Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The tree! The tree!

I took all these pictures on Friday, and I planned to post them right away. But I was overcome with the "I don't cares", so I didn't. The Mrs. today complained that I haven't had a post in a long time, so I'm photoblogging. I have very little to say right now as, oddly, I've been spending a lot of my evenings working at home rather than ruminating.

Here's the "before" picture of the tree room. It's officially our living room, though we have never used it as such. The previous owners (who had the house built for them) had a pool table in it, so I wonder if it has ever been used as a living room.

Here's the fambly in Stinky Greeley huddled at the fire pit waiting for the tractor hayride to take us to the Christmas tree field. A ride that is about 30 seconds and which you could walk in 2 minutes. I'm practically standing in the field to take this picture. By the hayride is part of the schtik, and if there's one thing the day after Thanksgiving is all about, it's schtik.

At last! It took longer to wait for the hayride than it took to pick a tree and cut it down.

Another tradition - the photo of the fambly right before the killing of the tree. See that dark tree in the background on the left between the two buildings - that's where the hayride starts.

The problem with having a back seat in your pickup is that you end up with a 5.5' bed, and the Christmas tree hangs out. The fambly headed into the building for the free cookies and hot apple cider, which meant a delay of about 20 minutes. MaxieC didn't like his cookie, so I had to eat it while he got a fresh one.

We got the tree all stood up, and then the first thing I installed was the angel on the top. I realize this is somewhat against tradition, but the little 3' cord on the angel dictates the placement of the extension cord, which then in turn dictates the placement of the lights. So it needs to go first.

The Mrs. thought it was hysterical that I took my beers up the ladder with me, so she needed to snap this photo. Unfortunately, I'd finished long before she scared up the camera, and I was just standing at the top of the ladder drinking beer. So she made me pretend to be installing the angel.

"Installing the angel" sounds kinda dirty, doesn't it? I'm not sure what it would mean, but it just sounds dirty. I may have to use it as a new catchphrase.

MaxieC could only reach the low branches. This branch was his favorite for whatever reason.

Here's the view from the loft down to the "completed" setup. It's not really 100% done yet, and the train isn't up yet (it was two more days before tackling that). Note the little village lighted of ceramic houses on the display shelves along the staircase. They were a gift from someone named "Q" who I think I have met once in my life but is bestest friends with The Mrs's mother.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ha HA! Triumph!

Blogging is oddly cathartic. When I find myself frustrated to the point where I can't think straight anymore, it's nice to be able to kick back with a big giant drink and write about it.

Strangely, as I was writing about maybe needing the low voltage Fluke VoltAlert, I got to thinking about why I would need the low voltage VoltAlert. Christmas tree lights have the bulbs strung in series connections of 25 or so bulbs, and then they have a bunch of these strings in parallel so that if you unplug one light, you lose only the series that that particular bulb is part of and not the stuff in parallel.

Now, each of the series-connected strings divides the voltage across the bulbs such that if the string is working, each bulb sees a progressively lower voltage. That explains why the VoltAlert (which is only good down to 90V) can't find voltage present in the last bulb of a string but can in the first. However, if you unplug the last bulb in the series, suddenly there is no current, and every bulb sees the line voltage, and will light up the VoltAlert. I tested this on a working series just to make sure.

Now, the very first light in the bad series didn't register any voltage. I unplugged its bulb just to make sure there were no downstream shorts (though that should have blown the fuse), and still no voltage. That means a bad supply line, not a bad bulb. I'd been searching for the wrong thing last night, in the dark, in the cold, with the lights strung up on a snow-covered tree.

So I started at the plug and found that the supply was fine. I followed it along with the VoltAlert, and within 30 seconds found a place where the wire was severed. A couple minutes later after judicious application of a soldering iron and a water-proof wire nut, and the lights were back in working order.

Sometimes, it helps to work during daylight hours.

My luck with the HO trainset I tried to set up under the tree today was much more agonized. It's a trainset I've had since I was a kid, but it was nailed down to a sheet of plywood forever, and my parents just brought it here on their last visit. It sat in a suitcase since then. Until today when, in a momentary lapse into good parenting, I decided to show it to MaxieC.

