“That is what I meant.”

I am pretty sure I have blogged on this in the past.  I spent a bit of time trying to get the following post to read the same as I felt on the subject of my pedantry.  Then at the end I was going to provide a number of links to support my position/viewpoint.

After reading the links I decided to post them first.  I love how the Urban dictionary link really blows me out of the water.

Some interesting/fun links:



I searched for “pedantic communication” on google and all I got was a bunch of links to Autism and Aspergers.

DAMNIT!! http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pedantic

Now, back to the original post. To which you can now read and shake your head at me in that “Yup.  Exactly.” kind of way.

If this really is tl;dr material, what I really want you, the reader, to get out of this post is that I am not pedantic because I want to frustrate you in any way.  I honestly care about what you are trying to say and want to make sure I grasp the exact meaning of your words.


Recently Kay and I were chatting online.  Because of perchance for pedantry I corrected something she typed. Her response was “Right, that is what I meant.”  To which she added ‘I say that to you more than “I love you”‘.

It was a very friendly exchange. We did not get mad during it, which is not always the case based on past intercourse.

What made this conversation interesting is “That is what I meant.” But when a type-A engineering personality hears something, asks a question, and gets the response “that is what I meant” we shake our heads with that sad and somewhat condescending look in our eyes.  (Which while the condescension is not on purpose, often does escalate “what I meant” to “WHAT I MEANT TO SAY WAS @#[email protected] @#[email protected][email protected]!!!!”)

See, what you (not just my wife, but all of you)  say/type and what you meant to convey with your communications are not guaranteed to be one and the same.  And it is NOT YOUR FAULT!!  See, I am involved in the other side of this conversation.  I honestly CARE about what you are trying to say. And if there is a chance that I could have misunderstood your words then I am going to ask for clarification.  I am not questioning you to piss you off, hear myself talk, or show off my better than average grasp of the English language.

Yeah, Jay, but what I said was totally obvious.  No.  No, No, No, NO, NO!!!  You said it. You are the originator of the words.  I am not in your head.  Even though we share a race, culture, and whatever other relationship, I cannot read your mind.  My brain could have just come from a different context.  I do not have all the backstory in my mind that yours has.  You get the picture.  Or you don’t, at which point you get exasperated with me for covering the same ground three different ways.

Posted in Jay, Messed Up Brain | 1 Comment

Visiting Dad

Between Christmas and New Year 2011 we had the opportunity to visit with Kay’s brother Gordon, his wife Lisa, and her mother and father in Asheville NC.  It was a very nice if too short visit.

On the way back we decided to take a route back through Morganton NC.  I forgot during the funeral arrangements for Dad how difficult it was to find any information on the cemetery that He, Grandmother, and Grandfather were buried.  After driving around for a bit and not recalling exactly how to get there, many failed searches on Google on an Android phone with poor internet connection we failed to find Forest Hill Cemetery!  I eventually recalled that I had to call the City of Morganton phone number. The connected me directly with someone at the cemetery.  I was informed the cemetery is located on the corner of Huffman Street and Valdese Avenue.  With that information Google Maps showed we were less than two miles away.  It only took us minutes to find the grave site.

In the hopes that I never have to go through that frustration again:

Google Map Link of Jones Family Headstone

Kay asked me if I thought I could handle having Eli there, and the way she asked made it clear that she was also questioning whether Eli should find out that my dad had passed.  Up to this point he had not asked and we had not shared.  I said I was pretty sure I could handle it, and that I figured it was as good a time as any to try and explain the situation.

Dad’s marker was installed and Grandmothers updated and cleaned.  (I have pictures that I will make sure to get uploaded and added to this post.)  When they re-installed Grandmothers marker some of the grounds dirt/clay had hit the marker. I spent the better part of 10 minutes trying to clean it with minimal success. Next time I bring more supplies.

Eli started asking questions. Kay and I explained to him that the first marker was of my Grandfather. “Yes Eli, he died and is buried right there. “We had a discussion about why we bury our dead.  He was very subdued.  I explained how Grandfather died.  Then we repeated the conversation with Grandmother’s marker.

Eli looked up at me with very solemn eyes when I explained “This is where my Father is buried.”  I was not sure what to expect, but he took the information, seemed to process it a bit, and then started on another tangent.

Kay took him to go look at other markers in the Cemetery while I worked on cleaning Grandmother’s marker. I took a number of pictures. While I was putting away the camera at the car I looked back and Eli was standing at the Jones grave site head bowed. When he and Kay got to the car he had tears running down his face.  We got him in the car and explained that it was quite alright to be sad.

