Monday, August 28, 2006

T-Minus 10 Days And Counting

10 days to go until I turn 50; so so so very excited; insurance rates will go up...even less money to be had each week......sigh....can't wait. Maybe I'll stay in bed all day!

New Pets!

While I still go back and forth with the should I get a kitten or kittens question, the X took the kids out yesterday and got a new Guinea Pig (named Hax) for the boys, and a Dwarf hamster for Danielle (which she named Speedy)

I will see the new pets today after work.

Picnic and Spider Monkeys

We had the company picnic this weekend on Saturday. The kids and I got there around 11:30AM. After the long hike from the parking lot we discovered they were just starting to serve food. A decent selection of pasta salad, salad, potatoes, hot dogs, boneless Pork, and chicken awaited. The kids and I loaded our plates and dug in. After eating and listening to a song from the band I suggested we do the zoo, since free admission to the John Ball Park Zoo was included (a $24 savings for us! yay!).

The weather, while overcast so not requiring sun block, was exceptionally humid; my outdoor thermometer had sad 70% when we left home. Doing the outdoor portions of the zoo was like walking through a giant armpit! Of particular note was the Australian area they had which was full of kangaroos. We got to one point where we were overlooking the area with the spider moneys. The three kids were riveted for 15 minutes! I got them pulled away with the promise that we could stop on the way back where we would be on ground level and we continued. We came to the large area that the chimpanzees are in, and, noted that they ARE very intelligent! Instead of frolicking around like the spider monkeys all were seated in the only shaded area! We continued into an indoor (and blessedly air conditioned!) area that had no animals and noted when we came out a few of the chimpanzees were playing around.

We arrived at the ground level of the spider money area and the three kids spent 25 minutes watching their antics. No video games! No TV! No Multimedia extravaganza! It was most gratifying to see them enjoy a real world experience outdoors that riveted their attention!

After this we hit the aquarium, and headed back to the picnic, where we had a snack, and then double serving of ice cream. At this point the boys started up with "How long do we have to stay here" so we headed home, enjoying the delay through the three miles of I-196 that only had a single lane open.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Kitty or not to Kitty!

I have been going back and forth about getting a cat. After the loss of Cyclone yesterday, the kids have been asking me again if I will get one.

o Kids love cats!
o Cat would be a nice companion for those all too many empty house evenings when I do not have the kids!

o Expense - would need to be spayed, de-clawed, and fed, plus vet visits.
o Litter Box! Kids swear they would clean it but the said the same about Cyclone...and the X was more often than not chasing after them to do it and her house stank like dirty litter.

With my back I simply will not be dealing with the litter box chore anymore. Anyway, I keep going back and forth!

Oh my aching back!

I slipped in the shower Tuesday morning narrowly missing pitching right through the glass door (times like this I hate living alone!). I wrenched my back and these past days it has been bothering me worse than it has this past month. Tuesday night I had Scott and Danielle over and the X graciously offered to bring dinner over. She took care of feeding the kids and I, plus cleaning up. I thought that was very sweet of her.

Now, if only I could get a decent nights sleep!

How many planets are in our solar system?

If you answered nine, THINK AGAIN!

Panel declares 12 planets

Fare Thee Well, Cyclone!

Goodbye Cyclone! We'll Miss you!

Sad news greeted me early Wednesday morning AM; an early tearful phone call from the X to tell me that my older son's Guinea Pig Cyclone had died in her arms. The kids were all very sad when they awoke and my older son buried it out by where I had a few years ago buried my younger son's Guinea Pig Chocolate. They had shared the same cage for a year or so. I can't speak for everyone reading this, but, we tend to get very attached to all pets (well, except fish....) and treat and consider them one of the family.

The kids were all very muted yesterday obviously saddened by the loss of their beloved pet. I must gather a few pictures of faithful pets passed and post them here for all pet lovers to enjoy!

