White Lightning Axiom: Redux: March 2005

Thursday, March 31, 2005


Ooops, can I take it back?

Wretchard over at the Belmont Club makes an interesting observation about what is going on over in the Middle East right now. He is typically brilliant but pulls this quip out of his infinite bag of tricks.I'm curious if OBL would want a do-over with his Global Jihad knowing what he does today.


Good, bad or ugly?

I stole this from steel (once again) and I'm not quite clear on if this could be a bad thing or a good thing.So if someone lies or commits libel and you print it, you can be sued. This could be a very dangerous ruling and I'm not entirely comfortable with this. As much as I despise the MSM, I think that this kind of open door to the suppression of views will certainly be monopolized by some ... aggressive ... groups and individuals.Any thoughts?



Last night could have gone worse, but you just gotta deal with what you get. Especially when there are two fairly helpless tykes depending on you to do your best. And if that is not enough, you just have to do better. I take off on time from work and arrive at the HQ at the usual 1700 hours. As I enter the Manor, the unmistakable odor of 'not-so-fresh' dog excretions assault my olfactory senses like the Isandlwana Zulu Impis over running the British 24th Regiment. Katie is now taking her turn at the 'I ate too many bones' trough. Difference here is that she managed to disperse her expulsions throughout her kennel and thusly, throughout her fur. I lead her out to the deck and leave her there while I attend to other more pressing details. Since the Mrs is coming home late (she is partying with the Japanese), I'll have to juggle the kids dinner routine AND washing the kennel/dogs as well. Since I am giving Katie the treatment, I might as well give Thor a thorough scrubbing too. It is pot-sticker and lo-meign night so I need to stop off at the local wokery and pick up the goodies. It takes about 10 minutes to get an order together. Ten minutes of sunlight that I do not have the luxury to spare. Some people lack discretionary income, I lack discretionary day-light.

Back at the Manor, the kids preoccupied themselves with the Incredibles DVD and dinner consisting of lo meign, bohemian goulash and pork sausage while I toiled away outside cleaning the crap covered canine. There was laundry to do as well, and a fire to keep going ... and, well, everything else. Fortunately for me, the Mrs came home just as I was starting to bathe the kids at 2030 hours. Ahhh, the Calvary has arrived. Of course, the kids have been fairly good about the whole bath/bed thing of late so the additional hands only allows us to complete the routine about 33% faster. This is still a welcome surprise given the class of surprises I have harvested this evening.

I try to get to bed early, but it does me very little good. I lie awake for some time before abandoning my 'efforts' and watching the season ending episode of Carnivale (spelling?) on HBO. I had to explain a good deal of the pre-story to the Mrs before she gave up and labeled the production as 'Weird Sci-Fi Stuff'. Even after I had shut off the television, I still could not sleep. I think I need to think about my caffeine recidivism and how to combat it. At around 0400, Thor is barking. I am not happy. Ask me why I am not happy Thor. I holler at him down the stairs and let him know that a groggy 'Big person who feeds' is not the merry, ball throwing, belly scratching pal from 6 hours earlier. He complies but I failed to note WHY he was barking. No intruder, not cat-burglar, not trespasser. It was Katie busily voiding on the floor. He was ratting his sister out. I should have heeded his warning, but I was not in my right mind at that absurd hour. I learn all this at 0515 and spend the next 15 minutes mopping up the mess. She managed to leave little puddles (yes, puddles) of fecal matter from the rear portal all the way over to the wood burning stove. Nice. I guess it is a good exercise for getting me ready for the 'stuff' I'll deal with at work. After letting the dogs out, I throw a quarter carcass to each of them and wander off to the laundry room to rotate clean clothes to the baskets and dirty to the washer/dryer. Then off to the kitchen to pack up the lunches and upstairs to get my rear into the shower. With all the delays, I still manage to get on the road by 0600. It's already light outside, but I do not rejoice knowing full well that Daylight Savings is right around the corner bringing with it the bleak and darkened mornings.

Being on the PA turnpike at 0600 is like trying to navigate the Autobahn during speed-freak appreciation week. I was nearing the speed of light while everyone else was leaving scorch marks on my contrails. I tried to stay below 75 but found myself being pressured by semi-trucks so that I needed to hit 90 at times just to get out of the way. Over 90, the Super Saturn tends to shake a bit due to some loose engine mounts. Them Cold Fusion Reactors can get a little goofy at times. I got to the office at 0630 for the 0700 meeting which lasted till 0830. It's going to be a long day. Good thing it's pizza night.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Sodden mess

Yesterday was warmer since the rain clouds rolled off later in the afternoon. Not above 60 yet, but the glorious warmth of the sun shall soon be pulling life from the soil. I had better get my rear in gear and start planting the lettuce and spring peas or I'll miss the boat! Mmm, crunchy lettuce and suculent sugar snap peas ... I can hardly wait! The traffic on the turnpike was unusually light and thus, enabled me to arrive at the Car Port on the Manor grounds in a timely manner. I had to stop at a local corner-market on the way though. We were low on bread and this would inhibit me from preparing the Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for dinner. The market had lots of meat and very little else. It is a small place so everything was double price as a result. Some stuff that they proffered probably does not sell well. I decuded this by the opaque layer of dust on said products and the hand-held insta-carbon dating device I had built into my watch. I feel a bit silly buying a single loaf of bread on a credit card so I picked up a 6pack of ... klondike bars. Yeah, we don't sell beer in super markets here in Puritan Quaker Pennsyltucky. I also grabbed some beef bones used for stock from the freezer section. I was going to toss them to the dogs since they have been pretty good the last few days. There are two segments in the cellophane package and they measure about 6 inches long. That should keep them preoccupied for a long time.

I pick up the mail at the postal drop box at the front of the Manor perimeter. Lots of stuff for the Mrs, nothing for me. Standard. I bring the recycling bins in from the curb and make my way to the mess-hall and kitchen. There, I get down to the business of preparing the dinner for the kids. I'll need 2 grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner and then 2 more for lunch on Thursday. Might as well make them now while I have the materials out. My first try was a disaster. I got distracted and burnt the heck out of one side. It was charcoal for the first 1/8 of an inch into the bread so 'scraping' off the carbonized bread was not an option. I peeled off the blackened side and tossed the rest into the dogs bowls. I turned the stove heat down to 3 (from 11) and had much better results with the next four.

I have a ton of things to do before I can go get the kids at 1730. Instead of the usual litany of tedious items regurgitated with snide, snarky and generally monotonous description, I'm going to cheat and put them in a bullet list.

Nuff said?

The following morning, I get up at 0600 sharp and complete the morning check-list quickly. We get out the door at 0650 and I get to work by 0725. Sweet. The Mrs is going to an after-hours dinner with a few co-workers and some associates from a Japan project. This means that I'll be on my own again. Should be ok. I was planning on going out to the garden and raking the soil to get any rocks out. Need a nice flat surface so I can get the furrows for the seeds ready. I suppose it will have to wait till this weekend. One last thing for this morning: I was going to meet my buddy Pete for lunch today, but he had to bail for unspecified reasons. We rescheduled for Friday. The Mrs had given me 20$ and a shopping list for the company store where Pete works. Turns out he is at a competing Pharma and the Mrs likes to use some of their products. Is that treachery or just plain good economic sense?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Mesmer Politics

Heh, stole this from steel thurman. All it could think was "You are getting rebellious ... verrrry rebellious."

Monday, March 28, 2005



I usually like to make a post every day but two things are bogging me down. TONS of work and blogger doing it's best to be a real bi ... um, difficult interface. To make a long story longer, the family has gotten out of the house at 0700 the last two mornings and I have made it to work at 0740. It has been raining and we are looking at flooding all around the Manor. This makes the commute a touch more difficult. It's time to augment the SuperSaturn and the Family Tank with snorkel gear so we can ford the washed out roads and submerged bridges. Since it has been raining sheets, I have not had the ambition to restock the wood brackets and we will be clean out of fuel sometime tonight. The Mrs has a late meeting as well so it looks like I'll be doing this in the dark of an overcast and moonless night. Swell. Additionally, I made the PB&J sandwiches this morning and noted that we were low on bread. Since it is Grilled-Cheese night, I'll have to stop off at the local market to secure additional resources for the week. Wish me luck since I'll probably be a bit hungry when I shop. That is nearly a recipe for disaster every time. Lent is over and I have a hankering for some Red Meat and a nice Cab.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


southernly bias

It's Easter morning. A holy morning and one that will be filled with candies and eggs for the kids. The kids are quick to pick up on the 'egg hunt'. Jake likes to open the eggs immediately (bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush) while Alexis seeks out as many targets as possible and enlists the help of Grandma to carry the overflowing basket. We had held off on hiding the eggs with candy in them so we could avoid the prospect of the Hounds getting at them. The candy filled eggs were a bit larger, and thus, much easier to spot. Kinda like hiding a bison behind a bunny. They found nearly all the eggs within a nano-second and proceed to devour all the fruit snacks and jelly beans. We were fairly certain that they were going to explode from either the excessive gorging or the resultant sugar high. For good measure, Jake wolfed down most of a large (but thankfully hollow) chocolate egg. Sunday Mass was destined to be interesting.