I think it's kinda sorts working now. It's very hard to run HO tracks on a carpet, so I cut out a platform for it out of 1/2" blue rigid styrofoam insulation I had left over from the garage door insulating project. I still need to tack down the track and shim the turns, though, as there is still a tendency to roll over at the corners and for the track to separate if the foam is bumped.

I haven't hooked up any accessories yet.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Today, I feel lousy

Not lousy in a sick way. Just devoid of any energy or will to do anything. I think this is because today was outdoor Christmas light day, and it ended in failure. I got everything hooked up, but some of the lights don't work and I can't figure out why. I though I had one string root-caused when I found a light bulb that was broken off, but upon replacement, it still didn't work.

I was out there with my inductive AC voltage sensor, but it wasn't picking anything up. It wasn't even picking anything up on the wires going to the lights that actually worked. I found that it worked for the first 30 or so lights, then after that, it got nothing. These strings have about 100 lights in series. It seems I need the "LAC" (low voltage AC) model.

I got out my digital multimeter and tried to do continuity checks, but my probe tips wouldn't fit in the slots.

Yeah - there's a prom night joke in there somewhere.

So I was reduced to removing a big giant handful of bulbs and then doing continuity checks on them individually. I got through 22 (all passed) before I gave up and went inside for dinner. These lights I hung on the tree last year, and I left them up all year. They are "commercial grade" lights that are supposed to last forever. But, they are the same made in China crap as everything else.

I got fed up with this same problem on the indoor tree, and I bought LED lights this year. I read an article that said they were about the same price as conventional lights. However, it was comparing C4-sized lights (those big 4W bulbs you put outside). For mini-lights, it's $10.99 for 50 LEDs vs. $3.99 for 150 incandescents. But if it saves me one day of Christmas light hell, it will be worth it. I plan to gradually convert everything over to LEDs.

They flicker, by the way. LEDs only emit light when the voltage is applied in one polarity. Household AC alternates. So you get this really cool 60 Hz flicker that you can only see if it's moving. If the light is still, it seems to be on solid. But if you wave the string around, they strobe. It's wicked hooper-dooper.

I think what bother me the most, though, is the I have a g-damned Ph.D. in electrical engineering, I've spent much of my career becoming an electrical debug expert at The Company, and I can't get a stupid string of Christmas lights to work.

Friday, November 23, 2007

And the winner is...

...The Mrs.!

We had expected to be alone this Thanksgiving weekend, on account of how none of our friends or relatives like us or something. But, yesterday at dinner time, our good friend Big D dropped by. OK, so maybe one unexpected guest.

Well, this evening as we were decorating the tree, another of our old friends popped in to see The Mrs. I was in the living room hanging ornaments when I heard the commotion in the kitchen. The Mrs. was talking to Ralphie.

Later, she described the meeting thusly:
"I stuffed like four of the pickles in my mouth at once. Then the vinegar went down the wrong pipe, and I had a problem."
Curse you, pickle and olive platter.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Thanksgiving Tradition

Somehow, I thought this year might be different. No Granny Moo Moo. No visitors at all. Just the four of us for a nice, peaceful Thanksgiving dinner.

We sat down to dinner, and as people were beginning to eat, I started to deliver my prepared speech on the meaning of Thanksgiving, as that is my job as the patriarch of the fambly. I had just gotten through thanking The Mrs. for "slaving away in the kitchen all day", and she had just finished interrupting me to assert, "two days!" when MaxieC ripped a big one.

I made a pithy comment about how MaxieC was also giving thanks in his own special way, and then I continued. However, I was having a hard time being heard, as MaxieC had started yelling, "Diarrhea! Diarrhea!"

The Mrs. got up to check. Yup. Diarrhea.

Thanksgiving Morning

A photoblog.

Here is the fambly room. You may note the traditional Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the TV. You may also note that the room is devoid of inhabitants, as no one in the fambly actually likes to watch the parade. But The Mrs. always requires it to be on. I turned on the gas fireplace as it's only 16 degrees outside, and one wall of this room is glass.

