Tuesday, September 30, 2008

To the Guy That Left Some Glass by Our Garbage

Dear Guy That Left Some Glass by Our Garbage,

Hello, you probably don't know me, but Sunday night you came by my house and left a large pane of glass leaning against the garbage containers. Now, I had placed an old chair out there, which I noticed was gone with the glass seemingly in its place. I'm assuming it was you that took the chair.

Since the chair was out there it was fair game, and I'm glad you took it. I hope you enjoy it as much as it was once enjoyed by my father-in-law whose chair it once was. Although it was in good condition, this chair is about 30 years behind the decor of our house, an we're glad it found a new home. Please, consider it our gift to you.

It becomes apparent, however, that you don't quite understand this concept. You see, since the chair was out at the curb with our garbage and recycling containers, that means we don't want it any longer. And really, I'm glad you came to get it so that this perfectly good chair might go to use somewhere else. Still, this is not a barter system, as you might think. We really do not require, nor do we ask, for anything in exchange for items we may leave on the curb. People do this all over town, you see, and none of them expect anything in return if someone picks up a treasure before the garbage men get to it. We are no different.

Perhaps you left the giant, door-sized pane of glass on the curb thinking that you would come back later to retrieve it once you removed the chair from your car. If that is the case, I can kind of understand that, I've misplaced items before too. If you thought it was some kind of even trade, please I cannot stress this enough, we really don't expect anything for the chair, and I really don't have a use for a door-sized pane of glass. Apparently, the garbage men don't have a use for this either, because they left the glass laying down in the front yard.

So now here I am with your glass that I neither want nor need, and I am left with a conundrum as to what to do with it. If you would like it back, I will have no qualms with giving it up. As far as I am concerned, it's yours, you can have it. I'll even throw in the rubber gasket that framed the glass. Just let me know what time is good for you and we'll arrange a pick up. Until then it will be leaning up against the side of my garage.

To review, if it's out at the curb it's garbage. It is not an item for trade or sale. As far as I'm concerned, if you want it, take it. I would much rather the item is recycled or reused than become more landfill. I can't garuntee this is the same for the whole neighborhood, but I'd be willing to bet it is. I know there are other people who understand this concept, because I've seen the trucks full of junk driving up and down the street on grabage day. Heck, I've liberated a couple of items from the garbage. Yes, I too have dumpster dived, if you will. There's nothing wrong with it and I would fully encourage it, but no return is needed.

I hope this clears things up.

Best Regards,

Story Bone

He strode into the dusty bar, which smelled of sweaty men and hard spirits all baked in the heat of the desert sun. No wind blew in through the swinging batwing doors and the air was stifling. His right hand hovered near the butt of his pistol. His left hand pushed back the brim of his hat.

The man seemed to shimmer, reflecting light from the outside and the dim, oily light of the lanterns that hung from the rafters. Seeing him, Horace the bartender gulped nervously.

"Is he an angel," whispered Jimmy the washer boy as he passed one of the tables while carrying a tray of empty mugs.

"No," whispered the man at the table. "They call him Glitter Pants."

Monday, September 29, 2008


Rain, rain go away
I don't want my basement flooding today.

Lets Hear it for Banned Books

It's banned book week, and there's a lot of talk in the Interweb circles I travel about banned books. I think banning books is a stupid practice and I love the fact that public libraries do not participate in the banning of books. Courtesy of Random Michelle, here's the list of top 100 challenged books from 2000 to 2007. The one's I've read are in bold.

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books in 2000-2007:

