Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Fare the well, Terry Jones, and thank you so much for all the laughs.

Terry Jones | 6:16 am CST
Category: current events
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Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

I fired up the snow blower for the first time last weekend.

I’ll say that again: For the first time this winter, I used my snow blower. In mid-January. It finally snowed enough to get the snow blower out of moth balls. It snowed a couple times before last weekend, but just barely. All but once I didn’t even bother to shovel it off the driveway. It’s been a disappointing year for snow, if you love snow. Which I don’t. I could easily do without it, and it looks increasingly like I’ll be able to do just that.

But not because of climate change, because climate change is a hoax.

Just kidding. Climate change is real and we’re all going to die.

Just kidding. We’re not going to die. It’ll only feel like we’re dying.

Don’t mind me. I just woke up. Haven’t even finished my coffee yet. Go back to sleep.

first blow | 6:18 am CST
Category: current events, random idiocy, weather, yet another rant
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Saturday, January 18th, 2020

Driving into town this morning I had to hit the brakes suddenly and all the ice and snow that had piled up on the roof came sliding down the windshield to almost completely block my view, not an idea situation to be in while driving along one of the busiest roads in Madison.

We’ve had quite a lot of snow fall in the past two or three days and because we haven’t been able to park the car in the garage, a layer of ice about half an inch thick built up on the roof, which was later covered by about three inches of snow. I could get most of the snow off when I cleaned off the car this morning, but the ice was too hard and stuck fast to the roof, but apparently the car warmed up enough as we drove it first to breakfast and then into town for the bond between the ice and the rooftop to loosen, leading up to the surprise and near-blinding I got later.

We can’t park our car in the garage because the guys who are installing the new siding on our little red house have parked a dumpster in the driveway where they toss demolished lumber and scraps of siding. Our car has to sit all by its lonesome self at the end of the driveway in the blowing snow.

snowcrash | 3:01 pm CST
Category: story time, weather | Tags:
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I have that funny feeling somebody’s watching me.

someone’s watching | 2:37 pm CST
Category: daily drivel
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Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

“I don’t care how flat the box is, I’m getting in it!”

a cat in a box

boxed | 5:58 am CST
Category: daily drivel | Tags: ,
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Saturday, January 11th, 2020

I kinda had to do this. It was getting to be too much trouble to take care of. I let it grow out in the first place because I was too lazy to get it cut, so it only follows that I’d get it cut because I’m too lazy to take care of it properly.

time to get those hairs cut

I really had no idea it was so long. I mean, obviously I knew it was long but until I saw the photos my stylist took I didn’t realize just how long it had grown (and how much it made me look like the creepy bald guy in Rocky Horror). I was also pretty clueless about how long it had been since I stopped getting it cut, too. I searched through my camera roll to find a photo of myself with short hair to show to the stylist and had to scroll back more than two years! Honestly, I thought it had been maybe a year, year and a half tops.

The stylist was not sure at all I knew what I was getting myself into when I told her how short I wanted her to cut it and showed her the photos of me before I stopped getting it cut. I had to virtually sign a waiver and pinky swear that I would not hold it against her after she cut it all off. She started by whacking about six inches off just so she would have room to work, issuing little declarative statements like “it’s not going to look pretty,” which made me laugh and evil laugh. “I was just thinking,” I said, “that if I really wanted to be mean right now, I’d start blubbering ‘no, no, stop!'”

Best part of the night: she washed my hair with a special shampoo that apparently had spicy peppers in it — is there nothing they won’t turn into a mole these days? The conditioner she used after the wash was similarly spiked and kept my scalp tingling through the rest of the haircut.

The rest of the cut took about a half hour to forty-five minutes; altogether I was there about an hour and a half, and I have to say it was the best part of my day. I can see why My Darling B likes going there. I’ve already set a reminder in my calendar to go back next month for another wash and cut.

hairs cut | 8:42 am CST
Category: barber, random idiocy | Tags:
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Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

The house was naked when we got home last night. All the siding had been ripped off it. That was expected. There are no roving gangs of vandals stripping the siding from houses in our neighborhood; we actually hired a contractor to pull all the old siding off, then put new siding on. Nothing to worry about here.

What was worrisome, though, was the sound of running water we heard after we entered the house. It seemed to be coming from the kitchen, so My Darling B went straight to it. She opened the dish washer, thinking maybe I had loaded it up in the morning and it had somehow gotten stuck in the rinse cycle, but she could quickly see that it wasn’t running, so she checked under the sink. No sign of anything amiss under there.

We shared a significant look just then, and I could tell she was thinking of the deluge, too. We had a little accident a couple years back when an overflowing toilet flooded the basement so catastrophically that we had to call in a small army of people to clean it up, and damned if that “running water” sound didn’t sound a lot like this.

As I ran down the stairs to the basement, I could hear the sound of water splashing, gushing, cascading and otherwise doing what would be described using words that would generally denote a more cheerful activity than the one that was happening in our house. It didn’t take long for me to find where the water was coming from, but the leak was behind a panel I would have to tear out to get to it, so I ran back upstairs, changed into grubby clothes, and got to work.

And while I was racing around, I was making several phone calls to the contractors who had ripped the siding off my house, because what had happened apparently was this: There’s a faucet for the garden hose out back of the house. A pipe from the house runs out through a hole in the siding. From what I could tell, when they tore off the siding, they pulled the faucet off, too. Weirdly, they put the faucet back by stuffing the broken pipe back into the hole, as if that would somehow fix things. I conveyed all this information to the contractors, who called a plumber, who arrived at our humble o-bode later that evening, by which time I had shut off the water main and cleaned things up a bit.

The plumber examined the broken pipe, made two quick cuts with a nifty powered tool that removed a two-inch length of pipe so he could get in there with his hand, then fished a small brass cap out of his pocket which he fit over the end of the pipe and pounded it home with the heel of his hand. “You want to turn the water back on?”

“Don’t you at least want to hit that with a hammer?” I asked, because I believed he would at the very least have to solder the cap in place. He insisted it would hold, so I opened the main water valve, expecting to hear the sound of water spraying gaily all over the plumber as he yelled for me to turn it off again. No such thing happened. I stared in wonder at the little brass cap and asked him what the hell it was, because I wanted a couple of them on hand for the next plumbing emergency.

