Monday, December 19, 2011

A long, hard winter

So, I'm watching the NFL, as I am wont to do around this time of year, and then one of those things happened which is so cliché that I hesitate to report on it, given how you all will think I'm just spinning a yarn. But here goes:
MaxieC: "Dah?"

Me, CherkyB: "Yeah?"

MaxieC: "What's 'erectile dysfunction'?"
A long time ago, I heard on the radio (prolly from Dr. Laura) that the best way to approach uncomfortable questions of children is to answer them matter-of-factly.
Me, CherkyB: "Erectile dysfunction means you can't get a boner."

MaxieC: "A what?"
There are many drawback to being a homeschool parent. The most obvious being that I get to pay taxes to send The Childrens to a public school that they do not attend, and then I get to pay to buy tons and tons of curricula so that my hovering wife, bless her heart, can pick and choose the "best parts" from, say, 5 different math books, because god only knows that there are many ways to teach fractions, but only one of them could possibly be best, and who can tell which will be the best until you've tried them all? And, of course, having a wife who is always angry because she spends every waking hour with the precious little tykes - precious little tykes who have spent their whole lives with their mother and thus know absolutely every possible button to push for maximal annoyance. But, deep down in the list of drawbacks to being a homeschool parent is that your kids just don't pick up all the dirty stuff you normally expect them to learn from their friends.

One of which is the definition of "boner".
Me, CherkyB: "Well, MaxieC, a 'boner' is when your penis gets hard. Erectile dysfunction is when your penis doesn't get hard."

MaxieC: "Why would you want your penis to get hard?"
Oh, MaxieC, MaxieC, MaxieC, where to begin?
Me, CherkyB: "You remember that video with Howie Mandel? The guy from 'Deal or No Deal'?"

MaxieC: "Kind of."

Me, CherkyB: "You remember how the daddy has to put his penis in the mommy?"

MaxieC: "Oh gross!"

Me, CherkyB: "Well, your penis needs to be hard to do that."

MaxieC: "Yuck!"

Me, CherkyB: "And these pills make your penis hard if you have erectile dysfunction. They're called 'boner pills.'"

MaxieC: "Stop! Yuck! Gross!
Just then, The Mrs. walks in.
The Mrs.: "What the heck are you telling him?"

Me, CherkyB: "He asked what erectile dysfunction was."

The Mrs.: "And you're telling him???"

Me, CherkyB: "Yeah - he asked."

MaxieC: "I just saw the ad on TV and I asked, but I didn't know what it was, and now I wish I hadn't asked. It's disgusting!"

The Mrs.: "Up to your usual standards of parenting again, I see."

Me, CherkyB: "He asked. Am I just not supposed to answer?"

MaxieC: "I wish you hadn't."
I never get any support.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CherkyB, Moron

Yes, that's right folks. You heard it here first. Except for those of you who heard the story earlier.

It started out innocently enough. My Goombah, Mugsy, asked me to go rifle-shootin' out at the range on account of how he wanted to shoot his new AR-30 at 200 yds. Well, given that I'm on sabbatical, I couldn't say "no." Plus, I wanted to shoot my new belly gun with the special Speer Gold Dot short-barrel +P personal defense ammo I had picked up for it.

Though not at 200 yds. A 3" barrel is not really the right equipment for 200 yds.

I decided it'd be fun to shoot my old elk gun that I bought on the spur of the moment when I went to a gun show with a co-worker who wanted to buy a .22 rifle (I ended up buying both a .22 rifle and a .300 Win Mag rifle, and my coworker bought nothing). I had an old friend who had been asking me every year to go elk hunting with him, so I just bought the rifle so's I could go.

And the closest we got to an elk was that we had to wait for some to cross the road before we could get to the national forest.

But that's another story. One that happened 11 years ago.

Now, me being Me, CherkyB, I bought a really nice scope for the rifle - a Leupold Vari-X III of some sort - and I had dutifully gone to the range to zero it in and learn how to shoot a rifle. I had never shot one before, so I bought Jeff Cooper's The Art of the Rifle, read it, and then tried to put into practice what I learned. This went alright until the night before the hunt, when my buddy's dad tried out my rifle and said, "Your scope is out of focus."

