White Lightning Axiom: Redux: July 2004

Friday, July 30, 2004


Friday finale

Managed to get up early this wonderful Friday morning and get to work by 7am. Nice. The down side is that my pseudo-boss John P is leveling threats that I will have tons of work coming my way. Its not that I don't like to work, its that I've heard this so many times before and seen nothing come of it. Makes the work that I do get a little anti-climatic.

My PM at my current site had an interesting night out. This is the same person that I have written about before and whom I call C*. Apparently, her kids are off either at camp or visiting her Ex. So she went out to see a band that I have never heard of at a bar that I have never visited. In any event, the lack of sleep made her even more irrational and nit-picky as usual. What frustrates her when working with me is my persistent noncommittal attitude about table and column names. I couldn't give a damn while it is her primary focus. Never ceases to amuse me that she just cant pick the right name. Hopefully, I'll be able to wrap up this settlement download/load program and not have it hanging over my head during vacation.

Since it is Friday, we went to see Family Friend Pete and horde. We talked and drank and ate and so forth. Pete and his wife Patty talked to us (me and the Mrs) about her PECO incident with her sister. Scary, her sister hijacked her name/address and racked up a 800$ bill. Her mother was there and still doesn't understand how she could have thought that it was ok to do such a thing. I'm amazed as well. I just cannot put words to how befuddled I am about how a person could do that to your own flesh and blood! And even worse, I really don't think that she needed the money for anything legit, if it was a cash issue, getting a job would solve it. Amazing.

On a final note, I noticed that my blogging has been a bit lax. Work during the day, kids in the evening and exhaustion at night is taking its toll. The stats reflect this. Sorry folks, I'll buck up after vacation. The infrequent/erratic posting should abate after I get my bearings back.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


Late again

Today is going to be short, mostly because not much has happened. I managed to swing out of bed at 6 ... but still ended up running late. Go figure Jake had a 101 fever this morning, so he got a good dose of drugs. I swear, this kid gets more pharma than some small east European countries. What makes this more disturbing is that I think I have contracted whatever he has. I've got swollen glands in my throat in it is starting to itch. Not a good sign. On the up side, the temperature was nice in the morning, 68 degrees, and the traffic was light. I spent most of my day either pounding on this worthless settlement report or trying to catch up with the blogging (read/write). None of the three got the attention I wanted to give them. Well, strike that, I did actually spend a good amount of time screwing around with the report stuff with great success, but the load/process time is unbearable due to system constraints. We finally got the DBAs to fix the tables so that the size of the order identifier field matched reality. The email going between the DBA who owned the schema and the woman (Phillys) who specified the schema was funny. A nice little pissing contest going on there. Get over it folks. I picked up Jacob early and stuffed him full of yogurt and fruit puree. He seems to liven up once daddy or mommy arrive on the scene. He fakes melancholy, his sister fakes her cries of angst. The second they get what they want, it shuts off. Conniving little ... awww damn, I've been duped. The Mrs got home late, she got lost a few times and traffic in the new location is unpredictable. I have worked in that area and tried to give her a few tips. 1) Leave early. 2) See #1. At the end of the day, I find myself dragging something fierce and find that the comfort of a cool bed is much to hard to resist. Hopefully, this virus will be an easier foe that what the twins have offered up before.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Crest of the hill

We woke this morning to the heated wails of Jocular Jacob. After I had freed him from the Toddler Detention Zone and nestled him next to the Matronly Mrs MDMHVONPA, she noted that he was awfully warm. Upon taking his temperature, we found that he was running a low grade fever. A dropper full of pharma should get him on the straight and narrow. He snuggled down into the bed and spent a bit of quality time with the Cuddly Mrs MDMHVONPA. While listening to the morning news, I was amazed to hear that one or more tornados (of the T1 severity) had touched down over in Jersey. It was a bit windy, but these dinky little local dust-devils are nothing like the barn-smashers we got back in the mid-west. The Haupertonian Combine City-State Empire is near the top of the hill, so we get a bit of lighting. Since we are not at the very top of the hill, we usually don't see much in the line of tornados ... I guess they save them up for the other side of the Delaware River.

I was running on vapors this morning, so the stretch Saturn SL2 Limo needed to get a fresh tank of rocket fuel. The place I stop is not the least expensive, but it is right on the way to the turnpike entrance. Thusly, I suffer the 3 cents per gallon extra I must pay. Thirty cents to save myself thirty minutes, I can live with that. Its that same logic I use Ez-Pass and the Turnpike. People are willing to pay a bit extra for convenience and a net savings in time. Its the height frustration level of wanting to obliterate my fellow commuters with the small tactical nuke I keep in the trunk that keeps me off the local roads. I could save $1.10 if I took the back roads. Of course, it would take me nearly two hours to get to and from work, what, with all the smoking, radioactive craters I leave behind.

Work is bleh. Do the settlement report. Got to make the settlement report. Time to do the ... ghaaa, like that Dunkin Donuts commercial. Near the end of my monotony, the Mrs gave me a call to let me know that Day-care has proclaimed that Jacob IS sick. Duh. In any event, he has an appointment at the Pediatrician's office at 6:45pm and that I must not give him any pharma before then. I don't relish the results of these evening appointments. It always ends up with the Mrs coming home long after bath time and we have to go through hoops to get the sick toddler bathed, fed and in bed.

I get home at my usual time and sort through the mail. Two odd pieces of mail catch my eye. One addressed to me, the other to the Mrs. They are from a law firm in a near-by town. I open mine and find that the woman who got whip-lash in 'Catastrophic Incident' has decided to sue us. WHAT! Oh, for crying out loud. Since she has limited tort, she is going to an outside firm to press for compensation. I can see where this is going. Fortunately, I applied for additional insurance just for this situation. I have a $100K per person, $300K per accident personal liability coverage option. It should cover her 'pain and anguish'. But all I can think is that this is absurd. I have been in no less than 6 accidents where someone else was obviously at fault and I NEVER, EVER sued. If I have a problem, I would just let them know what the tab is. I would not turn to a lawyer and try to extort the sweat from some-one else's brow. ARRRRRRRGHHH! People really get under my skin. Oh, and her car bumper is bent a bit down. The rental, repairs and deductible are covered by our insurance. No problem for her. Gutter weed. Same for the lawyer.

After I pick up Jacob early from daycare, I spend a considerable amount of time trying to get my Firstborn Son to eat something. Solid foods were not on his preferred list this time. All he would eat is that God-Awful yogurt and pureed fruit. So be it. When Mommy arrived at the manor, we engaged in mortal combat with the twins for a bit, then she shuttled him off for the office visit. While she was enjoying the standard abusive treatment at the Pediatrician's, Alexis and I went out to do some foraging at the local grocery store.

Alexis is the bestest shopping partner ever. Unless you look away. The second you take her eyes off her, she will stand up on the child seat and start dancing away. You look back and she quickly sits down and gives you that "WHAT! I'm not doing anything!" look. I was tasked with getting milk and fruit puree ... the poor misguided Mrs. I am not allowed to go shopping for a reason! I found 3 liter soda for 1$ a piece, great deal! There was the 6 pack of pringles that could not be ignored. The various cranberry juice products that has the special discount for Giant Secret Cabal Members only. Look, cheese! And it is 5$ for two chunks! Look at this, its soy-milk. Mmmmmmm! Ohhhhh, and my favorite section: MEAT! Nice, bloody, gut-binding meat. They all had manager specials on them too. How can I resist this! In the end, I think I spent 78$ on groceries, and save about 30$. It was on the receipt, but I was much too concerned about hiding my ill-gotten gains before the Mrs got home and lit into my sorry spend-thrift rear.

On the way home, the sky started to become ominous as a new cell of angry, grey-green cloud-bursts started advancing on our hill-top. We did manage to run down the local ice-cream truck and salvage a sherbert push-up pop from the wreckage. This van usually closes in on the speed of light as he rockets through our development, so I engaged the particle accelerator and brought him down. There was much rejoicing from the local cadre of rug-rats as they danced on the burning hulk and dragged dove-bars through the streets. Needless to say, Alexis found that a sherbert push-up pop is about the closest thing to paradise on earth as you can find when it is hot outside. Her stuffed Minnie-Mouse, shirt, pants and a few square feet of skin also got to share in the euphoric experience. Next time I catch one of the quantum physics ice-cream trucks in the neighborhood, I'll have to flag them down and get these for both of the cold loving tots. Since they consider ice cubes as 'cookies', I'm certain that they will stand on their heads for push-up pops.


James Lileks Hates the French!

It's true! I can almost smell them, the dirty little peasants!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004



Damn tired last night. I actually went to bed early. Not early enough so that the bellicose complaints of Katie at 5:30 still woke me much too early.  I let the two STINKY hounds out to rip up what is left of the acreage in the back and unloaded the truck bed of food for them to ravage.  I promptly crawled back to bed before the foggy haze of slumber deserted me completely. It was not long before the Onerous Offspring of Early Excitement began to demand release from the Toddler Detention Zone. They allowed me a sliver of time, a mere 15 minutes of restless tossing upon our California king water bottle. So be it. Commence operation Morning Routine.

There was one deviation from the morning routine, I had to get my timesheet out before the powers that be came down upon my head. Getting the laptop to boot up is a millennium long wait when you are in a hurry. After it completed its delaying action, chirping and sputtering away, it eventually settled down and allowed me to launch a browser and the timesheet program. Tippity-tap, clickity-clack, fifteen minutes will break my back. And it did. That atom of time was multiplied many-fold on the Turnpike. Multiplied and spread and fused till it became a huge lump of U-238, just waiting to KILL US ALL! ... err, yes. In any event, when I did finally get to work, I bumped into Maggie Stone in the parking lot. I shared an umbrella with her till we got out of the rain and engaged in small talk along the way. Odd thing, I've been working within 20 meters of her for the last 4 months and she had yet to say 'Boo' to me. Now, out of the blue, she starts talking to me. I blame John Purcell for this. He show's up and all of a sudden, Arris Contractors are the cat's meow. Go figure. I think she is trying to get to him through me. Honest!

