Monday, December 9, 2013

The Adventures of Doctor Dieter Von Schreck Part 1

Dieter knew it was bad when the Bumble Bee started losing altitude.  The small single engine prop plane Dieter built by hand had been more than a trusted ally the last few years; but it appeared that the current request to traverse this portion of the northern African coast was just too much.  Dieter fumbled through his pockets trying to see if there was anything of use.  He could feel the old scarab his father gave him 28 years ago for his 8th birthday.  The scarab was now one of the few things Dieter had to remember his father, and in many ways he carried for good luck, and that was something he sorely needed.

"Well dad, if you got a miracle up there for me, nows the time"  Dieter looked heaven bound and closed his eye.  The Bumble Bee engine began to sputter, turns out small arms fire is actually rather effective to take down a small plane, the left side of the plane was riddled with holes, but Dieter was hoping when she took off and fly her to Casablanca.  That was just too ambitious, Tunis to Casablanca was just not in the cards, he needed to make sure he landed in Morocco, anywhere in Morocco.

As the engine stopped Dieter knew it would take all his piloting to make sure he kept the plane together, things couldn't get any worse he thought to himself.  Crack!  Dieter looked towards the engine, the propellor pointing North and South when he saw it, fire.  His plane began to fall like a shooting star.  

"Okay now is not the time to panic Dieter" he muttered to himself.  Dieter began reaching behind his seat trying to pull a green satchel to the front of the plane.  A silver arrow poked out of his satchel.  He tried to cover the point with something, not wanting to lose an eye when his girl crashed.  But all Dieter can find is his hat, "I guess that'll do.  I need this arrow in one piece, the job won't pay if this comes back broken" Dieter thinks to himself.

The next 10 seconds were more chaotic than Dieter was planning.  People say that when high stress life and death situations occur, time slows down.  Dieter wished that was the case, because when the bumble bee crashed it felt like he blinked his eyes and he was upside down with a fire spreading from the engine to the passenger compartment of the plane.  Dieter could no longer keep his cool, he struggled with all his might to get his seatbelt off, but the heat of the fire, mixed with the blood all over his arms made this prospect a bit more difficult than it should be at a time like this.

Click.  The belt finally relented, he felt his head slam against the roof of the plane, but he knew if he could just kick the doors open he'd be home free.  Dieter thought to himself  "Thank God I crashed in Morocco."  Moments later Dieter was scrambling from the plane  as he crawled from the wreckage Dieter gives a small brave smile, gets up and begins to run.  "I made it" he thought.  As Dieter sat on a small outcropping of rocks he put his hands on his knees and looked to the ground.  He decided that this might be a good time to gaze at his beautiful girl before she is completely engulfed in flames, when a glimmer of light catches his eye.

"THE ARROW" Dieter screamed.  Instantly all the pain, the cuts, the likely broken collar bone leave him.  Dieter is in a full sprint to get to the plane and rescue his bag.  He would not have another Mask of the Devourer again.  The image of the gorgeous mask slipping from his hands and shattering en-blazes across his mind.

The next second Dieter is on his hands and knees climbing in a burning plane reaching for his bag, He grabs it just in time, the bag is already starting to catch when he pulls it from the wreckage.  Dieter quickly shovels sand and loose dirt on his bag to quell the flames.  As if the crisis was over Dieter pauses a moment to catch his breath when he starts to feel the flame tickling the back of his neck and begins to smell the odor of hair beginning to singe.  Dieter gets one last burst of adrenaline and sprints from the plane...right into the head of a large wooden club.  Dieter crumbles to the ground and the world goes dark.

Short Stories

The Adventures of Dr. Dieter Von Schreck

I purchased Rory's Story Cubes some time ago for my RPG story creation.  The other day I was sitting around the house thinking about some of my creative endeavors lately and I got the idea to write a serialized short story with the cubes.  

Here are my rules:

  1. Each short story must use all 9 cubes rolled a picture will be at the top of each story
  2. The stories should be serial in nature, this is after all the adventure(s) of Dr. Dieter Von Schreck
  3. I will write a new adventure at least once a week month.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fathers Day 2012

This is my 3rd year of Father's Day musings.  I'd like to think that in 3 years time, 6 as a father, I could come up with something profound, granted there have been billions of dads before me so what could possibly be said.  Being a dad is only noticed really when you screw up, "Who raised that person?"
And as Bill Cosby so eloquently put, the dad won't even get credit from the kid when they really do something right. (Himself 1983)

Today though it was a wonder for our family, I celebrated Father's Day the way I love to, cooking.  I made a delicious lobsters benedict with asparagus, fresh strawberry's and pineapple and a nice hot cup of Kona coffee.  Every kid wanted to hangout with Nana & Papi, hell they even wanted to sit on our laps while we ate.  Later, as I made a marion berry pie Sean came and asked to help.  I know I have done one thing right, my kids like to be with their family, play with their siblings, and cook with their dad.