Monday flood | 5:58 am CST
Category: adventures in plumbing, Our Humble O'Bode, random idiocy
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Saturday, January 4th, 2020

My morning walk through Turville Park was a little shorter than planned, because the weather was a lot colder and windier than I thought it would be. I checked the temperature after I decided to go and was surprised to learn it was thirty degrees, which wouldn’t have been so bad if the wind had been calm, but it wasn’t. And I wanted to hike the trails out to Turville Point, where the winds off the lake were not slowed down one teensy-tiny little bit by the leafless trees in the park, so when I finally got there, I didn’t linger at all. In fact, by the time I got there I was moving at a pretty good clip just to keep warm, and only stopped maybe twice to get a good look at some trees which had fallen in the water along the shoreline. I paddled my kayak along this shore last summer and it was interesting to see it from this different angle. Interesting, but not engrossing. I finished my morning walk in about thirty minutes.

Because my plans changed from taking a little wander through the park to marching double-time to keep from freezing solid, I didn’t see much else while I was at the park but those fallen trees. I briefly caught sight of a large bird I thought may have been an owl swooping out of the upper branches of an oak tree. It had the impressive wingspan of a small aircraft and a barrel-shaped, thickly-feathered body, but as I got only the briefest glimpse of it as it flew away I can’t be sure what it was. I saw no other wildlife during my hurried visit, not even evidence of wildlife such as the rustling of leaf litter as squirrels hustled by. I didn’t even meet any other people out for an early walk in the chill of the morning. I believe I had the park all to myself.

Turville Point | 11:58 am CST
Category: daily drivel
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Friday, January 3rd, 2020

We had a somewhat unexpectedly big day here at our little red house: a small crew of men arrived in the early morning hours to knock the picture window out of the front of the house and replace it with a newer picture window. This was only somewhat unexpected because I actually contracted with a local business to do exactly what they did, but that was months ago, and it has taken so long to finalize the deal and get them to commit to a schedule that I frankly began to wonder if it was ever going to happen in my lifetime. Until yesterday morning.

I noticed I got a call from the contractor when I took my phone out of my pocket after I got to the office yesterday. I called them back right away — this was at about seven-thirty in the morning — and the guy who answered said something like, “I just want to make sure we’re still on for today.” And I answered, “On for today?” in the tone of voice of a person who isn’t sure exactly what he’s being asked to commit to, for the good reason that I wasn’t.

“Didn’t you get my voicemail yesterday?” he asked. “A couple of guys are going to replace your windows this morning.” When I asked what time we could expect a couple of random guys to show up at our house, he said probably between eight-thirty or nine o’clock.

“I wonder if you could hold off until I can make sure my wife is awake?” I asked, this time using the tone of voice of a person who was warning him not to wake my wife if he had any idea what was good for him.

By lucky chance, My Darling B was home from the office yesterday. Lucky, because one of us would have to be at home to let the workmen in so they could knock the old window out and install the new one. Unluckily, however, B took the day off from work so she could relax; you know, hang out in her pajamas with a hot mug of coffee and a book, which was very unlikely now that I knew big burly men were going to be hammering and drilling and tromping around in our living room. Also in our kitchen. They were going to replace the kitchen window, too.

I called B immediately after I got off the phone with the contractor, but she didn’t answer because it was seven-thirty in the morning and she would never be awake that early on a day when she does not have to get out of bed before she just naturally awakens, which normally happens any time after, say, nine o’clock, and sometimes much later. I called her again about ten minutes later and at ten-minute intervals after that until, at about twenty past eight, she finally answered. Before I could tell her much at all, she sleepily informed me a truck just dumped a pile of construction materials in our front yard. She even sent a photo of the pile to me via text message.

I quickly explained to her that several strange men would shortly ring our doorbell and ask to be let in so they could bash out the windows, and that she should probably think about gathering up the cats and sequestering them behind a closed door of one of the rooms in the house, or maybe I suggested that she put on some clothes first and then round up the cats. It’s hard to remember exactly how I conveyed to a very sleepy woman who had anticipated spending the day drinking hot coffee in the cozy comfort of her home would now have to look forward to a day of loud construction in the very rooms where she had hoped to lounge.

She was a little on the grumpy side of unhappy about this change of plans, as she had every right to be, but she managed to corral the cats and pull on some blue jeans and a sweatshirt in the few minutes she had left before the construction crew showed up. She spent most of the day barricaded in one of the bedrooms trying to stay our of their way and keep warm in a house that suddenly had a very large hole in it in the middle of winter. The hole was filled with a new window in just a few short hours, but the construction crew wasn’t done hammering and drilling until about three o’clock in the afternoon, so almost the entirety of B’s day off went down the tubes and she was still a tad grumpy by the time I returned home at five o’clock.

windowless | 6:36 am CST
Category: ch-ch-changes, daily drivel, Our Humble O'Bode
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Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

I thought I would have to fire up the snow blower for the first time in 2019 when I woke up in the morning of the very last day of that year to a fresh snowfall. My snow blower’s gasoline engine is reluctant to start after it’s been sitting unused all summer, so I dressed up in my warmest winter coat, knowing I could be out in the subfreezing weather for a while. As it turned out, I didn’t so much as lay a hand on my snow blower. There was less than a half-inch of snow on the driveway; if I had wheeled out the snow blower to remove that, it would have seemed to me at least like the most egregious misuse of a power tool imaginable. It was a preposterously simple matter to clear the driveway in just five minutes using the snow shovel. I wasn’t even winded when I finished. I probably could have used a push broom.

