White Lightning Axiom: Redux: December 2004

Friday, December 31, 2004


Last day

Its the last day of vacation and once again I woke up with a migraine. This is most likely because I was up late watching TV in bed. Its a bad habit with predictably undesirable effects. Bad habits are hard to break. The next morning, I played the part of a 'warm body' in the kids play room. They don't like being alone and prefer to have either the Mrs or myself present. In the state that I woke from, I was not much use to be anything other than an immobile target for the kids. They were mostly satisfied and the Mrs could take the time to shower up and fold some laundry.

Later in the day, we set out of the Greater Sphere of Influence of the Haupertonian Empire to shake off the cabin fever. First things first, we had to stop off at the bank to deposit the various red envelopes that the kids had received at the Holiday Party. I parked the Family Tank in the adjoining parking lot of Starbucks. As the kids watched the Mrs walk off, they begin to wail and howl that mommy had left them with the evil-bad-guy-hardass daddy. Argh, I got out of the command seat and hunkered down with the kids to keep them distracted till soft-sell-pushover-mommy came back from depositing the multi-million dollar rewards. As we waited, I could smell the coffee from Starbucks ... it was calling me. I know, Starbucks a big homogenized corporate coffee pimp, but that is what I like about it. The coffee is exactly the same every time, ever where I get it. No surprise, no awful bitter metal taste, no thin and tepid back-water joe. It's exactly what I expect for my 5$. It's too much to resist. Once the Mrs returns, I run in and grab myself a quad mocha late venti. Mmmmm, caffeine. Upon my return, I find that the Mrs has given each of the kids a cookie that she got from the bank. How nice, a steady supply of sugar for the two little sucrose addicts. They make short work of the treats and are soon screaming for more.

We went off to Walmart to pick up some Robutussin for the kids. Yeah, yeah. Yet another evil corporate monster. Of course, since I am the evil corporate daddy, it fit right in. The place was mobbed with the curdled cream of the crop. I could not get out of there fast enough. As I was standing in line to cash out with the three boxes of expectorant and decongestant, Jake was occupying himself with flirting. The grandmotherly woman behind us was enjoying the attention and forgot about the addle-minded woman in front of us. She had just complained to me moments before about the silly woman who the cashier was becoming quite tired with as well. She had bought 7 items and after the purchases had been rung up, decided that one of the items was too expensive and they had to go through each one and decide which it was. Then, with that done, the whole set of items had to be re-scanned and paid for. She apparently forgot how to use the card swipe and had to be reminded repeatedly to follow the instructions. Argh. As I try to avert my death-ray eye-beams, I spy a couple varieties of beef sticks in the check-out line that I caught Jacob eyeing up. Actually, unless his grubby little hands have eyes, he was actually grabbing a fist full of them from the rack. I replace the extra-nuclear red hot sticks that I manage to extract from Jakes hands through trickery and select two teriyaki flavored sticks. Upon returning to the car, I open each and give them to the kids. They are about the thickness of my index finger and roughly a foot long. By the time we get to Giant Supermarket, they are nearly gone. Either they are starving to death or they really enjoy meat products. I prefer to believe in the second. I need no genetic tests to know that they are indeed my kids.

We enter giant to pick up a few minor things and the Mrs was interested in returning a couple items. The place was totally packed. The Mrs spent her time with Alexis, trying to keep people from cutting in line in front of her while I headed to the back meat section to see if there were any manager specials to be had. When I got there, it was a mob scene. A bunch of half-dead zombies gorging on the raw meat as sinew dangled from their shattered maws and bones crunched between their dagger like teeth. Ok, not quite, but there were a lot of people. I made a bee line to the front so as to facilitate an escape from the Lovelacelike scene, never looking back.

Back in Haupertonian Territories, we gave the kids lunch and a movie ... then off to nap. I spent their down time collecting mastodon droppings from the back 50. There was one that I had to leave behind since the back-hoe could not lift the whole thing. I need to figure out some alternate energy solution for all of this ... stuff. I then decontaminated myself and assisted the Mrs in some snack preparations for the party we were going to attend tonight at the Seliga's outpost. A tray of cheese, a tray of meat (of course), some fudge, cheesecake leftovers and a tin of cookies. That should do just fine. Grab the bottle of champagne and ice wine, toss it all in the Family Tank and then go wake the kids. It was already 1730 and we wanted to feed them dinner before we drove over so they would not spend the night eating sweets and chips. It's going to be a zinger of a night.

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Long night

This was a pretty awful day in the beginning, but evened out later in the day. At around 0300, Alexis started to wail and complain. We were not too sure about what was bugging her, but she ended up wandering the house with the Mrs for quite some time until the malox and other assorted children's opiates took effect and she went back to sleep. Later, when she woke and needed a diaper change, an odor that I hope never to smell again assaulted us. She certainly has something amiss down there and can understand her disconcerting. Of course, her problems were our problems. Since we got so little sleep, we spruced ourselves up a bit and dropped the kids off at the Child Detention and ReEducation Center at 0700. We immediately went home and went back to bed till 1300. Now that was a GREAT Christmas present to ourselves. Yes, we love our progeny as much as anyone can, but we needed the time off. Between 1400 and 1730, we pretty much spent our time cleaning the house and taking out the tree before it spontaneously combusted. It took a bit of time to find where all the damned ornaments had gone to. It seems that they had grown legs and migrated to more interesting environments in the kids play room. The kids, in turn, were very concerned that the tree had disappeared, but we assured them that it would be back next year. Its a good thing that I took a branch clipper to the tree and cut all the branches off or I'm sure as the sun shines that they would find it and DEMAND that I put it back where I got it from. The only other thing of note is that we are now doing dinner time without the TV on. It was a bit more work for the Mrs and I, but a necessary action. This parenting stuff is complicated.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Charity and US

I guess we are not such tight-wads after all, eh?
Former U.S. Agency for International Development official Carol Adelman attempted to calculate a total of all private foreign aid in 2000 in a 2003 Foreign Affairs magazine article. She found that private foreign aid greatly exceeded that provided by the U.S. government. Official aid came to $22.6 billion that year, but private aid came to $35.1 billion, including $18 billion in remittances, $6.6 billion from private voluntary organizations, $3.4 billion in aid from churches, $3 billion from foundations, $2.8 from corporations, and $1.3 billion from universities.

But even this understates the extent to which Americans help developing countries, because it excludes private investment and trade. According to the Institute of International Finance, in 2003, Americans invested $124 billion in emerging market economies, three-fourths in direct investment such as plant and equipment and the rest in stocks and bonds.
In short, the charge of stinginess is unfounded. The U.S. carries much of the world on its back, providing other nations with security, aid and much of their investment and income. It also pays for a fourth of all the salaries of U.N. bureaucrats.



My third day of vacation, true vacation, was pretty mundane. We got up at 0700 to tend to the kids. Started a fire to heat the house (since I have turned down the heat to a balmy 51 degrees) and then prep myself to get rid of ... errr, drop the inlaws off at the train station. Not the closer station at Cornwall Heights. That would require them to make a train change in Trenton NJ. Since we did all that shopping yesterday, the bags and booty now outweigh the porters and such a transfer between trains would not be feasible. Instead, I will be driving them all the way to Princeton so that they will be able to stay on the train all the way to Penn Station. Getting to Princeton was another matter entirely. I chose what I believed to be the lesser of MANY evils for my route. It involved some back roads and a few alternate interchanges. The only problem I ran into was a car stalled on Eastbound Street Road (Love that name) that caused all the traffic in the right lane to detour over to the left lane. This is usually not a problem except there were a lot of semi trucks out and people don't always want to give these guys a break. That, and the car that was disabled blocked the right turn lane causing some of the less fortunate motorists to attempt a right turn from the left lane while avoiding the cement island. Not a recommended action for the less skilled (read: half of the jokers). On the way up, I spotted a Red Robin restaurant on the West side of Rt 1. That and the Nifty 50's restaurant are two places that we need to eat out at more. They are noisy, greasy and purveyors of heavily (heavenly) fried foods.

We eventually get to the train station but miss the train only by seconds. No big deal, the trains come every 15 minutes and they will not need to wait long at all. I bid my good-bye's and get back on the road. Since the Mrs is taking care of the children alone, I have to get back asap and give her some relief. All is fair in Love and War and the Tumultuous Toddlers have made this their personal mantra. I couldn't break more than Mach 0.05 since there were police everywhere on the way back and I only have immunity from the PA Troopers, not the NJ Enforcement Regimen. One upside is that I was able to get gas for 1.82 at Mobil. The Family Tank can hold about 25 gallons and I needed 20 gallons, at 8-10cents lower than anywhere else, it was worth the trip after all.

