Sunday, April 30, 2006

We're the Little Street that Santa Forgot

If, by Santa, you mean the garbage truck.

Friday was garbage day here at the homefront. When I got home from work, I noticed our garbage and recycling cans were still at the curb. Normally, The Mrs. is right on top of this and has them stashed away long before I get home. Then I looks around and I says to myself, "Self. That's strange. Everybody still has their garbage cans out. Given that you're the last one to get home most days, you almost never see anyone else's garbage cans out when you get home."


"Self, you can see how the can next door is so full that the lid doesn't quite close. Could it be that the garbage truck missed our street?"

Why yes, yes it could be. Now, just try to get someone from the city on the phone at 7pm on a Friday night to complaint that your garbage wasn't picked up. You can't. You can call the garbage number and get a machine that says office hours are M-F 8-5. If you surf the web long enough (as The Mrs. did), you can find someone that you can talk to Saturday morning who will say very nice things like, "Oh. That's terrible." But you can't find anyone to say anything like, "I'll send a truck around this afternoon." The best you can get is, "I doubt I can do anything before Monday."

It has been quite a topic of conversation this weekend. Everybody still has the garbage cans out, hoping against hope for a surprise visit of the garbage truck. And every time you see a neighbor, they say, "What's up with the garbage? Were you able to talk to anybody?"

It seems The Mrs. was the only one who actually found the secret number that gets you to an empathetic, but unhelpful, woman. The Mrs. is now a celebrity on the street.

The sad thing is that this week we did a lot of spring cleaning, including cutting up brightly-colored plastic toys and lots of cardboard boxes. So both the recycling and the trash are full to the brim. We've been adding more since Friday, plus filling up the excess capacity in the across-the-street neighbor's cans.

And I don't expect tomorrow to see a truck, either. Tomorrow is "A Day without Illegals" day, and all peoples of Mexican heritage are expected to mob downtown to demand we stop declaring there is such a thing as American citizenship. I expect much of the garbage crew will call in sick, throwing the normal Monday schedule for a loop and making it impossible to send someone off course to pick up 13 houses of trash.

OK, wait. I'm gonna do an impression. Here it is:

Didja figure it out? That was my impression of CJ's Blah.

Actually, that's dinner after I just started up the rotiss. A couple of Cornish game hens. They are much better when rotisseried than when cooked any other way.

You folks have probably been wondering why I haven't posted for a number of days. Well, Thursday was Fat Camp, which is my day off from blogging. Then on Friday, The Mrs. decided we should watch a moovie. She also sipped on a Black Russian while we watched Swordfish. It was a good moovie, but we got started late enough that we only got to see the first hour before it was time to go to bed.

The first hour does contain the little Halle Berry scene that made the moovie all the rage. There was a time when I'd get all excited about such a thing, but the Internet has jaded me.

Saturday was building day. We needed to finish the garden boxes started here and continued here. When last we left you, we had the two boxes built but not sanded, and we had not yet started on the frames for the anti-bird lids. So this is where we picked up on Saturday.

I took out the old belt sander, and little HannieC's eyes practically jumped out of her head. "I wanna try that! I wanna try that!" So, like a good daddy, I showed her how to hold it carefully with two hands, and work it with the grain, etc., and then I sat back to sip a brewski and watch the fun. She had a wonderful time. Despite it being a very small belt sander, it was still more than she could really muscle, taking off on her like a drag racer every time she hit the trigger. So she developed a technique of giving short little bursts to the trigger, effectively reducing the power. This worked all right for her, though it worked out better for the wood which sustained hardly a scrape.

So now HannieC has learned how to use a router table, a power miter saw, and a belt sander all during the course of this project. Add this to her previous familiarity with a power drill and a palm sander, and she already knows how to do more stuff than most full-grown womens do.

Here's a picture of the two boxes all sanded and routed. I hit the inside edge with a 1/4" roundover bit just to take off the splinters. Next up, the tops.

I was somewhat negligent in taking picture of the tops during construction. It was a pretty easy task. What I decided to do was to just do 90 degree corner joints that I would rabbet into the corner posts. I decided the frame for the top should fit just inside the box so that it could sit down on top of the dirt and be very secure. The corner posts are 2x2 while the stringers are 1x3. Here's a picture of a corner post after rabbetting it on 2 sides at both ends on the router table. I used a Craftsman Professional 3/4" straight-cut bit. It cut nicely, but man was it time consuming doing all these rabbets on 8 different corner posts. Each rabbet required six passes on the table, and there were four per post. That's 192 passes, if I do the math right.

Hey! Here's a picture of our new Bistro set up at The Bistro Spot. How'd that get in here?

Saturday afternoon, after the construction was done, it was time to put on the wood preservative. I know what's you're thinking. "Didn't he spend $170 buying all heart redwood? That stuff never rots. Why is he wasting his time with wood preservative?" Well, I just spent 3 days building these stupid boxes. What's another couple hours to make them look nice (I got "redwood" tinted preservative) and last longer?

Here I am along with The Childrens slathering this stuff on. It's very oily. The Childrens had a great time. Even The Mrs. joined in after she got done taking pictures. The garden in which these will reside is just over my right shoulder in the upper left of the picture.

Fast-forward to Sunday, and the preservative is all absorbed and it's time to set these bad boys up. But wait! These boxes are 2'x4'x1'. That's 16 cu ft. of total capacity? Where am I going to get 16 cu. ft. of dirt? I sure don't have that lying around. So it's off to The Dirt Place. Well, not quite so fast. First, it's time to winch the camper shell off the back of the truck and up into its summer storage area at the ceiling of the garage. Then it's off to The Dirt Place.

Pictured below is what a half-cubic-yard of dirt looks like in the back of my truck. That's about 1000 lbs. of dirt, and it costs $22 + tax. This is what they call "planting mix", which means it's a good topsoil for lawns and garden beds. It's not perfect for vegetable gardens, but I have a big compost pile and three 1-cu-ft. bags of steer manure/compost mix from Home Depot, and with that mixed in, it'll be perfect. Note the recycling can across the street, ever hopeful. If you look carefully through the upper left corner of the center pane of my rear window, you can see another across the street in front of the truck.

Here are the boxes in their final resting places. They're all filled with dirt. The tops are still frames, as I haven't had a chance to hook up the screens yet. We just decided today not to use hardware cloth, but instead to use bird netting. It's much lighter and easier to cut and tack in place.

Wait! What's that giant pile of dirt to the left? Oddly, I had 5-6 cu-ft. left over. I don't know why. I suspect that it's because the "small scoop" on the front loader that they use to dump a half-yard quantity in the back of the truck is much larger than a half-yard. I've been to this place many times, and it always works out that way. The full yard seems to be more-or-less dead on.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Fallout Continues

Once again, my editor is complaining about the quality of my work. In yesterday's discussion of FreddyC's medical condition, I included the following line:

I don't complain, as The Dogs needs attention about once a week vs. 3-4 times for The Childrens.
The Mrs. correctly pointed out that I left a couple words out of that sentence. The sentence should have read:
I don't complain, as The Dogs needs attention about once a week vs. 3-4 times a night for The Childrens.
I'm sorry for any confusion. I always proof read, but never very well. Especially if my friend Jack has been sitting up with me while I write late into the night.

While we are on the subject of previous posts, in both yesterday's main post, as well as the one from the night before, I made mention of The Mrs.'s conjecture that Sweetie was probably quite angry that StinkyJ broke his leg while she was still recovering from the birth of their twins. Now, due to the symbiotic nature of the blogosphere, another Blogger picked up on that story and decided to do some additional research. In the spirit that anything worth doing is probably still worth doing half-assedly, he did not publish the results. Instead, he communicated them to me in an IM.

I then communicated the results to The Mrs., and, like the Grand Inquisitor that she is, she left me with a long list of followup questions. So, I tried to nab StinkyJ in between Vicodin doses to get some of the answers that you, the people, have been demanding.

CherkyB [9:48 PM]:
1) It has been reported by the author of CJ's Blah that your wife was actually sad that you broke your leg. Is this true?
StinkyJ [9:49 PM]:

CherkyB [9:49 PM]:
2) Was she sad for you, or sad for herself?
StinkyJ [9:49 PM]:

There you have it. No anger. Just sadness. StinkyJ went on to discuss how his wife is capable of both feeling and expressing anger, so the fact that she did not in this case is not an indication of a larger probelm but can be relied upon an an indication that she did not feel anger that he broke his leg playing a game while she stayed home slaving away with The Babies.

Now, enough about others. Time to discuss me. I scored an incredible personal victory at work today. In less than 26 hours, I conceived of, fleshed out, and orchestrated a major change of direction for something despite withering opposition. Now, I get to spend the next 2 days figuring out if it was right, or if I just killed a whole product by accident. I'm hoping for the former.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Oh Crap.

