Monday, May 29, 2006

Weekend Wrapup

As though three days of fun weren't enough, we decided to have even more fun on Sunday. HannieC's new bed finally came in this past week, and it had been sitting in the garage where The Mrs. is supposed to park. It came in 4 boxes labeled "1 of 7", "2 of 7", "5 of 7", and "6 of 7".

Two of these boxes were very, very large. About 4'x5'x2'. When they first arrived, I had asked The Mrs. how were were going to get those upstairs. The purpose of this question was as a lead-in to an excuse to buy a new tool - a hand cart/dolly. The Mrs., always thinking, said, "We'll open up the boxes and take the stuff up in pieces. It's not going to be just one piece in the box."

I ignored this. When Sunday rolled around, The Mrs. asks me when I expect we can start moving HannieC's old bed and dresser into MaxieC's room and putting together her new bed. I say, "Well, I was planning to go to OSH first to get a dolly." And off we go to OSH. I picked out this nice, blue one:

It was really helpful, as it turned out those big 5x4x2 boxes each had only one piece of furniture in it. And they were really heavy. With the dolly, it took both The Mrs. and Me, CherkyB to get those things up the stairs. We never would have made it otherwise. I'm guessing well over a hundred pounds. This is nice furniture. The bottoms of the drawers are even made of wood planks, not pressboard.

I also note that they chamfered the plank edges at the joints. Just like I did for the garden of death boxes. Very professional.

We got the new bed up more-or-less without incident. HannieC got way overexcited and kept getting in the way to "help", which caused a bit of a ruckus at times. Also, one of my cordless drill batteries is now dead-dead. It didn't make it through driving just one screw.

We had to get HannieC a new mattress cuz her current one was too thick, and we also stopped off at Lamps Plus and bought a halogen light strip that I mounted in her desk cubby. Here she is working at her desk behind the veil:

She's quite attached to the new bed.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Three Days of Happy Happy Joy Joy

Been a long time since we talked. Many excitements have occurred. I have spent a great deal of time sifting through all the possibilities, and I have hand selected only the cream of the entertainment crop, if you will, for presentation today. I know that it's a holiday weekend, and your time and attention span is limited. So I'm giving you only premium-grade, top quality stories today. Not that everyday dreck you might find over at CJ's or Spankolio (RIP), but real, side-splitting humor.

They don't call me the Ellen Degeneres of Comedy for nothing.

Or do they?

But right on with it anyways. Thursday was once again Fat Camp. Once again, people practically broke down the door trying to put in their lame-ass excuses for why they couldn't go biking. I'm starting to think these guys are trying to out do each other in order to see if I use their material. Well, I never use anyone else's material. It's 100% mine. Except for the stuff I steal from my wife, but hey, she's on the payroll. It's not like I'm not paying for it.

With my soul.

Here's this week's list:
  • BrainkyP: I work until feven[sic] o'clock every evening. (He's a product of the California public school system, and thus sometimes appears to be a moron. Mostly just when he talks. I can say this even though as of Wednesday he became my boss again cuz he stopped reading weeks ago. Shhhh. Nobody tell him, or he'll want to talk to me. And when he talks...)
  • TommyO: I'm sick. And I'm too big a pussy to go biking when I'm sick. (Or hiking, as it were, given his hill climbing abilities.)
  • Spanky: I'm not in the mood. (Yet in the mood for drinking afterwards, oddly. Hard to find fault with that part. Though, being dead, Spanky isn't much of a conversationalist anymore.)
  • StinkyJ: My leg is still broken. And I'm too big a pussy to go biking with a broken leg. (The broken leg comes in handy at lunch time when we get to park in handicapped. 'Course, StinkyJ became too important to eat lunch with us a couple weeks ago, so we've only gotten this perk once. Still, that's once more than most of you idiots.)
Funny story (though, aren't they all really?). On Thursday morning, The Mrs. was trying to open my closet door to get at the clothes hamper. Our closets have big, mirrored, sliding doors. The doors are about 4'x8', and there are two per closet. Well, being that they're about 34 years old, one of the wheels on one of my doors isn't working like it did when it was brand new. Thus, you have to push kinda hard to get the door to slide. It works fine, you just have to use more force than would normally be necessary. So The Mrs. is like any other woman, meaning basically devoid of any rational thought process detectable by a man, and she decides that it would be easier to lift the door and move it aside rather than to just push it hard. She's giving it the old heave-ho in no particularly useful fashion, but nonetheless she manages to get it open enough to get out the clothes hamper.

Well, I had been watching this, and I'm having a fit. You really had to see it to understand why. She's just sort of randomly lifting and jiggling and dropping and grunting. It was like prom night all over again, as they say. Mostly I'm having a fit because I'm standing there waiting to get my shirt out of my closet, and she's covered up the half of my closet I was trying to use with the sliding door so that she can get into the other half of my closet. So then I go to put the door back so I can get my shirt out, and I note that the door won't budge at all as it is now completely off the track and resting on the carpet on one end.

I grumble. Married men are never given a pass on grumbling. No. It is all my fault, I am informed. I should have fixed the door by now.

And you should have fixed breakfast by now.

The reason I haven't fixed the door yet is that it is 4'x8', covered in glass, weighs about 50 lbs., and I need someone to help me lift it. It's not like I can't lift 50 lbs. It's that I can't lift something that big and awkward and maneuver it around in the tight space that is the dressing area without breaking anything. The Mrs., ever the understanding one, says this:
I bet BrainkyP could do it.
Upon investigation, he concurred that it would imprudent to try to do this without help given the awkward nature of the task. StinkyJ also concurred, though he added that it would not stop him from doing it himself. Probably to be believed, coming from the guy who rode his ladder down nearly 30' to the ground when cleaning his gutters one day. No, that isn't how he broke his leg. I heard he broke his leg falling down his stairs drunk, but I think he may have made that up to seem cooler than he really is.

Looking back at the Fat Camp list of excuses, you may note that AndyP is not on there for the first time this season. Yes, he actually managed to show this week. And a fine showing it was. Why, he made it completely all the way up the first hill to the signpost without stopping to rest, which is an accomplishment TommyO can only dream of. And he managed to talk smack while he was doing it about how easy this climb was compared to his normal route in. Oddly, I still had to wait at the top a meaningful amount of time for him to catch up, and I am by no means a mountain goat. Smack talking can really slow you down.

That was, however, to be the crowning achievement of the ride. AndyP shortly thereafter developed a bad case of chain suck, and he kept coming to abrupt halts on uphills. My guess is the fact that he never cleans the bike has led to this equipment failure. You gotta clean it out regularly if you want your equipment to function right. We knocked off early and headed to Jake's for beers, pizza, and wings. Spankolio met us there. Nothing that happened there made the cut for this post.

Friday, I took the day off from work. I was really busy, and we were right in the middle of a crisis that was partially real and partially imagined at work, but I took the day off anyways. This so I could take the Loving Fambly to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Now for us, the Aquarium itself is no longer the event. No, now we have to make the whole day into a string of events. Luckily, I can switch into photoblogging mode a bit here to save myself some typing. It's already 11:30pm, and The Mrs. just told me not to stay up too late. That wife-speak for , "I'm expecting you to get up early with MaxieC tomorrow while I sleep in."

I've been married long enough to be able to translate simple phrases of wife-speak into normal English. It's a bizarre language filled with a lot of misdirection and poorly defined meaning.

So, here are the youngsters pretending to be Penguin hatchlings. Seconds after I snapped this, HannieC jumped on MaxieC, knocking him to the ground, and began hugging him with a sumo death grip. Luckily, she can be distracted with shiny things. Lucky for MaxieC, at least.

We didn't really take that many pictures inside the aquarium. It turns out that taking a picture of your kids looking at fish is kind of a waste of time. I've got tons of them from previous years. Fish just aren't all that exciting to begin with, and then the two dimensionality of photographs just sucks whatever life there is out of the fishy subjects.