1 Harry Potter J.K. Rowling
2 Alice series Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3 The Chocolate War Robert Cormier
4 Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
5 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou
6 Scary Stories Alvin Schwartz
7 Fallen Angels Walter Dean Myers
8 It’s Perfectly Normal Robie Harris
9 And Tango Makes Three Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
10 Captain Underpants Dav Pilkey
11 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
12 The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison
13 Forever Judy Blume
14 The Color Purple Alice Walker
15 The Perks of Being A Wallflower Stephen Chbosky
16 Killing Mr. Griffin Lois Duncan
17 Go Ask Alice Anonymous
18 King and King Linda de Haan
19 Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
20 Bridge to Terabithia Katherine Paterson
21 The Giver Lois Lowry
22 We All Fall Down Robert Cormier
23 To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
24 Beloved Toni Morrison
25 The Face on the Milk Carton Caroline Cooney
26 Snow Falling on Cedars David Guterson
27 My Brother Sam Is Dead James Lincoln Collier
28 In the Night Kitchen Maurice Sendak
29 His Dark Materials series Philip Pullman
30 Gossip Girl series Cecily von Ziegesar
31 What My Mother Doesn’t Know Sonya Sones
32 Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging Louise Rennison
33 It’s So Amazing Robie Harris
34 Arming America Michael Bellasiles
35 Kaffir Boy Mark Mathabane
36 Blubber Judy Blume
37 Brave New World Aldous Huxley
38 Athletic Shorts Chris Crutcher
39 Bless Me, Ultima Rudolfo Anaya
40 Life is Funny E.R. Frank
41 Daughters of Eve Lois Duncan
42 Crazy Lady Jane Leslie Conly
43 The Great Gilly Hopkins Katherine Paterson
44 You Hear Me Betsy Franco
45 Slaughterhouse Five Kurt Vonnegut
46 Whale Talk Chris Crutcher
47 The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby Dav Pilkey
48 The Facts Speak for Themselves Brock Cole
49 The Terrorist Caroline Cooney
50 Mick Harte Was Here Barbara Park
51 Summer of My German Soldier Bette Green
52 The Upstairs Room Johanna Reiss
53 When Dad Killed Mom Julius Lester
54 Blood and Chocolate Annette Curtis Klause
55 The Fighting Ground Avi
56 The Things They Carried Tim O’Brien
57 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Mildred Taylor
58 Fat Kid Rules the World K.L. Going
59 The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things Carolyn Mackler
60 A Time To Kill John Grisham
61 Rainbow Boys Alex Sanchez
62 Olive’s Ocean Kevin Henkes
63 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Ken Kesey
64 A Day No Pigs Would Die Robert Newton Peck
65 Speak Laurie Halse Anderson
66 Always Running Luis Rodriguez
67 Black Boy Richard Wright
68 Julie of the Wolves Jean Craighead George
69 Deal With It! Esther Drill
70 Detour for Emmy Marilyn Reynolds
71 Draw Me A Star Eric Carle
72 Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
73 Harris and Me Gary Paulsen
74 Junie B. Jones series Barbara Park
75 So Far From the Bamboo Grove Yoko Watkins
76 Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
77 Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Chris Crutcher
78 What’s Happening to My Body Book Lynda Madaras
79 The Boy Who Lost His Face Louis Sachar
80 The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
81 Anastasia Again! Lois Lowry
82 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret Judy Blume
83 Bumps In the Night Harry Allard
84 Goosebumps series R.L. Stine
85 Shade’s Children Garth Nix
86 Cut Patricia McCormick
87 Grendel John Gardner
88 The House of Spirits Isabel Allende
89 I Saw Esau Iona Opte
90 Ironman Chris Crutcher
91 The Stupids series Harry Allard
92 Taming the Star Runner S.E. Hinton
93 Then Again, Maybe I Won’t Judy Blume
94 Tiger Eyes Judy Blume
95 Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel
96 Nathan’s Run John Gilstrap
97 Pinkerton, Behave! Steven Kellog
98 Freaky Friday Mary Rodgers
99 Halloween ABC Eve Merriam
100 Heather Has Two Mommies Leslea Newman

Only 14 out of 100, that's not too much. Guess I should check out some more books. Of those I've read, most are really good. Some i.e. the Goosebumps Series are just fun for kids that want to give themselves a scare. I'm surprised at the number of children's and young adult books on the list, but then maybe I shouldn't be. I can understand a parent wanting to protect their child from something, but there's no reason they should they should have to try and protect all children.

So for all you readers out there, go and support your local library and read some banned books!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oh Noes Theys Shutting Down the Interwebs!

We got an email this morning regarding the new Internet security procedures that will be put in place over the weekend here at work. This sent my boss, who has had a rough week, into SUPER SPAZ MODE. She barreled out of the office saying she had talked to the IT person yesterday about it and she was told the company is going to block every website and will turn websites back on as we need them for work-related tasks.

*deep breath* WHATEVER!

Obviously he was just yanking her chain. But she wouldn't listen to reason and started up this big paniced rant with a couple coworkers about 4 feet behind my chair and I really had to stop myself from laughing. She was talking about everyone from the company bringing their personal laptops to work and going to Starbucks or Panera on their lunch breaks to check email and whatnot. Rediculous!

She even wanted me to call down to IT and ask them the same thing she asked yesterday to see if I got the same response. First off, no. If you want to find out, you're a grown woman, you can do it yourself. Second, you honestly think the IT staff this company has is going to be here before 8? You've got to be kidding me. (This is in no way a jab at IT staff everywhere. I know IT works very hard. It's just at this place, they've given IT such a long leash 'cause they didn't know what to do with them that IT...I can't think of an appropriate metaphor. IT has had a lot of freedom, we'll just leave it at that.)

Of course they're not going to be doing that. My wife's cousin has been a good source of inside info and I've known about this for a couple weeks now. What they're doing is shutting down "non business-related" sites, according to the email. What that's going to mean, for they time being at least, is no more myspace, facebook, Amazon, ebay, etc. You get the idea.

This just in: we got an email forwarded to use from our Editorial Director and these are the types of sites being blocked on Monday:
Adult / Mature Content
Social Sites

Yes folks, you're seeing that right. The company currently does not block pr0n sites. Hopefully "social sites" doesn't include blogger, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.

After seeing that email my boss still isn't convinced that they're not shutting down the whole Internet I really have to hold back the giggles.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Note to Re-Gifters

When you regift something, it's probably best to remove the card that you got when you originally got the gift before you rewrap it and pass it along to someone else. That is all.

