Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sunday Morning Weirdness and the BB Tour of Texas '09

Last Sunday morning, I found myself running TOWARDS a man with a gun, and not away.


Just... line up to call me an idiot. Fine.

We'd left church, and an armed man was running across the parking lot behind the next building. I hustled MOBB and the kids into her car, and they left.

Things got serious in a hurry.

But when everyone else was going elsewhere, I was going towards him. I was... primarily trying to confirm that I'd really seen that.

Anyway, the pastor and some other staffers finally got my attention, and I snapped to. I joined them in the church.

Within minutes Hurst cops showed up with assault rifles. It didn't take long to ascertain that this numbskull was holding a paintball gun, and not a real firearm.


Friday morning I went to see Whit in Katy, Texas. I hadn't eaten since breakfast, so I all but inhaled the Tex Mex plate at the joint where we met. Shortly thereafter we attended one of his SWAT meetings. It was good to see his staff and students, as always.

We spent the evening hanging out with his wife and son, who were preparing to leave for a cruise the next morning. Larry was out of town, doing some Krav stuff up in my neck of the woods, coincidentally. Sorry I missed you, amigo.

Saturday morning Whit taught Tai Chi, and I bumbled my way through. Right after that he taught Kung Fu. I REALLY bumbled my way through that. But then it was open mat time, so I pummeled a bag for a while.

We grabbed some Schlotzky's and headed over to the BJJ tournament. Whit's students Mike and Mark were competing. Neither won, though as I explained to Mark, he'd lasted three minutes down there. I'd have lasted about 10 seconds, so my hat is off to him.

Mike lasted the whole five minutes.

That evening we just took it easy. Homeboy actually fell asleep on the couch. He has a reputation for waking up like the ninjas are attacking, so this ninja decided NOT to put his hand in a bowl of warm water.

We watched UFC 95 on Spike, then called it an evening.


The next morning we went on a quest for breakfast, ending up with some fine breakfast tacos from the carniceria down the street. We said our goodbyes, and I hit the road for Austin.


The Doug was there to greet me as I arrived. We didn't light in the room for long; we were hankerin' for a good meal, so we hit Threadgills. I had some terrific fried oysters. Dad has always loved that place. It's where we had our graduation celebration back when I got my BS in '94.


We talked a lot, opening up about all manner of things. That was the whole purpose of this trip. I had questions, he had answers.

The next morning we went guitar shopping. I'm putting together a plan to buy an heirloom-quality instrument in the future. We started at Ray Hennig's Heart of Texas Music. I explained to Dad that this place is an Austin landmark, and that Ray knew Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Honestly, he had nothing that impressed me. Oh, the PRS CE 24 was easy on the hands, but the tone wasn't there. And that Peavey Tele-style was nicer than I expected, but... Dad was quick to point out that it's not my "Maserati."

See, I'd explained to him that all of my instruments are basically the equivalent of a Toyota Camry. Now, I'm making plans to eventually get a Maserati (Ferrari, whatever).


We ended up going to several places. I was a little disappointed in Strait Music, though the Billy Corgan Strat I played there was a pretty neat instrument. Still... it isn't the one.


At Musicmakers, a place that I really disliked back when I lived in Austin, I played a Gibson custom shop ES-336.

Our ears immediately perked up. It had a very musical, chiming, bell-like tone. Dad was quick to point out that it sounded far better than anything else I'd played all day.

He was right.

I went on to try a pretty Cherry red ES-335, and it was nice, but... no Maserati.


That evening we had two of the hottest tickets in town: Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel opening the 35th season of Austin City Limits.

The studio holds fewer people than it did back when I worked on the show. Capacity is 320 now, I believe. That's a rather exclusive audience.

I heard the Wheel many times back in the day, and they've never sounded sharper than this night.

And when Willie joined them, I have to say that it was pretty darned exciting. Together they did lots of hits, as well as a bunch of songs from their collaboration (the title of which I don’t currently know).

The band played for over two hours. We had a good time there listening to the music and visiting with Michael, Maria, and their father Bill. I saw several folks I knew from back in the day. On the way out I bought a nice ACL ballcap and a limited edition print to commemorate the show.