It was fortunate that I did my timesheet this morning. While I was fabricating serious and deceptive descriptions of what I have been doing, I noticed a stack of papers on top of the monitor. When I got up to shut off the bazillion watt halogen lamp behind my desk, I accidentally bumped some of the papers off their perch. While picking them up, I inadvertently read one and recoiled in shock as most Republicans and their distant cousins, the Libertarians, would have done. It was a local tax filing worksheet. Due date: 7/31. Well then, I guess It would be a good time to send in my extorted funds to the unscrupulous thieves at my township den of vipers. So I calculate and tabulate and squeeze one more drop of blood out if the withered turnip that is our bank accounts. If I am expected to send 1% of my pre-tax income to these people, I had damn well better see some returns. I know 50% is being co-opted by the schools and I think the other 50% is being diverted to hire strippers at township board meetings. I'm certain of it. Time to run for office, me-thinks.

At work, it's Tuesday so I get to attend a monotonous meeting at 1pm. Bleh, I've got work to do, so let's get on with it. In other news, Rob Moran, my insurance broker called to let me know that the next best thing for me would be an annual policy at 2800$. It would be 2K except for that little accident of ours. Nutz. On the way home, the rain that hammered us throughout the day had flooded some of the low-lying areas. All of these areas lay directly in my route home. If you think the Turnpike is a mess with the rain, the local roads make it pale by comparison. There is no mercy here, the local constabulary just close off the roads and make you fend for yourself. This pretty much relegates all traffic to 1 east-west road in the area. This road also goes from a 5 lane road to a 2 lane close to my home, but just short of the last open bridge over the Turnpike in the area. It took me 1.5 hours to make a 25 mile commute. I went straight to the Child Imprisonment Zone without stopping at the Haupertonian Combine City-State first. I would never make it in time if I tried to stop off. To make things more interesting, the Lovely Mrs MDMHVONPA is packing up her office. She will be moving to a new location as part of a 'reorganization'. This company owns city sized plant locations throughout the North East and they have decided that it would be wise to use the location she is at in a more efficient way. It is zoned as Light Industrial, so anyone not wielding a hammer or a Union card is tough-outta-luck. So pack away she must, and not come home till well after bed-time for the Terrible Twins of Toddelerhood. An arduous evening lay before me as I do my best to battle back the most intricate and devious attack plans I have seen to date. Yet again, they force their will upon me till the last second before their bed time. And then, quiet. The eerie, unsettling quiet before the storm.

And what a storm it was. Lightning and thunder came down between the gusts of wind. The multitude of towers and lightning rods in the area attest to the frequency at which this hill-top gets peppered with strikes. At one point, I had to let the hounds out to do their thing. The storm felt their presence and opened the flood gates as if Noah was coming down the pike. The street was like a spillway. The water was flowing up out of the gutters because the street had so much water flowing through it. The hounds were so distracted by the pelting rain, they didn't have a clue as to why they were sent out there. Then a bolt of lightning hit no more than 100 meters away. Katie jumped right out of her skin and didn't hit the ground more than once before she got back to the door. I couldn't help but be amused that this little Hell Hound turned tail at her first experience with a blinding bolt of electricity. They were both quiet for the rest of the night, as they tucked themselves into a corner and tried to make themselves as small as possible. No inconsiderable task for these two loutish beasts. Oddly enough, the Twins slept right through the procession of lightning that danced upon our hill-top perch. The cable, however, did not fare so well. And of course, no internet either. I fear if I had tried to read a book, the lightning would strike right down the spine of it.

Monday, July 26, 2004


Onward March

Ahhh, the joys of Monday morning. Time to strap on the boots and buck up for a new work week. I rolled out of the sack at 5:45 with the sounds of the clever little Katie just barely barking. So far, so good. I hear the kids grumbling a bit over the monitor, but not enough to go free them from their own private Gitmo yet. I ten to the hounds and get myself cleaned up. Pop the kids and let them have a bottle before letting them play a bit. Mommy will come down and get them breakfast soon enough. I get out of the house early and get to work at 7:15ish. I've forgotten to do my timesheet this weekend, I guess I'll have to deal with that annoyance when I get home. I have to do this every week and since I now have the ability to do this from home, I have become increasingly tardy with completing it. Convenience has made it a lesser task, most likely giving me a greater opportunity in disregarding it.

I have been tasked at work with a new reporting project of sorts. Actually, it is the greatest piece of work I have been assigned since I got here. Usually I end up massaging some old, broken piece of cruft into a new, flashy piece of cruft. This time I am starting from scratch, which is interesting but presents its own set of issues and difficulties. No matter, I will just throttle back on the blogging and refocus on what I'm being paid to do! The first step is to take the xsd bitlets and cobble them into an xml template that the translator can read and use for inserting the contents into various database tables. Looking at the schema, it would have been nicer if they didn't normalize the daylights out of the tables. The table and column names are atrocious and I don't see any useful indexes. Somebody went through a great deal of effort in doing a Volumetrics analysis, but I seriously doubt that the individual in question has ever been tasked with using anything that they produce. One table goes so far as to require a derived unique sequence number, but no sequence device is provided. My rant would continue if I cared enough.

I received a piece of mail late last week from the insurance company. They have decided that they will no longer choose to cover us. I thought for certain that they had dropped us because of the accident with the Taurus. This morning, my insurance broker gave me a call. Rob M told me that the insurance company in question was getting out of business in Pennsyltucky. That should make Mrs MDMHVONPA feel better. I asked him to look around for a replacement. I'm sure we are going to pay through the nose for new insurance because of the accident. Such is life. Later that afternoon, I went out to the local AAA service center to get a Notary Public to stamp the title transfer documents for this insurance company. They are holding 20% of the value of the totaled car till we sent the paperwork and keys in. I suppose the sooner we do this, the better.

For some reason, some poetry got lost and ended up in my noggin this morning, I guess I'll set it free:
Building sand castles upon the wreckage of past castles.
Throwing pebbles at the surf, vainly fending off the inevitable assault.
Yielding before the unrelenting undertow, the ever rising tide of erosion.
Parapets crumbling, walls breaching, bastion failing.
Nothing more to do but to build more sand castles upon the ruins of the past and throw pebbles at the everpresent surf.
Voracious, unremitting, insatiable.


Sunday Slide

We actually got to sleep in a bit this Sunday. Not much though. Clever little Katie was emitting her low pitch barks, just loud enough to be heard, but not so loud as to wake Joyce or the Twins from their peaceful slumber. It was probably some time between 6:30 and 7am by the time I became fully awake enough to make the trip down to the Kennels to let them outside. They know enough not to try to scale the refinished stair case these days. Their dagger sharp, foot long talons tend to mar the wood and since I have not completed the refinishing work yet, I have not pushed the Indecisive Mrs MDMHVONPA to select a runner. After our second outing this summer, it will become a priority matter. In any event, I flop out of bed like a giant balloon filled with molasses. Ugh, the abused atrophied muscles strike back with a cavalcade of aches and pains. I really should have taken some pharma the night before. Perhaps a ball of black-tar opium could have done the trick. There is a price for every indulgence, but is this really fair?

We decided to go to the 8:30am mass and let the Lovely yet Exhausted Mrs MDMHVONPA have a few moments for herself to shower and collect her thoughts. In our carefully selected pew, Jacob engaged in his standard death-struggle against all powers that be. He will not, no - cannot allow himself to be restrained. He knew better than to let me get my meat-hooks on him so he primarily focused his escape efforts on Grand-pa's end of the pew. Alexis, however, chose to make Daddy her trapeze and refused to be set down or passed on to a more refreshed party. Not to bad all things considered. Jacob sang out at the quiet times and entertained some of my fellow parishioners with his vigorous flouting of customary church behavior. He tried to snatch away the Eucharist from the priest who baptized him, much to Fr Henery's amusement.

The weather held till we got home. We spent a moment or two to have a bit of breakfast. Not a true Minnesota breakfast, but a much more condensed continental snack of sorts. No coffee, no stack of flap-jacks. Just one measly egg, a splash of juice and a bit of fruit-Danish. Instead of indulging our gluttony on a day of worship, we did the Amish thing and got to work on the North Tower Adjunct. It was a simple task that we only partially finished before we realized that we couldn't get very far. Too much of the ancillary construction had to be done before we could do more than finish one wall of the attachment. For one thing, there was no floor in the tower and trying to stand on the flimsy piece of plywood was not making the grade. Even with the 2 cross beams in place, the plywood did not cover enough of the floor to be much more than a fail-safe.

After dithering and muddling around a bit, Hero Dad and I decide to take a trip down to the local Home Depot Temple. We go through and take a look to see if they have any new blocks for the South and West walls. They have 2 new pallets in and we decide that we want the one with 40 on it. We ask one of the floor staff if they could get a fork-lift and put the whole pallet into the truck like last time. They thought it was a good idea as well and got to work on it right away. Thirty minutes later, there were no less than three employees milling about the fork-lift, the pallet and the back gate. It seems only one person can drive the forklift, and they need a completely different person to unlock the gate. The third person is there to make personal phone calls and sit on the forklift until everything is ready, then he can go away. Whatever. After finally getting the blocks into the back of the truck, we picked up a few 2x4 lengths and some composite planking. The 10 pieces of 8 foot composite cost 13 dollars each. I think that they put platinum or gold in them. Or diamond chips. Yeah, probably diamond chips. They are quite heavy as well so I'm sure that there is copious amounts of depleted uranium in them as well. I hope the UN doesn't come by and look for WMD stockpiles, they may be here forever speculating about what I have buried beneath the watch towers because of the high background radiation. I suppose if I give them a croissant and a certificate for a barrel of oil, they would go away. They have bigger fish to ignore elsewhere. Looking at this project, I'm starting to get the feeling that I will need more sand and blocks than I had thought. Better inform the uncompensated workers that they need to put their backs into it.

We finally got back to the Manor at roughly 2pm and went right to unloading the spoils of our foraging run. We had to work quickly, I was expected at a baptism party at 3pm. We worked quickly and got everything unloaded in 15 minutes. I was on the road by 2:30 and made it there in record time. Surprisingly enough, traffic was light and moved quickly. I only spent a few hours catching up with some old acquaintances. I've spent so much time away from these folks that I barely remember their names. One had just recently gotten married and are now looking to buy a house in Ardmore. This particular fellow is a rather eclectic individual and I find his slow slide into normalcy quite amusing. I suppose I find that watching others make the same slow descent into mediocracy that I have made is a kind of validation that I did not go quietly.