And I noticed that, at 100yds, it was slightly out of focus - which it had not been prior to this. I figured despite buying a very pricey flight case for it, United Airlines had knocked something out of whack. But not to worry, as these scopes come with a lifetime warranty. I'd just send it back, and they'd re-align it or whatever.

Except I never did.

In fact, I'm not at all sure I ever shot that rifle again after the elk hunt until this past Sunday. Now, I kinda have a recollection of shooting it once after the hunt, but I can't really put my finger on when that would have been. I think it's just been in the safe the whole time, with me cleaning and oiling it maybe once every couple years to make sure the bore doesn't rust.

So, at one point, Mugsy and I switch rifles, and the AR-30 is one hell of a sweet gun. Virtually no kick, despite being .338 Lapua Mag. As I was looking through his scope, I was thinking to myself, "Self, wow this is a clear image." Then I went back to my gun, looked through the scope, and said, "My scope is out of focus."

Mugsy's reply, "Good. Then it isn't just me."


Well, today I had a little time on my hands, so I looked up the tech support number for Leupold, then I got the scope off the rifle to look for a model number and serial number before calling it in. And then it went like this:
Me, CherkyB: "Self, I can't believe that people would make such a fancy scope with fixed focus and no way to adjust it. And now, I'll probably have to find the original receipt to get it fixed, and they'll probably say I damaged it and won't fix it for free."

Me, CherkyB: "Hmm...what's this knurled ring next to the zoom? I thought that was part of the zoom, but it doesn't turn when I zoom."

Me, CherkyB: "Oh...sweet Jesus."
Yeah, that's right. That knurled ring actually was a lock ring for the eyepiece, and when you loosened the ring, the eyepiece could be rotated. Which, yes - you guessed it, adjusted the focus.


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Sabbatical 2 - Day 1

I think it’s the parenting that will kill me.

Not that this is unexpected.

As almost none of you know, since I’ve never spoken of it here and only briefly mentioned on that killer-of-blogs, jumper-of-sharks Facebook platform, I am on sabbatical.

“What?” you mouth slowly to yourself, in that confused fashion you’d think by now you’d be used to, given the propensity of confusion swirling amidst your life, “I didn’t know CherkyB was an academic. I thought he, like, did stuff.”

For once, you’re right. I am not an academic, though “do stuff” is probably more than I’d like to commit to with respects to describing my job. For almost the past two years, I have been able to tell people that I am a “Power Architect.” Then, I get a blank stare and maybe a, “So you have a background in construction?” and I realize that, while being a “power architect” is an excitingly snazzy title compared to my previous one of “binsplit guy”, I’m still not really ready for the cocktail circuit with either of those titles.

Not that a proper title would, per se, make me ready for the cocktail circuit, as I can’t for the life of me pretend that socialism is the proper order for a sophisticated society rather than the evolutionary dead-end that it obviously is to anyone whose aspires to more than living off other people’s money. But I digress.

I am not an academic. I work for The Company. And one of the perks of working for The Company is that every few years, they give you a couple months off as a “sabbatical”. This has been a long-standing policy of The Company that started back in the days when it was a new and cut-throat industry, and you had no idea which companies would make it and which would not, and so you worked day and night to try to just stay alive. Thus, the danger of burning out was ever-present. Nowadays, it seems we have our act together pretty well and can accomplish substantially more without burning out, yet the sabbatical lives on as a time-tested tradition in much the fashion that we thought having The Company dump a large portion of money into our 401(k) every year was. Right up until they dialed that way back.

Today is officially my first day of sabbatical – my second sabbatical – but it comes on the heels of a 4-day weekend. So I’m already on my fifth uninterrupted day of family time, and I’m tired. The Mrs. Decided I should take The Childrens to their swimming lessons today so she could stay home and clean the house. This after I nearly died yesterday after sitting on the floor of the living room, which was the only clear space in the whole house, to go over the Colorado Big Game hunting regulations handbook with HannahC and was overcome with dust allergies that caused me to sneeze and cough and my eyes to water for about three hours until I could find the Benedryl (it was in with the dog’s medicines, of course). Apparently, that particular carpet has not been vacuumed since we took the Christmas tree down in January.

