Sunday, December 30, 2007

Finally made it home after

Finally made it home after being 'On the road again.' Can't wait to shower and sleep in my warm bed. Maybe the shoulder will be warm.

ETA 3 hours. -Neil

ETA 3 hours.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I can't wait to be-edited-

I can't wait to be home tomorrow. And it's dangerously close to me wanting to be -edited-tomorrow.

Fireside Photo

Sitting in front of the fire at Grandma Gayle's.

Friday, December 28, 2007

We spent the evening at

We spent the evening at a family party that I didn't want to go to but ended up having a very good time and didn't want to leave.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Eating dinner

Elizabeth at the dinner table.

Another day with my second

Another day with my second family and everything is going well. Can't wait to start reading my present (Sunrise Lands by SM Stirling).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We made it Pittsburgh safely

We made it Pittsburgh safely and enjoyed a second round of gifts. And since I left my laptop at home, I'll be blogging via phone.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day

Plenty of photos for your viewing pleasure. First, check out the ones I took and make sure you read the comments from Elizabeth. She had quite a day. Then, check out these photos that Elizabeth took with her new camera. She's already a regular Ansel Adams, but tends to move too much and take too many photos. Which means I didn't upload all of the photos, but I did keep enough for you to get the idea.

Presents are open and photos

Presents are open and photos are downloading. They might be up before we leave. Hope everyone got what they wanted!

It's 6am and I've had

It's 6am and I've had my shower, William has been fed (and might actually be full), and Elizabeth just woke up.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Elizabeth playing with her Peoples on Christmas Eve.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dad and me

While the girls are away, William and Daddy play.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Airing of Grievances-edited-

Sienfield had that great episode with Festivus. And while I'm doing quite well in not airing my grievances about Yvonne backing into Dad's car, I feel there are a few things that simply must be said to those out there that need to hear it.


To the trees on Caroline Street - Please stop shitting on my car. Your rotten-acorn-like droppings make my car look like it has skin cancer or something.

To the bastards at HBO - Please send me my replacement Deadwood DVD. If it doesn't arrive by the time I get back, I'm going to start sending you hate mail.

To the leftist punks - I can respect your religious preferences. But don't shit your pants when I say Merry Christmas.


To the people in traffic on the way home tonight - You're already on vacation so move the hell over. My vacation just started and I want to get home.

To the people in traffic on the way to Pittsburgh - I'm sure somebody will piss me off. I don't know who, but if you're reading this - up yours!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

If you open-carry your gun, is that brandishing?-edited-


After talking for awhile, I realized that, while I was not brandishing my gun in the legal sense, I was wearing it in the open to make a statement. The statement being, "stay the hell away from me." I usually combine this with my evil stare (or a blank face of contempt) and large size (6 foot, 250 pounds) to keep the crazies away from me. So yes, in his line of thinking I might as well have been advertising I was packing heat.

But I've noticed that when I do open-carry, roughly 75% of the people do not notice. And if they do notice, I don't see any reaction. It's not like I'm wearing a tactical thigh holster or carrying a huge Tommy gun, but I'd expect people to pay more attention. They don't. Most assume it's a cell phone (that would be one hell of a phone call).

In the end, I can see how uncomfortable it may make people. Yet when it comes to my discomfort over not having one or your discomfort for seeing me wear one, I win.

So, that was today's deep thought. Hope you enjoyed my inner thoughts.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

So I have a bit

So I have a bit of a surprise. I can now blog from anywhere with my phone!
-Neil (via mobile device)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

5 Lessons You Can Live By

Respect and thank your barber - he holds a razor near your throat.

Never trust the scale in the bathroom - it lies.

Never look bored at work - you will soon be too busy to be bored.

Kids are smarter than they look - if you listen to them long enough, you might learn something.

Go visit Unidentified Family Objects - because I said so, that's why.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas comes early

Saturday was a bit of a nightmare. With the big "storm" coming in, everyone, their brother, and their cousin decided to hit the grocery store. Well, we needed groceries too, which meant I got to give people the stink eye to keep them away. But that was thankfully the last stop of our day, so it was bearable.

Before that was a trip to Verizon where we upgraded to new phones, plans, and all sorts of stuff. Turns out we've had our $100 credit to pend since May, so we took advantage of it. Which meant we both got new phones (the LG enV - hers is orange and mine is silver). And since it has the fancy keyboard, we upgraded to include some texts. Lord knows Yvonne will be texting her thumbs numb now. And we combined our plans to save some money as well as added Dad as another line. Kind of funny to watch the salesman squirm with Dad twisting the screws.

Those were the highlights. Lowlights include laundry, dishes, another Steelers loss, and the fact that they will be closing the roads until about 1 pm today for the President's visit. Figures it's on a day when I'm leaving early (at 2 pm). For the curious, he'll be here around noon today (and no, that's not his limo in the bottom right).

So what did you do this weekend?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

S l o w M o t i o n

This has got to be one of the sloooooooowest days ever. It's not like I didn't have enough to do at work, but I swear my clock has been going backwards since 2 this afternoon.

And thus ends my profoundness. Back to Kvothe.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Post 500

This is my 500th post to my blog. I started with my first post back in June of 2005. It was the weak and obligatory "this is my first" kind of post. Sad and pitiful. I've gone from reviews, to writing, to photos, to videos, and back again. I've had 7,634 visitors from 78 countries (do you know where Macao is?). And I've had over 11,000 page views. Those four readers out there must be hard at work. Or unemployed.

Some stats:

Average number of posts per month = 17
Month with most posts = January 2007 (34)
Post with most comments (not including my comments) = William Charles Richard (10 comments)
Most viewed post of all time = How Much Money Does An Author Make*
Most views in a day = 113 (May 14, 2007)**
Least Used Label = willvideoforfood (once) [which I'll likely be removing at some point along with the other rarely used labels]
5 Most Used Labels
  1. tk42one (290)
  2. photos (111)
  3. Elizabeth (78)
  4. review (78)
  5. Neil (68)
Okay, I'm done pimping myself and my compulsive counting has been satisfied for the day. If I'm lucky, it won't rain while I walk outside to enjoy the 68 degree weather.

* Google Analytics was not used until July of 2006 making all data before then incomplete.
** As of midnight EST December 11, 2007.

Kvothe - Chapters 20-25

Chapter 20 – Bloody Hands Into Stinging Fists

The squash wagon arrives in Tarbean with Kvothe riding in the back. He runs from what could have easily been a good family to stay with, all because of his fear of remembering what happened to his own family. And he promptly meets a trio (there’s the number three again) of young street thugs that harass him, steal his lute, and beat him up. In the process the lute gets broken. Not really surprising, you can see it coming. And now there’s more mental anguish added to the physical pain of having the crap kicked out of him.

And the last line of the chapter? “That was the first night of nearly three years I spent in Tarbean.” There’s the number three again.

Chapter 21 – Basement, Bread and Bucket

Yet another short chapter, this one introducing Trapis, an old man who cares for the handicapped waifs who wonder off the streets of Tarbean. Trapis helps those he can with stale bread and water and only asks for those waifs taking his kindness to carry water for him. Not too bad a deal. Most interesting to me is the thought Kvothe mentions of a “hundred howling children” who would do anything to protect Trapis from harm.

Chapter 22 – A Time for Demons

Here we learn more about the city of Tarbean and about the midwinter festival surrounding high Mourning. One great paragraph was:

Waterside is where people are poor. That makes them beggars, thieves, and whores. Hillside is where people are rich. That makes them solicitors, politicians, and courtesans.

Such a classic and true comparison, even in today’s reality.

Part of the year-end festival of Mourning involves people dressing as demons and basically going crazy. Well, some demons helped Kvothe after he got the crap kicked out of him by a guard on the ritzy side of town. Begging from the upper crust didn’t pay off. He somehow made it back to his hiding spot on the roof with numerous injuries but food and drink as well.

Chapter 23 – The Burning Wheel

The majority of this chapter shows Tarpis telling the story of Encanis being defeated by Tehlu. The demon gets bound to iron and roasted over a pit of coals by the god.