The next big even of aquarium day is lunch. We almost always go to the same place. I can never remember the name, except that it is vaguely dirty-sounding. Hmmm... Ahh, here it is. Bullwackers. Nice place. Kids like it cuz of the open fire pit in the center. It's also never super crowded. This time, this piratey guy tried to sneak up behind MaxieC, but MaxieC did his patented "smack him in the junk and run away giggling" maneuver. Arrr...

But wait. Fun doesn't end with lunch. No. This time, we did something really special. We rented a "surrey". This apparently means "big, heavy, slow, quadcycle thing" in Italian. The Childrens get to sit up front, and The Mrs. and Me, CherkyB, sit in back and pedal. I got to steer, too. Here is the fambly looking all happy by Fisherman's Wharf.

You'd figure the aquarium, then lunch, then surrying would be enough. But wait, there's more. On the way back from the bike rental place to the aquarium, there are a couple of vagranty womens who make their living letting people pet their baby ducks.

I know, that sounds even dirtier than "Bullwackers" did. But here's a picture of HannieC holding a baby duck, MaxieC petting it, and Me, CherkyB, restraining the range of motion MaxieC has on his petting arm. This cuz he grabbed the baby duck and squeezed the heck out of it moments before. A move he learned from the way his sister treats him. You can hardly see the baby duck because of its natural camouflage blending in with MaxieC's duck-hunting camouflage print jacket.

So it was back to the Aquarium for a few more hours. It was Friday, so all the school field trips cleared out around 3:00 and the place got a lot less crowded. Finally, they shut it down at 6, so we had to leave. But do we go home?

No, of course not. Aquarium Day never ends. Will no one put it out of its misery? No?

We are now off the Dennis the Menace Park. Apparently Hank Ketchum was from Monterey or something. I'd look it up, but I really need to cut this short and go to bed. It's now after midnight, and MaxieC will be up in 6.5 hours.

This park features a real locomotive that you can climb on and gash yourself open. Here I am trying to keep both childrens from killing their respective selves while The Mrs. goofs around framing up just the perfect shot. Which she never got, so this'll have to do.

After that, HannieC hit the climbing wall, which is a much safer climb.

Now, I promised you three days of fun, and I've talked of only two. Here's a taste of today. We spent the day at Bonfante Gardens, a local theme park for young childrens. It was a bit of a chore today, as the kids were still not completely over the excitement of Aquarium Day. Below are MaxieC and Me, CherkyB, yukking it up in the tail of "Apple and Worm", which is a mini-roller coaster that has a vertical lift of about 20 inches and just goes in a circle.

I learned today that HannieC is a roller coaster purist. She will ride only in the rearmost seats of a coaster, not caring if she has to wait three extra cycles to get that seat. She and I rode in the rearmost seat of two coasters (not this baby one - the real ones) about seven times today. We could have gone many more times as there was no waiting for the middle seats, but she wanted to wait for the perfect seats.

There was a wedding at the park today. I think it was Katie and Justin, but The Mrs. thinks the dood's name was Jason (and I think we agree on Katie, but I can't remember). On the way home from the park, we got passed by a little car with "Just Married" painted on the back window, and it had paper streamers coming out of the trunk. The Mrs. said, "I wonder if that's the people who got married at the park today."

I said, "Poor kids. They had their whole lives ahead of them. And now they're married."

The Mrs. replied, "Do you wish you weren't married?"

AAAaaaaa!!!! My brain jumps into high gear. What possibly could be the right response to this? I could say, "Of course not." And then she would go off on some diatribe about how I shouldn't disparage marriage (an oddly rhyming pair), especially in front of the children, and how it's hurtful to her, and blah-d-blah-blah-blah. Or I could say, "Damn straight!" which I'm sure would open up even more of a deluge of lecturifying. Maybe I could go with something ironic, like, "Why don't you tell me, dear?" No, that's kind of unclear. She might think I was asking her to tell me if she'd be happier not married, not that I'm asking her to tell me what my own opinion is since I don't know my opinion on anything until she gives it to me. What to do? What to do? Ah ha! I know just the right response.

I didn't say a word.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Substance is Calling Me

This past weekend was going the way most weekends go, meaning I was trying to my hardest to play with the childrens, but I was getting a feeling like the world was closing in on me. That always makes me cranky. So I did my normal routine of trying to beer the feeling into submission, but it didn't help.

Then, on a whim, I decided to test a hypothesis of mine. Instead of a beer, I had a Pepsi.

Wow. The cloud lifted. The sun came out. I felt great.

Yes folks , it official. I'm an addict. And not to anything cool. To caffeine. The damned 32oz Diet Cokes with free refills at lunch all week have done me in.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I'll Get You, My Pretty

And your little mom, too.

Tonight, I cooked dinner. That meant that dinner was about an hour late because of a combination of equipment failure and deciding to try something new. See, it was baby back rib night. Now, normally I'd just make my ribs. But people have been getting tired of the ribs. I've been making them the same since about 1993, and slowly the audience has been drifting away. The final straw was when The Mrs. declared that she preferred Traitor Joe's plastic-bagged ribs to mine.

I know she said that just to be mean, but it still motivated me to try something new. And I decided to cook the ribs differently, too.

I got out my barbecue recipe book. I very rarely use a recipe book, mainly because I very rarely cook. But it had about 5 different recipes for pork ribs. The very first recipe had a picture that looked absolutely delicious. It was called "Roasted Salsa Spareribs". It involved making a fresh salsa by roasting Anaheim peppers and tomatoes on the grill, then chopping them up and mixing with cilantro, garlic, and red-wine vinegar. Then you baste the ribs in the salsa while cooking over indirect heat for about an hour.

Mine actually turned out just like the picture. And they tasted great, too. Even The Mrs. seemed to enjoy the ribs.

As for the equipment failure, I have a Weber Performer grill, which is a great grill if you like charcoal. It has a little propane bottle to ignite the coals. You let the propane run for 3-5 minutes, then shut it off. Gets the coals going really quickly. Well, last night when I was grilling the porterhouse steaks I had a hard time getting the coals going. The propane was burning in a lackluster fashion, and with an orange flame. This is one of two things. Either I'm out of propane (which I suspect, since I haven't filled that thing up in three years), or the propane tube needs cleaning again (which I suspect, since I haven't cleaned it in two years.) The propane tube gets filled up with ash and needs cleaning on roughly a yearly basis. I decided not to deal with this today, and to just use the old chimney starter that I used before getting this grill.

The chimney starter works fine, but it takes about 25 minutes longer to get the grill going. I had forgotten that.

So, the long and the short of it is that I had to whip up some guacamole to feed the fambly while I waited for the ribs to finish.

Now, to get back on the original topic, while we were eating dinner HannieC starting smart-mouthing about something or other. I reprimanded her, as a proper parent does, and she said this to me:
You be quiet. You untrained man. You're just an untrained man who doesn't know what he's supposed to be doing.
Now, this was a bit of an eyebrow-raiser. I began fishing. "Did they teach you this in Sunday school today?" No. "Did you hear this from your friends?" No. "Where did you hear such a thing?"

"From Mommy."

Now, The Mrs. is sitting right next to her during all of this, and she immediately denied everything. But HannieC stuck to her guns, claiming that Mommy had said that over a year ago, and she had remembered it since then.

Mommy still denies it.

But we know the truth.

The Sad Counter

This nifty little counter I put in above the posts gives me all kinds of statistics so that I can target my advertising and my content more effectively. What I have actually learned, though, is that for three days, there have been a total of 4 actual readers: CJ, Peanut, The Mrs., and someone in Buffalo using a Comcast Cable modem and running in 800x600 dpi screen resolution.

Now who in Buffalo could possibly be using 800x600 screen resolution? I could swear I set up the compooter we bought Fat Moother in 1024x768, but maybe it was 800x600. I'm pretty sure Ellie runs a higher resolution than 800x600, since she moonlights as a web designer. Possibly my parents? But last time I checked, they were in 1024x768 also, and I doubt they muck with it.