One of my neighbors, who owns one of the largest snow blowers I have ever seen, does not have the same reservations about how and when to use it that I had about mine. He’s one of those “I paid a lot of money for this power tool and I’m going to use it” kind of guys. His snow blower is taller than he is, and has a mouth wide enough to clear half his driveway in a single pass. After a heavy snowfall, witnessing it make short work of waist-high drifts of snow is an impressive sight to behold. Seeing him use it to clear a half-inch of snow is another thing entirely. I was at the end of my drive, clearing away the inch-high ridge of snow left behind by the city snow plow crew after they cleared our street, when I heard the roar of his snow blower coming to life. I stopped what I was doing and used my shovel as a prop to rest my arm on while I watched him follow his behemoth to the end of his driveway, maneuver it through a 180-degree turn, then follow it back up to his house, all the while wreathed by the faintest haze of snow thrown into the air as a thin, insubstantial whisp that blew apart in the breeze the moment it exited the chute off the top of his snow blower. He tried to make a bigger production of it by spending some extra time at the end of the driveway making sure he got all the snow left behind by the city plow, but it hardly took him five minutes to do the whole thing. I bet the engine on his snow blower didn’t even get warm.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t have even bothered to shovel so little snow off the driveway because I’m pretty lazy when it comes to yard work, to be frank. I should probably hire some of the more enterprising neighborhood teenagers to cut the grass and shovel the driveway, but as well as being lazy I’m also a skinflint, so to this day I still do my own mowing and shoveling and other yard work, but only when I feel I absolutely have to. Yesterday afternoon was one of those times. Our good friends, Becky and John, were coming over later in the afternoon to go out to dinner with us, then come back to our little red house to spend new year’s eve playing games, and I didn’t want them to have to trudge through even as little as a half-inch of snow, because who would do that to their good friends?

We had a very casual dinner at a popular local pizza parlor not far from our house. We figured we’d have a quick dinner there, then return to play games while we noshed on some snacky foods and finally toast the new year, not necessarily at midnight because none of us are spring chickens any more. We ended up spending a bit more time at the pizza parlor than we had planned, about three and a half hours! I can’t account for this. It’s normally a popular place but there didn’t seem to be any more customers than we usually saw; in fact, I spotted empty tables and stools at the bar from time to time, but the wait staff were obviously running their legs off. We didn’t even see our waitress until about fifteen minutes after we were seated when she paused briefly — and I mean very briefly — to apologize for then wait, then add she’d be back in just two more minutes before she dashed away again. She didn’t give us enough time to ask for water. And she wasn’t back in two minutes.

When she did come back, ten minutes later, she stayed only long enough to get our drinks order before rushing off again. We managed to slip in a request for some fried cheese curds, too, but just barely. She swooped in to dive-bomb the table with John’s beer minutes later, explaining his order was easiest to fill because it came in a bottle. Becky got her cocktail about five minutes later, while Barb’s sat at the end of the bar at least ten minutes, for some reason. I got my beer last, many more minutes after B’s cocktail was delivered. If I recall correctly, the cheese curds arrived after we all raised our glasses to toast the new year, but the waitress didn’t take our dinner order until we were burping contentedly after finishing off all of the cheese curds and had nearly made our way to the bottoms of all of our drinks.

So you get the idea: service was slow and the main courses didn’t arrive until well past the time we thought we’d be on our way home. We weren’t in a terribly big hurry, though, so it’s not like we felt like complaining about it, but damned if we wouldn’t make fun of it a little bit.

Back at our little red house, I popped open a bottle of bubbly, poured a glass for everyone and we shared a toast to the new year, again. Then we played a very silly card game that required us to shout out words and phrases that were improbable under any other circumstances that didn’t involve prosecco, and had a pretty good time doing it.

new years eve | 1:01 pm CST
Category: beer, booze, daily drivel, entertainment, food & drink, play, restaurants | Tags: , , , ,
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Monday, December 30th, 2019

The thermometer says it isn’t any colder out now than it was when I left the house at eight-thirty. My butt, on the other hand, says it is. I want to believe the thermometer, but I have to live in the same set of clothes with my butt, so I believe it’s colder.

Actually, I believe it’s the same temperature but I know it feels colder now that the wind has picked up from being nearly dead calm when I left the house, to blowing briskly and mercilessly now. Also, I had to walk home through a headwind, and that’s always good for making the weather feel a lot cooler.

Speaking of a lot cooler, I had to peel out of my coat during yesterday’s walk; it was warm enough to walk the streets in my shirtsleeves, and a lot of other people were doing it, too. The day before that, it was colder than it is today. Winter in Wisconsin; if you don’t like the weather, wait a couple hours.

frozen butt | 11:27 am CST
Category: daily drivel | Tags: ,
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Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Everyone drinks coffee to kickstart their morning, so why doesn’t everyone drink it straight, dark, bitter? I don’t understand why anybody puts stuff in coffee. Milk, sugar, syrup — it all takes the edge off, so what’s the point? If you want a frou-frou drink with frou-frou smells first thing in the morning, drink tea.

coffee vs tea | 9:43 am CST
Category: coffee, food & drink, yet another rant
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Saturday, December 28th, 2019

I didn’t have enough vacation time this year to take last Thursday and Friday off, which a lot of people did, so I was in the office, bleary-eyed and not especially bushy-tailed, before the sun came up on Thursday morning.

The office was silent as a graveyard. I debated with myself over whether or not to make coffee. I myself was going to drink tea that morning, and I figured that the few people who were in to work that morning would be Keurig-users. The people who drink from the pot seem to be mostly management types, and I figured they wouldn’t be around. But, what the heck, I brewed a pot anyway and made it strong, just in case there was anyone in the office who needed a kick in the pants that morning.

Lucky thing, because there was more than one. I went back to the kitchen at about nine-thirty to make myself another cuppa and saw the pot was almost empty. Must have been more than a few people who needed a jolt that morning. Brewed another strong pot that was almost gone before lunch time.

Same thing happened Friday morning. There must have been a lot more people working the in-between days than I thought, and apparently they didn’t get much sleep.

Making coffee at work | 4:48 pm CST
Category: coffee, coworkers, daily drivel, food & drink, office work, work
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Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

melted coffee pot“Do you smell something burning?” My Darling B asked me the other night as I was watching something on television.

I put the program I was watching on pause, because that’s how you smell things better, and sniffed the air.

“No,” I answered, “but then I can’t smell much at all right now.” We’re both getting over headcolds that were so bad they would, in the middle ages, have been characterized as some version of the plague, or at least a witch’s curse.

B went back to doinking around on Facebook and didn’t appear to be too concerned, so I continued watching television for exactly one and a half minutes, stopping when B looked up again, sniffed the air and said, “Something *is* burning.”