Ahh, good. The pond heaters are working.

Cinnamon buns for breakfast.

Someone may have gotten tired of waiting for cinnamon buns and started the morning with a Screw Yu.

The Mrs. and HannahC decide to do crafts. Something they call "paper quilling" but that I call "twiddling."

Happy Thanksgiving

Nothing goes better with turkey than a Leaf Blower.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fame and Fortune, Fame and Fortune

They said if Rupert Murdoch bought The Wall Street Journal, the quality would suffer, and they were right!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'd like you all to pay close attention

However, I have nothing today that warrants it. If you concentrate enough, you probably won't notice.

HannahC is sick. This is problematic, as it means The Mrs. has an excuse to stay cooped up in the house all day, which in turn means that MaxieC has an excuse to be especially crazy. And there's a long weekend coming up for which I have stockpiled only 4 beers. Plus, I'm pretty much out of Captain Morgan and Bushmills.

Friday, we will all have to head for Greeley, which smells, and cut down a Christmas tree. Last year, we had Granny Moo Moo with us, but this we we are alone. That means we can take the pickup and just throw the tree in the back instead of having to tie it down to the roof rack. Oh joy of joys. And likely no one will throw up.

I always am irked by the day after Thanksgiving. The Mrs. desperately needs to turn it into an all-day Christmas affair, including cutting a tree, setting it up, trimming it, getting out all the holiday decorations from the storage room/shed and putting them up, and decorating the outside trees. I, on the other hand, am usually pretty tired from all the eating the day before, and I mostly want to nap.

Only one of us ever wins.

And it has never been me.

I spend most of the day being accused of being "Bah Humbug". But I'm not. I'm just tired. And I don't see why Christmas has to arrive 100% completely the day after Thanksgiving. Don't we have a few weeks to prepare for it?

The answer is, apparently, "No."

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Mrs. - Loving Wife

The Mrs.: "It's supposed to snow on Tuesday! You'll get to use your new tires when it snows."

Me, CherkyB: "I think I'll get to use my new tires even if it doesn't snow. It's kinda hard to drive anywhere without using the tires."

The Mrs.: "Oh. Yeah. Please don't spin out with the kids in the car."

Me, CherkyB: "I never spin out with the kids in the car."

The Mrs.: "I worry so."

Me, CherkyB: "You have such a low opinion of me."

The Mrs.: "No. I have a low opinion of your judgment."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

You see...

...there's gold leaf in Goldschläger. See? Gold leaf.

And tequila.

Leaf blower.

You get it? Huh? Huh?


CherkyB - Master of the Wood

And I'm pretty good at building stuff, too.

A long, long time ago, we were driving down the street and noticed a big giant pile of toys thrown out at a neighbor's house. I believe it was right after Christmas, as some households have a "zero growth" policy on the quantity of toys. The Mrs. hollered, "Stop!" So, as a dutiful hubsband, I stopped, grumbled, and reversed back to the pile of junk so that The Mrs. could pick through for holiday treasures - a habit she apparently picked up when younger.

There was a lot of misc. stuff that still had a useful life to it, and one big piece of piratey bootie - a Lego table. It had, unfortunately, only two legs. But its Lego holding bag was even still filled with Legos. The Mrs. said to me, "You can fix this," and we tossed it in the back of the vehicle.

So on and off for almost a year now I have been pondering how to fix this thing. It's all plastic. It's hard to fix plastic things. But finally, after we'd reached that plane of Zen in life where the Lego table has reached the top of The Mrs.'s "nag my husband until he can't take it anymore" list, I formulated a plan.

I would fashion new legs out of wood.

Well, that had kinda been the plan all along, except I kept wondering how I would be doing this. See, the previous plastic legs were exactly 2"x2", and they had a truncated cone at the top that fit into a conical hole in the bottom of the table that was recessed in a 2x2 hole. There's no way I would be able to duplicate the cone without a lathe. And I'm not buying a lathe so that I can fix a garbage-picked Lego table. A brand new Lego table is a lot cheaper.

