Thursday, March 29, 2007

video games

I don't usually discuss video games that much and I don't believe I have ever blogged on them before, however "Lego Star Wars I & II" are worth a comment or two. I have always had video games in my house but seldom owned more than about 3 or 4 at a time. I have never wanted to be a video game junky who spends hours playing and ignoring his kids. Sometimes I would sneak in a game or two if Woogy was preoccupied with something. About six months ago, he decided he wanted to play with me. I thought it would be cool if we could have a activity we could do together besides play Thomas the Train, and it isn't like I was going to introduce him to "Grand Theft Auto" (which I don't own or will ever own).

Since Woogy likes "Star Wars" as much as I do, I introduced him to "Lego Star Wars". I have to admit that I have played a lot of Star Wars video games, but "Lego Star Wars" is the best of them all. In short, you play though the movies as Lego Star Wars figures. As far as difficulty goes, it's pretty easy and Woogy hasn't had a lot of problems completing the levels. These games however actually have a educational value to them such as problem solving, sequencing, and cooperation. Every level has several puzzles the player has to complete first and figure out what order some things need to be arranged in for the player to move on to the next level. The player must switch characters often since each character has different abilities in helping to complete the puzzle.
The creators also added some humor that any Star Wars fan will appreciate. You've got Storm Troopers relaxing drinking coffee while the Death Star goes unfinished, Darth Vader showing Luke a picture of him and Padme before he was born. There is even Darth Vader spinning out of control in his Tie Fighter not wearing a seat belt.
I think most importantly how ever it has given Woogy and I something to do together when it is rainy outside (like it is nearly everyday). I've had to put limits on it, because Woogy would spend hours playing it if he could. I've also use it as a reward he can earn by doing things for himself like getting dressed and brushing his teeth. It seems to be working too well. Nibbles is wanting to join in now.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

eating problems

My wife has had eating problems her whole life. She grew up with eating disorders (balimia and anorexia). Now she believes she has IBS (irritable Bowel Syndrome). For the past few years she has had problems digesting foods causing her stomach to swell up. Her only relief has been when she was pregnant with Nibbles. Last December, she really started having problems.
She insists that there is really nothing the doctors can do. She has tried a few prescriptions, but none of them seem to work for too long. Now, on the advice of her boss, she is trying to cut out milk and wheat out of her diet. The bad news is that it seems to be working, meaning she can't eat those products. I couldn't imagine cutting out all wheat and milk products. No pastas, no cakes, no ice cream, etc.
Wah-Wah is understandably cranky with her new diet. She will make a pizza for the family and then have to eat a salad. That's got to suck! She has resorted to shopping at "Trader Joe's" (Oregon's all organic grocery store) but is struggling to find enough foods that will last the week. She's going to try goat's milk, but is afraid that it will be disgusting. We also have to eat at a lot of Chinese restaurants since they don't use hardly any wheat or dairy products. Luckily, Portland is full of Chinese restaurants , but I miss going to pizza parlors.
I wonder how much of this was brought on by years of having a eating disorder. I've heard they can do real damage to your system. Interesting enough, no one else in her family has this problem.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Public speaking 101

I read somewhere that public speaking is one of the most common fears. This is certainly the case for me. My stuttering has made public speaking a phobia of mine. So it is ironic that I now have to give a three day presentation every couple of months as part of my job.
A few weeks ago my boss said he would like me to be a "Boy's Town Trainer" for Trillium. Brief History : "Boy's Town" is a behavior model based on the program in Omaha that started in the early 1900's by Father Flanagan. He was one of the first people to recognize wayward youth as a societal problem. He believed strongly in that providing guidance, youth could turn their lives around.
Anyway, Boy's Town is a pretty big deal in my field and I thought I would be going into our foster family homes and educating them on the literature of Boy's Town. Turns out, I'm going to be presenting a three day work shop for the entire agency along with various therapists and psychologist every so often.
I spend all of last week in training learning the material. I hate sitting all week listening to a lecture. Last Thursday and Friday I got a crash course in public speaking and using Power Point presentations. It should be noted that I weaseled my way out of public speaking in college by taking a short little "interpersonal communications" class at the community college, so I have no experience. I also used to fake being ill in high school to get out of giving speeches. Now suddenly I'm giving Power Point presentation to people with much more education than me. Anyway, I got some tips such as "reading less from my notes" "answer questions more clearly" "stop looking at the ceiling", etc. Kind of wished I hadn't weaseled out of "public speaking 101".

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Worst movies ever

I don't like to gripe much (every one knows that), but sometimes I feel robbed when I sit down and watch a movie that is so awful, I feel like I've lost two hours of my life that I will never get back. These are three of the worst movies I can think of. I'm sure there is more, but these are the ones that I can think of that have no artistic value, horrible acting, a stupid story line, and just plain pointless. These are the ones that I remember being more grumpy at the end of the movie than when it started.

The first one is Van Helsing. Looks like it could be a winner, I mean it's got Hugh Jackman and it's action movie about killing vampires. When you watch the special effects, it's hard to believe that it wasn't made in the 70's. The special effects are that bad. The comic relief wasn't much accept a priest who wasn't funny.

The "Wicker Man" inspired me to write this list last night as I was watching it. What's the point of the opening scene, other than it keeps playing over as a nightmare in the lead characters head? If you haven't seen this movie, it's about a cop who gets a letter from his ex girlfriend asking for help finding her missing child (which is of course his). Anyway, he goes to a island that is a pagan female worshipping society where he ultimately meets his doom as a sacrifice to mother earth. It's bad enough we are watching this poor guy look in vain for his daughter only to be betrayed by everyone and burned alive (after getting a basket of bees on put on his face, followed by a both his legs being broken by a club). I'm sorry if I spoiled it for anyone, but this movie really sucks.

This was the last movie that I actually walked out of the theater because it was so bad. I later tried to watch it on video (I was hoping I might have missed something the first time)when I was working a overnight shift at work and I still couldn't finish it. This came out right around the time of "Batman and Robin" so I decided to boycott Uma Thruman movies for a while. It was pretty disturbing to watch Sean Connery in a kelt, but then to watch him go off on his diabolical plan to destroy the weather (why would he want to do that anyway?) just made me want to hurl. It's too bad because I really liked Sean Connery at one time, but to watch this and "The League of extraordinary Gentlemen" I really have to cast doubt. Anyway, the hero's in this awful movie are based on an old TV show, but these ones tend to be far more annoying the way they drive 100 mph while being chased by bad guys and sipping their hot tea.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Maybe it is the weather, but I've been feeling rather "blah" lately. When I say "blah", I mean that I don't seem to be very excited about anything. I guess I'm not happy with my job. The truth is I'm not feeling very challenged at my job. I really like the people I work with, they seem to be some of the most open minded people I've met. Turn over is very low and the overall moral is very good. Still, I'm not happy.
The opposite was true back with my job in Independence. Moral was low. Even my boss openly bad mouthed her supervisor. Yet I felt challenged and like I was actually doing something. My role as a Foster Care Consultant is pretty minimum and I don't have a lot of say (if any) on how the child's case is going. I see maybe a kid a day and the rest of the time I'm blogging. With one kid, I've been told just take him out for fun and work on "social skills". I'm not even suppose to talk that much to the foster parent. I'm thinking "why did I even need to go to college to do this?" Actually the money is really good when you consider how much I do. My boss says that it will get busier, but he's been saying that for 3 months.
I've called the state and ask that they reactivate my application. Everyone says that the state social workers are over worked, but that sounds like I would at least keep busy. The pay is better too. Maybe I should be careful what I wish for.