I paused the video again and sniffed the air. Nothing. I looked around for signs of smoke, but didn’t see anything like that, either. B waited about ten seconds for me to get up and look around, but my feeling was that if she wasn’t concerned enough about the smell of something burning to get up herself, then I wasn’t too worried, either, particularly when I didn’t smell anything at all.

She went through the dining room into the kitchen. “Oh, SHIT!”

Well. That’s probably not good.

After finally levering my butt off the sofa and joining B in the kitchen, I found that the coffee pot I set on the stove top when cleaning up after dinner was leaning at an angle toward the small burner in the front corner which was, coincidentally, still switched on at a very low setting but still hot enough, evidently, to melt the plastic base of the coffee pot. We have a stove with one of those flat black ceramic tops that heats up pots and pans by way of magic. We frequently use it as extra counter space because our kitchen is so small, even though we know that’s probably not a good idea, for obvious reasons. I rescued what was left of the coffee pot, then fetched a putty knife from the garage and scraped as much of the melted plastic as I could off the stove top.

We were still going to need the coffee pot in the morning, so I whittled down a cork from a wine bottle and hot-glued it into the gap melted out of the bottom of the pot, giving it a pirate’s peg-leg so it could stand upright on the countertop in the morning. It’ll serve until its replacement arrives in the mail sometime after the holidays.

And for the foreseeable future I guess I’ll have to jump whenever B asks if I smell something burning.

sniffing the air | 10:47 am CST
Category: fun with electricity, housekeeping, random idiocy
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Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

I am so sick of being sick. I feel like if I don’t stop coughing soon my sides will cramp up so hard I’ll never be able to relax my muscles again and I’ll walk around bent over like an ambulatory question mark for the rest of my life.

cramp | 1:19 pm CST
Category: daily drivel | Tags:
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Friday, December 20th, 2019

And once again I’m home doing my best to recover from an attack of the coughing crud. I’m not sure if I’ve had a relapse of the old coughing crud I thought I’d gotten over, or this is a different strain of coughing crud that I was fortunate enough to collect right after the first run of crud. So far, I’ve got the complete set! Yay me!

I’ve been coughing and crudding since Monday night, forcing myself to go back to work and tough it out every day because I was working on a huge project that I finished yesterday. Then this morning when my alarm went off I hit snooze for the first time in years, and when I finally did roll out of bed and shamble towards the bathroom, I got about halfway there before I thought to myself, screw it, there’s no way I’m going to work today.

So I called in, fed the cats, and made a pot of coffee, in that order, then settled in for a long day of hacking and coughing and blowing my nose a lot. Managed to do just a little light housework, too, so I could justify staying home all day, because I’ve been a guilt-ridden neurotic since the day I was born so I feel I have to justify taking a day off even when the microbial world is conspiring to murder me.

home alone | 2:38 pm CST
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Monday, December 9th, 2019

I called mom last night and one of the topics of conversation was my upcoming 60th birthday, which is in fact a year and three days from now but I didn’t correct her because, you know, 59, 60, what’s the difference?

She brings it up the topic of my age more often than she used to because she can’t get her head around the idea that the child she gave birth to seems to be as old as she is. “You can’t be 60,” she said. “I’m 60!” I totally get what she means. I usually feel like I’m about thirty years old, until I throw my back out bending over to pick up a cat toy, or stop to catch my breath as I’m scrubbing the bathtub. Being 59 (or 60, whatever) feels like that shouldn’t happen, but it does.

Fifty nine | 6:04 am CST
Category: falling apart, Life & Death
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Saturday, December 7th, 2019

We still have the plague here. B thought it skipped her but she started feeling sick maybe three or four days ago and yesterday her boss sent her home from work. She’s got the same symptoms I had, stuffy head and hacking up gobbets of gross gunk.

I keep saying I’m on the upswing now and mostly that seems to be true, but I still have episodes when I can feel a pocket of something deep in the back of my head give way and the next few sloppy minutes will be me continually blowing hard through my nose into yards and yards of toilet paper, sooo gross.

plague update | 6:38 am CST
Category: falling apart | Tags:
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Boo let me know it was time to get up and feed her by jumping on my bladder, walking across my stomach and clawing at the box spring after jumping to the floor as noisily as a five-pound cat can. It was quarter to four in the morning. So I got up and fed her, as you do. Six hours of sleep it enough, right?

She was sleeping with us because she’s in recovery after we had to take her to the vet who drained an abscess in her face. Boo’s face, not the vet’s. The vet had to yank five of Boo’s teeth out, too, probably making the whole deal a fairly traumatic experience, so we let her into the bedroom to cuddle up with us while she’s recovering.

We stopped letting the cats sleep with us when they learned that I really hate it when they walk on my face. After they acquired that knowledge, they did it all the time. If you’ve never wanted to strangle a cat with your bare hands, you’ve never had one walk on your face while you’re sound asleep.

They walk on my face because I’m the one who feeds them (somehow that ended up as part of my job description; I need a better union rep) and they know that I’ll get up and feed them if only to stop them from walking on my face. Locking them out of the bedroom restored regular feeding hours. I also got more sleep, which didn’t suck.

After losing most of her molars and one of her fangs, Boo has officially crossed the line into the soft-food phase of her life, and she’s enjoying it. Tiki Cat three times a day! Scooter and Sparky are insane with jealousy.

solid six | 5:46 am CST
Category: Boo, sleeplessness | Tags:
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Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

I am so sick of breathing through my mouth.

And coughing. I could do without coughing for a while.

gasp | 6:35 am CST
Category: daily drivel | Tags:
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Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

So now it’s day seven of the monster death head cold. I thought I was on the upswing but now I’m not so sure. I spent about half the night breathing through my mouth which means I spent half the night not sleeping because I can’t sleep when I have to breathe through my mouth, pretty much a replay of the night before. Thank goodness for coffee. I’ll be drinking gallons of that stuff all day.

gasp cough snort | 6:14 am CST
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Saturday, November 30th, 2019

And today is day four of the death monster head cold from beyond the stars, which means I’ve reached the point in my illness when I’m so frustrated about having to breathe through my mouth all the time that I fantasize about going down to the work bench looking for power tools to relieve the congestion. Or even a toilet plunger. I imagine it would be so easy to suck all the gunk out of my nose it almost makes me cry. If I thought I could get one to fit tightly over my face, I wouldn’t even stop to rinse it off.