First, let me once again open with a correction. In yesterday's story, I noted how The Mrs. was empathetic primarily with StinkyJ's wife, Sweetie, when he broke once of the misc. bones in his leg. This evening, when she finally got around to reading the post, she immediately claimed I misquoted her.

I had quoted her as saying, "I bet his wife is furious." In fact, today she claims that what she actually said was, "I bet his wife is really pissed off."

I apologize if the misquote gave you the impression that The Mrs. was unsympathetic to the plight of temporarily differently-abled. It was not my intention.

Last night was one hell of a night. And I don't mean that in a nudge-nudge, wink-wink kind of way. I was happily asleep, dreaming of a carefree world that exists only in my mind, and then I'm dreaming about a dog barking. After a while, I realize there is no dog in my dream. Just dog barking. Oh. Not a good sign. I wake up and listen.

Yup, FreddyC is barking. Look at the clock. It's 3am. Stoopid dog.

It's my job to get up when The Dogs needs attention. It's The Mrs.'s job to get up for The Childrens. I don't complain, as The Dogs needs attention about once a week vs. 3-4 times for The Childrens. I got the better end of that deal, but really God decided that when he gave The Mrs. the boobs. Then, of course, she cemented the deal by marrying one more...

I get up and go downstairs, where FreddyC is staring intently out the patio door and whining. Now, there is a big white cat that like to hang around in our yard at night, and if FreddyC sees the cat, he simply cannot rest until he has gone out to chase it away. So I lets him out.

He tear-asses around the perimeter of the yard giving out little barks here and there. He's doing some kind of territorial thing. I lie down on the couch and snooze a bit. Pretty soon I realize I am dreaming about a dog barking again. I wake up and let him in. Then I go back upstairs to bed, but he's beaten me there. I remove him from my pillow and climb in.

An hour later, I am dreaming about a barking dog again. The whole thing repeats almost verbatim, except this time when I return to bed, I have a new obstacle. The Dogs is where my feet go, but MaxieC is now where my middle goes. MaxieC is a lot harder to move, because if I wake him, I incur the wrath of The Mrs.

Back about 2 years ago, I had this same problem with HannieC. I solved it by letting her be and going to sleep in her bed. When she realized this, she got quite angry that I was sleeping in her bed (while she was sleeping in mine), and she slept in her bed just to keep me out. MaxieC, however, is still in a toddler bed. It's only 4' long. HannieC's new bed has not yet arrived, so we haven't been able to waterfall her bed to MaxieC yet. So I have to move the little punk when he takes over my spot when I take The Dogs out. He wakes up over half the time that I move him. But not last night. My lucky night.

Or not.

About a half-hour later, I hear FreddyC barking again. Now, those of you who know me (which I assume is everybody reading this cuz I certainly don't know why any stranger would be reading excepting if somehow they stumbled across it by hitting the "next blog" button in the upper right corner and were smitten by my rapier wit) know that I am a remarkably patient and even-tempered guy. Able to put up with an incredible amount of annoyance. I'm going to let you in on a little secret here: I'm a different person when I'm asleep.

I know, it may be hard to believe, but I'm grumpy and short-tempered when I am trying to sleep and I am disturbed. I've been like this at least as far back as high school. I don't really recall if I was prior to that. I don't recall being all that tired prior to high school. So maybe it was just a lack of opportunity.

Anyways, I'm pissed off at The Dogs now. 3 times in 2 hours to go out and bark at cats is more than I can take. Screw him. I'm not getting up.

Bark. Bark. Whine. Whine. Bark. Bark.

The Mrs. gets up.

Now, this is horrible. I'm lying there wracked with guilt. It's my job to get up with The Dogs, but I'm trying to wean him of his incessant needing to go out in the middle of the night. But he'd now disturbed The Mrs., and nothing good can come of that.

I pretend to be asleep.

A bit later they both come back up. She closes the bedroom door, which is unheard of in our house as it might give The Childrens the impression that they are not welcome in our room, our bed, at all times of day and night. But I figure it's cuz she's caught on to FreddyC barking at cats or rats or raccoons or the moons or whatever, and if he's trapped in out room, he won't see whatever it is that is bugging him and will shut the hell up for a while and let us sleep.

No such luck.

About 15 minutes later, he's whining at the bedroom door. This time, it is The Mrs. that feigns sleep. She is a much lighter sleeper than I, so I know that if I am awake, she is awake. She likes to fake sleep if she thinks I am awake, cuz if we're both awake at the same time, I might see that as a recreational opportunity, and we can't have that. You married guys know what I'm talking about.

I get up and start cussing about The Dogs. I let him out of the bedroom, and he goes downstairs to the patio door and stars up again. I go back to bed. Forget it. He's been out three times in 2 hours, and I need to go to work bright and early the next day.

He barks and whines and barks and whine for maybe 10 minutes. Then it all stops, and he comes upstairs and jumps on the bed, pushes MaxieC out of the way, and goes to sleep. He's a lot less persistent than either of The Childrens, I think, and drift back off to happy dream land. That's why you never hear anyone say that childrens are a man's best friend.

In the morning, I get up and go downstairs to start the coffee and unload the dishwasher. FreddyC comes down shortly thereafter and heads to the patio door for his morning constitutional. I go to let him out, which is the first time I go into the fambily room this morning. I see two piles of dog poop on the carpet on the way to the door and a puddle of pee by the TV.

I let The Dogs out. I take a couple steps back to survey the land. Is it just two piles and a puddle? Hmm... No, wait, there are a couple more smudges I hadn't noticed before. Wait. Those look like regularly spaced footprints. And they lead right to me.

Uh oh. Dog poop! Yup, I look down at my slipper, and the bottom of the left one is covered in poop. How in the hell did that happen? I look back toward the door and discover right at the door, on the throw rug at the threshold, there is a big cow-pie kind of pile of liquid poop. It blends in with the brown throw-rug and is not particularly visible. And I had stepped right in it.

Oh crap.

So I go to the sink and wash off the dog poop from my slipper. Then I start thinking how just two nights before, FreddyC had barfed in HannieC's room behind her Barbie Dream House, and how when I had gone to clean it up with the carpet steam cleaner, I had noticed a definite lack of performance. I had root-caused this to a split hose that caused the cleaner to primarily suck air through the split rather than suck the water up from the head or the hose.

This was the second time that the hose had broken at the exact same spot, and the cleaner is only a little over two years old. The first time, I had tried to fix it with duct tape. This had not worked at all, and I had to order a new hose assembly from a vacuum store. This had taken 2 weeks and cost about $75.

This time, I had been determined to fix it. So I mixed up a little "Plastic Fusion" epoxy and glued the thing together. Plastic Fusion is the best epoxy I have ever used. It almost never fails. It's ugly as hell when it dries, but it hold plastic like nobody's bidness. I mixed this stuff up, globbed it on the broken hose, and held it together by hand for 10 minutes. The hose is basically a rubber-coated spring, after all, so I had to hold the spring compressed the whole time. It was a very similar experience to when you sprain something and have to hold ice on it. The first couple minutes are fine, then it starts to hurt like hell, then it's fine again.

It seemed to work, and I put the cleaner back together. Here's a picture of the repair. You will also note that there are a couple of zip-ties here. This is cuz when I replaced the first split hose with the new one, the little plastic clip that holds the hose on immediately broke off. It's good for one attachment of the hose. So I put one zip tie (the one on the right) around the hose coupling for a connection point, and then wrap a second on around the vacuum housing that the thing plugs into, using the first zip tie as the attachment point.

Now, maybe at this point you're thinking how my carpet cleaner is a piece of crap. Well, yes, it is a big hunk of Chinese plastic. But compared to the Bissell I used to own, this Hoover is a Lexus. That Bissell broke a seal the very first time I powered it on, and it completely stopped working within 2 years.

Happily, the repair held, and I was able to clean up all the dog poop by the time The Mrs. showed up downstairs this morning. Then, at 5pm, I got a call from The Mrs. that it cleaned up the new doggie-diarrhea, too. Oh, and she was off to the vet.

Poor FreddyC. He has to take some pills and eat a special diet for the next few days. I'm wondering if I should sleep on the couch so I am right next to the patio door, in case there is poop-urgency tonight.

I don't think I have that kind of dedication, though.

Oh, To be Young Again

Tonight, I was sitting there at the dining room table with HannieC, and we were eating Jello pudding cups. She says to me this, "Daddy. I have a heart's desire. Do you know what a heart's desire is?"

Yes. Yes. What is it that your heart desires?

"I wish that every day were Christmas."