I decided to get a 4x4 and mill it down to 2x2 at the end (keeping in mind that a 2x2 is only 1 -5/8 x 1-5/8, or something like that, so too small to use for a 2"x2" hole). To mill it down, I would use my router table with a straight-cut bit, as I exploded my table saw a couple years by trying to use a dado blade on it and never replaced it. So we hit Lowe's and picked up a 4x4. I also picked up a few right-angle Simpson ties and some paneling anchors in case I needed to secure it to the bottom of the table.

After about 2 hour of labor, I was finished. One of my easier creations. Much the way The Mrs. thinks about MaxieC.

It turned out that just making the wood fit the hole perfectly made it stay in, so I don't need to use the right-angle brackets. I can also just pop the legs off to move and/or store the table without having to remove screws.

I was telling The Mrs. how I fixed this for $8 - the cost of an 8' 4x4. But then I got to thinking about all the tools I actually needed to own in order to be able to do this. I don't know the prices of everything, so all the dollar costs are ballpark estimated.

Hitachi 12" compound power miter saw: $300
12" blade for miter saw: $25
Porter Cable router: $175
Craftsman router table: $100
Craftsman 3/4" straight-cut router bit, 1/2" shank: $25
Bosch 1/2" self-guided roundover bit, 1/2" shank: $30
Tape measure: $5
Combination square: $15
Skil belt sander: $50
Belt for sander: $2
DeWalt palm sander: $40
Sandpaper for palm sander: $0.50
1" wood chisel: $10
Hearing protection: $35
Safety glasses: $8
20A extension cord: $25
3 outlet Y adapter for extension cord: $10
Rigid canister vac: $80
Pencil: $0.25
Craftsman #2 philips screwdriver: $8

Which means I had to invest almost $950 in order to be able to fix a garbage-picked Lego table for $8. Happily, none of these tools were purchased just for this project, but I need to charge some of their depreciation to it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

DrinkPact #3 - The Leaf Blower

It's very difficult to create art by committee.

Especially if everyone on the committee is an idiot but you.
- Little known addendum

Last night, I decided it was time to get back to the grind and churn out another of my holiday cocktail recipes, as I know you, my slack-jawed fans, are probably going to make your final run to the liquor store this weekend in preparation for the big Thanksgiving feast where you will be put on the spot during dinner to name something for which you are thankful, except Gramma will get to go first and will use the, "thankful for being surrounded by so many of my loving fambly" rot, and by the time it gets to you, all the good answers will be gone, and you'll be left picking between, "I'm thankful that people are starting to learn that the al Dura scandal was a hoax manufactured and propagated by a left-wing media," which is maybe a little too morbid for Thanksgiving, even for you, and, "I sure am glad that 'The 64 Effect' doesn't happen with Code Red Mountain Dew." Personally, I'm going with the latter.

But you'll want to impress your friends and/or family somehow, and given that you've gotten this far into your life without witty banter being part of your repertoire, you've pretty much resigned yourself to it being something more mundane. Like a card trick. Or a joke that is either hysterical (to you) or doesn't make any sense at all (to your family and friends) and leaves people shaking their heads and excusing themselves to get a drink.

"Ah HA!" you yell. "A fancy drink!" That's how you'll impress your friends and/or family. Or, at the very least, you can get good and sloshed on something either too sophisticated or bizarre for the rest of the pedestrian bunch you holiday with.

So, the chances of this particular drink being your salvation are somewhat low. That because, during the moments the creative juices began flowing (i.e., when my drink was empty and I needed to fill 'er up), I happened to be YMing with one of my long-lost grad school buddies, Dr. A-berg. And he kept yelling "Add vermouth!" after every step.

I can't think of many situations that vermouth is the answer to. In the end, I broke down and added it. It really destroyed the drink. You should never take drinking advice from someone who would serve gewurztaminer at his wedding.

Anyway, this was my first shot at a Thanksgiving drink. And if you can get past the first sip, it's actually remarkably not anywhere near as bad as the Minty Fresh. I should have an alternative selection available in a couple days. That way you can have two fancy drink recipes to ask your host to make when they say, "Can I fix you a drink?"

