Monday, December 28, 2009

who defines normal?

Slowly, things are getting back to normal around here.

The kids were all running around the country over the holidays. Ethan was down in VaBeach with his dad. He just came home a couple days ago on Amtrak. I picked him up from Union Station which was a huge crowded mess. Traffic to and from DC wasn't bad, just the inside of the station was a madhouse. I think Amtrak's target audience is rookie travelers. Thousands of people, all looking confused, trying to read the map, can't find their gate, and clumsy with their luggage. Auntie Anne's pretzels erased a lot of the stress though.

Joe and the girls went down to Kentucky right after Christmas to see their grandma. The girls are driving home today with the fam, but Joe's staying an extra day and driving home solo tomorrow. Odd, but I'm rather used to dealing with the unexplained by now.

We took the day yesterday to disassemble all the decorations in the house. It's done. All 100% completed. The tree is out at the curb, the outside lights are down from the house, and everything is boxed and back in the attic. The end of the holiday is always a bit depressing, but I'm happy to get back to a more normal schedule.

New Year's Eve was a good time with neighbors and friends. Nothing too crazy, just hanging out around the block for dinner and drinks. Maybe a few too many drinks, or so they tell me. I firmly believe that I partied happy all night, then simply teleported home to bed sometime around 3am.

(Missy - thanks again for not leaving me to sleep in the truck all night.)

I'm thankful that I wasn't wearing flip-flops that night. I would have had all sorts of wardrobe malfunctions and wound up like this guy:

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The holidays are over, but this game is a good reminder of just how annoying Christmas lights can be.

Save Santa!

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Review your Facebook config here, to see what FB apps you've granted access to your personal details. I'm sure some of you will be quite shocked at how generous you've been.

Happy Christmas pic of the presents opening their children:

The TSA full of naked idiots.

Apple is full of idiots, too. They're just not naked.


I'm thinking this was not a happy house over the holidays. Ouch. (click to enlarge.)

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

a very special holiday waster

Between the holidays and the crazy blizzard, I was slacking a bit this past week. I caught flak from those of you who can't entertain yourselves. You can consider this waster either really late from last week, but I'm calling it the very early and extra special holiday edition. Just remember, though, calling it special doesn't necessarily make it good.

A month or so back I shared the news that Joe was engaged. The fam likes his fiancée, and they're really happy together, so there's not much stress there. The fact that they've only been dating since the summer was a bit of a shock, but they're planning a 2yr engagement so that pacifies the "rushing into things" concerns. They're even starting to look into buying a home.

Last week I started bugging him for his semester grades. If you remember, he's on the reimbursement plan, where I pay 100% for his classes after he shows me results. He avoids the questions, doesn't respond to email or text, and I start getting the idea that I'm not going to have a very large check to write.

I actually don't have ANY check to write. Genius dropped out back at midterms then hid the fact until finally confessing a couple days ago.

Good news? I learned a year ago not to front him any money. He didn't put a single one of my dollars in the trashcan.

What stresses me? Not the fact that he dropped out of school. If he's not ready to grow up yet, that's cool with me. I'm a bit jealous, actually. I don't want to grow up either. I want to be able to drop out of school when things get too hard. I don't want to pay a mortgage. I want to sleep late.

What stresses me is the mismatch and conflicts between his actions. "We're getting married." "We're trying to buy a house." "I'm going to keep working at the ice cream shop." "I dropped out of school." It's gonna make my brain explode.

So for now, he's crashing at his gf's parent's house, bc she doesn't have a place to live either. He's still scooping at Ben & Jerry's. The shop owner is trying hard to help Joe forget that education BS and become an IceCreamManager instead. They just lost their previous manager, so the owner is in full recruitment mode to fill the slot.

I learned all this information at the end of last week, right before our main Christmas plans. It made the weekend a little tense, but there was enough distraction to keep the subject buried.

Yes, Christmas. Since we've got multiple split-families to coordinate, Missy and I scheduled our Christmas with the kids this past Saturday. We had all sorts of stuff on deck to fill the day, too: DC all day, doing the tourism thing at Union Station, the Botanical Gardens, and the National Christmas Tree. The day was going to end with a dinner cruise on the Odyssey, viewing the lights & sights up and down the Potomac.

Mother Nature had her own plans. The blizzard shut down the entire region and canceled everything on our schedule. Instead, Missy and I were snowed in with 4 kids, 1 fiancée, Missy's mom. Plus lots & lots of dogs: Missy (2) + fiancée (1) + mother-in-law (3) = two hundred and thirteen effing dogs in the house.

Even though the original plans were jammed, the holiday was rescued. We filled the time with lots of playing in the snow, caroling over at Grandma's house, running around the neighborhood, sledding at the Gorge, opening our gifts, and burning the fireplace all weekend long. Instead of a cruise in the city, Missy whipped up a big fondue dinner, punctuated by chocolate fondue for dessert.

Next topic... my schooling. Strayer, consistently boneheaded, came up with a semester schedule that ended during the week between Christmas and NewYears. They tweaked the semester to end a week early. That left the professors with two weeks' worth of lessons to complete in one week. Last week, I burned at least 18 hours on schoolwork and final exams. I'm done til January now, but wow was I crying for a few days. Sometimes I wish I got credit for writing the Waster.

