Oct 31, 2008

Finally, a new post on Home Improvement

So, after a long weekend of home improvement, the Gas Range is in. Let me tell the story.

First off, the old range we had was the classic late 70's model electric, in almond color. If you would like to see what this looks like.....Yeah, its old and its ugly. But it did cook food. I have been wanting a replacement for quite some time. A while back, Gill and Mona told us they would provide a replacement as a house warming gift. Quite a generous offer really, and we simply said thank you. Then, out of the blue, we got the call that they would be coming up for a weekend to install the new unit.

Only problem? There is no gas hook up behind the old unit. So begins the task of planning out a trip under the house and re-routing the gas line to the kitchen. There is not a lot of space under my house. In fact, there is very little. So we first thought to try on the side of the house, where the original gas line makes its way to the water heater.Sadly this proved to be too small an opening for me, so we went with option 2, to dig up the crushed gravel from another project, and go that route.This worked out a little better. Sadly though, Gill couldn't make it very far in, so it was up to me. I don't like spiders, I don't like small spaces, an I don't like rats (which we haven't seen since I took the deck down, but it doesn't change the fact I was worried about being attacked by the colony, if there was one). But I managed to get in there.

So I learned to the art of laying down galvanized pipe for gas, the intricacies of thread compound and making sure the seal was tight. In the end, I managed to make a perfect connection, all the way into the kitchen, with no mistakes. Really, the no mistake factor is a complete miracle. The finished product?

The addition of a shelving system made all sorts of room on the counter, which was sorely needed.

And of course, the perfect way to break in a new range was to make cookies, which I was so excited to be able to see baking in the window of my oven.Thanks to Gill and Mona, from here on out known as Mom and Dad. You guys are wonderful and made this daunting task so much easier. Stop by any time, and I'll make dinner.

Oct 23, 2008

Home improvement, sort of...

The wife and I have been in our home for about 4 years now. We started out as renters, then after a surprise phone call from our land lord became home owners.

Of course, right after we sealed the deal a fence blew down in a wind storm and a water pipe burst and flooded the garage. We received the standard "Welcome to home ownership" comments from our friends and moved on with life. Since then, we have had a few improvement projects in mind that we would really like to get started on and hopefully finish before summer rolls around. Here is the rundown:
  1. The deck. Sadly, this little project seems to have hit the back burner. It wouldn't take me more than a day (with a little help) to finish the project. But alas, such is the case.
  2. A new range. As a house warming gift the Wife's parents purchased a new gas range, something I am extremely excited about. So they will be here this weekend coming up and Gil and I are going to get it put in.
  3. The garage. We still have plans of turning the garage into a sizable living room. Actually, the correct term for a room of this size is Great Room. A move projector, a wood stove, a large and comfortable sectional couch. Our living room now is so ridiculously small, if you have more than 2 people in the room it gets pretty crowded pretty fast. This particular project is going to have to wait until February, when the tax return comes in. But at least there's a plan.

So there they are. Our little plans that are sort of in action. The range at least will get done this weekend. And over time, the other two should get done as well. Its coming up on the rainy season though, so I figure the deck might gt put off for a while, which is OK with me. The garage will take more of a precedent. who could resist watching movies at home on a 112" screen?

Oct 21, 2008

Accidental Poetry.

A few days ago, my good friend, the Lazybuddhist, commented on her sudden case of Haikuitis. For those of you unfamiliar with the idea of a haiku, let me expound.

According to Wikipedia:

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry, consisting of 17 Japanese on (a phonetic unit identical to the mora), in three metrical phrases of 5, 7, and 5 on respectively[1], and typically containing a kigo, or seasonal reference. In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to equate to the Japanese haiku's three metrical phrases[2]. Previously called hokku, it was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of 19th century.

To put it in plain English: 17 syllables, arranged in 3 lines consisting of 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively. Now, I myself do not claim to be a poet. I want to make that perfectly clear before I continue on with this entry. So I read LB's entry, and found it entertaining. But not once did I consider the idea that I myself would be the author of a Haiku.