The Leaf Blower

3 oz. Cranberry juice
1 oz. Tequila
0.5 oz. Goldschläger

Shake with ice, strain, enjoy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Mrs.'s new best friend

This weekend was a difficult weekend that the C household. The Mrs. woke up in a veritable funk on Sunday, and proceeded to storm around the house slamming every door she came across. Eventually, tiring of this, I went to the kitchen to get myself a glass of orange juice. I slammed the cabinet door good and hard.
The Mrs.: "[snarl] Why'd you slam that? [growl]"

Me, CherkyB: "I dunno. All I know is that something is wrong, and it is apparently made better by slamming doors. I'm just trying to help."

The Mrs.: "[roar] I can't believe you're such an idiot that you don't know what's wrong!"
At which point she proceeded to not tell me. She didn't actually tell me until the next day despite me asking a couple times (just for show - I didn't actually want to know), as that is the way a "normal" woman communicates.

Eventually, she calmed down enough to decide that, despite me being a gigantic idiot who couldn't read her mind to know her every whim and thus simply sense how it was that I had disappointed her today, the alternate route to happiness was to just have me buy her something. Again, very much like a "normal" woman "heals" emotionally. I have long ago accepted that all I am to The Mrs. is a wallet that speaks, which is how a "normal" woman perceives her husband if he is a wonderful man, like I am. If he had serious character deficiencies, then he'd be a no-good wallet that speaks. If he had a job that paid poorly, he'd be a lazy good-for-nothing bastard. But a kind, loving, good provider man like Me, CherkyB and most husbands can aspire to reach the pinnacle of happiness in a marriage, which is that your wife doesn't routinely use derogatory adjectives when describing you.

Now, my transgression, which at the time was still unknown to me, clearly did not rise to the level of, shall we say, diddling the hotel staff. So the gift The Mrs. needed to make it all better happily did not require measurement in karats.

Those of you who have followed The Mrs.'s mother's travails know that there is very little that I have not provided for my wife that she has expected on account of her mother having it. Really, it comes down to just two things: cats and a chest freezer.

Those of you who know me know that I am deathly allergic to cats. They throw me nearly instantly into an asthmatic attack that generally lingers for upwards of a week, and, more interestingly, they make the whites of my eyes turn red and swell up. Really, it is a sight to behold. If you've never seen swollen eyeballs, it is truly breathtakingly disturbing.

And it simultaneously itches and hurts. Every blink is as though the backs of my eyelids are covered in gritty sand. And there is no truly effective way to scratch an itchy eyeball.

Having noted this, one by one each of my in-laws has acquired two or more cats, and most of my own blood relatives have as well. I can visit my parents and one brother, and that's pretty much it for me. Others I am forced to visit, but am often reduced to sitting alone outside shivering in the freezing rain while catching pneumonia. Literally.

So, at this point you are wondering if what I did to anger The Mrs. was so bad that she would demand a cat or two. Thankfully, the answer is no.

Which leaves a chest freezer. The Mrs. has been going on an on about wanting one, especially since the over-abundance of our garden required us to let a great deal of food simply rot on the vine due to lack of freezer space. But The Mrs. never cleared a spot to put one. The perfect spot, the incomplete wine cellar, has been turned into an "art room" where paint can be splattered on everything due to the incomplete nature of the finishing. The other "brilliant" idea was to locate it at the end of the storage room beyond the shelves.

Way the hell back there:

I had done some measurement and had discovered that it was unlikely I could get a freezer way back there without taking down the shelves. And the chances of keeping the pathway clear to get to the freezer were perhaps even more remote.

Oddly enough, on the morning of freezer acquisition I was struck with the though of simply removing part of a shelf right by the door and putting the freezer there. Only an upright freezer would be a better fit than a chest freezer. After discussing the merits of an upright freezer vs. a chest freezer and dispelling the myth that an upright was twice the cost, a plan was hatched. A trip to Lowe's ensued, a proper freezer was selected - one that was not frost-free so that things would stay good and frozen rather than constantly thawing slightly like they do in a frost-free, loaded into the truck, and brought home.

