Monday, July 31, 2006

An exercise in Futility?

Well, it's been weeks since I've done a post. I guess I owe that to my new attitude on life. You all know how badly I have felt since the divorce, and how much of a workload I have here at the office, trouble paying bills, etc. Well, none of that has changed. I am still foolishly, hopelessly in love with the X wife, yet I realize she feels nothing for me. The job is incredibly busy and stressful beyond the telling of it! I have hardly any friends. And money, in particular any time I need something beyond paying the bills, the cost is ending up on plastic. The loss of my overtime this past March has totally impacted my lifestyle, we are talking about a 20% decrease in available income. Of course I am still working OT, just not getting paid for it. I just made my mortgage payment, I have about $200 for the next wo weeks, and one of those is a week with the kids who can easily use that much in food alone. I know others have it worse........but right now, as shallow as it may sound, I am concerned about me. Anyway, I'll get by. It's not all bad; I love my kids and time spent with them, I enjoy music, a good movie, and I enjoy the technical aspect of my job.

ANYWAY, the reason I have not been posting too much is I have just been rolling with this and have adopted a "Life sucks, embrace it" policy. While nothing has changed I am dealing with it better, and am refusing to let it bother me. I won't say I'm happy, but, I seem to have climbed out of the depression that I have lived with for the past two years and stayed away from it for several weeks now. I am just refusing to let things bother me as much as they have been. Whistling a happy tune as it were, facing life with a smile, and saying "Thank you sir may I have another!" as things go wrong. While I understand other people have lives too and are busy, if I get no comments from anyone, I wonder if anyone is even reading the blog. This begs the question, why bother?

AGAIN, ANYWAY.....Well, as I did get an IM today from one of the rare Internet pals who communicates with me, mentioning he had not seen any blog updates, I decided to do this post. If you read the blog, and are reading the posts, leave a comment here and I'll make an effort to post more frequently.

Take care, y'all!

The overheating PC - Cured

The last post I did was on 7/10 about the overheating PC from hell. That I can say is cured. A couple of weeks ago, I made a total mess out of my dinning room table, and I removed the parts from the current PC and built them into my new Ultra case. In the case I added two additional 120mm cooling fans, and an excellent CPU cooler. The power supply is also much better, 550 watts instead of the 380 the older case had.

Now, about two weeks into the new case, I can say I am very, very pleased! I originally thought I would have to get a new Pentium 4 CPU, and so far the old chip has been working great! I can even go in and out of standby mode without the graphics being affected and I can then go into a game with 3D acceleration and not have any issues! While I ended up having to charge a little over 200 dollars for the case and extra fans, it is certainly a much more affordable solution than buying a new PC would have been!

It was a fun 3 days project to move everyone from the old case into the new one. The new case is one of these ultra-light aluminum ones, but, you have to be VERY careful with it because it is very flimsy until everything is assembled into the case and it is all screwed together. So, I staggered this starting on a Friday after work and finished it up that Sunday. The dinning room table took me a week to clean off!

Recent Movies and other things

Aeon Flux - Eh! Nowhere near as good as I hoped for and excellent special effects did little to help!
Ultraviolet - Tiny bit better than Aeon, but jerky camera movements and a plot that could have had better cinematography hampered this one!
New Pirates of the Caribbean movie - EXCELLENT!!! LOVED It!
The Fog (remake) - Very good and enjoyable
Shrek 2 (With Scott and Danielle) - This is probably about the 6th time I have seen that, but, we love it!
V - The original Mini-series (Great! Now I need to see if the TV series ever made it to DVD!)
Monster House - New animated flick, very good, Scott, Danielle, and I enjoyed it.

SciFi Channel - Eureka - New Show, love it! Bit campy, but, still great!
Dead like me - Wonderfully different! A totally off the wall view of the Grim Reaper!
STARGATES! Whoo who! SciFi Friday is BACK!
Walker Texas Ranger - Been watching a ton of these in repeat on USA and Hallmark.

