Unrelated Photo Time

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What I’m Watching / Reading:

Control A biopic about Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division who killed himself on the eve of the band’s tour. Unlike 24 Hour Party People which (for part of the movie) deals with the some of the same events, this movie is a grinding slog. The latter movie is a great mix of funny and melancholy. See that one instead.

Fringe Has ended, and I loved the ending. I shall miss my favorite mad scientist. That just leaves the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz as the only mad scientist with a current series. Where’s Perry?

A Memory of Light Speaking of grinding slogs, the final book of the Wheel of Time was released. Yay! Brandon Sanderson did some wonderful writing to bring Robert Jordan’s epic to a close. By this 14th book I just wanted it to end and it ended the way I thought so I’ll take it. The best thing about the series: I found Sanderson’s other work including the Mistborn and The Way of Kings novels. Good stuff!

The Walking Dead Why is this series so compelling? Just about everyone I know is watching this zombie festival. I remember lying about my age at a movie theater in 1979 to see the unrated Dawn of the Dead. I have seen scenes on this (basic cable) tv series that match the grossness of DoD. Amazing how times change. Beats the ever living shit out of yet another police procedural, I guess.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened I laughed so hard during portions of this book that I woke up Brenden one night. He wanted to know what is was so damn funny but I couldn’t even begin to explain the magic squirrel to him. This book is by the writer of the a damn funny blog . Highly recommended (the book and the blog).

I KNOW I have read more and watched more than these in the last six months but who the hell remembers for that long.

Been Gone So Long

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You know the sad thing about abandoning my blog is that this year is the 10 year anniversary of me starting it (which will actually be in November). So I’m wondering about whether I should continue it. I want to.

Usually for the new year I recap the old year. I blogged so little last year that I don’t know if that’s possible but I’ll give it a shot:

January: We replaced our main bathroom toilet which was leaking and rotting out the floor.

February: I Brenden won 3rd place in the science fair.

March: I lost 15 pounds. Not a big deal but I’m thrilled that the weight has managed to stay lost all year. I would like to lose another 15 this year.

April: Beats me. No tornadoes, yay. We started making plans for putting in a new pool somewhere around here.

May: Brenden played Baseball with the Dixie Youth Yankees and his team won a boatload of games.

June: We took an 8 day cruise on the Carnival Valor which stopped at Grand Turk (Turks and Caicos), La Romana in the Dominican Republic, And Curacao and Aruba. We didn’t enjoy this cruise half as much as the Disney cruises we’ve been on.

July: The pool contractors started putting in our pool.

August: St. John! We had a terrific time. The pool was finished. It was at this point that I stopped blogging for the year which sucks. I don’t remember a DAMN THING about what happened after that.

September: Enjoyed the pool before it started to get too cold. Expensive as crap but so far worth it.

October: Brenden went as Boba Fett on Halloween. Not a big deal except he was pissed at me for gluing Mickey Mouse ears to his helmet in celebration of Walt Disney buying out Lucasfilm (a transaction, by the way, which I wholeheartedly support – see, this is the type of bs I should be blogging about! The transaction, not the ears).

November: Lowlight of the year. Without going into details apparently I have started down the menopausal path. I started experiencing symptoms of depression again so I immediately got together with my OBGYN who did not hesitate to put me on Zoloft again. As of right now I have a good grip and am no longer bursting into tears when I watch commercials. Oh god, depression sucks.

December: A White Christmas in Oklahoma. It was very enjoyable. I spent most of my time reading by the fire.

So our plans for this new year:

Get the pool / patio punch list finished

Lose that other 15 pounds

Disney Cruise in July!

Keep this blog from going tango uniform.

That’s about it! Hope to blog again soon.

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Long Assed Post About our Trip to St. John

Update on pool soon come. Pool is finished – pavers / wall are still being worked on.

July 29: We had a relatively painless travel day – usually we drive to Atlanta and stay overnight at a hotel that allows parking for flights. This time we were flying out of Birmingham which is a much shorter drive for us. We were up at 3 in the morning to catch a 6am American Airlines flight. We had a 20 minute delay in Miami but the pilot made up the time in flight to St. Thomas.

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We usually rent a car in St. Thomas but this time we rented on St. John. The cab over to Red Hook is always fun; you can always tell the Virgin Island n00bs because they are always freaking at the twisty roads with the 30+ degree inclines. We made the 2pm ferry and the Courtesy Car fellow was waiting for us. We hit a teensy snag here – Jon’s driver’s license was about to expire therefore for the first time in 6 trips I had to drive. Piece of cake. I made the drive to Lavender Hill apartments without incident and only a slight increase in blood pressure.

