Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last One!

Wow.  I made it.

I wasn't sure if I could keep to it or not, but I did.  Now I just have to stick to my guns and keep posting. 

I thought that I would have more trouble than I did, but finding something to post about each day was not as difficult as I thought it would be.  I'll admit that not all of the posts were high quality, but that isn't the point now is it?

Posting everyday takes a slightly different mind set.  I liked it.  I think I will try it for a bit to see how it goes.  See you next month!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fun at the new job...

My job has changed.  Or rather, my customer base has changed.  Instead of working with newspaper reporters and editors I am working with college students and instructors.

I'll admit.  It is a bit refreshing.

Don't get me wrong.  I loved most of the customers I dealt with at my last job, but they tended to be aggressive and difficult to deal with. 

Today I had a good laugh.  An instructor called.  He needed assistance installing software for one of his students.  The software allowed the student to zoom in on text to make it easier to read.  The instructor explained that the student was almost blind and needed the software to help him read.  His major was Criminal Justice.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Small Group

One huge advantage of working day shift is having a social life.  Last week I was able to start attending small group again.  This group watches a movie one week and discusses it the week after.  Tonight was movie night and we watched "Radio".  It is an amazing movie.

This paticular small group is made up of people from our church.  Normally there is a theme.  For this group it is movies.  This is a little outside of the box.  A large number of small groups are more of a Bible study.  During our discussions we talk about how the movie relates (or does not) to God and the Bible.

We share a meal first, tonight it was spaghetti, and everyone brings a dish to pass. Then we socialize and eventually move on to the movie or the discussion.  It is a lot of fun.

Tonight, we were getting back into the car, when I thought. HOLY CRAP!!!  I haven't had a chance to post yet. 

I hope God forgives me for that little slip up.  Good night everyone.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hunting has Changed

When I lived in Western New York I hunted quite a bit.  I preferred small game hunting (especially rabbit and pheasant) over large game (deer).

I have always found small game hunting more exciting and  lot less work.  The targets were always small and fast moving.  You had to be on your toes.  If you did score a rabbit or a bird you would field dress them, wrap the meat in a bread bag, put the bag in your pocket and continue to hunt.

Large game (when I hunted) consisted more of sitting in a spot (well travelled by the deer) and shooting them if they happened by.  I had a bad habit of falling asleep as I waited.  I've seen many deer run off as I woke up with a start.  If you do get a deer then you have to gut it and drag it back to your car or truck.  Dragging an animal that weighs as much as you do is no fun.  If you haven't had a stroke by the time you get back to your vehicle then you have to get it up on to the vehicle or into the trunk.  If you are lucky you have come with a group of other hunters and they will usually help you (provided you don't rub in the fact that you got one and they did not).  If you are unlucky...  Well, that is what they make pain killers and muscle relaxers for. 

Today they have cell phones and gps units.  I hear stories of people talking about a deer (via text) before taking the shot.  That makes hunting much safer, but takes a little of the excitement out of it as well.  Now I feel like my father talking about walking up hill both ways in the snow when he had to go to school.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tree Update

The tree has been knocked over only once.  Jo was trying to do his leopard imitation.

Mostly it looks like this:

Or this:

There have been 3 or 4 territorial disputes for the right to camp under the tree.  At one point Athena and Joe were both there.  It was very touch and go.  Several boxing matches broke out.

I think we will wait to decorate the tree for just a little while.  I'm getting tired of saying "No Jo".

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lazy Day

It is nice today.  The temperature is in the mid 60s and it is bright and sunny.

I'm still not going shopping.  Those people are nuts.

We put the Christmas tree up this morning.  All three cats helped in their own uniquely unhelpful ways.

After it was up Jo parked his large body under the tree (which is sitting on top of our coffee table).  He has only been down to eat, drink and use the bathroom.  He goes right back when he is finished.

We have only had to say "No Jo!" about 50 times thus far.  Tomorrow we will trim the tree. That is when the real fun starts.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

This is the first Thanksgiving, in a very long time, that I will not have to work (or even have to worry about being called into work).  It is strange and very cool at the same time.