Later in that trip while Eli and I were washing hands at a pit stop Eli confided in me. “Daddy, do you know why I was crying earlier?  I do not like it when people that I know die!”

I told him “So, do I son.  So do I.”

Posted in Jay, The Family | Leave a comment

The Complicated World of Education Reporting

A week ago I read an article describing how out of touch existing standardized tests are with the reality of every day life.  It was well written, and I took it at face value that a school board member would have the necessary “smarts” to be able to pass such a test.

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids” by Marion Brady was on The Washington Post December 5th, 2011.

I totally drank the cool-aide as a result of reading this article.  I went so far as to use the “tweet this” link on The Washington Post article to share it with my three followers.

This morning I was catching up on my Hacker News when I ran across the article “The Innumeracy of Educators, or Mark Twain Was Right” by Chad Orzel.

This article contained actual questions from the math portion of the FCAT test that was originally reported as being “out of touch”.  I read these questions and immediately thought to my self, well, OK, I do not see anything extremely complicated here.  I even went through and did all of them.  (Note, I am an Engineer.  Math is important in my job. I use it everyday.)

After reading this article I sat down and tried to figure out how the first article could have had me duped so badly.  As soon as I questioned how I had let the first article mislead me I immediately started thinking that the second article had to also be flawed in some way.

So I read both again. Then I read them again in the reverse order.  Here are some of the thoughts that popped into my head:

  • The title of the first article has the word “forced” in it.  Man, what a way to start me out in an indignant mode.
  • I am not sure, but I bet Marion Brady never asked to see the test that school board member took so she could verify that the contents were excessive.  I think Marion Brady needs to add a dash of skepticism and follow up to her investigation and reporting.
  • The school board member that took the test has poor reasoning skills. A number of the math problems described could have been easily brute forced. He claimed he had to guess all of them.
  • I personally would NOT want a school board member with that poor a level of reasoning making decisions for my child.
  • I love Mark Twain.  Even in a world that is moving faster and faster, his snark remains relevant.
  • Chad Orzel hit the nail on the head with his article, but it leaves a faint bad taste in my mouth in that he does attack the school board member by name.  I did not see any mention of him discussing the shoddy journalism that allowed the article out in the first place without performing independent review of the test/information.
  • I now wonder when the school board member says about the test”…are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable” still may have some validity to this point. But because he so badly misrepresented the difficulty of the test though is own ignorance/poor education I am less likely to care.
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


An exchange between me and Eli last night…
Eli: Where did you get me?
Mom: What do you mean?
Eli: Where did I come from?
Mom: Wal Mart
Eli: You got me at Wal Mart?
Mom: Yep, on sale even. We were very excited!
Eli: …..

You know, I thought I had more time before I was going to get this question. I figured for sure Eli would be eight or nine years old. OH well. I think it’s reason number 689 that I should not have been a parent.


Posted in Eli, Kay, Parenting | Tagged , | 5 Comments

How I Phone…

I read an interesting article over at news.ycombinator.com.  Whatever Works for You describes less the author’s computing setup, but instead the fact that he has learned that no matter how much he likes it, it will not be what others want or need.

After reading this a co-worker commented on how he was jealous that he spends $200 a month on his phone bill, while I only spend $100 every six months.  I have advocated many times my method, realizing that most folks that already own a smartphone will either not be able, or willing, to use my approach.  And I totally get that the compromises and sacrifices I make for this cheap phone bill is well above the pain threshold of even some of the most ardent tech folks.  So non-techies just are “right out”.

Out of the gate I need to make it clear that I am getting no endorsements or other compensation from the following companies.

Why o’ why would you follow my way of phoning?  Well, before you put yourself through the wall-o-text that is coming, here are the reasons I do things this way:

  • I have one phone number to give out for the rest of my or Google Voices life (whichever ends first).
  • As a result I can choose the cheapest cell plan and change when appropriate.  Since I “Pay as I Go” I am not stuck with contracts.
  • As a result I have an insanely in-expensive phone bill. So far I have paid $100 every 7 months. I do not have a home phone line, but I do have broadband internet (but that was there regardless).
  • WIFI is almost everywhere I am, as a result I do not have to pay for a data plan.
  • Cheap cell phones. When it breaks, I buy a new one and just transfer the SIM card.

