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Showing posts with label WTF. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WTF. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 No comments

Fireworks, a Day Late

It was bound to happen sooner or later. June and July (so far) have featured thunderstorms pretty much every day. It finally happened Wednesday evening, between 4 and 6 pm, while nobody was home but the dogs. While we were out shopping, Daughter Dearest texted me a picture of the light switches in the foyer, next to the front door:

Blew the ends right off the plate!

She followed up with The DSL box got fried. Or it's not on at all. I had her check the computers and all was well there. Mine’s on a UPS, so is the TV and the DSL box. The phone line, though, doesn't have a surge protector. So… after thanking God the manor didn’t burn down1 and the computers were OK, the wife and I discussed what else we needed to check before calling the insurance company.

Insurance was pretty copacetic about the situation… probably because we have a $1000 deductible. They said my idea of having the wiring inspected was a good one, and said to just keep a list of our expenses. Besides the exploding switches, we checked things out and discovered:

  • Everything connected to a phone line, including the lines themselves, got clobbered (more on that shortly)
  • The TV signal amp was fried
  • We thought the Wii had lost video, but it turned out to be the VCR it was connected through
  • One of the garage door electric eyes is blinded, so we can’t close the garage

The funny thing was, the clock-radio in our bedroom was still keeping time—that means the power didn’t go down for even a fraction of a second. Considering the damage could have been a lot more extensive, I’d say we got off pretty light. Mason (and me, to a lesser extent) was jonesing for Internet access, so I turned on my phone’s personal hotspot and started making a dent in our rollover data.

Thursday morning, I grabbed tools (and an old landline phone I keep for testing) and went out to the network interface box (aka the NID). We had no dialtone inside, as I rather expected, and didn’t have dialtone at the test jack, either. BUT, we had dialtone at the second test jack. I promptly moved all the connections down, but that didn’t help. Armed with some data, I called Windstream (aka Windbeans) and gave them my findings. They promised to have someone out here before a week from Friday. Um… this is a business line, guys? We kind of need this connection to function? “It should be earlier than that.” I’m going to ask them for a 25% reduction on the bill for the month, since they can’t be bothered to get anyone out here for a freekin’ week. If they balk, I’ll see what the PSC has to say. I measured along the walls and came up with an estimate of 14 feet from the NID to my window… meaning a 20-foot phone cord would reach my desk.

We got through the weekend. I continually reminded Mason, no Youtube, no Netflix, and he complained but complied. Still, between us, we chewed through 1GB pretty much daily. I turned off automatic updates to prevent surprises. But I kept thinking about that second line that was giving dialtone…

Monday finally arrived. I took Charlie to daycare, then learned that Mal*Wart no longer carries anything having to do with landlines (you would think, with so much of their clientele coming from the edges of civilization, they would try to help out). Fortunately, Home Depot seems to understand, and I happily bought a 25-foot phone cord from them. This I ran from the NID’s test jack, into the window in front of my computer, and onto my desk. I plugged in the phone and got dialtone, yay! Then, just out of curiosity, I called my cellphone. I don’t recognize this number. I called it back, just to see if anyone out there would answer. My test phone rang, but nobody else answered. Something obviously melted in a pedestal upstream.

Still, desperate times call for desperate measures. I scrounged up the old DSL modem we used before Windbeans gave us one with built-in Wi-Fi, plugged it in, and it connected. Then I found the Linksys router Mom gave me a while ago, and hooked it up. With my computer next to the router, I used Ethernet cables. Let the tablet users share the Wi-Fi, right?

With a temporary DSL lashup in place by Monday afternoon, the electrician showed up Monday evening. Two of the switches had exploded. The third, amazingly, still worked, but he replaced them all. The insulation on one wire was melted, but barely enough to expose the wire, so he wrapped it up. Three new switches and a plate, I wiped up the soot, and he pronounced the wiring otherwise OK.

We still have a few things to fix to get back to completely normal here, but we’re good to go otherwise. I just want to be here to see the look on the phone tech’s face when (s)he realizes we have access to a phone line we shouldn’t. On the other hand, they really need to get people out here sooner, and take care of their plant a little better.


1I don’t want FAR Manor to burn down… just the mortgage.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015 2 comments

Oh “Snap.”

With Daughter Dearest’s wedding a ways out yet (T minus 350 days and counting, give or take), details are a little squishy. One thing that was settled early: I’m going to do the photo stuff. This will be the second wedding I’ve officially shot; the first was Mom’s second marriage. (Memorable moment there: with no organist, I started whistling Wedding March and the other four or five people in attendance took it up. They’re still together, so it worked out OK.)

So a week or so ago, DD said, “Hey, who are you going to have take the pictures when you’re walking me up the aisle?”

I thought a moment. “Hey, I know! Selfie stick!” I made one a few years ago, long before the name existed, to hoist a small video camera over crowds or other obstructions. Just needs a ball-joint mount, and I have one laying around here somewhere.

“No.”

The challenge of holding a DSLR out on the end of a selfie stick is intriguing, though. Maybe I should ask Other Brother if he remembers that detail (her dad also shot their wedding). I think the wife will probably do the honors, though.


So yesterday, I’m heading to lunch. Daughter Dearest texted me: I love you but if I decide to do this you're not taking them :D and included a link. I was sitting at a stoplight, so I followed the link.

Um… (click to see the full page)
This is something neither of us were aware of before—it’s a photo shoot that the groom gets the morning of the wedding. I guess it’s to warm him up for the night… not that I’ve known many grooms who need warming up.

Anyway.

Being a good father (you can tell, I raised her right!), I responded:

RIGHT.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 1 comment

He did WHAT?

Dubbayou tee EFFFFF?
Reality is truly stranger than fiction… especially on Planet Georgia.

Just go read this. Seriously.

Now the question is, did the deal go down as he says, or was that just a cover story?