800x600 is so old school. It implies a 15" monitor. Or perhaps a cheap laptop.

Who could it be?

Support from the Home Front

It's a rarity, but this morning, The Mrs. commented verbally to be on last night's post. She said two things. First, that it was my funniest post ever. Even funnier than Dog Poop. Then, she said that she could tell from reading the post that I secretly enjoyed the ballet package.

Niceties must be carefully balanced.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I'm Blind! I'm Blind!

Well, technically I'm not blind. But it would have been helpful to have been earlier today.

As noted yesterday, The Mrs. sent me to the ballet with HannieC today. It was a children's matinee performance of The Little Mermaid. There were many things odd about this arrangement. First, it has always been The Mrs. that has taken HannieC to the ballet. Second, The Mrs. has always insisted that I chauffer her and HannieC to the performance, as it is downtown and parking is difficult. Finally, the performance has always been during MaxieC's nap time, and The Mrs. has always insisted that it was, "time he learned to go to sleep without me there." MaxieC has generally fallen asleep on the way back from dropping off the womens, and then promptly awakened when we returned home and screamed for mommy the entire duration of the ballet.

Today, however, I was assigned ballet duty. This because it was MaxieC's nap time, and he doesn't like to got tosleep without The Mrs. there. Finally, I had to drive myself, as it was MaxieC's nap time and would be too disruptive to the nap to have to drop us off and pick us up later. But, hey, who's keeping track?

After circling the globe looking for parking, we managed to find our seats with plenty of time. So much time, that I spent the next 5 minutes cajoling HannieC to go potty before the performance so we wouldn't have to get up in the middle. The bar was between our seats and the potty, and it was mighty tempting, but I was strong. And they charge too much.

While we were sitting in the truck in downtown traffic before the show, HannieC was quizzing me about my ballet viewing experience. I thought about it, and I said, "I think the last time I went to a ballet I was about 8. We went to The Nutcracker. I hated it. I never went to the ballet since then." And HannieC was all, "You mean it's been almost 30 years since you were at the ballet?" Yup.

Well the ballet, as it turns out, has not changed. And neither have I.

Today's production was seven acts. We were seated in the seventh row of the mezzanine, which is apparently Italian for balcony. The speaker for the sound system sat 3 seats to the left and one row in front, so we "enjoyed" quite good audio. Halfway through the first act, which featured a bunch of people jumping around dressed as fish a plants and whatnot, I was settled nicely into my seat, slumped slightly over to the left where my arm propped up my head from its perch on the armrest. I had my eyes closed, and I was drifting off to a happier place than the ballet. The next thing I know, the caterwauling of a man singing opera music blaring out of the speaker jolts me bolt upright. What in the hell? Oh, it's now the second act, the one that takes place on the Prince Eric's boat, and the prince is hollering about something while he hops around like a Mexican jumping bean. But wait, what is this?

Jesus H. Christ! He's wearing some kind of ultra-sheer spandex tights. And he's going commando in them. Aaaaauugghh! Aaaauughh! I'm blind! I'm blind!. I'm in the seventh row of the balcony, and all I can see is package. I thought about covering HannieC's eyes, but I needed my hands to cover my own. A codpiece would have been less obscene, and that's something you hardly ever hear.

At the same time I notice that the moms in the area are unusually quiet. The spent most of the time since we had gotten there continuously lecturing their terminally bored children to stay in their seats and stop running around, yet suddenly they are silent, as though caught up in some sort of rapture. They stare with wide eyes at Mr. Prince, Jr. I file a mental note about why it is that The Mrs. always takes HannieC to the ballet.

But then, a sudden change of events. He's decided to face the back of the stage for a bit. AAaaauuuuggghh!!! Man ass! Man ass! He should change his name from Prince Eric to Prince Phil. Prince Phil McCracken. I'm telling you here, he must have gone out of his way to get a custom-designed cheek-hugging set of tights, cuz it hugged every nook and cranny.

I regretted not hitting the bar at this point. But at least the woman next to me shut up for a bit and stopping telling her son to sit down. So he got to jump around and make his sneakers light up.

I kid you not, that was the most enjoyable part of the show.

30 years since the last ballet. I'm hoping to beat that record before the next one.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Death Becomes You

You know, there's only so much funny in any one life, and mine seems to be running low. But, since I had such a banner week in revenue from the website, I figure I owe you all at least a little something something tonight. It may not be horribly entertaining, but you gets what you pays for.

Let me start out by saying that the death of Spanky that was reporting in the comments on his site is now a confirmed hoax. I actually spoke with him on the phone on both Wednesday and yesterday, and he was very much alive. So you can stop sending me memorial money. I'm not sure I've actually laid eyes on him in weeks, though. So perhaps he just has a really good roaming plan with Verizon, and he can still get reception in the grave. On second thought, you ought to keep that memorial money coming just in case. A body temperature of "room" is a little low for someone above ground.

You may notice that today there is a little counter up there under the Google search link that counts "unique" visitors. I figure I'll have to tell you what the definition of a unique visitor is. It's someone who hasn't visited the page within the last 6 hours. This prevents CJ from spinning the counter with his refresh disease.

I realized today that I've know CJ for maybe a little over ten years, and I have no idea what "CJ" stands for. I realized this when someone was IMing me asking who "this CJ fellow" is. A lot of my readers (yes, I mean you peoples - I don't have any other readers) also visit CJ's Blah, too. And I bet no one knows what "CJ" stands for. Except perhaps for Cindy, formerly of Cindy's Blah, who I'm not sure ever reads this.

The guys at work aren't going to let me use the new catchphrase, "I'm like the Ellen Degeneres of comedy" anymore. Apparently, many people think she's downright hysterical. But I work with a bunch of left-wing wacko's. If this were the 50's, we could call them Communists. Now, we call them "mainstream California voters".

Yesterday was Fat Camp. Once again, a bit of a disappointment in terms of turnout. TommyO made it, but no one else did. Here are the excuses for this week:

  • StinkyJ: My leg is still broken.
  • AndyP: I'm still coaching Little League
  • Spanky: I just don't feel like biking. And a bicycle really doesn't fit into a coffin. Can you loan me a flashlight?
  • BrainyP: You know, I'm putting up posters on Saturday for [blah blah blah some stupid race somewhere on the peninsula like Milbrae blah blah blah] and I'll be riding my bike around to do it, so yesterday I assembled all the signs, then I tuned up my bike and got it ready to go. But I never thought about bringing it for Fat Camp. If you start calling it Fat Head Camp, maybe I'll start going again.

But we did roughly the same route as two weeks ago, only this time in almost the exact same amount of elapsed time. Then we went to Jakes and had the same food as last time - a medium pepperoni and mushrooms plus two orders of hot wings. And we had a pitcher of Anchor Steam. Then TommyO had to go cuz his wife can't live more than about 3 hours without him. It's hard to imagine.

Tomorrow, The Mrs. is threatening to send me to the ballet with HannieC. Apparently, there are tickets to the production of The Little Mermaid that have already been procured, but, "It's right during MaxieC's nap time." Now, all of the ballet's that The Mrs. took HannieC to last year were also at the same time, also during MaxieC's nap time, and back then he was seriously still on the boob. Thus, it was hard as hell for me to get him to sleep while the womenfolk were at ballet. But it was easier than sitting through a ballet.

I'm not sure you can even pre-order drinks for the intermission at the children's edition of the ballet.

This year, for some reason, the womens got together and decided I should take HannieC.

Wow. I just got my first hit to the website since I put up the hit counter. Thank you, and do come again.

And visit the website when you get a chance, too.

I better post before everyone goes to bed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dream Another Dream

This dream is over.

Well, it lasted slightly over a day at least.

This morning, The Mrs. asked me to look in my wallet to see if our San Jose Parks parking pass was in there. It wasn't, as The Mrs. is in charge of that. But I emptied everything out just to make sure. Then, as I was putting it back, I noted how my wallet was falling apart. Which it is.