What are things that I do not like about my current system?

  • Extra gadgets.  I have a cell phone AND an iPod in my pocket.
  • I do not have a smartphone. I am not “always connected”. (Actually, that may be a good thing also.)
  • I really want a smart phone.  I am just too cheap in this area to pay for the over the top monthly data and exorbitant voice plans.

To phone like me you will need the following ingredients:

  • A Google Mail and Google Voice account. (Costs no money.)
  • Google talk plugin installed on top of Google Chrome. (PC or Mac, also costs no money.)
  • A pay as you go voice/text plan on an inexpensive carrier.  I use a T-Mobile flip phone with their Pay As You Go plan.
  • A WIFI enabled computing device. I use an iPod Touch 3G.

A number of the above ingredients can be exchanges for other free services out there. For instance you can get a cheap “Skype In” number that will work with Google Voice. The only issue with the Skype In number is you have to jump through hoops to make sure you do NOT get their voice mail service. The skype voice mail conflicts with Google Voice, and it is difficult to keep it turned off of you have multiple computers logged into skype. I tried, it sucked, and their customer service was no help, they honestly are not setup to disable voice-mail at their end.

The setup. I am not going into great detail on this at this time. If you cannot perform the following activities without hand holding then the actual “how I phone” instructions will be more than you will want to deal with.

  • Install Google Chrome on all the PCs you use.
  • Install the Google Talk plugin on top of Chrome.
  • Setup your Google Voice account if you do not have one already.
  • Add your pre-paid phone number to Google Voice. Set it up as the primary cell number, configure text options.
  • Add your work number to Google Voice. Set it up to only ring when you know you will be in the office.
  • On your cell phone set a speed dial to your Google Voice number, this is your new voice mail call out.

Once you have this done you will want to let all your folks know that your new number is your “Google Voice” number.  That is the ONLY number you will ever give out again.  When folks call that number all your other numbers will ring. Whichever one you are near you answer.

Normally unless I know the caller I just let google voice get it, then I listen to the message on my PC from the Google Voice site.  If I am away from my PC I can always check messages by calling my Google Voice number from my cell phone and treat it like any other cellular voice messaging system.

Placing calls is the sticky point.  If I am at my computer I call out using Google Voice and indicate which phone to ring.  Often I have Google Voice ring my Google Talk account, which results in a phone pop-up on the Gmail screen.  If I am at my desk at work where I do not have a mic, and streaming media is blocked (the horror) I have Google Voice dial my work number.  As soon as I answer the phone, Google Voice rings the other end and my call is in progress.  If I am out I am often at a wifi spot, from there I have the Google voice app on my iPod Touch perform the call with my cell phone as the target of the call.

Why go to all this effort when making a call?  Well, I want the recipient on the other side to see the call as if it is coming from my Google Voice number. That way when they use their history to call back it will still use my Google Voice number.  I do not want them memorizing my cell phone number, there is no guarantee that I will keep it if I can find a better deal elsewhere.

I do not plan to phone like this forever.  Eventually a carrier will break away from the pack and provide an inexpensive voice/data plan for smart-phones. When that happens I will gladly pay more for the convenience. As it stands I am looking into getting a refurbed iPhone and use it without a data plan. That will reduce my “cell” + “iPod” combination to one device.

Is this for everyone?  NOPE!  Is this even for most people. I doubt it. But it works for me!

Posted in Jay, Tech | 1 Comment

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah

The title of this post is the response I got from my almost (but not guaranteed to make it to) five year old for the question “What did I just ask you to do?”.

Eli and I were tasked with getting the back yard straightened up for guests.  I was working with Eli to finish our current priority (straighten the living room) so that we could make our way to the back yard.  This plan was cut short because Eli did not want to put a specific toy in a specific location that I had requested three times.  “No dad, I will just put it here.” Ah, the sound of “no” from my son.

I do not mind hearing “no” when I ask a question.  “No” is a perfectly good answer to almost any question, even when it is not the answer I want to hear.  But “no” is not fine when I have made a request, or at this point made a demand.  At that point “no” is a trigger word.  It is the “I am going to test you dad. ” , “I am going to see just how this system works and where the limits are.”   So when I got “no” to my request I asked him to repeat my request to me.  I do this sometimes to make sure he is listening instead of just hearing. The response…. “Blah, blah, blah, blah.”

Well, if he was looking for boundaries to test, he sure found one! I considered a swat to the rear-end.  Put that on the back burner in case I could not get through with the other tools at hand.  Five minute time-out.