I used to vacuum a lot, but I have a rule that I won’t vacuum any room where I can’t see the floor. So now I don’t really ever vacuum. The Mrs. actually moves the vacuum around from room to room so that it’s in a different place every day when I come home from work, but she’s recently admitted that she never actually turns it on cuz she can’t vacuum a room where we can’t see the floor. She puts it in a room as a reminder to herself that she’d like to vacuum that room as soon as The Childrens pick up all their junk, but then she makes HannahC work on 4H projects all day long and makes MaxieC watch TV and play Playstation all day to keep him quiet so HannahC can work on 4H, and, well, not much progress is made on the floor thing.

I’ve only managed to go fishing once so far. I caught a single Bluegill. HannahC caught about 11, of which 6 were big enough to eat. It was one of those days where every time I went to put my line back in the water, HannahC would come romping up with another fish for me to clean, so I didn’t get to fish much during the peak catching time. We were there for about 2.5 hours and caught all the keepers in a span of about 20 minutes about 45 minutes after we got there. Then, nothing.

HannahC was using new high-technology bait - worms that have been fed something that makes them fluorescent green. Now, I don’t know if they are the glow-in-the-dark worms that I’ve seen at Sportsman’s Warehouse. We’ve been meaning to check each night, but always forget. These were from Walmart, and they cost about double what non-fluorescent green worms cost (which means they’re $3 for 12 instead of $3 for 24), but they’re big crawlers that you can cut in half before baiting a hook. I’m not at this point willing to declare that the fishies love the green worms more than regular worms, but they sure love them more than a Mepps Aglia gold spinner with a Berkeley Gulp Alive minnow trailing on the feather-dressed treble, which is what I was fishing. Scientifically formulated attractant that fish can’t resist, my ass.

Lure Researcher: “I’ve come up with a breakthrough formula of pheromones and long-lasting scents that promises to be the most powerful attractant the fishing world has ever known!”

Boss: “Do fish like it better than worms?”

Lure Researcher: “And I’ve slightly changed the formula of our slow-selling plastic swimbaits so that they can absorb the stank and stink for hours.”

Boss: “How does it do versus worms?”

Lure Researcher: “And we can sell them packed in little jars with extra liquid so that you can re-charge the swimbaits after you use them.”

Boss: “But does it work better than worms?”

Lure Researcher: “Well, like regular worms?”

Boss: “Yeah”

Lure Researcher: “Yeah, you know, it’ll depend on the individual fish, but yeah, probably.”
Boss: “How about them green worms?”

Lure Researcher: “Uhhh……”

Boss: “Aw hell, them green worms is cheatin’. Ship it.”
Around these parts, a “keeper” bluegill is only 6-8” long.

On an unrelated note, I’ve decided that for my upcoming birthday, I’m going to get me a high-quality fillet knife.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Those Two Little Words

Here at Me, CherkyB, I rarely wax philosophical. Lately, I haven't been waxing much of anything.

Saying that made me think about how I have never waxed my truck, despite having it over a year. Unless you count carwash wax. But I digress.

The past week has given me pause to reflect upon the power of two simple words in our language. You see, last weekend was what we like to call PMS Weekend. I've noted that before. Actually, a number of times, given it is a regular occurrence. The Mrs. was all crabby and blaming it on me, as per usual. She even rehashed the standard revelation:
Me, CherkyB: "Why do you have to be so nasty?"

The Mrs.: "I'm not nasty. You're the nasty one. You know why you think I'm nasty? You know what's different this time?"

Me, CherkyB: "Oh for God's sake. Don't give me that, 'I've just decided not to put up with your crap anymore,' line again. Every month you get really nasty, and then you say, 'I've just decided not to put up with your crap anymore,' like it's some kind of new behavior. It's PMS. In a couple of days, it'll be over, and you'll be back to normal."

The Mrs.: "It is not PMS. I've just decided not to put up with your crap anymore, and so you interpret that as me being nasty."

Me, CherkyB: "Yes dear."

[I might note that about a half hour later, The Mrs. came wandering into the room and declared, "You were right. It was just PMS." I thought I'd immortalize that here, but she'll probably deny it and insist she just decided not to put up with my crap anymore right up until the very moment her PMS ended, and then she decided to put up with it again "for the sake of the marriage."]

