White Lightning Axiom: Redux: March 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006



I know the story but to present your children as freaks to the world? Man, they might as well sell advertising space to that online gambling site while they are at it. You know, $100K each to have "Loose your NestEgg at Golden Palace" plastered on their developing psyche till they get to pre-school. Then, it's a whole new demographic. Probably something regarding beer or tobacco products.

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Feingold will be PISSED

From ALa via Charlie:
A panel of former Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges yesterday told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that President Bush did not act illegally when he created by executive order a wiretapping program conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).
The five judges testifying before the committee said they could not speak specifically to the NSA listening program without being briefed on it, but that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act does not override the president's constitutional authority to spy on suspected international agents under executive order.
"If a court refuses a FISA application and there is not sufficient time for the president to go to the court of review, the president can under executive order act unilaterally, which he is doing now," said Judge Allan Kornblum, magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and an author of the 1978 FISA Act. "I think that the president would be remiss exercising his constitutional authority by giving all of that power over to a statute."
The judges, however, said Mr. Bush's choice to ignore established law regarding foreign intelligence gathering was made "at his own peril," because ultimately he will have to answer to Congress and the Supreme Court if the surveillance was found not to be in the best interests of national security.
Hopefully, this will be the end of this Political Meme. Doubt it though.

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No bananas

It's Friday and the pressure is off. Of course, I resigned myself to not pushing through the week with my usual fervor. I was thoroughly drained when I got home last night. I throw a pizza in the oven and crank up the wood stove. Sure, It's warmer these days (51 today) but until the AC kicks over, I'm going to keep feeding that beast. Can you believe that some of the carbon-fiber coated titanium baffles melted? A little of the edge has disintegrated as well. Intriguing, but not entirely surprising. After the hurting I put on the mountain of wood from 4 years ago, I'm actually intrigued that the fire-bricks didn't disintegrate sooner. Alien technology fire-bricks, indubitably.

Fetch the kids, process the ride, commit the transaction. Let them draw on the newly swept drive while I planted the summer bulbs in the few remaining empty spots in the front flower bed. It took a bit longer than expected since the hemlock tree that remains is starting to lay out new roots. It looks awful and one of it's 3 spires is nearly bereft of needles but it keeps on going. Perhaps next winter I'll remove it as well. Tangent realignment here ... flower bulbs. Yes, I ended up chopping root till the sun had sputtered out and the stars started to glow. My neighbors are used to me digging holes in the yard under the cover of darkness and a few wandered by ... looking for bodies no doubt. Heh, not in the winter while the incinerator is running! I'll have more time Friday afternoon to do a bit of grounds-keeping. And perhaps do an initial run of the tiller over the veggie garden. I'll have to crank up the land-mover to level it out first ... the back-50 is in rough shape.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006



The last 48 hours have been quite interesting. I've been kept quite busy with the going-ons in the Haupertionain Household. On Tuesday evening, the Mrs was out late (late-late, like 2300 hours) for a live webcast presentation for the Pacific Rim Associates and thus, I was left to my own devices. No problem. Really. Well, except that at the last moment I received a request from the New Project Manager to burn a disk for the visit that I would be making to a client the next morning. Really, it was not so much a request as it was an oversight. You see, I asked HIM to burn the CD and at 1530 when he had not dropped it off I went looking for him. Turns out, he left w/o making the effort leaving me to call him and ask "WTF!". So, there I was watching the progress bar at 1630 where it seemed to be stuck at '30 seconds left' for the last 45 minutes. Urgh. Rule #1, never watch a CD burn of an oracle DB dump for it will never finish. Sure, I was only 20 or 30 minutes late leaving, but every minute past 1615 is two minutes I'll spend on the road. That's the rule till about 1830 when it is much too late anyways.

I go straight to the Day Care/ReEducation Facility and retrieve the kids ... just in time. Jake, unbeknownst to me, is in the beginning stages of a nasty cast of hives. He is entirely uninterested in dinner and Alexis finds that when the Parental Units are engaged with difficult behavior on Jacob's part, it is best to launch a 2 prong attack. To cut to the quick here, I end up abandoning the remainder of dinner and dragging them through the tub for an 'on time' pre-sleep story. To bed by 2100 hours, unusual. While the kids were plotting their evening hijinks, I went out to shovel up more sawdust on the carport.

The Mrs arrives and on queue, Jake is out of bed trying to get our attention about his discomfort. Peter and the wolf came into play here though and it took the Mrs and I some time to discover what was going on. A little anti-histamine and he eventually nodded off to a restless slumber. Some time in the dead of night, the Mrs became weary of the constant barrage of knees and elbows pounding away at her internal organs. She took Jake to the 'guest room' where there would be a bit more space. I did not even notice. I did wake up in the early morning and noticed one small form nuzzled up to me and assumed that the Mrs had fallen asleep at the computer bank. Later on, when the alarm clock finally sent electric jolts via the leads connected to my privates, I woke to find that it was Alexis next to me. Sneaky. Gotta keep an eye on this one, she is quite opportunistic.

It's morning, I've not had my quart of starter coffee and I'm sitting in the lobby of the client site. My contact has not arrived. Ok, fine, I charge by the hour so take your time. The rest of the day is spent busting my broken rear on wrapping up various tweaks to the project. We are about 3 days over schedule. Not really though since we spent a few days off the project. For better or for worse, the Phase I prototype is completed. It's swim night so I blast off and hit the (congested) PATpk. Kids swim, Mrs arrives, we both cheer on the kids as they display their dolphin imitations. By the time we start up lessons again in 2 weeks, they kids will be fully inclined to teach the class. (End proud daddy spew here). The Mrs has scheduled an appointment for Jake to see the pediatrician at 1830 so she kidnaps the pink and red leopard. For 10$, the doctor says it's hives, probably from the antibiotics we have been giving him. Funny thing, I said the same thing and it only cost the Mrs 45 seconds of her time. What is that old saw: Accept free advice but pay close attention to advice you pay for. At the prices of co-pays these days, does anyone actually get a second opinion. In the Nurse Practitioner's defense, she also said it could have been the result of a virus as well. The Merck Manual said as much too.