My pumpkin pies made it through the night without anyone walking or sitting on them.  Last year Jo decided to do that.  You can read that here if you missed it.

We are going to our friend's for lunch and then another family will be at our home for dinner.  We are also having cake for Deb's birthday.  This year her birthday actually lands on Thanksgiving.

That makes her 29 this year.  Yep.  Because I'll be 29 in a few months and she is older than me.  So yeah.  29...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Hate That Game

This morning Topaz (the oldest cat) woke me up to play her favorite game.  It is the "pounce the moving hand under the pile of blankets" game. 

There are two comforters and a heavy blanket protecting the moving hand.  She knows it is my hand and doesn't care.  She will pounce, jump and dig a the blankets in order to catch me.  She has no front claws and is very cute.  I love watching the 14 year old cat play like a kitten.

Enter Jo.  Yes, he is more or less a kitten still (mentally).  He also loves this game.  He is a good boy and waits until Topaz is done.  Then he pounces the pile of blankets.  He does this for a few minutes and then removes the top comforter with his (very much clawed) front paw.  The second one follows.  Now there is just the heavy blanket protecting my hand from Jo.  It is enough protection (it is doubled up).

Deb says something to me at this point and I look up.  Silly me.  I feel 4 or 5 very sharp Jo claws go into the bottom of my hand.  I yell in surprised pain.  Bottom?  I look and Jo's bottom is up in the air.  One front leg is cocked under him.  His head is tilted upside down and he has the other paw stretched out under the blanket to catch the offending hand.

Problem solving cat one.  Inattentive human zero.  I hate playing this game with him.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Facebook Laughes

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook:

Another Monday morning following yet another Redskins loss. Cowgirls fans are as annoying as ever; someone jacked my morning newspaper; and there is no milk for my CAP'N CRUNCH ... thank GOD I have a sense of humor. (LOL)

I couldn't help myself.  I had to reply to that.

I can live with the Redskins losing. The Giants lost so I can simpathize. I can even put up with the missing newspaper, but dude! Someone is getting whooped for milkless captain crunch!

Sometimes conversations like this help you stay close to the folks you don't see often.  I have had a ton of laughes with this man and it was fun to share in a little humor.

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Job Same People

I've been part of the work force for over 20 years (we'll just leave it at that).  Most of my experience has been military, food service and information technology.

Food service is probably the most diverse group.  Young people, old people, middle aged people, dark skin, light skin and somewhere in between skin.  The attitudes are mostly the same.  Bad.  This is not always true, but food service is not usually the target job for most people.  So, most do not or will not give their all when working food service.

The military is also very diverse.  Every person is an individual and makes it a point to be that way, but, people in the military tend to be of similar mind sets.  Very few accept criticism well.  They will (usually) do what they are told when they are told to do it.  They will bitch the entire time they are doing it.  It is a job they love to hate.

IT, although diverse as far as age and skin color go, are the same from job to job.  I walked into my new job this morning and after 10 minutes I knew them.  I had worked with everyone of these people over the last 10 years.  Their faces were different, their names were different, but it was the same networking guy who knows everything.  He knows everything because he just "gets it".  There is the the guy/lady who runs around asking everyone else questions.  There are the two guys in the corner that answer all of the questions.  There are about 10 other stereotypes I could throw in, but you get it by now. 

It is a new job located in a different office.  All of the people are the same.  IT people are funny that way.  I guess that is why I love IT.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

They will drive me to an early grave

Yesterday morning I was in the kitchen for a couple of hours.  Making biscuits, eggs and bean soup for later in the day.  In the end I had one little burn on my finger from soup splashing on it.

Dearth was helping with dishes for a grand total of about 10 minutes in the kitchen.  During that time he managed to break a small bowl and get several cuts on the inside of his middle finger.  Nothing serious, but it did require a band aid.

Not to be outdone.  Deb is making milk shakes and using a cheap ceramic handled ice cream scoop for a total of about 5 minutes.  The handle breaks and she gashes her thumb.  It is a good one and probably could have used a few stitches, but she settled for wrapping it well and putting a splint on it (to keep it from reopening).

