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Really long posts about nothing.

Oct. 5th, 2010

03:28 pm - Car Reviews

Today's Used Car Reviews brought to you by Crossraods Auto -

'99 Volvo C70 convertible - Biggest pull on this was the price. Neither of us is a red convertible type person, but $2500 was a very low lot price and well under blue book. For good reason... the 'project car' had an interior that used to be brown(?) but someone had spraypainted tan. Nicole did start the engine (quite solid sounding) but then looked around inside and grimaced. No one was going to want to be in there.

Late 90's Mercury Cougar - Very peppy and fun, but when did Cougars become 4-bangers with front wheel drive? It certainly had drawn the wife in with exterior allure, but the interior was sculpted by Walmart. Very dashing at one time, but it's one of those cars where you feel like everything is ready to break. This was also our comic relief for the day, as I decided to check out the rear seats (DEEP buckets). Nicole left so that I could try to keep some dignity while trying to escape, but I was less worried about my dignity, I mostly wanted someone to throw me a rope.

1980 Mercedes SEL 300 Turbo Diesel - I had originally thought that this one wasn't going to work. but Nicole was enchanted. It was very Stately, and amazingly high-tech for 1980. The late 1990's Mercedes aren't much distinguished from a 2000's Toyota but THIS one was like a Gentleman's Tank. The smiles, cooing, and delighted german exclaimations were fun to witness. It is also the only car where she took it for a test drive and brought it back without pulling in anywhere to switch drivers. "I feel like I should be wearing a fine hat" she said. You can't look up the blue book value on a 30 year old car, I thought it was overpriced, but I was told that you can't quantify 'Romance' in a car.

Sep. 28th, 2010

10:53 pm - Wherein, things get fixed... and the list expands.

Due to an ill-timed shower handle breaking during the morning rush today, I got to spend some time at home depot. The quick fix was to replace the broken handle. The bigger fix was to flip the cartridge over, because the way all the faucets in the house were set up, the water would either be Fantastically Hot... or very very cold. (imagine that in my Eddie Izzard voice there.)

After a lot of wrestling, I was unable to get the first cartridge out. (The 'cartridge' is the internal plumbing magicmaker that allows one to get hot and cold water with one twist) After a second, third, and fifth round of trying to remove the cartridge without pulling pipes from the wall, I had a great idea! I would just flip the whole knob fixture over!

After a lot of engineering and a hard fail later, I finally gave up and put the new faucet handle on... upside-down. Opps! Er, wait... surelyt it couldn't be that simple! I tested it out, and sure enough, it worked! Fixing the faucets has been on my great big list of everything since I moved in... but a low priority. funny that it got solved so easily. But this leads me to wonder... were the household faucets installed wrong 10 years ago, and they just now got fixed? Or did the last guy flip them upwards in an attempt to sell the house? Like when all clocks at a store are set to 10:10 to make them look like they're smiling?

Also complete, tags on the cars. The new DMV system of punching in your number and waiting in 'line' by phone is wonderful. I had a three hour wait, so I hit about 6 different things on my list for the day before heading back and getting tags. Unfortunately, the new car has the remnants of bolts frozen in the license plate bracket. So that's on my list for tomorrow.

Sep. 11th, 2010

01:06 pm - Trending...

Got to watch another car spin out and fly off the highway today... this one without the excuse of snow or ice.

The car didn't roll, but it did spin around about two or three times on it's way off the interstate, Nascar style.

As with last time, there was a "Hurry up and get out of here before the cops come" vibe. And the obligatory searching for insurance that "used to be right here". I remember pulling that gambit in my younger years, it looks just as stupid as I suspected it did... everyone knew he didn't have insurance. I was glad he didn't run... in large part because my uniform was still clean and I have a colorguard to help with tonight.

Let's go through the list of other indicators that this guy's day isn't going to get any better -



On the plus side, the excessive wear on his tires probably kept him from rolling, the other couple who stopped said he was passing them at a pretty good clip when his wheels locked. Had he rolled, it would have been messy. I -hate- being a first responder on rollovers. Particularly if the person rolled over while being an ass... then I'm working against karma if I help them.

Kudos to saffronhare for calling it in while I went to go help, partly because she was on top of what needed to be done, and partly because it kept me from having to call it in right in front of the guy. I've nearly been attacked for that in the past... made for an awkward 911 call. ;-)

Oh, and no one was hurt... which is always a plus. I do get a small grin inside when karma catches up to people, but I don't like trying to figure out what to do until the EMTs arrive... particularly if it's really messy.

Sep. 8th, 2010

01:54 pm - Have you seen Morgan? She's all over my Friends List.

I understand the worry, but I figured "cholo tattoo" should be cleared up.