I woke up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom and while I was there, the thick curtain of mucus blocking my sinuses parted just long enough for me to grab a couple quick breaths through my nose. Seizing the moment, I snatched a yard or two of toilet paper from the roller and blew with all my might, relieving my nasal passages of gallons of the stickiest goo ever conceived of. There was so much goo I had to grab another handful of toilet paper and blow, and when that didn’t get the job done I grabbed more, wondering how much there could possibly be.

Turned out my nose was bleeding, which happens to me commonly in the dry weather of winter, and especially when I’m sick, so I tipped my head back and pinched my nostrils together until the bleeding stopped. On the way out the thought struck me I should turn on the lights to see if I needed to clean up at all and HOLY CRAP IT LOOKED LIKE I’D BEEN SLAUGHTERING PIGS IN THERE! Spent five minutes with a damp cloth mopping up the blood I sprayed on the tub, tiles, wall and rug.

In spite of not being able to breathe all that easily, I managed to sleep until about six-thirty this morning, almost eight hours, before I gave up and started a pot boiling for coffee. A little java in the morning clears the clotted grunge from my throat like a shot of Drano, so I choke down half a cup even though it makes my head pound. After coffee, it’s green tea all day long. It seems to soothe my throat or at least I imagine it does. The steam rising from the cup feels good, too.

Synonym for stuffed | 11:04 am CST
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Friday, November 29th, 2019

It’s about quarter to nine on Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving, and my sinuses are still stuffed full of whatever nasty goop sinuses fill up with when they’re infected by whatever nasty bug I got infected by. I got a pretty solid six, maybe seven hours of sleep last night before I couldn’t breath through my nose any longer; I can’t sleep when I’m forced to breath through my mouth, so I passed a half-hour or so rolling from one side to the other, loosening up the gunk that was plugging my head. When it was finally ready to harvest, I rolled out of bed, toddled off to the bathroom, yanked a couple yards of toilet paper off the roll and blew and blew and blew and blew and blew and I still didn’t get all the gunk out. It’s going to be an all-day project.

stuffed | 8:55 am CST
Category: Life & Death | Tags:
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Thursday, November 28th, 2019

It’s about twelve-thirty as I type these words and I should be about halfway to Arkansas right now. My Darling B and I had plans to travel to my mom’s house, where we would stay for three nights over the holiday weekend. For a while earlier this week it looked as though the weather might derail our plans but that turned out not to be the case. Instead, I fell victim to a virus that’s been going around. It started with a scratchy throat on Tuesday, blew up into congestion that filled my sinuses from top to bottom with goo more powerfully sticky than anything Gorilla Glue makes, and which left me weak and sleepy and worn-out as a bald tire. I got a solid eight hours of sleep last night with the help of a shot of Nyquil before bed, so I almost feel as though I’m starting to come back from the worst of the congested sinuses and cruddy throat. If I can get a nap and another solid night’s sleep, I just might come back from this by Saturday or Sunday, and that would be a very good thing. Nothing worse than staring into a computer screen all day Monday with a head cold pounding away at my skull.

over the river | 12:36 pm CST
Category: daily drivel | Tags: ,
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Sunday, November 24th, 2019

I think a shower couldn’t possibly feel better than right after I’ve been cleaning the toilet, unless it’s after cleaning the toilet and dredging great big greasy blobs of hair out of the drain in the bathtub.

Our Little Red House is sixty-four years old, which means I’ve been through some pretty gnarly adventures in plumbing because sixty-five-year-old plumbing gives a house a lot of personality. The bathtub, for instance, drains into a drum trap, which means it tends to fill up with hair spiders and gobbets of grease. A drum trap has a lid you can remove to clean it out, but I’m not doing that because yuck, and also because the trap is above a finished ceiling I’m not going to cut a hole in just because some hair balled up in the bathtub drain. What I do instead is run water down the tub’s vent while I use a toilet plunger to plunge the drain. The scary-looking crap that come up out of the drain after I vigorously plunge it a dozen or so times would make you scream for your mama.

Compared to the grunginess I feel after plunging out the tub’s drain, cleaning the toilet is relatively benign, but it’s still a toilet and the brush still sprays my arms and sometimes my face as I scrub out the bowl. I would pay so much money for a toilet brush that didn’t spray, but what I’d really like to spend so much money on (and I know I’m sounding like a broken record about this subject) is a toilet that cleans itself. Landing on the moon is cool and all, but a self-cleaning toilet is what I would consider the epitome of technological advancement.

So after covering myself in the grunge from the bathtub drain and getting sprayed with toilet water, I took an almost indecently long, scalding hot shower and enjoyed every second of it like I’ve enjoyed only a handful of showers in my life.

most enjoyable shower | 2:36 pm CST
Category: adventures in plumbing, housekeeping, Our Humble O'Bode, random idiocy, scrub-a-dub-dub, yet another rant
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Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

We were wondering the other day if there’s a word or phrase to describe songs you’re done with. I mean, other than the phrase I just used. I was thinking maybe there’s an already-established phrase, or one of those mile-long Latin words. That’s what we were wondering about. But “songs you’re done with” will work just fine, too.

I don’t remember which song came on the radio to make us think about this, but for instance: “Another One Bites The Dust” is a song I’m done with. I still think it’s a perfectly good song and I’m not suggesting it should be banned from the airwaves or anything like that; all I’m saying is that I’ve heard it approximately forty-two million times, so I’m done hearing it. If I’m flipping through radio stations and I hear it, I don’t even pause. There is no desire to stop. I’m done hearing it. The audio teleomere in my brain that marked the number of times I would ever want to hear that song (among others) has been set to zero.

Oh, I remember the song that started this conversation: Frank Sinatra’s recording of “My Way.” In a story on NPR yesterday morning they claimed that this was the most-requested song at karaoke bars and funerals, just one more good reason to avoid both, in my opinion.

songs you’re done with | 6:05 am CST
Category: entertainment, music, random idiocy
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Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

I spent the weekend with My Darling B doing pretty much nothing, and apparently we needed a weekend just like that because we slept like bears in hibernation.

