Saturday, December 30, 2006


I don't normally like to comment on news items, as they are possibly too interesting to many of my readers. But here's one I just can't pass up.

At our Christmas party, the most interesting thing that happened was that the dog barfed on the carpet in the fambly room. Oh, and I trounced the other two dads at air hockey.

These folks were apparently having a much more animated time.
All three were heavily intoxicated, police Chief Frank Powers said.
You don't say...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Those whacky kids

Yesterday, The Mrs. ran off to the grocery store in the morning because the whole world thought we were going to have a massive, massive snowstorm that would paralyze everything again. And we were out of celery.

The Childrens and I sat downstairs in the basement watching TV and eating popcorn, which is what I call "parenting". About an hour and a half later, the dog started barking like crazy, and I said, "Oh boy - sounds like Momma's home!" The Childrens immediately ran upstairs. I sat on my butt in the basement eating popcorn. We were watching Alice in Wonderland on TV, and I don't have a Tivo or ReplayTV or DirecDVR or anything that would let me pause live TV. Plus, if I went upstairs, The Mrs. would probably make me unload the groceries.

A little while later, HannahC came down. She looked a little confused, but she just sat down next to me and started eating popcorn and watching TV again. The dog was still barking, and MaxieC had not returned. I asked HannahC, "Was that Mommy?" She replied, "No."

"Who was it?"

"I don't know."

So I ventured upstairs to investigate. There, to my surprise, I found a man standing in the hallway looking worried. FreddyC was barking and jumping up on him, trying to lick him, and MaxieC was throwing everything he could pick up at the guy, which, at the time, was The Mrs.'s slippers. There were other various toys lying around the guy's feet.

I corralled the dog and the boy, and I determined that the man was here to fix the furnace. We decided to fix it rather than replace it as the estimate for replacement came in between $10k and $15k and involved opening up the walls to add more vent pipes (having a combined furnace/hot water heater means there isn't enough air plumbing to go with a separate furnace and water heater). He replaced the pressure relief valve (which had been refusing to hold pressure and was dumping water all over the floor whenever the burner came on), and in the process discovered that igniter had mostly consumed its sparking electrodes and was destined to fail shortly. So now that's fixed, too. He was the same guy who fixed the water tank circulation pump that died in our first week here. He told me we'd be seeing a lot of him.

I gotta figure out how to keep The Childrens from opening the front door when someone rings the bell.

The snowblower saga continues - I have discovered that for $500 less than the snowblower I selected, I can get a 42" snow blower that mounts to the front of my precious lawn tractor. I had originally dismissed this idea because I though you needed a front power take-off to have one, and the lawn tractor plow blades seem to be a big waste of time. (I've watched neighbors attempt to use them quite a bit, and it seems to be no faster than shoveling. Possibly even slower.)

If I talk about snowblowers enough, maybe I'll get some decent context-sensitive ads instead of public service announcements. The individual posts already have OK ads, but the top page doesn't. Apparently, chicken mummifying gear isn't a big draw for the advertising dollars.


I'm not known for it.

The Mrs. has been going on and on about how I need a snowblower. This has not been helped any by the fact that last night I was not feeling well, and I'm not all that much better this morning, and so The Mrs. is out there shoveling the driveway. But we only got maybe 5" of snow last night, so even The Mrs. should be able to handle that. It'll be a good warm up for the arrival of her new elliptical trainer next week.

But anyways, I've been poking around online a lot to try to see if I can get me a decent snowblower. The first thing is to figure out what is decent. It seems that almost everything that is readily available is by MTD Products, a big conglomerate that is known for building cheap stuff that has reliability problems. They are responsible for such brands as YardMan, Yard Machines, Troy-Bilt, and McCulloch (they made the chipper I own that I hate so much). They also make the Craftsman snowblowers for Sears, so Craftsman is out.

The entire world appears to be sold out of Husqvarnas. I like my Husqvarna lawn tractor quite a bit, as you know from many previous posts. I believe I have located a stash of Ariens in Wisconsin at not too bad a price, however I am not convinced the website actually knows what is in stock and what isn't. I also find a couple Toros, but Toro has never been a particularly good model.

There's a local Ariens dealer not too far from here. I wonder if I should call them?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

It's Amazing

Ten votes, and you're all wrong. What are the odds of that? The correct answer is 71.

How many toys were in the poop water?

9 10%1
24 70%7
56 10%1
71 0%0
98 10%1
10 votes total

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Anyone got a snowblower?