So, in the couple days leading up to that fateful moment, I got to use those two little words that all marriage counselors and self-help gurus tell you are the key to a lasting relationship. I know, I know, it's kind of cliché, but you all know that deep down inside, I'm a sappy romantic. I'm pretty sure I've talked about that before.

You all know what I'm talking about. The two magic words that make it all OK:

Right now.
"You have no idea how much I hate you...right now."

See? All better.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The real problem

I've cut way back on my drinking, and you should never blog sober.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's OK Now - I'm Here

As I age, I get more philosophical. I believe this is something called "wisdom." I never really played that much Dungeons and Dragons, but with all this Wisdom, I think I should be learning some spells presently. After all these years gaining wisdom, you know what I've figured out?

The biggest inconvenience of being married is having a wife.

Especially if, like me, you have a wife who considers you some kind of superhero Mr. Fix-it. And a wife who is completely unfazed about volunteering you to help all kinds of other wives' husbands.


On an unrelated note, today I held my first clinic on how to build a Pinewood Derby racer for three other boys in MaxieC's Tiger Cub pack. Now, you might be asking yourself:
You: "Self, now why would CherkyB being holding a clinic on how to make a Pinewood Derby Racer? He's never made one before. He's gotten through the first two steps of the 8 or 9 required to make a racer, and he's never even read the direction book all the way to the end. It seems odd."
Now, the fact that you are sitting there asking yourself that (and slowly forming the words with your mouth as you think) is a pretty good indication that you are not my wife. No, when my wife attends a pack function and hears the other moms kvetching about how their husbands don't know how to make a pinewood derby car and may, in fact, not even own any tools, well, her thought go more like this:
The Mrs. "Self, my husband is very busy, but being that he is some kind of a god, he always has time to help out others, even on things he doesn't know anything about. He's a sooper-genius, and he can figure it out. I'll just volunteer him, and then I'll paint him into a corner so that he can't back out of the task without looking like a total ass. That's worked for 25 years. If he really didn't like it, he would have left me by now."

The Mrs. [to others]: "My husband can teach your husbands what to do tomorrow. I'll ask him what time when he gets home tonight, and I'll email it to you."
The Mrs.: "Remember how when you opened the pinewood derby box, you didn't know what to do cuz it was just a block of wood?"

Me, CherkyB: "Yeah."

The Mrs.: "Well, a lot of the other dads are having the same problem. I told them they could come over tomorrow morning, and you could teach them. You think about 9am?"

Me, CherkyB: "...Uhhhh...What?"

The Mrs.: "Should they all come over at 9 o'clock in the morning tomorrow?"

Me, CherkyB: "I'm not even out of bed at 9:00 on a Saturday. What's going on? Who's coming over?"

The Mrs. "OK, I'll tell the 10:00."

Me, CherkyB: "10:00 for what?"

The Mrs.: "For some of the other scouts to come over for you to show them how to build pinewood derby cars."

Me, CherkyB: "But I don't know how to build a pinewood derby car. I just bought a book at Michaels, and I'm following the instructions. Can't they just buy the same book?"

The Mrs.: "A lot of them don't even have tools."

Me, CherkyB: "Yeah, but I don't even know what I'm doing. And I'm supposed to spend all day helping MaxieC and HannahC work on their cars."

The Mrs.: "I already told them you'd do it. I suppose I could sent them an email saying that you don't want to help and you don't care about their kids and the pack cuz you're just too busy to help at all. But they'll think you're a dick."

Me, CherkyB: "[sigh]"

The Mrs.: "I could tell them how I forgot how busy you are. But their wives were so counting on your help. They'll be kind of upset with me, but that's OK because I don't really need any more friends, so if nobody in the cub scout pack likes me, I'll still be OK. It'll just make going to pack meetings a lot more uncomfortable."

Me, CherkyB: "OK . 10 o'clock."
We spent about 4 hours this morning getting them to the point where they could paint the racers and attach the wheels on their own. We cut, sanded, and added ballast to the bodies, and we polished the wheels and axles. It was a zoo. Four 7-yr-old boys running around getting into everything other than making their derby cars. But one of the dads bought us pizza and another ran out to Sportsmans Warehouse to load up on Pepper Jigs when we ran out.


