Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why I love The Onion...

(For those of you who have never heard of it, The Onion is a satirical news website and is quite possibly the funniest site on the net...)

A sampling of some of their recent "headlines":

* 'Wheel of Fortune' Contestants Suffer As Vowel Prices Skyrocket

* Desperate Hillary To Obama: "Next Vote Wins"

* San Diego Zoo, Prison Merge

* Nike Signs Big Brown To $90 Million Horseshoe Contract

* Pacman Jones: "Who Do I Have To Kill To Get Reinstated To The NFL?"

* Mathematics To Retire Favre's Number

* Shroud Of Turin Accidentally Washed With Red Shirt

The Onion never disappoints.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

New layout.

Yeah, yeah, I'm trying out a new layout that hopefully is easier to read since a few people have complained about the old layout. Problem is, I'm having a hell of a time trying to figure out how to get my old customized sidebar stuff. I'll stick with this one for a while and see how it goes.

The X Man è un calciatore

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A letter to my newborn son.

Dear Luca,

I know it must seem strange of me to write you a letter when you’re only 10 days old but I hope you’ll indulge me. I really wanted to write a similar letter to your brother when he was born but he was our first child and we got so wrapped up in trying to figure out how to be parents that I just never did it. I hope that when he is old enough to read this, he will realize that my words apply to him as well. And although we still haven’t gotten this parenting thing figured out 100% yet, one thing I have learned is that you’re never truly ready to be a parent and so you just get by the best you can and let the rest happen as it happens.

First off, I’m your father. As such, I bear a tremendous responsibility and I hope I don’t let you down. When your brother was born I knew something big had happened but I don’t think I really understood the scope of my responsibilities. I do now.

I love to hold you in my arms and I find myself watching you as you’re sleeping and I feel myself welling up with such love for you that it’s like my heart is going to burst. I can be a hard man sometimes – just ask your brother – but when I look at your little face, so innocent, pure and unspoiled, I just melt. It’s just unbelievable to me that I could produce something so beautiful.

The world that you have born into is a hard one. You have been born into a world at war, where people kill each other because of something as trivial as what religion they practice or don’t practice or what part of the world they are from. When I look at your little face, I sometimes think about how lucky you are that you have not yet been tainted by this world and how I wish you could forever remain so innocent. I pray that you will not become involved in such terrible things as are occurring right now; that the world and its inhabitants will have evolved beyond such madness by the time you are old enough to understand. I pray that you will never learn such hatred as to judge a fellow human being by the color of his skin, by his station in life, where he was born, or by his ethnicity. Please son, choose the path of understanding rather than violence whenever possible. Understand that while violence is sometimes necessary and inevitable, it is not the desired path and should be used only as a last result.

Let me tell you about your mother. She is the most amazing person I’ve ever had the privilege to know and as you grow I hope you will realize how lucky you are to have her for your mother. I’ll be honest with you – she was really hoping for a girl when we found out you were coming…but when I see the love in her eyes when she’s holding you I can assure you that she could not possibly love you any more if you had been a girl.

Earlier tonight I was holding you and you were sleeping so quietly in my arms and I just got lost looking at you, all your little movements and sounds. A thought occurred to me as I was watching you. I starting thinking about all the babies born in the world, about how they’re brand new to this world. Each one is born into different circumstances. And then I started thinking about how the circumstances that you’ve been born into are controlled by me. And it made me realize that the role I will play in your life is paramount in how you will develop and grow as a person in this world. As I said earlier, I am your father. I am perhaps the most influential person you will know in your life. I don’t take this responsibility lightly.

I promise that I will do everything I can to prepare you for what you will face in your life. I promise that I will never desert you, that I will always be here for you, no matter what hardships you face. I may not always give you what you want but I will always do my best to give you what you need. I may not always be the best father but it won’t be for lack of trying. Above all else son, I promise that I will love you and do my best to make sure that you have everything you need. A few months ago, before you were born, I was in the hospital where the doctor told me that I was lucky to be alive. I took her words to heart and could not stop thinking about how I almost didn’t get the chance to meet you in person. It made me break down and cry and I have cherished every moment I have been blessed to have with you because of that day. I finally realized that my life is no longer my own; it belongs to you and your brother now. If, by some tragedy, I should ever have a relapse and not be as fortunate as I was that day, I hope you will always know how much I love you and your brother. You are both my treasures. Never forget that.