On the way back, I crossed paths with the Parental Units. They were heading back home so I gave them a wave and a honk. They did not notice, but I felt better at making the effort. Nothing in comparison with the effort they put into visiting us. I wish we could go up their way more often. So much to do, so little time. We will be all making a trip to Minnesota in a few weeks and that should fulfill everyone's quarterly family-togetherness quotient. When I did get home, I was surprised to see that Amish Dad had harvested the acres of grass. I also noticed that he mowed it perpendicular to the direction that I usually mow it. Nice change of pace, perhaps I should alternate the way I mow the grass. I hope it went easy for him, we had just finished sharpening the blade on the mower so that is could slice through rebar. That little Black-and-Decker dremmel tool is pretty nifty, I'll have to sharpen the blade more often. He did not collect the clippings so I wont have to deal with turning the compost either. We will have to send a thank-you along with his birthday card.

For the rest of the evens, we let the kids run themselves ragged. It was a bit warm and humid in the house so they got pretty sweaty in a hurry. They didn't seem to mind, and since they had a bath coming, neither did I. Over the last year, I have found myself ending the weekend in various states of exhaustion, discomfort and distress. Either I need to get more sleep or I need to scale back the bombastic grandeur of my projects. On a positive note, our family friends Sean (digger) and Lucy (lil sis) just found out that not only are they expecting their first child, but they are in fact going to be having twins! Lucy and the Mrs spent a bit of time on the phone where critical pre-twin information was relayed to the flabbergasted mother-to-be. I'm certain that they will have to make some adjustments in their expected lifestyle, but they will do fine. If their children are only half as active as ours, they can cruise. We are starting to wonder why we have so many friends and associates starting families with twins. Uncanny circumstance? Govt conspiracy? Aliens? Hmmmm, I think it may be something less intentional and more to do with our choice in when we start having children.

Saturday, July 24, 2004


Work Weekend

Saturday started out in its usual way. Painfully early. I mean 6am early. The kind of early that makes you want to take down a 16oz glass of scotch and call in sick from life. Ugh. Some day, the kids and dogs are going to want to sleep in. Then I will have my revenge. And it shall be sweet. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Of course, by the time that date rolls around, I wont be able to sleep anyways.

The Mrs and I spend a good bit of the morning playing with the kids and half-heartedly trying to keep errant missiles from colliding with our heads. Around 8am I figure I would give Memory Mom and Amish Dad a call to see if they are still coming down. The forecasted rain never materialized so we were still go on the tower assembly. There was no answer so I figured that they were in transit. The Mrs took a shower while I engaged in mortal combat with the twins. They made short work of me and dispatched me in short order. After my stunning, yet predictable defeat, I changed Jovial Jacob's poo-poo retaining device. While I was elbow deep in Jacob's diaper, the phone rang for a bit. It stopped ringing about 2 seconds before I got to it so I imagine that the Mrs is out of the shower and got to it.

Upon finishing the doody duty, I plopped the Two Who Must Conquer into their restraining seats so they could watch TV for a spell. I ran down to my fortress of solitude to grind through the email cruft. Oh, what cruft it is! None of the 30 or so electronic missives were of any concern for me. No pithy diatribe or amusing analogy for me to peruse and chuckle knowingly. I have no patience or time to sort through the stacks of rubbish messages so I power down the laptop and wander back up to the mess-hall. Uninformed, unamused and uninfluenced.

Right around 10am, the transitory grandparents show up much to the delight of the children. Much more to the delight of myself and the Mrs actually. We always could use a diversionary target for the kids. There is only so much beating one skull can take. They are much more gentle with the grandparents. Must be some kind of innate knowledge that lets them know that the grandparents shall henceforth be the bearer of gifts and sweets. Don't rock that boat! The Mommy and Daddy are the true enemy, resist!

Once Amish Dad wraps up some post-commute activities, we get right to assembling north tower. Getting this structure level and square takes the rest of the morning. A little too high here. A little too low there. Its a dynamic ballet of fractions as we shim up and tamp down to get things just right. Eventually, we are satisfied with the limited number of 'just about' nuances that will become a permanent part of the character of this massive edifice. It looks enormous from where we stand. Five 10 foot spire rising from the ground like spears stabbing into the clouds themselves. We bolt them firmly into place with cross-beams and stop briefly to admire our work. As a sidenote, to date we have used no less than 3 different sizes of bolts not because we needed to, but because we had left-overs from previous construction efforts and we just cannot bring ourselves to waste good hard-ware. Some day, some poor slob is going to try to disassemble this thing and he will be cursing our legacy with words too foul to repeat here. I know this because I am certain that I shall be the poor slob.

We take the break as an opportunity to assemble super chute. This particular assembly is rather complicated and involves 10 large pieces of plastic with each requiring roughly 30 bolts for each section. Piecing each section together as individual units is not too difficult, but it does present some minor challenges. The holes don't always line up precisely and require a bit of muscle to securely bolt the sections in place. Each bolt needs 2 washers. More than once, we needed to remove a few bolts to properly place washers where the were forgotten. Bolting the sectional pieces together becomes an arduous task as we to through the steps of shifting each section just so in order to get the proper 'spiral' shape. Once again, the holes don't always line up and we find that using brute strength isn't always enough to accomplish the task. Pliers and lever become the tool of choice to force the bolts home. When we get to the assembly of the final two pieces, we find that the 300lb chute has become extremely cumbersome. One person must straddle the monstrosity while the other finds four or so strategic locations to secure the two sections together.   This kind of anaerobic activity can take the fight right out of you quicker than you can ratchet a 7/16 lock nut on.  In spite of having to use muscles that have not seen an impulse in 7 years, we managed to press on and declare victory in short order.  My previously atrophied muscles however,  defected to France and had thrown in the towel hours earlier.  They were now tiring to bring me down in an attempt to deadlock the brain and the rest of the loyal sinew in a continued low-level drone of contemptuous feedback. Screw 'em, they need to buck up after only working 35 hour weeks for so long. Slackers.

After towing the chute to the construction area, we find that with the North Tower and its Adjunct tower, The Super Chute, a 12 foot cross beam and the South tower, the secondary lateral, high friction escape device will over-shoot the confines of the leveled area. We are short about 12-14 feet. A portion of the south wall may need to be torn down and an auxiliary landing zone will be installed to handle the new requirements for the slide. Gosh, more territory is going to have to be seized. The hounds of hell will need to resign themselves to an even smaller range in which to leave their ... ummm, landmines. I will consider allowing them under the pine barrens again once I clean out the detritus that has collected there. Of course, I will have to draw the line at the lumber-yard where I split the mountains of fire wood. They have developed a taste for wood shards that could result in some fairly painful and expensive medical treatments. Nothing like trying to pass a 6 inch wedge of wood.

In a final push, we begin digging the holes where we will be shortly pouring cement. We need to remove the few inches of sand in place first and then cut flaps into the landscaping cloth to exposed the targeted areas. The holes will go down about 2-3 feet to hold the north end securely in place. The first foot down is easy enough, the remainder is hard-packed clay. It takes the collective energy of father and son to punch down through the resistive sub-strata. We then haul four bags at 80lb a piece out to start the mixing process. The holes are quickly filled with the extra-strength cement mix and begins to set almost immediately. The clay is doing a good job at sucking the moisture away. Too good. We work quickly to reposition the tower over the holes to allow the tie-downs to neatly project into the vacant spaces. Once everything is leveled (again), we top off the pilings with the remaining cement and tamp it down to force the air pockets to surface. The way we engaged this will allow us to unbolt the structure from it's pilings at a later date without having to cut any timber or extract the pilings. I've been in a position where I had to pull a piling from it's resting place and found that it can be a tedious, dangerous and extremely aggravating task.

As we were sitting around the mess hall dinner table, we talked about our accomplishments dejour and what we hope to do the following day. Memory Mom indicated that there was a peach pie available for desert in celebration of Grandpa's Birthday. Behind the scenes, the Thoughtful Mrs MDMHVONPA had gone through the hassle of having an ice-cream cake with elaborate cuneiform lettering (read: as best as the supermarket staff could muster) made for the event as well. It was addressed from the Twins to Gramps so was sure to please. The frosting resulted in many moments of enjoyment for all parties as well as hours of sugar induced hyperactivity.

Friday, July 23, 2004


Brick and Mortar

We had more antics this morning when I dropped off Alexis.  It was not as rough as it was yesterday, but still heart-rending none the less. Today, Mrs Donna acted as a shield by positioning herself between Alexis and myself as I headed for the door. At the last moment, Alexis started to realize that she was being duped and began protesting. Too late, daddy has left the building. On the way out the front door, I dropped off a check that the Lovely Mrs MDMHVONPA had given me to pay off the guards ... err, day care professionals for the month. At 150 a week each, it tends to add up. I think our price has gone up as well, but I don't pay much attention to those details. We are getting a pretty good rate for twins as it is and I don't think we can beat the price/location synergy.

This morning on the way to the turnpike, I stopped at a side road just before one of the last intersections that I must navigate to get out of 'Surface Road Hell'. If I turn south on this road, I eventually get to one of my Home Depot Temples. This is the same road that we took last weekend when we were picking up the retaining wall blocks. And that is why I stopped. Yesterday, on my way home, I noticed that there was one of these blocks sitting next to the curb. It was fairly beat up. Three of the corners had been chipped off and it had a few scratches on it. When we were picking up the last load, the blocks were on a pallet and as a result, were a bit top heavy. We took this turn and I noticed that one stack had tipped over and was leaning up against the side of the truck. I didn't think much of it till I saw the lonely, battered block yesterday. I can only pray that it did not hit or damage somebody's vehicle. So I stopped this morning and lugged the block back to my car. Placing it in the trunk, I thought of my doting parents and thought I would give them a call. Not because I had found a way-ward block, but because my Hero Dad had decided to come down again this weekend to give the Watch Towers/Play Set another try. The weather will most likely not cooperate this weekend, but they may come down anyways. I give Memory Mom a call and let her know about it but she proclaims that it may clear up. I think they will come down anyways and spend time with Alexis (who continues to check the guest room for Grams and Gramps) and Jacob (who is enjoying the personal time with Mom and Dad wayyy too much).