The Mrs. says, "That's right. You asked for a new wallet for something. Your birthday?"

I said, "Father's Day."

She said, "Ohhhhh. Riiiight. I asked for something for Mother's Day, too. But I didn't get it."

Then, she refused to tell me what it was. This is exactly the kind of thing that demotivates husbands world-wide. Next year, no balloon for you.

Monday, May 15, 2006

It is Lost

I've noticed over the past few days that I've lost over half my readership. I used to get about 22 page hits a day, now it's about 10. Is it cuz I don't post every single day anymore? If you've stopped reading, leave me a comment to tell me why. Maybe I'll send you a special GFYgram.

A Made-Up Holiday

It's some kind of conspiracy, I tell you.

Mother's Day went better than expected. The big benefit this year was that HannieC was finally old enough to actually care about Mother's Day enough to make and execute plans. For the past week, she had been making little construction-paper hearts with happy, happy Mother's Day notations on them in sparkly glitter pen which she squirreled away in a box for the Big Day. She also planned a grand breakfast in bed that she, herself would make. A breakfast of brown bread toast and Snotella. In fact, HannieC has such big plans that she told all of us to stay in bed, not just The Mrs.

Convincing MaxieC that he should stay in bed past 7am is an impossibility, however, no matter how good intentioned. He was up at about 6:50, and I was up with him.

The day before, The Mrs. had taken HannieC out grocery shopping, and MaxieC and I snuck out to another grocery store where we picked up a bunch of flowers and a "Happy Mother's Day" Mylar balloon. And a case of Keystone Ice, which just happened to be on Shopper's Club for $0.39/oz. What luck!

MaxieC was his normal adorable self at the store. He wouldn't ride in the cart, but insisted on being carried. Then he insisted on holding his balloon. And then he insisted on bopping me on the head every 5 second with the balloon and saying, "bonk," then laughing hysterically.

A chip off the old block, that one.

When we had returned home, we got completely busted as The Mrs. had just pulled in ahead of us and was unloading groceries. HannieC was able to sneak the balloon into the house without The Mrs. seeing it, or at least with her pretending not to see it. But the flowers were another story. It was like 90 degrees, and I have a black truck that I have to park in the sun in the driveway. Not such a great place to hide cut flowers. So I had MaxieC give her the flowers and say, "Happy Mother's Day." The Mrs. put them in water.

Then, of course, my dad busted me again when he emailed The Mrs. some pictures of the flowers I had sent my mom. They were nicer. However, I'm going with the following justification. See if it makes sense:

  1. The flowers for my mother were the only present, whereas The Mrs. was getting much, much more than just the flowers.
  2. The Mrs. isn't a gigantic fan of floral arrangements. She appreciates them, but she's not one to get all swoony over flowers.
  3. If The Mrs. wants nice flowers on Mother's Day, she should consider convincing her childrens to get higher-paying jobs. After all, she's not my mother.

So, on Mother's Day itself, HannieC finally rolled out of bed around 7:30, about 40 minutes after MaxieC and I got up. Then, she immediately wanted to begin breakfast preparations for The Mrs. I had to talk her down off that ledge. For the next 45 minutes, I played the role of pacifier/distracter while I kept trying to head the kids off at the pass before they could get upstairs to wake up MommaC and tell her how much they loved her. Cuz the last thing in the world a mother wants is to be awakened by her loving childrens on Mother's Day.

Or is that a page out of the Father's Day manual? Hmm.

We have this anti-childrens stair gate across the bottom of the stairs, which is no small feet given that our stairs are precisely 5' 6" wide. You gotta buy one of these wicked-expensivo gates that screws into the wall on both sides. Oye. Installing the one at the top of the stairs is when I learned that the previous owner had had some electrical outlets put in at the top and bottom of the stairs that had had the wiring routed by cutting grooves in the wallboard , running the wires across the fronts of the studs, and then spackling them in.

Needless to say, I learned this while screwing the gate-mounting hardware into the stud. But that's another story.

HannieC can open and close the stair gate, but she generally chooses only to open it. Not unlike her technique with the patio door. MaxieC can neither open nor close it. And FreddyC can jump over it coming downstairs, but not upstairs. All of this would have been fine if FreddyC wasn't so attached to The Mrs. If she's in bed, he has to be in the room with her. Unless he hears anything involving food downstairs, in which case he hustles down, jumps the gate, and checks stuff out. Then he sits at the bottom of the stairs and barks to go back up. If HannieC is there, she opens the gate to let him up, but does not close it. Then MaxieC hears the gate and goes tear-assing for the stairs. I intervene at various points, depending on how full my hands are. MaxieC only got to the top of the stairs once, maybe twice, in the 45 minutes.

Then, finally, we could start "cooking" breakfast. MaxieC demanded breakfast sausages (which are his equivalent of RyanC's (no relation) grapes, though they're a heck of a lot less portable than grapes). I fired up the griddle to heat up some Brown'n Serve Sausages. Maple flavor.

Hey, speaking of grapes, I'm going to do a little aside here while it's fresh in my mind. I hope you don't mind. About 20 minutes ago, my lovely daughter, HannieC, was at the dining room table doing her math homework. Today it was subtraction where you had to borrow across two columns. Then, for whatever reason, HannieC said something about Momma being funny. I said, "Momma isn't funny. I can't even imagine what Momma being funny would be like."

Now, I know you're figuring this is all a lead-up to me using the new catch phrase, "She's like the Ellen Degeneres of comedy," but it isn't. It's better. I said, "Hey. Here' my impression of Momma telling a joke:

M,CB: Knock knock

HC: Who's there?

M,CB: Plum

HC: Plum who?

M,CB: Plum turns into a prune if you leave it in the sun too long.

Then, I proceeded to extend the joke to grapes. And then I did, "Seven. The seven continents, North America, South America,..."

HannieC got into the groove on this as well with her joke that went like this:

HC: Knock knock

M,CB: Who's there?

HC: Race

M,CB: Race who?

HC: Racetracks used to be figure-eights.

Then, the inimitable HannieC said, "Though that's more of a history joke than a momma joke."

After cooking up the sausage and HannieC cooking up the toast and Snotella, I poured a big mug of coffee for The Mrs. I put in 3x the amount of sugar that anyone could possibly want, cuz that's how The Mrs. likes her coffee.

As far as I know, at least.

Then, I poured her some orange juice. For a special treat, I tossed in a shot of peach schnappers. Hell, Mother's Day only comes once a year. We deliver the food to her at about 8:25am, which is simply as long as I could hold off the vibrating childrens. They bring the balloons and cards, too. The Mrs. is sound asleep. Like completely, totally sound asleep.

Too bad for her. If you wanted a nice Mother's Day, you shouldn't have had kids.

The Childrens want to bounce on the bed whilst she eats. She sends us away. A good plan, overall. Later, when I'm collecting the dishes, the orange juice is still there. She says something to the effect of, "This is the awfullest-tasting orange juice I've ever had. Did it go bad?" Then, upon hearing about the schnappers, she tells me she never liked peach schnappers in her orange juice, and I must be thinking about some other woman I've dated/been married to for over 20 years.

I take the juice away. But it is not wasted. Oh no. It is not.

About 10:00, The Mrs. descends. She accuses me of having drunk her schnappy orange juice, and then accuses me of it being "not your first for the day."

Only one of these accusations is true. But protest I do not, as it is Mother's Day, and the thing The Mrs. likes second most about Mother's Day is taking free shots at me. But that's OK. I have a memory that will last until Father's Day.

After breakfast and showers and dressing, we are ready for HannieC's Big Plans. Yes, HannieC planned more than just breakfast. She also planned miniature golf. Off we go to Golfland. We play a quick 18-holes, though MaxieC gives up after about 9. HannieC managed to knock her ball off the course, down a 10 foot hill, and into the weeds on hole 14 or so. I went down there after it. There were three balls down there. I grab the first two, then, upon approaching the third, I hear some rustling in the dry grass and hear the telltale sound of the Western Diamondback. How about that. I had best be careful, lest I have to hear for the rest of my life how I cheated The Mrs. out of Mother's Day in 2006 by getting bitten by a rattlesnake. I retrieve ball #3 with the putter rather than my hand.