I ended up finishing the dishes, making the milkshakes and administering first aid.  If I didn't know any better I would think they did these things to stay out of the kitchen.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The morning after...

So my friend sent me a text this morning.  He left his bag at the gym and wanted me to sit with his two girls while he went over to get it (they were still sleeping).

I get dressed and walk out to get my shoes and jackets.  The living room (the location of shoes, jackets and the front door) is covered with sleeping bodies.  So I carefully step over the lot of them, get dressed and sit with the girls until my friend gets back.

When I return they are still in the same spots.  I normally make breakfast for everyone and today was no different.  We had pancakes the night before (we thought it would be fun) so I made biscuits.  Then I used to the metal ring, from the biscuit cutter, as a mold for the eggs.

Fresh cheese, egg and biscuit sandwiches.  I was a popular guy this morning.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Not sure what happened

A friend of a friend was desperate.  She has a new baby and a new puppy.  She was going back to PA for a visit and her mother did not want the puppy up there.  So the friend asked us to watch the poor puppy.

I'm thinking that Topaz would hunt the thing all weekend (she has done this with other small dogs).  Athena would probably pounce the puppy over and over (just to make sure everyone knew who was boss).  I expected Joe to be civil, unless the puppy decided to play with him.  Then it was up in the air.  Jo is as likely to play as he is to nom the puppy's head if that happened.

Then the lady calls.  She is stuck in traffic and called her Mom back.  She was all stressed out and had a very long drive.  Her mom caved in and is letting her bring the pup.

So we went from that to having four boys spending the night. 

And I thought the puppy was going to be chaotic.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I don't feel so bad now

I was actually a little cold today.  It was rainy and in the lower 40s.  It is supposed to be near freezing tonight.

This was getting me down a little bit.  I was really enjoying the sunny weather.  Then I went to facebook and someone posted this picture from earlier today.

It is amazing how fast someone else's misery can cheer me up.  I'm sorry if you are getting this weather up north, but better you than me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Score One for Home Tech Support

Deb has been without her Kindle (e-reader) for 4 days now.  It would not charge and then the screen froze up on her.  In her defense, she has tried multiple chargers and even followed the instructions for a hard reboot of the device.

Today she wanted me to talk to tech support for her. 

"Fine.  Get the number for me."

She had been attempting to do this without success.

"Go to and search Kindle tech support."

She found the number almost instantly.  She said something unflattering and then used an option to have them call us.  The call came in just as she was handing the phone to me.

I spoke to a pleasant fellow named Dennis.  He asked me what the display was.  I told him that it was on the screen saying that it needed to be charged.  I also explained that we had tried several chargers without success.  I plugged it in as I was explaining this.  The charge light came on. 

I'm a hero.  I fixed the Kindle.  I thanked Dennis and he promised to call back tomorrow to make sure everything was ok.

Deb has a look of shock and disbelief on her face.  She straddles me (I'm sitting on the bed with my back to the wall) "I can't believe you just did that!"

I give her one of my most innocent looks "What?"

"I can't believe that stupid thing started charging as soon as you plugged it in!"

"You know Deb?  You are being pretty ungrateful.  I did just fix your Kindle."  I hold up the device.  "You see?  It is charging and it is no longer frozen."

She smacks my shoulder.  "That's not fair.  It was not working!"

"I know.  I'm awesome."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Last Overnight Shift

Tonight is the last overnight shift I have to work (for a long time).  I am moving to a new company.  My job there will be similar to what I do now.  The biggest difference is the opportunity to advance above and beyond the help desk.

Another benefit is that they are not a 24/7 help desk.  This means I get my weekends and holidays off and will never have to work later than 10pm or earlier than 7am.

All I have to do now is ride out the rest of this week.  This is going to be the longest week ever.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Secret Santa Fun

Have you ever participated in a Secret Santa?  Basically, a group of people buy gifts.  We generally set a minimum price and if someone wants to spend more than that it is up to them.

