Friday, December 30, 2005

The End of an Era

Currently Reading: Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss

And which era is ending, you ask? Why the era of me not having a regular job. That era ended officially on Thursday when I started working at the Petco near the house. Yes, that's right, I'm working now at a pet store.

Just what exciting job am I doing at the pet store? I'm sure glad you asked that :-) I'm a dog bather. My official title is "Grooming Assistant" but what that mostly amounts to is that I wash and dry dogs.

I know what you're thinking, that it's a really sucky job but actually it's not so bad. For starters, me not being able to hear very well is actually a BENEFIT. Dogs make a lot of noise while they're waiting to have their bath and cut and don't get me started on how much noise the blowers and dryers make. I have no idea how the normal-hearing folks do it.

The pay is pretty good too. I get the larger amount between commissions and hourly wage. Hourly wage isn't that high but the commissions, WOW! You can earn some pretty decent money on the commissions.

Of course the best part about all this is that CC won't have to worry about money anymore. We'll now have more than enough to cover all the bills, plus the new bills from my surgery. And we'll be able to start saving as well.

Happy wife = happy bear :-)


Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Weekend; Lynne Truss

Currently Reading: Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss

Wow, did that weekend fly by or what? Seems like it was only yesterday that we were all worrying about having enough time to wrap all the presents and making sure we had presents for everyone. Now the presents are unwrapped; paper and boxes overflowing the trash cans. One holiday is over and another is right around the corner (unless you're Jewish or follow that Kwanzaa stuff).

So let's set the way-back machine and go over all the stuff I haven't been blogging about for the past 5 days. Yes, I took a break for the holidays, sue me :-)

Friday was the first day of CC's vacation so that's as good a place as any to start with. We did our food shopping early because I KNEW that the stores were going to be packed and I was right. From the size of the crowd I would say that CC wasn't the only one who had the day off :-)

My parents came by earlier to drop off their presents to us. We didn't open them until Christmas morning of course, but they wanted us to have them so we wouldn't have to wait until the afternoon on Christmas to open everything.

Friday was also my sister's birthday so we all got together at 6 for Chinese food. After dinner we came home and that was about it really. Nothing worth blogging about anyway.

Saturday was a little more eventful. We went to see Memoirs of a Geisha at 1 (just barely made it in time in fact. We sat down right as the opening credits were rolling). At 3 or 3:30 we went to a little Japanese place across the street from the theater. They have great food and we'd sort of planned on wanting Japanese food after the movie.

I don't know why the critics are being so hard on the film. Honestly, I thought it was great! Of course, having read the book I knew what to expect. Memoirs of a Geisha isn't what you'd call the definitive work on being a geisha. Hell it isn't even all true. I guess the easiest way to put it would be to compare it to another movie. Take any of your Vietnam movies. The things those soldiers encounter in your average Vietnam movie are NOT representative of the usual experience of soldiers from that war. Hell if they made it all accurate we'd be too bored. Writers string stories together, a little bit from what happened to this guy thrown in with what happened to this other guy. In the end you get a pretty interesting fiction but not a very accurate history (insert John Kerry-Vietnam joke here).

What the movie does do is put on one hell of a great visual show. You've got a group of really talented, really cool actors all wearing really great clothes and there's even a bit of a plot. Can't go wrong with that right? :-)

Yes, the story is a bit on the soap opera side of the romance scale but so what? What's wrong with having a happy ending? What's wrong with the bad guy characters being bad? Not everything in life is a shade of gray you know. Sometimes it's nice not to have a conflicted bad guy or a good guy with bad qualities.

I enjoyed it a lot. CC enjoyed it too. Everyone I know who's seen the movie has enjoyed it. Ignore the critics. They're all just trying to show their great outrage over Chinese actresses playing Japanese characters. What a load of rubbish. Michelle Yeoh had a great line about that. She asked why no one ever makes much of a fuss when an Irish actor plays English (as in Bond, James Bond) or when Irish play Scottish or the other way around. There's a lot of bad blood there too right? So why no fuss? You've got to admit, she's got a point.

We came home after eating and really didn't do much else worth note. It was Christmas Eve of course so naturally we were excited about that.

Sunday . . . where to begin? CC did a great job going over most of it. Yes, it's true, I was up at 5:30 on Sunday. Surprised myself in fact. I had planned on sleeping in until at least dawn but what the hell, it's Christmas right?

Great presents this year. CC won't say what they were but there's nothing really stopping me :-) I got some DVD sets from my family plus a set of what you'd call old-fashioned games. For those of you young'uns that means games that don't plug into anything. Games where you throw dice and move pieces around a board. Games that I can list my win-loss record for on the side bar :-)

Got a great sweater! I look COOL in that thing. Nice and comfy too, which is a nice change in a sweater :-) Usually the sweaters that look the best on me are bulky or itchy or something. Anything but comfortable.

CC got me comics! Not just ANY comics mind you, but some that I've been looking for. No, I'm not one of those weird comic geeks that runs around calling them GRAPHIC NOVELS and wearing black and smelling funny. There are some really great books out there now, mostly from Marvel. You've got the reprints of the old comics, which is wonderful. They come in softcover books about an inch thick or so and they usually have an entire year's worth of issues. My favorites are The Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, The X-Men and, at the top of the list, or at least in a tie with the X-Men are the Fantastic Four. Oh I love reading those old FF comics.

Anway, I had volumes 1 and 3 but not 2. 2, for some reason, is hard to find in stores. CC tracked it down through Amazon and got me a copy. She also got a copy of the new version of The Inhumans. The Fantastic Four run into them in one of the early issues. Johnny Storm developes a crush on Crystal and follows her and through a series of unfortunate events, the FF end up finding the Inhumans which means that the Inhumans now have to move. Yes, I know, it's corny, soap opera stuff but I still love it :-)

We also have some new appliances in the house. CC got her fancy, pod coffee maker. That thing makes coffee QUICK. I really don't know how the thing works but just making a guess, I'd say it has something to do with heating the water up under pressure. One of them physics things I vaguely remember from high school says something about water heating up faster under pressure. Doesn't really matter. What does matter is that she really loves it and uses it and it makes good coffee (for her of course. I can't stand coffee myself and stick with tea).

And we have a grill now. We've been wanting to grill. In the summer all you have to do to smell burning meat is step outside. Grilling is big in these parts but the city has a law against grilling on the balcony of an apartment. Makes sense. That's how a LOT of fires start. Next best thing is an electric grill, which we got for Christmas :-)

And the dishes. Ah, how glorious. When we moved in we had one set of dishes. That's service for four people. We got another set, same pattern, so now it's service for 8. More importantly, it means we don't have to run the dishwasher quite so often because we've run out of bowls or plates or something. You've got to love THAT :-)

CC is a bit of a Beatles fan. She also plays the keyboard for fun. When we got the keyboard (it's written up in a previous post somewhere) she got a HUGE book of songs. She loves that book but what she really loves to do is play Beatles songs. So, I got her a book of JUST Beatles songs. It has all the popular ones, all the favorites, it even has all the songs that left you scratching your head asking, "What?" She's been playing keyboard quite a bit this weekend. Two hours or more on Sunday and another 2 hours or more this morning. She's one happy bunny :-)

It was a slow day today (Monday). Part of me was still trying to make up for lost sleep. The other part of me was so used to being active that it wasn't sure it was supposed to rest. Plus, tomorrow we all have to go back to what we were doing before the holidays, at least for a few more days. That means back to work or looking for work or avoiding work, whichever you were doing before. It's sort of like the last day of summer vacation when you're a kid. You're not sure how to spend the time but you know you need to do SOMETHING.

I did know that I was NOT going to take down Christmas decorations. Sorry but for me, the rule is that they stay up until after New Year's. THEN they can come down and be boxed up and so forth. We only get a few weeks of these nice decorations so I really want to enjoy them while I can.

Today we had a domino re-match. I won on Sunday and won again quite handily, thank you :-) I have to be smug and brag about this because let's face it, CC is REALLY whupping my butt at Boggle :-) I also taught her how to play Pachisi. That one came down to one roll, literally. In the end, she had three pieces home, I had three pieces home and we both had our fourth piece sitting two spaces from home. It came down to who rolled a 2 first and that was me :-)

After that, we watched a little TV, had lunch, then we took a nice long walk along the Wolf River which is across the street from the apartment complex. There's a long nature trail down there that is very scenic. It probably looks even nicer in the spring when the trees have leaves on them but it was still pretty scenic for winter.

Came home and that was about it for the day. CC went to take a nap at around 4:30 or so. It's now almost 8 and she's still asleep. Quite honestly, I think she's down for the night. Maybe she'll wake up for a snack later but she won't stay up for long. She's probably worn out from the weekend, poor thing. She needed it though. For four whole days she did almost NO office work. That always feels good :-)

So there you have it, our Christmas. Don't expect a big blog entry like this for New Year's though. I've never really done much for New Year's and neither has CC. Maybe if my parent's have everyone over we'll go there but otherwise, it's looking like we'll spend it here. I'll keep you posted of course. :-)


One gift I got that wasn't on any of my lists is the latest book by Lynne Truss. For those who don't know, or don't recognize her name, she wrote a REALLY funny book about proper grammer usage called Eats, Shoots and Leaves. It's all about REALLY bad punctuation errors, tense errors, that sort of thing. Some people call it being overly-picky with language but hey, the rules are there for a reason.

