Going Home

Everyone needs a place to escape, a place where they feel safe and welcome. For most people that place is home. It’s a place where you can walk in the front door and talk with the family, have a meal and kick it old school reliving memories.

For my wife that place is Upstate New York, land of ice and snow. It’s a place she can get together with her family and friends and enjoy the presence of each other. It helps her to re-affirm family roots and to re-charge and reconnect to who she is. The time she gets with her family is essential to help define her past and future.

On the other hand there is me. My family roots are more or less non-existent and is just a part of reality I have had to come to accept. It’s actually not as depressing and tragic as it sounds, I have been blessed with an amazing wife and children. I have friends across the country that truly are salt of the earth and most importantly, I have Christ.

So once I loaded my wife on plane heading North, I drove our mini-van 90 miles-an-hour home, power slid into the parking slot in front of the house and fired up the bike. I ran inside the house and grabbed the saddle bags, a change of clothes and my super high speed sunscreen (80 SPF) and hit the road. Destination- Waleska, Georgia.

As I cruised across the South Carolina/ Georgia border I felt like a million bucks. And then the drama that accompanies pretty much any task I undertake, hit. At a gas station outside of Atlanta, I jumped off the bike and ran inside to use the restroom, least everyone behind me would think the bike had a radiator leak if I continued down the road. When I came out- my saddle bags were gone. Someone in the hood snagged them.

In my bags I had a digital camera, an ipod, digital recorder and my Crackberry cell phone. I also lost my sunscreen which resulted in third degree burns later on in my travels. Anyway, being the hardcore biker houseparent that I am, I pushed on. Soon I was driving up the driveway of Goshen Valley Boys Ranch to have lunch with my old supervisor, Craig.

We had a great lunch, caught up on facility happenings and kids, and other HP type of stuff. After lunch I got an invite to a ranch BBQ that night. No way I’m passing free food up. But first I needed a phone.

I headed into town and stopped into some Mexican store/ laundromat/ check cashing/ unemployment agency and bought me a little pre-paid phone. There was a bit of a language barrier and ultimately my cell ended up being programmed in Spanish. I swear I heard the clerk laughing as I walked out the door. Whatever, I had a BBQ to hit, I’ll think about calling INS later.

As I pulled up to the ranch I was hit with a mixture of emotions. In my life there have been very few places that felt like home to me. Goshen is one of those places. I saw many of the boys that I use to work with and was amazed at how big they have gotten. I sat and watched the kids playing with dogs and playing tag out in the field. I can’t think of a better place to grow up as a boy.

After eating there was praise singing and prayer to cap off an already awesome night. I headed down the road that night feeling very content and very thankful for the fellowship I experienced with great kids and some of the best staff I have ever worked with. For me it was a homecoming.

For everyone at Goshen- God Bless all of you guys. To Craig and John- you both have developed something special that is not the norm in this field, keep on rocking guys cause something this good has to be of God. The impact and ministry the ranch has done in the lives of boys is immeasurable. The BBQ is pretty decent also. -Launch

Overload

Over Worked

This past weekend my wife and I decided to plan a romantic day. We found a babysitter, made some hasty lunch plans at a local sea-food restaurant and planned on enjoying a nice quiet afternoon with no kids, no baby and a strict rule of not discussing any aspect of child care. Not one. 

By habit, I carry my cell phone everywhere. I don’t even take a shower unless my cell is within reach on the towel rack, just in case the President might call and want my personal opinion on his foreign policy. I call it being prepared, my wife calls it paranoia.

So naturally I take my Crackberry PDA/ cell/ walkie-talkie/GPS receiver with me on our romantic escape to the Blue Ocean restaurant, which in hind sight was a bad, bad move. I got a call from a psychiatrist that just finished doing a evaluation on one of our kids the previous week. Why she was calling on a Saturday I’ll never know, but I felt I needed to take the call. 30 minutes into the conversation I happened to glance over at my wife who was waiting for me to finish up the conversation so we could order. I knew I was in trouble by the gleam in her eye and the way she was gnawing on the last hush-puppy. 

The rest of the day that we were off and free of kids was filled with talking about the kids and different projects that we are involved in surrounding kids. Sometimes it’s impossible to disconnect from being a HP when your off. It’s almost like trying to stop thinking about your own kids when they go to Grandmas for the weekend, your glad for the break, but you still wonder and talk about them.

Having to much technology also makes it rather hard to unwind. My office, for example, would make mission control at NASA jealous. They would laugh at my Macintosh, but I’m sure they would find all of the other gadgets rather impressive. I have two printers, and about 10 different USB devices that make pretty green flashing lights. It’s like having Christmas tree lights on all year long. 

My Blackberry cell phone has a walkie-talkie that keeps me and my wife in constant touch. I also get my emails “Instantly”. No more having to wait for my junk mail. My calendar is synced with at least two other computers on campus and alarms go off every time I need to dispense meds, wether I’m on or off duty. If I need to drive somewhere I turn the GPS on and drive off into the sunset with my satellite radio cranked up. 