Tattoos of tears falling from the corner of the eye are said to mean that the wearer has killed somebody, or that someone close to them died, and can indicate affiliations with gangs. These are typically Jailhouse tattoos (and thus have a broad range of meanings, often local to the prison they were done in).

They are also known as a "Cholo Tear".

Sep. 3rd, 2010

07:53 am - Stephen Hawking speaks out on God...

I'm not sure what I think about that... he was a brilliant young mathematician years ago, but more recently he seems to be just riding the coattails of earlier accomplishments. And particularly in the past year he's just getting a lot of undue publicity. Either he has a really REALLY good agent, or we're all sad that he's going to be gone soon. Part of it is that he also has a new book coming out, but mathematicians speaking out against creationism is about as newsworthy as Martha Stewart matching her socks. ;-)

Aug. 18th, 2010

01:08 pm - Wherein I am oblivious...

Apparently, I have been the butt of some good-natured jokes over the past year or two. It (or at least THIS one) started when fionnabhar had invited both saffronhare and my family to Thanksgiving.

I was up for being social, and so I checked in with the host and figured out what I should bring. I am pretty sure I would have asked around, and determined (in my head) what I could offer.

I brought a Turkey. In conversations, it was apparent that there would be no Turkey. There was talk of bean casseroles, yams, etc... but no meat. So I planned to bring some.

It is worth noting that fionnabhar and her family are vegetarian... or vegan? I suppose it never registered because forgoing meat is an alien concept to me. In my defense, I brought Turkey, which isn't a -real- meat, but using that defense has only made saffronhare giggle until she's gasping for air.

Saff: "It was a full living breathing creature that had been cooked and put on a platter!"
Me: "Turkeys don't really bleed much, that's why the meat is 'white'. Turkey is what you eat when you can't have meat."
Saff: ::stifling more giggles""
Me: "You know, you can't have bacon, so you have Turkey Bacon. If you can't have a hamburger, you have a Turkey burger."
Saff: "Turkey is still meat."
Me: "Just a little bit, it's more like tofu, only not from California."

So we giggled about me presenting the turkey on a platter for some time. There was a debate over who was more surprised, fionnabhar or saffronhare. There have certainly been other times where my hard-headed obliviousness has led me into other odd situations, but this was the one that had us laying in bed giggling last night.

Apologies to fionnabhar, for some reason it escaped me until last night that your family was vegetarian. Or maybe I've known it at times, but it's like when I forget that people are gay, or jewish, or black... such distinctions aren't always memorable. But I bet I'll remember that one NOW. ;-)

Jul. 9th, 2010

01:34 am - In case I disappear...

We had come back form doing laps at the pool and I thought it would be amusing to shoot saffronhare in the middle of the back with a Nerf dart gun while we were changing. I figured it would stick. Only I used the Kentucky Elevation Adjustment of a super-soaker, not a Nerf Gun, and it hit where I was aiming, in the back of her head.

Some will note with amusement that the Nerf gun had a flat trajectory from across the room, that was pretty impressive.

Others will note that saffronhare is not the sort to be amused by being shot in the head by a Nerf gun... which in itself has a morbid amusement factor.

Jul. 6th, 2010

05:06 pm - Wow, June came in like a lion... and left like a lion.

Busy busy busy.... as mentioned on FB, we had ten people around last week. It's been interesting playing the waltz of kids and exes and meals and meetings and everything else. It's very odd to be home alone with the dog right now, it feels sort of post-apocalyptic to have the searing sound of silence blasting about. Even with all the different things running, it's weird not to have dad radar running.

It's also interesting to think where the end of summer might put me, Certainly there should be employment of some sort... which may see me on the computer again. It has been odd to have pulled away from the internet world that I have been glued to for so long. I haven't really decided which direction to pursue yet, but I'm probably going to be going some direction soon... whether it be computers, business, or some other path.

I've also had my cheese reshuffled. We've got people living on all three levels at home, and multiple entertainment rooms again. In addition, we've gone from one butt per toilet to two butts per toilet so there is that to get used to again. Last time we had fewer toilets, we had people working their way out of pull-ups... and I spent most of my time at work. Even with no one home, I hear a cacophony of noises, from water softener, dehumidifier, dryer, computer fans, A/C, plumbing, sprinklers.... and I find myself walking the 'perimeter' of the house to make sure that all are running well. All it takes is one odd thing to fail, and everything can go wonky... particularly the sump-pump, which I watch like a puppy prone to chewing now that the sub-level has teenagers living in it.