Chapter 24 – Shadows Themselves

Another insanely short chapter. All of two pages, maybe a page if condensed. But we are introduced to an interesting sub-set of people in this unnamed land of Kvothe’s; sweet eaters. Essentially druggies that are easily identified by their white teeth. Makes you think twice about those whitening toothpastes on the market.

But even more interesting is the possibility that Kvothe was raped as a boy on the streets of Tarbean. He describes a scene where he sees a young boy be attacked by a group of larger, older boys. There’s not sexual deviancy mentioned, but I could see little other reason for attacking other than robbing him, raping him, or the simple pleasure of beating him.

Chapter 25 – Interlude – Eager for Reasons

Another short chapter that brings us back to the tavern and the Chronicler. Kvothe refreshes himself with a drink and, before going back to telling his story, he mentions the young boy in the alley and how he regretted not going to help him. He says he has regrets in his life that he distinctly remembers, but can’t remember how many times he’s been beaten.

--Read more about the detailed analysis here--

Morning Observations

- Seen while sitting in traffic this morning - A bumper sticker on a pest control truck: "Mosquitoes Suck"

- Seen while driving this morning - a driver not paying attention that nearly rear-ended the car next to me. Skidding tires and all.

- Determined while thinking in my "office" - men are lecherous.

- Heard on the radio - A fellow Edinboro alumni calling my favorite radio host a"Nancy." He has more hair on his back than I do. [send her an email telling her to stop]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Predictor - 11 Heroes Predictions

Yvonne and I have a bit of a running joke that she's the "Predictor" of the house. It's a bit of a play on words from the TV show Pretender we'd watch in college. She got the reputation of being able to predict most of the "surprise" endings for shows we'd watch and thus, the name stuck.

Well, I stumbled upon one of my previous posts with predictions I made about Heroes. And since I'm short on material to write about today, so begins the discussion.

Prediction 1: Hiro will travel back in time to get his katana (sword) from ancient Japan. Think of the old Seven Samurai movie by Kurosawa.

Looks like I was right on this one. 10/10

Prediction 2: He [Matt] will confront Horn Rim Glasses Guy (HRGG) and get the information he needs. But it won't be pretty, the confrontation or the information.

Pretty much right on this one too. 9/10

Prediction 3: Claire now realizes what her father (HRGG) has done (or can do) and will run-away from home. I'm sure she'll end up in New York City, but will hitch a ride with either Hiro or someone else to get there. In NYC, she will use her power to heal Peter Petrelli of the combustible power he absorbed.

Almost right? She was going to run away and kind of did, but in the end I think she'll stay with the family. 7/10

Prediction 4: Micah helps dismantle a bomb. Don't ask where that came from, just a guess.

Well, he nearly got burned up in an arson, which exploded kind of like a bomb. 5/10

Prediction 5: The Haitian will "rescue" HRGG from The Cop. But he will give him the same treatment as Claire.

The Haitian rescues HRG from the Company, not Matt. And he did turn out to be nice. 6/10

Prediction 6: Isaac (the artist) - Continues to sketch and paint without being high and will provide Hiro with more clues as to the destiny of the group.

Way off base on Isaac. With his head sporting a new flip top lid, I doubt he'll be painting much. 0/10

Prediction 7: Simone - Her story line is pretty much dead.

Thankfully dead on with this one. 10/10

Prediction 8: Nathan Petrelli - He wins the election and turns out to be a typical politician, evil. Until he hurts his wife and decides to use his power for good.

Did he win? I don't remember. I'm pretty sure he did. But he turned out to be a good guy. And we never really saw much of his wife in Season 2. 3/10

Prediction 9: Mohinder - Will continue to attempt to warn those on "the list" and will garner the attention of the FBI lady and The Cop. They'll join forces to save the world.

The "List" was pretty much forgotten. So was the FBI lady. But he did join forces with Matt. 3/10

Prediction 10: Niki - Will turn herself in but escape prison to rejoin DL and Micah to do something.

She turned herself in to the Company and did rejoin DL and Micah. 6/10

Prediction 11: Peter Petrelli - Will become the combustible man but will not be the reason behind the blast in NYC.

He was the combustible man and was the reason behind the blast in NYC. But the blast never came about like we originally thought it would. 7/10

Total Score: 66/110 = 60%

Not too bad. Feel free to dispute my scoring. Or my predictions.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Videos and Spelling Bees

I'll save the Santa Train videos until last. First, I forgot to mention that Elizabeth was able to spell her name yesterday. She has a little magna-doodle-thing and wrote each letter all by herself. I only helped her with the letter "H" when she wrote it lower case and the letter "N" which she still struggles with. I know, there's no "N" in her name, but there is in her middle name (she spelled that too).

And I forgot to mention the lights at Wal-Mart. Next time you go inside, wait until you get to the checkout line. Then, turn around, look at the ceiling in the back of the store, and let your eyes go a little out of focus. See all those flickering lights? It's amazing there aren't more epileptic fits in that place. Probably waste more energy with the flickering bulb than a good one.

And finally, the videos:

Mega Holiday Weekend

Ever have one of those weekends where you just want to get back to work so you can take a break? Well, this weekend was almost one of those. If we had not accomplished so much, it would have been like that.

The Santa Train (pictures are here and videos will be coming soon) went well. We arrived early (before 0900) and got to see the first train arrive late and leave. And there was a large line waiting to get to the station, which was nice to see. Guess 200+ kids running around train tracks isn't safe. The ride went from Fredericksburg up to Quantico and back. Got to see a few freight and passenger trains as well. Santa and Mrs. Claus were nice (they actually had two to walk in each direction on the train).

From there, we went to Goolrick's for lunch (a counter-style soda fountain where the ladies that run the operation are too young to know that calling them "soda jerks" would be a compliment). There was also several groups of Civil War reenactors roaming the town for the Irish Brigade campaign.

Then it was out to the mall where we waited to see Santa. While waiting, I looked at sunglasses that were too expensive and Yvonne got her necklace checked out. We also had a laugh at what would happen if teachers were caught shopping in Victoria's Secret by students. Pictures would be on MySpace with the lingerie in minutes.

And we made a Costco run for gas, Kleenex, and some other items before heading across the main drag to shop at Borders. Elizabeth slept while Yvonne fed William, so I did my shopping alone. Picked up Angels and Demons on audio and a Backyardigans book for Elizabeth (Daddy is getting a little tired of the Dora books).

Then it was Kohls where we finished up Christmas shopping with the last present and a pair of boots for the wonderful wife-with-so-many-shoes-they-don't-fit-in-her-closet. And since Elizabeth and William were sleeping, Yvonne did the grocery shopping alone (I tried to nap in the car but was entirely too entertained by the sheer number of idiots that drive the wrong way in the parking lot.

Then we capped off our day by having dinner at Ruby Tuesday. I got ribs and steak and the ribs were amazingly better than the steak. And just as our dessert arrived, William decided to wake up and scream. So I took him to the van and promptly got puked on. Did a decent number on my shirt but decided that my pants were too clean and got them next. It looked entirely too much like I had an accident.

A much more sedate day. Sorted and washed the mounds of laundry. Changed sheets, towels, etc. And Yvonne made cookies (chocolate chip, sugar, and cut out). The cut out still have to be baked and iced, but the sugar and chocolate chip are good.

And of course the Steelers lost. Damn Patriots.

And Saturday our friend had her second baby, so Yvonne went last night to visit them (Kaleb with a K). I got a blue bubble gum cigar.

Woof. So, lots of stuff done, still a few more to do (like mail packages) but a very productive weekend.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Insert Creative Title Here

First, a translation of yesterday's rhyming post.

- William is back on Soy formula and appears to be happy. No throwing up, no expensive formula, and the scaly skin appears to be gone.
- Santa called Elizabeth and from the sounds of it, she loved it. He told her to make sure she took a nap during the day and she has everyday since.
- I found out that Benjamin Richard (my great-grandfather) may have donated some photos to the Nebraska State Historical Society. I'm working on getting samples of the photos and one potential photo of him.
- The nice girl in Norway that is translating the letters into English is still interested in translating more. She's slow, but frankly, I don't care. I'm just happy she's excited about translating.