New Hero In Town

Via Janiece, Carol Elane, Nathan, Jeri...

Meet SmartAss, the newest Marvel superhero. It's not quite how I would picture myself if I were a super hero, but you know, you can only do so much with the Marvel hero engine.

With witty banter only matched by The Amazing Spiderman, SmartAss protects the streets while dishing out a healthy dose of snark.

Of course, every hero needs a villain. Hence Devastator, who might not be a match for SmartAss when it comes to snark, but can really bring the pain.

Make your own here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rejected :(

I just got an email from the escapist and they decided to pass on "Killing Time on a Friday Night." The editor there did send a nice rejection letter, which I would like to believe wasn't a form letter. It included phrases like "You clearly put your best foot forward with this submission" and "we definitely appreciate that kind of effort." Those could be form responses, but I'm going to decide that they aren't. They also encouraged me to submit more in the future to either their articles or fiction. I'll take that on the positive that they did genuinely like my story.

Thanks to the magic of electronic submissions, "Killing Time" has already been sent on to Hub Magazine, a British magazine that publishes sci-fi, horror and fantasy in a weekly pdf. They don't pay as much as I would have made a other places, but I'm still kind of green to the whole submission process, and I haven't seen a huge market for flash fiction. I'll play the waiting game again and see where this takes me. *fingers crossed*

Survival Tip #328

"Hyenas might seem like friendly creatures, but you should never, never laugh along with them," says Herbert Anderson, zoo keeper and amateur comedian. "I was trying out my act on 'em during feeding time. I thought I had hit a chord when they all started laughing. I started laughing too and that's when they got mad. I barely got away from them. Lost two of the fingers on my right hand. After that, they had to switch me over to petting zoo duty. I still hear them laughing in my nightmares."

Despite their seemingly jovial demeanor, hyenas are vicious, wild animals. Because of their laughter-like calls and their dog-like appearance, many people believe them to be friendly. Hyenas possess powerful jaws, capable of biting through bone, and their strong digestive system has highly acidic fluids, making them capable of eating and digesting bone. The animals also have a level of intelligence that some say is on par with apes, which makes them all the more dangerous.

"We were in the African savannahs on a fact-finding mission when we were woken by some hyenas laughing out in the dark," says Matt Wallace a globetrotting UFO researcher. "We flipped on the lights to take a look, and the hyenas moved back so we couldn't see them, but we could still hear them. We tried throwing some food out to them, thinking they'd eat it and leave, but that just seemed to make them want to stick around. Then I remembered what the guidebook had said about the hyenas not liking black rope licorice. I hated to give up my stash of it, but we ended up tearing up all the licorice and throwing it out the windows. By morning they had all gone."

It is well documented, but not totally understood, that the scent of black rope licorice will drive away hyenas, much like the way mothballs will deter some animals from entering a garden. It is also documented that if an individual has consumed enough of the candy, so much that the body exudes the licorice scent, that the hyenas will maintain a safe distance if they do not leave entirely.

Among the hyenas' few natural enemies is the lion, and unless they are gathered in a large group, hyenas will usually leave when they believe lions are near. Without actual lions being present, sight and smell make suitable substitutes. If one is near hyenas and fears they will attack, he or she could spread lion musk downwind of the hyenas so they pick up the scent while playing a lion's roar over some a loudspeaker or megaphone. While effective, this tactic is not without its own drawbacks.

"A while back we were on safari as kind of a second honeymoon, and when our tour guide stopped to relieve himself in the bush, we were beset by those horrible hyenas," says Jane Winslow, who holds the record for most on-air calls to QVC in a 24-hour period. "The tour guide came running back to the bus and started sprinkling this awful smelling stuff on the ground, which he later told us was some kind of lion scent, and then he flipped a switch and some speakers began playing these loud roars. The hyenas left pretty quick after that, but then while the tour guide was trying to calm everyone down a group of lions had come, attracted by the noise and the smell."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Burried Treasure

It's a little late for International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but while we were cleaning out part of the basement this weekend we came across some treasures in the canning room that had been in there for who knows how long. There were a couple of things from my wife's childhood and a couple of framed pictures and paintings that I at least had lost track of since we moved.

The most interesting thing that we found was a Mandolin-Harp that was wrapped up in a garbage bag. I don't have a picture at the moment, but this thing could definately use a clean up and a tuning. The finish on the top is in pretty bad shape, but you can still kind of make out the image of an eagle behind the strings, and inside the instrument, there's a faded sticker that says what it is, where it came from, and has a sale price of $25 on it. This thing has been sitting in this little room in the basement for at least 10 years. My father-in-law certainly never played it and I doubt Brandi's ever seen it before.

The harp. While the finish is in need of work,
there are some interesting details that can be mad out.

I brought it into work because one of my coworkers said he might be interested in seeing it. I was thinking about selling it, but I don't know. It's kind of neat to have and I wouldn't know what to ask for it anyway. I think there isn't too much more crazy crap in our house that we don't know about (there's plenty of crazy crap we do know about), but it would be interesting to discover something else. I can't imagine the crazy crap that would be over at Brandi's grandparents' house, since they've been in the same house for forever. Maybe it's time to bust out the fedora and bullwhip.

