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Right Where I Wanted To Be: The LiveJournal of Bill Kargel
...includes News, Observations, Anecdotes, Rants, Raves, and other Nonsense...
Finally arrived in O-Town over the weekend...now the real fun begins...so much important stuff to do and so little time to do it in...!

If you wish to know what has happened over the past three years, please go to my Facebook page for more information:

Current Location: Orlando, FL
Current Mood: tired tired
Current Music: Shardless - 'Newday' album

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"…It's late September and I really should be back at school…!" – Rod Stewart, from "Maggie May", 1971

Yes, yes, yes, yes…I know…why the heck do I take so long to post anything?  Well, let me tell ya sumpin'…! (points to anyone who gets the reference to Jim Carrey's "Fire Marshall Bill Burns" character from the classic TV 1980s comedy series 'In Living Color').  

Well, sometimes "real life" issues just overwhelm you to the point that you have to prioritize.  Unfortunately that means that taking the time to post a blog has to take a back seat to other considerations.  Recently, that has been all the time.  If I had some free time available to me, I usually found myself too tired to really get around to starting something.  This of course sets up another problem.  The longer I go without blogging, the longer the blog will become once I actually make one.  Naturally, after six months of no blogging, I have a lot to share, and that in itself is a daunting task, one that would make most aspiring bloggers drag their feet, and in turn further lengthening the process.  As it is, it has taken me a couple of weeks, in bits and pieces, to complete this entry.  After nearly six months, what's a couple more weeks, huh? So, without further adieu, on to the good stuff! 

Well, I suppose the most obvious thing I should talk about first is baby Aiden! He is now six months old and is happy and healthy! He isn't as pudgy as Rowen was at the same age, but he is still in the middle of the length (height) and weight charts like Rowen was. Rowen shot up to the ninetieth percentile by the time he was a year old, though, so we shall see how Aiden does. Unlike Rowen, Aiden wasn't born with a full head of thick hair. His is definitely more fine, but it is coming in nicely now, and he is fair-haired, as we expected he would be (both Bridget and I were quite fair-haired as children). He definitely has a different personality than Rowen. Aiden appears to be more thoughtful. He appears content to sit back and observe. He is very sensitive to sudden and loud noises. We are now introducing (semi) solid foods, and so far he seems to like everything we have given him. Aiden smiles a lot for us, and is now truly laughing/giggling, especially with Rowen. He is paying a lot of attention to Big Brother, and we have so far been very lucky that Rowen is being so good with Aiden, and even interacting with him more than we thought he would.

What about Big Brother Rowen, you ask? Don't! Just kidding! The big issue with him right now is Operation Potty Training. And it has not been going so well. Rowen knows how to go pee-pee in the potty just fine. Getting him to actually do it is another thing entirely! For some reason, he often simply refuses to go willingly to the potty, and seems to have no problems at all with wetting himself. I learned from my mother Peggy that I was a real difficult case at age three as well, so I suppose that it should not come as some surprise to us. Otherwise, Rowen is doing very well with his daycare (where he is usually going to the potty, it is at home where the real difficulty has been), has learned a lot of letters by sight, and can sing the "A…B…C…" song! Most recently, he can identify his name!  He is very independent and will do at least initially try to do everything himself, although if he isn't successful after the first attempt he is quick to ask for help!

Just before Memorial Day weekend, the transmission on my trusty 1998 Saturn SW2 station wagon gave up the ghost. At that point, I had 157,400-odd miles on the vehicle (all but 36,000 put on by us, as we bought the car used). I never had a major mechanical issue with the vehicle, and tried to keep up with the major servicing aspects. So, in a sense, we got our money's worth out of the vehicle, and we were very happy with it. The timing, however, was of course not good. Any kind of car payment was not in the already limited budget, much less paying for even a cheap used car outright, but I also had no choice but to get another car, as the old car's transmission was not economical to repair. The money would be better spent on a replacement car. 

So, we went back to Saturn of Marietta. We had already purchased four Saturns in the past ten years from them, and from the same salesperson, a sweet lady named Charlsie. If you ever are looking to get a Saturn, go and ask for her, and tell her we sent you! Seriously! 