On the ferry to St. John

This was our first time staying in Cruz Bay. We had apartment 5W and I spent a lot of downtime on the balcony watching the ferrys and charter boats coming and going. 4pm was always a traffic jam in / out of the harbor. Anyway that day I was feeling brave enough to make a Starfish grocery run by myself. While I went shopping Jon took Brenden to the pool and heard a rumor of turtles in Maho Bay. We walked into town and ate at the Banana Deck. I love their food but the grammar nazi in me really cringes at all the extraeneous apostrophes in their menu.

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July 30: We got to Maho by 8am. I love going to the beach early because no one else seems to. We usually have the place to ourself for an hour or so and we don’t have to sweat a parking space. We found the turtles, too. And sting rays and the other usual suspects including parrot fish, squids, and blue tang. It rained during the afternoon but we walked into town and went shopping. I bought some things in St. John spice (Cruz Bay grill rub and Jon’s favorite, Valley Doll 151 hot sauce). We ate in that night.

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July 31. A tropical wave meant plenty of rain that morning. Jon was complaining about a painful big toe (gout) so went the the Myra Keating clinic. He was happy with the service he got there which amazes me. He never compliments any healthcare service he receives. Once he got back and the weather slacked we walked into town. We decided on the Beach Bar so our son could play in the sand – he doesn’t take too well to being cooped up on a rainy day.

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August 1: While Jon went scuba diving with Low Key Watersports I took Brenden to Cinnamon Bay, my favorite beach. There are some intimidating switchbacks between Trunk and Cinnamon and I’m proud to say I got up them without incident. We got there at 8 and left around 11:30. The place was deserted when we got there but very crowded by St. John standards when we left. I guess it’s true; there is no such thing as low season any more.

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August 2: We went back to Cinnamon Bay and Jon took Brenden kayaking. I’m totally blanking on the rest of the day. I’m sure food and beer were involved somehow.

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August 3: Jon went scuba diving again so Brenden and I had a do-nothing day. We did swim in the pool and go walking around Cruz Bay some. St. John spice sells some sour watermelon candy that he fell in love with and it was his daily ritual to go buy some.

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August 4: Back to Cinnamon Bay and all 3 of us went kayaking. Ernesto had passed well to the south but we were worried about the swells. The north shore beaches were fine. We would kayak to a beach, do some snorkeling, then paddle some more. Beyond the usual we saw a foot long barracuda. While we were watching it darted away and we saw it chase off some sort of shark, probably a reef shark. That thing was a good 3 feet long. That’s my joke when people ask me if I worry about sharks when I snorkel – I always say no, because the barracuda run them off. I never thought I’d see it though. In all honesty I’m more worried about jelly fish, sea urchins and fire coral than sharks and barracuda. Most beasties in the sea seem to steer clear of the one-horned buttfishes they encounter.
Here is a photo of a couple of one-horned buttfish: scary, no?

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August 5: Our last full day. Jon didn’t want to do anything so I did something I’ve always wanted to do – hike the Lind Point trail. I took the low route to Salomon Beach then the high route back. Easy peasy and I’m sorry I didn’t brink my swimwear because Salomon was pretty. I met many lizards and hermit crabs along the way. I want to do more hiking when we come back.

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When I returned Jon suggested driving to Coral Bay to Skinny Legs. That worked for me. The burgers are good and the rum punches are deadly – Jon had a few and was too hammered to drive home so I drove back. I enjoy driving in St. John now – just keep left and don’t let the inclines intimidate you. I only had to gesture at one fool who was driving on the right (sheesh! n00bs!). Anyway, back at Skinny Legs, Brenden
saw one of the waitresses flinging an ice cube at a stray chicken – the waitress exlained the chickens liked pecking at feet so she was chasing them off. My son BEGGED to help her so she gave him a squirt gun and he fended off wild chickens at Skinny Legs for the afternoon. I’m sure if you asked him he would tell you that was his favorite part of the trip.

August 6: We went home. Bleh.

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Overall Jon agreed with me – staying in Cruz Bay is a great idea. We really loved walking into town and not having to worry about parking. Lavender Hill is a relatively inexpensive option and has everything we wanted in a place to stay. We probably won’t be able to go back next year, but in 2014 I turn 50 and I want a full two weeks in St. John.