Now, I'd like to take a little break from the story here to remind my readers that I don't make this stuff up. Really I don't. This is a completely true story.

HannieC continues, "Just imagine. You could get a new gun every day."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Wait! It'll come to me.

Hmmm...Nope. Nothing yet.

Today was something the MSM would refer to as a Slow News Day. Though I don't really consider this blog a great source of news. I don't consider most MSM outlets a great source for news, either. But I'm more aiming for infotainment.

Sometimes when I'm out of ideas, I turn to The Mrs. for inspiration. Today, she provided me with two, not one, but two different funny little stories to tell. One of them was provided intentially, the other not so much. Both, oddly enough, were inspired by the long post I rolled out yesterday to much fanfare. Thus, really I am inpiring myself through The Mrs., and thus I deserve most of the credit, I imagine.

After all, I'm The Funny One.

To get right to the point, The Mrs. this morning, after reading my post from last night that went up long after she had drifted happily off to sleep, said, "You forgot to tell the story of HannieC and The Children's Sermon." Why yes, I did. I talked about the Season of Non-Violence, but I didn't really cover how it touched our fambly. So, without further ado, here is the story of HannieC and The Children's Sermon.

For those of you who are regular readers, you know that we often head off to the local UCC church on Sundays. Now, if you were to judge the church just by the cars in the parking lot, you'd say, "Hmmm...there is a high density of Toyota Priuses, an exceptionally high density of pure electric cars (I consider 2 in a lot of 60 cars exceptionally high density for electric cars, since there are fewer than 1000 in the entire state), and an awful lot of cars with War is not the Answer, No Blood for Oil, and Codepink bumper stickers on them. I wonder if this is a church where liberals go?"

But then, of course, you'd slap your forehead and say, "Doh! Liberals don't believe in church! They're all a bunch of godless communists," and you'd head right in.

But you'd be wrong. Liberals do go to church. And not just any church. They go to my church. Though I suppose it was really their church first, so really I go to their church. But, hey, they make a lot of noise about welcoming everybody with all different viewpoints. So I am still welcome there. But I digress once again.

Like all UCC churches, there is a children's sermon near the beginning of the service where all the kiddies get to go up front and get a special audience with the pastor while he or she delivers a special sermon just for them. This week's topic was "How can you help to choose peace and spread non-violence?" HannieC's hand shot right up.

Oh no.

The Mrs. turns to me with a look of panic. What is this little cherub of ours going to say? I'm thinking to myself, "Self, statistically speaking, the very best way to spread peace and non-violence within this country is to push for shall-issue concealed carry permit laws. But I don't think I've covered that with little HannieC yet. What could it be that she's going to say? Is she going to talk about getting rid of Democrats? Canadians? Oh Dear God, please don't let her say we should get rid of all the Democrats."

Well, see right there I was inspired into prayer by the children's sermon. Church is working magnificently.

HannieC, however, did the best possible thing she could do at this moment.

She lied.

"When I want to be violent with my brother, I choose to hug him instead, and if he doen't feel like being hugged, then I go play in my room by myself for a while."

The congregation chuckles a bit - whenever HannieC answers a question during the children's sermon she elicits a chuckle. When she's older and I lose my touch, she'll be The Funny One.

The Mrs. turns to me again, only this time with a great look of relief, and she says, "She didn't mention that the going to the room part isn't voluntary." Yeah. Or that when she "hugs" MaxieC she does it by pinning him to the ground and squeezing him until he screams. But these are details that don't really add to the theme of non-violence, and so HannieC editted to make the story fit the circumstance better. A genius I tell you. A chip off the old block.

Which brings me to the second story inspired by The Mrs. This one was inadvertant, unlike the children's sermon one. This morning, right before I leave for work, The Mrs. is quizzing me about what happened to StinkyJ. She had just read last night's post. Now, pretty much all the details I have already included, so I just said the words again. "He was playing soccer, and he broke his shinbone. Now he'll miss work for a couple days."

Then she gets this great look of concern on her face and says something that was utterly priceless:
I bet his wife is furious.
Not, "Poor guy, I hope he's feeling better." Not, "Wow, that must be rough with the new twins and all." Not even, "So, if he's home sick, why do you have to go to work?" I'd check the basement for pods, except I don't have a basement, and I'm pretty sure women don't come from pods. Apparently, they come from Venus. Strange thing about Venus is that there are no accidents there. Instead, everything is somehow a conspiracy to annoy women. That's why the women all left Venus and came to earth, where life is much better. Primarily because there are so many more men here on which everything can be blamed.

"I bet his wife is furious." Hah! It still kills me.

Maybe The Mrs. is The Funny One.

Boxing Day

Today is the last day of the Season on Non-Violence. I'm not exactly sure what the point is of The Season of Non-Violence, but it spans the time from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday to Mahatma Ghandi's, and it involves lighting a candle each Sunday and saying, "I choose peace," and then breaking into some Cat Stevens song about letting there be peace on earth. And it also is some kind of excuse to make veiled "Re-Defeat Bush" cracks under the guise of preaching.

The irony that Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) is no longer allowed in this country because of his active support for terrorism, and thus might make inappropriate music for the Season of Peace is lost along with the last two presidential elections, it would seem.

Next time, I get to pick the church.

HannieC and I got right back to building the boxes this morning. Right at about 1:00 after lunch. We went straight to OSH. Why to OSH? Well, it turns out that I got the wrong length nails to attach the sideboards to the outer bands at Southern Lumber yesterday. This is how all my projects go, so I plan on it. The Mrs. claims that I am an idiot, but I've been over at other people's houses when they've done projects, and it's the same. So I like to think I'm not an idiot. Or, perhaps, no bigger idiot than my idiot friends are.

I love OSH cuz it's still the kind of place that has bins of nails and bolts and washers, and you buy them by the pound. I figured I needed precisely 192 nails. These are little #3 1-1/4" nails. Shiny ones. Now, I can admit that I have no idea at all how much 192 nails of this type weigh. But they cost $0.99/lb. So I figured better safe than sorry, and I got two pounds.

As it turns out, that's probably about 500 nails. But hey, I didn't have to go back for more nails (again) in the middle of the project!

Now, last night after The Mrs. was telling me how she only wanted a box made of slabs of 2x12, I got to thinking how, since I'm already making fancy-schmancy boxes so they look nice, I ought to figure out a way to get more power tools involved. So far, I had only used the power miter saw and the drill. My favorite of all tools, the router, was sitting lonely in its router table in the garage. I got this great idea of putting a little 45 degree chamfer on the edges of the side slats where they come together. That way, instead of just a straight line where the two pieces abut, it'd be a little V-groove that would give the side some dimension.

So HannieC and I picked out a Bosch bearing-piloted 45 degree chamfer bit. Cost: $29.99.

And, hell, we were out, and OSH was also having a no sales-tax weekend, so I picked up a 30" circular Bistro table with a clay top and a couple matching woven chairs. The Mrs. has been wanting a little bistro set to put in the area of the yard that she calls "the bistro spot," which is an area I used to call "the Hawaii spot" cuz it had two lounge chairs and a bunch of tiki torches. But The Mrs. made me cut up the lounge chairs with my Sawzall and throw them out because they were "ugly". Then, during my sabbatical, I laid down a circle of flagstone that was left over from when we had the front yard re-landscaped. I got fancy, and I buried drip line in between each stone and planted Irish Moss in the cracks. The combination of Irish Moss and dripline seems to work well. It has been nearly a year since I put down the flagstone, so it was high time we got the Bistro set.

Anyways, back to the story. Here's a close-up of the side of one of the boxes. If you look closely, you can see the chamfer around the joint. It looks a little lighter than the wood around it. Hard to see in the photo, I know. These chafers were wicked simple to do. Once I loaded up the bit and set the depth and the fence, I zipped all the boards through the router table. We made a mini-production line where HannieC would pick up a board, look at both faces of it, decide which side was nicer, and hand it to me ugly-side up. I'd then zip it through both edges and stack it up in the "done" pile. We could do a board about every 8 seconds. I also taught HannieC how to use the router table, but then it took a lot longer cuz I had to help her quite a bit. She liked it.

HannieC helped me with pretty much everything. She did about half the nailing, where I'd start the nail, and she'd drive it home. I think I could have gone faster without the help, but I enjoy teaching HannieC how to do stuff, and she enjoys learning. It's like I'm a daddy or something. She also handled the gluing of the corner joints, and feeding me the 2x6 boards as I chopped them into the 1' length side-slats. Later in the day, HannieC looked over at me from her hammering job and said, "Daddy, with all the stuff you're teaching me, when I grow up, I'm going to be just like a man."

I almost sent her right inside to put on a dress, but she clarified that she meant she'd know how to build stuff. Not that she'd be "just exactly like a man."