We were initially looking for a late-model, slightly-used car, but there just happened to be a Memorial Day Zero-percent interest promotion going on for their "closeout" models, the Relay minivan and the ION. The 2007 model year is the last for these two models. The Relay was being phased out due to poor sales, and the "entry-level" ION was due to be replaced by another model for the 2008 model year. We did try applying for the zero-percent financing, and much to our amazement, we actually qualified! The financing offer only applied to new Relay and ION models, however. As it turns out, having interest added to our payment on a used car would have probably cost us more per month than that for a new car. I ended up picking out a nicely-equipped 2007 ION four-door, in black, of course, and the total price including the extended warranty, was only about $22K. My payments only came out to about $346 a month. That was about as good as I could get, given the circumstances, so we were happy with this. Remember, though, a car payment of any kind was not in the budget. Even though a new full-time job was on the horizon, there wasn't enough money to pay for everything. That is another story.

Starting in mid-June, I started working for
Pirelli Tire North America (PTNA), in their consumer affairs department. PTNA moved their corporate headquarters to Rome, GA back in about 2003, and it is on the same grounds as the tire factory they built here. It is unfortunately a temp-to-perm type of position, and it doesn't pay very well at the moment, but if things work out well, I could end up being a full-time employee, making a bit more money and benefits. So far, I have enjoyed working there, and it is an interesting environment, as PTNA's parent company, Pirelli & C. S.p.A., is based in Milan, Italy. So, I get to hear a lot of transplanted Italians talking around me all day! Perhaps I will learn Italian though osmosis! Based on feedback from my immediate supervisors, they are actually quite pleased with my performance overall. That does a lot for one's self-esteem! I am getting very close to working there ninety days now, and I know I will be up for a performance review soon, so I hope that this bodes well for future full-time employment! It is a typical office-type of job as far as the hours go, so it was going to come in conflict with continuing to teach with Kid Chess in the coming school year. I miss being able to enrich the minds of my Kid Chess "kids", but I had to again prioritize. As it stands right now, I have not burned any bridges with Kid Chess, and I am presumably welcome to return to teaching there if the circumstances permit; however I would classify myself as "inactive" with teaching at this time. If you live in the North Metro Atlanta area and have school-age children and want them to really broaden their minds and their mental aptitude, you should look into getting a Kid Chess program at your school or at least have your children attend one of their summer camps! 

I am actively looking for additional part-time work to help cover the bills. As I am effectively under-employed at this time, I am simply not making enough money. We had hoped to be out of debt (at least what is considered to be "bad" debt) by this time next year. Due to my gaps in employment and/or under-employment in the past year, not to mention taking on the additional debt of another car payment, our overall debt has substantially increased. I am also counting whatever financial assistance our families have been able to provide us to the overall debt. It is my sincere intention that they will be paid back in full someday. Anyway, we will have to just keep working really hard towards reducing our overall debt as best as we can and hope we will be essentially debt-free in a couple more years. 

The search has so far not gone well. Most area retailers, including one I used to work for last year, Kmart, are only looking for Holiday help, which means temporary part-time employment at best. I really need something that I could continue working rather indefinitely. I haven't given up!  I can't...too much is at stake! 

In mid-August, I noticed evidence of some kind of insect bite on my lower left leg, almost on top of where my shin bone was. It was rather small, and was not painful or itchy, but due to its almost perfect roundness, I thought it was likely some kind of spider bite. I immediately feared another bite from a Brown Recluse spider. As you might recall, two years ago, (and in August as well, apparently a very active time for Brown Recluses, as they are trying to reproduce) it was determined by my physician (after the fact) that I had been bitten on the top of my left ankle by one of these tiny yet potent beasties. I was fortunate that the bite itself wasn't too serious, due primarily to its location, but my later bout of cellulitis in my left foot a few weeks later was directly attributed to the spider bite. Then of course came the bout of cellulitis' more-evil relative, fasciitis, in my left leg almost six months later, which was a potentially a life-threatening condition. Now, granted, it was not the infamous "flesh-eating bacteria", aka necrotizing fasciitis, but it started as a case of cellulitis that developed into a more severe (and potentially dangerous) condition once this notably aggressive infection reached the fascia beneath the dermal layers. None of this was far from my mind when I first thought of the possibility that I was again bitten by a Brown Recluse. 
Well, as it turns out, it probably was some kind of spider bite, but most likely not a Brown Recluse. Or it was and it didn't manage to inject much venom at all when it bit me. The bite healed quickly, and it didn't leave a noticeable mark afterward like my first one did (and it was actually a relatively small Brown Recluse bite).