Monday, September 15, 2014 9 comments

OMG WTF Lobster?!

Lobster's better sideDespite the goofy picture, this is one of the toughest kind of posts to write about.

So it seems that Lobster, a former inmate at FAR Manor who was kicked out a couple times for various reasons, ended up moving to Louisiana. His bio-father lives out there, and is in prison for drugs, and you could say in this case that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. He (Lobster) has never had good impulse control, and one time trashed the detached garage in a drunken rampage.

So anyway. Louisiana. He’s out there in Livingston Parish. He moved in with a woman 20 years older than him, another thing that was a kind of pattern for him. They probably did drugs, rock and roll, and the other thing.

I have no idea what happened for sure, because there isn’t any detail, but M.A.E. got word from a mutual friend and said meth was involved. Whatever it was, I’ll just excerpt from the news article:

A Livingston woman was found dead on her living room floor Saturday morning in what authorities are calling a homicide. … [Her] lower abdomen and throat had cut marks – from what is believed to be a knife or other sharp object, authorities said.

And he admitted to it.

And this guy was living at FAR Manor, on and off, for several years.

I think I officially have the weirdest life among white-collar types.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014 3 comments

Taking a Dive

Daughter Dearest has been living in one of the rental trailers below the father-in-law’s place for the last couple months. I haven’t said much about it, because… well yeah, she left the nest, but it’s the same tree. She has a roommate, whom we’ll call Roomie. I can’t think of a more suitable blog-name that doesn’t insult what little intelligence she has (oops, I did it anyway). But I digress.

So, between her trailer and the family of Mr. Sunshine, BrandX, J, and Evil Lad NOT, is a third trailer. This one is rented out by Some Guy. Some Guy will usually help out around the farm if his part-time construction job doesn’t have him otherwise occupied. He grills a lot on his back deck, and invites BrandX and the girlies over to chow down and hang out.

Two weekends ago, he invited DD and Roomie to do a bar run. (I should point out, DD has a boyfriend, but Some Guy isn't him. He’s in Rome GA.) So Roomie was like “Sure!” and DD was “I’ll be the designated driver.” They took his truck and went to Dahlonega. (There’s a song about Dahlonega. My favorite line is It always smells like chicken $#¡+ on Highway 9 / But at least we can score cheap moonshine.)

Now I should mention, Some Guy is divorced and has a daughter, and of course his wife likes to play the custody games that some divorced people seem to revel in. So he was off to drown his sorrows, and Roomie just likes to drink and par-tay. They went to one place, and it was a little crowded with local college students, so they moved on to a different bar. There, Some Guy was talking with a young woman… and then her boyfriend showed up and got belligerent. DD got everyone out of there without a fight, and they left that place.

This is where it gets interesting. Some Guy was bummed out to begin with, and this didn’t help. DD was driving his truck, with Roomie in the middle and him in the shotgun position. Except that he said, “I’m tired of this,” and abandoned his position. By which I mean he jumped out of the truck that was moving at around 30mph.

DD stood on the brakes, and they jumped out. By this time, Some Guy was already on his feet, which says something about drunken luck. Still, he was banged up pretty seriously; he looked like an extra for a Walking Dead episode. DD took charge, started to call 911, but realized they were close enough to the hospital that she could drive him to the ER faster than an ambulance could get there. “Get in the truck,” she told Some Guy. (Meanwhile, Roomie was standing in the road in dark clothes, just gaping.)

“I don’t want to get blood in my truck,” he replied.

The tailgate was down, fortunately. Long-time blog readers know that DD can do a pretty good imitation of She-Hulk when things get dicey. She picked him up and threw him into the bed, told Roomie to watch to make sure he didn’t jump out again, then drove to the hospital. This was around 12:30am. DD called home to let us know what happened, because she wasn’t sure if he was even going to survive it. However, they let him out at 4am with a few instructions about changing the dressings.

The interesting thing was, back when the wife had the knee replacement just before Thanksgiving, they sent us four boxes of supplies —massive dressings, wide gauze rolls, tape—and she didn’t even need one box worth. We stacked them in the bathroom, and there they sat until we sent them down to him. After DD got through with him, he looked like an extra from The Mummy, one of the corpses that was only partly wrapped:

Don't jump out of a moving truck.
You might need more bandages than this.

So yeah, Some Guy is lucky to be alive and able to gimp around (he wrenched his ankle). He’s also lucky DD didn’t do him in herself, after that little stunt. :-P

Somebody’s very glad he’s still around:

Who would feed and brush me
if you're gone?

Remember, boys and girls, keep your bods inside the vehicle until it has come to a complete stop.

Sunday, May 25, 2014 7 comments

Taking a Dive

I was working at home Thursday morning, minding my own business, when:

KA-RASSHHHHH

My first thought was, “OMG, +E.J Hobbs just had something fall on him!” and was out of my seat and halfway up the stairs in a heartbeat.

“I’m OK,” he said. “I was just in here shaving…”

Mirror, mirror, on the floor,
Why’d you have to fall down for?
“It just came off the wall,” he said. If you look at the picture, you’ll see five black spots where the mirror was. They’re some kind of caulk, dried up and hard and not sticky at all. A line of silicone caulk at the bottom of the mirror, where it contacted the vanity, was the only thing holding it in place. No clips or anything else. Just another example of why FAR Manor was a bad idea.

“Oh well,” the wife said. “We” (that is, she and Daughter Dearest) “were talking about repainting the bathroom anyway. We also need to do something about the lighting.”

She had bought Daughter Dearest a mirror with a white frame a while back, that she isn’t using, and it’s just big enough to cover the black spots (the wallpaper underneath is dissolved, so chipping it off won’t solve anything). I found a cardboard box in the garage, and EJ used that to collect the shards. Since it’s a 3-day weekend in the US, maybe I’ll be able to hang the mirror today or tomorrow.