The rest of the day passed without incident. I grilled hot dogs for lunch and rack of lamb for dinner. I kept The Childrens out of The Mrs's hair pretty much all day. What does The Mrs. do with all this free time? Two things. First, she cleans the entire house. Cleans the toilets, the showers, vacuums the floor. Why? So she can mart about it later. The Mrs. never passes up a good opportunity for martyrdom. Why, just today we were eating dinner and she was saying how her Mother's Day was merely passable since she had to spend the whole day cleaning.

This is also the main reason I try to avoid doing anything whatsoever for holidays. No matter what I do, it is an opportunity for martyrdom. So why knock myself out?

The second thing The Mrs. decided to do with her day was to read a trashy romance novel called, "The Kitchen Witch," that a neighbor had given her. Every now and then, she appeared outside to go on about how stupid the book was, then to read some suggestive passage like, "She reached between to take hold of his burgeoning promise," and then she disappeared back into the air conditioned comfort of our home, leaving me outside with two mommy-starved little maniacs in 90 degree heat.

Thing is, that for like 3 days in a row (M-W), the wife was "reminding" me two or three times a day to send my mother a present. And then on Thursday, my mother calls me on my cellphone at work to "remind" me to get a gift for The Mrs. Now, I have never forgotten a Mother's Day*, so I can only read into all this reminder action less-than-pure motives. Like some kind of conspiracy.

* There was one Mother's Day, the very first one for The Mrs. after HannieC was born, where I did not get her anything because, as I said at the time, she was not my mother. We happened to be visiting my parents at the time (all the way across the country). I have never been forgiven for this transgression by either The Mrs. or my mother, but it's not like I forgot. I just did not know that it was the job of the husband to get something for the wife on Mother's Day. Now I have learned that no matter what day it is, it is the job of the husband to get something for the wife. Just today, for instance, I got shelter for the wife. And electricity. And water. And transportation. And dinner. And broadband internet. But will I get credit for any of that? No. Doesn't count cuz it didn't come with a greeting card.

Just to establish a baseline, I checked with a couple co-workers today on how Mother's Day went for them. One gave his wife "a rain check". Gutsy move on her very first Mother's Day. The other had to get up at 6am with their toddler cuz her husband slept in. See, so I'm clearly outperforming at least two husbands. In fact, of all husbands in the survey, I was the best. Not just squeaking in to first place, either. A clear and convincing victory.

But The Mrs. has just an OK Mother's Day cuz she had to clean the house all day. Poor The Mrs. Next year, I'll move us into a one-bedroom apartment. It'll be a lot less to clean, and therefore will likely be quite a bit less of a disappointment.

Friday, May 12, 2006

One More

A bonus post for tonight, since the stooge is burning longer than normal due to its freshness and slight overhumidification.

Yesterday, I'm playing with MaxieC after dinner. He has a "Happy Fambly" doll house that is a hand-me-down from HannieC, who has moved exclusively to her Barbie Dream House. (I hope that doesn't become a hand-me down to MaxieC...) He was playing with that in a most manly fashion, i.e., he was pushing all the buttons that turn on the lights in the rooms and make noises like the crackling fire and telephone. Then he opened up the oven, which lights up the oven and burners. And he points to the box in which all the "action figures" and accessories are stored and says, "Get out mommy."

So I digs through the box and find one of the mommies and hand it to him. Then he takes the mommy, stands her in front of the oven, and says, "I want cheeseburger. Cook me cheeseburger."

I swear, I'm not making this up.

Then he points to the box and says, "Get daddy." So I rummage around some more, and I come up with the other mommy.

I say, "I found the other mommy. Hmm... Which one should cook?"

He looks at them and decides the red-haired one should cook. I ask, "What should the other mommy do?"

He says, "Sleep." So I get out one of the beds and set it up in the dollhouse bedroom and put the mommy in it.

I find the daddy. I ask, "What should the daddy do?"

"Eat cheeseburger."

Then he says, "Go to bed with mommy," and he puts him to bed with the blonde mommy.

I get out the other bed and say, "This mommy is tired and wants to go to bed, too." I put her in the bed in the other bedroom. I start rummaging for the other daddy.

MaxieC looks at the situation and says, "No. This mommy wants to be in bed with the daddy, too," and he moves her into the first bed with the other mommy and the daddy.

I ask, "Should I find the other daddy?"

"No. She's happy."


Full Moon Fever

I'm trying out something new today. I'm writing this in FrontPage so that I don't lose everything if'n my web connection crashes. I may goof around a bit with all the fancy features in FrontPage. Like, it has a hit counter like this:

But the instructions have this in them:

Note To add a hit counter to your Web site, your site must be located on a Web server running Microsoft FrontPage 2002 Server Extensions (FrontPage Server Extensions: A set of programs and scripts that support authoring in FrontPage and extend the functionality of a Web server.), SharePoint Team Services v1.0, or Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services. Ask your Web server administrator or Internet service provider (ISP) (ISP: A business that provides access to the Internet for such things as electronic mail, chat rooms, or use of the World Wide Web. Some ISPs are multinational, offering access in many locations, while others are limited to a specific region.) whether your server is running these technologies.

I'm betting it doesn't work on Blogger. (Update - the preview doesn't even show the hit counter at all.)

Tonight was supposed to be Fat Camp. As mentioned yesterday, people were lining up not to go. Biking was out of the question, but it looked like drinking at The Duke could still be done. That began to evaporate as the day went on. Spanky, at least, came back from the dead. Bless his little heart, he was willing to go sit there and not drink while I was drinking. However, then the fambly kicked in. Neither MaxieC nor HannieC would go to bed, and The Mrs. decided that she "needed a break" and went off to play on the compooter while I tried to get both screaming little brats to bed. Needless to say, that failed miserably. Then, we ended up tag-teaming trying to get them to bed, with first both childrens demanding that they needed Daddy to put them to bed, and then both of them demanding Mommy. This went on and on until 10pm. By then, I said screw it, I'm not going out. I called up Spankolio and cancelled. Ultimately, I guess, I am the one who killed Fat Camp today. I think that may be a first.

So, what was it that made The Childrens decide not to sleep today? Well, during my time walking around with a screaming MaxieC, singing Jingle Bells to him to try to calm him down, I happened to look out our bedroom window. Lo and behold, a full moon. My kids are lunatics. Always have been. They get all crazy-like when the moon is full.

Now I am sitting on the back porch enjoying the beauteeful night. I'm having a Rum and Coke. I know I know. But I've grown a bit tired of Jack and Coke. And I only have 2 beers left in the house. I am also enjoying a Partagas Black courtesy of StinkyJ. He gave them out, kind of, to celebrate the birth of his twins. I say kind of, cuz so far he's only given out about 10 of them, and I have 5 of those 10, 4 of which are not for me. I started quite a trend with the Partagas Blacks, having given them out when MaxieC was born. I can't quite remember what I gave out when HannieC was born. It was probably H. Upmann, cuz that's what I had tended to smoke back then. Since giving them out for MaxieC's birth 2 years ago, BrainkyP and now StinkyJ have both given out the same kind. Directly as a result of receiving and enjoying mine.

Oddly, I never tried a Partagas Black until I read in Cigar Magazine that they were one of the best smokes around right now, price notwithstanding. And they really are. Plus, they're not all that pricey to boot.

Yup, I'm quite a trendsetter. Heck, the phrase, "I'm the Ellen Degeneres of comedy," has really caught on.

I treid and tried to wait to smoke my stooge with StinkyJ, as that is the proper celebration. But he's now completely wussified since he had kids and insists on being home promptly at 6pm for "the feeding".