There isn't a decent snowblower to be had for miles around, and we have (supposedly) another two big snow storms moving through in the next 48 hours. I can get me a Poulan from, which they say I can have by Friday, but I don't see how they can deliver it in the middle of a blizzard.

You now, when I moved here, I checked as to whether I should get a snowblower. I was told it simply never snows enough to need one. This is what I get for listening to CJ. In the immortal words of Rico, "F-in' CJ."

We did, however, manage to satisfy The Mrs. by buying the world's most expensive non-commercial-grade elliptical trainer today. I managed to talk The Mrs. out of trying to get a junky one at Sports Authority yesterday, and came home and researched these things. Then, today we went to 5 different stores and managed to come away with something that wasn't on my list but that happened to be $500 more than anything at was.

After like 45 minutes each at two of the 5 stores (the other 3 being washouts), The Mrs. had it all narrowed down between a $2000 model and a $3500 model. Guess which one she bought. Yeah. That's right.

She better use that thing every single day, cuz for $3500 we could have gotten all kinds of things. Like a new set of boobs, for instance, which is the kind of thing that really can be used every day. Or a supercharger kit of the truck. Or almost 10 years of membership at Curves.

Or, as The Mrs. asserts, six months worth of wine. Somehow, she figured I personally drank a $20 bottle of wine each and every day. I'm not sure I even own any $20 bottles of wine, much less drink one every day. I think we as a family go through about 2 bottles a week, and they average about $14 a bottle. So maybe that's two years worth of wine.

I could also have gotten three really nice snowblowers. Though I only need one.

Mr. Hanky Visits for Christmas

Been a couple days since my last post. A couple fun-filled days, including Christmas itself. I'll have a comprehensive Christmas summary at some later date (probably after next Christmas), since these kinds of things tend to be a bit dull. Already, my life is too dull for AdSense context sensitive advertising, which is running hurricane relief public service announcements instead of cash-paying ads again.

Overall, Christmas went very smoothly. The childrens were both surprised that they did not get any charcoal in their stocking, unlike last year. This is mainly because I have a gas gill at the new house, and I gave away my old charcoal grill along with all the charcoal before I moved. So I didn't have any available.

HannahC got so excited that she kept thinking she was going to throw up. She would stuff her face full of Christmas goodies (cookies, candy, chips, etc.), and then run around like a crazy idiot for a while, then run to the bathroom and sit in front of the porcelain alter saying some prayers. I was pretty sure I was going to get a good barf-blogging story out of it, but alas, she held in her cookies.

When evening rolled around, I put MaxieC into the big tub so he could try out his Mater motor-oil can bubble soap and his foaming spray bath soap. Things were going along swimmingly when suddenly he yells, "I need to go poop!" I run him to the toiley, and he makes poop in there. Everyone is happy. Except I remember last time. I'm not going to leave a log in there to be found in the morning this time. I search all over the tub, pushing the toys and bubbles aside - no log. I examine and cross-examine MaxieC about whether he left a present in the tub. No log.

So I return him to the tub.

A little while later, he stands up. He's looking down into the water forlornly. What's up, MaxieC?

"I pooped!"

Oh crap.

There, just behind his feet, is a magnificent log. It's as big as his arm. Or, at least, it seems to be. I holler for The Mrs. I can't deal with this on my own. The poop. The boy with poop on his bottom. The toys. Too much for me.

The Mrs. comes up and immediately blames me for MaxieC pooping. She told me he wouldn't have pooped if I had been watching him.

Like he's never pooped in the tub when she's giving him his bath. She has a very selective memory, that one. I hear all wives are like that, but this is the only one I have, so I can't say for sure.

Anyways, my job was to fish out the bath toys and wash them. Seems simple, right?

How many toys were in the poop water?
Free polls from

Answer will be posted in a couple days. In case you don't know who Mr. Hanky is, he's the Christmas Poo.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Pretend like I said something profoundly moving about peace on Earth and good will toward men here. I'm all out of profound right now.


I made mention once before about how we're mummifying a chicken that HannahC has named, "Lucy." We did another chemical change recently, and I had The Mrs. capture much of it on non-volatile memory. (Some of the photos are taken by Me, CherkyB. I don't remember which ones.)

Like Egyptian high priestesses before here, HannahC starts out with the a greeting ritual meant to awaken the soul of the departed. She's using a "Un brat di sei anni" here, which is one of her favorites, though it was not one favored by the high priestesses of either the Old or New Egyptian Kingdoms. Lucy is in the Ziploc.

Cleaning the old mixture off into the sink. Lucy begins to take shape.

HannahC performs a procedure similar to a modern D&C, only she does it with her fingers.