Sunday, March 16, 2014 2 comments

Skylar Takes a Powder

Thursday morning dawned bright and interesting. The Boy took Mason down to Newnan, for an overnight with his fiancĂ©'s family. She (haven’t come up with a suitable blog-name for her yet) is a decent sort, and Mason adores her.

About twenty minutes after they left, I was checking a few things online, and saw a cop car drive by my window… which meant he was in the driveway. I was afraid that The Boy might have gotten up to something, although I had no idea what, and I didn’t have any better theories.

With the coffee still working on kicking in, I gave the cop one of my more intelligent greetings: “What’s going on?”

“Uh, do you have a little boy that lives here?”

“Yeah.” Now I wondered who had called DFACS on us. M.A.E’s mom used to make a habit of doing that, using them as a harassment tool, until they put her on a “permanent ignore” list.

“Did he miss the bus this morning?”

“He doesn’t ride a bus,” I said, more confused than usual for a morning (which takes some doing). “He’s four, goes to pre-K, but Monday through Wednesday.”

“Is he here?”

“He just left with his dad.”

“So he’s your…” By this time, the cop had a smartphone in hand and was poking at it.

“Grandson.”

“What’s his name?”

“Mason.”

“Is this him?” He held up the phone, with a picture of Skylar.

I managed to suppress the urge to say “You have wrong house,” in my worst Russian accent. Having the wife come up behind me may have helped with that. Instead, I said, “That’s Skylar. Mason’s second cousin.”

“Ah. He missed the bus this morning, and just started wandering around. One of the neighbors found him and called us.”

Wife gave him directions to Big V’s place, and he went on his merry way.

Now Skylar has been living with Big V for a while. She’s half blind, has one leg… and so, she often doesn’t see him doing things he shouldn’t and can’t catch him when she does see him. I’m guessing she zorched out and he took advantage of the situation to play outside. Wife opined that Skylar would shortly end up in a foster home… while I took a hike up a busy highway as a toddler around 1961, authorities don’t have much of a sense of humor about such things today. In the end, Skylar’s parents, Cousin Splat and Badger Boobs (long story), got him. I hope they can keep it all together, for his sake.

If not… I rather expect he’ll end up as a long-term inmate at FAR Manor.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013 4 comments

Writing Wibbles

This has been an interesting week. Maybe it was synchronicity, or maybe it was the universe sending a message. Anyway, let’s start with a summary of the logline and blurb voting from last week’s wibble.

MenWomenTotal
LoglineA112
B1.523.5
C4.537.5
Blurb1112
2134
332.55.5

I arbitrarily assigned a half-vote where voters suggested that either of two were good, or picked “this one, but I liked that one as well.” That’s why the totals don’t equal out. (I included votes received on Twitter, and on a community blog of sorts that I frequent.) Here’s how I interpreted the results:
  • Logline C is the clear winner.
  • I was a little surprised that the men preferred C at least as much as the women. I thought it might be too romance-y for the guys.
  • Blurb 1 is the one that +Angela Kulig rejected. The voting confirms her opinion, which I expected.
  • Women liked Blurb 2 far better than the men.
  • Voting on blurbs 2 and 3 was close enough that I’d be comfortable using either one (with modifications as described below).
I got some back-channel feedback about the word “exotic” in the blurbs. I wasn’t aware that it’s a red-flag word for some women. Ironic that the person described as such, comes from a matriarchal society! Now one could argue that exotic simply means “foreign,” and it’s a fool’s errand to avoid all offense, but why offend the very people I hope to have as supporters? (duh) I found and struck the one use of the word in the text. Fortunately, it was easy to remove.

What’s interesting is how this all ties into last week’s big ugly blowup at the SFWA, over unintentional(?) sexism in their quarterly bulletin. A woman in a chainmail bikini on the cover, along with authors Mike Resnick and Barry Malzburg discussing the physical attributes of women editors, led to some protests. Resnick and Malzburg threw gasoline on the fire by claiming censorship, using language more appropriate for teabaggers than authors in a supposedly forward-looking genre.

Don’t take my word for it. E. Catherine Tobler’s public SFWA resignation did a fine job of covering the details, and described some of the blowback that she and others got. Lest you think this was just an isolated incident, Anna Guirre’s experience(s) suggest that sexism is endemic to not only the SFWA, but cons and especially the panels that claim to represent the genre and its writers. And she also received some nasty blowback.

The SFWA leadership was caught flat-footed, but (to their credit) got it together and acted. First off, outgoing SFWA President John Scalzi issued an apology, saying (in part), “when all is said and done, I personally am responsible for the Bulletin and what is published between its covers.” Shortly after, the SFWA formed a task force to see “how the publication needs to proceed… to be a valuable [member resource].” This is a good start. However, the task force is four men and three women, which doesn’t exactly give me the warm fuzzies. I don’t think it’s the intent—but given how women are marginalized at panels and the like, this could easily turn out to be a pinkwash.

And now… it’s rant time.

I find this head-desking incredible. I’m a middle-aged whitebread dude, and I have my issues, but I fracking try to do better. And yes, common tropes in Fantasy include putting a woman in a chainmail bikini. Or making her the damsel in need of rescue. Or part of an embarrassing sexual encounter with the hero. “Judas Priest, what the hell is this?!” as my Mom might say.

We know better, and should strive to do better. There have been examples of “better” since the 70s, now-classics by Anne McCaffrey, CJ Cherryh, and Ursula K. LeGuin. Yes, as writers, it can be work. When I first started writing, the characters were all guys all the time. I had to make a conscious effort to create female characters, then give them more than a few lines, then put them on an equal footing, then cast women as the main characters. But dammit, I did the work, because I knew it had to be done if I was going to be a decent writer. It wasn’t all that hard.