I had a good friend ask this morning how anyone could get attached to a Guinea Pig; I explained that the kids often took Cyclone out of her cage and played with her, pet her, held her in their arm and feed her fresh veggies by's very easy to get attached to any pet (well, except maybe a fish!)

We have always been pet people. I grew up surrounded by a litany of cats over the years, and one year we had a mommy cat who had kittens in the basement of our two family home. We lived on the second floor, and some of my fondest kitten memories are of those kittens! Every day when I would come home from school in the afternoon, every other step or every third step from the ground floor to the second floor would have a kitten on it! I'd stop and pet them, pick them up, delighting in their purring and affection! Pets have always been one of the family in my house. To be loved, cared for, and cherished! When things were going good I would pick up whatever cat we had a play with it; when things were bad I would cry into a cats fur; there were always there for me, and me for them.

Farewell Cyclone, you will be missed!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

XPC From Hell (Treat your PC well!)

After I picked up my Daughter from her Grandparents house yesterday (where they were making "the best chocolate chip cookies; might have been if the bottoms had not been a bit burned, but still good) I headed over to the X's where she had been having abysmal PC performance

After 15 minutes from booting you might get some response form the system....might....

She has 768K DSL service.....I clocked her system at about 40K (less than a good dial up modem).

It's an older PC running Windows 2000, but, when I left it was purring like a kitten and seeing an average 1.2 mbps download rate!

Lesson to be learned here; your PC is not passive like a's like a car, it needs to be taken care of and like a child cleaned up after.

SO! What did these four hours encompass? How was this miracle of improved (vastly, incredibly improved!) performance attained!!??

Briefly there were about 12,000 temporary files (NOT including Internet Explorer temporary files!), about half a gigaybte of Internet Explorer temporary files, about 1000 invalid registry keys, and when I ran a disk fragmentation analysis, the whole thing was blood red with fragmentation. Thousands of fragments. Compound this by the fact that there was very little free space on the system (under 100 megabytes) it was literally in its death throes. This is also compounded by the fact that there is an account the kids can use on her PC.

SO, I killed all the temp files, flushed Internet Explorer caches, repaired the registry and defragmented the disk. Now the system is flying. The system has other issues, such as it will not recognize any CD-ROM drive (even a USB external drive, which made using the CD full of tools I brought useless! I ended up having my son suck the PC onto his USB memory device and moving the files that way), but, if it is good enough for the X to do her work and my daughter to play on Mom's PC, then it was four hours well spent.

As the X was at an appointment around 6PM I gave Christopher money so he could zip off to Quizno's and get their Monday three large subs for a decent .vs. the super-inflated normal price deal.......he took advantage though and also brought them treats. I flagged him on that and mentioned I had not had them bring me anything to save some money and he kind of blew it by buying snacks for everyone, and not to do so without permission in the future.

Anyway, after that I headed home to about 120 work emails and after that watched a couple of Walker Texas Ranger episodes off the DVR before retiring. I did have a nice surpise, my friends Suresh and Indu had sent me a 'care package' from New York, some spicy Indian Snacks and some hot Chili powder! The majority of this bounty shall be saved for my birthday early next month!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Michigan: Target for Terrorists!

Charges have been filed against five men, three from Texas and two from Ohio in a plot involving pre-paid cellular telephones to blow up the Mackinac Bridge in northern Michigan. Bail has been set at $750,000. each.

This was not what I had in mind when I relocated to Michigan!

Click here for the story

Another day at work...and McBride

Ah Sunday! Sunny Day! Blue Sky! I am at work as I was yesterday! Joy!

Hope everyone else is enjoying their weekends! Since I don't have the kids this weekend, being at work is no big deal. Sad eh! :)

At least sitting at my desk I can look at the windows and see the Mustang enjoying the sun! He looks most comfortable!