Fast forward a few days, and I am sitting at lunch with a group of co-workers who happen to also be my friends. As is customary when we gather to dine together, there is certain amount of bantering that goes on. My good friend, who also happens to be my supervisor, Dennis was there. He was busying extolling the virtues of his supervisory skills to whomever would listen. I chimed in, hoping to say something that would, at the very least, let him know I had made the decision he was full of s**t.

So, i said something to the effect of wanting to make some sort of recognition, in honor of his Supervisoriness (don't worry, I know that's not a word). Unfortunately, I was having trouble coming up with some sort of recognition I perform at work. Then suddenly I remembered the haiku. So I said, "Sir, in honor of your great Supervisoriness, I will compose a haiku."

So apparently, when you make such a bold statement as that, your audience then decides to hold you committed to your declaration. So I set to work with a note pad and pencil. I did not realize how difficult it is to arrange syllables in such a specific format. But I think I pulled it off.

Without further ado, I present:
A Ode to My Boss
O’ Dennis My Boss,
Pillar of Strength, shining;
Moral Fortitude.

Example to all,
Reason Beyond Measure and
Patience a’ Plenty.

People Near and Far
Have Sung About Your Wisdom;
They Lauded Your Name.

With Regret, Our Tale
Must Come to a Tragic Turn.
O’ Dennis, Poor Soul.

Your Reputation,
Which Was Once Your Foundation
Made Ego Your Foe.

Blinded by Power,
Your Soul Corrupted by Greed;
Misery Your Food.

But Do Not Despair.
All is Not Lost. There’s Still Time.
There is Hope For You.

Change Your Ways, Vile Man.
Let Your Light Shine, Bright and Warm.
Give to Those in Need.

Be a Better Man.
Recapture Former Glory.
Once Again Praised.

Now, I should make it clear: when I refer to my superior as a vile man, whose ego has brought him to the depths of despair, I mean that in the most respectful, subordinate type of way.
So there you have it. My haiku. I didn't mean to be a poet, but I was.

Oct 20, 2008

A little mush (get your waders)

I recently spent the weekend alone.

Well, not totally alone, I saw some friends, I worked a day of overtime. But the wife was missing. she had gone to see Disney on Ice, and go to Great America with the Girl Scouts (she is always involved in "Helping Girls Grow Strong"). So, this means I was home alone.

Its a funny thing really. There was a time when I relished the quiet time I had to spend alone. Quiet contemplation, a trip to the beach, or simply finding something to blow up via video game console. All of these things were welcome activities that always seemed like a prize that is often sought after but hardly won.

So the wife left me for a sunnier portion of California. And all of a sudden, I realized it was very quiet at home. I had the weekend to do as I pleased, no one to be there coaching me in one direction or another. I could eat, sleep, travel, clean, read, play, sleep, eat, sleep some more; and all of these things could be accomplished in no particular order. At one point it seemed to me I was going to have a pretty darn good weekend. Now don't get me wrong, I had a nice weekend. I just didn't expect a portion of it.

To say things went wrong would be over dramatizing the point. So what it was, I don 't really know. There were, however, a couple things I noticed right away, that were sorely missing. For example, there was no one to comment on my daily antics. I don't claim to be a comedian, nor do I think I have a stellar catalog of jokes. However, I enjoy making my wife laugh. She gets a rather unique grin, that she dons at no other time. So I go out of my way to make sure I see that smile at least once a day. She does not always care for my methods of producing said smile, but i can assure that it does not involve any amount of physical torture.

Also, I realized how much I value her opinion. We talk often, of many subjects. Work issues, politics, money, plans for the future. We discuss these issues, and my opinion is just as important as hers, and hers just as important as mine. And she usually has a way pointing things out to me, that I somehow miss, making my logic seem all the more sound or ludicrous, depending on the conversation at hand. Whatever the conversation, I simply missed the conversation.

I also do the cooking for us. For those who don't know, the Wife doesn't cook. Its not that she doesn't enjoy cooking, but more to the point she doesn't even know how. I, on the other hand, love cooking. I don' think I do anything particularly fancy, but the food is rarely bad. In fact, its quite good. And I had no one cook for. It was a little sad really.

