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About Us

Welcome to the Brookston family blog. We'll post updates here on what's going on in our part of the world, and especially with our son, Porter, who has been diagnosed with some form of autism. Our hope is that this blog will help us deal with all the issues we'll be facing and keep our friends and family informed as well.

Jay B.

Sarah J.

Porter Brookston
born September 10, 2001

Alice Brookston
born July 7, 2004

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March 19, 2007

John Sr. R.I.P.

Categories: News, Photos, J, Sarah, Friends — J @ 8:39 am

We got the word last night that John’s Dad, John Sr., who’d been battling a rare blood disorder for some time now, passed away in his sleep Sunday night. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to John’s entire family at this time of grief. John’s Dad was as much a part of the Big G as anyone and we will miss him terribly. Here are some photos from happier times. This is how I will remember him.

Trying to keep order at the Pro-Am at Pebble Beach.

Cutting a rug at John and Zenobia’s wedding.

Celebrating life, surrounded by friends and family, which is how it always seemed John lived his life.

Surrounded again by friends and family at Pebble Beach.

There are no details yet about the funeral. I’ll post details when I get them.

• • •

February 5, 2007

I’m Ba-a-a-ck

Categories: News, J — J @ 2:15 pm

You may have noticed that there are finally more posts and pictures up on the blog. I had meant to get started again in January as my new year’s resolution, but with moving to a new house and more writing assignments, it was difficult. As a result, I’ve dubbed 2007 the year of procrastination. But going forward I’ll try to get posts up more regularly with an initial goal of three or four times per week, maybe more. If you search backwards to September of last year, you’ll see there are older posts now there, too. I’ll continue to catch up with the old photos I have and will let everyone know when that’s finished. But in the meantime, feel free to look backwards as well as forward for new posts.

I’m ba-a-a-ck!

• • •

October 13, 2006

An Overbooked Benefit for Autism Education!

Categories: News, Humor, Autism — J @ 11:12 pm

I already love Jon Stewart, but here’s one more reason. He’s hosting a live benefit show on Comedy Central called The Night of Too Many Stars, which is a benefit for autism education. I’m not sure why Jon Stewart or someone at Comedy Central chose autism as their charity, but I’m certainly pleased they did.

The show is this Sunday night, October 15, at 8 p.m Pacific (7 p.m. Central). It’s Jon Stewart, Elvis COstello is performing, and it’s for a good cause. Join us in watching the show.

Here’s what the website has to say about the show:

Comedy Central’s first live, on-air and online special event, Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Benefit for Autism Education will be held at New York City’s Beacon Theatre on Sunday, October 15. The comedians will perform to raise money to benefit education and research programs for autistic children and adults.

Here is the complete list of comedians and performers:

Hosted by: Jon Stewart

Will Arnett
Jack Black
Steve Carell
Kristin Chenoweth
Stephen Colbert
Elvis Costello
Jimmy Fallon
Will Ferrell
Will Forte
Fred Armisen
Ricky Gervais
Norm Macdonald
Christopher Meloni
Oscar Nunez
Mike Myers
Bob Odenkirk & David Cross
Amy Poehler
Paul Rudd
Borat Sagdiyev
Adam Sandler
Amy Sedaris
Martin Short
Tony Sirico
Ben Stiller
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Brian Williams

• • •

September 14, 2006

Rocks Out of His Head

Categories: News, Photos, Humor, Porter — J @ 2:52 pm

I took Porter to see an ear specialist this afternoon to get the remaining rock removed from his ear. It took a few tries but he had all the special tools and got the job done relatively quickly. The second stone, which was the one lodged closest to Porter’s eardrum was almost as large as the first. I’m keeping them. I think they’ll make dandy souvenirs one day.

The rock on the left is the first one out and the one on the right is the stone the specialist got out this afternoon.