In other news, I tried to go to a Knights of Columbus meeting, but was 5 minutes late and the other guy left. Beh. I'll know better next time. Jake was up in the early evening and sometime around 0230. The Mrs did not notice the second coming of Jake but since he was using my jaw as a foot-hold, I took him back to his sofa-bed and let him sleep there. I'm so tired right now that I would most likely get whatever he has due to stress on my immune system if hi is really affected by a virus. Not a really good excuse to withdraw affection from him but I don't think he would like me much when I look like a giant, grunting zit.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Fates Revealed

Stimulus: Jake has an unrelenting desire to sleep with Mommy and Daddy MDMHVONPA; Response: He comes up with increasingly creative and diabolical means by which to achieve fulfillment of said desire. He tried at least twice early on in the evening to get a slice of the Platform of Irresistible Slumber, but was rebuffed the first two times. The first bit of creative fiction was that his elbow hurt. Later on we found that it was actually swollen. Either an infection from scratching or an insect bite. The second assault came as a complaint that the batteries in his flashlight were dying. While the Mrs and I went about replacing the batteries, he jumped into our bed and turned on the TV. He knows how to use the remote. The little red button turns it on. Intuitively obvious and left to the observer as a mental exercise. Of course, the channel last on is typically 22 or 98. Cartoon Network or Disney respectively. He has not figured out how to break the VChip programming and get to the interesting programs on ShowTime or CineMax. After I physically exported his little butt back to his bed and tucked him in, he was done for. Well, at least till 0330 the next morning. He came bouncing in knowing full well at that time of the morning we would not have the wits about us to do in the way of behavior modification. Clever little punk.

A bit later in the morning, 0530 to be specific, Alexis came into the room and wedged herself in which left me with roughly 3 inches on the edge of the mattress. On her way in, doors were slammed and the hounds took this as a signal to start their moaning and complaining. Potty time, you know. There is only so much discomfort I'll tolerate before I abandon my sleeping endeavors and there was more than enough to share. It was time to get going even though my body was still tired from 'swimming' with the Tyrants last night. Speaking of submariner training, the last class was conducted and the new Director was in attendance. The Mrs was pleased to see that there were TWO instructors this time and that Alexis had made nice with the Dimitri the Bearded Abomination. It helped that I was in the pool and helped her make the adjustment from "Jumping on Daddy's head" to "Jumping on Dimitri's head". Whatever it takes. After a little tete a tete between the Mrs and the New Director, information was revealed and we have signed up for another set of classes. This time, though, there will be two classes a week for 4 weeks and there are specific goals for each class level. Red Cross standards are to be applied. Everyone is happy including myself. The classes are at 1745 on Tuesday and Thursday which leaves M/W/F open for martial arts as proposed. The kids tested out of Level One and could have tested out of Level Two as well if they knew how to recognize a drowning swimmer and to not laugh at them. They might be able to pass the 'life preserver' test as well given that they learned to swim in a flotation vest. Precognizant of us, eh?

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Saturday, March 25, 2006



This weekend nearly killt me! Jake was up on Saturday morning in the heavy and sunlight laden hours of 0630. Ohhh, man. That kid is just like daddy when I was a sprout. From then on out, it was the tote-hefting manual labor fest. I managed to get the remainder of the largish logs cut up and everything stacked by 1330. Used up eight 30 gallon yard waste bags to hold the sawdust and still had a 4 foot mountain left over. Then, it started to sprinkle ... then rain in earnest. My efforts were prematurely aborted. There was still gardens to till and flower-beds to clean. It'll have to wait till the following weekend I suppose. Later, when I finally acquiesced to the weather, I took Jake with me to the Local Home Depot Temple where he took a test-ride on every lawn tractor they had. Rough time getting him to dismount though. Everything is a John Deere to him as well. Need to get him a JD hat some day. Grabbed a 55 gallon drum of chain oil and some new tomato cages. Needed some more lawn waste bags and found them near the gardening section. While there, I plucked through the bulbs looking for some left-overs from the fall with no luck. It seems that I've been loosing a few daffodils every year in the front. Now, there are gaping holes in the flower defense grid. I'll have to try to remember where the losses are so I can put new ones in this coming fall. It's hard to forecast out that far though. The level of my gardening impetus is fickle. One day, I'll want to plant a rain-forest, the next I'll want to pave the whole damn lot.

On the way back from our restocking-run, we saw a truck and a train. That made it all worth it for Jake. I made a slight detour to see if I could catch the train after it's next stop, but to no avail. This did give me an opportunity to make a stop at the local PLBC though. After a few minutes loading up on 1liter bottles of Aussie Reds. Man, I'm loving this boon of potty training. No more diapers == restock wine racks. Now if I could just get AT the wine racks. So much of the kids 'obsolete' toys and equipment is down in the basement that I can barely get at the wine cellar.

Flash forward to Sunday. Every muscle in my body hurts, and I grew a few new ones just so they could hurt too. I guess heftng 200 pound rounds to stack them has a mighty steep price to pay. If it were just light outside till 10pm, I could get some of this done on week nights! I should watch what I wish for though, ya know. I took Jake with me to church and he was a real bugger to watch over. He was intent on making a fuss the whole time. Fortunately for the besieged parishioners around us, we left after communion to go help collect funds for the Adults Mental Disability group. I think that is their name. It's a KoC thing. We collected quite a bit at the 1000 mass ... I had over 125 myself and there were 6 of us there. Jake did his best to be a draw by doing his 'cute' thing. Call me Fagin. Later on, back at the Manor, I take a nap. An honest nap! Well, punctuate it with multiple attempts by the kids to put plastic animals in my mouth and pull my eyelids back, but I got a good hour or two in for certain. Needed it, really. Got up enough moxie to fill 4 more bags with wood chips and haul in a tub of wood. If the days were actually longer, I probably would not survive the week due to my own delusions about what I can and cannot do by myself.

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Friday, March 24, 2006


TGIF 2006.03.24

Whew ... did'nt think I would make it through the week. You know, working in the software sweatshops of SEPA and all. Digital Jungle. The horror, the horror. I'm not sure how I get so damn exhausted from gazing into a couple of 21 inch monitors. It happens though. Must be some sort of ethereal vampiric entity draining my will to continue so that I fall beneath it's spell. Yes, it will call me forth and feast upon my woeful cries for all eternity. Mmmmm, gainful employment! Back at the manor, it was pizza night so I did not have to slice and heat up the fois gras, steam the baby artichokes and tenderize the filet mignon wrapped in bacon for the kids. The wild mushroom and steamed mountain veggie mix is the hardest part, the bechamel sauce is never quite right. Anyways, while the Tyrants were busy scarfing down the pizza, I prepared the supplies for the evening and then headed out to the carport to 'chuck wood'. You see, the wood chunks are scattered about and I need to stack them nicely in towers so I can find the ones that are too big for 'rending' this weekend. That, and I need to clean up all the damn saw-dust since Jake likes to pretend it is snow and throw it at any moving target within range. The kid is such a mischief maker ... reminds me of someone else from years ago.