And in other news, a neat video:

And of course we have the invasion of Pearl Harbor:

And that's about it. I got paid today, tomorrow is the Santa Train, and Sunday is the Steeler game. Maybe somewhere in there I'll be able to clean the house some. It's a mess.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Rhyming Update

A few updates to keep all you llamas
In the loop of all the dramas

William is back to drinking his formula Soy
Liquid Gold made him sick, the poor boy
Don't tell the doctor we made the switch
He might think we like to bi......

Santa called Elizabeth the other night
He told her more naps would put her a'right
Her eyes lit up with tremendous glee
But she said he wouldn't be calling me

Great Grandaddy Richard made a donation
To the historical society's photo rotation
And there could be a pic of him as a boy
That would be three total, oh joy

Rakel has been translating by moon and sun
Now a letter can be read for Olava Hanson
More letters are coming around the bend
We should then learn from whom they did send

All this rhyming is making me dizzy
All this work is sending me into a tizzy

So sit back and enjoy this post
I hope you'll enjoy it the most
When your rhyming post host
Did stop rhyming this post most

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

It's snowing

For the first time this year, we actually have snow falling from the sky. We had some flakes earlier, but nothing more than a flake or two.

And in light of this change in weather, I'll be avoiding grocery stores and the roads as much as possible. Total accumulation will be an inch or two, which is roughly equivalent to a foot or two for those in normal snow regions. For those further north, it's more like 10 or 20 feet. The people here just freak out, drive crazy, and horde food.

Whelpers, it's time for a meeting. Later tater!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Holiday Meme

Well, not an "official" meme, but something I'd like all my readers (all five of you) to think about and respond to. And I mean seriously think about. And answer seriously (do your best Paul).

Why do you give Christmas presents?

That's it. Just one question. Here's what I've been thinking about for my answer.

Because I'm selfish.

Let me explain. By our very nature, we are selfish people. We do things to either survive or bring ourselves pleasure. You might argue that some noble people, like say Mother Teresa, are very giving. These noble people give things away to help better the lives of others. To help them survive or live a better life. And it makes them happy. So, by definition, if you do something that makes you happy, isn't that being selfish?

So I give presents because it makes me happy. I like to see how people react when they open something really neat or something they really wanted. If I had enough money, I'd buy everyone presents. I'd spoil them so much I would be poor (probably a good reason for my not being the CEO of some big company). I'd love to buy a new van for Yvonne, or a big toy for Elizabeth, or the family farm, or a car for Mom, or this, that and the other thing for everyone.

So that's why I buy presents for Christmas. To make people happy so I can be happy. And if I'm lucky enough, I'll get something good in return (like a Wii, or a pick-up truck, or a million dollars).

Kvothe - Chapters 17, 18, and 19

Chapter 17 – Interlude – Autumn

Back in the Waystone Inn, Bast is nearly crying at Kvothe’s painful childhood. He keeps a straight face and gets some wood for the rest of the evening. And once alone, he sheds his tears.

Chapter 18 – Roads to Safe Places

Again with the threes. In dealing with pain, Kvothe talks about the three ways we cope. Sleep, forgetting, and madness. After the tragedy of losing his parents, he sleeps. Then he tries to forget. Then he borders on insanity.

Chapter 19 – Fingers and Strings

Kvothe goes native by killing rabbits, building a shelter, and surviving in the wild. And he begins to shut down his mind by focusing on survival and playing his lute. He focuses so much on playing his lute, that he eventually learns to play all day long. And he learns to play with six then five strings instead of seven. But when he was down to four strings, he decided it was time to leave his little base camp and venture into the world.

And he finally meets normal people but doesn’t quite know how to react. Kind of like Tarzan coming to London the first time.

--Read more about the detailed analysis here--

Ever notice how things change?

Well, no sooner than our Christmas spirit getting tossed about like a queasy landlubber in the middle of a New England gale riding a small trawler, than the clouds part and there's light ahead.

Santa called Elizabeth last night. I wish I was there to see it, but I heard about it. In fact, Elizabeth actually talked to me on the phone about it right after he called. I've never had that long of a conversation on the phone with her. She'll talk like that in person, but I've never heard her that excited on the phone.

And William's rash looks better already. He's got one more bottle of soy formula before moving to the Liquid Gold (don't ask what the name of it is, I can't remember - but it smells funny). Let's see, what else is happening. Dad bought a new toy that looks pretty nice. Hanukkah starts tonight (Happy Hanukkah for those that celebrate). We had two Mormon missionaries/elders/not sure what to call them stop by last night. I was as polite as I could be in turning down their offers. And while I respect and admire what they're doing, I'm just not religious. And my headlight blew this morning. Sarcastic "yeah." And it's supposed to snow tonight and tomorrow. Another sarcastic "yeah." And I have applesauce sitting on my desk.

Now, I need to get into my morning routine before calls start coming in. Later taters.

OOOHHHH!!!! Almost forgot. Heroes!

I totally support the writer's strike, but I'm really pissed there won't be more Heroes! Nathan dies. Meh, I'll miss him. And there's still a chance he'll survive. Nikki dies. Meh, no big deal, she wasn't doing much anyway. Hiro sticks Adam in a coffin! Woot! And did Peter absorb the virus? Is he going to be the cause of the outbreak? Sylar is BACK! YES! Micah and the Power Ranger girl need to grow in a story line now before we forget about them. And Elle is starting to be interesting. Will she turn on her father? And was HRG Nathan's shooter? I think he'll betray the company again, assuming that was really him. Couldn't the company have another shapeshifter working for them?

Monday, December 03, 2007

This post is rated R

Four posts in a day. Amazing huh? Not really.

(Fair warning. Swearing ahead.)

The level of Holiday Cheer just got sucked out the fucking window at the Richard house today. Turns out the docs think William is allergic to soy as well as milk. Definitive tests won't be run until the 17th. And being the pessimist I am, I don't want to imagine the worst case scenario. But I will. Milk, soy, wheat, nut, egg, and numerous other foods could end up on the allergy chart. Not too bad for an adult or even a kid. But Christ, he's only 3 months old. Try telling a kid that bottle he's chugging away on is worth five bucks. Liquid gold that gets crapped out every day.

William, William. I feel bad for the kid and there's not much we can do. Can't just leave him on the doorstep somewhere. So, we'll slog through it. Yvonne and I are both stubborn, and our parents are stubborn, and I'm pretty sure all of our grandparents were stubborn too. So from one mule-head to another, we make it work whatever the cost.

Okay, I feel much better now. Ranting cycle is complete and venting is finished. Now I can move on to the Rinse cycle.

Feeling sad yet? Well don't. Go down there and read about the UFOs.


go on


The Not-So-Secret Secret Project

So, I've been working on this project that some of you may know about because I told you, some may have discovered on your own, and some may not give a hairy rodent's hind quarters.

Needless to say, I've had a lot of fun working on it, but as with anything new I try, I never know how long it will hold my interest. I seem to have a severe case of AADD (that's Adult ADD). How I've survived this long without a diagnosis, I'll never know.

Anyway, some of you are bugging me to reveal my secret project, but I just like making everyone wait.

And squirm.

And growl with impatience.

And curse me.

And give up.

And that's why, for those with enough patience to hang in there long enough, I think I'll reveal my secret.

Sometime soon.

But I'm still not sure if I want to do it today. You see, keeping secrets makes you feel powerful and powerless. I like the powerful part, I get to hold something over your head and watch you jump and do tricks like a little puppy dog. But I'm powerless because if I don't share, nobody will know.

So, without further ado, here is my Not-So-Secret Secret Project.


That's right, UFOs. As in Unidentified Family Objects. I've covered a few objects already, so make sure you go back and start from the beginning. Today was the grand reveal of the first, large, and still operational UFO. I'll continue this week with more of the same type of UFO and should have enough to keep that theme through next week. Right now I'm trying to pace myself to posting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I don't want to do too much at once. And this weird comic drawing Hobbit had a great point about having content backlogged and ready to go ahead of time.

Speaking of which, I need to get writing for this week.