We didn’t do exactly nothing. We did, in fact, travel to Lake Mills, Wisconsin, to attend the twentieth anniversary party of the Tyranena Brewery (long may they continue to brew the most delicious beer in Jefferson County!), an event where we mostly sat quietly sampling various wonderful brews and noshing on noshies. Low-impact events are our lifestyle now.

The beers that Tyranena makes, though, tend to be very boozy, so we didn’t drink very many of them before we had to lie down go night-night.

We spent all day Sunday just reading or watching TV, and were both in bed by eight. Lights-out for me was eight-thirty or nine, and I slept like the dead until four o’clock Monday morning, at which point my brain said AWAKEN, so I had no choice but to go make a pot of coffee and bimble about the house.

not much how about you | 6:14 am CST
Category: beer, festivals, food & drink, play, sleeplessness, travel
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Saturday, November 9th, 2019

I slept until five o’clock yesterday morning and believed I had successfully readjusted after we moved the clocks back. I was wrong.

reset to zero | 3:25 am CST
Category: sleeplessness | Tags:
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Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

In a recent Twitter post, Matt Haig asked: “What is the most controversial opinion you strongly hold, and could bet your life on, and don’t mind people knowing? Mine is: astrology isn’t real.” He almost immediately followed that post with, “I regret this tweet,” which I thought was the funniest thing I read on Twitter all day.

My most controversial opinions, in no particular order, are:

Milk chocolate is an abomination. This opinion is controversial only in the fact that almost no one I know will pass up milk chocolate for dark chocolate. Dark chocolate forever! That I ever ate milk chocolate is a shame I can never erase from myself.

Vaccinations should be mandatory. Also, they should be free. That vaccines have become controversial truly saddens me. My wife has a smallpox scar on her arm; I don’t, because smallpox was wiped out by vaccines. Same with polio. I don’t understand how people do not see that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Organ donation should be mandatory, too.

People aren’t heroes just because they served in the military, and the way the general public seems to worship anyone in military uniforms is truly creepy.

And I also believe that astrology is about as real as alchemy or phrenology.

most controversial | 5:28 am CST
Category: random idiocy, yet another rant
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Monday, November 4th, 2019

Wide awake at three this morning, dozed on and off until I gave up & rolled out of bed at four. It’s not insomnia, it’s my internal clock failing to adjust to the tick-tock clocks falling back. It used to be I was wide awake at four, dozed until five. It’ll take my internal clock at least a month to completely transition to this new time frame.

I thought we got all the tick-tock clocks reset yesterday — B even managed to reset the clock in the car, and it took her less than a minute to do it! — but I missed the one in the thermostat, which is timed to turn down the heat at ten o’clock in the evening, then crank it up again at five o’clock in the morning. And that’s why my head asploded when I woke up at three, figured out why I was awake an hour early, rolled out of bed at four to take a shower, then heard the furnace and whiplashed temporally back into daylight savings time for a few minutes until I figured out why the house was warming up an hour earlier than it should have been.

Have I mentioned yet how much I hate daylight savings time?

lagged | 5:16 am CST
Category: random idiocy, sleeplessness, yet another rant | Tags:
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Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

I am never going to eat fried food again. And when I say “never,” I mean that I will, on occasion, eat certain fried foods, because there are some worth suffering for, like the tater tots they serve at the Vintage Brewing Company over on Whitney Way. I don’t know how they do it, but their tots are exactly the right kind of crispy-crunchy I will always say “yes” to.

But other than a few special exceptions like those tots, I have unfortunately advanced to the age where my gastrointestinal mechanism no longer produces whatever chemicals or enzymes it used to make to deal with deep-fat-fryer grease. I used to be able to eat all the french fries. Really, *all* of them. Now that I’m apparently becoming a decrepit old geezer, I can safely eat only about half a dozen without any ill effects; any more and I feel as though I’m carrying around a bowling-ball-sized lump of lard in my belly for the next twenty-four hours. It’s not a good feeling, particularly when I make the mistake of ordering a side of fries with my dinner, thinking “It’ll be all right, I haven’t had fries in a week,” and then I have to try to sleep with that bowling ball in my stomach. Doesn’t happen. Easier to sleep with a pile of bricks on top of me.

No fried foods means that most of the food at the brewpubs we like to visit is off limits to me: it’s not just fries that bloat me up, the chicken tenders that I love at most places do the same, and I’ll probably never enjoy another Friday night fish fry, although a Friday afternoon fish fry isn’t entirely out of the question; so long as I have time to walk it off, I’m good. But other than that I’ll be eating lots of wraps and salads from here on in. So long, french fries, and thanks for the fun times!

fried | 1:22 pm CST
Category: falling apart, food & drink
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Sunday, October 27th, 2019

I just ran across another one of those “asteroid passes uncomfortably close to earth” stories and I have to ask: Why are these stories nearly always written as if asking the question: Why keep track of asteroids when the so-called smart people are obviously crap at keeping the asteroids away from earth? But I know why they’re written that way. It’s because the kind of people doing the writing are the same kind of people who go outside when there’s a hurricane to tell you there’s a hurricane.

And “uncomfortably close” is an odd way of characterizing the path of an asteroid that never got within a couple million miles of earth. I’d call it uncomfortably close when I can SEE it and the sonic boom it makes as it slices through the atmosphere shatters windows. THAT would be uncomfortably close.

near miss | 7:10 am CST
Category: random idiocy, weather, yet another rant
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Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

I made some smartass comment about 65-year-old Dennis Quaid getting hitched to 26-year-old Laura Savoie, to which My Darling B replied, “Okay, so, say I poisoned you so I could marry a thirty-year-old …”

“Just for the record,” I interrupted, “if you want to really want to marry a 30-year-old, please just ask. Don’t feel you have to poison me.”

switch | 6:16 am CST
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, October 19th, 2019

One of my coworkers brought her 6-week-old baby into the office for a visit and I suddenly remembered how wonderful baby toes are!

toesies | 8:44 am CST
Category: daily drivel
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Monday, October 14th, 2019

I was today years old when I learned that the game where you throw beanbags at a board with a hole in it is called “cornhole.” That is not a word I have heard used in polite company before. My father sometimes used that word, not in public, to refer to an act of sexual intercourse that was not allowed by law when he was a younger man.