So I jumbled these thoughts around in my head for a little while. Then I came to this conclusion: While I may enjoy the occasional day off by myself, or the semi-regular girls night out which leaves me home alone for the evening, I don't want to be by myself. And I don't want to be with anyone else. I want to be with the Wife.

Often times, when I tell her I love her, she asks me, "Why?" I usually get a little defensive at this point because I can't think of anything to right off the bat. But where she to ask me right now, I would tell her I love her, simply because she is here and all that it entails.

And that's that.

Oct 19, 2008

Halloween and the Costume Party; or, How I Learned to Wear a Wig and Like It

***This entry has been edited from its original content. That I know of, I reserve the right to edit my content as I see fit. Should anyone have any complaints, there is a committee assigned to evaluate each complaints merit. Recompense will be awarded on a case by case basis.***

Halloween if fast approaching. Typically, in the past I am the one who is content to turn off the porch light and save myself the hassle of answering the door eleventy billion times in an evening. With our entire yard surrounded by fencing, it makes it pretty easy to do that. This year, however, will be slightly different. I still don't intend to be answering the door, but we are going to a Halloween party.

I can't remember the last time I purchased a Halloween costume. It must have been when I was a kid, at an age when I wasn't the one to be buying anything, anyway. I do remember painting my face numerous times, and making that pretty much my costume. I quickly grew tired of the whole Halloween experience, and by the time I was probably 12 or 13 it was pretty much a dead issue for me (at least, that's how I remember it). I don't think I consider myself a party pooper. More to the point, I think I do not enjoy crowds of people I barely know, or people I do know but don't really care for. But some good friends invited us to the party, and so we are going.

At the time of this edited post, my mother happened to comment on the original post. In said comment, it is mentioned that I had many costumes, and as I stated, by the time I was about 12 the whole thing no longer seemed very exciting to me. I will say, however, I remember getting together with my buddies on Halloween. This, however, consisted of watching movies and eating pizza, not going door to door looking for handouts.

So the costume hunt began. It was a half-assed effort, to be truthful. We knew about this party for the past month, yet we waited until half way through October to look for costumes. I have to say, there are quite a selection of costumes available to the party goer. Sadly though, the availability of said costumes is sadly lacking half way through the month. So web page after web page, the wife and I searched for semi-compatible costumes. For the female party goer, if you are built like Jenny McCarthy, there are numerous costume options out there. For the rest of the normal, human world, the choices become a little slimmer. Such is life, really. For the guys, there is a fair amount of costume options out there. The problem here is the cost of the costume versus the quality of the costume. Apparently, according to what I have seen, you really do get what you pay for. If you don't want to spend a lot of money, feel free to look like a cheap imitation of whatever look you are going for.

I opted for a middle of the road option, donning the guise of the Mad Scientist. Hopefully the stuff I managed to get doesn't look too cheap. The wife, taking the look of Sally, from the Nightmare Before Christmas, has a little more of an involved costume. I think we should have a good time, I hope my over coast isn't too hot.

I'll make sure and get some pictures from the big event this weekend.

Oct 12, 2008

Political Musings and Dodging the Soapbox.

I had determined to keep the idea of politics out of my blog, but today I seem to be finding myself taking a slight departure from that rule. And while I certainly don’t intend to get up on a soapbox and start preaching my ideals to the masses, I couldn’t help myself from musing at my own political convictions.

Growing up, I considered myself conservative, a staunch republican. Laughing at myself now, I realize I had absolutely no clue what that meant or how to represent that in my life. My, oh my. How things have changed.

Now, I don’t know that I am really a democrat. I don’t know that I am a liberal. I don’t even know if I would be considered independent.

So, now that I have figured out exactly what I don’t know, lets get down to what I do know. I know that I am not a typical, right wing, conservative republican. Not by a long shot. One of the things I have learned about many conservatives is they are very narrow-minded. There is no room for deviation from the standard party-line-of-thought-that-we-all-belong-to-and-must-conform-or-you-are-an-outsider point of view (ok, that was a mouth full). And perhaps that isn’t a fair representation of the conservative crowd as a whole. But, unfortunately, there are many people out there who portray that line of thought and simply make me feel like there is no room for one such as I in the Republican Party.