Been watching a new (new to me anyway) show this past week, McBride, where he is this lawyer who takes on, mostly for free (Yea, I know, lawyers taking on cases for free, it made me laugh too!) cases where the defendant looks guilty as sin. He always wins (at least so far for the five episodes (90 minutes each without commercials) I have seen. It's on Hallmark channel, and it is most excellent.

My best friend growing up had a last name of McBride....have not heard from him in ages and ages!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


You know the mastercard adds.......the ones that end with some sentimental dribble like "getting to walk your daughter down the aisle.....Priceless!" at the end? Well, I have a more practical one. Being able to feed the kids for $2.49......Priceless! That was the net cost of the kids dinner last night for a jar of pasta sauce for Scott, Danielle, and myself. I had the pasta on hand, and I mixed in the left over peppers and onions from the X's Fajitas birthday leftovers...and Chris had leftover pizza. I had ordered him (NOT Priceless!) pizza Sunday because he was home from camp and I let him have what he wanted. He is maturing; he had wanted prime rib but did not mention he was thinking that until after the pizza had been eaten. Good thing I mentioned back, since I could not afford that for the kids this week. After our priceless dinner last night we watched UHF and some of Weird Al's music videos together. Chris and I also watched a Stargate Atlantis episode.

Tonight, I shall see if I can feed the kids even cheaper! Blah ha ha ha!

Monday, August 07, 2006

T-Minus 29 Days And Counting

Well, 29 days until I turn 50; something I had always envisioned would be a big ta-doo with both sides of the family and friends gathered. Now most of them (my side of the family and the majority of real world friends I have) are 700 miles away! BUT I do get to look forward to even less cash because my life insurance deduction is going to jump significantly on my paycheck when I turn 50. Yay! I already have a large deduction because I provide the kids medical coverage and it's quite a big jump payroll deduction-wise from the single employee medical coverage to family (which is two or more; this means there is no decrease in payments as the kids go off to college and come off my insurance until they are all off). Add that to child support and it's a very hefty portion of my paycheck, and when I have one of these two week periods where I have to live off of $200 while feeding the kids...even with the $100/week easement I get on child support over the summer is it just not enough........I get a bit bitter here....well...maybe more than a bit.

I had a tiring day yesterday; I slept very little Sunday night (I kept dreaming of the X, happy we were still married dreams where she still loved me) and after each one I awoke and had trouble getting back to sleep. Days like this it's hard to embrace the "life sucks" aspect of things. It's like now that my conscience mind has made the effort to go on, my subconscious mind is rebelling. At least last night my dreams were blessedly free from her and I feel somewhat more rested.

I am thinking those dreams of X were possibly caused by watching the Walker Texas Ranger two parter where Alex and Walker get married followed by "The Nanny" where she and Maxwell get married Sunday evening must have hit a chord. When I see that happily ever after crap on TV and realize that some years statistically 50% of first marriages end in's kind of sad when you think about it.

Once again I say I hope other married couples I know don't make the same mistakes my X and I did, in other words, if you're dissatisfied or unhappy let your partner know in no uncertain terms. Telling all your friends will do nothing to help your marriage. And of course burying your head in the sand like I did and not noticing your partners dissatisfaction won't help either.

Anyway, back to the fun of the day! I have the kids this week and that always puts a smile on my face.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Fajitas, The X, and my back

Wednesday was the X's Birthday and for her present I promised her Fajitas for dinner. It's amusing, while she may not miss living with me, she certainly DOES miss my cooking! I took a half day and picked up Scott and Danielle at her house, and we headed to mine to pickup rentals which we returned, and then stopped in at Wendy's (right by Family Video); the kids had seen the sign proclaiming a new vanilla Frosty (Wendy's Chocolate Frosty's have long been a favorite frozen treat of me and mine). So, I got them some vanilla Frosty's and fries as they had sandwiches at their mom's already and I had a Bacon Cheeseburger. They loved the new Frosty but I did not; it had that artificial vanilla aftertaste that lower quality vanilla things have (a shame considering how good their chocolate ones are). I was hoping for Dairy Queen vanilla quality! That crisp clean delicious vanilla flavor! SADLY disappointed here!