We managed to finish the basic construction of both the boxes today. Here is the fambly posing in the first one. MaxieC is holding my tape measure, which he though was a sword. He did not actually help with the construction at all, unless you consider staying inside and out of the way "help". HannieC and I have our hammers. Note we are wearing our eye-protection because, as I explained to HannieC, it's a lot easier to put on your eye protection than it is to dig a piece of nail out of your eye. Plus, the yellow tint makes everything seem happier.

FreddyC has even gotten into the picture over on the left. The Mrs. took this photo, so she is not in it. I also hid my beer, because beer and power tools do not go together.

It was Olympia Beer. Their motto is "It's the Water." Next time, maybe mix in some beer with the water.

Here's the nightime shot of the two completed boxes. Cleanup is only half done. You can see my router table in the foreground. It's a Craftsman, though my router is a Porter-Cable. Sears had one hell of a deal on that table when I got it, even considering I had to buy an adapter plate to use a non-Craftsman router with it.

Now, an alert person would notice that there still seems to be a lot of lumber sitting on the ground unused. There are six 8ft. 1x3's. Those are for the top I'm going to make for each box. It'll be framed out of 1x3 with 2x2 posts at the corners (from yetserday's photo) and hardware cloth afixed to the frame. I plan to use my router to rabbet the 2x2's for a nice fancy joint. This'll be a job for next weekend.

I also still need to give the top of these boxes a once-over with the belt sander, and then hit the inner lip with a roundover bit from the router just to knock down the splinters. When everything is done, a coat of wood preservative will be applied. Then, I'll have to hoist the cap off the pickup and head to the dirt place for about a half-yard of either planting mix or compost. Haven't decided yet if I want to get it pre-mixed or mix it myself. So, I'm still about 2 weekends away from getting the garden in. Maybe I'll take a day off this week to finish up the projects.

Finally, I'd like to send a "get well soon" out to my boss, StinkyJ. He's managed to break some bone in his leg playing a children's game called soccer. Poor kid, has to stay home for 3 days with a cast and infant twins. That's probably even worse than my sabbatical. He's a regular reader, so you should all leave him your best wishes in the comments so he doesn't get all depressed and fire me or something.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Destruction and Creation

I finally got around to cutting up the rest of the kitchenette today. The Mrs. informs me that this thing was about 15 years old, having been given to us by neighbors in our old neighborhood whose kids were teenagers already. Here is a little photo play-by-play.

Here's a picture of the kitchenette in the condition we last left it. The top part (roof, phone cradle, and coffee maker) are gone already.

I chose a different blade today. Did not use The Ax, but instead used a 9" demolition blade that had no trademarked name. It was just a 9" blade with 6 TPI. And it cut quite nicely. The first thing I did was to cut off the appendages. Zip zip zip. We're now 7 pieces.

Next, we bisect the body. Chop Chop!

Now, quarter the bisected body.

Finally, I start chopping up the quarters. At this point, HannieC starts banging on the window and crying about how I was supposed to let her watch all this. However, she goofed around all morning and wouldn't do her schoolwork, and I couldn't waste any more time waiting for her. Final tally for today was 17 pieces.

So much for the destruction. Now for the creation. I went to Southern Lumber today and picked up some redwood for the garden boxes of Garden of Death fame. $170 of redwood, as it turns out. Then, after getting home, I blazed up the new Hitachi compound miter saw for the first time. It worked beautifully. I chopped up 3 1x6x8's into 1 ft segments, and also a 2x2. Here is that wood, neatly stacked.

The 1x6's are going to form the vertical slats of the sides of the box. The 2x2's will be corner posts for the wire mesh that keeps the birds and squirrels (and Childrens) out. The upper and lower framing bands of the box are made of 1x4's, which I miter-cut at 45 degree angles all professional-like. I know, I know. Redwood is a pretty soft wood, and miter-cut corners are probably a little weak for screwing into. So I screwed and glued.

Here's a picture of the upper and lower frames with the lovely HannieC standing in the middle of one. She yelled, "WAIT! Let me get into the picture!" when I was about to shoot this one. As noted before, she's quite the camera junky.

We ran out of daylight to finish today. Tomorrow I'll take all those 1x6 slats and nail them into these two frames, with one frame at the top and one at the bottom, to form a box. The box will not have a bottom, which will allow worms to freely travel around the garden. The box will be 2'x4'x1', and I bought enough lumber to make two of them.

Shortly after coming inside from all this work, The Mrs. says to me how all she really wanted was a box made of four 2x12s screwed together. "That would be a lot less labor-intensive," she says.

Less labor-intensive, and no damn fun at all. Heck, I wouldn't even need a compound miter saw for that.

Grocery Tales

We got to go to an actual grocery store today. Meaning some place that sells food that doesn't come pre-prepared in a bag. This particular grocery store, Lunardi's, has an absolutely fabulous butcher counter. Not a meat counter, mind you, but a butcher counter. It's prectically the entire back of the store.

They also have little 1/4-size shopping carts with flags on them that say "Shopper in Training". The Childrens love these carts, but they act like lunatics when they get them. This being Saturday, I am responsible for 100% of the childcare when leaving the house. This is because The Mrs. takes care of The Childrens during the week. Try as I might, I have not been able to convince The Mrs. that she should handle all my work-related emails and phonecalls during the weekend since I handle them all during the week, but this is just one of those little things you learn to live with.

After much whining and complaining and promising to be good, I let The Childrens each have a cart. They behaved very well, oddly enough.

A little aside here. The Mrs. just came down out of the shower and said, "Where's my movie and my drink?" Then she said, "I've decided to let you be altruistic. The happiest marriages are the ones where the husband is altruistic."

So I said, "No. The happiest marriages are the ones where the wife is dead and there are no kinds."

Now I have to go make her drink... Be right back.

The Mrs. likes the Black Russian. Only she likes it with double the Kahlua and poured over crushed ice with cherries. We don't seem to have any cherries today. I'm sure that will count against my altruism.

Now where was I... Oh yes, I let The Childrens each have their own carts, and this greatly increased the entertainment value of the trip. When we were in the bread aisle, we needed to get white bread, and HannieC grabbed a big loaf of Wonder Bread. I guess it's called "Wonder Bread Classic" nowadays. I said, "No no. That's not the kind we get." See, The Mrs. is kind of a bread snob, always insiting upon buying Orowheat bread. Funny thing is that she eats exclusively non-white bread, yet still buys fru-fru white bread. I think this is what happens if you don't have to work for your money, but I don't know for sure, always having had to work for my money since a long time ago.

So the Sara Lee guy is there stocking up the Sara Lee products on the shelves in between the Wonder Bread and the Orowheat, and he's watching me argue with HannieC about what bread we're getting, and she's already got the Wonder bread in her cart and everything. Eventually, The Mrs. ambles by and says that HannieC can get her Wonder Bread and that I should get a loaf of the Orowheat white bread for myself. Then the Sara Lee guy pipes up and says in reference to HannieC, "She's just practicing up for when she's married and her husband never gets to win an argument." Then he went back to stocking shelves.

Later, we had filled up HannieC's cart with dairy, and we had to hit the beer section. So I plopped a 12-pack of Beck's, Americas favorite German Beer into MaxieC's cart. See, The Mrs. had disappeared long ago with the full-size cart, and I only had the two Childrens and their carts. We searched all over that store for her, but did not find her. I even tried calling her cellphone, but she had left it home on the microwave in direct violation of the rules of shopping, where we must each have our cellphones handy for when we get saperated and The Childrens inevitably go ballistic.

I, however, am the only one who is required to follow that rule. Most of the rules are that way.

Well, shortly thereafter, while we are searching to and fro for The Mrs., an woman ambles by and says, "My. Isn't he a bit young for that?" while pointing to the beer. So I say, "Too young? It's a pilsner." To which she gives me one of those "are you joking or not?" smiles and wanders off.

Shortly thereafer, a couple of the guys that work there happen by. They go, "All right. Teaching him early. Way to go," and give the thumbs up.

Damn straight.

What a Beeeeeauuteeful Day

I may even get to mow the lawn today. This morning, I'm standing around in the kitchen while The Mrs. sleeps in, MaxieC plays in the food fort, and HannieC watches Caillou on TV. Despite it being on the Sprout network (formerly known as PBS Kids), I don't think it's appropriate for childrens. It's not violent or scary or filled with bad language. But I feel it glorifies being a French Canadian. In particular, it seems to be teaching our childrens that it's OK to be a French Canadian as long as you don't speak French. As if just eliminating the French part makes everything fine.

That's the problem with PBS. It's permeated with the socialist agenda from top to bottom.