The last weekend of September will find me, Bridget and the boys in Tallahassee, FL. My mom Peggy will be watching Rowen and Aiden while Bridget and I (and my sister Beth as well…her husband Josh will be unable to come down) all participate in our twenty-year high school reunion, the Robert F. Munroe school Class of 1987. Beth and I, being "Irish Twins" and born in the same year, were always in the same class in school, so we graduated high school in the same year as well. We are looking forward to this reunion! Beth and I went to our tenth in 1997 (that was also the time that I had my car literally go up in flames…another good story). We both initially felt that we would generally not enjoy ourselves, but much to our surprise, we had a great time! This time around, there has been a lot of email traffic leading up to the reunion, and everybody who is attending seems to be very excited, and those who know they will not be attending are most upset that they will miss out on what appears to be a great weekend coming up! Beth and I are also eager to show off Rowen and Aiden to our former classmates at the "family time" set up during the weekend! 

After many delays and/or much foot-dragging, we finally have a date for Aiden's baptism. Due to the aforementioned reunion, it will be the last Sunday of October, October 28th. I feel bad that Aiden is going to have just turned seven months old and is just getting around to being baptised. Typically, babies are baptised within the first few months after birth. Rowen was not even three months old when he was formally baptised (he had also gotten baptised by a priest in the hospital just prior to his surgery…just in case). I hope that the Reinwald (Bridget's) family baptism gown will fit him, as I know that the Evans (my mother's) family gown probably won't now. It didn't fit Rowen either, but then again he was just so big, even at three months. Aiden is more "normal" sized, but he is also going to be seven months old. And we seem to have to go through more hoops this time around regarding godparents. Bridget's sister Sarah and her husband Edgar were Rowen's godparents. This time around, Beth and Josh are to be Aiden's godparents. I was pleased to find out that Josh was baptised Roman Catholic, although he grew up non-practicing in the aftermath of his parent's divorce at a young age. Hopefully, that will be enough. I want Aiden to have both a male and female godparent, but I don't have that many friends that are at least raised Roman Catholic, especially males. Beth was also Royce's godmother, but that was under extreme duress and very unique circumstances of the moment.  

No promises, but I will do my utmost to post another update before the end of the year!  Honest!

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Sorry I have been absent lately, but you know...! 

I am very pleased to announce that my wife Bridget delivered a healthy baby boy by C-Section on March 27th at 8:41AM EST!  His name is Aiden Patrick Christopher Kargel and he weighed in at 7 lbs. 13 oz. and is 20 inches long!  Both baby and Mommy are doing great!  It appears that this one has no signs of the genetic condition that Royce and Rowen have had (if you don't know about any of that it's OK...a long story).  As it was, the statistical odds were in our favour, anyway!  Rowen got to meet his little brother for the first time that afternoon and seemed very excited!    More info and pics to follow! 


Bill, Bridget, Rowen and Aiden Kargel

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Well, I thought I should give some kind of update since we are now into February of 2007! 

I haven't posted much lately because there is simply not that much to tell about.  My daily routine is basically the same.  I have been working a few hours in the weekday mornings at PTS, then travel to whatever school I am scheduled with for KidChess in the afternoons.  Then I come home and take care of the household, as Bridget needs to take things easy.  By the time everything I need to take care of is done, I am basically exhausted and I retire for the evening to try and get a decent night's sleep, only to get up and do it all over again the next day.  Even though I have the weekends off, I spend the majority of that time cleaning the house and doing the laundry. 

Now, all that I am sharing with you here is NOT a complaint.  I am doing my best to be a responsible adult and do what I can to provide for and care for my growing family.  Right now, that means my taking up the slack around home in addition to my work responsibilities.  It's just that at the end of the day I have had little or no time for anything else.  If I do have some time, I am generally so tired that I would rather go to bed early.  I feel that I am way behind on a number of small personal tasks and/or projects.  None of them are necessarily all that important or imperative that I complete within a specified timeframe, but I wonder when I might ever get the majority of them completed. 

I mentioned in my last post about me laying down some vocal tracks to post online sometime.  I have obviously not finished this project, either.  Partly because of the time constraints I just mentioned, but also because I have hit a number of technical snags.  I have been slowly working my way through these, and I hope to be able to proceed with this project soon. 

Bridget's parents, Gus and Carolyn Reinwald, are coming for a short visit this weekend.  They are bringing us an old sofa-bed and other items.  We are getting rid of our old sofa-bed, which is rapidly deteriorating.  We have also started rearranging furniture in the living room.  God knows why...but Bridget and her mom have some kind of plan.  I will likely be moving the desktop PC, desk, peripherals and all, out to one corner of the living room where there is sufficient space to allow more room in Rowen's room for the addition of the crib and another dresser.  That is going to be a big project! 