These things won't win me any awards, not that anyone becomes a father for awards, but it doesn't draw any attention at all to parenthood.  Recently I was at a game store talking about teaching my children games, I'm a big game boarding fan, and the owner of the store put it perfectly, "You know you have made a good game player if when the game is over your opponent would enjoy playing a game with you again."  I love that quote because it is about more than being a good sport, having fun, being competitive but not nasty, not being a pushover, but not being a bully, it is simply put; teaching someone to be a good person.  I think raising kids has a lot of similarities to that.

Cristina jokes that our kids like to wake up and cuddle with us in bed, a queen-size bed, and she has embraced this because in 10 years she will miss these moments.  I've never been as good at seeing the forest through the parenting trees as her, but I try.  I know I can't let my shorter temper lead me to scaring my kids away from me, and my I am screwing up if the fact that I have less patience forces my kids try and please dad rather than figure out their way on their own.  I know I am screwing up when my kids actions change around me, my greatest fear is being the ogre of a dad that is feared when I come home from work, but I also know I can't be Mom "1.5".  My firmer hand, I think has it's place, and my no-nonsense approach is not always falling on deaf ears.  The problem is, these traits many dad's share aren't as easy to love.

I was in my 20s when I started to really enjoy spending a good amount of time with my dad.  Every Monday for nearly 2 years (before he moved out of state) I went to his house, had a nice dinner, talked, watched TV with him.  I'd like to think that my dad didn't just enjoy hanging out with his son, but he also liked hanging out with Andy.

I don't have that relationship with my mom.  There are lots of reasons for that, but I do know one thing my dad did right, at a very young age he presented the standard he wanted me to strive for as a person.  He knew I was a child and that was not a realistic goal, but he always brought it around to the standards, work ethic, citizenship and being a man.  That standard is the type of people he wanted to be surrounded by, and he thought people should strive for.

I've rambled here, it has been too many months since I wrote, but the thought that keeps coming back into my head is a simple one.  Father's Day is not about Fathers, it is about families wanting to be with their father because their father did his job.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Having grown older in an age of internet, social networking and instant messaging, I wonder what my children will think in my passing one day. There won't be any special letters, keepsake journals, or nuggets of wisdom I had imparted somewhere on a page here or there. My journaling I publish will be just that, published, likely long since read by then (I hope).

 Writing for oneself can be a liberating journey, or challenging, or scary. Sometimes I write something and publish on my blog and check my hit count relentlessly, hoping that what I thought of as "good" will be seen by many others. Though, that is hardly the reason I write. I began writing my thoughts in blog form for me. I wanted to write to myself.

 As many of you know the day to day doldrums can make it very challenging to chart your own path, growth, or changes. My blog with all it's stories, musings and insights allows me to see where I have come from. But a blog is purely one sided, it is my internal monologue, with little response. While I converse with a few people regularly, I don't correspond.

 Having just finished "John Adams" the HBO special I couldn't help but think how useful writing to an old friend to muse about thoughts would be. As John Adams and Thomas Jefferson old friends and sometimes political rivals did in their later years. This is useful in the sense that you have someone to bounce ideas off of, and they with you, but you both gain the benefit of an additional perspective on your thoughts in a way that allows far more thought than conversation. Writing allows one to polish one's thoughts into exactly what you wish to say, as opposed to what you can think to say in the moment.

The gold mine I think comes in later readings from other people. As a child may read a letter from a friend, you can recount what you were doing, and insights into a parent can become insights further about oneself and sides of parents you never saw. While I hope as my children grow into adults I can share what little wisdom I have with them, and impart my parenting stories with them, I couldn't possibly remember them all. While my internal musings can produce the same effect it is still lacking in it's totality of conversation.

 I think that social media, social networking, and text messaging has allowed one to connect to many on a much easier level, it has also managed to limit our ability to correspond. I am famous for calling people numerous times, not wanting to leave a message and wait for a call, I'd rather just keep calling. My desire for an immediate connection can be rather humerous, but the truely humerous part is that in doing so I further my point, it seems in many ways that people today want contact now, as opposed to when contact is ready. It is a good thing I am not a wine maker.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Filling in the Blanks

It is February 17th...

Wait. What? Is it February 17th?