Kvothe - Chapter 16

Chapter 16 – Hope

This is likely one of the darkest chapters in the book. It gave me the goose bumps the first time I read it and still doesn’t sit well the second time around. Here, Kvothe looses his parents and his troupe to a group of unknown assailants. He goes out in search of firewood and wanders as any kid would. Upon returning to the camp, he finds everything in ruin, smoke rolling across the camp, people dead, and iron rusted.

As to the attackers? Well, it’s a bit like the scene from Star Wars when Luke returns to the moisture farm and sees his aunt and uncle laying there like charred meat. Kvothe stumbles upon the attackers and sees that they don’t quite appear to be human. One being called Lord Haliax and another called Cinder. Neither are nice, but Lord Haliax is clearly in charge. They scamper off without killing Kvothe as something comes to scare them away. Exactly what, it’s still unclear.

Kvothe finds his parents wagon and stays the night inside. He nearly burns with the wagon but manages to save the book from Ben and his father’s lute, which he plays to block the pain.

--Read more about the detailed analysis here--

Now I remember

This is why I don't like posting so damn early in the morning. My brain simply is not awake. And I've already started my week off short on sleep. Stayed up late last night to watch the end of the Steeler game. Was just a tad nervous when I say the field conditions could be like last week's near loss to the Dolphins, but it turned out the field wasn't too bad.

Now, for the rest of the weekend report. Saturday was babysitting William while Yvonne went to the high school to proctor an SAT test. Did you know that you can use a calculator on the math portion now? Even if the calculator has functions and equations? What's up with that? Sheesh.

Meanwhile, Dad took Elizabeth to see the Bee Movie and they both wanted to leave early. After lunch, they came back. And Yvonne came back. And then we all headed back into town to grocery shop. The parade was penciled in, but we just didn't have time and it was a wee bit chilly.

Sunday was Christmas photos in the morning. What a chore it is to get a three year old that's as stubborn as both her parents to smile when she doesn't want to. At least William didn't throw up all over the place. Now that would have been a photo.

Then it was back home, lunch, then back to the Riverside while we left the kids with the sitter. We got to see Disney's Beauty and the Beast. They had great costumes, but I just couldn't get into the story that much. After the play, we made a quick run to the local Sports Authority to get Yvonne a new winter coat and new shoes for me.

And the secret project is still progressing nicely, but I think I have too much other stuff to catch up on to work on it today. And I have a full schedule at work. Yuck. Work.

So, what did you do this weekend? What was your SAT score (mine was 970 in 8th grade I think and 1270 in 11th -- assuming I can remember)?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Gah! It's after 3!-edited-

Oh well, there goes my goal to post first thing in the morning. And I've now progressed far enough in my day to be completely slouching in my chair. So much that it looks like I'm laying flat. Which I just about am.

Anyway, here's a little update.

- Secret Project - Progressing nicely. I have plenty to work on to keep me busy for several months if I limit myself to posting three times a week.
- HBO - They still has sent me a replacement disc for the damaged Deadwood DVD I sent them. Crapweasles.
- Rabbit and Bear Paws - I'm still eagerly awaiting the my free shirt I won for their riddle. Big surprise that when I win something, I never get it. Figures.
- Christmas Cube - I've actually decorated my desk a bit for the holiday season. I have a large poster, a small tree, and a Christmas Story ornament that talks when you push the button.
- All I want for Christmas - Is my flipping Washington Post. For the second time I've been rejected with no delivery. The distributor was nice enough to tell me that he delivers to the Sheetz (4 miles away) and the Round Hill Market (2 miles away) but does not deliver to my road. The putz.

In the end, I'm comforting myself with work and Top Gear (via YouTube). -edited- I really don't want to edit more documents. Oh well. Looks like their trip across Botswana will keep me busy for awhile.

Kvothe - Chapter 15

Chapter 15 – Distractions and Farewells

We finally see Ben leave the troupe to go teach the son of a wealthy widow. Combined with his leaving is Kvothe’s twelfth birthday. The troupe puts on quite a show and Arl (short for Arliden) sang a verse of the secret project he was working on, the ballad about Lanre and the Chadrian.

Kvothe wakes the next day to find a book, Rhetoric and Logic, signed by Ben. This will play an important role later. Oh, and the town where Ben stays behind, Hallowfell, is actually on the map.

--Read more about the detailed analysis here--

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Why you so quiet?

I don't know if that line actually came from a movie, but I remember some little Asian lady saying it for some reason. Oh well, thus is the madness of my post titles.

As for my silence, well, I've actually had work to do. Amazing. I've been volunteered for yet another project, this one will involve a lot of document reviews, edits, changes, approvals, uploads, etc. Not pretty, but very time consuming. And we still have a limited amount of staff for our team, which means more phone time. Yiippee.

And on top of that, I've been working on a little secret project on the side. I always seem to have some sort of project on the side, most I never seem to follow through on. Well, with this one, I'm hoping to get some support from others. Not necessarily you (meaning my readers here----all four of you) but you are by all means welcome to come and visit, provide feedback, etc. It's kind of a niche market, and I've not seen many others offering/providing/entertaining like I'm trying to do.

And I just realized that whole paragraph was a bunch of gibberish. So, moving on, this weekend will be busy. Actually this whole month will be. There's the Christmas parade, family photos, an SAT test to proctor, a play at the Riverside, a movie, the list goes on. Kind of like Santa's.

So here's to hoping we all stay in the Nice column.

God my brain is going to mush. Maybe I should write in the morning.

Kvothe - Chapter 14

Chapter 14 – The Name of the Wind

The title chapter. Ben issues a challenge to bring a bird down out of the sky. Kvothe, being clever and smart, binds the wind in his chest to that outside. And nearly kills himself. Ben saves him and does well at hiding it from Kvothe’s mother, but the damage is done. Ben does not teach Kvothe as much as he’d like and we begin to see the end of their relationship.
--Read more about the detailed analysis here--

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The DTs

It's days like today I could really go for a Coke. A nice, ice-cold, glass bottle of sparkling, bubbling Coke. With condensation dripping down the sides of the bottle and the carbonation so fresh there's a little mini-fountain of cola goodness sprouting gently from the mouth of the bottle. That opening to the refreshing goodness of sickly sweet soda.

Instead I opted for a Mocha Java Cooler from Daily Grind. Not the same, but as close as I can get. Probably worse for me too, but I don't care. I haven't been to bed early (as in before 11:00 pm) since Saturday so my old age is kicking in. Gramps needs his rest.

And it doesn't help that the annoying cube-neighbor that always has something to say isn't here today. In fact, I'm all alone on my row today. And tomorrow. And we're slammed silly on the phones. God, why can't I work from home in my underwear and make money reading books and editing manuscripts?

Because God doesn't like you, moron.

Ahhh, but my Mocha Java does!


Kvothe - Chapter 13

Chapter 13 – Interlude – Flesh with Blood Beneath

This is a juicy chapter, but not long enough. Kvothe takes a break from telling his story and calls on his friend/servant Bast to get something to drink. As Bast and he are talking, Chronicler goes from showing curiousity over Bast, to openly studying him, to attacking him by invoking the name of Iron. Bast in turn attempts to retaliate, but Kvothe settles them down and makes them see the error of their ways.

And it’s in the middle of all this that we learn Chronicler is an accomplished member of the Arcanum and is one of the few people that know the name of Iron. We also learn that Bast is the son of a Prince of some import but most interesting to me, his cloven hooves and eyes that become a solid color. Clearly the question of his race is raised.

--Read more about the detailed analysis here--

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kvothe - Chapter 12

Chapter 12 – Puzzle Pieces Fitting

Now we get into a bit more of Kvothe’s family as we find him eavesdropping on Ben talking with his parents. We learn that Kvothe’s father, Arl, is in the process of writing a new song about Chandrain, the most vile and evil of creatures to walk the lands. And aside from them being evil, we only learn a little more about them here. Be patient, we’ll learn more soon enough. And we begin to develop a bit of kinship or caring for Kvothe’s parents as they joke and tease each other while we learn the Ben is wise, maybe wiser than we thought. And the seed for Kvothe attending the University has been officially planted. It’s a big deal to his parents and Ben, but even bigger to Kvothe.