A few examples:

1 – I am for the death penalty. Certainly not a liberal point of view.
2 – I firmly believe should a man and another man, or a woman and another woman, want to marry, I am not the one to tell them they can’t. Certainly not a conservative point of view.

While one conviction has nothing to do with the other, they are at odds with the standard Political Party beliefs. To many, it seems you cannot be one and the other. There is one way, and no other way, and to believe in both simply makes you undecided and the focus of intentions to sway your wayward opinion to one side or the other.

I don’t know that these are any radical points of view; in fact I am sure they are not. There a thousand people out there who would jump to support either conviction and just as quickly denounce the other. That is simple politics.

What really chafes, and to date I don’t know of any ointments to relieve this particular burn, is they way people are treated for holding to their convictions. I hate religious zealotry and political fanaticism by way of bumper sticker and yard sign. If you live your life by your convictions you shouldn’t need a bumper sticker to be pegged as a certain type of person. It should be obvious. Yet it is the guy in the old VW bus with 8 thousand bumper stickers who quickly yells at me for driving a vehicle that is not friendly to the environment. As far as I know, the emissions from my truck are probably not much worse, if at all, than his dilapidated old touring van. At the same time, the religious zealot with all the “God loves me” bumper stickers is the first to yell at me for having friends who are of an alternative life style. Does God love anyone less simply because they don’t conform to the standard of Christian living?

I fear I might be on the soapbox, if so I apologize. I certainly don’t mean to criticize or condemn anyone for his or her own convictions. Our convictions make us who we are, and how we conduct ourselves. I have mine. I try to hold to them in everything I do in life. I hope, those that know me, know my convictions simply because of me, not because I have bumper stickers on my car and political signs in my yard.

Perhaps, one day, there will be no need for these bumper stickers and yard signs, and the general discontent that comes from opposing views and people who are unable to cope with another person’s opinion. Until then, I will live my life as I see fit. I will respect those that differ from me, and vote according to my convictions, which are mine and mine alone.

That’s who I am. Thanks for tuning in.

Oct 7, 2008

The hobby hunt may be over.

I think my hobby hunt may soon be over, if it isn't already.

Any one who knew me nearly 10 years ago knows I had a passion for aquariums. I started out with a29 gallon fish tank, and experimented with various types of fish and aquatic life. Soon, however, I moved to salt water fish and invertabrates. Sadly though, I have no photos from this time period that show my efforts in this arena.

After a time I decided it was time to move to a larger aquarium, and upgraded to 55 gallon tank. Filled with live rock and anemones, and various fish, it was a constant effort to make sure everyhing was healthy and thriving. A nice, time consuming effort with a visually appealing result. In my humble opinion, I don't see any interest in something that doesn't have a result that is obvious.

About a year or two ago, Ben and I had the idea to get a fish tank. So while he was here in town we went to the local store and made a few purchases. In the end though, it was in a poor place and I didn't spend the money I should have on various equipment because I was trying to do things the cheap way. Lately though, I have had the desire to clean it up and make it something worth displaying to those who would come by our little corner of the world here in Eueka. This is my result.Its a 10 gallon tank, and still looks rather rudimentory, but I have plans to add some back ground, a little more greenery, and more fish. Right now we have just the one Zebra Danio. He is somewhat of a survivor, and since the recent changes made to the tank, it is obvious by his behavior that he is extremely happy with his improved environment.

I still have that 55 gallon tank in the garage, and perhaps one day, in the future, I'll get it out and start all over again. In the mean time, the last three weeks of cleaning, water treatment, and over all care are keeping me happy. And its nice to have something to look at besides the TV.

Oct 6, 2008

A sight seeing trip interupted by a little hunting.

I took my first hunting trip.

Now I know, not everyone on earth agrees with the idea of hunting. My personal feeling is this: If the creatures that are killed are used for food, and thoroughly, then I don't have a problem with the whole thing. This seems like a reasonable mode of thought to me. After all, humans have been hunting animals for sustenance for centuries, even millenia, so why should I feel differently?

So Cody called me and asked if I wanted to go hunting. He knew I was in a walking boot, and that I don't have a hunting license, so I was invited to just come and keep him company and take photos as I chose. Seemed reasonable. So I was up at 0500 the other morning and off we went.