The work day is anti-climatic. The reports are working properly so there is not much else to do. I'm probably going to be back to waiting for Gift-Wrap support from Amazon or probing for restock charges in the JDA. In the mean time, I can entertain my co-workers with lavish stories of my escapades in the wilds of the Haupertonian City-State Combine Territories.

As a final shot across my bow, the bewitching Mrs MDMHVONPA gives me a call on my cell phone to let me know that Jovial Jacob fooled her again and had a blow out. She went on to describe the consistency and exit points of said material. From the description, it seems that Jacob is recovering quite quickly on his diet of bananas, pretzels and beer. Ok, no beer, but no dairy either. Except for the yogurt with the 'good' bacteria. I've eaten the yogurt he prefers and have declared it unpalatable and distressingly unappetizing. How he can exclusively eat this soupy (and expensive) rot is beyond me. He must some how know in a Jungian primordial memory that this bacterial mass is his ancient foe and by eating them, he is gaining their strength. More power to him, I say. I mention to the Mrs that she needs to buy heart-worm pills for dogs, birthday thank-you cards from the kids and potassium iodide for the kids. Don't ask, I'm not going to tell you.


Kerry Joke

Ripped this off from a commenter (Chads) on the Command Post:

While suturing a laceration on the hand of an 80-year-old grizzled rancher(whose hand had caught in a gate while working cattle), a doctor and theold man were talking about John Kerry’s possibility of being in the WhiteHouse.
The old rancher said, “Well, ya know, Kerry’s one of them ‘post turtles’.”
Not knowing what the old man meant, the doctor asked him what a post turtlewas.
The old man said, “Well, when you’re driving down a country road and youcome across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a postturtle.”
The old man saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he continued toexplain, “You know he didn’t get there by himself, he doesn’t belong there,he can’t get anything done while he’s up there, and you just want to helpthe poor dumb bastard get down ‘afore he hurts hisself.”


Thursday, July 22, 2004


Back to the Grind

Yesterday was mundane.  As all Thursdays are.  Not quite Friday, but not Monday either.  I did get to learn the trials and tribulations of trying to drop of Alexis, Queen of Shriek off at day care.  I got there at 7am on to dot.  Things were going well, I brought her in and we seemed to be the first ones there.  No problem, just start putting things away ... oh, ok.  Alexis was not very interested in being put down.  She insisted that I hold her to the last second.  Soooo, I bumbled and floundered about trying to wrap things up.  I thought that I would try to put her in one of the seats that would keep her out of trouble while she eats her breakfast, but she would splay her feet to foil my efforts.  She would kick and squirm just enough to keep her legs out of the holes in the seat, but not too much so as to loose her iron grip on my shoulders.  Then I notice that she has no shoes on, again.  Argh.  This happened the previous day as well.  In a rush to get out of the house, we forgot to put her shoes on and didn't bring any in the day-bag.  I give Mrs MDMHVONPA  a call and let her know that I may need her to toss me a pair of shoes as I drive by so I can bring them back.  They go outside at sometime between 9:45 and 10:45 so they need to have the shoes.  My lovely (sexxxy) Mrs let me know that she was going out shopping this morning so she would drop off the shoes on the way.  Whew, that thirty minute time sink avoided, I start to work on extricating Alexis from myself.  After a few minutes of negotiation, I managed to get her to occupy both her hands.  Some kind of breakfast snack.  Little nuggets of breaded fruit goo.  Whatever, the kids like them and they have a marginal nutritional value.  I try to explain to her that Daddy needs to go to work so he can buy nice things for her.  Like a private education, braces, college tuition for her PhD in NanoTechnology Brain Interfaces from Princeton and MIT, and her Wedding when she is 30.  She seems quite nonplussed at my insistence that I must leave.  Some of the other fathers are starting to show up and drop off their scions with much greater success than I.  Of course, her class is comprised primarily of  boys except for her and one other girl, 'Carly'.  So as the little boys made of snips and snails and puppy-dog tails dart away from the fathers, I try to out-wit my little sugar girl who is becoming aware that I am trying to ditch her.  She only becomes more irate as I keep my distance and then she starts to wail.  Oh man, this just isn't right.  Mrs Donna lets me know that this happens a lot and I should just go.  I hear her explain to one of the fathers that she does this and she wont allow herself to be picked up by anyone else.  Ok, there goes another dagger into Daddy's heart.

The trip into work was fairly uneventful.  Traffic was oddly light except for one stretch of the turnpike just before my exit (New exit #326).  Some construction truck had dropped a load of junk into the middle of the road.  My fellow commuters were going through twists and turns to avoid the rubble, some with much less success than others.  Since I have taken up driving in the slow lane, I just pulled off to the expansive shoulder in the area and completely avoided the hazard.  The drivers in the left lane just had to grit their teeth and hope that nothing would puncture a tire or get sucked up into the engine compartment.  My left-lane Karma is starting to pay out in spades!

At work, I had a meeting to go to at noon.  It was actually a training session for a new project tool.  All I have to say about spending half a million dollars on a work-flow tool and training is that in this situation, it's like polishing a turd.  It's still a turd when you finish.  They have a cow-boy culture here and throwing money at it is not going to fix it.  I could rant about this for hours, but I much rather sit back and watch the NASCAR accident, you know?

A few days ago, I posted a link to Vox (also see link under LLL) which resulted in an interesting little bit of commentary on his part.  This also caused a link-back that had impressive effects on the visitor count.  The man wields more power amongst his choir than I would ever hope to carry.  Very smart man.  Dangerous too.  I'm going to have to call the thought police.  What made this even more bizarre was the comment from LA about manual pollinization of squash.  Completely off topic, but resulted in much hilarity.

The final opus of the day was that the uncompensated workers finally started construction of the South Wall at the construction site.  It looks like the South and North walls will be a bit more difficult than the East and West walls.  It involves rotating the face of  the blocks when they break the surface height of the slope and become exposed.  To keep the wall level, I need to have steps dug into the built up embankment which will result in a load of excess clay.  I can use this excess to fill in the trough where we laid the new cable so it wont be a complete loss, but it is extra work I was not counting on.  As it stands now, the South wall is about 40% completed with the most difficult part left.  The part where I start digging in has just started and it will be hard to get anything done this weekend if the weather does not cooperated as projected.  I'm not fond of working in mud.


Mr Mom

Jacob and I had fun yesterday, where I was playing Mr Mom and he was playing the part of something like a mute cross between Beaver (from leave it to Beaver) and Hunter S. Thompson.  I had the television on pretty much non-stop, but he seemed to have little interest in my selection of programming.  I guess I'm just not in tune with today's younger generation!

We spent a large portion of the day in the kitchen.  Jacob made sure of this by closing the gate to the other rooms whenever he saw that I had it open.  Just his way to make sure that I don't trick him into the other room I guess.  He's starting to learn my devious ways.  Much smarter than his mom, I tricked her into thinking I was a great catch.  She has the last laugh by popping out twins on me.  Curses!  So while Jacob spent his time pushing chairs about the tile floor to see how deep of a scratch he could leave, I did kitcheny type stuff.  Cut up beans and peppers we harvested from the Agricultural Sector, put away dishes from the dish washer.  Put canned/cured food into the bomb shelter/food distribution center in the 3rd basement level.  I even did some laundry.  Mr Mom INDEED!

While I was busy with the dishes, a chair magically appeared behind me and Jacob materialized on it.  It was positioned just close enough that he could reach over the counter and grab the handle of one of the rather large knives I was using to cut the peppers.  Now this caused an immediate reaction from me to snatch the knife from his grasp, but my big concern was that these were hot peppers.  My fingers were burning a bit because these jalapeno peppers were very strong.  The last thing I need is for Jacob to start rubbing his eyes or putting his fingers in his mouth (as he usually does) only to transfer this oily fire to his sensitive skin.  I washed his hands down with bacterial soap and a firm scrubbing to nip this disaster in the bud.  From then on, knives as far back as possible, chairs to the other end of the mess-hall. 

 At 10:30ish, a show came on PBS that I have been curious about for some time.  It is called BoohBah and it is some kind of devious mind-control Teletubbies bletch that sucks you in for a complete waste of time.  The show lasts 30 minutes and Jacob did not budge an inch for the whole thing.   Scary.  I taped it just in case I need to immobilize him in the future.  I'm sure that the liberals have something to do with this.  When Mrs MDMHVONPA saw this, she was appalled and refused to have any more of it taped if she had anything to do with it.  Oddly enough, when I was running the tape for her and Alexis, the television started to emit a high-pitch tone that would only stop when we shut off the television.  It stopped shortly after the show was half way over.  Hmm, I'm suspicious.  Black helicopters have been seen in the area.

I put Jacob down at a quarter past noon for his nap and went to the Tower Construction Site to supervise the completion of the Eastern wall.   The uncompensated labor force worked at a feverish pace to make the deadline.  Much sweat and blood was shed in the final phases of the Eastern Wall.  The completed construction only deviated from the line by 1/4 of an inch in some places and it was level for the whole 30 feet except in one place.  This was where the sprinkler line was encountered and the stones had to ride up over it for a raise of 1/8 of an inch.  Not much, but it did leave a noticeable rise in the blocks over it.  Noticeable to me, but unless you have a level and a straight-line, you would not know it.  I will see that little hick-up ever time I look at the wall, I know it.   This was actually the easy part, the next part will involve traversing the slope decline from a below-grade wall to an above grade wall.  There will be much excavating to do this properly and lining up the bricks will be troublesome.  My ponderances and the angst of the engineers/architects ended at 3:30 when Jacob rose from his mid-day slumber.

The rest of the day consisted of getting the kids fed, changed, bathed and all that which completes the schedule.  The only deviation is that we have to restrain Jacob after his bath so that we can feed him his yogurt instead of a bottle of milk.  It takes one person to hold him still while the other fills him up with the creamy sleep-inducing goodness.  This will get old quite quickly.