Her new book is called Talk to the Hand. The sub-title says it all: The utter bloody rudeness of the world today, or six good reasons to stay home and bolt the door.

I've only read the introductory chapter but I already know this is going to be a favorite of mine. It came out a few months ago so it's certainly available wherever you are. If you're in a book store, try and find it and have a look. You might enjoy it :-)


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My Adorable Wife

Currently Reading: The Once And Future King by T. H. White

My wife's been doing some adorable things lately. Not on purpose, but by simply being herself :-)

It's winter. She's cold. I have a big, poofy, down jacket. It's blue so I nicknamed it Big Blue. Big Blue is a REALLY warm coat. In fact, it's SO warm that I usually only wear it a few times a year. Naturally, when CC moved over I let her use it because she's cold a LOT more often than I am.

Today she wore Big Blue to work. Now, when I say she wore it to work, I don't just mean that she wore it during the trip to work, took it off, hung it up and went to work. No, she wore it to work. Up the elevator. Into the office. At the computer.

Can you just imagine how cute she looked, swallowed up by a big down jacket, hood up and everything! That's my wife, such a cutie pie :-)

This being the Christmas season, she's also displaying one of her other cute habits: impatience with presents. She's REALLY bad at waiting for holidays or birthdays to open her presents. She wants to know what they are NOW. She tries to get the information out of me and more often than not, she's successful.

Her latest attempt was pretty funny. She's asked for one of those new coffee makers that use a little pod of coffee and brews it under high pressure so it takes almost NO time to make. We're sitting on the sofa the other day watching TV and she says to me, all sweet-like, "Honey, you know how when I get presents I like to use them right away right? Well, just so I can be prepared, will I need to buy coffee pods when we go shopping?"

You'll be happy to know that I didn't fall for it this time. I mean, goodness we've only got a week left right? She can wait that long I'm sure. :-)

Oh, we WERE allowed to open ONE present early. Judy and John sent us their presents, which got here a few days ago. One of them was marked to be opened on the 21st so naturally we opened it up. Hey, we had to follow the instructions right? :-)

Well, we've been big fans of the Painted Pony figurines. Judy got us on those back when we got married. We have three of them . . . or rather I should say we HAD three of them. Now we have a fourth! Oh and it's a PRETTY one too, it's all done up for Christmas! I'll try and get CC to post a picture. It's REALLY lovely. We didn't know where to put it at first so we juggled the decorations a little bit so it fit on the TV where everyone can see it. Can't wait to show that one off :-)

Just 3 more shopping days until Christmas folks. I must say though, if you don't have to, you'll REALLY want to avoid the malls on Saturday. Hell just to be safe, better avoid any place that sells stuff. It's going to be crazy out there.

Be safe!


Some of you may have noticed the little running tab on our Boggle games. Regular readers probably remember I mentioned that I was going to keep track of the wins and losses. Notice how I'm NOT getting any better? Pretty sad actually, I've been practicing online and she STILL whupped my butt tonight. She was on SUCH a roll that she managed to beat me in 3 rounds.

I did get a LITTLE revenge last night when we played Monopoly but it's somewhat hollow. She'd never played the game before and is still getting the hang of it. Besides, Monopoly is as much luck as it is skill anyway. If you roll bad, and she was rolling bad, you don't get to buy the better properties. And if you're REALLY lucky, like I was, you somehow manage to skip over all those hotels (and she had some hotels out there waiting for me). I'll be adding more as soon as we get more games to play.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Slow Time; Knocked Up Fish

Currently Reading: The Once And Future King by T. H. White

This happens every year. The week before Christmas is slow time. I'm not quite sure how the physics works but right around the Winter Solstice, right around Christmas, time, as we know it, slows down to a crawl!

It doesn't seem to matter how busy I am, if it's the week leading up to Christmas, nothing takes as long as it used to. A trip to the store which would normally take an hour suddenly only takes 5 minutes. Reading a book? Well if a chapter usually took 30 minutes for you to digest, you can bet you'll have that baby put away in 10 minutes flat.

I bet if I looked out the window right now I'd see leaves falling in slow motion :-)

And it's not like I've been sitting here just waiting for Christmas to come. Friday was PACKED with little things to do as we prepared for the big cookie frosting festival. Then Saturday WAS the cookie frosting festival. Sunday CC and I went to see The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (excellent film by the way). That movie was 2 and a half hours long and we STILL got home with plenty of time to spare in the day.

Yesterday I finished up all the things around the house that hadn't gotten done already. Wrapped presents, baked MORE cookies (this time oatmeal) and even with all that thrown in there I had time to read several chapters of The Once and Future King and even watch TV.

I know there's something going on out there with time. I can feel it. :-)


My guppy got knocked up. No wait, let's be fair, she was knocked up when I got her. Oh yes, it's true. I thought maybe she just had an eating problem or something and had put on some weight. She also liked to wear big coats around the tank but I thought she was just used to warmer water, you know?

No, it's true, she was knocked up. I looked last night, skinny as the male guppy. Then I see something odd in the fake plants. Two EYES floating around in there. Apparently baby guppies are pretty much all eyes. They're like 80% eyes. Must be because the other fish will eat them. Having big eyes allows them to see who's eating them so that when they are reincarnated, they can come back for revenge :-)

Anyway, I have no idea how many sets of eyes are hiding in the tank. Could be 2, could be more. Could be they've all been eaten and are planning to come back some time next year as a poor, helpless kitten that finds itself stranded on our doorstep needing a home. We shall see :-)


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

This Side of Graceland

Currently Reading: The Once And Future King by T. H. White

Men and women have different ideas about what "good decorating" is. This is something that is VERY apparent during the Christmas season when we all drag down the decorations from the attic or out of the closet to make things a little more festive around the house.

You've seen our decorations by now, I'm sure, over at CC's blog. She's put up some nice pictures of our "tasteful" decorations and I have to admit, it really does look nice around here. The general theme she's looking for is "expensive department store" in red and gold :-)

Yeah, it looks nice, don't get me wrong but I'm a guy. Guys have a totally different sense when it comes to these things. Granted, most of the time it's more like a LACK of sense or a very BAD sense, but I choose to label it as DIFFERENT because that's MUCH more polite :-) That's not to say that we are all bad at decorating. I'm pretty good at it myself. But I must say that guys are more likely to decorate a room purely based on just how tacky they can make it look :-)

Which brings me to the back porch :-)

I would like to preface this by saying that from the ground, our third-floor balcony porch looks pretty good actually. Things don't look over-the-top unless you're actually standing up there in the middle of everything. I'd also like to point out that even in our own building and our own apartment complex there are MUCH worse decorations out there. Besides, what I did out there yesterday I did on PURPOSE. I was TRYING to make our porch look like the most glittery thing this side of Graceland :-)

Picture a generic porch in an apartment building. Picture this in your mind because I'm not going to go out there in the cold, wet weather and take a picture for you. If you want to see this you either have to use your imagination or drag your butt on over for a visit :-)

Now, picture the porch. On either side you have sort of Greek/Roman pillars. Between those pillars there is a green, metal, iron fence. Nothing elaborate, just straight bars running up and down, about 3 feet high. Door to the apartment is on the back wall at the far left.

Wrapped around both pillars you will find VERY red tinsel. You've probably seen it at Walmart. It's RED and it's SHINY. Around and around it goes making the pillars look like giant candy canes . . . if you take off your glasses or recently got hit in the head and your vision is blurry :-)

In the middle of the fence you'll find a small wreath. Simple. Dare I say, elegant? Of course that whole image is TOTALLY thrown off by all the garland that comes flying out from behind it. Red and silver, the red being leftover from wrapping the pillars, it's flying out like wings all the way to the ends of the fence. I suppose you could say it looks a bit like bunting, but thin.

I've got another set of this stuff flying from the middle of the ceiling too, by the way, so you've got THREE runs of this stuff going across the patio. It's all VERY bright and VERY glittery and VERY Vegas baby, YEAH! :-)

Now, to set off this display, I've run a string of colored Christmas lights around the whole thing. Picture a big, multi-colored rectangle of lights. Place that big rectangle around all the shiny stuff. That's our porch :-)

Fabulously Festive :-)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Christmas, All Weekend Long

Just Finished Reading: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

The Christmas season got fired up in a big way this weekend. Spent the whole weekend involved in Christmas activities and you know, it was pretty damn fun.

First up was Friday's surprise package from Judy and John. Judy has a WHOLE bunch of Christmas decorations she's accumulated over the years and now that CC and I are living on our own, she's taken it upon herself to share those things with us. It's a mutually beneficial arrangment you see. We get Christmas decorations. She gets closet space :-)

In Friday's package were two deer. They're made out of a clear, plastic, resin sort of stuff. Looks like glass but it's not as heavy and probably nowhere near as fragile. We've set them up on the coffee table.

Saturday was almost entirely Christmas. In the morning, we cleaned up the apartment a bit to get ready for decorating. In the afternoon, we went over to my parents' house to retrieve the Christmas decorations.