We left early enough to arrive nearly 30 minutes before mass started. We figured that it would be crowded even if the 0900 schedule was much too early for your standard 'Holy Day Catholic'. No, the 1100 mass is more their style. Even then, it started to look like a mob scene rave with hordes of latecomers packed into the rear of the cathedral. We saved a seat for my brother who arrived shortly after we did resulting in us taking up most of a pew along with the security detail and surveillance team. Can't be too careful, even in a place of worship. Big Little Brother works the night shift so he was feeling a bit groggy. The kids made sure that he did not nod off during the sermon which was mostly a nice little Irish joke. The sugar high that the kids were riding was awfully tame. They were active, but not loud or disrespectful. It must be the 'Grandparent Effect'. Someone ought to do some research on this.

Back at the outpost, we find the Mrs who stayed home busy with re-packing the 150 metric tons of cargo. I'll need to transfer it into the non-passenger section of the Family Tank which is always an adventure in packing science. We put the hounds out on the back deck so they would not be sniffing around me as I run in and out of the house. They could only get in the way and end up tripping the Heavy Industrial Grappling Mech and sending it crashing to the ground with myself strapped inside. So they ended up running back and forth the entire perimeter length of the fraction of an acre that the deck footprint covers. Usually barking at deer or squirrels running across the back yard. Mostly ineffectual and the squirrels seem to enjoy the consternation that they cause. One of these times I'll let the dogs off the deck and see how fast/far/high them little rodents can go.

I try one of the energy drinks that I got at the Asian Market (Of infinitely obscure products) and find that it must have been made with Yak Turds and Turpentine. It is awful. Worse than awful. So bad that I can only drink 50% of the 100ml bottle. Well, I learned something new from that: If you are expecting something tasty from the land of fermented kim-che, gird you loins and don't eat anything for an hour before. While I am busy trying to brush my mouth out with lye and ammonia, the kids preoccupy themselves with putting stickers on the eggs that they had artfully tinted the other day. They only dropped one egg this time, but we patched it up by covering the entire thing with stickers. Look mom, no cracks! Grams and Gramps want to hold on to the decorated eggs so they put a dozen of the 'plain' eggs in a container and request that I take them with us when we leave. Well, at least I'll have something to annoy my co-workers with. No, not that. The by product will not be vented in my cube. The cracking of shells, of course. While I supervise the stickering of the hard boiled ovals, Super mom rustles up a dinner that is sufficient to feed the 1st Army Infantry twice over. Ham and all the fixings. While Super-Chef-Mom stirs the pot of chuck-wagon beans, Gramps and I take the kids/hounds out for a drag around the block: Grams pulls the wagon, I attempt to restrain the dogs. Only one circuit this time, we have our gaze leveled on the prize at the end of the walk -- Easter dinner.

We all sit down for the meal and dig into the infinitely long spread laid out before us. Ham, asparagus, scalloped tatters, beans, salad. It's all good. Alexis dives into the ham and puts a good dent in her setting as well as sampling a spear of asparagus. I'm surprised that she ate it, but she only wanted one. I remember hunting spears in the spring with my parents along the wooded shores of the Mississippi in my youth. It was certainly a treat then and the commercially bought product these days just cannot compare. Perhaps it is the refinement of my memories that it tasted better, but whatever the reason I still miss that. I come back to reality and look at the time. It is nearing 1500 and we need to get going. We eat at such an early hour so we can get going at a reasonable hour. The Mrs does not like the night trips and needs some time to unwind/unpack when we get home. We get home in just under 4 hours after only one stop in Allentown. It was raining after the tunnel and it had gotten very dark, very early. The darkness, the rain slicked roads and the erratic driving behavior of my fellow automotive pilots makes that last hour a bit tenuous. The kids slept for a good two hours after we got to the State border and woke up only when we stopped at Allentown. Alexis demanded that we get chicken nuggets but Jake was satisfied to have some fries from the Nathans Hotdog stand. I got myself a chilli cheese dog to keep me going. Since Alexis was so adamant that she needed chicken nuggets, we stopped at the McLardo's near the Manor to get a few for her which she promptly devoured. After disembarking at the Manor and unloading the cargo/livestock/kids, we played with the kids till 2100 and then sent them off to bed after a bath. Not a bad drive back, all things considered. And for the final rating for the whole weekend, I'd give it a 95/100. Lots of good surprises, very few bad. Like I said earlier, someone needs to look into this 'Grandparent Effect' and try to bottle it.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Delightful Saturday

Standard morning with the added bonus of a good night's sleep. I wake around sevenish when Hero-Dad wanders downstairs and surprises the hounds who have managed to escape once again. I guess the reinforced concrete retention walls were not enough to keep them in the den. Gramps lets the dogs out and tosses snow balls at them while I fill their chow bowls so they have something to fill their bellies other than concrete and rebar. Since it is Saturday, we head out to Friendlies for pancakes. There is no IHOP or Perkins in this neck of the woods so we will have to make due. The service is painfully slow so Jake gets impatient and wants to walk about. Since we had no space to pack the 'retention' seats, he insists that he should rightfully sit on the Wife's lap. Big Little Brother shows up shortly after 0900 and we get down to our orders. The food is luke warm and the pancakes are mealy. Next time, we'll order the French toast.

We are scheduled for a haircut appointment at 1115 so we have an hour or so to kill. Down the street a mile or so, there is an Asian Market that we like to visit whenever we are in town. We gab some tea and I pick up a couple of energy drinks that I want to try. One is in Korean and I have not a clue what is in it. Could be Yak turd extract for all I know. While the Mrs and I are trolling the small store with my brother, Grams and Gramps walk around out behind the store with the kids. There is a large abandoned parking lot that is mostly covered by gravel and grit. There, the kids are shown a quick lesson in rock tossing and apparently get into in with great gusto. This puts them in a fairly good mood and makes the rest of our 'burn time' fairly enjoyable. We still have a bit of extra time so we head off to Lowes to nose around for some replacement hardware. Bathroom fans are on the top of the list. We did find some interesting vinyl flooring that looks like wood. That would go nicely in the mud-room and the foyer. The old linoleum is starting to get really beat up and has gotten to a point were it is no longer salvageable. There is some sub-flooring as well that will work nicely in the kennel if we do not go with the pergo type flooring. It is a concrete floor so putting real wood on it just will not work. I'll have to look into this once we get back to the manor, it might just be do-able.

We get to the barber shop just in time. We expect a lot of grief since the kids have never sat still for a haircut. We are pleasantly surprised. Jacob sits as still as a Greek statue for the whole time he is in his chair. I just don't know how to explain it. Not a whimper, not a wiggle. I was certain that our son who would not sit still if he would be granted a mountain of sugar was replaced by some sort of doppleganger. Or a powered down cyborg. I have never seen anything like it. To add to my befuddlement, Alexis followed the same route. I swear that they put something in the spray bottle that either intoxicated or stunned them. I'll have to get a sample and bring it to the boys down in the lab. I could use that stuff! After the miracle hair-cut (I gotta call the Pope on this one), we went for a stroll about the Ithaca Commons where we watched people walk their dogs and the granolas herd their little ones dressed in gunny sacks. There was a play-ground at one end that was completely overrun with the local young ones. We let the twins play for a bit, but it was so crowded that there was very little space for anyone to do much but thrash about like a miniature versions of mosh pit goths. After they had their fill of trouncing the locals, we head back to the outpost and have a bit of lunch. The kids eat pretty well and we send them off to bed by 1400 for a well needed nap.

While the kids nap, SuperMom and the Mrs go out shopping while HeroDad and I stay home and wash the dishes. Hey, washing glassware is incalculably large factor better than having to go out shopping so we engaged the task with much vigor and urgency. That, and I get to put away all the utensils in strange places as a pay-back for Super(confusing)Mom doing the same thing in my kitchen. After the Lady-folk return home, the kids wake up and the Grandparents break out the hard boiled eggs for coloring. You just cannot have Easter without egg coloring. Getting the smocks on was hard and the twins were not very interested in wearing these pseudo-straight jackets, but they eventually forgot about these restrictive yet festively colored garments as they dove into the activity. We lost a couple eggs to ... exuberance, but we had two dozen so there was no crying over spilt milk. We will not be hiding these eggs, mind you. The kids are novice egg hunters and there is a good chance that if we hid them, we may never see them again in the same shape. Or at all. Then there is the added potential for the Hounds to sniff them out and eat them shell and all. I really do not want to deal with the potential emissions of a hound that has eaten two dozen eggs. Heck, I can barely tolerate my own ... byproduct ... after a good egg salad sandwich.

Dinner was good. Lasagna and garlic bread. Jake was resistant at first, but after a short time out he became a bit more cooperative. After a bit of desert, he was satisfied and we retired to the living room to watch a bit of television. Alexis insisted that we watch The Incredibles and would not stand for any other hack-job DVD. She can be rather persistent. It was getting late and it was showing in their eyes. Jake saw grams laying on the floor and decided that it would be nice to curl up beside Gramps and snuggle. He laid down, grabbed Gramps rugged but gentle hand and pulled it over him. Gramps heart immediately melted. Jake can be a real schmoozer when he wants to be. After the movie ended, it was bath and bed for the depleted little ones. They spent the last of their energy jumping up and down on the Grand-parents bed for a good 5-10 minutes and then tried to seize the bed as their own by crawling under the covers. We put an end to that quickly and they nearly dropped off into sleep the second their heads hit the pillows.

The rest of the night was spent putting coins and snacks into plastic eggs and hiding them about the house. You would think that putting 100 or so eggs in semi-obscure locations would be easy, but the number of locations dwindled quickly until we were resigned to placing them in plain sight. We finished up shortly before midnight and put another day to rest.