We didn’t hurry to get out of town the next day. We ate a bit, ran a couple errands, and finally said our goodbyes.

I hope we get to do it again someday. The trip went pretty perfectly.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


It's pushing bedtime.

I'm home, after a good trip. I'm about half crazy from fatigue.

I should write about my travels in detail, I suppose, but for now, just know that I have terrific friends in Whit and Michael, and a terrific father in Doug.

Whit and I did martial arts stuff together, watched TV, and had some laughs. Some things never change.

Michael got Dad and me two of the hottest tickets in town.

Dad and I talked about everything under the sun. A lot of it was boy talk, and... some of it was magic.

We shopped for guitars, and also had the privilege of being two out of 320 people to watch a two hour and twenty minute Willie Nelson/Asleep at the Wheel concert at Austin City Limits.

I'm glad to be back. The trip was great.

I'm listening to the new Steven Wilson solo album, Insurgentes. It is... epic and sublime. It's what I wanted Radiohead to sound like.

If I fell asleep right NOW, I could get eight hours of rest.

Soon, but not quite yet. I just can't let go of this CD yet.

Y'all get some rest.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just a quick note

I'm in Katy, at Whit's house.

He's asleep on the couch. We've had a busy day!

We got up and went to his school, where I fumbled through a couple classes.

Then we hit the BJJ tournament, where two of his students performed admirably. I enjoyed being there.

And we're both kind of tuckered out. UFC 95 is on Spike tonight, and I think we'll just hang out and watch that. If he wakes up anytime soon.

Tomorrow I leave for Austin to hang out with the Doug (aka Dad).

Y'all take care.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday Mish Mash

MOBB is at a job interview right now.

She was laid off in August. She has searched diligently for a job ever since. I don't make just a ton of money, and her unemployment is about to run out.

It's time.

Please keep her in your thoughts.


Mornings... ugh. Just... kill me. This is my curse.


They taught us in grad school that among the possible hallucinations, the olfactory variety are typical of the most severe pathology.

As I brushed my teeth this morning, this overwhelming scent hit me.


That can't be right. It seemed to start right there. Being a guy, of course, I wondered what in the name of Ronald McDonald could be song wrong with the (heater, water heater, attic insulation, wiring...) that it would smell like THAT, and what potential disaster did this hint at?

I tried to ignore it.


A-Rod... you know, the guy never seemed sincere. Ever. And no, I don't believe that simply because he threw his Rangers teammates under the bus that he ONLY did steroids here. I mean, the pressure doesn't exactly relent when one joins the Yankees, you know?

Wolfboy, who is a rule follower, took the news well. "He's a YANKEE anyway."

Good kid.


Sitting on the couch this morning about a half hour ago, I smelled it again.

It's... Asian food?

The heater had just cycled. I tried to remember: Did the smell start when it ran? What dead critter smells like... sesame?

MOBB was dressing for her interview. I asked her, "What the @#$% is that SMELL?"

"It's ME."


Seems that during last week's massage (a gift from her dear friend Heather), the masseuse suggested rubbing sesame oil on the skin to soften it. And MOBB did exactly that this morning.

And she stores it under the bathroom sink.

"If you need to cook with it, there it is," she said.

Well, okay.


Former Rangers whose names have been associated with steroids: Jose Canseco, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Ruben Sierra, Randy Velarde, Sammy Sosa, Eric Gagne, Alex Rodriguez... I'm sure I'm forgetting some.


I must admit that I'm concerned that this morning's interviewer might wonder why my spouse smells like Pad Thai.

(She assures me she wiped it all off)


One can't make this stuff up, folks.


I'm pretty concerned about this balky shoulder of mine. I see the doc next week.


Y'all have a good one.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [to Igor] Now that brain that you gave me. Was it Hans Delbruck's?
Igor: [pause, then] No.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Ah! Very good. Would you mind telling me whose brain I DID put in?
Igor: Then you won't be angry?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: I will NOT be angry.
Igor: Abby Someone.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [pause, then] Abby Someone. Abby who?
Igor: Abby Normal.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [pause, then] Abby Normal?
Igor: I'm almost sure that was the name.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [chuckles, then] Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a seven and a half foot long, fifty-four inch wide GORILLA?
[grabs Igor and starts throttling him]
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Is that what you're telling me?