Originally we'd planned to get them on Sunday but it occured to me that if we picked them up Saturday afternoon, we'd have the whole day Sunday to do the actual decorating which means we'd be done over the weekend and we could just enjoy it after that. And so, in one day we went from having almost no Christmas decorations at all to having WAY more than we know what to do with. Seriously, I'd forgotten there was so much and we actually had to leave a few things at the house because there wasn't room in the truck. I'll sort through it all eventually and get it into some sort of organized chaos :-)

While we were over there, I ended up hanging the Christmas lights. I wasn't planning on doing it you know. I was thinking that, this being my first year on my own for Christmas, I might actually avoid the ladder climbing. That was my first though at least. Didn't work out that way. All these years, I've been the only one to hang the lights on the house so no one else knew what pattern they went up in or how they were attached to the house. So up I went and down, and up and down, over and over again until they were finished. Not sure how they look though. We left before the sun went down so I never got a chance to see them lit. :-)

Saturday night was CC's boss' Christmas party. It's a big, family thing with games for the kids and prizes and presents and Santa and even a sleigh ride. We got there around 7ish and the party was in full swing. Kids everywhere, parents enjoying watching the kids play, parents enjoying the free-flowing open bar :-) There was also a lot of really good food and we had a great time.

After all the kid stuff was done, the parents gathered in the front sitting room, kids in the back watching a movie. We got in a big circle and drew numbers for a gift exchange. It worked like this, you pick a present in the order of your number. You can either open the present you picked from under the tree or you could steal someone else's present and then THEY would go and pick a present from under the tree. Works great if you're the last person to pick. You can pretty much see what's available and go with it. Me? Number 1. That's right, I went first.

My pick was this really nice, ceramic cake-serving dish. It was raised up on a pedistal, very Christmasy and it came complete with some sort of little cake-like cookie. So naturally I did't get to keep it. Hell I didn't even get a chance to look at the cookies because the very next person to pick stole my platter. Not that we could say much. CC's boss was the next person :-) She really wanted that platter I guess :-)

We went home with a decorative basket that we've put in the bathroom to hold bath salts, a sushi serving set and a B.B. King Christmas CD. Not bad :-)

There was one guy I was starting to feel sorry for. I think he had every gift he picked stolen by someone else. First thing he got was a rather nice tea set. Lots of different types in a nice storage box. That didn't last long. So his next pick was a bottle of wine which promptly got taken by someone else. Then he got a massage pillow. He had that for a little longer but it got taken too. Then he got the sushi set which CC ended up taking. :-)

Sunday was decorating day. I'm not going into detail about the decorations. CC's taken pictures so I'll let her post those to her blog. You can see the results of our efforts when she has them finished.

Oh, and just a heads up, this next weekend we're having a cookie frosting party. It serves two purposes. First, we get to show off our decorations. Second, we get someone to frost our Christmas cookies for us :-) The whole family will be over and we'll all have lots of fun. There will be coffee for the old folks and hot chocolate for the young ones, the young at heart, and those of us who just think coffee is nasty :-)


Boggles my mind. We picked up a Boggle set last week. CC and I like playing Boggle. It's more fun with just the two of us. Less pressure, more fun. Well, right now I am 0 for 2 at Boggle. I tend to start strong, build up a decent lead, then lose in the last few rounds. It's happened twice now and I'm starting to think CC's just toying with me :-) She let's me win a little so I don't feel bad and then BAM! She lowers the hammer and puts me out of my misery :-)

So, in the spirit of seeing just how bad I am at Boggle and sharing that with the known universe, I'm going to post my Boggle record in the sidebar over there. Try not to laugh if it takes me a while to actually WIN a game :-)


Friday, December 09, 2005

Holiday Madness

Just Finished Reading: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

I think the cold weather is freezing a lot of brains out there. I've been watching the papers and the news online for the past few weeks. It's a madhouse out there!

It started off right after Thanksgiving. People were getting into fights and trampling others just to get into Walmart stores to buy cheap presents. Yes, it is true that there were repeat incidents a few days later when Microsoft released their new video game system, but that makes it worse, not better. At least one could argue that the after Thanksgiving crowd was trying to save money. The Microsoft mob was just trying to be the first to have an Xbox 360.

Every week I've seen at least one story lamenting the holiday season. We're becoming quite good at complaining about the holidays. I'm thinking there must be some sort of file in the office of every newspaper that contains humbug news. Each year they just pull it out at the right time, whip out an article and publish an easy filler story. Such "news" stories are usually about stolen decorations, damaged Christmas displays, stolen presents, factories closing right before Christmas, troops on foreign soil, psycho world leaders who hate us just in time for the holidays, etc.

Hell there's already enough pressure to try and create the perfect holiday moment, we really don't need any more do we? Every year it gets just a little worse, the pressure. You see the TV commercials, the ads in the newspapers, they always want to "help you find that perfect gift for that special someone." Do they ever help anyone . . . other than themselves I mean? You'll notice that most fo the time these "helpful" gifts are available for a limited time and they also tend to be on the expensive side. Of course, they also usually come with a little financing option thus making the gift that keeps on giving also equal the gift that you keep on paying for :-)

Two more weeks left until Christmas. We've got most of our shopping done, thank God. Unfortunately we have NONE of our mailing done yet which means I've got at least one long wait at the post office ahead of me. We're already receiving Christmas cards in the mail so I know we're behind. Hopefully our cards will make it on time but I'm pretty sure some of them will be late. Sorry about that folks.

There it is again, more of that holiday pressure. It's tough to deal with. You get into a race with everyone else. You keep on trying to out-do everyone else but also yourself. Did you give so-and-so a better present last year? And how does their gift compare to the present you gave to that other person? You don't want to appear as though you like person A more than person B do you? And then there's the really BAD moment that comes when you get the dreaded SURPRISE present. That's the gift that comes from someone YOU didn't get a gift for. Been there. That's when you try to be believable while saying that you haven't finished your Christmas shopping yet and so you haven't gotten that person's gift but you will, and soon (probably right after they leave). Makes you wonder if there are people out there who give surprise gifts on purpose just to be mean :-)

About all you can really do at this time of year is remember the people who mean the most to you. Get them a gift that you put a little thought into and hope for the best. That's what I try to do. Notice I said TRY to do. I don't always succeed. I get caught up in the whole race the same as everyone else.

Two more weeks and then we all will shift gears to trying to come up with shallow resolutions we'll break 3 days after New Year's. And buying discount Christmas decorations. And cheap wrapping paper. And getting on with whatever it was we were doing back in November when the holiday madness struck us :-)


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Toast To The Dogs; Showing Signs Of Age

Currently Reading: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

This always seems to happen to me on days like this. Maybe it happens to you too, let's find out.

Ok, it's cold out. No shocker there. It's cold all over the country today. I was out walking the dogs in this cold weather and naturally my ears and nose were especially cold. Came back, started to warm up. Fed the dogs. Sat down to breakfast.

That's when it happened.


Notice that this sneeze attack didn't happen when I got home. Didn't happen when I took off my coat and stuff. Didn't happen as I fed the dogs or even as I got breafast ready. No, this sneeze attack waited until I was sitting down, at the table, mouth full of food.

And so, toast, to my dogs :-)

To most of us, that's a bit gross. I sneezed toast all over my dogs. But you won't hear any complaints out of them. Far as they were concerned, that means table scraps for free :-)


Alrighty, you want to know if you're getting old or not? Here are two signs that mean you are, for sure, getting old.

If you hurt yourself just by reaching into the refrigerator, you're getting old. No joke, last night I was putting away soy sauce. I took the bottle off the counter, turned, reached out to the fridge, put the bottle on the top shelf where it always goes and OW OW OW OW OW OW OW! Some sort of weird back cramp. I was standing there thinking, "What the HELL is this? I'm pulling a muscle by putting away soy sauce?"

If you are actually interested in watching The Weather Channel for more than 10 minutes, you're getting old. That's right, I actually watched The Weather Channel this morning during breakfast. I did it voluntarily. I did it with full knowledge that there are many other available channels for me to watch. And I was interested in it! At first, I put it on to see when/if we were going to get the snow they were talking about earlier in the week. Then I felt myself drawn into the drama of the snows in Denver. Then the tropical update! Then the drive time commute! Next thing I know I'm sneezing toast all over the dogs :-)


Monday, December 05, 2005

Ice, Ice Baby

Currently Reading: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Oh yeah, we've all been there haven't we?

Well I guess you could say that it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Just like the song says. It's one of those things where you have to take the good with the bad.

For example, it may LOOK really nice outside when the snow is gently drifting to the ground, covering everything in a nice, clean blanket of white. Oh yes, so very peaceful. But it's an entirely different experience when you actually have to GO somewhere in that mess. We've been lucky so far in Memphis. It hasn't been cold enough for snow. There was a very SLIM chance last night and there's another chance on Thursday but the most we'll probably get is really cold temperatures, maybe a little ice. It's the sort of thing I never used to really care about much until we moved into this third-floor apartment. Now I'm thinking about all those stairs and how easy it would be for them to ice up.

Lots of Christmas decorations around out there too. Our little suburb is one of those that likes to decorate. All the telephone poles have big wreaths on them. Scattered around town you see these HUGE nutcrackers. It's very nice to see them get into the spirit. It sort of balances out all those stories you hear in the news these days of people who sue their city to keep all of that Christmas stuff out.

I read a really funny letter to the editor online today. The person suggested that those folks who aren't christian and who don't want to celebrate Christmas, what they should do is just go to work instead of taking the holiday off. I never really thought about it but DAMN that's a pretty big double standard isn't it? The same people who complain and bitch about the holidays are the same people who are the first out of the office when their Christmas vacation starts.