We had decided to change Rowen's day care, but ended up having to change back.  The condensed version of the story is that we had decided to make a change because his current daycare was with the school system Bridget works for, and was only good for the school year, and then somebody would have to watch Rowen during the summer.  With a new baby coming very soon, having the option of Rowen being away for most of the day over the summer made sense, and having him in a year-round daycare seemed to be a good idea.  All the arrangements had been made and Rowen started at the new daycare when Bridget returned to school after the Holiday break.  The "new" daycare was actually his original daycare we used during his first year, and the staff still there remembered Rowen and were excited about his return!  Rowen was there for three days when his endrocinologist, Dr. Inger Hansen at Emory Children's Center notified us that Rowen's treatment parameters were to change.  Nothing serious, but Rowen would now receive a small dose of slow-acting insulin every morning (Lantus), and if his blood glucose readings before meals still went above 200, he would require a very small dose of fast-acting insulin (Humalog).  Well, that would mean that SOMEBODY would have to give Rowen a shot of insulin at daycare if he needed it.  The problem was that although the staff at the daycare had no issues with testing Rowen's blood glucose several times a day, they would not administer the insulin if he needed it, and would require myself or Bridget to do it.  Well, this daycare is too far away from either of us to make this practical.  I can understand their point of view on this issue, as they are playing the game of  "CYA" and avoiding any possibility of something going wrong and them getting sued for it.  It just makes things quite inconvenient for us. 

We had to have Rowen go back to his old daycare with Bridget's school system after all.  At least then Bridget is only ten minutes away and can go over and give him insulin if he needs it (and he has a couple of times since he has been back there).  At least we won't have this problem once Rowen is in school.  In public schools, the school nurse is both qualified and required to administer medications (including insulin) to students. 

We have a due date for the arrival of the new baby!  We are to have a scheduled C-section delivery the morning of Tuesday, March 27th at Floyd Medical Center in Rome, the same hospital where both Royce and Rowen were delivered! 

Of course, if history is factored in, it is entirely possible that Bridget will go into labor before this and we will deliver the baby earlier much like we had done with both Royce and Rowen.  Bridget's parents, Gus and Carolyn Reinwald, will come up a few days prior to the delivery date and will assist us with "all things domestic".  This includes taking care of Rowen.  Since they are both now retired, they have the time and means to do this.  My mother Peggy would not be able to stay at this time, but has volunteered herself to spend a lot of time with us and the new baby during the summer.  If all goes well and there are no complications or other problems, I will probably go back to work the next day.  I will take at least a few more days off once the baby is ready to come home.

Since history has shown that our babies tend to come early (although some factors were likely involved that may not be an issue this time around), we are basically going to be on "high alert" status after mid-February.  As far as we are concerned, scheduled delivery date or not, it is still quite possible and even probably that the baby might decide to come early by several weeks!  We have to be ready! 

Rowen just went for his periodic checkup with Dr. Hansen at Emory's Children's Center yesterday, and she seems to think that (for now) the parameter and dosage changes have stabilized things well enough that she will make no further changes at this time.  She did mention, however, that within the next year the subject of compensating parameters and dosage with respect to carb intake would have to start being addressed.  Overall, she was very pleased with how Rowen is doing so far given his history!  She also mentioned to me that just this past month of so this year, there have been three new cases of congenital hyperinsulinism that had been admitted to Egleston Children's Hospital in Atlanta (where both Royce and Rowen spent some time), which was a very unusual event, as they typically only get one or two a year.  She did tell me that one child was actually eleven months old and had been a borderline case where they had to admit her again for surgery, as other options had been exhausted.  Another child was actually from Mexico, and all signs were that this child had the very rare familial (genetic) form of hyperinsulinism like Royce and Rowen.  The family had previously had five other babies born that had all soon died.  At some point, I guess the doctors in Mexico figured out what was going on and arrangements were made for more intensive measures this time around to save this baby.  I have to assume that the family was poor and did not have regular access to proper medical care.

Bridget also had an another appointment with the perinatalogist, Dr. Jeff Korotkin at Atlanta Perinatal Consultants yesterday.  I could not be there with her as the two appointments were too close together.  We are far enough along with the pregnancy that things are being even more closely monitored.  Dr. Korotkin had been having us monitor Bridget's blood glucose this past month for signs of gestational diabetes coming up again (a high probability since Bridget had it while pregnant with Rowen).  Although so far it appears to not be as apparent as the last pregnancy, her numbers were such that Dr. Korotkin elected for Bridget to finally start taking insulin (again, this is beginning later than the last pregnancy).  Her dosage is a small dosage of Humalog right before each meal, and a sizeable dose of Humalin (slower-acting insulin) before going to bed at night. 