Update: The mandolin harp belonged to my father-in-law's aunt and has been in the basement since he moved in.

The harp's keys.

This image of an eagle and shield is near the head of the harp.

The original sale sticker inside shows where the harp came from.
It originally sold for $25.

More Fun Trailers

Went over to my brother's house over the weekend for my nephew's birthday. While we were there we found more fun trailers on youtube. Can't wait for these movies to come out!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Anticipation is Killing Me

I've had a short story in submission at this online magazine, the escapist, since June 30. The only communication I've had from them is when I emailed them to make sure they had received my submission, which they said they had but couldn't open the file. They did allow me to resend the file, which I thought was very generous of them, but I haven't heard anything since. This magazine is published weekly online and the issue that I had sent the story in for is set to be published in 11 days. The last time I had a story in submission this long, the company came this close to publishing it *holds fingers together really closely*. So I hope that the non-communication is a good sign. Otherwise, it could just mean that they're not going to buy it and aren't going to contact me. In the mean time, I'm checking my email and spam like a fiend.

In other writing news, I'm working on a new short short, which I really should have finished by now, but I think the setting needs to change. I also have another short story, around 3,500 words, that needs revising.

The Great Flood of '08

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware of the havok and destruction that Hurricane Ike caused not only in Texas and the Gulf Coast, but strangely in the Midwest as well. Then again, if you’ve been living under a rock in the Gulf Coast, Texas or the Midwest, after last weekend you’re probably no longer alive to give a rat’s ass about what happened.

In case you don’t know, we live in Des Plaines, flood capital of the Midwest. We got at least five inches of rain between last Friday night and Saturday morning and then it rained nearly all day Saturday and all day Sunday. We got water in the basement, which we knew was going to happen, so it wasn’t a big deal. I think that house gets at least a little water every year. During the Great Flood of ‘07 not only was there water in the basement, but a branch fell across the power, cable and phone lines, which are all conveniently located in the same area. We hadn’t moved in yet, but we did have some stuff there. A neighbor two houses down generously ran an extension cable to the house so my father-in-law could alternately run his sump pump and refrigerator.

Since our basement floor has it’s low spots, we had anywhere from two to four inches of rain water down there. The water is out now, but the clean up continues. I was at work all day Saturday, so I didn’t get to witness the awesome force of the storm outside our house, but Brandi did take some pictures.

Unfortunately, she didn’t get any pictures of the back yard that turned into a small lake. Now you can see the water’s peak back there because of the line of wood chips that was washed out of our gardens and into the yard. Our neighbor had it even worse, and on Sunday I could see a whole chain of lakes starting in his yard and going to consecutive yards behind his. I was over by his house last night, and while the back yard isn’t showing standing water any more, it’s still muddy and stinks.

The water level was building on the streets when I left for work at 8:30 and had gone back down by the time I got home at 6:00. There were several roads closed on the way home, so I had to find my way around all the flood water. Had I tried to go to work a couple hours later, there would have been no way I would have made it off of the driveway.

The skirt of our driveway where it goes to the street is under there somewhere. Also, I like the island look around the trees.

At some point our neighbor standing in what was left of his yard, yelling at passing cars to slow the fuck down because they were putting waves in his living room.

We’re about four blocks from the Des Plaines River, as the crow flies. The river came up quite a bit over the weekend, which was the cause of most of the road closures around us. On Sunday when we were getting ready to leave for Michigan, we stopped to get gas at a station that is about two and a half blocks from the river. The water level at that time was up to the intersection where the gas station was located, and according to my father-in-law, the river came up another 20 feet on Sunday. Wowsers.

The house that my parents live in and that I grew up in is almost at the top of a large hill, so we would get very minimal water in the basement, if any during such a storm. If they get any, it might be a large puddle near the sump pump. Needless, to say, I didn’t realize how much the water would come up.

This is from the Chicago Tribune “In Des Plaines, where nearly 2,500 homes and buildings were affected by the weekend’s torrential rain...”

And this is from the Des Plaines Times “The river was at 9.32 feet as of 5:45 p.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service’s report. The waters had crested at 10.01 feet at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, and were expected to fall below flood stage by 6 a.m. Wednesday.”

I heard on some news program that this was the most rain the Midwest has had in 24 or 48 hours since they started recording rain howevermany years ago. Was this the worst flood that Des Plaines has ever had? No, at least not according to Brandi who remembers someone canoeing down our street during the Great Flood of ‘87 or ‘88.

One of the most surprising things that we saw from the news was at Indiana Beach (only an hour or so from us), where the floodwaters washed out the sand underneath the main parking lot, and the lot then collapsed into the 10-foot-deep sink hole that was left. I don’t remember how much sand was washed into Lake Michigan, but it was a lot.

Uh, honey, do you remember where we parked? This doesn't look like it at all.