I was out doing some shopping this weekend. Had to pick up few presents. We're pulling double duty this month because in addition to Christmas, we also have my sister's birthday and my mother's birthday. Actually, and I keep forgetting to mention this, but my sister really should go to Japan this time of year. Her birthday falls on The Emperor's Birthday. Betcha THEY make a big deal about the 23rd :-) My mother, she was lucky. Born one day before they bombed Pearl Harbor. Well no, make that, she was born on the 6th. She wasn't born in 1941. Point is, her birthday doesn't fall on Pearl Harbor day, which would be pretty depressing.

But I digress. I was talking about how it looks like Christmas out there. Feels like it too. I was out walking the dogs this morning, came around one of the buildings and the wind just CUT right through me. I froze. The dogs are looking back at me wondering why papa is suddenly walking like Frakenstein's monster. Wind like that, it doesn't matter what you're wearing. Whatever you wear it never seems thick enough. One thing is certain, when I walk them later tonight, I'm going to have a few more layers of clothing on.

Now that I think about it, CC's boss is having her Christmas party this Saturday. Good and bad here. On the good side, she puts on a great party. Great food, the works. She's going to have a sleigh ride (Ok, it's a pony and the sleigh is on wheels but it looks really nice) and there's going to be Santa and a gift exchange. On the downside, it means I'll have to get a haircut. Lots of hair has really helped me stay warm out there. Plus, well, it may be cold outside on Saturday. Sleigh ride might not be as fun in the cold and CC gets cold REALLY easy still. Poor thing still hasn't really gotten used to an actual winter. A few more years and maybe she'll be ok with it.

Right now the weather tells me it's sunny and 36 degrees out. You look at that, look out the window and see it and it just doesn't seem possible. It looks so nice and WARM out there. 36 degrees. Makes me cold just writing about it :-)


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

CC Discovers Gene Kelly; Jack Discovers Squirrels; Cities Discover Christmas

Just Finished Reading: Loop by Koji Suzuki

CC has discovered Gene Kelly. She's seen him before of course but it wasn't until yesterday that she REALLY decided that she liked him a lot. She was home for lunch and Turner Classic was showing the That's Entertainment series. We tuned in somewhere in the middle of the first one and they were focusing at that point on Gene Kelly.

She kept saying how amazed she was that he could dance so well and still manage to look . . . masculine. Well you have to admit, the way people dance these days, especially your Broadway-style dancing, the men tend to look a bit gay. Ok, maybe more than a BIT. But back in those days, it wasn't like that. Watch the old MGM musicals and you'll have no problems believing that these very male characters can really dance.

What changed along the way? I have no idea. I was telling CC that part of the reason the men didn't look gay while dancing was that their steps were slightly different from their female partners. If you watch them, the men take more butch stances and strike stronger poses. The women tend to move more gracefully and elegantly, adding a touch of the feminine. When they dance alone it's not as noticable but when they dance together, there's no doubt.

So if you're looking for last-minute gift ideas for CC, you can't go wrong with Gene Kelly movies. Anything but Singing In The Rain, which we already have. :-)


There are squirrels out there. Oh yes, there really are. Up until this morning you only ever saw a lone squirrel in the distance or maybe just a tail scurrying up a tree. Not so today. Today there were squirrels and they were out in force.

I suppose it's due to the weather. This time of year they must be finalizing their nests and filling them up with nuts and things. They were certainly out in force. I was walking the dogs along the usual route when they suddenly stopped and assumed the "I see something" position. Ears up, nose twitching. Then Jack started barking and attempted to take off on his own. Katya naturally followed and since they were properly leashed, I went with them. When they both take off at once, you really have to plant your feet solid to slow them down.

Anyway, it didn't take long to discover what set Jack off. Squirrels. I saw two of them myself, dashing across the street in front of us.

The funny thing is that there is NO way Jack could ever catch one of those things. They're so FAST and they move in 3 dimensions. That's something that would really mess him up. When they come to a wall, they don't stop and turn around, they go UP.

I hope those squirrels take to their nests soon though. Walking the dogs this morning was a little too much like exercise :-)


Talk about your Christmas miracles, it appears that some cities out there have discovered that the "Winter Holiday" we celebrate every December 25th is actually called Christmas! Can you believe it? After all these years they finally remember the name.

It started back in the 90's, city governments were getting sued or swamped by protesters complaining that they DARED to say Merry Christmas on a sign or had a Christmas tree on city properly. The whole business was rubbish really. A bunch of holiday Grinches trying to ruin it for the rest of us. Each year it got progressivly worse until it reached it's peak where school districts no longer gave time off for Christmas and instead had scheduled a "winter holiday." How lame is THAT?

Well Christmas is back and with a vengeance and it's about damn time if you ask me. This nonsense about not being able to publicly name any religious holidays is just too tiring. Having a Christmas tree on city property does NOT force Muslims to be Christian any more than coloring a manorah in elementary school made me Jewish.

So let's knock all this foolishness and get back to what this holiday is all about: presents, football, and eating LOTS of cookies :-)

Ok, ok, and Jesus' birthday too. :-)


Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Holiday Is Ending

Currently Reading: Loop by Koji Suzuki

And so we reach the end of one holiday season and the beginning of another. Thanksgiving 2005 is in the books. We're all well-fed and dreading the inevitable resumption of normal life Monday morning. It doesn't matter what you do, the past four days have been a vacation (unless you're stuck working in retail in which case it's been a living hell). Time to get back to work.

Unfortunately, most people will be pulling double duty for the next month. The end of Thanksgiving, as all retailers know, means the beginning of Christmas. So while we've all enjoyed the nice, relaxing pace of Thanksgiving, we all look at the calendar with dread seeing that December starts on Thursday leaving us just 24 days after that to cram in all our shopping.

My opinion on those after Thanksgiving sales really shifts this time of year. On the one hand, those people are NUTS. Waiting in line at 4 in the morning just to get into a Walmart? Are you kidding me? That's just CRAZY! There was nothing in their sales circular that was such a good deal that it was worth being at Walmart before dawn. On the other hand, those people probably have most of their shopping done already while the rest of us have to sweat it out for a few more weeks.

It sort of mirrors my general feelings about Christmas too. Yes, I'm very happy with the whole "season of giving" and so forth. I wish folks were that nice to each other all year instead of just compacting it into a month. But you know, it can be a LOT of pressure trying to figure out what to get people for Christmas. Everyone has at least ONE person who's just IMPOSSIBLE to buy for.

I see a lot of nodding heads out there. Actually, I think everyone reading this is nodding their head. I guess that makes it yet another universal truth.

Some people try and get around this problem by asking for Christmas lists but even then there's no gaurantee that plan will work. Say you get a list from a person and everything on that list is boring and un-festive? What happens, for example, if you ask your wife for a Christmas list and she hands you a list of kitchen appliances? Well mister, you'd better come up with something OFF that list because if she only gets kitchen appliances, it's going to be a COLD night for you in more ways than one.

Another way to get around it is by giving a gift card. Those are useful up to a point but it's sort of like you're giving up or worse, not even trying to figure out what gift to give. If, for example, you give a gift card to a music lover because you really want to get them a CD but you just aren't sure which one to buy, that's fine. They'll be happy to have it. But if you give someone a generic department store card with no thought behind it, don't be surprised if they aren't as "thrilled" as you were hoping.

It's a little more difficult for me, this year, trying to find gifts for everyone. CC's going to be a tough one. Her list is almost all appliances and "useful" things. Finding something fun for her is going to be a bit of a challenge. Same thing with my sister and her family. We moved out six months ago and I think I've seen them since only twice? Three times? Certainly not often enough to get an idea of what they'd like for Christmas. And then there's my mother. Usually she's the easiest to buy for because she drops hints all the time. Well, as I said before, been gone 6 months. No hints.

As it stands right now, I've got three people covered already. It's still November for a few more days so I suppose I'm not doing too bad. Still plenty of time to figure out what to get these folks. And I also have the added advantage of having CC too. She's pretty good at helping me come up with gift ideas. Together I'm sure we can come up with something. If not, well, I guess it's a stack of Target, Borders, and Best Buy gift cards for everyone :-)


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Holiday Baking

Currently Reading: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

Yes, it's that time of year again. I think I mentioned this in the previous blog entry but it's the time of year when we STUFF ourselves with turkey :-) One of my all-time favorite times of year :-) But what I forgot to mention is that it's also the time of year when we all turn our homes into little bakeries and start whipping up all of those great holiday treats.

This year, since it's our first year in our new apartment, we're doing a little baking of our own. Normally the family would do its own baking of course. Pies for Thanksgiving, cookies for Christmas, that sort of thing. Well, we can't just go over there for Thanksgiving dinner and not take something right?

Today I'm making a Boston cream pie. You've probably had that before even if you didn't know what it's called. It's a yellow cake with a layer of pudding in the middle and frosted with chocolate frosting. Great stuff. I'm also making a small pan of fudge. My sister's kids will probably take most of that, which is fine. More of the Boston cream pie for me :-)


Monday, November 21, 2005

Finally!; Dining Out; 3 More Days!; Recovery Update

Currently Reading: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

If you've seen CC's blog then you know that yes, we FINALLY got a dining room table. We didn't have one when we moved into the apartment you see and for the past 6 months we've just been eating off TV trays. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but when your dining area is 4 feet from the living room and with a clear shot at the TV, there's no reason why you can't sit down at the table.

I was actually surprised that we found the table at Walmart of all places. Normally you have to go to a furniture store for something like that. The problem was, we went to all the stores in the area and the tables they had were not really what we were looking for. All we really wanted was a simple table, wood. Given the layout of the apartment, a big, fancy table would have looked really odd. And the new trendy tables just don't match us very well.