Since the hot water demands are lower now (fewer showers, less dishes), I went down to the utility closet in the lowest sub-basement and turned down the heat on the water heater. Don't need 10,000 gallons of water heated to 3000K anymore. Keep some of my cash out of the hands of OPEC and all. Actually, I think all our NG is produced domestically, but it's the thought that counts, eh? I spend the rest of the day playing with kids and giving sly winks to the Mrs. One final note, while the Mrs was talking to her cousin on the phone, Alexis shouted out "Slacker". This is in reference to said cousin not coming down for a visit and all. I'm soooo proud!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Tuesday buggered

On the second day of vacation my sweetheart gave to me: more sleeping in late. Ahhh welll, not too late. About 0715 or so. We had things to do so we played with the kids for a bit, and did some more dishes. Then I signed up to drive the Family Tank from one end of NE Philly to the other in order to do ... shopping. Oh, the humanity! It wasn't as bad as it could have been. We did not go to a mall or any clothing stores, thank God. No, we went to the local membership bulk warehouse called BJ's and a new super-sized Asian market. The BJ's stop was nice. Went about and bought a few items and snuck in some jelly beans while the Mrs was not looking. Mmmm. Now the Korean/Asian market was another story entirely. When I first entered the store I found that the produce section was right there like any other store. It pretty much looked like any other produce section, until I started finding some of the more exotic fruits and gourds. No biggie. Then I get to the seafood section and things start to get ... interesting. One of the first things I found was a cellophane package of peppered cod gills in fermented fish sauce. Ummm, I think I'll pass on this one, thanx. So Jacob and I turned down one of the aisles of canned regional delicacies. Hmmm, wasabi peas, gummy drops, canned and smoked silk worms .... eh? Ummm, I've eaten some dubious things before, but never smoked insects. Ok, perhaps the meat section will be more to my inclination. Off we go, past the canned/preserved/smoked/salted/pickled insects/reptiles/rodents and other such things I should probably never ingest. Ahhh, we arrive at the promised land of meat and tasty comestibles. Hmmm, whole pig heart, sliced cow tongue, halved pigs feet, intestines and honeycomb tripe. Please deliver me! Back to the seafood, at least I am mostly safe there. Amongst the towering piles of live conch and buckets of cod heads. After an hour of fleeing various horror show staples, the Mrs and her clan have found what they were looking for and are happy to check out now. But not before we make a pass by bidet land and the jewelers ... in a grocery store. Ok, I've seen everything. On the way back to the Family Tank, the Inlaws mentioned to the Mrs that we should buy some of those questionable items and prepare them for the children some day. Ummm, yeah. I don't think I could ask the kids to eat something that I myself am unwilling to partake of. I've never been of the school of thought "Do as I say, not as I do".

The Tuckered Out Twins nod off on the way home, so they would be going to bed as soon as we could get them to their suite. It did not take much to get them to sleep and they slept from 1400 till about 1630 when we had to get them up for dinner. I took advantage of this lull in activity to take a greatly needed nap as well. Upon waking up, I quickly prepare dinner for the kids and family and thus generate a new load of dishes to be cleaned. A never ending cycle of defeatism ... I'm starting to consider serving dinner on paper plates and then tossing them in the fireplace.

Monday, December 27, 2004



Ahh, a Monday vacation is like no other. Of course, I have no time to just lay about in bed. The kids get up at 0730 and I need to tend to them. I cant just lay this on the Most Wonderful Mrs MDMHVONPA, she was up till 0200 doing the digital photo-swap thing with her father who will be returning to China soon. So, off to fetch the increasingly irritated twins and let them loll about the bed while the Mrs tries to snuggle with them for that extra few minutes of sleep. Sleep is a commodity in short supply these days, worth more than its 'weight' in gold. Sooner (rather than later), we let loose the kids on the Paw-Paw and Guo-Guo (Cantonese for Grandma and Grandpa on the mother's side) so that we can get some things done. The dishes need attention (AGAIN!) and we periodically clean, rack and refill the dishwasher with them. Most likely, we will generate as many dishes during the day as we manage to clean.

I had to cave in and turn up the heat. I was not too cold. The kids hands were not any more icy than normal (good Minnesota blood in their veins). It was the inlaws wearing parkas and knitted tuques (knitted stocking hat) about the house that made me reconsider. Sigh, what I do for family. So I turned the heat all the way up to 70F and cranked up the fire as much as possible to help the furnace along. It will be significantly more toasty in the upper floors, but the main level needs a bit of heat to keep them from getting frostbite. I should get them all a set of silk longjohns for next Christmas. And perhaps get them used to hot rum too.

I finally got a dehydrator as a gift and spent no time in putting it to work. I had a bunch of brisket, flank and sheet steak already sliced up and marinating in a little mix of spices, soy and honey. I laid out as much as I could and let it go. It should take a day or two. Mmmm, jerky. The humble half brother of bacon. My kids like it and I'll be giving them as much as they want. They'll grow up to be proud meat-eaters just like their daddy and able to consume some of the most bizarre things like their mommy's family. Speaking of bizarre, I went ahead and took what was left of the turkey and started making turkey stock. The stock ingredients pretty much consists of the bones, skin and other assorted scraps tossed in with herbs, celery, onion and carrot bits (if you have any around). I will be making turkey noodle soup with this using alphabet noodles and the remaining white breast meat left over. Nothing tastes better than soup made from scratch. Since we brined the turkey, there will be no need to add additional salt to the soup. The smell of the turkey stock will permeate the house the next morning since I plan on letting it go in the crock pot all night.

In the afternoon, we took advantage of the Wife's parents by leaving the kids with them as we crawled into bed and did some photography work (wink-wink, nudge-nudge, is YOUR wife a sport?). What? NO! Your dirty minds! We were taking photos of our wedding and the kids out of one set of photo albums and putting them in a different one so we could give the first set to the Wife's father. He apparently favors one type over the other and the Mrs likes the new ones better. We spent a good two hours going through the photos while listening to the action going on downstairs over the new wireless phone system that acts as an intercom/paging conduit as well. Sneaky, yeah, but pretty neat. We can hopefully eliminate the monitor we have in the master suite that picks up cb/radio/wireless phone conversations. It's a bit disconcerting to be woken in the early hours of the morning to disembodied voices in the bedroom. Shades of Amityville Horror.

Sunday, December 26, 2004



Ahhh, Sunday, a day of rest. Alexis was well enough so that she could come to church with us and raise a ruckus. Small blessings, she did not get sick again. After the 1000 mass, we went out shopping for a few items to prepare for dinner that night. We had a turkey soaking in brine and there were a few odd items that we needed to make the 3rd blockbuster dinner in a row. Which in turn means lots of dishes to wash and clean. Urg. To makes sure that I don't foul up my record from making Sunday the most strenuous day of the week, I restocked the brackets with a face cord of wood and defrosted the deep freezer. The freezer had quite a bit of ice buildup and this was causing the penguin and walrus populations to dwindle. Can't have dwindling wildlife in the freezer, PETA might object.

Saturday, December 25, 2004


day after

The morning after was not as picture perfect as we would have wished. Alexis let us know that her weak stomach was not just from carsickness. She managed to peg grandma again as well as the mile wide waterbed a couple of times. Not a nice way to start Christmas day. She had to stay home with the heathen side of the family while the rest of us head off with Jake to the 1000 mass. Funny thing about the family mass, they have services upstairs in the main chapel and in the basement. The basement denizens are typically families with howling children. The seating is significantly smaller then the main chapel so this usually makes the mass shorter and enables an early escape from the parking purgatory. As it turns out, there was a mis-print on the notice for mass schedules and there was not supposed to be a downstairs mass. Fr. Henry made an early announcement that the mass will still be held, but it will be shorter than normal. Like 30 minutes shorter. Not a bad thing at all. I quickly run out to the parking lot to find that the Family Tank had yet to be blocked in. I backed all the way out and moved it to the farthest corner of the lot so that we could make an easy escape later. With that done, I go back to enjoy the mostly vacant mass where Jacob happily played with his LOUD toy train the whole time. After a while, I had to trade it for some food just to save my own sanity. The cheapest toy in the batch and he loves it. The Mrs went out later to find that all but one of the things have been cleared out. Standard.

Spent the rest of the day we had free cleaning dishes from the night before and returning them from whence they came. Lots of pots, pans serving trays. Egads, could we have actually eaten all this? Apparently. Right around 1230 we all got into the Family Tank, my brother's Red Torpedo and the Maroon Marauder that the parents drive so we could head up to Northern NJ for the Annual NY Holiday Pilgrimage that the Wife's family puts together. We hob-knob with people I see only once a year and eat some really interesting stuff. Tripe, steamed duck feet, boiled taro and steamed pig skin, shrimp with mayo, broccoli and candied walnuts, sticky rice. We made it there by 1430 in spite of a little accident on the NJ TPK somewhere south of exit 8. At only cost us 15-30 minutes and the accident was that someone drove off the road. At least nobody was hurt (but they should get a good beating).

At the party, the kids were completely wild. Alexis had a short nap on the way, so she had enough 'charge' in her to go till well after midnight. The knew enough to take advantage of the crowded rooms as well. They could weave and bob through and evade anyone chasing them so we took to having a lookout stationed in the kitchen and the entryway so as to intercept them. Clever little buggers, I feel for the poor nun who will have to try to teach them in Sunday School. After a few miles of laps through the house, Jacob finally succumb to exhaustion and takes a nap in the back room. He is watched over by the Wife's Mother who dutifully stands guard outside the door like some honorific stone golem. He wakes after a few hours, refreshed. He and his cohort resume their wanton destruction with renewed zest. Eventually, Alexis finds a bell hung on the front door and proceeds to dismantle it, showing me the haggard pieces every so often. It was slowly becoming less and less till it eventually became nothing but the red cord it hung from. We owe someone an hanging door bell.