I'm watching through the kitchen window a couple sparrows building a nest in the gutter of my porch roof. A couple sparrows have built a nest in that very spot every year since we put up the porch roof. I think it must be the same ones, because there literally 30 identical spots in the roof, and the sparrows always pick the same one at that end, and a different couple (finches, I think, though I haven't seen them yet this year) builds in one of the other 29, always the same other one.

Every winter, the nest clogs up the gutter, and I'm out there trying to fish it out with a pliers and a garden hose as soon as it start raining and the gutter starts overflowing. It's a strage design, this gutter, as it is an aluminum panel roof. The gutter is actually a piece of sheetmetal that has been bent into a very complicated kind of J-shape that does triple duty as the support beam, gutter, and front fascia. You can't actualy see into the gutter because the roof panels and fascia overlap it. But since the roof is V-corrugated, you can get your hand into the gutter in 30 different places, roughly a 6" span every foot. This is where the birds like to nest.

Oh hey, look at that. A finch is building a nest 4 holes to the left of the sparrows. That's new.

Uh oh. Toddler poop. Gotta go.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I Learned a New Word Today

I hadn't intended to. I was just reading along at Reason Magazine's "Hit and Run" blog, and there it was. A new word. Out of the blue.

I finally got the power miter saw out of the box tonight. It's big and heavy. That's a good sign in a tool, I am told. I poked around a bit with it on the kitchen counter, but it appeared very complicated. So I sat down and read the manual.

I must be getting very old.

After reading the manual, I learned that the process to change the blade is more ocmplicated than I'll probably ever remember, so I'll have to store the manual somewhere where I can always find it. Probably in my manual pile in the garage. I have yet to actually plug the saw in, as the kids were upstairs asleep already. (This all happened about a half-hour ago.) Tomorrow, I'm planning to go buy the wood to make the garden boxes, since it may have at long last stopped raining. Then I imagine I'll have to saw it. That may be a good time to try out the saw.

The butterfly bush appears to have inched yet closer to death during the last couple days. If I were a religious man, I'd say the only thing that could save it now would be an act of God.

Next week, maybe you'll get to see some action shots of the wood chipper. Damn shame, really. That plant cost $80 when it was new, and it had two years of growth before The Mrs. decided it should be relocated to its death.

So, yesterday was Fat Camp. As noted Wednesday, we were unable to kick off the mountain biking season because of serious lameness within the ranks. So we ended up at The Duke as per usual. Just Spanky and I ended up there, as the rest of the drinking crowd was either out of town (TommyO and AndyP) or going out of town first thing in the morning (Dr. Adlerberg).

Spanky, however, had one of his idiot friends meeting us there. Some guy I had never met was driving in from Folsom for bidness, and he was crashing at The Spankster's. They had been interns together like 3-4 years ago. I figured he'd be a fun guy, given that his name was The Savage.

I figured wrong.

I mean, he was OK and all. And maybe I caught him on an off night. But he ordered a glass of water because the two hour drive from Folsom made him too tired to drink.

Now, I've driven quite a bit over the years. There was that wonderful time long before we were married when The Mrs. lived in Philidelphia and I lived in Buffalo, and I'd drive 7.5 hours to see her. Or when my buddy DaveyH was going to Hamilton College, and I'd drive 4 hours to visit. Or now when I take the whole fambly in the winivan for 10 hours down to San Diego once a year. Never has the driving made me "too tired to drink". If anything, it's the opposite.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I wonder if I even understand the concept of "too tired to drink". To me, that is synonymous with "already asleep".

Anyways, The Savage's limit was apparently one glass of water, as he waved off all further queries from the waitress. He and Spanky did manage to make Grand Plans of swilling down some cheap beer at The Brass Rail (a local bikini bar not far from Spanky's place), and then heading to The Kit Kat Club (a fully-nude place not far from Spanky's place) after work today. I wonder how that turned out.

I think I can guess, as at 5:45 Spankster was IMing me to see if I wanted to go have beers at SC-13 since The Savage had gotten tied up at work until at least 7. But The Mrs. had trapped me into going home early (if you consider 5:50 early) by giving me a quiz over the phone about whether I was going to actually be working past 5:00 or hanging at SC-13. And I had been planning to hang at SC-13, and I just can't bring myself to lie to the little woman. It's like she has some kind of bizarre mind-control power over me.

OK, it's because the sanctity of marriage depends upon honesty, and once you start the lying, even the small lies, it quickly snowballs into big lies where you say that you're going out of town on bidness, but you're actually just going bowling and drinking. Or maybe shooting pool. Or maybe it's elk season, and you tell her that work gave you some semiconductor test equipment to take to Colorado that is long and thin and needs to be in an SKB flight case that just happens to be the same size as a Remington 700BDL, and you'll be gone for about a week. And you're taking a lot of orange clothing because the testing is done in low-light situations where you need to stay visible for safety. And the next thing you know, you're happy. And as we all know, nothing wrecks a marriage faster than happiness.

So I don't lie to The Mrs.

Oh, the new word? Teledildonics.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Exciting Event - Stay Tuned

Tonight, as a special treat, I was going to cut up one of our brightly-colored plastic kitchenettes with the Sawzall. It's one that we got free, and it was an outside toy when we got it and has remained so for three years. It has not weathered well, and it's junk. Tomorrow night is garbage night, but since it's also Fat Camp night, I wanted to chop this thing up tonight.

For the demolition, I'll be using a Milwaukee Heavy Duty Orbital Super Sawzall, model 6521-21. This is one of the genuine made in USA models, not one of the junky Taiwanese ones you'd find at Home Depot. I got it on eBay for not a bad price at all.

At this point, I had to rip The Mrs. away from watching HGTV's "I want that" to snap the play-by-play of the destruction. She whined a lot about having "other things to do". This after she complained that I had not posted yet today even though she had gone upstairs to the compooter room to read my latest post.

Damned if I do. Damned if I don't. Or, said another way, I'm married.

Here is me preparing the business end of my tool. In this picture, you can really get a feel for how big my tool is. In the above picture, it doesn't look as big, I think cuz you're looking down on it. I'm loading it up with a blade called "The Ax", though after reading this, I guess I should have used The Wrecker. I don't have The Wrecker, though. I do have a couple general purpose blades, but The Ax looked a lot more badass, so I decided to start with that.

Here, I take the first cut. I figure I'll start easy and just cut through this little plastic post and the screw holding it in. The Ax cut it like butter.

However, at this point The Mrs. says, "Wow, that saw is really loud. Can you try breaking it up without using the saw?"

Now, the sheer ridiculousness of the question aside, this was an anticipated problem, as when I was setting up, I said, "It's 10:00. Do you think it'll be too loud to be outside sawing?" And The Mrs. had said, "Don't worry about it. They always keep us up with their TV's on too loud." See, the house right next to us is a short-term geriatric rehabilitation home. And most of the folks there are half deaf.

So, this is all the demolition you get for today. I'll finish the rest during daylight hours. Maybe Saturday. You can leave in the comments requests for how many pieces I should cut it up into. So far, it is 2. I'm pretty sure I only need to cut the base clean in half vertically to fit it in the garbage can, but that wouldn't leave much room for garbage.

On a lighter note, the pall that descended over the C household yesterday appears to have lifted. You'll have to check out The Mrs.'s blog for more details, but of course that blog is invite-only, so all of you who are allowed to know already do, and for the rest of you, I guess it's nanny-nanny-boo-boo.

I tried to drum up some excitement for going mountain biking tomorrow night, which is what the original "fat camp" moniker came from, but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. BrainkyP claimed he was too big a loser to go (even, at one point, saying "I have to ask my wife" when we all know his wife doesn't give a rat's behind what he does), ScottyM claimed it wasn't enough advance notice (after which I asserted it was 29 hours of advanced notice, and I didn't think it took 29 hours to put air in his bike tires, at which point he bragged about how fast his air compressor could blow them up, leaving us with a conundrum), I didn't bother asking StinkyJ cuz he is afraid of dirt (though now he has been using the fact that he has 4-week old twins as his all-purpose I'm-not-lame-just-busy ploy), AndyP and Spanky did not respond to email, and TommyO is on sabbatical in that god-forsaken land some refer to as, alternately, either South Canada or Wisconsin. Then they scheduled a Big Important meeting at 5pm anyways, so now I can't even go. Bastardos.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Last Night Was Movie Night

I'd like to thank you all for your concern about my health and well being. I am just fine. This despite the fact that I posted nothing yesterday. I'm trying to get my money's worth out of our Netflix subscription, and I think failing pretty badly at it this month. We have the three-movie plan, and we've long dedicated one movie the The Childrens. Right now, they have Monsters, Inc. Then, in a bad strategy move, The Mrs. decided to get herself two godawful period pieces for when I was in Ft. Collins for a two-night business trip about a month ago.