The Mrs and I have determined that we need to get Jake's room finished up ASAP. You see, he is quite determined to sleep in a larger, softer bed. If that means he needs to launch an evening assault on our 'platform of slumber', so be it. Last evening his rationale was as follows (ordered by occurrence):

  • Moi-Moi is scaring me!
  • Hand hurts
  • Needs new book
  • Unspecified - snuggles
  • This evening, he caught a glimpse of the recent 'Hulk' movie where our green buddy was busy using tanks as badminton equipment. Jake's insightful critique of this is that 'He BIG'. I'm thinking his ulterior motives for the bedroom invasions is that he wants to watch the 'good TV shows' instead of all this Scooby-Doo tripe that his sister insists on watching. Just wait till we watch the whole LOTR series.

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    Thursday, March 23, 2006


    Odd question

    I picked this up somewhere .... PJM probably is the likely culprit. The question is as follows: Is it better to have a good time that you cannot remember, or a bad time that you can? A bit nihilistic, isn't it? Given that, here is an interesting little liver-killer to consume.
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    It's a procrastination thing.

    Normally, I could go on and on about nothing. My error today, however, was going out with the gaggle of engineers for beer and comfort food. Not necessarily good fuel for witty and engaging blogging. Other than the Daddy-rific swim instruction and my eventual collapse vis-a-vis exhaustion last night, there was very little of consequence that peaked my interest. Sure, there was the annoyance of being kicked out of the pool by one lousy aqua-aerobics participant. I mean, jeeze, she wasn't THAT fat. We can share, it's a big pool and all. She must have been Serbian or something. Afterwards, I bumped into a brother-father in the locker room with his 4 boys and 1 infant girl. Nice enough guy, doing the same thing I am. I cannot imagine trying to pay for 5 lessons. The club fees along must be deadly for a budget. Somehow, he accurately detected my well-veiled Minnesota accent. Peculiar, I did not think I had such. Then again, I'm not the kind of guy who likes to hear himself jabber away. I suppose that would make me a particularly poor politician.

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    Wednesday, March 22, 2006



    My head is pounding. Sinus pain most likely. Damn kids are walking Petri dishes I tell ya. Love 'em to death but they are going to love me to death first! Just a little bit of a sore throat and some post nasal drip right now, let's hope I can nip this in the bud.

    On the way home last night, I stopped off at Emerald Karate and picked up a pamphlet. The Master who operates the facility is a state certified elementary teacher and published author on the form of martial arts known as Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do. Quite a mouthful, but it's essentially Korean in origin. The Mrs seems to be ok with it after I discussed it with her. I'm thinking that we are going to abandon the swim lessons and I'll teach them Tues/Thurs. They are at a point where they can nearly handle being in the pool with-out a float so I don't see how they could gain much more from the current curriculum. Just a bit more time in the pool and they'll be full fledged fish.

    On dry land, Jake has become accustomed to spending time in our bed. Last night, he got up 3 times and came to our room with some fairly creative reasons for abandoning his own. We sent him back and he remained there till 0530 when he traipsed in and planted himself by my side. Little punk woke the dogs in the process and they started to make a ruckus. That required the Mrs and I to go attend to Alexis. You see, we switched her to underwear at nights and she had a little accident yesterday morning. We wanted to avoid doing another round of laundry so it was expedient for us to escort her to the facilities. She'll get a hang of it soon enough, sleeping in a wet bed is not one of the most comfortable activities.

    Final note, go on over to Maria's blog (intueri)and read the treatise she put down about MS. Top Shelf author and quite smart to boot. That, and she made a mention of me so I feel compelled to compensate her with hits from thoughtful readers. Quid Pro Quo, you know.

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    Tuesday, March 21, 2006


    Puerile Interests

    This is exactly the same way that the League of Nations fell:

    Their objectives is to get as much cash/oil as possible. Period. They fail to realize that if America Falls, so does Russia and China. Short term vision, greed and the inability to see beyond their own borders is going to doom us all.
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    Personal Income Tax Data

    This does not seem like a good idea to me:Who came up with this obviously inflamitory idea? This is just a good opening for abuse. Mark my words, if this goes through you'll see a lawsuit pretty damn quickly.

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    Well, swim night did not go so good this time. We only had one swim instructor for 6 kids and it was Dimitry ... Ivan ... Oh, whoever. The guy with the Miami Vice beard that Alexis is mortified by. It took me 20 minutes of cajoling to get her to cooperate. At least the kids had 30 minutes of swim time before the lessons. Needless to say, after paying 100$ for each child for 6 sessions, the Mrs was quite perturbed. She let some fellow who was assisting the new swim director have it with both barrels. I told her before hand that there was really nothing the fellow could do about it, he was just an advisor. In the end, I'm certain we will abandon the formal lessons and I'll have to work with the kids twice a week to bring them along. Tues/Thurs will work out nicely. That way we can have M/W/F open for martial arts training. Yep, there goes every single week-day evening. I called this place near-by called Emerald Karate (215-443-0401). They charge a measly 79$/m including uniforms and we can go 5 times a week if we feel like it. From 1800 till 1900 every evening. The instructor is an elementary school teacher and they take children as young as 4. Their facility is just down the road on Byberry in an old elementary school building. I think this will do just fine.

    This morning, I woke to find Jacob snuggled in between the Mrs and Myself. I was dead tired and soon found out why. I think my little Patient 0 has imparted yet another virus upon me. You know, I was just getting well too. No, sore throat, sniffles ... could be mild. One can hope. Oh, and we are expecting snow this afternoon. Thank you Mother Nature, for giving us Spring. Urgh.

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    Weekend Update 20060318-19 REDUX

    Here they are, the 2 before pictures:
    and the 2 after pictures:
    good times!