Have been enjoying my alternate weeks on and off with the kids. Been doing a lot of pool time. Chris is off to Fine Arts Camp (went last Wednesday, he will return Sunday). Today it will hit upper 90's here and killer humidity. Heat alert warnings have been issued. This will go through Wednesday evening. Joy! Thank goodness for fixed AC!

My brother's new job (they lied and did not tell him what a terrible place it was to work for! Lesson learned get all new employment info in WRITING before accepting a job!) did not come with vacation, so, the kids and I were very sad last week when he and his wife should have been out! We REALLY REALLY miss them and missed the opportunity to see them!

Cooking - With the hot weather I have not been doing much other than the grill, though as part of the X's birthday present (her birthday is tomorrow, I made Spicy Peanut Butter noodles with chicken Saturday night and had her and her brother over (who stayed to watch Stargate Sg-1 Science)). It was funny, Danielle has had this dish many times but Saturday she went with me to do the shopping and was totally grossed out when she saw me pick up coconut milk. "Ewwww, Coconut milk!" she said when she saw me pick it up. I explained that she had this particular dish many times before, but, had never been with me for the shopping or watched me prepare it. She looked skeptical, but, ate and enjoyed it nonetheless! I did grill the chicken outside and slided it and added it to the sauce for about 20 minutes before serving over tossed noodles. It was most enjoyable and now I will have to grill the meat on the gas grill whenever i make this.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Death!

Well, It happened! After over a month of showing heat related problems my main PC connected to the plasma display finally committed PC suicide today!

I had added an auxiliary cooling fan, which was working well enough, but evidently the power supply was having issues.

I had been playing Quake 4 for about 40 minutes when the smell of burning insulation filled the house AND FLASH! sparks flew from the computer case and it shut off! The power supply inside the case was too hot to touch!

Farewell, my old friend!

I just ordered a new case, heavier duty power supply, CPU cooler, and two 120mm fans for the new case. This should keep me cool and get me back up and running. Of course, with no ready cash, I had to play "Charge!"

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sunday (That's my Not Fun Day)

As I was creating this post this morning before heading off to work, I remembered the Bangles Song that has the line "Sunday....that's my fun day....", and since I am ever so sore and stiff, I figured this was an applicable title!

So, groaning in pain I arose, did two sets of my back exercises, and then for a helping of extra fun I did my usual 25 minute ride on the recumbent exercise bike. After that I decided to do some investigating on my PC which has been crashing every time I play a 3D game for more than a few minutes. This started around Memorial day and has been getting worse. That was the week my AC failed and the Living Room where the PC resides was in the upper 90's. The CPU is overclocked and that day it crashed, and then crashed again. I stepped down the overclocking to normal and it seemed to help, but, now it is doing it every day. I can use it for hours in mail, surfing the web, Word, etc. So, today it was double check all fans are running and that requires removing the PC cover. After doing so and verifying the fans were all working I took the large exhaust fan on the rear of the chassis and positioned it over the CPU, did my morning e-mail, etc. and then played a 3D game for 30 minutes, NO CRASH! I headed off to work and will be trying a longer game session this evening.

Well, it's after work now and after arriving home from work I found a call from Mom from hours earlier inviting me to a picnic at their house with the X, and her other brother and family who are visiting from New Jersey. Oh well! Wish they had called me at work (or my cell) where I mentioned I would be Friday at dinner, a break from work would have been nice today! Anyway, I made a nice salad and watched a bit of TV.

I've done three additional sets of back exercises today and the pain is finaly working out of my back a bit!

Saturday - Chored Stiff

After getting home from work and suffering the bi-monthly Saturday Slump (it's the X's week now, so no kids here) I was bored stiff when I came home. So! Chore time! I had stopped on the way home and done the once monthly having the Mustang washed and realized with my back I have not cleaned the interior (including the windows) in over a year! Looking down on the floor at the assortment of debris and seeing the gunk in the cracks of the dash and such galvanized me into action (Picture a turtle going fast!).