Friday, March 25, 2005


Good Friday

I slept through the night with not a single disruption or unfortunate waking. It makes me think that I might sleep better on a regular spring mattress than the mile wide water bed. Of course, when I present the idea to the Mrs, she looks at me like I have grown yet another head on my shoulders. Only this newest addition is even more offensive and vacant than the last. I think that we will be replacing the old bed with a new one but the mechanics will still involve water in a giant rubber vessel. My dreams rapidly fade away into the psychic bit-bucket as the dogs start to voice their consternation resulting from the emptiness of their stomachs and the fullness of their bladders. Not my idea of sleeping in, but 0645 is not entirely too early since I managed to sleep through the night.

After an hour or so, Alexis wakes to a world that befuddles her. Grams and Gramps had removed the front of the crib that they had obtained to lure us into visiting more often. Alexis was sleeping in the modified crib while Jacob was ensconced in the quilts that covered the old bed that I slept in for a large slice of my youthful years. So Alexis wanders about for a few minutes, making it known that assistance and comfort is required. I lead her to the door of the Grandparents bedroom where she immediately realized that there were adults within to harass who would be susceptible to her charms. Or fearful of her wrath. Whatever it takes. Shortly thereafter, Jake stirs and wobbles off to woo his way into the hearts of the ancestors. Not a tough job, mind you. After a bit, the family proper, minus the Mrs, migrate to the lower levels and get our day underway. The Mrs does her best to get in an extra hour of so of sleep in, but soon forces her reluctant body out of bed and joins in on the activities. By then, Jake is playing with the electric toy train set and Super Mom is busy rustling up a bit of breakfast consisting of French toast and other assorted morning vittles.

Later on in the morning, Hero Dad and I go out with the twins and the hounds for a walk. Actually, Gramps is going to haul the kids in a wagon while I negotiate with the hounds for a bit of discipline so they don't drag me about the local roads like a rag doll flopping about behind an A1 Abrams. The dogs seem to enjoy the walk as much as the kids. Hero dad and I are getting a fairly robust work-out. We take a second round just for good measure. After we finish, we pack everyone into the Family Tank and head off to the Ithaca ScienceCenter for a bit of fun. The kids like the interactive water displays. They like them enough to soak up 33% of the water with their clothing. We spend a good hour there with the last moments of our visit concentrated in the animal room. Mostly looking at the corn snakes. Gramps is not entirely fond of snakes and neither was the other male visitor other there other than myself. I've had a bit of history with snakes and I don't mind them all that much. The kids were fascinated. If their curiosity with reptiles is anything like mine, I expect to find an unwelcome visitor or two on the Manor grounds in the future.

After we depart our beloved ScienceCenter, we run off to the Holy shrine of Wegmans for a quick visit. After a bit of waffling, Alexis picks out some pink rosebuds for Grams while Jake quietly sits and watches the model train makes its rounds on the raised track in the bulk candy section. The Mrs thinks I should put a similar construction in Jake's room when I renovate his room. I think she is a crazy despot, but I try not to say so out loud. I wonder if I could get away with a smaller HO scale train. We only spend about 30-45 minutes in the store and probably cover a fraction of the display space. This food-monger has everything from a coffee bar to day-care for shoppers to leave kids in professional care while they sample the goods displayed. Magnificent establishment. There are apparently plans to have one built near us soon, I am giddy with anticipation. While the Mrs and I look about in child-like wonder, the kids have nodded off in the shopping carts. It is turning into a fabulous day.

After we get home, we carefully put the kids to bed with laser-like precision so as to not wake them. Nothing is more onerous than a toddler woken too early from a nap. In standard style, the kids sleep for a few hours, but Alexis wakes on the wrong side of the bed. She slowly returns to a more amiable demeanor before dinner where we all have a professionally, yet provincial styled meal of shrimp, crab, rice and clam chowder. It is 'fish Friday' after all. Oh, and a desert of ice-cream which is greatly appreciated by the children .. and the twins too.


Rolling, rolling, rolling ...

Ahh, another successful trek north to the Finger Lakes Regional Haupertonian Outpost. We did bump into the Donnar party on the way, but they seemed disinterested in our offers of beef-jerky and lefsa. Something about being too bland. Anyways, the journey started out with a call to the Mrs as I was driving past the Manor's outer perimeter defenses. Since I was going to drop off the SuperSaturn at the repair shop, I could use a ride back to base. I arrive at the shop around 1505 hours and speak with my mechanic, Chris, the problem solver. I tell him of my vehicle problems and he postulates that it probably is not a fuse, but might be a cross-linkage issues with the mini-gun, the backup cold fusion reactor and the meson accelerator. He let me know that he could probably fix the window wiper problem and upgrade my ceramic-carbon fiber field plating before I get back. We 'shoot the shit' for a bit before the Mrs show up and then we exchange pleasantries before the Wife and I hit the road. We stop off at one of the local grocery stores that we frequent. Since we have spent $500,000USD over the last few months, we apparently get a free hog. Well, not a whole hog, more like a leg … or a part of a leg. Ok, the but of the leg … about seven pounds of bone and skin. It would probably make good stock for split-pea soup. We spend more time waiting to 'cash out' than we did selecting the best ham. We thought we could make a quick get-away, but the queues are packed with food-stamp hoarders and coupon clippers … can I pay for this with a check and a goat for barter? Argh. We eventually give in and wander over to the customer service desk where they are happy to ring us up and send us on our way.

We head off to pick up the kids so we can begin our pilgrimage before rush-hour seizes the local roads in it's merciless grip. We catch Alexis playing dress up with her only female friend, Carly. There are three girls in her class but these two have been together since they started in the infant room nearly two and a half years ago. I wonder if Carly's mother is considering parochial school after kindergarten. We prep the kids and start the extraction procedure. It's early so the bottles and other assorted daily materials were not packed yet. It took a few minutes, but we got back to the Manor relatively quickly. We need to put the kennels in the back and round up the ultimate carnivores so that the entire expeditionary force can be accounted for. While we were putting the final touches on our retinue, two trucks from STS, a local surveying agency, pulled up in front of the manor property. The Pennsyltucky roadway mismanagement organization, PENDOT, has been threatening to expand the road behind the manor for a long time now. I thought that these guys were here to start marking off territory that the state wanted to seize to do this. The hounds happened to be outside at the time and these two fellows made the horrible mistake of waking onto the property. Their sovereign property. It just so happens that our neighbor Sharon walked out at the same time, thus giving them multiple targets. Since they get food every time they greet Sharon, they decided to target her instead of tearing the limbs off the two trespassers. They leave smears of mud on her nice white uniform the size of Toledo as they jump up on her chest and legs. Oddly enough, they ONLY jump up on Sharon and my Super Mom. Everyone else is either respected or ... lunch. As it turns out, the STS guys were here to locate the underground utilities before the landscape crew comes in and starts in on their nonsense. After activating the cybernetic override, I reel the canines back in and direct them to get into the livestock holding cell in the rear of the Family Tank. It's 1545 and we are ready to launch.

On the way to the turnpike, the Mrs tries to get the DVD player going with little success. It looks like this critical piece of equipment has bit the dust. Now we will need to actually interact with them for the whole trip. Oh, the horror, the horror. Since the kids were aware of the world outside of a video display, Jacob discovered the wonders of the turnpike tunnel on the south side of the town of Jim Thorpe. He was wide eyed with wonder as we dove into the side of a mountain and how the sun was suddenly blotted out. How we entered a black hole from a world of budding trees and sprouting flowers and exited to a world blanketed with a continuous landscape of snow as far as the eye could see. Perhaps we should try to drive without the visual hypnosis equipment from now on.

We make a few stops on the way. A few by accident, a few planned. The first accidental stop was at Allentown. I had thought that the rest stop here would have a fast food restaurant, but I was mistaken. It has two sit down restaurants so nothing we want to We stop only to remove the coats from the kids so they don't overheat. I'm not wearing a coat and I’m a bit warm so I can only imagine that they are reasonably uncomfortable. The ramps to and from this particular exit are a maze of twists and abrupt turns. You may be going 30 mph one second and have to slam on the retroburners because an unanticipated 90 degree turn in the causeway has appeared in front of you … without warning. This, of course, adversely affected Alexis's weakest trait. Her stomach. She blew slim-jim and chocolate sponge cake to a distance of about 10 feet. I swear it put indents on the console. It looks like the water doped with travel sickness medicine did not quite do the job. After she emptied the 55 gallons of predigested organic material from her innards, she perked right up and dove right back into the task of filling it again. We stepped off at the Hickory Run rest stop to pick up some fries and chicken nuggets from McLardo's. The kids did a pretty good job of making them disappear and we had no more complaints of churning stomachs, either full or empty.

The rest of the trip was mostly uneventful. We did need to make an emergency stop outside of Scranton since the fuel cells inexplicably dried up. The gas here cost 2.13 and we only put 7 gallons in so we can make it to Gibson where the gas is 2.02. After braving miles of crazed, frothing insane drivers, we made it the Flying J and filled up the Family Tank with another thousand gallons or so. Good thing since gas was priced at 2.25 to 2.29 at the stations from the rest of the way. You know, if we invaded Iraq for the oil, I'm pretty pissed that the price of gas had done nothing but go up. It must be the Chinese ... or the Jews ... or Elvis. Yeah, Elvis and his durned alien buddies. We eventually make it to the Outpost at 1945 hours shortly after Alexis had nodded off to sleep. Once again, a fairly successful expedition. Grams was waiting with a pair of pizzas cooking in the oven. That Grams is one sharp cookie. She knows the kids dinner menu better than I do. It’s Thursday so that makes it Pizza night. The kids have a great time and get to sleep in separate rooms. It’s 2145 and the night is slipping into history.