Our new table is a simple, caramel-colored oak table with four chairs, no pads attached. Simple. If we decide to change color shemes, we just get new pads for the chairs. Everything can match with no problem.

The real adventure was getting this all up to the third floor. As you may recall, I'm not allowed to do anything strenuous until around the 9th of December. Getting it out of the store was no problem. They have plenty of people to help you lug big items to your car/truck. Of course, you can't take those people home with you.

So, what we did was open the box right there in the truck in the parking lot of the apartment. Then in several trips, we took everything up piece by piece. Ok not really piece by piece. I can carry more than just one table leg. After several trips we had it all piled up in the dining area and I spent the rest of the afternoon putting together chairs. CC, ever the trouper, put the legs on the table.

Now, you do realize that this means we can actually entertain right? We have a table. People can come over and eat dinner. Gosh this means we'll have to be social now. :-)

We had dinner out again on Saturday. We both really enjoy that. Ok, I'll be honest, mostly what I enjoy is not having to cook :-) Things that would take me forever to put together I can order from a restaurant and have it sitting in front of me within 15 minutes or so. GOT to love that :-)

We didn't go any place fancy, just over to Appleby's. Not a bad place, good grilled food. We'd just finished putting together our dining room set so we were both pretty hungry. Imagine the irony. We finally have a table to eat off of and what do we do? We eat out :-)


Hey! Just three more days until the best eating holiday out there! That's right, THANKSGIVING! What are we giving thanks for? Apparently an abundance of turkeys! No, no, that's not true. It's all about those pilgrams being glad they didn't end up as roadkill during their first year here . . . and an abundance of TURKEYS!

The best way to celebrate this holiday is with TURKEY of course, but also with pumpkin pie and FOOTBALL! Tradition has it that you stuff yourself as much as possible during the first half of the first football game then you fall asleep on the sofa in front of the TV and wake up at some point during the SECOND football game wondering what the hell happened, why the uniforms are different, and who won the first game. THEN you start stuffing in the leftovers so you don't get stuck eating turkey for 3 weeks :-)


So, how are we doing with our recovery? Well apparently it's making us refer to ourself in the third person, which is annoying so we'll stop that right now :-)

I'm doing pretty well now actually. I don't get sore very often anymore, which is good. I'm no longer taking the prescription pain killers either. I tossed those last week. Normal Advil is just fine. Walking the dogs again, no problems there so long as they don't see ANOTHER dog and try and run for it. That still prompts some strain and sore muscles.

My diet is back to normal WOO HOO! No problems eating anything, which is great. In fact, I'm pretty much back to normal except for not being able to do anything strenuous. No heavy lifting, still can't do that. Sometimes I still get a little sore in the abominal muscles but that's not very often and not severe.

Guess you could say I'm nearly fully recovered. Just have to be patient and heal up the rest of the way :-)


Friday, November 18, 2005

Let The Complaining Begin!

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

It's one of those universal thing, like death and taxes. Every year books are turned into movies. Most of them are smaller books or genre-specific like crime or romance, but once or twice a year you have a HUGE blockbuster type movie based on a HUGE blockbuster type book. In the past years we've had the whole Tolkien Lord of the Rings series and the still on-going Harry Potter series, which will be the topic of complaints all across America tonight.

Actually, the complaining is already starting. Despite a whopping 89% favorable rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, what stands out in most reviews are the complaints. I even saw one article over on Fox that does nothing BUT complain. No, wait, they refer to it as "listing differences from the book." Yes, they list those differences but in only one case to they list a change in a positive light.

Mostly what I'm seeing falls into one of two categories. The first group is complaining that the new director is a little too much like the FIRST director and he's taking the series back to a more literal translation. The guy who did the third episode was much more stylistic in his approach and wasn't that just WONDERFUL . . . so they say. To be honest, I never had a problem with either method. Being literal worked great for the first two movies, which were based on much shorter books. Starting with book 3 though, the amount of text being translated to the screen grows dramatically! Naturally you can't be literal when the source material is so huge. Things have to be cut, combined, reworked to fit the time frame of a movie. And let us not forget, there were quite a few complaints about the third movie for just that reason, too many cuts.

Of course, cuts is the second category. Everyone has their favorite characters and scenes from the books and they expect to see them in the movies. They work themselves into a frenzy if their chosen one isn't featured prominently. Take this new movie. According to one "complaint," Victor Klum and Fleur (I'm not even going to look up her last name) hardly speak even though in the book they're both given HUGE back stories. Ok, yeah, so? It's something I remember talking about with movie 3. When you have that much basic plot to work with, you HAVE to cut down the little stuff along the way and when you get right down to it, Harry's fellow competitors in the Triwizard Tournament really are just there for the plot. Hell Fleur eventually ends up marrying one of the Weasleys and she's STILL not that major of a character.

One of the things that makes J. K. Rowling's work so great is her attention to detail. All those layers add up to a very rich literary environment. It makes for a good read. But it also makes converting it the work to film pretty tough. Some of the details can be worked in as background or scenery but when it comes to each character that crosses the paths of the protagonist, that's quite a bit more difficult.

Cut the director some slack. The movie will be great, we'll all enjoy it and we'll have a wonderful time. If you prefer the books, then stick with the books and stop trying to ruin it for the rest of us.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Recovery Update; Weather Report; Oscar Outlook

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

This didn't quite work out the way I thought it was going to. When the doctor said nothing strenuous for 4 weeks, and all the paperwork said nothing strenuous for 4 weeks, I was thinking nothing strenuous for 4 weeks. Alas, it was not to be. Last night I walked the dogs :-)

Ok that might have been a bit dramatic, but I did walk the dogs. In all fairness they were much better behaved than usual though and we didn't run into any of the neighborhood dogs. No pulling, no running, and when I said STOP they stopped. I think maybe they're just being easy on me knowing that I'm not yet back up to full speed. You watch, come Demember they'll be dragging me around all over the place :-)


Speaking of December, it looks like fall is finally here . . . again. I'm not going to cement that prediction though. We've had this happen a few times already where it's cool or cold for a whole two days and then a week later we're in shorts. Hell we were just in shorts yesterday for that matter. Then last night the electric blanket is on. This morning CC turns on the heater and I wore a coat while walking the dogs.

This sort of weather pattern is something that bugged me in Texas too. I'm not that picky about the weather really but you know, it would be very nice if there was some sort of consistancy to it. When it's supposed to be cold, be cold and STAY that way. There's just something freaky and wrong with having shorts and sweaters both mixed together in the same wash. :-)


Brace yourselves, it's going to be another one of those sucky Oscar years. You can already feel it can't you? We're in mid-November now and the holiday movies are starting to come out. That means bigger, more entertaining movies but not usually the stuff of Oscars. Only movie that comes to mind that might be in the Oscar race is Memoirs of a Geisha.

If this trend keeps up, it's going to be another one of those Oscar nights where I watch something else instead. I didn't watch the last one. Hadn't seen many of the movies that were nominated and the ones I HAD seen, well, they were just BAD. Come on, Sideways? The only way that movie is good is if you've put away a few bottles before the opening credits.

I was thinking about this the other day while I was browsing movie reviews. There just haven't been many good movies put out this year even if you aren't thinking Oscars. So what that means is that there will be this HUGE rush the last week of December and all sorts of little artsy-fartsy movies will come out and the folks in Oscar-land will just GUSH over the latest indy flick about gay cowboys eating pudding and . . . no wait, actually there already IS a gay cowboys eating pudding movie. Damn, betcha that's the one that wins best picture.

Maybe I'll skip the Oscars again this year. Unless Geisha manages to sweep everything, I suspect it's going to be a hair-pullng, frustrating night (which is why I don't watch the Emmy awards anymore).


Ok, here's the deal with the gay cowboys eating pudding. It comes from an episode of South Park, second season. The city is hosting an independant film festival because Robert Redford and company have managed to totally trash Sundance and they need a new little city to mess up. The kids are given an assignment to see and report on an independant film during the festival. At one point, Cartman says that everyone knows all independant films are about gay cowboys eating pudding. Later, Stay and Wendy are in the theater watching one of the movies and, sure enough, it's about gay cowboys eating pudding. You can imagine the jokes flying around earlier this year when Ang Lee released a film at Sundance that actually WAS about gay cowboys. Whether or not they ate pudding has not been reported :-)


Monday, November 14, 2005

Weekend Update; Low Battery; Mr. Bear Goes Shopping . . . And Gets A Bill

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

Better take a bathroom break and grab a drink. This looks to be one of those really LONG blog entries.

We had a pretty great weekend. Started it off Saturday by just doing some goofing off. CC and I pretty much took things easy Saturday morning though we did have one minor problem. Poor Jack ate something he shouldn't have and made a big mess of the carpets. We spent quite a bit of time cleaning up the results, so much so that we actually had to go out later and pick up some MORE cleaning supplies.

As I was kneeling down there, cleaning up dog vomit, my mind got to thinking about all sorts of things. One of them was how much CC really has made my recovery from surgery SO much easier. I'm serious, that woman is made of gold and I STILL have no idea what I did to deserve someone that fantastic. But I digress. Anyway, I was thinking it would be nice to get her something, just to say thank you for all the hard work she put in taking care of me AND working at the office.