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Pool Start

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So last Tuesday the pool builders started digging for our new pool. Monday before Jon and I (mainly Jon) cut down the very nice pecan tree you see in the top picture. I was very reluctant to have it removed, until I thought of all the leaves and nuts I would have to fish out of the pool every fall.

Those were some tasty pecans, though. We have two other pecan trees, but the nuts they produce aren’t half as good.

Then on Wednesday three days of rains came.

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All construction projects go over budget – looks like ours will be no different. Jon realized the builders had started the hole too far away from the house. Jon had given them explicit, detailed plans on where the pool was to go. He calculated the square footage difference and there is no way we are going to pay $10,000 more for pavers. He told the builders to move the hole but they didn’t want to – the owner of the company, who admitted the error was his fault, said he would pay for the extra pavers.

Well ok then. A little more patio won’t hurt, but I don’t believe for a minute that we’re not going to have to pay more.

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Valor

CARNIVAL VALOR

Slacker here with an update:

My little guy turned 7 on June 6th. Happy Birthday Brenden! One of his presents was a cruise. We tried Carnival this time and if we ever cruise again we’ll stick to Disney. The cruise was too much of a zoo. I will give them credit in one area: Brenden really loved their kids club and wanted to spend a lot of time there.

As for the ports of call – Grand Turk, La Romana (Dominican Republic), Curacao, and Aruba: Meh, meh, meh, and meh. It is a mistake I know to judge a place from a one day stop on a cruise but I have no desire to return to any of these places.

The best part of the cruise for me was waking up on day 7 and walking out to the balcony and seeing a bunch of dolphins playing, leaping in the air. I wish I had gotten pictures.

Having someone else doing the cleaning and cooking was nice plus I had easy access to Guinness so the vacation wasn’t a total wash.

And in other news we signed a contract for the new pool. The building process may start July 9 – depending on if the pool liner comes in. The contractor swears it will take 3 weeks to get it built. I’ll believe it when I see it. I intend to blog the process. I know I know: you’ll believe that when you see it!

Sticking with Tradition

Darn Yankees

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday Bill Paxton
Happy birthday to you!

Bill is 57 today. Me, I’m 48. It’s getting to the point where I’m no longer bummed about another birthday but rather damn happy I’m still around to have one.

I got an iPhone for a present and I love it. I’ve been posting pictures and box scores of Brenden’s baseball games to Facebook. He’s on a team this year that wins more often than they lose (8 – 2) so it’s more fun to watch. Brenden plays right field and bats 7th. He has actually watched a few innings of Braves baseball with me this year and maybe some weekend we can take him to Turner field.

There hasn’t been much posting because there hasn’t been much happening. We have finally settled on a pool builder but haven’t signed any contracts or anything.

I did get to see The Avengers at the movie theater. I really hate going out to the movies. The seats aren’t comfortable, the concessions are way overpriced, and I don’t particularly like the idea that I just paid 9 bucks and am now sitting through 20 minutes of commercials before the movie begins. Then about 90 minutes into the movie my knees hurt like hell. And 3D sucks.

Oh, the movie? Awesome! And funny. Joss Whedon finally made some money for somebody so here’s hoping we see more of his projects.

I desperately want to see Prometheus but I’m really not up to going to a theater again any time soon. And to think I used to enjoy going to the movie theaters every week. I’m gettin old.

First World Problems


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My mother turned 73 yesterday. Holy crap, and Happy Birthday, Mom!
I did call her, and I bitched to her about what has to be a classic First World Problem (which amused her) – Jon and I are planning on building a pool at our new house but the amount of decisions we have to make is stressful.

Yeah, I pretty much want to slap me too.

But the pool building process will be something interesting to blog about so maybe I’ll actually update this thing more often.

Step 1: Getting a HELOC meaning we’re going back into debt for this. We’ve been approved so there’s that.

Step 2: Finding a Pool Builder. We’ve talked to a couple of people – we are in the process of figuring out what type of pool we want, what size, and how we’re going to fence it in. I’ll write about that in more detail later.

What I’m Watching / Reading:

I saw Thor. It was fun! I’m looking forward to The Avengers, featuring Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, and a couple of others. Joss Whedon directs!

Immortals: A retelling of the story of Theseus and it’s not worth your time. It tries to be pretty and mesmerizing like 300 is but only succeeds in being silly. By the way: Mickey Rourke is still very ugly.

Walking Dead Season finale: wet! Thank you, Rick – Shane needed killing. And thank *you* Carl, ZombieShane needed killing too.