Thursday, March 24, 2005



An eventful evening indeed, and not much time to breathe. The trip home was particularly rough. The rain was coming down in sheets and a majority of the slower drivers opted for the left lane since it was clear of truck traffic. No matter, just accept it and ramble on. It could be worse. As I take the ramp to my exit, I see the flashing lights of a police cruiser in the opposing lanes of the turnpike. As I cross on the overpass, I see that the west bound traffic is backed up from just beyond the exit ramps all the way to the eastern horizon. It looks like two of the three lanes have been blocked by an accident. I did not dwell on it since there was not much I could do. That, and it was not in my lanes so ... phtttht!

Back at the manor, no time for subtly. Let the dogs out and insist that they do their duty of ruining my yard so I can collect their waste now before the rain turns it into a sloppy pile of mush. Much easier to clean up the former than the later. With the shoveling of Mastodon Spore out of the way, I run back inside and get the fire cranking. It's cold and wet. Wet cold is the worst, it seeps into your bones and slowly and relentlessly sucks the will from you with no mercy or quarter. Not the fate I'll allow for my little twin tyrants. Nope, remove the ash from last night and build the standard boy scout tinder tower. Within seconds, the orange flames are consuming the largest logs and my job is finished here. The dogs mosey over to the stove and plop down in front of it. Guess they are a bit chilly too after dancing about in the miserable evening precipitation. I run off to the kitchen and start to cobble together the dinner for the kids. The menu says pot stickers and lo meign. I cook up the dumplings and reheat the lo meign but throw in some extra lasagna noodles with ground beef just to make sure they have enough to eat. Since I know that Jake won't touch the dumplings, I slice up a kosher hot dog for him so he will get some protein. While the pot-stickers are cooking, I run upstairs to get the bath items prepped, Jakes antibiotics ready and the night clothes laid out. Since I'm upstairs, I grab a couple of the hampers of dirty clothing and haul them back down stairs along with the empty milk bottles from this morning that we left in the mini-fridge next to the mile wide water bed. Leave the bottles in the kitchen while I run off to the laundry to get a load started in the washer. Busy-busy-busy! It's getting close to 1730, my drop-dead time to get going so I can get to the Child ReEducation Facility before 1800. After that, they start charging us a dollar a minute for each kid. Expensive, but it works wonderfully as a deterrent to parents being late. One more thing, get out my old suit for tonight. I'll be going down to Chinatown in Philly for the wake of our departed friend, Cuong Van. I hope it still fits.

As I move through the S&R mission, something happens which I did not need. Well, if it happened any time, I would not need it, but today at this time is certainly less than optimal. The window wipers on the SuperSaturn just stopped working. Right as I pull into a parking spot, they stop cold on the lower portion of the windshield. Swell, its raining and I need to drive into the city tonight, in the dark, with malfunctioning equipment. No, it looks like I'll have to take the Family Tank tonight. The rain has mercifully abated for a short time, making it easier for me to get the kids through the security force check points and into the transportation sector. I don't push my luck and get out of the DMZ as quickly as possible. Back at the Manor, the kids are happily demolishing their dinner while I went about the business of pouring myself into a suit fitted to my figure in 1992. I've gone from a mostly inverted Triangle to a rectangle with a bubble at the bottom. All I have to do is refrain from eating for the next few hours and I won't blow a button or seam. Eventually, I get myself in order before the Mrs docks the FamilyTank and I hand over the guard duty to her. I steal her keys and the battery to her cell phone since mine is on it's last bar. It's now 1815 and I'm doing my best to hammer through the tail end of rush hour. Fortunately, most of the waylaid stragglers are going the other direction, but there is still a significant load of second-shifters on the road. Since I'm driving the Family Tank, I have a greater sense of ease with the ABS, all wheel drive, 6" of ablative battle plating, meson cannon array and anti-emc shielding. I'm ready for whatever interstate 95 has in store for me ... just hope I don't scratch the paint.

I make it downtown in roughly 30 minutes. Not to shabby. I took a back way by going down Callowhill street and jumping across the Vine street Expy on 8th. Sneaky on my part, or just plain dumb luck. We usually run down Vine till the 15th street exit and double back. I park my car at the parking lot we always use at corner of 9th and Race. They charge 5$ for all night parking after 6pm. It's a ragged lot full of pot holes, burnt out lights and a battered shack where an equally ragged and battered attendant sits stoically through the night. The funeral home is about three blocks away so I have a bit of a hike to undertake. I have enough time to get to 12th street so I should not have a lot of trouble. The wind is at my back and the rain is a fine but sparse mist. I make my way past a small satellite police station and on to the building that houses the funeral home. The exposed sides of the buildings have murals applied to them and have been covered with grit, grime and the settling of exhaust, but no graffiti. Either the preservation is due to respect or that the usual vandals do not visit this small oasis of Asia in the city. Arriving a few minutes early, I file past weeping young women and solemn men. They are all razor thin and look extremely professional except for the puffy red eyes and trembling hands. I sign a book and leave a few notes for the people who could not be there. So many of us from my company knew Lisa, and by proxy, her husband. We were there for her wedding, and witnessed her relief once the reception was over. We've had lunch with them and shared the joy of our children. The memories flooded back as I watched a the Buddhist monk with his entourage chant and perform a mesmeric ceremony. I have been to a few Buddhist funeral ceremonies so I understood some of the mechanics, but I rarely dive into the intrinsics due to the distraction of grief. As the night ebbed away, more mourners arrived to convey their condolences and to proffer a shoulder to Lisa. It was a beautiful ceremony and was only complemented by the outpouring of sympathy and love. I recognized some of the people as ones that I had met at the wedding. Some others were common friends that I had time to briefly speak with later. There were the folk that I met for lunch earlier last week (Greg, Scott) and some that I have missed dearly (Jeff, John, Jill {my nemesis}). It is unfortunate that such events are the moving force to bring us together. I was told later that even more acquaintances and friends arrived later. I had to depart shortly before 2000 hours so I could get home and lend support to the Mrs.

The night had grown even darker and more vicious. The biting wind snapped at my ears and nose and the rain summoned it's energies and tried to prevail against my will. Certainly the weather of sorrow and loss. I have a long walk back to the parking lot to contemplate the evenings events. Mortality, in all it's facets, is a prickly subject to mull. I shake off the morbidity and vexation of such contemplation. Ahead, I see one of the Asian markets that I visit whenever we come downtown and duck into the doorway to gain reprieve from the punishing maltreatment bestowed by the forces of nature, both internal and external. I give the Wearily Waiting Mrs a call and ask her if I could pick up anything from the local markets before departing for the warmth of our hearth. She asks me to pick up some sweetened soy milk and some sponge cake from Saint Honore Pastries up the street. I grab the soy milk and three cans of Cafe Du Monde coffee (w chicory) at 3.50 each. When lent is over, my coffee consumption is going to peak for a bit. I pay up with some difficulty. The older woman at the cash register mistakes my credit card for a debit card. After a few convolutions, we get things straightened out and exchange the goods for commensurate payment. I make a quick detour and pick up 2 pork buns, 1 sponge cake(ette) and 1 chocolate cake roll for the Mrs. She will probably destroy the pork buns tomorrow since she is staying home to pack up the Family Tank. The parking lot is less than a hundred meters away, but it might as well have been 1000 leagues. The weather is becoming more and more determined to waylay me. I succeed in overcoming the petty wrath of mother nature and slide into the Tank with my treasures in hand. The parking is 5$ since I got there after 1800. That is a great price compared to what I dish out for the parking lot robber barons of NYC.

The trip home is rapid paced and makes the Indy 500 look like a Sunday drive in grampa's old Packard. I start to breach Mach-7 before my exit comes into view. I fear for my life since semi-trucks are passing me in giant, darkened flocks of dim running lights and rattling Jake-brakes. I eventually make it home at 2040 hours. Just enough time to remove the increasingly constricting monkey suit and spend some quality time with the wife & kids. Jake snuggles with Mommy while Alexis does her best impression of an OCD Manic on speed. It's past 2000 so they are doing their best to keep moving in order to escape the inevitable conquest by slumber. It is futile on their part, I draw a warm bath and we set to the business of putting them to bed. We follow shortly thereafter.

The morning greets me with the soft mumbling of talk radio over my alarm clock. I ignore it for a good 30 minutes before I remember that I wanted to get up early. It it shortly before 0600 and I launch myself through the morning script with a quickened pace: shower, dogs, fire, laundry, lunch, kids, hit the road by 0650. Nuff said. Traffic is light, but the rain complicates things. The wipers are still not functioning so I hang back to avoid the spray kicked up by vehicles ahead of me. This opens up opportunities for other less reserved drivers to slide into the space. No loss, I still get to work by 0730. I have a busy day ahead of me that I start with a call to Chris, my mechanic. He agrees that not having functional wipers in this weather is a bit of a hazard and agrees to look at it and see what he can do. This is why I patronize his shop. He may cost more, but he knows me and what I need. The satisfaction of needs and not the proffering of excuses is what I desire. Chris fulfills that inclination without fail. If the rest of life would only follow suit.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005



Since I'm going to be at the Parental Outpost this weekend, I'll miss my Friday night Sci-Fi fix. If you hear me mention the Battlestar, this is what it's all about.