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    Monday, March 20, 2006


    Murt or bust

    After the catastrophic PayRaise vote by Cornell, she still managed to get the GOP nod here in my back-water sleepy hollow 152nd district. Nope, I'm a Thomas P. Murt man now. Sorry Sue, it takes one sin to erase 100 good deeds and this sin was a biggie. You are now a pariah amongst the electorate.
      Ex-township official eyes Cornell'’s seat
      Murt Announces His Candidacy for State Representative
      Cornell Wins GOP Endorsement

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    Weekend Update 20060318-19

    Ain't that title just soooo damn creative? My well of artistic capabilities is bone dry today, the weekend soaked it all up. Mostly doing manual labor. Throw in a little physics here and there, but mostly thuggish, muscle-head type stuff. Friday Night, the Mrs and I were looking over different venues for the kids future martial arts education. Something in the area would be nice. Seems that we are dead-center in a 'no kung-fu' zone. There is one place up the pike that looks promising except that they have classes on the two nights that the swimming lessons are scheduled. Argh. Looks like we will have to see if the club is thinking about Tuesday or Thursday lessons yet. We are letting the kids stay up extra late since the Grandparents are scheduled to arrive at any time. And when they did, it was a shock to everyone. Almost. I had shut off the door chime/intruder alert/anti-personnel disintegrator cannon so they could possibly sneak in and surprise the kids. Nope, the damned dogs knew the minute they pulled in the driveway and started a stampede towards the car-port air lock. All the sudden movement put a little fear into the kids for a second or two. They bolted towards the couches where the Mrs and I were sitting till they realized what was going on and followed the Cybernetic Mammoth Hounds out to the car port where they proceeded to assault the Grandparents. It did not even dawn on them that it could be cold out there and going out in your PJs might be a less than optimal course of action. No matter, the holy grail of family was found and infinite play time commenced.

    Saturday, I got to go out and get my Sampson/Cousin It hair lopped off. I was starting to look a bit like the wolfman, to be honest. No more. Quarter inch on the sides, half inch on top, high-n-tight flat top. No muss, no fuss. The fella's down at the base barber shop fixed me up good and sent me on my way. Of course, this was after we spent an hour making breakfast, and hour being subjected to medical tests for insurance and a bit of time cleaning up after all that. I did not get back home till 1100 hours. By that time, Amish Gramps had broken out his Chainsaw of Sharp-Nasty-Biteyness +7 and started to hack apart my log shipment. I jumped right in after switching into my work coat and boots. Good times ahead. Some people call this bonding, we call it 'a little work to do'. The duel dual saws going full tilt till the sun sputtered out on the horizon was a barometer of our own infernal internal energy levels. Pooped, were we.

    Next day, church and then more of the same. Mass was actually more involved than cutting/lobbing wood. Nothing grinds the old muscular-skeletal structure to a pulpy mess like chucking 500kg log segments about. That, and having them peel the skin off your shins as the gracefully tumble across your prone body. We did not last quite as long as we did the previous day, but the logs that I had no chance of cutting were diced up nicely by a determined Amish Dad's anti-tree vendetta. Back into the manor to rinse off and sit into a nearly permanent setting as the bones quickly started to lace together and the muscles tried desperately to flush out the toxins.

    Speaking of toxins, it became apparent that Jake had picked up a new virus and promptly got an ear infection. He spent the rest of the evening cuddled up in Gramp's lap under some covers. He nodded in and out a few times and was quite distraught when his 60yr old binkey had to leave. I was an adequate substitute, but not quite up to spec. He ended up resorting to the Mrs's much more comfortable lap in the end. Flash forward a few hours. Jake has evacuated his bed and is now between myself and the Mrs. He is still complaining about his ear and we have an appointment for the next day at 0900. The phone rings ... it is the GrandParents telling us that they made it home. But it is nearly 2 hours too early. Turns out that NorthEast Pennsylvania has been blanketed in snow and the PennDOT folks had decided to skip the salting/plowing of major routes. There has been an accident. Fortunately, no body is worse for wear outside of a few frayed nerves. Apparently, since spring is set to occur within hours, nobody remembers how to drive in the snow. At 25mph, the Grandparents had struck a car that spun out in front of them. Very little damage but the worst was yet to come. After the State Police arrived, the cruiser was struck by a way-ward vehicle that pushed it into the 'spin-out' car and the Grandparents transport. Law dictates that the Supervisor must now come out to collect accident information. Two and a half hours were consumed by that fiasco. Someone (not the grandparents) will end up taking a chunk of flesh from PennDOT since they told the police to call if there are any accidents so that they know that they need to plow and salt. Yep, my tax dollars at work. I can only hope that nobody among the dozen accidents on that short strip of US 81 was seriously injured.

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    Sunday, March 19, 2006


    They're heeeeerrre....



    `Bout damn time!

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    Friday, March 17, 2006


    We don't need no stinkin' budget!

    My blog-buddy, Toni over at Bear Creek Ledger took notice of the recent legislation regarding the maximum amount of federal borrowing capacity to cover our budget shortfalls. By a minimal 781 billion. Pennies I tell ya. Now, this bothers me quite a bit. We collected a significantly greater amount of taxes this year and yet we need even more to cover the budget. The beef I would foster about this revolved around the idea that if I ran my household finances like our elected officials ran the country, I would be in jail. Of course, the country is not a household (although, I would love to throw the whole damn lot of politicians into the pokey). This is one of those times where I know my gut feelings won't cut the mustard. I would like to recommend 3 articles to you from one of my more frequent reads on the blogosphere: Budget-101, Debt Management-217 and Bankruptcy-505. Put on a pot of coffee because this could take some time. Personally, I'm a fiscal conservative. I'll eat a brick of Ramen noodles instead of going out for that 20$ lunch.

    Given this, I find that most social programs are nonsense. Defense, Infrastructure, Commerce. The rest will shake out via charities. Then, and only then, should we start picking up the slack. Heartless, yeah, I know. But you have to let your children fail, fall and pick themselves up sometimes.

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    Hey, another day of 'zilch' to report. Of course, I'm still fascinated by the tedious details. The 5th night in a row that Alexis has kept her pull-up diaper dry is on the top of my list. She is a hold-out on the over-night bladder front. I cannot blame her though, some days it just too damn cold to get out of bed, chop a hole in the ice that formed on the toilet and sit on that 5 degree Kelvin porcelain seat. Yes, I get excited about my kids potty habits. Go figure. It must be the thought of spending the money budgeted for diapers on fine wine instead. Same end result though, I'll end up in a puddle of urine but it will be mine instead.

    Jake was up to his shenanigans again. He strolled into our bedroom at 2300 hours and crawled in between the Maternally Gracious Mrs and I. We tried putting him back in his own bed, but he just ran right back within a few seconds. We surrendered and let him stay. He dropped off to sleep in a few minutes ... then the Eternally Groggy Mrs, and then finally myself. Flash forward a few hours and it's 0230. My cell phone is ringing in the bathroom. I'm confused. Where am I, what is that noise? It's not the alarm clock since I have it set to wake me with country music. Eventually, the Mrs tells me it's my cell phone and I lumber into the bathroom to retrieve the dream-killer. It has stopped bleating at that point and I check the 'missed call' listing. The origin is shown as '(no number)'. Well, that's new. No number, no message, just a fractured sleep session. Urgh. While we are awake, we transfer the still sleeping package of boyish cuteness back to his own bed and return to our own to grab a few more hours of much needed rest. Strange.

