Tuesday, November 16, 2010

...begin the reboot after a month off.

Yeah, it's been over a month.  But I've been on one of my regular dips in activity as the usual shit tends to pile up, setting me in a massive procrastination and binge TV watching (most recently, plowing through all 7 excellent seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I like strong chicks that kick ass)).

Because no day can be without a shi sandwich.... on TwitpicBut thankfully, I have not been idle....

No, I didn't punch the boy's tooth out.  That was the fun of gravity and playground equipment.  Perhaps, since the other front tooth is loose as a result, we'll get to fill in the cliche Christmas song concerning said two front teeth.  No, I'm not going to let that annoying song permeate, no matter how vomit-inducingly cute that may be.

However, here's a shocker that justifies the lack of bloggage.  After bitching about it for months, I finally got my room cleaned!

It's a tendency I have, to have a spot where I pile up shit.  And that pile tends to grow.  And when that place is the place that has the least people going in and out (and trust me, the bedroom has seen no action (except personal) in the time since the booting of the insipid Succubus).  But now, with the shit mostly organized, perhaps I can at least imagine getting some (really, imagining is optimism for me).

In addition, I've also finally gotten the room set up as the recording studio I had always envisioned.

Which brings me through the 3x2cast.

I'll let the site and it's beautifully-crafted podcasts (which co-stars myself) speak for itself.  But I will dig into the history of the 'cast.

It started back in high school, when Lars D, my co-host of the 3x2cast, and I were basically two geeks sitting down getting our Trekkie on when not salivating over games on an old Commodore 64 where you got to kill things to the text description of "reduced it to a fine red mist" and witty hidden text gems like "the Force stopped you, you hozer."  Yeah.  But we also had a cassette recorder and a shitty condenser mic (which I still have).  And we did little radio-like things.  And for our level of tech, it was fun.

Fast forward to my college years, I spent a couple of them doing the college radio thing.  Had a couple different show, got thrown off the air once, and sort of developed my characters further. Which is why you'll notice in the 'cast that I tend to add titles, like "the Illustrious One," the "Legend of Legends," the "former Pagan god of the airwaves" (a reference to my college radio days, and whatever I pull out of my (cute) ass.

As I was doing this, Lars was rocking the mic for the Kiwis in his adopted homeland.

I had been considering getting some podcasts up since I started the whole blog thing because, while I am a writer at heart, you just can't convey all the fun and lunacy in black and white (or whatever text and background color).  And while Lars was on the other side of the world, the technology available (cheap and/or free) wasn't quite adequate for the purpose.  Plus, it's hard to maintain a flow when you can't interact face to face.

Especially when you're not a professional and you haven't done it for years.

But now that we're on our game and each podcast is coming more naturally (as long as the shit doesn't crash!!!), it's only a matter of time before world domination begins.

And I think I can keep the bedroom clean until January....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

...rockin' the mic.

Wow, it's been a month since I posted anything.  And damn, I should have.

I had to actually look back to see what happened last.  Leaving it at a diatribe directed at the lie of my life (the Succubus) was not a way.  But considering what came next, it was due.

First of all, I managed to celebrate yet another birthday (and failed to post a tribute to my age, counted in blowjobs, which I shall now do):

Cute and expensive. The fun and pointless way to end the b-da... on TwitpicAfter the birthday meh-ness came some festival fun to round out the weekend.

Yeah, it's a cute contest.

And if you're not following me on Twitter (@patrickmspeaks (and shame, shame, shame)), then these pics are new.

Schooltime,Schooltime,SCHOOLTIME! 7:30 and we're ready t... on TwitpicAnd then came the liberation of my hours, kindergarten.  Yeah.  Shipped the boy off.  Special classroom for the autism thing, but sometimes, you gotta.

Thankfully, he's thriving.  As in talking.  And responding to questions.  He still slips into his world often enough.  But he's doing more actual engagement, rather than observation (a habit that marked the early years).

We've settled into quite the pattern now, as i'm working first shift.  Next year, when both kids are rocking school full time, then I'll have whole hours to work, clean, masturbate, etc....

(...as though you expected me to get through a post without a masturbatory reference.)

Best. Dad. Ever.  At least I am for the next 10 minutes.... on TwitpicBut my greatest achievement of the past month was a simple $10 investment in happiness, and bought my children's love for at least 15 minutes.

Yep.  Secondhand swing set.  It's rusty, it's worn.  I had to patch at least two places to make it structurally sound. And it looks like a creaky, barely operational piece of shit.

And they love it.

This pic is from the first day they got on it.  I haven't mowed since, partially because the grass under it is dead and worn away underneath the sonofabitch.  I've already had to move it once.  I'll have to move it again.  Because they and the upstairs neighbor kids are wearing it out (which was the plan).

*cheers for parenting win*

So between the kids, and neighbors, and my buddy Larry, who is settling back into life after a decade plus living the Kiwi dream, I've been busy.

The medicinal tea. It's either that or I cough till I puke. on TwitpicWhich has been eroded further by the allergy/cold/allergy/cold vicious circle.  It's been three weeks, and I'm getting to the tail end of Snottember.  I had the snot filling every pore in my sinus part.  I had the fever roller coaster for days part.  I had the drowning in mucus hacking up a lung part.  And I finally dropped the meds today to change conditions after a week of midnight dry cough-till-you-puke days.  And I'm downing some medicinal tea (and running out of medicinal whiskey) in the hopes the leftovers I chucked down after bedding the younglings don't get chucked back up tonight.  After all, it's not as though my stomach is upset, and I'm not having daily dealings with the Succubus.

Oh, and about the Succubus:  At least she's back doing visitation (just not the child support).  Which means I have some weekends free.

Yeah, I'm getting to know myself better and getting my geek on with some vintage RPG (the ancient book kind).  I might get around to cleaning, eventually.

*pause for raucous laughter*

But, as you can see from the hardware on the right, I finally have the last piece I needed to get started recording.  Which means, barring catastrophe, the Illustrious Patrick M and Lars the Pseudo-Kiwi will be rockin' the mic old school. Ish.  Our pre-good equipment run was successful.  Now, with the new usb mixer, a mic older than me, MY ORIGINAL microphone (from whence came my first flop), and the very computer on which I have been blogging for the last year, we're ready to record.

Now we just need to name the 'cast....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

...an open letter to the Succubus.

As my earlier twitter post indicated, it's a good news/bad news thing.

Last week I get a letter in the mail.  The return address was barely obscured by the white-out, revealing a name of someone related to my lovely ex's (the aforementioned Succubus) supposed ex (the one she went up for domestic violence again on).

Turns out he fucked up (took her back in again) after she was released (back in early July).  Yeah, it's been a month and a half since she got out.  And she's JUST getting hold of me now because she wants to see her kids.  More on that in a bit.

*pausing to get and open said letter*

Oh, and she wanted me to contact her to arrange seeing the kids. Either by calling a "contact number" (because they don't have a phone) or by a *begin laughter* a letter!!! *roll on the floor laughing your ass off*

Oh, and after 2 1/2 months of nothing (except putting us on the jail visitation list) she wants to know if we can "do 'shared parenting' with 'no' 'child support.'"

(If you don't know the whole story, this alone explains why I tagged her the Succubus.)

Of course the letter ends with her usual wanting to give the kids her absent kisses and hugs.  Which i ignore, because if she's going to be inconsistent and the kids aren't asking, I'm not going to upset their applecart until I have to.

That happens on Friday.  Because she called.  And wants visitation.  So I get to unload them this weekend.

This is where we get to the good part, because it means I get a weekend of no kids.I have to work most of it, but that's not critically important.  Hours to fuck around or get to know myself a little better (or bum out watching hours of House (as I have season 2 to plow through now)) are something I really don't have, because after a day of work and kids (or just kids), I'm usually too tapped out to get anything done.  Not that I got much done during those weekends previously, but at least I could do something if I wanted.

But even before she called, I wanted to phrase a response to her constant demanding of me despite the fact it was one of the reasons she got the boot (and earned her moniker).  So I'm going to do just that.  And when her boyfriend (or fuck buddy, or victim, or whatever he is) comes over to talk to me (ha requested this in the phone call today), I'm going to share the following:
To my not-darling, not-beloved, ball-and-chain for another decade and a half Succubus,
After perusing yet another badly written and self-serving letter, with more requests to change things to your liking, I have to wonder if you will ever figure out why your ass got booted in the first place?  Have you successfully deluded yourself into believing some kind of fiction where you are the victim and everybody else is to blame for the massed clusterfuck that is your life?  And what makes you think you're going to actually get a concession on anything parental after yet another example of why you're barely fit to claim the name "mother?"
Specifically, I refer to your attempts to weasel out of child support when you've proven the only thing you might be good at is providing an income stream to help raise the two children you produced, primarily through deceiving me (when I was much more naive and thinking with my dick).  As I said several months ago (before you dropped off the radar for a couple of months), we could talk about it.  However, as I've had plenty of time to think, and raise my (note the pronoun is singular) children alone, I've decided we can revisit this request in the future under the following conditions:
First, you need to actually be a mother.  This means fulfilling all the expectations that your visitation rights include.  For example, seeing your kids on a regular schedule would be a start.
Second, you need to prove your ability to shoulder half the burden of raising the children.  This means getting the existing child support up to date, and maintaining both it, and employment for a reasonable period (like 2 years).  After all, if you can't even keep a fucking McJob and pay the paltry $300 per month, what makes you think you can actually afford half the costs of parenting?
Third, and most important, you need to get off the downward spiral you've put your life on.  I can't really talk to the kids about you, because the tales would be about either being a leech, or a criminal, or a whore.  Those are the experiences that I have to draw on, which requires me to be silent when talking to them.  In that sense, it would have better that you had grown sick and died, because then I could have constructed some fiction which would allow the children to remember a mother that loved them rather than the haphazard shit they witness when in your presence.
Oh, and one last thing.  I'm not sharing any benefits I get for the kids with you when I have to bear all the costs.  So get off your lazy ass and buy your own damned milk.
You know, maybe I should just print it out and mail the shit off to her.  But with her level of obtundity, I'm sure that it will just sail right past.  Plus, there's a thing about not giving away too much.