All of the gifts are wrapped and placed on a table.  Numbers are chosen randomly and then the number holders (in numerical order) choose a gift from the pile.  It is considered poor form to choose the gift you purchased. 

One of the places I worked at used to do this.  The funniest gift I ever saw was a pair of old men's underwear.  That's right.  Underwear. Old, whitey tighty men's underwear.  So old that there were wear holes and the fabric was slightly grey.

The person receiving the gift was perfect.  If I had to choose one person in the whole room to get that gift it would have been him.  He is very likable, but very spastic as well.  That means he is a lot of fun to get wound up. 

When he opened the gift it was priceless.  His jaw dropped slightly.  His eyes got real big.  You could see anger, disbelief, shock and just a little bit of amusement flash across his face. 


"Somebody gave me an old pair of drawers?"

There had to be at least 30 people at that party.  All of us were laughing.  Tears were streaming down my face.  He ranted for a good 5 minutes.

The gift giver happened to be a real good friend of his.  So, he did not go up to him until the party was almost over.  The gift giver's plan was to take the recipient out to eat (and he did eventually), but when his friend got the old underwear he dragged it out for as long as he could.

To this day I have never had so much fun during a Secret Santa.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nothing to do with Want

Friends and family are an important part of our life.  Being a friend and/or part of a family comes with responsibilities.  To us those responsibilities usually involve helping out when needed.

The help could mean babysitting or giving them a ride.  It could mean helping them move their entire house.  It might be acting as a sounding board for grievances.  We chip in when needed or asked (if it is possible).

It should also be noted that we do not do this because we want to.  We don't bust our asses for three days straight because we want you to like us more.  Listening to five screaming children on a Friday night is not what we consider a good time.  We do these things because you asked for or needed assistance. 

Want has nothing to do with it.  If you are a friend then you are part of the family.  If family needs help then we help. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Messing up the Routine

I worked the overnight shift last night.  I have to cover two more and then I am finished.

The cats waited for me, by the door, all night.  They are used to me coming home around 10:30pm, getting some attention and then going to bed with me and Deb.  I received three disapproving looks when I walked through the door at 7:30am.

All were given attention and all slept in the bed with me during the morning.  I must remember to ask permission when I change my schedule next time.

I can't handle the baleful glares.  They were most displeased.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I remember getting deployed for Somalia.  I got a tetanus shot in one arm and a yellow fever booster shot in the other.  I filled out a last will and testament and signed a letter of attorney for my wife.  There was a curtain at the end of the line.  It was about chest high and medics were back there.

"Drop your pants.  Left or right?"

"Excuse me?"

"You are on your way to Africa and you need the gamma globulin vaccine.  Left or right."

This particular vaccine is kept on ice and goes in like a gel.

"Doesn't matter.  Be gentle.  It's my first time."

He laughs.  It hurts.  I don't think he was very gentle. 

We left on a plane and we fly for over 10 hours.  More than half of us only sat on one cheek.

I remember working 30 straight days before getting a day off.  I was in Cairo Egypt.  This was the staging area for C-141s going to Somalia.  One of the locals exchanged pens with me for Christmas.  He got a much better pen.  It was probably his plan.  He was Muslim.

I remember starting at one end of the line, guiding planes into parking spots.  Once the line was full we would start refueling them.  The crews would board after we refueled and wait until the last one was finished.  Then we would launch all of them.  If there was time we would catch some sleep and then repeat the whole thing over again.  Three or four of us would handle about 7 planes at a time.

I remember the Major walking into our tent.  He looked around and pointed to our LT.

"Lieutenant!  Get some more cots in here.  There aren't enough for everyone to get a nap during down time."

"Yes sir!"

LT was cool.

I remember getting two Army Privates to help, me and another crew chief, charge up the hydraulic pumps.  This is a two man job that requires pumping a handle around 400 strokes.  The handle gets progressively harder to pump as it charges so we paired up and took turns.  After this was done I started the auxiliary power unit (a small jet engine located in the left wheel well) so the two soldiers would have heat and light while on guard duty.  I worked the overnight shift and it would drop down to near freezing.