My new holster came last week (finally - almost 5 weeks). It's fan-f-ing-tastic. Here's a picture of it:

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Helen Keller

A few moments ago, I was thinking this exact phrase to myself:
"It's OK to drown olives, cuz they can't cry for help."
I'm not going to try to explain to you all the events that chained together to end up in that one particular thought. You're reasonably bright, so you'll eventually make something up that your mind is comfortable with and latch onto it with the zeal of a religious fervor.

But it did get me to wondering.

Enough about you, though.

I'm still battling with the cable company who steadfastly refuses to try to diagnose the problem with my bandwidth, though it's getting harder and harder to find a tech support person who is willing to try to pin the problem on my modem (well, their modem that they supply with the service). The fact that I can always get the advertised bandwidth to their local server, but that the bandwidth I get to any other server in the country varies by time of day and tops out at half of the advertised BW at prime time, but is perfect from 1am to 9am is awfully suspicious of an upstream problem in the line feeding their local server. Only the dumbest of tech support people could possibly deny that. Instead, I'm getting, "we'll monitor the situation and call you back," and on the callback all they ever say is, "we can't find anything wrong with your modem."

Of course not. We've already eliminated my modem from contention.

The guy today really thought he was on to something. Maybe, he posited, I was using a VPN. I swear they don't read the tickets at all.

They are all very seriously polite, though. And they speak English perfectly. This isn't some off-shore support operation.


My foot still hurts. My Dr. Scholls custom-fit orthodics inserts have managed now to also make my shins hurt. Possibly my foot hurts slightly less, so maybe we've accomplished lowering the peak magnitude of the pain by spreading it out over a wider area. I'm not convinced that's an improvement, though.

This is perhaps just what it's like to get older. My dad is double my age. At the rate I'm declining, I can't imagine I'll make it that long. I try to convince myself that I'm just approaching death asymptotically, and that once I make it around the knee of the curve, it'll be a smooth, long glide down until life becomes a rounding error and, poof, it's gone.

But I have a hard time believing myself given that I just make stuff up.

I should probably exercise more.


Max and Hannah have lost TV privileges for the rest of the week. I don't really know why, as it happened while I was at work. When I asked The Mrs., she said something to the effect of, "they're a couple of spoiled little shits who never do what they're told," though I've cleaned that up a bit given this is a family blog and all. The end result of this is that MaxieC has become a lot more annoying, given how bored he is.

I have to make paper airplanes with him now.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


How wide is yours?

Lemme open by saying that I just shook myself up a very large martini (don't try this at home - I'm a professional), and when I poured it, it was full of all kinds of unspecified black floaty things. Now, I don't know if the glass was dirty or the shaker was dirty, but it was one of them. I thought for a minute about whether or not I could just drink it anyways, given that probably there isn't a lot of little black things that could live through a long swim in chilled vodka and then kill me, and it was probably just dishwasher grit in the shaker, and dishwasher grit, while unappetizing, is effectively sterile. And I would hate to waste $3 of Ketel One. (No promotional fee was paid to Me, CherkyB for promoting Ketel One vodka.)

But I tossed it, washed everything, and made a new one. Drinking a substantial martini is one of life's simple pleasures, and there's no reason to compromise.

That said, I'm mad at the cable company. And that's unusual. Now, I understand that pretty much everyone who has cable is mad at the cable company, but I haven't had cable since 1998, having gotten by with first C-band satellite, then Dish, and finally many many years of DirecTV.

But that all changed when I bought a Blu-ray player capable of Netflix streaming. Suddenly, I needed high speed internet, and my DSL line was topped out at 1.2Mbps. The phone company was kinda pissy when I asked about upgrading the speed, so I got cable modem instead. Of course, the cable guy upsold me to cable TV and VOIP phone, with an HD DVR thrown in as well. Heck, saving $35/month vs what I had before.

Fast forward to last weekend, and MaxieC is complaining that the Netflix streaming keeps rebuffering. Now, this should never happen with 12Mbps service, which is what I'm paying for. And it, in fact, had never happened until then. I ran a speedtest at my favorite speedtest site, and it said I was getting 5Mbps.