In addition to the insulin, it has been noted that Bridget's blood pressure is starting to go up.  It is not dangerously high as of yet, but it seems to be higher when she is on her feet and active versus off of her feet and inactive.  Basically, this means it is higher at work than when at home.  Dr. Korotkin does not want to take any chances.  Effective immediately, Bridget is to take half-days at work, and could be made to not work at all before the due date if this does not alleviate the blood pressure readings. 

This is in effect going to really screw us over financially.  Right now, I am making just enough money to cover my part of the bills.  I cannot cover for Bridget as well.  As it is, we are hoping that our income tax refund will be sufficient to cover Bridget's part of the bills for the time she is out on maternity leave.  Another couple of months short and with nothing there right now to cover for it is going to be a big, big problem! 

We still have not decided on a name for the baby yet.  I have been dragging my feet on this, since the worst fights Bridget and I have had in our entire marriage have been over naming our children.  I hate conflict like this, and this is a large part of my reluctance to discuss the issue, which is almost just as frustrating to Bridget as arguing over a proposed name would be!  I know that I am going to have to do it very soon...we don't want to be surprised by an early arrival and not have a name selected! 

Another thing I am concerned about a few months down the road is the baby's baptism.  We need to find appropriate godparents.  My sister Beth was really the only choice (although a perfectly good one with better circumstances) where Royce had been concerned.  We could choose Beth again for this baby, but she is now married, and her husband Josh is not Roman Catholic.  We have already chosen Bridget's sister Sarah and her husband Edgar as Rowen's godparents.  Now, I understand that there is nothing wrong with repeating things and have them as this baby's godparents as well, but I think it would be nice to have somebody different as well.  The problem is that Bridget and I have few friends that are Roman Catholic, much less practicing Catholics.  I have a few candidates in mind, but they must also be willing to do it, as they would for the most part have to travel a good ways to actually participate in the baptism.  Giving them plenty of notice would help a lot I think.  I should have the invitiations locked up before the baby comes, to give them time to think it over.

I made a few New Year's Resolutions back at the start of the New Year.  As we all know, New Year's Resolutions tend to start out strong and then flag and fail later on, anywhere from a few days to a few months.  I of course had losing weight at the top of my list (one of the most common of the resolutions made, and also one of the most likely to fail).  I dragged my feet and got a late start on it and did not start until a couple of weeks ago, but I at least did it.  I am not doing anything radical.  Real excersise is not a realistic option right now, so I had to figure out other ways.  I decided to try and drastically cut back on some things that I know are not helping me.  I am trying not to drink any sodas during the week, and only one or two as a treat on weekends, as they are full of carbs.  I have tried drinking lots of water (of course) and unsweetened iced tea instead.  So far, I have been largely sucessful, but I do miss drinking them!  And diet sodas don't work for me, as they have an aftertaste that I don't care for.  I have also tried cutting back meal portions by about 20 to 25 percent to reduce caloric intake.  If I must get fast-food, for example, that means not "upsizing" whatever I am getting.  The hardest thing I have attempted is to cut back on eating sweets.  So far I have failed miserably with this, but I will keep trying.  In another week or so I will weigh myself and see if I have made much progress or not.

Another resolution I made is to try and catch up with a lot of old friends I have not kept in touch with enough, or in some cases not at all or never.  That means tracking some people down.  Due to time constraints, I have not made much progress here, either.  However, I have gotten a few good leads on some old friends I lost touch with.  More on this later.

Very soon (Feb 15th) will be my 38th birthday.  This day will likely be a non-event, as I am not only not relishing the fact I am getting older, but the simple fact is that I will be too busy to really celebrate anyway.  A lyric from the song "Another Birthday", a favourite songe of mine by the late, great Atlanta band Salem Ash was "another birthday closer to my grave..."! 



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Well, I figured I should post something before Christmas and the New Year came around!

I have been rather busy and have either not had the time, or when I did have the time lacked the motivation, to post.

Well, other than Trophy Day (trophy presentations) sessions, my first semester with Kid Chess is all but finished.  There were some bumps in the road, certainly, but working with Kid Chess has been the single most rewarding work I have ever done!  Not only do I have fun being with the kids and showing them new things, I also feel that I am really doing something important and good by enriching their minds and therefore by extension their lives!  The results of my work appear to me much more apparent and tangible!

Bridget has just had another ultrasound down at Northside Hospital.   Dr. Jeff Korotkin of Atlanta Perinatal Consultants has noted that the baby's size is barely above normal for twenty-five weeks of pregnancy. Based upon what we know about PHHI, in which a strong indicator of the presence of the disease is large size/birthweight, which is quite apparent by the twenty-fifth week of pregnancy, the fact that this baby is very nearly of normal dimensions is very encouraging to us.  Perhaps this one won't have the same condition as Royce and Rowen, after all!  As it is, the statistical odds are in our favour! 