--Read more about the detailed analysis here--

I need your help

I've been staring at my stupid face with a mustache for too long and I need your help. I want a new avatar for Google (which would cover my blog and Picasa). So, I've searched hi and low and I've found the following.

Please vote with your choice in the comments. You decide who lives or dies!

The current avatar:

Choice One
Choice Two
Choice Three
Choice Four

Choice Five

Monday, November 26, 2007

Grande weekend report

Lots of reading here, so pull up a comfy chair and a coffee.

I'm published
I've now been published. In Spanish. And English. Only the Spanish version is online, but the English version is available in print (scan is below). Not quite the groundbreaking writing I was hoping for, but better than nothing.

Since I've been reading about Paul and his Scrabble games, I've had a hankering to play. So this weekend, Yvonne agreed to play. Well, I beat her. Twice. The second game was a bit of a blow-out at 192 to 302. My highest scoring turn was 33 points, her's was 24. My favorite play was playing a single tile (the letter D) and getting 21 points. I don't think she'll play Scrabble with me for a very long time.

Today is my last day of class until late April. This was only my second class in my Masters program, but I think I've learned the key behind this particular program (Masters of Information Systems and Management) thanks to my professor, who was a giant ass. The key is bull shit. The work I've written for this class sucked worse than a Hoover. So bad, I didn't want anyone to proof read the papers for fear they would laugh. But it was a great exercise in creative writing. Even if I bomb this week due to my distribution of fecal matter (which I doubt), I should still pass the class. So remember that class. The key to management is bull shit.

Elizabeth had a blast dancing during the Macy's parade. What a hoot.

I finally finished reading Innocent Mage by Karen Miller and, quite frankly, was surprised I continued reading it until the end. This book has been on the best seller list in the US, UK, and her native Australia. And I'm not sure why. It's not that it isn't a good book, it's just, well, rough around the edges. There are certain aspects of the story that just don't jive. Namely, when the bad guy arrives, he does so suddenly. So suddenly it almost stops the story in its tracks and makes you (the reader) go huh? wha?

I think the best way to describe this story is like a nugget of gold. It has a lot of value, but it's very rough and even looks ugly at times. It isn't like S. M. Stirling or Patrick Rothfuss who have stories that are more like a gold coin. Very crisp, polished, and shiny, but worth the same amount.

I'm hoping the next book is better as is her next series. Until then, I'm off to read Havoc by Jack DuBrul. And maybe I can get back to re-reading (and analyzing) Name of the Wind.

As in Unidentified Family Objects. I'm thinking I've found a name for a new blog. Something that will allow me to show and identify some family heirlooms. I'll test it and see what happens. This was all brought about by my time spent Saturday going through a very small portion of the items Dad brought back from the farm. And I'm not even talking about the letters we sorted out. Kind of sad to see your grandfather's wallet and his father's wallet still full of credit cards and paper items. Anyway, keep an eye on the sky for UFOs!

It's that time of year where I'm tired of working on decorating. Yvonne does most of the work (thank God) and Elizabeth helped this year with the bottom part. I did the top. Yvonne did the middle. We also listened to some holiday music, watched some holiday movies, and generally made a mess of the house that finally got cleaned up late last night (damn those Patriots for winning). But all is done, the house looks normal again, and I'm officially on the Christmas Wagon.

And finally (yes, almost there, you can do it!) the presents I wrapped at work for Yvonne are in the car and ready to go home. Elizabeth has a couple under her bed for Yvonne too. I hope she'll like them!

Turkeys go Gobble Gobble

Ducks go quack quack and Chickens go cluck cluck.

So, here's the long awaited Thanksgiving report. The first part. The one I've been planning since last week. The one with all the photos.

But I'll spare you from posting all the photos here, so go HERE instead to look at them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Beef Jerky Anyone?

So, I've been known to order some beef jerky in the past. In fact, there are several co-workers that see me as the "beef jerky guy." While I enjoy it, I can't quite bring myself to eat a pound of jerky in a week. My co-workers can. So, they bring me there money, I place the order, I deliver, and the eat. And eat. And eat.

Needless to say, the folks I order from are quite nice. I've dealt with them for several years. And they should treat me nice. I've ordered as much as $300 in beef jerky at once (at the peak of jerky eating) and average a few hundred dollars a year in orders.

So, they send me a nice Christmas letter every year.

If you like jerky, order from No Man's Land.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Flowers and Marshmallows

Enjoy the latest photos (from this morning!).

From Flowers and M...

I've also added a video (just for you Mom, now that you have DSL).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Heroes Rewind

- Papa Claire Bear isn't dead. Not enough blood for a head shot through the eye. He somehow turned in time. Ha! I told you.
- West, the flying boy wonder, will die. If not, I'll be pissed.
- Favorite line from tonight: "Hurts like a bitch, doesn't it?" Water and electricity don't mix, do they?
- Parkman is skirting that grey area between good and bad. Will he give in and do the wrong thing or will he play it safe?
- We now have the plot the next season or the next half of this season. The mystery woman from the photo. Victoria Pratt.
- Does Mama Claire bear have a power? Yes. The ability to not act well. Maybe she's the flying boy wonder's mother.
- Hiro meets Young Hiro. Pretty cool. And now we see Hiro grow. Finally. Some major character development.

That is all.


So, I was going to tell everyone about my nice weekend but I decided to depress everyone instead by telling you I have no "real" friends.

Now, before everyone jumps the gun, let me explain a little bit. My best friend is my wife. But she's family. And she is a REAL friend, but not the kind I'm talking about. I'm talking about the kind of friend you can go out and do things with, have a drink at the bar, talk about your wife, your kids, your job. You know, a friend.

Maybe a "real guy" friend is a better choice of words. I simply don't have any. I have family. I have family I'm very close to. I have friends online. I have friends online that I feel I'm close to (they may not feel the same way, who knows). But I don't have a single, solitary person that I feel comfortable going out, having a drink or round of golf, and talking about marriage or work or kids.

And while I'm lucky enough to have Yvonne as a best friend, I don't feel like I have a "best-friend-that's-not-your-wife friend." Maybe I'm still too introverted.

So, if you're reading this, be thankful if you have a "best-friend-that's-not-your-wife/husband friend." And if you don't, then feel comfortable that you're not alone.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Elizabeth's Song

So this past week, Elizabeth has been a singer/songwriter/dancer. She's been dancing at the sitter's and at home. She's been singing in the car and making up her own songs. My only regret is not videotaping this particular song.

Jingle bells
[clap your hands]
Make new friends
Look out the window
Look for the red light


Makes you wonder what little kids think about.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

[le sigh]

I wish I had something profound to say.

But I don't.

So carry-on and enjoy your day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New photos

Here are some new photos from the past week or so. I haven't heard anyone clamoring for more photos of William, so I thought I'd be proactive before I heard more complaints. There's also Dad's birthday (my Dad, not me), Mom's postcard, and Elizabeth's fingernails.


PS - Don't forget that you can always check out the photos and videos by clicking that link over there to the left!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Innocent Mage Quasi-Review

So, while I've given up reviews to a certain degree, I would like to stand out on a ledge for a bit and talk about The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller. I can't tell you how I came across Karen as a writer, but I think it was through her Stargate books. She's down in Oz-land (Australia) so her books are mostly available in the UK and difficult to find in the US. I subscribed to her blog some time ago and have been loosely following her writings. When I saw her book was being published in the US, I piqued my interest but didn't go much further than that.

Until I started to see more rumblings about her book. And good reviews.

So, I managed to finish the first part of her book and was pleasantly surprised. It's about Asher, the proverbial farm boy (fisherman's son in this case) who goes to the big city to make some money. In the process he comes to be the employee of the Prince. The Prince likes him so much, he moves up from stable boy to assistant.

Nothing too terribly exciting, but there are enough secrets layered into the story, that you want to know what happens. The two "races" are magic and non-magic people. There's a huge wall on the edge of their land that keeps back some hidden danger. And there's a secret group of non-magic people who can actually do magic, despite it being forbidden. And they want Asher to fulfill the proverbial prophecy.