I'm thinking I'll probably smoke TommyO's stooge tomorrow. And then I'll start in on the others. Having me hold the stooges for these guys while we wait for StinkyJ's availability will turn out to be a mistake. Well, not a mistake for me.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Anger Management

This is now my third time recreating this post from scratch. My laptop is having serious network connectivity issues, and it keeps crashing. Blogger's automatic saving of posts while you write does not, as it turns out, allow you to restore a post if you've had to reboot. Piece of crap.

Hardly seems like it's been a week since the last Fat Camp. Maybe cuz it's only been 6 days. But people have already lined up with their excuses for not going biking. TommyO, normally a rock of reliability, is skipping for a genuine homeowners' association meeting. BrainkyP is going to a Serbian Mafia meeting. AndyP is still coaching little league. Spanky is, as far as I know, dead. He called in sick over a week ago, and aside from a couple little posts on his blog complaining about how he was sick, he hasn't been heard from since.

Rumor has it he's interviewing with other companies all week. Rumors aren't always that realiable, though.

Which reminds me of a funny story. As with all my stories, this is 100% true. My life is so interesting, I don't need to exaggerate it. Today I was forced to get my lunch in the company cafeteria. This is cuz my boss, StinkyJ, and his boxmate, BrainkyP, wanted to discuss something with me on the way to lunch, and they only had 20 minutes for lunch and so had to go to the cafeteria. Then, they proceeded wander off and discuss the matter without me, so it was a complete waste of my time and my stomach lining. However, whileI was filling up my drink, a guy who works peripherally with us happened by and said, "Hey, too bad about your boss breaking his leg. Playing soccer, huh?"

So, sensing an opportunity, I said, "Well, soccer is the official story. What really happened was that he fell down the stairs at his house cuz he was drunk. But he doesn't want anyone to know that, so he tells everyone it was playing soccer."

I'm going to see how long it takes for that rumor to get back to me.

But back to the story. I promised you in the last post that I'd tell you the story about Sunday. Sunday started out like any other Sunday, except we skipped church. This being Protestant thing is still quite something. Back in teh olden days when I was Catholic, skipping church wasnever an option. Now, it can be done completely guilt-free. I gotta say, though, that the Catholics have the whole not-skipping church thing down much better. They offer a wide variety of choices that do not crater you whole Sunday. For instance, you could go at 7am and be out by 7:20. Or go at 7pm the night before. Here at the congregational church, it's just the 10am service, and it goes on until 11:15. And then they expect you to congregate afterwards for coffee and donuts. And then childrens choir rehearsal starts. You don't get out of that place until noon.

Hell, by noon your Sunday is shot. By the time you get home, change, and eat lunch, it's near 1:30. The worst part of it is that Eastern timezone football is pretty much done by the time you get home, so the $250 spent on the NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV is totally wasted for the earstwhile Bills fan. The only practical solution is to skip church. Given the total lack of guilt for skipping, it's not obvious why you'd go more than once or twice a year.

But I digress. The real reason it started out like any other Sunday was that The Mrs. woke up angry. I mean really, really angry. Caged, rabid animal angry. I don't believe there was a kind word that eminated from her to any of us the entire day, but hey, who's counting? I took the kids outside to play to avoid all of us being yelled at. The Mrs. interpreted this as me leaving her to do all the housework by herself, so she proceeded to do her housework by herself, occasionally huffing and puffing about how put-upon she was whenever we were in earshot. She even decided to wash the dog, her dog, which she blamed on me with, "I suppose I'm expected to wash the dog."

I don't expect anyone to wash the dog. If he gets stinky, he can roll in the fresh garden dirt. He's a dog. But whatever. I kept my mouth shut, for once.

After watching The Childrens all morning while The Mrs. got her work done, when MaxieC took a nap right after lunch, I went to mow the lawn. The Mrs. made it well know that she was angry at having to watch HannieC while I mowed the lawn, completely overlooking that I watched both kids while she cleaned the house and washed the dog.

If you want you marriage to last, you have to learn to simply ignore your wife's mood much of the time. I'm not sure there's another survival technique. If there is, let me know. Though I've probably been married longer than any of my readers...

I went our fron to mow the lawn, which I did. Then, I noted that part of the lawn was looking dry and underwatered, so I decided to check out the sprinklers. I turned on the first set, and noticed they were kinda not spraying as far as they were supposed to. Sound familiar? Then I noticed that there was a river of water running across the sidewalk into the street. Oh man, not another broken pipe. I feel around down in there and note a leaking connection.

Now, I learned my lesson from the back yard, and on the front yard, I hired licensed non-mexicans to do the landscaping. So what I got here was a much more professional job. It's a double-swing arm installation, which uses a number of threaded elbows to give adjustability and play to the sprinkler head positioning. Meaning it's impossible to snap a sprinkler head off by tripping on it or something, since it can rotate a bit. But one of these swing joins was leaking.

I dug the whole thing out and tightened it up and put is back together. It seemed to be OK until the final pressure check, when it started leaking again. Darn. So I reached down in a fussed a bit, and it snapped off in my hand. And it didn't snap off anywhere convenient. It snapped off on the first threaded joint, which means the broken threads are stuck inside the part that is glued to the PVC. Argh. Means I have to cut the pipe and replace the glued elbow (of which I have two spares). But, I don't have any damned swing joints. So for the second day in a row, I'm off to Home Depot to buy a stupid little part to fix a broken sprinkler pipe.

Sheesh. Upon inspection, I did learn the the original installation had cross-threaded the broken part, which it why it had leaked and then failed.

I go to bed now.

Monday, May 08, 2006

So Many Stories

So little of any account.

It's been a long time since I put anything up here. I've had to re-evaluate my priorities in life, and since the ad revenue has dried up here, it's hard to justify the 2-3 hours I used to spend each day pondering stories, working on just the right phrasing, typing and retyping. Time I could be spending with The Fambly being a loving Husbands and Fathers.

Yeah. Right. Did I have you going there? I didn't think so.

The real reason I haven't posted since Wednesday (I believe my longest dry spell - 4 days in a row) is that I have actually been spending time with the fambly. Not happy time, or quality time, but time nonetheless. And I was a Fat Camp on Thursday. Which brings me to my first stories.

As I noted in my last post, El Campo Gordo was shaping up to be a big event, what with all of one person besides me expected to be going. In fact, not only did TommyO not cancel, but he showed up exactly on time, pulling in about 60 seconds behind me. Of all the additions made to Fat Camp over the years, TommyO is the most dependable. Spanky may be the most entertaining, at times in an unintentional way, but TommyO can actually be counted on to show up when he says he will.

I gotta assume that this is because his wife has trained the living hell out of him, and he's lost the ability to slip on commitments. If you look at the Fat Camp crowd, the dependibility roughly runs opposite the, ummm, presistence of the wife.

I'm the second most dependable.

After that, it drops off most precipitously.

Now, the nice thing about TommyO showing up is that I can feel good about my aerobic conditioning. Despite have approximately zero exercise since the end of fat camp last season (which would have been then last week before the end of daylight savings time - or a little over 6 months ago), I was sure to be able to outdistance old TommyO. If AndyP had shown up, there would be no such luck, as that guy seems to be more machine than human. If BrainkyP had been there, it would have been even odds, though I think he's put on quite a layer of fat since his kid was born, so I may have gotten the best of him.

Then again, his wife is pregnant, so he probably has a lot of pent up frustration and anger that may have pushed him over the top. Alas, we shall never know, as it was just TommyO. So I went in quite confident of being able to relax on all the uphills and still getting in quite a bit of rest time waiting for Mr. O to catch up.

TommyO did not disappoint. I got to use some of my favorite lines. Like, "Are you enjoying your hike today?" and "Does that bike push as well this year as it did when it was new, or do you need to take it in for a tuneup?" If he were in better shape, he probably would have had the energy to smack me.

But he didn't.

Not much of note happened during the ride. I managed to make the climb up Knob Hill (the one in Fremont Older, not the one in SF) without stopping, which made me happy. It's not a particularly difficult climb, but it's the most challenging of the day (since the southern end of Toyon is closed due to a mud slide). The Seven Springs loops was fun. When we got to the bottom of the valley, a bunch of coyotes started howling back and forth. It was obvious fairly quickly that we were surrounded. So, thinking over everything I knew about coyotes, I took decisive action.