Problem is, she only watched one of them. So we're stuck with Pride and Prejudice taking up the second of our allocation of three. That means I can only have one movie at a time that I can watch, as I have long ago dropped all pretense of enjoying sitting with The Mrs. while she watches this crap like you have to do early on in a relationship. That one movie was Matchstick Men.

Here's my brief review: a marginally entertaining movie that completely telegraphed its "surprise" plot twist such that I was sure that couldn't possibly be what was going to happen because it was too obvious. Then, when that was exactly what happened, I felt really let down. There was one real highlight to this movie. Nicholas Cage's performance as a person suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sadly, in typical Hollywood fashion, he is "cured" for most of the movie simply by changing his general outlook on life. My guess is he was cured because the Hollyweasels thought it would too distracting to have a whack-job as the central character throughout the whole movie.

His daughter in the movie, played by Alison Lohman, was supposed to be 14. I kept looking at her and thinking she didn't look like any 14-yr old I ever knew. Then I felt guilty for having, umm, special feelings. However, I later looked her up, and she was 23 when the movie was made. So now I feel better.

Next up is Swordfish. How can you go wrong with John Travolta?

I've changed my mind again. I don't think the butterfly bush is going to make it.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter


The Childrens got up early this morning to go hunt for eggs and their Easter baskets. The excitement is nearly as great as on Christmas, but the imposing sense of dread is quite a bit less. I'm not much of holiday person, so I try to sleep in as much as possible.

It is not at all possible.

Here's a photo from what seemd like 5am, but was actually 8:16 according to the camera timestamp. In it, MaxieC and HannieC inspect the Maxter's Easter basket. He holds a monster truck (Wild Thang), and she has a package of glow-in-the-dark plastic stars. In the foreground are their two egg hunting baskets. One quite full, the other no so much.

MaxieC still stops to eat the candy when he finds each egg. That seems to slow him down a bit.

There's an egg!

MaxieC, hopped up on chocolate bunny and holding his new twisty bunny straw.

Now this gift, from Gramma and Grampa C, was a big hit. It's a plastic dinosaur skeleton broken down into 11 pieces and then encased inside a "rock". It comes with a little hammer and chisel and fake safety glasses, and you excavate the fossils. It kept HannieC busy for about an hour, and then afterwards the entire dinette (in addition to HannieC) was covered in a fine gray powder. MaxieC and I cleaned it up while HannieC hit the showers before church.

Then, it was off to church for the 10:30 easter egg hunt. They had the little kids in one room and the bigger kids in the other. Unfortunately, they didn't mix up the eggs right, and all the "toys" ended up in the little kids room, and all the candy ended up in the other. So MaxieC got a bag full of choking hazzard toys (mostly very small super balls and those sticky, stretchy hands that you throw on stuff and they stick) and little puzzle books that he can't do. It'll go into the closet until he's older.

After lunch, MaxieC, The Mrs., and I all lay down for a nap. HannieC watched her new DVD,
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We got in a good hour, hour and a half nap before MaxieC was up again.

I love naps more than life itself.

Then we spent the rest of the afternoon preparing for our dinner guests. The couple from across the street came over. The kids were in full-on crazy mode by then, what with the excitement of all the egg hunts and the giant handfulls of candy they had consumed. Luckily, our guests are used to that. It's kind of a prerequisite of eating here, as at least one of the kids is crazed at all times. Sometimes the dog is, too.

The Mrs. made stuffed mushrooms, one of my favorite appetizers. I stuffed myself with them. Then we had prime rib for dinner. And for dessert, our neighbors brought a chocolate cake shaped like the Easter Bunny. Yummy. I don't have pictures of it cuz I'm not a food blogger. Check with CJ for food pictures.

When the company left, The Mrs. headed off to bed leaving me to do the dishes. We had a lot of big pots and cookie sheets and roasting pans that would not fit in the dishwasher. I know what you're thinking. "What a big wuss, letting his wife go to bed while he stays up doing the dishes." What can I say? She was tired. I wasn't. And I'm one hell of a catch.

Dog poop! Dog Poop!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

End of the Day Stories

The Childrens are in bed, the downstairs is picked up and vacuumed for the company tomorrow, The Mrs. is in the garage putting together the secret Easter baskets, and now I have a chance to sit in quiet reflection about what all I had intended to record here but did not.

Oh no wait. No I don't. The Mrs. needs help, "Filling these eggs." I'm off to the garage...

OK. Back. Where were we? Oh yes.

Let me start off by saying that once again, someone is complaining about something I wrote. This time, it's that I did not credit the knock knock joke. So, technically, I'm not sure exactly where the credit lies. See, BrainkyP was driving us (StinkyJ, JohnnyB, and yours truly) to CJ's (the burger place, not the blogger's place) for lunch yesterday. BrainkyP drives a truly horrible Jetta junker, the kind you might pick up at the Goodwill "GoodWheels" donated car lot, and I was sitting in the back, and I'm half deaf, and I don't really pay much attention with the other half when BrainkyP is telling a story, cuz they're usually kind long and not much goes on in them.

BrainkyP started off on some story about when he was in Paris and went to some restaurant, and then I punched him for living in France. And then he said something about having only been visiting, so I punched him again. Then I sat back and drifted off into my own world, where things are happy every day, and he's droning on about going into the basement and there being Sri Lankans living there, and then everybody was laughing and saying "Three Lankans" over and over again. I completely missed why. But for the rest of the lunch, people kept saying, "Three Lankans," and these three idiots kept bursting out in side-splitting laughter. I really don't understand why. Maybe StinkyJ can leave an explanation in the comments.

With that ripe in my mind, being that it was just about the only interesting thing that happened yesterday, I opened up with a knock knock joke that ended in "Three Lankans" just to see if it was funny in a wider audience. Apparently, I should have credited BrainkyP with this piece of genius, though I am pretty damned sure there was no knock knock joke involved in his story about the basement in Paris and his first experience with Sri Lankans and how he's never felt quite the same about butter since then.

Enough said about that.

This morning The Mrs. got what is often referred to as a "bug up her @$" and decides we need to go furniture shopping for HannieC's bedroom today. Why is that? Does HannieC not have a complete bedroom set purchased fewer than three years ago? Well, you all know how The Mrs. is. Always buying stuff and then deciding it needs replacing. It's one thing when it's flowers. Furniture gets more annoying.

But she's got a loophole. MaxieC has pretty much outgrown his toddler bed. He's in need of a normal bed. HannieC has a normal bed, only it's up a couple feet higher than normal and has drawers underneath, which is exactly what The Mrs. had to, had to, had to have for her when we bought it. Well, now The Mrs. needs HannieC to have a loft bed with a desk underneath. And she's unhappy with the quality of the furniture we got HannieC. So that furniture will go to MaxieC, and HannieC will get new furniture.

Then, in a couple years, she'll make me give away MaxieC's perfectly good bedroom set and buy him a brand new set that is in some way completely different from what she thinks would be perfect today. But by then, the furniture will be 5-6 years old, and maybe I won't raise quite so big a stink.

Unless I've had Mexican food.

We agreed upon one thing before leaving. That we wanted to go to three or four places and look at a few models before deciding.

I bet you can see where this is going.

We go off to this place called "Woodpeckers Furniture" first. I know, I snicker when I say the name, too. They have a sign on the front that says they're having a no sales tax sale. Sales tax is %8.25 here. The sale is today only. We go in there, and they have nothing on the showroom floor even remotely like what we wanted, despite it being on their website. But one of the guys knows what we're talking about and pulls out a catalog.
Oh, just perfect. That is exactly, exactly, exactly what I want. What is the price?
So while the guy is off behind the counter making up a price (I'm wearing my incredibly-dumpy Saturday clothes cuz I had no idea we were going shopping. Dunno if that helps or hurts.), I have a brief sidebar with The Mrs. We're still planning to hit three more places on this trip to comparison shop, not planning to buy right now, good good.

Wife has him write down a price quote while I try to keep The Childrens from killing each other or knocking over any furniture. We're about to go, and HannieC says, "I'm really happy I picked the dark one." The Mrs. says, "You picked the light one." Now the guy had told us the thing came in three different woods, each progressively $100 more than the previous. The Mrs. had gotten a quote on the middle one, and HannieC wanted the most expensive one. To be fair, I like the most expensive one the best, too. (We were looking at model MIS-L31, which is in the center of the top row.) So the wife turns to the guy and says, how much is the dark one? And he says, "It's $100 more." Same story as before.

Ok thanks. We start to leave. "Oh, but I'd really like it if you would buy it from me today. How about if I give you that one for the same price as the other? And with no sales tax, that's a really good deal." But we're not buying today. Just looking. Want to check out other stores. Look at other models. Maybe see the thing in person.