Parental Angst

Lileks hits on the darkest place of fear that I cannot even glance into:He seems screw in it's place the horror that all parents recoil from.


Rainy Hump day

Yesterday evening went extremely well. The weather had cooperated for the most part and stayed mostly sunny. That kept the ambient temperature of the Manor above 62 degrees. This, in turn, kept the furnace from kicking on at 1630 to bring the house up to 61 degrees. Ahhh, that saved us at least 10$. It is supposed to get cooler with accompanying precipitation over the next few hours, but I'll count my blessings. I think I should have played hookey and done some yard-work, but I suppose that my horticulture endeavors will need to be postponed till April now.

Back at the homestead, the kids were happily munching away on their grilled cheese sandwiches. Alexis had a side of diced ham while Jake had some noodles. I, had some of the mac-n-cheese that was left over after I had made the kids lunch meal for the following day. Mmmm, nutritious. Eventually, the Mrs wandered in and deposited some booty that she had plundered from one of the local department stores. I've been interested in getting a few DVDs of late of an anime series I really liked. The original show, Ghost in the Shell, is a classic for anyone who knows their stuff. Apparently, it has been transformed into a running series and I've seen a few shows on the cartoon channel after Adult Swim is done for the night. That puts it at about 0030 or 0130. Not a good time for me to be awake. The Marvelous Mrs had found the DVD's for a significantly cheaper price than what could be found online. She managed to snag all 5 of the existing releases. The six and seventh releases will be coming up soon. Each disk has 4 shows on it so I guess they are taking their time with the production. Good thing. I suppose the Mrs will be able to find the next 2 releases since I think that she is trying to get back at me for the surprise birthday gift I got her. I watched the first DVD after we put the kids to bed. It had the patent painfully long intro and closing with unintelligible Japanese singing. The shows themselves were captivating and well crafted. I enjoyed them quite a bit. The odd thing is that at the end of each show, they had this little mini-show with the robotic AI spider tanks. Really quite annoying actually.

Flash forward in time. The morning brought the return of Sebastian the raindrop. The rain always makes it that more difficult to get out of bed. We managed to break through the dense fog of profound somnolent lethargy and get going. The Mrs lumbered off the showers while I woke the kids and tended to the hounds. Mud again. Bletch. Once I was finished in the kennels, I went back up to check on the kids before I expelled the Mrs from the warm, steamy shower. I immediately spotted Alexis plugging away at her morning bottle of lactose suspension, but only saw the quilt and pillows tossed about where Jacob should have been. I immediately assumed that he had finished his bottle and had left the room in search of myself or a better view of a television. As I search the house for my little Houdini, I become more and more frantic. He does not come bounding out of any of the bed rooms as I wander down the great hall of ancestors. Not in any of the closets ... not in the mess-hall or the kitchen. Certainly not in the kennel since the dogs would have immediately alerted me. Oh dear ... has he fallen and hurt himself? In a panic, I burst into the master bath and let the mostly nekkid Mrs know that I have lost our son. She throws on a towel and joins in on the search. She retraces some of my previous searches as I begin a detailed examination of every nook and cranny in which he could possibly have obscured himself. Within minutes, the Mrs claims first prize by locating him. He had thrown the sheets and comforter off himself and gave the appearance that he had evacuated the mile wide water bed. In reality, he had wormed his way under one of the Mrs' body pillows and blended into the fitted sheet. He was sound asleep and all that could be seen of him was an arm and a bit of his noggin. Relief, frustration and amusement make an interesting chemical meal for the mind this early in the morning.

We got out of the house at 0702.30 which is still a bit late. I really would like to be in the car at five of, but I'll get what I can take these days. With the rain, I expected traffic to be that much more enjoyable. Philly traffic has a set of rules when it rains that boils down to a single truism: Instant Asshole, just add water. I was pleasantly surprised though. Once I got to the turnpike, I got a call on my cell phone. A tapestry of dread immediately covered me. First off, I thought it must be the wife and she was either in an accident or something had happened with the kids. Within seconds, I dismissed the horrible thoughts racing through my mind and extradited the phone from its hip-holster. I immediately determine that the phone number is not one I recognize and answer the call. It is my buddy Pete. He is telling me that I am running late. I ask him how he knows this and then I see him in the rear view mirror. What a joker. He recognized my SuperSaturn by all the police support stickers on the rear bumper and the meson accelerator I have jerry-rigged to the cupola. For peaceful and primarily defensive purposed only, mind you! We have a brief but enjoyable conversation as he follows me to the next exit where I move over from the right lane to the left most 'speeding' lane. I get to work at 0745 and he makes it to his office at 0815. He notes that my piloting skill had left him in the dust, or more apropos, mist. Not too shabby for either of us. Good thing too, I have plenty of work to keep my occupied today.

One final little scrap of mental refuse for you. A few days ago, I got stuck behind a tanker truck going home. He was in the left most lane where I deigned he should not be. After a few days of this stewing in the back of my mind, I decided to send out some notification to Trimac/DSI Transport that I was not happy with the conduct of their staff.

I expect nothing from this, but the release is cathartic.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Legal Immigrants

Caught this over at Toni's site (who got it from the Anti-Strib) and put in the following comment:
At least most of them had the foresight to wear life preservers too!


PA Megan's Law Website

With all the news about sexual predators, I decided to look up the scum in my neighborhood. I was shocked. Twelve of these buggers and some of them within my zip code. I looked at the whole county and found that there were even more! A few of these creeps will be on my watch list for certain. Mr RICHARD H STOVER, Mr MICHAEL GREENE and Mr ROBERT WILLIAM CARROLL JR, do not cross my path or darken my doorstep.


Office space in real life

Things went well last night, as is the norm and not the exception. Not to say that the family is not exceptional or anything like that. Nope, just nothing EXTRAORDINARY or INCREDIBLE happened. The kids ate. Well, Alexis ate and Jake held his food in his mouth till it was a gooey mess. The Mrs got him to swallow eventually. Not sure what is going through is mind when he does this. We try bribing him with ice cream but he just plays with it knowing that if he wants to eat it he has to swallow what he has in his mouth. I suppose he will grow out of this, eventually. Short play time, bath and off to bed. Well actually, bath, jump on toddler beds like two manic little twisters, dress and to bed. Not sure where that last burst of energy came from, but they really burned themselves out trying to get a few more moment of frantic activity in.

The Mrs and I got some sleep since I turned off the monitor again. It's a whole new world now. No middle of the night wakings because of a malfunctioning HAM operators equipment or the interruption of a wireless phone conversation on a 1-900 line. No disembodied clicks, buzzes or other assorted anomalies to jolt me from my evening dreamland solace. As long as the kids are feeling better, I think we can do away with the electronic eavesdropping equipment. Leave it to the covert action boys in the World NOC to do that kind of thing. The morning was so blissful that I wanted to never end. The alarm went off and I was sincerely comfortable. I asked the Wife if she wanted to play hookey by staying in bed all day, but she had meetings to attend. Spoil-sport. Oh well, I'm sure that the day will hold wonders for me. We got out of bed at 0605 and managed to get out of the house by 0705. Not quite on time, but close enough. The typical bumper-sucking love-fest awaited me on the turnpike, but to a lesser degree. I remained in the left lane till I was within a few meters of the next exit, then dashed across 2 lanes to the fast lane where the traffic had started to move again. It's odd that I can do this nearly every day and save 10-15 minutes on my commute without cutting off anyone or doing anything brashly illegal. Not sure why this traffic-pattern artifact exists, but I'll use it to my advantage as long as I can. I get to the office at 0745 and begin my day with the standard reply to the various levels of fomentation I get in the post-1700 emails.


Guns don't kill, idiots do

Let me preface this by telling you that I have never owned a gun. Never. I had a pistol license once when I was living in NJ. Just outside of Camden. I taught kids to shoot a 22 and a 20 gauge at a scout camp for a few summers. Knowing this, only responsible people get a firearm license and store them correctly. Now, of the 20 odd homicides that happened in last weekend in Philly, how many do you think were committed with registered firearms? Mr. Tom Ferrick Jr did not see fit to include this little factoid because a) he did not think to get the data, b) it would blow a hole in his position that "antigun" legislation is good. His article is so egregiously biased and ... deceitful it is barely worth the time to read it.No kidding. And do you think that registered gun owners are running about the street popping off shots? No. These 'crime weapons' are coming from outside the city and are being used by criminals who have no intention of registering their weapons.To take his analogy 1 step further, he wants to ban cars since some people steal them and then run stop lights. What a load of flop.

Monday, March 21, 2005


Beginning of a short week

The waning hours of Sunday went all too quickly. After a long nap, both Alexis and Jacob seem to be in much better spirits. His ear is draining quite freely now but he does not seem to mind much. Every so often, he'll reach up and put his hand to it. When he withdraws his hand, it is usually polluted with a copious layer of discharge and we are obliged to clean him up. He is quite cooperative so long as we do not make a move to clean his ear. That is a definite 'no-go' zone for him. Dinner went extremely well. He had barely eaten anything for lunch and nary a nibble for breakfast. The plate ladened with lo meign and lasagnia noodles was just what the doctor ordered. He attacked it with such gusto and exuberance that he almost seemed to be back to his usual self! A bit of carbs in his tummy will do him a world of good. I felt bad that we had to forgo the usual Perkins Pancake Saturday morning, but I think this will make up for it. After a few hours of dinner, TV and playing around they began to show signs of exhaustion again. Bed time came late in the day, but not a moment too soon for the weekend weary parents. No, with weekends like this the weekdays look mighty tempting.