I left TommyO in the dust to be eaten and high tailed it the hell out of there.

Fortunately, it later turned out that coyotes don't generally attack full-sized humans, and if there's one thing you can say about TommyO, it's that he's full sized. Though, truth be told, I have never seen him with his pants off (thank god), so I can't comment about whether that's true everywhere.

TommyO made it out of the valley alive, with his biggest complaint being that we counted nine springs evern though the name of the trail was Seven Springs. Of course, we were counting mostly drainage ditches and not springs.

And so went Thursday.

Friday is day for which I have little to no memory. I remember making the wife a Black Russian and then having an argument about something or other later, but not much else.

On Saturday, we went out to OSH in the morning to get some vegetables for the garden. We split up, the wife and I. Not in the happy, been-nice-but-I-can't-stand-the-sight-of-your-face-anymore way, but in the you-take-one-baby and I'll-take-the-other kind of way.

This is always trouble when The Mrs. is heading to the garden department. Saturday was no different. I had MaxieC, and we got nothing but the essentials: a new hand saw, some more epoxy glue, some super glue, a mini-mag flashlight, and ome bird netting, and The Mrs. got a cherry tomato plant, and early girl tomato plant, a red pepper plant, and a lemon cucumber plant.

Now, personally I am not a big fan of the lemon cucumber. We had some last year. They grow fine, but they don't really taste very good (despite what that link may say). But HannieC still gets great joy out of a cucumber that looks like a lemon, and she insisted.

Then, the wife picked out a whole mess of flowers that were not supposed to go in the garden. She did not get the seeds for the planter boxes that I had spent week upon week building. Just the four plants for the garden, and then a bunch of unrelated stuff. Then, she promptly dumped HannieC on me as well and went to look at even more non-garden plants while I watched both kids.

The is a problem with The Mrs. She can never stay on task, but is constantly flitting from one thing to another. Especially with home improvement kinds of thing, where you can never ever go out and just buy stuff for one project at a time, but have to buy stuff for the next project, too. And then she makes it sound so innocent with something like, "Well, we were going to be planting anyways, so I figured I get stuff for the garden, the flower bed, and the pot garden, too." And not the good kind of pot garden.

We finally got home and started planting stuff. It went fairly well. I hooked up the bird netting to the lid frames for the planting boxes, and now the birds (and squirrels) can't get in. The bird netting is nice cuz it's a thin black platic and thus cannot be seen from too far away. Hardware cloth is a bit unsightly. If the squirrels chew through it, I'll have to change to the hardware cloth. Nothing has chewed through the netting on the strawberries since I put it up year before last, so I am hopeful.

After everything was planted except for the pot garden stuff (which remains unplanted to this day), I hooked up all the watering and tested it out. The garden watered fine, but the left flower bed seemd to be having a water pressure issue. The microsprayers were barely spraying, and the stuff at the top of the berm wasn't going at all. So I went to investigate. As I walked up there, I heard a gushing sound and noticed a small river running down the berm along the fenceline. Ugh. Broken pipe.

I stuck my hand underground in the geyser hole and felt around to discover that the pipe was broken off at a riser. I wasn't that the riser was broken, which is a lot more common. The pipe was broken. So I dug the whole thing out and noted that it was actually the riser T joint that was broken. The 3/4" pvc pipe had snapped out the side of the T on the outgoing side. Now, this is technically not possible if the joint is properly glued. So, upon inspection, I noted that there appeard to be glue on only about 1/5 of the joint, and that was the part that had broken out. The remainder of the circumference was not glued, allowing the stress to all build up on the one little section that was glues. And no primer had been used. Totally not up to code.

That's what you get when you hire unlicenced Mexicans to do your landscaping.

Luckily, I had all the replacement parts I needed, since having hired unlicenced Mexicans to landscape the back yard, I end up doing a lot of repairs. I cut out the old, broekn joint. Got two couplers plus a new riser T, cut replacement schedule 40 3/4" PVC and dry fit it. Then I purple primed the first joint, opened up the blue glue, and it was solid as a rock. Damn. Had everything I needed except non-dired-up glue. A quick trip to Home Depot, and the job was done.

Wait until you hear about Sunday. No time right now though.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Fat Camping

Tomorrow being Thurdsay, it's time for Fat Camp. This week we are really and truly going mountain biking. Well:
  • Except for StinkyJ, who has a broken leg. But no matter, he only talks about going and never really goes.
  • And except for AndyP who has to coach his son's little league team.
  • And except for BrainkyP who didn't have an excuse right up until 3:00 today when he got scheduled to run a meeting from 5-7pm tomorrow.
  • And except for The Spankster, who called in sick today after having a fever for a couple days.
  • And except for ScottyM, to whom I give credit for the oddest excuse. "I rode my bike to work on Tuesday." When pressed, he quickly switched to his daughter having little league. I liked the Tuesday one better.
  • And except for Dr. Adlerberg who alternately claims to have a bad back or a bad bike, depending on how he's feeling about his vowels at the moment.
Other than that, it's All Hands on Deck! Meaning I hope TommyO doesn't cancel, or I'll be going by myself.

One of the nice things about actually biking is that it ends up to be a much cheaper night. We stop at a little pizza joint at the bottom of the hill afterwards where a pitcher of beer is the same price as two pints at The Duke, and where you can stuff your face with pizza and pretty good wings. Me, CherkyB, being originally from a little town just on the northern border of Buffalo appreciate good wings. Now, in Buffalo what Jake's serves would be considered kinda average-to-below-average pizza joint wings, but it is by far the best thing you can get around these parts since The Pacific Steamer shut down a few years back.

Reminds me of my first encounter with wings out here. This was like the second fat-camp ever, when it was just two of us back in 1995. AndyP (who is also from Upstate, though a lot farther east than I, CherkyB) and I were at a bar that a guy at work had said was a great sports bar. We had both just recently moved to the area, so we were depending on locals to tell us where to go. It was Monday Night Football. This place was called something like "City Sports", but that was about as much sports as there was. It turned out to be right across the street from Apple Compooter, and those Apple guys turn out to be a bunch of high-brow artsy-fartsy types.

It's not just the users.

Anyways, the first bad thing happened was that they didn't have beer by the pitcher. This was a foreign concept to me at the time. The only other bar I had ever been to that did not have pitchers of beer was a place called Ryan's in Ft. Erie, Ontario, which was a dance club that catered to the 19-20 yr old crowd from Buffalo. Drinking age in Ontario is 19, whereas it's 21 in Buffalo. I didn't particularly care for Ryan's, what with it being a dance club, but sometimes the womens wanted to go there, and they had 10cent wings on Tuesdays, and it was 10cents Canadian, which was like free to us. They didn't have pitchers of beer cuz they had no draft beer at all. But they had the Molson's in the brown bottles that we all craved, since in the US of A you can only get the green bottle stuff. And a bottle was like $2.50 Canadian, so practically free.

Ft. Erie has similar discounts on the ballet, if that's what you like. For those of you not from Upstate NY, you don't know that we're talking about strip clubs. Hee hee.

Anyways, this place in Cupertino (which is now gone. The place. Not Cupertino.) that did not have pitchers of beer did actually have beers on tap. So they had no excuse other than that they were upitty. Then, AndyP asked the bartender if the wings were any good. And the bartender says this. I swear it's what he said. You can check with Andy.
Yeah. We've got the best wings. They're better than everyone else's because we use tender strips of chicken and batter them before deep frying and then we use a tangy barbecue sauce.
Uh, dude, those aren't wings. What you have just described is chicken fingers. And chicken fingers are a crap school cafeteria lunch kind of menu item, not an upscale version of wings.