• • •

Rocks in His Head

Categories: News, Humor, Porter — J @ 11:13 am

Okay, perhaps I shouldn’t be laughing about this, but it is pretty funny. Today I took Porter to the doctor for his 5-year check up. Everything looked great and he was very cooperative for a change and even managed to do his eye test, ear test and even gave a urine sample. For every one of those tasks, this is the very first time he cooperated and completed the test. He even used the big-boy eye chart with the letters on it instead of the baby one with just shapes. Porter is now 40 3/4 lbs. and is 43 1/2 in. tall.

But here’s the thing. A couple of weeks ago he began complaining, first to his grandparents, then to us, about having rocks in his ears. It’s one of those things we assumed he meant figuratively, like his ear had closed up and wouldn’t pop, or at least something like that. We looked in his ear but didn’t see anything. We asked him about it and whether or not is was bothering him and he said, “no.” But every couple of days he’d mention it again so it was in the back of my mind while at the doctor this morning, so I mentioned it to him. When he looked in Porter’s ears, what do you suppose he found? Not one, but two rocks were actually in his ear! One he was able to dig out and I have it wrapped in a tissue in my pocket. Considering it was lodged in his ear, it’s a pretty big rock. Unfortunately, the other one is too close to his ear drum and I have to take him to see a specialist this afternoon to get it out. So for now, at least, we can say “Porter has rocks in his head” and really mean it. Of course, the larger question of how they got there remained an unsolvable enigma.

• • •

September 8, 2006

Super Porter

Categories: News, Photos, Porter — J @ 10:40 am

We don’t know where Porter learned about Superman, but it’s his new thing these days. In fact, when we visited the “Party Store” the other day to pick up decorations and other stuff for his birthday party, he insisted on a Superman-themed party. He even wanted the suit so he could dress up like Superman.

The Man of Steel.

• • •

August 28, 2006

No Cavities

Categories: News, Photos, Porter — J @ 2:57 pm

Porter had another dentist appointment on Friday and they x-rayed his teeth for the first time. He seemed just a little bit frightened by the x-ray machine, but overall he did pretty well.

Porter getting his teeth cleaned, mirror in hand.

Waiting for the dentist to give him the once over. The official verdict: no cavities. Way to go Porter.

• • •

August 22, 2006

The Widower

Categories: News, J, Sarah — J @ 9:10 am

Call me “The Widower.” For the second week out of the last three or four, Sarah will gone almost the entire week traveling on business. She left early this morning for Virginia. Then it’s on to Florida and a meeting Friday morning in Arizona before heading home. Sheesh, I’m going to go stir crazy.

• • •

August 17, 2006

On the Charts

Categories: News, Alice — J @ 11:18 am

Alice had her two-year old well baby appointment this morning and I’m happy to report she’s back on the charts. Most of her life she’s been literally off the charts, in her case under them being below the 1st percentile for weight, height and head size. Her pediatrician even had us go have her head looked at with an ultrasound to make sure everything was okay. The doctor was just being cautious, because despite the low numbers, she was growing consistently — just very slowly — and she was hitting all of her other developmental markers. But today she shot up into the charts again. She’s reached the 10th percentile in both weight and head size. The big one, though was height, where she shot up to the 50th percentile! That means she’s now of average height for her age, which is a remarkable comeback. Way to go Alice. Good job growing.

• • •

August 14, 2006

Camp Week

Categories: News, Porter — J @ 8:47 am

Summer school ended last week for Porter and today he starts a week of Discovery Camp at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. He’s actually in two camps, a morning camp and an afternoon one. The morning camp is a building one where they use different building materials to make stuff all morning. And in the afternoon he’ll be on a treasure hunt. Hopefully it will be great fun.

• • •

August 11, 2006


Categories: News, Photos, Alice — J @ 9:21 am

I assume it’s because I’m a guy with thick fingers who’s never paid much attention to hair, but I cannot seem to put anything in Alice’s hair and have it stay there for very long. I’ve tried the Pebbles’ rubberband, barrettes, and whatever else I could find in the “hair drawer” (don’t ask) to keep her hair out of her eyes. Anything to keep her from looking like “Cousin It” from The Addams Family is my goal. But no matter what I try, out it comes in a few minutes, sometimes mere seconds is all it takes. I can only assume I’ll get better at this with time. And eventually Alice will stop fighting me and will actively encourage me to do a better job, won’t she?