Everything went smoothly until we got the freezer stuck in the stairwell. We have a curved stairwell, which is pretty and all, but not really what you want for moving freezers through. The Mrs. was able to muster enough upper body strength to help me pull the thing back up the two steps we had gotten it down and to strategize.

Her strategy was to call The Dave Guy from across the street to come over to help. The Dave Guy suggested I remove the door from the freezer. That made it about 4" narrower, counting the handle. The Dave Guy and I got it down the stairs and into place in short order, in large part because we were able to move it more vertically than had been possible with The Mrs, as we were now bearing the load at both ends rather than just one.

I don't know why I always think of my wife as someone who can help move heavy things. She has time and time again proven to be incapable of that. Much in the way I have proven to be incapable of reading her mind when she is angry at me.

So here is her new best friend:

And, naturally, a trip to Safeway was called for yesterday. Now we are ready to brave any storm.

I had best go shoot me a deer before the whole thing fills up with french fries.

All fixed

A picture I have called, "You Bastard."

I'm not good with ladders. Luckily, MaxieC is.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Maxie Dice Clay

MaxieC told us a joke at lunch today:
Q: What did the director say to the over-tentacled cow?

A: Those are nice boobs.

CherkyB, Patron of the Arts

MaxieC and I were watching Sunday Night Football last night, as fathers and sons often do. As a father, I know it is my responsibility to pass down to my son the ways of men lest he grow up to one of those men people accuse of "being raised by his mother". Part of this, of course, requires some knowledge of football, and in particular the intricacies of watching it on TV.
[ Closeup of a cheerleader right before we cut to commercial. ]

Me, CherkyB: "Whoa! Check out the ti...uhhh...mmmm... What do we call those?"

MaxieC: "What?"

Me, CherkyB: "You know, the big things here." [makes arthritic gesture with hands]

MaxieC: "You mean the shiny things she was holding in her hands and shaking around?"

Me, CherkyB: "No. Those are pompoms."

MaxieC: "I knooow. You mean the big, fat things on her chest."

Me, CherkyB: "Yes! Those. What do we call those?"

MaxieC: "Deet-deets."

Me, CherkyB: "Yeah. Deet-deets. Did you see what nice deet-deets that cheerleader had?"

MaxieC: [puzzled] "Momma has those."

Me, CherkyB: "[Sigh.] When you're older..."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

That didn't last long

Tonight, I happened to glance upwards at the entrance way chandelier. One of the bulbs is burned out. I have to figure out what we did with the two extras...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Again, Too Obscure?

Did you understand the Neville Chamberlain reference without looking it up?
Free polls from

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My mother will never forgive me

But my inner European is an Irishman.

Your Inner European is Irish!

Sprited and boisterous!
You drink everyone under the table.

Truth be told, though, I do have a bit of Irish in me.

Something Not to Do 14

Let's say, purely hypothetically, that after a long, hard day of work, you come home to enjoy a home cooked meal with your family. Then, part way through, something akin to this transpires:
MaxieC: "I want a cupcake."

The Mrs.: "You need to eat your dinner first."

MaxieC: "No! I'm done eating! I want a cupcake!"

The Mrs.: "You haven't eaten your dinner. No cupcake until you eat your dinner."
So far, so good.
MaxieC: "But I'm not huuuungry! It's too spicy! I want a cupcake!" [stomp stomp stomp]

The Mrs.: "It's just the sausage that's spicy. Eat this part."

MaxieC: "Noooo!!!! I'm done eating! I want a cupcake NOW!"

The Mrs.: "Well, at least eat your salad before you have a cupcake."
MaxieC: "No. I'm getting a cupcake now." [climbs up on counter, gets a cupcake]

The Mrs.: "OK, but right after you eat your cupcake, you have to eat your salad."
[Snorf snorf cupcake munch munch mmmm yummy]
MaxieC: "OK, I'm done."

The Mrs.: "Now eat your salad."

MaxieC: "Noooooo!!!!! I'm fuuuuuullllll!!!!!!!!!"

The Mrs.: "Well, OK, eat your carrots at least."