So, there's enough here to keep you reading, but the real question is how well does it end. This particular series, called "Kingmaker, Kingbreaker," is only a duology. She does have more books coming for the series, but they're still in the works.

Bottom line, it's good so far, but yet to be determined on how well it will finish.

I have a confession

As I wait for Heroes to start, I feel I must make a confession. I am not who I say I am. I've been hiding something both great and terrible and have yet to share my secret with anyone but my wife.

And after coming to terms with the crimes we have committed, I feel I need to come clean. I need to purge my soul from the bad karma. That's right, Yvonne and I have both killed. Our latest victims were killed just a few days ago. We felt no remorse as we ended their lives. In fact, we were rather eager to repeat the process.

In the past weeks, we've killed over twenty unwitting souls. They came into our house alive and left as withered husks in the trash. I loved killing them, but I hated them. I hated their small, tiny bodies. Their eyes. Their legs. Their wings.

I would have taken pictures, but the horror would have been too much for some of you. Instead, I'll leave you with the fact that I have not seen anymore flies buzzing around recently.

Guess word got out.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A Meeting At Corvallis

Finally. I finished. So here's a quasi-review of the book, the series, and S. M. Stirling.

The Book
The book is slow to start. Very slow. In fact, I had to force myself through parts of it to make my way through. But at the end, it sped along nicely. Lots of plot movement. Almost enough to make up for the first half of the book.

Anyway, we see some major developments with Rudi, Mike Havel, and Tiphaine. Juniper stumbles along so-so as do Astrid and others.

In the end, Mike and Norman die. I guess it balances out, but I was upset to see Mike die as well as how. Stirling didn't do the fight justice by dragging it out. It was more like pulling a band-aide off real fast.

Bottom line - Where else can you read about lesbians, witches (not the magic kind), swords, and a world with no electronics or gunpowder?

The Series
The trilogy, Dies The Fire, was pretty good. First two books were good, third was just okay. The trilogy ties in nicely with the Island in the Sea of Time trilogy (Island in the Sea of Time, Against the Tide of Years, and On the Oceans of Eternity). I now want to go back and re-read this trilogy to see how well it fits in. And I want to read the next series, Sunrise Lands, that delves into the rest of America and the world.

Bottom line - Lesbians again, but with fewer Gaelic speaking Wiccans and more super-evil bad guys.

S. M. Stirling
Aside from his plethora of lesbians (and Wiccans in the second series), he has quite an imagination. The Changed World line I'm familiar with (7 books published and 3 to go) is essentially about a world that experiences a change that splits time. A small enclave in New England gets sent back to ancient times (like the Bronze Age) where guns and electricity works (for those that have it). Meanwhile, the rest of the world is plunged into a world where physics are altered and guns and electricity don't work. What caused the change? Who knows. But I'm partial to the Alien Space Bats theory.

I've only read one other book by Stirling, Conquistador, and was not very pleased. It was a slightly below average read and just didn't really do anything for me.

Go here to see more about the book, series, and author. But fair warning, there are some spoilers there. And don't forget the cool cover art. That's what got me hooked.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thanksgiving on the brain

So I have a really depressing post that I'll sit on for the moment so I can talk about Thanksgiving. I started blogging in June of 2005 and had my first Thanksgiving related post a few months later. A year later, I talked about who I'd invite to Thanksgiving dinner.

And to continue with the major holiday theme, this year I'm bouncing some ideas around for themes. But I'm also looking for ideas from you, the reader.

In the meantime, I'll be going to lunch shortly. I skipped my walk yesterday since I felt slightly ill from my walk the day before. And since my nose and throat are getting scratchy again today, I think I'll be skipping my walk again. I thought about lifting some weights, but I think I'll try to make more headway on Meeting at Corvallis. I'd really like to finish it this week.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Get ready for the Cute!

So, the other day, I was doing something like taking a shower or going to the bathroom when I come out to hear Elizabeth running around. She tends to make some rapid trips up and down the hallway between our room and the living room or William's room and the living room. So when I come out, she's rolling around on the bed with this big grin on her face like she's up to something. On the floor is her little magna-doodle book.

What trickery was she up to? She drew a picture of me. That's right, a picture of Dad. I was very impressed with her artistic skills and she only needed my help to draw the arms.

So here's the final result.


Long night last night. Steeler game went to about midnight or so. But we won. Big Ben looks like he's hurt, so we'll see how that turns out.

I did manage to vote this morning. Nearly a straight Democratic ballot with the exception of the School Board candidates (they're required to run as Independents by state law). So I picked who I thought would be best there. And, just like the last Presidential election, I am likely the only person to use the computer to cast my ballot. We have a fancy electronic ballot machine that nobody seems to be comfortable with running. Mrs. Ashton, my high school government and history teacher, was again a bit flubber-whoomped by the thing. But, with some help, it all worked out. And I was nice enough to warn her I'd be using it again for the next election.

And I completely forgot to tell my story about this weekend. Yvonne's sister Nicole and her husband Justin came to visit. They arrived Saturday morning and left Sunday morning. While not the nicest way to put it, you know it was a good visit when Elizabeth cried when they left. And Nicole and Justin seemed to have a good time with William too. Me? Well, I spent most of Saturday holed up in the room writing a school paper. Yuck.

And Sunday we went shopping after they left. We wanted to get some ideas for Elizabeth for Christmas. We'd still like everyone to put some money into both her college fund and William's (which we have yet to setup). They have plenty of toys and clothes. Not that you can't get them toys, we'd just like to see some of the money spent on their educations.

And the most interesting story from Sunday? The story which I completely forgot about until now? For the first time ever, I was asked by a police officer for my gun permit. Such a pleasant surprise. We went to Panera for lunch and I was wearing my gun under my jacket. I picked a seat (a cold one mind you, right by the door) and there was a state trooper in the next booth. Funniest part was he asked "What agency?" and Yvonne thought he asked "What age?" Anyway, he was very professional and, as expected, talked guns after making sure I was legit. Such excitement in such a boring life.

Here's a picture of the rig. Mind you, it's black. And I was NOT wearing a tie. That would be worse than writing a school paper.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Kvothe - Chapter 11

Chapter 11 – The Binding of Iron

Now we begin to learn sympathy. Simply put, you can control one item by binding it to another. The more similar the items, the easier it is to control and the less energy it takes. So a branch broken in half would be more similar (and easier) than a piece of glass and a branch. Sympathy also requires energy. So by binding two items together and lifting one, the other will also rise. You will feel the weight of not only the item you’re lifting, but the item it’s bound to being lifted; and you will also feel the weight of using sympathy to do the binding. The easiest example to understand was when Kvothe linked a piece of chalk to a piece of glass. Being very dissimilar, lifting the two pounds of glass and chalk felt like lifting sixty pounds.

We also learn that while Kvothe’s time with Ben appears to be the only thing he did, it wasn’t. He still had his chores and other duties to perform with the troupe and spent his free time with Ben. But it’s clear that his time with Ben was important and exciting enough to be the center of his life at this point.

--Read more about the detailed analysis here--

Your Dental Health

Like many people, I don't enjoy going to see the dentist. As a kid, I suffered through many extractions, braces, and various other scenarios of oral torture. And compared to Yvonne, I had it easy.

So in the interest of your dental health and reduced discomfort during your next visit, I'll be giving you two toothy topics to think about today.

First up, grinding. I've been a tooth grinder for as long as I can remember (I'm sure Mom can attest to that). Well, about a year ago, the dentist broke the bad news that my years of grinding were taking their toll on my teeth. They were starting to gather minute cracks from the intense pressure. So they recommended I get a night guard. I said no. Six months later, same story. So I finally said yes. After nearly choking to death while they made the molds of my teeth, I nearly choked to death on the cost. Over $500. And the best part? Insurance didn't cover it. So I wore it a few nights, got tired of the pain from wearing it, cleaning it, and simply remembering to put it in. Well, after grinding some more and waking up in worse pain than from wearing the guard, I decided to take the lesser of the two evils and wear the night guard.