I had to be home yesterday for circumstances beyond my control.  It all started Tuesday afternoon after I had played out the work day and was going through the post-work child recovery routine.  The owner of the day care pooped out of one of the rooms and caught my attention.  The first thing out of her mouth was that Jacob could not come to day-car tomorrow.  I was caught off guard and could only think that he had either assaulted some other child or caused some kind of catastrophic damage to his class room such that it was either condemned by the county or by the Christian coalition.  He can be like that sometimes.  As it turns out, the reason for the expulsion was that he had four loose bowel movements and they had an odor to them that indicated a GI virus of some sort.  Great.  He has the poops so he has to stay home.  Another day-care professional (I use that term loosely) had joined the conversation as a prop.  She would stand there and nod her head vigorously to promote the truth of whatever was being said.  This is what happens when you spend 11 hours of your day surrounded by hordes of developing neurotic.   Sooooo, she indicated that he may have been exposed to someone who has it right now or from a pet lizard or that he ate some bad food.  He will need to go on a 'Brad Diet' and the Doctors at our pediatrician office will probably tell you that.  And I had to get Jacob there ASAP.  Ok, I actually trust this woman.  I'm almost certain that Jacob got this virus from eating wood mulch in the play yard and not from the lizard that we apparently now own.  I am certainly not shooting food our my rear minutes after I eat it, and neither is anyone else in our family.  So I grab The Twins and shuttle them off to the awaiting Cryp-Mobile for the trip home.  I make a quick call to Mrs MDMHVONPA and let her know that she needs to call the Doctor to make an emergency appointment.  She does this stuff because for some reason, she has managed to memorize the chart numbers for both of the Tax Deductions as well as every name, birth date, anniversary and SS# of every one of my relatives.  Even my 3rd cousins.  She remembers all this and I can barely remember my Hero Dad's birthday.  At least I know that Light is both a wave and a particle and thus can be described under both paradigms.  Useful, eh?  Anyways, the Mrs is delayed for a half hour in getting home due to (perpetual)  local traffic congestion, but has managed to secure an 8pm appointment, which is right about the time that the kids are supposed to be bathed and getting ready for bed.  This will be interesting.  Right about the time that she gets through the security gate and makes her way down the great hall of the Haupertionian World HQ Manor, one of the on-call nurses from the Pediatrician's for Intestinally Insane Toddlers calls on the phone.  She wants to know if the Mrs is home, but asks for her by her Maiden name.  She never changed her name and it baffles many people who do not know this.  We will save this topic for a different time, but this is usually how these conversations go:

"Is Mrs Chin-Chow-Ng-Song there?"

"No, she is in transit, her AC-130 Mega-Attack Gunship will be landing any moment now, can I help you?"

"Is this Mr Chin-Chow-Ng-Song?"

"No, this is Mr MDMHVONPA, what can I do for you?"

"Umm, can I leave a message or talk to her husband?"

"I am her husband, do you still want to leave a message?"

"Ohhh, ok."

I guess I could be more forthcoming in the beginning, but I always seem to forget the whole last name thing until it smacks me in the face.  So I talk to the Nurse on call, and she asks some pretty interesting questions that I try to answer as best as possible.  Some of these are things I would not expect to be asked.  Is he complaining?  I guess, though he is a pretty tough nugget and you pretty much have to either hit him upside the head with a 2x4 to get him to flinch.  Is his BM watery?  So say the daycare professionals.  Is he melancholy?  Ummm, hard to say.  Is he complaining of stomach pain?  Ok, he is pre-speech so he really can't elucidate that kind of specifics.  At this point, I start to think that they are trying to get me to talk to a 2 yr old like he is 9.  I try to explain that the specimen in question is not able to divulge that kind of information and our only clue is the reported frequency and consistency of the diaper contents.  The nurse is a pretty good talker though and I have a difficult time finding a break in her words to interject.  She must have a circular breathing, she is still yammering on about what he can and can't eat and how long the virus can last and where it comes from and yada-yada-yada.  I finally catch a break when the Mrs makes it to the Grand Dining Room and I am asked to take his temperature.  I manage to pitch the phone over to Mrs MDMHVONPA who then dives into an identical conversation for the next 15 minutes.  This is a lifetime when you have two howling hungry mouths to feed and you cannot give one anything that it usually gets stuffed with.  As it turns out, Jacob will have his diet restricted to salty snacks  like crackers or pretzels, pasta, apples, banannas and yogurt.   No milk or fruit drinks.  We try to get some pedialite in him, but that goes over like we are trying to give him a bleach-acid cocktail.  He gets a bottle of water which he tosses aside and a few containers of yogurt.  In spite of the warning, we give him some ice-cream too.  If he is going to be miserable for the next week, we might as well give him one last moment of bliss before-hand.  Kind of like a last-meal type of mercy.  Later on, the Mrs and Jacob the Discontent Incontinent go off to the appointment.  This perturbs Alexis to no end.  She is never happy when she sees anybody leave the room.  Im not sure what causes this, but it is no small task trying to sneak out of the room with her brother in tow.  After a few moments of wailing and shrieking, we resume the nightly schedule.  Play, Bath, Bottle, Bed.  She seems to do ok, even though she inquires as to the apparent lack of her nemisis.  Brothers, cant live with 'em, can't smack 'em in the head with the nearest available toy (while the parental units are watching).  As soon as she nods off, I change into my grungy work clothing and head out to the watch-tower/Tashma Hall construction site.  Since I will have about 15-30 minutes to myself, I will try to add a few more blocks to the retaining wall.  As in the construction of the Pyramids, I get my countless army of uncompensated workers to lug over 6 blocks and drop them into place.  The engineers and architects verify that it is level and in line.  About the time that the 4th block is droped into place, The Mrs calls to let me know that they are returning home.  While I was not watching, 30 or so workers got crushed under the block which will now be their tomb.   Their sacrifice will further the cause of the GREAT HAUPERTONIAN RETAINING WALL.  We quickly set blocks 5 and 6 in place and then break for the night.  No sooner did I get cleaned up, the expedition returns home and we start to prep Jacob for his bed-time.   A little different for him since we need to feed him yogurt instead of milk and he will be dressed in the Master Suite so that he does not wake his sister.  He takes this opportunity to wreak havoc and generally be himself until we tire of his antics and put him in his Detention Cell.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Drinking Vinegar and Cream

I just caught this at VOX and it made my stomach just turn like a Kerry opinion.  Vox is evil, but an odd, seductive evil that is irrefutable.


Monday Vacation

Wow, I'm a bit tired today.   Had a bit of work to plow through yesterday at work, but I still consider it a vacation.  Mostly I spent my time waiting for queries against the poorly indexed tables to return a few simple nuggets of data.  Bleh.  Still, much easier than chasing the "Unstoppable Forces of Nature" about while trying to maintain the household!  After the awesome Mrs MDMHVONPA got home, I turned the Dinner Duty over to her and went outside to attack the job of putting up the retaining wall.  I need to get this done before the next rain.  The sides of the 'pit' are made of clay, but quite a bit of water is flowing into the pit and carrying the detritus from the patio with it.  Not good.  I did manage to get 40 of the blocks in place in the 2+ hours I was out there.  The bottom row is the hard part.  It has to be level and in line.  The line part can be frustrating because the string I use as a guide is not very cooperative.  That, and I can only really carry 2 blocks at a time from the driveway to the pit.  The sand seems quite capable of retaining water to boot so I end up with a lot of wet sand on my level.  All things considered though, things are going quite well.  Hopefully, I can use up all the blocks before this weekend.  We shall see how it goes.  I dread the final act where the wall will have to come together at the back side.  I know I will be off by an inch if I am not careful.  Sounds like I'll have to set up more string lines to keep that disaster from occurring.

We had a 7am staff meeting today at the Home Office.  I hate these things.  I would much prefer if they just sent out a memo.  No one is interested in speaking mostly because they are disgruntled that they had to get up so much earlier and then put in 8 hours on top of the 2 hour meeting.  Gak.

Sunday, July 18, 2004


Working in the coal mine

All things considered, this was a very productive weekend.  From about 8am on Saturday till roughly 4pm, we spent nearly all of our time digging in the dirt.  Most of the time was spent actually leveling the 30x20 area.  Dig, move dirt, check lines ... move more dirt.  In the end, it was pretty good job.  The level lines allowed for an inch or two difference in height, but when you are talking about a foot or more, the percentage of error is slight.  The low points actually were on the up side of the hill towards the south where less digging was done.  The only reason we could tell that is from the puddling of water once the 100 year rain-storm came.  Before that, we managed to get the landscaping cloth down and about 6-7 tons of sand in place.  That was quite a bit of fun  too.  Talk about being told to go 'pound sand'.  I had my shirt off for a while and got a twinge of a burn, but I'm getting quite crispy brown right these days so it wasn't so noticeable.  Of course, the crispy-brown is in complete opposition to the blinding white of my chest and belly.  Go figure.  After we moved enough sand about to allow us to walk on the leveled area, we started assembling the structures.  The first watchtower got started pretty quickly, only to end with us (us being myself and Hero/Amish Dad) discovering that we didn't have enough bolts of the correct size.  Near the end of this exercise, the kids with Grandma & the Mrs in tow came out.  The Twins of Sand Tossing have found the joys of lobbing sand at your head while you are trying to drill a hole in a 4x4.  We were nearly done, and me crushing my index finger pretty much capped the evening.  We called it quits, cleaned up and went out to buy a load of bolts for Sunday.  Not much else to say about that.