The next day was your standard Monday morning. We got up late and only managed to get up because the dogs heard our alarm clocks and were whining their fool heads off. Even after I had let them out, I needed to prod myself to full lucidity. Since it had rained last night, the grounds were fairly muddy. Cleaning each of the paws before they tracked the muck into the house was mandatory. Once we got going, the traffic was unsurprisingly awful. The up side is that the weather is going to grant us a robust 50 degree day of warmth and thus a reduced heating bill. Our last bill was 260$. Oddly enough, the temperature had been quite low over the last 30 days and had an average that was lower than that of the previous month. I did not spend the time to bring in wood this weekend so we are down to the one bracket. I guess that I should spend a few minutes doing this. We are planning on being at the Parental Outpost in upstate NY where they are still fighting through 20foot high snow drifts. Should be a fun Easter trip.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Jacob-Vector, Alpha Scion Down.

It was a rough night for all of us. When we got home, Jacob immediately went upstairs and crawled into bed. He knew he was down for the count, but that was not going to be his permanent disposition for the night. Alexis and I hung out with the hounds for a bit. Alexis seems to enjoy throwing the ball for them. We did that for a bit before I could convince her that we should go upstairs and get ready for bed. She was not entirely interested in the whole bed-time thing so the evening bath was ruled out because of the fading hours of the day. Instead, we got her changed and she hung out in the mile wide water bed for an hour or so till she is sufficiently numb. With this, the short trip to her bed will not be countered with dissension or the typical quarrelsome resistance that bedtime can bring. The Mrs and I thought we had it all covered when we went to bed, but within hours we learned that we had judged the future of our evening with great error. Jake spent most of the night either crying, complaining or dragging the Mrs from bedroom to bedroom in a vain attempt to extract some comfort. But alas, he tortured tot spent his morning hours fading in and out of a fog bank of misery while his helpless progenitor could only look on in growing despondency. Towards the later hours of the morning, his agitation woke Alexis and we had to give up on getting any more rest than what we had already managed.

The Mrs makes multiple phone calls to the clinic in a desperate attempt to get an emergency appointment with all of our calls going right to voice mail. Even past the 0900 hour where they appointments are to begin, we got no resolution. Eventually, we put a call into the answering service and find out the correct procedure to get some attention. We leave a message with the answering service who then sends a fax. After the fax is received, it is up to the pediatrician to call us back and invite us to bring our broken child in. Argh. So, the Mrs rushes down to the clinic after we get our invitation and while waiting to be tended to, Jacob's ear perforates and starts to freely discharge the vile bacteria laden fluid that has been bedeviling him for the last 12 hours of an eternity. When the Mrs hauls him back home, he watches television for a bit. We force him to take some of the prescribed pharmaceuticals for his own good. He is not entirely interested in this but we manage to overcome his parrying promptly due to his weakened state. He quietly watches Disney while drinking some water before nodding off in his seat. Painless, opiate slumber. He barely wakes as the Mrs conveys the little sack of potatoes to his bed. Alexis will have nothing to do with the sleep idea so we go off to play while the Mrs goes out on her weekend foraging duty to the local grocery stores.

While the Mrs is out getting the vittles, Alexis and I go about doing some minor housework. Well, I'm doing the housework and Alexis is doing her best to keep me on my toes. While I am in the laundry room, she is searching the room for items small enough to lift above her head and push into the washing machine basin. After pulling a few paper bags, an empty box and a plastic bottle of fabric softener out, I direct her to go throw some balls at the dogs for a bit. She complies but closes the door to the laundry room before leaving. I'm in the middle of filling the 55 gallon receptacle of tide that we use in the laundry so I don't run off to open the door. She can't get into much trouble in 5 seconds ... can she? Well, as I set down the empty detergent bottle and head off to open the door, I hear the distinctive sound of the door being locked. She locked me in the laundry room! I command her to unlock the door immediately! "No!" Argh! She has always been very contrariant. Fortunately, the utility closet is right there of the laundry room and I had a flat-head screwdriver that I could use to unlock the door since it was the simple internal locking type of door knob. I had the door open in a few seconds and upon opening it, Alexis rushed in and gave me her patented leg hug jujitsu immobilization attack. Well, enough of that business. We retired to the play room and stayed away from exterior locking doors for a bit.

We stay in the play room for a bit. It is nice because I can lay down on the sofa and she is not constantly screaming about the perceived or real transgressions of her brother who is sleeping upstairs. Nope, just daddy and the Undersecretary of the Haupertonain War Ministry doing the regular family thing. You know, plotting the down fall of central Asian regimes and such. After a while of fluttering about, she sits down on the sofa next to where I had tucked my feet under a quilt and starts reading some picture books. That's nice. She gets fairly quiet and snuggles up into the quilt. After a while, my legs start to get numb from the pressure and I look down to see that she has fallen asleep! Argh, I'm trapped! I certainly don't want to wake her but the way she is laying on my legs would require me to spend the next 30-45 minutes slowly trying to slide my pinned appendages from underneath her. The Mrs is still out shopping so my options are severely limited. My feet have already fallen asleep so if I were to just give in and try to go to sleep myself, the discomfort would make it challenging. That, and Jacob could wake at any time and I would end up having 2 pissed little ones on my hands. So I start on the arduous task of extracting myself. About 30 minutes into the process, the Mrs arrives home and helps me out with the last of it. It's all about the timing.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Saturday night all right

It's been a rather ... busy weekend. Friday night started out pretty good. But it was just a ruse by the fates. Since pizza night had been missed, I picked one up with the Mrs before we completed the Search and Retrieval mission. The twins could smell it's cheesy aroma permeated the interior of the Family Tank and immediately began agitating for a bite. I was planning on filling up the gasoline tank before we finished the trip back to the Manor so it could have gone worse. The Mrs kept them occupied while I pumped a few thousand dollars worth of dollars into the pockets of the Saudi Empire ... &^%(%^%@#!!! The gas station I like to frequent is actually a car wash but sells gasoline at 5 cents below the posted price of most other stations in the area. Don't know how they manage it but until the BJ's gasateria is finished, we continue to patronized this establishment. That, and it is very convenient so that matters more so than the price.

Back at the Manor, dinner went well. Jake ate a bit better. If I cut the pizza into bite sized chunks, he will eat a lot more than if he has to gnaw off bits by himself. I hope I'm not turning him into a Momma's boy. I'm sure he'll start to get his appetite back once he is feeling better. Later on in the evening, we sent the kids to bed and this time we did not have to muck about with reading multiple books or trying to wrestle them into submission. A little strange actually. After the kids drifted off into their happy little dream-worlds, I shuffled off to the Master suite and watched 3 hours of marginal SciFi. Officially, in my book, Star Gate 1 has jumped the shark. Any time that the cast goes back in time and their actions change the present, it is over. As for Cattle Car Galactica ... it's a soap opera in space. Ugh. I miss the good old days. After the shows ended, I just turned off the tube and rolled over. Haven't done that in a while, guess I'm still exhausted from my 'on-time' week. It's nice to be on the road before everyone else, but getting in extra hours at work does not really give me any greater satisfaction. I would consider leaving early, but it seems my clients do not get in till 1030 and don't get down to business till after noon. I get more email after 1700 than I get all day. Feh, I need to work with others who have a sense of urgency to make this work. Dollars to donuts I won't manage getting up on time the whole week again for a bit.

The night went well, I slept soundly till some time around 0700 when the hounds started to get desperate. Their internal alarm clocks cannot be denied. When they want to go, they let everyone in the house know by an incessant whining at a frequency that makes my body involuntarily spasm. It jerks me out of bed and pulls me down the stairs so I can MAKE IT STOP! Only when they have had their needs tended to will they stop. I'm sure if I let them sleep in the Master Suite they would grant me a few more minutes of sleep, but the cost it too high. They shed like yaks and I hate waking up in the morning with dog-hair lodged in my nose. After I got up, it was no use trying to go back to bed. I released the children and we played for a bit. It was going to be a nice day so it was within my power to make it as unpleasant as possible. It's been nearly three months since I have last cleaned up after the dogs and today was going to be the last chance for a month for me to do so. It was a prolonged task that I endeavored to complete. There was a lot of turf to cover and I think I should have rented a back-hoe to work with. I must have scooped, scraped or flicked five grocery bags full of recycled dog-chow. That should teach me to let this kind of thing slide. After I was finished with the genuinely dirty work, I swept off the patio and raked all the remaining detritus up. Several wheel barrow's full of twigs, dead organic matter and clumps of dislodged turf. Cleaning the white pine needles that had blanketed the play ground around the twin towers was equally difficult. Hundreds of thousands of little needles mixed in with a wet sand. You tend to rake up as much clumpy sand as you do conifer needles and it gets heavy really fast. I was thinking of filtering it out on a screen, but the task would take more time than I had scheduled. The Mrs came out and finished up instead so I could get down to the tasks that involved 'heavy lifting'. It'll be nice for the Twin Tyrants to be able to play on the towers again. I just need to finish up the retaining walls so I can put this behind me.

