Monday, December 29, 2008

Sleep apnea and the homicidal cat

I have sleep apnea. I snore loud and hard. Hard enough to wake me up almost 60 times an hour. We won’t mention Debra who has only tried to smoother me once or twice.

I attended a sleep study and the doctor decided that a cpap machine was the best way to help me with this problem. The cpap machine forces air through a flexible tube to a mask covering my nose. This steady stream of air forces my airway to stay open and keeps me from snoring. This has the added benefit (according to Debra) of making it almost impossible to talk. If I try to speak, while the cpap machine is running, the air comes in through my nose and exits out of my mouth. I can be understood, but it sounds like I am being hit in the stomach as I speak. I can not even describe the feeling. It is weird.

Yesterday Athena, our cat, must have decided that I did not give her enough attention before retiring for the evening. I woke with a gasping start. The cpap machine was no longer running. I looked down and Athena was sitting beside it looking up at me (the buttons on top of the cpap are easy to push).

I could almost read her face:

“You’re lucky I don’t have a horse head to put in the bed with you.”

I turned the machine back on and slept through the rest of the night.

Athena did not give me an offer I could not refuse the next morning, but I did give her a lot of attention.

Just in case.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Adventures at work

I answer the phone and the customer tells me that his computer has a blue screen error.

I ask him if he rebooted.

Customer: “No I did not.”

Me: “Ok. Please reboot the computer. This normally brings it back up.”

About 10 seconds pass by.

Customer: “It didn’t work.”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Customer (a little exasperated): “It didn’t work.”

Me: “You rebooted?”

Customer: “Yeah. I turned it off and when I turned it back on the blue screen error was there again.”

Me: “Where is the power button located?”

Customer: “On my computer.”


Me: “Where exactly?”

Customer: “On the lower right hand corner of the monitor.”

Me: “Alright. There is another power button located on the box.”

Customer: “Nothing happens when I push that button.”

Me: “Please hold the button in for 10 seconds.”

Customer (after 10 seconds): “Ok, that worked. The computer is off now.”

Long pause.

Me: “Is it booting up?”

Customer: “Do you want me to turn it on?”

Me: “Yes. Please.”

I hear the Windows start up over the phone.

Customer: “That worked. Thank you.”

Me: “You’re welcome. Have a nice day.”

At least he wasn’t rude.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Teenagers have no sense of humor…

It’s 1:30am and Dearth (my 14 year old son) is about to receive his “life lesson”. I turn the bathroom light on so I can see. Then I open his door for a quick snap shot.

“Get up and come down stairs.”

He’s too sleepy to think about anything more than the command. He’s a good boy.

We have a brief, spirited, debate when he realizes that I expect him to empty the dishwasher. I take a few pictures and I can almost see the smoke coming out of his ears. It is the angriest I have ever seen him. It was beautiful. Yes, I’m gloating.
It took about 15 minutes for him to empty the dishwasher. It was the fastest I have ever seen him empty it. I may have to remember that. Normally it is a 45 minute job and I will have to remind him at least 5 times to stop goofing off and to finish the dishes. He went back to bed and did not come out of his room until about 9am.

When Dearth finally graced us with his presence he was still angry.

I was still not sorry.

NOTE: Above is a good picture of Dearth. I would feel bad just posting the others.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The True Ruler of the Family

This is Athena. She is named after a Greek goddess and acts like one would expect a goddess to act.

We adopted her when another family was unable to keep her. She is a Ragdoll and quite beautiful. When Athena arrived it took her less than 24 hours to take over our little townhouse and secure a permanent niche in our family.

She tends to be shy and will only come out when all is calm. Do not be fooled by this. When it is quiet she will come out. If there is company then she will jump into the lap of the most unlikely person. This person may be a child or a cat hater. She will make herself comfortable and look at her victim disdainfully until they pet her. Most of the victims will sit in shock for a minute because they are afraid of frightening her off.

Athena has claimed another follower. Children are especially enamored by her attention and even the most rowdy child will sit quietly while Athena demands their attention.

When there is no company around Athena reverts to her majestic self. If you are sitting then she will jump into your lap. If it is Debra than Athena just jumps into her lap and demands attention. If I am the target Athena will sit on the floor and stare at me until I put the foot rest out. She waits for me to put my legs out and then plops down in between them. If Dearth is in the chair she will squeeze herself between an armrest and his leg. This is actually pretty funny because Dearth ends up sitting at a slight angle with most of his weight resting on one hip or the other. Once Athena has reached the correct level of comfort she expects to be touched. If you are not quick enough then you will get “the look”. Do not make her speak to you. She will meow until you do touch her.

The best part about Athena is that she is very docile. This is typical of the Ragdoll breed. Athena is fully armed. She has a healthy set of teeth and all of her claws. When I play with her she will get frisky and wrap my arm up with her front paws and teeth. She will even kick with her back feet. Athena had never drawn blood from me while playing like this. If I had done this with my last cat I would have pulled back a bloody nub (and she was declawed).

I love dogs, but they require a lot more attention than cats. They must be walked and cleaned up after. I do not like walking after a dog and picking up the poop in a plastic bag that happens to be wrapped around my hand. Ew. Cats are a little easier to care for (in my opinion). They demand less attention than the average dog and they use the kitty litter. Anyone who says that cats have no personality has never had a cat, or never paid it enough attention to find out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I love my teenager but...

I work evenings. I do not go to bed until about 5:30am. My wife works a similar schedule. About once a week my son will miss the bus and need a ride to school.