I ask “Now, why were you in time out?” to which Eli responds “Because I did not put that where you wanted it.”  I make it clear that is not the reason he was in time out.  “Blah, blah, blah, blah” I said “is the perfect way of telling someone you do not respect them or what they are saying.”  I asked him if he thought disrespecting me was something he should be doing.  The “no” was a good answer.

Later that day he asks to do something fun.  I said no, he lost that privilege.  He wanted to know why?  I told him to tell me why.  He gave some innocuous reason and I asked him to try again… “Blah, blah, blah, blah?”  Yes son, “Blah, blah, blah, blah.”  “Oh.”

Honestly.  I sure hope this lesson sticks fast.  Kay would have ended him after the second “blah”.  And I would have supported her in her actions 100%.

I sure hope he got “green” all day in school today.  He still won’t be playing computer/Wii/iPod, but at least he will get to eat that muffin he was craving this morning.

Posted in Eli, The Family | Leave a comment

The Passing of my Father

My dad has had a short but intense battle with cancer over the last few months. He lost that battle Monday October 11, 2011.

Growing up my dad was my best friend, even when he and my mother were no longer together and we lived in different states I considered him my friend.

He taught me a lot in this life, much of it by watching him make mistakes and me trying to figure out how to avoid them. That being said my father taught me a very important lesson that I hope to someday pass on to my son. He taught me to love science and to  pursue knowledge.

The following is a list of just a  few of the stories and influences he has had on my life:

  • One of my earliest memories in Miami Florida is the largest kite ever made by a father/son.
  • Dad was my first Dungeon Master.
  • We built (OK, he built) a replica castle out of plywood and gutters for one of my middle school projects. It had a working counter-levered portcullis and draw-bridge.
  • At the age of 12 I was his secretary during the summer when he worked nights as an X-Ray technician at Lexington Hospital.
  • Mom telling Dad “Don’t feed the bears”, when he had to change a tire while on vacation in the mountains. (I did not understand it as a joke…..)
  • He bought my my first computer, a C= 64. I would help him type up his RN class notes and he would print them out on a Brothers typewriter and sell them to fellow students.
  • His rendition of camp breakfast. Red-eye gravy made from salt cured country ham.  I love salt, but that was just too much!!
  • When I was having an issue in my science class he showed me his lab notes from his college classes.  His example of how the scientific method should look and how to focus in class helped me become a lover of science and a purveyor of knowledge.
  • The HKN bridge fiasco. (Combine a band sander, a hunk of rough copper medal, a kitchen counter, and my dad.  Hilarity ensues.)
  • Being an awesome Santa look-a-like, and having one of his infamous coughing fits while out to eat during the holiday season. (The looks on those poor kids faces.)
  • Digging up the carrots too early in Miami. I think I was responsible for inventing preemie-carrots, as opposed to baby carrots.
  • Dad’s football stories.  Specifically two: The game winning field goal, and responding to the other team playing dirty.
  • Games.  Gods the games that Dad would play.  Slowly and badly. But he had a LOT of fun regardless!
  • On that note: playing World of Warcraft with him (http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3342097525#1)
  • Taking me drinking on my 21st birthday.
  • Being there for me when a girl broke my heart for the very first time.
  • His ability to make friends with the unlikeliest (off their rockers nutty) friends.
  • How to avoid multi-level-marketing companies. (He could not.)
  • How important it is to a young boy to have a dad in their life.

I came to Bakersfield to see my dad when he was diagnosed with lung cancer a month before he died. I got to see him for all of 5 hours before they rolled him in for what was supposed to be a “look around”.  Instead he stayed sedated on a ventilator for the rest of my stay.

Fast forward to the first week in October. We find out he has tumors in his brain because he started seizing.  The doctors said they would be putting a shunt in to help him recover some function and that an aggressive radiation treatment would mean they may be able to get the brain cancer under control long enough to address the lung cancer (which was still prevalent).  I could not come down immediately because of other family obligations, but I got on a plane in time to see him after the shunt.  There were good expectations that he would recover enough that I could visit with him for several days.

That is not how things worked out.  While waiting for a connecting flight Lisa called me and let me know that some of the tumors that the doctors had not been as concerned about at the the time had almost tripled in size and were pressing down on the brain stem.  He had slipped back into non-responsiveness and could not be wakened.  I arrived in time to help Lisa and the family make the decision to keep him comfortable as all other options entailed a very poor quality of life with a high certainty of death in three months.