I think I might be best to articulate this shit in person....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

...steered into a rut.

I don't know if it's the heat, or it's the fact that the kids, being preschoolers, are unrelenting, or if it's just the nature of life, but I'm feeling more oppression in the rut I'm in this time than usual.  And trust me, I've been in ruts.

My past relationship with the Succubus was a hella-rut, one that I maintained until I had no real choice but to get her out.

After my grandmother died, I kind of lived alone in her house for a while until my family sold it, because it was comfortable and didn't require change.  At least until the money ran out.

I ended up in a deal with a house that degraded into a mess until that went South, after getting out of a year in a 60-hour a week shit job.  And that was after building the college debt mess.

It's a pattern with me, usually fueled by a woman or lack thereof.

So that brings me back to where I am now.  I'm not sure how to pull myself out of this one, other than just working and working and working.  That's probably the actual answer.  The big problem is that I have another 15 years in this rut.  And I have to make sure my children are ready to go out into the world at the end of it.  So no fuckups on this one.

So I might just ride this rut to the end, because the right pieces seem to be falling into place.  True, finances, resources, and other things stand in the way (including a certain buddy's refrain of "If I had my computer...").  But I've always thought that the right combination of things will lead to me doing what I was meant to do rather than just wandering and wondering.

Thankfully, I have some ideas......

Thursday, July 22, 2010

...since it's been a month already.

Literally a month.  I checked.  And so much (and so little)  has happened that I don't know where to begin.  So let me take a minute to peruse my post of 6/22 before I do this post on 7/22.

*sounds of incredulity and humor as the prior post is read*

Okay, that was fun.  Let's just do some quick hits to cover the missing moments:

The Succubus finished her state paid vacation (jail) on July 2.  Someone saw her on the street (hooking?) some time after that.  That's all I got there.

Lars, the now-former pseudo-Kiwi, moved from the far side of the world to 5 blocks north of the center of my illustrious universe.  Sweet.

However, I also decided (around the same time) that it was time to move a little closer to the family.  It's only a 10 minute drive I'd be cutting out, but that also happens to be where the babysitter is, which would eliminate most of my driving.

Then, the apartments that were empty began filling and we got new neighbors upstairs.  With preschool kinds.  And a babysitter wife.  Conveniently, this eliminates the problem caused by the departure of the Succubus from the land of the responsible again.

So I'm back to contemplating, and find myself still debating the move rather than fairly certain of the need.  Although it was enough to get my room half cleaned.

And I finally think I might have found the treatment for my headaches.  Naproxen sodium, 660mg, which, being something I was relatively new to trying, I had not yet exceeded the maximum dose on the bottle (440mg in an 8-12 hour period).  Unfortunately, I discovered it on the last 3 pills I had.  But it did successfully kill a mounting headache.  Sweet as my salsa.

Speaking of the salsa, let me lay down my recipe.  It's my own recipe, based on all the salsas I've had, with some tweaking and guessing. Note I can eat this over several days, and kind of forget to eat anything else....

2 pounds of tomatoes (whatever's cheapest, of course)
1 to 1 1/2 cup onion (because I don't really measure, almost all numbers from here out are guesses)
1 cup peppers (at least three varieties, including bell, a mild or sweet, and a hot)
1 apple, peeled (not a typo, I put an apple in it.)
1 tbsp dried cilantro (although fresh would be better)
1 tbsp lime juice
1tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
couple pinches of salt

I chop then spin all the ingredients in a food processor to fine particles, mix them, let them sit a day.  Then I just eat it.  I've already polished a bowl off before lunchtime.

I've also learned the value of twitter, because I can read through it fast.  So if you're not tweeting, I'm probably missing something.  Especially since it's been a while since I checked my email.

But between the normal summer slumber, the kids, and a political situation in which there is no discourse (although I need to get a post up there one of these years), it's just been a season of avoiding.

Even the masturbatory references....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

...re-forming Edivon as the Sccubus is shipped off.

Parts of the title will not be explained in this post as that would take another entire post (and because a little mystery makes things interesting).  And since I've already cleared all my email, dropped two posts on SPD, and gotten through the blogrolls, as well as mowing the lawn and wrangling the rugrats as usual (from the piss-soaked bed to the making said bed and getting them tucked), AND since it's after midnight, this is about all you're getting.

The coolest thing in the world right now is that my buddy Lars (who has guest posted on SPD a couple times and who's blog, Surreal Life Geek (currently dead due to his relocation (now that I want to link you (you dumbass ( :) ))) is in my blogroll) has forsaken his adopted home of New Zealand and relocated his pseudo-Kiwi ass (and his genuine Kiwi wife) back stateside. I have no expectatinos other than shit will get geekier. Back when we were (hetero) dicking around in high school, the geek thing didn't do much for the ladies. Now, with geek being cooler, it probably still won't do dick for me. On the plus, based on my dating experience since then, that won't be a bad thing.

The biggest advantage is that with much of my brain running dry, getting together with someone with whom I've always clicked with and has always inspired copious ideas (and dick and fart jokes) may mean that I could get some energy and some new material (and kill any chances of making mistakes of the female persuasion (which I'm good at)).

Speaking of said mistakes, I managed to track down the Succubus. When she sent me (and the kids) a letter. Which I won't read them. Because it's a letter from jail.

I did hop on to the sheriff's site, looked her up. She was booked for the domestic violence, but she's still in because it violated her probation (which she got from her DV conviction involving me). And based on the Ohio Revised Code, with a second conviction on charges, as well as the probation issue, she's looking at a felony.  And the judge she goes before is very popular with the voters and despised by anyone who ends up standing before the bar as a defendant.  Oh, and with that felony, the mandatory is six months.

Long story short, she's going to be shipped off.  Like both of her brothers

I will say that it is a sad situation.  Despite my justified anger, it's sad, really.  Because this is the person I'll be dealing with for another decade.  So I'm going to find myself trying to help her where practical.  Because my children don't deserve to put up with a nutcase with violent tendencies for a mom.  And the fact that's what they have now is partially my fault.  So where I can, I'm going to try to reverse the damage. It may not be much, but I'm going to outline a few things I'll probably talk to her about (leaving out some specifics for privacy purposes).

But I'll get into unscrambling the omelette when I'm not ready for bed....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

...damned writer's block.

It's always been one of my biggest stumbling blocks.  I don't completely run dry on ideas.  Hell, I spit 30 ideas a second when I get revved up.  The problem is trying to paste that jumble of hints, ideas, and wisdom into a cohesive narrative that anyone that isn't really high would want to read.  And there's the time it takes for me to write.

I'm having to sit here and force myself to write this, because the beginning of this has been in my head for a few days.

So my problem is not having stuff to write, but the discipline to do so.

Over on SPD, I was able to keep the greatness coming for a couple years.  But the infighting and bullshit tends to drag me down.  Then all the mental fun kicks in, and I get reclusive.

It's bad enough that the Gmail account currently has 61 messages, stretching back into May, I'm sure I missed a bunch of tweets, and I'm trying to think of the last time I've hit the blogroll.

Here on this blog, it's worse.  Do I write abut the need to spank it again because nothing has happened as usual (especially since my world is very contracted due to kids and working at home.  Do I go on about something cute my kids did?  Sometimes, but I'm usually on to yelling at them for something else, or I finally got them bedded after an eternity, or there's something else I want/need to do.  Do I say anything about cleaning?  I've got my kitchen and bathroom under control now, but that was relatively easy.

Of course, there are a few things to share.  The ever-loving excuse for a "mother" I cursed my kids with, the Succubus, has flaked out again.  Something about being arrested for domestic violence, again, and getting the boot by her victim/boyfriend/ex/whatever.  Of course, this means she disappears off the map, maybe dropping a note about how much she misses the kids and how much she wants to see them (despite not calling me and scheduling time).