Fortunately, this is a problem that time is about to solve. Looking at my Writers list on Twitter, the vast majority of them are women. Bowker also tells us that women are 62% of the book buyers. As writers and authors, we have to appeal to women if we’re going to have any chance of success. That doesn’t mean everything has to be steamy romance—although erotica has (ahem) thrust its way to the top of the charts—but authors (especially new authors) have to understand what the market looks like these days. I’m not saying we should do nothing now, but in the long run, we’ll win. The old boys’ club is dying of old age.

I wanted to wrap this up with a survey of gender roles throughout Termag’s history, but this has run long enough. Maybe next week.

Saturday, March 09, 2013 5 comments

Bottom-feeding

Do traditional publishers think that bottom-feeding is the way to beat Amazon?

This has been a disturbing week for anyone watching the publishing industry. Random House launched four new imprints, with “you really named them that?” names like Hydra and Alibi, offering terms worse than a standard vanity publisher. As always, “the large print giveth, the small print taketh away.” The 50/50 split seems pretty good, until you realize that your share is zero until all expenses are accounted for. The thing is, it’s Random House that determines how much they’re charging themselves (and authors) for the editing, cover design, layout, and so forth, as well as any ongoing expenses they can gin up. Musicians have pointed out similarities to record label contracts, coupled with the record companies’ use of creative accounting to avoid paying royalties to artists at all.

Given the nature of the contracts, the SFWA has de-listed Hydra (the SF imprint) as a qualifying market1 for SFWA membership. SFWA president John Scalzi thumped Random House thoroughly on his personal blog. “It’s genuinely shameful that a publisher is willing to offer this contract — and for that matter, to defend it,” he writes. But defend it they do, in an email to SFWA’s Writer Beware.

One major publisher pulling this kind of stunt, ever, would be bad enough. But it’s not just Random House. They weren’t even the first. Last year, Simon and Schuster hooked up with Author Solutions/ASI, the scammiest of the publishing scammers, to create the “Archway” imprint. (Hmmm… “arch.” As in, bend over? I’m seeing a trend in these names.) Perhaps to steal a little of Random House’s thunder this week, S&S emailed major writing bloggers, offering an affiliate program. (No, I wasn’t contacted. No, I wouldn’t have signed up anyway.)

If it was just this, I could say the universe is validating my decision to not bother with traditional publishers. But then someone forwarded me an email they got from Amazon on Wednesday:



Look at what’s topping that list. Look at the fourth book down. I believe it was no coincidence that Accidental Sorcerers got yet another wind (fourth wind? fifth? eighth? I’ve lost count) after that mail went out, and jumped back into the Top 100 lists for Kindle Fantasy, Fantasy, and Teens. How many traditional publishers are going to do that kind of marketing for a new unknown author?

Say what you will about Amazon. Even 30% is a better cut than I’d get from a traditional publisher, and they actually do some marketing. Now I need to email Apple, B&N, and Kobo, and tell them, “Hey, Amazon’s including my book in ads, and we’re getting pretty good sales over here. How about you guys try to outdo them?”


1The SFWA also says indies like me don’t qualify either, to which I give a shrug and a “pfffft.” Why join a club that would have me as a member, anyway?

Saturday, July 14, 2012 4 comments

2-4-6-8, Everyone Evacuate!

Yesterday morning, I’d set up the co-worker with my MacBook Pro because his Dozebox wouldn’t open the files he needed to work on. I had two things to do, and one of them I could do on my own Dozebox, so I hooked it up and got at it. Things were going well enough, when…

braap braap braap

The fire alarm went off. They were doing some testing on Thursday, so at first I didn’t think much of it. It goes off once in a while, and usually quits after a few seconds. But, a minute later, it was still going.

“Must be a fire drill,” I said, and meandered out the door without much further thought. We’d finally got some rain here on Planet Georgia, and it was threatening more, so I stayed under the overhang just outside the door. I thought, If they’re timing us to see how quickly we clear the building, we’re failing miserably. While there were a few dozen people in the back parking lot, there were more still toiling away at their desks.

After a few more minutes, the alarm was still going. I meandered over to the other end of the parking lot where the supervisor was standing. “Hear anything?” I asked him.

“Nope.” Others were joking about what it could have been; I assumed something in one of the labs started smoking.

Finally, someone stuck his head out the door. “All clear, you can come back in,” he said. We headed inside and started chatting about one of the projects I’m working on. We hadn’t been in for two minutes when another guy came by. “Everybody out! Again!” he said. Shortly after, I heard a fire truck approaching in full howl.

Something wasn’t right. I went to my desk to get my Kindle and umbrella, then went out the side to where my car was parked. There were a couple more of my co-workers, whom I joined after putting my stuff in the car (Daughter Dearest’s car, since mine’s in the shop for a power steering issue). That’s when word started getting around: a suspicious package was delivered to the Legal department, and it spilled some white powder.

Someone came from around the front, and said the fire truck was putting some people on the roof. “Why don’t they turn off the ventilation?” I asked. Nobody had a good idea why.

One of the upper managers came by. “We’re going to be out for two hours,” he said. “After that, they might let us back in.” It was 11:15—a little early for lunch, but I did have a 1pm conference call scheduled. I decided to hole up at Johnny’s Pizza for a couple hours, because they have wifi and it’s usually quiet. I could catch up on the world, get lunch, then do some writing-related things until it was time for the conference call. But at 12:30, one of my co-workers called and said we were locked out for the afternoon. Adapting was simple: I’d simply drive home and mostly listen on the conference call on the way. But my counterparts in Beaverton figured it was best to just reschedule, so I had a quiet drive with no distractions.

I came home, got on the VPN, and pulled up mail. “The substance was determined harmless,” said the email, “come on back in.” Fat chance. I took care of things at home.