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    Thursday, March 16, 2006



    Last night's 'Daddy-Fun-A-Licious Swim Lessons' went extremely well. Jake and Alexis are jumping, diving and dunking themselves w/o a flotation device now. Both the Mrs and I are rather pleased. They are surprisingly comfortable with swimming under the surface and Jake prefers to keep his eyes open even. If my pride had swollen my chest any more, I would have burst. Damn I'm proud of those two. Afterwards, we did the Mt Fuji thing and the kids scarfed down their meal while daddy slugged down a $24 bottle of shiraz. The waitress, Katy, was stunned that Ho Fay Gweilo had such a fantastic constitution so as to drink an entire bottle and not fall to the floor in a stupor. About 30 minutes later, at the manor, I damn near passed out watching TV with the kids. Not sure if it was the bottle or the pool, but liquid was surely responsible for my exhaustion. Other than Jacob figuring out that when the Mrs alarm goes off, he is welcome to invade our bed, there was not much else going on yesterday or this morning. Call me an old fogey, but I live for days like this.

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    Wednesday, March 15, 2006


    Late, but here.

    Leaving work early always makes me feel a bit of a naughty boy. Sneaking out with my slingshot in one pocket and a toad in the other like some sort of tussled ruffian. Of course, my delightful romp in the fields alight with the golden rays of the sun is not of my halcyon days of youth. I was to do MORTAL COMBAT on the turnpike so I could meet the electrician at the manor. Not quite the lazy, hazy days of summer I would prefer. It was warm enough though. I say that now knowing that my hubris would be cut to shreds overnight. Dropped to the low 30's don't you know. In any event, I stopped off at the regional Home Depot Temple before heading homeward. Needed to grab a few things: mineral spirits, acetone, phosgene, bar & chain oil, C4 fuel stabilizer oil, grape vines ... an impulse purchase on that last one. Going to plant a couple of seedless grape vines along the fence with the neighbors. We'll have to see if it amounts to anything but you cannot blame me for trying. Nest year, if it all works as planned (read: NOT!), I'll plant a few more and ferment some wine. No?

    Met our local electrician at 1515. The 'office' is just up the street so we usually get the appointment 1st thing in the morning or last stop of the day. Works for me. I have a few moments before he arrives so I go about setting up the resources. Ladder, tools, flashlight, etc. Sure, he probably has all this but there is nothing wrong with keeping things moving along. This particular circuit is one of the most confusing and wretched in the whole manor. The gentleman in question started the business years ago, sold it to his son after retiring, got bored and started working for his son and now does occasional work around the area. A really nice guy and quite knowledgeable to boot. He seems to know much more than he lets on as well. Works with the power on till the problem is found. He says that if the current isn't flowing, you really have no chance in finding the problem. He's got a point there but after yesterdays zap, I'm a little gun shy. Looking at his hands, I notice his fingertips are blackened and cracked like baked mud. I think I understand why he does not have the same concerns as I do. After we remove all the outlet covers, switches and light fixtures, he makes a trip into the ATTIC OF ETERNAL CONSUMPTION where he takes a few good lung-full gasps of cruft and immediately starts hacking. This, among other things, is one of the reasons I called an electrician. I've just managed to clear my gas-bags of sputum and every time I go up into the ATTIC OF ETERNAL CONSUMPTION I end up hacking for the next 2-3 days. Even in the winter, it's unbearably hot up there to boot. While up there, he found the issue. Apparently when there was a little home improvement going one, some brilliant engineer used a bit of tape to keep a splice together instead of a junction box and wire-nuts. ARGH. After a dozen years, the tape cooked off and the wires grounded out. Took a couple minutes to fix and he was out of there by 1630. He said his son will bill me later. Well worth every penny in my book.

    This morning, traffic was absolutely horrible. Why? A car wreck? Construction? Alien Invasion? No, snow flurries. People, we need to get a grip out there. I only found one incident that should have been a problem and that was a duck sitting, really sitting, in the middle of one of the surface roads I travel. It caused a fraction of a second since everyone was driving around the duck and a man was waiting off to the side to escort the stricken fowl out of danger's path. I would have done the same if there was not a vehicle three feet from my bumper. Poor thing was probably in shock from the 40 degree drop in temperatures.

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    Tuesday, March 14, 2006


    Watch that first step

    It was a dark and stormy night. Lightning crashed as the terrified family huddled together for safety and warmth. The door harshly creaked as it swung open. Light threw itself across the rough hewn floor, illuminating the burly figure wrapped in a ragged, thread-bare cloak standing beyond the threshold. Hmmm... No, no. That's not right. Well, it was dark and stormy though. Later on. And I don't wear a cloak. Oh well, let's stick to the facts and pass over the cheesy theatrics. It was swim night and I made the decision to do a snatch-n-grab ... err, a Search and Recovery mission, early. Give the Tyrannical Twins a few minutes of splash time before the lesson began. You see, there is a new sheriff in town and Alexis is mortified that a man (boy) with facial hair would ever be allowed into her personal space. Now granted, this swim instructor has enough facial hair to keep the back of my hand warm ... on a spring day. The quantity and quality matter not to Alexis though. The transgression is perceived and thusly, acknowledged. So they swim for a good half hour before the lesson begins. Then the Mrs promptly shows up at 1800 hours and we spend about 10 minutes convincing Alexis that she can still swim with one of the girl instructors and need not stand in stark horror at the edge of the pool, gnawing away at her fingers. She had a choice: the frumpy blonde with a gregarious personality or the Double D Bean Pole (who should not be seen by fathers) who rarely speaks but seems to have a secret power to attenuate resistance on the part of the pupils. Must be in the sophisticated way she says so little that at the moment you detect forthcoming communication, attention is submitted. I will learn her powers, and use it to defuse the destructive powers of the Tyrants. Yesss....

    After we got back to the manor, I noticed that Gus's van had been moved out of the driveway. Well, it looks like he is back from Greece with Irene and I have yet to clean out his van. Crud. I rush about to collect the shop-vac and push-broom so that I can get the job done after I apologize profusely to Gus for not fabricating time to "get 'er done". In the end, he insists that leave it as it since he uses it once every 6 months or so. Ummm, ok. It will still be a mess then. When I revealed that I filled his tank, he got rather disturbed that I spent all that money when I only used a few gallons. I insisted that it was fraction of the price considering how much I would have spent if I had to rent a truck. We split the difference and called it even. Dirty van, full tank. In the end he told me that in the 10 years he owned the thing, he has driven it a total of 10K miles. Since he spent about 2.5K on it, he felt good that I actually got some benefit out of it. Funny thing, he parks it on the street and it acts as a 'traffic calming device' on the cars taking a short cut through the development. Heh, I get more use out of it than he knows. Quid Pro Quo.

