A study of 1.3 million kids revealed no link between vaccines and autism

You can read more at this link but here are the most relevant parts:


Five cohort studies involving 1,256,407 children and five case-control studies involving 9920 children were included in this analysis


Findings of this meta-analysis suggest that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.


There is no reason to be anti-vaccine other than being pro-disinformation.



Spinach and Kale Ravioli with Homemade Tomato & Garlic Sauce

I am often compliment on my ability to cook as if it’s some type of huge surprise.  Maybe I don’t look like the type who cooks, I dunno.  What I do know is that I’ve always been very good at following directions to create something, and when that something is a food dish, well, I guess compliments mean I followed directions successfully.

The other night I tried something sort of new.  I was at Sam’s Club and one of the free sample people gave me a cup of this ravioli that was pretty darn good, so I decided to buy it to make for dinner this week: Spinach and Kale Ravioli by Pasta Prima.

I cook pasta at least once every other week so it’s not a big deal, but for this I decided to try something different.  The package of the ravioli had directions for a sauce to be made with it, so I figure why not?  Especially since the sauce was really simple:

Toss the ravioli in a pot of hot or boiling water.  The package I had was so fresh the ravioli was almost falling apart after boiling for more than a few minutes

This doesn't need to cook long

This doesn’t need to cook long

1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil in a skillet
Add 2 onions and 4 cloves of garlic and onions – diced (my stomach can’t handle onions, so I skipped them)


The garlic looks lonely, but I’ll take lonely garlic over angry stomach any day

10 plum tomatoes – diced; add when the onions/garlic are browning

I accidentally bought Roma, so had plenty of tomato.  It will start stewing if you cook it too long, so just long enough to be nice and hot

I accidentally bought Roma, so had plenty of tomato. It will start stewing if you cook it too long, so just long enough to be nice and hot

Cook and stir until hot, then add basil and salt/pepper to taste
Add some grated Parmesan cheese and you’re ready for a healthy, quick, easy, and delicious meal:

If only my photography skills were as good as this dish

If only my photography skills were as good as this dish

Even the kids ate it, and when you can get a six-year-old and two-year-old to both like a food, it’s a success.  But of course I forgot to take pictures of that.  Next time.

Cold Turkey Week 1 Recap

Well it’s been seven days and I did cave to a certain extent last night.  I had a couple of glasses of excellent scotch whiskey (The Glenlivet, yum) and drinking has always been my smoking weakness.  Even when I wasn’t a regular smoker, if I drank I smoked.  So after those couple of glasses, I shared a cigarette with my wife.  Just one.

And today, I’ve not felt a single craving.  I thought that moment of weakness might cause some sort of setback, but nope.  I feel good again.  Maybe the secret will be to just have one or two a week and stick with that.  I’ve gone a week with only half a cigarette while my wife has smoked about two packs.  I’ll take it.

Anyway, to celebrate 1 week since my last cigarette I created a special 7-day recap.  It’s fairly gif-heavy in what is hopefully a successful attempt at comedy, so I decided to put it on its own page.  Click here to check out my Cold Turkey Week 1 Recap and let me know what you think!

Cold Turkey, Days 2-5

Okay, so deciding to quit smoking was a bit of a spontaneous decision.  Deciding to blog about it was also rather spontaneous.  What wasn’t spontaneous was the trip to Indianapolis we had planned for this past weekend, which put a bit of a wrinkle in my plans to write daily about that withdrawal.


No really, I’m going to be barrels of fun come tomorrow afternoon!

Also providing wrinkles: a day-long trip to the Children’s Museum which was a lot of fun but also incredibly frustrating with two kids who stayed up late the night before swimming, got up early to do more swimming and as a result were nearing their breaking points before we even set foot inside the museum.

There are two things that can drive me to madness faster than almost anything: my children being whiny and acting out in public and being confined in public with large crowds.  Both of these at once, while quitting an eight-year smoking habit?  All I can say is I feel incredibly proud of myself for not going insane.

That’s not to say I haven’t had my moments of being less than pleasant the last few days, but overall I’ve been very surprised at how easy quitting has been.  There were the moments of irritability, the anxiety, the withdrawal headache, and more.  But to be perfectly honest, they just weren’t that bad.

Like I said in the first post, it could be because I only smoked on average 5 cigarettes a day, but the few times I’ve tried to quit in the past have been hellish.  Especially the third day, when symptoms are often the worse.  So when I realized that the third day coincided with our trip to the Children’s Museum, I thought things were going to go horribly.

My wife begged me to wait until Monday to quit.  “I just want to have a nice weekend,” she told me Thursday night when I broke the news that I had smoked my last.  I couldn’t do that, I knew, because the strength to quit that seemingly came out of nowhere might not still be there on Monday.  I had made a decision and I needed to stick by it, even if it meant I was going to be a grumpy dick during a family outing.

Don't be fooled by the smile; lurking behind that pleasant facade is an expensive whine aged almost seven years.

Don’t be fooled by the smile; lurking behind that pleasant facade is an expensive whine aged almost seven years.