Second, brushing, flossing, and the impact of chewing gum. Like many kids, I loved to chew gum. I'd rip open my Topps baseball cards and chew on the crummy piece of gum that was tucked inside. I'd chew all sorts of gum. Flavored gum. Gum with juice stuff in the middle. Gum in the shape of cigarettes. Gum in a big long roll. Gum that was shredded like chewing tobacco. But I never liked the Trident my Dad chewed. Just wasn't sweet enough and the stuff lasted forever. Good gum is supposed to lose it's flavor after half an hour, right? So anyway, as I got older, I began to chew more Trident. The plain kind. The sugarless plain kind.

Well, to make this long story short, I now chew between 2 and 5 pieces of Trident a day. After every meal, snack, and drink, I chew a piece. Well, the results are astounding. The dentist thinks I not only brush 3 times a day (I don't), they think I floss everyday (I don't). So, save your teeth, and chew some Trident.

Now if Trident would only pay me for this endorsement.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Knock knock, anyone home?

Yeah, I'm home, just running late. Okay, running very late. I've been meaning to post all day and never seem to get a free minute to do what I want to do at work. Guess that's why they call it work and not fun.

Anyways, aside from work being busy, I've been trying to keep in the habit of walking. Until Wednesday. I think I'm literally off my stride because my left knee started hurting after my walk Wednesday. Then my heel starting hurting. Turns out I got a blister on my heel. So I'll be switching shoes to take care of that. As for the knee, it's still a little sore, but I did okay with a slow, normal walk today. Maybe I need to slow down.

And in other news....I'm still progressing nicely with Innocent Mage and Meeting At Corvallis but have yet to get back to Name Of The Wind. One thing at a time I guess. And school take priority.

I think I had some contaminated food today. After lunch I developed a headache and slightly upset stomach. Motrin took care of most of the headache, but it still twinges. So I'm wondering now if my roast beef panini touched some turkey. I can still breath, so I'm still alive.

And, it's the beginning of a new month, which means I get to look at a new picture of Colonial Williamsburg. Sadly I'll need a new calendar soon and have no idea what I want. Time to shop for something different I think.

And that's about it. My sister-in-law and her husband are coming tomorrow to visit. They leave Sunday so it'll be short. But Elizabeth will enjoy the company and I'm sure they will too.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hallween photos

Check out the photos from Halloween here:

From Halloween 2007


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My scary story

This morning I was listening to T-Bone and Heather as I usually do and T-Bone told a story about a blue light from his childhood that was kind of scary/spooky/unexplained. Well, the story made me think of my own scary story from childhood.

This is a true story, not something I drummed up for Halloween promotions. I have not talked about this with anyone since it happened. I'm not asking you to draw any conclusions from the story, just take it as I tell it.

My grandmother (my dad's mom) died in April of 1987. Which made me all of 11 years old. The summer after she died, my dad and his brothers (three of them) all spent some time at her house going through her estate and distributing things, cleaning up, etc. It was a small house, just 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living room, and utility room. She had one of those old, 60s era couches that was kind of pale green and slippery. Like it was made from polyester or something.

So during one of these cleaning and sorting sessions, I was playing in the hall or the bedroom or something in the back of the house. My dad and his youngest brother were in the kitchen eating or talking or sorting or something. I was suddenly unable to walk. I don't know how, I don't know why, but for some reason I couldn't feel anything below my waist. I couldn't walk, I couldn't even crawl. I couldn't move my legs. I couldn't even move my waist to twist around.

I may have already been on the floor, I'm not sure, but that's where I remember being when I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to walk anymore. I pulled myself into the living room (about 10 or 15 feet away) and tried to climb onto the couch using just my arms. I wasn't strong enough to pull myself up, so I yelled to my dad for help.

He and my uncle came running out to see why I screamed. Dad lifted me onto the couch and my uncle called for the rescue squad. I got even more scared as I realized this was serious enough to call for help and was terrified I'd never walk or run or play outside again.

Somehow, someway, I was able to regain control of my legs while my uncle was still on the phone. I distinctly remember him calling, asking for help, my dad seeing I could move my legs, and my uncle telling them never mind, everything was fine.

I don't know why I couldn't use my legs or why I was able to again. I don't know if my dad or uncle remember this, I've never talked to them about it. Sometimes I think this was all a dream. Everything happened quickly. But everything was very vivid. If it was a dream, it's one I remember better than any other I've had. And I do remember some of those weird ones more than others, but I think this is an actual memory.

So, that's my scary story. With a little insight into my childhood.

Pre-Halloween 2007

Some new photos are up!

From Pre-Halloween...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

William has the hiccups-edited-

Well, he had the hiccups when his Aunt Monica came to visit (she's the one that took the video).

On a side note, if you want to feel stupid in a few seconds (or minutes if you read slow), read this:

"Center for Biologically Inspired Materials and Materials Systems, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science"

Umm, yeah. I know what those words mean, just not when you put them together.

In other news, I've accomplished the following recently:
1. -edited-
2. I have consumed 6 salads in the last 3 days. Sunday's dinner was taco salad. Monday's lunch was taco salad and regular salad. Monday's dinner was taco salad. Today's lunch was taco salad and regular salad. I think that's enough salad for a bit. Give my tummy a rest.
3. I've exercised 5 times in the past 9 days. Nothing too extreme, but enough to work up a mild sweat. Last week I walked 3 days. The last day of walking was too cold to go outside in shorts, so I walked on the treadmill and lifted a few weights. Yesterday and today I've repeated the process of walking and a little weightlifting. Too bad Yvonne is too congested to smell my new body spray, "sweaty old man."
4. I've paid the bills for this month. Oh, crap. Next month starts in 2 days. Oh well. Sounded good, didn't it?
5. I'm really enjoying The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller. It's good enough to entertain me while I'm walking on the treadmill. I have high hopes for the rest of the series. I know, that really wasn't an accomplishment, but 5 is such a nice, round number.

Finally, I'm working on my Christmas list (Yvonne's working on hers too). So far the only thing on mine is The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. I might add The Sunrise Lands by S. M. Stirling, but I'm trying to avoid hardback books (thus my not buying the most recent Star Wars book - gasp! - I know, what a shocker!).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Homemade Salsa

The long awaited homemade salsa post has arrived!

So, here's a little back story behind the recipe. My mother-in-law made some wonderful salsa and I enjoyed it nearly every night I was there during our last visit. She got the recipe from the neighbor across the street (who's daughter was our maid of honor). Well, it's not a precise recipe, but I'll give you the low-down on what you need.


10 to 12 beef steak tomatoes
5 to 7 garlic cloves
1 medium onion
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 pablano pepper
5 to 7 jalapeno peppers
5 sprigs parsley
6 leaves cilantro
1 sprig oregano
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar

Utensils and Tools

1 sharp knife
1 large mixing bowl
1 cutting board
1 food processor
1 large spoon

Now, a few disclaimers up front.

1. This is a rough guess at the ingredient amounts. I didn't measure much of anything, just used what I had on hand.
2. This makes a HUGE amount of salsa. Expect to freeze a portion or feed a crowd.
3. This is geared for those with weaker tongues like me. It isn't very hot.

On with the mixing! I took the above ingredients and cut them as small as I could. The cilantro was minced pretty good. Everything else was cut into small pieces. The tomatoes were hard to cut small, so I left them in slightly larger chunks.

As the disclaimer said, this makes a lot of salsa. I used a large mixing bowl to dump my cuttings into. A quart is too small, so think 3 or 4 quarts. All of the ingredients are fresh, so expect to get a little messy. I used our large cutting board and had plenty of room.

So, the garlic gets pressed. The onion gets peeled and cut. The bell peppers (you can use any variety, green, red, yellow, your choice) were sliced, but I removed all the seeds and white innards first. For the jalapeno, I just cut it up and didn't bother trying to de-seed it. Parsley, oregano, and cilantro were coarsely to finely minced. Careful with the cilantro, it'll kill your salsa if you put too much in (like I did with my first batch). Salt and sugar just get dumped in.