Of course, since the Succubus couldn't keep a job even when she was being sheltered and screwed,  it will be a few months before she gets her claws/sucker into the next hapless bastard that couldn't find better and prefers banging someone rather than something (insert Fleshlight reference).  Meanwhile, I keep the kids focused on the people that are in their life.  Which ain't her, again.  And the spanking of said monkey continues.

A side note:  I will be making sure that the next woman is approved by my family before things get too serious.  I've proven I have no sense/judgment/reason when my junk has any stake in the situation.  So yes, if you're the next woman, my family has veto power over my choice.  They have to; I have kids.

On the plus, I'm moving back to first shift tech support, which means hours more in sync with the rest of my family.  And since it's also occurring during summer, it's the perfect time to uproot and move closer to my family.  The sad thing is that I'll be leaving strawberries and bell peppers and pumpkins (smashing the remnants from last year behind the garage and not mowing it has proven useful) behind (I'll take the green onions in whatever condition they are.

Okay, enough catchup, time to find the floor in my room (because it's the room that doesn't get cleaned)....

Monday, May 17, 2010

...leave them at the park.

I think this is going to be the first official crosspost subject between my two blogs (I'll assume you've read the SPD post first, if not, click here next).  Ultimately, this post is an advertisement for:


Free-Range Kids is officially declaring Saturday, May 22 — the weekend before Memorial Day– the very first, “Take Our Children to the Park… And Leave Them There Day."
Just that. If our goal is to get kids back outside (it is), and playing together (it is), and for parents to relax (it is), and to start creating community again (it sure is!!!), then “Take Our Children to the Park… And Leave Them There Day” is a great first step.
Across the country — what the heck, across the world — parents will converge upon local playgrounds and parks with their school-age kids. They will tell them to have fun, make friends and don’t leave with anyone. Then the parents will wave goodbye and the kids will amuse themselves for whatever amount of time they’ve decided with their folks. An hour. A morning. Or maybe even just half an hour, to get used to the whole thing, which, admittedly, sounds radical. But is it?
Now I've been going on about the Free-Range blog for a while now (and I bought the book).  But I never really clarified why I got on the Free-Range bandwagon in the first place.  So let me share (as I always do).

First, it's out of necessity as a single parent.  One thing I've discovered as my kids have learned how to climb and open and (more or less) operate everything in the house is that if I'm monitoring them every second, I really don't have any time to get shit done.  And on warm days, I'm confined to the outdoors.  And then there's their strategy of one running to the front, the other to the back.  Which means no sitting, getting anything done, shopping, etc.

I wasn't this way in the beginning, because I got all kinds of advice and a wall of products designed to keep babies perfectly safe and mentally stimulated so they can fart Mozart.  And it was tiring even before I pried the Succubus (aka my third child) off my leg.  And the constant need to be ever vigilant began to breed apathy in me.  Then they really got into exploring.  So my choices were either be a slave to their activities or change the equation.

So even before I discovered Lenore's Free-Range blog, I realized I had to work to get my children as independent as possible.  With my son's challenges (a fun diagnosis of atypical Autism), at 5, he's damned near impossible to watch every second (that whole circling the house thing).  Thankfully, that 4-year-old daughter of mine has a tendency to try mothering her big brother (even if he ignores her and knocks her down half the time).  And I've worked to set a difference between acceptable boundaries, unacceptable activities, and shit you will get into immediate and terrible trouble for no matter what (the street, hot stove, etc.).  And so far it's worked.  I won't go into absolute details, lest I leave a record for any future actions by children's services (as my lovely ex, the Succubus, is looking for ways to get out of paying child support (as in "can we talk about shared parenting?")).

But that includes letting them play outside without constant supervision.  And so far, despite what the news says, they haven't been snatched, raped, killed, and eaten (not necessarily in that order) by some Stranger Danger pedophile.  And outside of some rare chance, it's not something I worry about (as in when I can't locate a child, I don't assume that's the problem).  Which brings me to what happened to my philosophy as I became a convert to Free-Ranging.

Second, I grew up as a Free-Range Kid before it became a movement.  This is an important point.  I, as my father before me, and his father before him, cut that part of the umbilical cord early.  As in we were each equipped with the tools to stay marginally safe without parents hovering over us.  Those tools have evolved over the years of course with changes in society and technology, as have things can get into.  As in I don't think my kids are going to go to their grandfather's house to smoke (which is how said grandfather got started smoking when he was a kid), and they're more likely to dick with a computer and download violent shit than shoot .22 rifles in the basement (again, that's my dad).  But they're still interested in learning about stuff the adults are doing, then taking off to play without adults sitting on them all the time.

But children haven't really changed, and are just as capable as they have always been. Only now, in this generation, have we gotten so paranoid that we attempt to lock them in a properly-furnished playpens and feed them a perfect diet, and give them proper educational non-commercial toys and watch every mouse click and only let them watch certain channels at certain times less they hear the word damn (if that's the worst I ever heard from my kids, I'd be convinced they're deaf, considering they've heard me give free reign during a political speech).

So when I discovered a blog and philosophy that was something that I was already gravitating toward because I instinctively knew it was the right thing to do, there was no question it was something I would embrace (and when the kid get older, stophomework.com (because this was the reason I hated school for obvious reasons)).

Now, as for the 22nd:  I don't have the kids on Saturday, so I won't be participating.  However, were I able to, here's what I'd do.  There are a couple more kids nearby, one conveniently in between my to in age, another school age.  That's four kids, the youngest of which (mine) I'd trust to stay without an adult as long as she was with older kids.  And the oldest seems to be fairly competent (although with some helicoptering issues).  And we happen to be a small town with no actual known predators (either animal or stranger danger (I checked, 3 registered, none a threat to kids)).  In two years, I suspect the kids and I will all be ready to do it.  After all, they're pretty damned capable already.

Considering I just had to remind that 4-year-old of knife safety as she lopped the top off another unwashed strawberry all by herself....

Friday, May 14, 2010

...made it through another week.

Yeah, that's a cliche beginning, but what do you expect.  It's a jumble of lots of little things.  Most days and weeks and centuries are such.  At least, that's the way it is when deep conversations include smashing a spider in the garage and whether the pee in the undies is enough to justify changing them.

First of all, my cinematic experiences.  Last weekend marked the first time in a long while that I managed to get out to the theater.  Last time before this was to go see a little movie called Iron Man. Considering it was Iron Man 2 that I went to see this time (and there were movies I missed that I probably should have seen in theater, like Dances with Smurfs Avatar), you can understand it has been a while.

Thankfully, in our one grocery store village, there also happens to be one screen in one theater.  And it was within walking distance (which, in hindsight wasn't the greatest since it was also raining (which didn't stop me from getting wet)), so I slogged off to enjoy a movie that my DNA was programmed to like.  Since I already posted the theatrical trailer, here's the clip from the movie with Iron Man making his triumphant entry to the Stark Expo.  Max the screen and turn up the speakers for this, then come back when you're done.

Now if you want spoilers, go somewhere else.  Needless to say, it comes down to the characters.  As long as you can keep Robert Downey Jr on the screen, any problems with the plot disappear.

Which brings me to the second film.  Which was a little amateur project from down in New Zealand from some 48-hour filmmaking contest.  It's here mainly because my buddy Lars (who's posted over on the political blog a few times) gets about 20 seconds of screen time as part of the team that put it together.  I'll let him add any pertinent details or accidental clips of visible sex that don't appear in the film:

Yeah, I've been reduced, for the most part, to letting other people churn out the creativity while I'm psychologically mired in crunching through reality. Like last weekend, where I did actually talk to my mother on Mother's day, as she called first to have me make her computer work. It was a one-minute fix.

Or this morning, having to spend an hour changing brake pads. Of course, one brake rotor feels like a mountain range on one side and has a big stress fracture on the other. And I had to replace an anti-rattle clip with a paper clip on the other set (because the alternative was a hardware kit for $26). Luckily, I've never messed up a brake job, and since I have driven at least 30 miles since changing them (at my usual brisk pace), I didn't this time either (I'm typing this, ain't I?).

So we get to do Mother's day a week late this weekend, which sucks a little because my little sister got her schedule flopped and was home from Illinois last weekend instead of this weekend. but it's also good because I have the kids this weekend, and their mother (our beloved Succubus) had them last weekend for the actual day. And since she's only annoying rather than a nightmare to deal with right now, no problem. Except she got canned from her career in fast food, again, so there goes the child support, again.

Strangely she brought up shared parenting, indicating she wanted the kids a little more over the summer. If she could read the damned custody agreement, she'd see she does get them for a vacation (for me, in reality) of two whole weeks. Of course, since she's fully latched to the government tit (welfare, food stamps, food pantry, and all the trimmings), I'll probably have to throw some cash or food her way just to have some free time.

Meanwhile, it's a matter of getting the boy ready for kindergarten, in the alternative class (as the classroom would be a nightmare at this point). And figuring out what I need to teach them that the government schools won't (which will make for a post on SPD of course). But for this weekend, it will be a little exploration, maybe a shove out into the rain (for that whole death of pneumonia thing), and maybe some fishing (because my nephew can actually teach them). That, and I picked up a thing of Cajun spice for free called "Slap Ya Mama," which I think will have to be used on the grill this weekend.