Sunday morning church was invigorating as usual.  This time I had enough support personal (Grams and Gramps) to allow me to escort both of the Twins.  Alexis was happy to just be held and chow down on beef jerky the whole time.  Jacob on the other hand, had different ideas.  Since we attended the early mass, he had sufficient energy to resist any actions I took to keep him from vaulting over the pews.  I love being Catholic, the mass is only 1 hour.  Any more than that and Jacob would have broken free and run amuck.  In addition to the 'invigorating' morning exercise session, Sunday morning also brought rain.  Heavy, soaking rain.  The kind of rain that stings when it smacks you on the head.  The kind of rain you cant work in sand with.  We had to abandon our forward observation facility construction and redirect our efforts towards a materials retrieval mission.   My heroic Father and I drove down to Home Depot (of course) and went over their stock of retaining wall blocks.  With all that leveling we did, there is a critical need for a retaining wall to be built around the area.  we calculated that just one long side will need at least 90 blocks if they are 4" high.  Argh, these things weigh about 30lb each and cost 2.50$.  Needless to say, we could only find 150 or so of these blocks when we will probably need close to 230 of them.  Now imagine trying to lug 6900 lb of blocks around.  I've done weight training in the past, but this is certainly a Herculean task.  The truck could only handle a small slice of this at a time ... about 40 blocks per trip.  Every time we got a load of them on a pallet, the sky would open up with all it's fury and try to wash us out.    The first trip was an "oh-well" sort of resignation to the task before us.  Lift blocks from pallet to flat-bed.  Push to cashier. Buy blocks.  Push to truck.  Load truck.  Drive home.  Unload truck.  The second trip became more desperate as the rain became more intent on abating our efforts.  The third trip required us to enlist the help of the store staff since the remaining blocks were on the upper tier.  They were kind enough to bring the whole pallet out front so we would not have to transfer them to a flatbed or haul it out to the truck.  They even went so far as to hoist the pallet to the truck-bed level so we could just grab the block and put them in the bed.  Nice!  Unloading them was still not an envious task.  The final trip, thank God, was made even easier.  The fellows with the fork-lift were still sitting there where we had left them as we drove back into the parking lot.  They indicated to us just to back up and KERCHUNK!!!, they dropped the remaining blocks right into the truck bed, pallet and all.  By the time we finished, it was nearing the middle of the afternoon already.  I now have enough retaining blocks to build one full wall and a good chunk of a second.  In addition to the sand, this should keep me more than sufficiently busy till the next big work weekend.  Gee, thanx dad...

Later that evening, the Grandparents started their trek back up north, and we went to a pig-roast.  This was being thrown in celebration for the mother of our good friends, the Seligas.  There was a lot of good food, and the kids found that since Daddy was nearing complete exhaustion, they had much more latitude than normal. 
They were into EVERYTHING.  Jacob took a break every so often to play with one of those wire and bead puzzles, just long enough to regain his outrageous energy level.  Then he would take off and wreak havoc.  There was a cat and a dog at this party.  The cat was declawed and the dog was old and had hip problems.  They did not stand a chance.  The dog would gravitate towards the children in hopes of snatching food from  their hands.  It was a trap.  Once 'Amber' was within grasp, the kids took him down like a pride of lions on a gazelle.  It was over before it started.  The unnerving thing about the whole spectacle was the precise and efficient cooperation between the two.  I'm afraid for my own safety now.  The cat fared a bit better.  Alexis would calmly pet it, making sure not too press too hard.  Then Jacob would out flank the kitty and do a flying elbow crush on it.  I don't think if it had it's claws that this would have been as bloodless as it was.  After a few of these good-cop/bad-cop encounters, the cat figured out that it would be best if it hid somewhere out of reach.  After 7pm, we decided that the local animals needed a break and we politely extracted ourselves from the party.  With weekends like this, that 40 hour work week is a vacation!

Friday, July 16, 2004


Just about there

Yesterday afternoon was very nice.  The sun was out, the air was cool.  There was even a slight breeze.  I thought that it would be a great day to get the grass crop harvested, the beans pruned and some other outdoor stuff.  As I drove home on the Turnpike, something nefarious happened.  My vim and vitality was drained away.  My eyes started to become heavy and I just could not shake that drowsy feeling.  Ugh.  It's a nice feeling if you have the time and the place to nod off, but I'm going 75 on the turnpike between a fuel tanker and a semi hauling anti-personnel mines.  Not a good time for a nap, a pretty awful place to start to drift off.   I could see the newscast now, "Irrelevant Bore dies in fiery crash; Thousands of Angry motorists curse his name and dance on the burnt out hulk of his melted plastic Saturn.".  I wag my head furiously to cast off the fog.  I do  this about every minute or two until I get off the turnpike.  The stop and go of the local roads helps me concentrate.  Ugh, I have complete disdain for times like that.  I wish it would come more easily in the evening when I WANT to sleep.

  When I get to the Haupertonian manor, I commence my afternoon task schedule.  Get truck-load of junk-mail, let Mastodonic Thor and Tricksy Katie out to ruin the back lawn (what's left of it), start the prep work for the Twins' dinner.   This is an undertaking that can be a bit frustrating.  I pretty much prepare enough food to feed several people in miniscule servings.  Some fish sticks, some lo-mien, a bit of sugar-snap peas, a few steamed green-beans.  Chicken nuggets, sliced fruit, yogurt, pudding, fruit mush, beef, Bologna, mastodon, ostrich eggs.  Just enough for two servings, but variety that a Monarch would blush at.   Why so much, why the variety?  Because I can, dammit.  Sure, Jacob is a fussy and picky eater, but he can afford to be.  There may be a time where we cannot give them fresh produce from the garden.  Where they my have to make due with fatty ground beef and turnips.  While I can afford it and find it, I want them to have all they want AND supply an unending nutritional smorgasbord for their little growing bodies.

  After Mrs MDMHVONPA got home, I headed out to do some yard work.  I just did not have the energy or compulsion to mow the lawn.  There is nothing more draining than pushing around a roaring hot chunk of metal while being chased down by a multitude of biting, stinging, sucking little insects.  I don't want to muck about in the garden either.  The green bean plants have these little tiny spikes on their leaves that makes my skin crawl.  No, today I will do some more digging for the foundation of the Lookout Towers/AA Battery/Play-set.  I have about 10'x12'x1' left to dig out.  So I start to hum the battle hymn of the republic as I chock away at the packed clay we call soil around here.  I have NO idea how anyone managed to till this junk, let alone plant crops in it.  Its not anything like the pitch black loam we have back in the farming territory of Minnesota.  I need to import a few dozen tons of the stuff to enrich the Haupertonian City-State Agricultural sector.  My attempts with using the compost heap are starting to show progress, but it is coming along way to slowly.  Soon enough, it is 8pm and time for me to throw in the towel.  I've managed to reduce my target area to about 3'x2'x1'.  That's still a lot of dirt, but not nearly close to one square yard.  That would be 27 square feet and all I have left is a measly 6 square feet.  After that, the fun begins.  We build a retaining wall around the perimeter of the base and then level out the clay.  Pack it down and cover it with a heavy sheet of land-scaping cloth.  THEN, we can start to assemble the towers in order to find out where we want to dig the holes where the support piles will be poured.    While the cement is drying, with the tie-downs set in place, we will haul the 10.5 tons of sand to the pit and find out if I need yet another 300$ of sand delivered.  I have no clue how we can possibly expect to get al;l this done over the weekend.  I still need to level the dirt and pick up the blocks for the retaining wall.  Argh, I need a labor force for this, too bad that there are no indigenous inhabitants of the Haupertonian City-State Territories that I can exploit for cheap labor.  Thor and Katie don't count, they wont dig in the dirt.  They just eat it if there is bacon grease on it.  Bletch, don't lick me with that tongue.

  As for this morning, I got up late, really late.  I decided to skip my morning shave and made no lunch for myself.  I have some fruit on the desk at work that should tie me over.  I need to get on the road before traffic becomes too intractable.  I fully expect the Twin Twisters to be a little upset about their delayed release, but oddly enough, they are pretty cool about it.  Milk, change diaper, watch Sesame Street, new clothes.  It was all good.  I let the dogs out, they were good too.  No whining.  Gave the mammoth his ear salve to kill his yeast infection and then let them out.  Got their food ready and then run back upstairs to catch the kids on the way down.    There they were, standing at the top of the stairs waiting for me to escort them down.  Hmmm, things are going way too smoothly.  Must be some kind of alien mind trick.  Or is it a govt experiment to see if they can fool me into revealing the inner most secrets of the Haupertonian Combine International Empire's success!  Ho-ho!  Not so easy to topple this regime, is it!   As I carry Alexis down the stair-case, she insists the whole way that we should 'Blay, Blay!'.  'Ok, lets get you into your chair so, uh, into your chair ... urg ... ok, we are not going into your chair are we?'  'BLAY!'.  Sigh...  I drop her in the wing of the manor that we converted for their use and watch her run off and start hurling lock-blocks about.  Good for her, let her start her day early, I've gotta get washed up and get on the road.  Yeah, the wonderful commute of DOOOOOM!!!

UPDATE: Got to work, my index create failed again, still having resource contention ... time to try doing it at 2am.

Thursday, July 15, 2004



I picked this off of one of the LLL blogs and I have to admit that this is right along the lines of socialist/communist ideological dogma (if that means anything).  You are born into a class of either oppressor or oppressed.  The victim groups have unbounded rights by the nature of their status which must be supported by the majority oppressor groups.  Its a friggen caste system model inverted.  I can only hope that this cruft never makes it out of the academic/intelligentsia circles!


Interesting Navy Link

This has a link to this which tells us that pretty much all of our fleet is underway or deployed. Wow.


Rain-drops keep falling

Lunch yesterday was actually pleasant. I had a nice 22oz IPA and a small plate of some kind of Mexican-Asian fusion chicken stuff. I think it was chicken. Doesn't matter, it was sufficiently greasy and fatty that it will shoot right through my system. We had lunch at the John Harvard's Brew Pub. Really nice place actually. The beer is always top notch. You may ask, why did I only have 1 beer when I usually have two. In this case, it was on the house so three is not out of the question. Well, the Big boss and the other Big boss showed up. That would the Husband and Wife team who own/run our tiny little company. Why an organization of 15 people needs to have a CEO/President and Executive VP of development and infrastructure is beyond me. It's their company, they can call themselves whatever they want. Funny thing, the husband, we will call G*, who started this company is a Turk who is also Muslim. I was sitting next to him as he drank his beer and ate his bacon-cheese burger. It always makes me chuckle when I see how quickly people drop their religious sheets after they spend a few years in America. I've worked with many people from overseas, Hindus, Jews and Muslims, who just don't give a damn about the dietary restrictions of their religions after a few years. As I chow down on my steak and wurst plate, I think to myself that the world could be unified under the American diet. Really!