It’s your life son. Whatever you do with it, I pray that you will never settle for anything less than what you deserve; greatness. I love you and your brother more than you will ever know.



Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Face of Fear?

Quite the contrary actually.

While the wife and I laugh at this picture as appearing to show me scared to death of baby #2, the reality is actually the opposite; I'm thoroughly enjoying the second kid so far. I think it's because we've already gotten the "fear of the unknown" out of the way with the X Man but whatever it is, things seem a lot easier this time around.

Luca is eating well (a very healthy appetite to be sure) and sleeps a lot. The only problems we're having so far are actually with the X Man; he is acting out quite a bit in an effort to recoup some the attention that he lost when Luca arrived. I'm told this is normal but hopefully it won't last too long as I have little patience for it. I'm doing my best, taking him out for daddy-X Man excursions, trying to give him extra attention, etc, but nothing seems to be working.

All in all, we're having a ball with little Luca and wish like hell that we could share him with everyone...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More baby pics...

(As always, click image to enlarge...)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Luca Christiano Thibodeau

Meet Luca Christiano Thibodeau, born on May 12th, 2008 at 0730 AM, 6.5 lbs (2.87 kg), 18.5 inches (47 cm).

Mommy and baby are doing great. The wife did it totally natural with no drugs, pain killers, epidurals or anything. She's the Terminator.

It's Baby Day.

The wife started early labor last night around 11pm, the contractions are getting closer and more painful and all the signs say the baby is on the way.

So why, you might ask, am I home writing this instead of at the hospital? Well, we went to the hospital this morning around 0330, the nurse checked her out and after about a half hour said that she's dilated 3 cm which is borderline. So rather than keep her there she told us to go home, walk around, take a nap, etc and come back in about 2 hours by which time she should be at least 4 cm. We'll be heading back in about 30 minutes so hopefully I'll have a big announcement posted on here sometime later today...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Steve-O, the X Man and Me

From Steve-O's visit a couple weeks ago

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Baby Update

Baby number two should be dropping any day now. The official due date is May 30 but we were at the doctor last week and found out that the wife was already dilated 1 cm, the baby is sitting very low and is pushing down hard. Virginia is also having trouble walking around or staying on her feet for an extended period of time. She's entering her 40th week now and I've been saying all along that the baby will be early so we'll see if I'm right.

We're pretty sure we've decided on a name but it's been so tenuous that it could change 10 times before the kid actually arrives.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Are you kidding me?

Ladies and gentlemen, my hometown:

Yankees fan charged with murder in death of Red Sox fan


Friday, May 02, 2008

Dancing Lessons From God, Part 11

I didn’t wait until Friday, I called the recruiter the next morning and informed him of my decision. I remember him telling me that I wouldn’t regret it; he had no idea how right he was. He put me back on the bus to Boston where I signed my name on all the forms and they gave me a choice of several dates to ship out. The dates presented a minor problem because the latest one they had was April 25th and my sister Tracy was getting married on Memorial Day weekend at the end of May. Since my assignment was to Germany, there was no way I’d be able to go back home for the wedding after only a month. So I picked April 25th and hoped Tracy would understand. When I left the MEPS and got home I felt better than I could ever remember feeling. It was a feeling of liberation, like I was finally escaping the prison I’d been living in for so long. Where there was no hope, there suddenly was some. It was so strange, I had feared this decision for so long but now that I had actually made it and there was no going back, I actually felt better than ever and couldn’t fathom why it took me so long to make it. I had no earthly idea what awaited me on the other side of the ocean but I didn’t care. I was just incredibly excited to find out. It was to be an adventure and adventure was exactly what I needed in my life at that point. I could have been making the biggest mistake of my life but I didn’t care; at least I was getting out of Nashua. It may have been only for three years but I was finally going to be experiencing life.