Anyway, at Montessori on Tuesday Ms. Liza put this purple barrette in her hair and I thought it made her look good. I’ve tried to duplicate her efforts but so far without much success.

Hey look, it’s Alice’s face!

It looks so simple. One barrette, no Cousin It.

• • •

August 8, 2006

Stepping Back

Categories: News, J, Beer — J @ 11:00 am

Well, I have some sad news today for those of you who use the family blog to help you get through your day. The Beer Blog has been going so well and has been receiving so much attention that I’ve decided that I really to focus more on building up and creating a real beer writing business using the blog as a means to acquire more work and for the blog itself to become a money-making enterprise. I have several irons currently in the fire both for more regular traditional writing assignments plus web syndication and other methods of making money from my writing on the beer blog itself.

I will not, of course, be abandoning the family blog, I’ll just be posting a little bit less to it, something on the order of twice a day, instead of three to five posts per day. And of course, I’ll keep everybody updated on what’s going on with Porter and Alice. I’ll try to keep the more popular posts alive, like Group Photo Phriday, which I know I missed last Friday (sorry about that). Things have been just crazy here since the beginning of July and we’ve been very, very busy on a lot of fronts. I need to find the right balance between working, caring for the kids and making sure the house doesn’t deteriorate into a war zone (which only a few days of neglect produces). I think Sarah wants to come home to a house that doesn’t say I spent the whole day on the sofa in my underwear. How’s that for a visual image? Anyway, thanks for your understanding. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

• • •

August 5, 2006

WordCamp WrapUp

Categories: News, Photos, J — J @ 4:22 pm

WordCamp ended up being a pretty fun and worthwhile event. I wasn’t sure what to expect or whether I would feel out of my depth. There were certainly developers and coders who knew exponentially more than I do about blogging but also plenty of beginners whose exposure was much less than my own. So I felt reasonably comfortable at WordCamp. There were several seminars that I got a lot out of and there were really only two negatives. First, nobody ever showed up to talk about WordPress and photoblogging, which was a little disappointing but oh, well.

And second, I didn’t think that the Blogging and Journalism added much. The speaker, Om Malik, a tech writer who runs a for profit site called GigaOM, admitted to having no journalism background apart from having written abut tech issues for traditional media. His experiences generally directly contradicted my own and I felt he was dead wrong about a couple of things he said about news blogging. In particular he felt blogs had to follow traditional journalism rules. To me, blogging and traditional media are two very different methods of communication. Its impossible that they should have the same rules, because they’re not the same thing. It’s like when television first started and they tried using the radio play format. They discovered quickly that what worked on radio didn’t work on TV. The same thing has happened every time a new media has come along. For a great history of this phenomenon, read Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. Bloggers tend not to get much respect compared to traditional media but in part that’s because the traditional media itself feels threatened by bloggers and thus refuse to take it seriously, even when it’s warranted.

Anyway, apart from that I had a great time and look forward to next year when perhaps I’ll be able to participate more fully.

Matt Mullenweg, the original creator of WordPress.

Musician Eric Haller provided some welcome musical interludes in between seminars on acoustic guitar. He was quite good and did a couple of Beatles’ covers along with some original material. Apparently he did the music for the first film Sean Penn directed.

• • •

Greetings from WordCamp

Categories: News, J — J @ 11:14 am

As I write this, I’m in downtown San Francisco, at the Swedish American Hall attending WordCamp 2006, an all-day event for bloggers who use WordPress, which is the open source blogging software that I use. So far it’s been fun and there actually are several seminars throughout the day that I’m interested it, which surprised me a little. And even WordCamp is open source, because there’s an extra room that’s open for impromptu meetings and I scheduled one on photoblogging with WordPress, since I’m trying to move my two photoblogs from PixelPost to WordPress right now. WordCamp could also be called NerdCamp, of course, too, but I’m okay with that. And I mean that in the nicest possible way and include myself among the nerdly. I can easily include nerd in my resume of anti-socials names that apply to me.