Of course, I still need to clean something....

Saturday, April 24, 2010

...11 songs I wish I wrote.

It was as I was trying to get the shit (both mine and the younglings') together so that I could ship them off to the Succubus for the remainder of the weekend when it happened.  I had been streaming some music over the PS3 (theradio.com) as I got everyone bathed.  I bounced from jazz, then a few versions of rock.  And then the fateful call from the cutest girl on the planet, when given a couple options, she called out "hair bands" and the song began (it's the first one n this list, in fact).  And the thought in my head, which I think I edited was, "Fuck, I wish I'd written this song!"

So what follows is not necessarily my list of "favorite" songs, because there are some songs that I like at the moment, some that capture the spirit of something, and some songs that just happen to fit somewhere.  This list would definitely be great songs, but great songs with orchestration that you can see the video in your head.  And it's the kind of music I've half-assedly tried to capture when I can be motivated enough to get a guitar.  And it's not even a complete list.  It started with 10, but I had to add another because I ran out of space.  So feel free to add another if you'd wished you wrote something else.

1. Bon Jovi - Livin' On a Prayer - A child of the 80's that grew up without Bon Jovi was abused.  Because even if they weren't your favorite all the time, they could always be counted on for big-ass sound that flat out rocked.  There are plenty of songs to pick.  This one gets it for two reasons.  First, it's a ballad.  It tells a simple story.  And the intro, which starts with a fade in, then just builds to the start of the song.  And the song builds all the way to the chorus.  And it never fails, at appropriate volumes, to give me a moment of goosebumps.

2. B52's - Love Shack - For the most part, it's nonsensical crap for lyrics.  But it's grotesquely, sweetly seductive in that you can't help but bounce to this obscenity to deep meaningful music.  Seriously, turn it up really loud, stand in the middle of the room and see if you can't NOT bounce  to it.  I can't describe why this song is good.  It has to be blasted.

3. The Doors - The Celebration of the Lizard - This is actually a sequence of a few songs and bits of poem, the song "Not to Touch the Earth" being the only part that made it out of the studio.  I found it on their live In Concert album.  It was something that defined how I did my college radio back in the day (tapes survive), and it's what happens when you mix poetry and jam band performance and a shitload of people (and assloads of LSD).  And it's something almost too organic to be written down.  But it was and I wish I had.

4. Alanis Morissette - Perfect - This is one of the lesser-known tracks off Jagged Little Pill.  It's also a buildup of sheer agony that other tracks touch on, but don't quite convey.  It's the musical equivalent of having your guts ripped out, your soul shattered, and all that there ever was made meaningless.  It's not a pissed off song, or a contemplative song, or whatever bohemian shit Alanis is up to this week.  It's pure, beautiful pain.

5. System of a Down - Chop Suey! - Sometimes it takes just one song for me to pick up and listen to a band and thereby get hooked.  This is the one that got me to first pay attention to System.  Half the fun is the quiet moments and cuts to silence.  And even if the majority of the song is high-speed, high-octane thrashing guitar, it's mixing those elements that makes it a symphony worthy of recognition.

6.  Kenny Rogers - The Gambler - A few years back, I decided to try my hand playing in front of people (after some previous disasters).  Plus, I had honed my stage presence in some choral work.  And I needed a song that was universal, was that good, and could be rendered on just a 12-string and my voice.  My version doesn't sound that much like the original (because Kenny isn't my style), but there are few songs that are better.  Period.  

7.  Green Day - Wake Me Up When September Ends - If you want one album to listen through without interruption, the opus that is American Idiot is well worth it, even the Bush-ripping parts (because a few songs wouldn't be on this list if my politics dictated the bands I listen to).  And track 11 on the album (September 11, get it?) is both emblematic of how the album functions, as well as reminding us how much the world changed in a sense.  And it does both lament and buildup to an explosion of emotion.  Three chords (more or less) never sounded so sublime.

8.  Billy Joel - Scenes From an Italian Restaurant - This one is on the list because it is a song within a song within a song.  How the fuck do you do that?  And the whole ballad thing, of course.  For me, it's being able to engage my mind, my emotions, and my ear.  This is one of those songs that probably wouldn't make the top 10 anything.  But then again, when you have a song that keeps changing, even if it has some douche horn work, it makes me wish I had come up with it.

9. Tenacious D - City Hall - I can't believe I've got the fucking D on the list.  But this particular song has the epicness, goes all over the map, and is funny as shit.  That it's the nonsensical funny album from two ingenious fat fucks doesn't diminish from the quality of writing and performance.  Makes me wish they put these bastards in a video game that rocks....  Wait, they did.

10. Meat Loaf (written by Jim Steinman) - Paradise by the Dashboard Light - First of all, I have to credit both writer and and musician.  After all, Elton John would just plunk piano without Bernie Taupin as his hetero music partner.  And this was a hard one, because there were a few options from the same album that were just as awesome, and furthermore, there's some history of this song and the Succubus.  But I'm not going to let that ruin a song for me (there are a few songs that have exes attached).  What put this over the top is the tendency to tell a story, be ridiculously over the top musically, and call the struggle of a guy trying to fuck a chick in the backseat like it's a baseball game, turning it into a girl manipulating a guy into selling his soul to get laid, then regretting the insane choice he just made.  Wow, it's almost autobiographical.

11.  Don McLean - American Pie - I sat down with my guitar one day to see if I could master this epic of epics.  I can play through it.  I suck at some points.  But if you wanted to capture what I wanted my music to become, this song would be the blueprint.  It might sound completely different, but this is the ultimate one hit wonder song.  How was the poor bastard ever going to top this?  Which is why I saved it for last.  I don't think further elaboration is necessary.

So with the kids gone, maybe I'll pick up my axe and murder one or two of these myself (assuming I get some cleaning done too).....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

...from atop the 2-story mulch pile.

As I make my way through the process of turning the yard into a nice thing (mowing on Monday, edging on Tuesday, shaping the bushes today, and the whacking of the weeds tomorrow), I have the opportunity to be outside and to let my kids roam, because I can be right there when the inevitable nosy neighbor decides to call the cops because my preschoolers are near the street and I'm not strictly in line of sight.

But either way, it's a daily exercise in managing the chaos.  Which brought me to some fun popping up on Twitter from the Free Range Kids territory.

(side note, I should have the book of said philosophy whenever Amazon gets it delivered.)

This one started with the post entitled: ANNOUNCING MAY 22: “TAKE OUR CHILDREN TO THE PARK…AND LEAVE THEM THERE DAY”.  Now for clarification, 4 and an autistic 5 is too young to participate to the fullest here (although my 4-year-old daughter wouldn't complain), but I do have a neighbor who has a daughter in preschool with my kids and an older son (6 or 7), who might be old enough (except they tend to helicopter too much from what I've seen).  And if I could find a family with an 8 or 9-year old, maybe I could ship them away for a few.

Of course, that's the advantage of being in the small town.  I'll be able to get them riding bikes to the store for me in a few years, once they acquire the ability to ride safely on the road, watch for cars, and count money.  It does depend on where you live to a degree.  But I have a feeling that there are parents that would flip if their kids climbed to the top of a two-story pile of mulch.  But mine were up there today as I loaded up a garbage can full to spread out in the flower beds.  I went about halfway up when it was time for them to come down, as it was the first time they climbed a giant shifting pile of dirt and rotting wood chips.  It's probably safer than climbing the slick and shifting boulders out at the lake, but since it was their first time on top of the community mulch pile, it never hurts to be handy.

Oh, and if you want the balanced assessment (and the ridiculous comments by helicopter parents), here's another site assessing the aforementioned kid-ditching event.

In the end,  my embrace of the Free-range mentality is part necessity (single parenthood helicoptering would leave me no time for gaming and masturbation), and part opportunity to raise kids that can go out there and live in the world without hanging on my ass for everything.  And being who I am, it will be to their benefit.

Finally, for the helicopter parents out there, here's the next thing you need to worry about:

As for me, I miss the good ol' days of playing with mercury in your bare hands....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

...roller coaster weather, Twitter, and bread.

The funnestestest part of April in Ohio is the weather.  We had some brutal cold to end March, followed by temperatures in the 80's (for my foreign readers, you're used to converting us provincial bastards who use Fahrenheit, so ho to it), followed by frost warnings and sub-freezing temperatures, and then back into the 80's, then cold again.  It's marked by the need to have a winter coat, a jacket, and shorts, because you'll need all three at some point in the day some days.

I do have the windows open and the heat off right now, but as it is only in the 50's, I'm going to probably close that up.

But it does have its advantages.  For example, it looks like I'll be mowing grass tomorrow, which is better than having to wait until May.  Last year hella-sucked for grass growth, especially since the front portion of the yard is still recovering from road reconstruction, which killed off the grass.  And the village has resown the grass twice, and I've thrown myself some seed in there too.  But it's half weed/half bare for the most part.