MaxieC: "Noooooo!!!!!!"

The Mrs.: "Come one. Just one bite of carrot?"
Now, I know it may be tempting given the wonderful warmth you are feeling from your first glass of genuine French Beaujolais in years, a tanginess that really cannot be matched in even your finest domestics, but this is really not the right time to whip out, "You are the Neville Chamberlain of motherhood." Possibly true, but definitely not helpful.

That would be Something Not to Do.™

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Monday, November 05, 2007

If you measure it will improve. An old management maxim.

Today is a new session for swimming lessons. HannahC has a new teacher. The new mommy'n'me class now has 3 bikini-clad moms. The original one looks pissed, as she's clearly the oldest of the three. She thinks she should get extra credit for that, but you don't get extra credit for having "for an old lady" appended to your description.

Most everyone is unsick now. The illnesses were short-lived, for the most part, though little Maxie-squirt-bottom seems to have hung on longer than anyone really needed it to.

This weekend was a particularly trying one at the C household. Saturday there was a lot of whining about being sick, followed immediately by a movement in the clock. People without small children see the end of Daylight Savings Time as a night where you get an extra hour of sleep. People with small children realize it is a day when they just get to be up an extra hour, because Jr. is going to get up at the crack of dawn as always, only that's going to be 5:30am Sunday morning, and The Older One, who can tell time, is still going to insist on staying up until 10pm Sunday night because her bed time is triggered by the wall clock.

I, of course, suffered in silence, as I am wont to do. There was quite enough complaining to go around despite my resolve, though.

Yesterday was the first day since we bought our house that all the light bulbs in the entrance-way chandelier worked. When we moved in to the house, there were burned out light bulbs all over the place. This house has too damned many bulbs. There are like 40 in the basement alone. The entrance-way chandelier has 16. Two were burned out.

So, first I discovered that I needed a taller ladder to reach the bulbs. My 6' A-frame ladder did no good in one of these 2-story vaulted ceiling things where the bottom of the chandelier is 12' above the ground, and naturally the 16' extension also was of no use given this hangs out in space away from any walls. So a couple months later, I bought one of those nifty convertible ladders that does a 13' A-frame as well as a 26' extension.

Then, I got up there and tried to unscrew the old light bulbs, with one breaking off in the socket. After much futzing with needle-nose pliers (no, the potato trick does not work), I got that out. Then, upon examination of the old lights, I realized they were 25W bulbs.

But I didn't own 25W bulbs. Nobody owns 25W bulbs. It's a useless denomination. Too dim to light anything up, but too bright to use as background mood lighting.

Unless, of course, you gang 16 of them together.

So I put the ladder away and queued this up for "next time you're at Lowe's."

Naturally, Lowe's doesn't carry 25W bulbs. They don't carry useless stuff. Only high-volume stuff.

So, I had to then queue it up for "next time you're at Ace."

Only I didn't remember for a couple months. Then I finally remembered and got some bulbs, but I was at Ace for some other task, so I set the bag down in the garage when I got home and went off and did that other task all day.

At some point, we reorganized the garage so I could park in there. I never saw those bulbs again.

Until last weekend when we were stowing some garden stuff up on the storage shelves, and I had to move some boxes to get the ladder over by the shelves, and the lid collapsed on one of the boxes, revealing two 2-packs of 25W light bulbs.

Ah Ha! The Mrs. immediately moved them from the garage to sit on the banister below the chandelier. Where they sat for a week.

So a week later, I had the ladder out on Saturday to remove a big-giant yellowjacket nest from the eaves that had mysteriously grown without anyone noticing it until all the leaves fell off the tree near it. Big. Like as big as The JohnnyB's head. Maybe bigger. I have pictures:

And since I had the ladder out on Saturday, when I was in the garage on Sunday, I saw the ladder and said, "now where in the hell did those light bulbs go?" After a few minutes of searching, I remembered where they were. So I replaced the bulbs.

From start to finish, just 14 months and two weeks.

Not bad, huh?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Mrs. is Sick

And I don't mean that in a good way.