It'll be delivered in about 2 weeks.

Final funny story of the day. I'm playing outside in the back yard with MaxieC while HannieC practices her piano and viola with The Mrs. MaxieC unloads in his diaper. Nasty, foul, goopy stuff. Dunno what he's been eating. I go to take him inside for a change. I take off his shoes, set him down, start taking off my shoes, and he takes off running and giggling . "I not go inside! I not get new diaper!"

Then he stops dead in his tracks, looks down at his bare feet, and says, "Dog poop."

And that, my friends, was the highlight of my day.

Again with the shelves?

As you all must remember from such classic posts as "What in the...?" and "Stockholm", we at the C fambily have had quite an ongoing saga regarding shelves. I think this is finally drawing to a close with this one, last shelf placement. This is the shelf that was previously in the compooter room and was replaced in "Stockholm". Well, it has been sitting on its back in the garage on top of the old piano stool that we don't use any more that is on top of the table saw that I broke and was nearly killed by, but that I haven't disassembled to make small enough to throw out yet.

It's also, colloquially, a POS. Junk pressboard with a decal of wood. Got it, I think, from K-Mart. Can't remember if it's from when we first moved to sunny Kalifornia or if it's from back in Rochester. I think it's a Sauder, but I can't remember for sure.

The Mrs., ever in love with shelves, felt that stacking this thing up on our junk heap in the garage was not the right thing to do. So she searched high and low in the house for any remaining wallspace that did not already contain shelves, and she came up with a placement. In The Childrens's playroom next to the piano.

In case you were wondering, The Childrens's playroom was called "the living room" by our realtor when he showed us the house. Silly realtor.

Now I'm going to switch to photo-blogging mode. All these were photos were taken using a Canon PowerShot A520. An excellent digital camera for the price, though the shot cycle rate is downright pokey.

This first shot shows the "diamond in the rough" spotted by The Mrs. Yep, an inexperienced shelf-space hunter probably would never have noticed that little patch of non-shelved wall back there between the piano and the curtains. Especially since it already has a stack of plastic storage drawers right next to the piano which is barely visible as it's tucked behind the kitchenette/grocery store. It will become more visible in later photos after it is relocated to make room for the shelves.

After clearing a space, the next step is to install the earthquake straps that keep it from falling over and smashing The Childrens's heads like so many DDT-weakened eggs. Now, here's the one big annoyance with this shelf placement: it's on an exterior wall. My Zircon studsensor doesn't work at all right on exterior walls. I'm not sure why. Maybe the extra 1/8" of drywall thickness. Maybe the stucco exterior.

On normal scan mode, it found a stud every 4 inches. On deep scan mode, it found but one stud. Naturally, upon drilling a pilot hole where it found the stud, I hit nothing but air. I've learned not to trust this thing on exterior walls, so I drill the smallest hole I have a bit for. Then, when I hit air, I just keep drilling more and more holes until I eventually find a stud. In this photo, the studsensor said the stud was where the rightmost hole is. If you look carefully, you can see it only took me 14 more tries to actually find the stud. The next stud to the right turned out to be about 3" over.

Upon further inspection, I'm pretty sure the deep scan mode actually found the redwood 4x4 fencepost on the other side of the wall. I'd need to go outside with the tape measure to know for sure, and it's raining.

Below we now have both the earthquake straps installed, and HannieC is mugging for the camera just like she has in previous pictures. You can see the aforementioned plastic storage drawers have migrated to the right, next to the curtains, from their old home up next to the piano.

Next, I have to make a new hole in the cardboard back for the earthquake straps to go through. The studs here are the standard 16" on center spacing, but for some reason, they were 18" in the first location (which was in the old house). I just kind of snaked the straps through the non-standard spacing when we moved the shelves to this house, but today I decides to fix the holes. Who knows why. The new straps are light tan. The old Velcro on the left is black, from a darker-colored earthquake strap. This shot is up into the top shelf, and these straps are secured on the underside of the top of the bookcase.

This is the mess left by my Leatherman Wave saw when I sawed through the back. Heck of a useful little tool that thing is. (Man, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that.)

HannieC likes to help. Here she is pitching in with the cleanup. Note her change of outfit. She's off a gymnastics Easter Egg Hunt, leaving me home alone with MaxieC, who is napping at the time.

Finally, done! I didn't put the kitchenette/grocery store back in place yet to allow a space for The Mrs. to get in and out to fill up the shelves. I'm sure I will hear about how The Childrens's playroom was all organized and I went and made a mess of it and didn't clean up after myself...

The Mrs. Doesn't Cook Breakfast for Me*

But that's OK. I can improvise.

And, hey, I've finally found something from Trader Joe's that is downright yummy.

* To be fair, I generally do not eat breakfast.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Knock Knock

Who's there?


Three who?

Three Lankans

Today, I did some Bad Parenting. We were all "sitting down" to eat dinner, and little HannieC was overly excited, as she gets when The Daddy comes home. She kept poking at me poking at me. Now, I'm pretty well know for being a calm, patient guy. Just ask anybody. (Well, maybe not The Mrs.) Eventually, I tired of being poked. So I did one of those hyperbolic bluffs. I said, "The next part of your body you poke me with I'm going to cut off with this knife." I was holding a steak knife at the time, as I was cutting into my Tri-Tip roast that came in a bag from Trader Joe's.

HennieC is a pretty bright kid. In fact, we've gone through the trouble of spending $3000 to have her certified as a bright kid. So, I figure she's going to start poking me with her fork, and then I'll be able to grab the fork and fling it across the room, which will be quite cathartic for me and funny as all getout to MaxieC. But no. HannieC decideds to call my bluff. She comes in really slowly with her index finger extened downwards, and says, "poke," as she pokes the back of my hand. Then she pulls back and starts laughing. Har har har. Put one over on old pops there. Called his bluff. Har har har.

Well, this just cannot stand. So, I laid my right hand on my steak knife. (A very important detail in case there are any Democrats reading - if I don't pick it up, I'm not "brandishing".) With my left hand, I grabbed the hand with which she had poked me. Then I tsk tsked. I did not pull her hand towards me, but I did not let her pull her away. The she got all scared, and I said, "You better say you are sorry for poking me very quickly." She immediately appologized. I let go of her hand.

She spent the next 5 or so minutes crying, alternately in the lap of The Mrs. and in my lap. After about the first 30 seconds, it was all fake. Eventually, she demanded to know if I was kidding or not. This is much like someone who has just folded because you came over the top demanding to see your hand. There is simply no reason to show. So I said, "It's best you do not do it again, or you will find out."

I'm a regular Chris Moneymaker.

This whole time, though, I'm thinking to myself how I'm going to have to live through a lecture on parenting from The Mrs. If there's one thing she knows, it's every possible reason for my parenting to be wrong. It's like her gift. He special calling in life. You married guys know what I'm talking about. But it never came.

However, something else completely unexpected happened. About 20 minutes later, HannieC, The Mrs., and I are in the kitchen. HannieC is making a pest out of herself, as she always is. She's flailing her arms around in wild abandon and intentionally accidentally bumping in to people. Then The Mrs. utters those words that let me know I am doomed.
You better stop that. Do want Daddy to cut your arms off?

HannieC, however, knows I'm not going to cut her arms off, or anything else. She just used the episode as an excuse to throw a pity party for herself.

Tonight, I write this whilst sitting on my porch drinking a bottle of Cabernet and smoking a Partagas. See, yesterday was supposed to be Fat Camp, but Fat Camp seems to have lost its steam. AndyP has been sick, and he called at 9:00 to bail. TommyO is on sabbatical in Wisconsin. Dr. Adlerberg said, "I really would enjoy going out for a beers, but I'm tired," and Spanky had some kind of family dinner, despite his nearest family being something like 12000 miles away.

To his credit, Spanky called from Fremont (a half-hour north of here) at 10:23pm to say that he could go. But, by then I had settled in for the night. So I didn't get to go out and drink and stooge last night. The Mrs. kept telling me to go outside to drink and stooge by myself, but I didn't. I was depressed.

"Why?" You ask. How could someone with such a great life as I be depressed? Well, for one thing, I made someone cry at work yesterday. I didn't mean to. What I said was, "The only analysis that's ever been done, which you did yourself, says 'no impact.' So don't go throwing out '60% increase in burn-in time.' That's completely made-up."

And then she cried.