It is exciting and yet mildly frightening to be at the crossroads... not sure if I will end up back in computers, or in some other field that simply requires the business degree, or possibly even military... which has great appeal due to the security, yet comes with it's own unique pitfalls. No matter what direction I go, I need to shed the bulk that I gained during the last half-year. And undo the atrophy of the last few years at Sprint. I had forgotten that even before my year of sabbatical, I hadn't worked a 9-5 job in years. I -do- like dressing up pretty though, so along with the ability to make more cash, I look forward to dressing up again. It is also interesting to note that the three teens are all capable of planning exciting outings, and we could easily do more canoe trips or even kayak adventures as income picks back up, I just hope the next career leaves time free for such adventures.

Jun. 24th, 2010

12:29 am - Upping our game...

Dad: Hey Kieran, don't forget the worms in the morning...
Son: Ok, where are they?
Dad: Second shelf in the fridge.
Mom: WHAT????

For those that know Nicole, this is all the more amusing... but it's been a banner week for new experiences in the house in the past 36 hours, partly due to merit badges, partly just due to combining family cultures.

On the down side, our fish and wildlife management merit badge prerequisites have not yet been met unless we can catch fish WITH SCALES so we can track their age tomorrow, or examine the stomach contents of two more fish. The Flathead we caught was pretty cool though, all sorts of crayfish parts in the gut... even cooler than an owl pellet.

On the plus side, they caught, helped dad clean, and watched Nik fry the fish... so they've almost got prereqs for the Fishing merit badge. Kieran turned a pretty weird shade of gray during the gutting though, and announced that he would be OK with never earning that merit badge. Bryce was pretty cool with it all though. And I managed to not f-ck up the catfish fillets, pretty much no wasted meat. And the lemon pepper fillets were yummy.

One improvement to be made - a clean kill of the fish. I don't really know where the brain is in a flathead catfish, but after a wham-wham-wham with a pipe wrench, we had a CSI scene with spatter, cast off, and an unhappy fish. I managed to get a clean kill with the seconds series of whaps, but I would prefer not to make Kieran turn ashen again.

Unfortunately, my washing machine is fixed, I sort of feel like I want to hand-agitate about 5 loads of laundry with my hands... catfish are sooo much more slimey than bluegill!

Jun. 11th, 2010

02:13 pm - Discussion item

Flavored Vodkas = Pussified hard liquors, or a more masculine alternative to schnapps?

May. 26th, 2010

12:45 pm - In random news...

Since DorkTower mentioned it today.

I think Furries rock, and Furry chicks are hot in the same way goths always have been. There is an appeal that is unquantifiable. Although if I continue with quantitative analysis perhaps I will work on quantifying it. ::Grin::

This is not to say that anyone in my live has to change, I like the people in my life for who they are and how they act. If I didn't like them, I would excise them. I just felt it was appropriate to give the lj-hug and validation to those who may feel isolated or persecuted.

Now if your thing is avoiding all grammar and 'talking' like your PC is a 10-key phone, then I have no love for you. Pbbbt!

03:54 am - Finals done, now the final rush of late assigments!

But not without sharing what interactivity in websites can do for us. I think I might eat one of my children before Hardees opens. ;-)
http://www.cheeseandburger.com/

And yes, that's Kronk.

May. 23rd, 2010

12:26 am - Are you there God, it's me, Mac...

I really dig the whole critical path method and linear programming models for crash times... but how on Earth does one compute variance on a constant? It's sort of like dividing by zero, so I had to email my instructor. Could you grant me the serenity to accept the things I don't yet understand? That would be nice.

I feel like my life is two parts Erma Bombeck and one part Dilbert now... I'm getting to be too much of a homebody, need to apply for corporate positions again next week.

May. 6th, 2010

02:26 pm - I have no idea who the patron saint of brasswinds is...

...but I need to appease them somehow. I have apparently gained the ire of some musical fates, and they saw fit to curse me yesterday. Not just with one brass instrument, but TWO, practicing in my Great Room. Mercedes on trombone, and Kylie on Trumpet. And to make matters worse, this isn't just for the play this weekend, it was for Marching Band season! Much to my horror, I realized that this means that I now have a trombone player in the house. I suppose there is some comfort in her being nearlt a 6th year music student, so she was already able to play a dozen songs once she figured out the notes, but she has also found a fun way yo get back at her little brother. "You're not playing, you're screaming!" Something she used to yell at him for when he started clarinet. Only with a trombone, it is payback in the form of nuclear proliferation!

For those that don't play, 'screaming' with an instrument is just blasting notes. It's really not a horrible thing on a clarinet unless you squeak it. But with a brasswind? You can blow out internal organs.

Apr. 26th, 2010

12:12 am - Not dead, not even worn out...