This is from the Chesterton Tribune: “The main beach parking lot at Indiana Dunes State Park, what’s left of it, is swamped by rushing floodwaters on Sunday after collapsing into rubble when the sand beneath was washed out and washed away by the flooding of Dunes Creek.”

So there you have it. A fun little experience in the Flood Capital of the Midwest. Will it happen again? I’m sure it will. Will we be ready for it? As ready as we can be. Maybe before next summer I can put the house on stilts and we’ll be able to stand above it all and laugh.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Fun Night

Last night we spent much time cleaning up after the Great Flood of '08. The water is all finally gone from the basement, which is to say, there aren't two inches plus of standing water any more. Some things are still wet, obviously. We got a good chunk done, but there's still plenty to go.

I started by bringing 98% of Logan's toys in the basement upstairs for cleaning. This was all done later, but Brandi wanted to get them up stairs, and I needed the room for other stuff. The toy gathering included filling a garbage bag with 100+ plastic balls from his ball pit for individual cleaning. Then there was the area rug that was still dripping with water that needed to go outside. Brandi's dad had already rolled it up, so I used one of the conveniently placed ground-level windows to shove the heavy, stinking, dripping roll of carpet out onto the driveway. I did get less water on me at this point than I would have thought. After that, Brandi's dad met me outside so that we could unroll the rug and put it over the porch railing. Mmmmmm, love that stagnant water on thick carpet pile smell.

Following that I took down the drapes that we had downstairs, which are pretty long and touch the ground, and threw that in the washer with the sheet that we had up to separate one side of the basement from the other.

After Logan went to bed we started the toy clean up. We watched Fringe and then a couple episodes of Dexter while Brandi wiped off the general toys and I dunked and then wiped off approximately 198 (I counted) plastic balls in a mixture of mostly water and a little bleach. It wasn't too bad of a task, although my knees don't like me after I sit cross-legged on the floor for so long. Now my hands smell like I've been swimming.

The next step will be to mop the linoleum and then roll it up to dry the concrete floor underneath.

All of this probably sounds worse than the damage really was. We knew the basement floods, so most things that could get damaged were up on top of plastic tubs and other things. Plus, this is giving us the excuse to go through boxes of crap and through out the stuff we don't need and organize better.

Brandi took some pretty cool pictures of the street and yard while I was at work on Saturday, which are on her computer, so I'll get those up later.

Also, had a good time in Michigan on Sunday/Monday, but I'll get to that later too.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


We had five inches of rain yesterday and I woke up to the sound of the sump pump and found that 2 inches of the five had come in to party last night. Some of Logan's toys got wet, but they're all plastic. We knew the basement floods, so pretty much everything that could get damaged was up, just a couple casualties as far as I could tell this morning. Now I'm off to work and it's still fucking pooring outside. Stupid rain. Clean up is going to be a blast.

Update: Logan's "big" birthday present, a train table we got on clearance for an incredible price, was on the ground for a couple hours before I got down to the basement yesterday morning. It got wet and "ruined" according to Brandi, but I'll wait to see what it looks like once it's dry. Otherwise, everything else was spared. More water this morning cause the sump pump turned off in the night.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Not Much to Say Today

It's a slow/quiet day here in the office, which makes it really hard to get stuff done. Also, after coming off of the huge deadlines on Monday, there's a couple days of detox/depressurization that usually culminates in the completion of busy work.

I've been in a really foul mood this week and it's left me with little love of work and many other things. I think I've been using the business at work as a kind of shield against all the bad stuff that's happened over the last week, and now that it's slowed down over the last couple days all the stuff I've been pushing back has come crashing down on me. I'm trying hard not to be short with everyone at home, and I'm trying to not get so easily irritated at work (both jobs), as I've been want to do this week.

On top of that, we had our annual benefits update meeting yesterday and our benefits cost is going up $90 per month. Money is already tight, and this doesn't help things at all. If I would have gotten a raise this year, at least that would have covered the extra insurance cost, but no such luck there. I may be polishing off my resume soon. It's a shame because I really like the environment that I work in and the people I work with, but that wont keep my family in food and clothes.

I feel like I should be writing more and rewriting what I've got, but I just can't motivate myself to do it, which makes me feel worse, which makes me feel less like writing...it's a shitty cycle.

I worry about Logan all the time. I don't think I've said anything about it here, but at his 18-month check up his doctor was concerned that he wasn't saying as many words as she thought he should. We looked into a program with the state and they recommended speach, developmental and occupational therapy for him. He's doing the therapy and we're seeing results, but I just worry that he might have problems later on. At the initial assessment, they said he had some skills that were below where they should be for his age, some that were right on for his age and some that were way ahead of where he should be. I know every kid's going to develop differently, but as a parent I can't help but worry.

I worry about Brandi. I can't ever understand how deeply she was affected by the loss of the baby last week. I just want her to be happy again, really happy and there's nothing I can do about it.