At least I don’t have to worry about my work computers being contaminated. Beyond the one that’s already contaminated with the Microsoft operating system thing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 10 comments

Opening Hosta-ilities

Pulling a few things together into one post…

One corner of the back yard, directly behind the downstairs bathroom(s), is one of those spots that none of us have figured out what to do with. Beneath the master bedroom is a very utilitarian cellar space; there’s about 10 feet of sidewalk in front of the door, and a low rock wall on the left (facing the door). In previous years, when I haven’t ignored this space entirely, I’ve gone in with the lawn mower and took no prisoners. But last year, I realized that there was something other than grass and weeds along the top of the rock wall. This spring, I pulled up some of the grass around the hostas planted there, and one of them rewarded me with some flower stalks. Well played, hostas. It probably helped that the tree (now the stump on the left side of the above photo) was removed, giving them a little more sunshine to play with. The lawn back here is as much wild strawberry as grass, but that’s fine with me. Mason might find some forage-snacks in late April, and they don’t need as much mowing.

Around the front of the manor, we had a handyman replace some rotted wood around the door frame. He used some kind of (I think) PVC-based composite material, which should last until the house collapses. The wife & I got around to painting it yesterday afternoon. She ever so helpfully left the paint bucket at the bottom of the ladder, whereupon I stuck my foot in it and knocked it over onto the brick stoop. Well, the window frames on either side of the door needed some fresh paint too, so I dipped brushes in the spillage and took care of it. The rest of the spilled paint I scraped into a paint tray. I figure we’ll use the pressure washer to clean off the stoop once we put the screen door back up.


After some weed-pulling outside this evening, in which Daughter Dearest threatened a rabbit who got too close to the flowers, she went upstairs for a shower. Shortly after, I heard a scream and my name being called.

“You need to come up here and kill this spider in the shower!” she yelled. Oh yeah, like I’m really comfortable with spiders? Well, I came upstairs and saw this monster in the shower. Now there are places (especially Australia and Indonesia) with much larger spiders than this, but this SOB was the biggest I’d ever seen outside an enclosure on Planet Georgia. And it was IN MY HOUSE. And its eyes reflected the flash on my phone camera. (What was even scarier was that Daughter Dearest was wearing only a towel, and it was barely adequate to keep the important stuff covered. She used this as evidence of how urgent this was to her.)

I decided I needed long-range artillery to deal with this thing, so I went back downstairs and got a shoe. Mason, meanwhile, was attracted by all the noise surrounding the situation and had to come up to get a look at it himself. Fortunately, it stood still until I opened fire; it only took two or three attempts to get the shoe angled where it could compensate for the rounded shower corners.

I reached in with the toilet brush, planning to knock the corpse into the trash can, and it stuck to the brush. It was then I realized that it had webbed the bottom of the shower stall. And the web was all over my hand. I made sure Mason didn’t hear what I really felt about that—I hate spider webs more than spiders themselves, when it comes right down to it—as I boarded the spider for his one-way trip on the Septic Express. Then I got the webbery off me as best as I could, while Daughter Dearest laughed.

With that in hand, I rejoined Mason downstairs and gladly went into his room to watch him play with his blocks, while Daughter Dearest finally got her shower.

There may be three of us having nightmares tonight. I’m self-medicating in advance.

Friday, May 18, 2012 28 comments

#FridayFlash: Roadkill

No, Mason didn’t do this. Mom says I did it when I was a toddler, and tied up traffic on a busy highway. A heap of something white in the road this afternoon gave me the idea for this.



Roadkill

Matt stumped up the road. One hand clutched the blanket over his shoulder, the other he had in his mouth. Behind him, Mommy napped in front of the TV and its endless reruns of PBS Kids, exhausted by one too many 3 a.m. diaper and sippy cup calls. Before him? His toddler mind could not grasp the word adventure, but understood the concept.

“Go home, Matt,” said his angel, swooping in front of him. “Lay down next to Mommy and take a nice nap.”

He grunted a negation, not wanting to move his slobbery fist, and kept walking. A whispering, rushing, humming sound slithered up the hill behind him.

“Matt! Over here!” The angel flew off to the side of the road, hovering over the ditch. He’d take a tumble, but the ground was soft and it was safer than what was coming. Matt shook his head and veered away, farther into the road. The noise grew louder.

A rustle of leaves. Beyond the ditch, a squirrel stood, acorn in its paws. “Matt! Look, Matt! Kitty!” Angels are not allowed to lie — but to Matt, all little animals were kitty. Speaking Toddler is allowed.

“Kitty!” Matt grinned and turned off the road, falling into the ditch as the angel backed up to observe and the speeding car topped the hill—

Matt’s wail snapped Mommy awake in an instant. In a panic, she slammed the screen door open and pelted up the road, finding Matt trying to climb out of the muddy ditch. “Matt!” she snatched him up. “What are you doing out here? Look at you—you’re all muddy! You’re getting a bath, then you’re going into your crib until you have a nap, and I don’t care how much you cry about it—”

Something in the road caught Mommy’s eye: a small crumpled white thing. A wing poked up from the heap. “You’d think the chicken trucks would do a better job keeping them in the cages,” she muttered. She turned and took her son home.