Just busy with this Neat new game... RealLife. Sort of like Farmville in that I can pay to put new trees up, and people can gift me flowers... If I work real hard, I can upgrade my acreage and everything.

Things are certainly changing...it'll be a whole different world for me in a few months. Maybe not much different I suppose, but a few major turning points coming up. And a renewed interest in many things... which means less living on FB, LJ, whatever. More time with kids, and yet, less time with kids.

And while I am slightly sad to be sleeping alone tonight, I was very happy to find a can of pork&beans, and know that it wouldn't disturb anyone tonight if I ate them today. Win-win!

Apr. 1st, 2010

01:25 pm - When people say it is 'all greek to them'....

Lambda, Mu, Sigma, Sigma Squared, This math would be nicer if it wasn't half in Greek.

On the plus side, after seven pages of equasions, I am halfway through my exam.

On the plus plus side, I have a copier at home now, because I want to make SURE I save a copy of this stuff, it's the most brilliant work I've done in a decade.

07:15 am - April fooled...

I'm not sure what it is, I saw Google.com was now Topeka.com, but that didn't phase me one bit. I'm used to them being weird.

But then I saw that Topeka was renamed to google? The CNN article is either real or backdated, but it would be nice if we could have something in Topeka worth mentioning other than the asshat Baptists.

In other news, CAN'T SLEEP, MATH WILL EAT ME! But I did kick some at Joint probability and Bayes Theorem.

Mar. 20th, 2010

10:03 am - The Sickness

It is interesting how hopping back into a college classroom is so addictive. I was very excited to be done with the B.S. Degree, and suddenly I am looking at graduate degrees.

I know that neither is a doorway to anything, and being discouraged by today's business practices certainly doesn't set me up to use an M.B.A. very well, but I think college is like eating Pringles, you eat a few and suddenly you want to finish the can. I think it is the education itself that is addictive, as I have taken classes over the years, I hear new things in the news that I never heard before. It's like getting a new pair of glasses every semester, particularly now that every class I take being higher level and not a rehash of high school like Jr college was.

Nicole made a very good point that as negative as I can be with the way that publically traded companies operate, perhaps a M.B.A. would be a degree that pisses me off, although I'm not sure there is another field that I would be interested in since future income is a motivator for more college. The Masters in Project Management seems to be the hot degree of today, and KU has better name recognition than NAU, so there will have to be a cost-benefit analysis done there.

Funny thing is, what I would -really- like to do is just get a job and pay off all the current student debts rather than continue to defer them. Particularly since the kids start graduating high school over the next few years, and I'll have to help pay for that.

I suppose for now, I'll just put the phone away and enjoy the pretty snow.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed

Mar. 16th, 2010

01:13 pm - Realization about 'ethics'

I was having a REAL hard time writing papers about ethical issues... I kept writing about the rules, but the papers were supposed to be about the ethical issues surrounding the rules.

That's when it occurred to me that the study of 'ethics' is studying what people are whining about as 'unfair' in the hopes that it will be changed. I don't like to whine, so I had a really hard time writing a position.

Bah. At least the course is passed and done with now. 8-)

Mar. 12th, 2010

10:21 pm - The Boy

For some reason, Bryce was having a problem finding a place to put the Vitamin bottle in his backpack. When I went to help him, it occured to me to ask why he was packing a LARGE jar of 500 multivitamins for a two-day camping trip. Apparently I am odd for thinking of such things.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed

Feb. 24th, 2010

04:56 pm - Washing Machine caught on FIRE???

Ok, not really, the motor fried. Or more accurately, wires that were involved with the agitation process shorted out and now my laundry room, kitchen, and bedroom smell like a lightning bolt hit a Rubbermaid factory.

It is an odd thing to have a WASHER catch fire... the dryer starts smoking every 5-6 years and I have to take out the drum and shop vac all the parts that the normal dryer cleaning kit doesn't get too. Specifically, the heater coil behind the drum. I thought for SURE the dryer would have dies first, but no.

I started to try and pull off the metal to the washer to see if I could replace something, since having a washer out when you have four people is sort of crazy. This isn't something that can wait long. But the cat was looking at me like "Dude, that thing just belched toxic smoke, and now you're going to put your HEAD in it? Who's going to change my litterbox when you die? Please don't."

So looking at Craig's List, I can pick up a washer for about $125, or a 'set' (which would give me a spare dryer) for $200. I may look at new washer prices too, but frankly I really wanted to just get by until I could get a really nice set in a few years. Because, you know, I just BOUGHT that washer and dryer! Although to be fair, we bought the Dryer before Mercedes was born. But it was nearly a month's pay at the time, (not that it was a crazy-nice dryer, I just wasn't earning much) so that makes an impression.