Friday, December 24, 2004


merry xmass eve

The day before Christmas, I engaged in what is typically a tedious and frustrating activity: Picking up relatives from NYC. This is not the best time of the year to make a trip up there in a personal vehicle. Sure, the train is ok, but a car or God forbid, a minivan is just insanity. Every time I drive up, I pray that it is not as awful as the last time, and every time it is worse than the last. Yep, insanity defined. We drop off the kids and drive the 90 minutes it takes to get from Philly to NYC through the Holland tunnel and up Canal street to the bldg where we are meeting the relatives. There was an oil spill on the Northern part of the NJ Turnpike so the traffic heading out of the city was backed up all the way to the Tunnel. Fortunately for us, they had cleaned up the slick and traffic was flowing again before we left. The Mrs called the minute we got to Manhattan and discovered that when she said be ready at 1000, they thought she meant start getting ready at 1000. Argh. I had to make two runs around around the block before the Mrs got fed up and went in to smash some heads. It took about 30 minutes to get everyone in position while I was sitting in front of a fire hydrant. Of course, shortly after the Mrs left the Family Tank, one of New York's Finest pulled up beside me and let me know that it was time to move on. Crap, I was not looking forward to another 15 minute delay. Fortunately, with the assistance of a Crack Squad of Bohemian Assault Ninjas and the North Eastern Battalion of the Elite Haupertonian Guard, the Mrs managed to marshal the troops and get them to the curb out front of Confucius Center. The Manhattan Horde crowds into the Family tank and we speed off Northbound on Bowery towards the tunnel in a reenactment of 'Escape from New York'. Except without Ernest Borgnine or that B Grade actress, Adrienne Barbeau. I guess I would be Kurt Russell ... in Soldier, I make a lousy Snake Plissken. But I digress (a lot), it takes 105 minutes to claw our way back off Manhattan, zip down the turnpike (I LOVE EZPass) and slide into the Haupertonian Territories. I promptly start making dinner in preparation for the arrival of the kids. Going on the S&R mission for the Twins went as smoothly as it usually does, but I knew after arriving home that I would need to take a nap. That little nagging pain behind my right eye was telling me that a migraine was on its way. If I act promptly and decisively, I can usually nip it in the bud. I started feeling the twinge when I was carving my way through Manhattan so it managed to get a toe-hold. So be it. I slammed down my usual cocktail of pain killers, maxalt, scotch and bacon. Crawled into bed and take a nap for an hour or so. I woke in a haze of twinkling lights and muted colors, the migraine was winning. Much of what transpired for the meal known as dinner evaded me outside of Jacob being his usual bratty self with the eating endeavor. He just doesn't like to eat what he is given. Little bugger. I spent the rest of the evening sorting a year plus backlog of paperwork in the cool, dark basement till it was time to bathe the kids. After that, I spent a few hours focusing on the pain in my skull as I watched the clock tick away the hours.

I wake with the same blinding pain as I went to bed with. I perform a few menial morning tasks, cram a fistfull of pills down my gullet and leave the kids with the Mrs. God bless the Wife, she is surely my guardian angel. I sleep for a few hours till I am woken by the Hounds doing what they do best, barking at phantom ninjas. I find that the pain has abated and I can now stand upright without my frontal lobe trying to pry its way out of my skull ... with a battlefield nuclear device. Ahhh, the joys of a semi-malfunctioning mind. Speaking of semi-malfunctioning minds, I had my first visit from the Jehova's witnesses. A mother-daughter team strolled up the walkway to the front door and before they made it across the veranda, I intercepted them. Don't want the hounds to run them down, blood is hard to get out of the cement walkway. In any event, they made their spiel which culminated with the question "Do you believe that there can be peace on earth in our times?" I countered with "Apparently not until after Armageddon.". Heh, kinda yanked the rug from underneath them! The mother said "Well someone has been reading the bible! Have a nice Christmas and we would like to leave you with this (rewritten) bible". Blah-blah-blah. It was kind of interesting in that if I had my wits about me, I would have invited them in for a lively debate with my brother-in-law who is currently studying to become a preacher. The moment passed and I laid the book on the end of the table with all the other stuff that I never get the time to look at.

We had another unexpected visitor. It turns out that somewhere in all the bags and boxes that were hauled down from NYC, we brought a cockroach along. I caught the little bastard slowly creeping across the floor. Since the house is pretty chilly, it was not moving very fast and thus, was easy to catch. I guess my miserly ways have resulted in a little bonus blessing. As I scooped up the little invader in a napkin, I could not help but think of Starship Troopers. It's a bug planet.

The rest of the evening became a whirlwind of colors, sounds and smells. I was stoking a fire when it started to pop and hiss at me. I paid no attention to it and paid dearly for my arrogance. One of the coals launched itself from the fire box and landed squarely between my legs. It promptly went out, but not before letting me know that suicide coals should never be underestimated. I need to stop off at the patent office so I can register some of the new dance steps I invented. The hounds were amused. After that little misadventure, I spent most of the evening preparing ingredients for the dinner to come. Chopping potatoes, shelling shrimp, thawing out the snow and Dungeness crab. Stuffing mushroom caps. It was to be a zinger of a dinner as soon as my parents and little-little brother arrive. Of course, Jacob can never be satisfied with dinner and resisted any attempt to get him to eat. I really believe it is a matter of not having the television on that is making him so difficult. This is certainly a bad habit we will need to break him of asap. I don't think it will be helpful in the future if I need to compete with the television when I am asking if he was offered drugs or has been exposed to other social deviations.

After dinner, the twins found out that we had moved all these presents for them under the tree while they were sitting at the dinner table. The sight of mountainous piles of gifts sent them into an adrenalin powered frenzy so ferocious that the trembling of the tree was palpable. The gifts were rended ribbon from bow in minutes, wrapping paper was everywhere. Floor, entry way, tree, tables, ceiling. Once all the presents for the kids were opened, they started 'helping' us with the rest of them. This went on for some time until there was nothing left but needles under the tree. A good time was had by both participants and observers. The kids played with the new toys for a few hours afterwards and seemed to be getting into it when tragedy struck Alexis. A few weeks ago, Jake had a stomach bug that had him vomiting and quite subdued. It became quickly apparent that it was now Alexis' turn. She let Grandma have it with both barrels. She has always been a healthy eater with an appetite to complement it. Grandma caught most of it in her hands, but it was like trying to catch a gallon of chum in a cup measure. We cleaned her up and gave her some malox to settle her stomach before putting her to bed. With that little misadventure out of the way, we went back down to the pile of boxes to dig out Jacob who was struggling just to keep his eyes open. No bath for him either, he could barely keep awake as he clung to his new Brio Thomas trains. Sugar-Plum Dreams indeed.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


xmas letter '04

Dearest Family, Friends and Respected Foes,

   As this contentious year grinds to an end, I think back and say ... whoa! A multitude of activities were engaged in with great gusto and expectation. Some were finished, others were expunged from the official record.   We spent a great deal of time visiting family and being visited by locust ... errr, family. The former parental units have taken to their new role as doting Grandparents quite readily and have been rewarded with affection tenfold.

   In previous years, I have rattled off the events in chronological order like some automaton. This year, well, I'll try to be a bit more entertaining and intriguing. First things first, the kids. Yes, the Turmultuous Twins of DOOOOM are doing quite well. They have just turned two this year and are starting to look more like their parents instead of chubby little cheraphim. Jacob has gotten all 213 of his teeth and Alexis is doing her best to get the last of her molars in place. Nothing is as scary as a woman scorned or a cranky little woman with molar problems. I think I runs in the family. For her lack of the two year molars, she is doing her best in absorbing language from the day-care professionals that surprises me every day. Little quips like 'Jacob is annoying me!' or ' Oh Man, what a mess!' whenever we change Jacob's diaper in her presence. Mostly, it is 'Jacob did it!' or 'MINE!'. Those last two are typically in reference to something she has done or some toy Jacob is currently playing with. For his part, Jake would rather be judged by his actions than his words. We have waist high child gates scattered throughout the house and we are finding that the only people that are being inhibited are The Mrs and I. The dogs could clear them with no problem.

   The dogs, now 3, are starting to show signs of their true genetic nature. I'm pretty sure that Cornell University was doing some research on Mastodon DNA splicing and some of their experiments got loose. They live with us now. I had to put Thor on a diet once I realized that he hit 125 lb by stealing food from Katie. She only got up to 75-80 lb.

   There were a set of projects completed this year that I would like to brag about. The biggest of them was the construction of the backyard play set. The whole family got involved in this. The rising of the St Louis Arch seems like a stack of tin cans compared to this Monolith. Two towers at 10 feet, two slides, two swings spaced across a 12 foot 4x6 beam and retaining walls all around. It took all year to build and the kids loved it the minute we let them at it. Both Dad and Paul lent their sinew and synapse on this one and I could not have done it without them. Completed Project #2 was finally splitting the truckload of logs that got dumped on my driveway a year ago. Sure, they were all cut up and stacked in the back yard quite some time ago, but trying to cram a 350lb block of wood into my nano-tech wood burning stove would be a feat beyond modern physics. Since I have just broken down and turned the heat on at the beginning of December, you can certainly understand my glee at having all this wood to burn. We heat our little mansion with gas heat and it has gotten mighty expensive lately. The winter thus far has been quite mild and the stove is holding it's own. This global warming thing might not be so bad after all!

   Speaking of monumental projects, I would like to single out a set of friends of ours living in Rochester NY. Sean and Lucy (Sean was the best man at our wedding some 8+ years ago) were blessed this year with twins! We have had the joy of them visiting us this year and we returned the visit (well, short 100 miles) by giving them LOADS of our old baby stuff (car seats, strollers, etc..). Wish them well and say a prayer, they could use it! They are the 3rd set of couples from our class that has produced twins. I'm thinking this is some sort of CIA thing, or aliens. Maybe Elvis, not sure yet but I'm getting out the tinfoil hats just in case.

   Speaking of tinfoil hats, I started blogging about my daily thoughts and events. It has been fun for the most part, and quite informative for the grandparents. The downside is that the Sunday phone call seems to be a bit shorter since everyone already knows what is going on at the 'Haupertonian Mansion'. If you are interested, drop in and take a peek here: http://www.mdmhvonpa.blogspot.com.

   Other highlights of the year revolve around our fleet of cars. After renting a minivan to go on trips every few months, we finally caved in and bought one. When the rental payments exceed the monthly car payments, it's time to buy. We really did need it since we intended on driving out to Minnesota for a 3 week long trip. The mileage alone would have crushed our budget. Here is the fateful event that made this purchase timely. On a early June morning, The Mrs got her trusty Ford Taurus tangled up in the bumper of another car. Now, the other car had negligible damage and her car had a slightly damaged grill. The thing that killed the car was that the air bags deployed. The car was just over 80K miles and the airbag replacement would be 4K alone. Perfect car, totaled. ARGH! We had the Minivan, so there was little disruption in our daily schedules outside of the ramifications of having to find a new insurance carrier and dealing with the disposal of the dearly departed from our diminished fleet.