I got the rainbow vacuum unit (uses a water filled compartment instead of a filter and could suck the chrome off a fender if you are not careful!) and cleaned the inside of the car, floors, mats, upholstery. The sound of the rainbow firing up disturbed all kinds of wildlife that had been nesting the debris under the seats! After the base vacuuming I cleaned the windows. THAT was a pane! The back of the Mustang is very cramped and my back and legs do not like to bend that way at all, and with the rear-deck mounted speakers it was very difficult to get the large rear window clean. Increasing my enjoyment of this I had to climb in and out three times because I could only see the 'not really clean' streaks on the inside of the window from the outside of the vehicle!

After the side and front windows were cleaned I attacked the dashboard, all the nooks and crannies, ignoring the building pain in my right leg and lower back and just keeping on. Next I pulled the car back out of the garage and polished the exterior trim that the car wash never does a good job of, particularly the mustang horse and surrounding boarder on the front grill and the mustangs on each side of the car. To make along story short the car looks fantastic!

Now that the car was complete of course it started to rain! I immediately backed the car into the garage nearly running over the rainbow! I got a chammy cloth and wiped it dry.

Now it was time to attack the problem of the ants in the house and the spiders by the front and back doors. To backtrack a bit, I had stopped at Meijer's on the way to the car wash and gotten some of that bug barrier stuff you put around your house since I have been plagued by ant's inside and spiders nesting and spinning webs by the front door and patio sliders in the back. After that I took the rainbow unit and sucked all the cobwebs and stuff that was stuck in them from around the front door (not too hard) and the backdoor sliders (A real pain in the ass...I mean back) because the underhand is about 15 feet high there. This all in all was a fun way to spend 4 hours, and then I took a nice hot shower. After I stumbled from that I was too sore to barely move I made a nutrition shake and sat on the couch with the keyboard. I figured after four hours of chores in the sun the 25 minute e-bike could be skipped today!

I just told a friend in the UK I was IM'ing with I had stiffened up nicely already as I discovered a few minutes ago when I arose to get a no sugar added ice pop out of the freezer. I could barely rise and walk and the pain, reminiscent of what I imagine multiple Klingon pain sticks would feel like, descended on me like a red mist. Oh well! The house looks great, and the Mustang has not looked so resplendent inside since the day I took it home. Well worth the effort and resultant pain. I had done extra sets of my back exercises before the shower and did another set before retiring. Anyway, hence the title of today's post, Chored Stiff. I wonder what tomorrow will feel like!

Friday is Mall Day

Ah, Friday; the end of the week with the kids which I hate beyond the telling of it. The only day of the week at work of half days that I actually left on time! Scott and Danielle and I headed to the mall a bit before noon. We went to the Rivertown Crossing mall which is about 12 miles from here instead of the local mall. The Rivertown mall is larger and has the closest Dairy Queen and I had promised them that the previous day.

We ate at the food court (pizza for Danielle, pasta with marinara sauce fro Scott and they shared some garlic bread sticks, and I had A&W Chili Cheese Dogs with Mustard and Onions, plus a side of Onion rings I shared with Danielle).

Scott was happy as he could get the game they did not have at the local Game Stop we had visited the day before. I also picked up a card for the X's brother's birthday. We walked the entire mall, had our treat at Dairy Queen (Banana Split minus pineapple topping for Scott, and Danielle and I had Oreo Brownie Dreams).

I felt kind of bad as we were leaving because Danielle had wanted a book from the book store (and I had wanted the next book in my Deathlands series) but I had spent my two weeks spending allowance on lunch and Dairy Queen. I explained money was tight and Daddy could not get the book he wanted, but, you know how it is when you are a kid and want something. I felt really bad though.

We headed off to the parking lot (on the way Danielle had wanted to ride the exterior elevator up but we did not) and rode the exterior elevator down. TALK ABOUT YOUR STINKY ELEVATORS! Not since I had been in The Project Apartments years ago in Newark New Jersey have I ever smelled an elevator that bad! There were brown stains on the walls and doors, and, evidenced by them playing too many video games, the comments was "Is that blood?". We exited the malodorous conveyance, boarded the Mustang, and returned home. We went to the pool a bit later.