After she finished up some office work she was doing at home, I told her we're going out. Where? Well that was going to be her choice really because our quest was to get her a new sweater. One thing she'd said a few times was that she'd like to replace some of her older sweaters where the elastic is getting weak and also some of her jeans that are starting to wear out. Jeans can wait. She doesn't wear them as often, but it's getting to be sweater season.

Off to the store we went, first stopping at Target. They had some nice sweaters available and CC settled on a very pretty red one. That'll be perfect for Christmas parties that we'll go to in a few weeks. We also went over to the Christmas decorations department and had a look there to get some ideas for our first tree. She wants to go with a red and gold theme so we were looking at ornaments, ribbons, that sort of thing. We picked up 4 stockings for us because I KNOW we'll never find them later. Mine has an S, her's has a C, then we also got a K and a J for the dogs. They're quite nice and they'll look great hanging from the fireplace.

After that we had coffee at Starbucks (well, chai latte for me) and just relaxed a bit.

Sunday was even more fun! CC's boss was having a "sip and see" for her new baby. Basically folks went over to have drinks and look at the baby and chat. CC had a champagne cocktail, I had a little wine, we both had some GREAT snacks and a good time. Her boss was asking me about the surgery, which was very nice of her. In fact, quite a few people asked about it.

The funniest part came when Andre, the baby's father, was holding him. The baby started getting a little fussy so what does Andre do? Hands him off to someone else. He jokes, "see that? That's my parenting skills kicking in there. When the baby needs something I hand him off." He was kidding of course . . . I think. He's just one of those guys who knows full well that with newborns, they always respond better to a woman's touch.

After that we went to the movies and saw The Legend of Zorro. Forget what you heard about the movie in the reviews. Zorro was pretty damn entertaining. No, it wasn't high art or anything like that but then, who goes to see an Antonio Bandaras action-comedy expecting Oscar material? Apparently film critics, that's who.

It's a pretty simples story. Bad guys in secret organization trying to take over the world. New super weapon. Zorro saves the day. Lots of people are trying to read political messages in the whole thing but to be honest, if that was their goal the failed pretty bad. Yes, you could read things into it if you wanted to but really it was just like any other Saturday afternoon adventure movie, like from the old days. It was fun. There were some good jokes, lots of sword fighting and such, and the plot wasn't totally improbable.

One thing I was sort of expecting to see what the appearance of someone from The Wild, Wild West; either version, movie or TV. The movie had all the right elements. Evil bad guys, fancy hideouts, super weapons. Would have been funny to have West pop in there and maybe untie Zorro or shoot one of the bad guys like he was secretly following all the action from the background. Ah well, it was still fun.

After the movie, Japanese food. Right across the parking lot from the theater is a Japanese place. I hadn't been there yet but CC had sushi there earlier in the week. I must say, they had some great food. I had kamekazi rolls, which is ell, crab and salmon sushi, plus chicken katsu which came with miso soup. Good stuff there. We'll be going back there for sure, probably after seeing Memoirs of a Geisha. I'm sure it'll put us in the mood for Japanese food.


The battery in the truck has been groaning lately. It hasn't stranded anyone yet but I think that's mostly because it's over-sized for my truck. See, when I first got the truck 10 years ago, for whatever reason, the battery that was in it was bad. I think the dealer said it had some bad cells in it that weren't recharging. Since this happened within the first month I had the truck, they replaced it for free. To sort of make up for any inconvenience it caused, they put in the biggest damn battery that would fit in the battery bracket. I checked later, it's the same size batery they put in full size SUV-type trucks. I mean, the thing was HUGE.

Because it was so huge, the battery, even without being able to retain a full charge, STILL had enough to crank the engine. The only problem was that we kept losing our clock and radio settings. Yes, I know, it's also a sign that the thing is going to run out completely eventually and needed replaced.

Took it over to Sears and had them do the full check on it. Always like to make sure the other parts are working, even though I was pretty sure they were. Lots of corrosion on the battery cables and the posts so they tried that first but that wasn't enough. The battery wasn't holding enough charge and had to be replaced. So out comes the old Motorcraft battery and in goes a new Diehard! What can I say, I like the Diehard batteries. Never had one let me down.


Well you know, if I'm at Sears that means I'm at the mall and if I'm at the mall that means I'm getting exercise doing some walking . . . and shopping :-) I didn't shop TOO much though. We're on a budget you know so I'm trying very hard to curb my spending and when I DO spend, I try to get bargains. Today I picked up a very nice jacket, half-off. Sears had all their coats on sale.

I checked the other stores of course to look for deals but I quickly learned that there are only a few places that actually sell coats in my size and Sears was the only one who had them on sale.

I also tried to find a flower pot. This turned out to be a bigger adventure than I thought. See, most places, when Christmas season starts, pack up their garden supplies and that's where they put Christmas stuff. Ok, fair enough, I can understand that. But DAMN did they have to pack up even indoor flower pots and soil? I have these really great plants that CC's office sent me but they're in pots that are too small. I wanted to get bigger ones but I guess that's going to have to wait until after Christmas. They should be fine but it was still pretty frustrating.


Got the bill today. Which bill? Why the hospital bill of course :-) Actually this isn't the one we pay. I suppose we COULD pay it but we aren't because it's been filed with insurance so I have no idea how many of these items are going to be paid and at what percentages. Right now we let the hospital and Blue Cross figure out who's paying what then we'll pay the rest.

Want to know what the grand total was? This is without insurance of course, just straight numbers.


Yes, you read that right. 11k just to have them hack out my gall bladder. No wait, actually hacking out the bladder only cost 4200. The rest goes to lab tests, drugs, room stay, recovery room, stuff like that. I should point out, this doesn't actually include the DOCTOR fee. He bills separately.

Crazy what they charge these days. Makes you wonder how folks without insurance manage these things. I'm looking over the list and I can tell you, the prices are WAY too damn high. I have no doubt that these are the going rate of course, but still, how did it ever get to the point where lab work alone costs damn near 1000 dollars?

No, I'm not going to advocate any sort of government plan to control costs. Every time those morons up in DC mess with something the price DOUBLES. Still, there has to be some sort of middle ground. Not likely that I'LL figure it out, but maybe someone will one day.


Lastly, just a friendly reminder that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Yes, that's right, Thanksgiving is next Thursday the 24th so everybody start making room in that tummy for all that food. And make room in the refridgerator for all those leftovers :-)


Friday, November 11, 2005

Sleeping Odd Hours; Born to be Wild

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

I have been sleeping some really odd hours ever since I got back from the hospital. On a normal day I'm falling asleep around midnight. Sleep 8 hours or so and then I'm back up again. Sometimes I sleep a little more depending on what I did that day but still, asleep around midnight is pretty standard.

When I was in the hospital, I had to suffer through the same thing everyone else does: a nurse that comes in every 2 hours to check on you. Don't get me wrong, for the most part that's a GOOD thing. Hell there were even times when I slept right through the visit. But you know, 4 am comes around and they're supposed to take your temperature. No way to do that without waking you up.

In addition to the nursing stuff, I also had a ready supply of pain killers. That'll really put a drag in your day. I remember when I came out of surgery, when the pain was pretty much at it's worse that first day, I lost track of time in a big way. I would fall asleep and I'd SWEAR I'd been out for a while. Then I'd look at the clock and only 20 minutes had gone by. Very strange indeed.

Last two days here at the house I haven't been able to fall asleep before 3 am. First time it wasn't a big deal. I woke up pretty much my normal time, 5 to 6 hours later though not 8. LAST night though, I slept my full 8 and it sort of freaked me out this morning. I woke up, rolled over and looked at the clock. 11:22! YOW!

A few hours later, having had breakfast and done some of the morning stuff, I was dragging a little so I decided to lay down on the sofa . . . and SLEPT for an hour and a half!

I just KNOW I'm going to be up all night again tonight. Ah well, it'll correct itself sooner or later :-)


CC and I went grocery shopping tonight. I'm not allowed to do anything strenuous so my job was managing the list. I also took advantage of my "condition" and used one of those little motorized carts they have at Walmart. You've seen them. They're there for people in wheel chairs or who have injuries or something like that. Mostly they get used by old people and folks who are too fat and/or out of shape to manage walking around Walmart for an hour.

In my case, last week's surgery makes me unable to be as active as I used to, for now of course. I can't walk as far without running out of steam plus walking a lot makes my side sore. I'm supposed to be taking it easy, remember?

So there I was, puttering around Walmart in the little cart. That was actually pretty cool. I was over that the pharmacy and the guy that works there, the lab tech assistant guy, he's always goofing off. You get a line over there at the pick-up window and it's a sure bet he's at the other end of the pharmacy pretending to tidy up his counter area, also pretending he can't see the line of people waiting. Didn't have to wait THIS time though. Those little carts have a horn . . . and it's annoying :-) That's right, I just held down that horn until he came over (which was pretty damn quick for a change). Yes, that's me, wild child :-)


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Cecillization; Productivity Update

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

When CC first started working at her present company, one of the things she did was re-format the training manuals. Keep in mind, there was nothing really wrong with the first set. They simply weren't pretty. Left with time alone and boring books, CC went to work adding fancy bullets to lists, headers and footers to all the pages, and clip art to make some concepts easier to understand. Needless to say she impressed the hell out of everyone.

When she was in Manilla, she continued that tradition. I remember we jokingly started calling the process Cecillization. That's what happens when CC takes old, boring documents and makes then readable and pretty. The same is also done to presentations and proposals as well leading one fellow employee to remark once, "I'm always nervous when I have to give a presentation with you. Yours always look so much better."