The Mrs. has some kind of nasty bug that makes her lie around all day and complain about being sick. MaxieC is also a little sick. HannahC was sick a couple days ago, but got better. If you were to walk through our house now, you would be struck at how many surfaces have been turned into makeshift beds due so that in nearly any room, someone can plop down and take a nap at a moment's notice.

I'm keeping mostly up with the kitchen, though. I have this small obsession where I can't eat anything cooked in an unkempt kitchen. Or, perhaps more accurately, I can't eat anything that came from a kitchen that is currently unkempt. So, for instance, if I get home from work, and The Mrs. puts dinner on the table, I won't be able to eat until I empty the breakfast dishes out of the dishwasher and load in the lunch dishes, then give the counter a quick wipe-down.

She complains to no end about this, but I think she secretly likes if she doesn't have to clean the kitchen.

I'm hungry. The Childrens and The Mrs. have eaten dinner, but I haven't. One of the problem with various forms of sickness is that everyone orders a different meal. MaxieC is on the BRAT diet on account of this kind of thing going on for a couple days. The Mrs. will only eat soup and rice. HannahC and I are both eating normally, except she was over at a friend's for a birthday party tonight and ate there. So, in the end, I never got to the point where I was able to make myself anything yet.

I'm hoping this Hazed and Infused tides me over. HannahC brought it to me when she heard me say to MaxieC, "Yes, I'll get you a water. I live to servitude you." The she volunteered to wash the dishes that are piled up in the bar which were interfering with the quiet enjoyment of my life.


MaxieC: "I peed my pants...only, it came out my butt."

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Urbanity of it All

A while back, I noted how many of my co-workers had gone out to purchase iPhones. Largely, these have been used primarily for settling the invariable conflicts that arise when I am expounding at length about some obscure topic, and then one of my dunderheaded companions decides that I can't possibly know such minutiae about this particular topic and issues a challenge:
Me, CherkyB: "and blah blah blah..."

Dunderheaded Companion: "Bullshit!"

Me, CherkyB: "OK, doesn't someone here have internet on his phone? If only there was some way we could google this."

Other: "Hang on. Hang on."

[inordinate wait due to the obsolete EDGE technology used in the iPhone when connected to the internet over the cell network]

Other: "Shit. He's right."

Me, CherkyB: "Yeah. I'm always right. I'm surprised you don't know that by now. Your momma learned that a long time ago. By the way, she wants you to call more often. At least, I think that's what she said. I wasn't really paying attention cuz I was kinda sleepy and needed a cigarette."
Now, I will admit that, despite being being a very advanced student of morology, I am on occasion wrong. For instance, I was a little off base with my characterization of Alaska a having seven men for every woman, a factoid I picked up on a tour bus from Anchorage to Seward. However, reflecting upon that, I believe he was claiming this for only a particularly lousy section of the state, and not for the populated areas along the cost.

Of late, however, a new pass-time of sorts has developed. That is to look up common things in the Urban Dictionary. This actually came out of the whole muffler business of which I wrote a couple weeks ago. The fellows were off on a boondoggle last week to Shmashacusetts, and they got bored, so they started looking up the names of people in the room.

It's funny how many regular old names (both first and last) have slang meanings.

Now, some of the fellows also happened to be along at Fat Camp last night, so they felt the need to demonstrate this new-found hobby on a fresh audience in an effort to justify the massive cost of the unlimited data plan from AT&T Wireless. Here are a couple choice excerpts from the definition of my name:

[...] he is almost always easier to figure out while heavily induced with alcohol.

Brian generally has no enemies, but at times is intensely disliked by his friends. He is great at making you feel big emotions, while using small words, and half ass'd glances.

A guy who[se] heart is captured by the same girl always yet lives his life as if she didn't exist when she's not around.
Somehow, the lads felt that this was an oddly accurate description of me. They seemed overly focused on the "intensely disliked by his friends" part, though.

Envy is one of the seven deadly sins.

Overall, I fared much better in the lookup wars than did some of the other attendees. And I'm quite happy my last name doesn't mean, "To murder you family in cold blood and then kill yourself."

What does your name mean?