I don't know all the rules about hunting, so I felt a little unsure about the display below.When it comes to concealable weapons, like hand guns, there are very strict rules about where you can put your gun and your ammo. the rules are a little less strict with a long gun, like this shot gun. Besides, we were headed to some pretty remote areas, and I didn't see the need to hide the gun in case we needed it.

I took about an hour and a half to get to where we were hunting. And here is a couple of views of the area we traversed.

We traveled access roads all day, looking for bird, bucks and bears. We didn't see a single buck or bear, but a few bird, which I hear are rather tastey. We then went to Blue Lake. A pond really, but beautiful.
It was an amazing place. I started looking for a frog playing a banjo, but was disappointed. We did manage to land a brook trout, however he was extremely small and was released back to his home.

This picture here doesn't do the Brook Trout much justice. The colors were amazing, simply adding to the whole experience of the day.

So there you have it. A few pictures (the rest are on the Flickr page, and worth seeing). I enjoyed the trip, although a bit uneventful in the hunting arena. I did learn though, that Cody is a good story teller. I say story teller because every corner we came around he said something like, "I shot a bear here," or "This is a grouse honey hole here," and we spent most of the day simply looking, not hunting.

I enjoyed it. I think I want to go again. I think I need to get my hunting license.

Oct 2, 2008

Under house arrest no more.

I have come to the conclusion that if I don't leave the house very much I really find myself with nothing to say. I'm not sure how many time I could have posted that I sat around the house all day playing video games before some sort of Internet Regulatory Committee for the Abolition of Boring Crap shuts me down for being boring and repetitive. So, there you have it. My last two weeks in a few sentences.

So, my biggest outing from the house was back to Santa Rosa for a post op appointment. I'm sure there are many who remember this:
The result of this operation:

So I was laid up and for two weeks and looking forward t getting off the crutches and moving on with life. And for the record, crutches suck. There is no way around it. Its all fine and dandy that places make sure they have a way for disabled people to get in and out of places, like stores and restaurants. But they do not seem to do much in the way making sure there is enough room, once you are actually inside, to actually move around without killing yourself. But I'm past that now.

So I made the trek down to Santa Rosa with my folks (my wife wouldn't let me drive while I was required to be on crutches). While I was waiting I noticed a few things around the room that seemed somewhat note-worthy.

I'm pretty sure this wall of tools was recently used in a horror movies involving teens on vacation in a foreign country, staying at a youth hostel where people were disappearing and suddenly deciding that a group shower would make everyone feel better (thank you late night cable for airing such fine cinema and making use of such admirable actors and actresses).

OK, enough about that silliness. Lets get to the foot.

So, the Doc had to make a nearly 2-1/2 inch incision because the joint was so messy. There is still a considerable amount of swelling and some bruising, but it was clean and healing nicely. The joint is still very stiff, and and hard to move. We decided that I should be able to work out this kink on my own, without the need for physical therapy. Last, he wanted to know if I wanted more pain killer. I told him I hadn't used any of the Norco because it made me sick. He then said getting a different pain killer was no problem, but I still turned him down. I'm ready to move on.

As for ankle, and I quote the doc here: (As he pulled out some x-ray films they had just taken) I'm really happy with the results, but there is nothing we can do to make your ankle look any better.

So, the joint looks like crap. I, at the age of 32, shouldn't have an ankle that looks like this. But its cleaner than it was. There is a still a large bone spur on the front of the foot. But, because it is below the ankle joint and rather uninvolved in the grand scheme of things, it was left there.

Now I have a fracture boot, and more streamlined and efficient model than one I have previously had.

So I am mobile now. I still have one more week off of work (hip-hip-hooray!) and then 2 weeks of light duty (boo, hiss! Light duties are looked at like challenged workers).

Today we, my parents and I, traveled the Mattole Road and they were introduced to the lost coast. Tonight we watched the V.P. Debate on CNN. One subject I will probably expand upon later, one I think will make a point of leaving out of my blog all together.

As always, thanks for tuning in. And for those who care, I'll make a point of checking in more often.

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