One more recent case, in one of the lessons, there was a set list of objectives. Nothing dramatic, just a list of things you should be able to do. CC found it a little dry and boring so, just because she could, she turned the whole thing into a flow chart. The boss found it so useful she didn't even recognize it as the same, boring list they'd been using before.

So why do I bring this up today? Because of an event my wife told me about last night. Years back, CC started sponsoring a child. You've seen the commercials I'm sure. You send in a small donation. That donation is joined with lots of others and together that money is spent helping out pool folks in third world countries.

Since moving here, she's been a bit lax in sending in donations so the organization she donates to send her an e-mail and attached a Word document form that she could fill out to make her donation. Nothing big there right? Happens all the time right? Trust me, it never happens like THIS . . .

She Cecillized the form. Yes, it's true, she was so annoyed with the condition of the form they'd sent that she took some time out and re-did the entire thing, including modifying the graphic they'd put in (which apparently was in backwards). Just imagine the look on the poor clerk's face when the e-mail arrives with a completely Cecillized form! I know my wife. I know her work. That new version is spectacular.

What we're both curious about now is whether they'll use her version or their old version. They'd be a fool to turn down free Cecillization but at the same time, the person who made the original form might think she's being a bit of a smart ass. We'll keep you posted if we hear more on that one :-)


I have been somewhat productive today. I'm much more mobile than I have been, which is good. Still a little sore in the abdomen, which is understandable. But what's great is that I'm ONLY sore. At the worst, it feels like maybe I did a few too many sit-ups yesterday. Abdomen is a bit tight. I've got a limited range of motion. Otherwise, it feels ok and that's a hell of a long way from where I was last week :-)

Wow, one week ago at this time I was sitting in the hallway at the hospital throwing up all over myself. Amazing how much things can change in 7 days :-)


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Home Again To Happy Dogs; Most Embarrassing Moments; War Movies

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

Ok, everybody can relax, I'm here :-)

That's right, I'm home now, finally :-) The dogs are VERY happy to say the least. I don't think I've stopped smiling since I got here.

Don't get me wrong, it was very nice of my folks to put me up the past few days. I needed that. Needed the quiet time to catch up on my rest and get used to doing things again. But you know, doesn't matter where a place is, it never can quite compare to home. No matter where you go, no matter how fancy the hotel or how great the city, if it's not home, it's just not the same. I'm home now and I'm already feeling a whole lot better :-)


Since I was in the hospital, and not on vacation, I don't have any really great stories to tell. Nothing dramatic happened. No torture or anything like that. Hell I was on a clear liquid diet so I didn't even have to worry about bad hospital food. The strongest stuff I was given was beef broth.

That being said, there were a few less than stellar moments during the trip. You have to laugh about these things or at least not let them get to you. If you let stuff like this bother you, you'll end up depressed and believe me, the hospital is NO place to be depressed. It's bad enough all on it's own. I purposely didn't take my hearing aids with me beacuse I didn't WANT to hear what was going on outside my room.

Moment number one came as I was being whisked off to surgery Thursday afternoon. I'd been in bed at that point for over 24 hours, not counting bathroom breaks. I hadn't eaten anything since Tuesday dinner. I hadn't had any of my usual, daily medication either. Why does this matter? Well it all leads up to one big moment: Return of the Exorcist!

I'm being pushed down the hall, people all around me, when I hold up my hand and say to everyone that I'm feeling sick. Feeling a bit dizzy. They stopped. People looked around. No one seemed to know what to do. I told them to get me something to throw up in because I was probably going to throw up. No response that I could see or hear. Second time I was a little more curt. Didn't matter becase right after that I became a fountain.

Now, you would think that as long as it had been since I'd eaten, and considering the amount I'd thrown up the day before, I'd be empty at that point. Turns out I wasn't. I must say, I was rather impressed with both the distance I managed to spray as well as the volume :-)

The next one came later that night, well after surgery. Everything had worn off and I'm stuck with facing this nasty reality that I have to pee, the bathroom's way over there, and I'm WAY too sore to get up.

Solution? Pee jug. They'd given me a pee jug earlier in the day to track how much I was peeing vs how much fluids they were giving me. No problem. Just used the pee jug right there from the bed. Worked great. Just like a bed pan. At least for a LITTLE while.

Late at night, jug is getting kinda full. CC's asleep and I don't want to wake her so I angle the bed a little, trying to move the jug around and then I feel it. WHOOSH! Yup, spilled the damn pee jug all over myself.

Hope you weren't drinking anything when you read that cause you probably spit it all over the monitor :-)

Anyway, that night my attendant earned her little bonus high five thingy. The volunteers give you these bonus smile things so whenever someone does something REALLY nice, you give them one and they hang it up somewhere. It's nice little attaboy type thing. Well she earned it that night let me tell ya. CC managed to get me mostly cleaned up then the two of them changed the sheets somehow. Still not sure how that was possible given my condition.

Best part, no one made a big deal out of it. Talk about humiliating. Pee all over myself. Well, at least I didn't have to clean it up ;-)

The last moment I like to call "marking my territory." I spent so long in bed with these weird abdominal sensations that every time I get up gravity makes me have to pee. Everything shifts and WHOOSH I gotta GO!

Well, I can't make it to the bathroom obviously. I'm not moving very fast these days. CC suggested, before I left the hospital, that we use those adult diaper things that people with bladder trouble use. In the very least, it'll prevent a REALLY embarrassing moment right? Yes, I suppose so, but it still feels WEIRD.

Got to my folks' house. I was climbing out of the car when it hit me and I mean it HIT me. BAM I had to GO. So I went :-)

I'm thinking it was a symbolic thing. I was just marking where I was going to stay for a few days, that's all :-)


Been reading online that Jarhead isn't the greatest of war movies. Most folks are complaining about it's very anti-war message. That's sort of the rage in Hollywood of course and has been for a LONG time. Prior to that you had a whole lot of war movies that while were more positive, were totally unrealistic. They were more like adventure movies set DURING a war.

If you want a middle ground, a good war movie that doesn't get all freaky with the anti-war message, get a copy of The Big Red One. It's been out on DVD for a while now and it follows the exploits of a 1st Infantry squad during WWII. Hey, it's got Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill in it so how can you go wrong eh?

One of my favorite spots in the movie is the Normandy landing. Sam Fuller shows the world that you can depict the landing of Normandy and not traumatize the audience the way Speilburg did. Yes, you get a full sense of the danger and tension but you get it without seeing people turned into jello by high powered weaponry.

So, when you're in the mood for a good war movie, check out The Big Red One. You'll love it.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Little Drama

Currently Reading: The Big Red One by Samuel Fuller

Well, by now most of you have heard about my "procedure" from CC's site. I'll give just the basics for now and then post the rest when I get home or when I have a little more energy. At the moment my energy comes and goes but I know people have been asking about me so I decided to blog today from my recovery room.

First off though, damn, I am WAY too young to be having gall stones. No, seriously, you see this happening on TV and it's always to some old guy. Not supposed to do this at 35. Grrrrr.

So here's what happened. Wednesday morning I had the attack. Hurt like hell. In fact, it hurt so bad that I actually considered going to see a doctor. And when the pain never really went away, I figured that's what I'd do. Pain like this tells you that something is just not right and it's not going to get better. I called CC and told her to come home. I went downstairs, met her in the parking lot, and off we went to the hospital.

Hours later, after several tests and bleedings, they came in and told me I had gall stones. They asked if I had a doctor of my own and I said no so they got one for me. He had a look and said they had to come out. They'd said as much anyway. What he added though was that the gall bladder needed to come out too. It was only a matter of time. And since the surgery was about the same anyway, I might as well have it done while I was there.

Had it done Thursday afternoon. Spent Friday recovering. Saturday I had to check 0ut. I would have preferred to stay. It was convenient being there. Someone checked on me all the time. Meals were provided. CC didn't have to worry so much. I suppose I could have stayed but I would have had to pay for it. Insurance will only cover so much.

Instead of going home, we came to my parents' house. They have smaller dogs plus someone will be here most of the time. This makes CC feel much better which is what's most important to me. Hell all I really need is a bed to lay in to recover so I can sleep it off. The rest puts CC's mind at ease. Everyone wins.

Kinda funny though. Here I am right back where I was this time last year. Same house, same room even. Of course, the furniture and stuff has changed.

Naturally, thanks to my parents for letting me stay. Sure does help us out. And thanks to everyone who's been asking about me. Feels good to be missed :-) And a big thanks to CC's office, which sent me a HUGE flower/plant arrangment. And also, extra thanks to those folks at the hospital who took care of me the past few days.

But the biggest thanks goes to CC. There's no way in hell I could have made it through all that without her help. There aren't words to express how thankful I am for her :-)

With any luck, I'll be back soon. I'm making progress. I have a bit more energy. Not as sore. I'll get back to blogging and I'll give you all the details. Should provide a little entertainment :-)

Monday, October 31, 2005

Too Nice For Monday; Dog Snuggles; Mistress CC

Currently Reading: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World by Haruki Murakami

What a waste of a really nice day. Seriously, it's got to be about the perfect weather outside right now. We have sunny skies. Warm, not hot. Nice breeze but not a wind. Very nice for doing something outside. I know it won't last because I've seen the weather reports but it sure is nice to look at while it lasts :-)

Will I go out there and enjoy it? Well no, not really. I mean, yes, I've been out already with the dogs and we took our usual, long route. Later today I'll take them out again and we'll take the same long route but that's about all I have planned for outside. Too much stuff to do inside.