This morning Debra wakes me up and asks if I want to take Dearth to work or if I want her to do it. This is female for "please get your sleepy ass out of bed and take your teenager to school". I would cheerfully let her drive him if I did not want to sleep on the floor for a month.

This weekend may be the time for a life lesson. I think I will wake Dearth up about 2am and have him go down stairs to do the dishes. I will make him stay up for about 40 minutes and then send him back to bed. I think that will give him an idea of what it is like for us.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I love southern Virginia.

It was beautiful today. Sunny and 76 degrees.

The midwest is getting blizzards.

It hardly seems fair.

I hope my niece reads this. She'll be green with envy.

Lessons Learned

1. The difference between an adventure and an ordeal is attitude.

On December 14, 2008 I had an adventure. John had an ordeal.

2. The ignition switch should be set to the off position after the engine is cut. It will drain the batteries if you don’t.

3. Don’t skip church. Even if it is a good day for sailing.

First sailing experience. God is still laughing.

We were bad on Sunday (yesterday). The weather was gorgeous. John and Wendy invited us for an outing on the Circe. So we decided to skip church and go on our first sailing trip.

It was necessary for us to leave between 9:30am and 10:00am. This will allow us to get back during daylight and beat the low tide in. The mouth of Circe’s marina is pretty shallow and she is a big lady.

We arrived at the dock by 8:45. John and Wendy stocked up on drinks and we brought rolls and fixings for sandwiches. We would not have power once we were under sail.

John had been warming the engines up starting about 8:30am. It was pretty calm so we uncovered the sails and rigged them up. You can see John doing some of the rigging above. We set off by 10:00am.

Below you can see the view leaving the marina. We could not have asked for a nicer day. There was not a lot of wind and the waves were only 1 to 2 feet. John and Wendy are still learning to sail and we had never been sailing before, so this was ideal weather. This was important to us because we also had John and Wendy's three children and our son on board.

This is John our captain.

Wendy the First Mate.

Or is that the captain and his mate?

We left the marina and motored out to open water. We raised the sails and cut the engines. It was lovely. I have never sailed before and I can not wait to go out again. With light winds and calm water we managed to get up to a speedy 3.8 to 4 knots. When we raised the jib Circe even hit 5 knots a few times.

The captain displays his supervising skills as I raise the head sail. When I finish raising the sail he remembers to tell me that I could have used the handle.

Debra takes a turn at the helm. That is John and Wendy's oldest on her right.

Once the sails were up we reverted to island time. Basically we just relaxed. Deb even snuck in an hour nap on deck. I learned some knot skills. Even the children had fun.

Yep that is a hand held game system. All four children had them. Why go out on deck when you can play with electronics?

Oh well. At least we got our teenager on the boat.
We sailed for about 4 hours and then we lowered the sails and started the engine.




That's not good. Lets try one of the other batteries.




All three batteries could not possibly be drained. Right?

God smiles.





Now what? AAA does not offer their service in the middle of the ocean. However, John and Wendy have triple A of the sea. Enter Towboat U.S.

He wasn't wearing a white hat. He did not have a white horse. There was no side kick.

He did wear mask and we were very happy to see him. He pulled up beside us. This was not easy. God had played one more trick on us. The wind had picked up and the seas were now 3 to 4 feet. His boat was a sleek 18 feet or so and he was pulling up to the 43 foot Circe. We managed to tie him along side and he handed over a battery charger.

For some reason the batteries would not charge enough to turn the engines over. So John finally made the decision to have Circe towed. Our Lone Ranger comforted John with these immortal words: "You aren't a sailor until you have been towed to port."

The tow back was a bit hairy. The Lone Ranger tied up to Circe's side and used his engines and Circe's rudder to steer. The waves were doing their best to make kindling of the smaller boat so he had to take us into the waves, and further out to sea, to avoid this.

It was dark when we finally arrived at the inlet. It was also low tide. John told me later that it was the lowest tide of the year. Did I mention that this inlet was shallow?

I was sitting on the deck, near the main mast, as we entered the inlet. I hear John from behind the wheel. "Hang on Henry." And, Circe eased herself into the sandbar for a short rest. The Lone Ranger tried valiantly to pull the Circe free, but she was tired and refused to move. I moved aft and retied the tow ropes so the Lone Ranger could pull us backwards off of the sandbar. The effort was heroic. The Lone Ranger’s boat pulled with all of its might and then one of the tow ropes parted. God was ready. The end attached to the tow boat flew back to the Lone Ranger and fowled his engine. Now the Circe was in the middle of the inlet and the tow boat was powerless and drifting to the rocks. Our Lone Ranger was a real pro and threw his anchor out. He cleared the line from his prop and managed to get his boat running again. We had put out the Circe’s anchor as a precaution as well. About an hour later we finally managed to guide Circe into her slip. God was laughing too hard to have me fall in when I made a 5 foot leap from the rescue boat to the dock. So we tied Circe up without any further incident.

Next week I’m going to church.

The Circe

A good friend of mine moved down here with his family. They sold their home in Northwest PA and purchased the beautiful sailboat Circe. The Circe is pictured here. My lovely wife (Debra) is standing with John and Wendy's youngest. If you look close you can see Wendy in the back.

How do you hear someone sweat?

I'm a helpdesk technician. This means that I help people, with computer problems, over the phone. All of my customers are employees of my company and the large portion of these people are located in a major city. They can be a bit impatient and if they detect any weakness (in your voice) they will pounce on you like a lion on raw meat.

Don't worry, I do not plan to use this blog to vent about my work. I may add a humorous moment or two though.