Things will turn around eventually, but until then I just don't know. I don't have all the answers. My parents say they worry that I've got the weight of the world on my shoulders and that it's going to wear me down, but honestly, what adult doesn't carry around a lot of weight.

Ok, that's enough of that.

In other news, I saw a Decepticon on the way to work this morning. It's vehicle form was a fork lift, which I thought was pretty sneaky, but I saw it's symbol and now know it's true identity. If you see a fork lift acting funny, driving on it's own, talking, or anything else suspicious, watch out. You may want to call the Autobots into action, although I don't know how to get in touch with them.

This weekend we're going to Holland, MI. We'll be driving up on Sunday and staying overnight. Monday I have an interview and factory tour to conduct at a woodworking shop up there. Then we'll come home Monday afternoon/evening. We'll still be a few hours away from Shawn, but closer than we were last weekend. Saturday I have to work at the library and then we're going to a surprise 18th birthday party for one of Brandi's cousins.

Guess I had more to say than I thought. That's all for now. Talk to y'all later.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Story Bone

It broke the surface of the water with a splash and a savage roar. Moonlight glowed on its inky black skin. Exposed to the air and away from the embracing pressures of the deep left it angry and confused. It roared again, pouring out its rage and shock and fear. The sound traveled to some nearby cliffs and reverberated back. Hearing the echo, it propelled itself in the direction the sound came from. Finding nothing there but the unyeilding rock and the constant surge of the surf, it cried out again.

High above, the cliff shook, rattling the small village above and waking the people from their slumber.

Logan's First Camping Trip

Last weekend we went camping with Brandi’s mom and one of her aunts to the lovely Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan. The park features modern and rustic camping, Lake Michigan, dunes for climbing, etc. It’s a nice place and I’d been there once before to go to the beach, but never for camping. My mother-in-law and her family usually go every year and most years, one or both of her sisters come with their spouse and/or children. And at only about 90 miles away, it doesn’t take long to get there.

We were looking forward to it, and Brandi got into going out and getting the supplies we needed. We had a tent and a few other things, but we had to get cooking implements, a lantern, sleeping bags, etc., etc. All of last week Brandi had been making lists and inventorying what we would need, and then Friday night most everything was packed into the car. There was so much stuff in the car that I couldn’t see out the back as we drove. We did end up using pretty much all of it, although there was a lot of food left over.

The plan was for everyone to meet at our house, as we’re closest to the park, and then the caravan would leave from there. Everyone was supposed to get to our place at 10:00 on Saturday. At around 9:00 or so on Saturday morning we get a call from Brandi’s mom; they won’t be getting to our house until 10:30. *grumble grumble* That’s typical and I should have expected it, but really, a half hour is no big deal. This left us a little more breathing room to get Logan ready, get myself ready, and get the car packed. Guess what, 10:30 rolls around and no mother-in-law. I take Logan for a walk around the block, and by the time we get back, everyone else has arrived. Now, we’re ready to go, and everyone else is packed, but at this point there is much shuffling around for bathroom breaks and Brandi’s step dad had to hook up the electronics in their van so the kids could watch whatever on their laptops. When I was a kid and going on a long car ride, I would have a book, and maybe a CD player. When I was old enough to buy my own, I also had a GameBoy, but I think by that point, I didn’t take any more long car trips with the family. I never had a DVD player or laptop or anything like that.

So anyway, finally we hit the road. The caravan goes as follows, in-laws, Brandi’s Aunt and Uncle, us. The in-laws have been there the most, so they knew the best route to take, even though we all had GPS. Progress to Michigan was easy, but slow. The lead vehicle, a big old van, only does 80 tops and we did considerably less than that, even when the posted speed was 70 mph. Logan was calm and the day was nice. Eventually he fell asleep. When we were 15 miles from the park, Brandi’s mom called to see if we wanted to stop at the rest area. We said no, cause if we stopped Logan would wake up and we’re only 15 minutes or so from the park anyway. Then she must have called Brandi’s aunt, because she called back a few minutes later to say they needed to stop to use the bathroom. Fine, we’ll stop. *grumble grumble* We needed to stay in a group because we were going to get three adjoining camp sites. Sure enough, as soon as we stop, Logan wakes up and he’s cranky from only having the short nap. After what seems like far too long everyone’s been to the bathroom that needed to go (only the women-folk) and we’re ready to go.

At the state park we have to wait a while because there’s a line of people that want to come in and get a camp site, and the way it’s set up is they only accommodate one person/group at a time. Finally the representatives of our party make it into the room where they tell you what spots are available and there are only two sets of three left. Instead of going to look at the two areas, they just pick one.

Ok, we're here. Now what?

We get to our sites and being to unpack. Logan has fun wandering around and looking at stuff and Brandi’s sister helped out a lot to keep an eye on him while I put up the tent and Brandi pulls out the other stuff. It didn’t take too long to get the tent set up and most everything out. We had lunch and then were ready to go to the beach. There was an incident involving a spilled cup of peaches and the bees that came to investigate afterward, in which I was blamed for both, but in my defense, I was setting up the tent while Brandi and her mom watched over Logan. Oh well.