Sunday, March 18, 2012 5 comments

Junk in My Trunk

It’s been a long overdue chore to clean out the trunk of my car, and I finally tackled it this weekend. Here's what I found:
  • Trash. Enough to half-fill a big trash bag. Actually, there was already a trash bag a quarter full.
  • Lots of hardware. I knew The Boy had a screw loose, but not that he had a couple dozen of them in my trunk.
  • Scat-loads of his and Snippet’s clothes, and a few of Mason’s.
  • A couple of Mason’s toys (he was happy to have another ball).
  • $1.14 in loose change.
  • Three UPS batteries. Oh yeah, that's where I put them — thinking I’d soon find a place where I could replace them — two years ago.
  • A skateboard. I texted The Boy about it, and he thought he might have put it in there to keep stuff from slipping past the gap at the front of the plywood platform.
  • Daughter Dearest’s kite (in a vinyl bag, so it survived).
  • A shade for the back window, that I bought last summer to keep it from getting too hot on Mason when I took him somewhere.
  • Two binders that belong to the choir.
  • A bunch of CDs (all The Boy’s, I presume).
  • Three pens. Two of them still write.
  • Two screwdrivers and a wrench.
  • Two jacks, various extensions and the like — but no spare tire (I knew that) or lug wrench (oops).
I think I excised a good 20 pounds from the trunk, when all was said and done. The thin plywood that serves as a floor over the spare tire well is seriously warped and coming apart, so I’ll need to replace that soon. I’ll reinforce the replacement so it doesn’t sag so badly over time. I just wish I knew where the water was coming in back there; it’s keeping me from stuffing some camping gear in there for an impromptu getaway.

Sunday, February 19, 2012 4 comments

Stranger Than Fiction

This kind of wafted its way into my Google+ stream. I just — it’s — wow. Reality really is stranger than fiction.

See this blast about Japanese Fart Scrolls for more details (and pictures)

I guess it proves that some humor truly is timeless.

Monday, December 19, 2011 2 comments

Skylar, "Latchkey" Kid

I was trying to catch up on Twitter this afternoon, when I looked out the window and saw Big V cruising up the driveway in her power-chair. I shouted an alarm, and Mrs. Fetched and Daughter Dearest went out to see what was going on.

“I need you to call 911,” she said, “Skylar has locked himself in the car.” Now for those sharp readers (which, since you’re reading TFM, is all of you) who were wondering why she didn’t make the call herself, she dropped her cellphone in the toilet yesterday. Which makes it a smellphone for sure! Turns out that Cousin Splat was cleaning out the car, and Skylar wanted to “help.” Of course, there is no second set of keys for their car.

The 911 dispatcher asked Mrs. Fetched if the toddler was stressed. “No,” she said, “but his grandmother is pretty stressed!” That got a chuckle out of dispatch. I figured I’d better go down there myself, just in case there was something I could do… and passed Big V (and her German Shepherd with the huge schnozz) on the way.

Skylar is (when he’s not throwing a random fit) the Zen Master of toddlers. He was chattering nonsense, poking at various things, and not concerned in the least about being locked in an Impala. Cousin Splat (his dad) and I tried to get him to poke the power unlock, to no avail. I thought about trying to get him to push buttons on the key fob, but the keys were in the ignition and decided that wouldn’t be a good idea. The car has an interlock where you can’t shift out of park unless you’re hitting the brakes, but still. Big V got in on the act, and the schnozzlehound got between her and me when she started sounding upset… like I was the problem here.

The cop showed up at last, and had me hold the flashlight on the driver door latch while he ran a gadget between a window and the weatherstripping. Skylar got interested in the thing poking in the car, and started pushing on it. This was actually helpful (for a change), since it gave the cop enough leverage on the latch to pop it.

“His diaper is pretty wet,” said Cousin Splat, carrying him inside.

“Yeah, you probably have to change your pants too, after that!” Big V opined.

I think they’re going to get a spare key made first thing tomorrow.

Saturday, December 03, 2011 6 comments

Deck Them Halls

Christmas time is here, by golly
Disapproval would be folly
— Tom Lehrer

With Thanksgiving finally out of the way, Mrs. Fetched went into full-blown decoration mode. I somehow got out of helping with the inside stuff, beyond horking boxes around. I was doing something, not at the manor, but can no longer remember what it was.

However, Mason was there to help, and he did hang some ornaments. Of course, he slapped ’em right back off the tree first chance he got. Mrs. Fetched invested in non-breakable ornaments this year… although as a friend put it, “they’ll cut your foot just like the glass ones if you step on one.” Okay, maybe they should be called shatterproof instead?

We’ve started doing the “one finger” rule with him — if he touches something, touch it with one finger. But that doesn’t stop him from sweeping that one finger across something to send it flying.

I wasn’t so lucky with the outside. We don't go as bat $#¡+ crazy as some people do with their lights (those, as Mrs. Fetched puts it, who “have nothing else to do”), but it’s more than enough in my opinion. She kept us going much of Saturday and Sunday, well past sunset both days, poking hangers onto the shingles and hanging lights every which way. I had to dismantle and re-do the net-lights over several of the boxwoods, since someone plugged them into each other and I had no idea how they were meant to plug into actual AC current. But I got it straightened out in the end and we managed to get it all lit up for a while… until (I think) the breaker fried. Mrs. Fetched insists we didn’t do anything more this year than last, but she always hits the after-Christmas sales and stocks up on more lights and stuff so I know better.

Then there was the strange case of the “decoration” in the field that was once going to be a subdivision. Seems that some merry pranksters snagged this thing from a farm off Juno Rd. My first knowledge of the deed was seeing it in a ditch along the highway one morning, on the way to work. Two days later, it was gone… and showed up here. It’s been there since Thanksgiving, clearly visible from the road going to the in-laws’ place.

If the chicken looks headless, that’s because it is. If the head didn’t shatter into a zillion pieces when it landed in the ditch, I rather expect it’s now a decoration in some goofball’s man-cave. I like to think of it as the Evil Zombie Chicken, protecting the acreage from another developer… or maybe there’s a bankruptcy curse in effect. Actually, I’m surprised that Coldwell Banker (the seller) hasn’t done something about a stolen statue yet.

Thursday, December 23, 2010 9 comments

Hell Hath No Fury…

Even in the alternate universe of Weirditude that is FAR Manor, there are physical laws and constants. One of them is anyone who undertakes to help Big V, long term, will come to regret it in about two weeks. That’s about as long as it took The Boy this time — yes, he’s been here before. So Spring #1 comes in with a BANG.