Anyway, we headed back to my place stopping at Forest Hills foods (where they are, yet again, expanding the store, this time putting a new front on it, to the tune of many loud jack hammers....) where I picked up the ingredients needed for dinner. I had lots of fun creating the marinate (mixture of oil, many spices, and freshly squeezed lime) and butterflying the London Broil I had bought into two long fillets. The meats in the fridge marinating I watched some TV and then began the process of cutting up the onions and peppers. I used tri color (red, orange, and yellow) peppers and these two were set to marinate (minus the lime juice, and ground hot chili added to the peppers), and then headed BACK to the store as I had forgotten the cheese needed for the dinner. I also swung by the X's house (viva la cookware revolution!) and picked up a large frying pan.

As this was all transpiring we watched some TV together and I watched some alone as the kids played downstairs. Scott asked for a sleepover with his friend Taylor this weekend, stating he wanted to do it because Chris would be away at camp still and they could camp out downstairs. I told him he could.

Around 5PM I began sauteing the onions, put them in a separate pot, and then did the peppers. This took about an hour. The X's brother showed up around 6PM and as I was thinking of lighting the grill around 6:15 the X's folks called and they had not left the house yet (we were supposed to eat at 6:30). So, I awaited until around 6:20 to light the grill just as the X showed up. Mom and Dad soon arrived and as I was almost done grilling the beef and chicken a grease fire flared up and in my haste to close the grill I tripped and wrenched my back (still in much pain today!) so I got to enjoy tremendous back and leg pain for the rest of the evening. Anyway, I sliced the beef and chicken and had to thrown them in a frying pan to finish the coking process, and then we all ate. The weather was still quite warm and humid and the house central AC struggled to keep things cool with the additional BTU output of the stove.

Anyway, dinner was finally ready! I had refried beans, three kinds of cheeses, salsa, sour cream, and taco sauce on the side and everyone (except Scott who ate waffles!) really enjoyed the dinner. Afterwards the X's mom snuck out to Forest Hills and picked up a cake and ice cream. The X had also run out to pickup a DVD at her house (she has the Blockbuster version of NetFlix) and we all (except Scott because there were not enough comfortable chairs and he did not want to use a beanbag chair) settled in to watch Madagascar. We took a break around 9:30 when we had cake and ice creak and then finished the movie. Everyone headed at at 10PM, and, other than the back pain it was a most enjoyable evening!

Footnote: Last night I made left over fajitas! YUM! There are enough leftover onions and peppers for a nice egg beaters omelette or two!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Armpit Hair

These past three days here in West Michigan have been the hottest of the year. Ozone and Heat Warning days. People passing out days......Free rides on The Rapids public transportation days.....AC running constantly daze, mercury pushing just under 100 degrees yesterday (99). Scott, Danielle, and I went to the pool and for the first time this season the water was no cooler than the surrounding air! It was like stepping into a spa; it was wet and warm and I wanted to drift off into sleep. Gulping water repeatedly kept waking me up however!

I was even more started around 10PM last night after I realized I had some trash that needed to go out to the curb (where the large can was already for the morning pickup). I was dressed in shorts and sandals, and as I stepped outside, I knew, in that instant, with the total clarity of though that comes with an Epiphany, what an armpit hair must feel like! I was SO much more humid than it had been earlier in the day when we were at the pool, even though it was only 90 degrees now. It was suffocating! I dumped the trash, feel to the floor in the kitchen and began kissing the air conditioning grate on the floor, bablling over and over again "I love you air conditioning!". I wonder what anyone without AC would have done on a day like this! many fans? Live done in their basements finished or not? Check into a hotel??

Blessedly it is supposed to be cooler today (ONLY around 90 though with the same humidity) but a cold front is expected this evening and temps and humidity are supposed to drop over the next few days.