But first I had to take care of things there. I handed in my two week notice which was a huge relief. Most of the people at work were a bit shocked to say the least but they understood. I think the management was probably as relieved as I was when I handed in my notice since Pressline was in a rut and I knew that they held me responsible. But I still had a good relationship with them and it was an amicable parting. I did everything I could to make sure they would be able to run Pressline in the interim while they looked for my replacement. Those two weeks were actually pretty enjoyable. I didn’t have to make any sales calls so I spent most of my time tying up loose ends and practicing my German. My best friends at the paper, Bob and Mary Gorman were really sad to see me go and threw me a going away party at their house. It was to be the first of four going away parties people had for me. Eric and I took one last trip up to Montreal and I enjoyed it so much more knowing that I didn’t have to go to work when I got back. I forget exactly why Eric was in town at the time but I was really glad he was. He was really my inspiration for this crazy decision and I think he, more than anybody, understood my wanderlust and need to see the world. On the way home we stopped in Claremont, New Hampshire. Claremont is a town on the border with Vermont and is where both of my parents are from. Most of my relatives live there and my mom’s side did a get together so they could all say goodbye. The one thing I remember most is that my Uncle Jerry, a Jehovah Witness, was not happy about me joining the army. I guess Jehovah Witnesses don’t believe in military service and he threw a bunch of bible verses at me that were supposed to explain why but I just kind of chuckled and said goodbye. I always liked Uncle Jerry and didn’t want to offend him. We headed back to Nashua where my dad had planned another going away party for me and had invited his side of the family and his friends who knew me and wanted to say goodbye. It was at that party that I received one of the greatest, most perfect gifts I’ve ever received in my life. As the party was winding down, Eric pulled me aside and handed it to me. I opened it and it was a travel guidebook: Lonely Planet’s Western Europe on a Shoestring. He mentioned that he had used it when he was backpacking around Europe and found it extremely useful and figured it would be perfect for me so he bought me my own copy. On the inside cover was written the following:

“Unexpected travel plans are dancing lessons from God”
-Kurt Vonnegut

18Apr98 Eric Thibodeau

Although I loved it right away, I had no idea how important that gift would be. In the following years that book went with me everywhere and I relied on it so much that I started referring to it as the “travel bible”. Even now, years later I still use it although some of the info is out of date, the corners are frayed, the cover is worn and the pages are marked all up, filled with my notes, highlights, and the occasional phone number or email address from women I’ve met in my European travels. Eric had given me the perfect gift and as I thumbed through it, I couldn’t help but feel that despite the freedom he had and all the places he had been, my brother was just a bit envious of me being able to start over and experience all this for the first time.

There was one last goodbye party to go to and that was one thrown by my friends. All my closest friends, the people I would miss the most, were there. It was a bit sad saying goodbye to everyone and I realized how much I would miss sitting around on Sundays with the guys watching Patriots games, not to mention the annual pilgrimages to Fenway Park for the Red Sox games. But the decision had been made and there was no going back. I went home and packed as much stuff into a duffle bag as I could and prepared to leave. I had seen the movie Braveheart a few months earlier and one line from the movie kept replaying over and over in my head: “Every man dies…not every man really lives.” I was twenty-six years old and I was finally about to start living.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Dancing Lessons From God, Part 10 (The real Part 10...)