I think it might have been because Snippet wore out her welcome at FAR Manor some time ago, but they were spending most nights at Big V’s place — taking care of her grandkid Skyler (Cousin Splat and his wife make Snippet look almost like a halfway involved parent), driving her to doctor appointments and so forth. Actually, from what I heard, it was The Boy taking care of Skyler… like when she’s here, Snippet can’t get much motivation to deal with a baby, hers or otherwise.

Because of Big V’s lackadaisical credit history, she doesn’t keep much money in the bank — they have no problem using her deposits to make her payments for her. And somehow, she had something north of $1000 cash in her purse where it was safe… from bankers, at least. And that cash turned up missing some time on Saturday, while The Boy was at probation-mandated classes of one sort or another much of the day and Snippet was there at Big V’s at least much of the morning. The more Big V thought about it, the more convinced she became that Snippet was the culprit.

Now it must be said that Snippet isn’t exactly famous for her respect for other people’s property. Daughter Dearest found a ring that belongs to her (actually, M.A.E. gave it to her) down at Big V’s, among Snippet’s stuff while looking for something else (the money). So Big V has been calling the house, wanting us to get involved with Snippet while doing all the other things she thinks we should just be happy to do for her.

I made the mistake of trying to work at home the last couple of days, and with the phone ringing every few minutes, I found myself getting rather annoyed at the constant interruptions. This morning, I announced “I’m not answering the phones today,” and removed them from the bedroom. That didn’t stop the noise, of course… especially when The Boy started screaming upstairs, then came storming down into the bedroom.

“You need to talk to this $#@%!” he yelled, thrusting the phone at me.

“I don’t have anything to say to her.”

“You need to talk to her!”

Seeing as I wasn’t going to get any work done with him waving the phone and yelling at me, I finally took it and listened to Big V imply that she was going to hang The Boy right along with Snippet. I asked her what evidence she had, she told me, and it was all circumstantial at best — especially when Snippet is an expert at the poor-pitiful-me act, and has a face and figure that would get her the sympathy of any male jurors right off the bat. Big V started the sob story — I’m pretty sure she was trying to panic, guilt, or pity me into giving her the money to buy The Boy another day, but I don’t have any either — and I told her the sob story thing wasn’t going to help and she just had to do whatever she felt was best. I also told her I was trying to work, and got her off the phone.

And… I had an audience. I took the opportunity to announce that I was packing up, taking Mason, and moving out. “I’ll come with you!” M.A.E. offered. Um… no. Daughter Dearest, who was already upset by the crap, called Mrs. Fetched to tell her I was leaving and she had to come right home NOW. While she was on the way, I called The Boy into the bedroom.

“If Snippet took that money, you need to scrape her off,” I said. “You don’t need that crap right now.”

“She didn’t take it!”

“I said if. I’m not saying she did take it, but if she did you need to get her out of your life. Pronto. That’s all I have to say about it.” And to be honest, I’m not 100% convinced myself that she took it. There were other people running loose in Big V’s house, and I liken Snippet to a crow. She’ll snatch something sparkly if the opportunity presents itself — but we’ve had money in various quantities laying around here and there and it’s never disappeared without turning up (often after Mrs. Fetched tells me Snippet probably took it). On the other hand, given her recent behavior I’m not exactly motivated to step up and defend her.

Oh… and here’s a good one. Big V was trying to get a loan (a big fat “yeah right” given her history); The Boy and Snippet took her up to a place they’ve used in the past. While they were there, they decided to get a loan to pay their phone bill (um… what part of “recurring charge” are you missing here?), and got $500. As it turned out, they used my car for collateral. Without asking me.

Now… it’s personal. I think what I’ll do is contact the loan office, explain the situation, and remind them that they have lots of ugly lawyers to do their bidding. If Snippet ends up in jail, for that or for snatching Big V’s wad-o'-cash, I won’t shed a tear.

Friday, November 19, 2010 No comments

Out of the Frying Pan?

It’s too good a graphic to not use when I get the chance, although The Boy disagrees:

The Boy - Get Out of Jail Free card


I was working at home yesterday, and Mrs. Fetched gave me the heads-up: they would release The Boy after he attended drug court. Those classmates who happen to be serving time for a violation of whatever type when drug court comes around get to set in the jury box, resplendent in their orange jumpsuits. The Boy had plenty of company: one other guy and four women. I brought Mason up to see him during a break, and the women of course ooh’ed and aah’ed over him too. Mason’s definitely a chick magnet, but… anyway. He said he had no idea how long it would be, as they had a mini-reception for several “graduates” going on as well, and suggested we go home and wait for him to call us.

While the break/reception was going on, Mason got to run loose in the hall outside the courtroom for a while, then gravitated to the window where they’re building the new courthouse next door. (Why we “need” a new courthouse is a question that nobody has a satisfactory answer for, but up it goes.) He isn’t much for watching TV (smart kid), but he’ll watch construction for a long time:

Mason watching construction

At this point, I should have followed my first instinct and taken Mason home, letting Snippet either come with or hang out and wait for him. But they wrapped up fairly quickly, and I figured they’d roll him out shortly after.

WRONG

Three… hours… later… around 6:30 p.m., they finally sent him through the doors. By this time, I was cranky and rather hungry, and Mason had nearly worn himself out running around the lobby and worming through chicanes that even skinny adults could not navigate. A guy on the sex offender registry was also in the lobby for some yearly check-in they have to do… lovely. After we got The Boy, we went to the Mexican joint for supper, and Mason was an uncharacteristic holy terror, not wanting to sit in his high chair. The food finally arrived, and he calmed down enough to eat some of my fajita chicken but never did get back in the high chair after that.