I remember having to unclog a stopped toilet on one of the planes. No plunger. Only a rubber glove that reached to the shoulder.  I pulled a roll of toilet paper out.

I remember exchanging MRE recipes with a group of Marines.  They had more to offer than I did.  They ate a lot more of them than I did.

I remember chocking a C-141 and climbing up to take care of the paper work.

"Hey chief! Come give us a hand."

I look to the back and see a military casket covered with an American flag.  I assist another crew chief, two load masters and two cargo handlers.  We transfer the soldier to a waiting vehicle.

I do not remember the faces or names of any of the others.  I only remember the dead soldier.  I do not even remember his name.

I remember two crew chiefs and two load masters saluting the cargo vehicle as it left.  We were standing side by side on the ramp of the C-141.

I remember the vehicle disappearing into the fog as tears rolled down my face.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Waiting for the Light to Return

I'm still not used to it being dark by 5:30pm.  There are a lot of windows in my office and I think it is later than it is.

I asked a co-worker what he was doing here so late and he replied that it was only 5:45.  Damnit!  I thought it was like 7.

I start my shift at 2pm so the darkness makes the work day seem much longer. 

I have worked a lot of overnight shifts, but I am still not a troll (or a vampire if you prefer).  I like the daylight and I can not wait until it returns.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Strange Call

Today I received one of those phone calls that come so infrequently that you never forget them.  I went through my opening script and the first thing out of this ladies mouth was "Do you speak German?"

OK folks.  Fasten your seat belts.  This is going to be fun.

I work for a large newspaper company and we only support employees of the company.  She was not an employee and must have called a lot of general company numbers before someone gave up and passed her to us.

Once I confirmed that we had no one on the desk that spoke German she said she would do her best with her poor English.  She struggled, but did pretty well. 

Evidently she has been following this Michael Jackson trial, from Munich Germany, and is very upset with the outcome.  Michael was a big boy and made his own choices.  Why should the doctor be punished for this?  It took her about 10 minutes to say all of this.  I listened very closely and added appropriate guttural noises when necessary (hmmm, mmmhmmm, oooo, etc...).  After she finished she repeated everything in rapid fire German. Then we talked about the time and weather in our respective cities and we parted ways.  I guess the only thing she wanted to do was vent her opinion, on this issue, to a citizen of the United States. I never did tell her that I had no opinion on the topic and didn't care in the slightest.

Now I have an amusing story to share with others.  That call was priceless.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

email fun

A user was having password problems with one of the "off the wall" applications some of them use.  I sent it to the local techs and they sent it back telling me that they have no idea who takes care of this application.

I called the customer back and she tells me that it was ok.  She just used the "forgot my password" tool and everything was good to go now.

I emailed the onsite tech:

It's ok. She hit the "forgot my password" and everything is good now.  I feel like a Catholic Priest trying to weasel a confession out of these people.

Have a nice night!

His reply was classic.

Part of the job my son...

Now gimme 3 Hail Mary's

Our job requires a sense of humor.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hair Cuts

Dearth and I went to get haircuts.  I was getting a little shaggy and Dearth needed a trim badly.

"But, Daaad I don't want to get it cut."  I replied "You don't have to get it all chopped off, but I am getting tired of you looking like one of the Lorax's trees."

"So have them trim it or I swear I'll spray paint it pink and make you wear a fake moustache."

Mom would have liked it shorter, but it did look more like hair when the stylist was finished.  His only comment was "I liked her.  She didn't talk much."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Quick Laughs

I was adjusting Deb's back.  To do this she sits on the floor and crosses her arms in front of her chest.  I put one arm on her back, lean her back to the floor and press down on her arms with my upper body.  Her head tilts back when we do this.  So I lean her back and Jo was sitting there.  Just as I go to press down Jo leans in and licks her on the mouth.  The adjustment didn't happen.  We were laughing too hard.