Lucy, looking a bit shriveled. Progress!

Hello, World.

Now to mix up the new dessication blend. Start with a half can of baking power.

Add a full can of salt.

And a half box of baking soda. The desiccant is complete. However, we need to spice it up a little to make Lucy smell good in the afterlife.

Now HannahC, remember that Mommy is very attached to her nutmeg, and there's eggnog in the fridge.

Cinnamon. Smart'n'Final sized.

Mix, mix, mix.

Little snack - mummification is hungry work.

I'm sure the house slaves will clean up after me if I make a giant f'ing mess.

A house slave transfers the body bag into the Ziploc for the addition of the mixture.

Oooo- smells like cinnamon. Stinkaaaayyyy!

Mummify, mummify, mummify.

The house slave is overcome with the emotion of the moment. Oh dear gods, why have you taken Lucy from us when she was so young? And next time, send better beer.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Continuing Coverage of El Blizzardo

Our household has weathered El Blizzardo quite well. At least, compared to poor CJ and his leaking roof. You can also find some more local coverage of El Blizzardo over at Cavagnaro Blogger.

The snow piled up against the guest room window really makes the scene perfect.

Thursday was garbage day. So, dutifully, I spent 20 minutes dragging my garbage can out through about a foot and a half of snow on Wednesday night. This is a shot taken by The Mrs. on Thursday morning. I call it "The Optimist."

The garbage can is still sitting there today, though now the neighbors have started to set theirs out as well. Do they know something I don't?

We had a snowdrift that covered up most of the clerestory window in the entranceway. That would mean snow about 20 feet deep!

I had this bizarre idea that there were four of us, including the two childrens, and we had four shovels, including two children's shovels, and that seemed like an ideal combination to get some work done.

Most of the work we got done was posing for photographs. The snow was past MaxieC's waist, so any time he venture anywhere that wasn't shoveled, he got stuck and started hollering, "I need help! I need help!"

HannahC, on the other hand, spent most of her time figuring out where I was shoveling, and standing right directly there.

This is how much we managed to shovel during the day. Almost one truck-length. I put it in 4WD to see if I could power myself out to the street. I made it much of the way before giving up. The street wasn't plowed yet, either. I could have made it if I had needed to.

A team of people with skid loaders showed up later in the day to clear the streets. This guy promptly got stuck. He spent about 10 minutes trying to get free. They managed to plow one car-width around the whole subdivision yesterday. This skid loaders have been zooming around all day today and have managed to get most everything opened up.

Right before dark, I got clearance from The Mrs. to go shovel some more. I spend about an hour and a half and got almost all the way to the street. Poor, lonely garbage can.

The skid loader guys cleaned out that last 10 feet this morning. So I've been working on the part up next to the truck that leads to the garage bay where the winivan is parked.

The World from MaxieC's Perspective

One of the great things about digital cameras is that they give an inexpensive outlet for the creative energies of a two-year-old. What follows is a series of images captured by MaxieC. I have posted the entire series in chronological order in order to preserve the artist's vision. As always, if you click on a picture, you can see the full-sized version of it.

Being a renowned art-critic, I will provide commentary for you, my less-accomplished reader.

This first vision is taken from the fambly room looking into the kitchen. In it, the artist has carefully posed the man to form a moving juxtaposition with the white column. Note how the oblique angle of the man's torso perfectly matches that of the column, and how the white of the column and the man's shirt blend together in a way that is just slightly not perfect enough to look fake. The viewer is presented with an image that draws parallels between the tall, strong, and lean man with those same characteristics of the column.

This next vision, which the artist entitled "My Banana," is a comment on the decadence and wastefulness of a Western society that drives continual destruction of the rain forests in a never-ending effort to feed the ever-growing consumerism of a culture in decline.

The artist raises his eyes in an effort to connect to God. He sees the light. But then he is overcome with a feeling that perhaps even God is simply an invention of the Western, capitalist machine. His vision is one of ennui.

Adrift from questioning the existence of God and the meaning, and perhaps even being, of his own existence, the artist searches desperately for an anchor point. This vision captures the sense of smallness, of lack of control, eyes veering quickly from one object to another in a frantic, almost panicked search for guidance.

And there it is. Just when all seemed lost, onto the scene charges the unlikely character of the lead guitarist for Flo Jackson. Is this the artist's Brian Boitano moment?

Look, look. The call of decadence. Do not fight. Do not search for deeper meaning. Let Flo Jackson guide you. Look, there is a funny, talking penguin.