Anyway... onwards to the afternoon, because I am horribly distracted by a billion things today, I ended up finding out that a local friend had posted a washer/dryer set on Craigslist but responses had been willy-nilly, so I will get a set from them. My dryer isn't all the way out yet, but it is spitting out felt bushings so it was on the Great Big List of Everything to replace.

So sometime during my finals week, along with all the OTHER work I need to catch up on, I need to empty out the current washer, drag it to the curb, get the dryer out to the garage, bring in new stuff, and thank the gods that while laundry room fires are not fun, breaking by flood is much worse!

Feb. 18th, 2010

07:04 pm - Wait... What?

For the first time since whenever, I got to hit a concert that was not on the same day as something else. So I got to put on something 'nice' that was not work clothes or scout clothes. I actually went through the extra effort of finding a t-shirt that -wasn't- a scout shirt. It was a formal(ish) event, so black shirt, dark pants, dark sweater. I felt a bit 'petty', even if my butt is still too big for my nicer jeans.

I suppose today's concert might have been the 'blip' on the family Wiki a few days ago, as the kids get older, I don't get as many flyers, just requests for cash or rides. And they're self-sufficient, they'll ask ahead of time what I am doing on a certain night, and then arrange their own rides if I'm unavailable. That's pretty cool. On the other side of that, they now ask how many open seats I have, because they all chatter by txt and facebook to score rides to things. I think this might have happened when I was a kid, but not in my 'crowd'.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed

05:24 pm - Yay! Cat is outbound!

Due to an ever-changing family structure, and less and less time spent at home, Jasmine is going back for re-adoption. I am glad that Michelle had the foresight to pick a place that would 'always take them back', and I am glad that we still have the safe and loving environment here where she can stay until space opens up. Jasmine is still a sweetheart, and it makes me sad to see her spend too many days in a small room, and too little contact with her people.

So for two and a half weeks, the kids will get to love and brush on her more than usual, and come March 11th, I'll bring her back up for re-adoption to a new family. While there may be some sadness, she deserves someone with more time for the snuggling she loves so much.

As an added side benefit, I don't have to worry about taking care of geriatric needs while I'm trying to get kids off to college. ;-)

Feb. 17th, 2010

09:45 am - More fun than a bucket of dead rats!

Which some of scouting is more work and less play, last night was AWESOME fun. One of our leaders brought in a trapper to demo 'skinning an animal'.

Like with many guest speakers, we're not always sure what to expect, and this guy did NOT disappoint! He came in with a kitty litter bucket of fur, only it was still on critters. He laid out a tarp, and sorted them out. Muskrat, beaver, mink... I didn't even know we had wild mink in the area. Apparently a number of the local adults used to trap and sell pelts as kids, much like one might mow lawns or have a paper route. Luckily, Bryce did not get the idea to trap locally, as the HOA might have a fit.

This was not the sort of speaker who bored boys. Nothing long-winded about safety, conservation, ecology... this guy was all business. Within about 3 minutes he was popping the fur off muskrats and telling stories of injury and illness on the job. He gave prices of different pelts, and what was selling, which parts were worth something, which parts were not. Eventually he left with one bucket of good stuff, and one bucket of waste. And there were bits of rat and blood on chairs, floor, boys... it was a grand time. Probably a dozen and a half things that made the yuppie city boy in me scream, but that was one scouting experience that the boys will never forget.

Especially not Kieran, he did not like the smell At All. "And I thought they smelled bad on the OUTSIDE!" came to mind.

Feb. 9th, 2010

10:49 am - Marines VS. hippies GoogleBattle: The latest indicator of cultural relevance.

Just because I'm feeling a bit saucy today. (I would blame Megiloth, but that assumes that I am opposed to chest-thumping.)

Marines VS. hippies GoogleBattle: The latest indicator of cultural relevance.

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Feb. 7th, 2010

01:23 am - Wait, what?

Sarah Palin is a spokesperson for the 'tea party' thing? To bring a 'revolution' by being a pundit celeb rather than running on policies?

Ok, I -did- ROFL at the "How's that hope-y, change-y stuff workin' out for you?", but she should have kept it at that.

::shrug:: She's funny. I like her. I can't say I'd vote for her, but she's cuter than Rush.

The thing that had me confused is that right now it's like she read the "How Obama won the election" book, and is totally trying the same thing. Although it sounded like the 'Tea Party" is supposed to not be a party, but a new way of not voting with your party or something. Hopefully that comes out as more than just a gimmick.

Feb. 3rd, 2010

06:45 pm - Another semester, another WTF day...