We are at our friend's house playing cards.  Both of the women are eating suckers.  At one point it gets a tad loud (there was no background noise).  The husband looks at them both and says "Man I wish I were a sucker right now."  The sound changes to loud crunching sounds.

What would bloggers do without pets, family and friends?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Life with Cats

There are certain things you must get used to when living with cats.  Some are annoying others amusing and almost all of them are amusing to others.

  • There is no such thing as privacy.  They can and will open doors, crawl under covers and put there face in almost anything you have going on.
  • They will sit on anything you are reading and have a knack for finding the one article you are looking at on a huge newspaper. Kindles are not an exception to this rule.
  • If you fall asleep you will normally wake up with one or more cats on top of you.
  • The warmer it is the more cats you will find on top of you.
  • Pet a cat and it will walk away.  If you are putting your socks or shoes on they will want a ton of attention.
  • Can openers are also dinner bells.
  • Nothing in the entire world can get as comfortable as a cat.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Conversation with Dad

Several years ago my father passed away. The number of years really doesn’t matter. He is still very much alive in my memories.

I wish I could say this was an idea I came up with, but it wasn’t. I was first introduced to this concept when I read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five.

When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is 'So it goes.' (2.7.3)

I had such a difficult time coming to terms with my father’s death that I adopted this mind set. I don’t take it to the extremes that the main character (Billy) does, but I like the idea of having our loved ones with us all of the time.

This particular conversation took place while I was helping Dad rebuild a lawnmower engine. By help I mean he told me what to do and I did it. The subject was a reoccurring theme. He was telling me how stupid he was because he only had a 9th grade education.

After saying this he took the wrench from my hand “No you have to do it like this. See?” I had been fighting with that task for 3 minutes. He finished the task (and made it look easy) in about 10 seconds.

Dad then began telling me how much smarter I was than him. I had a high school diploma and a college degree. I worked on computers (in his mind this made me a lot smarter than him).

Me: “Oh, Jesus Christ Dad. If you are dumb, then you are the smartest dumb person I’ve ever met!”

Dad: “What?”

Me: “Look. I fix computers. You fix small engines (as a hobby). I’m just a different kind of mechanic. Do you want to know what the biggest difference between us is?”

Dad: “No. What?”

Me: “When you fix an engine it usually works better when you are done. When I fix a computer there is a 50/50 chance that I’ll have to scrap the whole damn thing.”

At the time this was the truth. Dad got a good laugh out of that. Since then my fix/trash ratio has improved. He was also pretty good about not calling himself dumb after that.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spicy Puffed Rice

An Indian friend of ours gave me a sandwich bag full of spicy puffed rice today.  It is very addictive.




All of the things I love in a snack food.

I looked up the recipe online and there were thousands of them.  Most agree upon the puffed rice, chili powder, salt, turmeric and curry leaves.  All of these were in our friend's version.

After a few small handfuls my mouth goes a bit numb from the chilies.  I love that.  The only time it is an issue is after the third or fourth handfuls.  It starts to get a little hot after that.

If you decide to try one of the recipes make small batches.  It is addictive and you will eat it all.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sometimes a little white lie is ok

Yesterday my son asked if he could go with his girlfriend to help her study.  Deb asked him what subject.


Evil look.

Slightly panicked "No really.  We really are studying Anatomy."

This is one of the few times I would encourage a little white lie; Science, English, Geography, The History of Peanut Growing in Georgia.  Any one of these would be a much better answer than Anatomy.

Just saying.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It is finally cooling off in Virginia

I woke up around 4am this morning. I needed to use the bathroom. I also noticed that I was cold. It has cooled off quite a bit and the blankets are actually needed. We still have not turned the heater on. It isn’t that cold yet.

When I returned from the bathroom I discovered why I was cold. Jo was wrapped up in my blanket and left only enough to cover my shoulders. His back was to me, so I put my very cold feet under the blanket and on his back. It was nice and warm. He got up moved to another spot after about 10 seconds. Score one for me.

Two hours later I was on my way to work.  Jo was wrapped back up in my blanket.  Life isn't fair sometimes.