We don't actually need to get in the tent do we?

The beach was nice. The sky was clear, the sand was on the cool side. Small waves were coming in. And it wasn’t too crowded. Logan wasn’t too impressed with the beach, and I thought the whole experience was going to be ruined when a bee stung him on his cheek. I was carrying him and all of a sudden he started crying and pulled the bee off of his face. Fortunately, the stinger didn’t get in very far and came right out. After a while Logan calmed down.

The beautiful Michigan beaches.

We tried bringing him to the water, but he didn’t like the waves, so after a while I took him over to this little stream and tide pool, which he liked playing in a lot. He splashed and explored and played with the sand. Brandi came by with her brand new camera to take some pictures and slipped and almost went right into the water, camera in hand, but she righted herself and the camera didn’t get wet. Logan was not happy when it was time to go, but we had to get back to the site to make dinner.

Let's see how deep this thing goes, daddy.

He went that'a'way.

On the way from the beach back to our site, we stopped at the tiny general store and bought some wood to burn for cooking and what not. The price wasn’t too bad, but when we got to camp and I tried starting the fire it didn’t go so well. The wood they sold us was pretty wet still and didn’t want to start. Luckily, Brandi’s uncle had brought “Boy Scout Water” and we were able to use that to get things going. Logan had grilled cheese and we had some of those precooked smoked salmon filet things. Dinner was good. Logan played around while we cooked and cleaned up.
The master chef at work.

Wait, you guys get smoked salmon and I'm stuck with grilled cheese?

Back at the campsite we got Logan ready for bed and I laid down with him so that he’d fall asleep. This took a very long time as everyone had set up at the middle campsite fire pit to sit around and talk, and that kept Logan up for a couple hours. At some point I took my glasses off as I was laying next to him on the air mattress and at some point after that, I lost track of my glasses and rolled on top of them. I still haven’t fixed them yet. Eventually, Logan fell asleep and I got up, but by then I had missed smores, sparklers, and I was feeling pretty ticked that everyone had been talking so loud, knowing that I was trying to get Logan to go to sleep, and I didn’t want to sit by them anyway. We stayed up for a while longer, and it was starting to rain when we turned in.

I couldn’t sleep. I stayed up listening to the rain and worrying that it might come in the tent. We have a ten-year-old tent that has never been re-waterproofed. At first it was just a drizzle, but eventually it poured, and for a half hour at least. I don’t think I got to sleep until some time after 3. I kept checking my watch and I pulled Logan onto the air mattress with us (from his little mattress) because I was worried that he might get too cold, even though we had a space heater. We did get a little water. The first clue that we were going to get some water in the tent was when I would get hit by a drip on my shoulder every couple minutes. In the morning there were some little puddles around the edge of the tent, and the only thing that got totally wrecked was a board book of Logan’s that shouldn’t be too hard to replace.

Brandi did the breakfast cooking while I watched Logan. She had decided to go with the meat trio combo of corned beef hash, sausage links and bacon. Brandi’s mom made pancakes and offered us some too. We had a bunch extra and I think Brandi’s step dad and sister ended up finishing the bacon and left over sausage for us.

Logan played and wandered around as we clean up the pans and started getting ready to pack up. The car was not packed as neatly as when we left for Michigan, but it didn’t really matter. Somehow we ended up coming home with more than we left with. A beach chair that Brandi’s mom brought was actually Brandi’s that she had never bothered to take when she moved out, is now back in our possession.

Come on people, lets get a move on!

We left the camp at about 1 Michigan time, so we’d been there for just under 24 hours. Much of Michigan is such a picturesque state and it’s nice to drive through. We were happy but tired. Logan fell asleep after a little while and didn’t wake up until we hit Chicago traffic in the Loop area.

So Logan’s first camping trip went well, and I’m sure it will go even better next year.


Got home yesterday to find a package waiting for me. What could it be? Why, it was a jar of very tasty Tripple Berry Jam from hot chick Janiece. Too bad Brandi was the one that received the package, because it would be kind of hard to hide the jam from her now. :) Thanks Janiece!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Aaaaand Breathe

Except for a pair of editorials that are not mine to finish our September issue is done. Phew! The Big Annoying Project was completed yesterday and our pages were successfully uploaded to the printer. Today is a day to depressurize and catch up on certain things like cleaning out the inbox and cleaning up the piles of papers that have taken over my desk.

We had a good time camping, despite some mishaps, but I'll get to that later.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Going Camping

We're leaving in about 2 hours to go camping for the night at Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan. It'll be Logan's first time sleeping in the great outdoors, and actually only my second time camping. Brandi packed enough stuff for us to be out there for a week I'm sure. Right now I'm still trying to wake up because we stayed up till one last night to watch the last episodes of the first season of Dexter. Oh, and I was up at 5 yesterday. Not much more to say at this point. I'll have a full report later. Play nice while I'm gone and help yourselves to whatever.