I was happy to hear that the President of the college called me up directly to let me know that she enrolled me in the last semester ever ( I hope)

But then it all went south when advisers started calling and asking me questions about paperwork.

I could itemize the annoyances, but it's all the same stuff. They need a transcript from MCC (I personally went to both colleges to pick up and deliver it last time), they asked if I filed for graduation (filed and paid at least twice), and a comment that my file seems really thin (they keep creating new files for me, because they can never find the last one).

NAU in Colorado Springs was pretty awesome.
NAU in Overland Park has a few awesome people, and a lot of transients.

I suspect that I will not be going there for graduate work.

Feb. 1st, 2010

11:17 pm - Holy Aphrodite! Air Force Academy getting a pagan worship area???

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100201/ap_on_re_us/us_air_force_academy_earth_religion

A quick background - 10-12 years ago when I left Active Duty, there was a big surge in making sure we all had a bit of the Lord in us... and the movement had come from the officer Corps downward. I thought it had something to do with the new Commandant, but when I moved to Colorado, the pressure to show your face at prayer meetings was pretty stout. And there was not a whole lot of tolerance for anything 'wierd'. There was a very close tie to the Air Force Academy and Focus on the Family which was across the street. The climate was so bad, I would not have admitted that my wife was pagan to USAA which was also part of that government complex neighborhood.

I've caught a lot of scandals coming out of the Air Force Academy since then. From religious persecution to 'sexual harassment' which was a nice was of saying that rapes were not being taken seriously, because Tailhook was just those dirty sailors and unfathomable Marines.

I'm glad progress has been made... and that "PLeasantville" is going to see some color.

Jan. 27th, 2010

08:15 am - Not keeping up with my own meme...

Awesome dinner #1 - Garam Masala... made when there was a spare band-geek over. For visiting kids to enjoy my curry as much as my own kids, that's something special.

Awesome Dinner #2 - Salisbury Steaks with Green Beans and mashed Taters. The steaks were Banquet, so why was this awesome? Sauteed half an onion and some garlic and put it in the taters, then caramelized the other half-onion and drizzled it over the steaks. The kids licked their plates clean. Yay!

Awesome experience - Got to sign off on my first Eagle Scout last night. I keep learning things myself, but it is cool to be part of some of the serious formative moments with these kids. It was also a pleasure because while the boy hasn't been horribly active in scouts over the past two years, he was a Tiger-to-Eagle, so we got to hear about his accomplishments over 12 years of scouting. Considering this starts before first grade, it was sort of humbling to realize how much they've done for scouting as well as how much scouting has done for them. The 'kid' is now 18, has been working for two years, and has a really bright future.

Jan. 24th, 2010

12:53 pm - Yesterday's Attitude of Awesome

(New thing I'm trying out)

Good Turn - Sewed up the belly of a stuffed puppy for a little girl.
Ancillary task accomplishment - Christmas tree down.
Paid it Forward - Steam cleaner delivered to friend with a puking puppy.

Jan. 22nd, 2010

01:37 pm - Odd note -

My Salsa comes from Connecticut, and my Rice comes from Texas. They make rice in Texas? I recall a lot of barbed wire, cows, and a HUGE freaking cross, but no rice paddies. But then I'm not sure why my salsa is from Connecticut, except that I LOVE lime and cilantro, so perhaps that is where all the lime orchards are. I've never heard any place called the 'Lime State', but I think Connecticut just has that attitude where they don't care what people think about them.

I'm clearing out my cabinets a bit, which for me means that I am eating things that are not fresh, but not bad enough to toss. So today I am having Seattle coffee. It is "Winter Blend" which works well for Samuel Adams but Starbucks was always overly acidic and overly roasted, so trying to make that more 'robust' just added a layer of fail. I bought this back of beans back when the ex still lived in the house and we were still getting along. Yeah, that long ago... '05 maybe?

Jan. 16th, 2010

01:02 am - 4000 people.

4000 people is the estimate from quivera Council. 4000 people are camping out here in the fog and frost and mud. The kids are enjoying themselves, adults are hanging on. I have some coping mechanisms, although I forgot my RDBMS texts so I can't study. I figured I wouldn't have the chance. I suppose I am half right, I could study, brainweasels are calling, but this is really no place to stay up late. Granted, I am cheating this year, so I'm not horribly uncomfortable at the moment. Other than enough sciatica to kill a lesser being.

Why do I do it? Why do WE do it? I see a lot of the esteem-building from boot camp here. You can survive and THRIVE in generally miserable conditions if you are prepared, and if you have the mental toughness. I admire the kids here, particularly those making due without the wood-burning stoves and all the ammenities money can buy. Those kids will not have near the fears or anxieties that many of us have picked up. At 10, 12, 14 years old, they've lasted through some harsh stuff. And lasted with a smile.