We finished our beers and left. Luckily, the dude at work had given me two great sports bars to go to. The second one turned out to be The Duke. Which is a terrible sports bar, given that it's a British pub so all they care about is darts and soccer, but it's a nice pub that we go to still to this day. However, we ended up going to The Sports Page for most of our Monday Night Football viewing (back then fat camp was on Mondays). I used to see this dude there a lot that I recognized as being from work but I didn't know who he was. Later, he turned out to be StinkyJ, who even later turned out to be my boss. Small world. To this day, that's the only time StinkyJ has showed at Fat Camp.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I said something really funny today

but I can't for the life of me remember what it was. All I remember was that I was sitting at my allocated work space, and there were some other guys sitting at theirs about 15 feet to the right, and I said something, and then Brooksie says, "You should have gone into comedy."

The sad thing here is that it's the only thing I had to talk about today, and I can't remember it. I've spent hours trying to remember, but it's gone.

Now, I know what you are all thinking. You're thinking, "Go into comedy? WTF? Brian's like the least funniest guy I know. He's like the Ellen Degeneres of comedy." And you'd have a very apt simile there. See, I, like Ellen, seem funny when surrounded by my peers. They are different peer groups, for me engineers, and for Ellen angry lesbians, but still both are groups of notoriously unfunny people.

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: That's not funny.

An interesting coincidence happened today. A guy who kinda works for me, though not officially, asked me what he should do after this current project ends. I didn't have an answer. Then I realized that we were 10 weeks away from being done, and I hadn't given a though about what I was going to do next. While pondering that, and querrying my boss on the matter via IM tonight, I happened to read CJ's latest screed. I like to read CJ's posts to see how many times he makes reference to me. (Today it was 3.) I saw that he also today is worrying about what to do after his current project. He refers to this as an "exit plan".

And I don't have one.

Just for the record, my girlfriend/wife and I made do with a queen-size mattress for 9 years. It was a mistake. I highly recommend the king.

I'm gonna hit the sack early today. Little MaxieC got up at 5am and decided to sit in my bed and scream non-stop for 1 hour and 4 minutes this morning. I don't know why. He's two. I'm tired.


and the garbage truck came today.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Pressure Builds

The last couple days have been just pretty damned happy. The problem with happy is that it provides very little material. Happy is not the same as funny. Usually, funny requires someone to be in pain. Like in that old lumberjack joke:
New hire shows up a lumberjack camp, which is in Washington hundreds of miles from anywhere, though oddly not all that far from Puyallup, home of Slippery Stuff. The boss is showing him around. This is your bunk, here is the mess hall, this is your big, badass chain saw, etc. Standard stuff. The boss asks if the new guy has any questions, and the new guy says, "Yes. I have one."
The Childrens are conspiring to not let me post tonight. It's 10:13, and both are still up. HannieC is at least in bed reading books to herself. MaxieC is crying his fool head off. I carried him around for the last 20 minutes, singing to him. He almost went to sleep. Then I destroyed it all by setting him down in bed when I thought he was ready.

I learend an important thing about myself. That is, the only songs I actually know how to sing are Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and a collection of Christmas tunes. Whenever I sing Mary Had a Little Lamb, I feel compelled to change one of the verses to how it looked just like a little dolly, so she ate it. And I can't remember any of the words to the second verse of Jingle Bells, so I sing "The horses's name was Phil. He had a big McCracken." And then it kinda goes to hell right after that.

I really needs to gets me a book of nursery rhyme songs.

Today, I had lunch with a guy I used to work with a bunch of years ago. We'll call him Skittle. He was also one of the other guitar players in Flo Jackson back in the day when I was still in the band. You probably remember Flo Jackson for such hits as the "Go with the Flo" T-shirt, available in both white and locker-room gray.

He sent me email out of the blue saying how it had been "too long" and how we should do lunch. So we did lunch. I very rarely do lunch, because these idiots I work with love to schedule meetings that run right up until noon, and then schedule more meeting starting right at 1pm. But I checked my Monday schedule and I was free before lunch, and the 1pm mtg didn't have anything on the agenda for which I needed to be there.

Then, of course, some idiot added an 11-12 taskforce meeting, and then some other idiot redid the agenda for the 1:00, and I needed to be at both. But I figured, "f' em. With the size raise they gave me this year, they can clearly stand to have a couple meetings without me there." Plus, today being "A Day Without Illegals," and me being the only Hispanic on the team, I figured they couldn't touch me without generating clear grounds for a racism lawsuit.

There are very few benefits to living in California, but the ability to play the race card virtually unchallenged is one of them. In fact, I'm pretty sure that my raise was based in latent racism, given that my boss at the time was Irish, and you know how they feel about the Cubans. My boss now is more of a backwoods hick than a racist. I may need a new angle for the upcoming year. Or, I might need to divorce The Mrs. and marry my cousin or something. Or maybe a horse.

So Skittle picks me up at 11:40. I cut out of the taskforce early. It was some guy from Oregon droning on in great detail about minutiae that didn't matter, while I waited patiently for him to get to the part that mattered. He never got there before I left, so I fired my questions off to JohnnyB, and left. Later, I learned that JohnnyB had tried to get answers and more-or-less failed. The guy didn't know the answers, but "would check."

That's probably the last we'll hear from him.

Skittle head down the highway. He head straight towards the Barrio. I'm like, "Dood. Are we going to the Barrio on No Mexicans day? Are we gonna be able to get food?"

His response, "I don't know about this being the Barrio. I know of it as being all Vietnamese."

Ah. He was going left at the exit, not right. But of course.

We ended up at some place called Minh's. Oddly enough, we sat right at the table in the front of that photo. The people there knew Skittle. Food was OK. Nothing special. We were the only non-Vietnamese people in the place, if that's a good thing. Then we went to a Vietnamese coffee house two doors to the left. Again, only non-Vietnamese people there. Again, they knew Skittle. Now, I've never been to a Vietnamese coffee house before, but from what I can tell, it involves really large plasma TV's, video gambling tables, and young, improbably well-endowed waitresses in almost obscenely short mini-skirts and skimpy halter tops. I had some kind of iced coffee thing that Skittle ordered. I never really learned what it was. I had a hard time concentrating. He told me I'd be wired for hours from drinking it, but I felt nothing. A couple hours later, I was craving Diet Coke.

On the way back to work, he started telling me this story about this guy we both used to work with who managed to get paid to leave my company and ended up at the company Skittle joined a while later. This guy was an idiot. He apparently got fired from Skittle's company for stealing $2.75 fruit pies from the company cafeteria. Anyways, then he starts up about how anyone can get a job around here if he wants to, and he starts in about how he worked for a long time with a woman who made this pie-thief guy look like a genius. He starts describing her, her cokmplete lack of competence, her belligerency, her inability to learn even basic thing, and I realize it sounds a lot like someone I used to work with. Then I'm thinking how we hired that woman from his company. So I say the name. Yup, that is she. Luckily, she is no longer with us, either. No, she's not dead. She spent 9 months here before moving on to bigger and better things.

Thank God.

Some of you may have seen a post I had up today regarding my whistling "Happy Birthday" this morning. Once again, my boss, despite being home "sick" managed to insist I remove the post. See, it was a personal message the The Mrs., with whom I happened to be annoyed when I wrote it. I have been instructed that personal messages to The Mrs. do not belong on the blog, and I should use private email for such communications.

It's interesting that he does not suggest I actually personally speak to my wife rather than communicating with her electronically. I assume this is because he is married and thus knows better.

So I would like to appologize to the readers for "disrupting the flow" of the blog with personal matters. I always forget that this blog belongs to the world and not to me. I deleted the post not because my boss ordered me to (I am basically unmanageable at work, and the best way to guarantee I don't get something done is to order me to do it. A lot like HannieC in that respect.), but because I figure if I'm going to dish out "advice" to CJ, I better be able to take some myself.

And, BTW, since StinkyJ broke his leg, he hasn't been able to shower. He came to work for a half-day Friday, and man, he is now Stinky!J.

I'm an Inspiration

If I could only harness my power for good.