From the movie Young Frankenstein.Source: IMDB


What's normal?

Sorry. Is that word offensive? Not PC?

I just mean "typical." But really, the word that comes out of our lips more often than not is "normal."


What is it?

There's this thing that happens to counseling students as they read the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, aka the psych industry bible): They diagnose themselves.

They see that yes, they need to turn a light switch off three times just to be sure that the light is off. Or they rock in their seats. Or they have racing thoughts. And so on and so forth.

These students see something familiar there in the diagnostic criteria, and as soon as they clearly recognize one, well, one or more of the others might be there too.

Do I have delusions of grandeur? Well, I AM pretty bitchin'...My gosh, I have schizoaffective disorder!

[Note: I do not even remember if that's really a symptom of schizoaffective disorder. Heck, I'm not even sure I'm spelling that correctly. But just roll with me, will you?]


So what's the deal?

Let's look at it like this:

Behavior occurs along a continuum. It's a progression, if you will. At one far end is symptom-free, "normal" behavior. Ground zero.

At the other end is full-blown pathology, the type that's debilitating and extreme to the point that hospitalization is necessary.

Statistically speaking, not very many people are at that far-most, troublesome end of the continuum. That's a good thing.

But I'd venture to guess that there are far fewer at the symptom-free end. In fact, I'm about convinced that there are none.


The diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV are lists of behaviors.

Are you easily distracted?

Are you anxious for no reason?

Are you hypervigilant?

Do you struggle to get out of bed every morning?

These are all criteria used to establish diagnoses. I think that even the most normal among us have behaviors that are a step or two up the continuum. Does the fact that you hyperventilate when you fly in an airplane mean you need medicine? Yes? No? How about if you hyperventilate when your child plays with an airplane toy?


And thus far in my new counseling career, I've been something of a "normalizer." Ten years after the passing of your parent you still have crying spells at the holiday? I don't see this a pathological. Your husband or wife left with the kids and cleaned out the bank account? I'm not surprised that you can't sleep at night. I often point out my clients' normal behaviors.

But there can be a point at which the client's "normal" isn't normal at all. For example, someone with panic disorder is effectively reverting to fight/flight mode all the time. Primitive brain functions take over; the brain is hardwired to repeatedly put aside higher workings (logic, reason, abstract thought) and send out a distress call.

How does one complete their grocery trip if standing in the produce section triggers the very same reaction he or she would have if the building had caught fire?

Do you think that telling this person to calm down will be particularly helpful?

Yet a person with such a disorder goes through life like this. "Distress" is a key word that appears in many diagnoses. Behaviors are often quirky or even charming... until they cause distress.


We are all at least a little bit crazy.


I'll be back soon.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Got them insomniac blues

I've been up since around 4am. Racing thoughts. I had to just give up and get up.


So I made myself a pot of coffee. When MOBB came out to check on me, I was startled and brandished a tablespoon at her.


Spork is one very funny word.


Something parenting has taught me: A princess does NOT eat bread crusts. However, if big brother is being a pain in the rumpus, a princess WILL kick him in the jewels.


I'm in the process of declaring a truce with my Les Paul. I still put it down shaking my head a lot, but I've discovered that playing it loudly does give it some character.


I watched the Superbowl. I'm not sure why.

Bruce was good though.


I'm deeply disappointed in Michael Phelps.


I've been clean and sober for years.

Substances I have used to cop a buzz:

Sleeping pills
Amyl nitrite
Primatene tablets
Cough syrup
Skelaxin and other muscle relaxants

...and more. I was slipped things here and there for which I never had names. I once drank a bottle of cooking sherry. I'm amazed the salt content didn't kill me.


Compared to some clients I've seen, I was extremely lightweight.


We do not own cats. Cats own us. Ringo is in bed with THEGIRL right now, just like he is every night. I've given up on opening the door to see if he wants out. He just stares at me like I'm a fool.


These days I feel as plain as unbuttered toast.


We don't have anything I really want for breakfast. I think I'll stop into the Fiesta store by the office and get a breakfast taco.

(BB's blog: where readers get the hard-hitting facts)


Bailing out. Happy Monday.