But there are signs that the grass is greener now.  I threw some seed on a bare spot up near the steps, and it is sprouting beautifully.  And I'm really trying to see if I've got some green thumb going on.  I planted some new flowers, and plants to fill out the front, got some caging around my rose bush so it doesn't flop around like my cock at the thought of my future sex life, and threw some fruit and vegetables in to boot.  Have some strawberries, bell peppers, and green onions in my back flower bed (which is better than having weeds), and am working up a hanging basket of strawberries, and a basket of tomatoes.  So I'll have to let you all know if that works.

And the fastest way to do that?  Twitter!  Yes, I have submitted myself to the 140-character limit that microblogging requires.  Actually, it's a real challenge for someone as verbose as me.  Considering that some of my compound curses alone evade the character limit, and that I abhor the use of excessive abbreviations in almost all cases (except instant messaging, where it's really an organic conversation, although I just abbreviate for the common crap (brb, bbiab, gfyysmfpos, etc.)).  Really, unless you really have a limit to your characters, do you really need to shorten every word by a letter or two?  It makes you sound like a retard.

That's one thing that I've been working on with my kids is the proper use of the English language.  Of course the fact that I often use the F-word twice to describe a newborn puppy does tend to make it more of a challenge.  And imagine what happens when I hear a politician laying out the bullshit.

Which is why I like to do the simple things.  Like making bread.  The only problem with the breadmaking was that it was labor-damned-intensive.  My stand mixer fried a few years ago, and that meant hand kneading the shit.  10 minutes, let it rise, beat it down some more, rise it again, shape it and bake it.  2 1/2 hours later, excellent bread.  But it's work.

So the answer would be a bread machine.  I finally got around to getting one as I perused some garage sales on Thursday.  I had originally planned to be doing a garage sale this year, but I got behind on everything (and am still behind now), so I planned to do the community sales on Saturday, and slept in (no kids weekend).  So my garage sale experience was a few on the way home from a shuffle-the-autism-boy meeting at school, and a walk around the block to check out the neighbors on Thursday.  So i finally got the machine set up, loaded, and walked away.  However, the kneading paddle didn't move.

Shit.  $10 wasted.  Of course, being the industrious son of a bitch that I am, I got around to tearing into the machine today (while fielding tech calls).  The biggest challenge was, of course, unscrewing the thing.  I had to undo some of the screw removal damage before I could check anything.  What I found only seconds later was that it was one of those stupid fucking kill switches, the kind that they put on because people are stupid enough to not close the lid.  It was literally a 30-second fix once I go in there.  That machine is making delicious bread right now, in fact.  As long as I didn't short on the flour.

Which reminds me of how easy my longest call was to actually fix after I got past all the bullshit in between.  40 minutes.  And due to limitations on what we can tech, it took 35 minutes to figure out that the computer WAS connected.  And the problem was solved by unchecking ONE BOX.

I think solving most problems in life involves digging through a lot of shit to fix the simplest thing in the world.....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

...NOW they're candy cigarettes.

So as the kids have returned to school, a little of their Easter candy has trickled it.  One of those items that came home to day (a la pinkeye boy) was a box of candy sticks.  I remember these.  You remember these.  In the old days, they were candy cigarettes.  You'd get them out and "smoke them" as long as you could, nibbling them down to a tiny little butt, then with a quick bite, not make the butt mess that real cigarettes cause.

Wanting my kids to have the authentic experiences of yore (which now mostly come in dollar boxes rather than nickel and dime bins), I made with the red food coloring on one end, so now my kids can blaze up like I did back in the days when smoking wasn't a capital crime worse than pulling out your ballsack in the mall.

I think this is part of that whole movement to sanitize childhood.  And I'm talking about more than the bottles of antibacterial goo dotting the landscape of kid-dom these days. It's the idea we can protect our children from every danger big or small, and shield them from every idea that isn't written in a parenting manual.  Not so for my youngling.

This includes playing in dirt, playing with real tools, working around a hot stove (except when deep frying, of course, and supervised), cutting stuff (with actual knives, supervised), watching things that don't have the stamp of approval of the "kid experts" (except the sexual stuff), secondhand smoke, strange dogs, bees, falling on concrete and stone, talking to strange adults, and smoking candy cigarettes.

Because if they get to do all this stuff, then they'll ask about it.  And then I can teach them....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

...some Easter reflections and the fun of pinkeye.

As the weather took a little dive on Saturday and the final bits of an orgy of candy were set into place, I got to enjoy another day of running around with the kids.  We had put my daughter's birthday party earache aside, had gotten through another week of work and school (ending with preschooler bowling on Wednesday), and were set on a course for some BBQ chicken (slapped on some dry rub, a honey mustard sauce, and some hickory smoke (amazing what you can do with some wood chips, an old tin, and a power drill).  It was good, of course.

Then, in the middle of Wal-Mart, the eye pus emerged.

I had noticed Friday night that the boy had some redness in his eyes.  And both kids have been coughing a little more, mainly because the allergy season is up (and the drugs are being administered).  But as soon as that goop became apparent, i knew it was conjunctivitis time.  Especially since it's not the first time he's had it.  Thankfully, we didn't have anything scheduled until Monday afternoon, so no worries.

Which brought us to Easter, the playing of the full Messiah (of which I can rock many of the tenor parts well even now), and the orgy of candy that, so far, is all my kids really are getting out of Easter at this time. And that's where I run into yet another problem of a spiritual nature.

A short post by Beth crystallizes this, which, looking back, I think I misread it a little.  But this is the problem with my shift away from Christianity.  I cannot accept the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus without a belief in it, and therefore it is relegated to a story of incredible sacrifice and love.

But how do I relate the valuable parts of the story without having the belief in it I grew up with.  I don't want to adopt a faith for the kids sake, nor do I want to go a purely secular route in this sense, as I do believe in the existence of God, in some form or another, just not the excessive dogma that organized religions bring to it.

And if you doubt the existence of God, listen to the Messiah all the way through.  If you're not moved at any level (even if you're atheist), you have no soul.  Of course, if you're an atheist, you don't believe in a soul, but you should be moved anyway.

So a good Easter was had by all, and then came Monday.

I had scheduled a dentist appointment at 9am so as to get drilled while the kids were in school.  Except they didn't have school.  Then there was the pinkeye to deal with, which meant a visit to the doctor.  Earliest appointment, 11:30.  That left a little under 2 hours to burn, as I didn't want to have to drive home and then back for the appointment (about 25 minutes).  So we went shopping (including the post-Easter candy buy), washed the car, and got the kids irritable.  Then we get to the doctor, I deal with the latest stupid government regulation, and then we wait.  And because it's almost lunch, and we've already been dragging ass to not have to drive home, the wait at the office is long.  Unusually (for their doctor) long.  45 minutes long.  Most of that was spent in the waiting room, stocked with toys.  We get the scrip, and hit the pharmacy.  But then comes the insurance insanity.  The prescription is one not covered.  So they call back to the doctor.  But the office is out to lunch.  So my choices were either wait and come back later for the eye drops once they get the prescription changed or shell out the $20 to get what was prescribed.  I paid the cash for 5ml of droppy goodness.  By the time we have the eye drops and hit the road, it's 1pm, which means a bag and gag run to feed the younglings.  And the fun of getting eye drops in the boy's eyes.

But no, this isn't the end, because I forgot about the rules concerning day care.  As in he has to be on the drops for 24 hours before the babysitter can take the kids.  And since there are babies there today, I'm boned.  This is as I am supposed to be dropping the kids off before work, so there's no time left.  Luckily, my sister happened to be heading my way, and I wisely had shown up a little early just in case.  The bonus there was that my sister (a round trip of 40 minutes) brought the kids home rather than me having to run to get them.  And since I got off at 9, and they have school, meaning bedtime is normally 9, this was good.

Of course, my son was a little worn out, and didn't make it to school today.  But at least it was warm enough to get out, get some coffee, get some grass spread, and get a couple plants going.

And any day that the doors and the windows are open is a good day....

Friday, March 26, 2010

....journey into ultimate suckitude.

Obviously I've been a little down since the passage of the government health care bill on Sunday, and have been chronicling that on the political blog (and will do so after this post.  So I've been seeking escape into the wastelands of D.C.  In 2277.  In Fallout 3.  And the cool things I've done include finding the Declaration of Independence, visiting several museums (and shooting super mutants, ghouls, and robots), climbing the Washington monument to boost a radio station, and seeing the remnants of both the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.  Strangely, I like this DC better than the real world one.

But I've also been fighting computers (unfortunately, it sucks more in the real world).  Yesterday, my phone software (critically important to working at home) took a shit on me.  So after several tries to resolve it, I got to haul ass into work, with plans to get things working later. And as it was a relatively nice day, I threw my lightest jacket on, expecting it might get a little cooler.

It was fucking snowing when I walked out the door at 9.  A blinding, driving snow that started to affect my car's performance (being I've been having issues with the distributor not throwing spark when it's cold and/or wet).  And it was bitch cold too.  So today, when I went out, I had moved to my winter coat, which, due to the fact I am a lazy bastard, had not quite made it to being packed away for the winter.