Now, the tomatoes. I used romas in my first batch (that was so bad I couldn't eat it). They were not as watery inside and much firmer to use. But they're smaller. Like half to a quarter the size of a beef steak tomato. The beef steaks worked fine, but there's a catch when you cut them up. The first two, I just diced into large chunks, seeds, juice, and all. Well, I noticed how much water was going into the salsa, so I changed technique for the rest. I sliced the top and bottom off. Then I stuck my finger inside the little hole-area (where you see the seeds) and squeezed everything out. But be careful. It's easy to created a positive pressure zone inside the tomato. In other words, it'll squirt all over you and the counter if you're not careful.

Once I cut everything up as much as I could, I used the mixing bowl to toss the ingredients. This helps mix it up a bit. Then I scooped portions into the food processor. This will need to be done in stages as there is so much to process. I used the lowest Low setting (I think it was Grind or something) to cut everything up. I would spin it a few seconds and stop to push it back down then spin again. Then I'd empty it out into my dish.

In all, I made about a quart or two of salsa. I eased off the cilantro this time and had a lot more tomatoes. So batch #2 (this batch) was actually edible. You can use different peppers or add more if you want. It's up to you how hot you want it. I froze about a quart and still have plenty in the fridge to enjoy.

Oh, and don't forget to empty the trash when you're done. Don't want the house to smell like peppers all week!

What a weekend

Oh, I don't know where to start with this past weekend. I guess this morning (I know, not technically part of the weekend, but I still hadn't made it to work, so that's close enough for me). What happened? Two things. First, we had frost. Which means winter is knocking on our front door. Literally. And second, Yvonne gave me a shower this morning as I was buckling Elizabeth into her seat. Gotta love those early morning spritzes from the window washers!

Moving on to last night, Yvonne and I were watching Cars around 10 when I heard this weird sound in the hallway. At first it sounded like Henry scratching at the carpet or a mouse scratching at the wall. I turned and looked down the hallway and what do I see? Elizabeth laying on the floor. Watching the movie. I do have to give her credit, she was there and I didn't know it. And she comes by her sneakiness honestly (or genetically at least) as Yvonne and I have been known to sneak around a bit ourselves as kids. I used to stuff t-shirts under my door so the light wouldn't show as I stayed up way later than my bedtime to read books. I can't say what Yvonne did as her parents still don't know.

And we heard some sort of creak or pop last night just as we got into bed. Yvonne wanted me to check it out but I said it was just the house making noise. And she was better equipped to investigate a potential intruder. All she would need to do is give them a hug and the Vicks on her chest would knock him out. Don't you want to get with this?

And what else happened. I took Elizabeth to swim class while Yvonne went to the doctor for some meds. Then we all went home, ate lunch, and went to town to shop. Got some groceries, some books (Elizabeth had somehow saved $14 and bought 3 books - and still had money left over), and a few other goodies. Sunday was spent doing laundry and watching the Steelers beat the Bengals. I only watched the first quarter of the Redskins game and got too depressed that the Patriots were winning again.

And I made some home-made salsa (I'll post that later today) and generally tried to keep the house running as Yvonne tried to rest. I did take apart the kitchen faucet last night. It looks like it might be a bad sprayer connection (under the main faucet) so I'll see what I can find at Lowes.

Chocolate making went well Friday night. Again I impressed Yvonne's lady-friends. For those that are not familiar with our particular arrangement at home, I'm usually the one that does the dishes and we both share laundry duty. So when I asked Yvonne if she wanted me to do the dishes or a load of laundry Friday night, there was a bit of ohhing and ahhing. It's nothing special to me. I grew up helping Dad do dishes and laundry (see, only children aren't spoiled). And honestly, I can do dishes faster than Yvonne. But she can cook a hell of a lot better than I can. So I have dinner waiting for me when I get home and I clean up afterwords. It's a good deal in my book. So all you single guys out there looking for a nice lady, make sure you offer to do the dishes on occasion. You might make some brownie points.

But don't offer to do the laundry just yet. She might not want you to see her dirty underwear.

Blah, well that was longer than intended. So stay tuned for my salsa story later today. It's pretty hot!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mt. Rushmore

It's Friday and I don't have much to say. Yvonne's been sick for the past few days, which means I'm trying to pick up some of the slack when I can. We've had rain and rain and more rain. I know we need it, but I still hate it.

Anyways, here's another photo from the family archives. It's Mt. Rushmore, circa 1937-1939.

And here's a close-up of the heads to give you an idea of what's been done.

And on a side note, I read more of Karen Miller's The Innocent Mage and so far, I've been enjoying it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Programming line-up

Not to worry, there's a photo at the end of this rant.

So, here's the general list of programs I watch at any given time and how I feel about them.

Chuck is a good action comedy. Nearly as good as Psyche or NCIS, but not quite there yet.

Heroes is awesome. Well, last year was, this year is still working up to that status. I'm sure it will be good, but I still hate that damn kid that can fly (not Nathan, the teenager with Claire).

CSI: Miami
Horatio has a son. A bastard son. Whoopee. Let's work in a serial killer or something. And why can't we have more Speadle?

Still a solid show, but needs a meta plot to mix it up a bit. Haven't seen one of those in awhile.

The Unit
A surprise addition to this year's line-up. Good enough to keep me watching. The only thing I would change is the wives. Ditch them until they start carrying guns and getting in on the missions.

Out of season right now but still a great show.

CSI: New York
Another break-out surprise for this year. There's now an assassin on the loose and the mysterious "333" caller. Are they the same person?

CSI is still the top show, but it's going to lose Gil's girl soon and might not be as exciting. And how can you top the miniature killer from last year?

Both are off the air until January and both are hilariously funny. Monk is very much like me (or vice versa) and Psyche has one of the best casts I've seen in ages. Like M*A*S*H in its later years, but not as many people.
Stargate Atlantis
Another show that's still in my line-up and still plugging along, but it may not survive. Right now I have no other sci-fi show to replace it with so it stays.

Off air at the moment, but by far the best non-fiction show out there. Even better than Mythbusters.

Off air until the World Series is over but I'll watch it if I think about it or if there's nothing else on.

Steelers Football
After last week's loss, I'm not to happy. Hopeful we'll win the game against the Bengals.

And as a reward for hanging in there, here's another photo from the family archives. This is Arthur and Loyd Piester in 1916, standing in front of their parent's new car. Can anyone identify the item on the left? And what's on the right?

Kvothe - Chapter 10

Chapter 10 – Alar and Several Stones

Another very short chapter, this one showing Kvothe learning the mental skill of Alar. Essentially this is a way to make yourself split your thoughts into two different areas of your brain so you can concentrate on two different ideas at the same time. Sounds simple enough, but it appears to be a bit more complicated.

--Read more about the detailed analysis here--

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Today's Deep Thought-edited-

Today's deep thought?

When deaf people speak, they use their hands. So when they go to the dentist, can they speak more clearly when asked a question?

This is what went through my head today as I sat in the dentist chair for my 6 month check-up. Everything went fine, no cavities, just plenty of clean teeth. Well, not plenty, I think I actually have 2 fewer than the average person because my teeth are so large and my jaw is so small.


Rambling on, after the dentist this morning, I browsed through the newest Target in the area, just a few lights from work. And what do I see on the shelf? These:

I couldn't believe it. All those memories of cutting the backs off to save the files, playing with (and losing) the weapons, and making all my own sound effects came rushing back. I'm sure Mom remembers those sounds.....

Rambling on, William got up at 0430 this morning. I wasn't too happy, but, he had a full 6 ounces and didn't scream his bloody head off when I tried to burp him. He also seems to be burping less, which I'm taking as a sign he's growing. And from what we've seen, he'll be rolling over soon. And yes Mom, I can actually see that he's grown.

I'm reading three books right now. Well, technically I'm re-reading one (The Name Of The Wind), but two new books is still a chore for me. I'm just getting to the good part in Meeting At Corvallis. The big battle is brewing and I can't wait to see what happens (even though I know a main character is going to die - ruined that my own dumb self). The other book is The Innocent Mage. It's a bit different in writing style than I'm used to (like spelling, grammar, dialect, etc.), but I'm getting used to it. Not as bad as Shakespeare, but not as easy as P.D. Eastman (kudos if you remember him).

And my final ramble, I can't really think of one right now. So here's the closest thing I could find for a ramble.