• • •

August 4, 2006

Insulting I.E.P.

Categories: News, Porter, Autism — J @ 10:33 am

We weren’t expecting much at yesterday’s I.E.P. meeting but for most of the meeting, things seemed to be going pretty well. I think we had almost been convinced that kindergarten might be okay for Porter this fall, if only we could work out some individual instruction for Porter to help with his pragmatics and social skills so he might be able to finally catch up to his peers. The school district representative was talking in glowing terms about his kindergarten programs and almost sold us on it.

But then in the last reel, as he was putting things down on paper, he offered us two-20 minute individual sessions of speech therapy per week. When you consider how things work in the real world, that’s maybe 10 minutes of actual instruction out of a total week’s class-time of just over 26 hours, or 2.5% of his weekly time in school (1.25% in real world terms). Sarah said afterward that she felt like an overworked waitress who’d just gotten a ten-cent tip. It was insulting. Especially because we really thought we’d made some progress. To have the rug pulled out from under us like that was infuriating.

Porter’s old teacher offered to come in and observe Porter regularly because she says she feels so strongly that Porter should not remain in the class he was in last year. And while we agree, we’re not entirely convinced that kindergarten is the right step either, especially since they’re so damnably unwilling to offer him any individualized instruction. We want to believe her and we will try to meet with her alone next week to discuss it. The fact that there’s only her old class or kindergarten — and nothing in between — is likewise frustrating, especially when you consider that federal law mandates “appropriate education.” I can’t believe that Porter is the first kid ever caught between these two worlds. But to the school district “appropriate care” appears to mean whatever they already have in place and don’t have to spend additional money on. It seems odd that every single time, both for us and other parents we’ve spoken to, whatever classes they already had in place were in their “expert opinion” just perfect for every kid in the school district. How convenient.

But as to our school district rep., he was obviously perfectly cast in the bad cop role. It’s very obvious that they’ve all been trained in negotiating techniques designed to manipulate parents. We know for a fact that Marin Country offers such classes for their teachers and administrators because we’ve come across the course titles online. That fact that they are unwilling to admit that their real concern — and perhaps their only concern — is money and their budget makes the entire process dishonest. Our agenda is obvious and out in the open. We don’t want to break their bank, we don’t want anything unreasonable, we simply want what’s best for Porter. Their agenda, on the other hand is couched in mystery as they pretend to care so deeply for Porter’s welfare and then insult us by denying him anything we ever ask for. They take a very “take-it-or-leave-it” approach. Throughout the meeting, Sarah had been talking about one-hour sessions three times a week. They remarked that they only had a speech therapist there two times a day. So then when they offered us a mere 20 minutes twice a week, I thought Sarah was going to come unglued. I was the calm one, if you can believe that. When Sarah used the “L” word — legal — you would have thought she’d attacked him with a knife he recoiled so fast with mock anger and indignation. It’s so frustrating that they’re playing a game with Porter’s future. All the techniques Sarah sees in her daily work are there on display in these meetings. But instead of a few million dollars here and there being at stake, it’s a child. It’s our child. It’s Porter. They’re using negotiating techniques to play a game with his future. I don’t believe in hell, but if I did I hope there’s a separate wing for people who mess with kids.

Perhaps some might say because it’s our child that we are incapable of perspective, but I honestly believe that what we were asking for was not unreasonable. We asked for three hours of individual instruction a week (about 11.4% of his class time), they offered us 40 minutes (2.5%) and then said “that’s what it is” in effect saying take or leave it fully expecting, I presume, that we’d cave in and jeopardize our son’s future. Obviously this is an emotional issue for a parent, but you want to believe that your child’s school cares about his future, too. When their actions so starkly show that they really don’t, it’s very disheartening and depressing.

What happens next is anybody’s guess. But I think we’ll be using the “L” word a bit more now that they’ve essentially left us no choice.

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