So this morning, I went to clearing out my computer to eliminate every other possible problem, then reinstalled the software.  As well, I started setting my other desktop up as a backup.  So I have the first computer up, but haven't confirmed the problem yet, when I get a request to clock in early, about an hour before my shift.  At this point, I had not yet finished the rest of the install, confirmed it was working or failed, gotten dressed, and still had to run the kids to the babysitter (25 minute round trip).

So I got that done, confirmed the software wouldn't work, got the second computer up, and raced out the door.  25 minutes later, I arrived home to confirm that the second computer was having the same issue.  And even better, another tech is having the same phone software issue.  Which eliminates it being a computer ,router, or my Internet service provider ass an issue.  It could be Windows XP, so I turn to my laptop (running Windows 7) and try to get the VPN (virtual private network) and phone software up.  Nope, can't even get the VPN working (I probably made an install mistake, to be honest), which means another compatibility issue.  At this point, it's my normal clock-in time, and I've been clocked in for 15 minutes battling the shit.  So, realizing that it won't work any time soon, I abandon ship like a motherfucker, haul ass for work (a 20 minute drive ideally).  However, I pulled out at the time Crown (local factory) and the government schools are letting out.  And due to the fact that I had to drive an extra 20 miles, 'm low on gas.  How low?  My tank holds about 12 gallons.  I put 12.006 gallons in it today before leaving New Bremen.  Fumes, baby.

And don't get me started on the fact that this means I don't eat the supper I had planned to eat two days in a row.  The best I could do was a few slices of roast beef (which I found cheap enough for my budget, finally).

So I finally get to work, get logged in and start grabbing calls.  But the clusterfuck has not ended.  My laptop is not connecting wireless now.  So I begin the process of uninstalling the VPN software I installed initially.  Windows flashes the Blue Screen of Death and reboots.  Eventually, I end up running system Restore to take out the junk.  I get those programs cleared out, but now the computer is still not connecting wireless.  And I don't have the chance until I bed the younglings tonight to try it wired. 

And yes, you're supposed to chastise me for not being able to solve an internet connection issue (as that is my job).  In this case, it would be a situation where I'd be giving the customer the boot because we don't fix a driver issue (and that's where I think the problem is.  I just don't have access to my Windows 7 disk to try to fix it.  Not that I'm in a hurry to be free of cords, because it's too cold to be outside.

 Now maybe I'll get lucky this weekend and it will get as warm as they say, because I have ice on my balls....

Saturday, March 20, 2010

...so then I turned on C-Span.

I've been shoving the kids outside the past week as the temperatures got up to the 60's.  And as my daughter would be getting a bike for her birthday, she got it over a week early so she could enjoy it while the weather was good and I had days off.  The best part was that it meant I could break out the shorts (which I am wearing) and open the windows (noting the salubrious effects of fresh air).

And while I lost an hour of sleep last week and had a morning this week where I woke up late (giving me 15 minutes to take two kids from sleep to the bus (and in which I succeeded)), the effects of more daylight are starting to wake up what is an increasingly creaky body.  Now if the sunlight would do something about my tooth mess, it would be wonderful.

I know I have at least 3 cavities remaining.  I also have my remaining wisdom tooth, which is in need of prying out, because there's less than half that tooth remaining.  And for some reason, after getting the worst cavity filled, it triggered several teeth into hypersensitivity to hot and cold.  And since this encompasses everything I eat and drink, I've been hitting the Orajel hard.  Actually, it's funny to watch me suffer, I'm sure.  Of course, if you do so while I'm in agony, I'm going to punch you.

But this is the second weekend in a row I have to work (with the following two being work free).  So I got to unload the kids to the Succubus, then proceed after work to do some birthday/Easter/general shopping.  I still have the birthday shopping to finish.

But I did get another game which will suck many hours out of the night, Fallout 3.  Strangely, I have the original incarnation of the game, with install for Windows 95/DOS (which Windows 7 really doesn't like).  Not the oldest game I have, nor the oldest game of which I have a modern incarnation (that would be the Ghostbusters game from the prior blog), nor even the oldest game in my pc game collection (I have some old AD&D computer games circa 1988), or even that download of Wasteland (which occupied many an afternoon with my buddy and now fellow blogger Lars in front of his old Commodore 64 and gave us the immortal line of "the force stopped you, you hozer"), which was a precursor of the world of Fallout.

My daylight hours however are engaged in following the final days and hours of the debate (note: if you want to talk about the substance or politics, hop over to my political blog) by watching debate on C-Span.  And the night will belong to a good ending in Washington (Fallout 3 is set in post-nuclear DC).

But in no way will I be messing with anything involving college basketball.  Fuck the NCAA tournament, fuck all 64 team, fuck the whole boring-ass sport, as it sucks ass.  It's more boring than a 2-hour air-masturbation session: no contact, no nakedness, no arching ropes of jism or soiled anything.  It is among the list of sports I participated in when I was a kid, but even in the ranks of the Catholic school, I was the worst of players.  Of course, considering I never really found a sport I was good at (soccer was banned in my day, due to the potential interference it could cause the sacred sport of football), I'm not really a fanatical sports fan anyway.  But I can watch some sports and not be bored to tears instantly.   And I've followed most major sports at some time.  But basketball, never.  And that's despite the fact that the only ball I could produce from my inventory to play a game would happen to be a basketball, which I got back in my RadioShack days and bears the logo of the IBM Aptiva.  Yeah, the ball is a decade old but doesn't show the wear of a decade, as it hasn't gotten much use.

Ok, I've got 45 minuted of work left.  My sleep is messed up because I woke up at 11:30 this morning.  And the wastes await for an intrepid me to explore (maybe after a little manual self-exploration).

And on C-Span, the politicians drone on....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

...I could stream porn to it.

One of my ideas to save money in the long run was to get rid of cable.  Since I moved from home way over a decade ago, I've been addicted to the ability to watch shit you can't get on the idiotic bad three networks.

However, that was in the days when your choices were limited to either an antenna, a cable, or a satellite dish (either the newfangled 2 foot ones or those giant 16-foot motherfuckers), or to go down to the video store and pick up a videotape.

Not so now, considering more and more content is streaming online.  I've been able to watch a season's worth of shows, and in one case (Veronica Mars), I only saw the show online (and was crushed to find out there were only three seasons) because it was long gone prior to my even hearing about it (from Kevin Smith, who shows up as (what else?) a clerk in season two (which proves I'm so his bitch (and might be willing to take a shot in the mouth if asked))).  So I've been looking and researching it for a while.  It was one of the motivations for upgrading my TV this year (the other being that my old TV was ancient to begin with).

My original plan had been to hook a computer to that TV to stream shows and movies, as well as gaming.  But since I have this laptop, I have lots of portability already.  And the kids have their computer, and my original desktop (now almost exclusively my work computer) is still humming along.  However, the latter two are not up to the task of streaming video.  In addition, gaming on the PC is relatively expensive, because gaming computers are expensive, games hold their prices longer, and once you buy a game, you have it forever (I have games that run in DOS still!!!).  I also had a PS2, which I used for some gaming, but there are few new games coming out, my old games were starting to show some age, and the system itself was wearing down (it had the misfortune of being purchased and abused during the Succubus era), and it was becoming a less-used system.

Enter the PS3.  In addition to the gaming and the ability to play DVD and BluRay discs, it can also stream media from my laptop (it found it almost immediately), it can browse the Internet (not as well as a PC, but I can watch Youtube), it could do something with Netflix (again, part of getting rid of cable), and I can download and play demos, games, movies, etc directly to the PS3 (although this costs money in most cases).  And it's all up to date.  And as a bonus, the PS2, and all games, and all accessories, got traded for the new games.

And as a double bonus, if I download porn to my laptop, I can stream it to the big screen (which means parts at actual (but probably seriously pixellated) size).

To give you the game list, I picked up Lego Indiana Jones, as the kids liked Lego Star Wars, and I wanted to have a light title to play; Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which kicked ass despite being short, because it featured the same writers and talent from the movies (Akroyd, Ramis, Murray, and others), and because it had to be better than my last Ghostbusters game experience (it was a shit game I played on an Apple II clone), and Brutal Legend, which is like running, driving, and fighting through the cover of every heavy metal album you've ever seen (starring Jack Black (the main character), Ozzy (as the Guardian of Metal), Lemmy Kilmister (the Kill Master, who heals with a bass guitar), and more) to a soundtrack loaded with a shitload of excellent metal.

So hopefully, I'll get everything in place shortly so that I can cut the cable.  Because I've found I tend to spend a lot of time in front of the TV wasting time on crap shows.  I'd rather enjoy watching movies and shows that I really want to see than doing the channel flipping and planning around broadcast times.  Especially since so many damned channels have to have pseudo-reality shows on them that suck a dick.  Wait, correction, that's insulting cocksuckers.

But such is the result of my fascination with media as an escape from the mundane (and a chance to see the sex I'm not getting).  Although that fascination is making me feel really old.  Because the latest child star in the body bag is Cory Haim.  I grew up the same time as this bastard, watching him growing up on screen.  A point of fact, he only had 2 years on me (he was 38).  I'm used to really old people dying.  That's relaitvely easy.  But when more and more people your age and younger start snuffing it, you start feeling OLD.  Can't wait until I'm over 70, and the people my age start dropping faster than my libido after a marathon gaming session (also a rare thing due to kids, work, sleep, etc (and by etc, I mean masturbation)).