My oldest son had his 5 year doctors appointment yesterday on the 16th, and this morning I am scrambling to finish dishes, pack a lunch for work and shave quickly.

I mean I haven't written a thing in months, and I love to write.  I haven't played a video game in months, and I love video games; and in the last 5 years I have changed more than I could have imagined.

Today I decided as I started the dishwasher I should write a quick micro-blog post, to check in here but to also keep my focus.  Focus on things I love; Even though life decided that moving at  mach 10 should happen when you are older and less inclined to think that is cool.

So I decided to focus on one very small thing today.

Life fills in the blanks for you.

I used to think I made my life busier than it needed to be, but I realized as my wife pointed out to me last night that we are now at the age when the kids will only "have" to go to the doctors once a year.  and yet 3 years ago we seemed to be going to the doctors for at least one of us every couple weeks.

So you would figure, oh, no doctors appointments every week.  This will give us a few hours every week for just relaxing.  Then I realized no, now we just repurposed that time for school for the kids.  Life decides that there are 24 hours in a day, and the 16 hours you are supposed to be productive will be consumed some how; Like it or not.  I just hope I repurpose those hours for living, not just watching life speeding by.

February 17th
Write a blog post - Check

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Travel Log Day 17, 18, & 19 - 12/1/2011 thru 12/3/2011

"The boys sing too loud"

Wow, here I am 18 days after I finished my vacation and finally putting the finishing touches on my travel log...

Initially my thoughts for this post were talking about driving well a lot in two days.  While Cristina and I did breakdown and essentially use the DVD parent for the boys for a better part of two days it did go well enough and we survived getting home.

I was so tired in Tempe that I ditched my Triple D stop and opted instead for the local mexican place at the hotel, which note here Embassy Suites rocks with free happy hour drinks.  The theme of this last leg instead of driving and eating (yeah we did that too), was actually wind.  As we were driving into our lunch stop in Fort Stockton, wow that was a small "town" we started getting our news via the social network scene about a wind storm back home.  At first it was a post or two, then ten or so, and then basically everyone talking in Southern California how bad the wind was.

It turns out it was way worse than even we imagined.  We lost 2 very large trees, and my In-Laws next door lost two beautiful oak trees.  As if that wasn't enough power and phones were out.  My first thoughts were relief that everyone was okay and our house was fine, it wouldn't have been if the pine tree fell the other way.  Once I started the long continued drive into El Paso I started thinking about the stocked freezers we had, the logistical nightmare of coming home to no power, anything and everything that is effected by lack of power.  Things kept coming, the pool, stuff in the pool, burning out the filter, it was as if every few minutes a new problem presented it's self.

When we stopped in El Paso the relief of being somewhere WITH power and WITH a laundry facility showed me how nice it was that we were gone.  My wife with that sweet mommy juju I talked about earlier had the foresight to know she should finish laundry so we had all clean clothes at home.

The drive into Tempe the next day was nothing special, or difficult and in all honesty we pulled in fairly early and were able to play in the pool and watch a little of the new Lego Ninjago show on Cartoon Network.  Dinner drinks and the like were great but this stop was merely for sleep.

We were off early in the morning knowing we needed to get home and deal with the mess.  We dealt with some closed businesses trying to leave early but on the whole we were on the road by 6 local time which was 5 home time.  Three hours into the drive, or about half way home we found out power was back, YES!  Things were looking up for us, until we got home.

As if the shock of what we saw wasn't enough, the power went off 30 minutes before we got home.  Things could have gone horribly wrong here, and the homecoming could have become a nightmare, but it didn't.  While we were home some local residents were clearing a path through our streets, we had light, and the kids were ECSTATIC to be home.  There was playing and running and good times visiting Nana and Papi.  While our house was freezing, the cold weather had preserved our freezer and things were still frozen.  Some friends gave us a bunch of dry ice and we were able to give the kids baths at around 3 and fun was being had everywhere.  

Dinner by flashlight was rough, but it worked and we put Eva to bed without incident.  Now for the boys.  I knew somethings needed to be done and wanted desperately to do them, but some advice from my wife sunk in she gave a while back.  Essentially she said that I should take advantage of the night time ritual to allow our kids sweet moments to come out and it can make up for even the roughest day.  So I sat on the couch with the fire going an candles providing a soft glow.  I got out "A Charlie Brown Christmas" which I had never seen and cuddled under the blankets with my wife and boys.

There was something magnificent about being huddled around a small little 8" screen in a cold dark house with my boys and wife watching a charming show.  I was so glad I wasn't worrying about the other things that needed to be done, that even now as I write I can't remember what I thought I had to do.  But that moment in the dark which was scaring my boys I think instead of a memory of being afraid of the dark and dreading what was happening, they instead have a warm family memory, we repurposed this disaster to be a family building moment, and I'm glad I was part of it.