    Later on in the evening, I run up to the top floors of the manor to lay out the clothing for the kids. Performing the simple task of preparation makes life unbelievably more tolerable. Laying out towels, tooth-brushes, clothing and so forth. It seems trivial, but when you are trying to run down two kids who just had baby oil slathered on them you realize just how important it can be. But yet again, I digress from my point that I had yet to reveal. Within moments of me flicking on the bathroom lights, they began to flash, dim and wink out. All the lights along one particularly troublesome circuit were exhibiting the same ADD type behavior. This particular line has always been a burr under my saddle. The breaker is grossly underrated for the draw on the line. I've even taken a few sinks off the line in question. One of them being the attic fan (replaced by solar) in a feeble attempt to save money and sorrow. Indeed, after I had shut off the breaker and disassembled the ceiling light fixture where we had a problem 3 years ago, I could find no problem. Well, no problem till I inadvertently grabbed the hot line and a ground only to be alerted to the fact that I had NOT shut down the correct circuit. Ow. After setting the CORRECT breaker, I did a bit of twiddling and found that if I took the hot line and applied it to a ground, all the other lights and outlets would function. If I applied it to the double-switched line, I would get nothing. This, I deduced, was probably something to do with the switches or a line within the wall. I can deal with the double switched line if it were not in the interior walls of the manor. Crud. I just don't have time to deal with this aspect of paradise. I called my electrician at 1930 and left a message. He, like my other two necessary trades-men (plumber, mechanic), lives just up the street. Of course he was out, as expected, but I was certain that my previous favorable dealing with him will guarantee a callback within a reasonable timeframe. Unlike my firewood experiences.

    The next morning brought with it rain and gusty winds. Later followed by sunlight with thin sheets of ragged clouds. Perfect weather to be out and about, but I would have no more than 30 seconds of exposure. QED, my minty green complexion. While in the car, I was about to pass the location where my transmission did a little jig upon the grim reapers sithe when the phone rang. It's 0720 and the only people who call me at THAT hour is the ever conscientious Mrs when something is horribly wrong or my Buddy Pete to let me know that I just cut him off AGAIN on the Turnpike. Wrong on both accounts this time. It was the Punctual Electrician asking when I could be available. Indeed, if he had called me 10 minutes earlier I would have been in the position to grant him access to the manor by turning off the defense grid and chaining the cybernetic attack mammoths. Rats. We arranged to meet at 1530. Hopefully, I can do a little lumberjacking while he untangles the mess that we lovingly call our 'infernal electric grid'. I'll let you all know when the tingling in my hands subsides.

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    Monday, March 13, 2006


    She'll be commin' 'round the mount'n when she comes....

    Whew. Made it through the weekend by the skin of my teeth. Not that I'm a poor practitioner of oral hygiene mind you. Eww, now that I think of it, the concept has a disturbing cannibal over tone to it. Like that scene from Cat People where the ... ummm, yeah. Tangents again. I do that a bit too much. Disturbing to myself even. Speaking of disturbing, the last season finale episode of Battle Star Galactica was a real lump of poo. Heh, neat convergence there with what Mouse had to snipe about. I won't get too much into my Sci-Fi show watching predilections, but this pretty much ruined the show for me. There was nearly nothing that surprised me or piqued my interest. Come on guys, throw me a bone here or something! Show me the resolute metal of the human spirit or something. Jeeze. Anyways, that was that for my TV viewing for the week. Beh. At least there was an interesting 'Ghost in the Shell SAC 2nd Gig' episode on TiVo for me to watch and sooth my troubled mind.

    I was not ready for Saturday. More likely, Saturday actively resisted my effort by instigating a low-level insurgency through the twins. I wanted to get going early to avoid any issues with crowding or traffic, but it was not to be. Dealing with the dogs, the wood stove, breakfast and so forth just turned the first two hours of the day to chowder. I had thought that if I could get up early enough and wrap up the morning activities before the twins rose to the sound of singing song birds, all would be well. Instead, it was Jake who strode into the room at 0830 and pushed me out of bed. Of course, all the banging and stomping brought the hounds ire to bear and I had to deal with their grumblings of hunger and discontent (potty time) first. Since I was there, lighting the fire was in order too. Sure, it's getting warmer now but I've got a stack of wood I can burn. If I did not have the wood, you could be certain that the temp would dive into the 20's. Kinda like what is going on in Minnesota right now. A blizzard even. Sheesh. When I did finally get going, we ran into a traffic jam almost immediately. A rolling pot-hole patch team had gnarled the flow of vehicles on 95 south and then there was some other dust-up on 676 west that I needed to slug through. There must be some sort of convention going on in Philly since there is NEVER this much congestion on the weekends. It was so bad that Alexis started to complain about her weak stomach and I knew that the trouble was just around the corner. Fortunately, a little milk helped calm her till I managed to find a parking lot. It was within the same time-zone as the Please Touch Museum. I've been planning to bring the Twins here for a long time, but I just finally said "Let's do it!" and we went.

    Ahhh, the museum. I'll be honest with you about this: I was not impressed. The Grandparents have something called the Science Center near the FOB and it is light-years better than this place. The real problem I had was the multiplicity of exits that the Twins had easy access to where they would end up strolling onto the busy and rough streets of Philly. I was frantic in my attempts to keep both of them within my sight at all times. There was not nearly enough 'stuff' to hold the kids interest either. Nothing to break I suppose. There was a small train set that Jake like, but not nearly enough track or trains. Additionally, the play house was significantly devoid of things to do. The supermarket was the center of gravity for nearly all the children in the joint and became a battle royale. A lot of poorly behaved children mixed in with some morally absent parents. Not the fault of the facility mind you, but it was disappointing to see. One of the high-points was the puppet show that completely captured the children. For the 2.5 hours we were there, the 20 minute show was shangrila. All in all, the admission fees and the extortion of putting the gift shop right in line with the exit (Disney Style Placement), the whole thing cost 60$. Not including the 10$ for hotdogs on the way out and 8.50$ for parking. Oh, and the traffic jam going OUT of the city since the pothole crew was going the other direction. GAWD! I could not get any slack cut for me. When we got back home, the kids played in the sun on the Twin Towers of Ultimate Conquest. That cost me ... nothing. Well, I did have to pick up a couple piles of poo (see above link), but the 2 hours of sandy play time was probably one of the better ideas for the day.