Oh, and it's official: Baby is going to be another boy! 

To help with income, I am now also working at a tax preparation software company in the area, called Personal Tax Services (PTS)  (not UTS, for whom I did do temp work with in 2002) part time through tax season, assisting with technical issues.  This might turn into something more permanent, so we will see.  At any rate, it will at least buy me some time to figure out what to do, and have some money coming in over the next couple of weeks when there are no Kid Chess classes.  So far I am enjoying the work; my coworkers are very nice people, as are my supervisors, and believe it not - I have my own office space!  Not a cubicle, but an actual whole workspace within a room all to myself!  That is a bit overwhelming!

Some of you might recall this, but the unthinkable happened four years ago. It was following the deaths of Royce and my Dad, as well as being suddenly unemployed, all within the span of six months.  Afterward, I no longer felt musically inspired.  It was as if all the wind went out of my sails.  My last musical performance was during the 'Convoy' music show in September 2002 (organized by my sister Beth).  'Convoy' was a "musical tribute to the internal combustion engine", and all music performed by the artists present were appropriately automotive-themed.  An example was the band Beth plays in, Silent Kids, performed "Double Life" by The Cars.  I played bass on three songs onstage with Kenny Howes while he was still living in Atlanta (he is now in the Los Angeles area), "Drive My Car" by the Beatles (predictable where Kenny is concerned...LOL) , "Don't Worry Baby" by the Beach Boys (featuring Beth singing the lead vocal, but as it turned out, nice vocal harmonies from the rest of us as well), and "Little Old Lady From Pasadena".  I also played bass on a song sung by Beth and Renée Nelson of Envie, our friend then-Homeroom drummer Tony Jenkins on drums, and Mitchell Parsons on guitar, performing "Dirty Back Road" by the B-52s.  After that, nothing.  I have not even picked up a musical instrument since November, 2002.  With the exception of me singing a Rush tune onstage with my friends in Paine's Promise on their invitation during a show in October 2003, I have not even sung in public in the past four years!

Back in May, I started to have an urge to work on music again (writing and performing), but was hesitant, since it had been such a long time.  Then Bridget got pregnant so the whole idea has been shelved indefinately.  I need to know how things turn out with the baby's delivery, etc.  I may get back into doing something in the Fall.  I want to work on "solo" material as well as working with a band doing original music in a group setting.  I will have to get some new gear to accomplish all this as well, and that might take a while due to finances.

While visiting various MySpace pages of musical artists (many whom I know), and listening to the tracks posted there, I got an idea: why not have my own MySpace music page?  Yes, I have no recorded output, but in the meantime I could post samples of my singing.  A lot of people still have not heard me sing at all, or at the very least not been exposed to my full singing range.  I believe that I am technically a baritone, but I have a wide range in my "head" voice, allowing me to sing some tenor notes.  And in falsetto, I can go quite high.  The key is trying to make the falsetto notes not sound obviously falsetto.  I can do it, but only with the drastic loss of volume.  My most natural range is basically that of a baritone.  My voice has been (favourably) compared to that of John Wetton (which is awesome, since JW is my favourite singer and a huge inspiration to me musically), but I can also be (I believe) favourably compared to the likes of Justin Hayward, David Gilmour, Peter Gabriel, Greg Lake, Eric Woolfson and others. 

OK, all that being said, how do I get something recorded to showcase my singing?  I am pursuing two different solutions.  One is to simply record my vocals over songs being played from Standard MIDI files.  There are tens of thousands available over the internet for free, although the quality of them varies greatly.  So, I have to listen to them carefully and choose the best-quality files to use.  I have software I can use to add reverb and chorus effects to my voice just like if I were in a recording studio.  However, there is a distinct shortage of quality proessive rock MIDI files, so I may not be able to sing on many "prog" tunes, at least initially.  The other solution is to remove vocal tracks from MP3 files of whatever songs I want to sing over, very much like karaoke.  I use WinAmp as my default MP3 player on my PCs, and there is a free plugin that supposedly does a good job removing/suppressing vocal tracks from MP3 and Wave files.  I can rip and create MP3 files from just about any song I want, prog or otherwise, from my CD collection, so the variety of songs I want would be there.  The drawback here is that older songs may not be removed or suppressed enough to make a difference, and most of the prog songs I would want to sing would fall into this category.

