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....