The X picked us up in her new car at 6:30. No, she is not rolling in dough, she cancelled the lease on her van and got one of these hybrid vehicles. The savings in gas mileage alone should justify this purchase, so long as she keeps driving the same amount of miles for the life of the loan). It was her brothers birthday and the 8 of us including her folks were headed off to dinner at some steak house whose name escapes me. Originally we were told 45 minutes to an hour but the hostess took pity on us and got some people to move so we could get two booths next to each other. I sat with the X's folks and brother and we chatted about crappy jobs, how overworked the X and I are.

This place was such a cow person motif, but, the food was excellent. We finished up and headed out. I had wanted to sit up front in the X's car on the way home so I could continue chatting with her by my 17 year old would not get out of the informed him if he did not move he would regret that decision, and since he still did not move, well, he'll be back at my house in a week. I ended up riding with Mom and Dad and yhey dropped me off home around 9:30. After the usual heavy depression of returning to the empty silent house, I did some homework, watched a bit of TV and headed for bed.

Ranting about divorce (Yet again)

Something I did not need to do last summer is ask the X for what the court system here in Michigan calls an easement, meaning that if I, who am ordered by the court to pay support, have the kids for an extended period (like, a week at a time as I do over the summer every other week), should be able to get a reduction in support for that period to help offset the cost of having the kids. For example, three kids eating three meals and snacks, etc. adds up. Last summer I could afford it, with the loss of my OT earlier this year now I cannot. So, the X filed (twice!) the appropriate forms and...well as of Friday when I got paid....still the money has not started showing up in my paycheck. So, now after paying my mortgage I have less than $200 to make it two weeks until payday, and of course on of those weeks I will have the kids. So, last night I had a nutrition shake (I had the powder already, just add water) and tonight I bought a bag of shredded lettuce and had a lettuce salad with half a bucks worth of corned beef it. Total cost for dinner two dollars....Ranting about divorce....Priceless!

You know, it's funny, when I went for the mandatory sessions you have to attend they spent about 30 minutes treating us like scumbags, telling us the litany of things they would do to us if we ever tried to skip out on support payments. They seemed to delight in it in fact. As if I would ever withold support for my kids! WELL!!! What's my recourse when THEY screw up???

Thursday means Egg Roll

Today after my 'half day' at work (I left the usual hour late), I decided to take the kids out to lunch (had I known the extra money I was expecting in my paycheck from the Michigan Court system was not going to be there, I would not have!). We went to our favorite Chinese restaurant, the First Wok. I had never been there for lunch before and was surprised to find out they have luncheon specials!

Scott had his usual chicken lomein no vegetables, Danielle had sesame chicken, and I had General Tao's chicken. Danielle and I also had soup (egg drop for her, hot and sour for me), and I had an egg roll and she had crab puffs. This all came with the meal and it was about half the price of having dinner there!

We departed and headed up to Reed Lake, which I had passed many times in past years when Danielle was taking dance lessons. I had never been to the small park adjacent to the lake. We parked off to the side and began walking over. In between two crumbling old stone fence posts was a path leading into the woods, we decided to follow this (Danielle noting by the posted warning sign if we turned in any litter bugs we could net $50) but it shortly dead-ended in a boggy area to the side of the lake. We walked back and continued to the park proper. I took pictures as we walked about (many of you reading this got the infamous Duck on the Dock picture, message me if you did not!). It was a smallish park but the kids enjoyed it, sKipping ricks and climbing on the stones near the water. The high point on the way back was a family of ducks with some baby ducklings. Even Scott got into this and I was very happy, since as he is maturing he is losing quite a bit of the innocence he used to have. Anyway, after enjoying the mother duck and ducklings we headed home. Oh! As usual, just click on the picture above to see it full size in its own window.