So, once I decide on a path to take, I will begin testing the platform I will use and make the necessary adjustments and record the songs with my vocals as Wave files, then convert them to MP3 or whatever format is necessary to upload to MySpace.  For music purposes, I think I will eventually create a seperate MySpace page for just my music-related stuff.

My mom Peggy arrived last night and will spend part of the Holidays with us, and then just as she leaves, Bridget's parents, Gus and Carolyn Reinwald, will stay through the New year.  My sister Beth and her husband Josh are actually going to spend part of the Holidays in Las Vegas!  

I had hoped to have some kind of online newsletter to send as an email Holiday card like I have done in recent years, but I have not had the time or energy to tackle that.  That and I have not had the chance to scan a good pic of Rowen to include.  I feel like a real ass for not staying on top of things better, as Holiday cards are commonly the only communication some of my friends receive from me all year (unless they check my blogging regularly, but a number of them don't even know about that yet).  Maybe I can get something out in the eleventh hour, or even around the New Year...better late than never, right?

If I don't get to post again in time, everyone, please have a happy and safe Holiday Season and New Year!



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A few things to update:

I was posting about the reunification match between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik for the World Chess Championship in October but unless you were truly following the match on your own through official sources I kinda-sorta left you all hanging...! 

The match ended up with a tie score of six points apiece, so things went into tiebreaks.  It was in this phase that Vladimir Kramnik emerged the victor and was crowned the unified World Chess Champion by FIDE (World Chess Federation).

Here is some video of the last seconds of the final (tiebreak) game of the match, and the moment Kramnik clinched the title! (In Dutch):



Bridget and Rowen have of course returned from their trip to Florida.  They had a wonderful time and I wish I had been able to go along.  We are planning on going to visit Bridget's parents again over Thanksgiving.


It looks like that in addition to my duties as an instructor with Kid Chess, I will now be part of the Kid Chess IT team.  There are a number of new projects about to get underway, the first being a migration of the Kid Chess website and online content to a new ISP and server space.  I am very excited about this, not only because of the increased responsibility, but I also pick up a couple of extra hours a day working on these projects, further increasing my pay!  And I can do much of the work online at home!  This reduces the pressure on me to find other part time employment in the mornings, although I will probably still having to find something.  I have still been actively checking out options, but many prospective employers have little flexibility with even their part-time schedules.

Originally, I was going to be a Customer Service Rep in a virtual call center environment, acting as an independent contractor and being incorporated.  It was going to require me to have a quiet space to work with no restrictions.  This was going to be quite doable during the mornings once Bridget was at school and Rowen was at daycare...and once summer rolled around, we were going to change daycare providers to have Rowen away during the days in the summer to continue the trend.  Once Bridget became pregnant, however, I came to realize I was not going to be able to pull this off in the home environment we have.  We live in far too small a place and will have no space to work like that. 

Now, that being said, I can still find work from home, doing legitimate things like medical coding and/or transcription...but that would require some time, effort and some significant financial backing.  Check out this link for more info:  http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/CareerManagement/story?id=2441875&page=1

I have also looked into temp work...I have my employee file up to date with the local Randstad office just in case something comes up.

I have also been considering options on teaching chess by giving private lessons, but the new angle is checking with the retirement communities and nursing homes and seeing if any older folks would be interested in private lessons and also some group lessons...you are never too old to learn...!  A couple of hours a week would pay well.  I need to get more research done on this.

Today I took Rowen to the Mt. Berry Square Mall here in Rome for Trick or Treating.  Many of the merchants and vendors dress up and hand out candy to the kids that come.  However, there were noticeably fewer that participated this year, and that was disappointing.  I saw some interesting costumes, though...especially with the adult costumes!

Rowen's Halloween costume this year was Peter Pan...his Grammy Reinwald made it over thirty years ago for Bridget to wear, and we were afraid that Rowen would not fit into it by next year, so we felt that it was now or never...

I took a few photos of Rowen in his costume with my cellphone camera.  Have a look at my pride and joy dressed up as Peter Pan:

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That's right...Bridget has taken Rowen and gone to her mother's...!

OK, OK, OK...before you start drawing conclusions, allow me to elaborate...!

This week is Bridget's Fall break in her school system.  As it is, the teachers got the shaft and had Teacher Planning Days on Monday and Tuesday.

Bridget wanted to go to Florida to spend the remainder of the week with her parents at their new home near Amelia Island.  Unfortunately, I had work commitments and could not go along.

They will be back on Sunday.

So, for the balance of that time period, I am coming home to an empty house and having to fend for myself.  In a way it is cool, because I have no "curfew", so to speak.  I am not restricted by domestic duties like I have been deluged with for the past months.