   Speaking of Minnesota, we did go on that road trip. It was fun AND exhausting. I never knew Ohio was so wide! Jacob loved the Homestead and Alexis got to get her hands on some REAL farm animals. They proved to be exceedingly charming and endearing to the extended family. All 150 or so of them. They especially enjoyed throwing rocks into the Lake at the Family Reunion and running amuck on the Glenwood Golf Course at the Golf Invitational.

   The Minnesota vacation was so exhausting, we had to take another vacation just to rest up! We went to Hershey Park here in Pennsylvania. We actually had a really nice time too. The kids became familiar with chocolate and we got to see some of the surrounding sites (more chocolate factories). Especially of interest to Jacob was the Model Train Museum. He has been a fanatic of trains ever since. Alexis, however, was more interested in the heated pool at the resort we stayed at. It had an adjoining hot tub that ended up being a bane to the adults. She would sit in the hot tub for a few minutes, then dash out and jump into the pool. Of course, we had to follow and the shock of cold water on a warm body took a greater toll on us than it did on her. We slept well at night.

   Work is ... well, work. My new consulting gig is at a place called GSICommerce. I started there in March and expect to continue on for a year or two. Not very exciting work, but the seating arrangements are quite ... posh. I have been working at my current employer for nearly 8 years now. In the world of consulting, that is considered nearly a lifetime. This, of course, Is dwarfed by the bazillion years that The Mrs has been working at her Company. Her title right now, I believe, is 'Big Boss Mama that You Shouldn't Mess With - Level 5'.

   In other news, Halloween was fun. Jacob dressed up as a devil again, but switched off to be a pumpkin. Alexis, however, was a kitty this year and was quite enamored with the concept. The day-care professionals had a great deal of difficulty with her costume. When it was time to go outside, she refused to allow it to be removed. We had the same problem when we got her home and were required to leverage the most devious tool a parent can bring to bear: bribery.

   As this year comes to a close, we are doing our best to gear up for the Christmas season. The tree is up and decorated, exterior lights are on, presents are waiting to be wrapped. We expect to have the Wife's family down as well as my own. It will be a full house and the dogs will be happy to have a wider range of victims to extort food from. On the 25th, we will be heading up to North Jersey to go to the wife's family gathering and let the kids wreck someone else's house for a bit.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004



The end of the last day at work for the year was intolerable. For the last two hours, there was this LOUD buzzing noise coming from the ventilation shafts. It was only two hours, but it seemed like an eternity. I guess you could describe the pitch as a large wasp in a tin can. No matter how loud I turned up the music or how hard I pressed on my headphones, it still broke through. It made my teeth curl. I guess the annoyance was partly psychological ... something to do with that hornet I swallowed a few summers back. It grinds on me like a pair of steel wool underwear. I finally get fed up and leave at 1540. See ya next year, fellow wage-slaves ... suckers. On the way home, there are no deer vermin, no carcass on the road and no mile long blood and gore stain. Damn, they must have gotten away ... next time, next time.

The Wonderful and Graceful Mrs MDMHVONPA took half the day off today to do some grocery shopping and such. She was home when I got there, it was kind of a treat to be greeted by a loved one. It is usually pretty cold when I get home but having someone else in the house made it so much less hollow. A final note for this last work day of the year, we ate out. I just was not into the whole dinner/death-cage match with the kids tonight. We went out to Bartuchi's and had pizza, pasta and vodka martinis. Jake resisted the Mrs attempts to feed him, so we switched sides and Evil Mean Angry Dad got him to eat. I'm the stern bad guy so he doesn't fool around with me. Being the authority figure sucks, but from my own experiences I know they will thank me when they are 30. Just ask my parents.


Turkey as New Oil Producer

Heh ... not what you thought it would be, eh? Go here for more energy news. John Atkinson posts at Winds of Change.NET pretty frequently and has another site where he throws up other more eclectic treatise.


last day

I saw something interesting on the way home last night. Just as I was making my low-altitude, high-speed bank from First Avenue onto the Rt 422 parking lot, I noticed a line of cars stopped for no good reason. The were supposed to be accelerating from the on-ramp as they merged into traffic. The traffic is typically moving at Mach-2 and you damn well better get your own ass to Mach-3 in order to find a slot to merge into. If you don't, you sit on the shoulder for the next two hours till traffic dies down enough. Then I see off to the left why the they are slowing down. There are two white-tail deer standing in the median. They have obviously wandered off the Valley Forge National Monument grounds where they are not hunted. There is a monster herd of them at the park. They make pests of themselves by going into the neighboring community and stripping all the expensive landscaping. The landscapers love this, they get to plant new bushes every spring. Anyways, back to my giant rodent problem. The deer, not the motorists who have never seen a deer before even though there are millions in the region. These drive-by venison aspirants were just standing there, grazing on the lead permeated greenery while the bedazzled locals ogled them at 10 mph. I'm fairly certain that there was going to be an accident there because of this wildlife incursion so I did my darndest to get away from the location as quickly as possible. Time to start introducing wolves and mountain-lions back into the state parks here. Enter the parks with a guide and rifle.

The rest of the trip home was pretty harsh. Traffic was dense and slow moving so I had to stay in the right lane to be sure that I could get where I needed to go. I'm not the type of guy who would bully or force my way into a line of traffic. Those people really burn me up, but I try to let it go. My time is valuable, but manners are the backbone of society, no matter how insane the societal norms may be. On the way in this morning, I started to think of my fellow commuters in a different light. It seems that when the weather gets a bit colder, people start to drive a bit slower. I guess they are a breed of lizard drivers. The cold blooded South Pennsyltucky Reptilian residents of the PA Turnpike. I see a good analogy in this.

Work is work, the only interesting things are the central players. I heard via the grapevine that C* got some more divorce papers today and her sack-of-shit ex is probably trying to get more of her family money. The guy is scum. He wont get a job so I assume he is suing for more alimony. He ran off with HER 'best friend' and now feels that he is entitled to more. She takes care of the two children while he frolics in Alaska. The guy needs to be eaten by a bear or some wolves ... any taker? My PM is back today. John has been under the weather lately, some kind of virus since his wife got it too. Rough time to be sick ... I should know. The only other thing going on right now is the pervasive bitching about shopping that I am hearing. You know people, it's not about the gifts. This is NOT Southpark. If it is that hard, just get a gift card from your Local Home Depot Temple or some Amex Travelers Checks ... Or perhaps hire someone to do it for you! Ok, calm down ... I need a martini.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Artificial Life

I'm not so sure that I am comfortable with this. Truth be known, if you can build a cell from scratch, why cant you build a damn stem cell from the same 'off the shelf' materials instead of sucking the brains out of a fetus.


Tear Jerker

This is one is stolen right from My View which got it from The Kansas City Star. Damn Red State Journalits, reporting on heart-warming stuff.


Time keeps on slipping

Standard morning, except I managed to get up on time. I would have been on the road sooner but I heard a strange humming noise in the house. It was at a low frequency and was periodic. I had to follow it through the house to find it's origins. One of the vents was angled just so that it would hum for a bit till it heated up enough to stop. Moved the vent a bit and it stopped. That burned up a good 10 minutes. I' a real Type-A person about that kind of stuff, had to address the issue or it would have consumed my mind for the rest of the day.

On the Turnpike in 15 minutes ... no problems. Once on the 'Road of Bad Intentions and Damning consequences', I found myself stuck behind a 'Waste Liquid Recovery Truck'. I have no clue as to what kind of liquids it was recovering, but I'm sure I didn't want to be behind it. It had changed lanes and it was obvious that the liquid was sloshing back and forth. It looked like one of the typical northeast heating oil delivery trucks and the way it was oscillating from side to side was of great concern to me. Punch the gas, hit warp 9.2, leave him in my ion trail.

Just before I outstripped the speed of the radio waves, I got a little snippet of news that just depressed the heck out of me. It turns out that Aleve is now on the chopping block. Naproxen Sodium is a completely different type of pain reliever than Celebrex and Vioxx which are Cyclooxygenase cox-2 inhibitors. This sucks, all my pain relief options are being recalled. I'll have to go back to ibuprofin and codeine at this rate.

Monday, December 20, 2004


Marvelous Mondays

The act of hauling my disinterested body and even more hesitant mind out of bed in the morning becomes a nearly impossible task when the temperature drops below freezing. It was about 9F this morning here at the Haupertonian World HQ. The freezing rain and sodden dusting of snow have since turned to a sparking sheen of ice. There was even ice on the INSIDE of the windows in the twin's suite. Knowing that this may bode ill for the commute to work, the Mrs and I tried to get out of the house and on our way as quickly as possible. This was all well and good till we got to the carport. Both the windshields on the SuperSaturn and the Family Tank were completely sheeted with a healthy accumulation of ice. Not the neat semi-transparent kind either. It took a good 10-15 minutes to chip away. That puts us seriously behind. Every minute delay counts as two on the road. Two minutes too much in the traffic wonderland of SUVs driving sideways down the turnpike. The panic stricken slow drivers who are out-paced by 100 year old invalids tooling down the shoulder in their walkers. The sleep deprived fuel oil truck drivers weaving madly about in order to get their explosive payloads delivered before they get yet another lecture about how someone's children are freezing to death due to someone's lack of foresight and realization that it IS winter after all. The Yugo drivers that think if they jump into traffic, you will still have enough time to stop before you plan your 1.5 ton truck in their back seat. All the standard dizens of the Philly Rush Hour Review, On Ice. I should sell tickets.