I watched it for a couple days, and it fluctuated between 3 and 7Mbps. Never approaching the 12 I subscribe to. So I called tech support.

Tech support for cable modem goes like this:
  1. unplug your modem and take the battery out
  2. turn off your pc
  3. remove your router and plug the modem directly into the pc
  4. reinstall the modem battery and plug it back in
  5. wait for the lights to come on
  6. turn on the computer
No change? We'll have someone contact you.

Give them the cellphone number, since there's no point in the cable technician talking to The Mrs. The cable tech then calls the next day at the home number and either leaves a message on the machine or talks to The Mrs. Instructions are to repeat steps 1-6, cuz maybe it didn't work last time.

Eventually, someone leaves a message saying to use a particular speedtest site that is linked to form the customer support page of the cable company. Lo and Behold, if I pick the local server, I get 12Mbps from that speedtest. If I pick any of their other servers, values range from 3-7Mbps.

Ah ha! I know the problem. The fahrchakotchettas have sold me fictitious bandwidth. I have a 12Mbps connection to the cable company, but they only give me 5Mbps to the outside world. They've oversubscribed their bandwidth (probably with the $99/mo triple-play cable/modem/phone deal they've been saturation advertising that I subscribed to).

BTW, as an aside, Amazon movie streaming doesn't work at all with 5Mbps. Netflix does, but it drops out of HD. You need around 8 for HD. Amazon shows 30 seconds of a movie, then stops for 10 second while it buffers, then another 30 seconds...

So I call these scammers back to let them know that I'm on to them, and they want me to power cycle my modem again. Nope, not gonna fall for that - especially since with the VOIP phone it means I lose my connection to tech support. I explain in simple terms what the problem is: "It's not at my end. I'm getting 12MBps to the local US Cable server, but I'm only getting 5MBps to any other location including other US Cable servers in my state. You have a bandwidth problem in your server."

He runs a speed test and says, "I'm showing full bandwidth to your modem." Yeah, duh, of course you are, since you just pinged it from the local server. The problem is upstream from your server.

"Lemme go ask my supervisor a question."


"Can you run a speed test from"

Ok. It says 3.32Mbps.

"Can you rerun it?"

It says 4.20Mbps this time.

"OK, is there anything else I can help you with tonight?"

Uh, is anyone going to fix this?

"I'll re-escalate the ticket. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

I may call up the phone company. They've been begging to get me back, and they've offered me 40Mbps at a very reasonable rate, now that I canceled my old service.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I didn't know you were still listening

Mainly cuz you're not.

Today was a very exciting day. Very exciting. I bought propane and brass screws, and I got an oil change. Plus, I got some porterhouse steaks and jalapeño-cheese bratwurst made from local, grass-fed livestock.

My foot hurts, though. My doctor convinced himself that I have gout, but I'm not convinced. Especially since all the gout-treatments he's put me through haven't affected how much my foot hurts at all. Though the big, green pills [indomethacin] give me the most raging and prolonged, uh, side-effects, that I have to come home from work after being on them for a couple days.

I am a bit irked that it has been 4 weeks, and my fancy new holster is still not here. It said, "allow 3-4 weeks for shipping as we make these to order." Instead, I have had to make do with this, for which my review is not glowing.

The Childrens have a homeschool science fair tomorrow. Max had me make him a model of an ear, and Hannah originally wanted to do a project on earthworms, but all the worms died. So she decided to do a project about defrosting your freezer, cuz the freezer in the under-the-counter bar fridge needed defrosting. She did an excellent job on that. We took a lot of pictures of her defrosting it, and she did some research on the history of refrigeration (burying stuff in the ground packed in snow, ice boxes, early fridges, and frost-free models), and she explained how refrigeration works. She even used a semi-colon in one sentence.

She'll get a medal. Everyone gets a medal - the same medal. They make us buy the medal in order to be allowed to participate. The thing with homeschoolers is that you always think of them as crazed, right-wing religious nuts, but in fact most of them are actually radical leftists who homeschool because they think public schools are too strict and conservative.

Though when I refer to them as "your people" when talking to The Mrs., she gets irked.

I shot this a week ago, but I only managed to get it uploaded today. Enjoy.