So I will strip down and try not to shiver much, and think about how much character this builds. And how glad I am to retire from each leg of it. Don't get me wrong, I have fun hanging out with the kids. But I also know that sleeping in the stupid cold is not something I would decide to do on my own.
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Jan. 12th, 2010

02:35 am - Wherein I lament about brainweasels...

Seems like my days never end, but with the help of a stiff drink, this one should end shortly. But a quick summary of things on my mind -

A cute moment - saffronhare presented me (us) with a teakettle for Christmas. I have one, but it is from the Wal-Mart camping section and I tend to keep it with camp gear. This led fionnabhar to heat up a stockpot with water, and a ladle was used to 'pour' tea at a Wild Hare movie night. Thus, a TeaKettle NOT from the camping section. Since the arrival of the TeaKettle, the kids have had tea parties, had tea with breakfast, and at just about every other occasion. I now have more teacups in the wash than cereal bowls... which may or may not be a good thing. Also adorable - before using the TeaKettle, the kids flipped it over and announced "Not Made in China, so it's safe to use". I love my kids.

Jabob. JAAAACOB!! I have been keeping my eyes out for a Jacob poster, specifically one where he has no shirt and short hair. If one of the boys was asking for a a picture of. . . someone, and specified that it should be in a swimsuit and laying out, then I would have to have the "objectification is Wrong" talk, but for some reason beefcake is ok. I'm ok with the double standard, but it was interesting to note.

When worlds collide - I took my LJ link off FB, but will note that my 'alias' on FB is the same as LJ. Feel free to friend me, and then block notifications about lost sheep and slaying dragons. I don't spend near the time on apps that I used to when babysitting jobs, but they thrive on shout-outs so you'll see as many of those as you will status updates.

On that, I noted (on FB) that I have Scout Stuff every day from now through next Thursday, including camping this weekend. I should note that I am NOT complaining. In fact, I figure that these years will be some of the ones I remember most fondly in my twilight. Even with Mercedes hitting 15 next month, there is still a good close family bond, and I will not have to worry about the kids going off to college and worrying that I 'missed' something. Granted, I don't suspect that I would be too horribly sad if they DID take off and never write, I assume that is part of the birds leaving the nest. If they fly off and never look back, that means I did a good job. Either that, or I did a horrid job and they hate me, but either way I won't have angsty kids in my basement until they are 50 and I move into a nursing home.

There is more, but the stiff drink is done, and I will go lay down and let the weasels slow to a simmer until morning.

Jan. 11th, 2010

03:50 pm - Attitude of Gratitude

I am grateful that no matter how many times I fall off the exercise wagon, protein powder never goes bad. Or if it does, there is really no way to tell as it tastes like nutrasweet fluff even when fresh.

Jan. 7th, 2010

04:06 pm - Surviving into the weekend

Reminders of things that happen during long cold snaps -

Cars don't start - electrolytes in batteries are similar to salt water, they don't freeze at 32 degrees, but as we hit 0 degrees, batteries stop working. In this area it's not worth having a battery blanket, but don't let a car sit too long or the battery can freeze. Even solid-state batteries (like C and D cells in flashlights) will not work if they are frozen. Emergency flashlights are better kept in the glovebox rather than the trunk.

Oil gets REAL SLUDGY, making sure oil is recently changed helps, and you can even change to a lighter weight oil if you want, but it's never consistently cold out here (at least not for three months straight). One trick I used years ago was to run a small ceramic space heater under my engine and let it warm up ALL the bits for an hour before I tried to start the car. Other guys who feared dripping water into the space heater used a hairdryer on the top of the engine. Either way, you're trying to trap heat under the hood of the car to heat up core elements. Using a tarp over the hood (and down to the ground as a windbreak) also helped retain heat.

Tires may freeze, slush may freeze in rims, slush may freeze EVERYWHERE. Keep speed low, your car may shake and shimmy after hitting a drift... tires often get unbalanced in drifting snow like what we have now, especially with slush re-freeze. Wait until a good thaw before getting alignment checked.

Also - Tires that were inflated to 35 PSI in summer are going to be close to 20 PSI at 0 degrees. AIR THEM UP! Properly inflated tires dig into snow better and will last much longer on dry pavement. Remember to check them again when it gets warm though, as 35 PSI tires today will scream at 45+PSI in June.

Wiper blades - I'm not good about replacing mine every six months either, but it makes a HUGE difference during the worst days. Also, Rain-X is the best thing since Turtle Wax. They never really tell you how to replace them, but once you have the u-hook clip figured out, you will become everyone's hero. It is also much easier to do this when you WANT to, with sunshine and a warm house right there, than it is to do it when you NEED to, which is usually during wet freezing snow, in a Walmart parking lot, and far from home.