Friday, September 5, 2008

So Busy

Still pretty busy at work, at least until Tuesday, and we're going camping this weekend, so here's a fun video from one of my favorite bands, The Eels. I'm dreaming of Saturday morning right about now, except maybe without the crazy truck.

Update: I just got out of a two and a half hour meeting with zero point for me being there. My whole contribution for the meeting was "No we haven't done any surveys." I have so much stuff I need to do and could have gotten a good portion of it done if I didn't have to go to the meeting.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

New Haircut

Brandi got a new haircut last night.

I am a lucky man.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Typical Trip to the Park

Here is a brief summation (with photos!) of a typical trip to the park with Logan. The trips last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, but are usually shorter rather than longer.

After playing outside for a little while (or sometimes not), Logan decides when he's ready to go to the park. Of course, that's the time that we go, excepting sometimes when dinner needs to be made or something else is going on.

Daddy, it's time to go to the park now.

When going to the park, there are certain items we need to take with us. They are: 1) Duckie 2) a toy car (although this one is not always necessary) 3) water/juice, which Logan doesn't ever think to bring, but we do, because he usually ends up wanting it when we get there.

Once we arrive at the park, Logan might run around for a while, he might get up on the equipment a little bit. He used to like the swings, but not so much anymore. We think it's a terrible twos assertion of freedom of movement thing, that he can't be stuck in the swing. Recently we've gone down to the park and after he's done running around for a while, he'll play with his car at the picnic table.

I know we have a picnic table at home I could do this at, but this one is different.

Then, when Logan is ready, and usually not before, we will head home. He'll decide this by starting to walk back home. It's amazing how within about four trips to the park he knew just where to go to get from home to the park and back. It's just down the street, but it's on the other side of the street and three or four blocks away. I'd send him on his own (he's indepent and doesn't want us to hold his hand right now), but the darn kid seems to think he can run into the street and the cars will just bounce off him or something.

Ok, I'm done, you may follow me home now.

And of course, going to the park is very serious business. We don't mess around with the park.

Daddy, I'm always serious about the park. Now stop blogging so we can go.
All photos taken by Brandi, who has much more skill in this area than I do.

New Presidential Candidate

Old, Grizzled Third Party Candidate May Steal Support From McCain

Thank you, The Onion.

The Labor Day Weekend

Back to work after the Labor Day weekend. It was a nice weekend and I didn’t labor too much. Saturday I had to work at the library from 9-5. It wasn’t bad. There were enough people working that the lines didn’t get real long or anything and it wasn’t too busy in general. However, I did have to work with one of the employees who I would really rather not work with. It’s not that she’s mean or rude or incompetent or anything like that. It’s that she’s the type of person that takes everything and turns it into a big freaking deal. Case in point, a couple weeks ago she bumped into something that knocked some stuff over and made a mess. Instead of calmly picking it up and maybe getting a little frustrated she got on the PA system and called the assistant manager to the back room (IMMEDIATELY) and was ready to cry about it. There’s really no need for that, and the PA system shouldn’t be used for a panicked announcement unless someone is getting murdered. So anyway, worked on Saturday, then picked up dinner on the way home cause no one really felt like cooking. Brandi got her new camera either Friday or Saturday and spent a lot of time playing with it. Took Logan to the park. That boy is weird when it comes to going to the park. We’re lucky enough to have three within about three blocks of us, and he might go to the park just to walk over there, stay for about two minutes, and decide it’s time to go home.

Sunday, got up around 8 when Logan had been up for a little while and made breakfast (sausage and eggs). Didn’t really do much on Sunday. We just hung out around the house, played with Logan, took him to the park (twice I think) Brandi and I played Sorry on Sunday, I think. Whichever day we played it, she kicked my butt.

Monday, more of the same. Brandi made the sausage, but no eggs, she’s not real big on eggs all the time. She cleaned up while I entertained the boy and then we ran out. We got dinner from the store, crab legs on sale, and then took Logan to Lake Opeka, which has a small lake and a playground and some other stuff. Brandi had the forethought to bring some bread with and we spent a little time feeding the ducks. Then Logan ran around on the playground and I followed while Brandi would try and get a cute picture. Of course, he would look away just as she pushed the shutter button. Came home, had lunch, put Logan to bed. I got to spend some time out in the garage cleaning up. It’s still a bit of a mess from when we moved in November, but if I were to shove everything to one side we could get a car in there now. Logan only napped for about an hour and wasn’t a happy camper afterward. Then Brandi made the crab (boiled). Logan thought it was very funny when the legs would crack. After Logan went to bed we relaxed for a while and Brandi kicked my butt on Wii Baseball, Tennis, Bowling (twice) and Golf (which surprised me because I’m better at golf, but then my game falls apart under pressure). Oh, I also filled up the tires on our bikes, thanks to our neighbor lending me his bike pump, and took a quick bike ride. It felt really good. I haven’t been on a bike in a long time.

Now I’m back at work. The September issues is due on Monday and my coworker and I are responsible for over half of the one magazine. That’s on top of the three things I have to do for the other magazine. It’s going to be a long week.