I walked through the door and was met by a couple of soldiers in class B uniforms. They looked at my file and said “Oh, you’re prior service…you’ll be coming in with the same MOS.” Without even thinking, I replied “Well, the recruiter told me I’d be able to change my MOS…” and before I even finished the sentence I dropped my head and started laughing “Right, right, what was I thinking…”. As it turns out, you actually can change your MOS when you reenlist. The problem is, the only things you can change to are Infantry, cook, mechanic, stuff like that, jobs that most people don’t want and that the army has a hard time filling. Things like computers and such were impossible to get into because they were highly sought after. So I got snookered by the recruiter. “Well played”, I thought to myself. The chances of me actually signing up after that were very slim but they didn’t give up. I explained my situation, that I would be leaving a good job to do this because I wanted to see Europe and finish my Masters Degree and if I couldn’t change my MOS then I would always be in the field and I would never get to work on my degree so it wouldn’t be worth it. First they guaranteed me a slot in Europe. Then they tried to sell me on the idea that my MOS was not that bad, that there’s not that much field time and that I’d still be able to work on my degree. They mentioned the GI Bill but I told them I didn’t qualify because I had already had partial GI Bill with the reserves. They tried every trick in the book to convince me but I would not budge. I was convinced that there was something they could do to get me an MOS change and I was determined to call their bluff. They even called some General Officer in charge of something or other and tried to get a waiver but nothing doing. Then one guy said “What if we could get you money under the GI Bill?” to which I replied “I already told you, I’m pretty sure I don’t qualify.” But he said he found the regulation that says that because I was in the reserves and only received a partial amount, they could give me $16,000. I thought about it for a minute. That much money would certainly be enough for a Masters Degree. They also informed me that because I was prior service, I would only have to enlist for three years instead of four. They were making it very attractive but they still weren’t giving me the one thing I wanted, a change of MOS. I held firm on that point and after a couple of frustrating hours for everybody I told them no thanks. In a way I was bluffing to see if they wanted me bad enough to somehow get me an MOS change but mostly I really meant it. I was not interested in enlisting, quitting my job, leaving my friends and family and going to live in a tent for three years.

The recruiter picked me up at the bus station and asked what had happened. I guess he wasn’t used to people coming back from the MEPS without enlisting and just could not understand why I hadn’t after everything they offered me. For the first time I think he realized that I wasn’t like most of his other recruits and decided to take another approach with me.

“Look man, I’ve already passed my quota for this month so whether you come in or not doesn’t really affect me that much. So let’s be real. You came to me for a reason. You seem like you have a good job and everything but there’s obviously something missing and that’s why you came. I’m not going to give you any bullshit, if you sign up and go to Europe, you’re going to spend some time in the field. I spent a couple tours there so I’ve done it and I’m telling you first hand that it’s not as bad as you seem to think. You still spend most of your time in garrison and you still have plenty of time to do some traveling and even take some college courses if you want. It’s not paradise, it’s the army. You’ll have to put a lot into it but you can get a hell of a lot more out of it if you really want. Most guys never realize that but you’re smarter and have been around more than most guys that I put in. Just do me one favor, just take a few days and think it over. Today is Tuesday. Call me on Friday and if you haven’t changed your mind then you’ll never hear from me again.”

I was convinced that I wasn’t signing up but I agreed to think about it and call him back on Friday. I got home, opened a beer, watched some television, then went to bed and fell into a deep sleep. The next day I was back into my routine, making sales calls, having fruitless sales meetings, the usual. Except that now I began to believe that there was a way out. I didn’t have to do this anymore if I didn’t want to. The real question was, “how bad did I want to leave?” The answer: very bad. I finished up the day and went home. My mother was in the kitchen cooking dinner and I sat at the counter and said I needed to talk to her about something. I told her about the events of the day before at the MEPS in Boston and said I was having a very hard time making this decision. I didn’t ask for advice and she didn’t offer any. Instead, for the first time, I just started pouring out my frustrations with how my life was turning out, that I felt like I had accomplished nothing and had nothing promising on the horizon, about how miserable I was at my job and especially how embarrassing it was for me to be twenty-six years old, working two jobs, and living with my mother. All my friends were getting married, having kids, buying houses, and here I was no better off than I was in high school. What I realized was that I might be miserable in the army but I was already miserable so why not be miserable in Europe at least? So I decided to look at the worst case scenario and see if I could live with it. The worst case scenario was this: I join the army and go to Europe. I spend most of my time in the field and never get to do a lot of traveling or take any college courses. I still finish after three years having seen at least a little bit of Europe and with $16,000 to go back to college with. Could I live with that? Hell yes I could. I was joining the army. I was joining the army!

(Click HERE for Part XI)