I stopped off at the Post Office this morning to send off a package to Rochester and a wad of Christmas Letters. Insanity you say? I thought so as well. Here are the statistics: Left Office at 0930, got back by 0945. Time warp? Worm Hole? Fantasy World? Nope, welcome to the world of technology. The Regional USPS Distribution Center was ready and waiting for me. There was a uniformed man standing next to a raft of bins to sort and send my letters off and another neatly pressed postal agent prepared to show me how to use the self-serve automated, CC enabled POS electronic scale. "Put your packaged here, follow the instructions on the screen, press here, swipe your card in here and voila, instant postage label. Oh, and let me put that package on the plane for you, have a nice day." Ummm, wow. I have never had a really good time at the post office, but this was better than the Home Depot Temple self-check out. I asked the Mrs later if she had anything else she wanted to ship so I could do it again.



Heh ... today, my Minnesota Mensch Lileks was kvetching about underground roads:
Chicago looked great. The skyscraper for the robot conglomerate looked a little out of place, since they’d mostly likely build a sprawling suburban office park, but fine. I worried about the huge underground freeway – if they’re going to have that thing in place by 2035 they needed to start working on it yesterday, and I’ve been checking the papers: nothing.
HAH! Got you there! We have the Boston Big Dig, the Atlantic City Marina tunnel and the infamous Philly 95 tunnel ... the future is here! Embrace it ... where is my robot butler?

Saturday, December 18, 2004


free weekend

Hmmmm, where to start. Friday night was pretty much modus operandi. One big variation is that I finally got off my duff and filled the humidifier. It takes quite a bit of H2O to fill the base and the reserve tank. Filled to capacity, it would be more than enough for the master suite. Instead, I put it in the kids room which is half the size. This should help Jake out with his epidermal issues and perhaps fend off the hacking cough that you get when you try to keep the manor warm with dry heat. The Mrs stays up till the wee hours of the morning wrapping gifts and printing out the yearly Christmas manifesto. I, of course, cannot fall asleep when she is not in the mile-wide water bed. Either it is the sneaking suspicion that she will crack me over the head while I sleep, or the fact that I will wake up when she tries to pole-vault into bed due to the lofty perch it sits atop. Either way, I'm still awake at 0200 when she finally crawls under the 2000 thread sheets.

It is a horrible night. I do not think I have slept more restlessly than I did Friday night . I wake with a headache (a real headache, no migraine), a stiff neck and a sore throat. On top of that, the little canker sore in my mouth is making sure that I have not forgotten about it. Onery little bastard. The morning shoots by quickly and we spend a big part of it wrapping the gifts that need to go to Minnesota. We box them up and the Mrs runs off to the post office while I feed the kids lunch. I hope they get there before the 25th, but it wont matter much if they are a few days late. I try to send food items (nuts, candies, dried fruits) for the holidays knowing that I can always send the same thing next year. There are only so many knick-nacks that a house can hold and I hate the damned little things. It would be hypocritical to force such things on my closest of family! Speaking of sending gifts, if you want to send something to one of our boys overseas, check here. I'm sure it would be appreciated. Once we get the little rambunctious ones to bed after lunch, I figure it would be a great time to take a nap myself. I'm still not at 100% so I can't think of a better thing to do. Before I nod off, I let the hounds out so that they would not wake me when they inevitably detect an invisible ninja assassin intruder. While they were out turning the back 50 into an open sewer, I spotted my Neighbor on the other side of the fence. I was thinking that perhaps I should go out to talk with him. He has just come back from the hospital. He had surgery to remove one of his kidneys because it had a tumor in it. Not good, both ways. One: to have a tumor at all, two: to have it in a place where it could metastasize easily. It's odd that I can't seem to find the words to talk to him right now. People seem to be more terrified of MS or ALS than they are of cancer. While I stood there and mulled over my apparent cowardice, he had collected his dogs remains and gone back inside. Well, that opportunity passed me by, so I let in the lumbering hounds and went back to the master suite. Ahhh, blissful slumber.

Later on in the evening, I get down to making more broccoli/rice soup for the kids. This stuff is so easy to make and the variations are wonderful. I'm not sure why I did not steal this from SuperMom earlier. A little extra rice and it becomes less watery and so much easier for the kids to eat without painting the kitchen floor. They like it too which is a great boost for me as a parent. Who can rightfully say that their kids LOVE veggies. I think I'll try to feed them brussels sprouts next. Later on in the evening, we start to wrap presents ... Again. I'm tired and a bit fatigued so I don't get much done before I head off to bed. The Wife, however, shoulders the load and continues to forge ahead with the letters and pictures to be mailed out. And I lie awake, waiting for her to come to bed. I'm getting to be like an old dog bureaucrat who lives for the schedule, not matter how inane or obsolete it may have become. Awfully enough, I still wake up three times because of this damn canker sore. I guess I am going to have to cave in and get something to numb it down because the 'infant orajel' just is not cutting it.

Sunday is pretty laid back. Certainly colder though. In the phone calls from family, I've heard that the Arctic Blast is coming my way and has already blanketed Minnesota and New York. The fire is going full blast and is consuming entire forests. The house is at a toasty 70F. Just in case, I set the furnace to kick on at 61F so we should be good if the fire does run low on fuel. I have already chewed through half of the left bracket and fully expect to burn down to 25% of its contents. I have to keep reminding myself that I got a whole truck-load of logs for 375$, minus the labor. Of course, there is all the chains, sharpening, oil, axe handles and wedges that I did not count in the cost of this. Since we once spent 450$ on a single month of heat, and now spend about 175$, I think we may be saving a coin or two here. I have to keep repeating that to myself as I look at the burn scars on my hands and fore-arms. That stove gets mighty hot.

The rest of the day was pretty much more of the same. I wrapped presents while the wife went shopping. Kids napped, I wrapped. Kids woke, I fed them. Wife comes home, we surf while the kids watch some Disney Christmas special ... they are mesmerized, entertained and subtly encouraged to be in the Christmas Spirit. Later on, we put the kids to bed and ... well, wrap presents. The only big event of the day was that my seldom-present neighbors Chuck and Roz come over for a quick visit. They were away for a Sports Journalism dinner down south somewhere for the last few days. They wanted to stop over and say 'Thnx' for the Pistachios and all. Roz gushes over the twins, Chuck and I quip back and forth about things of little consequence. Chuck is at least a decade older than Hero Dad and it's hard for us to really talk about much since we have such different life experiences. We manage to get along though. They have several grandchildren of their own, but seem to be fascinated by the twins. Must be their 'energetic' mannerisms.

Friday, December 17, 2004


Zombie Patrol

Wow, what a night. After replacing the lightbulbs in the kitchen, weird things started to happen. Some of the lights would flicker on and off and if all the lights were on, the lights in the other rooms that were on the same circuit would flicker too. Stranger and stranger. I finally got fed up after I had turned off the largest bank of lights and was not able to turn them back on again. The switch just went dead. The other lights on the circuit were fine. I went down to my utility closet where I had a few boxes of replacement toggle switches and grabbed one. A load tester, 2 types of screwdrivers and a face plate were also required. I then yanked the dimmer switch after removing the screws. With the switch out, I could see that this was no ordinary installation. There were four wires for the switch and only 3 were hooked up. Ok ... the 4th wire was obviously for a double switch system, but why are there two black wires and one white. More shenanigans. I did a load test and found that the white wire was actually a ground and the 2 black wires were the ones that were needed to complete the circuit. Ok, nice. I now had to find the correct breaker to shut off this circuit. This was not simple. The wiring in the house was not done in zones. They essentially strung several lines from one end of the mansion to the other. If there was a light or outlet along the way, it got tacked on. Soooo, if I turn off a breaker, I could very well turn off the lights in the dining room, some outlets in the kitchen, the stairway light and half the outlets in the Master suite. The only breakers that have labels are the ones that I have previously had to identify. I have about 36 breakers and I nearly had to go through half of them before I got the right one. I would trip a breaker, run upstairs, test, curse and then run back down to try another. In the end, I had a lot of digital clocks to re-set. The switch labeled 22b was the one. With the power off, I installed the toggle switch and screwed the cover back on. It worked perfectly, and no more flickering nonsense. That was a very expensive switch too, what a shame.

I could not resist giving the kids some of the ginger bread house. They were clambering at the edge of the giant glass dining table to get a crack at it. I snapped off the snowman and the ginger-bread man and handed it over to them. They were enthralled with the treat. Jacob ran to the toy chest, crawled inside and did his best to chew the little buttons off before anyone could take it away. A treat this good MUST be a mistake! It was as if he were a prison inmate protecting his cherished desert at dinner. Later on, the Mrs was in the receiving room where we set up the tree. The kids were sitting in her lap as she reclined back in the giant leather lounger we got back when we found that she was pregnant with the daemon seed. She had one of the laptops we have scattered about the house on the wi-fi network and was at the Disney Site going through the different activities with the kids. They love to play with that, but need a bit of help. Their favorite game is 'Push The Big Power Button Till The PC Shuts Off'. It's not much fun after that. We bathed them and sent them to bed. Going back, I could not find the gingerbread that Jacob had. I know he did not eat the whole thing. I guess it will show up sooner or later. If I let the Hounds scrounge about a bit, I'd wager that they would take care of it pretty quickly.

I had burnt the last of the wood in the brackets and it needed to restock since we are expecting snow soon. Not a lot of snow, mind you, but the cold and wet would make for an unpleasant environment to bring in the wood. So in and out I went. It took several wheel barrows to completely fill both of the brackets. I made hell-hounds stay outside till I was done or they would follow me in and out each trip. I would probably have gotten either run down or knocked over as they jockey to see who can get through the door first. The Mrs was there to open and close the door for me, so she was on the job of intimidating them to stay out. The wood outside is under a tarp and the arid winter air has made them quite dry. They should burn like a Southern California hillside.

The Mrs and I finally retire to bed at 2330 ... a bit late, but we should be able to get a good 6 hours of sleep in, or so we thought. Right at the stroke of midnight, Jacob started to complain and steadily increased his volume till it was a full out wail. I went in to see if he had lost his pacifier or was stuck in the bars of his crib, but he was fine. It was the itching that was keeping him awake. The dry air and a recent flare-up of his eczema made things pretty miserable for him. He spent the next three hours thrashing about and periodically getting out of bed to run about the house. The Mrs went so far as to change his clothing to something we thought a bit softer and slather his body in Elidel lotion. He finally settled down at 0330 and went back to sleep. The 0600 hour came much too quickly.