Anyway, I am looking to catch up on a few personal tasks this weekend...maybe visit with my sister and her husband in Atlanta...maybe see a friend or two...it should be good!



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The score for the World Chess Championship Title (and title reunification) match between Veslin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik is tied with a score of 6:6. A series of tiebreak games will begin tomorrow (Friday October 13th - Yikes!).

The match has been frought with controversy, with the instigation of "Pottygate", et al. For all the gory details, visit the Chessbase news page at www.chessbase.com and click on the various headlines.

It seems likely that FIDE, the World Chess Federation, is going to be sued by Vladimir Kramnik, regardless of the match result, for their poor handling of the "Pottygate" issue. Maybe it will cause enough of a shakeup in FIDE that they will finally get a clue and get their act together. Wishful thinking!

I am not "rooting" for any particular player per se, but I definately side with Kramnik in regards to what happened during the match. FIDE really botched things up, and then made things (initally) worse by trying to "fix" things and also allowing Game Five to be started and forcing a forfeit win for Topalov (a BIG sticking point in the lawsuit if Topalov actually wins the match).

Once again, bad behavior away from the board puts top-level chess in the mainstream headlines, and not the games over-the-board themselves. When will it ever end? 

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As I posted before, Veselin Topalov lodged a complaint with the arbiters about Vladimir Kramnik's frequent bathroom breaks during the match games.  The Arbiters Committee apparently overstepped their bounds and forced both players to use the same bathroom that would be basically under surveillance...this is also in violation of their player contracts.  Topalov then is ready to play, but now Kramnik was upset and refused to play Game Five, which has now been apprently categorized as a forfeit for Kramnik.  There is a strong possibility that the match may not continue, and this would be a very bad thing for chess as a sport.  What are these guys THINKING?  I have FIRST GRADERS in my Kid Chess classes that behave better than this!

You can read up on the latest details of this developing story at Chessbase

Here's to hoping that there is a Game Six tomorrow (or a rescheduled Game Five, as some are calling for)...a game at all would be nice!

WCC, Game Five: Topalov came to play, but now Kramnik was a no-show...

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The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, or How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illum
"The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, or How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illum" on Google Video

GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Monday, September 4th, 10:45 a.m. EST

An interview with Mr. David Shenk about his new book, as well as the connections with chess and aging and Alzheimer's Disease, children learning chess at a relatively young age, and an interesting anecdote about chess in his own family history! An entertaining interview!

David Shenk's new book, The Immortal Game, discusses chess history from varying realms of the human mind. Throughout the book, the author weaves in an out a game titled "The Immortal Game" played between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kierseritzky in London, 1851.

This is the first time a non-chessplayer attempted to write a most enticing and informative account of the game. No other chess history book (written for the general reader) relies on some of the world's prestigious researchers for historical analysis. Not only is it intended for the general reader but David adds a little personal touch to the book which later on one will find out that an ancestor of his was a well-known chess master!

From Caliph Muhammad al-Amin of the Abbasid Empire to Marcel Duchamp to war and Garry Kasparov and computers, psychology and Artificial Intelligence, Mr. Shenk, no doubt has offered a well-written book that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Towards the end, the author includes a Coda quotes his sources with notes, Appendix I, II, & III, includes a nice bibliography and an acknowledgement section. For only $17.16 (Amazon) it doesn't get any better than this! 


"Shenk, a spry writer . . . [offers] a strong case for the game's bewitching power."
-- The New York Times

"A thrilling tour . . . an engaging, colorful look at a world that blissfully remains black-and-white."
-- Entertainment Weekly

"Fresh and fascinating...a world-spanning story [Shenk] relates with skill and verve."
-- Chicago Sun-Times

"Fascinating . . . [Shenk] writes about chess history with contagious zest."
-- Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Shenk weaves a masterful tale that all readers can enjoy, no matter how little they know about chess."
-- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Fun, factual, and a good read . . . Not a reference book to be stored on a shelf [but] a book to be read and enjoyed, and even read again . . . buy this book!"
-- Chess Life magazine

"Besides detailing chess's broader social significance, Shenk brings it to life with tales of its personal impact . . . Shenk's passion will leave readers yearning to play."
-- Fast Company

"A globe-spanning, brain-stretching social history . . . Shenk's curiosity equips the reader to look at a board of chess pieces and understand what got them there and the endless places they could go."
-- Paste Magazine

Value 10/10
Accurate 9/10
Orignality 10/10
Overall 9.9/10

Recommend it? Yes

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: DoubleDay (September 5, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN: 0385510101 

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