My portfolio is loaded down with two different calendars (In case the Crackberry dies), treatment plans, medical info, budget spreadsheets and one serious cast iron ruler that doubles as a sword should anyone get out of line in a meeting. 

I have somehow convinced myself I need all of this stuff to survive. Between tracking kids, working on opening another group home, blogging, meetings, church commitments and trying to start a website I have streamlined my schedule, but have scheduled every waking moment devoted to some sort of task. So much for my dream of doing nothing. 

I’m not alone. Fifteen years ago, very few people carried a cell. If you had to talk to someone while you were out, you just had to stop at a gas station and use a pay phone. Somehow our society managed and thrived without cell phones, PDA’s, email GPS units and Microsoft Office. 

We are at a place now where most people don’t even have to go to a store and shop for music, they download it from home. I can’t even imagine where we will be at in 5 years with technology. 

I am going to try to start unplugging. I’m still trying to decide which stuff is a must have for day-to-day life. If my wife gets her way I’m sure the Crackberry will be the first to disappear. -Launch

Oh The Pain.

I loathe all that is Mac.

Nothing but system errors and messages that seem to mock me; System error, System Timeout, Network Unavailable, Contact someone that loves you- AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

I have lost spreadsheets that I have poured my very soul into. Spreadsheets that were formatted perfectly. I had layouts that were pleasing to the eye, a tapestry of color. Gone forever.

I have tried, oh how I’ve tried, to get my Mac to do something as mundane as download music, back up my Blackberry or merely connect to the internet (I’m borrowing a laptop at the moment). It’s no use. Everything the Mac touches it destroys.

The final straw came last night. I had just finished unplugging my Blackberry from the beloved Mac only to see all my contact data was erased. As I gently threw my Blackberry across the living room at the wall, I grabbed my Paul Simon CD and put it in the CD drive in the hopes that old Paul would soothe my soul and stop me from chucking the Mac into the backyard.

Instead, itunes starts ripping the CD and formatting it into some evil Mac language and refuses to play the CD. Desperately I tried to eject the CD but the Mac refused to give it up. My wife got a worried look on her face and quickly walked out of the room saying she thought the baby was crying. She wanted no part of this one. I know now what must be done, I can’t risk another human being being cursed with my Mac, it must be destroyed.

I have spent the last few hours trying to think of a fitting demise for my little Mac. Perhaps I should give it to the boys and let them have their way with it. But if I did that, parts from the Mac would be all over the cottage and serve as nothing more than painful reminders for years to come.

Fire would be a decent way to go, but I’m pretty sure I would go to jail for torching it in my backyard.

Maybe a long drive, a nice quiet field and a box of ammo would be a more fitting end. I’m actually leaning that way because it combines my hatred of Mac with my love of firearms, a win-win situation.

I’m open to any suggestions as to how the Mac will meet it’s end. If anyone would like to donate a PC drop me a line. -Launch 

The Belt

My Battle Gear

I catch a lot of flak from the boys about what I call my super HP belt. They say I’m a cross between Batman and a fat Inspector Gadget. Personally I believe I’m more of a Macgyver type of guy, possibly even better looking (I don’t know why my wife always laughs hysterically when I say that). She just shakes her head and goes about her duties knowing it’s futile to even try and talk some sense into me.

The problem is I love gadgets. Actually I love efficiency and being prepared. That is how the “Belt” has developed over the years.

 I wear a two inch wide black leather belt. I thought a white one would look better, but my wife refused to be seen with me and told me that my “Bee Gees” record collection was all she was going to tolerate from the seventies.

Here is my basic combat load I strap on before entering the cottage along with a brief explanation;

1. Retractable key ring. (I lost my keys HOURLY before busting old school custodial style).

2. Blackberry Cell phone. (I get all my emails immediately, my wife is always able to beep the walkie talkie and get me back on task and I can read the news/ HP network when I have a few moments in the day- usually alone in the restroom).

3. Chain Wallet. (Not only does it look Uber cool, I NEVER lose my wallet anymore).

4. Zippo Lighter in a leather case. (We burn lots of incense in the house. Anyone that has a house full of boys will understand. I also BBQ a lot and I take the boys camping very often. I also like having the power of fire at my disposal).

5. SOG multi tool pliers. (I really got tired of searching for a screw driver every time I had to tighten a screw. My wife got tired of me using all the butter knives for heavy construction purposes. We both can agree this is one tool that has been very cool. Works for every HP task, from tightening a bolt to ripping out loose baby teeth)

6. Clip on six inch folding knife. (I like to cut open cereal bags very dramatically).

That is the belt.

Now all of that does weigh a few pounds and my complete lack of a butt and bulging pot belly caused me to constantly be pulling my drawers up, so I have the Dickie Suspenders attached. 

Even I have some sense of style. I cover all my tools with a leather vest I wear all the time so I don’t look quite so nerdy. I also have a pen protector but that is whole other blog.

All of this may seem over the top, but it simplifies my life and gives the tools I need at my disposal in an instant. And that is worth the price of looking like an idiot. -Launch