As for the rest of the day, I'll have to skip the corporate 'pirate pollyanna' since they are having it at 1600, about 15 minutes before I have to go pick up the kids. Oh, and I've developed this nasty sore on the inside of my mouth. The thing is right at the ridge of molars, on the inside of my cheek. I cant eat or drink anything without aggravating it. Since one of my most favorite pastimes is eating and drinking, this is having a very profound impact on my lifestyle. And it hurts. A lot. Dammit.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


God's Hand

I just read this on BLACKFIVE and it really was a punch in the gut. Here is a snippet, but read the whole thing:
On one such patrol, our lead security vehicle stopped in the middle of the street. This is not normal and is very unsafe, so the following vehicles began to inquire over the radio. The lead vehicle reported a little girl sitting in the road and said she just would not budge. The command vehicle told the lead to simply go around her and to be kind as they did. The street was wide enough to allow this maneuver and so they waved to her as they drove around.
As the vehicles went around her, I soon saw her sitting there and in her arms she was clutching a little bear that we had handed her a few patrols back. Feeling an immediate connection to the girl, I radioed that we were going to stop. The rest of the convoy paused and I got out the make sure she was OK. The little girl looked scared and concerned, but there was a warmth in her eyes toward me. As I knelt down to talk to her, she moved over and pointed to a mine in the road.
It's ok, you can cry ... too.


Wednesday Closed for Repairs, proceed to Thursday

I went out after lunch to send off that package to Iraq. The post office was near by so it only took about 15 minutes. It was still cold, but sunny and not windy at all. I look at the leaky rear tire as I get out of the SuperSaturn and realize that it could probably use a bit of air. I'll get on that later tonight at the Manor's carport.

On the way home, I stopped off at Home Depot to pick up a set of energy miser light bulbs for the kitchen area. We have some 11 or so lights in there that we have on for most of the evening. This is burning up a bit of electricity. That, and we have a real mish-mash of different bulb sizes. They are the regular incandescent bulbs where the larger 130w ones really heat up and are quite expensive. I found some of the fluorescent ones that cost about 10$ each, but apparently have a 6 year guarantee and only use a fraction of the electricity that my current ones do. I'll bite. One down side of these bulbs is that they do not work well with dimming switches. To tell you the truth though, I have NEVER used the dimming capability of the kitchen lights. The switches came with the house and are the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. More light is better when you are dealing with boiling water, sizzling oil and really sharp foot long knives. But hey! To each is own.

On the way back to the Manor, I get to drive down the gauntlet called Byberry Road. During rush hour, it is a disaster. This time, a SUV and a UPS truck collided head on. Oil, antifreeze and glass everywhere. The suv was immobilized and laid askew in the center of the road. It happened a few minutes before I arrived so the backup was only a half mile by that time. Not a big hangup normally, but because I went to the Home Depot Temple of Cooool hardware I was running a bit late. Ok, really late. I didn't get to the Manor till 1715. Needless to say, the Hounds were very happy to see me. I let them out and they did their defoliation job while I sat out in the cold and put some air in the rear leaky tire. Yeah, I should have bought some fix-a-flat when I was at the store, but all the pretty flashing tools distracted me.

It's been getting a bit more chilly outside recently. On the way home, I go under an ancient Reading Railroad trestle. It is peculiar in that it is completely built of blocks of granite and covered by a mound of soil and gravel that the tracks are laid on. Water perpetually drips between the seams for weeks after a rainfall. Since the temperature finally dropped significantly below freezing, the giant icicles that form on the top of the tunnel have started to form. A lot of them. You need to go down into a depression to go through the tunnel so at night, the lights of oncoming traffic diffuse through the ice. It's very ominous; a menacing passage that may not release it's Bohemian trekkers out the other side. All I could think is 'Deliver us from evil' from the Lords Prayer. Did you know that the term 'Deliver' here was a variation of a word that meant 'to lead through'. Seemed to fit here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


rolling, rolling, rolling....

When I got to the Manor last night, I had very little time to dawdle. It was nearly 1700 and daylight was letting out it's last whimper before finally winking out. I was busy hauling the recycling bins up the main drive when I saw my neighbor Gus waving to me. He is usually not home at this time of the day, so I went over to talk to him. He greeted me with his usual warm, old-world way and asked about the health of the kids. Everyone is good as can be expected, I replied. He then let me know that he and Irene would be going to Greece for a month. I'm sure he told me this because I watch over his house when he leaves. I let him know that I can tell when he is gone because he parks his van in the driveway instead of the street. We talked for a bit and then it hit me. The Mrs and I had bought presents for our neighbors and we had not had a chance to do the cards yet for anyone except Sharon and Marvin. I asked him if he could wait just a moment while I ran inside and brought out something for him. It only took a moment, but it was a clumsy affair. Run the whole mile up the drive, through the car-port, through the mudroom, Disarm the internal anti-personnel security system, up the grand stair, down the south wing hall way, and into the guest suite where we were stacking all the unwrapped gifts. I had to rummage about for a bit. So much stuff ... 72" plasma televisions, platinum dining ware, Hummers, Personal Satellite, DaisyCutters ... ahhh, here it is ... a clear container of pistachios. I retrace my steps and mention to the hounds that I will be right back to let them out. I hand the gallon of pistachios to Gus and suggest that he bring it on the plane with him to pass the time. It's a long flight to Europe and shelling nuts can really be an engrossing distraction. He is visibly appreciative of the gift, which makes me feel good too. He has to get to the Philly Hellport and I need to start preparations for the evening S&R mission so we wish each other a merry Christmas and set get back to our respective tasks. The moon has just started to peek over the horizon and the stars lend only the slightest illumination. Hunting Mastodon spore is going to be a vexing task in this context. Argh.

After the Turmultous Twins start their evening meal and the Mrs gets home, I start a task that I need to get done tonight. I have decided to 'adopt' a soldier over in Iraq and the package should have gone out last week when I got the email message. I've been a bit lazy and had to dedicate at least 30 minutes to this. Got the box, the shipping address and the brown paper. I put a short letter inside the box along with some envelopes, paper, pen, toothbrushes, toothpaste, insect repellent wipes, alcohol wipes and some sun-block. When and if the final recipient gets this, I'll be able to send some more reasonable stuff. I don't know who will get this so I had to send 'general' stuff. Hope it is appreciated.

The commute in this morning started late and became most frustrating quite quickly. Yet another day of sucking in diesel exhaust and counting the rust spots on the bumper of the car in front of me. Today's great trials began even before I made it to the Tpk. There was some kind of accident on Northbound 611 just before the TPK entrance. The vehicles had pulled off into the Pep Boys parking lot and there was a police cruiser there with them. There was also a cruiser blocking the right lane of the north bound traffic. I have no idea why he was doing this, but it was creating a great deal of misfortune for those of us in that lane. The left lane is typically backed up for a mile at this point on a regular basis because of the large medical complex on the left side of the road. The turn light is not nearly long enough to handle the volume. SOoooo, the right lane was forced to merge with the left lane and hope that even though they were waiting for a long time, they would let us in so we could get around the blockade. It was a pretty civil engagement from what I could see and only burned about 15 minutes of my life. How charming. I should have taken the Mill Road Option, but my previous experience forbade me to do so. Through the tolls and down the Turnpike I zoomed at a mind boggling speed ... about 25 mph. Yesh, we are cooking with gas now! I eventually scratched and clawed my way to KOP where once again, the traffic was backed up for a mile or so. I stayed in the left exit lane till I crested the hill where the laser beams of sunlight turned my windshield into a semi-translucent white sheet. The clear parts of my windshield that were not sandblasted let in enough light to cook my retina and boil the contents of my eyes. Reacting quickly, I flipped down my visor and took advantage of the stunned drivers to my right. Zipping across to the left most opening, I had an easy shot at the EZPass lane that would let me avoid the usual tangled mess that occurs after the tolls. Not today. For some reason, there were 3 semi trucks side by side on the other side of the tolls with ANOTHER police cruiser in front of them. Argh, the law is out to ruin my day! It only took a minute to squeeze around them, but jumping jehosephat, I have never seen this much police activity at this time of the day.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Suburban Water Mismanagement

This is your standard crap-fest from our regional water company. I had called the water company and scheduled a crew to come out and remove my meter on the water main that I use for the sprinkler system. If I don't, they charge me a minimum 'rental' fee for the meter of 27$ a month. Since I only use it in the summer, I might as well have it removed. On Oct 18th they apparently came and made a huge mess in the front yard. It looks like they broke the shutoff valve since it was all dug up, mud on the sidewalk and street. Yesterday, we got a bill in the mail for the minimum rental fee. The Mrs sent in two checks the last time we got the water bills: one for the house and one for the lawn. They will give us a credit for the amount we paid on the lawn meter from Oct 18th to the current bill after they straighten everything out. Well, the Mrs called them on the mat and they fessed up. They couldn't remove it so they just left. Goobers. I'm putting an Idiot sign out front to show them where it is. A big piece of cardboard with an arrow pointing down ...
text: WATER METER HERE. I used to be able to open it, but they put a new locking mechanism on it so now you need a special magnetic tool. I'll wager the contractor didn't have the tool, so just left after breaking the main shutoff.