Yesterday afternoon, I had ordered a load of sand to be delivered and dumped in our driveway. I was expecting the 10.5 tons of sand to show up Friday afternoon or later. Much to my surprise, when I arrived at the Haupertonian Manor, there was a giant mound of sand in our driveway. URK! It was about 5 feet high and about 10 feet in diameter. Ok, this is different, what am I going to do with this stuff for the next 3 days. Argh. I quickly got out a tarp and covered it up. I needed to put some stones or weights on it to keep it from blowing away, but didn't have the time. I'd do that later in the night when I was pruning the beans. I had to get going, it was getting late and I needed to get to the 'Child Detainment Center' to pick up the Totalitarian Toddlers of Terror. As I pulled into the parking log, the sky opened up and sheets of rain came down. Lightning started to spike down all over. It was Ragnarok! Apocalypse! The End of Times! But wait, where are all the frogs and locust and stuff. Never mind, just a big thunderstorm. So I rush the kids out to the car and get them buckled in. I let Jacob do his usual exploration of the car while I secured his sister. She was not entirely interested in being secured and resisted ferociously while the rain pounded my back into a sodden mess. Finally, I chased down Jacob the Jovial Joker after he had exhausted his avenues of escape. I gave them each a wad of beef jerky and started back to the City-State World HQ. The rain and wind really started in after that. Traffic came to a halt, because people in Pennsyltucky cant drive in the rain. It's against the law, dont-cha-know. Maybe if we gave everyone boating permits, they wouldn't be so terrified of driving in the rain. You would think that these people melt in water or something. Hmmm, maybe. By the time I got home, the wind had carried away the tarp. I had to go chase it down in the pounding rain and re-cover the mountain of sand. To keep the tarp in place, I hurled six large Belgian paving blocks I had conveniently sitting at the end of the grand avenue leading to the manor. In the short time it took to accomplish that, it became completely drenched. I really wish I had don't that to start with.

The rain managed to drench the cloth flag that I had put up the other day. This caused the holder to fail and the flag was no longer pointing up. Well now, that will just not do! I went about retro-fitting the failed flag holder with a 7/16 inch pin to keep it from heading south. Took a bit because the old battery drill I was using is pretty much shot, but it made it through the task. It saved itself and will not be disposed as of yet. With all that busy work, the kids got a stay on the bath-time. An extra half hour was just fine by them. They were being relatively good tonight so we had no wails of discontent or tantrums of impetulance. About a half hour before bath time, Alexis loaded up her diaper with yesterday's dinner. She was pretty discontent about the situation and when we asked her what was wrong, she pointed to her diaper. "Did you go poo honey?" She nods her head in agreement. "Do you want your diaper changed?" Again, confirmation. Scary smart. I think it may be time for potty training for her.

After we got the kids down for their nap, I began my nightly bean counting/cutting/canning and Joyce went off to get some stuff ready for the next day. Within minutes of me sitting down, a great flash of light blanketed the room. "Whaaa?" Then within a second, the lights flickered and the thunder rolled through. It was loud, the kind of "CRRRAAACKKKKKK" loud that lets you know that the strike probably hit ground near-by. I look up at the tv thinking that I should tune in the weather channel, only to see static. Ut-oh. If the cable is out, that means not only no "Adult Swim" on the cartoon channel tonight, but the internet will be out of commission too. Oh dear GOD, what will I do! I went out on a limb and did something we had not done in ages. The Mrs and I put a DVD in and watched a movie with Adam Sandler: "50 first dates". It was nice. The movie was ok, a little silly and not very involved, but a good movie to watch curled up with your S.O. late on a rainy night. That was nice.

The late bed-time for the kids translated to them sleeping in. The dogs were good and didn't whine until I went down to let them out. A good start. There was a 7 car accident on the Turnpike that cost me about 10 minutes. That is pretty good in that it could have really been ugly if I had not gotten going as early as I did. The location of the accident was in the passing lane of course. I think I had gotten there just moments after it had happened, the anti-freeze was still flowing out of the radiator and had not made its way across the other 2 lanes yet. Its funny how when you want to get out of the lane that the accident is in, but the person in the lane to the right of you pretends that she cannot see you. I honk my horn and she looks over to see me moving into her lane. Onse-twose ... I go, you go, the right way to do things. She pulls back and lets me in. Jeeze, I know you saw me, do you need me to make you confirm that I know that you saw me. People, it's called civility. Common courtesy. Argh. There is a law in the works here in PA. If you are in an accident and your car is drivable, you MUST get out of traffic as soon as possible. These cars were not drivable for the most part, but 6 of the 7 were which really pisses me off. Its going to be a 'No Fault' citation so why the hell are you trying to preserve the accident scene. I hope they get tickets for obstructing the flow of traffic.

At work, I find that my Canadian Lat-Long load had failed, a table that was not supposed to be there was, and caused a create fail. 15 hours of load down the tubes, time to start over. My index create failed too because something was running at a time that I thought was safe. I'm going to bump the index create to 2 hours later and cross my fingers. I want to get this off my plate, stupid reports. Stupid table. Stupid Oracle.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Monday V2.0

So I came to work today. My fear was that since I didn't come in yesterday, that something that I had left running on Monday would have gone amuck. Nothing did. What a relief. I got a late start, but the traffic didn't bother me much. How odd! Turns out that we will be reorganizing the team here at the client site, so it looks like more work (finally) for me in the near future. Not such a bad thing, really. Since it is supposed to rain tonight, I think I'll skip mowing the lawn today. The Mrs will be out of state tomorrow so it is looking like the grass harvest will have to wait till either Friday or Saturday. Since my parental units may be coming down this weekend, it will probably be best if I do it Friday. Looking at my schedule, it seems that we are expecting company from Bonnie and Eddie as well. Hmmm, I'll have to confirm this with the Social Director. I think that there will be more than enough available rooms at the Haupertonian Guest Suites and Spa, but I better check to make sure. I'll need to finish up the pit dig as well. I don't want to sit around diddling with moving tons of clay around. I'd rather start assembling the watch towers/play set. I did get around to ordering the 6 or so square yards of sand. The guy was surprised when I told him I wanted to fill a 20x30 area to 6" ... that comes out to be about 11.5 yards. He proclaimed "Wow, that's a lot of sand!". I balked and decided to half the amount to see how it goes, it should be more than enough even if we only fill to 3". At the reduced amount, its about 10.5 tons of sand = 287.18 + tax. Oof, this project is really starting to hit the old budget with a 10.5 ton sledge hammer. I visited a site that talks about how much sand or other cushion materials you need for a non-fatal fall from x feet. It's a bit unnerving. I wonder how they collect these data points! Apparently, wood-chips or much will allow you to fall 11" if you have 1 foot of it. The problem is, it rots and Jacob has developed a taste for the stuff. Fine gravel? I don't think so. How about glass shards! Or metal shavings. They didn't even mention rubber mats. "Fall Height in Feet from Which a Life Threatening Head Injury Would Not be Expected ", what an ominous title.

I'm expecting a little mid-afternoon boost today. I've been invited to a little beer-lunch, on the house. I'll fill you folks in later. It's time to guzzle.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Not a good day

I woke up today with a migrane. This one was not going to go down without a fight either. On top of that, my body was a giant mess of aches and pains. Everything hurts, even things I did not know I had. Usually I cram a fist of pills down my gullet and suck it up, but this time I decided that perhaps I should ease back on the throttle a bit. Perhaps, just perhaps, I should spend a day at home alone this time. Sleep a bit, let the migrane peter out. Staring at a flashing monitor backlit by dozens of fluorescent lights usually is not conducive to alleviating a migrane. Lying in a water-bed perusing National Geographic's latest pictorial of the Smokey Mountain Range backlit by halogen lights tends to be a better pick. Go figure. Work may seem like an 8 hour vacation away from the tribulations of home an family, but in some cases it can be a living hell. So I stayed home and did some minor things about the house. I would have preferred to go back to sleep until the pain abated, but my body was in no mood for that nonsense. It was impossible to get comfortable enough to stop thinking about how uncomfortable I was. So out of bed I tumbled, determined to do something to take my mind off of my 'human condition'. I had purchased some flag-pole supports for the front deck and decided that installing them would be a minor task. It took over an hour. I couldn't get the holders to line up and then getting the screws into the 4x4 posts became nearly impossible due to the height at which I installed the holders. I got most of the screws in all the way and only 2 of the screws in most of the way. I'll have to revisit that some day, but not now. I had also bought two 3/4 inch poles on which I attached the hooks for the flags. This was a much easier task. I almost felt embarrassed when I put the flags out on the front porch. I used to have the flags draped out the windows, but took them down when winter came. Needed to keep that expensive heat in. Heat generated by natural gas .. expensive natural gas. Ethanol, anyone? Soon? Please! Anyways, I'm glad I got that done. It's been a long time in coming. I'm proud of my flag and what it stands for, so I shall fly it.

Not much else got accomplished. I picked a few bushels of beans, a bag of sugar-snap peas and enough peppers to keep Peter Piper busy for a fortnight. The jalapeno peppers were huge. Texas Huge. I'm really not sure what I'm going to do with them all, probably slice them into rounds and pickle them. Last time I tried to make cheese filled poppers with them, I nearly killed a couple of folk who were used to the more bland version served in restaurants. I suppose I need to work on that Scottsdale Heat Index sensitivity. The green beans are starting to become troublesome. I need to prune them back a bit and maybe use stakes to keep them from flopping over so much. The ones that the groundhog chewed up are actually coming back with a vengeance. I suppose I should thank Mr Rat-Bastard Groundhog for showing me an interesting method of agricultural intervention. Since its has been raining for the last 40days and 40nights here, I wont be mowing the lawn on Wednesday. Perhaps I'll do some other lawn work instead. We shall see.



I right out stole this from IMAO:

Though some think the Iraq War wrong, I think Iraq war right just like Bush. I even came up with a bunch of reasons:

* Lots of Iraqis are dead - bad ones!

* It made for good T.V.

* Saddam was an evil man and now he's dead - or at least he will be after due process of law.

* Since the war on Iraq, there have been no Iraqi attacks on American soil.

* Instead of having to travel all over the world to track down and shoot terrorists, they flocked to Iraq for us to shoot them in one place.

* "Iraq" and "attack" rhyme, so war just makes sense.