And while I was indeed a bit of a grumpy dick by the time 5 pm rolled around on Saturday, it wasn’t that bad.  I know I keep saying that, “it wasn’t that bad” but it really wasn’t!  Despite my children being tired and whiny, despite being rather tired myself from lack of sleep and lots of swimming/walking, despite the massive crowds pressing all around me causing my social anxiety to peak, and despite my wife seemingly deciding to make up for my quitting by smoking more often, it wasn’t that bad.

I have wanted a cigarette, but not as badly as I thought I would.  I even held my wife’s lit cigarette for her Friday evening while she was fishing something out of her purse, and while the thought to take a drag came to my mind, it was almost too easy to resist.  I keep waiting for some other shoe to drop, because this has been a piece of cake so far.  I hope it continues that way.

More to come tomorrow.  For real this time.

Cold Turkey, Day 1

Like just about any smoker, I’ve wanted to quit for almost as long as I’ve smoked.  Today, I decided to do it.  Cold turkey.  No gum and no patch; nothing but willpower and my general disgust of tobacco.

How can I quit these things?  Look how much fun I'm having!

How can I quit these things? Look how much fun I’m having!

This should not be difficult.  I’m not a heavy smoker, my intake being maybe five cigarettes a day on average, but that’s enough to feel the damage being done to my body.  Enough to know I don’t want to continue to do that damage.

I smoked my first cigarette when I was nine, trying to look cool in front of a group of kids a couple of years older than me.   It didn’t work because I didn’t know how to inhale.  I wouldn’t learn how until I was twelve.

I don’t remember how I got the pack, only that I somehow had a pack of cigarettes which meant I was king of the kids at Camelot Lanes this particular Friday night (my dad’s bowling league night).   A small group of us slipped behind the building to smoke, and an older kid – someone who wouldn’t have bothered with us were it not for the free cigarettes – finally taught me how to inhale.

It was awful.  Dizziness, headache, queasiness.  I didn’t understand how people claimed to enjoy the things, but I kept smoking them because smoking makes you cool, right?  And they didn’t get any better.  The headaches didn’t go away, so I handed the pack to the older kid and walked away from cigarettes.  Too gross.

A year later my father died of lung cancer, and watching that disease eat away his body was enough to keep me away from cigarettes the next several years.  Despite a summer spent hanging out with older kids, most of whom smoked.  Despite the majority of my friends in high school being smokers.  Despite almost all members of my immediate family smoking.  I stayed away, for the most part.

I’d have the occasional lone cigarette every once in a while in social situations or when drinking, but they were just too gross.  And I won’t lie, I enjoyed the bit of uniqueness I felt at being one of the few people in my group of friends who refused to get addicted.  As someone who spent a lot of time trying to fit in, I liked having something that made me stand out.

I finally became a regular smoker in the summer of 2005.  It felt a little like giving in to the inevitable.  Once again I was always around people who smoked.  My fiance, her friends, a few of my friends on campus, and many of my new co-workers.  That last group was the one to finally break down my non-smoking barrier.

I’ll write about that more tomorrow.  Save the past for the future, you might say.  Why you might say that I don’t know, but hey, you’re the one saying it.  Anyway, let’s get back to the present:

It’s 4:10 pm and I haven’t smoked a cigarette in sixteen hours.  I feel pretty good.  A little anxious, a little irritable, but those symptoms are to be expected.  I’ve “quit” a few times over the last few years and have experienced those before.  I know that what I’m feeling today is nothing compared to what I’ll be feeling tomorrow and that’s nothing compared to the hellish third day of quitting.

This won’t be like those other times, I hope.  Many of those times my wife and I would run out of pack and just decide to try not to buy another.  This time there’s a full pack in my wife’s purse, but I’ve just decided I’m done.  It’s not worth it.

Over the next week I’ll write about my struggle to quit and the withdrawal symptoms my body is putting me through.  I’ll also delve into more of the history of my smoking.  I hope by next Thursday I can report that my body is completely free of this terrible drug.

Wish me luck.

Digging, or, I love you but I’m not going there

Last night I’m rocking with my daughter Nyxie, and she’s being particularly jerkish about going to sleep tonight.  She’s been fussing and carrying on for two hours and my patience is starting to run thin.  I know there will still be nights like this, that just because she’s graduated from cute meat sack to tiny human being doesn’t mean she’s going to be perfect.  I know this, but it’s Wednesday night, the middle of the work week.  I just want to chill, liveblog some Survivor and hang out with my lovely wife.nyxiewink

The frustration builds as she squirms and cries in my arms when suddenly she stops and arches her back.  Her hand reaches behind her and starts pulling out her diaper.

“Butt hurts,” she says in her small purposely pitiful voice.  “Scratch.”

This is a regular routine with her.  Not scratching her butt, that was new, but scratching something.  Her back or her shoulder or, most commonly – and strangely – her toe.

Scratching her butt was new, and my Nyxie, poor thing, has almost no butt.  Just two flat puckered cheeks that look only barely escape looking like more thigh.  There’s really not a lot of room to scratch and I had just changed a diaper containing an atomic turd less than half an hour ago, so I wasn’t about to go digging too deep.  But I oblige and start scratching her lower back.  That’s not good enough.