Not much to report today. I'll probably do some menial tasks that have been fermenting on the back burner. Even though I was up till 0030 this morning, I still managed to roll out of bed at 0605. I even remembered a sliver of my dreams when I did wake, promptly forgetting them on the commute in. The traffic on Mill Road was just as awful as ever. This is one of the main east-west roads that will take you to the Willow Grove interchange of the turnpike. It is always a mess after 0630. I don't know why I took it, I guess just to remind myself that it is pretty horrible. The KOP interchange was a mess too. I think that is because the off ramp points directly into the sunrise. You come up this incline and WHAM! There is the sun, right in your eyes. Tends to make traffic slow down quite quickly. This in turn, backs up onto the turnpike for a mile or two. Ingenious traffic planners. Get to work, my head is starting to hurt. I wolf down a handful of Acetaminophen/COD #3 and get on with it. Mmmmm, good times. One good way to start the day is narcotics and coffee. Speaking of coffee, the Cafe on the first floor had it's grand opening today. Free food! Not only that, they had Starbucks coffee on tap. Mmmm, one more temptation. My dentist is going to kill me if I stain my teeth any more than I already do.


  • Did low voltage landscape lighting registration
  • SuperSaturn Registration
  • Call Dentist to reshedule appt - now have Dec 29th at 0900 and Feb 1st at 1650 as well as Neuro on Feb 2nd at 1500.

  • Monday, December 13, 2004



    Yet another rainy December day. Monday to boot. It is so miserable, I turn off my alarm clock and sleep till 0705. You know what, it was still raining and now the traffic is that much worse. The Mrs and I rush about to get ready for the day that awaits us. While she showers, I take care of the dogs and get the twins situated in the mile-wide water bed. No time for me to change them right now, just get them snuggled in and a warm bottle going down. They are not too happy this morning. After having the Grandparents about, they are keenly interested in finding them this morning so they can go back to sleep for an hour or so. Well, sorry guys. Grams and Gramps had to go home to work, we will see them for Christmas, ok? No, well ... look, there's the Wiggles on the television! Ahhh, distraction. Another little surprise for me was that they had somehow dug up the Cadbury Clucking Bunnies the got last Easter and were clutching them like it was the last plush animal they would ever see. They certainly love their toys, sometimes it takes a lot of trickery and bribery to get them away from their fixation dejour. It will not work forever though.

    I got to work at 0845 this morning, rain and all. It was a interesting start to the day at the office too. Every 10 to 15 minutes or so, the lights would shut off briefly. That can be enough to really drive you up a wall if you spend your day staring into a high definition light source. In between flickers, I went through the input I got from my High Level Design Document for the SmartLabel project ... a project that needs to die in a horrible way as soon as possible. It wont. The project will continue on and suck up enormous amounts of time, money and resources. Someone will get promoted. I work at Dilbert's company. Later that evening, I went to the Child Detention and ReEducation Center on a S&R mission for Alexis. Jacob had already been snatched by the Wife. He had a dermatologist's appointment earlier in the evening. Alexis is curious as to where Jacob has gone to. For being so adversarial, she sure is protective of her big brother. In place of her brother, she found an orange McDonald's mini TY Beanie Baby Bear that she held on to. No trickery, slight of hand or bribery could convince her to leave it behind. Argh, she is so possession oriented! We leave the building WITH the bear and look at the stars. She points out the blinking lights of an aircraft high above. "My Airplane Daddy!" ... "Yes, I know honey. Lets go home and see your Mommy and Guo-Guo" ... "MY MOMMY! MY GUO-GUO Daddy!" A quick flurry of snow came down and passed as quickly as it arrived. I don't think she noticed or I'd be combing the ground to find her snow-flakes for the rest of the night.

    Sunday, December 12, 2004


    Weekend at the Haupertonian World HQ pt II

    It's a good morning. I get up, light a fire to warm the house and harass the dogs. I muddle about and then finally get down to business. We get the kids dressed after the Grandparents and I take our turns emptying the hot water heater into the sewers below. I've got to get on the solar powered water/air heaters. We had about fifteen minutes to load up the family tank and get to the church for the 1000 mass. We got there in 10 minutes and chose to go to the basement instead of the regular chapel. Since this is the family mass, there are load of screamer in the basement and it is expected. My kids singing or raging would not turn any heads. The other reason is that the mass downstairs is a smaller gathering and tends to finish up a bit quicker. You can get out of the parking lot of purgatory much quicker. It was just my luck that the parking Nazi was on duty when I got there and we managed to get suck in the center of the lot, about 3 cars back from the front. The parking lot at our church is somebody's really bad joke on the parishioners. It is essential 3 batches of queues where if you do not park at the edges, you will pretty much get stuck in the lot for 15-30 minutes after the mass is over. I expected the worst when I landed smack dab in the center queue of fist lot, about 3 cars back from the front. Nutz. We hurried down the stairs and bumped into Corrina, the wife of a friend's friend. She is married to the contractor fellow who just got diagnosed with some sort of cancer and is in treatment right now. She was there with her youngest infant son, daughter and 2nd youngest son. I did not see her eldest son. John, her husband, almost never comes to church. I though he would have found God by now after getting smacked down by the tumor and chemo. I exchanged pleasantries with her and then rushed off to catch up with Jacob who was on his way to the dais. It would be an awkward scene should he start to desecrate the alter before the mass.

    The service went as expected with the kids resisting our efforts to keep them sedate and quiet. Nothing spectacular, just the usual insistence that they be allowed to do as they please. At one point, Jacob and Alexis figured out that Grandma could not possibly keep both of them from squeezing past her to get out of the pew. Now, Alexis is not interested in going much more than an arms length from the edge of the pew. She would be the distraction. She insisted that a book at the bottom of the back pack was needed to keep her mild and quiet. Once Grandma was distracted into assisting Alexis, Jacob slithered past and stood in the side aisle till someone recognized that he had broke through enemy lines. As soon as I spotted him, his face lit up as though he had won the lottery. I pointed at him so show grandma that she had an escapee on her end of the pew. As she turned to reach for him, he did a little jig and then bolted down the aisle to the back of the church. Little bugger wants to play tag! Grandma darted after him and disappeared out the back. Moments later, I look over to Hero Dad who was trying to juggle Alexis and her variety of accoutrements. I mention to him that they have been gone a while and perhaps I should go see if Jake had managed to get into something that Grandma could not extricate him from. As I head to the back, I thankfully see them coming in and listen intently as Grandma describes Jakes little attempted excursion up the stairs. Heh, natural borders. When the Ushers came out to collect the donations, the kids were more than happy to pour forth the checks and cash that we had given them. The hang at the edge of the pew, anticipating when the basket with be brought to bear and they can make their best bank-shot. The song that accompanied the exit procession involved a copious amount of hand clapping which really endeared it to Jacob. He stood there, clapping his hands and swaying side to side. He particularly relishes dance with music for some reason. Good thing we are not Baptist or Quaker. We work our way out of the chapel and up the stairs after Fr Henry makes his way to the back. I still remember his homily. It was a joke about Rome, the Pope, a hairdresser and the faithful. I wont steal it here, but it was a big hit. Afterwards, he proclaimed that he despised the Christmas season. Some explanation was in order and he gave it in spades. The moral was that you should not shirk away from that which others deem unworthy, but forge ahead and look for the beauty of the act. I'm wondering how many of my fellow parishioners got more or less out of it than I did.

    Once We managed to get outside, it was obvious that the 'Upper Mass' had not let out and I was still thoroughly blocked in. By chance or luck, two cars to the right of me left within minutes of reaching the Family Tank. Then, a third car, a minivan, left giving me about 8 feet of space to get into the lane that led out of the pickle I was in. I leaped at the chance and got out with great care, but little difficulty. Whoever says that God does not reward the faithful needs to spend a day in this parking lot to understand how delighted I was to be on my way. Back at the manor, Amish Dad goes about loading all the wood that I could not split into the back of his beater truck. The fireplace in the Northern Homestead is large enough to hold these impenetrable hunks. He has just enough space in the back to hold it all without stacking it. I paid for it, he helped chop it. He even loaned me his High-tech Corked Maul of Wood Chopping +3 I would have left it at the curb for the scroungers if he did not take it. The kids were put down to nap while we were busy with the wood outside. Since they were asleep, we took off to go pick up the tree that we would decorate for the Manor today. Instead of the usual 12 footer that the cathedral ceiling can take, we decided on a smaller specimen that would be a bit easier for the kids to help decorate. I directed Hero Dad to drive to two separate places that usually sell pre-drilled trees only to find that both my favorite vendors were no longer in business! We ended up going to a place not too far away that the Mrs had spotted. Lots of trees, good ones, and ok prices. I ended up paying 42$ for a 7 foot tree. Of course, I could have paid much less for a live tree in the summer time. Where would I plant it though! No, I'll shell out the cash for the pre-killed tree and put it out back with the other one from 2 years ago. I cant believe the carcass is still there after 2 years of decay. I'll have to take care of both of 'em after I take the tree down this time. We get the tree home with little difficulty or surprises. It goes up and needs little leveling. They drilled a hole in the bottom of the tree that was just a bit too big for the spike in my tree holder. That, and just took a free-hand drill and went to town. Good thing I was not paying for accuracy! The lights went on just as easily. I'll leave the proliferation of ornaments and paraphanalia for the kids to enjoy later on. I got a report later on in the night that the twins were completely overjoyed to have the tree up with only the lights on. I have got to remember to water it this year. Fewer needles, less pain.

