Dec 272010

In the beginning, there was leftover Christmas Day breakfast casserole, clementines, and coffee.  And it was good.

Today the thaw began in earnest, but it was still quite cold, so I mostly stayed in.  I’ve started reclaiming my home office.  I’ve let its normally rigorous organization go an item or two at a time, and that’s how I’m restoring it.

I had some unexpected alone time when Lea took the boys to her mom’s today, and that usually means child-inappropriate entertainment:

  • Started Dante’s Inferno today.  That’s a good time so far.  The sound and visuals have exceeded my expectations.  I’m usually a first-person game guy, and I’ve quickly become accustomed to playing third-person, though I’m still making friends with the camera.  This game would have scared the hell out of me when I was 13 years old.
  • Then I took in the remade The Stepfather on streaming Netflix.  I thought it did a great job gradually escalating from typical step-parent nonsense to out-and-out psychosis.  (And Sela Ward’s going to turn me to jelly no matter what she’s doing.)

Helped the boys with more Lego projects.  Watched most of the Independence Bowl.  Then I went to the bank and gassed up the Technical Writing Express.  Now, I’m watching Saintseester vs. NHFalcon on Monday Night Football.

My impact on Western civilization was pretty minimal today.  Sometimes you’ll have that.

 Posted by at 9:00 pm
Dec 262010

We had a white Christmas—and how!

We’re having a white December 26, too.  Roads are much worse today from the overnight freeze, and another inch or two of snow is forecast.  I actually went to church early this morning because I was scheduled to give blood before services, but our pastors were in the process of canceling when I got there.  So I hung out, drank coffee, and laughed a bit, then picked up beer and steaks on the way home.

Now as late as noon on Christmas Eve, the forecast was a 60% chance of light snow, with a half-inch to an inch of accumulation, mostly on grassy surfaces.  Even mid-morning yesterday, with four inches of snow on the ground, they weren’t calling it a winter storm.  As I type, we’ll have seven to eight inches total before it’s over.  That’s heavy-duty in northern Alabama.

I’m delighted the boys finally got the “real snow” we’ve been telling them about!

We all had a good time yesterday.  We started here at 5:53 am.  (We require that the boys stay in their rooms until 6, but it was tough to be a hard-ass about it when I learned they’d sat back there wide awake for an hour.  Heh.)  We had lunch at Lea’s mom’s, with all of her sisters in town—no mean feat when one lives in New Mexico.  We capped at Dad’s, where we enjoyed ourselves, but didn’t stay as long as we would have liked because of sundown travel concerns.

I’ll resume some productive activity tomorrow, but I’m playing today.  I see movies, games, and a book in my immediate future.

Have to tell about a chuckle I got this morning before I go.  I received a perfect example of tortuously overthought political correctness in my inbox.  An email from Barnes & Noble informed me of an “after holiday clearance.”

Okay, so they studiously and successfully avoided the use of the demon, evil, nasty, polarizing word Christmas.  But how accurate is “after holiday” when Kwanzaa starts today?  Just what kind of operation are they running up there?  What are they, racists?  I certainly hope somebody’s suing over this.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and can enjoy a leisurely Sunday after.

 Posted by at 10:37 am
Dec 252010

And the angel answered Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God. – Luke 1:35

Joy and peace to you and your family this Christmas Day.

 Posted by at 12:01 am
Dec 242010

I went to Lea’s mom’s yesterday to put together some Christmas presents.  I didn’t take any tools, anticipating stepping out to my father-in-law’s garage if I needed anything I couldn’t find in the house tool bag.

And I did.  Visiting Nelis’s shop is bittersweet and evocative.  It’s pretty much exactly as he left it.  Rick, another son-in-law, is also in there periodically, but I get the sense he treads lightly just like I do.  So when I find a tool or some hardware I need and grasp it, there’s an excellent chance that Lea’s dad was the last person to touch it.

Nothing teaches economy like a lifetime of hard work, and there is most-for-the-least thinking everywhere.  There is no need to purchase an expensive bin system, when these (store-brand) dog biscuit boxes work just as well.  There is a power tool here and there, and in most cases they’re of high quality, decades old, and well-maintained.

I needed a 10mm combination wrench yesterday, and there it was on the peg board, hobby-wired through the box end together with other metric sizes.  I wondered what he had last used it for.  I was careful to preserve the securing method when I replaced it on the board.

The experience reminded me of something that happened earlier this year that I wish I’d blogged about, but I didn’t think about it until it was too late.  One of my mother-in-law’s toilets was acting up, and she asked me to look at it.  I took the lid off, and I’m certain that the mechanism I found in the tank was original to the house (and the house is 50 years old).  For one thing, it had much more metal in it than anything I’d ever known to be part of a toilet.  For another, I could look at the different patinas on different repairs and say “okay, Nelis fixed it there 30 years ago, he fixed it there 20 years ago, he fixed it…”  Heh.

It only took me a few minutes to restore the toilet’s normal operation, but I did it with a $12 plastic assembly from a box store.  It felt almost criminal.  I’m sorry, Nelis.  I promise I won’t fidget when I see you again and you gently admonish me for taking that easy way out.

He was such a neat guy, and having him in my life for the short time I did was a blessing.  I miss him.  Everyone does.  You know, my marriage is a promise to Lea and a covenant we both have with God, but I’m humbled and inspired all over again when I consider that I’m also entrusted with that great man’s baby girl.

 Posted by at 11:00 am
Dec 232010
  • Happy Festivus!
  • Nathan’s getting a Guinness Book of World Records for Christmas.  That was one of my very favorite books to spend time with when I was his age.  Given that he looks at one every time we’re in the bookstore together, I think he’ll have a similar experience.
  • I’ve refined a delicious breakfast sandwich (essentially an Egg McMuffin) down to about 300 calories and 7 minutes prep time, which makes it an excellent go-to.  The boys and Lea think so too.  I rarely make one only for myself anymore.
  • Today was my main Christmas job day.  The boys helped me get the cards done and mailed, though only locals will get them on time.  (Call them Christmas season cards.)  Completed all of the “some assembly required” necessary this year.
  • Of my own free will, I stepped into a retail establishment about two hours ago.  It is exceptionally rare for me to do such a thing on December 23.  Lowe’s wasn’t so bad, and the laundry room overhead light works reliably now.  Not going back out in the next three days except to church and to see family.
  • Ralph Friedgen went 8-4 at Maryland this year, and won ACC Coach of the Year.  So, of course, they’re firing him.  See, his head-coach-in-waiting took the Vanderbilt head job, and they’re worried about continuity for recruits.  Also, the athletic director is yammering about turning good into great, and making a change at this time to see that happen.  Blah, blah, blah.  I have a familiar response:  dude, you’re Maryland!  How good do you think you’re supposed to be?
  • When I was 9 or so, Dad restored a ’65 Thunderbird.  Look at the Thunderbird Special Landau ad on this page for what the car looked like (same color and everything).  The deco thing is definitely overwrought, but I still remember it fondly.
 Posted by at 6:41 pm