Justified FX show in its 3rd season about a Kentucky Marshall (Timothy Olyphant) and a very interesting cast of characters in a small Kentucky town, many of them criminals. I don’t completely know what is going on, but I really am enjoying it. Neal McDonough, who played Buck Compton in Band of Brothers, is just scary awesome as a polished upscale (and totally psycho) carpetbagger bad guy. He had a scene in a bar with Olyphant last episode where they threaten to kill each other. In lesser actors’ hands it would have been a laughable testosterone-laden hoyay festival. Instead I just wanted to hide behind the couch before they started ripping each other’s faces off. Good stuff! I need to rent the first two seasons.

The Hunger Games: No, I haven’t seen the movie but I read the trilogy. It’s actually worth reading – I was pretty well gripped by the story which I won’t describe. Writer John Scalzi pointed out in one of his columns that the 3 most successful series of books in recent times – Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Hunger Games, have been written by women. Their books are all being (or have been) turned into highly successful movies, too. No point, just saying. I can’t bring myself to read Twilight (just not my cup of tea) but I think that factoid is pretty nifty.

CopyCat

Chick w/ Gun 3

Saturday Brenden and I got into a conversation about toy guns, and I showed him this picture. He said “Hey, that looks like me!”

I lol’d. But Sunday we had gone to Target to buy him some clothes and I let him pick out a few things. One of the shirts he picked out had (Lego) Darth Vader and some Storm Troopers on it. I told him I love Star Wars, ever since I was a kid (13, if you do the math, but close enough).

His response? “Hey, stop copying me!!”

We had a long argument about how I could have copied him when I did it before him but he was pretty adamant that I copied him. I wanted to point out that he has a few unfortunate habits / personality quirks which I have retroactively copied as well but I wanted to keep the argument fun. I won’t get into those to protect the guilty.

Oh, yeah. His beautiful blue eyes are changing and becoming more hazel. Both his dad and I have retroactively copied him there.

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A Little Less Sandy

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Man, I’m lame! I went the entire month of February and didn’t post? Lamey lamester.

So – Brenden won 3rd place among the 1st grade Science Fair entries. The theme this year was ‘Under the Sea’ and his entry was on how coral reefs are made. I’m kind of ashamed because I know how off the top of my head so all he had to do was write what I told him to. But hey there’s a free Blizzard for him in the deal so I’m not sweating it.

If the year’s theme had been ‘Zombies’ Brenden would have won first place all by himself by writing about the best method of eliminating a zombie horde.

Ok so I FAIL at writing more blog entries. I am happy to say that I am sticking to my diet and exercise new year’s resolutions. I’ve lost 16 pounds so far and Jon has lost 27. We are both very happy about our progress.

One thing I am doing is eating more protein ( I try to hit at least 100 grams a day, more if I exercise) and lifting heavy weights. You can’t really gain muscle on a calorie-restriction diet, but from what I’ve read, you can minimize muscle loss by doing the things I just mentioned.

I think that logic is correct because Sunday I tried on a pair of pants that were fairly snug when I weighed about 135. I weighed 140 when I tried them on and they fit comfortably.

I tried on my boardshorts from the picture above which would definitely be snug if I weighed 135 (the picture was from 2007 and I was in the low 130′s). They were loose!

So deadlifts, squats, and shoulder overhead presses for the WIN!

A Potty Tale

Inspection boy

So much for blogging more. And staying away from beer, but I am losing weight and exercising more so there’s that.

Other than waiting for the wet Winter to end, all that has been going on at the moment is Jon has put a new toilet (almost) in our main bathroom.

To rewind a bit: Jon noticed watery ick around the toilet a few weeks back. He discovered that the toilet was leaking, and it had leaked under the linoleum. When he took the toilet off / pulled up the linoleum, he discovered rot and mold. And a wonderful new stench.

He decided to replace the whole toilet with a wall-mounted toilet, photos soon come. There are two nice advantages to wall-mounted toilets: 1) you can sweep / mop underneath, and 2) no disgusting wax rings to deal with.

So we spent a vacation day a couple of weeks ago extending and removing various pipes and walls, and I did a lot of scraping to get linoleum glue off of the floor boards. We replaced the floorboard that had gone around the toilet because it had the majority of the mold on it plus it was just plain disintegrating.

So some drywall / mudding / painting later, last night we laid down some new linoleum. Tonight we should finish installing the new wall-mounted toilet.

I was going to rant here about how the American with Disabilities Act discriminates against short people by making toilet height requirements too high but foot stools are easy to come by.