The trip

We drove over 3500 miles with 3 kids under 5, made numerous stops, and created countless memories. I discovered so much about myself as a parent and even learned how to call a great audible at the end of the trip.

I don't know when or if I will ever drive to my Dad's again.  I loved doing it, but was even harder than I thought it would be.  I now have a new view of California and it has been opened up to me and my family.  There is no where in this state I won't drive to now and I can't wait to start the adventure on my next long vacation.  This trip was everything I hoped for;  a challenge, a family builder, fun, a chance for memories and a great opportunity to see family and friends.  On top of all of that I actually blogged about the entire trip which was a challenge I am proud to have met, even if it took me an extra 18 days after the trip was over to complete.  I hoped you all enjoyed reading about my trip as much as I loved being on it and writing about it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Travel Log Day 15 & 16 - 11/29/11 thru 11/30/11

Just like that we were on the road again leaving Lake Charles and on our way home.  While it would be a bummer to leave my Dad's house, I think the kids were ready to get home, and I know my severe sleep loss was catching up with me and I needed to get home.  I know the kids had a great time, but both Cristina and I were tired and knew there was a lot of driving in front of us.

We tried a page out of our old playbook, leaving around 5 in the morning, but of course this didn't work out for us, the kids stayed awake the entire time (this is a constant theme).  Considering that, it came as a huge surprise how well we were able to drive essentially non-stop (potty break at a rest stop) to San Antonio.  The Triple D trip was far from complete San Antonio was chalk full of locations for us to visit, but I just had to have Texas BBQ in Texas so I found a place just outside of San Antonio, and on our way in to town.

Since we left so early, and never stopped, we were driving into town at 10:45 in the morning.  While I had been up for nearly 7 hours, and ready for lunch, our location was not (they open at 11).  Texas Pride BBQ was my ideal restaurant, off the beaten path, a local AND out of towner destination and dripping with character.  The place was an old service station that had been converted into a restaurant.  Heck there was even a playground for us all to play on while we waited for it to open.

So cool, a tire swing horse

I liked'em too

Good things they missed my kids fighting, I can't afford the fine

When in Texas you have to partake in the local specialty, and when it comes to BBQ and Texas I think of low and slow brisket.  This place served up brisket by the pound that is cooked for 18 hours in a smoker and was as tender as can be.  Their home made sausages were smoked as well and phenomenal.  Without out a doubt the surprise of the stop was the tasty cheesy potatoes.  The food was awesome, the personality was dripping, and the location was perfect, but easily the neatest part was the plates you were served on.

Yup Butcher's Paper

We left this last of our Triple D stops satisfied, full and ready to start our diet.  We stayed with friends in San Antonio which was nice.  They lived near a local park which we ran around till the kids could barely run anymore, or maybe it was until I could barely run anymore.

Dinner was homemade spaghetti and meat sauce, and it was fantastic.  While the sleep troubles continued for the trip the stop was so nice.

My wife lovingly decided to let me sleep in, I had begun to run a fever and was not feeling too hot.  Once we had started our day we took things slow aiming to get out around 12:30 and hit the down town area.

Downtown San Antonio is great, the river is right through the center of town and adds so much pizazz to the city it is really a neat place to be.  Our first sop was a Children's Museum.  This place was a blast, very similar to our last Children's Museum, but definitely worth the stop.  We loved it and spent a couple hours running around and playing; playing in an airplane, with a ball factory, heck, they had it all.

We stayed for a long while, and then proceeded to walk to the Alamo.  Visiting such a wonderful historical site is right  up my alley.  While my kids enjoyed it, and I am glad they saw the Alamo; I do wish they were a bit older here so I could have really gotten into the nuts and bolts of the history and spent a good amount of time there.

Our last stop of the day was the river walk.  Let me start by saying this, if you have never been to the Riverwalk, or heard of the Riverwalk, you do owe it to yourself to visit this incredible place.  This is a must for anyone in San Antonio.  I knew instantly why this location made it in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die.   I am going to put a picture or two up here, but it doesn't do it justice.  The river tour we took was great, and full of information.  This was a great location to visit and next time I am here I will likely get a hotel room on the river to just sit and enjoy the ambiance.

Tomorrow we would be driving home, but for our last stop on the trip before the big drive I was thrilled it went so well.  Even walking around with a raging fever and runny nose I loved this city.  I couldn't have asked for a better last real "stop" on our great adventure.  Now if I could only get our kids to sleep.