Thursday, August 28, 2008

PJ and the Eternal Sunshine of the Wandering Mind

PJ is Zen.  He has a very Zen-like way of thinking.  He has this ability to disappear into what he is doing or what is going on around him.  In addition he also has been either blessed or cursed with the empathy of the middle child.  You can scream at Anna or Sam until you are blue in your face and they will just stare at you and blink like you area bothersome insect making noise, but if you yell at PJ and he takes it to heart.  PJ listens.  He actually hears what you say.  He'll say "I don't like it when you yell at me."  and he'll try and do what you tell him, at least until he moves on to the next thing that strikes him, eleven milliseconds later.

I love watching PJ brush his teeth.  I could do it forever.  For most children, brushing your teeth is a matter of getting it done as fast as you can possibly get away with so you can move on to the next thing.  For PJ, brushing your teeth is something to get lost in.  He stairs at himself in the mirror.  He stands there with his big eyes staring at his reflection in the mirror, his chipmunk cheeks working as he slowly and methodically brushes each tooth.  Then he just... forgets where he is.  I can come back ten minutes later and he'll still be there, staring at himself in the mirror brushing his teeth, his mind adrift in the cosmos.

One of PJ's jobs is to water the plants in the back yard.  I love to watch through the kitchen window as he goes out on the deck with his little watering can.  He'll walk out, and suddenly a bird, or a butterfly, or a bug will catch his eye and he'll become distracted.  Once distracted, there is no knowing how long he will just stand out there staring at things.  He could be out there for hours.  Then you need to remind him to finish the job, and he'll say "Oh yeah!" and snap back to the real world for a moment.

One time I asked him, "PJ, what are you thinking about?" 

He looked at me without hesitating at all and said "When I was playing Oblivion yesterday I found  a rusty shield, which doesn't have as much protection as a steel shield, but it was magically endowed with the power to ward off fire attacks.  Because my character was a Krug I had a weakness to fire.  With this shield I think I can defeat the grand champion in the arena!"

I said, "Oh."  So maybe his mind isn't vacant.  Maybe he likes to daydream.  Maybe his mind is moving around so fast that real world cannot keep up with him.   But I still like to watch him brush his teeth.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Concerts, Arcades, and other things

We took Anna to see Eddie from Ohio play at Wolftrap last night, as mentioned earlier. It was a great time for all of us. The concert started with another band I enjoy a lot, Great Big Sea.

We actually saw GBS warm up for EFO a few years back at the same stadium, but GBS must have grown in popularity, because they were sharing equal billing. Plus, GBS is a Canadian band, from Newfoundland actually, and their part of the concert felt like some kind of Celtic Canadian pride rally. There was a very prim looking fortysomething year old lady two rows behind us who started waving the Newfoundland flag and shreaking "Eeeeeeeeeeeyaaaeaaahhhhhh" in an ear splitting high voice (Anna was actually putting her fingers in her ears because of this lady). So the first part of the show was a great show made more interesting by an eclectic mix of enthusiastic northern fans.

On to EFO. Eddie From Ohio is this bluegrass-pop kind of band that Kathleen and I and some friends of ours have been going to see for some fifteen years now. They used to play at this joint in Arlington called 'Bad Habits' every Wednesday night, and it was that crowded smelly beer-soaked place that you probably remember as being more fun than it actually was. But so now, fifteen years later, they are playing at an ampitheater and we are bringing our children to see them. Life marches on I guess. It was a great time.

On Saturday I got a chance to meet someone who is way more into video games than I am. This gentleman, by the name of Peter Hirschberg who has taken his hobby of collecting arcade games to high art. He built an outbuilding outside his house to house his collection and turned it into an actual 80's style arcade. Not only that, but instead of selfishly keeping his treasures to himself, he occasionaly opens the arcade to the public. I spoke to a collector who came down from Boston, these people are serious about there games. Peter has about 60 games and houses , them in the "Luna City Arcade". But these aren't just games, these are classics, and in mint condition. The arcade is bathed in black like and retro stuff and its all beautiful. I felt like I was skipping school in 1981 and playing Missile Command down at the mall. Anna , PJ and Sam all came with me and behaved miraculously well, which worked out well because I was terrified of not being invited back.