Damnit, there's no crying in taskforces! It's bad enough I have to go to 4 hours of frigging emergency taskforce meetings every single day. I can't deal with the crying, too. I go to work to escape the crying. Nobody's work is bullet-proof, mine included. But don't cry when I challenge you. I'm not such a Big Deal or anything that your career is over if I disagree. I'm no damned StinkyJ. The one and only perk of working for the illustrious I. Corp is that I'm allowed to be, in fact encouraged to be disagreeable. In fact, every damned year one of my development areas is to be more vocally disagreeable.

That probably comes as a shocker to The Mrs. who probably can't even begin to imagine what I'd be more like if I were more disagrreable. But she's never been part of the corporate world. But, there it is.

Anyways, when I got home, I felt bad. Mostly cuz I thought there was a decent enough chance she was right and that the 60% increase was real. But she didn't have any analysis to back it up. So I stewed a while.

This was the second person I have made cry during my almost 11 years at the I. Corp.

Oddly, whenI mentioned that to a longtime colleage tonight, he said, "No. It's the third. Remember that woman back in MHPG? You told me a story about her."


Nope. I never made her cry. What happened there was that she and I were working on the same block, and I was the one in charge of the block, so I was the one that determined what work she needed to do. But she did not technically work for me as in I was not her boss on paper. She worked for the same boss I did. At some point, she began to resent that I was not her boss and I was telling her what to do, so she called me into a conference room and told me, in effect, to go to hell. That she was going to ignore anything I told her and she was just going to do what her official boss told her.

So every morning, her official boss would call me up and ask me what this woman should work on today, and I would tell her. Then she would call up the woman that did not work for me and tell her what I said. It was inefficient, but it worked out in the end. She left the group after that project, thankfully.

Now, I don't want you all to get the impression that I'm some sort of evil misogynist that makes all the women I work with cry. I've worked with many women over the years, and only one has ever actually cried. It's really that I can be kind of direct (i.e., an a-hole) at times, and you need to be able to handle that, or you shouln't be working in a high pressure job. Fish or cut bait, as they say. Or stand on the dock pretending to fish while drinking beer.

Wow. While I've been writing this, I've had 7 hits to my blog. Must be people looking for the update. I better post.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Busy Busy Busy

I just spent the last hour doing actual work for my actual job, and I unloaded my night's-worth of snarkiness in an email to my boss and his box-brother. So, I've got nothing left for you kids. Plus, it's late, and I've got a VCCmin taskforce meeting at 9am. If you knew what a VCCmin taskforce was, you'd be feeling sorry for me right now.

When I say "VCCmin taskforce" just substitute "root canal" in your mind.

So, I'll spend the next few minutes tying up some loose ends, and then I'll head off to bed. The sad thing will be that given that tomorrow is Fat Camp, you won't get much out of me tomorrow, either. Unless I can figure out a way to post something while I'm supposed to be at one of the meetings I have booked solid from 9am to 5:30pm.

But I never never never post from work. Cuz I simply work the whole time I'm there.

OK, first, I'd like to say that my characterization of my boss, StinkyJ, as being, "relatively devoid of any semblance of a sense of humor," might be misconstrued as he not being funny. The key here is "relatively". I rate everyone relative to me, and that's a tough crowd.

Let me state very clearly that StinkyJ is funny. He is funny in at least three ways. (Don't laugh; that's two more than most of you.) First, he has a funny name. That's half the battle. I mean, how funny would Gallagher be if he were named Leo Jones. "I went and saw Jones last night, and now I have to clean my pants." See, not funny.

Secondly, he has funny hair. Funny hair has long been revered in comedy, from The Three Stooges to Carrot Top.

Finally, who can ever tire of the classic, "Does your face hurt? That's funny. It's killing me!" Heck, it has "funny" right in it.

In summary, StinkyJ is funny. He's just relatively not funny.

A couple other things, unrelated, things. The Mrs. isn't completely sick yet. That means I'll probably be getting sick just in time for the weekend, as per my master plan to make The Mrs. suffer as much as possible. Finally, for those of you starting up new blogs, you have to choose only one of the following: a) Tell your boss about the blog, b) make fun of him in it. Doing both can be damaging, career-wise.

Baaaaad CJ

Idle hands are the Devil's Workshop.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Day of Disappointment

In other words, a day like any other day.

Oddly enough, things went very smoothly today, all things considered. It seems like most of the parallel crises at work are boiling down to the point where I might actually get to do something other than ping from one to the next. Maybe I'll even get to do some of my own work "official" work this week! I'm not going to hold my breath on that one.

I'm really enjoying that the compooter room is nice and clean now. It's officially "done", as the last of the piles in the hallway was squirreled away over the weekend. The Mrs. spent quite some time on this, and it certainly is a vast improvement. Having the third, matching set of shelves was pure genius on my part, I must say. So, I guess I deserve most of the credit for the end result.

The compooter room is so nice, in fact, that I have become inspired to once again begin practicing my guitar. This is now the third day in a row. I believe, though don't quote me on this, that this is the first time I have practiced three days in a row since MaxieC was born. The Guitarist will be mightily impressed, as I will actually be able to play my new assignment at full speed after just one week. (BTW, that's not The Guitarist in the picture. That's one of his underlings.) Just so you know, I've whittled down my time with The Mrs. in order to make more time to practice, not my time blogging. As we've covered before, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Or was it colder?

I need a new battery for my laptop, which is owned by work. I'm trying to decide if it's worth the effort to try to get our department admin to get me a new battery (the only way to get a battery through work), or if I should just pop the $60 on my own and avoid the hassle. I might as well just get it on my own, as I am flush with the heady excitement of the gigantic raise I got today in the annual salary adjustment thingee. At 4:00, I was chatting with another gentleman of equal-stature, and we were trying to figure out if our raises covered the increased costs of health care for our three dependents each. Neither of us was sure. That in itself is a bad sign.

Update: I looked it up. The answer is YES! The raise does cover the increased health care costs, with money to spare! Not much money, but some. Like, maybe $3/day. Interestingly, that's less money than I make off the advertisements on this blog. You heard that right. Starting this blog is the biggest raise I will get all year. One hour a day of writing down the stories I would normally tell at lunch to fill the dead air between "Uh, so how was your weekend Scotty? Uh, so how was your weekend Brainky? Uh, you got any plans for the weekend Tommy?"

If a Democrat gets elected president, she will allow the tax cuts to expire, and I will have to sell our house. No question about it. I ran the numbers. And that's even taking into account that I'm paying AMT, so I don't even get the full tax cut. Ft. Collins, here we come.

You know, the only real disappointment of the day was lunch. For some reason, there is this bizarre love for a burrito joint called La Bamba up in Mountain View. I don't understand the attraction. Yes, it's cheap, but a) the food is merely passable - nothing special, and b) the seating is stupid. It's basically a take-out place that has a counter glued to the side walls and a bunch of plastic chairs. One of the newspapers described it as "prison room stark". That is an apt description.

The Mrs. informed me today that she is "coming down with something." I replied, "That's better than coming up with something." Then I thought to myself, "Self, that wasn't funny. In fact, that was stupid."

They can't all be winners. But, hey, I'm preaching to the choir on that one, with this audience.

Somewhere in there is a barf joke, but I just can't seem to nail it down. "That's better than having something coming up." Or maybe there's a sex joke. "Do you plan to go down with it?" or "How can you tell? You don't know anything about going down."

Those aren't funny either. At least I had the good sense to stop trying out loud, but it's killing me that now, almost 2 hours later, I still haven't found the right line. Maybe there really isn't anything humorous in it.

Maybe it's just tragic. As in, if The Mrs. gets sick it will mean that I will have to stay home and take care of the childrens. This is the single most horrible thing that can happen to a man. Worse than when you're sitting in the chair, and the doctor cuts you open and pulls some of your insides out and then says in a tiny, high-pitched voice, "Light! Light! We're not supposed to be in the light! Put us back!" And I know, cuz that really happened to me.

The second problem with The Mrs. getting sick is that I will invariably get sick shortly thereafter, before she's completely well. She will then, also invariably, accuse me of getting sick intentionally so that I didn't have to watch the childrens anymore, and then she will parade around all day with the children saying, "Mommies aren't allowed to be sick," whenever I am in earshot in an attempt to goad me into admitting I am a insufferable boor who would fake being sick in order to make his wife get up out of her death bed and watch her childrens.

Now, I'm not disputing that I am insufferable. But I do not fake being sick. It is a lot more restful for me to go to work than it is for me to stay home and try to rest. The only time I stay home is when I am too sick to drive safely, or when I am so sick I will surely infect the entire staff of the lab in which I toil. At work, people are sympathetic, and they never jump on your junk to wake you up. They also never heave a deep sigh and shake their heads every time you make eye contact.

That last one is subject to change given that my new boss, StinkyJ, is relatively devoid of any semblance of a sense of humor.

He does seem to have a soft-spot for off-color lumberjack jokes, though.