Things got a little interesting after we got home. Mason was okay, but M.A.E. was a little weirded out and she finally told us all what it was about. Seems that Wednesday, she was walking through the living room when Snippet’s phone beeped. She went to see what it was, and it seems Snippet’s best (male) friend decided to engage in a little full-frontal sexting. In the proverbial train-wreck mode, M.A.E. looked some more and found plenty of “compromising” shots of Snippet herself. (The one where the guitar covered all the naughty bits was rather artful, especially in black&white. But anyway.)

Snippet at first denied it ever happened, then admitted he’d done it “because he was drunk and having an emotional meltdown.” Um… shoulda gone with that one first, girlie, especially since you’ve cheated on The Boy before. As for The Boy, he looked pretty grim. I don’t know what was said later and in private, but the two of them seem to have worked it out (at least for now). It kind of makes me wonder though… the first weekend he was in the clink, Snippet decided to go visit her mom (with Mason) but was on the phone with this guy on the way to meet Mason’s other gramma, trying to get him to come over to her mom’s place.

The Boy doesn’t need distractions like this while he’s trying to get his act together and stay out of trouble. One more violation and he goes in the clink for the rest of his sentence. Having a baby in the mix has complicated things far too much to just toss them, as much as I’d like to do just that and fooey on what Mrs. Fetched thinks for a change…

Wednesday, November 03, 2010 No comments

Wednesday Wibbles

Wibble: (UK, Internet slang) Meaningless or content-free chatter in a discussion; drivel, babble.

A lot of little stuff has been happening lately, none of which warrants their own posts…

Hey, DoubleRed might have moved out! Her computers and “stuff” is gone, just the furniture remains.

• • •


Mrs. Fetched opined last night that Snippet might be pregnant again. AAAAARRRRRRRRGH!!!!! But she asked The Boy this morning and he says she isn’t. whew On the other hand, other people say she is. AAAAARRRRRRRRGH!!!!! That would be worse than the elections last night. Both of them need to get fixed, pronto.

• • •


Possible scorpion on doughnutOK, click on this picture to get the full-sized version. Tell me that’s not a deep-fried scorpion embedded in this doughnut. Mrs. Fetched says it’s a blob of chocolate. She’s welcome to eat it if she’s that sure. (I used a +4 closeup filter on this.)

• • •


After downgrading from the iPhone, I dug the old iPod 5G out of the basket it was languishing in and put it back in service. One of the things I find I missed about it (without realizing) is just how good the battery life is on that thing. I had it playing pretty much all the way up to Michigan during that 13-hour drive in September, and it had plenty of juice in reserve. It wheezed at work on Monday, and it surprised me until I realized I hadn’t charged it in about a week. Fortunately, I still had the iPhone charger on my desk. I’m thinking about replacing the case with something that doesn’t obscure the screen and deaden the click wheel.

• • •


Looks like our first frost will be Saturday morning (forecast low of 30°F). I'll have to gather the volunteer tomatoes Friday evening and put them in the kitchen window; maybe they’ll ripen — and if not, I guess we’ll have fried green tomatoes. If I’m going to ride the motorcycle to work (and it will need to stop raining first), I might as well bite the bullet and put the second liner in my jacket. Not to mention the wiring for the gloves.

• • •


NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) started on Monday. I’d love to participate, but I’ve talked about why I can’t before. This year adds a new reason (besides Mason): I want to finish White Pickups this month, so that’s my informal NaNoWriMo goal for this year.

• • •


Mason in vampire costumeHallowe’en was kind of a bust this year, despite the near-perfect weather — we only had one group of kids come by, so there’s a pretty good pile of candy left in the bucket. Mrs. Fetched took Mason and his parental units to the outlet maul, where the stores were dishing out candy to the kids. Mason had a vampire outfit, pictured here, but he didn’t like the collar and kept pulling it off. He also managed to lose a shoe, so maybe he should have gone in drag and been Cinderella instead. :-P

• • •


With all the people at the manor, the septic tank has once again filled up and needs to be pumped. I might go into the office tomorrow just so I can walk to a working bathroom.

• • •


And that’s all the news that is news at FAR Manor.

Thursday, October 07, 2010 4 comments

Knock Me Over…

I came home from choir practice yesterday evening to find the downstairs… rather quiet. The Boy and Snippet were nowhere to be found; my iPad and MacBook both lay idle. I took a peek in the crib, and Mason wasn’t snoozing.

No way, I thought, and slipped upstairs and tapped on The Boy’s door. “You guys have Mason up here?” I asked.

“Yeah,” said The Boy.

“No problem, just curious,” I said and headed back down. “They must WANT something,” I thought, more than a little surprised. I can’t remember a time they’ve tended to their own kid through the evening, at least while at the manor. Granted, Snippet didn’t have to work last night, but evenings off have never stopped them from ignoring their offspring before.

The weirdness wasn’t over yet. They came downstairs, and Mason suddenly got cranky like he was ready to go to sleep — he didn’t even want a bedtime bowl of oatmeal. I took him while Snippet got a bottle ready, then took him from me (!) and gave him the bottle… and he went to sleep. And then, as I was doing a little work on some upcoming White Pickups episodes, came the top of the whole-a topper. From my desk in the bedroom, I can look straight down the hall and see the kitchen door; it was closed but there was light coming underneath and I could hear a strange clinking noise. I had to go check this, again thinking no way… but there they were, cleaning the kitchen! At this point, I was ready to pack my bags and stand outside, because the apocalypse had to be imminent.

I suppose it goes to show: you might have known someone all his life, even watched him being born, raised him, watch him go his own way… and he still has the capacity to surprise you, even if he does exactly what you expect 99% of the time.

Oh, and this morning, he was streaming a classic blues station on his new phone. Yeah, my son the metalhead likes classic blues. Shock upon shock.

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