Peter was having a fundraiser at this open house for Shawn Haines, a 21 year old who has Hodgkins disease and is having trouble meeting his medical expenses. You can read more about Shawn and how to help him here. We had a fantastic time, and I got a chance get my retro-gaming fix.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A letter from Anna at Camp


DSCF0843
Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Anna sent me this card while she was at summer camp. She evidently misses Dana more than me, but probably figured that Dana can't read, so I get the card.
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Dear Dad,

Its almost my birthday! Did you like NASCAR? I love camp!! I really miss Dana!!

--Anna

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Drinking Games, Swallowing Quarters, and Google

Some time age I blogged about when PJ swallowed a quarter, and thankfully everything worked out fine (although I never did find that expensive coin).

I recently had the following email exchange with someone who left a comment on that old web page.
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Anonymous has left a new comment on your post
"PJ CHOKES ON A QUARTER -- 4.29.2004 ":


hello...
um i really hope this works...i'm pretty sure you
havent used this in like forever but i just swallowed a quarter and i
googled 'swallowing quarters' and i came across your blog and i was
just wondering if you ever found the quarter...??? like i called my
doctor and he said everything would be fine...but i'm kind of
worried...maybe if you read this you could email me at [REMOVED]

i know that this is probably like sooo bizarre to you...but i would
really find comfort in knowing everything turned out fine with your son?
thank you

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How did you..? No wait I don't want to know. Anyway, now worries, if it can make it into the stomach, it can certainly find its way out. You might want to eat some small amount of white bread, as it can help move things along.

Also, I am not a doctor, so please don't think of me as any kind of authority on this. And PJ was fine.

good luck to you
--Pete Shaw
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when youre 19 and playing stupid drinking games with your friends, stupid things happen...
but oh my gosh, thank you so much.
like i talked to my doctor and everything but like its totally relieving to hear that someone whos probably like 15 years younger than me was ok.
i guess i'll just wait it out. haha
thank you!!!

-Emi

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No problem. Maybe you should be have some bran? ROTFL.

cheers
--Pete

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Random links and things I have been doing...

First of all, many thanks to those who have wished me happy birthday too early!! I frequently put down my wrong birthday on public websites to make identity theft a little more difficult to perpetrate on me. Instead, I use my birth year and my daughters birthday, which happens to be a couple of weeks before mine. So if you sent me an email or a card, thank you! And its totally cool, you're just a little early. (grin)

I spent the past weekend at the Pennsylvania 500, and was simpy awed by its NASCAR awesomeness. Of course I was also without the kids and spent the weekend pretty much sitting in a chair, drinking beer, and randomly hooting and hollerin', so it was pretty hard to go too far wrong.

I am almost finished watching the movie Into the Wild, a movie by Sean Penn, based on a book by John Krakauer, about a boy named Chris McCandless, sung about by the band Eddie from Ohio in the song Sahara. Chris was from Northern Virginia and loved the outdoors, and books and reading, and his story is at once tragic and inspiring. I haven't read the book yet but the movie was awesome, as is the band EFO, who will be playing at Wolftrap this August 22. Kathleen and Anna and I will be attending. Yeah!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The basement is clean

Last night I bought the boys a version of Super Mario Brothers 3 for their WII, which cost five whole dollars. I made them promise to clean the basement today in exchange. When I got home, surprisingly, they had done so. They had done exactly what they said they would do. What a shock, and a very nice one at that.

People have started asking my wife if the boys are twins. PJ is 18 months older than Sam, and taller, but Sam is stockier and he weighs more. Now that they have been out in the sun all summer Sam's reddish hair has lightened up to the same Billy Idol blonds color PJ has. The boys are in day camp this week and loving it. Anna isn't even here, she is at sleep-over girl scout Camp down in the Allegheny mountains. Kathleen is loving all the quiet time I think.