    Sunday was a grey and melancholy presentation. Buckets of rain descended upon the Haupertonian Empire leaving a cold and gloomy prospect for anything resembling fun. Eventually, we packed up and rolled off to Produce Junction to do a little shopping. Peculiar place, this wholesale fruit/veggie stand. Most of the workers there were either teen-agers or migrant workers but were significantly more agreeable then most 'professionals' I bump into at supermarkets. We grabbed what we needed and paid in cash. I like it. At one point, I had picked up a bag of brussels sprouts but decided against it after standing in line for a couple of minutes. I asked Alexis to put them back with the other veggies and she successfully matched the color/shape of the contents of the bag. The entire line was standing in silence as she inspected each display till she found the one that had the other sprouts. After she pushed the bag back onto the pile, the entire line broke out in cheers and applause. This time, she did not come wailing back to me because of the sudden shocking level of noise, but was glowing with confidence from the wave of approval as she skipped back and did a little victory dance. Daddy was certainly pleased. After this, we went to a 'real' supermarket and paid the mark-up for whole milk and chocolate soy milk. Credit cards, polished floors and all the chemicals you can stomach. The cold of the refrigerated sections was only surpassed by the technological glare of the scanner and the cold shoulder of the other drones in line at the checkout. The contrast was overwhelming on multiple levels. I need to get the garden going ASAP.

    The day ended up with the kids and I snuggling in bed and watching Scooby-Doo for a bit. I would nod off for a couple minutes only to be woken up and alerted that either commercial were playing (damn TiVo has spoiled my kids) or that the episode was over. At one point, an long segment was playing and Alexis grabbed one of my eye-lids and pulled it back like an old retracting shade. OUCH! Watching a little too much Tom and Jerry, eh? Later in the evening, the Mrs came back from her extended stay in NYC. Salvation at last. Indeed, she took over the bath duties and assisted with the night-time dressing/story time activities while I slowly unwound from days of semi-death bed sickness combined with the daily adversities of high energy physics masquerading as my offspring. Ahhh, did not get anything but the laundry done this weekend. Looks like a particularly busy week in in order.

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    Friday, March 10, 2006


    template day

    It was a mundane Thursday. No huge surprises, no alien invasion, civil war, exploding suns or bad beer. I'm actually starting to cough less too. The TB ward environment of hacking and horking has spread to work though. Jake is starting to sound like Patient 0. I know of at least two ppl in Rochester who have complained that they now are sick. Their reported symptoms are identical to the ones I suffered through. Some folk who went back to DC, NE and the west coast probably hauled it along with them as well via plane, train and automobile. I was commenting to one of my unaffected (uninfected?) coworkers that the next great pandemic will probably not be sars, ebola or bird flu ... it'll be a nasty bug from day-care spread from coast to coast within the span of 3 days.

    I went out to lunch with some of the regular 'beer drinkers anon' guys at work. John Harvard's is now our locale of choice. I had an open meat-loaf sandwich with a side of mashed taters and a couple pints of a damn fine brew. All those carbs sat in my gut and made the rest of the day seem like a month. That's the way it goes though. Everyone goes out on Fridays so we prefer not to. Crowds and all tend to slow service to a black-hole temporal crawl. Nope ... the 7th inning streach that Thursday has become will continually vex me.

    The Mrs left for NYC last night. The kids got a quick kiss/hug and she was off. Now it's just me, and the forces of EEeeevilllll. The Twin Tyrants mounted upon the canine steeds from hell. Actually, they behaved quite well. It was pizza night after all. Alexis was a bit difficult, but that is not outside the norm. Tonight should be interesting though. The logs are getting delivered today and I'll wager that he drives his truck on the lawn. There is a quagmire in the front these days and we may have inherited a new tri-axle truck as a lawn ornament. I'm certain Jake would love that. Oh, I'll need to stop off at Sears or Lowes and pick up a chain-saw. It's going to be a long weekend. Maybe we'll build a log cabin.

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    Thursday, March 09, 2006


    The Haupertonian Empire's new Grind

    Most excellent ... nothing happened yesterday. Mostly. When I got home, I lit a fire in the fireplace with my NEW WOOD and let the hounds out to scare up a patch of turf that they had not poisoned yet. For Katie, this is a 90 second operation. Pee, Poop, dance, go back inside. Thor, however, behaves like a diva. Complete silence, not interruptions, the soil and turf must be compacted just so and completion of the requisite 500 twirls before leaving a Mt Everest pile of dung. This time, there were interlopers and distractions. After 15 minutes of waiting for him to get down to business, I gave up and put him back inside. No, he did not get to lay out in front of the fireplace with Katie since I was certain he would find the conditions perfect for an intra-manor bowel movement. After I got back from the swim lessons with the kids, it took a significantly shorter duration for him to wrap things up. Silly dog.

    Swimming with the kids went well. We are abandoning the float belts now and swimming between daddy and the edge of the pool now. Jake prefers to be submerged when doing this but I hope he soon finds that brining his head up for a breath of gaseous oxygen will allow him to go further. The fact that they do not mind going under water now AND jumping in w/o Daddy actually catching them is progress. Just a short 2 years ago Alexis would not even THINK about going into the drink unless I had her firmly clutched to my chest. Greg Louganis and Marc Spitz still have some breathing room but we are closing in on them. Speaking on closing in, Alexis ate like a trooper at Fuji and stunned me with her unending quest for more edamame. She probably would have eaten the whole bowl if she had not filled up on udon and pork dumplings. We may be heading into a growth spurt here.

    The Ever Maternal Mrs is leaving us for NYC today. More treatments for the MIL's medical condition. We won't see her till late Sunday night so this weekend is already shaping up to be all about keeping the kids preoccupied. Maybe I'll cook up another Treasure Hunt for them ... minus the rain like last time. I'll have to think quick on this one though, I'm short on time and long on phlegm/sputum. Perhaps a trip to one of the local amusements would be nice too. We'll have to see if I can carve out some time. I've got to clean out the cruft I left in the back of Gus's van, clean out the garage so I start staining the wood going into Jake's room and deal with the log delivery on the 10th. That will be a whole different brand of fun. The Mrs gave me permission to buy a chain saw to take care of it. Mmmmm, hardware. Of course, there is vacuuming to be done, laundry, dishes, dogs need baths, garden needs tilling, flower beds need tending, lawn needs fertilizer .... ack!