Final thought before I check out this week: Go visit 15minute lunch. I like them. They like me. I won a weird and useless prize for my limited drinking skillz. For reals.

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Dom found a simple but addictive basketball shooter. Competition between others online, you can even form private leagues to play in the office!

Shopping Cart Hero!

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Quite possibly somebody has a legitimate explanation for that freaky, no-offensive-line fake kick that the Redskins tried to run last week. It actually makes sense to me now. A little.

Why we should eat horses.

Kristin's friends are hard-core:

Add an eye-patch, Matt is an instant bad-ass!

Mikey found out that Bumbles do more than bounce...

Go 'head; sing the song. You'll get it.

News of the past year, sorted by topic. Click for full size interactive zoomable pic:

Cracked's list of the 15 worst prn ideas ever.

Now let the Charlie Brown Metal Christmas take you thru the holiday...

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Monday, December 7, 2009

hey there mister shintoist

The annual day of Christmas tree cutting and decorating was straight storybook! Actually, more comic book than storybook, but it was still a good day.

We all got up early to get a good start on the day. During breakfast, there wasn't much going on outside other than a really dreary yucky drizzle. Then the flakes started drifting down. Jumbo floaty snowflakes like they show in cartoons. By the time we were loaded in the truck and heading toward the tree farm, the roads were already getting some coverage.

Twenty minutes later, I'm driving a truckload of excited kids, and hauling a flatbed trailer, down a muddy unpaved road on the way to the farm. The 'parking lot' was even worse off, as parts of it was simply deep mud, muck, and slush covered with straw. No worries, the truck plays nicely in the snow, but I was definitely avoiding the bad parts of the drive. Digging anything out of the mud was NOT in my plans.

We grabbed one of the bow saws from the rack, and headed out to the fields. It was cold, but beautiful... all the trees were dusted with snow in their branches, and all the fields had a good 2" blanket by now. We didn't realize for a minute that the pretty snow was simply hiding the mud and puddles underneath. So we're marching the field in wet socks. Reminded me of spilling beers at GDays, actually.

The kids picked out a really nice looking tree rather quickly. Sometimes, this part is a bit of a challenge, but Ethan stepped up and made a very good find. It was shaped nicely, with real full branches, and had a good point on top. Consider it done!

I worked my face into the bottom branches so I can start cutting the trunk of the tree. This is where the fun began to fade a bit.... the needles were scratching my face, the mud was soaking thru my jeans, and every single giant snowflake was able to find the bare part of my lower back where my jacket had crept upwards. And the saw wasn't working.

One by one, the kids bailed to hide from the weather in the barn. They took turns pretending to check on me, but I think the message was more "are you done yet? are you done yet?". After a bit of fighting with the bad equipment, Missy went back to the lot and grabbed a different saw from the rack. This one had a much better bite, and we PaulBunyan'd that thing to the ground in short order.

Now we had to fight our way out past the legions of retards in the parking lot. The problems were compounded because there were people who a) didn't know how to load things on a roof b) didn't know how to drive in snow, and c) didn't know how to avoid getting stuck in the mud. I could feel the stupid attacking my sanity, so we completely bypassed the loading area, and just carried the tree all the way back to the truck.

This is where we found challenge #2. Imagine following a big-ass truck (a big ass-truck?) down a muddy dirt road. Now throw some salt, snow, and slush into your mental picture. All this mess is flying around behind me over a 30 minute drive, and if you were following, you just caught it all on your windshield. But wait! The trailer caught it instead! I was towing a huge pile of tasty muck, and had nowhere to load the tree.

After a bit of brainwork (made more difficult by all the stupid in the vicinity) we figured a way to wrap the tree before loading it. The farm was selling plastic "tree disposal bags" for getting it out of your house after the holidays without showering your carpet with dry needles. We bought an extra one, and used it to keep the tree clean and dry on the trip home.

After a grabbing lunch at Arby's, and resisting all temptations to spin donuts in the snow while towing a trailer, we got home successfully. I took our prize up to the back deck to do some more trimming and get it ready to bring in the house. Things were going great until I got ready to attach our 7" diameter base to the 9" diameter trunk of the tree. Uhhhhh, great job, genius. Measuring fail.

So now I had to get creative with the chainsaw. Leatherface what?!

Last year's tree was the fattest tree ever. 8' tall and 7' wide. That tree left us many good stories. This year's tree didn't break tradition. It was a fun, challenging, crazy, pain in the tail, and it turned out perfect!

Final thought for the week... Later in the evening, Megan made this snowman in the front yard, and I can't get over how much awesome it has!

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Paper Cannon - Kill the Bunnies!

Dodge. That's the name, the description, and the directions.

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Jess figured me out. The sole reason I started writing this blog to lay the cornerstone of my social media guru EMPIRE!!!!! (In layman's terms, that means I'm super effing awesome, and you should probably just start writing big checks right now and never stop.)

Sketchy Santas!
"Ridgemont High" meets "A Christmas Story":

Take a second look before you decide Santa isn't creepy.

The secret to world peace.

Joe & I geek out together sometimes. Create and register a scannable logo with BeeTagg. Use it for business cards, t-shirts, avatar, whatever. Phones that can scan tags will get automatically linked back to your e-content on BeeTagg.

My weekly installment of adolescent humor:

Yep. More lamebook. I can't feed my addiction fast enough.

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