De-icer - Alcohol is a quick-fix but isn't the nicest thing on plastic trim. We would sometimes add methyl to the windshield wiper fluid, but I also recall using it to unfreeze stuck locks and windows. Alcohol does not freeze at 0 degrees... so it is often used in deicers. I haven't seen the spray-deicer that used isopropyl alcohol for years, but I suspect that is due to environmental concerns. We used to buy that stuff by the case.

Doors sticking - seals get real sticky, read your owner's manual and do all that weird stuff like using silicone grease around where the doors 'seal' with that foam weatherstripping. If you oil creaky hinges, use 3-in-1 oil, NOT WD-40. They're sold in the same aisle, and 3-in-1 is a lubricant, not a cleaner.

Anything else I missed?

Jan. 6th, 2010

03:50 pm - How awesome is Boy Scouts?

Awesome enough that next month, the newest silver dollar will be released... and it is a BOY SCOUT silver dollar!

We also have a postage stamp coming out this year.

Much more is happening this year, due to it being the BSA's centennial year, but a silver dollar is pretty rock-on! Although I would be more stoked if the last one wasn't that indian girl, Sacagawea. And as a commemorative coin, it may not see circulation like the Sacagawea dollars did. So that one young girl still has more clout than 111 MILLION young boys. Granted, she was a scout long before Baden-Powell's day.

Jan. 5th, 2010

07:48 am - Let it snow, let it snow, let it snowwwwwww.....

... because the more awful it is this week and next, the better it will (hopefully) be next weekend when we're out camping. Even if it's still ass-blistering cold, 30 degrees will seem a lot warmer compared to -4. I still suspect that it will be a stupider cold than I would like, but I'm hopeful that it will only be mildly stupid, and not stupid-stupid cold.

Jan. 3rd, 2010

03:37 pm - Didn't fall into a rabbit hole...

...plunged perhaps, but did not fall.

I've been enjoying the snow in many ways for many days, this has been AWESOME! I have also been keeping my walk shoveled, which is fun (I'm on a corner lot with a LOT of yard) but I am totally out of salt.

Also had the girlfriend over for a few days, which is the fist time in a month or two, so that was fun. Even survived the hyper-puppy of +5 initiative.

Got to have a week which was pretty devoid of scout and school stuff. Lots of sledding, fixing things, clearing house. It seems like I clear house all the time, but until I set fire to it, it will keep unclearing itself. If my parents are any indication, it gets a LOT easier once the gerbils (kids) move out. You also stop having random catastrophic failures of durable goods.

Did I mention how awesome it is to have REAL snow? I even shoveled the parking lot out at saffronhare's place so that she can get in and out. I watched an Indian gal down the way pull her car in and out of her parking spot a dozen times to tromp down the snow. Poor girl will probably be parking on a glacier from now until April.

Dec. 23rd, 2009

01:59 pm - Aeropostale observations -

The line at a store the size of my living room contains more people than the whole of the Gardner Wal-mart.

No one there knows what is so significant about '1987', but I'm guessing that everyone there was born -after- that year.
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01:57 pm - Test

Tickle
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Dec. 15th, 2009

12:36 am - Ice Cap gone by 2016.

Along with the Mayan Calendar thing, Al Gore has not decreed that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in the next 5-7 years (rather than the 20 that the other pundits predict).

I predict that by 2016, we will still have an Ice Cap, and Al Gore will somehow still be respected and not laughed at like the folks that said our oil would be ALL GONE before 2000.

I will point out this article to my kids, and ask them to watch the Ice Cap for the next 20 years.

Hopefully, the new hybrid car trend will kick off along with Home Depot's locally available solar panels, and wind farms, and then I can be wrong. I would like to be wrong. But instead, I wrote down in my planner to point and laugh at Al Gore in 2016. Being dishonest or overly dramatic for a Good Cause is still being dishonest, whether you are Al Gore or Charlton Heston.

Dec. 11th, 2009

06:42 am - Amusing...

I've seen the Girlfriend a record 4 times this week, and every time, I was in a different scout uniform.

Like my mother, I can get very dedicated to things. (Others might call it obsessed, or addicted) But if I have to be obsessed with anything, Scouting is not a bad thing to be hooked on.

That said, I am really looking forward to the time when I'll be able to step down from everything and let the new parents pick up the torches. My ex once mentioned that scouting was a 'me' thing, which isn't entirely untrue, but it's not something I look forward to doing once the kids are grown and gone. Granted, there are certainly groups within scouting that look to retain experienced leaders... so only time will tell.

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