Of course, with the turn of the weather (it got above 60 today), I'm probably going to be spending more time outside and away from the TV....

Monday, March 1, 2010

...not sure if this actually belongs on the political blog.

As you all know, I have both this blog and a political blog.  On this one, on the right, I have a cute little Digsby app that lets people talk to me when I am online.  On SPD, I have sitemeter.  And I noticed that someone was dwelling on the personal blog for hours today.

The digsby app happens to list the IP address, in this case,  I looked it up.  it belongs to the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment Standards Administration.  Go ahead and look it up yourself.  Now other than a fan of mine working there, I can't see any reason someone in the government would be checking out my discussion of the future of my kids, or my masturbatory preferences, or any of the weird shit I talk about.   So I said hi, ID'd where they were browsing from, taunted them a little in my friendly way.  No response, although they logged off shortly thereafter.

So I popped open sitemeter, and found this entry from today.  Yep.  Same person, most lkely, this time on the political blog.

A couple notes I gathered.  They were looking at today's AOTW post, where I hammer Sen Bunnings and decry that we are becoming too dependent on the federal government.  The computer is running Windows XP.  The poor bastard is forced to use IE6, which generates a shame banner on the page suggesting that the user get a browser made in the 21st century.  And hopefully they do, because they clicked to my tech post on this site.

Not that it's groundbreaking, just interesting.

And I hope I can figure out who the person was....

Sunday, February 28, 2010

...then it wouldn't turn over at all.

The wearying thing about the weekly snowstorms is that it makes the outside way to inhospitable.

Unfortunately, my children are at an age where they are big enough to run around and cause fun and righteous chaos, but are still small enough that I can't set them loose outside in the middle of winter to freeze their asses off a while without going out to shatter my nipples with them.  And just when the weather is conducive to going out (sunny-ish, above freezing) I either have to work, or they are off to their mother's for the weekend.

But I did get out on Saturday, due to running out of coffee.  And there, in the coffee shop, with my laptop sitting at home and only a pad of paper and a lot of coffee in my veins, two things occurred to me.  The first, a writing project, is kind of in the beginning stages, so I'm not going to share much on it yet, other than it's something that is more oriented toward the political than the fictional, where most of my pre-blogging days were invested.  As with many projcets in the infant stages, it may come to nothing.  So that's why I'll lean toward a more silent approach for now.

The second was a revelation of my future.  They were having a dress up party for little girls there.  Little girls around my daughter's age.  And I have a daughter that's into the dress-up.  In fact, a few of the days in the last week or two, she started pulling stuff out of her closet, and was demanding some nail-painting fun.  The sad part is that I was checking out all the mothers coming in.  They were all married, of course.  Every one I checked.  And one guy.  Probably married, but I wasn't checking out guys, especially not in a tiny village such as this.

But other than that foray, I had the pleasure of spending lots of quality time at home alone by myself.  Most of  it was not spent getting to know myself better, though.

But one flaw in the plan was that I didn't get out to get cheese.  So I meander out to the car with time to spare, only to run into a mess.  First, I went to start it, it caught, and I accidentally let it die.  Then it was turning over fine, but wouldn't catch and start.  Now I have been having a problem in extreme humidity or cold with it starting, so I got out and tried prodding the engine to see if I could find the problem (which has annoyed me a couple winters so far).  THEN the bastard wouldn't even turn over.  I could hear a clicking, but not a single crank of the engine.  I poked and prodded wires to no avail.  Finally,  Ithrew a heater on it in the hopes that would rescue it and went in to work.

A couple hours later, my dad called back (as I had called him because I would need the car later if I was to pick up my children) and suggested throwing the car on a charger.  So I threw the charger on.  But I had already made calls to arrange someone else (their mother, who I managed to get hold of) to get the kids home.  Finally, on my break, I went out to give it a last try.  Of course it roared to life far too late.  But at least I have the opportunity to stay at home and have their mother bring my children home.  Yay.

Tomorrow, I get to go check on what could have gone wrong.  Maybe I'll be lucky and it'll just be a battery.  Then I get to drive to work, due to some issues with a caller.  I'll spare you the details and my cursing of the whole bastard situation until I have something to report.

I've got another hour left now to be on the clock, so maybe I can't have anything else go wrong....

Friday, February 19, 2010

...after I finally shoveled off the front porch.

Have you ever had too much of a good thing? In this case, that thing has been the company of my kids.

It's been two weeks since I've gotten the younglings  off to school.  Since then, I've not had a waking hour, except for work and sleep, that the kids haven't been crawling over the top of me.  Add to that the fact that the snow is still piled up (although someone else has been running the snow blower up the sidewalk) and I've had to shovel a few drifts out of the way to get the car out in the first place, and it's meant I've been mostly at home tucked in for the winter.

Of course, I've also shifted from my nice first-shift spot back to the second shift (where my off times happen to be the kids' bedtime (and that's before I go to pick them up), which sucks.  In the end it worked out though, as the daycare was having issues reigning in the Autism Express, which doesn't help his sister who was perfectly fine as always.  Luckily I was able to get back to the prior sitter which necessitates a drive almost as long as going to work, so that problem has been beat.  And I'm still working from home, as I can use my break to make shit like pork chops or clean something rather than have to find something to do other than buy overpriced candy from a vending machine.

And it really came in handy Wednesday of last week, as I parked my car out front so as to not get snowed in.  Unfortunately, the car wouldn't start.  So I did what any desperate person would do:  I hauled a TV and DVD player into the kids' bedroom, set them to watching movies, and went to my bedroom to work.  I fed them lunch during my break, eyeballed them after calls, and somehow managed to make it through a shift without having to cut off a caller while I beat a child.

Then I managed to put a hole in a tire on Friday.  I noticed it after I dropped the kids off.  I didn't get to fixing it until after I got off at 3.  An hour later, after an easy lug nut removal, I found myself failing to have anything big enough to knock the wheel off the car (it was rust-welded as usual).  So after a can of fix-a-flat, I limped to pick up the kids (with the tire still leaking), then out to the tire place to get a couple new tires (I had another that was a slow leaker that I had patched with the can of stuff the prior month).  So now, after the worst of the snow, I have tires that will dig through the snow better.  Shit.

Of course, the reluctance to get out or get online bit me in the ass again on Tuesday.  I've been less and less online in the past two weeks, and didn't even try at all on Tuesday, until later in the evening.   The Internet was running unusually slow, so I did what any tech would do.  I power cycled equipment.  Then the screen popped up that there was an issue with my modem as I had either, added a new modem, or didn't pay my bill.  Despite having the cash, I didn't get the bill paid of course.  So I had to make a run to do that (my ISP doesn't have an online bill pay, the bastards).  I will say that they did get me online in time to work at home, so I'm not bitching.  I did pay next month early, though.

So now, after less than a half hour of NO KIDS IN THE HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, I might actually get something done....

Monday, February 8, 2010

...a great weekend that thoroughly sucked.

The snow started falling on Friday before my kids got home.  I had been listening to the news stories about how much snow was going to bury us, and it was certainly a cause for concern.  But I figured that I could get some stuff done, drop the kids to their mother around , and be buried ass deep in snow and not give a shit all weekend.

This coincided, of course, with my tax refund.  In other words, I got money with which I could purchase those things I was in need of and had no money for prior.  But first, I killed a few of my bills (I do have some sense).

Then I got the kids off the bus, cleared out the few things that needed done at home (except the mess of cleaning), and we went to pick up some necessities and a few treats.

(note:  If you get a chunk of cash, it is best to set a small portion aside to spend freely, just so you can budget the rest sensibly.  Otherwise, you're bound to do something really stupid.)

We went to lunch around 1, and the snow was already coming down steady.  We took a glance through the toy store (where their attention span cost me nothing but their bladders became an issue).  We moved on from New Bremen to St Marys (about 10 miles) so I could get new pants (my remaining pairs of jeans were sprouting holes and unraveling) and cream (dollar stuff (at Bath and Body Works!) for the daughter, and the foot cream for me (necessity when you can stick quarters in the foot cracks).

Then came decision time.  It was about 3.  The roads were starting to get crappy.  And the nearest Wal-Mart (a necessity on a shopping trip for us) was in Celina (10 miles more).  I got on the 4-lane with trepidation, ready to turn around at a moment's notice.  However, the road was clean (enough), and on we sojourned.  One thing I was checking out was bunk beds.

My son was sleeping on an ancient mattress and bed that I had inherited from my grandmother (and he was probably conceived on this bed as well) with holes and poking springs.  My daughter was still in a toddler bed that I had been forced to replace hardware on, as well as bend straight, and a mattress that was split in the middle on one side.  And they are both in one room with little room to maneuver.  So the priority was to get them new beds.  Since my car is too small to carry the beds (1997 Toyota Corolla) I was mainly going to get pricing and pick up some other things.  For example, I have a Tinkerbell addict that didn't have a comforter for her new bed if I got the bed, so she got that.  We looked at bicycles for her fast-approaching fourth birthday. Didn't buy, but I know what I will be buying.  Got them a new (cheap) CD player, because my old one was giving out and they have a few CDs they like to play with (and even listen to).  And we picked up a new booster seat, finally retiring a baby car seat that was becoming hard to fit her into.