On the plus side, I am able to open up the apartment so I do get to enjoy it a little bit. And from time to time, while waiting for files to upload or sheets to dry, I can go outside and sit a bit in the wind with the dogs.


Speaking of dogs, Katya felt like snuggling today. This is unusual for her. She likes to stretch out and take up as much of the bed as possible. And she never seems to be able to lay in one position long enough for good snuggling. But this morning, I wake up and she's just like a stuffed animal; a large, furry, snoring stuffed animal :-)


CC's playing dress-up today at work. Yes, it's time for the annual Halloween costume day. All across America you see clowns walking though parking lots and vampires driving down the highway. As if we needed more weirdness in the morning :-)

CC's dressed as a vampire . . . sort of. We were doing the fangs this morning and unfortunately she didn't get them in in time for the glue stuff to hold. It dried too quick. SO I suggested denture adhesive. She looks at me and without even saying, "honey?" I went and got dressed. Off I go to the drug store. Got back and we both tried fangs and fixadent. Didn't work though, darn it. That left CC a bit disappointed but you know what? She looks super anyway :-)

I told her, "being a vampire is like 90% mental" :-) And when you think about it, it is. Let's face it, in vampire movies, most of the time the vampire only shows fangs right before it bites someone.

She went to work sans fangs and not nearly as upset as she had been. Her costume provoked a few looks but not as much as last year's. I think it's probably because she's wearing a more NORMAL costume that you'd see on Halloween. Last year was just one HUGE stroke of luck. She went as Sadako, the girl from the Japanese version of The Ring. This was right after The Grudge played in theaters so the whole evil-Japanese-spirit thing was still fresh on people's minds.

I told her later that she looks almost like a gothic dominatrix. Maybe we could just make a slight adjustment to the costume and make it work. All she needs is a riding crop and some handcuffs and she's all set :-)

Have a happy Halloween!


Friday, October 28, 2005

The End of Summer; Halloween; Slow Days; Getting My Hour Back

Currently Reading: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World by Haruki Murakami

Well it's now official: summer is over. I know, you're all looking at me like I'm crazy, but for me, summer doesn't really end until after The World Series. The October Classic is sort of a lingering thread of summer no matter what the weather is like outside.

It was a pretty good series this year . . . unless you were a Houston fan, of course :-) Hell I'm a Yankees fan and I enjoyed it. Yes, my team got their clocks cleaned earlier than I'd hoped but taht sort of thing happens. Besides, I'm also a Dallas Cowboys fan so I'm used to inconsistant performances by sports stars :-)

But now the series is over. No more baseball until spring. The great convergance of professional sports is now complete. All that remains are football, basketball and hockey. Actually down here you can pretty much count out hockey too. Now that the NHL has signed their contract with Outdoor Life Channel the only games I ever get are the Nashville games. I'd much rather see the east coast teams or maybe Chicago.

Time to put up the ball and glove, hang the baseball team hats in the rack and dig out the Spurs hats to replace them.

Maybe next year the Yankees will be in the series again. And maybe A-Rod won't choke. We'll see :-)


Halloween is right around the corner and I must say it is wonderful to see actual horror movies playing both on TV and in the movies again. For the past several years it seems like no one wanted to bother with Halloween. Kids here don't even really trick or treat very much. Yes, I can understand we're in the Bible belt, and the Baptist bible belt at that. Those folks seem to think just about everything leads to devil worship. But that doesn't explain the absence of horror movies on TV and in the theaters.

This year it's been noticably different. Now it seems like several channels are actually going out of their way to show horror films and that's just great. That's how it should be. When you get to Halloween, the last few days right before it, you should be able to turn on your TV and pick a channel and find something freaky, and I don't mean on CNN or FOX :-)

Well let's face it, the news is scary enough. This time of year I want to see some good escapism horror. People getting eaten by giant animals or being posessed by ghosts or chased by some crazy guy carrying lawn tools. That's what this season is all about :-)

Just remember what happens next. In 4 days the stores will have taken down every last bit of Halloween merchandise and you KNOW what they're going to fill it with. That's right, the two months of Christmas are coming. So let's enjoy the harmless frights while we can :-)


Last few days have been slow around here. Ever since I got that frame up things have been going rather well. Not that I'm against things going well mind you, but when things go well I don't have much to blog about. No, that's not true. When things go well, I only have POSITIVE things to blog about and let's face it, I make MUCH better jokes about the negative and stupid things people do :-)

So if the blog entries get short for a while (yeah right like that's going to happen) or if they stop for a few days (possible) that just means things are going well and the result would be a BORING blog entry and who wants to read that? They're already long, I don't want them to be dull too :-)


And finally, this weekend we all get our hour back. That's right, the hour that those viscious bastards in the government stole from us back in the spring is being given back. So let's all do something fun for that hour. I don't care what it is, just take an hour on Sunday and do something fun. Play a game or watch a movie (a really short movie) or hell, do what I like to do, sleep :-) Just so long as you don't waste that hour by doing something stupid like work. Don't give them jerks in the government the satisfaction of using your hard-earned hour by working. I mean it, I'll be checking up on you. There will be a quiz aftewards :-)

Have fun!


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I Hate Waiting Rooms; Night Games; Framed Part 2

Currently Reading: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World by Haruki Murakami

I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that I hate waiting rooms. I think most people hate them in fact. That's something you never hear anyone say at a party.

"I just LOVE waiting rooms! I sometimes actually go to the doctor's office or the Department of Motor Vehicles JUST so I can sit in hard chairs and read old magazines."

Ok, maybe if that person had a LOT to drink? No, I'm pretty sure you'd actually pass out before it came to that.

I figure doctors' waiting rooms are the worst. That includes emergency rooms and minor medical clinics too but excludes psychiatrist offices.

The problem with a doctor's waiting room isn't so much the old, boring magazines. The real problem is the other people waiting. Think about this the next time you're at the clinic: What do you really know about the person sitting across from you? Hell for all you know they could have the plague! You're sitting there, with your book, waiting, and the person in the next seat is paler than the bad tile on the floor, they're shivering and yet also sweating buckets. THEN, just to make you even more paranoid, they sneeze.

And then there's the faker. You've seen this person I'm sure. This person is always ahead of you of course, so as to make you wait even LONGER. The faker is the person with unlimited insurance coverage and REALLY low self esteem. So low in fact that they'll fake injuries just for the attention. True story, I saw this myself the other day waiting for CC. There's a woman waiting to see a doctor. She's wearing just one shoe. Supposedly, the other foot is injured. Only problem is, she can't seem to remember which leg she's supposed to limp with. She gets up and limps over to the counter, then going back to her chair she limps using the OTHER leg. At one point she's standing on one foot . . . the BAD one.

Now, I excluded psychiatric visits from the normal waiting rooms because that's just fun. Admit it, you sit there with the other people. Same bad magazines. Same bad chairs. The difference is, it's a hell of a lot more fun trying to figure out what's wrong with people. Even harder, you have to figure out who's actually there to SEE the doctor because some of the people are just family or friends.

So, who's there to see the shrink? Is it the obviously augmented blond? Maybe she's really a psychopathic serial killer who picks up men at stripper bars. Or maybe it's that quiet little guy over there in the corner. Maybe he thinks he's Marilyn Monroe or Napoleon. See what I mean? That's a LOT more fun than worrying that you're going to go home with even MORE illnesses than you started with :-)


You know, I bet Major League Baseball is re-thinking their call to start last night's game so late. You'd think they'd have learned from the mistakes of football. If you start a game at 8 pm it's going to drag on into the wee hours of the morning. The NFL once tried starting games at 7 or 7:30 and miracle of miracles, they were over at a decent hour! Oh sure the people on the West Coast complained about the game being half over when they got home, but the rest of us actually got to see the end of it for a change.

Baseball games are even more dangerous. There's no tie in baseball. You play until the game is over and that could be a pretty damn long time. Remember that Houston game that ran 18 innings? That's enough for a double-header. And then there was last night's marathon game. I suppose it makes perfect sense that the first ever World Series game held in Texas was also the longest one. Everything's bigger in Texas right?

I shared a theory of mine with CC during that game. She woke up for no apparent reason right as the 9th inning was ending. Anyway, my theory about exra inning baseball is this: Fans are fine for 3 more innings. After that, their energy drops off quickly. I was watching the crowds during last night's game and it fit quite well. Innings 10-12, the crowd was on their feet a LOT. They were cheering, shouting, all the things they'd been doing the rest of the game. Come inning 13, everyone's sitting back down. People are yawning. Hell the PLAYERS were yawning.

Game finally ended some time after 1 am. I'm sure there are quite a few frustrated Houston fans. Suddenly their baseball team is playing just like their football team. For that matter, you could say the Astros are playing like ALL of the previous football teams in Houston. They're quite well known for choking when it comes to the playoffs. Maybe there's something in the water down there :-)


The frame is done, FINALLY. Put the last touches on it this morning. I actually had it up yesterday but the top part shifted a bit when I nailed it in leaving pretty big gaps at each end. It was easy to adjust that. Just took a few smacks with the hammer and all done. Here's the end result:

Not bad eh?


Just a friendly reminder that it's fall. Last year around this time we were in the mountains in Gatlinburg. Looked a bit like this:

Sure would be nice to be there now, just relaxing and enjoying the view :-)