I am very very sad about my fathers passing.  I am also having horribly selfish feelings because I never got to spend any time with him these last couple months of his life. I never got a chance to really tell him how much I appreciated him and how deeply I care about him.

I was there, in the hospital room, when he passed. To this date it is the hardest experience I have ever had. I hurt. I hurt so very much right now.  The worse part of this is that I keep thinking that I have a son that I love so deeply and so completely that I hate for the day that he will ever have to experience these feelings.  The ironic thing is I hope beyond all hopes that he does have to experience the grief of the passing of a father. It will mean that I went before him, and that he loved me.  My driving ambition is that this happens a very very long time from now.

After Dad died Lisa and I pick up Dad’s ashes and made the cross country trek from Bakersfield CA to Winston-Salem NC.  That is another story for another day. I can say the first time I felt true happiness after my fathers passing was when I was able to give both my wife and son a hug and kiss.

This is not the last I have to write on this. I have several drafts of emotion, thoughts, and stories in the works.  Someday as time passes I will clean them up and make them available.  My brother, sister, and I have a lot of work ahead of us making sure to capture some of the history that we were able to find among Dad’s affects. We plan a domain to commemorate Dad and to help track our family history. More on that later also.

Posted in Jay, The Family | 1 Comment

Fuzz Balls

I think it’s safe to say that our kitties are growing quickly. I need to take new pictures, but this is the best I could do for now.

These two have really become a part of our family. I just could not think of our world without them now. It’s funny how the evolve and grow, and our feelings for them as well. At first, I was totally in love with Blackie – his coat a lone and strong presence attracted me to him. But Ms. Remo has come into her own and has become quite the love bug. Her favorite spot – on my shoulder with her head rubbing mine.

I just love it!

Remo loves to sit on your shoulder. Jay got her into this.

Remo and Blackie with Eli's tball trophy

Jay can't get enough of these two!

They decided to take a break with Eli.

I’ll post more pics soon, I promise! These guys are even bigger than in these pics. Oh, have I mentioned they both like to play fetch?! 🙂

Posted in The Family | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Blogging and Privacy

I was out of town last week helping with a medical emergency in the family.

While I was out there I wrote up what I thought would be a blog post about the trip. Writing was cathartic and did help me sort out my emotions about the trip.

When I started considering whether to post the entry on this blog I realized I was entering a privacy minefield.  Part of the story has to do with the medical condition of a family member. The other part of the story was my feelings on the subject (which I am fine with sharing), how I was coping with the situation, and some of the activities that I had performed while out there.

For now this post will have to stand as a placeholder.  I refuse to talk about a sensitive subject here that goes outside of my own sphere of influence.

For all those that know about the situation I want to thank you for your well wishes and support.  It does make times like these bearable.

Posted in Jay | Leave a comment

Extra Hugs

There is nothing in this world like the genuine hug of a child. Nothing. Absolutetly nothing compares to it.

Jay typically takes Eli to school. He works less than a quarter mile from Eli’s school, and has always shouldered that responsibility. I think I have maybe five times taken Eli to school, and usually he gives me a passing hug and is off to the races with his friends. This morning was different.

Eli decided he needed to spend some extra time with me. I didn’t realize this until I had finished talking to his teacher (and before I had asked Eli to go play while I did so) and Eli was waiting patiently for me. All his friends were playing, but he sat, alone, waiting on me. When I got to him, he said we had to do ten steps. I didn’t know what this meant, but soon, I found myself trying to walk with him having his feet on mine (you try walking with 30 pounds on each foot!) It seems he and his dad do this from time to time, so I played along.  After my recovery, I sat for a moment, and Eli wanted to sit with me, so we did. I whispered in his ear that I loved him and I wanted him to have a good day. I also told him how much his Dad loves him, and I wanted to give him a Daddy hug. This is basically a really tight hug. Eli got a kick out of this and then it was game on with bear hugs!

After a few minutes, Eli just wouldn’t let go. It wasn’t a bear hug, but just a “I’m not letting you go hug.” Once again, my iron clad heart melted. How is it this creature can have this impact on me? I darn near cried right there in the middle of his school. I finally broke the embrace, and told him to have a good day. Off he went.

I need to drop him off more often. I know this hug fest doesn’t happen every day (as Jay has reminded me on many occasions) but this one sure filled my tanks!

Posted in Eli, The Family | 1 Comment