I also got a chance to peep out the LCD TVs (my main 27" TV (also inherited) has been going strong for over a decade, but is showing its age), although the best price they had on a 32" was $339 or so.  Luckily, I had checked out the local Alco store (tiny small-town Wal-Mart equivalent) earlier, and they had one for $299 with an extra $20 gift card.  And this was in New Bremen, where I would be relatively soon, without kids.  So after crawling through the Wal-Mart, and the time flying by (4:30 by the time we were heading for checkout), we were in the car, new car seat installed, and on the way back to St Marys to drop the kids to the "tender embrace" of the Succubus.

By now, the roads were becoming shit.  But I got them to their mother for the weekend nonetheless.  And there, I discovered two pieces of joyously entertaining news.  First, she was getting a new job (can you say child support?).  And second, she was having tax issues.  Apparently (although she was asking if I claimed the boy (who she gets to claim as dependent per the custody agreement)), someone was trying to claim a child for the EIC that she wasn't allowed to (EIC applies to where the child lives, not deduction staus).  Of course, I didn't share that tidbit with her because I already had my money and didn't want a fight.  So with those joyous tidbits, I began the final drive back to New Bremen.  To finish this story, when her boyfriend dropped the kids on Sunday, he shared that she had apparently fought going to her job orientation (a reason I labelled her the Succubus).  So who knows what will happen with the child support (maybe later, I'll have child support hunt her down hard).

Even with the fact that I had to crawl rather than race, I made it back to town, hit the Alco, grabbed that TV, and crawled home to hook it up.

Now here's where things get messy, because my cleaning tends to be sporadic and incomplete (as in I get it mostly done, then stop).  When I got home, I unloaded and set aside everything else before I got that TV moving.  I even had the energy to go and shovel snow so I wouldn't have as much to do after work on Saturday.  Now, if you have a home theater system or a desktop computer, you understand the next part.  The advantage of changing TVs was weight.  This meant that I got to pull out and rebuild my entire home theater setup, consisting of TV, DVD, VCR, PS2, and the home theater receiver that links everything and makes an explosion sound like a big-assed explosion.  Let's just say that after wiring the 6 speakers, and connecting every component (a total of 15 individual audio and video cables) as well as powering them all, there was a large mess behind the entertainment center.  But to my joy, in setting up the TV, I added a slew of digital and music-only channels to my roughly 80 analog cable channels.  This meant the Super Bowl in digital quality and surround sound!

So after a long night (bed at 3) of dicking with the TV and looking at clips of movies for the picture quality that component video brings (the original motivation to upgrade the TV), Saturday came in a haze induced by a long night and by trying to watch the cool shit in the background of movies rather than the movies themselves (100,000 orcs standing outside Minas Tirith looking pissed, Coruscant from orbit when the Jedi starfighters aren't dominating the screen, the color pallet of the musical scene in Clerks 2 (I'm such a Kevin Smith fag)).  Remember that labor-saving shovel job?  Drifting.  For those readers in a climate where snow is rare, this is where the wind wipes out all your work.  Shit.  I managed to cut the sidewalk out, but the driveway was too much, and I threw in the towel and called the landlord to get me dug out (Sunday).  But I had a new home theater to watch.  For the record, the first move I watched on the new system (which still required some tweaks) was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which I had just picked up cheap (it's still the weakest of the movies so far).

So Sunday came, another great day of working at home (great because I was still snowed in, and I didn't care).  While working, my sister dropped onto messenger, letting me know about a sale of bunk beds at K-Mart.  The price was better than Wal-Mart, and they had the matching mattresses for $40.  The decision was made before the kids came home.  My daughter was instantly excited to get a new bed.  The boy, not so much.  So we set off about 5 to get the beds.  So we headed to St Marys.  First, we had to grab a truck.  Now if you drive a small car, and you get into a big truck, it takes some learning curve, especially on patches of snow and ice.  However, as I had driven a much shittier pickup back in college, it was a short curve despite 15 years of rustiness.  So we shot through town, hit the K-mart, where I waited for the helpful but confused drones to find the requisite bed and mattresses.  And I sent those preschoolers off to the nearby food aisle to acquire Cheese-its, at which my daughter was successful without any help from me (although she did ask someone).  Alas, they found one opened mattress only.  However, I got that for a discount, and could temporarily use that one rotting mattress, so we loaded the truck, headed back to New Bremen, dropped that off, and headed back to St Marys for the car.  We got to the car around 6:30, also known as kickoff time for the Super Bowl.  Being the lazy and cheap bastard that I am, we hit the Taco Bell for 49 cent tacos before heading home (with the game on old tyme AM radio).

Finally, at nearly 7, we got home, and I got to enjoy the digital picture and sound of the game as I sucked down that taco-y goodness.  So by 7:30, we were ready to build a bed, shooting to finish before their bedtime at 9 for school.

Yeah, like it was that easy.

I did have the power of a drill (which beats hand screwing all 100 or so bolts and screws in), but even with that, and with the help/hindrance of excited preschoolers, I was tightening the final screws at 9:45.  But by 10, I had a boy in the bottom bunk, a girl in the top, and my living room was a fucking mess (and still is).  And the game was over, of course (although I really didn't care at that point), because I wasn't done.  I had gotten some burger out to make taco meat (for food while I enjoyed the game.  That was at room temperature and needed cooked, fast.  And in the day's scramble, I had neglected to get bread, which is necessary for making sandwiches for the kids the next day.  So being the handy son of a bitch I am, I got the burger, along with onions and bell pepper (chopped and bagged for easy use) cooking, then set off to make some bread.  The problem with making bread, though, is time.  I pulled the loaf around 12:30, sliced an end to savor the fresh-baked goodness, then hit the sack.

Monday arrived with bitter cold.  I rolled everyone out because I had to be at work by 9, and due to training, I had to drive in rather than work at home.  This negated the advantage in sleep I gained since preschool was canceled this morning due to weather.  So with another scramble, and some uncooperative attitude from the boy in the bottom bunk (he still has bed pissing issues, not this morning, but it's the reason he got the bottom bunk ), I got everybody showered, fed, and out the door.  Which leads me to a cubicle and the end of a long, fun, and shitty weekend.

And they're forecasting more snow for tomorrow....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

...then comes the next shit sandwich.

Darkness and death and pain and misery and suffering and loneliness and bitterness and hate have come to my world again.

Of course, this is a tradition thing.  I celebrate the approach of the ever-hated Day of Darkness (Feb 14, also  referred to as V-day) by glorying in all things miserable.  I ban all filthy lies about love in music, all movies that try to deceive us, all affectations and symbols of the evilness.  Even when they put the candy on sale after the celebration of hate, I let it rot (and I buy post-season candy like a bastard).  Because I realized a long time ago, after years of having my heart shat on, that the day is a lie.  And if you're a silly son of a bitch like I was and you invest any hope in anything happy coming from the day, then you're looking for fate's proverbial nutshot.

So while I may generally lament the state of my love life (or lack thereof without porn mode), this is a celebration of having your still-beating heart ripped out and held in front of you until you die, cold and alone.  Screaming and pain be with you!  :)

One exception to the ban:  Groundhog Day.  True, the movie falls into the "romantic comedy" category and the day falls inside the veil of darkness, but as it is a movie about the day, and stars Cousin Bill (not an actual relation, but if you value comedy and share a last name, wouldn't you claim Bill Murray?) who's funnier than most all the rest of the world, it's an exception I definitely make.  For years, I've scoured TV to find it playing on the day only to be disappointed.  So I broke down and bought it last year.  So I finish watching the movie last night, and with the end credits playing, I start to move down the dial and (no surprise) find it playing with maybe half an hour remaining.  Craptastic.

But that's not the worst of the things that have bent me over and dared to use powdered glass as lube.  The latest crisis is another work schedule change.  In this case, it's a shift back to the second shift.  You'd think that with the current economic mess, no one in their right mind would give up a relatively easy job.  But there are two people leaving.  And since I was last to move to first, I'm first to be booted back.  Of course, since I moved to first, I swapped daycare (and my old provider was quitting).  And my new (old) hours aren't ones that work with the new daycare, which is about a mile away (which eliminates gas and drive times and enables working at home).  So now, I get to scramble for a provider in St Marys (because there's one here in Bremen I can afford, and they close at 6 (and I work until 8ish), because then I can justify driving back home.  But if the only person I can find is in Wapakoneta (where the office is located), then I get to work at home only every other weekend.  Shit.

And then there's my financial mess, which is something I won't talk about here.  Suffice it to say that if a stupid mistake can be made, I'll make it.  Somehow I always manage to squeak by, though.  But we'll see.

On the plus, I do have the computer up with Windows 7, and sweet is the only word I need say....