* Now the most potent Weapon of Mass Destruction currently in Iraq is the U.S. military.

* Since Iraq will now have its own democracy, maybe they will import some of our slimy weasels.

* By having so much anger in the Middle East directed at us, we've given the Jews a break.

* If it weren't for the war, the election would be all about dumb crap like Medicare and gay marriage.

* Setting Iraq free from tyranny sets the course for the rest of the Middle East to evolve into modern democracies by 4012.

* The war made Michael Moore angry... hopefully bringing him closer to his inevitable heart attack (I just hope he doesn't fall on any children).

* We pissed most of the world off, and, frankly, we hate most of the world and like pissing them off.

* If we waited to attack until we had France's permission, we would have to hold off until most of Europe was invaded by Iraq… which could have taken months longer.

* With all the practice liberating Iraq, Iran, which is an only one letter difference, should be easy.

* Dude, we like so killed Uday and Qusay.

* Oil! Sweet, sweet oil! Muh ha ha ha!

* Lot's of bad people are dead; what's not to be happy about?

Monday, July 12, 2004


Rainy Monday

My friend Sebastian the water drop came for a visit this Monday. Him and about 2000 billion of his close associates. We got nearly 3-4 inches of the stuff. It was kinda neat for a while, until the roof started to leak. Now that is not something I am entirely comfortable with. That and the damn problems with the Gloss Product feed at GSI. Stuff is still a bit loony. Hopefully I'll get it ironed out before I die. I can see my tombstone now: "Didn't fix the damn Gloss Product Feed Problem. RIP". Bah! On top of that, the report I'm running to determine if the price of a particular item has changed more than 10% between postings took 8 hours and promptly gave up with the complaint that the rollback segment r12 has either timed out or ran out of space. Cowardly rollback segment! Oh well, perhaps I'll slam a few choice indexes on the table to speed things up a bit. The existing complex/composite indexes will not help me much since they include data that I cannot possibly interpolate. I feel like a really broken cog these days.

Speaking of broken cogs, the pit I was digging for the Tashma Hall filled up with water. Several inches of water. I thought I saw the 7th fleet on the far side, but I couldn't tell with all the ice-bergs in the way. This tells me one thing, that I dug too deep on the high side. It looks like my attempts to 'eyeball' the depth didn't come out right. I really cant complain much, all I have to do is shove some of the mountains of clay back into the pit and rake it about. Much easier than mining hundreds of cubic feet of water-laded clay. I need a team of dwarves for this stuff. I still have about 8 feet left, but the lake out back isn't conducive to continuing this effort.

I was outrageously hot at night to boot. I got no restfully sleep at all. Between the sweat trickling down my scalp and the rhythmic snores from Mrs MDMHVONasleep, I found it nearly impossible to doze off. This does not bode well for the remainder of the week.

Saturday, July 10, 2004



It was a very full weekend for the Haupertonian Combine's ruling class. Late last week we had company. By late, I mean a bit after dinnertime. Some of our family friends had come over to make about 10000 wontons with Mrs MDMHVONwonton. Patti and her mother came over, escorting the Young Brittany and her unbounded little brother. His name is Nick, as in the devil. He and Jovial Jake are a pair to be recogned with. Alexis and Britt were on one side, Nick and Jake on the other. Monumental battle of wills and shrills. They kept each other occupied well past the 8pm deadline for a bath. While the Gaggle of Gals and other assorted rogues kept each other busy inside, I went out to do a bit of tending to the Agricultural Sector. Such efforts were long overdue. In my absence, I found that a ground-hog had found it within it's interests to chow down on the greenery. He had made quite short work of 1/2 a row of the green beans and had pretty much decimated the peas. I went back inside to get the live-trap out. I do not tolerate vermin tearing down what I have worked so hard to build. I set the trap out in hopes that it will be big enough to contain this beastie. Its good for squirrels, but it may not suffice for this monster. I came to the conclusion that it was a ground-hog and not a rabbit by the area under the chain-link fence that surrounds the Haupertionian City-State Central Palace and Manor. The breach in the security perimeter was much to big for what a rabbit would have done. I collected as many boulders and various large concrete blocks to form an enscarpment in the area of the breach. If I play my cards right, he will just move on to easier pickings and I will not have to deal with finding a suitable relocation site for the little bugger. I picked the remainder of the peas and some of the larger green tomatoes. I am hoping that the tomatoes will ripen off the vine so I don't have to deal with trying to guess which acre needs harvesting each day. As it gets darker, the blood sucking insects begin to descend. Realizing this, I make my way into the manor. Inside, I share the bounty of the peas and horn in on the running dialog. As it turns out, we are invited to a pig-roast next weekend. This will be interesting to say the least. It will be at Patti's mother's house. She, being the mother, has a pool which will be an irresistible magnet to the Troublesome Twins. This shall be an interesting event, I imagined that I will not remain dry for very long.

Our morning on Saturday went from relaxed and sleepy to a furious panic as we realized that we needed to be at the Pediatric Clinic for the 2 year checkup for the twins. We managed to get our discombobulated act together and arrived at the office with minutes to spare. We were shuttled into one of the numerous quarantine cells where we were informed that we should remove the clothing from the 'subjects' and a doctor will be with us shortly. Shortly. Hmmm, what do you mean by shortly? Do you mean, shortly before the next pass by Halley's comet? The next evolutionary leap of mankind? The next coming of Christ? Oh, you mean the next hour. Bastards! Do they have even the slightest compassion for 2 parents feebly trying to restrain 2 children (the math there means that the kids outnumber the parents, really) in a room full of pointy objects, poisons and other assorted dangers. A room where the door latch has been taped open because it is broken, thus enabling the toddlers to escape at their leisure? If you wanted to see us at 9:45am, then why did you relegate us to detention cell 102 at 9am! Argh! Needless to say, Mrs MDMHVON (Pissed as hell) was not pleased and created a temperature drop to near 0 Kelvin when the professional finally arrived and asked naively 'How is everything today?' I thought my ears were going to drop off! The Icy response made me think that perhaps Algore and MoveOn.org were correct and that 'The day after tomorrow' was coming to fruition! After the lengthy 5 minute exposure to the doctor, we quickly evacuated the Totally Torqued Twins and made our way home. We discussed the debacle on the way home, reinforcing the cognitive dissonance of each-other's complete disdain for modern medicine and it's chattel-like treatment of us, their clients. Breath deep ... count down from 10 ... ahhh, that's better. Set down the baseball bat, it is not a fight you need to engage ... sigh. Once we got back home, we let the kids run wild in the wing of the Manor that we had made child-proof while we attempted to nap on the sofa's in said wing. We were pretty beat so it took quite a bit of effort for the kids to muster enough abuse to get us to budge. In the end, we got our collective posteriors in motion and sucked it up.

My Big Little brother had come down late Friday and we headed out to various home improvements stores to pick up lumber and hardware for the forward observation towers/play set that we are building for the kids. We went to Ace, Lowes and Home Depot and found that some of the stores had some of the stuff, but no-one had all of the stuff in either the inventory, quantity or quality that we needed. Very disappointing expedition, extremely costly and tediously long. We pretty much blew half of our remaining life span waiting for assistance from various store clerks only to hear that a) we don't carry that dimension of lumber, b) it didn't arrive in the last shipment, c) we only have 2 of the 300 you need in stock, d) why would you need a 3/4" wood bit? just use 1/2"! Arghhh. This 4 hour cruise ended up with us returning to HQ with 50% of what we needed and 100% more migrane than I wanted. I spent the remainder of the waning day nursing my migrane with various pharmaceuticals and beverages as well as nursing the twins with various ice-cubes and bottles. I believe, in one of my semi-lucid moments, my parents called and I mumbled something about Paul Harvey in cahoots with the Illuminati.

Sunday morning came upon us faster than you can say that the weekend is almost over. We had nearly depleted our energy reserves but we still had much more to do. While the Mrs and Alexis (Queen of Shriek and much-much more) went shopping, the men went to church. Men are evil so we need to go to church, or so Gloria Steinum tells us. You would think that 400+ lb of men could handle a 27 lb toddler, we were wrong. In the hour or so we spent there, Jacob pretty much spent the whole time squirming, seething, attempting to crawl under the pews, over the seats, giving half eaten food to fellow church-goers and just being an energetic and amazingly entertaining to everyone around us. He is very interested in the sign of peace part of the mass and exercises great enthusiasm in shaking everyone's hand and persisting in trying to get some extra 'peace' long after the brief moment is over. We decided that we needed to let Jacob stretch his legs a bit on the way back from communion procession ... bad idea. He took off like someone had list his tail on fire. Looks like we will be leaving early! Not quite. Once we got to the car in the front lot, we found that we were pretty solidly parked in. We were going no-where till everyone else got out. Joy. We battle our way out of the worlds most awkward parking lot and stop off at Ace Hardware to see if we can find any more bolts. We did not find the bolts, but Jacob did find that it was very easy to get away from daddy in the overstocked aisles that dominated the store. After chasing him down for the umpteenth time, he had latched onto a driveway reflector and we ended up buying it to keep the peace on the way home.
My brother and I did not have to wait long at home before the Mrs and Alexis showed up. It was getting close to lunch and nap time when we all got settled in, so we took care of that and away we went. Off to another Home Depot to scrounge up some more lumber and parts before we engage in the real fun. The leveling of the territory where the observation posts/play-set will be erected. This area is sloped in such a way that all 4 corners are at various heights which will require dirt being dug up from 2 corners at different depths being deposited at the other 2 corners at different heights. From about 2pm till 6:30pm, we dug and raked and dug and hauled and dug and flung and dug. I kept digging till I could dig no more. I was a mess, covered in sweat, mud and bug repellent. I had managed to get a good chunk of the downward digging polished off. Fortunately, Paul had spotted the flexible sprinkler system pipe before we put a shovel through it, so we narrowly avoided that disaster! There is so much clay and muck in the soil, that raking this flat is going to be a Herculean task at best. I'm fairly impressed ... nay, amazed, that I did not put a shovel or pick-axe through any of my limbs during this part of the excavation. I am certain that there is much more digging to come and many more opportunities for me to do substantial damage to various extremities. We shall see.

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