“Eh, eh, eh” she whines, lifting up her diaper again.  I scratch down a bit, above and to the left of her butt crack.

G’in,” she says again in her weak, pitiful baby voice.  Not quite two and a half yet and she has fake pouting down to a science.  “G’in!


“Get in,” she says to me, enunciating her words again.  “Get in there.”

My wife, who is sitting on the couch, starts cracking up.

“Did she just say ‘get in there’?”

I nod, trying to contain my laughter as she now tries to guide my hand into the depths of her diaper to scratch what I consider to be an area far too close to her little rectum.

“Not going to happen,” I tell her and pull my hand to her lower back.

“Eh, eh, eh!” she repeats, trying to grab my hand again, but I give her the one thing I know will get her to stop.

“No,” I say in my low, forceful Daddy voice.

Her eyes water, then clench closed as she takes a deep breath to start hollering to announce her next bout of overtired theatrics.  She will go to sleep tonight, and her refusal to give in to the sandman will cause some more annoyance before the end.

But sometimes the annoyance is worth it for one of those classic and unique experiences you get with the crazy little things that are children.  When you have kids you quickly learn that it’s not all fun.  It’s hard, often exhausting work that will stretch you to your limits.  And cliche as it is to say, the little moments – the smile, the bit of developing personality shining through, the hugs and “I love you”s – make all the hours of wanting to pull your hair out worth it.

The Monster Part 16, a story by Gabe Torres

A few months ago my son came home from school with a book he created.  He was nervous when he showed it to my wife and I, but proud too.  This was the first complete story he’d written by himself.

The weekend before, the subject of my upcoming zombie anthology had come up with my wife and he overheard.  Shortly after he brought me a few pages of mini-notebook paper he’d taped together and asked if I wanted to make a zombie book with him.  Of course I was more than happy to.

And so Zach the Zombie was born.  We worked on that for a little while but then he decided he needed to work on a different book.  Over the next few days he’s create several covers to books he wanted to write, but when it was time to write he’d have an idea for a new book.

The Monster Part 16 is the first one he completed, and now I present it to you.  The gripping sixteenth installment of The Monster:

The Monster, Part 16

The Monster, Part 16

one day a kid

one day a kid

got lost

                got lost

but someone found him

    but someone found him

but it wasn't a man

but it wasn’t a man

it was a monster

        it was a monster

The End

               The End

The Toddler’s Shoe Obsession

My son had what you might consider an unhealthy obsession with shoes from a young age.  It started with his teeth.  His first tooth came in at three months and they continued in what felt like a nonstop stream for the next three years.

Like most babies who start moving around, he would put anything he could find in his mouth.  It’s the baby handshake, like dogs sniffing each others butts.  Gabe would chew on just about anything he could find, but he took it to a whole new level with shoes.  His favorite were my thick leather flip-flops.  I quickly learned to put them on the shelf next to our front door after stepping into small puddles of cold drool, and then to find a better hiding place.

Remember when you were able to hide stuff from me on here?

Remember when you were able to hide stuff from me on here?

Those were his favorites, but a shoe was a shoe.  Once we learned to keep our shoes out of his reach he would take any lapse as a chance to stash one away for later, to do with as he would.

One night my wife was getting ready to go out with her friends.  It was the first time seeing her best friend in a couple of years and one of her first going out since having our son.  She had her outfit picked out and ready to go, but she couldn’t find her favorite pair of black flats.  We looked just about everywhere there was to look for those shoes – and in our first house there wasn’t a lot of space to look – but could only find one.  She eventually settled for a different pair and went on her way.

Two hours later, Gabe was getting tired but he was fighting sleep.  I was letting him run out any extra last burst of energy when I noticed he had been quiet for an awful long time.  I called his name, then stood up to notice that he’d somehow gotten through the baby-gate leading into the kitchen and den.

I started to walk that way when he came bustling into the living room in his patented shamble run.  Even though he was still trying to master the art of walking, my son insisted on running when he could, and it looked like (and sometimes was) disaster just waiting to happen.

“Mommy’s shoe, found!” he beamed as he bestowed upon me his trophy.  He was completely naked and in his hand was my wife’s missing shoe.

“Wow, good job buddy,” I started.  “Where did y-”

That was when I looked at the shoe.  I did a double take.  Then a triple take.

I got my son a diaper and put his pajamas back on him, and then I rushed to get my cell phone.  I texted my wife the following:

“The good news is, Gabe found your shoe.  The bad news is, he took a crap in it.”

The thing about kids

is that they are tiny little mysteries.  You can try to understand them and you can give yourself a headache trying.  They’re a constant storm of conundrums.

Take my son, for instance.  He’s incredibly smart, the smartest kid in his class.  He’s in the first grade and reading at a third grade level.  He understands basic, even some not-so-basic concepts, and if he sits still long enough he can quickly pick up on what is being taught to him.

But he can’t tie his own shoes or wipe his own butt without making a disgusting mess of things.


TMI? You’re telling me.