Other things that needed tending was the garden-bed fence to keep the dogs out. Removing the black tarp I use to 'roast' the soil over the winter while the garden lies fallow. The tarps then need to be folded as well and, as a matter of course, it was windy out so assistance from the Mrs was invaluable. Her tending to the leaf-removal from the massive rear deck was equally inestimable. Leaves tend to drift in from the neighbor's trees and get trapped on the deck. I leave them since they will only be replaced by more until late into December. Then the freezing rain starts and it just becomes a tedious mess. The final 'heavy lifting' task of the day was getting out the tiller and turning over the soil for the Haupertonian Agricultural and Horticulture Sector. Usually, I throw the entire compost pile on top before I do this, but I did not have the energy or time and the compost has not broken down completely as of yet. I think I'll turn the pile and let it go till the fall before I till it into the garden. You can't rush these things. I hear that one of the best compost accelerators is beer, I'll have to give that a go when I have the time to turn it. The pile is not as large as it has been in previous years. This past summer, I have been taking the grass clippings and laying them down between the rows of veggies to keep the weed growth in check. Super Mom recommended this to me and it works great. You have to keep up with it though, the grass gets pulverized into the soil as you walk on it and it provides a very receptive plane for invasive growth such as clover. Removing the tarp was easy enough, though I used these 15lb Belgian blocks to keep it down. There were an innumerable collection of these blocks placed strategically about the area, but mostly along the edges. They are about a foot long and 6 inches wide with a depth of about 2-3 inches. I went about retrieving them and lining them up around the edges. Bend, lift, walk, drop ... repeat till all blocks are done. I think I got my work-out but the hardest part was to come. I had to drag out the 5hp tiller and run it up and down the length of the garden. It is about 25-30 feet long and 12-15 feet wide. I never really measured it, I just used all the space I could easily tend to. The tilling went much better this years than in the past. I guess getting all that compost and grass into the soil has help loosen things up. That, and getting all the construction debris and roots (and phone wires) out of the ground in previous assaults has helped. The soil is no longer the iron bar reinforced baked-clay brick surface it has been in previous years. Starting the tiller took some time and muscle tearing effort, but once I got going it was all or nothing. Imagine trying to hold back a pair of really hungry Rottweilers from a pile of steak on the ground while standing ankle deep in jello. This pretty much describes the physical exertion and dexterity required to properly till the garden. I did not do it properly, but I did manage to do about as good as it is going get. I'm going be planting a wider variety of things this year and less of the pepper/tomato variety. I was completely overwhelmed with hot peppers and the wonderful red fruit last year. No, this year I'm thinking no more than 6 tomato pants and only 6 peppers. Let's see if I can restrain myself.

We had been planning to go over to Alex's place for a week or two now and the time for the dinner had finally come. He was a wonderful host along with his lovely Mrs and his charming daughter. Additionally, his other invited guests were superlative conversationalists. Downside, Jacob went into a tailspin about an hour and a half into the visit. We had a wonderful time between crying bouts with Jacob, but we had to cut the visit short. Poor Jacob was apparently in some sort of pain and his repeated motioning to his ear made us think that it was an ear infection. This is bad since we cannot do anything about it on a Saturday night. The Pediatrician's office will not be open and getting an antibiotic prescription will require us to present the 'broken' child. Now Alex lives a good 45-60 minutes away in the western suburbs. The trip is actually a fairly easy one since most of the trip is on 422 and the turnpike. The times when we were traveling provided for nearly zero volume on the roads. It made me wish over and over again for this sort of reprieve on my daily commute. On the trip back, the Mrs tried her luck and made a call to the office to see if we could get a call-back from the on call physician. An hour after we called, we were back home and starting to get the kids ready for bed. Then the call came. As it turns out, we could bring in our debilitated little broken on in for a visit on Sunday morning, all we would have to do is call after 0900 and schedule an emergency visit. Great! All we have to do is make it through the night.

Friday, March 18, 2005


Liquid Coal

Well now, this is interesting:You all realize that the US is the friggen coal king of the world. Heck, there are mines here in Pennsyltucky that are on fire now because the cost of extinguishing them is too high. If we can make diesel fuel from it ... well, jeeze. This is something that would be great to have around here.


Ethics problem? What ethics?

Can anyone tell me why city politics have to be so unabashedly corrupt?

In the end, the Tammany Hall of modern America will spin on even as city public swimming pools are left to rot and several Hook and Ladder fire stations are slated to be closed. Makes you wonder why the unions still stand by the democrats in power.



Whooooo-ho! Finally. Last night was ok. Rough for me though. I could barely keep my eyes open and was not thinking straight. I completely forgot that it was pizza night and failed to order a pizza. Alexis even asked for it as we were leaving the child detainment and re-education center. It should have kicked off something in my head, but nope. Not even a twinkle. I can't believe I forgot and then could not even be reminded. I was so exhausted that after the kids went to bed, I just crawled under the covers and passed out. I had shut off the baby monitor and found that the kids actually survived the night. Wow. It helped me sleep to since I was not being woken up by bleed-over signal from cb or wire-less radio transmissions. It is a double-plus-goodness-thing that I feel rested when I woke up this morning. Rested enough so that getting my but out of bed at 0600 was not like trying to raise the titanic. I'm going to try to get home tonight at a reasonable hour so I can do a few things in the back yard. Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 17, 2005



Ok, this is just too much. This whole region is getting worse every time I hear a story about what goes on there. I just cannot fathom the diseased mind and blackened soul that will drive someone to do some of these things. Read it and tell me if you can make it to the end of the article.


Riots in Iran

Ohhh, this does not bode well for the Hezbollah ... which I like. No, I don't LIKE Hezbolla, I like it when I hear that their Sugar Daddy Mullas are getting a little taste of the People's Revolution. Truthfully, if a new Iranian government is formed and it is NOT and Islamic theocracy or a Whabbist facist state ... fine. I don't even care if they like us. I just want them to play ball with the rest of the world without resorting to terrorism by proxy and this bogus pursuit of nukes. You can be damned sure that they will use them. Not on a missle or dropped from a plane. No, in a donkey cart rolling through Israel or a crate of dates being unloaded at the Newark shipping terminal. To the students in Iran ... More, Faster. Thank-you.


grind, grind, grind ..

Blogger is being a bit reluctant today, I'll try to post as much as possible.

Last night, I decided to mix up the evening a bit and serve the kids some spaghetti. I thought the problem with Jake was that he was getting bored of the same old thing over and over again. Well, I was wrong. He and I had a little "go 'round" last night and I finally got him to be compliant. He did not eat as much as I would have preferred, but he got enough. The Mrs and I need to sit down and set up a menu for the week that will make things a little more tolerable for all of us. After they started to slow down a bit, I turned on the tube so I could try to get some of my usual tasks done. The Mrs did not get home till 1845 so I had to dedicate my time to the kids instead of my usual round of activities. One of those is sitting outside and repeatedly telling Thor to go poop so he does not have any more accidents inside. He is a sissy dog and does not like to go out when it is cold. He would much rather sit in front of the fission powered wood burning stove and cook his internals. He is so damn soft.

The night went ok. I woke up in the early morning hours to the sounds of Jacob's music box. Argh. I got fed up and just turned off the monitor and told the Mrs that I was doing so. She vaguely remembered the discussing this morning, but had little to say about it. I think that tonight will be the night I finally say 'ENOUGH' and we turn the thing off for good. They know how to get out of bed and open doors and such. If they need us for anything, they will come and get us.

Oh, one more thing. We got up at 0600 again this morning. Well, I got up because I heard the dogs making a ruckus. I figured that I might as well see if I can make it a grand sweep by getting going at a reasonable hour for the fourth time in a week. When I got to the kennels, the dogs were happy and ... clean. No mess, no muss. I'm happy too. Out they go and breakfast is served. I'm hoping for a good day today and this is a good start.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Getting better

Heh, I was a busy boy yesterday. I did finally eat my lunch later in the day. I got to a point where I had done all the work I could do and was waiting on other for either input or action. I had left an apple and a bosc pear for later grazing, but they remain untouched. Recently, I have stopped drinking coffee. As much as I like it, I think that the high levels of caffeine in my system may be contributing to my ongoing sleep issues. Sure, I like to say up all night and get things done, but I don't like laying in bed while torrents of disconnected thoughts run rampant through my mind. It's disconcerting. In it's place, I have been drinking a significant volume of tea. Oolong tea specifically. I used to mix it up a bit and consume a bit of green or black tea as well, but my stocks have been depleted and I need to make a trip to the Asian Market. In any case, I was going on my third cup of tea yesterday afternoon when I noticed that I had left a sheet of paper on my desk that did not belong in the place where it sat. I can be fairly picky about my stacks of paper. OCD you say? Nonsense ... just me tap this pen 17 times and then trace the outline of my cube so the planet does not explode, mkay. But I digress ( a lot), I grabbed the sheet of paper and quickly pulled it over to the other side of the desk oblivious to the cup of piping hot tea that I had just set down in front of it. It was not one of those instances where time stood still as events unfolded, they happened instantaneously. I look down and there is a puddle of quickly cooling fluid on the desk, but not nearly enough to represent the full volume of the now empty cup. Following the trail of the raising columns of steam like a jet contrail, I find the missing 80% had actually landed squarely on my left thigh and was busily soaking into the denim. Oh, and it was hot. Oddly enough, not hot enough to imbue any discomfort. Ahhh, MS has actually provided me with a boon! The decreased sensation on the front of my thighs from nerve damage and site reactions has given me a reprieve from a potentially painful encounter. I count my blessing and make a resolution to only drink tea orally and not topically.