But I found out today that this is a fairly common name for the game I have always called “beanbag toss” or just “beanbags.” I found out from an email I got at work for an annual fundraiser called “Partners in Giving.” The email subject was “Partners in Giving cornhole tournament.”

“Partners in giving cornhole” was not a phrase I ever expected to see in an inter-office email.

All but one of my coworkers refer to the game as “cornhole” so they didn’t think it was as odd as I thought, but they got a good laugh out of the surprise I got from the email, which means I’m not wrong about the name meaning something else. And after visiting several web pages to see if I could figure out how this game went from being named something as innocent as “beanbag toss” to being referred to as “cornhole,” I learned that a beanbag left on the board is called a “woody,” while tossing a beanbag so it rolls over a blocking beanbag to go into the hole is called “going through the back door.” So it seems more than likely to me the game was renamed with a sly wink, and maybe some alcohol was involved.

beanbag | 5:53 pm CST
Category: entertainment, games, random idiocy
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Saturday, October 12th, 2019

I paid cash for my lunch at the grocery store the other day. Didn’t expect the high school guy at the register to count back my change the way cashiers used to, but I did expect him to be able to add up the values of the coins as he was making change, which he was apparently having a lot of trouble with. He started by digging out a couple of quarters, which he obviously added up in his head, then thought long and hard about whether to grab another quarter, decided not to, dug a couple of dimes out of the till and mentally added them to the quarters, then stared at the display while trying to decide how many nickels he needed. It won’t be too much longer until the register displays the change graphically: dollar bill, dollar bill, dollar bill, quarter, quarter, dime, nickel, penny, penny.

making change | 9:10 am CST
Category: damn kids!, random idiocy, this modern world, yet another rant | Tags: , , ,
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Friday, October 11th, 2019

Gary introduced himself to me a few days after we moved to the new building. The office I worked in used to be on the eighth floor of the old building; Gary’s office used to be on the second floor. After the move we were not only both on the second floor, our offices are right next to each other, so we ran into each other in the halls, the break room, and the restroom.

I think he introduced himself when we met in the break room. He held out his hand to shake, said “I’m Gary.” I said hi, how’d you do, shook his hand and gave him my name. We exchanged a few more pleasantries before we parted.

We’ve been in the new building for almost two years and I’ve said hi to Gary almost every day. Most days, I’ve said hi to him more than once a day. “Hi, Gary,” I’ve said, and he smiled and waved and said “Hi, Dave” right back at me.

Fast-forward to yesterday morning when we ran into each other in the restroom. “Good morning, Gary,” I said.

“Hi,” he said, then added, “Eric.”

I said something super-intelligent like, “Huh?”

“Hi, Dave. It’s Eric. What did you call me? I’m a little hard of hearing.”

A little?

“Uh, Gary.”

“Oh. No, It’s Eric.”

I apologized profusely and awkwardly, we traded a few more pleasantries before we parted, and now I’ll have to quit my job, move to the Yukon and live the rest of my days in a hermitage because I can’t get people’s names right even when I believe I can remember them.

Eric | 4:30 am CST
Category: daily drivel
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Thursday, October 10th, 2019

I was cleaning out the litter boxes yesterday morning and dug up five or six little turd nuggets strung together on a long hair like they were pearls. I wanted to applaud.

nuggets | 5:44 am CST
Category: daily drivel | Tags:
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Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

It’s not that I don’t have friends who have different beliefs or opinions. Everyone’s got those. It’s that I don’t have friends who have reprehensible beliefs or revolting opinions. I don’t have an ounce of regret about walking away from people like that.

degenerate | 6:01 am CST
Category: daily drivel
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Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

When I came home from my walk the other day, I dug into my pocket for my key ring, selected a key as I climbed the stoop to the front door, then depressed the “unlock” button on the ignition key for our car.

From the garage, the car answered with two beeps. The front door did not respond in any way.

open sesame | 6:33 am CST
Category: daily drivel, falling apart, random idiocy
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Monday, October 7th, 2019

Mom called while I was out for a walk yesterday. I got to tell her how wonderful the weather was while I was out in it. I don’t know why that pleased me, but it did.

Then we had a good laugh about the impeachment proceedings. Well, not a *good* laugh, actually. More like the laugh that people who share a tragedy sometimes have.

“Do you think he’s going to get impeached?” she asked, “or do you think the Democrats will screw it up?”

“Oh, hell, no, he’s not going to get impeached, never,” I said. “And I think it’s almost a given that the Democrats are going to screw it up.”

“But he keeps going on TV and admitting to the crimes he’s accused of! He keeps making that same mistake!”

“Yeah, the thing is, I don’t think it’s really a mistake, is it? Because he got away with it the last time, and the time before that. He keeps getting away with it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he got re-elected.”

That brought a howl of anguish down the phone line. “You really think so?”

“I think the odds are about 50-50, yeah.”

“Well, I sure hope you’re wrong about that.”

“I’d sure like to be wrong. But I don’t believe I am.”

And then we talked about happier stuff after that, like movies and books. It was kind of an Oreo sandwich phone call.

coin flip | 4:09 am CST
Category: daily drivel
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Monday, September 30th, 2019

Woke up way too early this morning after a dream about work. Weird thing was, whatever it was I was doing it didn’t look anything like the work I normally do. Well, it looked sort of like what I do: I was finding computer records that were supposed to be updated but weren’t, and then I was updating them. Sometimes I do that first thing, but I don’t ever do that second thing. I woke up feeling a little confused and I kept thinking about it while I went to visit the bathroom and by the time I was headed back to bed I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it, so I just didn’t go back to bed. What a great way to start Monday.

that second thing | 6:09 am CST
Category: dreams, office work
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Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Is there anything better than taking an indecently-long hot shower on the weekend? Coz I don’t think there is.

indecent | 6:49 am CST
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, September 28th, 2019

I was investigating some fraud earlier this week, because that’s what they pay me to do, and I had to find out which bank used a certain routing number, which is the number that’s printed at the bottom of your checks, if you still write checks.