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    Wednesday, March 08, 2006


    Recap redux again

    Revving the motor, I attempt to start again. My internal biological motor that is. It sounds more like a belt fan with a cat stuck in it though. Lots of hairballs to boot. I've not been up to snuff lately. I believe it's been my fault however. Falling into the typical teen-ager mindset that I'm neigh-invulnerable, activities have been undertaken which should not have been. Or at least, with great trepidation rather than the wild abandon and unbridled gusto that has been my trademark of late. Need I say that I was out sick yesterday? Anybody surprised that beneath this impervious cybernetic miracle body-armor is a withered wretched wreck? So I idled the hours away in the Medical ward of the manor with my equally ill children cuddled up to me and watching 1969 Scooby Doo cartoons. The newer versions have a more fluid style and lack the absurd laugh track. Oh, and Fred got rid of his feminine ascot. Good move, Daphne was starting to stray since you fell in with that shady crowd at the fountain soda shop. The fact that they like the show warms my heart though. Outside of the usual HB tripe that was produced, there is nothing like the original PotHead Shaggy and his canine buddy with their perpetual case of the munchies.

    After an exhausting marathon of Tivo served cartoons, Alexis takes a nap and I pull myself up by the bootstraps and go out to stack some wood. It's been sitting in the drive and is taking up way too much space. The vehicle fleet needs room for combat maneuvers you know. Jake, being the perpetually curious twerp he is, manages to figure out where I have gone and sneaks out to surprise me. After loosing the argument of why he should not be outside with me, I put his coat and shoes on and let him 'help' me. Helping involves him sweeping up the bark and throwing chunks of wood over the fence into the back-50. Oh, and climbing to the top of the pile and rolling about till his was indistinguishable from a pile of dirt. After that, he felt compelled to bring whatever wood he could lift to me for stacking. I gave him my worn leather gloves to protect his pudgy little hands from the guaranteed sliver. It slowed me down a bit, but the split wood was safely out of the way and Jake was happy to get a slice of Daddy's time. I'm expecting a log delivery on the 10th so I needed to get this done while it was not raining anyways. The other upside to this is that in between the coughing fits and hacking up chunks of my lungs, I did get some fresh air.

    Being on the injured reserve list presented some problems for me. First off, I was supposed to meet my insurance guy at lunch. I completely forgot about it. He called me and asked if I was still alive. I don't usually forget things like that so I knew I was at my lowest. We tentatively agreed to meet the next day after I give him a call to let him know that I am indeed at work. Since the Universe acts diametrically in regards to my desires, I should have known that this would not happen. This morning, the Mrs had to be at work by 0800 for a meeting of some sort. She just got her annual raise and is feeling like she needs to work accordingly to show that she deserved it. So out the door before 0700 we go. In the drug-induced haze, I only managed to bring my car keys. No wallet, no cash, no PDA, no watch, no cell phone. Heck, I even forgot my belt! Contacting Dave the Insurance Guy could not be accomplished since a) his business card was in my wallet, b) his phone number is stored in my pda, c) previously dialed number are in the cell phone. I did manage to bring my check-book ... which is fairly worthless without an ID. I can see me trying to buy a hot-dog or can of soda now with a personal check. The line behind me would riot and the cashier would call the local Psych Ward with a pickup request. When are they going to get around to installing credit ID chips in our fingertips already. It's hard to forget your hands, but I'd probably leave my head on the shelf. Maybe I just need a Batman-like utility belt. Hmmm, the Haupertonian Identa-belt. Holds up your pants, holds in your gut, holds down your purchases. Just swipe your belt-buckle through the card reader. I can see the looks now as I'm doing hip gyrations at the gas pump. .... ummm, then again.

    My 'welcome back to work' came on the turnpike today. Just plain awful:

    1. Semi at blocking road at Mason Mill RR Trestle
    2. Dope at Tpk on-ramp
    3. Slow-poke letting slow tanker trucks cut him off (for no reason)
    Yep, I'm back in the warm embrace of local traffic inanities.

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    Monday, March 06, 2006


    Is it safe?

    Slow nights, long weeks. Slow like the lumbering of an ancient bureaucratic branch of government, working off the banks of glowing tubes ensconced within the depths of giant tabulation machines. Long like the tedious slog through the bleak days of a dying winter ... the perma frost melting leaving behind a bone chilling overcoat of mud and decay caked to your footwear. If only that were true. Let's go way back in history before I've happened upon this rough spot. Let's see ... Dentist visit last month for the kids went well ... they now are starting to grow plaque. Jake gets better and eats like a trooper ... we all sleep in. The previous weekend, BIL Preacher-In-Training came down for a visit which gave me the band-width to clean up the garden and one of the flower-beds in the back-50. At the same time, I ran out of wood and could not get the 'log guy' out in the boondocks to return my calls. The Mrs disappeared at the end of the month to tend to her mother in NYC. Consequentially, Jake came down with a fever requiring me to pick him up at noon. He had to get a few treatments with a nebulizer to help him with his bronchitis. Shortly thereafter, Alexis got it, then myself. Well, I was infected only after proclaiming that I would NOT get it this time. This, after spending two nights in the sleet and miserable Pennsyltucky weather picking up rounds of wood. I got lucky and found someone trying to get rid of 6-8 cords of unsplit locust wood. At 150$ it was a great deal till I found out that delivery was not included. Some of the rounds were about 500lb ... much to the consternation of my back. I'm sure the knotted muscles and tendons looked like a bag of seething snakes.

    Later on, I finally got a call-back on the 400$ of logs, and lost the connection. This is harder than it should be. No matter, I broke down and bought 1.33 cords of chopped/seasoned wood for $170. This should get us through the last few weeks of winter without much difficulty. Now I understand how gas can be so expensive but we all tolerate it. Not so cheap, but easy and clean, yes.

    Weekend .... ahh yes. Dropped off the car at the mechanic's so he could make sure that the transmission was ok and then we headed off to the FOB 230 miles away. In the North ... the damn cold north. Stress to the system. Since the kids are ill, and I'm stressed, I'm getting ill and don't realize it. We drop off the kids (and dogs) with the Grandparents and drive another 100 or so miles to Rochester where we attended a reunion party for our old Dorm Association, CSH. I drink too much, see a few people who I miss dearly (and not see many more who I would have like to have seen) and get absurdly ill. Drive back to the FOB the next day, eat dinner, and then two hours later continue the trip back to the Haupertonian Manor. I'm really sick now. The drive, drinking and bad eating habits caught up with me. Urg. I've been on so many OTC cold remedies now that I cannot think straight. It's going to take a lot to get me out of this hole, so stand by while I gather the forces.

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