoyed each piece of healthy food i ate


it is still a perfect evening

i have my balcony door open (screen on) and the breeze is coming through

i just enjoyed a small glass of single malt scotch - the first drink i have had with no-one else present in probably 18 or 19 years

it was good

i don't want any more

but it was quite a moment that i have had one - having felt so strongly about the subject of drinking alone for so long

and i don't feel guilty, or that i've done something wrong, or that i am even taking anything back, or giving a "back at ya"

i just enjoyed a glass of scotch because i wanted one

after enjoying an evening out with my girlfriend

my choice

my decision

independently made

Friday, July 04, 2008

July 4th - Independence Day

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."


July 4th, 2006:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for people to dissolve the bands which have connected them with another...

Cadbury Has Left The Building - Part 1

Cadbury Has Left The Building - Part 2


"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security..."


today i re-read those three months - May, June, July - in my blog and in my journal.

i look at the ideals i espoused - the goals i projected - the desires in my heart

and i look at my life today - and the leap toward the other side that i am engaged in


in her behaviour, has anything changed?


"...Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends."


it's been quite the journey

thank-you for being my friends

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

first class


times have changed a bit

it's a computer science class

in my day, a bastion of sallow/vampire complexion, black dress socks with sandals, jargon speaking, action figure owning geeks

and today - in my first class (only class right now)

my prof is a black woman from somewhere in the Caribbean (or her parents are) judging from her accent. she's in her mid-30s.

about half the class is women (and most of them good looking, make-up wearing, and well dressed [just to confound another stereotype from my earlier era]). most of them are studying engineering...

times have changed in 20 years


i'm looking forward to telling my daughter about my first day

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

why don't you just move in with your father, then?

that is what the stbx said to daughter

the argument? daughter said that when she (daughter) was rich (ah, the delusions of youth) from being a fashion designer she would give her mother and i money to go traveling. and her mother went apeshit.

daughter tells me it was quite a broo-hah-hah

the argument apparently ended when daughter told stbx that stbx was "immature" and "ought to grow up" - as daughter put it: "i schooled her hard"

stbx has been tossing the go live with your father shit more recently

stbx has been taking a course - to become a safety inspector.

when i asked daughter if her mother would be then moving into that as a full-time position at her workplace, daughter told me that stbx doesn't expect to be working at her job much longer - that stbx expects to be moving to a neighbouring province and working in the oilfields.

Smitten and i have seen/discussed this one coming for awhile. we believe that stbx is pushing the kids away so she can move away. stbx has wanted to move there since before we were married. it has always been her promised land.

i hope it happens sooner than later

Monday, June 30, 2008

dad, i need to tell you something

daughter tells me she wants to go out with me without her brother he's still sleeping (it's noon). they are at their mother house this week.

daughter tells me (among other things) that son told her that all he feels now is anger. he has no other emotions but anger. no happy. no sad. no joy.

just anger.

that he just plays computer games all day so that he won't snap on anyone...

i phoned to get him up awhile later. i told him that he should come stay with me for 3 weeks during the summer so that he can get a very serious wind down period.

and they are leaving for 3 weeks vacation starting this friday...


on a lighter note, i may be eligible for an annulment by the catholic church on the grounds that she did not disclose her mental illness to me prior to entering into vows


gotta run

have a hot tub birthday party to go to - hopefully nobody's fingers hit my asshole but Smitten's this year (if this reference confuses you, read here and here)