Luckily, I work right next door to the office where they do a lot of accounting and I figured they used some super-official web site to look up routing numbers all day long, so I walked over there and asked one of the accountants if she would look up the routing number I had.

“Oh, I just google that,” she said. “Just type in, ‘which bank is routing number 12345’ and it will tell you. It’s public knowledge; they don’t keep them secret.”

Not only don’t they keep them secret; banks publish their routing number all over their web sites. After I found out which bank I was looking for and I went to their web site, it was printed right at the top of the page with the name of the bank.

And now you know.

no secret | 8:13 am CST
Category: office work, random idiocy, this modern world, work
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Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

We were listening to a local radio station playing a tune by the Temptations during the commute home and the record got stuck. I have no idea how long it’s been since I’ve heard an actual skipping record on the radio, but I’ll bet there are people walking this earth right now who are well into their adult lives and have never heard it. It brought back a feeling that was at least as nostalgic as hearing the Temptations.

stuck record | 9:49 pm CST
Category: daily drivel
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Monday, September 23rd, 2019

In my dream last night I was driving to Canada in a truck-top camper. The roads were snow-covered and mostly dirt, but straight as an arrow; I don’t know if this is what rural roads in Canada are really like, but in my dream they were so straight I would frequently be in the back of the camper with whoever was with me at the time (my traveling companions changed several times over the course of the dream) while the truck sailed down the road at high speed with no one at the wheel. Very occasionally it would occur to me how cuckoo bananapants it was to do this. At one point I was eating a meal in the back with my brother and after an extended conversation I asked him, “Why aren’t you driving?” Suddenly worried, I climbed into the driver’s seat and took the wheel, whereupon the truck wandered off the road into the ditch. If that’s not a metaphor for something, I’ll eat my socks.

to the yukon | 6:21 am CST
Category: dreams
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Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

Ordered a cup of tea with brunch at our favorite cafe yesterday morning & they brought me a cuppa that was big as a bathtub, no exaggeration. Okay, a little exaggeration. It was big as the kitchen sink. Okay, big as a bowling ball. Look, it was bigger than any cup of tea you might be able to drink in a single day. If I drank it all I would be peeing for a week. Which I would be doing anyway so that description doesn’t make a lot of sense, I can see that now. I was confused by the size of that cup of tea, what do you want from me? That thing was HUGE. I’ve never seen a cup of tea that mind-bogglingly large. There’s large, there’s extra-large, there’s enormous, and then there’s that cup of tea. I could go on but you’re not even reading this any longer, are you?

biggest cuppa | 7:23 am CST
Category: daily drivel
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Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

Back problems persist today, but are not as bad as yesterday when I could barely get up out of my seat without shooting pain. I can get get up and sit down without much trouble today but am mindful that one wrong move can bring on the lightning bolts, so I’m moving very gingerly. There is no painkiller in our considerable stash I can use to fend off this monster. Only time and some stretching exercises, executed very slowly and carefully, will bring about its ending. There is a lot of relief in simply bending over and hanging in the position that yoga teachers call “rag doll,” which I do at every opportunity even though it makes me look a little odd when I do it in the middle of the day at the office. Thank goodness I’m used to looking odd.

persist | 6:06 am CST
Category: daily drivel
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Sunday, July 28th, 2019

I made a little road trip to the village of North Freedom to visit the Mid-Continent Railway Museum. I’ve been living in Madison, just an hour’s drive from North Freedom, for almost fifteen years but this is the first time I’ve visited the museum. About an hour’s drive from our little red house, North Freedom reminded me of the very small town in Waupaca County where I grew up.

The museum is just outside the village proper. It’s mostly an open-air museum with a half-dozen or so examples of rolling stock in a small yard next to a railway depot. There were a couple steam locomotives that obviously hadn’t raised steam in years and were just for display, coaches and freight cars fading in the sun, and a rotary snow plow that was slowly falling apart where it stood. Across the road there was a train shed which held maybe a half-dozen coaches and a caboose, all of which had been restored to like-new condition but the doors on all of them were all locked up; there was no way to get inside and I couldn’t see much through the windows because most of them were dark inside.

There was a small diesel switching locomotive pulling a couple sun-bleached coaches into the yard when I got there and a volunteer in the depot told me I could get a ride on it at one o’clock, but I didn’t stay that long.

Mid-Continent Railway Museum | 3:00 pm CST
Category: daily drivel | Tags: ,
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Saturday, July 27th, 2019

We got a letter in the mail last week, an actual hand-written letter which My Darling B opened because who even writes letters any more? The only handwritten mail we get now is the occasional birthday card from close family. We get a lot of letters soliciting donations that appear to be handwritten but at second glance are obviously printed using a font that looks like handwriting. Not the case with this letter we got last week: The handwriting was cramped and our last name was crunched up against the edge of the envelope.

The letter itself was written on blue card paper and read in its entirety:

Hello – our names are Mike & Rose – We really like the location of your house on (name of street). If you have any interest in selling please give us a call. Thanks!

It’s not unusual for us to get offers from realtors who want to buy our house. We probably get one a month. The housing market in Madison seems pretty hot and many of houses in our neighborhood have new owners. What’s unusual is that this particular letter was addressed by hand instead of printed and the envelope was affixed with a real first-class postage stamp, not one of those fake-looking bulk rate stamps.

My Darling B and I talked it over and decided the best possible reply to this letter would be:

We accept your kind offer on the following conditions:
1. We will vacate the house in 1 week.
2. You take possession of the house & everything in it.
3. Price of the house is not negotiable: $500,000.00 cash, paid in twenties.
4. By accepting this deal you waive all rights of rescission.
5. No questions asked.

If you accept these conditions, leave the cash in a green canvas duffel bag on our doorstep Monday morning at 6:00 am. We will vacate the house by the next Monday & leave the keys on the kitchen counter.

If you attempt to contact us in any way other than leaving the cash in the duffel bag, the deal is off.

It was so much fun to come up with this offer that, if we weren’t fairly certain we’d have the police at our door, we’d answer them just to see what else might happen.

offer accepted with conditions | 11:07 am CST
Category: entertainment, Our Humble O'Bode, random idiocy, this modern world
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