The artist no longer searches the heavens. The artist's vision is one of eyes cast downwards in shameful complicity.

The artist, in this self-portrait, is conveying how his surrender to Western decadence has cost him his focus, his definition. The lure of the funny penguin is too much for our young souls.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Any Day Now

A conversation from last night.
HannahC: "Daddy, I want to leave a carrot for each of the reindeer this year, not just for Rudolph."

Me, CherkyB: "OK."

HannahC: "I think all the reindeer want a snack. It's not fair that only Rudolph gets one."

Me, CherkyB: "Well, they take turns eating the carrots."

HannahC: "I don't think Santa has time to keep track of whose turn it is and make sure none of the reindeer take someone else's turn."

Me, CherkyB: "Mmmm..."

HannahC: "Daddy? I think Rudolph may just be a myth."

Me, CherkyB: "Really? Why is that?"

HannahC: "Well, it just doesn't make any sense. How can his nose glow? He doesn't have a lightbulb or anything. It's just made out of regular nose."

Me, CherkyB: "Well kiddo, the reindeer fly, too. And they're just made out of regular reindeer. You see, it's magic. And one of the problems with magic is that once you alter something with magic, like making reindeer so that they can fly, after a while you get what's called 'mutations.' And these can be very strange. You'll learn about mutations in science when you get more advanced."

HannahC: "Oh. I think it might still be a myth, though."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

El Blizzardo

Yesterday, all The Mrs. could talk about was the big blizzard we were supposed to have. But the weather forcast kept pushing out the start of the blizzard. First, it was supposed to be Tuesday afternoon, then evening, then 6am Wednesday, then noon Wednesday. I was skeptical. When I got up in the morning with MaxieC, I looked out the window, and nothing. Some wind blowing around the trees.

As it got lighter, the snow began to fall a bit. The first thing I noticed was that the waterfall in the near pond in the back had stopped. The pump had been sucking some air, due to low water level for a while, but I hadn't gotten out there to deal with it. I went out to investigate. Both ponds in the back were freezing over. The near one had its water level below the intake level, and the de-icing heater was beached on the rocks above the water level.

So I had to get out the hose and fill up the ponds. I knew I should have filled those things Saturday when it was 40 degrees.

Here I am surveying the situation. It's not all that cold (about 20 degrees), but there's quite a wind. You can't tell from the picture, but there's also a light, horizontal snow that makes it impossible to see to the east without some kind of eye protection. Not much accumulation yet.

FreddyC came out with me to check things out. He didn't last all that long before heading back inside to the warmth.

I got the waterfall going again. The pond started to de-ice, but shortly thereafter it started snowing much harder and started to re-ice. Oddly, when we had that week of 10 degree temperatures, the ponds never iced at all, but 20 degrees with snow causes them to freeze. The snow landing on the surface of the ice appears to not melt and eventually form a layer of ice, from what I observed.

The giant 1500 watt de-icer sits over by the intake. It is doing its job of keeping the intake from icing up, but it's not doing a whole hell of a lot more than that.

Being originally from Barfalo, I have some experience with these snowstorm things. I know you need to get out there and periodically clear the driveway, cuz if you wait until the whole two feet fall before you clear any of it, it's gonna be trouble. I managed to clear about 1/10 of the driveway before I got tired of shoveling. Plus, I was supposed to be watching MaxieC during that time so that HannieC and The Mrs. could do the homeschooling. I was overcome with guilt.

I took this picture about an hour later. The shoveled area has begun to fill in, and all you can see is the little mound between where I shoveled and where I didn't. Still not a whole hell of a lot of accumulation.

Nighttime got more interesting. The snow started falling harder. I tried to get a shot of the snow drift piling up by the play house, but mostly I got a shot of the snow falling.

I tried to take a photo of the three lit up pine trees in my neighbor's yard, but again, mostly I just got snow.

MaxieC checks out my fancy shoveling work a few hours later. Aside from the pile of snow at the side of the drive, there is no visible sign anyone ever shoveled anything. He insisted on doing this barefoot despite me warning him that he'd freeze his feet. Then he insisted on actually walking in the snow barefoot despite me warning him that he'd freeze his feet. Then he insisted on screaming bloody murder because his feet were cold.

Sometimes, childrens just need to learn for themselves.

About 8pm, the wind picked up nicely again. Here are a couple shots out our fambly room windows. The first shot was taken by me, the second by The Mrs. about a half-hour later.

The Mrs. and I both really enjoy blizzards. This is what happens to you if you are raised in Barfalo and then move to sunny Kaliforn-i-a. You get withdrawal.