    I had to get changed into some Semi-Formal clothing for the corporate holiday party. It was going to be held at the same place as last year: Peoples Light and Theater. This place is in Malvern and is a good 45-60 minute trip for me. I give my thanks and say my goodbyes to the Grand-Parental units before heading out. The twins are still asleep and the Mrs is busy going over the Central Asia Reports from our field agents. I make a hasty exit at 1530. That should give me a comfortable window to get there by 1630. When the cocktail hour/dinner starts. I arrive 15 minutes early with no traffic issues or irritations. That may never happen again! As I pull into the parking lot, a flood of doddering elderly and oblivious children bolt out into the lane. The previous play has just let out and the patrons were under the ill conceived notion that nobody else has anything more important to do other than to yield to their desires to walk without care or caution to their cars. Upon reaching their cars, the attitude changes dramatically and the immediately lurch forward, blocking any other cars that may already be in the lane. I work my way to the back of the lot and wait for the madness to subside. In spite of common belief of urban legend, Lemmings do not march into the sea to drown themselves. These people would in a heartbeat. Within 15 minutes, the lot is cleared and I find through this experience that the best spot to park is not in front of the theater, but instead, near the lot exit. I dock the SuperSaturn and head into the restaurant. It is ingeniously name the 'Bistro'. Genius. I am the first to arrive, mostly because I try to be on time. I order my first of many Vodka Martini for the evening and wait for the activities to begin. Within minutes, my coworkers start to show up and we exchange profuse volumes of small talk. The CEO makes some odd demands on how the tables for dinner should be arranged, and we then move on from that disaster to the play. I find that my appetite for Vodka Martinis increases when someone else is footing the bill. I think that I need to drink much less than I used to. The play is two hours long and I would probably have enjoyed it a bit more if my stomach were not fighting back at the attempted pickling. It (the play) is an adaptation of Sleeping Beauty and is actually quite enjoyable. It is packed with sub-regional references and is quite mirthful with it's naming conventions. There is a bit of manufactured humor in the character names and situations. Additionally, the machinations that implore audience participation are thin and mostly entertaining for those who are not singled out. A coworker, D*, tries to single out our CEO and gets tagged himself as a target for the sexual innuendo and coarse jabs. All in all, it was fun enough. We get out at 2130 just as my head starts to hurt. Hangover or migraine? I don't know, but it was probably well deserved.

    Saturday, December 11, 2004


    Weekend at the Haupertonian World HQ

    Friday night went pretty good for a bit. I blasted down the Turnpike at a mind boggling 35 mph in order to get the Manor before my parents did. Don't want the security system going off. My neighbors hate it when the automated artillery and cybernetic attack robots start up, they make a hell of a racket. Shortly after I got into the main kitchen and started the evening preparations, the parents arrived and went about the business of unloading all their baggage. Amish Dad also brought down one of the presents for Jacob, a large Brio Train table, that he had been putting together. He is pretty handy with the wood working. This particular project has resulted in a fairly large construct. We unload it from the back of the beater pickup and put it in the garage. Most of the bays are occupied by my tools and half finished projects, so we had to put it towards the back of the bay nearest the manor. I think it might be time to clean out some of the rubbish and debris so that I can move around in the garage. With that out of the way, I zip off to go on a solo S&R mission. When the Tumultuous Twins and I disembark from the SuperSaturn, it is raining. I try to herd them inside as quickly as possible. Dad's truck is still in the driveway and the kids have not made the connection yet. They bumble inside and we make our way from the carport, past the kennels and on to the staging area in the kitchen. Grams and Grams slowly creep in as the kids are taking their coats off. Alexis turns around and spies two familiar faces across the mess hall. Both of the children shriek in delight in unison and blitz the Grandparents. The Grandparents, well, they live for this.

    Later that night, Jacob has pretty much monopolized the laps of both granparents. He is not feeling well and consequently, does not eat much. He has a bit of a fever. He is probably fighting off the tail end of the gut-bug that has been hounding him since the beginning of the week. Right now, he just wants to be coddled by the grandparents. They are eager to oblige. The following morning, Jake starts complaining on queue at 0600. I hesitantly tumble out of bed and start to get something to sooth him. Oddly enough, I find that I had left the milk downstairs instead of putting it in the bed-side refrigerator. I clumsily try to don some sweats and crash to the floor multiple times while trying to put the pants on. the 0600 morning hour and balance are two things that I can no longer reconcile. When I finally got across the Master Suite and opened the 12 foot mahogany door, I caught sight of Grandma deftly slipping into the Autonomous Child Region in her light bending ninja night gown. Well, well, well. I think I know who to send into North Korea to take care of that little dictator problem. Just tell Grandma the Mr 'I Got Nukes' has kidnapped her grandson and all hell would break loose! Later reports from our guest room monitoring system let me know that he slept happily for about 90 minutes with the grandparents before waking again. Alexis wakes some time later, but is so excited that the grandparents are in the manor, she does not drink her vitamin enriched milk (doped up with growth hormones, steroids and a copious number of self replicating nanobots). What, does she think she can live on Love alone?! Apparently.

    I had a dentist appointment at 0900 on today. At 0800, the dentist's office called and informed my wife that they needed to move up. Well, it takes about 45 minutes to get there and I was not expecting to have to hurry. Sure, they want to see me at 0845 because one of their Dental Hygienists is out today. First off, they don't have appointments at that time. If they did, I certainly would have asked for an earlier appointment! Off I go in a rush. Since I am motivated to get there as quickly as possible, everyone else on the road is entirely dedicated in making sure that I do not. In spite of the hordes of mobile timesuckers and vehicle-enabled cell-phone prattlemongers, I make it to the dentist's with only seconds to spare. Then I wait. After waiting, I wait a bit more. Growing unease rising ... I grab a magazine to pass the time. Hmmm, the Atlantic from NPR. I start to page through as a few people move through the waiting room. The arrive, announce their entrance and then are promptly escorted to the oral torture designated for their case. I start to become engrossed in a particularly interesting article when my persecutor ... err, Hygienist indicates that my maxillofacial dismemberment ... ummm ... cleaning is to begin. It goes as well as can be expected. I brush and floss and use mouthwash. I'm a good little patient. As she rips the gums from my teeth and puts sharp metal things in places that I wish I did not have, my nails slowly sink into the arms of the restraining chair. Fifteen minutes of pain ... and then she is done. All the information she needed to extract from me, I resisted and kept it to myself. Rambo would be proud. Ever see the Marathon Man with Dustin Hoffman? Yeah, well, he had it easy. Is it safe my hairy rear! I talk with the Hygienist and the Main Man. They let me know that I am grinding my teeth down and probably need to get fitted for a night guard. Hmm, me? Stressed? Naw, it must be the coffee. On my way out, I set up an appointment for my six month return visit to the Sanitary White Room of Horrors and an earlier appointment to get a mold done of my teeth. This will be used to create a mouth guard. For some reason, I set up an appointment on the 22nd of this month. This may have been a subconscious way of avoiding the 45 minute session of gagging, but I cannot go to see these people at 0900 on the 22nd since I will be working. I am certainly not interested in taking vacation time to have my mouth filled with some foul substance. I'll have to cancel and then never reschedule.

    I rush back to the manor and try to avoid the same people who's antics I got to enjoy on the way to the office. One of them tried to kill me! Out of the blue at 60mph, this van decided that making a right hand turn is what he really wanted to do at the last second. The roads were wet and it took some creative breaking and swerving in order for me to avoid becoming a permanent part of his rear bumper or an adjunct of the undercarriage of the city-van next to me. I spent the next 20 miles behind this van at a blazing 25 mph. Not how I like to spend my weekend. When I did finally get back home, the AmishDad and I spent a bit of time cleaning out the garage so that he could stain the table he built for Jacob. It started out pretty good, but then got a bit frantic as the rain started up again. We had to rush in order to get all the projects that I had started back into the garage bays. Originally, since it was not raining, we set them out on the car port. Shortly after we got everything out, down came the rain. ARgh. We managed though, and there was sufficient space for him to do what he needed. Afterwards, we bitch to each other about LLL Academia/Journalists (both right and left), how the internet and MSM were introducing fabricated facts that could not be proven or confirmed. These shrewd and canny actions required those of us trying to digest the information to inherently distrust everything we were presented. Now, instead of being shown the facts and letting us make up our minds, we are compelled to deconstruct the what has been presented, validate the facts, and then go from there to question of confirm the intent of the story. Where are all the Editors! Where are the Ombudsman, the Customer Advocates. They have been replaced by Fox News, al Jazeera and the Michael Moore school of Propaganda. </rant>

    Later that evening, we had dinner and Jacob put on a little show about how he did not want to eat the food he was presented. He wants what he always has, fish sticks and hotdogs. We gave him ham, but that would not do. The mac-n-cheese was not the right shape, the he wouldn't eat that either. Little bugger. We will have to make him go hungry. After dinner, we moved the kids in their restraining seats to one side of the table. I brought in the mixer and I started to get the frosting ready to assemble a gingerbread house. The kids were mesmerized by the mixer. Then, as they saw grandma and I start to assemble the walls and roof, the became keenly aware that we were working with sugar-magic. I let them taste a little of the frosting, the were hooked. Like a good drug dealer, the first taste was free. They will have to wait till the 24th before I let them rip into the house and strip it clean of its delectable treats.

    Friday, December 10, 2004


    Recycling Gone South (North?)

    This is rich. I was then talking to a co-worker who forwarded this snippet from Ian Goldberg (formerly of Berkley) to me:

    Today was the last day of weekly trash pickup for us here in East York (and in most of Toronto). Next week, they start picking up the trash only once every two weeks, but at the same time, they're starting a weekly compost collection that collects all manner of things one normally doesn't expect to put in compost. It seems they're using anaerobic digestion to process the stuff, which can take a wider variety of stuff than your garden-variety compost heap. I'm not sure to what use they'll put the resulting (sic) methane. I've heard of farms that use this process, and then turn the resulting methane into electricity, but I've seen no indication of that in this case.

    So starting today, I have to be careful of what trash I put into what receptacle; the choices are now "recycle", "compost", and "other trash". We've got a little chart on the fridge indicating what goes where.

    I suspect most of the trash we generate will be non-recyclable plastics. That's because Toronto, for some really odd reason, only accepts plastic types 1 and 2 for recycling. I remember Montreal took a whole bunch more. We still need to figure out where in the kitchen to put the compost bin, but we'll find a place soon enough.

    As I said in the comments of the Western Heart Article, can you imagine what 2 weeks of dirty diapers from twins smell like! A lot less sweet than a week old carcass of a rotting lobster.

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