I'm back at the Manor and the twin tyrants are with me. It's dinner time and Jake is trying the "I'm not hungry' gambit, but this time it isn't going to fly. We have a time-out till he agrees to finish his dinner, but comes back just as incorrigible as ever. Daddy will not brook any insubordination so I opt for the nuclear solution - send child to bed without dinner, TV or play-time. The wailing commences immediately when he begins to understand what has happened. Oh, the humanity. Alexis declares that 'Jacob not cooperating, he bad!' and I concur. I also let her know that she needs to eat her dinner as well or a similar fate will befall her. She digs in with a renewed gusto. Shortly after I had carried Jake to bed, I returned to gauge the effects of his incarceration. I asked him to come out and stand in his door way and spoke to him about his behavior. I let him know that I was disappointed and that he needs to eat so he can get better and so he can grow up to be big an strong like daddy. Ok, that last part is a bit of a fib, I want him to be bigger, stronger and smarter than me ... but we will do this the old fashioned way. He responded with a sufficiently contrite murmur and we agreed that he was penitent enough to qualify for an early parole. We went to the dinner table and he began working on his dinner again. I made things a bit easier on him by reheating the food in the fission-power microwave oven and diamond furnace. Things are much better after that. Yeah, daddy the hard-ass/bad-cop. Oh well, like consulting, it's a lousy job but someone has got to do it.

The Mrs walks in at about 1845 and the kids shout for joy. She then produces a little DVD case and hands it to me. It's the Incredibles. I flip it over to read the back and Alexis proclaims 'Put DVD in TV!' Ok, ok, let me get off the plastic wrap. "Open it daddy!' Sheesh! I quickly extract the wafer thin piece of technological wonder from it's hermetically sealed sheath and ensconce it in the waiting maw of the 86 inch plasma flatscreen hologram view-panel. Smiles all around. Jake got tired of it about half way through and wandered off with mommy to do some art-work. Alexis, well, I had to remind her to breathe and blink every so often. She was mesmerized, pretty much like daddy. All in all, things could have gone better, but they could have gone worse too.

I did not sleep well last night. Too much coughing was keeping me from getting more than a few minutes of sleep at a time until some time after midnight. Of course, Jake woke up some time around 0130 and the Mrs went in to check on him. He had turned on on his aquarium-nightlight and the music box. When she got to him, he had already fallen back asleep. I think I need to turn down the volume on the monitor.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Hi ho, hi ho ...

It's off to work we go! Two days in a row and we have managed to get out the door before 0700. Jake was not happy Monday night, he ended up loosing his cookies while trying to eat dinner. In the end, he only ate a couple of bites and was content to subsist on a liquid diet. Water and milk are the rule of the day for him. Hope he feels better soon, I don't want our littlest giant to waste away to nothing. The night went well and we both slept. Tuesday proper is a different story. I've got so much work to do now ... I'm busier than a puppy with two peters! I got so busy I nearly forgot to eat my fruit and veggies. I usually plow through several items before noon, but this time I had left my cornucopia of natures goodies untouched! Hmmm, relevancy. Gotta love it.


France takes the low road ... real low

I read this article and passed it on the Mrs. This just adds yet one more bullet item to my list as to why I think that Western Europe is beyond any hope of recovery. Just to get you started:And why? Why did it go on for so long. Why did no one step in and stop it? Because it was a 'family thing'. Here is what this monster's father had to say:I think I'm going to be sick.

Monday, March 14, 2005


Work-week kick off

Ahhh, the promise of a week started anew. The birds are singing, the crocus' are blooming, the sun is raining down it's life-giving warmth ... bletch. I want to go back to sleep. Can someone hit the snooze button on the sun rising please? No, damn. Well, we managed to get out the door early since the Mrs was taking Jake to see a Childrens Orthopedic Dr about his pigeon toe bent in his right leg. His appointment was at 0830 so she wanted to drop off Alexis at the earliest possible time. It seemed that we overshot our goal. She ended up waiting for the appointment for a good hour. I even managed to get to work by 0730! When she did finally get to see the doctor, she (the doctor) said that Jake has a bit more rotation in his right hip as opposed to his left. This is not a problem at this stage so we need to bring him back in when he is 4 or 5 if it is still manifesting itself. I suppose that is good news.

Talked to my buddy Pete today. He is caring for his Mother who has terminal cancer. Rough spot for his family right now. I let him know that since we go to the Perkins near his house on Saturday morning, we would not be opposed to picking up his 3 children and hauling them with so that he and the Mrs could have some time to themselves. It is nice to have a breather every so often and God knows that he could use it. Speaking of rough times, I just got dumped on at work. Not in the bad sense, mind you. They just figured out that I could actually be useful by picking up some slack so they reassigned 4 new projects to me. Well, the old consulting axiom of 'feast or famine' has proved itself valid again. One of the projects is to extract some dates from contributors about an effort to convert ftp to the AS3 secure protocol. Well, these people are not too keen on putting a line in the dirt so I have to go a few rounds with them to edge them closer to a real-world number. All the responsibility for getting the numbers, no authority to demand an answer ... time to be manipulative. Now where did Iago go?


Sunday's slug

Sunday is a bust. The kids slept well ... mostly. Jake woke up fairly early, 0145 or so. The Mrs gave him his regular 30 minute Mommy-sleeping-next-to-me soothing and he was ok for the rest of the night. I, however, did not gain any relief from the presence of the Matronly Mrs. No, I spent another night hacking and snorting, but not quite so much this time. I guess I'm getting better. The industrial grade expectorant is not clearing out the pipes as well as I would like. No, there seems to be a good pound or two of polluted glop jammed down into my alveoli and it is going nowhere fast. Perhaps if I sleep while hanging from my heels ....

We find out after Jake wakes for the rest of the day that he has picked up whatever has struck me down. He refuses to eat and is feverish. The thermometer consistently reads 100+, so we know that we have a rough week ahead of us. He has never had much luck shaking congestion and what I am currently fighting has all the markings of being a cantankerous strain of the flu. We give him some radioactive children's Tylenol drops to bring down his fever and decide that bringing him to church is out of the question. No, we figure that I could not handle a sick Jacob or a well Alexis either so it's off to the Grocery store. We bump into Sharon (Neighbor, vet assistant) while we were there and had a nice little chat. The kids were sufficiently charming and waved goodbye to her when we parted ways. They can be such little angles when the mood strikes them. Just to prove a point, Jake falls asleep during our 5 minute trip home. I carry him up to one of the Imported 20 ft Italian leather sofa's in the play room. He looked up at me one last time and then slowly closed and dozed off. Well, at least he can sleep.

Later on, I go in to check on Jake and see that he has pulled the comforter up to his chin and it is bunched up so I cannot see his face. I creep closer until I can see his face and notice that his eyes are open. He seems to be looking right at me but his expression does not light up into a glowing smile as usual. I say his name and then he suddenly jerks to life. Either he was sleeping with his eyes open or he was not expecting me to 'sneak' up on him. Poor guy, I felt really bad about that. We try lunch with him but it is a no go. We give him another 4 hour dose of fever reducer and send both of the Twin Tyrants to their afternoon nap. And as expected, I try to get in 40 winks as well.

While I was trying to nap, the Mrs ran out to do some final shopping for the week. After a few hours, she returned to the Manor with her Rapid Reaction Protective Motorcade all shot up, but they all made it back. Damn Sunday Drivers. When you enter the Manor, the alarm system alerts everyone that there is an portal violation in process. The Hounds usually pick this up a few nanoseconds before anyone else because of the wireless cybernetic implants we had installed. They can play mp3 songs too! But I digress. They immediately start barking and the Mrs has to cajole them a bit to get them to quiet down. Even with her best efforts, it does not seem to be making an impact with them today. This looks like a job for ... kaff-kaff, snort ... super (sick) dad. I bumble down the stairs and give the hounds my most menacing scowl. They retreat immediately as the paint on the walls start to bubble and blood flows down from the ceiling. Never wake a sick daddy ... nope, not prudent.

Since I was awake and feeling lousy, I might as well do something to take my mind off it. I throw on a coat and some boots and head out to the wood pile. I burnt a bit more wood this week so I need to refill both brackets. After exhausting myself with that task, I set to the less strenuous, but equally less glamorous task of washing the feces out of Thor's kennel. A healthy dose of Pinesol and some baking soda does the trick. I'm just happy that I did not need to break out the Hazmat suits for this one. Over the last 2 days that I had set the bottom of his kennel outside, the matter had dried and flaked off. Now, with a tap on the bottom and a healthy splash of spike hot water, it was clean as day 1. Mmmm, pine fresh for ya buddy ... keep it clean.

After the kids woke up, I figured that I should start getting ready for the work-week. I was feeling a bit peaked (mostly, because I neglected to eat any meals) and thought that I would cook some thing to eat for the week that would get me through the day. We had picked up a bag of shrimp and a bag of 'assorted' seafood while at the grocery store. I figured that it had been quite a while since I made my signature shrimp & chum etouffee. The little squid tentacles always seems to turn people off, but after eating enough sushi it does not seem to bother me anymore. Since I was going the Cajun route, I'm going to skip the gut-plastering oatmeal. Sure, it's good for me, but it tends to gum up the system a little too much for my tastes. If you're going to snack on fruit all day, you need some space.

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